Congress ‘fiddling while Rome burns’

Early historian Cassius Dio recorded that Roman emperor Nero sang the “Sack of Ilium” in stage costume as Rome burned in 64 AD. Another account of the event written by Tacitus, however, maintained that the story of Nero playing his lyre and singing while the city burned was only a rumor.

Originating the phrase “fiddling while Rome burns,” the tale has been passed down from generation to generation as an example in apathy, madness and even cruelty.

Modern writers have defined the saying as an illogical tendency to obsess about unimportant matters and neglect priorities during a time of great crisis.

Sen. Chris McDaniel
3/11/12