Latest Issue

The way we were: Extravagance

Extracts from memoirs and diaries

By Ian Irvine   August 2012

Nero thought a “fortune could only be enjoyed by squandering it”

Suetonius describes the extravagance of Nero (Roman Emperor from 54 to 68AD):

“He thought a magnificent fortune could only be enjoyed by squandering it, claiming that only miserly people kept a close account of their spending, while gentlemen scattered their wealth extravagantly. Nothing so stirred his admiration and envy of Caligula, his uncle, as the way he had run through Tiberius’s vast legacy in such a short space of time. So he showered gifts on people and poured money away.

He spent eight thousand gold pieces a day on…

Register today to continue reading

You’ve hit your limit of three articles in the last 30 days. To get seven more, simply enter your email address below.

You’ll also receive our free e-book Prospect’s Top Thinkers 2020 and our newsletter with the best new writing on politics, economics, literature and the arts.

Prospect may process your personal information for our legitimate business purposes, to provide you with newsletters, subscription offers and other relevant information.

Click here to learn more about these purposes and how we use your data. You will be able to opt-out of further contact on the next page and in all our communications.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to

More From Prospect