Rowe will present “Nero’s Pregnancy and the Body Politic” Wednesday, March 1, from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. in Tinkham Veale University Center, Ballroom A.
The ancient Roman emperor Nero often figures today as a stock embodiment of an abominable ruler. In the late Middle Ages, Nero also was deplored, but for crimes long forgotten in modern accounts—including a bizarre impregnation, orchestrated by a team of doctors.
In this lecture, Rowe will explore Nero’s pregnancy as presented in picture and text in a pair of vernacular illuminated manuscripts known as Weltchroniken, created circa 1400 in southern Germany. The story became popular at a moment of the professionalization of the practice of medicine and midwifery in city centers, and renderings of it use humor and narrative brio to appeal to the worldviews of secular audiences in an era of urban efflorescence.
This talk is free and open to the public; a reception will follow.