8. The Roman Candle, from which the popular firework allegedly derives its name, was originally a torture mechanism whereby Christians were set ablaze for the amusement of the Emperor Nero.
In the year 64 of the Common Era, the Great Fire of Rome devastated large parts of the imperial city. Facing blame for both causing the blaze and providing inadequate response to the inferno, which caused widespread damage to 10 of Rome’s 14 districts, Emperor Nero blamed the fiery outbreak on religious minorities including early Christians. Among the alleged cruelties bestowed upon these religious minorities was the so-called “Roman Candle”. Using humans are the base substance akin to the wax foundations of a candle, these victims were tied to stakes in the imperial garden for the amusement of the deranged Emperor.
There, the prisoners suffered being coated in pitch, oil and other flammable substances, before being set alight. The ultimately fatal fires were started from the feet, in order to prolong the suffering for those so condemned. It has been suggested, without corroboration, that these candles were used as decorations during formal parties held by Nero. Nevertheless, the ancient Roman Candles signify the first organized persecutions of Christians under the Romans. Today, the term Roman Candle refers to a type of Chinese firework that became popular in Western Europe during the Italian Renaissance.