Our friends in ancient Rome indulged in a lot of activities that we would find unseemly today — including and especially gladiators fighting to the death — but they drew the line at eating butter. To do so was considered barbaric, with Pliny the Elder going so far as to call butter “the choicest food among barbarian tribes.” In addition to a general disdain for drinking too much milk, Romans took issue with butter specifically because they used it for treating burns and thus thought of it as a medicinal salve, not a food.
They weren’t alone in their contempt. The Greeks also considered the dairy product uncivilized, and “butter eater” was among the most cutting insults of the day. In both cases, this can be partly explained by climate — butter didn’t keep as well in warm southern climates as it did in northern Europe, where groups such as the Celts gloried in their butter. Instead, the Greeks and Romans relied on olive oil, which served a similar purpose. To be fair, though, Romans considered anyone who lived beyond the Empire’s borders (read: most of the world) to be barbarians, so butter eaters were in good company.
It would have been impossible for him to do so, as the fiddle didn’t exist yet. That’s not to say that Nero was a good emperor (or person), however. In addition to murdering his mother, first wife, and possibly his second wife as well, Nero may have even started the infamous fire that burned for six days in 64 CE and destroyed 70% of the city so that he could expand his Golden Palace and nearby gardens. (Or at least, that’s what some of the populace, and some ancient writers, suspected.) For all that, Rome’s fifth emperor wasn’t entirely reviled during his time — and it’s been suggested that his cruelty was at least somewhat exaggerated by later historians who were looking to smear his dynastic line, known as the Julio-Claudians. And he was a gifted musician who played the cithara, an ancient stringed instrument similar to a lyre — just not the fiddle.