This painting is based on one of Byron's narrative poems, Sardanapalus, a tragedy about a bored, luxurious monarch who one day in a pique of ennui has all of his possessions, slaves, etc and himself destroyed and burned.
"Think'st thou there is no tyranny but that
Of blood and chains? The despotism of vice--
The weakness and the wickedness of luxury--
The negligence--the apathy--the evils
Of sensual sloth--produces ten thousand tyrants,
Whose delegated cruelty surpasses
The worst acts of one energetic master,
However harsh and hard in his own bearing."
- Sardanapalus (act I, sc. 2) Tyranny
-George Gordon Noel Byron