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20

(1887) [MARC] Author: Viktor Rydberg Translator: Alfred Corning Clark With: Hans Anton Westesson Lindehn
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Full resolution (JPEG) - On this page / på denna sida - The Roman Emperors in Marble - 1. Julius Caesar and Augustus

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20 ROMAN DA YS.
outside the realm of possibilities, lies the art of housing
in the same breast love of liberty and lust for power,
republican conscience and leanings toward monarchy.
The dissimulation practised most, does not consist in
tricking the world, but one’s self. We will talk ourselves
into believing that the conscience is satisfied when
we yield to passion. In that sense, Augustus was un-
doubtedly a hypocrite. And we must judge him sternly
for that ! Such is our right, our duty. For if we judged
him mildly, how much rather would we overlook the
same faults in—certain other people. Let us own, at
least, that there is a hypocrite of the same sort who
stands nearer than Augustus to every one of us !
Octavian’s was a finely formed mind, with receptive
faculty for the most diverse impressions and ideas ; not
a very deep receptive faculty, perhaps, but one large in
compass, and joined with the power to weigh and value
the impression. On closer scrutiny, one finds in his life
a number of traits that unquestionably prove he had a
sense for the morally exalted, as well as for the beautiful.
But for a Roman, even the most degenerate, granted that
he was yet possessed of moral perception, there was no
more elevating sight than the old republic, with its stern
heroic temper, sturdy obedience to the law, and inex-
haustible spirit of self-sacrifice. Now, to suspect in Au-
gustus the deadly foe of the memories of this greatness,
the hardened hypocrite, who under the mask of liberty’s
friend is brooding upon constantly new murderous plans
against civic independence, is with regard to psychology
as violent as it is needless. That does not explain, but
confuses, the riddle of his soul. It is our conviction that
he admired the republic and loved the memories of it.
We hasten, however, to add : admired the republic,

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