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22

(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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22 ROMAN DA YS.
sible that the secret foe of a free condition of the people
would set his own existence at stake, to breathe new life
into state institutions that had been and yet were pur-
posed to uphold liberty? This Augustus ventured,
when he by suitable means purged the senate of hun-
dreds of members, who more than any were apt for
tools of tyranny : prodigals, who on the brink of destruc-
tion looked for rescue by Caesar’s grace, parasites, who
would have felt themselves honored by the most shame-
ful errands in the service of power. He tried to raise
the knighthood, too, and the people, he gave to under-
stand that alms dishonored it ; that the poorest Roman
was by virtue of his civic rights a nobleman, with duties
towards society and himself. Augustus saw that what
had before been, and still was called, the Roman people,
was more and more thinning out into a cosmopolitan
rabble. No change was more favorable to tyranny. A
people has memories, and knows itself a legally recog-
nized community. But a rabble, without ancestral tree,
without patriotic recollections, and therefore without
national feeling, is glad to live on the emperor’s distribu-
tions of corn, be amused by his plays, and follow his beck.
Augustus sought to stop this decline. The blood of the
Roman people must not degenerate, its ancient spirit be
completely crushed under the increasing servile humor ;
and with this before his eyes, the emperor took meas-
ures which a broader view of the claims of humanity
would not have suffered him to take, as they made harder
the rise of slave and freedman to the rank of citizen.
Csesarism was else, as is well known, highly " liberal
’’

when the point was, to break down barriers that hindered
equality, but might serve as bulwarks to freedom.
This feeling of his, for the sanctity of the Roman

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