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23

(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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THE ROMAN EMPERORS IN MARBLE. 23
blood, also expressed itself in an attempt to guard the old
Quiritian national dress, the toga, against foreign whims
of fashion, Hellenic and Gallic. This species of romance
was pardonable. What grand recollections present them-
selves in that garb ! More than once had the fate of
the world been borne in the end of a toga, and how plas-
tically rich it is, with its wealth of stately falling folds !
One day as Augustus went over the Forum Romanum
and saw in the crowd so few togas, and so many mantles
of other form and color, he repeated sadly the Virgilian
verse
:
" Romans, lords of the ivorld, the race that weareth the toga!
"
Distant, now, were the days, when " Roman matron
"
was a title of honor. The fall from innocence begins, in
a community, not with Eve, but with Adam. Woman
guards purity of morals longest ; she does so from inher-
ited habit, if not from attraction towards honesty. But
when man has made her his equal in vice, she soon sinks
lower than he ; and the ruin is then irreparable, for the
cradle of the race then stands upon a violated hearth.
They had reached that point in Rome. The degrada-
tion of the Roman people showed itself most conspicu-
ously in that of the Roman woman. The oldest and
noblest races died out, the number of free citizens de-
creased yearly, because men trembled before the dangers
of matrimony. To wed was to give one’s name to be
played with by a dissolute woman. They preferred,
then, unfettered love ; for to be betrayed by a slave, they
thought, wounded less than to be betrayed by a wife.
Augustus took hold with the hand of the law, to defend
home and state. But the law is powerless when moral
feeling is dead. Yet it is a picture worth remembering,

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