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65

(1887) [MARC] Author: Viktor Rydberg Translator: Alfred Corning Clark With: Hans Anton Westesson Lindehn
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THE ROMAN EMPERORS IN MARBLE. 65
to distinguish from the arches of Aqua Marcia, running
in the same direction. It is hard to believe that this
giant work arose at the bidding of the weakest of all the
Caesars ; it is an odd sport of destiny that just his name
should be attached to a monument that more than any-
other bears witness to the might of ancient Rome and
the energy of the Roman race.
If you go upon one of the small steamers that
plough the Tiber, down to Ostia, you stumble over a
contradiction of the same kind. There, where one now
sees a few miserable huts, once stood Rome’s seaport,
populous and splendid ; and that city, with its harbor
reckoned among the wonders of the world, had Claudius
to thank for its prosperity. The mouth of the Tiber at
Ostia was even before Julius Caesar’s time so blocked up,
by the river’s mud and sand from the sea, that none
ventured into it with ships of any size. One of Julius
Caesar’s great plans was to make Ostia Rome’s harbor
again ; but he would not have carried out the idea, even
had he lived ; for he, who else was spurred on by obstacles,
let the undertaking drop after experts had declared it
impossible. Claudius took up the plan. The experts
again discouraged it. The emperor made them bring
forward their reasons, examined them, discarded them,
and ordered the work to be begun. A few years after,
Ostia was a harbor between the mighty arms of which
the corn-fleet from Egypt and Africa found safe anchor-
age, and above the jetties of which a beacon arose, that
rivalled that of Alexandria.
Behind the Sabine mountains, in a circular valley
formed by the Appenines, lies the lake of Celano,
Fucinus of the olden time. In the year 1752, when
the water-level was very low, remnants of an ancient

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