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(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 - 4. Claudius

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hushed, and the senators are scattered Hke chaff before
the wind. The brain in which the praetorian power first
came into existence thus, in the form of a cunning device,
a sort of thief’s idea, merits immortaHty quite as well as
any other that has had the honor of carrying the kindling
spark to a ready-prepared historical bonfire. The soldier
was called Gratus, and was a native of Epirus.
Of all that happened during the reign of Claudius, the
fate of his first wife Messalina, is probably that which has
most attracted the attention of the writers on ethics.
Tacitus paints in lively colors the latest events in this
cruel and vicious woman’s life. The last in the long line
of her willing or compulsory lovers, was Caius Silius, the
handsomest of Rome’s youth. If it had its dangers to ac-
cept her favor, it was yet more perilous to reject it. In
the latter case, death awaited him ; in the former, a pos-
sibility, at least, of enjoying unpunished the riches and
dignities that the empress lavished on objects of her pas-
sion ; for although all Rome knew and talked of her wild
excesses, Claudius seemed not even to have an idea of
them. One may say she had the whole city in her confi-
dence, and dissembled only to her husband. After she
had forced Silius to repudiate his young wife, she often
came to his house, was almost always by his side when
he was seen abroad, and surrounded him with a prince’s
pomp. The autumn came. The emperor had gone to
Ostia, there to be present at the feast of Bacchus ; and
Messalina made use of his absence to celebrate, she too,
in her palace on the Palatine, the feast of the vintage,
and jointly with this—incredible as it seems—her mar-
riage with her lover ; a marriage of which it is not known
how far it was intended merely to represent, or actually

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