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79

(1887) [MARC] Author: Viktor Rydberg Translator: Alfred Corning Clark With: Hans Anton Westesson Lindehn
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THE ROMAN EMPERORS IN MARBLE. 79
Pincio to the city gate that now bears the name of the
apostle Paul. There, she throws herself exhausted into
the first vehicle she meets, and speeds on, upon the road
leading along the Tiber to Ostia. Now, she sees the
imperial escort before her ; she discovers the emperor,
and by his side, three courtiers, among whom Narcissus,
her enemy and accuser. The face of Claudius rekindles
her courage : it betrays more of pain than of anger. His
lips have during the whole journey had no other words
than these :
" Humbled ! humbled by the mother of my
children ! O my poor children !
" The moment is final.
It will bring death to one or the other—to Messalina or
Narcissus, Both are aware of that. Already from afar,
Messalina cries :
*’
Csesar, hear the mother of thy Octavia,
thy Britannicus !
" Claudius had never been able to with-
stand the sound of that voice, the sight of those charms ;
but Narcissus drowns her appeal with the cry :
" Caesar,
forget not Silius ! forget not the shameful marriage !
"
and when the empress would hasten forward to the car,
he unrolls between her and her husband the deed of
accusation, detailing her excesses. The emperor is si-
lent : all are silent but Narcissus, whose voice sounds
strong and commanding and extorts from those around,
obedience. The imperial car, with its escort, continues
the journey. At the city gate, a vestal awaits them,
with Britannicus and Octavia by the hand ; but Narcis-
sus motions the children away, and bids the vestal go
back to her duties. Then he drives the emperor straight
to the house of Silius, which Messalina has adorned with
the art treasures of the Julian and Claudian races, and
then to the praetorians, who cry out for the death of the
guilty. Silius is brought to trial, without hesitation con-
fesses all, and is at once executed. When he has returned

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