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80

(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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80 ROMAN DA YS.
to the palace, Claudius announces that he will himself
the next morning hear the " unhappy one." But Nar-
cissus, who knows that Messalina has but to throw her-
self at the emperor’s feet to win back his heart, imme-
diately sends certain of the centurions then on guard,
to execute as he says the sentence of death upon her.
They found her crouching at her mother’s feet, wringing
her hands in despair, not heeding the aged woman who
bade her be before the executioners, and die a less ignomin-
ious death by her own hand. When the soldiers entered,
the empress at last seized the dagger and carried it to
neck and bosom, but the trembling hand refused obe-
dience. A colonel of the life guard ran her through,
then, with his sword. When Claudius received the news
that Messalina had " perished," he emptied his goblet
and said nothing. He never uttered her name again.
Even in old age weak before female beauty, Claudius
suffered himself to be cajoled by his young and fair niece
Agrippina, who became his second wife, and in the sad-
dest sense of the word a stepmother to his son Britanni-
cus ; to whose prejudice she prepared everything for the
elevation of her own son Lucius Domitius (Nero) to
the throne. When she suspected that Claudius, whom
she had hitherto had in leading strings, would cross that
plan, it is said she gave him poison. The tradition that
this took place was not to be hushed because she honored
his name and memory with a grand temple. Its rem-
nants yet stand on the Coelian hill, behind the Coliseum.
More enduringly has Claudius himself honored his
memory, by his philanthropic laws. Still, in the ancient
land of Gaul, monuments are occasionally dug out, with
that emperor’s name who abolished the human sacrifices
of the Druids and gave Roman culture there a decisive

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