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83

(1887) [MARC] Author: Viktor Rydberg Translator: Alfred Corning Clark With: Hans Anton Westesson Lindehn
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THE ROMAN EMPERORS IN MARBLE. 83
influence upon his whole life. Face to face, had Rome
poured out to the boy the intoxicating draught of popu-
lar admiration: as. youth and man, with the diadem
around his brow, again and again he longed to bear that
cup to his lips.
Nero—as he was entitled when shortly after he was
adopted by the emperor as son and joint heir to the
throne—was now the people’s favorite, and seemed wor-
thy to be so. All who came near him were charmed
by his handsome person, and merry, kindly disposition,
of a softness almost feminine. The teachers praised his
generous mental gifts, and the diligence with which he
cultivated them. Most eagerly he took hold of the
branches of study which appealed to the imagination.
Unoccupied, he was never seen ; his leisure hours away
from books and exercise, he passed in painting, modelling,
engraving and practice in the art of poetry.
The men who had his education in hand, Seneca the
writer and Afranius Burrus the commander, no doubt re-
marked, nevertheless, that these brilliant abilities were
coupled with serious defects. The seeds of eloquence
with which Seneca, turner of maxims, sought to implant
a love of truth in the boy, were of no effect. If he had
been guilty of any misdemeanor he tried to save himself
by a clever untruth; and if this did not succeed, he si-
lenced reproofs with kisses, and with pledges of amend-
ment that were probably never redeemed. The aged
Burrus, gruff with the boy, and short towards the empe-
ror, won his respect but not his confidence. Seneca, on
the contrary, whose nature united a kind of sensibility
with a refined and dignified exterior, agreed better with
his nature, and had, as Nero’s guide in elocution, chance
enough to place before his eyes that Stoic ideal which

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