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86

(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 - 5. Nero

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86 ROMAN DA YS.
in every feature, rather heightened than subdued by the
dreamy shadow over the eyes. The brow so clear, the
rounding of the cheeks so fresh, the mouth so smiling,
the whole so simple and so stamped with faith in a future
that shall realize his rosy dreams, one but unwillingly
admits to himself that this face is far from inspiring con-
fidence so much as full of confidence itself; and that the
small upper lip curving upwards, tells a tale of the aes-
thetic epicure, and of something more, too. Put by the
side of this bust of Nero, one of the many busts that we
have of Marcus Aurelius as a boy ! Then we perceive
darkness behind the smile of the one lad ; behind the
other’s thoughtful and melancholy earnestness, light.
Nero stepped, so to speak, from the school bench to
the throne. He had already been married some time to
Octavia the daughter of Claudius, but had not yet com-
pleted his seventeenth year, when praetorians, senate and
people hailed him emperor. Endowed with charming
qualities, he was in greater measure than any of his pre-
decessors, perhaps than any of his successors, object of
the people’s devotion. Of the sincerity and strength of
this feeling, the doggedness with which it was clung to,
the grief that breathes through the hatred and contempt
which at last took its place, bear witness ; the flowers,
too, that were scattered many years by unknown hands
upon his grave, and the traditions long current, that he
was alive, and should come again and expiate by an hon-
orable reign the errors and crimes of his youth.
The world came forth rejoicing, then, to meet young
Caesar, and strove to show him all the gladness and
beauty that waited to be plucked by his hand. He saw
before him the Bacchic procession of Roman life, its

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