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88

(1887) [MARC] Author: Viktor Rydberg Translator: Alfred Corning Clark With: Hans Anton Westesson Lindehn
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88 ROMAN DA YS.
duty in such a community as that of Caesarian Rome.
Independence and honor were not to be found outside of
a shrunken circle of old Romans ; and all knew that
these same men were displeased with the course of events
and wished, if they did not hope, for the restoration of
freedom. An Epicurean like Tigellinus, Nero’s favorite,
had perspicacity enough to see, and impudence enough
to declare, that this devotion to the general good which
the Stoics inculcated, threatened the new order of things,
and that the best citizen was now he who cared for noth-
ing but subsistence and pleasure.
And they gave themselves up to pleasure, wholly and
entirely. The orgy was feverish, and this had its reasons.
Under Tiberius, Caligula and Claudius, murder had gone
on almost unbrokenly. Men of rank were served at their
feasts by the executioner. One day they emptied the
beaker at Caesar’s board, the next, they were borne off to
death. This was so common ! The blow could fall at
any moment. So then, hurrah for the farce of life!
Hurrah for the farce of death. Just as the excesses
under the ancien regime aped in grotesque fashion the
Roman life of this time, so the French *’
aprh nous le
ddiige " is the free translation of a Greek saying, which
was then on the lips of every one :
" Chaos, when I am
dead !
" Once when Nero heard it, he cried :
" No
!
chaos, while I live !
"
Into such a world, the young prince made his entry
;
and it follows naturally that its very worst elements should
strive to outrun each other in their rush upon the inex-
perienced boy, to discover his faults, develope them into
vices, and gain influence as their ministers. The circle
of intimate companions that gathered around him, mir-
rored the humor of the time, and his own. There, were

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