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90

(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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go ROMAN DA YS.
more unsavory phenomena in his own school. Petronius
and his friends called themselves Epicureans, but threw
aside the balancing and calculating Epicurean modera-
tion, as a tiresome and thus an unallowable reminder,
during life’s revel, of human weakness. In opposition to
the Stoics, they wished to show that those who make a
comedy of life can display the same ability and the same
contempt for death, as those for whom life is a school of
duty. Otho, as governor of Lusitania, Petronius, as pro-
consul of Bithynia, were estimable rulers. Many an
Epicurean who had laid aside the festal wreath and put
on the armor, had on the battle-field given proofs of man-
hood deserving the praise of a Burrus and a Domitius
Corbulus. And there came at last a day when Petronius,
as well as Otho, could show that the Epicurean left the
stage of life with the same tranquillity as the Stoic.
Such were the models of life that determined Nero’s
view of the world. Enjoy this w^orld, and beautify the
enjoyment by art, and sweeten it by sympathy ! This
was the conception to which, in the best cases, they
lifted themselves. They believed, fully and firmly, that
every higher aim than this was a phantom of the brain
;
that culture was based upon nothing else than refinement
of the desires and multiplication of the means of enjoy-
ment, and that the virtue of renunciation would be as
useless to society as hard for the individual. Society is
built up by human impulse towards companionship, and
supported by selfishness. The benefits it brings with it
are such that not even its supplying members, still less
its consuming, will dispense with them. And as on the
field of battle, the individual must risk his life for the
whole, the passion of ambition and habits of discipline
are strons" enoueh to lead the legions on to the same

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