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92

(1887) [MARC] Author: Viktor Rydberg Translator: Alfred Corning Clark With: Hans Anton Westesson Lindehn
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92 ROMAN DA YS.
of Nero’s reign, these pleasures shifted with nightly dep-
redations and boyish freaks in the streets of Rome, and
excursions to hostelries by the Milvian bridge—amuse-
ments that brought in their train fighting and other scan-
dalous scenes, and during which it once happened that
the disguised emperor was condignly thrashed by a citizen
whose wife he had insulted. Had the man been silent,
Nero would have been so too ; but he was unwise enough
to send the emperor a letter of apology ; and when the
answer came that he was in disgrace with Caesar, he took
the hint and shortened his own life. Such occurrences
did not, however, disturb the hope that years of discre-
tion might make of Nero an excellent prince. The people
liked the buoyant youth, who wished to see every one
merry, and who scattered his treasures to the four winds.
The more serious men of his circle noted the lonely walks
he liked to take in beautiful neighborhoods, as a sign that
he would soon weary of riotous amusements. Neither
did he altogether withdraw from the duties of his station.
At the deliberations of the senate he was often present,
and fulfilled with discretion his obligations as judge. The
promises he gave, with regard to the principles of gov-
ernment, were redeemed. Court and state, commingled
in the reign of Claudius, were separated ; the senate re-
covered its right of decision ; the taxes were lessened,
and admirable laws enacted. Trajan used to say of the
first five years of Nero’s reign, that none had surpassed
them. The honor of such testimony from such lips, be-
longs no doubt in the first place to Seneca and Burrus,
who were his counsellors, as they had before been his
teachers ; but it ought still in some measure to be given
to him, who leaned upon them, and himself long upheld
them against their enemies and detractors. It must not

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