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93

(1887) [MARC] Author: Viktor Rydberg Translator: Alfred Corning Clark With: Hans Anton Westesson Lindehn
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THE ROMAN EMPERORS IN MARBLE. 93
be forgotten that the youth was encompassed by friends
who under the mask of pleasure and aesthetic enthusiasm,
had designs both ambitious and rapacious, and con-
stantly pricked him on with the question : is it for you to
obey Seneca and Burrus, or for them to obey you? Are
you school-boy, or are you emperor?
Among the laws enacted, may be mentioned the Pe-
tronian, which forbade slave-owners, without the author-
ity of law, to give up slaves for combat with wild
beasts. A passage in the writings of Seneca tells us

what the Roman historians had concealed—that Xero
carried his care for the enslaved classes much farther: he
instituted a separate office for guarding the slaves against
caprice, avarice and cruelty, on the part of their masters.
The emperor’s mind to give all an assured place at the
banqueting-table of humanity, here worked together with
Seneca’s teachings, and the noble endeavor that distin-
guished the Stoic school in Roman jurisprudence.
We know that the slaughter of men in the amphithe-
atres of Rome went on until some time under the Chris-
tian emperors, and was not forbidden until Honorius
stopped it, after an Eastern monk had there fallen victim
to the compassion he showed ; which compassion aroused
the fury of his pleasure-loving brethren in the faith.
We must not then deny Nero the honor that belongs to
him, in that he had will and courage to deprive the peo-
ple of the right it thought it possessed to the bloody di-
versions of the amphitheatre, and transformed the gladia-
torial games into innocent exhibitions of skill in bearing
arms ! As long as he lived, no one, not even a criminal
doomed to death, was killed in the arena. This was
mildness upon which the Roman historians, as well as
their epoch, set little or no value, and so is only casually

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