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94

(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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94 ROMAN DA YS.
mentioned by one among them ; but our own time ought
to be able to judge otherwise. The Flavian emperors
gave the Romans back their favorite pastime, and in the
great amphitheatre they built over the lake belonging to
Nero’s Golden House, blood flowed in streams, even
while Titus wielded the sceptre—he who was called the
" delight of mankind," and at the foot of whose statue in
the Villa Borghese, the antique sculptor has laid a honey-
comb, as a sign of the sweetness of his nature. Nero’s
deserts in this matter ought not to be much lessened
because his disgust for plays in which hired ruffians, pris-
oners of war, slaves and criminals were incited against
each other to tickle the bestial impulses of the spectators,
was in fact but the reverse side of his love for the Hel-
lenic games, in which only freeborn and blameless men
could appear, and a people could rejoice in the flowers of
genius, strength and beauty, which with every Olympiad
shot forth in the leafage of its own tree of life.
The word high treason, with which base denouncers
in the days of Tiberius, Caligula and Claudius, had held
Rome in terror and brought ruin upon so many, was not
heard during the first half of Nero’s reign. Tongues
were freed and their license was often directed against
the emperor himself. On the market and at the bath,
not less than in private circles, lampoons could be read
aloud and laughed at, that writers of note had made upon
Nero. Nay, they could recite them in his own presence,
and the only vengeance he took upon their authors, was
to pay them in the same coin, and let his friends spread
throughout the city the lampoons he had composed
against the backbiters. Suetonius notes as very strange
that Nero in all his life never showed greater kindness to
any than to those who had attacked him with sneers and

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