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95

(1887) [MARC] Author: Viktor Rydberg Translator: Alfred Corning Clark With: Hans Anton Westesson Lindehn
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THE ROMAN EMPERORS IN MARBLE. 95
scurrility. Suetonius said however, something too much ;
for when denunciations for high treason again came into
play—which happened against the emperor’s will—those
around him seem to have forced him into another con-
ception of the sacredness of his dignity ; and then, it
might have been attended with danger to provoke Cae-
sar. The editor of the poet Persius’ poems carried pru-
dence so far as even to change the words, " King Midas
hath the ass’s pretty ears" to a more innocent question,
as to whether every reader did not feel himself an accom-
plice in the fate of the Phrygian prince. It is neverthe-
less true that Nero, even in the darkest phase of his life,
could patiently receive a stern rebuke, if any had cour-
age to make him one.
In every land to which Grecian culture had attained,
for three centuries a longing almost sickly, had been
perceptible, after the glories of the old Hellenic life, now
vanished forever. Kings waxed enthusiastic over the re-
publicans of old Hellas, inserted the word Philhellene
among their titles, and felt themselves honored, when
they had adorned Athens with temples and monuments,
to have as recompense their names inscribed in the list
of the city’s burghers. Sober Cicero felt holy ground
under his feet when he trod the soil of Attica. This
longing can hardly have seized upon any one more
strongly than Rome’s young emperor, with his passion
for the beautiful. Nero saw that, in spite of all the vic-
tories of Hellenism in the branches of mythology, tradi-
tion, history, eloquence and poetry, in spite of the eager-
ness that prevailed, to see, purchase and copy the paint-
ings and sculptures of Greece, Grecian culture was still
for Roman life, what the Hellenic forms of architecture
were for many of Rome’s palaces: a decorative, but not

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