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97

(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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THE ROMAN EMPERORS IN MARBLE. 9/
at this, still echoes through the annals of Tacitus. To
give the people an idea of the taste the Hellenes infused
into their war-dances, Nero summoned Grecian youths to
Rome, made them exhibit Pyrrhic dances, and rewarded
them with the right of Roman citizenship. He even
allowed the people to look on at his own exercises on the
field of Mars, gave gymnastic festal games in Septa Julia
(on the Via lata, at the foot of the northern slope of the
Capitoline) and erected at his own expense fine gymna-
siums in Antium, Bajae and Ravenna.
The theatre in Rome stood low. The classic works
of art, Greek tragedies as well as Roman imitations of
Attic comedies, led a moribund existence by the side of
pantomimes, clever and dull fairy plays, criminal dramas
like " Laureolus," and farces of the coarsest realistic kind.
Did a fire occur in such a piece, a house was built, filled
with costly furniture, and set on fire, and the public had
its pleasure in seeing the actors plunder in the flames
whatever they could. Nero, who had the faculty to en-
joy such things, yet wished to revive the dramatic art,
and thought he could make it what it had been with the
Greeks. For this purpose, he instituted the Juvenalian
games, in which the drama took the foremost place ; and
he appeared himself, before an extended but still exclu-
sive circle, as an actor.
The gladiatorial games, until then so brutal and hor-
rible, he had, as lately mentioned, tamed into harmless
sports, in which scions of Rome’s most prominent fami-
lies displayed their skill in the use of arms. On one oc-
casion, in Nero’s amphitheatre on the field of Mars, four
hundred senators and six hundred knights were seen tak-
ing part in the sword exercises. To Nero, no doubt,
that day seemed like the dawn of a Roman-Hellenic era
5

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