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(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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This threat is believed to have cost Britannicus, the
boy of fourteen, his life. At the imperial table it is said,
a drink was handed him, by which he at once lost the
power of speech and of respiration. The amazed guests
were quieted by Nero with the assurance that it was an
attack of epilepsy, with which the boy had suffered from
his tenderest years ; and after a short interruption, the
lively humor at the banquet was recovered. But in the
city, a report spread, that Britannicus had died by poi-
son. It was whispered that Nero had done the deed ;
and among those who so whispered, were many who did
not find the matter entirely blameworthy, for " quarrels
between brothers were so common in princely families,
and the welfare of the state might require that a growing
pretender to the throne should be removed in time."
The doctrine of " raison d’Etat " and ’"
the two kinds of
morals " had, as we see, pierced the flesh and blood of
the Romans. They professed to know that the poisoner
Locusta had been summoned to Nero from prison, to
prepare the poison ; to know the name of the centurion
who had brought her ; nay, on the market, and at the
bath and the barber’s shops, they knew as many small
details of this event, as if the chief actor himself had
gone about and in confidence told the wiseacres every-
thing that had happened in the strictest privacy, in this
mysterious affair.
Here we have arrived at a point where he who writes
this, ought humbly to lay down the pen, rather than
contradict renowned historians, and draw upon himself
the suspicion of trying to whitewash one of the unhap^
piest negroes of history. Still, let the question be per-
mitted whether it be not more than possible that syco-
phancy towards the Flavian successor of the Julian-Clau

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