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104

(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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104 ROMAN DAYS.
and avoid pain. But to an Epicurean savage, in whose
hands had been placed the sceptre of the world, the desire
to remove causes of suffering, lay in very close proximity
to that of avoiding them. If he hesitated to take the
step from one to the other, there were frightening, en-
couraging and flattering voices that conjured him to do
so ; and seemed to be right, too, for when he had crossed
the Rubicon of crime, everything came on rejoicing to
meet him. And the dignified repose with which the
Stoic went forth to die, the defiant frivolity with which
the Epicurean left the feast of life, were equally apt to
persu’ade the tyrant that everything—life and death,
and the judgment of life and death—is play.
Nero’s fear, for years repressed, of the intrigues of
Agrippina, carried his thoughts more than once in the
direction of some expedient to rid himself of her ; but he
would perhaps never have ripened to matricide, had he
not fallen into the diabolical power of Poppaea Sabina,
Rome’s most beautiful woman. Only the levity of Nero’s
nature can explain how, surrounded by never ceasing
machinations, the centre of a desperate struggle between
his mother and his mistress grasping at the diadem, be-
tween his teachers and counsellors who sought to bring
him back to the path of duty, and his dissolute compan-
ions who plotted against them all and against each other
reciprocally—he, during all this, could give himself up as
heartily as he did, to jests and feasting, and the practice
of art, and dreams of hellenization. But there came
a day when this struggle grew unbearable to him, when
he could no longer hear Poppaea’s reproach that he was
" a poor boy in his nonage, a slave to the will of others,"
nor resist her prayers, caresses and tears ; especially as
she had friends who frightened him with the people’s

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