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106

(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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I06 ROMAN DA YS.
oars, by the rowers. But Agrippina succeeded in saving
herself from the murderers’ hands by swimming, and was
picked up by an approaching boat. At the first tidings
of the failure of the plan, the terrified Nero sends Anice-
t\is with soldiers to Bauli. They break into Agrippina’s
bedchamber and kill her with blows from sticks and with
sword-thrusts.
At the parting with his mother, Nero had folded her
in his arms and kissed her mouth and neck. Tacitus,
who speaks of this, does not know if he should see in it
dissimulation carried to its height, or whether " the last
view of his mother hurrying to her destruction, did not
hold the son’s heart, in all its wildness, to her." The lat-
ter surmise seems to us entirely in accord with Nero’s
character. A psychological comment as subtle as this, is
never, except in Tacitus, to be found in the intellectually
weak historians of imperial Rome.
When the crime had been committed, Nero was
seized with horror. The hours of peace he during his
after-life may have had, were only an armistice with the
ever lurking pangs of conscience. If his moral sense had
been blighted in the germ by Epicurean doctrines, disso-
lute pleasures, and enthusiasm for a world of beauty that
had nothing but beauty in it, so much the livelier was his
imagination. In his dreams, he saw the mother’s breasts
that the child had sucked and the youth had stabbed.
He summoned magi from the East to exorcise and
appease his mother’s spirit ; but it hunted sleep from his
bed, and rest from his waking hours. From those near-
est him, he could not hide the tortures he suffered ; he
said himself that sleeping and waking he saw furies with
fiery torches, and swinging their scourges. When he
made his art journey through Greece, he dared not be

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