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(1887) [MARC] Author: Viktor Rydberg Translator: Alfred Corning Clark With: Hans Anton Westesson Lindehn
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THE ROMAN EMPERORS IN MARBLE. 1 1 5
lectual gain—so long as it has not been proved that this
art may be transplanted from the forcing-house of higher
education into common earth, acclimated, and so become
part of the people’s intellectual economy, as foreign
grains are of its material. But that this takes place, is
extremely rare. Rome and Italy were stocked with Gre-
cian works of art : markets, basilicas, temples, baths,
houses, boasted of such ; the race grew up among them ;
and nevertheless the Romans remained at bottom, stran-
gers to the spirit of Hellenic art. An imported art has
something that wounds national feeling : the people has
a dim perception that injustice has by this introduction
been done itself and its undeveloped resources. With
some, the feeling becomes a suspicion that art is the foe
of moral simplicity : the majority conceives her as a play-
thing for the rich and high born. And while it needs a
subtle eye to discover her undoubtedly exalting influence,
it cannot be denied that she widens the cleft between
the classes, gives their education in degree and quality a
difference that is not healthy, creates among her votaries a
type of judge and epicure that is not a much more pleas-
ing object than the gastronome ; and sometimes even re-
laxes the desire for work in the service of society. And
it cannot be denied either, that she has a certain ten-
dency to turn into an ars vohiptuaria, to appeal from the
aesthetic desire to the sensual ; so that she needs, what
in our day happily are to be found, stout chiefs of police
in the world of beauty, to hold her in check. In Hel-
lenic art, this tendency betrayed itself as soon as she was
made the servant of the high-born Macedonians.
With all this zeal for the introduction of art into every
circumstance of life, Nero himself was nothing but one
of those aesthetic epicures who spring up and flourish

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