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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. II7
clined ; and with the Constantines, comes an invasion of
barbarism, the intellectual emptiness and technical weak-
ness of which, clutch at a style which is powerless to
reach the barocco license, but is forerunner of its bom-
bast.
Of Nero himself, as an artist, the opinions of the old
writers are various. It honored a prince to practise the
arts of poetry, history and oratory ; it was allowed him to
use the pencil and chisel ; it was not taken ill, if in a small
circle he sang, to the cithern ; but the old Roman shud-
dered at the thought of an emperor who danced, or re-
cited through the actor’s mask ; and if he did it in public,
language wanted words for judgment of him. It is more
than probable that they who witnessed his appearance on
the stage did not trouble themselves to be impartial in
their estimate ©f his powers as actor, singer and cithern-
player ; and that this state of mind did not act ad-
vantageously upon their judgment of his abilities in other
branches of art. Tacitus does not entirely reject his
poems, but charges them with want of strength and unity.
Suetonius defends against Tacitus Nero’s right to those
poems which bore his name, and not even his worst ene-
mies have been inclined to place him among the multi-
tude of the Bavii and Mevii. The same Suetonius observes
:
" Painting and sculpture, Nero practised with no little
success.’’ Expressions scattered here and there give evi-
dence too, that the zeal with which he exercised his voice
and studied the art of acting, bore fruits. " Of Nauplius’
misdeeds you sing admirably, but you do not use your
own good gifts,’’ said a cynic philosopher to him once, in
the street. It seems not to have been mere empty foolery
that the world practised upon him, when it honored him
with crowns of victory in the games of contest. Such a

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