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140

(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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140 ROMAN DA YS.
highway, into a by-road which led, over a marshy field
overgrown with reeds and bushes, to the rear of the
country-house. Among the bushes they dismounted,
and let the horses go. To escape the notice of the
slaves, they decided to introduce themselves into the
villa by means of an opening in the garden wall. While
the wall was being broken through, the emperor hid
himself in the reeds by a pond, and refreshed himself
with the muddy water. Phaon had shown him another
hiding-place, which may still be recognized from Sueto-
nius’s description: a vault-like excavation, leading down
into a gravel pit ; but Nero had refused to " go down
living into the grave." In the villa garden, they now
awaited with anxiety what the next hours had in store.
It is clear that Phaon and Epaphroditus, when they took
the emperor with them, believed in the possibility of a
change in his favor. Messenger after messenger was sent
to the city, to hear what happened there. They came
back with ever worse tidings.
The different accounts we have of Nero’s last hours,
contradict themselves, when they would attribute to him
cowardice. He did not show fear of death ; but when
he saw all was lost, it incensed him that he had so long
let himself be cheated by hope. Yet—what made this
enthusiast shudder, was the thought that his corpse
might be mutilated. Again and again he entreated those
around him to take care that no one should do violence
to his dead body. Again and again, too, he lamented
that the world should now lose a great artist. (" Qualis
artifex viorior ! ")
Himself, he gave orders that a grave should be dug,
and took the measure for it, from the length of his body.
He looked on, as the grave was hollowed out, and begged
I

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