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145

(1887) [MARC] Author: Viktor Rydberg Translator: Alfred Corning Clark With: Hans Anton Westesson Lindehn
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THE ROMAN EMPERORS IN MARBLE. I45
remedy, until the Madonna appeared to him and gave
him the simple advice to cut the tree down and burn it.
Grateful for this inspiration, and following a hint she
gave him on the point, he built in her honor, there, over
Nero’s grave, the first church of Santa Maria del Popolo.
A true monkish fancy !
The period of the Roman empire is attractive in spite
of its shadows. Our culture, fundamentally unlike the
Roman as it happily is, has nevertheless so much kinship
with it, that we can more easily understand and feel with
the men of the Julian, Flavian and Antoninan eras, than
with those who lived a thousand years nearer to us. Po-
litical life, pining away under Caesarism, made room for
a more expansive life in the domain of society. Never,
probably, has any age previous to our own, tried so many
experiments in that domain, and made itself so indepen-
dent of time-honored ideas. The two leading tendencies
that wage unceasing war with each other in the breast
of history, as in that of individual man, and which were
then called Stoicism and Epicureanism, but come forward
in every age with different names and in different grada-
tions, in philosophic dress and in theological—these ten-
dencies have probably never in form more strongly
marked, gone on, side by side yet opposed to each other,
than in Caesarian Rome ; and nowhere does a richer field
for inquiries into moral pathology present itself, than
there. Epicureanism and Stoicism both had opportunity,
with the reins of the world gathered in hand, to prove
their premises and apply their conclusions. The gospel
of the flesh, and art regardless of all morality, did so un-
der Nero ; Stoicism, under the Antonines.
Perhaps it will seem to some of my readers that I
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