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146

(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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146 ROMAN DA VS.
have described Nero in colors too bright. This may come
from the fact that, aside from the purely individual,
which can easily be felt, but not directly portrayed, since
the object wants any others with which to be likened,
and speech words to do it in—aside from this, I have in
Nero’s character not been able to discover other elements
than such as are to be found in thousands of our fellow-
men. They are to be found there, and they act more or
less harmlessly, because the moral atmosphere they meet
with, hinders them from developing their disturbing force.
Weakness of will and lust for pleasure are very com-
mon phenomena. Sense of beauty makes itself known
around us, too, though in measure incomparably less
than with the old Graeco-Italian peoples, and it has a legit-
imate and beatifying power, for it works together with
the moral forces. But when this is not the case—when it
appears, absolute, in a being who has obtained the right
to do as pleases him, and in a circle to whose advantage
it is to practise usury upon the weaknesses of this being,
and in a time when art is degraded to be servant of the
sensual pleasures, and the air is heavy with selfish doc-
trines, embraced with rapture because they promise disen-
thralment from the chains of superstition—then may
these elements, like explosive stuff struck by the igniting
blow, burst out in volcanic desolation. Beings like Cali-
gula and Domitian are, to the honor of humanity, rare,
and oftenest found, it is probable, in prisons or mad-
houses ; but Neros in petto are doubtless more numerous
than we think. And that is perhaps the lesson to be
drawn from this picture.
Rome contained on the same day within her walls,
such men as Sophonius Tigellinus, Nero, Seneca, Trasea
Fetus and Paul of Tarsus : gradations of human nature,

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