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218

(1887) [MARC] Author: Viktor Rydberg Translator: Alfred Corning Clark With: Hans Anton Westesson Lindehn
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2l8 ROMAN DAYS.
of thee. My way shall lead down from the Aventine hill,
and after me shall the steel drop blood."
Seven years after, Silius Italicus became Roman con-
sul, and before him were borne the consular marks of
honor—the lictor’s axes. The same year the apostle was
led out before the Ostian gate, and beheaded.
’Tis a strange story, that of Virgil. Not he, the shy,
girlish, retiring man, could in his lifetime foresee that he
should, as by enchantment, take captive the imagination
of all ages to come. The less could he foresee it, that he,
so mild in judging others, judged himself and his songs
severely, received with mistrust the enthusiasm they
awakened, and valued as nothing what is called an im-
mortal name. A quiet life sweetened by friendship, and
after death, oblivion—were the best lot he wished for.
His most celebrated work, The ^neid, was rescued from
the flames only by setting aside the dying poet’s last will.
But as has been said, his name has come down through
all these centuries, and all times have loved him. Even
the darkest epoch of the middle ages, honored him after
its fashion ; for popular superstition made of him a be-
nevolent and philanthropic magician, and invented Virgil
sagas, that reached even Iceland ; while the church very
nearly made him a Christian prophet, engrafted his name
in its liturgy, and gave him a place of honor at the feet
of the seers of the Old Testament. Nor does this seem
so strange, either, when one reads the fourth of his pas-
torals, in which he links to some verses about a child’s
cradle, the prediction of a new order of things—
a
golden age, when justice shall come back to the earth,
our sins shall be blotted out, the serpent trodden down,
and the lamb shall feed in peace by the lion. Many a

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