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254

(1887) [MARC] Author: Viktor Rydberg Translator: Alfred Corning Clark With: Hans Anton Westesson Lindehn
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254 ROMAN DAYS.
A thousand houses and temples must be destroyed to
make room for this one palace—Caesar Nero’s golden
house—but thy will is law, and thy might, boundless."
Some time after this—the 19th of July, in the year
64—a fire broke out in Rome, which made more than
sufficient room for the projected palace imperial of Nero :
for eight whole days, the capital of the world was like
a huge pyre. Ten of its fourteen districts were con-
sumed, and art treasures of priceless value were lost.
The wind, which blew from the sea, drove the monstrous
clouds of smoke, formed into strange shapes, towards the
Appenines; and the people that saw it, said trembling,
"The guardian spirits of Rome are flying hence."
That night, while the flames were raging their worst,
Nero, according to tradition, stood on the pinnacles of a
high tower, and enjoyed the sight.
He could not enough praise its overpowering beauty.
Earth, water and sky were in flames. The towns and
castles upon the slopes of the mountains enclosing the
horizon of Rome, could now at midnight be more plainly
seen than by day ; and on the highest summits, eternal
snow seemed mingled with glowing streams of lava.
From the mass of houses wrapped in smoke and flames,
arose the roar of millions of voices, as if in the very midst
of the conflagration there were a giant struggle between
Rome’s legions and the collected force of all the barba-
rians. Drunken with the sight, Nero bade them bring
the singer’s cloak, the laurel crown and the cithern, and
he grasped the strings, and sang with satanic enthusiasm
a song of the destruction of Troy.
Between Monte Cavallo and the market of Trajan,
rises a tower, the people calls Torre di Nerone ; for there,

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