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255

(1887) [MARC] Author: Viktor Rydberg Translator: Alfred Corning Clark With: Hans Anton Westesson Lindehn
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ROMAN TRADITIONS OF PETER AND PAUL. 255
the emperor is said to have looked down upon the fire.
But this tower is from a much later time.
Could one without possessing ideality or heart be a
true artist, or even a judge of art—were keen powers of
observation, extended knowledge of the productions of
art, perfectly refined taste and fully developed technical
skill, enough for this—then would emperor Nero really
have been what he made his only boast of being. He
saw everything, (at last even his own death) from the
aesthetic point of view. The most abstract aesthetics,
barren of all ethical contents, had become flesh and
blood in this man. For this reason he was a marvel.
But when the fire had been extinguished, hundreds of
thousands of human beings stood without a roof over
their heads ; and when they found that the smoking ruins
on the Esquiline hill, were removed to make room for
an imperial palace, and heard that this was to cover a
large portion of the quarters burned—the people aimed
its suspicions of incendiarism very high. A threatening
spirit sprang up that grew bolder and bolder, so that up
on the Palatine, voices could be heard coming from the
Roman market below, crying, " Down with the incen-
diary !
"
Nero, however, knew a means of directing the wrath
of the people to another quarter. There was a sect in
Rome, of the dark and mysterious rites of which, many a
strange story and report awakening distrust, were in cir-
culation. The blame of the fire, the emperor cast upon
this sect, upon the Christians. By hundreds, they were
dragged before the tribunals, and although no evidence
could be extorted from them, to confirm the truth of the
accusation, they yet spoke such words concerning a di-
vine visitation upon a sinful city, that they were sentenced

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