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256

(1887) [MARC] Author: Viktor Rydberg Translator: Alfred Corning Clark With: Hans Anton Westesson Lindehn
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256 ROMAN DA YS.
to the most horrible of punishments. They were dressed
in the skins of wild beasts, to be torn asunder by dogs
;
they were crucified ; they were sewed into tarred sacks
and hung upon lantern-poles, to light the festal orgies
the emperor held in his gardens on the Vatican, or the
plays he nightly gave in the circus, to keep the people in
good humor. But, though bred to blood-thirstiness, and
convinced of the guilt of the Christians, the people could
not be brought to applaud these cruelties. It was silent.
Nay, many even shed tears of compassion over the victims
of Caesar and his cowardly judges.
Sometime passed before the tidings of the burning of
Rome and the persecution of its Christians reached the
remote countries where Peter and Paul were sowing the
seed of the Lord. This was heart-rending news for the
apostles, but a message of victory, too ; for the greater
number of the condemned had gone tranquilly to meet
the pains of death, and after the example of the Master,
had prayed from a pure heart to God, for the execution-
ers. And when the apostles, each in his own city, learned
this, they heard within themselves the voice of angels,
that said :
" Up, to Rome ! There, a crown of glory
awaits you !
"
They went ; and their road brought them together,
at one of the city gates. There, they greeted one
another with the brother’s kiss, and read in each other’s
features, the consciousness that they were going now for
the last time to bear witness for the Lord—with their
blood.
One day, Nero gave a feast in his court amphitheatre,
on the Vatican. The race-course, around its entire ring,

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