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257

(1887) [MARC] Author: Viktor Rydberg Translator: Alfred Corning Clark With: Hans Anton Westesson Lindehn
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ROMAN TRADITIONS OF PETER AND PAUL. 257
was ornamented with statues ; and in the centre arose
the great obelisk, brought from the Egyptian city of
Heliopoh’s, which has for three hundred years stood on
the stately open place in front of St. Peter’s.
Near the obelisk, in the shade of a fluttering silken
pavilion, the emperor and his friends were indulging
copiously in the noble wine. Nero sang, laughed, and
scattered jests around him ; for he, like Caligula, had a
ready wit. He gave out, amid joking and laughter, mili-
tary titles, praetorian and consular insignia, senatorial
rank, proconsulates and governorships, to the favorites
around him. The sentinels of the praetorian guard, who
knew the taste of the high-born revellers, had introduced
into the circus a number of the venal beauties of Rome,
who were glad to collect where the emperor was, to ob-
tain a gracious glance from his eye. These ladies sat
waving fans, in their palanquins, a short distance from
the imperial circle. Nero and his guests amused them-
selves by throwing to them all the silver and gold under
which the table bent, and when the table was plundered,
they took off rings, amulets and diadems, and flung them
at the same mark.
" Long live virtue ! Down with vice !
" cried Nero.
" O thou worthy disciple of Seneca !
" jested his com-
panions.
" Long live virtue !
" screamed Nero ;
" but I know
no other virtue than sincerity, which is only a stupidly
timid name for impudence. Down with vice ! but I
know no vice than the hypocrite’s ; and every other vir-
tue than that I spoke of, is hypocrisy."
" Great philosopher !
" cried the guests, laughing.
But now the emperor suddenly stopped ; and his eye
rested on a girl who stood with the other female specta-

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