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308

(1887) [MARC] Author: Viktor Rydberg Translator: Alfred Corning Clark With: Hans Anton Westesson Lindehn
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Full resolution (JPEG) - On this page / på denna sida - Pencil Sketches in Rome - 3. The Colosseum

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308 ROMAN DA YS.
criminal knovvn for his ability as an actor, that he should
play the part of Laureolus ; and the man had gladly
agreed to it, in the hope that after successful acting, he
should obtain the intercessions of the spectators and the
emperor’s grace. So he played with a power and truth
to nature, that brought him stormy acclamations from the
Roman people and encouraging smiles from the emperor
—who shared his attention between him and the scarlet-
clad dwarf who always went with him to the theatre, and
there sat at his feet. So came the closing scene, which
represented the punishment of Laureolus, and always
called forth applause, when, the executioner’s men ac-
complished their task so well, that the crucifixion, with-
out harm to the actor’s limbs, had a delusive likeness to
a real one. But Domitian favored "the realistic in art
"
carried to its extreme point, and he thought to surprise,
as the tiger does from his ambush. The cross is borne
in, the imprisoned actor’s arms outstretched—and at a
sign from the imperial box, the executioners drive the
nails through his hands and feet, and lift on high the
tree of death, deluged with the blood of the shrieking
victim. The spectators sit a moment mute with horror:
f hey see an actually not a seemingly crucified Laureolus.
But it was dangerous not to find a jest of Caesar good.
The senators clap their hands, the knights also, and the
people joins with them. That time, too, the poet Mar-
tialis sat among the spectators. Returned home, he
wrote one of those elegant epigrams which were titbits
for his contemporaries, and in it, praised the emperor’s
taste and love of truth in art. The court poet crowned
the abject baseness of the emperor. But he who thus
made himself poet of the court, could not be far-sighted.
To the ill-luck of Martialis, but the advantage of the

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