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309

(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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PENCIL SKETCHES IN ROME. 309
Roman realm, it happened that the imperial crown after
Domitian’s death was assumed by men of republican vir-
tue and republican principle. They did not feel them-
selves honored by panegyrics from Domitian’s literary
friend, who had prostituted his genius : burdened by
their contempt, he left Rome.
It is the belief of the church that many Christians
suffered martyrdom in the Flavian amphitheatre. Ter-
tullian testifies that the cry, " Cast the Christians to the
lions ! ’’
was common during the times of persecution.
But in this, the most ancient traditions of the martyrs
are in strange contradiction with each other ; from which
one would involuntarily come to the conclusion that the
persecutors must soon have ceased this cruel means
of punishment, as it proved itself powerless—since the
wild beasts, however much their thirst for blood and their
fury were incited, could never be induced to stain their
teeth with the blood of bodies consecrated as temples
of the Holy Spirit. Water, too, refused to kill them
:
flames, as well ; out of the waves into which they were
thrown, and the pyre that had been lighted under them,
almost always the martyrs issued unharmed before their
amazed executioners. Only iron and the noose could
infallibly end their earthly life. No legend expresses
this as a common and well-known experience ;
but when
one compares the mass of stories of the martyrs one with
another, he comes to this conclusion, and must ask him-
self if some hitherto unperceived idea be not hidden be-
neath it. The observation is anyhow not new. Among
the " curiosa " of literature that the street booksellers 01
Rome spread out on the bridge by the Forum Roma-
num—those products of a terrible learning which has

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