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318

(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 - 4. La Campagna di Roma

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3l8 ROMAN DAYS.
During the first four centuries of the Ronnian republic’s
existence, Latium was yet a home for peasant life and
peasant freedom. Its cultivators formed the kernel of
the armed force of Rome. But in the same measure that
Rome extended its power, and its great men grew rich,
the little cottages gave way to great properties, the inde-
pendent workmen to slaves, the simple habits to an au-
dacious manner of life and moral rottenness. In vain did
a Cato strive to sustain old Roman virtue, when the foun-
dation of it was melting ever more and more. The
gracious picture of his wife laying the nursling of the
slave woman upon her own breast, would cajole us with
a semblance of the patriarchal ; but the semblance is
annulled by his own heartlessness towards the old work-
man who had worn out his strength in Cato’s service.
The many little homes, with strong men, virtuous women
and sturdy children, disappeared more and more, and
with every new levy for a campaign, fewer and fewer
free men were found in Latium, to bear arms. The
yeomen’s descendants removed inside the walls of the
cities, and were there by degrees changed into a lazy,
proud and restless rabble. The idyll of country life had
veered around to a really satanic condition. Round about
the magnificent country-seats, that each and every one
had cost the fall of hundreds of peasant houses, and in the
halls of which, festal orgies and wild bacchanals were held,
thousands of slaves chained in iron, worked in field and
meadow, until after sunset they were driven into their
comfortless sleeping-pens, that were fortified with bolted
doors and grated loop-holes. They fattened the soil
with curses more than with sweat, and the soil bore fruit
accordingly. The malaria again appeared, and increased
with every year. The care that petty agriculture gives,

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