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Chapter 36

  • IT was known in Rome that Caesar wished to see Ostia on the journey, or rathe_he largest ship in the world, which had brought wheat recently fro_lexandria, and from Ostia to go by the Via Littoralis to Antium. Orders ha_een given a number of days earlier; hence at the Porta Ostiensis, from earl_orning, crowds made up of the local rabble and of all nations of the eart_ad collected to feast their eyes with the sight of Caesar's retinue, on whic_he Roman population could never gaze sufficiently. The road to Antium wa_either difficult nor long. In the place itself, which was composed of palace_nd villas built and furnished in a lordly manner, it was possible to fin_verything demanded by comfort, and even the most exquisite luxury of th_eriod. Caesar had the habit, however, of taking with him on a journey ever_bject in which he found delight, beginning with musical instruments an_omestic furniture, and ending with statues and mosaics, which were taken eve_hen he wished to remain on the road merely a short time for rest o_ecreation. He was accompanied, therefore, on every expedition by whol_egions of servants, without reckoning divisions of pretorian guards, an_ugustians; of the latter each had a personal retinue of slaves.
  • Early on the morning of that day herdsrnen from the Campania, with sunburn_aces, wearing goat-skins on their legs, drove forth five hundred she-asse_hrough the gates, so that Poppaea on the morrow of her arrival at Antiu_ight have her bath in their milk. The rabble gazed with delight and ridicul_t the long ears swaying amid clouds of dust, and listened with pleasure t_he whistling of whips and the wild shouts of the herdsmen. After the asse_ad gone by, crowds of youth rushed forth, swept the road carefully, an_overed it with flowers and needles from pine-trees. In the crowds peopl_hispered to each other, with a certain feeling of pride, that the whole roa_o Antium would be strewn in that way with flowers taken from private garden_ound about, or bought at high prices from dealers at the Porta Mugionis. A_he morning hours passed, the throng increased every moment. Some had brough_heir whole families, and, lest the time might seem tedious, they sprea_rovisions on stones intended for the new temple of Ceres, and ate thei_randium beneath the open sky. Here and there were groups, in which the lea_as taken by persons who had travelled; they talked of Caesar's present trip,
  • of his future journeys, and journeys in general. Sailors and old soldier_arrated wonders which during distant campaigns they had heard about countrie_hich a Roman foot had never touched. Home-stayers, who had never gone beyon_he Appian Way, listened with amazement to marvellous tales of India, o_rabia, of archipelagos surrounding Britain in which, on a small islan_nhabited by spirits, Briareus had imprisoned the sleeping Saturn. They hear_f hyperborean regions of stiffened seas, of the hisses and roars which th_cean gives forth when the sun plunges into his bath. Stories of this kin_ound ready credence among the rabble, stories believed by such men even a_acitus and Pliny. They spoke also of that ship which Caesar was to look at, —
  • a ship which had brought wheat to last for two years, without reckoning fou_undred passengers, an equal number of soldiers, and a multitude of wil_easts to be used during the summer games. This produced general good feelin_oward Caesar, who not only nourished the populace, but amused it. Hence _reeting full of enthusiasm was waiting for him.
  • Meanwhile came a detachment of Numidian horse, who belonged to the pretoria_uard. They wore yellow uniforms, red girdles, and great earrings, which cas_ golden gleam on their black faces. The points of their bamboo spear_littered like flames, in the sun. After they had passed, a procession-lik_ovement began. The throng crowded forward to look at it more nearly; bu_ivisions of pretorian foot were there, and, forming in line on both sides o_he gate, prevented approach to the road. In advance moved wagons carryin_ents, purple, red, and violet, and tents of byssus woven from threads a_hite as snow; and oriental carpets, and tables of citrus, and pieces o_osaic, and kitchen utensils, and cages with birds from the East, North, an_est, birds whose tongues or brains were to go to Caesar's table, and vessel_ith wine and baskets with fruit. But objects not to be exposed to bruising o_reaking in vehicles were borne by slaves. Hence hundreds of people were see_n foot, carrying vessels, and statues of Corinthian bronze. There wer_ompanies appointed specially to Etruscan vases; others to Grecian; others t_olden or silver vessels, or vessels of Alexandrian glass. These were guarde_y small detachments of pretorian infantry and cavalry; over each division o_laves were taskmasters, holding whips armed at the end with lumps of lead o_ron, instead of snappers. The procession, formed of men bearing wit_mportance and attention various objects, seemed like some solemn religiou_rocession; and the resemblance grew still more striking when the musica_nstruments of Caesar and the court were borne past. There were seen harps,
  • Grecian lutes, lutes of the Hebrews and Egyptians, lyres, formingas, citharas,
  • flutes, long, winding buffalo horns and cymbals. While looking at that sea o_nstruments, gleaming beneath the sun in gold, bronze, precious stones, an_earls, it might be imagined that Apollo and Bacchus had set out on a journe_hrough the world. After the instruments came rich chariots filled wit_crobats, dancers male and female, grouped artistically, with wands in thei_ands. After them followed slaves intended, not for service, but excess; s_here were boys and little girls, selected from all Greece and Asia Minor,
  • with long hair, or with winding curls arranged in golden nets, childre_esembling Cupids, with wonderful faces, but faces covered completely with _hick coating of cosmetics, lest the wind of the Campania might tan thei_elicate complexions.
  • And again appeared a pretorian cohort of gigantic Sicambrians, blue-eyed,
  • bearded, blond and red haired. In front of them Roman eagles were carried b_anner-bearers called "imagfnarii," tablets with inscriptions, statues o_erman and Roman gods, and finally statues and busts of Caesar, From under th_kins and armor of the soldier appeared limbs sunburnt and mighty, lookin_ike military engines capable of wielding the heavy weapons with which guard_f that kind were furnished. The earth seemed to bend beneath their measure_nd weighty tread. As if conscious of strength which they could use agains_aesar himself, they looked with contempt on the rabble of the street,
  • forgetting, it was evident, that many of themselves had come to that city i_anacles. But they were insignificant in numbers, for the pretorian force ha_emained in camp specially to guard the city and hold it within bounds. Whe_hey had marched past, Nero's chained lions and tigers were led by, so that,
  • should the wish come to him of imitating Dionysus, he would have them t_ttach to his chariots. They were led in chains of steel by Arabs and Hindoos,
  • but the chains were so entwined with garlands that the beasts seemed led wit_lowers. The lions and tigers, tamed by skilled trainers, looked at the crowd_ith green and seemingly sleepy eyes; but at moments they raised their gian_eads, and breathed through wheezing nostrils the exhalations of th_ultitude, licking their jaws the while with spiny tongues. Now came Caesar'_ehicles and litters, great and small, gold or purple, inlaid with ivory o_earls, or glittering with diamonds; after them came another small cohort o_retorians in Roman armor, pretorians composed of Italian volunteer_nly;[[6]](footnotes.xml#footnote_6) then crowds of select slave servants, an_oys; and at last came Caesar himself, whose approach was heralded from afa_y the shouts of thousands. In the crowd was the Apostle Peter, who wished t_ee Caesar once in life. He was accompanied by Lygia, whose face was hidden b_ thick veil, and Ursus, whose strength formed the surest defence of the youn_irl in the wild and boisterous crowd. The Lygian seized a stone to be used i_uilding the temple, and brought it to the Apostle, so that by standing on i_e might see better than others. The crowd muttered when Ursus pushed i_part, as a ship pushes waves; but when he carried the stone, which four o_he strongest men could not raise, the muttering was turned into wonderment,
  • and cries of "Macte!" were heard round about. Meanwhile Caesar appeared. H_as sitting in a chariot drawn by six white Idumean stallions shod with gold.
  • The chariot had the form of a tent with sides open, purposely, so that th_rowds could see Caesar. A number of persons might have found place in th_hariot; but Nero, desiring that attention should be fixed on him exclusively,
  • passed through the city alone, having at his feet merely two deformed dwarfs.
  • He wore a white tunic, and a toga of amethyst color, which cast a bluish ting_n his face. On his head was a laurel wreath. Since his departure from Naple_e had increased notably in body. His face had grown wide; under his lower ja_ung a double chin, by which his mouth, always too near his nose, seemed t_ouch his nostrils. His bulky neck was protected, as usual, by a sil_erchief, which he arranged from moment to moment with a white and fat han_rown over with red hair, forming as it were bloody stains; he would no_ermit epilatores to pluck out this hair, since he had been told that to do s_ould bring trembling of the fingers and injure his lute-playing. Measureles_anity was depicted then, as at all times, on his face, together with tediu_nd suffering. On the whole, it was a face both terrible and trivial. Whil_dvancing he turned his head from side to side, blinking at times, an_istening carefully to the manner in which the multitude greeted him. He wa_et by a storm of shouts and applause: "Hail, divine Caesar! lmperator, hail,
  • conqueror! hail, incomparable! Son of Apollo, Apollo himself!" When he hear_hese words, he smiled; but at moments a cloud, as it were, passed over hi_ace, for the Roman rabble was satirical and keen in reckoning, and let itsel_riticise even great triumphators, even men whom it loved and respected. I_as known that on a time they shouted during the entrance to Rome of Juliu_aesar: "Citizens, hide your wives; the old libertine is coming!" But Nero'_onstrous vanity could not endure the least blame or criticism; meanwhile i_he throng, amid shouts of applause were heard cries of "Ahenobarbus,
  • Ahenobarbus! Where hast thou put thy flaming beard? Dost thou fear that Rom_ight catch fire from it?" And those who cried out in that fashion knew no_hat their jest concealed a dreadful prophecy. These voices did not ange_aesar overmuch, since he did not wear a beard, for long before he had devote_t in a golden cylinder to Jupiter Capitolinus. But other persons, hidde_ehind piles of stones and the corners of temples, shouted: "Matricide! Nero!
  • Orestes! Alcmxon!" and still others: "Where is Octavia?" "Surrender th_urple!" At Poppaea, who came directly after him, they shouted, "Flava coma
  • (yellow hair)!!" with which name they indicated a street-walker. Caesar'_usical ear caught these exclamations also, and he raised the polished emeral_o his eyes as if to see and remember those who uttered them. While lookin_hus, his glance rested on the Apostle standing on the stone. For a whil_hose two men looked at each other. It occurred to no one in that brillian_etinue, and to no one in that immense throng, that at that moment two power_f the earth were looking at each other, one of which would vanish quickly a_ bloody dream, and the other, dressed in simple garments, would seize i_ternal possession the world and the city. Meanwhile Caesar had passed; an_mmediately after him eight Africans bore a magnificent litter, in which sa_oppaea, who was detested by the people. Arrayed, as was Nero, in amethys_olor, with a thick application of cosmetics on her face, immovable,
  • thoughtful, indifferent, she looked like some beautiful and wicked divinit_arried in procession. In her wake followed a whole court of servants, mal_nd female, next a line of wagons bearing materials of dress and use. The su_ad sunk sensibly from midday when the passage of Augustians began, — _rilliant glittering line gleaming like an endless serpent. The indolen_etronius, greeted kitidly by the multitude, had given command to bear him an_is godlike slave in a litter. Tigellinus went in a chariot drawn by ponie_rnamented with white and purple feathers, They saw him as he rose in th_hariot repeatedly, and stretched his neck to see if Caesar was preparing t_ive him the sign to to his chariot. Among others the crowd greeted Lcinianu_ith applause, Vitelius with laughter, Vatinius with hissing. Towards Licinu_nd Lecanius the consuls they were indifferent, but Tullius Senecio the_oved, it was unknown why, and Vestinius received applause. The court wa_nnumerable.. It seemed that all that was richest, most brilliant and noted i_ome, was migrating to Annum. Nero never travelled otherwise than wit_housands of vehicles; the society which acompanied him almost always exceede_he number of soldiers in a legion.[[7]](footnotes.xml#footnote_7) Henc_omitius Afer appeared, and the decrepit Lucius Saturninus; and Vespasian, wh_ad not gone yet on his expedition to Judea, from which he returned for th_rown of Caesar, and his sons, and young Nerva, and Lucan, and Annius Gallo,
  • and Quintianus, and a multitude of women renowned for wealth, beauty, luxury,
  • and vice. The eyes of the multitude were turhed to the harness, the chariots,
  • the horses, the strange livery of the servants, made up of all peoples of th_arth. In that procession of pride and grandeur one hardly knew what to loo_t; and not only the eye, but the mind, was dazzled by such gleaming of gold,
  • purple, and violet, by the flashing of precious stones, the glitter o_rocade, pearls, and ivory. It seemed that the very rays of the sun wer_issolving in that abyss of brilliancy. And though wretched people were no_acking in that throng, people with sunken stomachs, and with hunger in thei_yes, that spectacle inflamed not only their desire of enjoyment and thei_nvy, but filled them with delight and pride, because it gave a feeling of th_ight and invincibility of Rome, to which the world contributed, and befor_hich the world knelt. Indeed there was not on earth any one who ventured t_hink that that power would not endure through all ages, and outlive al_ations, or that there was anything in existence that had strength to oppos_t. Vinicius, riding at the end of the retinue, sprang out of his chariot a_ight of the Apostle and Lygia, whom he had not expected to see, and, greetin_hem with a radiant face, spoke with hurried voice, like a man who has no tim_o spare, — "Hast thou come? I know not how to thank thee, O Lygia! God coul_ot have sent me a better omen. I greet thee even while taking farewell, bu_ot farewell for a long time. On the road I shall dispose relays of horses,
  • and every free day I shall come to thee till I get leave to return. —
  • Farewell!" "Farewell, Marcus!" answered Lygia; then she added in a lowe_oice: "May Christ go with thee, and open thy soul to Paul's word." He wa_lad at heart that she was concerned about his becoming a Christian soon;
  • hence he answered, — "Ocelle mi! let it be as thou sayest. Paul prefers t_ravel with my people, but he is with me, and will be to me a companion an_aster. Draw aside thy veil, my delight, let me see thee before my journey.
  • Why art thou thus hidden?" She raised the veil, and showed him her bright fac_nd her wonderfully smiling eyes, inquiring, — "Is the veil bad?" And he_mile had in it a little of maiden opposition; but Vinicius, while looking a_er with delight, answered, — "Bad for my eyes, which till death would look o_hee only." Then he turned to Ursus and said, — "Ursus, guard her as the sigh_n thy eye, for she is my domina as well as thine." Seizing her hand then, h_ressed it with his lips, to the great astonishment of tlte crowd, who coul_ot understand signs of such honor from a brilliant Augustian to a maide_rrayed in simple garments, almost those of a slave. "Farewell!" Then h_eparted quickly, for Caesar's whole retinue had pushed forward considerably.
  • The Apostle Peter blessed hini with a slight sign of the cross; but the kindl_rsus began at once to glorify him, glad that his young mistress listene_agerly and was grateful to him for those praises. The retinue moved on an_id itself in clouds of golden dust; they gazed long after it, however, til_emas the miller apprvached, he for whom Ursus worked in the night-time. Whe_e had kissed the Apostle's hand, he entreated them to enter his dwelling fo_efreshment, saying that it was near thc Emporium, that they must be hungr_nd wearied since they had spent the greater part of the day at the gate. The_ent with him, and, after rest and refreshment in his house, returned to th_rans-Tiber only toward evening. Intending to cross the river by the Aemilia_ridge, they passed through the Clivus Publicus, going over the Aventine,
  • between the temples of Diana and Mercury. From that height the Apostle looke_n the edifices about him, and on those vanishing in the distance. Sunk i_ilence he meditated on the immensity and dominion of that city, to which h_ad come to announce the word of God. Hitherto he had seen the rule of Rom_nd its legions in various lands through which he had wandered, but they wer_ingle members as it were of the power, which that day for the first time h_ad seen impersonated in the form of Nero. That city, immense, predatory,
  • ravenous, unrestrained, rotten to the marrow of its bones, and unassailable i_ts preterhuman power; that Caesar, a fratricide, a matricide, a wife-slayer,
  • after him dragged a retinue of bloody spectres no less in number than hi_ourt. That profligate, that buffoon, but also lord of thirty legions, an_hrough them of the whole earths; those courtiers covered with gold an_carlet, uncertain of the morrow, but mightier meanwhile than kings, — al_his together seemed a species of hellish kingdom of wrong and evil. In hi_imple heart he marvelled that God could give such inconceivable almightines_o Satan, that He could yield the earth to him to knead, overturn, and trampl_t, to squeeze blood and tears from it, to twist it like a whirlwind, to stor_t like a tempest, to consume it like a flame. And his Apostle-heart wa_larmed by those thoughts, and in spirit he spoke to the Master: "O Lord, ho_hall I begin in this city, to which Thou Inst sent mc? 'lo ft belong seas an_ands, the beasts of the field, and the creatures of the water; it owns othe_ingdoms and cities, and thirty legions which guard them; hut I, O Lord, am _isherman from a lake! How shall I begin, and how shall I conquer its malice?"
  • Thus speaking. he raised his gray, trembling head toward heaven, praying an_xclaiming from the depth of his heart to his Divine Master, himself f till o_adness and fear. Meanwhile hb prayer was interrupted by Lygia. "The whol_ity is as if on fire," said she. In fact the sun went down that day in _arvellous manner. Its immense shield had sunk half-way behind the Janiculum,
  • the whole expanse of heaven was filled with a red gleam. From the place o_hich they were standing, Peter's glance embraced large expanses. Somewhat t_hc right they saw the long extending walls of the Circus Maximus; above i_he towering palaces of the Palatine; and directly in front of them, beyon_he Forum Boarium and the Velabrum, the summit of the Capitol, with the templ_f Jupiter. But the walls and the columns and the summits of the temples wer_s if sunk in that golden and purple gleam. The parts of the river visibl_rom afar flowed as if in blood; arid as the sun sank moment after momen_ehind the mountain, th‡ gleam became redder and redder, more and more like _onflagration, and it increased and extended till finally it embraced th_even hills, from which it extended to the whole region about. "The whole cit_eems on fire!" repeated Lygia. Peter shaded his eyes with his hand, and said
  • — "The wrath of God is upon it."