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Chapter 58

  • "Loan," said Chio, "the sea is like olive oil, the waves seem to sleep. Let u_o to Achaa. There the glory of Apollo is awaiting thee, crowns and triump_re awaiting thee, the people will deify thee, the gods will receive thee as _uest, their own equal; but here, O lord —"
  • And he stopped, for his lower lip began to quiver so violently that his word_assed into meaningless sounds.
  • "We will go when the games are over," replied Nero. "I know that even now som_all the Christians innoxia corpora. ff1 were to go, all would repeat this.
  • What dost thou fear?"
  • Then he frowned, but looked with inquiring glance at Chilo, as if expecting a_nswer, for he only feigned cool blood. At the last exhibition he himsel_eared the words of Crispus; and when he had returned to the Palatine, h_ould not sleep from rage and shame, but also from fear.
  • Then Vestinius, who heard their conversation in silence, looked around, an_aid in a mysterious voice, —
  • "Listen, lord, to this old man. There is something strange in thos_hristians. Their deity gives them an easy death, but he may be vengeful."
  • "It was not I who arranged the games, but Tigellinus," replied Nero, quickly.
  • "True! it was I," added Tigellinus, who heard Caesar's answer, "and I jeer a_ll Christian gods. Vestinius is a bladder full of prejudices, and thi_aliant Greek is ready to die of terror at sight of a hen with feathers up i_efence of her chickens."
  • "True!" said Nero; "but henceforth give command to cut the tongues out o_hristians and stop their mouths."
  • "Fire will stop them, O divinity."
  • "Woe is me!" groaned Chilo.
  • But Caesar, to whom the insolent confidence of Tigellinus gave courage, bega_o laugh, and said, pointing to the old Greek,
  • "See how the descendant of Achilles looks!"
  • Indeed Chilo looked terribly. The remnant of hair on his head had grown white; on his face was fixed an expression of some immense dread, alarm, an_ppression. He seemed at times, too, as if stunned and only half conscious.
  • Often he gave no answer to questions; then again he fell into anger, an_ecame so insolent that the Augustians preferred not to attack him. Such _oment had come to him then.
  • "Do what ye like with me, but I will not go to the games!" cried he, i_esperation.
  • Nero looked at him for a while, and, turning to Tigellinus, said, —
  • "Have a care that this Stoic is near me in the gardens. I want to see wha_mpression our torches will make on him."
  • Chilo was afraid of the threat which qaeiivercd in Caesar's voice.
  • "O lord," said he, "I shall see nothing, for I cannot see in the night-time."
  • "The night will be as bright as day," replied Caesar, with a threatenin_augh.
  • Turning then to the Augustians, Nero talked about races which he intended t_ave when the games were over.
  • Petronius approached Chio, and asked, pushing him on the shoulder, —
  • "Have I not said that thou wouldst not hold out?"
  • "I wish to drink," said Chilo, stretching his trembling hand toward a goble_f wine; but he was unable to raise it to his lips. Seeing this, Vestiniu_ook the vessel; but later he drew near, and inquired with curious an_rightened face, —
  • "Are the Furies pursuing thee?"
  • The old man looked at him a certain time with open lips, as if no_nderstanding what he said. But Vestinius repeated,—
  • "Are the Furies pursuing thee?"
  • "No," answered Chio; "but night is before me."
  • "How, night? May the gods have mercy on thee. How night?"
  • "Night, ghastly and impenetrable, in which something is moving, somethin_oming toward me; but I know not what it is, and I am terrified."
  • "1 have always been sure that there are witches. Dost thou not dream o_omething?"
  • "No, for I do not sleep. I did not think that they would be punished thus."
  • "Art thou sorry for them?"
  • "Why do ye shed so much blood? Hast heard what that one said from the cross?
  • Woe to us!"
  • "I heard," answered Vestinius, in a low voice. "But they are incendiaries."
  • "Not true!"
  • "And enemies of the human race."
  • "Not true!"
  • "And poisoners of water."
  • "Not true!"
  • "And murderers of children."
  • "Not true!"
  • "How?" inquired Vestinius, with astonishment. "Thou hast said so thyself, an_iven them into the hands of Tigellinus."
  • "Therefore night has surrounded me, and death is coming toward me. At times i_eems to me that I am dead already, and ye also.
  • "No! it is they who are dying; we are alive. But tell me, what do they se_hen they are dying?"
  • "Christ."
  • "That is their god. Is he a mighty god?"
  • But Chilo answered with a question, —
  • "What kind of torches are to burn in the gardens? Hast thou heard what Caesa_aid?"
  • "I heard, and I know. Those torches are called Sarmentitii and Semaxii. The_re made by arraying men in painful tunics, steeped in pitch, and binding the_o pillars, to which fire is set afterward. May their god not send misfortun_n the city. Semaxii! that is a dreadful punishment!"
  • "I would rather see it, for there will not be blood," answered Chilo. "Comman_ slave to hold the goblet to my mouth. I wish to drink, but I spill the wine; my hand trembles from age."
  • Others also were speaking of the Christians. Old Domitius Afer reviled them.
  • "There is such a multitude of them," said he, "that they might raise a civi_ar; and, reiiiemnber, there were fears lest they might arm. But they die lik_heep."
  • "Let them try to die otherwise!" said Tigellinus.
  • To this Petronius answered, "Ye deceive yourselves. They are arming."
  • "With what?"
  • "With patience."
  • "That is a new kind of weapon."
  • "True. But can ye say that they die like common criminals? No! They die as i_he criminals were those who condemned them to death, — that is, we and th_hole Roman people."
  • "What raving!" said Tigellinus.
  • "Hic Abdera!"[[12]](footnotes.xml#footnote_12) answered Petronius. But others, struck by the justice of his remark, began to look at one another wit_stonishment, and repeat, — "True! there is something peculiar and strange i_heir death." "I tell you that they see their divinity!" cried Vestinius, fro_ne side. Thereupon a number of Augustians turned to Chilo, — "Hal, old man, thou knowest them well; tell us what they see." The Greek spat out wine on hi_unic, and answered, — "The resurrection." And he began to tremble so that th_uests sitting nearer burst into loud laughter.