Imperial Purple eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 80 pages of information about Imperial Purple.

Those days differed from ours.  There were circumstances in which suicide was regarded as the simplest of duties.  Nero did his duty, but not until he was forced to it, and even then not until he had been asked several times whether it was so hard to die.  The empire had wearied of him.  In Neropolis his popularity had gone as popularity ever does; the conflagration had killed it.

Even as he wandered, lyre in hand, a train of Lesbians and pederasts at his heels, through those halls which had risen on the ruins, and which inexhaustible Greece had furnished with a fresh crop of white immortals, the world rebelled.  Afar on the outskirts of civilization a vassal, ashamed of his vassalage, declared war, not against Rome, but against an emperor that played the flute.  In Spain, in Gaul, the legions were choosing other chiefs.  The provinces, depleted by imperial exactions, outwearied by the increasing number of accusers, whose accusations impoverishing them served only to multiply the prodigalities of their Caesar, revolted.

Suddenly Nero found himself alone.  As the advancing rumor of rebellion reached him, he thought of flight; there was no one that would accompany him.  He called to the pretorians; they would not hear.  Through the immensity of his palace he sought one friend.  The doors would not open.  He returned to his apartment; the guards had gone.  Then terror seized him.  He was afraid to die, afraid to live, afraid of his solitude, afraid of Rome, afraid of himself; but what frightened him most was that everyone had lost their fear of him.  It was time to go, and a slave aiding, he escaped in disguise from Rome, and killed himself, reluctantly, in a hovel.

“Qualis artifex pereo!” he is reported to have muttered.  Say rather, qualis maechus.

VI

THE HOUSE OF FLAVIA

It was in those days that the nebulous figure of Apollonius of Tyana appeared and disappeared in Rome.  His speech, a commingling of puerility and charm, Philostratus has preserved.  Rumor had preceded him.  It was said that he knew everything, save the caresses of women; that he was familiar with all languages; with the speech of bird and beast; with that of silence, for silence is a language too; that he had prayed in the Temple of Jupiter Lycoeus, where men lost their shadows, their lives as well; that he had undergone eighty initiations of Mithra; that he had perplexed the magi; confuted the gymnosophists; that he foretold the future, healed the sick, raised the dead; that beyond the Himalayas he had encountered every species of ferocious beast, except the tyrant, and that it was to see one that he had come to Rome.

Nero was quite free from prejudice.  Apart from a doll which he worshipped he had no superstitions.  He had the plain man’s dislike of philosophy; Seneca had sickened him of it, perhaps; but he was sensitive, not that he troubled himself particularly about any lies that were told of him, but he did object to people who went about telling the truth.  In that respect he was not unique; we are all like him, but he had ways of stilling the truth which were imperial and his own.

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Imperial Purple from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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