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Title: Quintus Claudius, Volume 1 of 2 - A Romance of Imperial Rome
Author: Eckstein, Ernst
Language: English
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Transcriber’s Note

This version of the text cannot represent certain typographical
effects. Italics are delimited with the ‘_’ character as _italic_.
A bold font is delimited with the ‘=’ character as =bold=. Text
printed in mixed case small capitals is printed in all upper case.

Errors and inconsistencies in punctuation have been attributed to
printer’s errors, and corrected without further comment.

Please note the publisher’s decision to place footnotes at the bottom
of each page, as well as the author’s note on this topic in the
Preface. In keeping with his intent, notes here have been moved to the
end of each chapter.

Please consult the endnotes at the bottom of this text for more details
on the handling of textual issues.



                                 WORKS

                                   BY

                            ERNST ECKSTEIN.


            =CYPARISSUS.= From the German by Mary J.
            Safford. One vol., paper, 50 cts.; cloth, 75
            cts.

            =HERTHA.= From the German by Mrs. Edward
            Hamilton Bell. One vol., paper, 50 cts.; cloth,
            75 cts.

            =QUINTUS CLAUDIUS.= From the German by
            Clara Bell. Two vols., paper, $1.00; cloth,
            $1.75 per set.

            =PRUSIAS.= From the German by Clara Bell.
            Two vols., paper, $1.00; cloth, $1.75 per set.

            =NERO.= From the German by Clara Bell and
            Mary J. Safford. Two vols., paper, 80 cts.;
            cloth, $1.50 per set.

            =THE WILL.= From the German by Clara Bell.
            Two vols., paper, $1.00; cloth, $1.75 per set.

            =APHRODITE.= From the German by Mary J.
            Safford. One vol., paper, 50 cts.; cloth, 90
            cts.

            =THE CHALDEAN MAGICIAN.= From the German
            by Mary J. Safford. One vol., paper, 25 cts.;
            cloth, 50 cts.


                          ECKSTEIN’S ROMANCES,

             12 volumes, cloth binding, in box,      $9.50



                           QUINTUS CLAUDIUS

                       A ROMANCE OF IMPERIAL ROME

                                   BY

                             ERNST ECKSTEIN

                    FROM THE GERMAN BY CLARA BELL

                        IN TWO VOLUMES--VOL. I.

               REVISED AND CORRECTED IN THE UNITED STATES

                                NEW YORK
                   GEO. GOTTSBERGER PECK, PUBLISHER
                          117 CHAMBERS STREET



             Copyright, 1882, by WILLIAM S. GOTTSBERGER


         THIS TRANSLATION WAS MADE EXPRESSLY FOR THE PUBLISHER



                                PREFACE

                      TO THE FIRST GERMAN EDITION.


It was in Rome itself, in the sublime solemnity of the Colosseum,
among the ruins of the palaces of the Caesars and crumbling pillars of
the temples of the gods, that the first dreamy outlines rose before
my fancy of the figures here offered to the reader’s contemplation.
Each visit added strength to the mysterious impulse, to conjure up
from their tombs these shadows of a mighty past, and afterwards, at
home, where the throng of impressions sorted and grouped themselves at
leisure, my impulse ripened to fulfilment.

I will not pause here to dwell on the fact, that the period of Imperial
rule in Rome bears, in its whole aspect, a stronger resemblance to the
XIXth century than perhaps any other epoch before the Reformation; for,
without reference to this internal affinity, we should be justified in
using it for the purpose of Romance simply by the fact, that hardly
another period has ever been equally full of the stirring conflict of
purely human interest, and of dramatic contrasts in thought, feeling
and purpose.

I must be permitted to add a word as to the notes.[A]

I purposely avoided disturbing the reader of the story by references in
the text, and indeed the narrative is perfectly intelligible without
any explanation. The notes, in short, are not intended as explanatory,
but merely to instruct the reader, and complete the picture; they also
supply the sources, and give the evidence on which I have drawn. From
this point of view they may have some interest for the general public,
unfamiliar with the authorities.

  LEIPZIG, June 15, 1881.
                                                       ERNST ECKSTEIN.


FOOTNOTES:

  [A] The publisher of this translation has, for the reader’s
      convenience, placed all the notes at the foot of the pages
      containing the corresponding text.



                           QUINTUS CLAUDIUS.



                               CHAPTER I.


It was the morning of the 12th of September in the Year of Our Lord
95; the first cold gleam of dawn was shining on the steel-grey surface
of the Tyrrhenian sea. To the east, over the gently undulating coast
of Campania, the sky was tinged with that tender dewy-green which
follows on the paling of the stars; to the west the waters still lay in
impenetrable darkness. Their almost unruffled face was swiftly parted
by a large trireme,[1] just now making its way from the south and
opposite to Salernum, between the Posidium[2] promontory and the Island
of Capreae.[3] The oars of the crew, who sat in rows on three ranks of
benches, rose and fell in rhythm to a melancholy chant; the steersman
yawned as he looked into the distance, hoping for the moment of release.

A small hatchway--fitted with silver ornaments--now opened on to the
deck from the cabin between decks; a fat round head with short hair
showed itself in the opening, and a pair of blinking eyes looked
curiously round in every direction. Presently the head was followed by
a body, of which the squat rotundity matched the odd head.

“Well, Chrysostomus, is Puteoli[4] in sight yet?” asked the stout man,
stepping on to the deck and looking across to the blue-black rocks of
Capreae.

“Ask again in three hours time,” replied the steersman. “Unless you can
succeed in looking round the corner, like the magician of Tyana,[5] you
must need wait till we have the island yonder behind us.”

“What!” exclaimed the other, drawing a little ivory map[6] from his
tunic.[7] “Are those rocks only Capreae?”

“Thou sayest, O Herodianus! Out there on the heights to the right,
hardly visible yet, stands the palace of the glorified Caesar
Tiberius.[8] Do you see that steep cliff, straight down to the sea?
That was where such useless fellows as you were dropped over into the
water by Caesar’s slaves.”

“Chrysostomus, do not be impudent! How dare you, a common ship’s-mate,
make so bold as to scoff at me, the companion and confidential friend
of the illustrious Caius Aurelius? By the gods![9] but it is beneath me
to hold conversation with you, an ignorant seaman--a man who carries
no wax-tablets[10] about him, who only knows how to handle the tiller
and not the stylus--a common Gaul who is ignorant of all history of
the gods--such a man ought not even to exist, so far as the friend of
Aurelius is concerned.”

“Oho! you are dreaming! you are not his friend, but his freedman.”[11]

Herodianus bit his lip; as he stood there, his face flushed with
anger and turned to the growing day, he might have been taken for an
ill-natured and vindictive man. But good temper and a genial nature
soon reasserted themselves.

“You are an insolent fellow,” he said laughing, “but I know you mean no
harm. You sea-folks are a rough race. I will burn a thank-offering to
all the gods when this accursed sea-saw on the waves is over at last.
Was there ever such a voyage! from Trajectum[12] to Gades[13] without
landing once! And at Gades hardly had we set foot on shore, when we
were ordered on board again! And if Aurelius, our noble master, had
not had business to settle in Panormus[14] with his deceased father’s
host, I believe we should have made the whole voyage from Hispania to
Rome without a break. I will dance like the Corybantes,[15] when I am
once more allowed to feel like a man among men! How long will it be yet
before we reach Ostia?”[16]

“Two days, not more,” replied Chrysostomus.

“Aphrodite Euploia be most fervently thanked!”

“What are you talking about? Who is that you are blessing?”

“To be sure, my good Chrysostomus,” replied the other with a triumphant
smile, “I was forgetting that a seaman from the land of the Gauls is
not likely to understand Greek. Euploia, being interpreted, means the
goddess who grants us a good voyage. Do not take my observation ill,
but surely you might have picked up so much Greek as that in the course
of your many voyages with the lamented father of our lord Aurelius.”

“Silly stuff!” retorted Chrysostomus. “Besides, I never sailed in the
Greek seas. Ten times to Ostia, eight times to Massilia,[17] twelve
times to Panormus and a score of times northwards to the seas of the
Goths up by the land of the Rugii[18]--that is the sum total of my
annals. But Latin is spoken everywhere; even the Frisii[19] can make
themselves understood more or less in the language of Rome; among the
Rugii, to be sure, we talked in Gothic.”

“A poor excuse!” said Herodianus pathetically. “However I have talked
till I am thirsty! I will be on the spot again when the master appears.”

He carefully replaced his little ivory map in the bosom of his
under-garment, and was about to withdraw, when a tall youth, followed
by two or three slaves, appeared on the steps from below. The ship’s
crew hailed their master with a loud shout, and Caius Aurelius,
thanking them for their greeting, went forward while the slaves
prepared breakfast[20] under an awning over the cabin roof; only one of
them followed him.

It was by this time broad daylight; the whole eastern sky glowed with
flame behind the blue Campanian hills, a light breeze curled the no
less glowing sea into a thousand waves and ripples, and the prow of the
galley, which was decorated with a colossal ram’s-head[21] in brass,
threw up the water in sparks of liquid gold. The palace of Tiberius
on the top of the rocky isle seemed caught in sudden fire, at every
instant the glory spread lower, kindling fresh peaks and towers, and up
rose the sun in all the majesty and splendor of his southern might from
behind the heights of Salernum.

Herodianus, who had taken his place officiously close to his master,
appeared to promise himself immense satisfaction in interpreting the
young man’s mood of devout admiration by a long quotation of Greek
poetry. He had already thrown himself into a pathetic attitude and laid
his finger meditatively on his cheek, when Aurelius signed to him that
he wished to be left undisturbed. The freedman, somewhat offended,
drew back a step or two while Aurelius, standing by the side of his
favorite slave Magus,[22] who preserved a discreet silence, leaned over
the bulwark for a long space lost in thought, letting his eye wander
over the open sea and linger for a while on the fantastic shapes of the
rocks and mountains, which constantly shifted in form and grouping as
the swift galley flew onwards.

Capreae was already on their right hand, and the broad bay of
Parthenope,[23] with its endless perspective of towns and villas,
opened before them like a huge pearly shell; the dark ashy cone of
Vesuvius[24] stood up defiantly over the plain where, a short time
since, it had engulfed the blooming towns of Herculaneum, Pompeii and
Stabiae. Now there rose from its summit only a filmy cloud of smoke,
ruddy in the light of the mounting sun. Farther on, the quays of
Puteoli were discernible, the stately buildings of Baiae[25] and the
islands of Aenaria and Prochyta.[26] On the left hand the distance
was unlimited; vessels laden with provisions from Alexandria[27] and
merchant-ships from Massilia slowly crossed the horizon like visions;
others, with every sail set, flew across the bay to disembark their
precious freight in the emporium of Puteoli, whence it would be carried
to lay at the feet of Rome, the all-absorbing and insatiable mistress
of the world.

Meanwhile the slaves had laid the table under the awning with fine
cloths, had arranged couches and seats and strewn the spot with a few
flowers, and were now standing ready to serve the morning meal at a
sign from their young master. The weary night-rowers had half an hour
ago been relieved by a fresh crew, and the fine boat flew on with
double rapidity, for a fresh breeze had risen and filled the sails. In
an instant the whole face of the waters had changed, and as far as the
eye could reach danced crest on crest of foam.

Aurelius wrapped himself more closely in his Tarentine
travelling-cloak[28] and involuntarily glanced at Magus, the Gothic
slave who stood by his side; but Magus did not seem to see his master’s
look, he was gazing motionless and with knitted brows in the direction
of Baiae. Then he shaded his eyes from the glare with his right hand.

“_Hva gasaihvis._[29] What do you see?” asked Aurelius, who sometimes
spoke in Gothic to the man.

“_Gasaihva leitil skip_,” answered the Goth. “A little boat out there
not far from the point. If it is the same in your southern seas, as
in our northern ones, these good folks would be wise to get their
cockleshell to shore as fast as may be. When the sea is covered with
eider-down in such a short time, it generally means mischief.”

“You have eyes like a northern sea-eagle. It is indeed, a small boat,
hardly visible among the tossing waves, it cannot have more than eight
oarsmen at most.”

“There are but four, my lord,” said the Goth. “And with them three
ladies.”

The wind was rising every instant; the trireme parted the water like an
arrow, and the prow, now rising and now sinking on the billows, dipped
in them far above the large metal ornaments.

“It may indeed be a serious matter,” said Aurelius; “not for us--it
must be something worse than this that puts the proud ‘Batavia’[30] in
peril--but for the ladies in that little bark....”

He turned round. “Amsivarius,” he cried to the head oarsman. “Tell your
men to give way with a will; and you, Magus, go and desire Chrysostomus
to alter our course.”

In a few seconds the vessel’s head was turned round a quarter of a
circle and was making her way straight into the bay. The accelerated
thud of the time-keeper’s hammer sounded a dull accompaniment to the
piping wind; the sea surged and tossed, and the deep-blue sky, where
there still was not a cloud to be seen, beamed incongruously bright
over the stormy main. They were now within a hundred yards of the small
boat, which was one of the elegant pleasure-barks used by the gay
visitors to Baiae for short excursions in the bay. As the trireme came
up with them, the rowers gave up their futile struggle with the raging
elements and only tried to avoid being capsized. The ladies, it could
be seen were much agitated; two of them, a richly-dressed woman of
about forty and a young and blooming girl sat clinging to each other,
while the third, tumbled into a heap at the bottom of the boat, held an
amulet[31] in her hand, which she again and again pressed fervently to
her lips.

Aurelius gave a shout from the trireme, which the boatmen eagerly
answered, and a sailor on board the Batavia flung a rope with a
practised hand to the foremost of the men in the smaller vessel--the
slave hastily tied it fast and cried out “ready,” the sailor pulled
firmly and steadily, the rope stretched taut, the little boat came
on and in a few minutes lay under the lee of the galley like a fish
judiciously hooked and landed. In two minutes more it was fast to the
side of the trireme, and the ladies and the crew were placed in safety.

Aurelius, leaning against the stern-bulwark, had watched the
proceedings with anxious interest and now, as the ladies, exhausted by
the tossing they had had, sank on to the couches under the canopy, he
politely went forward and invited his unexpected visitors to go down
into the more sheltered cabin rooms of the trireme. The younger lady
rose at once, and with a dignified eagerness expressed their thanks.
Nor was it long before the elder had quite recovered herself; only the
old woman who held the amulet hid her pale face in the pillows as if
she were stunned, while she trembled and quaked in every limb.

“Come, stand up, Baucis,” said the young girl kindly. “The danger is
over.”

“Merciful Isis[32] save and defend us!” groaned the old woman, turning
the amulet in her fingers. “Preserve us from sudden death and deliver
us in danger! I will offer thee a waxen ship,[33] and sacrifice lambs
and fruits as much as thou canst desire!”

“Oh, you superstitious simpleton!” said the girl in her ear. “How am I
to bring you to your senses? Pray rather to the almighty Jupiter, that
he may enlighten your ignorance! But come now--the noble stranger who
has taken us on board his ship is growing impatient.”

A shrill cry was the only answer, for the vessel had given a sudden
lurch and the old woman, who was sitting with her legs under her on the
couch, was thrown off somewhat roughly.

“Oh, Isis of a thousand names!” she whimpered piteously. “That has
cost me two or three ribs at least and a score of weeks on a sick-bed!
Barbillus--you false priest--is that all the good your amulet is? Was
it for this that I had my forehead sprinkled with water out of the
sacred Nile,[34] and paid fifty sesterces[35] for each sprinkling? Was
it for this that I laid fresh bread on the altars? Oh woe is me, what
pain I am in!”

While she was thus besieging heaven with complaints, Magus the Goth had
with a strong hand picked up the little woman and set her on her feet.

“There, leave off crying, mother,” said he good-humoredly. “Roman bones
are not so easily broken! But make haste and get below; the storm is
increasing fast. See, my master is leading your ladies down now.” And
as Baucis gave no sign of acting on the slave’s advice, she suddenly
found herself lifted up like a feather in his strong and sinewy arms
and carried to the hatchway, to the great amusement of the bystanders.

“Madam,” said Aurelius to the elder lady, when his guests were snugly
under shelter in the eating-room, “I am a Roman knight[36] from the
town of Trajectum in Batavia, far north of this, not far from the
frontier of the Belgae. My name is Caius Aurelius Menapius, and I am on
my way to Rome as being the centre of the inhabited world, in order to
improve and extend my knowledge and perhaps to serve my mother-country.
May I venture now to ask you and your fair companion, to tell me who
you are that kind fortune has thus thrown in my way?”

“My lord,”[37] said the matron, with a gravity that was almost solemn,
“we can boast of senatorial rank. I am Octavia, the wife of Titus
Claudius Mucianus,[38] the priest of Jupiter, and this is our daughter.
We have been staying at Baiae since the end of April for the sake
of my health. The sea-air, the aromatic breath of the woods and the
delightful quiet of our country-house, which is somewhat secluded,
soon restored my strength, and I take a particular pleasure in morning
excursions on the bay. We started to-day in lovely weather to sail
as far as Prochyta; then the storm overtook us, as you know, at some
distance from the shore, and we owe it to you and to your good ship,
that we are so well out of the danger. Accept once more our warmest
thanks, and pray give us the opportunity of returning in our villa at
Baiae the hospitality you have shown us on board your galley.”

“With the greatest pleasure,” said Aurelius eagerly, “and all the
more so, as I purposed remaining to rest at Baiae--” but he colored
as he spoke, for this was not the truth--he looked round in some
embarrassment at Magus, who was standing humbly in a corner of the room
and preparing to serve some refreshment. The eyes of the master and the
slave met, and the master colored more deeply, while the slave laughed
to himself with a certain satisfaction. Two other servants placed seats
round the table in the old Roman fashion, for the custom of lying on a
couch at meals was by no means universal in the provinces, and Aurelius
knew that even in Rome women of high rank and strict conduct contemned
this luxurious habit.

The rocking of the vessel had ceased, for it had been steered into
a sheltered cove of the bay, and before long a tempting breakfast
was spread on the embroidered cloth; fish, milk, honey, eggs, fruit
and a dish of boiled cray-fish, of which the scarlet mail contrasted
picturesquely with the artistically-embossed silver-platter on which
they were served.

Aurelius begged his guests to be seated and led Octavia to the seat of
honor at the upper end of the table. On her left hand her daughter,
the fair Claudia, took her seat; Aurelius sat on the other hand and at
the side of the table. Herodianus and Baucis, who was still very much
discomposed, took their places at the other end of the table and at a
respectful distance.

“You must take what little I can offer you, ladies,” said the Batavian.
“We Northmen are plain folks....”

“You are joking!” interrupted Octavia. “Do you imagine, that all the
inhabitants of the imperial city are gourmands after the fashion of
Gavius Apicius?”[39]

“Well,” said Aurelius in some confusion, “we know at any rate that Rome
is the acknowledged mistress of all the arts of refined enjoyment, and
above all of the most extravagant luxury in food....”

“Not half so much so as you believe,” said Octavia. “You gentlemen from
the provinces fall, without exception, into that strange mistake. A
Roman lady in the same way is to you the type of all that is atrocious,
because a few reckless women have made themselves talked about. You
forget that it is in the very nature of virtue to remain concealed and
ignored. But tell me, my lord, whence do you procure this delicious
honey?”

“It comes from Hymettus,”[40] replied Aurelius, who was somewhat
disconcerted by the lady’s airs and manners. “My friend here, the
worthy Herodianus, procured it at Panormus.”

“Ah!” said Octavia, raising a polished emerald[41] mounted in gold
to her eye, for she was short-sighted: “Your friend understands the
subject, that I must confess--do you not think so, Claudia my love?”

The young lady answered with vague abstraction, for some minutes she
had sat lost in thought. She had hardly touched the delicacies that had
been set before her, and she now silently waved a refusal to the slave
who offered the much-praised honey. Even the vigorous struggle in which
Herodianus was engaged with an enormous lobster[42] failed to bring a
smile to her lips, and yet her expression had never been brighter or
more radiant. Once and again her eyes rested on the face of the young
Batavian, who was engaged in such eager conversation with her mother,
and then they returned to the loop-hole in the cabin roof, where the
pane of crystal[43] shone like a diamond in the sunshine.

Octavia was talking of Rome, while Herodianus entertained Baucis with
an account of Menander’s[44] comedies; thus Claudia could pursue her
day-dream at her pleasure. She was in fancy again living through the
events of the last hour--she pictured herself in the small open boat
tossed on the angry waves; far away across the seething waters she saw
the tall trireme--saw it tack to enter the bay. It was all vividly
before her. And then the moment when the slave flung the rescuing rope!
who was the man who stood, calm and proud, leaning over the bulwarks,
undisturbed by the wrath of Nature? She remembered exactly how he
had looked--how at the sight of that noble figure, which seemed as
though it could rule the storm, a sudden sense of safety had come over
her, like a magical spell. Then, when she found herself on board! At
first she had felt ready to sob and cry like Baucis; but the sound of
his voice, the wonderful look of gentle strength that shone in his
face, controlled her to composure. Only once in her life had she ever
felt like this before; it was two or three years since, when she was
out on an excursion to Tibur[45] with her illustrious father. Their
Cappadocian horses[46] had shied, reared, and then galloped off like
the whirlwind. The driver was flung from his seat--the chariot was
being torn along close to the edge of a towering cliff--her father had
seized the floating reins just in time, and quietly saying: “Do not be
frightened, my child,” in five seconds the horses were standing still
as if rooted to the spot. The feeling she had had then, had to-day
been vividly revived--and yet, how dissimilar were the two men in age,
appearance and position!--It was strange. And once more she glanced at
the face of their host, which was glowing with animation as he talked.

Suddenly the head oarsman’s time-marking hammer ceased; the bright spot
of light cast by the sun through the glass skylight on to the panelled
wall, described a brief orbit and then vanished; the vessel had swung
round and was at anchor.

“Madam,” said Aurelius to Octavia, “allow me to offer you my services.
We Northmen rarely use litters,[47] still--on the principle that a
wise man should be ready for all emergencies--Herodianus has provided
my galley with that convenience.”

“And the litters are already awaiting your commands on deck,” added the
freedman.

“You have surpassed yourself, Herodianus! Well, then, whenever it is
your pleasure....”

“Then it is settled,” said Octavia, going to the door. “For a few days
you will be my guest.”

“For as long as you will allow,” Aurelius would have said; but he
thought better of it and only bowed in answer.


FOOTNOTES:

   [1] TRIREME. “Three-oared;” a vessel with three ranks of
       rowers, one above another. The time was given by the beats of
       a hammer or by word of command; not unfrequently by an air
       played on a flute or a sailor’s chant (_cantus nauticus_).

   [2] POSIDIUM, now called the Punta della Licosa, south of the Gulf
       of Salerno.

   [3] CAPREAE, (Isle of goats) now Capri.

   [4] PUTEOLI. An important port in Campania, now Pozzuoli.
       Concerning Puteoli’s commerce, see Stat. _Silv._ III, 5, 75.

   [5] APOLLONIUS OF TYANA in Cappadocia. An ascetic and ecstatic
       philosopher and miracle-worker (A.D. 50) often compared with
       Christ by heathen writers. (Philostratus wrote his life.)

   [6] IVORY MAP. Sketch-maps of various routes were common in
       ancient times, and were often engraved on wine-jars, cups, etc.

   [7] TUNIC. The short-sleeved under-garment worn by both sexes,
       the house costume, over which men, when they went out, threw
       the toga, women the stola or palla. During the period of the
       empire a second garment, the _tunica interior_, corresponding
       to the shirt of modern times, was worn under the tunic.

   [8] THE PALACE OF TIBERIUS. For an account of the cruel and
       extravagant proceedings of Tiberius at Capri, see Tacitus
       _Ann._ I, 67, Suet. _Tib._ 40, Juv. _Sat._ X, 72 and 93.
       Insignificant remains of this palace are visible at the
       present day: _Villa di Timberio_; the perpendicular cliff 700
       feet high is called _il salto_ (the leap.)

   [9] CASTOR AND POLLUX. Leda’s twins, the Dioscuri, were the
       patrons of sea-faring men.
  [10] WAX-TABLET (_tabula cerata_). A little tablet covered with
       wax, on which memoranda were written with the stylus. In the
       schools the wax-tablet supplied the place of the slate, and in
       daily life was a substitute for our note-book.

  [11] FREEDMAN. The institution of slavery (_servitium_) which
       existed from ancient times, was an extremely important factor
       in the organization of Roman society. The slaves (_servi_)
       were the absolute property of their masters, who had unlimited
       control over their destinies and lives. (This right was
       not withdrawn until A.D. 61, when the law of Petronius
       prohibited the arbitrary condemnation of slaves to combats
       with wild beasts, etc.) The slave could then be released
       by the so-called _manumissio_, and was styled _libertus_
       or _libertinus_. His position depended upon the greater or
       less degree of formality with which the _manumissio_ was
       granted. The most solemn manner bestowed all the rights of
       the free-born citizen, but even in this case he was socially
       burdened with the same stigma that rests upon the emancipated
       slaves in the United States. If a freedman attained power
       and influence--which under the emperors was very common--the
       haughty representatives of the ancient noble families paid him
       external respect, it is true, but the man’s origin was never
       forgotten.

  [12] TRAJECTUM. A Batavian city in the Roman province Germania, now
       Utrecht.

  [13] GADES. A city in southern Spain, the modern Cadiz.

  [14] PANORMUS. A city on the north coast of Sicily, the modern
       Palermo.

  [15] CORYBAS. In the plural _Corybantes_; priests of Cybele. Their
       worship was a wild orgy with war-dances and noisy music.
       (Horace, _Od._ I, 16, 8: _non acuta si geminant Corybantes
       aera, etc._)

  [16] OSTIA. The port of Rome, situated at the mouth of the Tiber.

  [17] MASSILIA. An important city founded by the Greeks on the
       southern coast of Gaul, now called Marseilles.

  [18] RUGII. A German race occupying a considerable part of the
       coast of the Baltic--the present Pomerania and island of Rügen.

  [19] FRISII. A German race settled in the northern part of what is
       now Holland and farther east beyond Ems (_Amisia_).

  [20] BREAKFAST. The first meal after rising was called
       _jentaculum_. In the time of the republic (and still later
       among the poorer classes) it consisted principally of pulse.
       Among the wealthy luxury intruded even here; but in comparison
       with the second breakfast (_prandium_) and especially with the
       principal repast (_coena_) the _jentaculum_ always remained
       frugal.

  [21] RAM’S-HEAD AT THE PROW. These ornaments were usually carved in
       wood on the prow. They must not be confounded with the ship’s
       beaks (_rostra_, ἕμβολα). These beaks--two strong iron-cased
       beams--were on the fore-part of the ships of war and also on
       vessels intended for long voyages, where they would be exposed
       to danger from pirates. They were beneath the surface of the
       water, and were destined to bore holes in the enemy’s ships.
       See vol. 2, Chap IX.

  [22] MAGUS. A Gothic word--(not the Latin _Magus_, Greek
       μάγος--magician, sorcerer,)--means a boy, or knave in the old
       sense of servant.

  [23] PARTHENOPE. The ancient name of Naples, from the siren
       Parthenope, who is said to be buried there.

  [24] VESUVIUS. The famous eruption, which buried the three cities
       mentioned, took place A.D. 79, that is, sixteen years before
       the commencement of this story.

  [25] BAIAE, now Baja, the most famous watering-place of ancient
       times. See Horace, _Ep._ I, 1, 83.

  [26] AENARIA AND PROCHYTA, now Ischia and Procida.

  [27] ALEXANDRIA in Egypt was, in point of commerce, the London of
       ancient times.

  [28] TARENTINE TRAVELLING-CLOAK. The woollen stuffs from Tarentum,
       now called Taranto, were famous.

  [29] “HVA GASAIHVIS?”--“GASAIHVA LEITIL SKIP.” Literally: What
       do you see? (I) see (a) little ship. The earliest existing
       specimens of Gothic date from several centuries later than
       the time of this story, namely the period when the Goths
       left their original settlements on the lower Vistula and
       settled farther to the southeast on the Black Sea. I thought
       it permissible, however, to make a Goth of the first century
       speak the language of Ulfilas, since there is nothing against
       it in the general analogies of language, and Gothic, in the
       form in which it remains to us, is so concrete and logical in
       its structure, that it is hardly credible that it should have
       varied to any great extent within a period of two or three
       centuries.

  [30] BATAVIA. It was the custom at a very early date to name
       vessels after towns, persons, or countries, etc.

  [31] AMULET. A faith in the protecting power of charms and amulets
       was universal among Roman women, and children were always
       provided with amulets against the evil eye.

  [32] ISIS. The Egyptian goddess Isis was originally a
       personification of the Nile country, and as such was the wife
       of Osiris, the god of the Nile, who is slain by Typhon and
       longingly sought by the deserted goddess. She was afterwards
       confounded with every conceivable form of Greek (See
       Appuleius. _Met._ XI, 5.) and Roman Mythology and thus in the
       first century after Christ became the principal goddess. Her
       worship was chiefly by women.

  [33] WAXEN SHIP. Such votive offerings are commonly mentioned. They
       were generally painted pictures, but models in wax or metal
       were also given.

  [34] NILE-WATER. The worshippers of Isis ascribed a special power
       to the waters of the Nile.

  [35] SESTERCES. A Roman silver coin worth about 4 or 5 cents.

  [36] ROMAN KNIGHT. During the reign of the emperors the free
       population of Rome was divided into three orders: senators,
       knights, and people (third order). The order of senators was
       limited to Rome, and in its hands lay the real political
       power, which in the time of the republic had been exercised
       by the assembled populace. To the senate belonged the right
       of conferring and recalling sovereign power, that is,
       by appointing and deposing the emperors, a right rarely
       exercised, it is true, but which the emperors formally
       recognized by allowing themselves to be confirmed by the
       senate. In their relation to this body, the emperors were
       only first among their peers, the members of this order being
       really their equals; a relation which, with the exception of
       Caligula, Nero, Domitian, and Commodus, the emperors during
       the first two centuries, more or less earnestly endeavored to
       maintain. (Friedlander. _Rom. Sittengesch._ I, 3.) The number
       of the old senatorial families was comparatively small.

       The second order, the knights (_equites_), was scattered
       over the whole empire. A class specially designated for
       military service, it became in the time of the Gracchi, a
       body of rich men, each of whom possessed a fortune of 400,000
       sesterces, and also fulfilled the conditions of being of free
       birth and descent, blameless reputation, and refraining from
       dishonorable or indecorous methods of making money. Loss
       of this fortune, whether by their own fault or otherwise,
       entailed loss of rank. In consequence of the confusion and
       dissolution of all legal regulations through the civil
       war, these conditions were largely abrogated. While many
       who had formerly been entitled to belong to the order of
       knights, lost their rank through loss of fortune, others,
       who though possessing the needful property, had none of the
       other requisites, assumed without opposition the external
       distinctions of the knights, especially the gold ring and
       the seat of honor in the theatre. (Friedlander.) There were
       various degrees of rank in the order of knights, and also
       great diversity of fortune. Besides the poor titular knights,
       there were bankers, wholesale merchants, and the directors
       and members of great commercial companies and societies for
       mercantile enterprises of every kind.

       The third order comprised mechanics, small tradesmen,
       tavern-keepers, learned men, artists, etc., etc.,--except
       in cases where those who followed these pursuits were
       slaves,--and also the immense body of proletarians, who
       subsisted almost exclusively on public alms.

  [37] MY LORD SAID THE MATRON. Concerning the address “lord”
       (_domine_), see the minute discussions in Friedlander’s
       _Sittengeschichte_, I, appendix. It was not so common as
       the modern “sir,” but was used as an expression of special
       courtesy in the most varied relations of life. The emperors
       themselves used it in intercourse with persons to whom they
       wished to show attention. Thus Marcus Antoninus writes to
       Fronto: “_Have, mi domine magister_.” According to Seneca (Ep.
       III, 1.) it was already customary under Nero to greet persons,
       whose names could not be instantly remembered, by this title,
       in order not to appear uncourteous under any circumstances.
       The Fronto just mentioned calls a son-in-law “_domine_,” and
       when Nero once played the cithara in public, he addressed the
       spectators as “_mei domini_.”

       Nay, the association of _domine_ with the name, which to our
       ears has a very modern sound, is often found. Thus in Appuleius
       (Met. II,) we read: “_Luci domine_,”--“Lord Lucius.” In this
       story, however, this association is avoided, as it might have
       produced the semblance of an anachronism. In accosting women
       _domina_ (lady) corresponds with _domine_. The French, when
       referring to subjects connected with ancient Rome, reproduce
       the sound as well as the meaning of the word correctly by
       their madame (_meam dominam_).

  [38] TITUS CLAUDIUS MUCIANUS. The Romans usually had three names.
       Titus is here the first name (_praenomen_) which was given
       sons on the ninth day after their birth. Claudius is the name
       of the gens, the family in the wider sense of the word (_nomen
       gentilicium_). Mucianus is the cognomen, the surname, the name
       of the immediate family (_stirps or familia_). Thus several
       stirpes belonged to a single gens. Daughters bore only the
       name of the gens; for instance the daughter of Titus Claudius
       Mucianus was called Claudia. If there were two of them, they
       were distinguished by the words major (the elder) and minor
       (the younger); if there were several, by numbers. The _Claudia
       Gens_ was a very ancient and famous one. The principal
       characters of the story, belonging to the _stirps Muciana_,
       are purely imaginary.

  [39] GAVIUS APICIUS, the famous Roman gourmand (Tac. _Ann._ IV, 1)
       who finding that he had only two million and a half denari
       left in the world (about 400,000 dollars) killed himself,
       thinking it impossible to live on so little.

  [40] HYMETTUS. A mountain in Attica, famed for its delicious honey.
       (Horace, _Od._ II, 6, 14).

  [41] POLISHED EMERALD. (Plin. _Hist. Nat._ XXXVII, 64) where it is
       stated that the emperor Nero used such an eye-glass at the
       public games.

  [42] THE LOBSTER, (_cammarus_), was less highly esteemed by the
       Romans than among ourselves. See Plin. _Ep._ II, 17. “The sea,
       it is true, has no superabundance of delicious fish; yet it
       gives us excellent soles and lobsters”--a passage in which
       lobsters are contrasted with delicious fish.

  [43] CUT CRYSTAL. Window panes of glass (_vitrum_) mica plates
       (_lapis specularis_) and similar materials were by no means
       rare in ancient times.

  [44] MENANDER, son of the general Diopeithes, B.C. 342. The most
       distinguished poet of the New Comedy; fragments of his
       comedies have come down to us.

  [45] TIBUR. A favorite summer resort of the Roman aristocracy, now
       Tivoli.

  [46] CAPPADOCIAN HORSES. The province of Cappadocia in Asia Minor
       was famed for its horses.

  [47] LITTERS (_lectica_). The usual conveyance, somewhat resembling
       the Oriental palanquin, were supplied with rich curtains
       (_vela_) and in other respects became the object of luxurious
       decorations. The number of litter-bearers (_lecticarii_,
       _calones_) varied from two to eight. In the city of Rome
       itself, where riding in carriages was not allowed during the
       day-time, the _lecticae_ took the place of our carriages and
       hacks, for they could also be hired by the hour, and there
       were stands of them (_castra lecticariorum_) in several
       frequented quarters.



                              CHAPTER II.


The squall had completely died away; the waves were still tossing and
tumbling in the bay, but the streamers of the crowd of barks, which lay
under the shore, hardly fluttered in the breeze, and the fishing-boats
were putting out to sea in little fleets.

Gay and busy was the scene on the quays of Baiae; distinguished
visitors from every part of the vast empire were driving, riding or
walking on the lava-paved[48] sea-wall, and the long roads round the
harbor. Elegantly-dressed ladies in magnificent litters were borne by
Sicambri[49] in red livery,[50] or by woolly-headed Ethiopians.[51]
Lower down a crowd of sailors shouted and struggled, and weather-beaten
porters in Phrygian caps urgently offered their services, while vendors
of cakes and fruit shrilly advertised the quality of their fragrant
goods. Behind this bustling foreground of unresting and eager activity
rose the amphitheatre of buildings that composed the town. Aurelius
had been charmed with Panormus and Gades, but he now had to confess
that they both must yield the palm in comparison with this, the finest
pleasure-resort and bathing-place in the world. Palace was ranged above
palace, villa beyond villa, temple above temple. Amid an ocean of
greenery stood statues, halls, theatres and baths;[52] as far round as
the promontory of Misenum the shores of the bay were one long town of
villas, gorgeous with the combined splendors of wealth, and of natural
beauty.

The two ladies and their cortège proceeded for some distance along
the shore of the harbor, and then turned up-hill in the direction
of Cumae.[53] In front walked eight or ten slaves[54] who cleared
the way; then came Octavia, her litter borne by six bronze-hued
Lusitanians.[55] Claudia shared her litter with Baucis, while
Herodianus, Magus, Octavia’s rowers, and a few servants with various
bundles followed on foot. Aurelius had mounted his Hispanian horse and
rode by the side of the little caravan, sometimes in front, sometimes
behind, and enquiring the way, now of Octavia and now of Claudia and
Baucis.

“Our villa is quite at the top of the ridge,” said Claudia. “There,
where the holm oaks come down to the fig gardens.”

“What?” cried Aurelius in surprise. “That great pillared building, half
buried in the woods to the left?”

“No, no,” said the girl laughing; “the gods have not housed us so
magnificently. To the right--that little villa in the knoll.”

“Ah!” cried the Batavian; the disappointment was evidently a very
pleasant one. “And whose is that vast palace?”

“It belongs to Domitia, Caesar’s wife. Since she has lived separate
from her imperial lord, she always spends the summer here.”

The road grew steeper as they mounted.

“Oh merciful power!” sighed the worthy Baucis, “to think that these
fine young men should be made to toil thus for an old woman! By
Osiris! I am ashamed of myself. To carry you, sweet Claudia, is indeed
a pleasure--but me, wrinkled old Baucis! If I had not sprained my
ribs--as sure as I live...! But I will reward them for it; each man
shall have a little jar of Nile-water.”

“Do not be uneasy on their account,” said Herodianus, wiping his brow.
“Our Northmen are used to heavier burdens!” Then, turning to Magus, he
went on: “By all the gods, I entreat you--a draught of Caecubum![56] I
am bound to carry this weary load,” and he slapped his round paunch,
“this Erymanthian boar,[57] like a second Hercules, to the top of the
hill on my own unaided legs! and I am dropping with exhaustion.”

The Goth smiled and signed to one of the slaves, who was carrying wine
and other refreshments.

“The wine of Caecubus,” said Herodianus, “is especially good against
fatigue. Dionysus,[58] gracious giver, I sacrifice to thee!” and as
he spoke he shed a few drops as a libation[59] on the earth and then
emptied the cup with the promptitude of a practised drinker.

In about twenty minutes more they reached Octavia’s house; in the
vestibule[60] a young girl came running out to meet them.

“Mother, dear, sweet mother!” she cried excitedly, “and Claudia,
my darling! Here you are at last. Oh! we have been so dreadfully
frightened, Quintus and I; that awful storm! the whole bay was churned
up, as white as milk. But oh! I am glad to have you safe again!
Quintus! Quintus!...”

And she flew back into the house, where they heard her fresh, happy
voice still calling: “Quintus!”

“My adopted daughter,”[61] said Octavia, in answer to an enquiring
glance from Aurelius.

“Lucilia,” added Claudia, “whom I love as if she were my own real
sister.”

Aurelius, who had sprung from his horse, throwing the bridle to his
faithful Magus, was on the point of conducting Octavia into the
atrium,[62] when a youth of remarkable beauty appeared in the door-way
and silently clasped this lady in his arms. Then he pressed a long
and loving kiss on Claudia’s lips, and it was not till after he had
thus welcomed the mother and daughter, that he turned hesitatingly to
Aurelius, who stood on one side blushing deeply; a sign from Octavia
postponed all explanation. The whole party entered the house, and it
was not till they were standing in the pillared hall, where marble
seats piled with cushions invited them to repose, that Octavia said to
the astonished youth with a certain solemnity of mien:

“Quintus, my son, it is to this stranger--the noble and illustrious
Caius Aurelius Menapius, of Trajectum, in the land of the Batavi--that
you owe it that you see us here now. He took us on board his trireme,
for our boat was sinking. I declare myself his debtor henceforth
forever. Do you, on your part, show him all the hospitality and regard
that he deserves.” Quintus came forward and embraced Aurelius.

“I hope, my lord,” he said with an engaging smile, “that you will
for some time give us the honor of your company and so give us, your
debtors, the opportunity we desire of becoming your friends.”

“He has already promised to do so,” said Octavia.

Lucilia now joined them, having put on a handsomer dress in honor of
the stranger, and stuck a rose into her chestnut hair; she sat down by
Claudia and took her hand, leaning her head against her shoulder.

“But tell us the whole story!” cried Quintus. “I am burning to hear a
full and exact account of your adventure.”

Octavia told her tale; one thing gave rise to another, and before they
thought it possible, it was the hour for dinner--the first serious meal
of the day, at about noon--and they adjourned to the triclinium.[63]

Under no circumstances do people so soon wax intimate as at meals.
Aurelius, who until now had listened more than he had spoken, soon
became talkative under the cool and comfortable vaulted roof of
the eating-room, and he grew quite eager and vivacious as he told
of his long and dangerous voyage, of the towns he had visited, and
particularly of his distant home in the north. He spoke of his
distinguished father, who, as a merchant, had travelled eastwards
to the remote lands east of the peninsula of the Cimbri[64] and to
the fog-veiled shores of the Guttoni,[65] the Aestui[66] and the
Scandii;[67] indeed Aurelius himself knew much of the wonders and
peculiarities of these little-visited lands, for he had three times
accompanied his father. Many a time on these expeditions had they
passed the night in lonely settlements or hamlets, where not a soul
among the natives understood the Roman tongue, where the bear and the
aurochs fought in the neighboring woods, or eternal terrors brooded
over the boundless plain.

These pictures of inhospitable and desert regions, which Aurelius so
vividly brought before their fancy, were those which best pleased
his hearers. Here, close to the luxurious town, and surrounded by
everything that could add comfort and enjoyment to life, the idea
of perils so remote seemed to double their appreciation.[68] When
they rose from table the ladies withdrew, to indulge in that private
repose which was customary of an afternoon. Lucilia could not forbear
whispering to her companion, that she would far rather have remained
with the young men--that Aurelius was a quite delightful creature,
modest and frank, and at the same time upright and steady--a rock in
the sea on which the Pharos of a life’s happiness might be securely
founded.

“You know,” she added earnestly, while her eyes sparkled with
excitement from under her thick curls, “Quintus is far handsomer--he is
exactly like the Apollo in the Golden House[69] by the Esquiline. But
he is also like the gods, in that he is apt to vanish suddenly behind
a cloud, and is gone. Now Aurelius, or my soul deceives me, would be
constant to those he loved. It is a pity that his rank is no higher
than that of knight, and that he is so unlucky as to be a native of
Trajectum.”

“Oh! you thorough Roman!” laughed Claudia. “No one is good for anything
in your eyes, that was not born within sight of the Seven Hills.”[70]

She put her arm round her gay companion, and carried her off
half-resisting to their quiet sleeping-room.

Neither Quintus nor Aurelius cared to follow the example of the
ladies--not the Roman, for he had slept on late into the day--nor the
stranger, for the excitement of this eventful morning had fevered
his blood. Besides, there was the temptation of an atmosphere as of
Paradise, uniting the glory and plenitude of summer with the fresh
transparency of autumn. During dinner Aurelius had turned again
and again to look through the wide door-way at the beautiful scene
without, and now he crossed the threshold and filled his spirit with
the loveliness before him. Here was not--as in the formal gardens of
Rome[71]--a parterre where everything was planned by line and square;
here were no trained trees and hedges, circular beds or clipped shrubs.
All was free and wholesome Nature, lavish and thriving vitality. The
paths alone, leading from the villa in three directions into the wood,
betrayed the care of man. The whole vegetation of the happy land of
Campania seemed to have been brought together on the slope below. Huge
plane-trees, on which vines hung their garlands, lifted their heads
above the holm-oaks and gnarled quinces. The broad-leaved fig glistened
by the side of the grey-green olive; here stood a clump of stalwart
pines, there wide-spreading walnuts and slender poplars. Below them
was a wild confusion of brush-wood and creepers; ivy, periwinkle and
acanthus entangled the giants of the wood with an inextricable network.
Maiden-hair hung in luxuriant tufts above the myrtles and bays, and
sombre evergreens contrasted with the brilliant centifolia. In short
the whole plant-world of southern Italy here held an intoxicating orgy.
Quintus seemed to divine the thoughts of the young Northman, and put
his hand confidingly through his guest’s arm, and so they walked on,
taking the middle path of the three before them, and gently mounting
the hill.

“I can see,” said Quintus, “that you are a lover of Nature; I quite
understand that a garden at Baiae must seem enchanting to you, who came
hither from the region of Boreas himself, where the birch and the beech
can scarcely thrive. But you can only form a complete idea of it from
the top of the hill; we have built a sort of temple there and the view
is unequalled....”

“You are greatly to be envied,” said Aurelius. “And how is it that
Titus Claudius, your illustrious father, does not enjoy himself on this
lovely estate, instead of living in Rome as I hear he does?”

“As priest to the temple of Jupiter Capitolinus[72] he is tied to the
capital. The rules forbid his ever quitting it for more than a night
at a time. Dignity, you see, brings its own burdens, and not even the
greatest can have everything their own way. Many a time has my father
longed to be away from the turbulent metropolis--but no god has broken
his chains. Unfulfilled desires are the lot of all men.”

He spoke with such emphasis, that the stranger glanced at him.

“What desire of yours can be unfulfilled?”

A meaning smile parted the Roman’s lips.

“If you are thinking of things which gold and silver will purchase,
certainly I lack little. Everything may be had in Rome for money;
everything--excepting one thing; the stilling of our craving for
happiness.”

“What do you understand by that?”

“Can you ask me? I, here and as you see me, am a favorite of fortune,
rich and independent by my grandfather’s will, which left me possessed
of several millions at an early age--as free and healthy as a
bird--strong and well-grown and expert in all that is expected of a
young fellow in my position. I had hardly to do more than put out my
hand, to acquire the most influential position and the highest offices
and honors--to become Praetor or Consul.[73] I am well received at
court, and look boldly in the face of Caesar, before whom so many
tremble. I am betrothed to a maiden as fair as Aphrodite herself, and a
hundred others, no less fair, would give years of their lives to call
me their lover for a week--and yet--have you ever felt what it is to
loathe your existence?”

“No!” said Aurelius.

“Then you are divine, among mortals. You see, weeks and months go by
in the turmoil of enjoyment; the bewildered brain is incapable of
following it all--then life is endurable. My cup wreathed with roses,
a fiery-eyed dancer from Gades[74] by my side, floating on the giddy
whirl of luxury, as mad and thoughtless as a thyrsus-bearer[75] at the
feast of Dionysus--under such conditions I can bear it for a while. But
here, where my unoccupied mind is thrown back upon itself....”

“But what you say,” interrupted Aurelius, “proves not that you are
satiated with the joys of life, so much as--you will forgive my
plainness--that you are satiated with excess. You are betrothed, you
say, and yet you can feel a flame for a fiery-eyed Gaditanian. In my
country a man keeps away from all other girls, when he has chosen his
bride.”

“Oh yes! I know that morality has taken refuge in the provinces,”
said Quintus ironically. “But the youth of Rome go to work somewhat
differently, and no one thinks the worse of us for it. Of course we
avoid public comment, which otherwise is anxiously courted--but we live
nevertheless just as the humor takes us.”

Aurelius shook his head doubtfully.

“Well, well,” said Quintus. “You good folks in the north have a
stricter code--Tacitus describes the savage Germanic tribes as almost
equally severe. But Rome is Roman.--No prayers can alter that; and
after all you get used to it! I believe Cornelia herself would hardly
scold if she heard.... Besides, it is in the air. Old Cato has
long, long been forgotten, and the new Babylon by the Tiber wants
pleasure--will have pleasure, for in pleasure alone can she find her
vocation and the justification of her existence.”

“And does your bride live in the capital?” asked Aurelius after a pause.

“At Tibur,” replied Quintus. “Her uncle, Cornelius Cinna, avoids the
neighborhood of the court on principle. The fact that Domitia resides
here is quite enough to make him hate Baiae--although, as you know,
Domitia has long ceased to belong to Caesar’s court.”

Aurelius was silent. Often had his worldly-wise father warned him
never to speak of affairs of state or even of the throne, excepting
in the narrowest circle of his most trusted friends; under the reign
of terror of Domitian, the most trivial remark might prove fateful
to the speaker. The numerous spies, known as delators, who had found
their way everywhere, scenting their prey, had undermined all mutual
confidence and trust to such an extent that friends feared each other;
the patron trembled before his client, and the master before his slave.
Although the manner and address of his host invited confidence, caution
was always on the safe side, all the more so as the young Roman was
evidently an ally of the court party. So the Northman checked the
utterance of that fierce patriotism, which the hated name of Domitian
had so painfully stirred in his soul. “Unhappy Rome!” thought he: “What
can and must become of you, if men like this Quintus have no feeling
for your disgrace and needs?”

The next turn in the path brought them within sight of the little
temple; marble steps, half covered with creepers, led through a
Corinthian portico into the airy hall within. The panorama from this
spot was indeed magnificent; far below lay the blue waters of the bay,
with the stupendous bridge of Nero;[76] farther away lay Baiae with
its thousand palaces and the forest of masts by Puteoli; beyond these,
Parthenope, beautiful Surrentum,[77] and the shining islands bathed
by the boundless sea; the vaporous cloud from Vesuvius hung like a
cone of snow in the still blue atmosphere. To the north the horizon
was bounded by the bay of Caieta[78] the Lucrine lake and the wooded
slopes of Cumae. The foreground was no less enchanting; all round the
pavilion lay a verdurous and luxuriant wilderness, and hardly a hundred
paces from the spot rose the colossal palace of the Empress, shaded by
venerable trees. The mysterious silence of noon brooded over the whole
landscape; only a faint hum of life came up from the seaport. All else
was still, not a living creature seemed to breathe within ear-shot....

Suddenly a sound came through the air, like a suppressed groan;
Aurelius looked round--out there, there where the branches parted in an
arch to form a vista down into the valley--there was a white object,
something like a human form. The young foreigner involuntarily pointed
that way.

“Look there, Quintus!” he whispered to his companion.

“That is part of the Empress’s grounds,” replied the Roman.

“But do you see nothing there by the trunk of that plane-tree? About
six--eight paces on the other side of the laurel-hedge? Hark! there is
that groan again.”

“Pah! Some slave or another who has been flogged. Stephanus, Domitia’s
steward, is one of those who know how to make themselves obeyed.”

“But it was such a deep, heartrending sigh!”

“No doubt,” laughed Quintus; “Stephanus is no trifler. Where his lash
falls the skin comes off; then he is apt to tie up the men he has
flogged in the wood here, where the gnats....”

“Hideous!” cried Aurelius interrupting him. “Let us run down and set
the poor wretch free!”

“I will take good care to do nothing of the kind. We have no right in
the world to do such a thing.”

“Well, at any rate, I will find out what he has done wrong. His
torturer’s brutality makes me hot with indignation!”

So speaking he walked straight down the hill through the brushwood.
Quintus followed, not over-pleased at the incident; and he was very
near giving vent to his annoyance when a swaying branch hit him sharply
on the forehead. But the native courtesy, the urbanity[79] or town
breeding, which distinguished every Roman, prevailed, and in a few
minutes they had reached the laurel-hedge. Quintus was surprised to
find himself in front of a tolerably wide gap, which could not have
been made by accident; but there the young men paused, for Quintus
hesitated to trespass on the Empress’s grounds.

The sight which met his eyes was a common one enough to the blunted
nerves of the Roman, but Aurelius was deeply moved. A pale, bearded
man,[80] young, but with a singularly resolute expression, stood
fettered to a wooden post, his back dreadfully lacerated by a stick or
lash, while swarms of insects buzzed round his bleeding body.

“Hapless wretch!” cried Aurelius. “What have you done, that you should
atone for it so cruelly?”

The slave groaned, glanced up to heaven and said in a choked voice:

“I did my duty.”

“And are men punished in your country for doing their duty?” asked the
Batavian frowning, and, unable any longer to control himself, he went
straight up to the victim and prepared to release him. The slave’s face
lighted up with pleasure.

“I thank you, stranger,” he said with emotion, “but if you were to
release me, it would be doing me an ill-turn. Fresh torture would be
all that would come of it. Let me be; I have borne the like before now;
I have only another hour to hold out. If you feel kindly towards me, go
away, leave me! Woe is me if any one sees you here!”

Quintus now came up to him; this really heroic resignation excited his
astonishment, nay, his admiration.

“Man,” said he, waving away the swarm of gnats with his hand, “are you
a disciple of the Stoa,[81] or yourself a demi-god? Who in the world
has taught you thus to contemn pain?”

“My lord,” replied the slave, “many better than I have endured greater
suffering.”

“Greater suffering--yes, but to greater ends. A Regulus, a Scaevola
have suffered for their country; but you--a wretched slave, a grain
of sand among millions--you, whose sufferings are of no more account
than the death of a trapped jackal--where do you find this indomitable
courage? What god has endowed you with such superhuman strength?”

A beatific smile stole over the man’s drawn features.

“The one true God,” he replied with fervent emphasis, “who has pity on
the feeble; the all-merciful God, who loves the poor and abject.”

A step was heard approaching.

“Leave me here alone!” the slave implored them. “It is the overseer.”

Quintus and Aurelius withdrew silently, but from the top of the copse
they could see a hump-backed figure that came muttering and grumbling
up to where the slave was bound, released him presently from the stake
and led him away into the gardens. For a minute or two longer the young
men lingered under the pavilion and then, lost in thought, returned to
the house. Their conversation could not be revived.


FOOTNOTES:

  [48] LAVA BLOCKS. The usual material for pavements in central and
       southern Italy.

  [49] SICAMBRI. A powerful German tribe, occupying in the time of
       Caesar the eastern bank of the Rhine, and extending from the
       Sieg to the Lippe.

  [50] RED LIVERY. The usual costume of the litter-bearers in the
       time of the emperors.

  [51] WOOLLY-HEADED ETHIOPIANS. The name Ethiopian Αἰθίοπες in its
       more restricted sense, applies to the inhabitants of Upper
       Egypt; in a more general meaning to the whole population of
       North-eastern Africa, and South-western Asia. According to
       Herodotus (VII, 70) the Ethiopians dwelling in the East had
       smooth, those in the West woolly hair.

  [52] BATHS (_thermae_, θέρμαι, that is “warm baths”) were public
       bathing-establishments on the grandest scale, modelled after
       the Greek wrestling-schools. See Becker, _Gallus_ III, p. 68
       and following.

  [53] CUMAE (Κύμη) now Cuma, the oldest of the Greek colonies in Italy,
       beyond the mountain range that bounds the bay of Baja on the
       west; it is only a few thousand paces from Baja.

  [54] IN FRONT WALKED EIGHT OR TEN SLAVES. Such a vanguard was
       customary among people of distinction, even when they went on
       foot.

  [55] LUSITANIANS. A people living in the region now known as
       Portugal, between the Tagus (_Tajo_, _Tejo_) and Durius,
       (_Duero_, _Douro_.)

  [56] CAECUBUM. A district on the shores of the bay of Gaeta,
       famous for its wine. See (Horace _Od._ I, 20, 9 and I, 37, 5)
       where it is said, that it would be positively sinful to bring
       Caecubian wine from the cellar with other kinds on ordinary
       occasions (_antehac nefas depromere Caecubum cellis avitis_,
       _etc._).

  [57] ERYMANTHIAN BOAR. So called from Mt. Erymanthus in Arcadia,
       where the animal lived until slain by Hercules.

  [58] DIONYSUS. A surname of Bacchus.

  [59] LIBATION. Wine poured as an offering to the gods.

  [60] VESTIBULUM. The space in front of the house-door (_fores_)
       which in the time of the imperial government was frequently
       covered with a portico.

  [61] ADOPTED DAUGHTER. The adoption of a child in ancient Rome
       was regulated by very strict laws. Adoption in its narrower
       sense (_adoptio_) extended to persons who were still under
       paternal authority; with self-dependent persons the so-called
       _arrogatio_ took place. With women this last form was entirely
       excluded.

  [62] ATRIUM. From the door of the house a narrow passage (_ostium_)
       led to the first inner court, the atrium, so-called because
       this space, where the hearth originally was, was _blackened_
       by the smoke (_ater_). The atrium, which in the more ancient
       Roman houses possessed the character of a room with a
       comparatively small opening in the roof, and afterwards
       resembled a court-yard, was at first the central point
       of family life, the sitting-room, where the industrious
       house-keeper sat enthroned among her slaves. When republican
       simplicity gave way to luxury, the atrium became the hall
       devoted to the reception of guests, and domestic life was
       confined to the more retired apartments.

  [63] TRICLINIUM, (triple couch) really the sofa on which three,
       and sometimes even more persons reclined at table; the name
       was also given to the dining-room itself, which comprised the
       second inner court-yard, the so-called peristyle or cavaedium.

  [64] CIMBRIAN PENINSULA, now called Jutland.

  [65] GUTTONI. A German race on the lower Vistula.

  [66] AESTUI. A German race living on the coast of Revel.

  [67] SCANDII. Inhabitants of southern Sweden.

  [68] THE SENSE OF CONTRAST was a conspicuous trait in Roman
       character. They were wont to heighten their appreciation of
       the joys of life by images of death, and the dining-room was
       intentionally placed so as to afford a view of tombs.

  [69] THE GOLDEN HOUSE (_domus aurea_). The name given to the
       magnificent palace of Nero, which extended from the Palatine
       Hill across the valley and up again as far as the gardens of
       Macaenas on the Esquiline. It contained an enormous number of
       the choicest works in statuary. Vespasian had a large part of
       this building pulled down.

  [70] THE SEVEN HILLS. Contempt for all who lived in the provinces
       was peculiar to all Romans, even the lowest classes of the
       populace. Thus Cicero says: “_Cum infimo cive romano quisquam
       amplissimus Galliae comparandus est?_” (Can even the most
       distinguished Gaul be compared with the humblest Roman
       citizen?) This prejudice extended to later centuries, though
       under the first emperors numerous inhabitants of the provinces
       attained the rank of senator and reached the highest offices.
       It is very comical, when Juvenal, a freedman’s son, treats the
       “knights from Asia Minor,” (_Equites Asiani_) condescendingly,
       as if they were intruders, unworthy to unfasten the straps of
       his sandals. Inhabitants of the other provinces were held in
       higher esteem than the Greeks and Orientals. But even Tacitus
       (_Ann._ IV, 3.) regards it as an aggravation of the crime
       committed by the wife of Drusus, that Sejanus, for whom she
       broke her marriage-vow, was not a full-blooded Roman, but
       merely a knight from Volsinii.

  [71] THE FORMAL GARDENS OF ROME. The taste of the Romans in regard
       to the art of gardening resembled that shown at Versailles.
       The eloquence with which individual authors urge a return to
       nature (Hor. _Epist._ I, 10, Prop. I, 2, Juv. _Sat._ III,
       etc.,) only proves that the opposite course was universal.
       Clipping bushes and trees into artificial forms was considered
       specially fashionable. Thus Pliny the younger, in his
       description of the Tuscan villa (_Ep._ V, 6,) writes: “Before
       the colonnade is an open terrace, surrounded with box, the
       trees clipped into various shapes; below it a steep slope of
       lawn, at whose foot, on both sides of the path, stand bushes
       of box, shaped into the forms of various animals. On the level
       ground the acanthus grows delicately, I might almost say
       transparently. Around it is a hedge of thick closely-clipped
       bushes, and around this hedge runs an avenue of circular form,
       adorned with box clipped into various shapes, and small trees
       artistically trimmed. The whole is surrounded by a wall,
       concealed by box.” Then towards the end of the letter: “The
       box is clipped into a thousand shapes, sometimes into letters,
       that form the name of the owner or gardener.”

  [72] JUPITER CAPITOLINUS. The priests of certain divinities were
       called _Flamines_ and the chief of these was the _Flamen
       Dialis_ or priest of Jupiter--called Capitolinus from the hill
       on which the temple stood. Tacitus (_Ann._ III, 71,) tells us
       of the prohibition here spoken of.

  [73] THE PRAETORSHIP AND CONSULSHIP were still, under the emperors,
       an object of ardent desire, in spite of the fact that these
       offices had been stripped of all power.

  [74] GADES, now Cadiz, was famous for its dancers of easy morality.
       (See Juv. _Sat._ XI, 162.)

  [75] THYRSUS, (θύρσος) a pole or wand wreathed with vine and ivy
       leaves, and borne by Bacchus and by Bacchantes.

  [76] BRIDGE OF NERO. One of this emperor’s mad undertakings was the
       construction, at an enormous expense, of a perfectly useless
       bridge aslant across the bay of Baiae.

  [77] SURRENTUM, now Sorrento.

  [78] CAIETA, now Gaëta.

  [79] URBANITAS. Literally: city training.

  [80] A PALE, BEARDED MAN. Wearing beards first became general
       under the Emperor Hadrian. At the time of this story it was
       still the custom among the higher classes (but not among the
       lower ones and the slaves) to shave off the beard after the
       twenty-first year.

  [81] STOA. The school of the stoics; so named from the pillared
       hall (ποικίλη στοά) at Athens, where Zeno, the founder, taught.
       The doctrine inculcated was the subjugation of physical and
       moral evil by individual heroism.



                              CHAPTER III.


The second serious meal of the day, the coena[82] or supper had begun;
the party had betaken themselves to the cavaedium,[83] where it was
now beginning to grow dusk. This airy colonnade--the handsomest portion
perhaps, of an old Roman house--was here very pleasingly decorated
with flowers and plants of ornamental foliage. The arcades, which
surrounded the open space in the middle, were green with ivy, while
an emerald grass-plot, with cypresses and laurels, magnolias in full
bloom, pomegranates and roses, filled up half the quadrangle. Twelve
statues of bronze gilt served to hold lamps, and a fountain tossed its
sparkling jet as high as the tallest trees.

For some time the party sat chatting in the dusk; then two slaves came
in with torches and lighted the lamps of the twelve statues; two others
lighted up the arcades so that the painted walls and their purplish
backgrounds were visible far across the court-yard. A flute-player from
Cumae now played to them in a tender mode; she stood in the entrance,
dressed in the Greek fashion, with her abundant hair gathered into
a knot and her slender fingers gliding up and down the stops of the
instrument. Her features were sweet and pleasing, her manner soft and
harmonious; only from time to time a strange expression of weariness
and absence of mind passed over her face. When she had done playing,
she was conducted by Baucis to the back gate. She took the piece of
silver which she received in payment with an air of indifference, and
then bent her way down the hill towards Cumae, which already lay in
darkness.

“Allow me to ask,” said Herodianus to Quintus, “what is the name of
this tunefully-gifted damsel?”

“She is called Euterpe, after the muse who presides over her art.”

“Her name is Arachne,” added Lucilia, “but Euterpe sounds more
poetical.”

“Euterpe!” breathed the worthy Herodianus. “Heavenly consonance! Is she
a Greek?”

“She is from Etruria, and was formerly the slave of Marcus Cocceius
Nerva, who freed her. She married in Cumae not long since.”

“As strictly historical as the annals of Tacitus,” laughed Claudia.

“I heard it all from Baucis.”

“Wretched old magpie!” exclaimed Quintus, intentionally raising his
voice. “If she could not gossip, she would lose the breath of life.”

“By all the gods, my lord!” exclaimed Baucis, laying her hands on her
heart, “you are calumniating me greatly--do you grudge me a little
harmless chat? All-merciful Isis! am I to close my lips with wax? No,
by Typhon[84] the cruel! Besides, I must instruct the daughters of the
house; it is for that that I eat the bitter crust of dependence in my
old age. Oh! Baucis knows her duties; have I not taught Claudia to
sing and play the cithara? Have I not taught Lucilia more than a dozen
Egyptian formulas and charms? and now I add to this a little sprinkling
of knowledge of the world and of men--and you call it gossip! You young
men of the present day are polite, I must say!”

“Then you sing to the cithara?”[85] said Aurelius, turning to Claudia.
“Oh, let me, I beg of you, hear one of your songs!”

“With pleasure,” said the girl coloring slightly. “With your
permission, dear mother...?”

“You know my weakness,” replied Octavia. “I am always only too
glad to hear you sing. If our noble guest’s request is not merely
politeness....”

“It is a most heartfelt wish,” cried Aurelius. “Your daughter’s voice
is music when she only speaks--in singing it must be enchanting.”

“I think so too, indeed,” added Herodianus. “Oh, we Northmen are
connoisseurs in music. The Camenae visit other spots than Helicon
and the seven hills of Rome; they have taken Trajectum too under
their protection. Had I but been born in Hellas, where Zeus so
lavishly decked the cornucopia of the arts with such pure and ideal
perfection....”

“Herodianus, you are talking nonsense!” interrupted the young Batavian.
“I am afraid that the old Falernian we drank at dinner, was too strong
for your brain.”

“I beg your pardon! that would be very unlike me. Since Apollo
first laid me in my cradle, temperance has been my most conspicuous
virtue....”

A slave girl had meanwhile brought in the nine-stringed cithara and the
ivory plectrum; Claudia took them from her with some eagerness, put the
ribbon of the lute round her neck and sat upright on her easy-chair.
She turned the pegs here and there to put the instrument in tune,
struck a few chords and runs as a prelude, and began a Greek song--the
delightful Spring-greeting of Ibycus the Sicilian:[86]

      “Spring returns, and the gnarled quince[87]
      Fed by purling and playful brooks
      Decks its boughs with its rosy flowers
      Where, beneath in the twilight gloom,
      Nymph-like circles of maidens dance;
      While the sprays of the budding grape
          Hide ’mid shadowy vine leaves.

      Ruthless Eros doth disregard
      Spring’s sweet tokens and hints of peace.
      Down he rushes like winter blasts--
      Thracian storms with their searing flash--
      Aphrodite’s resistless son
      Falls on me in his fury and fire--
          Racks my heart with his torments.”

Claudia ceased; the accompaniment on the cithara died away in soft
full chords. Caius Aurelius sat spellbound. Never had he dreamed of
the daughters of the fever-tossed metropolis as so simple, so natural,
so genuine and genial. The strain almost resembled, in coy tenderness,
those northern love-songs which he had been wont to hear from the lips
of Gothic and Ampsivaric maidens. In those, to be sure, a vein of
rebellion and melancholy ran through the melody and pierced through the
charm, while in this all was perfect harmony, exquisite contentment--an
intoxicating concord of joy, youth and love. In this he heard the
echo of the smiling waves below, of the glistening leaves, and of
heart-stirring spring airs.

“A second Sappho!” exclaimed Herodianus, as his master sat speechless.
“I can but compare the sweetness of that voice with the luscious
Falernian we drank at dinner. That was a nectar worthy of the gods!
Besides, indeed--the Hispanian wine--out there, what do you call the
place--you know, my lord--what is the name of it--that was delicious
too--and seen against the light.... What was I saying? I had an aunt,
she sang too to the cithara--yes she did, why not?--She was free to do
that, of course, quite free to do it--and a very good woman too was old
Pris--Pris--Priscilla. Only she could not endure, that any one should
talk when she blew the cithara....”

Octavia was frowning; Aurelius had turned crimson and nodded to his
Gothic slave, who was standing aside under the arcade. Magus quietly
came up to Herodianus and whispered a few words in his ear.

“That shows a profound, a remarkably profound power of observation!”
cried the freedman excitedly. “In fact, what does music prove after
all? I play the water-organ,[88] and--hold me up, Magus. This floor is
remarkably slippery for a respectable cavaedium. It might be paved with
eels or polished mirrors!”

“You are a very good fellow,” muttered the Goth as he led him slowly
away, “but you carry it a little too far....”

“What? Ah! you have no sense of the sublime? You are not a
philosopher, but only a--a--a--a man. But, by Pluto! you need not break
my arm. I--take care of that, that.... Will you let go, you misbegotten
villain!”

But the Goth was not to be got rid of; he held the drunken man like an
iron vice and so guided him in a tolerably straight course. When they
disappeared in the corridor leading to the atrium, Aurelius was anxious
to apologize for him, but Octavia laughed it off.

“We are at Baiae,”[89] she said, “and Baiae is famous for its worship
of Bacchus.”

“It is impossible to be vexed with him,” added Lucilia; “he is so
exceedingly funny, and has such a confiding twinkle in his eyes.”

“I am only annoyed,” said Aurelius, “that he should have disturbed us
at so delicious a moment. Indeed madam, your voice is enchantment; and
what a heavenly melody! who is the musician who composed it?”

“You make me blush,” said Claudia: “I myself put the words to music,
and I am delighted that you should like it. Quintus thought it
detestable.”

“Nay, nay--” murmured Quintus.

“Yes indeed!” said the saucy Lucilia. “It was too soft and womanly for
your taste.”

“You are misrepresenting me; I only said, that the air did not suit the
words. It is a man who is here complaining of the torments of love,
while what Claudia sings does not sound like a Thracian winter storm,
but like the lamentations of a love-lorn maiden.”

“Nonsense!” laughed Lucilia. “Love is love, just as air is air!
whether you breathe it or I, it is all the same.”

“But with this difference, that rather more of it is needed to fill my
lungs than yours. However, for aught I care the song is perfect.”

“You are most kind, to be sure! And you may thank the gods that you
have nothing to do but to listen to it. I have no doubt, that at the
drinking-bouts of some of your boon companions the songs have a more
Titanic ring and roar.”

“You little hypocrite! Do you want to play the part now of a female
Cato? Why, how often have you confessed to me, that you would give your
eyes to be one of such a party if only it were permissible!”

“Mother,” said Lucilia, “do not allow him to make a laughing stock of
me in this heartless way. ‘If only I were a man,’ you mean, not ‘if it
were permissible.’”

“Very good!” replied Quintus.

Caius Aurelius now expressed a wish to hear Claudia sing a Latin song,
and she selected one of which the words were by the much-admired poet
Statius,[90] who at that time was, with Martial,[91] the reigning
favorite in the taste of the highest circles. With this the stranger
seemed equally delighted.

When Claudia had ended, he himself seized the instrument and plectrum,
and with eager enthusiasm in a full, strong voice sang a battle-song.
The powerful tones rang through the evening silence like the rush of
a mountain torrent. His hearers saw in fancy the swaying struggle--the
captain of the legion is in the thick of the fray--“Comrades,” cries
one of the combatants, “our chief is in danger! Help! help for our
chief!--One last furious onslaught, and the battle is won!”

The two girls shrank closer to each other.

As the notes slowly died away, a figure appeared high above them in the
moonlight, leaning over the parapet of the upper story.

“By the gods! my lord!” cried Herodianus, “I am coming!--If only I knew
where Magus has hidden my sword! Hold your own, stand steady, and we
will beat them yet!”

The party burst out laughing.

“Go to bed, Herodianus!” shouted his master. “You are talking in your
dreams!”

“Apollo be praised then!” stuttered the other, “but I heard you with
my own ears, shouting desperately for help.” And with these words
he withdrew from the parapet, still muttering and fighting the air
with his arms; and Lucilia declared that she should positively die of
laughing if this extraordinary sleep-walker went through any farther
adventures. The moon was already high in the sky, when the party
separated. Quintus led his visitor to the strangers’ rooms, wished him
goodnight, and went to his own cubiculum[92] where his slaves stood
yawning as they waited for him. For a time, however, he paced his room
in meditation; then pausing in his walk, he looked undecidedly through
the open doorway and asked: “What is the hour?”

“It wants half an hour of midnight,” replied Blepyrus, his body-servant.

“Very good--I do not want to sleep yet. Open the window; the air here
is suffocating. Blepyrus, give me my dagger.”

“The Syrian dagger?”

“A useless question--when do I ever use any other?”

“Here, my lord,” said Blepyrus, taking the dagger out of a closet in
the wall.

“It is only as a precaution. Lately all sorts of wild rabble have
haunted Baiae and the neighborhood. I am going to take a walk for an
hour or so,” and he went to the door. “But mind,” he added, “this late
expedition is a secret.”

The slaves bowed.

“You know us, my lord!” they said with one accord.

Quintus went out again into the arcades. The colonnaded court lay
white and dream-like in the moonshine, the shadows of the statues fell
blackly sharp on the dewy grass-plot and the chequered outlines of the
mosaic pavement. Quintus hastened noiselessly to the postern-gate,
which led from the peristyle into the park; he pushed back the bolt and
was out on the terrace. Complete silence reigned around; only the very
tops of the trees bent to the soft night-breeze. Quintus looked down
upon Baiae. Here and there a light twinkled in the harbor; otherwise
it was like a city of the dead. Then he looked down the black darkness
of the shrubbery paths into the wilderness and seemed to waver, but
he drew a little letter out of the belt of his tunic and studied it,
meditating.

“In fact,” said he to himself, “the whole affair wears the aspect of a
mad adventure; it would not be the first time that malice had assumed
such a disguise! But no! Such a scheme would be too clumsy; what
warranty would the traitor have, that I should come alone? Besides, if
I have any knowledge of love-intrigue, these lines were undoubtedly
written by a woman’s hand.”

He opened the note,[93] which was written on pale yellow Alexandrian
paper with the finest ink. The red silk that tied it was sealed with
yellow wax, and bore the impression of a finely-cut intaglio. The
handwriting betrayed practice, and the whole thing looked as if it
had come from the hands of a cultivated and distinguished fine lady.
The contents answered to this supposition; the style was marked by
aristocratic affectations and rhetorical grace, while it revealed that
vein of eager, jealous passion, which stamps the Roman woman to this
day.

“There is no doubt about it,” muttered Quintus, when he had once more
carefully examined every detail. “This is in hot earnest, and she
commands me to meet her with the assurance of a goddess. And with
all her domineering confidence, what sweet coaxing--what inviting
tenderness! It would be treason to the divine influences of Venus to
hesitate. Nay, fair unknown!--for you must surely be fair--beautiful as
the goddess whose inspiration fires your blood! Nothing but beauty can
give a woman courage to write such words as these!”

He replaced the note in his bosom and took the same path that he had
trodden a few hours since with Aurelius; listening sharply on each side
as he got farther into the thicket, and keeping his hand on his dagger,
he slowly mounted the hill. All nature seemed to be sleeping, and the
distant cry of a night-bird sounded as if in a dream. Before long he
had reached the spot where the path turned off to the pavilion. The
little temple stood out in the moonlight as sharply as by day against
the dark-blue sky, like an erection of gleaming silver and snow; the
light seemed to ripple on the marble like living, translucent dew--and,
in the middle, the goddess sat enthroned!--a tall form robed in white,
her face veiled, motionless as though indeed a statue. Quintus paused
for an instant; then he mounted to the top and said bowing low:

“Unknown one, I greet thee!”

“And I thee, Quintus Claudius!” answered a voice that was tremulous
with agitation.

“You, madam, have commanded, and I, Quintus Claudius, have obeyed. Now,
will you not reveal the secret I am burning to discover?”

The veiled lady took the young man gently by the hand and drew him
tenderly to a seat.

“My secret!” she repeated with a sigh. “Can you not guess it? Quintus,
divinest, most adorable Quintus--I love you!”

“Your favors confound me!” said Quintus in the tone of a man to whom
such phrases were familiar. His unknown companion threw her arms round
him, leaned her head on his shoulder, and burst into tears.

“Oh, happy, intoxicating hour!” she breathed in a rapturous undertone.
“You, the noblest of men, my idol, whom I have thought of so long,
watched with such eager eyes--_you_, Quintus, mine--mine at last! It is
too much happiness!”

Quintus, under the stormy fervor of this declaration, felt an uneasy
mistrust which he tried in vain to repress. This despotic “mine--mine”
gave him a sensation as of the grip of a siren. He involuntarily rose.

“My good fortune takes my breath away!” he said in flattering accents;
doubly flattering to atone for the hasty impulse by which he had stood
up. “But now grant my bold desire, and let me see your face. Let me
know who it is, that vouchsafes me such unparalleled favors.”

“You cannot guess?” she whispered reproachfully. “And yet it is said,
that the eyes of love are keen. Quintus, my beloved, Fate denies us all
open and unchecked happiness; it is in secret only that your lips may
ever meet mine. But you know that true love mocks at obstacles--nay
more, the flowers that blossom in the very valley of death are those
that smell sweetest.”

Quintus drew back a step.

“Once more,” he insisted, “tell me who you are?”

The tall figure raised a beautiful arm, that shone like Parian marble
in the moonlight, and slowly lifted her veil.

“The Empress!”[94] cried Quintus dismayed.

“Not ‘the Empress’ to you, my Quintus--to you Domitia, hapless, devoted
Domitia, who could die of love at your feet.”

Quintus stood immovable.

“Fear nothing,” she said smiling. “No listener is near to desecrate the
perfect bliss of this moonlit night.”

“Fear?” retorted Quintus. “I am not a girl, to go into fits in a
thunder-storm. What I resolve on I carry out to the end, though the end
be death! Besides, I know full well, that your favors bloom in secret
places--as silent and as harmless as the roses in a private garden.”

Domitia turned pale.

“And what do you mean by that?” she asked shuddering.

“You live far away from Caesar, your husband; you are served by spies;
your palace is a labyrinth with a hundred impenetrable chambers....”

“Indeed!” said Domitia, controlling her excitement. “But still, I saw
you start. What dismayed you so much, if it was not the suspicion of
danger?”

“You know,” answered the young man hesitating, “that I am one of those
who are ranked as Caesar’s friends.[95] A friend--though merely an
official friend--cannot betray the man he is bound to defend.”

Domitia laughed loudly.

“Fine speeches, on my word!” she exclaimed scornfully. “Friendship,
for the executioner who cuts your head off! Fidelity to a bloodthirsty
ruffian! No, Quintus--I know better. You are staunch, but not from
fidelity--from prudence!”

Quintus struck his breast proudly with his hand.

“You force me,” he said, “to speak the truth, in spite of my desire to
spare you. You must know then, that Quintus Claudius thinks better of
himself than to stoop to be the successor of an actor!”

“Mad fool! what are you saying....”

“What I was bound to say. You thought I was afraid; I am only proud.
No, and if you were Cypris[96] in person I should disdain you no less,
in spite of every charm. Never will I touch the lips, that have been
kissed by a buffoon--a slave.”[97]

Domitia did not stir; she seemed paralyzed by the fury of this
attack.--At last, however, she rose.

“You are very right, Quintus,” she said. “It was too much to expect.
Go and sleep, and dream of your wedding. But the gods, you know, are
envious. They often grant us joys in our dreams and deny the reality.
But now, before you go, kneel to the Empress!” and as she spoke a
stiletto flashed ominously in her hand. Quintus, however, had with
equal swiftness drawn his dagger.

“Fair and gently!” he said drawing back. “The honor of being stabbed by
the fair hand of Domitia is a temptation no doubt....” She colored and
dropped the weapon.

“Leave me!” she said, going to lean against the balustrade. “I do not
know what I am doing; my brain is reeling. Forgive me--forgive me!”
Quintus made no reply, and casting a glance of furious hatred at him
she hurried down the steps, glided through the gap in the brushwood
into the deserted park, and vanished among the shrubs.

Quintus stood looking after her.

“One foe the more!” said he to himself. “Well, what does it matter?
Either to be made an end of by the knife of an assassin--or to live on,
my very soul sickened with it all.... Pah!”

And he made his way homewards, singing a Greek drinking-song as he went.


FOOTNOTES:

  [82] COENA. The second and last principal meal after the day’s work
       was over. Under the emperors the coena began about half-past
       two o’clock in the afternoon, in winter probably somewhat
       later. It corresponded in its relation to the other hours of
       the day, to the “dîner” of the French, for the Romans were
       early risers, and even among the aristocratic classes day
       began at sunrise.

  [83] CAVAEDIUM or peristyle was the name given to the second
       court-yard of the Roman house, which was connected with the
       first or atrium by one or two corridors. The dining-room, as
       well as the study of the master of the house, were in the
       cavaedium. The space between the latter and the atrium, called
       the tablinum, contained the family papers; it was the business
       office.

  [84] TYPHON. The evil genius who killed Osiris. (See note 32, vol.
       1.) The Greeks regarded him as a monster of original evil, the
       personification of the Simoom and other destructive hot winds,
       or of the primeval force of volcanoes.

  [85] CITHARA (κιθάρα). A favorite musical instrument. The strings,
       usually of gut, were sounded by means of a _plectrum_ (πλῆκτρον)
       of wood, ivory, or metal. Music was as common an accomplishment
       among ladies of rank then as now, and they often composed both
       the words and airs of their songs. Statius tells us that his
       step-daughter did so, and Pliny the younger says the same of his
       third wife.

  [86] IBYCUS OF RHEGION in Lower Italy (B.C. 528). A distinguished
       lyric poet, who is the hero of a well-known poem by Schiller.
       Few of his numerous lyric compositions remain to us. We here
       give a translation of Emanuel Geibel’s admirable German
       version of his Spring-greeting. (_Classisches Liederbuch_, p.
       44.)

  [87] QUINCE. Cydonia is the modern botanical name of the quince,
       called by the Greeks and Romans the Cydonian apple, after
       Cydonia, in the island of Crete.

  [88] WATER-ORGAN (_Hydraulus_, ὕδραυλος). A musical instrument
       mentioned by Cicero, Seneca and others. Ammianus observes:
       “Water-organs and lyres are made so large, that they might be
       mistaken for coaches.”

  [89] BAIAE was considered from ancient times friendly to Bacchus.
       (Sen. _Ep._ 51).

  [90] STATIUS.--P. Papinius Statius, born in Naples, A.D. 45, and
       died A.D. 96, was a lyric and epic poet, often artificial in
       style, but possessed of a brilliant imagination. His principal
       works are the epic poem “Thebais,” in which he treats of the
       battle of the sons of Oedipus before Thebes, and the Silvae
       (woods), a collection of short poems. He also commenced an
       epic poem “Achilleis.”

  [91] MARTIAL. (See note 100, vol. 1.)

  [92] CUBICULUM. A sleeping-room. The _cubicula_ were located in the
       atrium, peristyle, and upper stories.

  [93] NOTE. The Romans wrote their letters either on wax-tablets,
       (See note 10, vol. 1.) or on paper (_papyrus_, _carta_), using
       in the former case the stylus, in the latter a reed-pen and
       Indian ink. When the letter was finished, the wax-tablets
       were laid one above the other, and the papyrus folded several
       times. A string was then wound around the whole and the ends
       sealed.

  [94] THE EMPRESS DOMITIA. The emperor’s wife was Domitia Longina,
       the daughter of Corbulo, and formerly the wife of Aelius
       Lamia, (Suet. _Dom._ 1).

  [95] CAESAR’S FRIENDS. Among the “friends (_amici_) of the
       emperor,” were included those persons, who not only regularly
       shared the social pleasures of the sovereign, but were
       invited to consult with him on all important government
       business. Within this group of friends there were of course
       inner, outer, and outermost circles. Quintus, who had little
       intercourse with the court, can only be included in the
       outermost circle of all, and even there more on account of his
       father, who was one of the emperor’s most intimate “friends,”
       than by virtue of his own relations with the palace. He of
       course had a right to appear at court, like all persons of
       his rank, even without a special “relation of friendship” to
       the emperor. When inner and outer _circles_ of friends are
       mentioned, this must not be confounded with the different
       _classes_ of friends. Belonging to the first or second class
       implied a distinction of _rank_. Of course, in this sense,
       Quintus could only be numbered among the first class (_primi
       amici_).

  [96] CYPRIS. A name given to Aphrodite, the goddess of love, from
       the island of Cyprus, the principal seat of her worship.

  [97] A SLAVE. Domitia had been the mistress of Paris, a slave and
       actor. When Domitian discovered it, he wished to sentence the
       empress to death, but at the intercession of Ursus, changed
       the decree to exile. Paris was massacred in the open street.
       (See Dio Cass. LXVII 3; Suet. _Dom._ 3.) Quintus calls Paris
       a buffoon out of contempt, for the profession of “player” was
       regarded by the ancient Romans as degrading.



                              CHAPTER IV.


Next morning Quintus was up long before the sun, while in the atrium
the slaves were still busy cleaning the walls and the mosaic pavement,
so he lingered for a while in the peristyle. His eye dreamily watched
the soft swaying of the trees in melancholy relief against the
blue-green sky; light fleecy clouds floated in the transparent air,
and here and there above his head a star still twinkled fitfully.
Quintus sat on a bench with his head thrown back, for he was tired and
over-excited; an unwonted restlessness had brought him out of bed. How
calm and pure was this early gloaming! In Rome, so thought Quintus,
there was something uncanny and dreary in the early morning--the
grey of dawn came as the closing effect of a wild night of revelry.
Here, on the hills of Baiae, the stars winked like kindly eyes and
the twilight soothed the spirit! And yet, no; for here too was the
great capital; here too were storms and unrest. Rome, that monstrous
polypus, stretched its greedy arms out to the uttermost ends of the
world, and even into the calmest and most peaceful solitudes. Even
here, by the sea, wantonness had spread its glittering snares; here
too duty and truth were forsworn, and intrigue and inhumanity held
their orgies. Quintus thought of the tortured slave.... That pale and
pain-stricken face had sunk deep into his soul; strangely enough!
for his eye had long been accustomed to such sights of anguish and
horror. The bloody contests of gladiators had never roused him to
any other interest than that in a public entertainment. But this
particular picture forced itself on his memory, though--from the point
of view of any Roman of distinction--it had no interesting features
whatever, for of what account in the Roman Empire was a slave? And
especially in the sight of Quintus, rich, handsome and brilliant? It
was in short most strange--but that white, bearded face, with its
lofty, unflinching expression never faded from his memory, and his
inward eye found it impossible not to gaze upon it. Then, suddenly
another figure stood side by side with it: The white-armed Cypris
Domitia, the passion-stirred Empress. Here were pain, misery, silent
abnegation--there were feverish desires and passions, reckless, greedy,
all-absorbing selfishness.... By the gods--there they stood before
him--the slave and the imperial woman--both so distinct that he could
have touched them as it seemed.--The slave had broken his bonds and
put out his hand with a smile of beatitude, while the woman shrank away
and her white arms writhed like snakes of marble. She threw herself on
the earth, and her fair gold hair fell loose over the bleeding feet of
the slave....

Quintus started up, the murmur of the fountain had lulled him to sleep,
and now, as he rubbed his hand across his eyes, a woman’s figure was in
fact before him, not so stately and tall as the moonlighted Domitia,
but as fresh and sweet as a rose.

“Lucilia! Up so early?”

“I could not sleep and stole away softly from Claudia’s side. She is
still asleep, for she came to bed very late. But you, my respected
friend--what has brought you out before daybreak? You, the latest
sleeper of all the sons of Rome?”

“I was just like you. I think the strong liquor we drank at supper last
night....”

“A vain excuse,” said Lucilia. “When ever did good wine rob you of
a night’s rest? Sooner could I believe that you were thinking of
Cornelia!”

“What should make you think that?”

“Well, it is a natural inference. For what else are you her betrothed?
To be sure you do not play the part with much zeal.”

“How so?”

“Well, do you not go to see Lycoris just as much now as ever you did?”

“Pah!”

“‘Pah!’ What need have you to say ‘Pah!’ in that way? Is that right?
Is that horrid, shameless creature, who seems to turn all the men’s
heads, a fit companion for a man who is betrothed? I know you _love_
Cornelia--but this is a spiteful world, and supposing Cornelia were to
learn....”

“Well, and if she did?” said Quintus smiling. “Is it a crime to
frequent gay society, to see a few leaps and turns of Gades dancers and
to eat stewed muraenae?[98] Is there anything atrocious in fireworks or
flute-playing?”

“How eloquent you can be! You might almost make black seem white. But
I abide by my words; it is most unbecoming, and if you would but hear
reason you would give this woman up.”

“But pray believe me, there never was a pretty girl for whom I cared
less than for Lycoris.”

“Indeed! and that is why you are as constantly in her house as a client
in that of his patron.”[99]

“The comparison is not flattering.”

“But exact. Why should you frequent her house so constantly, if you are
so indifferent to her?”

“Child, you do not understand such matters. Her house is the centre
of all the wit and talent in Rome. Everything that is interesting or
remarkable meets there; it is in her rooms that Martial[100] utters his
most pregnant jests, and Statius reads his finest verses. Everyone
who lays any claim to talent or wit, whether statesmen or courtiers,
knights or senators, uses the atrium of Lycoris as a rendezvous. Last
autumn I even met Asprenas[101] the consul there. Where such men as
these are to be seen, Quintus Claudius, at three and twenty, may
certainly be allowed to go.”

“Quite the contrary,” cried Lucilia. “If you had grey hair, like
Nonius Asprenas, I would not waste words on the matter. But as it is,
the Gaulish Circe will end by falling in love with you, and then you
will be past praying for.” Quintus looked gaily at the girl’s smiling,
mocking face.

“You mean just the reverse,” he said. “For I know you regard me as far
from dangerous. Well! I can bear even that blow.”

“That is your new mood! There is no touching you in any way. If you had
only half as much constancy of mind as Aurelius!”

“Ah! you like him then?”

“Particularly. Do you know it would be delightful if he could remain
here a little longer--I mean for six or eight days. Then he could
travel with us to Rome.”

“Indeed?” said Quintus significantly.

“Now, what are you thinking of?”

“I? of nothing at all.”

“Go, there is no doing anything with you. Do not you see that I only
meant, the long days of travelling all by ourselves--Claudia turns
over a book, and you, you old lazy-bones, lie on a couch like an
invalid--I find it desperately dull. A travelling companion seems to me
to be the most desirable thing in the world--or do you dislike Caius
Aurelius?”

“Oh no. If only his trireme had wheels and could travel over land.”

“His ship will take care of itself. He can come with us in the
travelling chariot, and then he will be able to see part of the
Appian way.[102] It is a thousand times more interesting than a
sea-voyage.--Now, do it to please me and turn the conversation on the
subject at dinner to-day.”

“If you like,” said Quintus.

A slave now appeared on the threshold of the passage, which led from
the peristyle to the atrium.

“My lord,” he said: “Letters have arrived from Rome--and for you too,
Madam....”

“Then bring them out here.”

They were three very dissimilar letters, that Blepyrus handed to the
two young people. Lucilia’s was from the high-priest of Jupiter; Titus
Claudius Mucianus wrote as follows to his adopted daughter:

  “Health and Blessings![103] I promised you lately, through Octavia,
  your excellent mother, that my next letter should be addressed to
  you, my dear daughter. I know that you value such proofs of my
  fatherly remembrance, and I am glad that it should be so. However,
  what I have to write does not concern you alone, my sweet Lucilia,
  but all of you. The preparations for the magnificent Centennial
  Festival,[104] which the Emperor Domitian--as you know--proposes
  to hold in the course of next year, have so completely taken up
  my time during the last few weeks, that I am sorely in need of
  the rest and comfort of regular family life. In addition to this,
  political disturbances of all kinds have occurred. Caesar has sent
  for me six times to Albanum,[105] and I assure you it has been
  incessant travelling to and fro. The matter is an open secret; all
  Rome is discussing the decrees from the Palatine[106] against the
  Nazarenes.[107] You may remember that superstitious sect of whom
  Baucis spoke to you--a revolutionary faction, who, a score or so of
  years since, stirred up the whole city and gave occasion for the
  stern enactments of the divine Nero? Now again they are stirring up
  revolt as if they were mad; they are shaking the very foundations
  of society, and threaten to overturn all that we have till now held
  most sacred. I must be silent as to personal affairs; enough to say
  that I am weary and overwrought, and that my heart longs to see you
  all again. I beg you therefore to make ready to start and return
  as soon as possible to the City of the Seven Hills. Your mother
  is now tolerably well again--thanks to all-merciful Jupiter--and
  Quintus will not be vexed to learn that Cornelia is now staying in
  Rome again. People are quitting their country homes somewhat early
  this year; it is long since I have passed the month of September so
  endurably. I shall expect you then, at latest, by Tuesday in next
  week. Allowing three days for the journey, I thus give you two days
  to prepare for it.

  “Pray greet your mother and your sister lovingly from me. This
  letter will, I hope, find you all in perfect health. I, for my
  part, am quite well.

  “Written at Rome, on the 11th September, in the year 848 after the
  building of the city.”

The second letter was from Cornelia, Quintus’ betrothed, and ran as
follows:

  “Cornelia embraces her dear Quintus a thousand times. Here I am in
  Rome again, my beloved! My term of banishment to that odious desert
  at Tibur is ended. But, woe is me! Rome is dead and deserted too
  since you, my treasure, my idol, linger still far from the Seven
  Hills! Oh! how glad I am to hear from your father, that he is
  recalling you from Baiae sooner than was intended. Oh! Quintus, if
  you felt only one thousandth part of what I feel, you would fly on
  the wings of the storm to the arms of your love-sick Cornelia. The
  days at Tibur were more dreary than ever. My uncle seemed to me so
  depressed and tormented by gloomy thoughts. To crown my misery, old
  Cocceius Nerva[108] must come and pay us a visit of eight mortal
  days. I shall never forget that week as long as I live! You know
  that when those two old men sit together, the house is as silent
  as a tomb; every one goes about on tiptoe. This Cocceius Nerva has
  the worst effect on my uncle. Only fancy what happened on the day
  when he left. My uncle had accompanied him to his chariot, and when
  he came back into the house he happened to pass my room, where
  Chloe was just putting some fresh roses into my hair. When he saw
  this, he fell into an indescribable fit of rage. ‘You old fool!’
  he exclaimed pushing my good Chloe aside: ‘Have you women nothing
  to think of but finery? Do you deck yourselves out like beasts for
  sacrifice? Away with your rubbish! the house of Cornelius Cinna is
  no place for roses!’ And then he turned upon me in a tone which
  expressed volumes--‘Wait a while!’ he said. ‘You will soon be able
  to do whatever pleases your fancy!’ You understand Quintus, he
  meant to refer to you. His words cut me to the heart, for I have
  known a long time that my uncle is not pleased at our connection.
  If my blessed mother had not made him swear, on her deathbed, that
  he would leave my choice perfectly free, who knows what might not
  have happened. Nevertheless, it is always a fresh pang to me when I
  see how he cherishes a bitter feeling against you--for, in spite
  of everything, I respect and love him.

  “Take good care of yourself, dearest Quintus, till we meet again,
  soon, on the shores of the Tiber. Greet your circle from me, and
  particularly lively Lucilia. I remember her fresh, frank nature
  with special affection.”

The third letter, also addressed to Quintus, was from Lucius
Norbanus,[109] the captain of the praetorian guard.[110]

  “Have you taken root in your horrid country villa”--so wrote the
  officer in his rough fun--“or have you drowned, in Vesuvian wine,
  all remembrance that there is such a place as the Roman Forum?
  How I envy you your unbridled wild-horse-like liberty! You live
  like the swallows, while I--it is pitiable! Day after day at my
  post, and for the last few weeks leading a perfect dog’s life!
  Almost a third of the legion are new recruits, for again every
  hole and corner seems haunted. Today, I breathe again for the
  first time, but alas! my best friends are still absent. Above all
  Clodianus,[111] who lately has never been allowed to leave Caesar’s
  side. I am commissioned by our charmer Lycoris, to inform you
  that Martial’s recitation[112] on the sixteenth of October is
  proceeding to admiration. A hundred epigrams, and half Rome lashed
  by them! The banquet, which is to close the recitation, is to be
  magnificent. I can take her word for it; we know our fair Gaul.
  Farewell!”

“That is capital!” said Quintus, folding up the letter. Lucilia retired
with her adopted father’s letter to the sleeping-rooms, where Claudia
and Octavia must by this time be up. Quintus went into the atrium and
sat down by the fountain, to wait till Caius Aurelius should appear.


FOOTNOTES:

  [98] MURAENAE (μύραινα). Lampreys were esteemed a delicacy (Cic.,
       Plin., _Hist. Nat. etc._) The best came from the Lucrine lake,
       near Cumae.

  [99] A CLIENT IN HIS PATRON’S HOUSE. The clients were originally
       protégées, faithful followers of their lords (_patroni_) who
       on their part were obliged to aid them by word and deed. They
       represented in a certain degree an enlargement of the family
       circle. Afterwards this relation degenerated into a mercenary
       connection of the most pitiful kind. Under the emperors the
       clients usually became only poor parasites, in comparison
       with their rich masters. They formed their court, paid them
       the usual morning-visit at a very early hour, accompanied
       them wherever they went in public, and received in return a
       ridiculously small compensation in money or goods.

 [100] MARTIAL. M. Valerius Martialis, born at Bilbilis in Spain,
       about 43 A.D. was famous for his witty and clever epigrams.
       The 1,200 which have been preserved are the principal source
       of the history of manners and customs of the period in which
       the scene of this story is laid. He died about the year 102.

 [101] L. NONIUS ASPRENAS held the office of consul with M.
       Arricinius Clemens in the 14th year of Domitian’s reign, (94
       A.D.) and therefore was still in office “last autumn.”

 [102] APPIAN WAY. The _Via Appia_, built by one of the Claudia gens
       (the Censor Appius Claudius Caecus, 312 B.C.) led from Rome
       across Capua to Brundisium (the modern Brindisi). Statius
       (_Silv._ II, 12), calls it the queen of roads (_regina
       viarum_). A large portion of its admirable pavement, as well
       as the ruins of the tombs on its sides, exist at the present
       day.

 [103] HEALTH AND BLESSINGS! The Romans always began their letters by
       mentioning the writer’s name, who wishes health and blessings
       to the person addressed. Thus the commencement of the letter
       given here, literally interpreted, should have run as follows:
       TITUS CLAUDIUS MUCIANUS WISHES HIS LUCILIA, Health and
       Blessings. _T. Claudius Mucianus Luciliae suae, S.P. D._

 [104] CENTENNIAL FESTIVAL. A brilliant spectacle in the arena, the
       amphitheatre, etc., which, as its name implies, was celebrated
       every hundred years. Domitian, however, disregarded the
       necessity of an interval of a hundred years, by reckoning, as
       Suetonius (_Dom._ 4) relates, from the one before the last,
       which took place under Augustus, instead of from the very
       last, that was celebrated in the reign of Claudius. In this
       romance the time of the Domitian centennial festivities is
       placed somewhat _later_ than they really occurred.

 [105] ALBANUM. Domitian (Suet. _Dom._ 4) had an estate at the foot
       of the Albanian Hills, and many rich Romans had summer villas
       near, forming at last the town now called Albano.

 [106] PALATINE. Palatium, the imperial palace on the Palatine Hill.
       The word “palace” is derived from “Palatium,” as “Kaiser”
       comes from “Caesar.”

 [107] NAZARENES. The name usually given to Christians, who, for
       a long time were regarded by the Romans as a Jewish sect.
       See the words of Dio Cassius (LXVII, 16): “who inclined
       to Judaism,” where he refers to the Christians, who were
       persecuted under Domitian.

 [108] M. COCCEIUS NERVA from Narnia in Umbria, born 32 A.D., a
       senator.

 [109] LUCIUS NORBANUS. See Dio Cass., LXVII, 15.

 [110] PRAETORIAN GUARD. The commander-in-chief’s tent in the Roman
       camp, was called the praetorium; and from this the general’s
       body-guard received the name of _cohors praetoria_. Augustus
       transferred this title to the imperial guard, and established
       nine Praetorian cohorts, (each consisting of a thousand men)
       which were stationed, some in Rome and some in the rest of
       Italy. The cohorts in Rome were at first quartered among the
       citizens; afterwards they had barracks of their own (_castra
       praetoria_) on the opposite side of the Quirinal Hill. They,
       with the Praetorian cavalry, formed the imperial guard and
       body-guard. Compared with the other soldiers, they had many
       privileges, for instance a shorter time of service, higher
       pay, higher rank, etc.

 [111] CLODIANUS. See Suet, _Dom._ 17.

 [112] RECITATION. The custom universally prevailed of poets reciting
       their verses to a select circle, before they were published.



                               CHAPTER V.


The day of their departure came. Aurelius had hailed the idea of
travelling with his new friends with an eagerness, that had brought a
saucy smile to the lips of the shrewd Lucilia. But he had nevertheless
preferred the more comfortable sea-voyage to a journey by land, and he
had urged it so pressingly and yet so modestly that Octavia, after some
hesitation, had yielded.

The second hour after sunrise[113] had been fixed for their start,
and before daybreak the slaves were already busied in packing the
baggage mules and preparing the litters in the forecourt. The noise
and bustle aroused Quintus, and being unable to get to sleep again he
rose, dressed for the journey, and went out to the pillared court,
where Lucilia was overlooking the slaves at their work and urging the
dilatory to haste in cheerful tones.

“Restless being!” said Quintus in Greek: “Are you pursued by the gadfly
of Juno,[114] that you set all the house in an uproar in the darkness
of dawn? You must be afraid lest Aurelius’ vessel should row of without
us.”

“And do you complain of my carefulness?” retorted Lucilia. “Punctuality
is the first virtue of a house mistress.”

“Aha! and since Lucilia’s ambitions aim at that high dignity....”

“Laugh away! A well-ordered home is very desirable for you; and it will
be a real mercy when you get married. Since you have lived alone, you
have got into all sorts of mischief. But what is it that you want here,
you ugly Satyr? Do you not see that you are dreadfully in the way?
There, now you are treading on the travelling-cloaks! I entreat you
leave the room to the household gods!”

“What! I am in your way? That is your view of the matter; but it is
you who are really the spoil-peace, the eternally restless storm who
have so often come sweeping down on our idyllic calm. Of all the
things, which remind us here of Rome, you are the most Roman. You
have nothing but your little snub-nose to redeem you a little. But, by
Hercules! when I see you bustling around here, I can picture to myself
all the fevered turmoil of the great city[115] with its two million
inhabitants. Well, I will taste the sea-breezes once more--once more,
for a brief space, enjoy peace and quietness.”

“How?”

“I will wait for sunrise at the top of the hill, where the road
turns down to Cumae. In Rome it rises through smoke and mist; while
here--oh! how grandly and gloriously it mounts from behind the cone of
Vesuvius....”

“And rises there through smoke and mist!” laughed Lucilia. “Well, make
haste and come back again, or we shall set off without you.”

She turned once more to the slaves. Quintus wrapped himself in his
ample lacerna,[116] waved his hand to her, and went out.

The high-road was absolutely deserted; he drew a deep breath. It was
a delicious morning. His wish to bid farewell, as it were, to the sun
and air of Baiae was not affected; like all Romans he raved about
the sea.[117] Its shore was to him the one real _Museion_--as Pliny
the younger[118] had once expressed it--the true abode of the Muses,
where the celestial powers seemed nearest to him; here, if anywhere,
while watching the waves, he found time and opportunity for self-study
and reflection. He had now been living with his family in their quiet
villa ever since the end of April, and had spent many hours in serious
meditation, in congenial literary pleasures and diligent study. He
had once more learned the real value of retirement, which in Rome was
so unattainable. A long winter of dissipation had left him satiated,
and Baiae’s aromatic air, a simple existence in the bosom of his
family, and the spirit of Greek poetry had combined to restore his
palled senses and overexcited nerves. And now, as the moment of return
approached, he was seized more and more with the old spirit of unrest.
He felt that the omnipotent sway of that demon called Rome would drag
him back again into the vortex of aimless tragi-comedy, and now a last
glance at the smiling and slumbering sea was a positive craving of his
heart.

He slowly climbed the hill. At about a hundred paces up, there was a
spot whence he could see over the roofs of the tallest villas and down
into the valley. His eye, though his purpose was to look far away and
across the sea, was irresistibly riveted by an object that was quite
close at hand. To his right a by-path led down towards the palace of
the Empress, and the huge portico, with its Corinthian columns, gleamed
pale and visionary in the doubtful light. But what attracted the young
man’s attention was a little side-door, which slowly turned on its
pivot[119] with a slight noise, letting a female figure in Greek dress
pass out into the road. Quintus recognized Euterpe, the flute-player.
Limp and weary she climbed the steep slope, her eyes fixed on the
ground, and as she came closer, Quintus could see that she had been
weeping bitterly.

“Good morning, all hail!” he cried, when the young woman was within a
few steps of him. Euterpe gave a little cry.

“It is you, my lord!” she said with a faint smile. “Returning so late
from Cumae?”

“No, my good Euterpe. I am up not late, but early. But what in the
world have you been doing at this hour in Domitia’s palace? Has she
been giving a feast? You do not look as if you had gathered a harvest
of gold or flowers.”

“Indeed, my lord, no!” replied Euterpe, again melting into tears.
“I have been to visit a friend, who is suffering terribly. Down in
Baiae, where I was playing at night in the house of the wealthy
Timotheus, Agathon the seer gave me herbs and salves--they cost me a
heavy sum--and since then I have been in there.... Oh! his wounds are
horrible.... But what am I talking about! He is only a slave, my lord;
what can Quintus Claudius care...?”

“Do you think so?” said Quintus, interrupting the agitated speaker.
“But I am not made of stone; I know full well, that though among slaves
there is many a scamp, there are also worthy and excellent men. And if,
to crown all, he is the friend[120] of so charming a creature....”

“Nay, my lord, you will have your jest--but if you could only see him,
poor Eurymachus! If you could know how faithful he is, and how noble!”

“Well, I call that being desperately in love!”

Euterpe colored. “No,” she said modestly. “I can accuse myself of many
sins, but Eurymachus--no evil thought ever entered his mind.”

“Is love a sin then?”

“I am married.”

“Here--you were not wont to be so strict!”

“And the greater pity! If I had always known Eurymachus, as I know him
now....”

“Indeed! and how do you know him now?”

“He has opened my eyes; I know now how deeply I have sinned....”

“He is a philosopher then, who converts fair sinners from their evil
ways?”

“He is a hero!” exclaimed Euterpe with enthusiasm.

“You do not stint your praise. Does he belong to the Empress?”

“To her steward, Stephanus. Ah! my lord, he is a tyrant....”

“So they say.”

“How he treated the poor fellow! It beats all description. For one
single word he had him flogged till he was raw, and then tied him up
in the park in the noontide sun. The gnats and flies....” But at the
woman’s last words Quintus had gone nearer to her.

“Listen,” he said hurriedly: “I believe I know your Eurymachus--a pale
face with a dark beard--quiet, contemning pain--standing by the stake
like a martyr....”

“You saw him?” cried Euterpe, smiling through her tears. “Yes, it was
he indeed. No one else has that extraordinary power of defying every
torment. Now he is lying half-dead on his bed; his whole back is one
dreadful wound, and yet not a complaint, not a word of reproach!
Fortunately the gate-keeper is my very good friend. He sent me a
message; otherwise very likely Eurymachus might have died in his
misery, without my knowing it. But I hope, I hope the charm may save
him.”

“Listen, child,” said Quintus after a pause: “You shall see, that I
know how to value courage, even in the person of a slave. Here, take
this gold and spend it for the benefit of the sufferer, and by and bye,
when he is well again, write to me in Rome; then we will see what can
be done next.”

“Oh, my lord!” cried the flute-player vehemently, “you are like the
gods for graciousness and kindness. Do I understand rightly, that we
may hope from your goodness....”

“Understand all you please,” interrupted the youth kindly. “The chief
point is, that you should remind me of it at the right moment. In Rome
a man forgets his nearest relations.”

“I will remind you,” said Euterpe, radiant. “Sooner should I forget to
eat and drink. About the middle of next month I am going to the capital
with Diphilus, my husband. He is a master-carpenter, and will have work
to do on the grand erections for the Centenary Festival. If you will
allow me, I will myself remind you in person.”

“Do so, Euterpe.”

“Oh, my lord! I thank you from the bottom of my heart. The man who is
protected by Quintus Claudius, is as safe as a child in its cradle.”

Joy lent so sweet an expression to the young creature’s face, that
Quintus was irresistibly moved to stroke her cheek, and in the excess
of her delight she submitted to the caress, though, as we know, she had
vowed henceforth to give Diphilus no cause for complaint.

At this moment a magnificent litter, borne by eight gigantic negroes,
appeared on the highest level of the road. It was escorted by four
men-at-arms, and in it, leaning on the purple cushions and only
half-veiled, reclined Domitia. The seething fever of her passion and
anger had driven her to seek the air soon after midnight, and for hours
the slaves had to carry her about the wooded ravines of the landward
side of the hills, or along the deserted roads, until, wearied out
at last, she was fain to turn homewards. Quintus, somewhat abashed,
withdrew to one side; not so quickly, however, but that Domitia had
observed his light caress of Euterpe. She turned pale and looked
away. The young man, who made ready to bow to the Empress, remained
unnoticed, and Euterpe stood as if turned to stone.

Quintus looked coolly after her as she was borne away, and shrugged his
shoulders; then he took Euterpe by the hand.

“It is a bargain then,” he said in distinct tones. “You will find me in
Rome! Now, farewell--till we meet again.”

He turned towards home; sea and sunrise were alike forgotten. Euterpe
hurried down to Cumae, and disappeared behind the ridge at the same
instant as the Empress within the Corinthian portico of the palace.

In a few minutes the Claudia family were sitting in the triclinium to
take a slight breakfast before starting. Octavia was thoughtful; her
husband’s letter had made her anxious. She knew how stern a view Titus
Claudius took of his duties, and how much would devolve upon him in
these agitated times. Claudia too was graver than usual. Only Aurelius
and Lucilia looked bright and contented.--Lucilia, warm and rosy from
her busy exertions in the court-yard and atrium--and in her excitement
she would not give herself time to do more than drink a cup of milk and
swallow a morsel of sesame-cake.[121]

The respectable Herodianus too, against his custom, was silent. What
could be so absorbing to that simple and garrulous nature? From time to
time he frowned and stared at the ceiling, moving his lips in silent
speech like a priest of the Pythian oracle. The honey, generally his
favorite dainty--he left untouched; the egg he was about to empty with
a spoon[122] broke under his fingers. Aurelius was on the point of
taking the matter seriously, when the mystery found a natural solution.
When, presently, Blepyrus appeared to announce that it was time to
start, the ponderous ponderer rose, went to the door, and began to
exclaim with terrible pathos a valedictory poem of his own composition.
It was based on the model of the world-renowned Hymenaeus[123] of
Catullus;[124] and its climax was the most extravagant refrain, that
the Muse of occasional verse ever hatched in mortal brain.

For a few minutes the party listened in respectful silence to the
cadences of this solemn effusion; but as it went on and on, apparently
endless, Lucilia, who from the first had had great difficulty in
keeping countenance, broke into a fit of laughter, and Aurelius
good-naturedly put a stop to the freedman’s recitation.

“I mean no offence, my excellent Herodianus; but though poetry is
said to be the mirror of reality, it must not interfere too much with
the progress of real events. Twelve times already have you resolutely
asserted: ‘Far must we wander, far from hence!’ but our feet are still
rooted to the spot. You may give us the rest of your poem on board the
vessel, but for the present make way and take this ring as the prize
for your effusion.”

Herodianus, who had at first been half inclined to take the
interruption in ill-part, felt himself fully indemnified by his
master’s gift, but his gaze lingered for a while in silent protest on
Lucilia. However, he presently joined the rest of the party, who were
mounting their horses or settling themselves in litters, and soon they
were all fairly in motion.

They went down the hill in a long file. Baiae, now in full sunshine,
seemed to nestle in a golden shell; the sea was as smooth as a mirror,
and the clear atmosphere promised a prosperous voyage. They soon
reached the stone quay, where the motley crowd of the harbor was
already at high tide of noise and bustle. There lay the proud trireme
before their surprised eyes, gaily dressed out like a bride waiting
for the bridegroom. Long garlands of flowers floated from the spars,
tied with purple knots and blue streamers; magnificent carpets from
Alexandria and Massilia hung from the poop, and the crew were all
dressed in holiday garments. When they had got into the boats and were
fast approaching the vessel, strains of music were heard greeting the
visitors. Claudia colored deeply; she recognized her own song--that
impassioned address to the Spring, which she had sung the first evening
in the peristyle.

In ten minutes the Batavia had weighed anchor and was being rowed in
majestic style past the quays and mole. Quintus, Claudia and Lucilia
leaned silently over the side, while Aurelius sat under the awning with
Octavia, talking of Rome. Beautiful Baiae sank farther and farther into
the background with all its palaces and temples. Still, above the
trees, a corner of the snug villa they had left was visible, and to
the left Domitia’s palace. Then the vessel shifted its course, and the
shining speck grew smaller and smaller till it was lost to sight.

Claudia wiped away a stealing tear, while Lucilia in a clear, ringing
voice shouted across the waters:

“Farewell, lovely Baiae!”


FOOTNOTES:

 [113] THE SECOND HOUR AFTER SUNRISE. The Romans divided the day,
       from sunrise to sunset, into twelve hours. These were of
       course shorter in winter than in summer. The events spoken of
       in this chapter are supposed to have taken place about the
       time of the equinox, so ‘the second hour’ would be between
       seven and eight. The night, between sunset and sunrise, was
       likewise divided into four vigils or watches of three hours
       each.

 [114] THE GADFLY OF JUNO. The jealous queen of heaven, Hera, (called
       by the Romans Juno) transformed the beautiful daughter of
       Inachus, Io, who was beloved by Jupiter, into a cow, and
       ordered her to be persecuted by a gadfly.

 [115] THE GREAT CITY. The population of Rome, under the emperors,
       was a little less than two millions, but largely exceeded one
       million. There are no exact statements; but calculations have
       been made from different standpoints, which give about the
       same result. The most important points to be considered here,
       are first the extent of surface occupied by imperial Rome,
       and secondly the estimates of ancient writers concerning the
       consumption of grain, which in the time of Josephus amounted
       to 60.000,000 bushels yearly. Here too, may be mentioned the
       somewhat hyperbolical passage, Arist. _Encom. Rom._ p. 199,
       where it is asserted that Rome would fill the whole width
       of Italy to the Adriatic Sea, if the stories of the houses,
       instead of being piled one above another, had been built on
       the ground.

 [116] LACERNA. A light woollen cloak, worn either in place of the
       toga or tunic, or, which was more customary, as an outside
       wrap over the toga. White lacernae were the most elegant.

 [117] HE RAVED ABOUT THE SEA. The Romans’ love for the sea is proved
       by many passages in their literature, but still more by the
       ruins of their villas and palaces, which bordered its most
       beautiful shores, and were praised by contemporaries for their
       views, (Friedlander, _Sittengesch._, II, p. 129).

 [118] PLINY THE YOUNGER. C. Plinius Caecilius Secundus, a nephew and
       adopted son of the older Pliny, was born A.D. 62, at Novum
       Comum, now Como, on the Lake Larius, Lake of Como, on the
       banks of which he had several villas. (_Ep._ IX. 7.) He died
       about the year 114. A clever writer, a skilful statesman, an
       enthusiast for everything good and beautiful, he possessed
       an amiable character, but cannot be wholly absolved from the
       reproach of self-sufficiency. His writings, especially his
       letters, are an important source of information concerning
       the social conditions of that period. The passage in Pliny to
       which allusion is here made, runs: “Oh, sea! Oh, strand! Thou
       beloved Museion! How much ye compose and create for me!”

 [119] ON ITS PIVOT. Doors were not usually hung on hinges, as with
       us, but had on their upper and lower edges wedge-shaped pivots
       (_cardines_) which fitted into corresponding depressions in
       the threshold and upper part of the frame.

 [120] FRIEND. Quintus would speak of Eurymachus as the ‘friend’
       of Euterpe with intentional double meaning, half in the
       usual honest sense, but partly too in the sense which the
       feminine form, _amica_, had acquired in the course of time; a
       signification so ambiguous, that the bluntest frankness was
       better.

 [121] SESAME CAKE. _Sesamum_ σήσαμον was a plant with pods, from whose
       fruit was obtained a savory meal or oil.

 [122] THE USE OF SPOONS was not so general in Rome as with us, but
       was certainly customary for eating eggs in good society.

 [123] HYMENAEUS. A well-known poem by Catullus; the burden is: “_O
       Hymen, Hymenae!_” (Carmen 61, _Collis o Heliconis_.)

 [124] CAIUS (OR QUINTUS) VALERIUS CATULLUS was a native of Verona
       (B.C. 77) and died at the age of thirty. His works were
       most popular at the period of our story. Martial frequently
       compares himself with Catullus as a recognized classic, and in
       one passage hopes that he may one day be esteemed as second
       only to Catullus. Herodianus takes one of Catullus’s poems as
       a model, just as a worthy citizen of Germany, who wished to
       essay lyric poetry, might copy Schiller.



                              CHAPTER VI.


The house of Titus Claudius Mucianus, the high-priest of Jupiter,
stood at no great distance from the precipitous Capitoline Hill,[125]
looking over the Forum Romanum[126] and the Sacred Way.[127] Simple and
yet magnificent, it showed in every detail the stamp of that quiet,
self-sufficing and confident wealth, that ease of distinction, which is
so unattainable to the _parvenu_.

It was now October. The sun was just appearing above the horizon.
There was a motley turmoil in the house of the Flamen; the vast atrium
positively swarmed with men. Most of these were professional morning
visitors--waiters in the ante-chamber--known also from the gala dress
in which they were expected to appear, as “Toga-wearers;” the poor
relations of the house, clients and protégés.[128] Still, there were
among them not a few persons of distinction, members of the senate
and upper-class, court officials and magistrates. It was a scene of
indescribable variety and bustle. The world of Rome in miniature.
Petitioners from every point of the compass eagerly watched the slaves,
on whom their admission depended. Rich farmers, who desired to bring
a private offering to Jupiter Capitolinus, sat open-mouthed on the
cushioned marble seats, gaping at the handsomely-dressed servants
or the splendid wall-paintings and statues. Young knights from the
provinces, whose ambition it was to be Tribune of a legion,[129] or
to obtain some other honorable appointment, and who hoped for the
high-priest’s protection, gazed with deep admiration at the endless
series of ancestral images[130] in wax, which adorned the hall in
shrines of ebony.

And in fact these portraits were well worthy of study, for they were
an epitome of a portion of the history of the world. Those stern,
inexorable features were those of Appius Claudius Sabinus, who,
as consul, wreaked such fearful justice on his troops. Beside him
stood his brother, the haughty patrician, Caius Claudius, knitting
his thick brows--an embodiment of the protest of the nobles against
the rights contended for by the popular party. There was the keen,
eagle face of the infamous Decemvir, the persecutor of Virginia--a
villain, but a daring and imperious villain.--Claudius Crassus, the
cruel, resolute foe of the plebeians--Appius Claudius Caecus, who made
the Appian Way--Claudius Pulcher, the witty sceptic, who flung the
sacred fowls into the sea because they warned him of evil--Claudius
Cento, the conqueror of Chalcis--Claudius Caesar, and a hundred other
world-renowned names of old and modern times.... What an endless
chain! And just as they now looked down, head beyond head from their
frames, they had been, all without exception, stiff-necked contemners
of the people, and staunch defenders of their senatorial privileges.
A splendid, defiant and famous race! Even the tattooed native of
Britain,[131] who came to offer fine amber chains[132] and broken
rings of gold,[133] was sensible of an atmosphere of historic greatness.

One after another--the humbler folks in parties together--the visitors
were led from the atrium into the carpeted reception-room, where
the master of the house stood to welcome them in robes of dazzling
whiteness[134] and wearing his priestly head-gear.[135] He had already
dismissed a considerable number of important personages, when a
tall officer, stout almost to clumsiness, was announced and at once
admitted, interrupting as he did the strict order of succession. This
was no less a person than Clodianus, the adjutant of Caesar himself.
He came in noisily, embraced and kissed the priest and then, glancing
round at the slaves, asked if he might be allowed a few words with
Titus Claudius in private. The priest gave a sign; the slaves withdrew
into a side room.

“There is no end to it all!” cried Clodianus, throwing himself into a
large arm-chair. “Every day brings some fresh annoyance!”

“What am I to hear now?” sighed the high-priest.

“Oh! this time it has nothing to do with the outbreak among the
Nazarenes and all the troubles of these last weeks. We can detect here
and there extraordinary symptoms, and fabulous rumors ... for instance
... but, your word of honor that you will be silent...!”

“Can you doubt it?”

“Well, for instance, it sounds incredible ... but Parthenius[136]
brought it all from Lycoris the fair Gaul.... It is said that this
Nazarene craze has seized the very highest personages.... They even
name....”

He stopped and looked round the room, as if he feared to be overheard.

“Well?” said the high-priest.

“They name Titus Flavius Clemens,[137] the Consul....”

“Folly! a relation of Caesar’s. The man who spreads such a report
should be found out and brought to condign punishment....”

“Folly! that is what I said too! Infernal nonsense. Still the story is
characteristic, and proves what the people conceive of as possible....”

“Patience, patience, noble Clodianus! Things will alter as winter
approaches. The wildest torrent may be dammed up. But we are
digressing--what new annoyance?”

“Ah! to be sure,” interrupted Clodianus. “Then nothing of it has
reached your ears?”

“No one has mentioned anything to me.”

“They dare not.”

“And why?”

“Because your views are well known. They know that you hate the
populace--and the populace yesterday achieved a triumph.”

“And in what way?” asked Claudius frowning.

“In the circus.[138] I can tell you, my respected friend, it was a
frightful scandal, a real storm in miniature! Caesar turned pale--nay
he trembled.”

“Trembled!” cried Claudius indignantly.

“With rage of course,” said Clodianus in palliation. “The thing
occurred thus. One of the charioteers[139] of the new party--those
that wear purple--drove so magnificently, that Caesar was almost
beside himself with delight. By Epona, the tutelary goddess of
horses![140] but the fellow drove four horses that cannot be matched
in the whole world. Incitatus,[141] old Caligula’s charger, was an ass
in comparison, and the names of those splendid steeds are in every
one’s mouth to-day like a proverb: Andraemon, Adsertor, Vastator and
Passerinus[142]--you hear them in every market and alley; our poets
might almost be envious. And the charioteer too, a free Greek in the
service of Parthenius the head chamberlain, is a splendid fellow. He
stood in his quadriga[143] like Ares rushing into battle. In short it
was a stupendous sight, and then he was so far ahead of the rest--I
tell you, no one has won by so great a length since Rome was a city.
Scorpus[144] is the rascal’s name. Every one was fairly carried
away. Caesar, the senators, the knights--all clapped till their
hands were sore. Even strangers, the watery-eyed Sarmatians[145] and
Hyperboreans[146] shouted with delight.”

“Well?” asked Titus Claudius, as the narrator paused.

“To be sure--the chief point. Well, it was known that Caesar would
himself grant the winner some personal favor, and every one gazed at
the imperial tribune in the greatest excitement. Caesar ordered the
herald to command silence. ‘Scorpus,’ said he, when the uproar was
lulled, ‘you have covered yourself with glory. Ask a favor of me,’ and
Scorpus bowed his head and demanded in a firm voice, that Domitian
should be reconciled to his wife.”

“Audacious!” cried Titus Claudius wrathfully.

“There is better still to come. Hardly had the charioteer spoken, when
a thousand voices shouted from every bench: ‘Dost thou hear, oh Caesar?
Leave thy intrigue with Julia![147] We want Domitia!’ There was quite a
tumult,[148] a scandalous scene that defies description.”

“But what do the people mean? What has so suddenly brought them to make
this demand?”

“Oh!” said Clodianus, “I see through the farce. The whole thing is
merely a trick on the part of Stephanus, Domitia’s steward. That sly
fox wants to regain for his mistress her lost influence. Of course
he bribed Scorpus, and the gods alone know how many hundred thousand
sesterces the game must have cost him. The spectators’ seats were
filled on all sides with bribed wretches, and even among the better
classes I saw some who looked to me suspicious.”

“This is bad news,” interrupted the high-priest. “And what answer did
Domitian give the people?”

“I am almost afraid to tell you of his decision.”

“His decision could not be doubtful, I should suppose. By giving
Scorpus leave to ask what he would, he pledged himself to grant his
prayer. But how did he punish the howling mob that stormed around him?
I too regret our sovereign’s connection with his niece, but what gives
the populace the right to interfere in such matters?”

“You know,” replied the other, “how tenderly these theatre and circus
demonstrations have always been dealt with. Domitian, too, thought it
prudent to smother his just anger and to show clemency. When the herald
had once more restored order, Caesar said in a loud voice: ‘Granted,’
and left his seat. But he was deeply vexed, noble Claudius.”

“Well and then?” asked the Flamen in anxious suspense.

“Well, the matter is so far carried out, that in the secretary’s[149]
room to-day an imperial decree was drawn up, calling upon Domitia[150]
to return to her rooms on the Palatine, and granting her pardon for all
past offences.”

“And Julia?”

“By Hercules!” laughed Clodianus. “With regard to Julia, Caesar made no
promises.”[151]

“Then I greatly fear, that this reconciliation will only prove the germ
of farther complications.”

“Very possibly. It has been the source of annoyance enough to me
personally. Caesar is in the worst of humors. Do what you can to soothe
him, noble Claudius. We all suffer under it....”

“I will do all I can,” said the priest with a sigh. Clodianus noisily
pushed back his chair. “Domitian is waiting for me,” he said as he
jumped up. “Farewell, my illustrious friend. What times we live in
now! How different things were only three or four years ago!”

Claudius escorted him to the door with cool formality. The slaves and
freedmen now came back again into the room, and ranged themselves
silently in the background, and the “_nomenclator_,” the “namer,” whose
duty it was to introduce unknown visitors, came at once to Claudius and
said hesitatingly:

“My lord, your son Quintus is waiting in the atrium and craves to be
admitted.”

A shade of vexation clouded the high-priest’s brow.

“My son must wait,” he said decisively; “Quintus knows full well, that
these morning hours belong neither to myself nor to my family.”

And Quintus, the proud, spoilt and wilful Quintus, was forced to have
patience. The Flamen went on calmly receiving his numerous friends,
clients and petitioners, who retired from his presence cheerful or
hanging their heads, according as they had met with a favorable or
an unfavorable reception. Not till the last had vanished was his son
admitted to see him.

Quintus had meanwhile conquered his annoyance at the delay he had
been compelled to brook, and offered his father his hand with an
affectionate gesture; but Titus Claudius took no notice of his son’s
advances.

“You are unusually early,” he observed in icy tones, “or perhaps you
are but just returning from some cheerful entertainment--so-called.”

“That is the case,” replied Quintus coolly. “I have been at the house
of Lucius Norbanus, the prefect of the body-guard. The noble Aurelius
was also there,” he added with an ironical smile. “Our excellent friend
Aurelius.”

“Do you think to excuse yourself by casting reflections on another?
If Aurelius shares your dissipation once or twice a month, I have no
objections to raise--I have no wish to deny the right of youth to its
pleasures. But you, my son, have made a rule of what ought to be the
exception. Since your return from Baiae, you have led a life which is a
disgrace alike to yourself and to me.”

Quintus looked at the floor. His respect and his defiant temper were
evidently fighting a hard battle.

“You paint it too black, father,” he said at last, in a trembling
voice. “I enjoy my life--perhaps too wildly; but I do nothing that can
disgrace you or myself. Your words are too hard, father.”

“Well then, I will allow that much; but you, on your part, must allow
that the son of the high-priest is to be measured by another standard
than the other youths of your own rank.”

“It might be so, if I lived under the same roof with you. But since I
am independent and master of my own fortune....”

“Aye, and that is your misfortune,” the priest interrupted. “Enough,
you know my opinion. However, that which caused me to require your
presence here to-day, was not your course of life in general. A
particular instance of incredible folly has come to my ears; you are
playing a wicked and dangerous game, and I sent for you to warn you.”

“Indeed, father, you excite my curiosity.”

“Your curiosity shall at once be satisfied. Is it true that you have
been so rash, so audacious, as to address love-songs to Polyhymnia, the
Vestal maiden?”[152]

Quintus bit his lip.

“Yes,” he said, “and no. Yes, if you consider the superscription of the
verses. No, if you imagine that the poem ever reached her hands.”

The priest paced the room with wide strides.

“Quintus,” he said suddenly: “Do you know what punishment is inflicted
on the wretch, who tempts a Vestal virgin to break her vows?”

“I do.”

“You know it!” said the priest with a groan.

“But father,” said Quintus eagerly: “You are branding a jest as a
crime. In a merry mood, inspired by wine, I composed a poem in the
style of Catullus, and to complete the audacity of it, instead of the
name of Lycoris, I placed at the beginning that of our highly-revered
Polyhymnia. And now report says--Pah! it is ridiculous! I grant you it
was impudent, unbecoming, in the very worst taste if you will, but not
calumny itself can say worse of it than that.”

“Well, it certainly sounds less scandalous from that point of view.
Quintus, I warn you. Now, if at any time, be on your guard against
any deed, any expression, which may be construed as an insult to the
religion of the state! Do not trust too much to the influence of my
position or of my individuality. The law is mightier than the will
of any one man. When what we are now planning takes form and life,
severity, inexorable as iron, will decide in all such questions.
That reckless jest sprang from a mind, which no longer holds dear
the eternal truths of religion. Beware, Quintus, and conceal this
indifference; do not come forward as a contemner of the gods. Once more
I warn you.”

“Father....”

“Go now, my son, and ponder on what I have said.”

Quintus bowed and kissed the stern man’s hand. Then he left the room
with a quick, firm step, and a look of devoted love, of passionate
paternal pride followed him as he crossed the room, so tall, lovely and
handsome.


FOOTNOTES:

 [125] THE CAPITOLINE HILL. _Mons Capitolinus_, north of the Palatine
       and southwest of the Quirinal. Tarquinius Priscus erected
       on its summit the Capitolium, that is the temple of Jupiter
       Optimus Maximus, Juno and Minerva.

 [126] FORUM ROMANUM. The Roman forum par excellence, at the foot of
       the Capitoline and Palatine Hills, was the centre of public
       life even in the days of the republic.

 [127] THE SACRED WAY (_Sacra Via_) divided the real _Sacra Via_,
       which led from the Capitol to the Arch of Titus, and the
       _Summa Sacra Via_ (the upper sacred street) that extended from
       the Arch of Titus to the Flavian Amphitheatre. Hor. _Sat._ I,
       9 (_Ibam forte Via Sacra, sicut meus est mos._) It was the
       most frequented street in Rome. The ancient pavement exists
       at the present day. “Via” was the name of the large principal
       streets, as it still is at the present time in Italy.

 [128] CLIENTS AND PROTÉGÉS. These were the clients mentioned in note
       99. Juvenal (_Sat._ 5) and especially Martial, in various
       passages, speak of their pitiable situation, the contempt in
       which they were held and the ill-treatment they had to endure
       even from their patrons’ slaves. (See Friedlander I, 247 to
       252.) The usual visiting-hour was just after sunrise.

 [129] TRIBUNE OF A LEGION. Augustus appointed the so-called
       _legati_ or _praefecti legionum_ commanders of the legions.
       The _legatus_ thus corresponded with our colonel. The next
       in rank to the _legati_ were the tribunes (corresponding to
       our majors) who, however, with special qualifications, might
       undertake the command of a legion. Usually the tribunes did
       not have the reputation of possessing remarkable military
       ability, as the sons of the knights and senators began their
       military career with this dignity. According to their age
       and experience, the tribunes were second lieutenants. The
       men next in rank to the tribunes were the centurions, the
       really experienced officers, who were held in high esteem
       on account of their superior knowledge. At the time of our
       story the pressure of the young men for tribuneships was so
       extraordinary, that the places actually at disposal were not
       nearly sufficient to supply the demand. The Emperor Claudius
       had therefore created supernumerary tribuneships (_supra
       numerum, imaginariae militiae genus._ Suet. _Claud._ 25) a
       brevet-rank, which without claiming the performance of any
       duty, flattered the vanity.

 [130] ANCESTRAL IMAGES. Statues of ancestors, modelled in wax
       (_imagines majorum_) formed one of the principal ornaments of
       the atrium in the houses of aristocratic Romans. The ancestors
       here mentioned of our (imaginary) Titus Claudius Mucianus are
       all historical characters.

 [131] TATTOOED NATIVE OF BRITAIN. The original Celtic inhabitants of
       England. For the impression made by Roman magnificence on the
       British chieftain Caractacus, see Dio Cass. LX, 33.

 [132] AMBER CHAINS. Amber (_Electrum_) was greatly admired by the
       Romans for necklaces, rings and bracelets, until its value
       decreased by over-importation. It was chiefly brought from the
       shores of the Baltic.

 [133] BROKEN RINGS OF GOLD. The priest of Jupiter was only permitted
       to wear broken rings of gold, as closed ones were the symbols
       of captivity.

 [134] ROBES OF DAZZLING WHITENESS. The white toga was the invariable
       gala dress worn at all ceremonious receptions, even by the
       emperors. Great indignation was felt against Nero, because
       once, when the senate paid him a visit, he wore only a
       flowered toga.

 [135] PRIESTLY HEAD-GEAR. The Flamines were forbidden to go
       bare-headed. They always wore a hat (_apex_) or a sort of
       fillet.

 [136] PARTHENIUS. This historical personage was a man of conspicuous
       importance at the court of Domitian, and mentioned by many
       authors, particularly in Martial’s epigrams. He was _cubiculo
       praepositus_, (πρόκεντος in Dio Cass.) groom of the bed-chamber
       or high chamberlain, and a particular favorite with Caesar. His
       companion in office Sigerus or Sigerius, his inferior in rank,
       power and influence, will not be again mentioned in this story.

 [137] TITUS FLAVIUS CLEMENS. A cousin of the emperor, was consul
       A.D. 95 with Domitian, (who conferred this dignity upon him
       seventeen times). Concerning his conversion to Christianity
       see Dio Cass. LXVII, 14, as well as Suet. _Dom._ 15.

 [138] IN THE CIRCUS. The Circus Maximus, between the Aventine and
       Palatine Hills, was the principal place for the horse and
       chariot races, and in Domitian’s time accommodated about a
       quarter of a million spectators.

 [139] CHARIOTEERS. As the givers of entertainments could rarely
       furnish men and horses enough of their own for the games in
       the circus, companies of capitalists and owners of larger
       families of slaves and studs, undertook to supply them. As
       there were usually four chariots in each race, there were
       four such companies, each of which furnished a chariot for
       each race, and as the chariots and drivers had colors to
       distinguish them, each adopted one of these colors, hence they
       were called factions or parties. (Friedlander, II, 192.) The
       colors of these four parties were white, red, green and blue.
       Domitian added two new ones, gold and purple. Like so many of
       Domitian’s institutions, this circus innovation passed without
       leaving any trace, but the original parties, especially the
       green and the blue, lasted for centuries. The whole population
       of Rome, and afterwards that of Constantinople, divided into
       different parties, each of which sided with one of these
       circus factions. The eager, even passionate interest with
       which this was done, finds a feeble analogy at the present day
       in some phases of English and American popular life.

 [140] BY EPONA, THE TUTELARY GODDESS OF HORSES! Epona (from
       _epus-equus_, the horse) was the protecting deity of the
       horse, mule and donkey. (Juv. _Sat._ VIII, 157.) Stables,
       etc., were adorned with her statue. Roman sportsmen swore by
       the goddess of horses. (See Juv. _Sat._ VIII, 156: _jurat
       solam Eponam_.)

 [141] INCITATUS, the swift--_equo incitato_--in a stretching
       gallop--a famous favorite horse of the emperor Caligula.
       (Suet. _Cal._ 55.) The emperor built this animal a palace,
       gave orders that it should feed from an ivory manger, and
       be attended by slaves clad in rich garments. When it was
       to appear in the circus, all noise in its neighborhood was
       prohibited during the whole of the preceding day, that the
       noble creature’s rest should not be disturbed. Caligula is
       said to have intended to make his Incitatus consul.

 [142] ANDRAEMON, ADSERTOR, VASTATOR AND PASSERINUS. Names of horses
       frequently mentioned during the reign of the Roman emperors.
       Andraemon often won the race in Domitian’s time. Monuments
       with the portrait of this racer have come down to us.

 [143] QUADRIGA. A carriage in front of which four horses were
       fastened abreast. The racing quadrigae were exactly like the
       old Homeric chariot--being provided with a breast-work in
       front while open in the rear.

 [144] SCORPUS. A famous chariot-driver in Domitian’s time, see the
       epitaph Martial composed for him. (Martial _Ep._ X, 53.)

          “I am that Scorpus, glory of the race
          Rome’s admired joy, but joy for a short space,
          Among the dead Fates early me enroll’d,
          Numb’ring my conquests, they did think me old.”
                                            ANON, 1695.

       That the name of Scorpus was on every lip appears from another
       passage in Martial _Ep._ XI, 1, which runs as follows:

          “Nor will your follies by those few
          Be told; but when their stories flag
          Of some new bet or running nag.”
                                            HAY.

       where the Incitatus to whom reference is made is not
       Caligula’s horse, already mentioned, but a racer named for it.

 [145] SARMATIANS. A people in what is now Poland and Tartary. (See
       Mart. _Spect._ 3.)

 [146] HYPERBOREANS. People who lived above Boreas, fabulous folk
       dwelling in the extreme north; also Northmen in general. For
       instance Martial includes among the Hyperboreans, the Chatti
       (Hessen) and Dacians, inhabitants of eastern Hungary.

 [147] JULIA. The daughter of the Emperor Titus, with whom Domitian
       for a long time had unlawful relations. Dio Cass. LXVII, 3.
       Suet _Dom._ 22.

 [148] A TUMULT. Many things are related about such tumults. They
       were partly impromptu, partly carefully prepared. A striking
       instance of the latter style is told by Dio Cassius (LXXII,
       13) where a cunningly-planned circus-riot causes the fall of
       the hated lord high-chamberlain Cleander. This omnipotent
       favorite of the Emperor Commodus had enraged the people by
       a series of the boldest frauds, during a period of great
       scarcity. Just as the horses were starting for the seventh
       race a throng of boys, led by a tall, formidable looking
       woman, rushed into the arena. The children loaded Cleander
       with the fiercest curses, the people joined them, all rose
       and rushed furiously towards the emperor’s Quintilian villa.
       Commodus, a very cowardly man, was so terrified, that after a
       short struggle he commanded Cleander and his little son to be
       slain. The mob dragged the corpse of the chamberlain about in
       triumph, mutilated it, and stuck the head on a pole as a sign
       of victory.

 [149] SECRETARY. The modern equivalent for the office of “_ab
       epistulis_,” held under Domitian by the freedman Abascantus.
       (Stat. Silv. V, 1.) At a later period--under Hadrian and
       afterwards--such offices were held only by men of knightly
       rank.

 [150] CALLING UPON DOMITIA. We here follow a passage (somewhat
       doubtful, it is true) of Dio Cassius (LXVII, 3) which states
       that the emperor “_at the entreaties of the people_,” became
       reconciled to his wife. Suetonius (_Dom._ 3) says, he only
       _alleged_ such a desire on the part of the people, but really
       received the empress again “because the separation from her
       became unendurable.” For special reasons our story fixes the
       time of this reconciliation in the year 95, while it actually
       occurred some time earlier.

 [151] WITH REGARD TO JULIA, CAESAR MADE NO PROMISES. See Dio Cass.
       LXVII 3. He became reconciled, “but without giving up Julia.”

 [152] VESTAL MAIDEN. Priestess of Vesta, the goddess of the hearth.
       At first they were four, afterwards six. They were chosen
       between the ages of six and ten, and were obliged to remain
       in the service of the goddess thirty years, ten as novices,
       ten as acting priestesses, and ten to instruct novices. Their
       principal task was to keep the sacred fire alive. They were
       vowed to chastity, and if they broke their vows were buried
       alive in the _campus sceleratus_, while the seducer was
       publicly flogged to death.



                              CHAPTER VII.


Lycoris, the fair Gaul, was giving a splendid entertainment. Valerius
Martialis, the greatest wit of the city of the Seven Hills, had
recited his newest and most poignant epigrams with loud applause, and
the company--more than a hundred persons--were reclining at supper
on cushioned divans in the lavishly-decorated eating-room. The young
Massilian lady presided. With her neck and shoulders half-veiled in
transparent gauze[153] from Cos, her magnificent golden-yellow hair
knotted up at the back of her head and wreathed simply with ivy, she
smiled radiantly from the head of the table, the object of silent
worship to many, and of eager admiration to all. A number of slaves,
in handsome Alexandrian dresses, moved quickly and silently about the
handsome hall, while across the supper table the conversation each
instant grew more lively.

Among the guests was Caius Aurelius, the young Batavian. He had yielded
to the pressure of curiosity or of fashion--particularly when the name
of the famous epigrammatist had weighed down the scale.

“Really,” he was saying to his neighbor Norbanus--the commandant of
the Praetorian guard--“really, Norbanus, till this hour I had esteemed
myself rich, but here I feel by comparison a beggar. What splendor,
what lavish outlay! Pillars of alabaster, enormous gold plates,[154]
carpets worth an estate--my senses reel. Everything which elsewhere
would appear rare and choice is here in every day use. By Hermes! but
the father of Lycoris must have been a favorite of fortune.”

“Not so loud!” interrupted Lucius Norbanus. “See, Stephanus is looking
this way with a meaning glance.”

“Stephanus![155] The Empress’s steward? What has he to do with Lycoris?”

“Ha! well, I will tell you that another time,” said the officer filling
his mouth with a fine oyster,[156] “between ourselves, you know.
Meanwhile, I strongly advise you to taste those delicious mollusks. If
you are like me, laughing has made you ferociously hungry.”

“You certainly laughed most heartily,” replied Aurelius accepting some
of the praised dish from a slave; “but I, for my part, cannot get up
any taste for this kind of verse. Martial is full of wit and humor,
but this perpetual mockery, this making a business of holding up all
society to ridicule and contempt--no, my dear Norbanus, I cannot
like it. More particularly does the way in which he speaks of women
displease and vex me. If he is to be believed, there is not in all Rome
one faithful wife, or one innocent girl.”[157]

“Pah!” said Norbanus, with his mouth well filled: “There are some of
course, but they are scarce, my dear Aurelius, remarkably scarce.”

“What is amusing you so much, Norbanus?” asked Quintus from his place
opposite.

“The old theme--women! Aurelius thinks, that our laurel-wreathed
poet has sinned basely against the ladies of Rome, by hinting in his
epigrams his doubts of their virtue.”

“Who? What?” cried the poet himself, hastily looking round. “What
Ravidus[158] is here, to take up the cudgels against my iambics?”

This quotation from Catullus, the favorite poet and model of the
epigrammatist, did not fail of its point, for every one, with the
single exception of the blushing Aurelius, was reminded by it that
Ravidus was, in that passage, called a “crazed and witless wretch.”

“It was I,” said Aurelius coolly. “But it was not your verse that I
criticised, but ... however, you heard. If a woman is no more to you
than the beetle, the snake that wriggles in the dust, I can but pity
your experience.”

“Yours then has been more fortunate?” laughed Martial.

“I should hope so, indeed!”

Lycoris, who, though at some distance, must have heard every word,
was chatting vehemently with Stephanus, her neighbor on her left, who
kept his gaze alert, though with an air of reserve and dignity. Two
of her companions, pretty but by no means maidenly personages, stared
contemptuously at Aurelius as if to say: “Well, what a booby!”

“Here is to your health, worthy Cato of the North!” cried Martial
mockingly. “Reveal his name to me, O Muse! and I will dedicate to you
five and twenty epigrams on his virtue.”

“He has a sharp muzzle,” muttered Norbanus to Aurelius. “You will get
the worst of it.”

“No doubt of that,” said Aurelius. “Fencing with words was never my
strong ground.”

“Just my case; and I cannot stand his accursed ribaldry. These fellows
are like eels, it is impossible to hold them. It is the city tone, my
dear friend! Our Stephanus now--only see how the man is made up--now,
full in the light. By Castor! he is touched up and painted like a
wench--Stephanus again, is a master in the war of words. But he gives
you a pebble for a gem; everything about him is false, even his hair.
But beware of him; he will try to make mince-meat of you.”

“I say, Martial,” said a harsh voice: “Who is going to publish the
epigrams you gave us to-day?”

“I do not yet know. Possibly Tryphon.”[159]

“And when, my friend?”

“Well, in the course of the month.”

“So soon? Listen, when the book comes out, may I send to you to borrow
a copy?”

“You are too kind, my dear Lupercus; but why should you give yourself
and a slave so much trouble? I live quite high up on the Quirinal.[160]
You can get what you want much nearer to you. You pass every day by
the Argiletum. There you will find a very interesting shop, exactly
opposite the Forum of Caesar. Atrectus, the bookseller, will feel
himself honored in selecting a beautiful copy for you--almost given
away too, as I may say, for with purple letters and smoothly pumiced it
costs but five or six denarii.”[161]

“Six denarii!” exclaimed Lupercus. “That is too dear for me. I have to
be saving with my money.”

“And I must be saving with my books.”

“It is not every one, who knows how to be obliging!”

“Nay, do not give up all hope,” retorted the epigrammatist scornfully.
“Make your wants known at all the street-corners,[162] and perhaps some
costermonger[163] will lend you a copy.”

“Why is Martial so hard upon him?” asked Aurelius of the praetorian
guardsman. “This Lupercus seems to be in narrow circumstances.”

“Ha, ha!” laughed Norbanus. “With an income of two hundred thousand
sesterces....”

“Impossible! how can a man be at once so rich and so mean?”

“You are in Rome, Aurelius--do not forget that you are in Rome. Here
extremes meet; here everything is possible, even the impossible.”

It was now growing dusk, and in a few minutes hundreds of costly bronze
lamps were lighted, some hanging in candelabra from the ceiling, some
elegantly arranged round the pilasters and columns. Indeed it was not
till this moment, that the banquet really assumed the aspect intended
by the artistic and extravagant imagination of the hostess. The
beaten silver of the massive bowls[164] and platters gleamed brightly
under the wreaths of flowers and garlands of foliage, while the huge
wine-jars and costly Murrhine vases,[165] the jovial and purpled faces
of the guests, the splendid dresses, the pearls and gems--all were
doubly effective under the artificial light.

One costly delicacy was followed by another; all the productions of
the remotest ends of the earth met at the banquet of Lycoris. Fish
from the Atlantic ocean, Muraenae from Lake Lucrinus, Guinea-fowls
from Numidia,[166] young kids from the province of Thesprotis[167]
in Epirus, pheasants from the Caspian Sea,[168] Egyptian dates,[169]
dainty cakes[170] from Picenum, figs from Chios,[171] pistachio
nuts[172] from Palestine--were all here of the choicest quality and
elaborately prepared. Euphemus,[173] Caesar’s own head-cook, could
have done no more. Nor could anything be more perfect, than the grace
with which the handsomely-dressed slaves offered each dainty on long
slices of bread. After each dish had gone round, little boys with wings
brought in magnificent onyx jars filled with perfumed water, which they
poured over the hands of the guests. The long flowing hair of a female
slave[174] served to dry them, in the place of the more usual linen or
asbestos napkin. In such trifles as these Lycoris loved to be original.

During the meal an intermezzo had now and then interrupted the eager
conversation. Black-haired girls from Gades and Hispalis[175] had
come in, dancing to the cadence of castanets[176] and cymbals;
flute-players, singers and reciters had given highly-applauded evidence
of their talents. But now, when the business of eating was over and the
_commissatio_, as it was called, the drinking in short, was about to
begin, as was hinted by the distribution to the guests of fresh wreaths
and of perfumed oils, a buffoon or jester[177] made his appearance,
and soon filled the hall with Homeric laughter. His small and muscular
form was clothed in gaily-colored scraps of raiment, and his face was
painted in strong colors. Entering the room with a hop, skip and jump,
he performed a series of somersaults with great skill; then leaping
high over the guests’ heads, actually on to the table, he placed
himself in front of Lycoris and began thus in a high, shrill voice:

“Highly-esteemed friends of this illustrious house, now that your
empty stomachs are duly replenished your minds too are to be no less
delightfully satisfied. I offer you the feast of self-knowledge; to
each one of you here I will shortly and plainly tell your fortune. If
I appear to you over-bold, attribute it to the functions of my office;
for audacity is my vocation, as it is that of the most honored Martial.”

A storm of applause rang through the banqueting-hall, and Martial
himself even laughed heartily.

“Capital, capital!” he exclaimed to the little man. “Your beginning is
admirable and promises much,” and he stroked his grizzled beard with
much complacency; the jester bowed and went on with his privileged
impertinences. He flung some epigrammatic and pointed remark at one
and another of the company, and was each time rewarded by more or less
eager applause. When he came round to the young provincial, he grinned
with vicious impudence.

“Oh, noble vestal virgin!” he exclaimed, holding his hand before his
face in affected coyness. “How much a hundred weight does propriety
cost in Trajectum?”

His former jests had been happier and more pointed, but not one had
been so readily taken; the company laughed so immoderately, that the
buffoon had some difficulty in making himself heard again. Aurelius,
though he was disgusted with the fellow, had discretion and tact enough
not to draw attention to himself; he laughed and applauded as heartily
as any one. Not so, however, Herodianus, his freedman, who reclined
at the lower end of the table and had given himself up to silent and
unlimited enjoyment of the Caecubum.

“What, you foul-mouthed scoundrel!” he exclaimed in a voice of thunder.
“Who are you scoffing at? My dear friend Aurelius compared to a woman!
Go home, and let your mother teach you manners.”

The company were in so jovial a mood, that they at once turned this
interference into account. When the Batavian was about to reprove
Herodianus, he was talked down, while the indignant freedman was
spurred on by half-ironical appeals and challenges.

“Let him alone,” said the captain of the guard: “He will serve the
jester’s turn well enough.”

“Aye, that he will!” exclaimed another. “Only look at him knitting his
brows. Is not he just like the Silenus in Stephanus’ dining-hall?”

“Just be so good as to hold your tongues,” cried Quintus, who had been
excessively amused by Herodianus’ pugnacity. “The little man on the
table is going to answer him.”

“Silence for the jester!” shouted a chorus.

The buffoon stood still with his hand up to his ear.

“Did I not hear a pug-dog barking?” he said with inimitable comic
gravity. “Yes, there he lies, a Maltese pug! Come, Lailaps, come! Here
are Lucanian sausages!”

Looking impartially at the freedman’s face, it was impossible to deny
that the resemblance was well hit, but Herodianus could hardly be
expected to take this unprejudiced view of the matter. Forgetting where
and with whom he was, he sprang from his couch, struck his fist on the
table, and shouted out, crimson with rage:

“Come on, you braggart, if you dare! I will teach you, I will show you
that ... that.... By Hercules! if you do not jump down this minute, you
are the most cowardly, contemptible toad under the sun.”

The little man sprang like lightning over Stephanus’ head on to the
floor, turned up the sleeves of his particolored shirt and shouted in
mockery:

“Come on, Lailaps, come on! I will give you a thrashing.”

For a moment Herodianus seemed to hesitate; then he suddenly flew at
the jester like the storm of wind suggested by his Greek dog-name.
The jester, however, slipped on one side as quick as lightning, and
Herodianus, who, indeed, was not very steady on his feet, fell at
full-length on the floor. In an instant the buffoon was sitting astride
on his back.

“Pug, you are snappish!” he exclaimed in a triumphant tone, and he
began vigorously to belabor every part of the hapless freedman, that he
could reach with his powerful fists.

“The dog must be broken!” he exclaimed at each blow. “Quiet, Lailaps,
down, my noble cur!”

Herodianus, who, besides, had in falling damaged his knees and elbows,
roared like one possessed; in vain did he try to throw off his
tormentor. The dwarf clung to him tightly with his legs. The whole
scene was as irresistibly comical as though it had been planned for the
delectation of a blasé and overwrought party of drinkers. But Aurelius
could no longer contain himself; he rose and went up to the combatants
with well-assumed coolness.

“You are going too far,” he said. “Be off with you, you little rascal.”

The jester paying no heed to these orders, found himself suddenly
picked up by the girdle and with one effort lifted high into the air.
His struggles and yells were of no avail; Aurelius carried him like
a feather to the table, and there set him down among the cups and
wine-jars. The strength and promptness of the proceeding diverted it
of any vexatious interference; the dwarf, completely quelled, stood
on the table like a stork that has had its wings cut, looking round
half-frightened and half-angry. The young Northman’s grip had fairly
taken his breath away, and a sign from Lycoris that he might withdraw
was evidently welcome to him. He vanished between the crowd of slaves
like a startled deer.

Aurelius had hastened to the rescue of Herodianus, who now, having
been helped on his feet by some of the servants, found the greatest
difficulty in keeping on them.

“Poor fellow!” he said kindly. “But you are really quite incorrigible.”

“Oh, my lord!” groaned Herodianus, “it was only on account of the
Vestal virgin! I should not have cared about being called a pug! Oh ye
gods! my knees.”

“I will take you in my litter. My own head aches, till it might split.”

“What! are you going?” said Quintus Claudius, coming up to him. “Do
you not know that Lycoris has planned a magnificent surprise for her
guests?”

“I know it, but I must beg to be excused. These sports are not to my
taste. Farewell till we meet again.”

So speaking, he beckoned his Gothic slave, who took the limping
freedman round the body and held him up with his usual strength of
arm. The pair went first, and Aurelius followed them. All the company
had by this time left their places, so his disappearance was almost
unremarked; but the fair hostess kept her eye fixed on him, till
she lost sight of her ungracious guest in the throng. Then, with an
insidious smile, she turned to Quintus, laid her hand on his shoulder,
and whispered maliciously: “What sort of foolish philosopher is that
who comes here, of all places, to plead the cause of women and take up
the cudgels for a freedman?”

“Your foolish philosopher,” replied Quintus, “is one of the noblest
souls I ever knew, and beyond a doubt, the very noblest of the men who
cross your threshold.”

“Indeed!” said Lycoris, somewhat abashed. “Well, we shall have time
by and bye to discuss this paragon of merit!” And with a coquettish
toss of her head she turned from Quintus and mingled with the crowd of
guests, who were now streaming out into the illuminated gardens.


FOOTNOTES:

 [153] TRANSPARENT GAUZE. The island of Cos (Κῶς) belonging to the
       Sporades, furnished garments made from a half-transparent silk
       gauze called _coa_. (See Hor. _Sat._ I. 2, 101.)

 [154] GOLD PLATES. A room has been discovered on the Aventine,
       whose walls were concealed by gilded bronze plates encrusted
       with medals; on the Palatine there was an apartment lined
       with plates of silver, set with precious stones. The halls
       and chambers in Nero’s _domus aurea_ were covered with golden
       plates.

 [155] STEPHANUS. I have taken considerable liberties in dealing with
       this personage in his relation to the Empress Domitia. He is,
       however, historical.

 [156] THE OYSTER, (_ostrea_ or _ostreum_) was considered a great
       dainty in ancient times. (See note, 42, Vol. 1, “lobster.”)

 [157] THERE IS NOT IN ALL ROME ONE FAITHFUL WIFE, OR ONE INNOCENT
       GIRL. See Martial _Ep._ IV, 71.

          “Long have I search’d, my Soph, the town,
          To find a damsel that would frown,
          But not a damsel will deny,
          As if a shame ’t were to be shy;
          As if a sin, will no one dare:
          I see not one denying fair.
          ‘Then of the fair is no one chaste?’
          A thousand, Soph, you urge in haste.
          ‘What does the chaste? Enlarge my views.’
          She does not grant, nor yet refuse.”
                                         ELPHINSTON.

       In contrast to the hyperbolical expressions of the satirical
       writers, we are made acquainted in the letters of the younger
       Pliny, with a number of women of noble character; the
       historians too, especially Tacitus, as well as inscriptions on
       the monuments prove--if proof were required--that even in this
       corrupt age feminine virtue and loftiness of character were
       not rare. It is natural, that a satirical author should have
       special keenness of vision for errors and weaknesses.

 [158] WHAT RAVIDUS?. The poem to which Martial here alludes is found
       Cat. _Carm._ XL.

          “Quaenam te mala mens, miselle Ravide
          Agit praecipitem in meos iambos?”

 [159] TRYPHON, (LUPERCUS). The episode described here, which seems
       almost like a satirical allusion to the present time, is only
       one of Martial’s epigrams transposed into action. (Mart. _Ep._
       I, 117.)

          “As oft, Sir Tradewell, as we meet,
          You’re sure to ask me in the street,
          When you shall send your boy to me,
          To fetch my book of poetry? etc.”
                                       OLDHAM.

       The bookseller Atrectus, who had a shop on the Argiletum,
       a public square not far from the Forum Caesaris, is also
       mentioned.--Traces of a well-organized book-trade are found
       towards the end of the republic. The first publisher on a
       larger scale is Pomponius Atticus, a friend of Cicero, who
       formally issued a series of Cicero’s works, for instance
       the _Orator_, _Quaestiones Academicae_, etc., and not only
       distributed them to the different bookstores in Rome, but
       supplied the numerous shops in Greece and Asia Minor. (See
       Cic. _ad. Att._ XII, 6, XV, 13, XVI, 5.) Yet Atticus was a
       patron of literature and an aesthetic, rather than a business
       man. The best-known booksellers and publishers under the
       emperors were: the Brothers Sosii, who issued the works of
       Horatius Flaccus (Hor. _Ep._ I, 20, 2, _Ars. poet._ 345);
       Dorus, the Phillip Reclam junior of ancient times, who in the
       reign of Nero introduced cheap popular editions of Livy and
       Cicero, (Sen. _Benef._ VII, 61) and Martial’s publisher, the
       Tryphon mentioned in this story. (Mart. _Ep._ IV, 72, XIII,
       13.) The editions were provided by slaves, who wrote from
       dictation. The books were delivered in covers, the backs,
       glued together, being fastened in the hollow of a cylinder,
       through which ran a revolving stick. The volumes were cut,
       the edges were dyed sometimes black and sometimes purple.
       (See Göll: “_Book-trade of the Greeks and Romans_,” Schleiz.,
       1865.) Pollio Valerianus published Martial’s early poems.
       (Mart. _Ep._ I, 113, 5.)

 [160] QUIRINAL. Martial’s house was near the temple on the Quirinal.
       (Mart. _Ep._ X, 58.)

 [161] DENARII. At the time of Domitian, the denarius (10 _as_,) was
       worth about 15 cents.

 [162] STREET-CORNERS. Large square tablets, whitened, for the
       display of public notices, stood at the corners of the
       streets. A tablet of this description was called album,
       (albus-white).

 [163] COSTERMONGER. Boiled chick-peas were publicly carried about
       for sale. (Martial _Ep._ I, 41, I, 103.)

 [164] MASSIVE BOWLS. The crater (_crater_ or _cratera_) was a large
       vase or bowl, in which strong wine was mixed with water. A
       ladle was used to fill the drinking-cups.

 [165] MURRHINE VASES, (_murrhina vasa_). Vases made of _murrha_,
       a material with a pale sheen in it, highly valued by the
       ancients; probably fluor-spar.

 [166] GUINEA-FOWLS FROM NUMIDIA, (_aves Numidicae_ or merely
       _Numidicae_) were a favorite dish. (Plin., _Hist. Nat._ Mart.
       etc.)

 [167] THE PROVINCE OF THESPROTIS in Epirus, extended from Chaonia
       to the Ambracian Gulf. The goats raised there were considered
       exceptionally good.

 [168] PHEASANTS FROM THE CASPIAN SEA. At the time of our story,
       these birds were a newly-introduced delicacy. Phasis was the
       name of the boundary river between Asia-Minor and Colchis;
       hence their name _phasianus_; (_avis Phasiana_, or merely
       _Phasiana_, or _Phasianus_--the pheasant.) Martial also calls
       them _volucres Phasides_.

 [169] DATES. The best quality were imported into Rome from Egypt.

 [170] DAINTY CAKES. Bread from Picenum is mentioned in the _menu_
       of a banquet given in the latter half of the century B. C.,
       (Marquardt Handbuch, IV, 1.)

 [171] FIGS FROM CHIOS. Varro, (_R. Rust._ I, 41) speaks of Chian,
       Lydian, Chalcedonian and African figs.

 [172] PISTACHIO NUTS. The best pistachio nuts came from Palestine
       and Syria, whence Lucius Vitellius introduced them into his
       garden at Albanum.

 [173] EUPHEMUS. Caesar’s head-cook or butler. (See Martial _Ep._ IV.
       8.)

          “The tenth hour’s proper for my book and me,
          And Euphem, thou who dost the board o’ersee.”
                                              ANON, 1695.

 [174] THE LONG FLOWING HAIR OF A FEMALE SLAVE. This fancy was not at
       all unusual. (See _Petron._, 27.)

 [175] HISPALIS. A city in southern Spain, now Seville.

 [176] CASTANETS. Castanet dances are often represented in
       pictures. (See O. Jahn, Fresco-paintings on the walls of the
       columbarium, in the Villa Pamfili.)

 [177] JESTER. Jesters, especially dwarfs, were very popular in
       ancient Rome. The scene that follows here is based upon
       various incidents in a description by Lucian, which has come
       down to modern times: “The Banquet, or The Lapithae” 18,
       19. In this a hideous little fellow, who gives utterance to
       all sorts of jests and witticisms, appears at Aristaenetus’
       banquet. “Finally he addressed each person with some
       mischievous joke--and each laughed as his turn came. But
       when he accosted Alcidamas, calling him a Maltese puppy, the
       latter, especially as he had long been jealous of the applause
       and attention bestowed on the jester by the whole company,
       grew angry, threw off his cloak and challenged the dwarf to a
       boxing-match. What could the poor jester do? It was infinitely
       comical to see a philosopher fight with a clown. Many of the
       spectators were ashamed of the scene, but others laughed
       merrily, until Alcidamas was at last beaten black and blue.”



                             CHAPTER VIII.


Outside, under the branches of the elm and sycamore-trees, which
stretched in long avenues up the Viminal and down again on the farthest
side, an ingenious intendant had devised much such an entertainment
as in our days would be given under corresponding circumstances.
Thousands of colored lamps hung in long festoons from tree to tree.
The quaintly-clipped laurel and yew bushes, that stood between the
six great avenues, were starred with semicircular lights, and the
bronze and marble statues held torches and braziers of flame. The
open space between the two centre avenues was screened by an immense
curtain of purple stuff, which was fastened to two tall masts and waved
mysteriously in the night air, casting strange reflections; to the
right and left also a space was enclosed and screened from prying eyes
by boards hung with tapestry.

“This promises something delightful,” said Clodianus, addressing
Quintus for the first time during the evening. “She is a splendid
creature, this Lycoris! Always ready to spend millions for the pleasure
of her guests. Did you ever see handsomer hangings? Nero’s enormous
velarium[178] was not more costly.”

“Oh! gold is all-powerful!” Quintus said absently. “Listen,” he went
on, taking the officer on one side, “quite in confidence.--Is what I
heard to-day at the baths of Titus[179] true?--that you had really been
to Domitia?”

“As you say.”

“It is true then?”

“And why not? You know what happened in the Circus?”

“Of course; but I thought....”

“No, there was no help for it this time. I solemnly and formally
offered her the hand of reconciliation in Caesar’s name.”

“And Domitia?”

“To-morrow she will return an answer to her husband’s message; but, of
course, she is only too ready.”

At this moment the fair Massilian came up to them.

“Quintus, one word with you,” she begged with an engaging smile. “You
will excuse him, Clodianus?”

The officer bowed.

“Listen,” said Lycoris, as she drew Quintus away, “you must tell me all
you can about your provincial friend. The man is unbearable with his
strictness and sobriety, and yet there is something in him--how can
I explain it?--something that is wanting in every one of you others
without exception; a balance of mind, a steadfast certainty--one may as
well give in as soon as he opens his mouth.”

And as she spoke she laid her hand familiarly in the young man’s arm.

“Very true,” he said coldly. “Aurelius is not much like those oiled and
perfumed gallants, who think themselves happy to kiss the dust on your
sandals. But that boy is waiting to speak to you.”

Lycoris looked round; a young slave, who had slowly followed her,
glanced at her significantly.

“Madam,” he said, “everything is ready.”

“Ah?” said the lady. “The actors are ready? Very good; then let the
music begin.”

The slave bowed and vanished. Lycoris imperceptibly guided her
companion into a thickly overgrown sidewalk.

“We have time to spare,” she said, “and the music sounds much better
from here than up there from the terrace. What were we talking
about?... oh! the Batavian.... Why did you not bring your strange
specimen to my house sooner?”

“Because he has not long been in Rome.”

“In Rome....” repeated Lycoris vaguely. Her eyes were searching the
shrubbery. Then, recollecting herself, she went on talking vivaciously.
Thus the couple lost themselves farther and farther in the recesses of
the garden; their conversation ceased, and they listened involuntarily
to the Dionysiac hymn which reached them in softened tones from
the distance. Out here even, in this remote alley, everything was
festally illuminated; every leaf, every pebble in the path, shone
in many-colored hues. And yet, how deserted, how lonely it was, in
spite of the lights! there was something uncanny and ghostly in their
doubtful flicker and sparkle. Suddenly Lycoris stood still.

“By the Styx!” she exclaimed. “I have lost my most valuable ring. Not
two seconds since I saw it on my finger! Wait, you must have trodden
on it; it cannot be twenty paces off and must be lying on the ground.”
Before Quintus fairly understood what had happened, she had vanished
down a side path. The young man waited. “Lycoris!” he called out
presently.

No answer.

He went back to the turning--of Lycoris, not a sign.

“This is strange!” thought he. “What can it mean?”

Suddenly he stood stock-still, for in the middle of the path stood
a girlish form, small, but well made and of the sweetest grace. She
pressed her finger mysteriously to her rosebud lips, and then made
unmistakable signs to the youth that he was to follow her.

“What do you want?” asked Quintus, going up to her.

“Above all things silence,” said the girl. “My errand is to you alone.”

“Speak on then.”

“Nay, not here, noble Quintus; consider a moment--with impenetrable
hedges on each side of us! If any one came upon us, how could we
escape?”

“And who are you?” asked Quintus with a meaning smile.

“Only a slave--named Polycharma. Will you come with me?”

“Certainly, Polycharma, I follow you.”

About a hundred yards farther on a small circular clearing opened
to their right; the entrance to it was decorated with gold-colored
festoons. Just before reaching this spot the path became so narrow,
that a stout man could hardly pass along it; the wall of yew on each
side had overgrown three-quarters of its width. Polycharma drew the
folds of her dress more closely round her slim limbs, while the young
man pushed aside the branches to the right and left. He looked round
once more to see if he could discover Lycoris, but behind him all was
silent and deserted. Even the sound of the music was only heard faintly
and as if in a dream. Having reached the round plot, the slave girl
took a letter out of her bosom. “My lord,” she said, “I must exact a
solemn oath from you....”

“What about?”

“That you will keep my errand an absolute secret, and return me this
letter when you have read it.”

“Good, I swear it by Jupiter!”

Polycharma handed him the note; the mere sight of it filled him with a
suspicion of its origin. He hastily broke the seal and the silk thread,
and by the light of the colored lamps which lighted the place, he read
as follows:

  “She who is wont only to command, humbles herself to the dust--so
  terrible is the power of love to change us. The cruel wretch who
  scorns me--he is the god of my aspirations! Have pity, O Quintus!
  have pity on the miserable woman, who is dying of love for you.
  Caesar, my husband, holds out his hand to me in reconciliation. It
  costs me but one word, and I shall be again, as I have been, the
  mistress of Rome and sovereign of the world. But behold, beloved
  Quintus, all this might and all this splendor I will cast from me
  and go into the remotest banishment without a tear, if you will
  give me, for one second only, the happy certainty of your love.
  Crush me, kill me, but ere you kill me say you are mine! Quintus,
  I await my sentence. At a sign, a glance, from you I reject all
  reconciliation.”

The young man was stunned; he stared speechless at the letter, which
declared in such plain terms a consuming passion. And yet, in spite of
the answering emotion which any love--even though it be rejected--must
rouse in the recipient, he could not shake off the feeling which he had
already experienced at Baiae. A dull, unutterable loathing remained
paramount in his soul, and the foppish figure of Paris, the actor, rose
clearly before his fancy. Had not the ear of that slave drunk in the
same flattering words, as were now intended to intoxicate and ravish
him? Miserable, contemptible woman--ah! how differently and how truly
beat the proud heart of his Cornelia!

Cornelia!--The thought of her turned the balance finally; Quintus drew
a wax tablet out of his bosom and wrote on it:

  “I feel and acknowledge the greatness of the sacrifice, which your
  Highness proposes to make; but, as a true patriot, I must prefer
  the advantages which will ensue to the state from the reunion of
  the sovereign couple, even to the duties imposed by gratitude.”

He folded the tablet in the letter, tied it up again and gave it
to Polycharma, who swiftly vanished. When her steps were no longer
audible, Quintus pressed his hand over his eyes and sat down on a
marble bench to reflect. Oh! that sly, intriguing Lycoris! She too,
then, was paid by the Empress as well as by Stephanus! Subsidized by
both, and a traitoress to both--for so much at any rate was certain:
Stephanus knew nothing of this nocturnal meeting. He, the real
instigator of the scene in the circus, could evidently have no part in
an intrigue, of which the issue would be diametrically opposed to his
own efforts.

Sunk in gloomy reflections on these unpleasing details, Quintus sat
staring at the ground. Suddenly he heard footsteps, and confused cries
were audible in the distance, mingled with the clatter of swords and
arms. The next minute two dark figures ran across the entrance to the
rotunda, and up the narrow path towards the top of the hill. They were
followed by two others, who came less rapidly than the first.

“Leave me, for Christ’s sake, I can go no farther!” groaned a piteous
voice, which touched the young man strangely, and at the same time
the light of the lamps fell on a pale and suffering face. Quintus
recognized the victim he had seen at Baiae tied to the stake.

“Courage, Eurymachus,” whispered his companion, a square, thick-set
man who held him stoutly up. “Hang on to my shoulders; a hundred steps
farther, and you are safe.” And they disappeared among the shrubbery.

Quintus was not a little bewildered.

“What is going on here?” thought he, rising and quitting the open plot
for one of the side paths. “Is this park peopled with demons?”

Again he heard steps and voices, more numerous and wrathful than
before. “This way, men! There, up the path between the hedges!”

“Do not let them get away. Ten thousand sesterces to the man, who
brings the villains back alive!”

And shouting thus in loud confusion, a party of armed men came in
sight, running in breathless haste through the narrow paths. The
foremost of them was now standing in front of Quintus.

“Make way, my lord!” he exclaimed in eager hurry: “We are seeking a
criminal,” and he tried to push past Quintus.

Strange! but Quintus, the proud and high-born Quintus, suddenly felt an
unaccountable impulse to protect and shield the wretched and contemned
slave.

“Insolent knave!” he exclaimed in well-feigned indignation: “Would you
dare to touch Quintus Claudius?” And seizing the astonished man by
the wrist he flung him violently from him. Meanwhile the others had
come up. Quintus still barred the way simply by standing there. The
band of men looked doubtfully now at the young nobleman, and then at
their comrade, who got up, grumbling, from the stones. Thus a precious
moment was gained. At last Quintus thought it as well to understand the
situation.

“Idiots!” he exclaimed. “Why did you not explain at once what you
wanted?--instead of that, you storm and rave like madmen....” And he
stood aside.

The pursuers rushed by him in breathless fury.

“On with you!” he said to himself, as he looked after the armed men.
“But unless I have reckoned very badly, the game has this time escaped
the hunters.”

Quintus found the company in the greatest excitement; they were
standing in agitated knots vehemently discussing something;
uncertainty, alarm, and consternation were visible in all. The only man
who appeared altogether calm and indifferent was Stephanus, haggard and
diplomatically reserved. He was sitting apart, not far from the spot
where the avenue by which Quintus returned, opened on to the terrace. A
man of athletic build was lying on the ground, bleeding from numerous
wounds; in his right hand he held the hilt of a broken sword and his
left was pressed in speechless anguish to his breast, where the enemy’s
blade had pierced him. Five or six slaves, who had carried him hither,
were standing round him with expressive gestures, while Stephanus was
making a pitiable abortive attempt to cross-examine the dying man. At
about forty paces farther away four slaves, fearfully injured, were
lying in their blood. One had had his skull cleft to the neck, and the
others were covered with hideous and gaping wounds. All four were dead.

On the spot too, where just now the curtain of gold-tissue had
waved, there was the greatest confusion. The curtain[180] had been
lowered--the fanciful decorations of one side had been overthrown and
nearly half-burnt, while hammers, nails, ropes, fragments of dresses,
and rubbish of every kind strewed the stage. In the midst of this
hideous disorder a tall cross[181] stood upright.

It was some time before Quintus could get any connected account of what
had happened; at first ten voices were raised at once to their highest
pitch of explanation. Lycoris was sulky and peevish, because the best
effect of her whole programme had been spoilt. Her friend Leaina,
on the contrary, swore by Hercules that Quintus had lost the finest
sight in the world. His wily acquaintance Clodianus, who took every
opportunity of assuming airs of frank bluntness, railed in threatening
bass tones at the audacity of the rascals, and others wandered off
into questions, so that Quintus at last lost patience. He went to the
captain of the Praetorian guard, took him by the arm, and asked almost
angrily:

“Norbanus, will you tell me in plain words? I was absent, in the
remotest part of the wood, and on my return I find a perfect chaos.
What does it all mean?”

“It means one more sign of the times. Rome is become a perfect
Vesuvius; there are rumblings and mutterings on every side and in every
corner. What do you think? We were sitting here very contentedly on
the garden seats, enjoying the pleasures of digestion. Well, I was
just wondering to myself what this Massilian bay mare could still have
in reserve, and somewhat excited with curiosity, when the curtain was
lowered. A grand burst of music! and a fellow dressed in scarlet came
to the front and informed us in well-turned trimeters,[182] that a
devilish funny piece was about to be performed, the capital punishment
of a criminal slave[183] named Eurymachus....”

“What?” cried Quintus horrified.

“As I tell you--the execution of the slave Eurymachus, who had sinned
gravely against his illustrious master Stephanus, and so had forfeited
his life.”

“An execution as a garden comedy? This is something new, by Jupiter!”

“New indeed! hardly heard of since the days of the divine Nero.”

“Well, and what next?”

“The speaker announced that Lycoris had obtained leave from Parthenius,
the head chamberlain, to have the execution carried out in the
semblance of a jest before the eyes of her illustrious and noble
guests; he begged our indulgence for the performers, bowed, and the
entertainment began.--You know me, Quintus, and that I am no lover of
such horrible buffoonery. I fought for many years against the Daci[184]
and Germanii, and the gods know that the sight of death turns me cold.
Merely to see an unarmed wretch butchered--do you know, Quintus, it
always reminds me of slaughtering swine. When I sit there at my ease,
looking on, a lump rises in my throat, even in the amphitheatre. It may
be outrageously simple and quite out of fashion, but for the life of me
I cannot help it.”

“Go on, go on!” cried Quintus in growing excitement.

“Well then; the performance began. They dragged the man in, half-naked
and crowned with roses. I cannot say he looked to me like a dangerous
character; quite the contrary--even at that moment, when his life was
at stake, he was quite quiet; only his paleness betrayed that the
proceedings were not altogether pleasant to him. Then all sorts of
mocking and games began at his expense; men scourged him or kicked
him--all with consummate grace--and half-naked girls danced and leaped
round him like mad things, nipped and pinched him, boxed his ears,
and played all kinds of stupid tricks. This went on for about ten
minutes. Then the executioners set a ladder by the cross there, flung
a rope round him under the arms, hauled him up, and the first blow of
the hammer was on the point of hitting the nail in, when a part of
the side scene fell in with a tremendous crash. Four men, with their
faces blackened with soot, rushed in like a thunder-storm, seized
Eurymachus--who was as pale as death--by the arms, and were gone
before the pack of slaves had recovered their senses. The spectators
thought at first that this was part of the entertainment, till they
were enlightened by the angry shouts of Stephanus and Lycoris. Then it
occurred to the half-stunned executioners, that they might pursue the
men. But then they perceived, that in the breach made by the fallen
scenery a tall giant of a man was standing. He received the pursuers
with a perfect storm of sword-strokes. Rhodius, the gardener’s son,
fell without a cry, and the second man fared no better; the uproar
was general, and the scenery broke out in flames. The whole gang of
them fell back before the one with a howl, like dogs before a wolf at
bay. The tall fellow, however, retired through fire and smoke till he
was safe outside it all, and then he planted himself up above at the
entrance of the avenue of elms, sword in hand. Eight men rushed upon
him at once, but for fully five minutes not one could get at him. Three
of the assailants bit the dust, before a well-aimed thrust pierced the
Hercules through the breast. He started, once more gathered himself
together, and a fourth man fell in front of him, cleft through the
skull. That was the last of it.”

“A noble ending truly to a friendly festival!” said Quintus glancing at
Lycoris, who still was fuming over the disaster. “And the rash defender
is dead?”

“Not yet,” said Clodianus joining them. “Stephanus is questioning him.
But as the fellow refuses to give any information, they propose to
torture him to make him speak.”

“Impossible!” cried Quintus furious. “His wound is mortal, he fought
like a hero. At any rate leave him to die in peace!” Clodianus shrugged
his shoulders.

“Settle that with Stephanus! If the villain will not confess, it is
certainly permissible to egg on his loquacity.”

Quintus frowned. After a few minutes of reflection he went up to
Stephanus, at the very instant when two slaves came on to the terrace
with a steaming cauldron of water.

“A very painful incident!” said Claudius coolly.

“Most painful!” replied Stephanus in the same tone. “I mean to try,
whether the error may not be remedied.” And as he spoke he gave a
highly-significant nod to the slaves, who had set the cauldron down on
the ground close to him. Quintus involuntarily stepped forward and put
out his hand in remonstrance.

“I hope, my good friend,” he said, still perfectly coolly, “that
you only intended to frighten this villain--good taste alone must
prohibit....”

Stephanus changed color slightly, and the slaves looked terrified into
his face. The tension of the situation was interrupted by the return of
the armed men, who had been sent after the fugitives and now came back
breathless and streaming with sweat.

“My lord,” the foremost began, “we return as jaded as a pack of hounds,
but with empty hands.”

“So I see,” said Stephanus in chill tones. “And what tavern did you
stop at, and what wenches did you stop to kiss.”

“Forgive us, my lord!” groaned another sinking on to his knees, partly
from exhaustion, and partly from terror. “We rushed up the hill like
blood-hounds,[185] but they had too much the start of us.”

Stephanus looked down.

“Was the gate on to the Patrician Way[186] locked?” he asked frowning.

“Fast locked.”

“It is well. I will speak to your mistress. Woe to you, if you are in
fault!”

“My lord,” the first speaker began again. “Grant me to say one word of
explanation. In spite of the start the fugitives had gained, we might
have caught them if an accident....”

He broke off and glanced at Quintus, who smiled and told him to go on.
“Speak fearlessly,” he said kindly. “Accuse me, if you think well to do
so--in fact, you have every right.”

The slave went on to relate how Quintus had delayed him and his
comrades in the narrow hedge-grown passage. At each word Stephanus grew
paler, and Quintus became more and more scornful in air and demeanor.

“Are this man’s assertions founded on fact?” asked Stephanus as the
slave ceased speaking.

“How am I to interpret such a question?”

“Exactly as I ask it. I am interested to know whether a son of the
noble Claudia gens can so far--condescend, as to abet the flight of a
criminal?”

“That I did not say!” cried the slave, shocked.

“Never mind!” said Quintus reassuringly, to the excited narrator. “You
have spoken the truth, and I will vouch for it at any moment. When I
was loitering in the gardens of our fair hostess, how should I guess
that certain persons, who came upon me quite suddenly, were chasing a
runaway slave? And even if I had guessed it, what is there to compel
me to step among the thorns and briars, in order to make way for your
thief-catchers?”

“Politeness and a due regard for the interests of the commonwealth,”
replied Stephanus drily. “However, what is done cannot be undone. It
is all the more necessary to act promptly, in what yet remains to be
done.”

As he spoke he went close up to the blood-stained Hun, who, with his
last remaining strength, lifted himself up and cast a wild glance round
him.

“You hardened hound,” he said in a rough, hoarse voice, “I will soften
you! Do you see that cauldron? I ask you once more: Who are you? Who
are your fellow-conspirators?” The gasping man’s breast heaved more
rapidly.

“Will you speak?” repeated Stephanus furiously. And now, for the first
time the victim spoke; till now he had not uttered a sound.

“No!” he cried with his last remnant of strength, and he sank back
groaning.

“Very well; then abide by your destiny.” At this moment Quintus
Claudius stepped up to the slaves who held the cauldron, his arms
crossed on his breast.

“Enough of this horse-play!” he said curtly and vehemently. “Begone
indoors, you parcel of idiots! I, Quintus Claudius, command you to go.”

“And I, Stephanus, command you in the name of your mistress: remain and
obey! Rufus, Daedalus, lay hold!”

“We will solve this dilemma, as Alexander did in Gordium,” said Quintus
scornfully, and with these words he pushed the slaves aside and gave
the cauldron a mighty kick, so that the contents poured steaming out
all over the terrace.

“This is violence!”[187] exclaimed Stephanus, involuntarily raising his
hands.

“The violence of reason against bad taste and coarse feeling!” said
Quintus with a scowling look. “I should advise you, freedman,[188] to
keep your hand hidden away in the folds of your robe, or in the depths
of your coffers and money-boxes, or Quintus Claudius might happen to
squeeze that hand rather more tightly than you would like!”

At the word “freedman” Stephanus had turned as pale as a corpse. He
closed his eyes and staggered. His lean fingers trembled and twitched,
as if he were feeling for a dagger. Then, mastering his agitation with
an almost superhuman effort, he said faintly:

“I do not altogether understand what it is that you mean, so I will
not trouble myself to answer ... you. Meanwhile you have only given
the slaves some unnecessary extra labor.--To work, men!--refill the
cauldron.”

“Too late,” said Quintus. “Your victim has escaped you.”

“He is dead!” cried the slaves.

Stephanus muttered something unintelligible between his teeth; then he
ordered that the body should be removed.

“Antinous,” said he to one of the slaves, a remarkably beautiful young
fellow: “I look to you to report all that has happened here, fully and
exactly to the authorities. If Eurymachus is delivered up to me alive,
I promise you a hundred thousand sesterces.--Here comes Lycoris with
the soldiers of the town-watch.[189] Speak to them; tell them all you
know, and offer them gold; that will inspire the most dilatory.”

“I hear and obey, my lord.”

“I am tired and shall withdraw. In ten minutes I shall expect to see
you.”

“I shall be with you in five.”

The file of men at arms--a division of a military body, who performed
the duties of a town-watch, combining the functions of our modern
firemen and police--came up just at the right moment to verify the
death of the unknown victim, to take the statements of the assistants
and spend an hour very comfortably in the atrium. The guests of the
fair Lycoris had soon recovered from the unpleasant impression produced
by the untoward incident. Amusements and sports of every kind effaced
the last traces of its remembrance, and for a long time after the tones
of luxurious music sounded through the starry night.


FOOTNOTES:

 [178] VELARIUM. The cloth hung across the amphitheatre, to screen it
       from the sun.

 [179] THE BATHS OF TITUS were located near the Cyprius Street, on
       the site of Nero’s _domus aurea_, which had been destroyed
       after its builder’s death.

 [180] CURTAIN. The drop-scene (as we should call it) raised between
       the acts of a play. The curtain, properly so-called, was the
       _aulaeum_. These were not drawn up, as in modern theatres, but
       lowered.

 [181] A TALL CROSS. Crucifixion was the common punishment of great
       crimes.

 [182] TRIMETER. A verse of three double feet--the usual metre in
       dramatic verse.

 [183] THE CAPITAL PUNISHMENT OF A CRIMINAL SLAVE. Such executions
       in theatrical form, especially pantomimic representations of
       them, were no rarity in the arena. Condemned criminals were
       specially trained for such performances. “They entered, clad
       in costly, gold-broidered tunics and purple mantles, and
       adorned with golden wreaths; suddenly, like the death-dealing
       robes of Medea, flames burst from these magnificent garments,
       in which the miserable creatures died a cruel death. There
       was scarcely a torture or terrible end known in history or
       literature, with whose representation the populace had not
       been entertained in the amphitheatre. Hercules was seen
       burning to death on Mt. Oeta, Mucius Scaevola holding his hand
       over the brazier of coals till it was consumed, the robber,
       Laureolus, the hero of a well-known farce, fastened to a
       cross and torn by wild beasts. At the same spectacle, another
       condemned criminal, in the character of Orpheus, ascended
       from the ground as if returning from the nether-world.
       Nature seemed enchanted by his playing, the rocks and trees
       moved towards him, birds hovered over him, countless animals
       surrounded him; when the scene had lasted long enough, he was
       torn to pieces by a bear.” (Friedlaender II, 268, etc.) It
       can scarcely be termed an unwarrantable license, that Lycoris
       presents a similar spectacle for the amusement of her guests.
       The masters’ right to dispose of the lives and persons of
       their slaves had been restricted in the first century, it is
       true; but the omnipotent Parthenius was doubtless superior to
       such legal edicts.

 [184] DACI. A people living in the region now called Hungary, east
       of the Danube.

 [185] BLOOD-HOUNDS. (_Molossi._) The dogs from Molossis in eastern
       Epirus were famous sleuth-hounds. (Hor. Virg. etc.)

 [186] PATRICIAN WAY. (_vicus Patricius_) ran between the Esquiline
       and Viminal hills.

 [187] THIS IS VIOLENCE! Julius Caesar’s famous exclamation just
       before his murder, when Cimber Tullius, having approached him
       with a petition, after a refusal, seized him by the toga.
       (Suet. _Jul. Caes._ 82.)

 [188] I SHOULD ADVISE YOU, FREEDMAN. Their former condition of
       slavery affixed an ineffaceable stigma upon all freedmen,
       especially in the eyes of the old senatorial nobility. Even
       the vast power attained by some of the emperor’s freedmen, for
       instance the high chamberlain Parthenius, was of no avail in
       this respect; they too were at heart despised by all free-born
       citizens, much as they strove, from motives of prudence, to
       conceal this contempt beneath protestations of sycophantic
       devotion. Quintus addressing Stephanus as “freedman,” could
       not fail to be taken by the latter as a mortal insult.

 [189] TOWN-WATCH, (_cohortes urbanae_). Besides the imperial
       body-guard, specially devoted to the Caesar’s service, there
       was a city-guard, which provided for the maintenance of public
       safety.



                              CHAPTER IX.


The morning was already grey over the distant Sabine hills[190] when
Quintus, followed by his clients and slaves,[191] left the scene of
festivity. With him came Clodianus and the poet Martial; the former
accompanied, like himself, by a number of dependents and satellites,
the latter by a single slave, whose smoky little lamp looked absurd
enough by the side of the handsome lanterns and torches of the rest of
the escort.

“A mad night!” sighed Martial, looking up. “The stars are already
twinkling like eyes dim at leave-taking. Illustrious Clodianus, you
will make my excuses to my patron, the chamberlain Parthenius, if
I should fail to offer my morning greeting. Getting up early is my
greatest torment,[192] even when I have crept between the coverlets at
betimes, and to-day, after this unpardonable dissipation....”

Clodianus laughed.

“I will explain it to him,” he roared out in the fresh morning air.
“However--I shall hardly see him before noon. I am as tired myself, as
if I had been sawing stone all night.”

“Yes, it is frightful to be so tired! I would give ten years of my
life, if I might only sleep half the day. But on the contrary, before
cock-crow, I must be out of bed, fling my toga over my shoulders, and
be bowing to noblemen! By Castor! if I were not an ass, I should long
since have fled to the peace and quietness of my native town!”

“Well, sleep to-day till sundown! Just now Parthenius will be most
willing to excuse you, for his head is so full of business, and Caesar
makes such incessant claims upon his time, that he is glad when his
best friends leave him in peace.”

“I heard the same thing from my father,” added Quintus. “Some great
stroke seems to be in hand. Is nothing known of the facts?”

“Pah! it is the talk of the town. Plots dangerous to the state, treason
to religion and society, conspiracies against Caesar....”

“But the facts--the details...?”

“You know,” said Clodianus laughing, “that in affairs of state, silence
is as important, as valor is in battle!”

“Well said!” cried the poet.[193] “With a little suitable
embellishment, that may be turned into a brilliant epigram. Now, noble
friends, I will bid you farewell. Our roads are no longer the same. I
must climb up here to the temple on the Quirinal, while you go down
into the valley. In life it is just the reverse. Apollo preserve you!”
He hastily turned up the street, while Clodianus and Quintus went on
along the ‘Long Way.’

“Aye!” said the crafty Clodianus. “I have constantly to remind myself
of the duty of silence; more than once has my rash tongue run away with
me. I come of an easy-tempered race, which are apt to talk without
stopping to think. It is wrong, by Hercules!--it is wrong!”

They had now reached the Subura.[194] The height of the five, six, or
more-storied houses,[195] and the narrowness of the way here, only
allowed the day to dawn slowly and late, and deep gloom still prevailed
in the numerous taverns[196] and entries. At the same time busy life
was already stirring on all sides; itinerant bakers[197] were wandering
from door to door crying their fresh bread. Pedagogues,[198] with
their writing implements and clay lamps, were leading files of boys to
school. Here and there, from a side alley, might be heard the croaking
chant of a teacher, and the babble of spelling children.[199] Groups
of worshippers, on their way to perform their morning devotions in the
neighboring temple of Isis, hurried across the loudly-echoing pavement.

“Day is coming upon us apace,” said Quintus, as he stopped in front of
the entrance to the “Cyprius street”[200] and held out his hand to the
adjutant.

“Our roads part here, and we must make haste if we mean to reach home
before sunrise.”

“Will you be at the Baths at about noon?”

“Possibly.--If I get up in time.”

“Well then--let us hope that the wine-cup of Lycoris may leave you free
of headache.”

“The same to you! Farewell.” And with these words Quintus went on his
way, while Clodianus turned off to the right.

“Cyprius street” grew at every step more select and consequently more
deserted; to the left the Baths of Titus stood up, a sharply-defined
mass, against the rose-tinted sky. Each time that Quintus Claudius
walked up the street, this vast pile seemed to have a fresh spell for
him. The contrast between the ponderous mass, and the tender flush of
Autumn dawn behind him, filled him with pleasurable admiration, and his
eye followed a flock of pigeons, which for some few minutes soared to
and fro above the great building and then, with sudden swiftness, flew
across the road.

“They came from the left,” said he to one of his companions. “Now, if
I believed in augury from the flight of birds, I should be forced to
suppose that some evil was hanging over me.”

He was still speaking, when from the same side, where a narrow path
came down from the great Baths, a muffled figure rushed upon him and
hit him a blow with a bare poniard. Happily the ruffian at the same
instant slipped on the sloping pavement--which was rendered even more
slippery by the early morning dew--so that the dagger missed its aim,
and instead of piercing the young man’s throat, passed across his
left shoulder and through the folds of his toga, which it cut through
as sharply as a razor. And before Quintus quite understood what had
happened, the assassin had glided away between the slaves with the
suppleness of a panther, and vanished in the direction of the Subura.
The young man gazed at his arm, where the toga and under-garment hung
in long strips; the wound was but skin-deep, a spot of blood had here
and there oozed out.

“Let it be!” said Quintus to the slaves, who had crowded round him
when their first stupified astonishment was over. “I know very well
where that blade was sharpened, and for the future I will be more
cautious. But one thing I must say to you; my good people, each and
all, be silent as to this attack. You too, my excellent friends and
clients--you know how easily my noble father is alarmed. If he knew
that there was in all Rome a villain, who had threatened my life, he
would never know another moment’s peace.”

“My lord, you know us!” exclaimed the slaves and freedmen, and the
clients too professed their devotion.

“His revenge is prompt!” thought Quintus, as he went onwards. “I always
knew him to be an example of audacity and ruthlessness--still, such
impatience as this is somewhat a surprise to me.”

Then suddenly he stood still, as a new and almost impossible idea
flashed across his mind.--“If it were ... supposing.... Could
Domitia...?”

He pressed his hands over his eyes, and that which had at first seemed
so plain, intelligible and obvious, now sank back into the mists of
doubt and conjecture.

The slaves had by this time extinguished their torches and
lanterns.--Broad daylight shone in cloudless beauty over the
widely-spread city of the Seven Hills. The great temple of Isis lay
flooded with gold; a procession of priests,[201] bearing the image of
the goddess, came marching down the street.

“Get on!” cried Quintus. “I am tired to death. It was a folly,
Blepyrus, to dismiss the litters.”

“It was wisdom, my lord!” said the slave. “If I still am honored with
your confidence, I would again repeat....”

“Ah well!” Quintus interrupted. “Very likely you are right--you leeches
are always right.[202] If only you attain a proportionate result! But
if exercise were everything, I should be the lightest-hearted man in
Europe. Nay, my good Blepyrus, this dissatisfaction, this intolerable
sense of ill lies deeper....”

In a few minutes they had reached home. The ostiarius[203] was standing
at the door, as if the master of the house were impatiently expected.
Quintus was about to cross the threshold, when he heard himself loudly
called by name.

“What do I see? Euterpe! All hail to you--so soon returned to Rome?”

“Yes, my lord, since yesterday,” answered the flute-player hastily.
“And ever since I came, I have been incessantly trying to find you. Do
you still remember,” she went on in a low voice, “what you promised me
at Baiae?”

“Certainly, my pretty one. Quintus Claudius sticks to his bargain ...
besides.... But who is the grey-headed old man with you there? Your
husband or your father?”

“My husband is young, and my father is dead.--This is Thrax Barbatus,
Glauce’s father.”

“And who is Glauce?”

“What--did I never tell you about Glauce--out there, on the hills by
Baiae? I must have forgotten in the midst of all my trouble. Glauce is
to be married to our Eurymachus....”

“Ah! the heroic sufferer, that Stephanus had flogged?”

“The very same, my lord! And you promised me to remember....”

“True, true--come to me in the course of the afternoon....”

“Ah! my lord, but that will be too late. Eurymachus is in danger of his
life....”

“What, again!”

“Oh! be merciful, most noble Quintus! Give us only five minutes
audience! You alone can save him.”

“Come in, then!”

He led the way through the atrium into his private room.

“My lord,” the flute-player began again, “I will tell my story shortly.
Eurymachus rebelled against the Empress’ steward, who wanted to
persuade him to all sorts of disgraceful conduct. Stephanus flogged
him first, and then obtained permission to crucify him at the next
festival. This I heard from the gate-keeper. But there was no festival
fixed for yesterday, so there is still some hope, and we entreat
you....”

“Be calm--for the present your friend is in safety.”

“Impossible--he is lying in chains....”

“He _was_ lying in chains. His execution was fixed for yesterday, but
at the last moment he was snatched from the jaws of peril.”

“What?” cried Thrax Barbatus, speaking for the first time. “Did I hear
you rightly, snatched from his fetters! Then Glauce was able to carry
out what she proposed.”

“Free?” said Euterpe, looking up at Quintus in bewilderment.

“As I tell you.”

“Oh, now I see it all!” cried Thrax Barbatus. “This pretended journey
to Ostia--what had your husband to do in Ostia? And Philippus, my son,
who has hardly been in Rome a week--why should he want to accompany
Diphilus....” Then, seized with terror, he sank on the ground before
Quintus and threw his arms round his knees.

“Oh, my lord! do not take advantage of the rash words of a miserable
father!” he exclaimed vehemently. “Do not betray, what my tongue let
slip in my fear and anxiety.”

“Be easy, old man!” said Quintus benevolently. “I am not one of the
spies of the city-guard. Your friend is a hero, and courage always
commands my sympathy.”

“Thanks, thanks!” sobbed the old man, covering the young noble’s
hands with kisses. “But tell me, pray, how it all happened; how is it
possible that, in the midst of such a crowd of servants....”

“All is possible to those who dare all. What I heard--and the
merest accident prevented my being an eye witness--aroused as much
astonishment in me, as in you. All the bystanders seemed to have been
paralyzed. It was like an eagle in the Hyrcanian mountains,[204]
swooping down on a lamb. One man particularly, a stalwart,
broad-shouldered fellow, did wonders of valor....”

Thrax Barbatus drew himself up with the elasticity of youth. Happy
pride sparkled in his eyes, and an expression--a radiance, as it were,
of beatific affection illuminated his rugged and strongly-wrinkled
features.

“That was Philippus, my son!” he said with a trembling voice. “Oh! it
was not for nothing, that he fought for years against the Dacians, not
in vain that he endured frost and heat. There is not a man in all the
legion that is his match in skill and strength; not one that can beat
him in running or in lance-throwing. But speak, my lord; you look so
grave, so sad! What is it? Oh, for God’s sake, in Christ’s name--it
is impossible! My son, my Philippus!--but he could stand against
twenty--speak, my lord, or you will kill me....”

“Poor old man,” said Quintus much moved, “what good will it do to
conceal the truth from you? Your son is dead. Scorning to fly, he
exposed himself too long to his foes. He died like a hero.”

Thrax Barbatus uttered a soul-piercing cry, and fell backwards to the
ground; Euterpe flung herself upon him and clasped his head to her
heart, weeping bitterly.

“Thrax--dear, good friend,” she sobbed out: “Control yourself, collect
yourself! Show yourself strong in this terrible trouble! Consider, you
will have Glauce, and Eurymachus, who loves you like a son.”

The old man slowly pulled himself up; he pushed Euterpe violently
aside, and then sinking on to his knees, raised his hands in
passionate appeal to Heaven. His lips moved in prayer, but no sound was
heard. Quintus, lost in astonishment, stood leaning against a pillar,
while Euterpe wept silently, her face buried in her arm. A terrible
storm seemed to be raging in the old man’s soul; his breast rose and
fell like a wind-tossed sea, and a wild fire glowed in his eyes. But
by degrees he grew calmer, and his features assumed an expression
of sorrowing and silent resignation. It was as though a tender and
beatific ray of forgiveness lighted them up, growing clearer each
moment. After a time he rose.

“Pardon me, my lord,” he said slowly. “I was stricken down by the
vastness of my grief. He fell like a hero, you said? And Eurymachus is
safe?”

“He escaped,” replied Quintus, “which, alas! is not quite the same
thing. Every effort will be made to recover possession of the fugitive.
Well, we must see what can be done. Accident has enlisted me on your
side, and I will play the part out to the end. For the present leave
me; I am tired out, and a tired man is of no use as an adviser; but
this evening, about the second vigil,[205] I will find my way to your
dwelling, unaccompanied.”

“Father in Heaven, I thank Thee!” cried Thrax Barbatus vehemently.
“Blessings, oh! blessings on the head of this noble and generous youth!
Farewell, my lord! Never, never will I forget your gracious kindness to
us helpless wretches.”

With these words he left the room, and Euterpe followed him. Quintus
went at once to his curtained cubiculum,[206] undressed with the help
of the faithful Blepyrus and soon fell asleep.



FOOTNOTES:

 [190] SABINE HILLS. The Sabines, an old Italian people, were the
       neighbors of the Latins. Their country extended northward to
       the domains of the Umbrians, southward to the Anio river.

 [191] FOLLOWED BY HIS CLIENTS AND SLAVES. Aristocratic people rarely
       appeared in public without a train of followers.

 [192] “GETTING UP EARLY IS MY GREATEST TORMENT.” See Martial, _Ep._
       X 74, where the poet, as the sole reward for his verses, begs
       to be permitted to sleep as long as he likes in the morning.

 [193] “WELL SAID!” CRIED THE POET. Martial often flattered his
       superiors, even to servility. See Mart. _Ep._ XII, 11, where
       he praises the poetic gifts of Parthenius.

 [194] SUBURA. A densely-populated district between the Forum Romanum
       and the Vicus Patricius, occupied by the poorer classes.

 [195] HOUSES. For the height of the houses in ancient Rome see
       Friedlander I, 5 etc.

 [196] TAVERNS. All sorts of booths, stands, work-shops, taverns and
       barbers’ shops stood in front of the houses in the smaller
       streets, greatly impeding the passers-by. The confusion at
       last increased to such an extent, that Domitian found himself
       compelled to have the most obtrusive structures removed in
       certain quarters of the city. One of Martial’s epigrams (VII,
       61) is founded on this incident.

 [197] ITINERANT BAKERS. Mart. XIV, 223:

          “Arise; the baker is selling the boys their breakfast.”

       The breakfast probably consisted of _adipata_, _i.e._ pastry
       or cakes made with fat. Bread was baked at home till the last
       years of the Republic; afterwards there were public bakehouses
       for the poorer classes.

 [198] THE PEDAGOGUE was a slave, whose duty it was to take children
       to school.

 [199] THE BABBLE OF SPELLING CHILDREN. The Romans attached great
       importance to a distinct and accurate pronunciation; reading
       was taught twice a day, and children began to learn before the
       age of seven.

 [200] THE CYPRIUS STREET (_vious Cyprius_) led from the Subura to
       the Flavian amphitheatre.

 [201] A PROCESSION OF PRIESTS. Solemn processions of priests through
       the city formed one of the principal features in the worship
       of Isis.

 [202] YOU LEECHES ARE ALWAYS RIGHT. Blepyrus, as his master’s
       constant companion, would watch over his health, if not as a
       qualified physician, at any rate, as an empirical adviser. The
       household leech in noble families was almost always a slave or
       freedman, and those who practised independently were often in
       the same position.

 [203] OSTIARIUS. The porter, who sat in a niche of the
       entrance-corridor (_ostium_).

 [204] HYRCANIAN MOUNTAINS. Hyrcania was the name of a rough
       mountainous region near the Caspian Sea.

 [205] THE SECOND VIGIL. The Romans divided the time from sunrise to
       sunset into four vigils (night-watches) of three hours each.

 [206] CUBICULUM. Sleeping-room.



                               CHAPTER X.


“Really, Baucis, you are very clumsy again today!” cried Lucilia,
half-vexed and half-saucily. “Do you want to pull that fine, luxuriant
hair, that the greatest poet might rave about, all out by the roots. I
have shown you a hundred times how the arrow is to be put through, and
you always towzle my hair as old Orbilius[207] does the schoolboys!”

“Ingratitude for thanks, all the world over!” muttered the old slave,
casting a last glance at Lucilia’s curls, her successful handiwork. “I
suppose you would like to stick a pin into me.[208] Really, the young
people of the present day are like babies or dolls. And if the gold
pin slips and the plaits come down, then it is the old woman who is to
blame and there is no end of the fuss. Ah! you naughty girl,[209] how
do you expect to get on when you are married, you impatient little
thing! Many a time will you have to sigh, when your husband is out
of temper! Many a time will you say to yourself: ‘Ah! if only I had
learned a little patience when I was younger!’”

“You are greatly mistaken,” said Lucilia in a declamatory tone. “The
days are over, when the husband was master over everything in the
house. What woman now-a-days will submit to a wedding with offerings
of corn?[210] We have grown wiser, and know what such offerings are
meant to symbolize--we are to surrender our liberty to the very last
grain! So I should think! If ever I marry.... But what are you about?
Will you ever have done fidgetting with that tiresome necklace? Do
look, Claudia, how she is tormenting me!”

Claudia was sitting in holiday attire in front of a handsome
citrus-wood[211] table, holding in her hands the ivory roller of an
elegantly-written book. When Lucilia spoke to her she absently raised
her soft, fawn-like eyes, laid the roll aside and stood up.

“You look like Melpomene,” cried Lucilia enthusiastically, while Baucis
draped her _stola_.[212] “If I were Aurelius, I should have my head
turned by the sight of you. How well the folds of your dress fall, and
how admirably the border lies on the ground, oh! and your hair! Do you
know I am quite in love myself with that hair; it goes so beautifully
with the soft brown of your eyes. That dark fair hair, with a kind of
dim lustre, is too lovely; my stupid, every-day brown looks no better
by the side of it than a cabbage next a rose. Of course, too, Baucis
takes three times as much pains with you as with me. Tell me yourself,
is not this arrow all askew again?”

So speaking she took a polished metal mirror[213] from the table, and
studied her coiffure first from the right and then from the left, while
one of the young slave-girls, who stood round Baucis, came to her
assistance with a second mirror.

“It is quite horrid!” she said crossly. “In short every single thing is
wanting in me to-day, that could please the fancy of any human being.
Never was my fatal snub-nose so short and broad, never was my mouth so
wide and vulgar. And listen, Claudia, in spite of all its beauty, I
can do without going to Baiae for the future. I gained twenty pounds
in weight there, and brought home three dozen freckles. It is a lucky
thing, that I have a philosophic soul! If I were in love now with some
son of the gods, by Socrates’ cup of hemlock I should be desperate with
rage!”

“You are only fishing for praise,” said Claudia, stroking her sister’s
cheek. “But you know I am but ill-skilled in the art of paying
compliments.”

“Silly girl!” said Lucilia. “As if praise could mend an evil. Do you
suppose I want to do as the young law students do, who hire flatterers
to praise them?[214] Nay, no bribery is possible, when we stand before
the Centumvirate[215] who judge of beauty.--And, my good Baucis, what
are you staring at now, like a country cousin at a circus. Make haste
and get dressed, you old sinner, or Cinna’s cook will have burnt the
pasty.”

“I shall be ready in an instant,” replied Baucis. “At my time of life
dressing need not take long. Who looks at the hawthorn, I wonder, when
roses are in bloom?” and she hurried away.

Lucilia and Claudia went out into the colonnade where, arm in arm, they
slowly paced the gleaming marble pavement. As they turned the farther
corner of the quadrangle, they saw their mother coming towards them at
a leisurely pace.

“Quintus is ready and waiting,” she said pleasantly.

“And you, dear mother?” asked Lucilia. “Do you really mean to stay at
home?”

“It is such a pity,” added Claudia. “We are accustomed, alas! to my
father’s never accompanying us to see Cornelia, but you--what need
you care about the debates in the senate? Besides, Cornelius Cinna
is related to your family. Your views as to what contributes to the
prosperity of the Roman people differ no doubt....”

“In Jupiter’s name, child!” cried Octavia horrified. “Claudia, what are
you saying? If your father were to hear you....”

“But, my dear mother,” answered the girl, “I am only speaking the
truth. There are many very estimable men....”

“Be silent--when and where did you pick up such notions? Attend to your
music and your poets, give your mind to the flowers you twist into your
hair, but never meddle with the mysteries of state-craft.”

The young girl looked down in some confusion.

“Do not pay any heed to it, mother dear!” said Lucilia. “She chatters
without thinking. But, once more--do come with us. Cornelius Cinna
will very likely not be visible; you know how strangely the old
man behaves. Come, mother--and remember, dear little mother, it is
Cornelia’s birthday. She will certainly feel hurt, if the mother of her
future husband lets the day pass without going to embrace her.”

“It is of no use; your father’s wishes have always been my law. Believe
me, my sweet child, the utmost I can do is to allow you to visit at
that house....”

“Come, that would be too bad, mother! I really believe, that if he had
not formally released Quintus from his filial bondage, he would have
been capable of forbidding the marriage.”

“It is quite possible,” replied Octavia. “That noble soul places the
commonwealth above every other consideration. You can hardly imagine,
how unswervingly he goes on the road he believes to be the right one.”

“Oh yes! I know his resolute nature,” said Claudia, “and I honor and
admire it. Say no more, Lucilia; mother is right. A man must never
yield even a hand-breadth, and silent obedience is a wife’s first duty.”

“You are my dear good child,” said Octavia much touched. “And believe
me when I say, that the fulfilment of this duty, hard as it seems, is
a heartfelt joy when such a man as your father is the husband. He is
strict and firm, but not a tyrant; he is always ready to listen to
reason, and to take council with the chosen companion of his life. Nay,
he is not above learning from the humblest. On one point only he stands
like a rock against which the surf beats in vain, and that point is
Duty.”

“Here comes Baucis!” cried Lucilia with a laugh of saucy amusement.
“Hail, oh fairest of brides, clad in the garb of rejoicing! Baucis in
sky-blue! If this does not procure her a Philemon, I must despair of
the fate of humanity.”

“You hear, mistress, how shamefully she mocks your waiting-woman,” said
Baucis in lamentable tones. “I can never do anything right. If I wear
grey, she hints at an ass; if I put on a handsome dress, she laughs at
me to my face. However, what I had to say is, that the litters are at
the door and the young master has asked three times if his sisters were
coming.”

“We are quite ready,” said Claudia.

A dense crowd had gathered outside the vestibule. Quintus, with
only three of his slaves, was waiting impatiently in the entrance.
The twelve litter-bearers in their red livery stood by the poles,
and eight negroes--the van and rear-guard of the procession--were
staring vacantly into the air. A number of idlers had collected round
these--the inquisitive gapers who always swarmed wherever there was
anything to be seen, however trivial. These were the class who, not
choosing to work, lived on the corn given away by the state;[216] the
uproarious mob who filled the upper rows of seats in the theatres and
circus; the populace whose suffrages no Caesar was too proud to court,
since it was among these that arbitrary despotism had its most staunch
adherents, in the struggle against the last remnants of a free and
freedom-loving aristocracy.

“Oh! how handsome she is!” ran from mouth to mouth among the loiterers,
as Claudia stepped into the foremost litter; Lucilia took her place by
her adopted sister’s side. The second litter was to carry Baucis and a
young slave girl.

“Make way!” cried the principal runner, stepping among the crowd, who
fell back, and the procession set out. Quintus followed on foot at a
short distance.

Their way led them through the Forum and past the venerable temple
of Saturn, where the Roman state-treasure was kept. To the right on
the Palatine, spread the enormous palaces of the Caesars, and among
them the capitol and the splendid but scarcely-finished residence of
Domitian. Proceeding but slowly, they reached the Arch of Titus[217]
and then, leaving the fountain of the Meta Sudans[218] and the vast
Flavian amphitheatre[219] to the right, they turned into the street
leading to the Caelimontana Gate.[220] The throng of humanity, which
in the neighborhood of the Forum defied all description, here became
somewhat thinner; and the litter-bearers mended their pace. In about
ten minutes they stopped at a house, which in point of magnificence was
hardly inferior to that of the Flamen Titus Claudius Mucianus. In the
vestibule, beside the door-keeper, there stood a stout little woman,
who hailed the visitors from afar with a broad grin, and was most eager
to be of use to the young ladies as they alighted. This little woman
was Chloe, Cornelia’s maid; her mistress now appeared on the scene, a
tall and finely-made young girl, with hair as black as night, dressed
entirely in white and wearing no ornament but a string of large,
softly-gleaming pearls. The girls embraced each other warmly.

Quintus had by this time joined them; with a tender light in his
eyes he went straight up to his betrothed and kissed her gravely on
the forehead. “All health, happiness and blessing on you, on your
birthday,[221] my sweet Cornelia!” he said affectionately; then taking
her hand he led her into the atrium. This was festally decorated with
flowers; in the middle stood a hearth[222] after the old fashion, but
there were no images of the Lares and Penates. Cornelius Cinna held
the opinions and views of the world at large, which had been taught
by Lucretius[223] and Pliny the Elder;[224] he thought it folly to
enquire curiously as to the form and aspect of the Divinity, or even
of any particular god or goddess; since, if there be indeed a Power
beyond and behind Nature, that Power must be Force and Wisdom pure and
simple. Hence he contemned all the ordinary household gods.

Eight or ten guests were already assembled in the atrium, among them
Caius Aurelius and his faithful follower Herodianus.

The young Batavian did not at first seem to observe the new arrivals.
He was standing in grave conversation with the master of the house,
whose gloomy and almost sinister countenance by no means harmonized
with the gay decorations of the hearth and the Corinthian columns.

“I thank you,” said Cinna offering the young man his hand. “Your words
have done me good. But now, ask no farther....”

“As you desire....”

“One thing more, my dear Caius--Quintus Claudius too must know how
strongly I feel on this point. After dinner bring him, as if by chance,
into my study....”

“Trust to me.”

“Very good; and now for a few hours I will try to banish these memories
from my soul. As you see me, Caius, you may think it a miracle that I
am not choked by the insult! And not a soul that could sympathize with
me! Nerva, my old friend, was absent. Even Trajan was so far off as
Antium[225]....”

“And Caius Aurelius was too young and too much a stranger?” said the
Batavian laughing.

“Yes, I must confess that it was so. From the first, it is true, I saw
you to be an admirable youth, and I thank my friend at Gades, who sent
you with letters of introduction to me; but I could not guess how early
ripe and truly noble your whole nature was, how fervent your patriotism
and how unconquerable your pride.--But in all truth, Aurelius, from
this day forth--here comes Quintus and his sisters; we part for the
present, but do not forget!”

His face, which had brightened somewhat as he spoke, fell again to the
expression of grave, almost sinister determination, which characterized
his strongly-marked features. He crossed the atrium to the entrance
where the young people, surrounded by their guests, were chatting
gaily. Cinna pressed the hand of his niece’s lover--kindly, but yet
with a certain reserve--and addressed a few half-jesting words to the
girls; but when Claudia attempted to offer such apology as best she
might for her mother’s absence, he turned away as if he did not hear.

At this moment the noble figure of an old man appeared in the doorway;
with a gleaming white toga over his shoulders and flowing snowy locks,
his towering height gave him a majestic presence.

“Cocceius Nerva,” whispered the Batavian to Herodianus, who came up to
him to ask.

“By Castor!” said the freedman, “but if I had met this man on arriving
here, I should have said that he and no other must be the ruler of the
world.”

“Remember, we are in Rome, and you will do well to keep such ideas to
yourself.”

Cornelius Cinna led the illustrious senator to a handsome marble seat
covered with carpets, and a circle of reverent friends formed round him
at once.

“By all the gods,” muttered Herodianus, “may I perish if that marble
seat does not look for all the world like a throne; and they stand
round him like the guard round Caesar.--And now, as he raises his
right hand! If he were but thirty years younger, he would be like that
image of Zeus we bought a while since in Gades; he only lacks the
thunderbolt.”

“Silence!” repeated Aurelius angrily. “You have had no wine yet
to-day--what will you not say when you have played your part at dinner,
if you are as thirsty as usual?”

“I will not say another word,” replied the freedman.

Claudia, who till this instant had been talking eagerly with Ulpius
Trajanus, a Hispanian friend of Cinna’s, of Cocceius Nerva’s--too
eagerly, Aurelius thought--now went off with Cornelia under the
colonnade to see the birthday gifts which, in accordance with an old
Roman custom, had been sent to Cornelia early in the day. They were
tastefully laid out in the arcade on brazen tables; gold brooches
and necklaces among exquisite flowers; tissues mixed with silk;[226]
handsome books with purple edges, rolled on cylinders of amber and
ebony; little slippers worked with pearls; beaten silver vessels from
the hand of Mentor,[227] the esteemed silversmith; Arabian and Indian
perfumes from the stores of Niceros,[228] the famous druggist; ribbons
and trimmings of amethyst-purple;[229] stuffed birds, fruits from Asia
Minor, and a hundred other costly trifles from every quarter of the
world made up the tribute sent to this spoilt daughter of a senatorial
house.

Aurelius took advantage of the opportunity, and went to join the young
girls. Claudia affected great surprise at seeing him, but immediately
after gave the young man her hand with frank warmth, as though ashamed
in truth of any disingenuous coquetry towards such a man as Aurelius.
Still, the conversation they began was not particularly lively; they
stood in front of the tables and made the usual remarks--this present
was charming, that offering was splendid. Cornelia declared, that
prettiest of all were the exquisite roses[230] that Quintus had given
her--and Claudia sighed, very softly, still she sighed.

At this moment a grinning head appeared in the frame of a door close
by. This was Chloe, Cornelia’s maid.

“I beg your pardon,” she said with comical importance. “But if I
disturb you, it is from sheer necessity. The steward of the tables[231]
cannot arrange the places for the company.”

“Indeed, how is that?” asked Cornelia severely. “Did I not give him
full and exact instructions? He seems to have a short memory.”

“Excuse us, dear mistress--but he had not counted on Cocceius Nerva.
Come and help us, pray.”

Cornelia frowned, but did as she was requested; her pallid face colored
scarlet; such a question seemed to her vulgar and trivial, and she
felt that shock to her taste which jars on a superior nature, when the
details of daily life intrude on a moment of exalted feeling. Those
roses from Paestum,[232] that thought of Quintus! what a delicious
flood of happy feeling they symbolized! And Chloe’s appearance, in the
very midst of this beauty and happiness, wounded her like the empty
farcicality of an Atellanian buffoon.[233]

Aurelius and Claudia were left to gaze at the display of birthday gifts
with redoubled attention; you might have fancied they had never before
seen such things as flowers or bracelets.

“How delicious!” said Claudia breathing the perfume of a splendid
rose-bush.

“Delicious!” echoed Aurelius, putting his face close to the flowers.
“And look at this strange bird! How naturally it sits with its wings
spread out--exactly as if it were alive.”

“It is a parrot from the banks of the Indus.”

“Or a phoenix[234]....”

“A phoenix? I thought that story of Tacitus’ was a mere fable.”

“Nay, not altogether. The marvellous bird, which burns its father or
itself and then rises from its ashes in renewed youth, is no doubt a
myth. But does not Pliny tell us of a real phoenix, which builds its
nest at the sources of the Nile and shines like pure gold?”

“What, seriously?” and she gently stroked the neck of the stuffed bird
with her finger.

“How soft it feels!” she said.

“Like crape from Cos,”[235] said Aurelius, doing the same. His hand
touched hers, and Claudia colored. She hastily stooped over a book
lying close by--the “Thebais” of Statius--and read the title, written
in gold on the outside of the roll.

“A capital work,” said the Batavian, “I read it some time since in
Trajectum.”

“And to me, a Roman, it remains unknown.”

“If you only desire it, I will go to-morrow morning to the bookseller
in the Argiletum and bring you the best copy I can find.”

“Oh! you are too kind!” replied Claudia.

Then there was a pause, while Aurelius examined with the greatest
interest the quality of some flaxen cloth from Cordova. At last he
began hesitatingly:

“If you will not think it too bold, allow me to propose....”

“Speak on,” said Claudia, again bending over the “Thebais.”

“I should be only too happy, if I might be allowed to read this
masterpiece of Statius aloud to you. Without wishing to boast, I have
had a good deal of practice in reading and declamation, and,--as you
know, epic[236] poetry was originally intended for recitation.”

“Of course; it is for that very reason called epic. I may own too, that
there is nothing I like better than to hear good reading. Quintus reads
very well, but he rarely has time or is in the humor.”

“You will allow me then?”

“I beg you to be so good.”

“And when?”

“That we will settle presently; just now, I see, they are going to
table.”

“Where have you hidden yourselves?” cried Lucilia flying into the hall
as lightly as a deer. “I have been seeking you everywhere. Come, make
haste; I am desperately hungry.”

“She is hungry!” thought Claudia with a glance up to heaven. “I hardly
know whether to envy her or to pity her!”


FOOTNOTES:

 [207] ORBILIUS. The well-known schoolmaster, nicknamed by his pupils
       _plagosus_, (delighting in blows) to whom Horace went. (Suet.
       _Gramm._ 9.)

 [208] I SUPPOSE YOU WOULD LIKE TO STICK A PIN INTO ME. Roman ladies
       often avenged mistakes committed by their slaves, during the
       process of making their toilettes, by such abuse. Nay, it
       sometimes happened that a slave thus stabbed was killed. See
       Mart. _Ep._ II, 66, where Lalage knocks down the female slave
       Plecusa on account of a single curl escaping from her hair.

 [209] AH! YOU NAUGHTY GIRL. With the sovereign contempt with which
       so many Romans treated their slaves, this tone, addressed
       to the daughter of the house, might seem strange, but even
       under the emperors the relation between masters and slaves
       was in many respects a patriarchial one. The older slaves,
       especially, were permitted many familiarities in their
       intercourse with the children of the family, who often called
       them “little father,” “little mother,” allowed them to reprove
       them, and according to their personality, frequently permitted
       them to exercise no little authority. A beautiful example of
       cordial relations existing between the master, and his slaves
       and freedmen, is shown us in a letter from the younger Pliny
       to Paullinus (_Ep._ V. 19) where he says: “I see how mildly
       you treat your people, and therefore acknowledge the more
       frankly how indulgent I am to mine; I always remember the
       words of Homer:

          “‘And was kind as a father....’

       and our own ‘father of a family’ (_pater familias_). But
       even were I harsher and sterner by nature, I should be
       moved by the illness of my freedman Zosimus, to whom I must
       show the greater kindness, now that he needs it more.... My
       long-standing affection for him, which is only increased by
       anxiety, affords a guarantee for that. Surely it is natural,
       that nothing so fans and increases love as the fear of loss,
       which I have already endured more than once on his account.
       Some years ago, after reciting a long time with much effort,
       he raised blood; so I sent him to Egypt, from whence he
       returned a short time since greatly strengthened by the long
       journey. But on straining his voice too much for several days,
       a slight cough served to remind us of the old difficulty, and
       he again raised blood. Therefore I intend to send him to your
       estate at Forojulium, having often heard you say that the air
       there was healthful, and the milk very beneficial in such
       diseases.”

 [210] WEDDING WITH OFFERING OF CORN. The oldest form of the
       marriage ceremony was the _Confarreatio_, so-called from the
       offerings of grain (far). By this form the wife entirely lost
       her independence. Her property passed into her husband’s
       possession, and she could neither acquire anything for
       herself, nor transact any legal business. The desire for
       emancipation, here jestingly uttered by Lucilia, was in
       reality very widely diffused throughout Rome at the time of
       our story, and the form of the _Confarreatio_ was therefore
       constantly becoming rarer.

 [211] CITRUS-WOOD. The citrus (_tuja cupressoides_) a beautiful tree
       growing on the sides of the Atlas, furnished costly tops for
       tables, for which the most extravagant prices were paid, as
       the trunks rarely attained the requisite degree of thickness.
       Pliny (_Hist. Nat._ XIII, 15) mentions slabs almost four feet
       in diameter, and six inches thick. Cicero gave a million
       sesterces for a citrus-wood table. Seneca is said to have
       owned five hundred of them. The slab rested on a single base
       of skilfully-carved ivory, from which they received the name
       of _monopodia_ (a single foot).

 [212] STOLA. The over-garment worn by women (_stola_) was trimmed
       around the bottom with a border (_instita_) that often
       lengthened into a train.

 [213] METAL MIRROR. At the time of our story mirrors made of a
       mixture of gold, silver and copper were preferred.

 [214] WHO HIRE FLATTERERS TO PRAISE THEM. See _Quintillian_, XI, 3,
       131; Juv. _Sat._ XIII, 29-31, Plin. _Ep._ II, 14, 4.

 [215] THE CENTUMVIRATE. A body of judges whose function it was to
       decide in civil cases, more particularly in suits concerning
       inheritance. The Decemvirate presided over them.

 [216] LIVED ON THE CORN GIVEN AWAY BY THE STATE. The number of Roman
       paupers, who lived almost exclusively by this means, far
       surpassed those who need support in civilized countries at the
       present time.

 [217] THE ARCH OF TITUS. The triumphal arch of Titus, at the
       southeastern corner of the Forum Romanum, designed for the
       commemoration of the victory over the Jews, A.D. 81, is
       still standing at the present day. It bears the inscription:
       “_Senatus populusque Romanus divo Tito divi Vespasiani filio
       Vespasiano Augusto_.” Some of its bas-reliefs are admirably
       preserved.

 [218] META SUDANS. One of the Metae (the obelisks at the upper and
       lower ends of the circus) resembling a fountain, not far from
       the Flavian amphitheatre. Part of the sub-structure still
       remains.

 [219] THE FLAVIAN AMPHITHEATRE, now the Coliseum. This edifice,
       commenced by the emperor Vespasian at the close of the Jewish
       war, finished under Titus, and dedicated A.D. 80, contained
       seats for 87,000 spectators, and room for 20,000 more in the
       open gallery. Even at the present time, no similar structure
       in the world has equalled, far less surpassed it in extent and
       magnificence.

 [220] CAELIMONTANA GATE.. (_Porta Caelimontana_) near the Lateran.
       The street here entered by Claudia and Lucilia still exists;
       it now bears the name of Via di San Giovanni in Laterano.

 [221] THE BIRTHDAY (_dies natalis, sacra natalicia_) was celebrated
       in ancient times.

 [222] IN THE MIDDLE STOOD A HEARTH. The real hearth, originally in
       the atrium, had long since vanished from the atria of the
       wealthy and aristocratic. Here a festal hearth erected for the
       occasion is meant.

 [223] LUCRETIUS. Titus Lucretius Carus, who was born in the year 98,
       and died in 55 B.C., composed a philosophical didactic poem
       “on the nature of things.” (_De Rerum Natura._) The view of
       the world taken in it is a thoroughly material one. The poet
       constructs the universe out of an infinite multitude of atoms,
       which exist singly and imperishably in infinite space.

 [224] PLINY THE ELDER. Caius Plinius Secundus, called to distinguish
       him from his nephew, so often quoted here, the elder (major) a
       warrior, statesman, and famous naturalist, was born at Novum
       Comum, A.D. 23. He met his death, a victim to his thirst for
       scientific knowledge, at the great eruption of Vesuvius, A.D.
       79. (See the famous description in his nephew’s letter to
       Tacitus, Plin. _Ep._ VI, 16.) Of his numerous works, nothing
       has come down to us except the _Historia Naturalis_, a vast
       encyclopedia, the material for which was obtained from more
       than 2,000 volumes. He was an absolute denier of the gods,
       nay, of transcendentalism altogether. The opinions attributed
       to Cinna are in part literally copied from the _Historia
       Naturalis_.

 [225] ANTIUM. The modern Porto d’Anzio, an ancient city south of
       Rome. Many Roman aristocrats owned country-seats there.

 [226] TISSUES MIXED WITH SILK. Fabrics made entirely of silk were
       rare in Rome.

 [227] MENTOR was a famous sculptor, especially celebrated for his
       cups and goblets in metal (_repoussé_). Pliny. _Hist. Nat._
       VII, 38, and XIII, 11, 12, also Martial, Ep. III, 41:

          The lizard wrought by Mentor’s hand so rare,
          Was fear’d i’ the cup, as though it living were.
                                                   WRIGHT.

       that is, the silver lizard, wrought on the cup, is so true to
       life, that people might fear it. See Mart. _Ep._ IV, 39, IX,
       59 (cups that Mentor’s hand ennobled), etc.

 [228] NICEROS. See Mart. _Ep._ VI, 55 (“because you smelt Niceros’s
       leaden vials ...”) Mart. _Ep._ X, 38, (“the lamps that exhaled
       Niceros’s sweet perfumes ...”) and Mart. _Ep._ XII, 65, (“a
       pound of ointment from Cosmus or Niceros.”)

 [229] RIBBONS AND TRIMMINGS OF AMETHYST-PURPLE. Garments of
       amethystine-purple, woollen material (_amethystina_ or _vestes
       amethystinae_) were among the most magnificent and costly
       clothes. See Mart. _Ep._ I, 97, 7, and Juv. _Sat._ VII, 136.
       The color was so-called because it glittered in the amethyst,
       a violet-blue gem.

 [230] EXQUISITE ROSES. Roses and violets were the favorite flowers
       of the ancients. The use of these blossoms was enormous. For
       the rose-culture in Rome, see Varro, _R. Rust_, I, 16, 3.

 [231] THE STEWARD OF THE TABLES. The chief slave in the dining-room,
       the butler, was called _Tricliniarcha_. (Petr. XXII, 6,
       _Inscr. Orell._ No. 794.)

 [232] PAESTUM (Παὶστον) in the most ancient times Posidonia, a city
       on the western coast of Lucania, south of the mouth of the
       Silarus, (now Sele) was famous for its magnificent roses.

 [233] ATELLANIAN BUFFOON. Atellanae (_Atellanae fabulae, ludi
       Atellani_) was the name given to a species of dramatic
       performance, somewhat coarsely comical in character. The
       material for these plays was taken from the lives of the
       humble citizens and country people. The language used was
       that of every-day life, and they were often written in the
       Oscan dialect. The name comes from the Campanian city Atella,
       where this style of play first originated. Certain fundamental
       characteristics of the Atellanae representations are still
       visible in Italian popular farces.

 [234] PHOENIX. See Tac. _Ann._ VI, 28, Plin. _Hist. Nat._ X. 2, _Ov.
       Met._ XV, 392.

 [235] LIKE CRAPE FROM COS. Corduba, now Cordova, on the Baetis, now
       the Guadalquivir, was one of the most important commercial
       cities in Spain, the principal place in Hispania Baetica, the
       seat of the imperial governor. See Strabo III, 141. Materials
       woven from Spanish flax (_carbasus_) were considered specially
       delicate for clothing.

 [236] EPIC from Epos (ἒπος)--word, speech, tale. Afterwards the Greeks
       distinguished epic poetry from lyric by the ἒπη.



                              CHAPTER XI.


The meal was ended; Cocceius Nerva had proposed the health of Cornelia
as the heroine of the day. After offering a libation, according to
the ancient custom, he invoked the favor and mercy of the Immortals
on the young girl; then he rose and left the triclinium. The whole
company followed him, to listen to the sweet tones of soft music in the
fresher air of the peristyle, and to walk up and down on the inlaid
marble floor, chatting in low tones. Bronze lamps shed their light
from between the Corinthian pillars, and the stars shone down from the
cloudless skies; in the court itself a confidential twilight prevailed.

“Now, my sweet Claudia, tell me, how do you like Trajan?”[237]
whispered Lucilia in her sister’s ear as she stood meditatively by the
fountain.

“I have only seen him to-day for the third time--how can I judge?”

“To me he is quite too delightful. What a pity that he is already
married.--To be sure, even then he would be too old....”

“Do you think so?” said Claudia absently.

“Why, you seem to have forgotten that he was consul a long time ago.”

“Was he?”

“Yes, of course, with Glabrio. How often your father has spoken of him.”

“I do not happen to remember it.”

“To be sure, we were still in the nursery, and stories of Cupid and
Psyche[238] interested us more than the virtues of a statesman.”

Claudia sighed: “Happy childhood!” she said sadly.

“Nerva even--old Nerva--thinks great things of him,” Lucilia went on,
without observing this diversion. “He calls him his son, and is always
ready to listen to his counsels--and in fact it is well worth while
to listen to what Trajan has to say. You cannot think how cleverly,
how wisely and judiciously he can talk. And at the same time he is so
honest, so simple, so unpretentious! No one would imagine from his
appearance, that he once was the commander-in-chief of all the forces
in Germany, with unlimited authority, and won a glorious victory.”

“Where in the world did you acquire all this information as to his
merits?--Whenever I looked across at you, you were chatting with Caius
Afranius.”

“Cneius, not Caius.”

“I thought it was Caius. Considering it was your first meeting, your
conversation with this Afranius was somewhat eager.”

“Oh! I had met him before--a week or more ago; do you not remember? The
day you had a headache. He is intimate with Cornelius. He has been in
Rome since the beginning of March, and is already beginning to play an
important part in the Forum.”[239]

“Is he a jurist?” asked Claudia.

“A defender of the oppressed and accuser of the criminal!” answered
Lucilia warmly. “He has even gained a cause, quite lately, against
Clodianus, Caesar’s adjutant. His eloquence and powerful argument
won him the victory, in spite of all his adversary’s art, and the
impression he made was so tremendous, that for the moment every one
forgot how dangerous it is to have Clodianus for an enemy. The whole
Basilica[240] shook with the applause.”

“Did he himself tell you this?”

“Certainly not! I heard it from Ulpius Trajanus.”

“And that no doubt is what makes you think Trajan so amiable?”

“Silly child! Do you suppose...? You know, my dear, that when folks are
in love, they see the whole world from one point of view.”

“What do you mean?”

“Well, I mean that you would say with Theognis[241] of Megara, that
amiable poet:

  ‘Temper the pangs of love and assuage the torments, O Goddess,
  That gnaw my heart! Oh! restore my joy and contentment.’”

“You are incorrigible!” said Claudia.

But Lucilia, with a merry twinkle in her eye, laid her hand on her
companion’s shoulder, saying softly: “Ah! fluttering heart, it is vain
to try concealment! Your Lucilia’s experience and knowledge of mankind
can see through every disguise. ‘Restore my joy, bring Aurelius to my
side.’ It is the wolf in the fable--he comes softly down on his prey
with a tender, elegiac grace! Sigh again--with Sappho this time--:

  ‘Woe is me! my tremulous heart beats faintly--
  Thou art near! My faltering voice refuses utterance even!’”

And she glided off, while Claudia stood gazing fixedly at the sparkling
water in the basin. In her somewhat hasty retreat, Lucilia ran up
against the broad back of Herodianus, who was clinging convulsively to
the back of a chair with both hands, and leaning over it gazed up, as
if spellbound, in silent contemplation at the star-spangled sky.

“I beg your pardon, old sinner!”[242] said the girl saucily, as she
passed on; but a deep sigh from the freedman made her pause.

“What is the matter, oh! boon companion from the North? Are you
suffering from apoplexy? or do you wish to become a mathematician?[243]
Why are you staring so dolefully up at the Pleiades?”

“Ah! sweet mistress--what is it the Greek sage says? ‘All things flow
away!’[244] I too am flowing away. I do not know how I feel.”

“The wine-cup could answer that perhaps,” suggested Lucilia.

“No indeed--my feeble constitution to be sure--and that Caecubum was
excellent. Perhaps it has flowed through all my limbs--but with all
respect be it said, I am used to that.--And a sense of propriety--but
you see, mistress, I cannot stir from the spot, and at the same
time--oh no! it is not the wine, for I feel full of lofty ideas; my
head is clear--uplifted, I might say, to Olympian heights--like Pelion
piled on Ossa. Oh fair lady! you who are kindness itself, allow me to
ask you one question...!”

“Speak, you shameless toper; but first sit down, for I foresee the
moment when, if you do not, the chair will slide away on the polished
pavement and you will fall on the top of it.”

“You are right, mistress--and it is all in my knees! my miserable
legs--you are very right, the pavement is slippery. Why are pavements
so polished, I wonder? Very well, then I will sit down. Excuse me if I
seem to have some difficulty in doing so.--The gods have doomed the
fat to labor and sweat.--There, now I am seated.”

“By Lyaeus,[245] but you are a scandal! Here, even here, in the house
of Cinna, where temperance reigns supreme....”

“Temperance is good--I knew that long ago, fair Lucilia.--But now,
lend me your ear. Who--who--was that magnificent creature--that
splendidly-developed woman who sat at the end, quite at the bottom of
the table, not far from your worthy--your--what is her name--Baucis.
She wore a brown dress--an elegant bracelet clasped her arm....”

“Who can you mean?” asked Lucilia, looking round her; Herodianus also
looked about.

“There, there she is,” he whispered rapturously: “She is talking to
Ulpius Trajanus. Ye gods! what a form! what grace and dignity!”

Lucilia made a desperate effort and swallowed her laughter.

“That?” she said, irresistibly tempted to carry on the jest: “That
short, stout woman by the pillar?”

“Just going into the hall.”

“That is Chloe, who brought up our sweet friend Cornelia. She is a
native of Antium, the daughter of a freedman, six and thirty years of
age, unmarried, and possessor of a little fortune--what more can heart
desire? In truth, Herodianus, I admire your distinguished taste: that
round face, that short fat throat, that wide mouth--wider even than
mine--are these not heaven-sent gifts from Cypris herself?”

“To me she is divine. Past the first bud of youth, mature in body
and mind; Chloe stirs my soul to feelings, which till this hour I
had never appreciated. Fifty years old--and even now unblest with
the joys of family life! Oh Chloe! Chloe! If only you had crossed
my path earlier!... I ... I might not have drunk so much Caecubum
and Falernian! When Hymen opens his bosom to receive us, the rock of
offence fades away.... Alas mistress, if the spring-tide of life could
but blossom for me once more! If I could again rest my head on the
bosom of a loving woman...! Trajectum, city of my heart, home of my
youth! I remember to this day how my mother--for the last time--cut my
hair. It was up in the little corner room. How long, long ago! Oh! if
only I were away, far away from here! What have I left to live for in
this world? A cup of wine! Oh! woe is me!”

And he began to cry copiously, but noiselessly.

Lucilia thought it advisable to leave the man’s strange mood to run its
course. “Is it in earnest or a mere craze?” she thought, as she shook
her head. Then she danced off to join Cornelia, who was sitting under
the arcade, listening with half indifferent attention to the muttered
counsels of Baucis.

“What Pythian wisdom are you uttering now, O blue-robed Baucis?” asked
Lucilia, patting the slave-woman lightly on the shoulder.

“Wisdom that you would do well to profit by,” retorted Baucis. “A new
veil or an amusing book is, I know, dearer to you far than the most
sacred oracles.”

“Indeed? Who told you that? Chatter away in all confidence!--on the
contrary--if what you told me the other day about Barbillus,[246] the
priest of Isis, is true....”

“I was just speaking of that very thing. Our noble Cornelia is
astounded at the extraordinary miracle. Exactly at the very moment,
that Barbillus had foretold, I fell in a swoon, as he had said, and saw
the mysterious vision. I saw the goddess floating above me in shining
white. O, ye immortals! I knew of course that it was not she herself,
only her image in a dream; for how should Isis, the all powerful,
condescend to come down to me, a humble slave, and to speak with
me--and in Greek too! Still, I could almost have sworn that it was she,
I saw her so plainly--the folds of her silvery robe, and her noble and
gentle face, so lovely, oh, so lovely! as beautiful as you are, noble
Cornelia. No, I maintain it; I will never apply to any other priest
than Barbillus, the favorite of the gods. He will reveal my whole
future life to me--only think, noble Cornelia, for the ridiculously
small price of two hundred sesterces--but I did not happen to have so
much about me just then. Besides--what can I expect should happen to me
at my time of life? My dear Quintus has his sweet Cornelia; our darling
Claudia sooner or later--well, well, I meant nothing--and you, bright
Lucilia--I cannot be anxious about you. You bear your own happiness
in yourself. Well, so I said very humbly: ‘Oh! my lord,’ said I, ‘no
future lies before me. But I will tell the fair Cornelia, betrothed to
our Quintus, that you are a true prophet--our Cornelia, who is so full
of melancholy fancies, and who prays so fervently and humbly to the
beneficent goddess.’ Then Barbillus gave me this precious amulet.--It
is only made of horn, but the power that resides in it makes it
precious.”

Cornelia had listened to her in silence, and her face was as pale as
death.

“Listen,” she began after a pause: “You are advanced in age and rich
in experience, and for many a year you have had to do with the chosen
servants of the goddess. What do you advise me? Last night I had a
dream[247]--a mysterious dream. I was standing alone on a vast untilled
plain; everything was deserted and silent. There was not a tree, not a
shrub, not a herb--rotting bones and nothing else lay hideous on the
ground, but far away on the horizon shone the walls and towers of a
splendid town.”

“That is full of meaning,” observed Baucis.

“Listen to the end. As I gazed at the distant and radiant city, I
felt my heart swell with fervent and unspeakable longing. I struggled
breathlessly to get forwards, but my feet seemed rooted to the ground.
I was seized with terror, and trembling with fear I looked upwards;
there I saw Quintus, high above me, but coming across the waste like
Helios in the sun-chariot, and beckoning to me lovingly. I struggled, I
groaned, I screamed. In vain! I held up my hands and cried out with the
fervor of anguish: ‘Isis, mother of the universe! Isis, save me!’--But
the goddess was deaf. At last, after a long agony, I heard Chloe’s
voice; the good soul was standing by my bed. I awoke groaning....”

“A hideous dream,” said Baucis.

“And when I question my heart, it seems to me that it bodes evil.”

“Folly!” laughed Lucilia. “I have dreamed worse things than that a
hundred times, and no great event has ever happened to me. What does it
mean? Why, that you were lying uncomfortably, or had read something the
day before....”

Cornelia rose gravely.

“My dearest, you are not cross with me?” cried Lucilia following her.

“Not at all,” said Cornelia with a polite smile. “No, indeed, certainly
not,” she added less coldly, as her eyes met Lucilia’s affectionate
glance. “Come, let us be moving. Such discourse ill-beseems a festival,
and to-day is to be a festival, my birthday.”

Meanwhile Caius Aurelius had found a pretext--in agreement with his
promise to Cinna--for taking Quintus Claudius into his host’s study,
and a minute later Cinna himself came in, accompanied by Marcus
Cocceius Nerva.

“At last!” cried Cinna when all were seated. “It has been sticking in
my throat like a mouthful of poison. Quintus, you too must hear what I
have to say. The facts are perhaps known to you, for the house of Titus
Claudius is intimately allied with the palace....”

“I know nothing, I can assure you,” interrupted Quintus, somewhat
coldly.

“Well then, hear them now. I know you to be a young man of proved
courage and of excellent understanding.--Until now you have taken the
darkness for light and bitter for sweet, as not discerning them; your
father’s strong spirit has influenced you, and his errors of judgment
have descended to you. But now, my friend, use your own judgment, and
ask yourself on your honor: Is Rome still Rome?”

“You really excite my curiosity,” said the young man, with more reserve
than ever.

Cornelius Cinna shut the doors; then he went on in a mysterious and
trembling voice:

“It was last night. Happily for you, Nerva, your ailing health had
taken you into the country, and so saved you from the worst. I was
lying in bed, but I could not sleep; I was tormented by a ceaseless
whirl of confused thoughts, and was on the point of calling to
Charicles, that he might read to me. Suddenly I heard heavy blows
on the house door.... ‘Porter, wake up, make haste, a message from
Caesar!’”

Cocceius Nerva leaned forward eagerly in his chair; his breath came
quicker and deeper as he listened. Cornelius Cinna went on.

“My bedroom door was opened, so I heard every word. I heard the porter
refuse admittance. ‘Caesar requires your master’s presence at the
palace,’ said a voice outside. I sprang up and ordered him to open the
door. I had hardly time to throw on my toga, when Caesar’s messengers
came into the atrium--men at arms belonging to the praetorian guard.
‘Our god and master Domitian[248] requires you to attend immediately,’
said the officer. ‘Is the state in danger?’ I asked angrily. The
soldier shrugged his shoulders; ‘I do not know,’ he said; ‘our orders
are to fetch you; no reasons were given. Do not delay, noble Cinna, the
litter is at the door.’”

“Unheard-of!--” murmured Nerva, passing his fingers through his grey
hair.

“I wanted to refuse; my own chair and bearers were ready--‘That
will not do,’ said the soldier: ‘You are to come alone, with no
followers.’ Cinna without followers! I considered a moment, but
only for a moment--then I had decided.--The situation was serious,
I looked on the whole thing as a plot. ‘Caesar,’ said I to myself,
‘counts on your defying him, and hopes thus to find a pretext for your
destruction--long since determined on. He will avail himself of that.
He shrinks from dealing you an arbitrary blow for no reason at all, for
he knows that the Romans love you, and he dreads the public resentment.
Hence, if you refuse to obey, you will supply him with an excuse...!’
Well--I obeyed.... Cornelius Cinna obeyed! And after all it might
concern the weal or woe of the state.--As a precaution, however, I hid
a phial of poison in my dress and then I told the men at arms that I
was ready.”

“You acted very wisely,” said Cocceius Nerva.

“It was the wisdom of necessity. Now, listen to what seems incredible.
When I reached the palace, I was received by slaves dressed all in
black; they led me into a hall hung with black, where I found all the
leading men of the senate and of the knightly order assembled and
waiting in agonized expectation. They all, like me, had been abruptly
fetched from their beds and brought thither in litters sent by Caesar.
Presently we were desired to sit down, and a black column was placed
in front of each man, with his name engraved upon it. Two sepulchral
lamps were then lighted and youths, dressed in black, performed a
solemn dance, and a funeral banquet,[249] served on black dishes,
closed the hideous farce. Caesar himself, calm and haughty, took the
head of the table. Every one seemed paralyzed; each one expected to
meet his death the next instant. Sextus, who sat by my side, was
sobbing like a woman. I whispered to him to be calm--that the whole
thing was a mere brutal jest, but he was not to be convinced and broke
into tears.”

“He is but a coward--I know him well!” said Nerva.

“A stammering child! As for me, I really do not know myself, what gave
me a conviction from the very first, that we were in no danger. Caesar
would talk of nothing but things which referred to death and murder
and yet, in spite of that, my confidence grew each moment. But I was
burning with rage, with revengeful fury, that I could scarcely control
or conceal.”

“I wonder indeed that you could bear it,” cried Nerva, drawing a deep
breath. “Knowing you as I do, it is nothing less than a miracle.”

“A miracle indeed! But the Fates would not have it that Cornelius
Cinna should fall into so stupid a trap.--I mastered myself. At last
Caesar rose from the table and dismissed us, and the guard escorted us
home again.--I was choking with shame and wrath. What am I, my friend
Nerva, that I am to submit to such treatment? Am I a Roman or no? Am
I Cornelius Cinna--or a slave, a dog? Was such base buffoonery ever
heard of even under a Nero, or Caligula? Nay, my endurance is at an
end! Sooner would I be a street porter in the meanest suburb,[250] than
remain senator under the burden of this intolerable yoke!”

He sank back in his chair with a groan, and covered his face. There was
a long pause, which Quintus was the first to break.

“What!” he said with a scowl. “Did Caesar dare to do such things? I
have long known, that he was liable to fits of extravagant whims and
fancies, but--as I understood--only in his treatment of the foes of the
throne. I believed in the wisdom of my venerable and learned father,
when he assured me that some injustice, both apparent and real, was
inevitable in the conduct of so vast an empire; that the good of the
commonwealth was paramount over the fate of individuals.--But now, by
the gods, Cinna! but if your indignation has not painted the picture
too darkly....”

“Too darkly!” exclaimed Cinna starting up. “To be sure, you are the son
of Titus Claudius. But hear me to the end. Hardly had Charicles once
more put out the lamp, when I again heard a knocking at the door. Would
you believe it? another message from Caesar. His gracious majesty this
time sent me the fellow who had led the dance in black as a present,
and begged to know how I had liked the midnight supper. By the great
name of Brutus! A tipsy reveller never spurned a beggar with more utter
contempt;[251] in the first burst of anger I could have flung the boy
on the ground. But I recollected myself. Cornelius Cinna will never let
the weapon atone for the arm that wields it....”

Nerva rose and clasped his excited and angry friend in his arms.

“Be calm,” he said in a deep voice. Then, going up to Quintus he said
loftily:

“And you, noble youth, give me your right hand in pledge of silence!
Not that Cornelius Cinna has said anything that need shun the light of
day--but you know the danger to which freedom of speech is exposed. His
indignation and bitter feeling must remain a secret....”

“A secret? and why? To-morrow I propose seeing Caesar at his great
reception. I will hear from his own lips the meaning of this mysterious
midnight banquet. I will insist on satisfaction for Cinna....”

“Madman, what are you thinking of?” cried Nerva horrified.

“Of my duty--rely on my discretion. Caesar owes something to me....”

“Domitian owes you something!” laughed Cinna scornfully. “Do you not
know, that he hates those most who have rendered him a service? Do not
I know it by my own experience?”

“It is worth trying, at any rate,” said Quintus. “But now allow me to
breathe the fresh air; I am suffocating in here.” And as he spoke he
unbarred the door and quitted the room.

“You must dissuade him!” said Nerva, as the door closed upon him.

“He is mad,” said Cinna. Then, turning to Aurelius, he went on:
“You, my friend, go now and mingle with the guests. Amuse yourself,
refresh and rest yourself. You are young, and youth claims its dues.
To-morrow--you know--at the house of Afranius....”

“Yes, I know,” answered Aurelius, drawing a deep breath, “and I thank
you, noble friends, for honoring me by admitting me to your society and
confidence.”

He went slowly out into the atrium, where the darkness was but dimly
broken by a few lamps hanging under the colonnade. A cold chill fell
on his heart, for, from the peristyle, he heard a girl’s voice singing
a graceful melody to the chords of a cithara. It was the same air that
had charmed his heart before now, at Baiae--the Spring song of Ibycus;
it was the same voice--the voice of his beautiful, adored and peerless
Claudia. These few weeks had wrought an entire change in him. He had
been unresistingly drawn into the vortex of two engulfing passions.
On one hand was the noble girl whom he worshipped and perhaps might
never win, on the other were the proud nobles--men inspired with the
most fervid patriotism, who had taken him spellbound as by some sacred
magic; the champions of liberty, of manly dignity, of proud Roman
virtue, among a degenerate rabble of slaves. What a storm and whirl of
feeling in the present, and what a struggle to be fought in the future!

He stood still to listen; a faint murmur coming up through the peaceful
night, was all that could be heard of the tumult of the busy city that
surrounded them, and the sweet girlish voice rose clear and strong--as
pure and holy as though in all the earth there was no such thing as
sorrow, as remorse and crime. The song, as it soared up fresh and
strong from the innocent soul, seemed to rise to heaven in atonement
for the infinite wickedness of the two million souls in the city, and
for the foul and bloody deeds of its tyrants. Aurelius quivered in
every nerve, and tears sprang to his eyes; but he instantly struck his
breast resolutely and defiantly, and dashing his hand across his wet
lashes, went through the corridor into the peristyle.


FOOTNOTES:

 [237] M. ULPIUS TRAJANUS, born September 18th, A.D. 53, at Italica
       in Spain, obtained the consulship in the year 91.

 [238] CUPID AND PSYCHE. The story of Cupid and Psyche was the
       primeval prototype of Cinderella and a thousand other gems of
       primitive poetry, and was familiar in nurseries of every rank
       long before Appuleius cast it into shape, availing himself no
       doubt of several traditional versions. “Once upon a time there
       were a king and queen, who had three beautiful daughters,”
       (_Erant in quadam civitate rex et regina; hi tres numero
       filias forma conspicuas habuere_,) was no doubt as favorite a
       legend with the children of that age as with ours.

 [239] IN THE FORUM, that is in the basilica situated in the forum.

 [240] BASILICA, (βασιλική _scil. domus_ or _porticus_--royal house)
       a magnificent public building, used for holding courts of law,
       or transacting commercial business, and thus at the same time
       a court-house and exchange. Above were seats for the spectators.
       The basilicas consisted of a central nave and two side ones,
       divided from the former by columns. After Constantine the Great
       had transformed numerous basilicas into churches, the name and
       style of architecture became associated with the latter.

 [241] THEOGNIS. An elegiac poet from Attic Megara, who lived B.C.
       520. The lines here quoted by Lucilia may be found _Eleg._
       1323, and in the original text run:

          Κυπρογένη, παῦσόν με πόνων, σκέδασον δὲ μερίμνας
          Θυμοβόρους, στρέφου δ’ἁυθις ἐς εὐφροσύνας.

 [242] OLD SINNER! Lucilia here speaks in the tone of the old Latin
       comedies (_Plautus_, _Terence_).

 [243] MATHEMATICIAN. The usual name of the (principally Chaldean)
       astrologers.

 [244] ALL THINGS FLOW AWAY! (πάντα ῥεῖ) asserted the philosopher
       Heraclitus of Ephesus, (460 B.C.) called on account of his
       obscurity, “the dark.”

 [245] LYAEUS (Λυαῖο), the deliverer, the care-dispeller, a name
       given Bacchus.

 [246] BARBILLUS. An astrologer of this name is mentioned. Dio Cass,
       LXVI, 9.

 [247] LAST NIGHT I HAD A DREAM. Faith in the prophetic character
       of dreams was universal in Rome; their interpretation was a
       regular profession. A surprising example of the seriousness
       with which the representatives of this “profession” regarded
       their calling, is furnished in the dream-book of the
       (undoubtedly sincere) Artemidorus, (Daldianus.) If Lucilia
       laughs at Cornelia’s fears, it is a piece of free-thinking
       which did not often happen, and springs rather from a merry,
       saucy mood, than the deeper source of a philosophical
       conviction.

 [248] OUR GOD AND MASTER DOMITIAN. The emperor Domitian ordered
       himself to be called, “God and Master.” Suet, _Dom._ 13.

 [249] FUNERAL BANQUET. The story of the nocturnal summons to the
       senators and knights is related by Dio Cassius (LXVII, 9.)

 [250] THE MEANEST SUBURB. Butuntum, a little city in Apulia, now
       Bitonto, is used by Martial (_Ep._ II, 48 and IV, 55) as a
       synonym for “quiet provincial town,” as the inhabitants of
       Berlin say: “Treuenbrietzen” or “Perleberg.”

 [251] UTTER CONTEMPT. One of the principal amusements of gay young
       men was to play pranks in the streets at night, usually on
       the proletarii. A special favorite was the _Sagatio_, which
       consisted in putting some unfortunate wight in a cloak, and
       tossing him up and down like Sancho Panza.



                              CHAPTER XII.


It was the middle of the second vigil--between ten and eleven o’clock
at night by our reckoning of time--and the house of Cornelius Cinna was
sunk in silent repose. The lamp in the peristyle was extinguished, and
the last guests--Claudia, Lucilia and Quintus--had left about half an
hour since....

There was a sound of steps in the colonnade--soft, cautious, and
mysterious. Two women wrapped in large cloaks went to the back
door,[252] followed by a sturdy slave.

“Oh! my sweet mistress,” whispered Chloe, as she opened the little
gate, “you may believe it or not, but my knees shake beneath me. If
your uncle were to discover us...! It would be the death of me!”

“Silence!” replied Cornelia. “My uncle is sound asleep. And even if he
were to find out....”

“Oh yes! I know very well, you are not afraid of his anger. And in
fact what could he do to you? But I--ye merciful gods!--Are you quite
certain that the priest expects us?”

“Perfectly certain. Aspasia brought me a quite distinct message.”

“Well then--I wash my hands in innocence. It is fearfully dark out
here--I shall be truly thankful, if nothing dreadful happens to us.”

“Silly thing! The Temple of Isis is quite near at hand, and Parmenio is
with us.”

Chloe closed the door behind her and sighed deeply; still she made
one more attempt to stop her mistress. “Must it be to-day?” she said
plaintively.

“Yes, this very hour. When the day is done in which the dream was seen,
the seer’s power is gone. You heard Baucis say so.”

“Baucis!” said Chloe contemptuously.

“She only repeated the priest’s words. Make haste; minutes are
precious. Go in front, my good Parmenio.”

They went down the street and turned to the right along a narrow alley,
which zigzagged between high walls and led them to the back of the
temple of Isis. They presently reached the vestibule of Barbillus,
where a slave was waiting behind the door with a gilt lantern; he bowed
low and led them, without speaking a word, to an upper room.

Barbillus--a man of marked eastern type, handsome and tall, with waving
locks, like an oriental Zeus--received his guests with an admirable
combination of affability and dignified reserve. He desired Chloe
and the astonished slave to wait in an outer room, while he opened a
side door and led the way into another. Cornelia followed him with a
beating heart, through a perfect labyrinth of dimly-lighted rooms and
corridors, till at length they came into a hall mysteriously fitted
up as a sanctuary, and well calculated to impress the senses with a
magical spell. Dark curtains, embroidered with dead silver, hung over
the walls on every side, and in a niche, on a silver pedestal, sat a
statue of the goddess closely wrapped in veils, while, to the right and
left of the figure, magnificent censers stood on brazen tripods. A lamp
hanging from the star-spangled ceiling cast a ghostly blue light on the
scene.

“Pray here, my daughter,” said Barbillus in a deep voice; “beseech the
all-merciful mother of the universe to enlighten our spirits; mine,
that I may see and speak, thine, that thou mayest hear and learn. I
will leave thee to meditate alone, fair Cornelia.” And he quitted the
room, slowly closing the tapestried door.

Hardly had he left her, when Cornelia sank on her knees in fervent
devotion. The mystical surroundings, the dim blue light, the perfume of
incense,[253] which loaded the air with stupifying sweetness, and the
veiled and silent presence of the divinity--all combined to impress her
profoundly. Her heart was full to bursting.

Suddenly the air was filled with a sound as of the music of the
spheres. A delicious harmony seemed to proceed from the walls, the
floor beneath her, and the statue itself, and to cradle her soul in
lulling witchery; while, at the same instant, pale tongues of flame
broke out over the two censers and danced fitfully, but, as it seemed,
lovingly up to the shrouded goddess.

“Isis! O Isis!” sobbed the girl, raising her snowy arms to the
divinity. “First-born of the ages![254] Highest among the Immortals!
Sovereign lady of departed souls! One and perfect revelation of all
the gods and goddesses! Almighty Queen, whose nod the heavens and
earth obey! Eternal Power, who art blest under a thousand forms and
by a thousand names, by the sages of every land! Hear, O hear me! I
have all thou canst bestow of earthly joys; I am young, fair and rich,
and have the love of the noblest and best heart that beats among the
youth of Rome! And yet, one thing is lacking to me, O Goddess! One
thing, which I crave of thy mercy with floods of tears: Peace, inward,
all-sufficient peace of heart. Isis! mother of heaven, hear me! Over
my head there lowers a forecast of evil; my spirit wanders groping
in darkness. Thou hast sent me a dream, a warning; but alas! thine
ignorant child strives in vain to read it.--Teach me thyself to know
thy will; reveal thyself to me! Give me peace and the calm beatitude,
the grace of heaven! Save, oh! save me! All that I dare call mine
must ere long fade.--The storms of time must sweep it away! Give me
salvation, the true love which is eternal! Isis, all-loving Isis, have
pity on me!”

The goddess’s veil was lifted a little from her face; half-appalled,
half-fascinated, Cornelia gazed up at it. A tender radiance like
moonlight fell upon the pale, marble features, and a benevolent smile
parted the lips. But before the tremulous worshipper was fully aware of
what was happening, the light vanished, the veil was softly dropped--it
was all gone like a dream, and the music as suddenly ceased. Cornelia
was aware of a violent shock as of an earthquake. Hardly mistress
of herself, she closed her eyes and pressed her forehead against
the pedestal of the statue. When she looked up again, Barbillus was
standing by her side in a white robe[255] made of byssus tissue, and he
smiled as he held out his hand to her.

“The goddess has heard your prayer,” he said in an agitated voice.
“Tell me now what the vision was, and listen to the words of her
servant.”

As he spoke he drew the curtain aside from a studded door, and led
Cornelia up a narrow stair to an attic room, where he carefully closed
the shutters and desired Cornelia to be seated on a couch. No sooner
had she obeyed, than the tapers on a small altar were lighted--as the
censers before had been--without any visible agency.

Barbillus knelt down, bowing his face over a sacred book which lay
unrolled between the tapers, and he remained in this position, while
Cornelia related her dream. Then, after putting up a silent prayer, he
suddenly went up to the girl, bending down over her in such a way that
she could perceive the small tonsure[256] on the crown of his head in
the middle of his dark curls.

“Daughter!” he said, as he drew himself up again, “your dream betokens
no good. A fatality is hovering over you and yours, which can only be
averted by the direct intervention of the goddess. To this end it is
needful that you should, for the next four weeks, bring an offering
daily at the same hour as to-night. Gold, incense and roses are
pleasing in the eyes of the divinity.”

“I knew it, oh! I knew it,” groaned Cornelia. “Not for nothing has my
heart been held in a cold and deathlike grasp! But, tell me, what is
the meaning of the desert place, of the shining city, and of my lover’s
appearance?”

“All this I will tell you, when the month is out. Trust me, daughter,
and do that which you are enjoined.”

“Oh! I will do it!” cried Cornelia ecstatically, and she pressed the
priest’s hand to her lips. “My pearls, my jewels--everything will
I sacrifice joyfully, if only I may appease Fate. Ah! my lord, you
could never, never guess how sad my soul is! Tell me only one thing, I
entreat you, does the danger threaten me through my beloved Quintus?”

The priest closed his eyes.

“I dare not answer you,” he said with an effort. “My part is only to
announce inevitable doom; when I am still permitted to hope that the
favor of the all-gracious mother may yet prevail, silence is the first
duty of my office.”

“Well then, I must submit. Meanwhile--as a proof of my infinite
gratitude--accept this trifling offering. Pray for me, Barbillus,
intercede for me with the almighty goddess.”

She gave him a costly brooch set with rubies, emeralds and
chrysolites,[257] and as she stood--her eyes cast down in maidenly
shyness--she did not see the flash of greed that sparkled under the
Asiatic’s long fine lashes, giving place immediately to the lofty and
dignified expression, that usually characterized him.

“Thanks, my daughter,” he said graciously. “I will offer the gifts
on the shrine of the goddess. And you too, my child, do not fail to
entreat the immortals that all may yet be well.”

He gave her his hand, and led her by a circuitous route back again to
the anteroom, where Parmenio stood in a corner, as upright as a soldier
on guard, while Chloe had gone to sleep in her comfortable seat.
“Come,” said Cornelia, shaking her by the shoulder.

Chloe started up.

“You have been a long time,” she exclaimed. “It cannot be far short of
midnight.”

Just as the three were about to step out into the street again, a
female form flew past them, and close behind, puffing and panting, ran
a man, while farther away, where the streets crossed, they heard loud
laughter.

“Give it up, the roe is too fleet!” cried a coarse bass voice, and the
pursuer turned on his heel, while two other men slowly came to meet
him. All three were wrapped in thick cloaks,[258] with the hoods pulled
down in spite of the heat. For a second Cornelia hesitated; then she
boldly went forth and walked past the strange trio. They were talking
together in an undertone, and yet not so softly but that Cornelia could
hear a few words.

“By Pluto!” said one. “There goes a beauty! I saw her face, as the
boy’s lantern lighted it up.”

“Aphrodite is gracious,” said the second, “to give us a substitute for
the one who has escaped. I am just in the mood for an adventure. Let us
follow the fair one.”

Cornelia hastened her step, but before she had reached the main road
she was surrounded.

“Well, pretty pigeon,” a harsh voice croaked in her ear. “Out and about
so late! And where are you flying, if I am allowed to ask?”

Cornelia was at once aware, that these were not highway plunderers,
but idle adventurers, and evidently men of rank and position. This at
once restored her presence of mind, and she walked on faster than ever.
But in vain. The man who had addressed her, a stout figure of medium
height, with an extraordinarily confident and swaggering address, came
close up to her and laid his left hand on her shoulder to detain her.
Furious indignation boiled in her soul; she shook herself free and
stood still.

“Parmenio,” she said resolutely, “as you love your life, do as I bid
you--I, the niece of the illustrious Cornelius Cinna. The first man who
dares to lay a finger on the hem of this robe--strike him dead.”

“That can be done in no time!” cried Parmenio, taking the bold intruder
by the throat. The other two started back as if struck by lightning.

“Mad fool, you shall die on the cross!” shrieked the man he had
seized, directing a well-aimed blow with his fist. The slave dropped
his arm in terror. There was a ring of such wild and tiger-like
ferocity in the harsh tones, that the sturdy nature of the man was for
the moment paralyzed. Cornelia and Chloe meanwhile had reached the
high-road; Parmenio caught them up in a few strides, and they reached
home safely under cover of the darkness.

“You helpless idiots!” exclaimed the worsted victim, feeling at his
throat. “What do you mean by staring as if it were a good joke, when
a villain throttles me? You, Clodianus, have I loaded you with every
honor and heaps of gold, that you should leave me in the lurch in this
fashion? Take that for your loutish cowardice!”

And Domitian flew at him with the fury of a panther, and struck him a
tremendous blow in the face. Clodianus shrank back.

“Forgive me!” he stammered, groaning with pain and rage. “I was so
confounded at the man’s daring....”

“Away! traitor.--Never let me set eyes on you again.”

“Nay, pardon, my lord!” entreated the other, forgetting all else in
his dread of losing his place. “Pardon and grace, my lord and god, I
beseech thee. Do not withdraw thy favors from the most faithful of thy
servants.”

“Yes, my lord and god,” added Parthenius, the chamberlain. “Forgive us,
for nothing but reverence and consternation could have betrayed us into
such a crime. Do not let it spoil a jovial night. It is the first time
for long, that we have wandered through the streets in disguise, and
shall a spiteful accident....”

“You are right,” interrupted the Emperor. “I was in the best of
humors....”

“Then bid it return. Even his moods must surely obey the sovereign,
whose sway extends over the whole world....”

“Curse it all! To think that of all women in the world.... Cinna’s
niece?... I did not even know, that the old fool had a niece. Whose
house had she come out of?”

“That of Barbillus, the priest of Isis.”

“Ah ha! One of the praying ninnies, that the juggler knows how to
beguile so well! Capital! The girl pleases me. I should like--if it
were only to spite the old curmudgeon--I hate Cinna like poison. He
wants a lesson--he always carries his head as high as a conqueror in
a triumph. As if it were not in my power to see those haughty iron
features flung in the dust at my feet--Parthenius, we will talk of
that, again. But now, away with all gloomy reflections, and long live
folly!”

“Thanks, all thanks!” cried Clodianus, kissing the sovereign’s hand.

“Pull the hood over my face, so--now my cloak over my chin--and we
will go back into the streets. I should like to see the man, who
can discover Caesar in such a guise. We must find an adventure yet,
Parthenius--[259] some mad and absurd diversion, if it were only that
the lips, which pronounce the fate of nations, should kiss some swarthy
negress.”[260]

He led the way, and the others followed. Domitian did not see how his
companions clenched their fists under their cloaks, nor hear the bitter
curses, hardly uttered by their quivering lips.


FOOTNOTES:

 [252] THE BACK DOOR. (_Posticum_) was the name given to the little
       door, leading from the back of the cavaedium or peristyle to
       the street.

 [253] PERFUME OF INCENSE. Incense (_thus_) was generally used not
       only in the temple of Isis, but at the ceremonies attending
       the offering of sacrifices in the Roman national worship. It
       was the resin from an Arabian tree, and the so-called liquid
       incense was considered the best.

 [254] FIRST-BORN OF THE AGES. The invocation to the goddess Isis
       is partly borrowed from the metamorphoses of Appuleius (XI,
       5) where the goddess calls herself: “first-born of all the
       centuries, highest of the gods, queen of the Manes, princess
       of the heavenly powers,” etc., repeating the names under which
       she is revered throughout the world.

 [255] WHITE ROBE. The priests of Isis wore light robes, usually of
       linen (_linum_) from which the goddess is called in Ovid:
       “Isis in linen garments,” (_Isis linigera_). Byssus is a kind
       of cotton.

 [256] SMALL TONSURE. The ancient Oriental custom of shaving the
       crown of the head was enjoined upon the priests of Isis.
       Herodotus, II, 37.

 [257] RUBIES, EMERALDS AND CHRYSOLITES. In ancient times the
       chrysolite ranked next to the diamond among precious stones.
       The finest came from Scythia. Next to the emerald, the beryl
       and opal were highly esteemed. (Plin. _Hist. Nat._ XXXVII, 85.)

 [258] ALL THREE WERE WRAPPED IN THICK CLOAKS. The lacerna, the
       outer garment worn over the toga, not infrequently had a hood
       (_cucullus_).

 [259] WE MUST FIND AN ADVENTURE YET, PARTHENIUS. Such nocturnal
       rambles incognito were not at all unusual among aristocratic
       gentlemen. The incident is not expressly related of Domitian,
       but is told of Nero, Suet. _Ner._ 26, where the author says:
       “As soon as night came, he put on a hat or cap, went to the
       taverns and roamed about the streets, only in jest, it is
       true, but not without working mischief.” Domitian’s encounter
       with the slave Parmenio has its counterpart in an adventure of
       Nero, who once, assailing a noble lady, was almost beaten to
       death by her husband. (Suet.)

 [260] SWARTHY NEGRESS. See Suet. _Dom._ 22, where it is stated that
       the emperor now and then associated with the lowest wenches.



                             CHAPTER XIII.


At the hour when Cornelia was setting out on her expedition to the
temple of Isis, Lucilia and Claudia, escorted by their brother, reached
home. The Flamen was still at work in his study; his grave and anxious
face could be seen through the half-open door, bowed over his table.
Even the sound of steps, which rang through the silence of the atrium,
did not interrupt his busy labors.

Quintus hesitated; he would gladly have gone in to embrace his father,
but after brief reflection he decided not to interrupt his late
studies. He bid his sisters good-night, waved his hand affectionately
towards the motionless figure that leaned over the desk, and left the
house. His slaves and freedmen were waiting for him outside.

“All go home!” he said shortly.

His people were accustomed to his moods, and no one was surprised. But
Blepyrus reminded him, with a shudder, of the attack in the Cyprius
street.

“Fear nothing,” replied Quintus; “I am armed. Besides, who could
expect to meet me to-night in the streets.”

So his followers went on their way through the _Forum Romanum_, which
was still crowded with people, while Quintus turned northwards across
the _Circus Flaminius_[261] and the Field of Mars. He soon found
himself in the heart of that city of marble, which Caesar Augustus had
created here as if by magic. A sombre blue overarched the labyrinth of
pillars and domes, of friezes and statues, of groves and glades, where
by day such motley crowds were busy. No light but the pale glimmer of
the stars--whose mist-veiled brightness gave warning of the autumn
rains--fell on the chaos of ill-defined forms; the moon had not yet
risen. Utter solitude, utter silence prevailed. The listener could
almost fancy he heard the rush of the river Tiber past the piers of the
Aelian Bridge[262]--or was it only the plash of water in one of the
many aqueducts[263] which, at that time, were so splendid a feature of
the city?--A mysterious dreamy whisper!

Possessed by the sense of this stilly solitude, Quintus Claudius went
on till nearly on the shore of the river. Under the avenues of trees it
was blackly dark, and the air came up chill and damp from the stream;
Quintus shivered slightly. Then he turned off in the direction of
the _Via Lata_--the Broad Way, now the Corso. He did not know what
mysterious influence had driven him out into the darkness and silence.
He had felt as though he must fly from the vast mass of Rome, from its
numberless market-places, its proud temples and basilicas--and now
he was seized with homesickness for the familiar, beloved and hated
hive of two million human souls. He shook himself. All that was most
dissatisfied and contradictory in his nature rose clearly before his
conscience. It was exactly in this way, that he had worked through all
the systems of philosophy in turn--now flying from what at first he
had eagerly run after, and now craving for what he had but just cast
from him; one day an enthusiastic disciple of Epicurus, and the next
a follower of the Stoics. But in neither of these views of the world
could he find rest and refreshment for his truth-seeking soul. Zeno’s
contempt for all the joys of life seemed artificial to his ardent and
poetic fancy, while the method and practice of Epicurus, ingeniously
wreathing the mouth of the pit with roses to cover the depths below,
stirred in him an irresistible impulse to sound those depths. That
old Sphinx we call Life offered him a fresh riddle at every step,
while forever denying all possibility of answering them. Thus, by
degrees, he had wandered into that moral _Via Lata_--that broad way
along which almost every educated Roman of that day walked, for better
or for worse; that path of sceptical indifference, which made short
work of every metaphysical belief, and lived so literally from day to
day. Only a few men, like Titus Claudius the Flamen, clung to the old
Latin religion and fulfilled its precepts in their highest sense, and
so had effected a compromise with the needs of the times; most men
looked down with contempt on the myths of popular belief without,
however, being able to replace them by anything better. Nay, even the
women of the educated class found no satisfaction in the worship they
had inherited; they turned in crowds to the mystical rites of the old
Egyptian goddess Isis, to whom a number of magnificent temples had been
erected so early as at the time of the first Caesars. Quintus himself
had drank of that shallow stream, but had found no comfort in it.

The shortest way to the house of Thrax Barbatus would have been across
the Alta Semita[264] and past the temple on the Quirinal. But Quintus
made a détour; after his late experiences he was anxious to avoid the
less deserted streets; and not merely because fate had made him the
accomplice in a deed, which by the laws of Rome was punished with the
utmost severity; he could now no longer doubt that Eurymachus, Thrax
Barbatus and Euterpe were attached to the sect of Nazarenes, and just
at this very time the most stringent measures were in contemplation
to suppress the disciples of the Nazarene. Indeed, if his father’s
views met with approbation in the Senate, nothing short of a regular
persecution must ensue. In that case his share in the escape and rescue
of a Christian slave might very likely be construed as treason against
the safety of the state; and though Quintus felt no fears as to what
might be the issue for himself, the thought of his father’s grief
filled him with anxiety.

He wrapped himself more closely in his ample cloak, and looked
cautiously about him as he hastened along the northwestern declivity
of the Quirinal hill. A company of the city-guard marched past him
with an echoing tread, the smoke of their torches[265] blew hot in his
face, but no one noticed or recognized him. The streets grew narrower
and more tortuous, the houses more squalid, the whole neighborhood
was visibly plebeian. At last he reached the old wall,[266] built--so
tradition said--by Servius Tullius; this quarter, in the time of
the emperors, was of the worst repute in all Rome. Quintus stole
cautiously along under the wall, for a few drinking-shops were still
open and busy. Wretched girls from Syria and Gades here plied their
shameful trade by the light of flickering clay lamps, while wrinkled
and watery-eyed old hags poured the muddy wine of Veii[267] out of
red jugs. Drunken men lay snoring under the tables, and coarse songs
were roared out from hoarse throats, half-drowned, however, by the
uproarious shouts of two fellows who were playing the favorite game of
odd and even[268] with copper coins.

Suddenly the noise became three times louder than ever; there was a
wild uproar, and piercing shrieks. The gamblers had fallen out over
their petty stakes. After a short squabble one had drawn his knife on
the other and stabbed him in the side. The wounded man fell, howling,
on the ground and the assassin took to his heels. But the dancing
girls, heedless of the catastrophe, began at once to rattle their
castanets once more, and sway and whirl in their disgraceful pantomime.

Quintus hurried on, filled with loathing. Never had the heartless
turmoil of the great capital seemed so hideous as at this moment,
in this obscure lair of humanity. Was not this squalid tragedy a
reflection of all Rome--of the vast and mighty metropolis, with all
its crimes, its contempt for the suffering of others, its mad lust of
pleasure? It was but a short while since he had witnessed the very
same scene, with more splendid surroundings and distinguished actors.
For, had the events in Lycoris’s garden been at all less horrible? Had
not a man lain there too, bleeding and dying, while a prostitute--aye!
for the brilliant and elegant Gaul was nothing else--had bewitched a
heartless crowd by her fascinations? There, no doubt, were all the
splendor and luxury of wealth--here the foul brutality of misery; but,
at the bottom, they were the self-same thing, at the bottom each was a
sign, easy to read, of degeneracy, decrepitude and decay.

And suddenly Quintus felt transported, as it were, from the life
which surrounded him, into a new and unfamiliar atmosphere and light;
and, strangest thing of all, that light seemed to shine forth from a
pale face that he had seen but twice in his life; from the face of
the humble and despised slave, who had so loftily smiled down on his
persecutors and executioners. Could it be that such a thing existed as
some supernatural magic? Or was it only admiration for the fortitude of
a heroic nature?

It was about midnight, when Quintus reached the house the flute-player
had described to him. It was one of those tall, ill-constructed
houses,[269] built by speculators to let in floors, and which abounded
in the poorer parts of the city to the great risk of the public. Fairly
substantial as to the ground floor, story towered over story till the
topmost floor consisted of a single room, hardly better than a booth
built of boards at a fair. The walls were cracked and sprung in many
places, and here and there, where the wretched structure threatened to
fall, the inhabitants had tried to prop them with beams, thus adding to
their unsafe appearance.

The musician met the young man at the entrance; ninety steps--which,
but for Euterpe’s little lamp, he could never have mounted without
mishap--led him to her habitation.

“Stop here!” said Euterpe, as Quintus was about to go up to the topmost
floor. “Thrax Barbatus does not live quite under the tiles;”[270] and
as she spoke she knocked at a door. Thrax Barbatus opened it, looking
calm, almost cheerful.

Quintus entered a room, of which the neat and comfortable aspect
quite delighted him. A three-branched lamp hung from the low ceiling;
the walls were neatly colored of a reddish brown; small, but
beautifully-executed paintings of flowers and fruit, showed brightly
and prettily against this background. The floor was covered by a
carpet, somewhat worn, but so handsome as to tell of better days in the
past. A table, a chair, a few low seats and a small chest of dark oak
composed the furniture--humble, no doubt, in the eyes of a Roman of
rank, but still much better than Quintus had expected after climbing to
such a height.

“You are welcome to your servant’s house,” said the old man, to whom
Quintus gave his hand. “We have looked for you with longing. I was
almost afraid you might have repented....”

“You had my word that I should come,” said Quintus.

He sat down on a wooden bench, and Thrax Barbatus went to a door at the
other end of the room, which he opened and called out: “Glauce.”

In a few minutes a young girl came into the room. Her face was sweet
and pleasing, but bore traces of weeping; her brown hair fell loosely
over her shoulders, and her tunic was ungirdled. Worn out with the
anxiety and grief of the last few days, she had sunk on her bed and
fallen asleep, and now, standing in the door-way, dazzled by the light
and confused by the presence of the noble stranger, she was a pretty
picture of maidenly bashfulness and timidity.

“Come, my sweet child, and welcome the protector of Eurymachus,” Thrax
began in caressing tones; “this noble youth is Quintus Claudius, the
friend of the helpless. He will save the persecuted victim, and obtain
his freedom from Stephanus, and procure him Caesar’s pardon.”

Glauce stood motionless for a moment; a faint flush tinged her cheeks.
Then, weeping loudly, she flung herself into her father’s arms and hid
her face on his shoulder. Euterpe, meanwhile, had set a wine-jar and a
dish of fruit on the table.

“It is but little, but heartily offered,” she said smiling, “and after
your late walk you will not refuse such slight refreshment.”

Then, taking a pine-log from the hearth-place, she struck the floor
three times at short intervals.

She listened--all was still.

“He is asleep,” she said to Thrax, who had soothed his daughter’s sobs,
and now took a seat by the brightly-lighted table.

“He has earned it!” said Glauce.

Euterpe repeated the knocking, and this time with better success. Some
one could be heard moving below. In two minutes the stairs creaked, and
a weather-tanned figure of middle height cautiously entered the room.
Euterpe met him and respectfully introduced him to Quintus. “This,
my lord, is my husband,” she said modestly. “He too had a share in
the bold attempt in the park, for he has the greatest reverence for
Eurymachus.”

“To be sure--I recognize you! It was you, who offered the fugitive your
arm to help him up the narrow path to the top of the ridge.”

Diphilus gazed astonished into the young man’s face.

“It is true, my lord,” he said hesitatingly. “But how should you know
that?”

“Oh! I was nigh at hand. If I had come forward, I could easily have
stopped the way.”

Diphilus sank on to the seat by the side of Thrax with an expression
of unconcealed astonishment, fixing his eyes on the young man’s face,
as if to stamp the features of this mysterious ally indelibly on his
memory.

Thrax Barbatus now solemnly extended his bony hand over the table, like
a speaker beginning his discourse. Then he said in a low voice:

“Above all, my friends, remember that in Rome every stone has eyes
and ears,[271] and the thin walls of a lodging-house are as good as a
spider’s web to the spy.”

The flute-player drew closer to her husband’s side.

“It is only too true,” she said with a sigh, “I could almost have
sworn....”

“What?” asked Diphilus.

“That our pursuers are on our traces already.”[272]

“How?”

“Nay, it is only my feeling about it. I am always in a state of mortal
terror.”

Thrax Barbatus shook his head doubtfully. “Your fears are unfounded,”
he said emphatically. “Not a man in Rome knows of our intimate
relations with Eurymachus. My poor son, who left his home when he was
hardly more than a boy and did not return for twenty years, when his
own rather scarcely recognized him--no, Euterpe, the still face of the
dead will betray nothing.” He passed his hand over his eyes.

“I know,” replied the flute-player. “And yet....”

“What is it?” asked the old man glancing hurriedly round.

“Alas!” said Euterpe, “I am afraid I was rash. Scold me, but I could
not help it; when I heard that Philippus had been buried in the ground
set apart for criminals and outcasts,[273] my heart was fairly broken,
and I vowed that his grave should not be left bare of some pious
offering. So this evening, at the end of the first vigil, I stole out
to the Esquiline hill, carrying a consecrated palm-branch hidden in
my dress to lay on his grave. I found it after a short search, laid
the palm upon it, said a short prayer, and came away. Suddenly I heard
steps and voices; I hurried on, but they followed me, and as chance
would have it I met a litter with torch-bearers. The light fell full
on my face, though I turned away. At the same moment I heard one of
the men, who followed me, begin to run. Then I was seized with mortal
terror; by the temple of Isis in the _Via Moneta_[274] I turned off to
the left, and ran so fast into the next street, that I could hardly
get out of the way of two women, who were at that instant coming out.
The darkness protected me; I escaped and got home by a roundabout way.
If the men who followed me were the city-watch, it does not matter.
But supposing they were some of Stephanus’ people; they all knew me
at Baiae, where I often played before their master. Oh! tell me, most
illustrious patron, what shall we do if my fears are realized?”

These words were addressed to Quintus, for she saw that Thrax Barbatus
was deeply touched by her loving attention to the dead, and she wished
to escape being thanked.

Quintus Claudius, notwithstanding his strong sympathy with Thrax and
Eurymachus, could not feel quite at his ease in his new and strange
position. The idea that he--the member of a senatorial family, the son
of one of the noblest houses in the empire--should make common cause
with artizans, freedmen and slaves, was so preposterous in the state
of society then existing, that even a lofty and magnanimous nature
required time to enable it to subdue the sense of strangeness and even
of repulsion. After some hesitation he addressed himself to Thrax,
asking him--as though half conscious of a wish to justify himself in
his own eyes:

“And will you answer for the perfect innocence of Eurymachus, on your
solemn oath and pledge?”

“My lord,” said Barbatus, “he is as innocent and pure as the sun in the
sky. I will swear it by the soul of my dead son! Ah, you do not know
his persecutor, the ruthless Stephanus--if you did, you would have no
doubts in the matter. The crimes that man has committed during the last
ten years, cry to God for vengeance like the blood of the massacred
lamb of Bethlehem! I, as you see me, have been the victim of that
wretch!”

“You too? How did that happen?”

“In the way which might be called ‘the way of Stephanus.’[275] I had
inherited a little fortune from my father, and had laid it out at
interest; I intended to save it and add a little to it for Glauce, for
I could earn my living as a smith. You know, my lord, how badly free
labor is paid in Rome; however, no pressure of want had ever made me
touch that little dowry. I only spent the interest even during five
or six years, to make a comfortable home for Glauce and give her some
education. Well, one day Stephanus produced a forged will, by which the
money was left to him under some trivial pretext. He was a beginner
in those days and tried his hand on small game, but since then he has
grown greedy and gorges the fortunes of men of higher rank. However,
everything turned out as was to be feared--false witnesses, cunning
lawyers and bribed judges--I lost everything I possessed.”

“Atrocious!” exclaimed the young noble. “And did no one come forward to
stand up for you? Did no young advocate defend the truth for truth’s
sake?”

“No one. Oh! Stephanus went to work more craftily than you fancy. He
bribed those, who might have opposed him, with imaginary legacies from
the testator--some he frightened with mysterious threats--but in short,
he has grown rich, a perfect Croesus, and all by forged wills. Hundreds
of his victims have perished in despair and misery. He shuns neither
violence nor treachery; and he sins unpunished, for he has powerful
supporters. It is said that Parthenius, the chamberlain....”

“Enough!” interrupted Quintus. “His hour too will come; it would be
well for your safety, no doubt, that it should strike soon.”

“We are not idle,” said Glauce. “My father has now found what he long
hoped for in vain; a just and learned patron, whose liberality shrinks
from no sacrifice. You must have heard of Cneius Afranius?”

“Cneius Afranius? I know him very well, and have met him repeatedly in
the house of Cornelius Cinna. He is making himself talked about....”

“He has spoken in the Forum five or six times,” interrupted Thrax
with eager warmth. “His success was splendid.--Ah! and what a feeling
soul! What a heart overflowing with noble unselfishness. Merely for
the sake of right and enthusiasm for the truth, he is indefatigable
in his attacks on Stephanus, often as that cunning fox has succeeded
in parrying the stroke. Twice, when Afranius was on the very point of
opening his case in due form, some inscrutable power has intervened to
stop him.--However, if it is true, that dropping water wears away a
stone, even Stephanus must some day come to grief.”

Quintus sat silent for some time; he seemed to wish to reflect at
leisure on all he had heard, and no one disturbed him.

“My friend,” he said at last: “I too am ready to help you in my way, as
honestly as Cneius Afranius--but first tell me one thing. Is Eurymachus
still in Rome?”

“In the neighborhood.”

“And you will not send him farther off as speedily as possible?”

“It is impossible, my lord,” said the old man sadly. “Stephanus has set
every means to work. Hundreds of watchmen and slave-catchers are on the
alert; notices on the walls offer large sums for the apprehension of
the fugitive; even appeals have been made to the Vestal virgins[276]
to pronounce their ban, so that he may be spellbound within Rome. In
short, discovery would be certain....”

“It is so indeed, my lord,” added Diphilus. “And do you know why
Stephanus is making this mighty stir? Eurymachus knows some secret
of his life, some hideous crime, worse than all the rest he has ever
committed. And it was for that reason, that even on the scene of his
execution Eurymachus was gagged.”

“And moreover,” added the old man, “in his flight that night he wounded
his foot badly. He could not leave his hiding-place at present, even if
he wished it.”

“And what can I possibly do for you in these circumstances?”

“Procure his pardon, my lord!” cried Glauce, lifting her hands
imploringly.

“Or a mild punishment,” added Diphilus.

“Perhaps,” Thrax went on, “you might even be able to help Afranius, by
removing some of the obstacles which hinder the course of justice. Your
illustrious father--cannot he do anything he chooses in such matters?
And will not his generosity pardon Eurymachus for escaping, if you
are his advocate? I know, of course, that Titus Claudius is the foe of
the common herd; often, indeed, he has exercised the sternest severity
towards guilty slaves; still, he is wise and far-seeing--at fitting
times he can be merciful too....”

“I will see what can be done.”

“God’s blessing rest on your head!”

Quintus looked keenly at the speaker.

“Listen,” he said after a short pause; “am I mistaken, or do you
belong--as appearances would indicate--to the sect of Nazarenes?”

“My lord,” said Barbatus, “in speaking to the generous preserver of our
Eurymachus, I may surely forget that prudence compels us to keep our
religion a secret. Yes--I will freely confess it, I am one of those
highly-favored ones, whom the people designate as Nazarenes. We are
Christians--I and mine--for so we call ourselves after the founder of
our sacred religion, who suffered death under Pontius Pilate. Diphilus
and Euterpe too have received baptism, the act of dedication which
seals our reception under the covenant of faith. We are Christians,
my lord, and no power on earth will ever lead us back to the altars
of your idolatrous worship. Caesar may revive the times of Nero, he
may stigmatize as criminals humble and innocent beings, whose only
ambition is righteousness; he can never stay the spread of the Kingdom
of Heaven. Nay, indeed, most noble youth, but I tell you that every
drop of blood that is spilt, raises up new witnesses to the eternal and
divine truth of our belief.”

The old man ceased. His withered cheek was flushed.

“Well,” said Quintus, looking down. “But tell me one thing; does not
your creed contain the dangerous doctrine of equality? Does it not
remove the ancient landmarks between the high-born and the lowly,
between the freeman and the slave? Does it not aim at the subversion of
society and the destruction of the existing state of things?”

“Yes, my lord; we do aim at the destruction of all that must inevitably
fall, if the Kingdom of the Lord is to come. We teach the equality,
freedom and brotherhood of all men born of woman. But what is this but
a return to primitive truth, to undisguised nature? Nothing can oppose
us, but the power of custom or of self-interest; God himself, and all
that is best in man, is for us. Where and when did a higher power ever
give you chosen ones a right to cast your brethren into fetters? Where
is it written: ‘You are the master, and this other man, who feels
joy and pain as you yourself do, is your slave and shall bow down to
you?’ It sounds bold, I know, O Quintus; but I ask you: What essential
difference is there between the son of the Claudia family and the
hapless Eurymachus? That which sets you above him is purely fortuitous;
that which constitutes your equality, is the divine will and act
of God. Or do you really believe, that a slave can never be wiser,
cleverer, more virtuous, courageous, and generous than the offspring of
a senatorial house? Supposing you had been changed in the cradle, do
you imagine that all the world would have read the slave’s humble birth
stamped on his brow? Nay, noble youth! The distance between you, that
looks like a gulf, is merely an artificial division, an illusory effect
of fancy, which must vanish before the light of the new revelation.
We, even we, the sons of the people--even those who are bondsmen and
slaves, who toil and suffer in your factories and prisons[277]--all,
all are alike called to be the sons of God. ‘Come unto me, all ye that
labor and are heavy laden,’ saith the Saviour, ‘and I will give you
rest.’ Yea, and his call shall not be in vain. Thousands and thousands
answer to it[278]--In remotest Asia, in Egypt, in Greece, nay, even in
Hispania and Lusitania, whole armies of martyrs are suffering for the
cross--our symbol and token, to you Romans an ignominious instrument of
death, but to us the emblem of hope and promise!

“And you too--the rich, the noble, the sovereigns of the world--do
you need no comfort, no healing, no saving light? Are you indeed so
happy in your splendor? Have you no secret craving for something, that
shall be eternal? The time will come, when you too shall bow the head
before the tree of disgrace and martyrdom, when you too shall know how
gloriously the carpenter’s son of Nazareth has solved, for us, the dark
riddle of human existence. You will soar above the dim confusion of the
fleeting present, to the realms of hope and faith and divine grace.”

It was with a strange feeling of spellbound astonishment, that Quintus
gazed into the speaker’s face, which was radiant with solemn but
triumphant peace. Glauce had gently leaned her head on her father’s
shoulder, as though it was in him that she sought and found her
mainstay in the struggle with life; and in spite of the mournful
feeling which still left its traces round her lips, silent contentment
lay on the pure young brow. She sat with downcast eyes, her hands
folded in gentle exhaustion. Euterpe and Diphilus hung in rapt
reverence on the lips of the old man, who, to them, seemed to stand in
the light of a radiance from heaven.

Quintus was unutterably impressed by the individuality of this strong,
resolute and triumphantly happy believer. His aversion to this new
doctrine of the universe began to melt like snow on Soracte in a
spring breeze. Vigorously as self-love rebelled, conviction proved
the stronger. In his hours of solitude the same reflections had often
occurred to him, and commended themselves to his feelings, but the
denunciation of the existing state of things had never before been
so boldly presented to him. It must be a stout heart and a powerful
mind, that could deny the intrinsic justification of a social order so
complete as that of the Roman empire, and cry to a nation of nobles and
slaves: “All men are brothers!” It would be worth while to see and hear
more of this Nazarene Gracchus,[279] and to sound the depths of the
mysterious power, which gave such staunch vitality to the new doctrine,
even after the fearful persecutions of Nero.

All these reflections rushed in a tumultuous torrent through the young
patrician’s soul. He could no longer bear the confinement of the
low, hot room. He rose, trying to conceal under a smile of careless
politeness how deeply he had been interested and absorbed; he paced up
and down the little room once or twice, and then said with a certain
condescension:

“I should be grateful to you if, at an early opportunity, you would
tell me more concerning your doctrine; I am always glad to gain
information at the fountainhead. For the present I bid you farewell.
Early to-morrow morning I shall do my utmost for Eurymachus; pray to
your God, that He may crown our efforts with success.”

Euterpe conducted the visitor down stairs again, and then flew back to
the little room where Glauce and Diphilus had already moved the table
and arranged a little altar for an offering for the dead, on behalf of
the luckless Philippus.

While these good souls were kneeling in silent sorrow before the cross,
Quintus walked homewards through the darkness with a throbbing heart;
his head ached and a mighty struggle, such as he had never before
experienced, seemed to rend his heart. At the top of the Esquiline he
came to a stand-still, and as he leaned against the basin of a fountain
graced with spouting tritons, he gazed westwards over the night-wrapped
city, which lay spread abroad at his feet, like a colossus prone in
rest. He could scarcely distinguish the huge buildings--the Flavian
Amphitheatre, the palaces and the capitol. Mons Janiculus[280] stood
out like a darker storm-cloud against the blue-black sky, and a dull
moan and murmur rose upon the air like the breathing of the sleeping
giant. A sense of infinite desertedness, of unspeakable longing and
inexplicable dread fell upon him.

“Yes, ye noble souls!” he groaned, covering his face with his hands.
“I will return--I will soon rejoin your peaceful and blissful circle!
By all the anguish I ever suffered, by all the torment that gnaws at my
heart, I swear I will return!”

And with a sigh of relief like that of a man, who finds himself well
again after long sickness, he went down into the valley.


FOOTNOTES:

 [261] THE CIRCUS FLAMINIUS. Located in the ninth district, of the
       same name, built 221 B.C.

 [262] AELIAN BRIDGE. (_Pons Aelius_,) now the Angel Bridge.

 [263] AQUEDUCTS. The magnificent water-works formed one of the
       principal ornaments of ancient Rome. “The mountain springs,
       conveyed for miles in subterranean pipes or over huge arches
       to the city, poured plashing from artificial grottos, spread
       out into vast, richly adorned reservoirs, or mounted in the
       jets of superb fountains, whose cool breath refreshed and
       purified the summer air.” (Friedländer, I, 14.)

 [264] ALTA SEMITA corresponds with tolerable accuracy to the modern
       _Via di Porta Pia_.

 [265] TORCHES. Street lamps were unknown in ancient times, as well
       as throughout nearly the whole of the middle ages.

 [266] THE OLD WALL. (_Agger Servii Tullii_) extended from the Porta
       Collina to the Porta Esquilina. The neighboring region was
       considered the most corrupt in all Rome. The “wenches of the
       city wall” were often mentioned. (See for instance, Mart.
       _Ep._ III, 82, 2.)

 [267] THE MUDDY WINE OF VEII. The wine made in the neighborhood
       of the little city of Veii, (northwest of Rome) was little
       prized. (See Mart. I, 103, 9, where the red Veian is called
       thick and full of lees.)

 [268] GAME OF ODD AND EVEN. This game of chance, which is still
       very common, was extremely popular under the name _ludere
       par impar_. The opponent had to guess whether an odd or even
       number of gold pieces or other objects was held in the closed
       hand.

 [269] ILL-CONSTRUCTED HOUSES. Every well-to-do citizen of ancient
       Rome had his own house. The great mass of poor people lived
       in rented dwellings, built by unprincipled speculators with
       unprecedented carelessness, on the principle “cheap and bad,”
       yet nevertheless leased at high prices. The fall of such
       houses was therefore no rare occurrence, as is proved by the
       constant association of the words “fire and fall” (_incendia
       acruinae_)--catastrophes which Strabo (V, 3, 7) characterizes
       as constant. (See also Senec. _Ep._ XC, 43, Cat. XXIII, 9;
       Juv. _Sat._ III, 7.)

 [270] UNDER THE TILES, (_sub tegulis_,) was a common phrase for
       the upper story. (See Suet. _Gramm._ 9, where it is said of
       the poor schoolmaster Orbilius, that in his old age he lived
       “under the tiles.”)

 [271] REMEMBER THAT IN ROME EVERY STONE HAS EYES AND EARS. See
       Tacit. _Ann._, XI, 27, where Rome is called a “city that hears
       everything, and keeps silence about nothing.” Seneca too (_De
       tranq. an._ XII) is scandalized at the eaves-dropping which is
       common in Rome. Juvenal says an aristocratic Roman can have no
       secrets at all, for: “_Servi ut taceant, jumenta loquentur,
       et canis et postes et marmora._” “Even if the slaves are
       discreet, the horses talk, and the house-dog, and the posts
       and marble walls. Close the windows and cover every chink with
       hangings, yet the next day the people in every tavern will be
       discussing the master’s doings.” (Juv. _Sat._ IX, 102-109.)

 [272] OUR PURSUERS ARE ON OUR TRACES ALREADY. There were persons in
       Rome, who made a business of catching runaway slaves.

 [273] GROUND SET APART FOR CRIMINALS AND OUTCASTS. The usual mode
       of conducting a funeral under the emperors was to burn the
       corpse on a pyre (_rogus_); the original custom of interment
       had become more rare. Slaves and criminals were buried on the
       Esquiline Hill.

 [274] THE VIA MONETA led from the Flavian amphitheatre to the Porta
       Querquetulana.

 [275] THE WAY OF STEPHANUS. See (Suet _Dom._ 17,) where it is
       related of Stephanus, that he was accused of embezzling money.
       That such incredible forgeries of wills really occurred, is
       frequently explicitly stated by the ancient authors. Pliny
       (_Ep._ II, 11,) gives an amazing example of the insolence with
       which influential persons conducted their bribery.

 [276] THE VESTAL VIRGINS. It was believed, that the vestal virgins
       possessed the power of detaining runaway slaves, by certain
       spells, within the city limits.

 [277] FACTORIES AND PRISONS. Ergastulum was the name given to a
       kind of prison where slaves, who had been guilty of any fault
       were kept at specially hard labor. The arrangement, of these
       ergastula in many respects resembled our modern prisons.

 [278] THOUSANDS AND THOUSANDS ANSWER TO IT. See the passages in the
       letter of Pliny, who as the Christians’ foe, reports to the
       emperor: “This superstition has not only spread over the city,
       but through the villages and surrounding country.” (Pliny,
       _Ep._ X, 98.)

 [279] NAZARENE GRACCHUS. Quintus here perceives, like Thrax
       Barbatus, in the carpenter’s son of Nazareth a real
       representative of the people’s rights, and therefore a
       companion of Tiberius and Caius Sempronius Gracchus, the two
       tribunes of the people (about the middle of the second century
       B.C.)

 [280] MONS JANICULUS. Now Monte Gianicolo, on the right bank of the
       Tiber.



                            CHAPTER XIV.


On a purple couch, her right hand supporting her handsome head, while
her left played mechanically with the folds of her robe, lay the
Empress Domitia; Polycharma, her favorite slave, sat in silence on
the floor, holding in her lap a red and blue bird, which now and then
flapped its wings and gave a loud, strange cry. All else was silent,
oppressed by sultry gloom and the steamy stillness of the air. In
spite of its nearness, the noise of the Forum was dulled to a murmur
like that of wind-rocked trees. The marble statue of Venus[281] by the
door-way looked sleepily down under her drooping lids; even the little
Eros with his lightly-tilted jar, seemed touched with melancholy.
Outside, in the corridors and antechambers, there was scarcely a sound.
The slaves glided cautiously about on tiptoe, and spoke in whispers or
expressed themselves by signs. Their imperial mistress’s melancholy
mood seemed to fill the very atmosphere with a subtle _malaise_ and
anxious forebodings.

A few hours since, the first meeting had taken place between the
reconciled couple. They had met with dignity and a calm semblance
of friendly regard on both sides; but between them lay the unspoken
but bitter certainty that, after all that had passed, no real
reconciliation could ever be possible. Caesar’s suspicious nature
recoiled from Domitia’s superiority of intellect and vehement
temper--which flashed ominously in her eyes in spite of conventional
smiles and smoothness--and from the scathing irony of her proud
and revengeful spirit. She, on the other hand, knew the Emperor’s
hatred and implacable malice; she knew that, once aggrieved, Domitian
had the tenacity of a tiger in ambush, never weary of watching for
an opportunity for the fatal spring. Added to this there was the
remembrance of her own humiliations--her banishment from the palace,
the execution of Paris, and the emperor’s passion for his niece Julia.
And now, to be forgiven by him whom she so thoroughly despised--to
accept the clemency of Domitian--this was the worst and deepest
humiliation of all....

So, listless and silent, she lay on her pillows, reviewing in
imagination the events of the last few hours in pictures that seemed
to mock her as they passed. The Apollo-like figure of the young
patrician, who had fired her fancy at Baiae, seemed to smile at her
contemptuously; she sighed and closed her eyes, as though to escape the
vision. Till a few hours ago, she had believed that she had conquered
that madness. Her spirit had found strength in resolving on revenge,
and she had felt like a goddess bent on punishing the presumption of
a mortal. But now--in this new mood--she was conscious of a subtle
change, the desire for revenge remained, but now there was nothing
lofty, no sense of superiority in the feeling--the goddess had given
place to a vain, lovesick woman, full of annoyance and petty spite.
This change was a result of her altered circumstances; the sight of
her husband had reminded her of the fact which she had striven to the
utmost to ignore; that one word from that adored youth would have
sufficed to make this reconciliation an impossibility. Shame and
hatred, rage and passion, seethed in her soul, and her self-tormenting
fancy painted alternately the most enchanting and the most horrible
pictures. As in some hideous dream, the form and features of Quintus
were mixed up with those of her former lover, the executed actor. She
saw herself in tears, kneeling wildly at his feet--he raised her,
kissed her, her senses reeled. Then he scornfully flung her from
him--she shuddered from head to foot, and stabbed him desperately with
her poniard....

Then again she recalled the occasion, when Polycharma had returned to
her with the little tablet that Quintus had given to the slave-girl in
the park, the answer to her last passionate letter--that tablet had
been her death-warrant--but no, not hers--his! “He must die!”--she
seemed to see the words traced between those fatal lines.

Then everything faded from her vision like a landscape shrouded in
mist. Instead of the slave-girl, it was the flute-player, who stood
before her with a triumphant sparkle in her eyes, as her cheek flushed
under the traitor’s touch--as she had seen her stand, the bold hussy,
on the hill at Cumae--happy, no doubt, in the love that she, the
Empress, pined for.

The thought was intolerable; the miserable woman writhed under the
clutch of the demon of jealousy. She groaned and struggled for breath.
Polycharma started to her feet.

“Lady, mistress--what is the matter?” she asked, gazing helplessly at
Domitia’s distorted features. But the sound of a voice broke the spell;
Domitia controlled herself. Not a soul on earth, not even this trusted
slave, should ever know how low she could be brought. She would hold
herself proudly and defiantly--aye, though she should suffocate in the
effort. Polycharma should suppose that the adventure in the gardens of
Lycoris was a mere whim, a comedy; never would she betray the anguish
of her unrequited passion and deep humiliation.

She raised herself on the pillows and sighed deeply again, as if to
prove that the groan which had escaped her had not been involuntary.

“I am afraid,” she said in a low voice, “that I am too much accustomed
to liberty, ever to make myself happy again within the bars of this
golden cage. I have too long been a free and unfettered woman, to
have retained any talent for being Empress. The marble walls of a
palace weigh upon me like lead. Ah! Polycharma! I am longing already
for my quiet retreat on the Quirinal, or for Baiae and its delicious
wilderness.”

“Oh! I understand that,” exclaimed the girl. “Particularly for
Baiae--is there a more heavenly spot on earth? The bench under the
hedge of bay, with that lovely view over the blue sea! And when the
full moon rises over the hill--it is beyond words. And do you remember
the young knight from Mediolanum,[282] who recited to us the woes of
Queen Dido,[283] and whom you permitted to kiss this white hand as
his reward? He trembled like an aspen in the evening breeze. Ah! and
Xanthios, the beautiful young Greek from Cumae! How desperately the boy
was in love with me!”

Domitia tried to smile.

“Poor child,” she said sadly. “And you too will find out what it is to
live at Caesar’s court.”

“Ah well!” said Polycharma airily, “by the grace of the gods, we will
be able to retain some fragment of our lost freedom. Your steward is a
very shrewd and clever man, and he will see what can be managed. And
for your sake, Sovereign Mistress, he would be ready to burn down Rome.”

“Indeed? What makes you think so?”

“Well--of course we all have our own ideas.--Stephanus lives and toils
for nothing but your Highness, and for the glory of your name. It was
he, who conquered Caesar’s obstinacy and made your return possible.
And confess, gracious mistress--Baiae may be lovely, and the evening
hours in the park there were indeed delightful, but to share the
throne of Caesar, the ruler of the world--that is yet more lovely and
delightful!”

“Who can tell....” said Domitia.

“Stephanus, at any rate, thought so.”

“I do not understand you.”

“Well, I mean that he has always done his best....”

“But it seems to me, that it is no more than his duty.”

“Certainly. Still, there is a way of doing one’s duty--a
devotedness....”

“What are you aiming at?” asked the Empress. “First you speak as if
you wanted to keep silence, and then you break off as if you wished to
speak....”

“I only thought....”

“Speak out boldly, Polycharma, and have done with this mysterious
behavior, which is like the incoherence of a sibyl.”[284]

“By the gods! but I dare not. Besides I only guess at it; he could
never be so bold....”

“You are talking in riddles. Speak out; I command you!”

“Oh!” cried the girl contritely. “How am I to say it? Stephanus is
consumed by a hopeless passion. He is dying of silent love for the
charms of his imperial mistress.”

Domitia’s features did not show a shade of feeling, and Polycharma
glanced in terror at the expressionless face, for not the twinkle of
an eyelash, not a twitch of the lips, betrayed what emotion might have
been roused by this explanation.

“You are mistaken,” replied the Empress after a long pause. “My
steward is a faithful servant, and his zeal and devotion are seen by
your youthful fancy in a too poetical light.--Go, have done with your
foolish imaginings; take your lute, and sing me one of your gayest
songs.”

The girl retired a little distance, and an arch smile lighted up her
shrewd little face. She fetched the cithara out of its carved case and
returned, lightly tuning the strings.

“Some one is knocking,” she said pausing, and she went to the door.
“What is it? You know, Strato, that our mistress does not choose to be
disturbed.”

A short whispered colloquy was carried on outside the curtain, that
hung before the entrance; then Polycharma came to announce that
Stephanus begged an audience on a matter of great importance.

Domitia did not at once reply. Then she suddenly looked up, as if
struck by some new idea.

“Desire him to come in,” she said eagerly. “Polycharma, leave us
together.”

The same meaning smile again parted the girl’s lips. She quietly leaned
the lute against the wall and hastened to the door, where she lifted
the curtain with mock exaggeration of respect and let the steward pass
in front of her. Then she slipped out, shut and fastened the door and
joined two other slave-girls, who were sitting in the anteroom on
red leather cushions, and carrying on a laughing flirtation with a
flaxen-haired Sicambrian belonging to the praetorian guard.

Stephanus stood just within the door and bowed low. It was difficult
to recognize in him the cool and unblenching man, never at a loss in
his perfect knowledge of court manners and gossip, and accomplished in
the arts of intrigue. In Domitia’s presence the freedman was a slave
again; all his presence of mind, all the easy demeanor he had acquired
in the school of life, he had left outside that door. The man, who went
forward in obedience to a nod from the Empress, was a servile, creeping
slave, a pitiable wretch, who tried in vain to find utterance.

“What ails you?” asked the Empress with a fascinating smile. “You look
as pale as if you had lain awake all night. I fear your zeal prompts
you to work too hard.”

“Gracious mistress,” replied Stephanus, “I am distressed indeed if I
intrude....”

“I am always ready to listen to the faithful servant, who toils for me
so devotedly. What brings you here, Stephanus?”

The freedman was startled; if he had read aright Polycharma’s cunning
glance, this reception promised him such happiness, that the mere
thought of it turned him giddy.

“You hesitate,” the Empress went on. “I understand--you fear lest
there should be listeners in the anteroom. Your errand is serious and
important.”

She rose and led the way to a side chamber. Stephanus followed. The
fairy-like fittings of the beautiful room had exercised an intoxicating
charm over the senses even of a spoilt courtier like Stephanus. The
whole boudoir was like a luxurious bouquet--walls, floor, ceiling were
all hung and covered with diaphanous rose-colored stuff, on which
sparkling stones were sprinkled like dew-drops. A tender twilight and
the heady scent of roses completed the irresistible witchery of the
scene.

The beautiful creature, who stood in the midst of all this dazzling
splendor, with her white arms faintly tinged with the rosy reflection,
and her flowing drapery clinging closely to the grand forms of her
limbs, might, without any great effort of fancy, have been taken for
Aphrodite, the goddess of love, incarnate in this adorable person.

Stephanus breathed hard; the empress sank on to a rose-colored couch,
and beckoned him to approach.

“Now,” she said graciously, “we are alone, proceed.”

“Sovereign lady,” said Stephanus, hardly possessed of all his senses,
“my duty.... An hour ago your humble servant was with Lycoris. She ...
I know not how ... but lately we have met with some obstacle ... it was
only with the greatest difficulty that I succeeded.... The chamberlain
is this evening to be her guest.... She promised me ... but she made
conditions....”

“It matters not,” said Domitia. “You will strain every nerve to engage
Parthenius on our side, I know, and that is enough for me. The details
I trust to your acumen. If you do not succeed the first time, you will
try again. A failure, even a blunder, needs no excuses. You have my
unlimited confidence.”

“I am overwhelmed by the greatness of your favors.”

He bowed to the ground and humbly kissed the hem of her robe, which
fell in ample folds, leaving a small part of her sandal and snowy foot
bare. A strange mixture of pain and triumph lurked in her eyes, as the
thought flashed through her mind: Ah, why, hapless, adoring wretch, are
you not Quintus? But then a terrible satisfaction gained the upperhand;
her lips moved as she swore to herself an unspoken vow--she clenched
her fist as though she held a dagger--a dagger for hatred and revenge.
Stephanus could not know, that at that moment she had formed a sinister
resolve.

“Nay--not that!” she whispered insinuatingly, as Stephanus rose
again. “That is service to the gods. Among friends a frank and honest
hand-shake....”

As she spoke she offered the astonished steward the tips of her
fingers. He looked into her eyes like one dazed. What a change! This
unapproachable woman, this divinity--till this hour so cold and
repellent, was now all melting softness, dreamy and tender graciousness.

“Adored lady!” he groaned, pressing her hand to his pale lips. “Kill
me, but I can no longer conceal it! Death would be bliss as compared
with the torment of silence. Glorious Domitia--more beautiful than
Cypria herself--I love you!”

He fell at the feet of the haughty sovereign, as though stunned by his
own audacity, and leaned his forehead on her footstool. His brow by
chance touched her foot, which she hastily withdrew with an involuntary
gesture of aversion. But again a gleam of triumphant delight passed
over her features.

“Stand up,” she said, dissimulating her excitement. “Your confession
has taken away my breath. I hardly know whether I should be angry, or
whether this heart--too tender, alas!--should forgive your boldness.
You love me! It sounds sweetly simple, like the greeting of a
friend--but think out the whole meaning of that short and simple word,
and tell me then, if you do not tremble like a pine tree before the
gale. Love craves for a return--answer me, Stephanus, do you esteem
yourself so favored by the gods, as to dare to hope for Domitia’s
favors?”

The freedman had slowly risen to his feet. His thin hair, artificially
darkened, hung loosely over his throbbing temples; his eyes were fixed
and glazed.

“I know,” he said in hollow tones, “that I am unworthy of your grace.
But the gods themselves choose blindly, without any regard for merit
and worth. Their mercies are dispensed blindfold--not only Ares the
slayer, but the humble Anchises[285]....”

“Enough!” said Domitia, who fancied she could still feel the hot,
bald forehead against her foot. “If the gods have chosen, you need
entreat no more. Listen to me, Stephanus. I too will be gracious--Call
it a whim or sympathetic tenderness, as you please;--it is all
the same.--You shall clasp the Empress in your arms and be happy,
Stephanus--on one single condition you shall realize your dream. But it
will require the utmost exertion of your talents....”

Stephanus heard no more; overpowered by this dazzling vision of
happiness, he had fallen back on one of the rose-colored seats. His
head thrown back, his eyes closed, he lay a pitiable image of human
passion and weakness. The haze of unconsciousness veiled the strange
and erratic brain, that was so unceasingly tossed and torn by cruelty,
ambition, avarice, and sensual greed. The corpse-like figure, in
its long Tarentine _toga_, was an object of unutterable horror in
the beauty-loving eyes of Domitia--the sharp chin, the eagle nose,
the hard, fleshless brow, now no longer vivified by the sparkle of
the fiery eyes, all filled her excited senses with the horror, that
blooming and joyous youth feels for the bony hand of a skeleton. She
almost repented of her decision. Still, the recollection of Quintus,
gave her strength to deny herself the craving of her inmost nature,
and to persist in the road she had set out on. Perhaps, too, she had
a lurking hope that she might cheat the tool of her vengeance, of the
promised reward.

The steward did not remain unconscious more than a minute; when he
opened his eyes, Domitia was mistress of herself and the situation.
With her right hand she commanded silence.

“You need rest,” she said kindly. “And what I have to say can be said
in a very few words. Quintus Claudius, the son of the Flamen, has
insulted me mortally. How, where, and when, must remain my secret. Help
me to triumph over this hated and unpardonable foe, and Domitia shall
be yours. Throw your toils round him, watch him wherever he goes, miss
no opportunity of ruining him.--How you will be able to accomplish this
I cannot even guess, but you, I know, can do anything. Will you fulfil
this commission?”

“I will, sovereign mistress!” cried Stephanus in a choking voice.
“Your hatred is one with mine, for I too loathe this man as if he were
plague-stricken. He shall die under the dagger of my meanest slave, and
when he lies gasping in the dust, I will cry to him: Remember Domitia!”

The Empress started to her feet, and put out her hands with a gesture
of horror.

“No, oh no!” she cried vehemently. “Death by the hand of an assassin,
the mean fate of a merchant waylaid and flung from his cart by robbers
near the Three Taverns--that would be a satisfaction too mean for
this aching heart! I must feast my soul on his misery, set my feet
upon his neck. A dagger-thrust--what is that to him? Do you know the
man and his proud contempt of life? Look but once in his face, and ask
yourself whether I am to be avenged by a stab. He would die, as another
man would get up and take his leave at a banquet; he would die, and
then it would be no worse for him, than if he had never breathed. No,
Stephanus; go and devise some better plan than that! wound him, crush
him in that which he loves best; overwhelm him with disgrace; break his
towering pride--then you will have done all I can ask of your skill and
devotion!”

“I will try. As yet I have not the faintest idea of the way to do it,
but I have no doubt I can find it And when I have fulfilled the task
you have set me....”

“In conquering my enemy, you will conquer my heart,” said Domitia
smiling graciously.

“I will conquer or perish.”

He flung his toga over his shoulder with an air, and went to the door.
The Empress watched him with a fixed, almost a vacant stare. No sooner
had the curtain fallen and the door closed upon him, than she dropped
into the nearest seat, sobbing convulsively, and set her teeth deep
into the cushion in which she hid her face, while a torrent of scalding
tears rushed from her half-closed eyelids.


FOOTNOTES:

 [281] STATUE OF VENUS. A statue of the Venus Genitrix (Generator,
       mother, so called as the ancestress of the race of Julius
       Caesar, who erected a temple to her under this name) has been
       found among the ruins of the imperial palace on the Palatine,
       also an Eros, swinging a jar.

 [282] MEDIOLANUM, now Milan.

 [283] THE WOES OF QUEEN DIDO, even at that time a famous episode
       in Virgil’s Aeneid. That the sorrows of Dido were specially
       popular is shown in Juv. _Sat._ VI, 434, which runs:

          “_Illa tamen gravior, quae, quum discumbere coepit,
          Laudat Virgilium, periturae ignoscit Elissae_....”

       The question whether Dido did right in choosing death, seems
       to have been discussed by would-be beaux esprits, as in our
       own day, people argue about the comparative merits of Goethe
       and Schiller.

 [284] SIBYL. (Σίβυλλα, from Σιὸς βουλή literally “counsellor of God”)
       the name given to the prophesying priestesses of Apollo. Their
       predictions were vague and mysterious.

 [285] NOT ONLY ARES THE SLAYER, BUT THE HUMBLE ANCHISES. Stephanus
       alludes to the love affair of Aphrodite, who according to the
       Hellenic myth, bestowed her favors not only on the gods, as
       the homicidal Ares, but also upon mortals. She showed her love
       for the young Trojan prince Anchises, as is well known, among
       the groves of Ida.



                              CHAPTER XV.


Before Stephanus went through to the anteroom, where Polycharma was
waiting with the other slaves, he paused a moment to recover his
breath. He drew himself up, and his face resumed its usual expression
of supercilious indifference. He now could measure with calmer blood
the extent of his success; that which, a few minutes since, had
deprived him of his senses, now filled his spirit with elasticity,
and he told himself that he had selected, with infinite psychological
insight, the moment for realizing his long-cherished purpose--the
moment in fact, when her first meeting with her husband had shaken the
proud woman’s nature to the foundations. He believed, that the happy
result was obviously to be ascribed to this fortunate coincidence, and
this doubled his good opinion of his own judgment. His glance lingered
with supreme satisfaction on the magnificent room, the statue of Venus,
the little Eros and the purple pillows on the divans. The inarticulate
language of the smile, that played upon his thin lips, was easy to
interpret--it told of his hope ere long to rule as master in this
apartment, as the declared favorite of its lovely mistress--lovelier
and grander than the marble goddess there, and oh! a thousand times
warmer and more gracious.

He dropped his right arm, letting his white robe sweep the ground
like the mantle of an eastern prince, and went on to the anteroom. He
favored the wily Polycharma with a gracious nod, marching past the
other girls with the strut of a promoted peacock. The Sicambrian stared
at him open-mouthed.

The steward’s apartments were on the farther side of the peristyle, on
the side towards the Circus Maximus. His offices were lower down still,
on the Quirinal, where the Empress had been living since her separation
from her husband, excepting when she went every summer to her villa at
Baiae. The elaborate paraphernalia of official papers made a prompt
removal impossible, and only certain small branches of the steward’s
business had as yet been reinstated in the palace.

Stephanus went into his private room, laid aside his toga, and
stretched himself at full-length on a comfortable couch. His restless
brain was already seething with a thousand plans, which chased each
other like a flight of crows. Numbers of impressions and motives, which
hitherto had lurked unheeded, started up in his memory as possible
starting points for future operations; but foremost of all the figure
of Eurymachus, as yet irretrievably lost, occupied his thoughts. To
judge from the reports of the slaves, who had followed the fugitive,
the behavior of Quintus Claudius had been strange enough to suggest
its connection with the slave’s successful escape, even if no direct
connection existed. Stephanus dimly felt, that here lay the fulcrum
for his lever--but how could he use it? Well, he had solved harder
problems than this in his time. The son of so influential a man as the
Flamen was, no doubt, a more difficult subject to deal with than Thrax
Barbatus, whose cries had easily been drowned; still--the higher the
obstacle, the greater the triumph.

He lay gazing thoughtfully at the tips of his fingers. Wholly possessed
by the idea of avenging Domitia, he had forgotten for the moment,
that the escape of Eurymachus was of importance to him on far graver
grounds, than the use he could make of it to injure Quintus; now, this
consciousness pressed with double weight on his soul. He would have
given half his fortune, to learn that Eurymachus was silent forever.
By some accident, which to Stephanus remained an unsolved mystery,
Eurymachus had learned a momentous secret.--Supposing that now, when
he was no longer gagged, he should make himself heard--supposing he
should shout it out in the ears of the world. A hundred times did the
steward curse the fatal idea, of making the execution of his slave an
entertainment for Lycoris’ guests. Quietly strangled, or thrown into
a tank to feed the lampreys--that would have been the rational thing,
and more like his usual good sense. To be sure, hatred and rage had
spoken loudly, and Lycoris had entreated him so earnestly.--Still it
was folly, madness. Who could tell what Fate might bring out of it, if
such precious material should happen to fall into the hands of Cneius
Afranius--that cruel vampire who, for more than six months, had had
his clutches on the steward’s neck. His eyes were fixed vacantly on
the ceiling, as the long train of his crimes passed before him. Each
separate deed appeared clothed in flesh and blood, incarnate in the
form of Cneius Afranius, who seized him by the hair and dragged him
before the Senate; till, at last, the direst deed of all came forth
and cried to Heaven, till the great city shook to its foundations, and
Domitian himself, the blood-stained tyrant, hid his face in horror.

Stephanus started up.

“Be still, mad brain!” he exclaimed, striking his forehead with his
fist. “I have been too easy; a prudent man should strike and hold;
till now I only kept out of the way of the arrows of Afranius, now--let
him see to it, that he hides himself from mine. Quintus and he! The
same stroke may by good hap fall on both at once.”

He paced his room uneasily; suddenly he stood still--before him stood a
lad with soft and girlish features.

“Antinous!” cried the freedman. “You glide about like a weasel.”

“Forgive me, my lord, but I had asked three times to be admitted. I
heard you speaking to yourself....”

“You heard?”

“Not a word, my lord. You muttered through your teeth--only
disconnected words--I thought you were vexed and angry with the
slaves....”

“And you came to comfort me?” asked Stephanus smiling. “It is well that
I have you; for the next few weeks you will have heavy work on hand.
Shut the door and sit down on the couch there.”

“Heavy work?” asked the boy disconsolately. “What, am I to carry water;
or till the fields? Am I to be as miserable as the others are?”

Stephanus laughed, and patted the lad’s beardless cheek.

“Not yet, my boy. I have chosen you for something better than that.
What I have for you to do is serious and very difficult, but amusing
and interesting; and if you accomplish the task, you shall be--well,
you shall be free. Do you hear, Antinous, free? And rich besides, for I
will give you an estate....”

“My lord, you know that my devotion is boundless. Only a few hours
since I risked my life for two thousand miserable sesterces....”

“Not too rashly, I imagine. You thought that discretion was the better
part of valor!”

“Pardon me, but you are mistaken. I rushed down upon him, when he was
surrounded by his clients and slaves; and if I had not slipped away at
the very instant....”

The boy shuddered.

“What is the matter?” asked Stephanus.

“I do not know, but I shiver whenever I think of it. As I struck him, I
met his eye--so cool and contemptuous.--If at that moment he had seized
me, I should have been lost....”

“You are childish, Antinous. I am afraid, that if you are so excitable
you will not earn your freedom in a hurry.”

“What, again must I...?”

“No, his life is spared. You must do more than that.”

“More?” said the lad in astonishment.

“Aye, more, boy. Why any bandit from the Appian Way could stab him;
what I want you to do requires not only zeal, skill and courage, but
intelligence, readiness, and the craftiness of Ulysses[286]. Greek
blood flows in your veins[287]--you are at once panther and fox. You
shall hear the details in the course of the day; I shall expect you to
dinner with me here in the study. Enough for the present. Now tell
me where you have been so long? You had no sooner told me that your
blow had missed, than, you rushed away again. I waited in vain ... you
really abuse my kindness....”

“Oh! my lord, are you angry?” said the boy coaxingly. “Indeed, if I
sinned, it was not from insolence, but from fear. I felt irresistibly
driven to his house; I mixed with the people, that I might learn
whether information had reached the prefects of the attack upon him....”

“Well?”

“Up to the present hour no one knows of it. Quintus Claudius seems
inclined to keep it a secret. Even the gate-keeper, whom I began to
talk to....”

“Are you mad?” interrupted Stephanus. “Do you want to find yourself
imprisoned and crucified?”

“Nay, my lord. Antinous does not go to work so clumsily. When I stopped
to talk to the gate-keeper, I was in girl’s clothes.”

“It is all the same; the whole thing was aimless.”

“Not altogether, an accident rewarded my daring. Only think, as I was
standing there talking over the weather--he took me, as sure as I am
alive, for some street hussy--a woman came towards us through the
ostium, with an old man with a snow-white beard. As soon as I saw her,
I knew her to be that saucy Euterpe, who so often played the flute
for us at Baiae; do you not remember? The pretty girl from Cumae, who
always looked so shy and stupid, when you praised her shape....”

“Well, and what does she matter to me?”

“Euterpe? nothing whatever; but the old man.--As they came past us, a
vague remembrance crossed my mind. I said to myself: I must surely
know that man. Then he used some little gesture, and at once I had
found the trace. It was none other than Thrax Barbatus, that obstinate
fool who wanted, a little while since, to force his way in to see
you....”

“Thrax! with Quintus Claudius?” cried the steward horrified. “Ah! I
understand now! Claudius and Afranius are plotting together, to restore
the old idiot to his rights. The Flamen’s son has long honored me with
his hatred. A reason the more, for disarming and disabling him....”
Then he suddenly checked himself, pushed his fingers through his hair,
and scowled.

“Listen,” he began eagerly. “I have an idea. Was it not Euterpe, who
troubled herself so much about Eurymachus, when I had him flogged?”

“To be sure, Euterpe, the pretty Cumaean! He was supposed to be her
lover, and while he was laid up she brought him herbs and salves; and
she cried....”

Stephanus drew a deep breath.

“What more do you know of all this?”

“Very little,” said Antinous. “In Baiae I had something better to
do, than to trouble myself about anything so commonplace as the love
affairs of a flute-playing hussy. At any rate, the noble Eurymachus
does not seem to have been very eager. Astraeus heard him once scolding
her soundly.”

“Why?”

“It had something to do with her salves and ointments. She had bought
the stuff of some Egyptian magician, and that vexed her lover....”

Stephanus nodded, and a gleam of malicious satisfaction lighted up his
vulture face.

“Ah! I was not mistaken,” he muttered between his teeth; then, turning
to the slave, he added: “And is that all you learnt from Astraeus?”

“All.”

“Very good, then I will question him myself; I foresee great results.
Go now, Antinous; my head whirls with a multiplicity of wonderful
possibilities. Claudius, Afranius, Thrax, Euterpe--you must watch them
all with the eye of an Argus.”

“My lord, your confidence in me makes me vain. You have only to
command, and I will obey. I will climb the Capitol like the invading
Gauls[288]; I will dive to the depths of the sea and bring you a
message from Thetis.[289] But then, do not forget your promise.”

“I will keep it,” replied Stephanus, stroking the lad’s cheek. “Freedom
and gold are the charms, that give wings to your services.”

“You are the kindest master[290] in the whole Roman Empire! Farewell.”

He nodded to Stephanus with saucy familiarity, danced across the room
with a graceful step, leaped lightly over one of the broad couches, and
slipped out of the door like an eel.

“Hail, all hail to thee, Quintus!” Stephanus muttered mockingly. “This
is a better beginning, than I dared to hope for. And if Fortune
continues to favor me, I will raise on this foundation such a structure
as you need not disdain to take your pleasure in.”


FOOTNOTES:

 [286] THE CRAFTINESS OF ULYSSES. Ulysses, Ulixes, (Odysseus,) the
       hero of the Homeric Odyssey, was considered in tradition,
       after Homer’s day, as the type of craft and cunning, while
       Homer presents him in a more ideal light.

 [287] GREEK BLOOD FLOWS IN YOUR VEINS. Among the Romans, the Greeks
       had the reputation of resembling in character the Ulysses
       described after Homer’s day. Next to the Orientals, they were
       the most hated of all the dwellers in the provinces.

 [288] I WILL CLIMB THE CAPITOL LIKE THE INVADING GAULS. The
       (unsuccessful) attempt to take the beleaguered Capitol by
       storm, made by the Gauls, as is well known, in the year 389
       B.C. after they had defeated the Roman army at the little
       river Allia.

 [289] THETIS, daughter of Nereus, lived with her sisters, the
       Nereids, in the depths of the ocean. She personified the
       friendly character of the sea, as Poseidon did its destructive
       and terrible one.

 [290] YOU ARE THE KINDEST MASTER. The epithet “kind” (_dulcis_)
       is often used in this application to superiors and those in
       higher position. Thus Horace in the well-known first ode of
       the first book addresses Maecenas: _O et praesidium et dulce
       decus meum_....



                              CHAPTER XVI.


Quintus rose very early the morning after his visit to Thrax
Barbatus, and the stars were still sparkling brightly, when he got
into his litter and in a weary voice bid the slaves carry him to the
palace. He almost fell asleep again within the curtains, so coolly
and indifferently could he look forward to his interview with the
awe-inspiring Caesar, who was always treated with a degree of cautious
respect, even by his intimates and favorites--somewhat as a tame tiger
is treated by its keepers. This coolness he derived from a sense of the
justice of his cause; he was still young enough to have preserved that
noble simplicity of a lofty nature, which attributes irresistible power
to Truth, and which cannot use the specious defences, with which vulgar
humanity is content to arm itself.

In the outer court of the palace a tumultuous crowd had already
assembled--of magistrates, senators, and foreign ambassadors. Quintus
gave one of the chamberlains on duty[291] a note from the Flamen Titus
Claudius Mucianus, to deliver to Caesar in his audience chamber,
and so powerful was the effect of this venerated name, that Domitian
granted an immediate interview to the young patrician, in the midst of
the terrific pressure of official receptions.

Quintus entered the presence chamber with a fearless and independent
mien, but with the calm dignity and winning courtliness of the Roman
aristocrat.

“My lord,” he said, as a sign from the emperor bid him speak, “it
is as the son of Titus Claudius, that you have so readily granted
me a hearing, but it is as the future husband of Cornelia, the
niece of Cinna, that I craved an audience. I stand before you as a
petitioner. Cornelius Cinna, the illustrious senator--whose intrinsic
value you must certainly have discerned, even under the husk of some
singularities--is suffering under the sense of an insult, as he deems
it. That midnight banquet, of which all Rome is talking, was of course,
no more than a harmless prelude to the Saturnalia[292]--the overflow
of festive whimsicality. But Cinna, who is rigid and impervious to all
joviality, regards the jest as a humiliation and dishonor. It lies in
your power, my lord, to efface this painful feeling from the noble
senator’s mind. One gracious word of explanation....”

Domitian did not let the bold youth finish his sentence. The mere
mention of the name of Cinna had been enough to set his blood boiling.
And now, what was this audacious, seditious, rebellious suggestion?--If
he still kept some check on his anger, it was that the grave, steadfast
figure of the Flamen floated, unbidden, before his eyes, and compelled
his respect for all who bore his name. Still, the glance he threw at
Quintus out of his cunning green eyes gave grounds for reflection.

“My dear Quintus,” he said with forced composure, “our time is too
precious for such follies. It is not Caesar’s business, either to
console Cinna or to offer him explanations. Remember that. And now
leave us, lest the welfare of the commonwealth should suffer.” With
these words he turned his back on Quintus.

Quintus was speechless; he angrily quitted the audience chamber,
feeling as if every slave must read in his face how insultingly
the emperor had treated him. Incapable from indignation, to judge
accurately and fairly, he felt as a bitter disgrace, what was, in fact,
the inevitable result of a false assumption. Standing apart as he did
from the life of the court, and strongly influenced by his father’s
views, he had always regarded Caesar in too favorable a light; still,
he might have been shrewd and judicious enough, to have understood
the folly and impossibility of his preposterous suggestion; he might
have told himself that, even under the most favorable conditions, only
those, who have sinned unintentionally, ever make advances towards
reconciliation.

From the palace Quintus hastened on foot to his father’s residence,
which lay at no great distance. He desired his clients and slaves
to wait in the vestibule, and went first to the women’s large
sitting-room, where he found his mother and the two girls, with Caius
Aurelius in attendance. The Batavian was holding a book in his left
hand, and with an awkward blush on his face was standing near the
window, while the ladies leaned expectantly on their couches.

A shade of annoyance flitted across Claudia’s brow as her brother
entered the room; the young Northman flushed a shade deeper, and
dropped the hand which held the roll as he, not too warmly, returned
his friend’s greeting.

“I am disturbing a recitation,” said Quintus apologetically.

“Oh! the day is before us!” cried Lucilia, and Octavia asked her son
what had brought him so early to the house.

“Nothing of much importance,” said Quintus vaguely; “a request to my
father. I am only waiting, till the atrium is perfectly clear. Pray go
on reading, Aurelius. I will sit quite still in this corner and listen
for a time. Meanwhile, will Lucilia fetch me a cup of mead[293]; my
tongue is literally parched.”

“‘He spoke, and the dark-browed Kronion nodded assent![294]’” quoted
Lucilia, going to a side door. “Baucis,” she called out, and gave
her orders in a lower voice. Caius Aurelius, obeying Octavia’s glance
of request, had already unrolled the book again, and he now began to
read in a full and pleasant voice. In truth, the much-lauded Papius
Statius might have been satisfied. He himself, a master in the art,
could not have read his own poem better or more effectively. Quintus
was astonished beyond words. What delightful tones, what various
modulation, and above all what supreme intelligence of interpretation!
and though Lucilia now and then struggled with a yawn, it was evidently
from sheer physical fatigue, for it had been past midnight before she
had gone to sleep.

When Aurelius had got to the end of the second _canto_ of the poem,
Quintus drank the remainder of his draught of mead and desired old
Baucis to enquire in the atrium, whether Titus Claudius had not yet
received the last of his morning visitors and, hearing that his father
was alone, he took leave and hastened to the priest’s study. He found
his father deep in work, even at his son’s greeting he only just raised
his head.

“Welcome,” said he without interrupting himself: “One moment,
Quintus--” and his reed[295] went gliding on over the yellow paper.
Then he laid it across a little metal rest and rose.

“You find me dreadfully busy, my dear Quintus,” he said affectionately.
“Hardly am I left apparently in peace, when I am overwhelmed with
a mass of work, that will bear no delay. I must take advantage of
every minute, for a decision on the great question of the day is now
imminent.”

“I am sorry for that, father, for I came to you as a petitioner.”

“Speak on,” said the Flamen smiling. “I must find time for my son.”

“Thank you very much, but I fear that my petition may be too trivial,
to engage your interest at this moment.”

“Nay, so much the better. Small matters need few words. Speak plainly
and at once.”

“You know,” Quintus began, going a step nearer, “that the Empress’s
steward Stephanus is in pursuit of a slave....”

“Yes, I know,” said the priest frowning: “A criminal, who was forcibly
set free by some unknown hand. All Rome is horrified at such unheard-of
atrocity.”

“It is certainly unheard of, that such an attempt should succeed. To
escape in the midst of such a crowd--the cowardly crew of Lycoris’
slaves seemed thunderstruck.”

“Pah! who can say, if they were not concerned in the abominable
conspiracy? My word for it, Quintus, all these villains have a secret
understanding; they wait only for a watchword to rise and strike as
one man, and to overthrow everything we hold sacred. If the state
does not ere long exercise its authority in earnest, we shall have a
Spartacus[296] on the throne of Rome.”

“You are jesting, father. Shall the Roman empire, borne by the eagles
of her legions to the uttermost ends of the earth, the unconquerable
daughter of Ares,[297] tremble before her own slaves?”

“She has trembled before now,” replied Titus Claudius. “Read the
chronicles of the historians. The gladiator, who escaped with a handful
of rabble from the school at Capua, collected an army, before the
Senate had realized the fact. He beat the praetors, he defeated the
quaestor Thoranius, he overran almost a third of the peninsula....”

“Then, and now; think of the difference,” exclaimed Quintus, to whom
the unexpected turn taken by the conversation was most painful. “That
was possible in the time of the Republic, but the strong hand of Caesar
will be able to protect us. Besides, the slaves of our day lack the one
thing needful--the irresistible Spartacus.”

“He will be forthcoming, when the time is ripe. Indeed, from all I
hear, I fancy a candidate for the honor has already been discovered. He
is called Eurymachus.”

“Really?” cried Quintus, who was fast losing all his presence of mind.
“Do you really think....?”

“Yes, my son, I do think.... Does not the very mode of his rescue show
how great and dangerous his personal influence must be? And I hear
on all sides of this man’s defiant tenacity, contempt of suffering,
strength and endurance. It is out of such rough wood as this, that
a Spartacus is hewn. And a Spartacus to-day is more dangerous than
his prototype; he can command a more mischievous force, against which
sword and spear are wielded in vain: that of superstition. I cannot
fail to see this plainly; for years I have watched the tendencies of
the commonalty with all the keenness of suspicion. The creed of the
Nazarenes ferments and spreads--the next Spartacus will be a Christian.”

“Father,” Quintus began after a pause, “I know that in this instance
you are mistaken. This slave--I happen to know certainly--never
conceived such a scheme. Besides, it seems to me, that the acumen of
our statesmen is somewhat at fault, when it makes that sect responsible
for everything that shocks or shakes society....”

“You do not know them,” interrupted his father, “and I do. Enough--we
have digressed. What connection has all this with your request? Speak,
for my time is precious.”

Quintus stood undecided. What could he hope for in this state of
things? Well--he could but try.

“Father,” he began hesitatingly, “I came to speak in behalf of the
very man, whom you are making every effort to brand as a Spartacus. I
saw him two or three times in Baiae; he pleased me greatly, and I then
determined to buy him of Stephanus. Then this most unlucky business
occurred, and I lost the slave whom I had already begun to think of as
my own. When I tell you, that Stephanus deliberately and maliciously
tortured and punished him; when I swear to you solemnly, that the
sentence of death....”

“What do you want?” asked his father coldly; “speak and have done.”

“Well, father; I want to become possessed of that slave at any price,
and I ask you whether, in the event of his being captured, it would not
be possible to mitigate the rigor of the law....”

“You astound me! For a mere whim you would endanger the state, cut a
trench in the dyke which alone is able to protect us against the flood
of rebellion? And you ask me--ME--to be your accomplice in such a
proceeding? I admit, that Stephanus is brutal and tyrannical, nay--from
my point of view--criminal. But then, are there not laws to protect
slaves against such barbarities?”

“Laws, yes--” cried Quintus bitterly “but they do not exist as against
the rich and powerful.”

“Every earthly thing is of its nature imperfect. If Stephanus defies
the law, that does not justify us in leaving the crime of Eurymachus
unpunished. I lament deeply, that my own son should so utterly
misunderstand the first and highest principles of my views of life. Go,
my dear Quintus, and for the future consider twice, before you trouble
your father with such follies. Eurymachus must die by the hand of the
executioner, though you should pledge half your estates to buy him. Go,
my son, and do not altogether forget that you are a Roman.”

Thus speaking, Titus Claudius sat down again to his desk. Quintus stood
for a moment as if in absence of mind; then he slowly went towards the
door.

“Farewell, father,” he said, as he left the room. His voice was sad,
almost gloomy, as though they were parting for a long, sad interval.
Titus Claudius, struck by the strangeness of his tone, raised his head
in astonishment and gazed, like a man waking from a painful dream, at
the door through which Quintus had departed; a vague presentiment fell
on his spirit.

“I was too hard,” he said to himself. “His error springs from a noble
source--from pity. I ought to have said a kind word to him before he
went away,” and he hastily rose from his seat.

“Quintus, Quintus!” he called out into the hall. “Skopas, Athanasius,
did you see my son?”

The slaves flew into the vestibule, but Quintus had long since
disappeared in the bustle of the street. The Flamen returned to his
sitting-room, oppressed with melancholy foreboding.

“I will tell him the very next time I see him.--He has the best
and truest heart that ever beat, and the noblest souls are easiest
wounded.--However, away with such thoughts now, and to work once more.”

Titus Claudius sat down again and bent over his table and, as he sat
there, he might have been taken for a poet in the act of composition,
for his fine face glowed with eager inspiration. But the words he wrote
were not those which enchant the populace, but the eloquent flow of a
mighty impeachment; what he was forging were not lines and verses, but
terrific weapons against what he believed to be the most threatening
foe of the Roman Empire; against Christianity.[298]


FOOTNOTES:

 [291] THE CHAMBERLAINS ON DUTY. At the emperor’s formal morning
       reception a large number of court officials was present, to
       maintain order, announce those who were awaiting admission and
       accompany them into the hall of audience. These persons were
       called _admissionales_ (admitters) or people _ab admissione,
       ex officio admissionis_ etc. (See Suet, _Vesp._ 14, etc.)

 [292] SATURNALIA. A name given to a festival held for several days
       in the latter part of the month of December, in honor of the
       old Italian god of the harvest, Saturnus. It resembled in some
       respects our Christmas festivities, in others the carnival
       gayeties. The Saturnalia commemorated the happy age of
       Saturnus. All work ceased. Our “Happy New Year!” or the cry:
       “Fool, let the fool out!” had their counterpart in the shouts
       echoing on all sides: “_Io saturnalia! Io bona saturnalia!_”
       People caroused, feasted and gambled; pleased each other
       with gifts and surprises. The slaves were admitted to table,
       in token, that under the rule of Saturnus there had been no
       distinction of rank; all sorts of jests and amusements were
       practised, and a certain liberty of word and deed everywhere
       prevailed.

 [293] MEAD (Mulsum, _scil._ vinum) prepared from cider and honey, a
       favorite drink, especially at the prandium.

 [294] HE SPOKE, AND THE DARK-BROWED KRONION NODDED ASSENT. In these
       words Lucilia quotes a well-known line of the Iliad (Il. I.
       528.)

          Ἡ, καὶ κυανέησιν ἐπ’ ὀφρύσι νεῦσε Κρονίων.

       How customary such quotations were--not only in Latin
       translations, but in the original language--appears in Pliny’s
       letters, for instance, I, 24, where in two different passages
       lines from the Iliad are quoted, among them the one mentioned
       here, also in I, 18, (farther below in the same letter) I,
       20, (several times;) IV, 28; V. 19; V, 96. Elsewhere in Pliny
       numerous Greek words and phrases are found in the Latin text
       (see _Ep._ I, 13, 19, 20; II, 2, 3, 12, 13, 14, 20; IV, 10;
       VI, 32, etc.) as in our own times a French, English, or Latin
       phrase occurs in a German letter. Every cultivated person
       understood Greek; nay, the preference for this language had
       become a fashionable mania, just as in the last century there
       was a craze for French in Germany. (See Juv. _Sat._, VI, 185:
       _omnia Graece_. Everything is Greek!)

 [295] REED. A pen made from a reed, cut in the same manner as our
       goose quills, was often used for writing.

 [296] SPARTACUS. The terrible insurrection of the slaves under
       Spartacus failed only on account of the want of harmony among
       the rebels. This insurrection, 71 B.C. was conquered with the
       utmost difficulty. Spartacus, after a famous battle, fell with
       his ablest comrades.

 [297] DAUGHTER OF ARES. A name given to Rome in consequence of
       the well-known legend, that Romulus and Remus were sons of
       the war-god Mars and the vestal virgin Rhea Silvia. Quintus
       here uses the Hellenic name Ares, as the words Ῥώμη θυγάτηρ
       Ἄρεος which occur in the first verse of a celebrated ode by
       the Greek poetess Melinno (600 B.C.) flitted before his mind.

 [298] AGAINST CHRISTIANITY. Concerning the persecutions of the
       Christians under Domitian, see Dio Cass. XLVII, 16.



                             CHAPTER XVII.


When Caius Aurelius had finished the fourth canto of the Thebais,
Octavia put an end to the reading; breakfast was waiting in the little
dining-room. The young man was invited to join them, and they passed a
pleasant hour over the meal. They were all accustomed to their father’s
absence, for business had lately so completely absorbed him, that he
would hardly give himself time to drink a glass of Falernian, as he
sat at work, or to snatch a morsel of food. Octavia lamented it, but,
on the other hand, she was proud of it as well; she rejoiced too in
the confident anticipation of a long period of rest and enjoyment to
succeed this last great effort. Lucilia found dinner without him very
dull, as she took an opportunity of whispering very pointedly to her
sister. This was, in fact, rather strange, for Aurelius, whose tongue
seemed to have been loosed by the reading of the heroic poem, displayed
the greatest aptitude for all the accomplishments of social life. The
triclinium positively sparkled with good humor, even Lucilia belied
herself, for more than once she broke out into a merry laugh, the
very reverse of dull. Herodianus, who had come to escort his master
home, and who had the honor of being invited to share the meal, was
astonished at the brilliancy of the young man, who was usually so
silent and glanced suspiciously at the crystal cup, as if that might be
accountable for so strange a phenomenon. And Baucis swore by the great
Isis, that never in her life had she known a Roman knight with such
delightful qualities as Aurelius, who had a kind word even for her, a
stupid old woman, and who read poetry so divinely.

The Batavian took his leave about mid-day; he sent his respectful
greetings through Octavia to the master of the house, fearing to
disturb so busy a personage at this hour of the day.

“And what next?” cried Lucilia, as the door closed upon Aurelius.
“Shall we lie down to sleep, sweet Claudia, or order the litter to go
to the Campus Martius?”[299]

“Just which you please. The day is fine, and we might walk for an hour
under the colonnade of Agrippa.”[300]

“Will you come with us, dear mother?” asked Lucilia.

“How can I,” said Octavia smiling. “I must be on the spot, when your
father leaves his work. If you are not content to go alone, Baucis
may....”

“Oh no, no!” interrupted Claudia. “The worthy Baucis may remain at
home. When we get into the laurel groves[301] we shall walk, and Baucis
is so slow that she would be a hindrance.”

The litter was soon ready. Four Numidians, with waving feathers in
their heads, marched in front, and they proceeded northwards, by the
same way which Quintus had taken two days since, in the moonless night.

“I am glad that we left Baucis at home,” said Claudia in Greek. “We can
talk undisturbed for once. You are so dreadfully sleepy, when we go to
bed....”

“And with good reason,” replied Lucilia, also in Greek. “I am tired
out and over-excited. The amusements of the last few days are telling
on my nerves. First, there was the evening at Cornelia’s; then a
recitation for two hours from the charming Claudia on the merits of
Caius Aurelius....”

“I beg your pardon, but you are reversing the position. It was mistress
Lucilia, who went on talking about Caius Afranius.”

“Indeed! and why? Simply and solely as a counterpoise, an antidote to
Aurelius. Besides, with your kind permission, his name is not Caius,
but Cneius Afranius. Of course, you have nothing but Caius running in
your head.”

“That is just like you now,” said Claudia with a sigh. “Lately there
has been no speaking a rational word to you.”

“I am over-tired,” Lucilia repeated. “Two cantos of Statius yesterday
morning, two more again this morning; to-morrow, two cantos of Statius,
that involves a fourth! It is a mercy, that the Thebais consists only
of twelve altogether, so it must come to an end at last! Certainly,
when we have done Statius, he might read us Virgil[302] and afterwards
the Battle of the Frogs and Mice.”[303]

“Go, Lucilia--you are quite odious--and I wanted to confess something
to you.”

“A confession? my darling Claudia, a confession?” cried Lucilia,
seizing her sister’s hand. “Will you own at last that you love him?
That you are a perfect fool about him? Oh! silly child! did you not
perceive, that I only wanted to punish you for trying to deceive me?”

Claudia colored deeply, and involuntarily drew the embroidered curtain,
as if she feared that the litter-bearers might read her secret in her
face.

“Not so loud!” she whispered, and then she softly kissed her cheek.

“You confess?” asked Lucilia. But the only answer was a closer caress
and a fervent kiss on her lips.

“That is enough,” said Lucilia. “Your kiss says everything. No girl
gives such a kiss as that, who is not desperately in love. It was meant
for Caius Aurelius.”

“Hush!” Claudia entreated, laying her hand on the audacious girl’s
mouth. “Promise me....”

“Not to mount the rostra[304] and proclaim in the Forum: Claudia is
in love with Aurelius!...? You little fool! Just the reverse; I will
keep it a dead secret, and do all I can to clear the road for you. For
things will not run so smoothly as you think. A mere provincial knight,
and Claudia, the daughter of the first senatorial house in Rome! You
cannot take it ill in your father if he maintains the rights of his
position, and intends his daughter to marry a consul.”[305]

“But if his daughter objects?”

“Then Titus Claudius must give way, or the gentle Claudia is not
incapable of running away with Caius Aurelius.”

“What are you saying!” exclaimed Claudia horrified. Then she sat
looking thoughtfully into her lap.

“Do you suppose,” she said presently, “that his allusion, yesterday, to
Sextus Furius was meant seriously?”

“What else could it mean? The worthy man is three times too old for
you, to be sure, but the names of his ancestors have been splendid for
centuries. Only think of Furius Camillus, the glorious conqueror of the
Volscians and Aequians. Sextus Furius, to be sure, has conquered no
insurgent nations, but the consulate undoubtedly lies before him, and
his wealth is enormous.”

“Ah!” sighed Claudia. “We Roman girls have a bad time of it. How rarely
do we have a free choice in the tie which lasts one’s life-long! A
stern father or guardian brings a husband on the scene, before our
hearts have a chance of deciding. Such a betrothal as that of Quintus
and Cornelia is as rare as a white raven. How beautiful, how honest
by comparison is the custom in the North, where the lover first
wins the affection of a girl, and then seeks the approval of her
parents. Aurelius has told me wonderful stories of the fidelity of the
tawny-haired Rugian to the wife of his choice, and of how the treasure
is often won in fights to the death, after years of constancy. It must
be glorious to be loved and wooed in that northern fashion! Do you know
that Aurelius has some Germanic blood in his veins...?”

“Indeed?” said Lucilia surprised.

“Yes, really. His grandmother was a Frisian, from the shores of the
Baltic, where the Weser falls into the sea. There are large and wealthy
families among them, valiant warriors and chiefs, who will bow their
necks to no Roman consul. If only they were of one mind, Aurelius says,
Rome herself might tremble before these tribes. But, strangely enough,
though in their family life they are so loving and constant, their
feuds are perennial, tribe against tribe and prince against prince. It
is only under stress of imminent peril, that they league themselves
under one banner, and woe then to the foe they turn upon! You have read
of Varus[306] and how his legions were cut to pieces in the Saltus
Teutoburgiensis, while he fell on his own sword?”

“Yes, Baucis has told us the story. But after all--who cares what
goes on in Germania!--our legions are constantly engaged in fighting
on the frontier, now against the Dacians and now against the
Parthians[307]--I do not trouble myself about the where and the why.
Moral struggles, the battles we must fight at home, interest me far
more....”

“Particularly the law pleadings in the Senate, and before the court of
the Centumvirate!” said Claudia smiling.

“Certainly! out there, brute force decides the matter, but in the Forum
it is superior intellect that wins the day.”

“And one of the boldest champions is Cneius Afranius.”

“It is quite true; his whole individuality, his undaunted honesty, his
unfailing energy....”

“Hey day! what eloquence. Before long we shall see you in the Basilica
among the candidates for applause.”

“Laugh away, by all means! I assert my right and liberty to admire all
that is noble. If I were better looking, I should very likely exert
myself to achieve a conquest, for I frankly confess that I regard the
future wife of Afranius as a woman to be envied.”

“You are frank indeed.”

“I always am. And I find it all the easier, since I do not allow my
consciousness of my defects to destroy my peace of mind. The Gods
are unjust? For aught I care! You have a mouth like a rose-bud, I
have a muzzle like a Cantabrian bear![308] Fate we call that, or
Ananke![309]--Well, it is a lovely day for us both alike! Just see
what a crowd and bustle there are out here; I think we had better walk.
There is the portico with its hundred columns.”

Claudia stopped the bearers, and the two girls walked on to the
magnificent hall of Agrippa, followed at a short distance by the
Numidian slaves. Arm in arm they walked along the arcades, by the
famous mural paintings,[310] representing in the highest style of art,
scenes from the stories of the Greek divinities--the rape of Europa,
Cheiron the Centaur, and the voyage of the Argonauts. To the right they
saw the marble enclosures--Septa[311] they were called--in the midst
of which the Roman people assembled when the centuria[312] were called
upon to vote. Lucilia hoped she might one day be present at some stormy
debate here. Claudia found it more interesting, to linger over the gay
booths[313] and bazaar for luxurious trifles at the northern end of the
portico, where the precious produce of the remotest provinces of the
empire was displayed.

Thus, chatting and laughing, they reached the shady avenues of plane
and laurel, which extended almost to the shores of the river and, with
their temples, columns, terraces and works of art, were the scene of
enjoyment for a numerous throng of citizens. Here hundreds of handsome
chariots--most of them with two wheels--rushed to and fro on a broad
causeway; graceful horsemen dashed along the gravelled way, while the
motley crowd of pedestrians slowly loitered along the side alleys.
Here a following of young men pressed round the litter of some woman
of rank; there a grave and morose-looking pedagogue led his flock
to a grass-plot, where boys were exercising themselves in wrestling
or throwing the discus.[314] Pairs of lovers strolled away hand in
hand to remoter bowers; slaves--male and female--with their owners’
children, crowded round a juggler’s booth, applauding the skill with
which Masthlion[315] balanced a heavy pole on his bare forehead, or
the strength Ninus[316] displayed in supporting half a dozen boys
upon his shoulders. Among the mob a legion of fruit and cake sellers
wriggled and squeezed themselves; fortune-tellers twitched at the robe
of the passer-by, urgently pressing their services on them; shipwrecked
sailors sat begging by the wayside, with tablets on their knees[317]
relating the history of their woes; flute-players piped their latest
tunes from Gades; dark Egyptians exhibited tame snakes, which twined
round the body, neck and arms of the owner to the measure of a dismal
tom-tom.

Lucilia and Claudia followed the shady alley, that ran parallel to the
main road, greatly amused at the dazzling, noisy and ever-new scenes
that met them at every turn.

“Supposing we should meet your Aurelius--” said Lucilia.

“My Aurelius! My sweet child, pray do not get into the habit of saying
such things.”

“Well, then--Caius Aurelius.”

“It is not likely. He rarely comes now to the plain of Mars.”

“Indeed. What has he to attend to of so much importance.”

“He is studying hard; and for the last few days he has been a good deal
with Cornelius Cinna, who generally admits him at this hour. Cinna
thinks very highly of him.”

“Well, for my part, I must confess I should prefer a ride here under
the green trees, to all the harangues of that perverse old man.”

“Aurelius finds him most interesting; he considers him quite a genius.”

“What next?--A genius in the art of seeing the whole world black!”

“Nay, quite seriously. Cinna is initiating Caius into the mysteries
of state-craft, teaching him philosophy and history. Caius said, that
in the few hours he had been permitted to converse with Cinna, he had
learnt more than in many years of solitary study.”

“Well; then our Caius--you yourself called him simply Caius--will soon
begin to wrinkle his brows and to scent ruin and misery in everything.
Do you know, child, this Cinna....”

She broke off suddenly, for some one called her by name; she looked
round and saw Quintus, who came out from among the trees.

“Well? Are you often to be met out here? And always close to the
highway! You must take an extraordinary interest in fine horses....”

“We do indeed!” said Lucilia pertly. “For instance, look at that noble
grey just now turning into the avenue. What a head! what a mane!”

Claudia squeezed her saucy sister’s arm, for the rider, who came
galloping towards them, was none other than Caius Aurelius. By
his side rode Herodianus, rather roughly exercised on a tall,
high-stepping steed; his empurpled face betrayed but little liking for
the performance. Aurelius, by contrast, looked all the more radiant,
guiding his noble horse as if it were child’s-play among the throng of
vehicles, and enjoying to the utmost the sense of power and security.

He now caught sight of Claudia, and the blood mounted to his brow. He
was so much occupied in looking at the two girls, to whom he bowed in
agitated confusion, that he did not notice, that one of the very small
horses, called by the Romans “mannie,”[318] was rushing towards him
like an arrow. Its rider, a boy of about twelve, tried to turn the
pony’s head, but not soon enough to avoid the grey, which tossed its
head aside. So the pony’s mane just tickled the horse’s lower jaw, and
the boy only escaped a violent collision by ducking widely on one side.
The Batavian’s horse, at all times an irritable beast, gave an ominous
snort, and reared straight up, trembling in every muscle, and in the
next instant would inevitably have fallen backwards if Quintus had not
made a bold leap over the brushwood, seized the horse by the bridle,
and after a short struggle brought him to a stand-still on all fours
again. Herodianus, meanwhile, who was frightened out of his senses, was
thrown up from his saddle by a sudden spring of his steed, and reseated
in front of it; he threw his arms round the beast’s neck, and remained
a comical picture of woe. After Quintus had quieted the Batavian’s
excited grey, he came to the freedman’s help.

“By Jove the avenger!” cried Herodianus, shuffling back into his saddle
with much difficulty, “this wild horse of the Sun[319] was within a
hair’s breadth of trampling me under his hoofs. Thanks, earnest and
warmest thanks, heroic Quintus Claudius! I will drink a dozen bowls to
your health this evening.”

“I have to thank you too,” said Aurelius with feeling. “If it is ever in
my power to render you such a service....”

“By all the gods!” said Quintus. “It might be supposed....”

“Nay, but I saw how close my horse’s hoofs were to your head.”

“Really? However, do you know who the little dare-devil was who shot
by you at such a pace? That was Burrhus, the son of Parthenius;[320] a
scatter-brained little rascal. He inherits it from his mother.”

“Burrhus?--the boy that Martial praises so extravagantly?”

“The very same. He flatters the son, and so touches the father.”

“Well, if he hears that Burrhus nearly rode me down, it may perhaps
afford him materials for fresh adulation. I, at any rate, have reason
to be glad that his heroic attempt was not altogether successful; that
I owe to you, my valiant and fearless friend! As I say, if ever you are
in a position....”

“Say no more about such a trifle, I beg of you,” said Quintus. “Though
indeed,” he added smiling, “it is not impossible, that I may claim your
kind offices sooner than you expect, though not as a return for my
performances as a horse-tamer.”

“I am happy to hear it. Come when you will, I am entirely at your
disposal.”

“Very well then,” said Quintus with emphasis; “expect me this evening
by the end of the second vigil.”

“Unfortunately I am engaged at that hour.”

“Later then, an hour before midnight?”

“That will do; I will expect you,” said Aurelius.

The two girls had stood quite still during this short dialogue. Claudia
was still struggling with the remains of her agitation, even Lucilia
had turned pale. Aurelius now stammered out a confused apology, bid
them farewell, and set spurs to his horse, while the freedman dragged
with all his might at the wolf’s-tooth bit[321] of his hard-mouthed
jade. They vanished in the crowd, Aurelius as straight and free
as a young centaur, and his companion like a clumsy bale of goods
incessantly tossed and jolted.

“You are a fine fellow!” cried Claudia, clasping her brother’s hand
with eager emotion. “What strength, what courage, what promptitude! Oh!
my heart nearly stood still with terror, when the rearing brute’s hoofs
hung just above your head--I shall never forget it!”

“I am sure I am very much obliged to you, my dear little sister. It is
a long time, since I last heard you speak to me in such an enthusiastic
key. Confess, Claudia--the fact that the rider’s name happened to be
Caius Aurelius, does not diminish your ardent appreciation of the feat?”

“You may laugh at me, if you will. I respect and admire you, and
forgive all your former sins.”

“Are you coming with us?” asked Lucilia.

“For ten minutes; then I must turn back again. Clodianus expects me at
the Baths.”

“And where do you dine to-day?” asked Claudia.

“With Cinna.”

“It is a long time since you dined with us.”

“I will to-morrow, if it is convenient. I will see whether he will
allow me to bring Cornelia with me....”

“Hardly,” said Lucilia. “Since the day before yesterday he has been in
a desperately bad humor. This morning early I had a note from Cornelia,
begging me to go and rescue her from the depths of melancholy.”

“What does Cornelia wish for?” said Quintus. “In my presence she is
always cheerfulness itself.”

“That is the magic of love,” replied Lucilia. “Its charms conquer all
griefs.”

“You seem highly experienced!”

“Theory--pure theory.”

They walked on towards the river. There they stood for a few minutes,
watching the boats and gondolas, which gently drifted down to the
Aelian bridge or struggled up stream under the stout strokes of the
oarsmen. Beyond the opposite shore the beautiful hills, strewn with
gardens and villas, smiled invitingly down on them, and farther off
still rose the five peaks of Soracte.[322]

“They will soon be crowned with snow,” sighed Claudia.

“Yes, it is wearing into autumn,” said Quintus. “But now, my children,
you must amuse yourselves without me. Till we meet to-morrow.”

“You fellows,” said Claudia, turning to the Numidians, when Quintus
was lost in the crowd. “Do you know what? You ought to be ashamed of
yourselves, down to the very ground. If it had not been for Quintus,
Aurelius would have been under the horse’s hoofs. Cowards! By the gods,
but I am minded to have you punished, that you may remember this hour!”

The Africans opened their wide thick mouths, and stared at their
mistress as if some marvel had happened. None of her slaves had ever
heard such words before from Claudia’s lips.

“That comes of her being betrothed to that rich Furius,” whispered one
of them. “I always told you, that the gentlest turn haughty when there
is a husband in sight.”


FOOTNOTES:

 [299] CAMPUS MARTIUS. The name given to the public pleasure grounds
       in the north-western part of Rome. Strabo describes them
       minutely. (V, 3.)

 [300] COLONNADE OF AGRIPPA. The most renowned object in the Campus
       Martius was the hundred-columned portico of Vipsanius Agrippa.

 [301] LAUREL GROVES. Within Agrippa’s colonnade were laurel and
       plane-groves. (Mart. _Ep._ I, 108, etc.)

 [302] VIRGIL. The author of the Aeneid had always been one of the
       most popular writers. He was even studied in the schools, as
       Schiller is in Germany at the present day.

 [303] BATTLE OF THE FROGS AND MICE. (βατραχομυομαχία) The Battle
       of the Frogs, a parody upon the Iliad; falsely attributed to
       Homer, and probably composed by Pigres of Halicarnassus.

 [304] ROSTRA. The name of the orator’s platform, adorned with a
       ship’s beak (rostrum, the ship’s beak) in the Forum Romanum.

 [305] INTENDS HIS DAUGHTER TO MARRY A CONSUL. Roman women married at
       a very early age, therefore in the nature of things, parents
       made the choice for the inexperienced girls. Thus Junius
       Mauricus requested the younger Pliny, to propose a husband for
       the daughter of his brother Junius Rusticus Arulenus. (See
       Book II, p. 55.) Pliny (_Ep._ I, 14) recommends his friend
       Minucius Acilianus, and in a quiet, business-like manner
       enumerates his excellent qualities, among which he does not
       forget to mention a considerable fortune. To be sure, the
       daughter’s formal consent was necessary. The young girls of
       our story, by the way, out of respect for our modern ideas,
       are described as young girls at an age, when Romans were
       usually married women. For the ordinary marriageable age,
       see Friedländer’s detailed description in the appendix to
       the first part of his “_Sittengeschichte_,” where he gives a
       number of inscriptions taken from the tombs, where the age
       of the girl at the time of her marriage is either directly
       stated, or may be ascertained by deducting the years of
       marriage from those of life. Twelve of the wives mentioned,
       married before they were fourteen, four at fourteen, three
       at sixteen, one at nineteen, and one at twenty-five. We are,
       however, expressly told that marriages of girls under twelve
       were by no means rare.

 [306] VARUS. The famous victory of the Germans over Quintilius Varus
       occurred in the year 9, A.D.

 [307] PARTHIANS. A people who lived south of the Caspian sea. Their
       territory afterwards extended to the Euphrates. The Romans had
       numerous feuds with this nation.

 [308] CANTABRIAN BEAR. Cantabria, the mountainous region in the
       north of Spain, supplied most of the bears for the Roman
       wild-beast combats.

 [309] ANANKE (Ανάγκη) personifies, like the Latin Fatum, the idea,
       that in every event which happens, there is an unalterable
       necessity, to which not only human beings, but even the gods
       are subject.

 [310] BY THE FAMOUS MURAL PAINTINGS. See Mart. _Ep._ II, 14. Ill,
       20, etc.

 [311] SEPTA. See Mart. _Ep._ II, 14; IX, 59.

 [312] THE CENTURIA. Even under the kings, the Romans were divided
       into five different classes, since the part taken by each
       individual in government affairs, especially concerning
       taxes and military service, depended on the amount of his
       property. Each of these classes consisted of a certain number
       of centurias, for instance, the first class contained eighty,
       the fifth thirty, etc. Centuria was the name originally given
       to a military division of 100 men, then to a certain number of
       citizens, from whose midst such a military organization could
       be formed. These centuries--in a civil sense--voted on public
       affairs in the _comita centuriata_ (assembly of the centuries)
       each century having one vote.

 [313] GAY BOOTHS. See Mart, _Ep._ IX, 59, v. I:

          “Mamurra many hours does vagrant tell,
          I’th’ shops, where Rome her richest ware does sell.”

       The same epigram describes the goods to be purchased in
       these booths; slaves, table-covers, ivory for table legs,
       semicircular dinner-couches (called _Sigma_ from their shape
       resembling the old Greek C) Corinthian brass (a mixture of
       gold, silver, and copper, very popular in those days) crystal
       goblets, _vasa murrhina_, chased silver dishes, gems, jewels,
       etc., etc.

 [314] WRESTLING OR THROWING THE DISCUS. Physical exercises of all
       kinds were highly esteemed by the Romans. Racing, wrestling,
       and throwing the discus (a flat, circular piece of stone or
       iron) were specially popular. See Hor. _Od._ I. 8 (_saepe
       disco_, _saepe trans finem jaculo nobilis expedito_) where the
       exercises in the Campus Martius are mentioned.

 [315] MASTHLION’S SKILL. See Mart _Ep._ V, 12:

          “That the haughty Masthlion now,
          Wields such weights on perched brow.”

 [316] NINUS’S STRENGTH. See Mart _Ep._ V, 12:

          “Or that Ninus finds his praise,
          With each hand eight boys to raise.”

       Giants, as well as dwarfs, and monstrosities of every kind
       were extremely popular in Rome. They were even frequently
       kept in aristocratic families as slaves and jesters. See Mart
       _Ep._ VII, 38, where a gigantic slave of Severus is mentioned.
       According to Plutarch, Rome ad a special market for monsters
       (ἡ τὼν τεράτων ἀγορά) where persons crippled in all kinds of
       ways were offered for sale. As the business was lucrative,
       certain deformities were artificially produced.

 [317] TABLETS ON THEIR KNEES. See Hor. _Epist. ad Pis._, 19, etc.

 [318] MANNIE. Such ponies are mentioned by Lucr., Hor., Prop., and
       Sen. They were distinguished for speed. The word is of Celtic
       origin.

 [319] THIS WILD HORSE OF THE SUN. Herodianus alludes to the steeds
       of Helios and the fate of Phaethon, who obtained his father’s
       permission to guide the chariot of the Sun one day in his
       stead, but had so little control over the unruly steeds, that
       to save the earth from burning, Zeus was compelled to slay
       him with a thunderbolt and hurl him from the chariot into the
       river Eridanus.

 [320] BURRHUS, THE SON OF PARTHENIUS. See Mart. _Ep._, IV, 45; V, 6.

 [321] WOLF’S-TOOTH BIT (_lupata frena_) a curb furnished with iron
       points shaped like a wolf’s tooth, used for hard-mouthed
       horses. See Hor. _Od._ I, 8, 6; _Nec lupatis temperat ora
       frenis_....

 [322] SORACTE. A mountain north of Rome. See Varro R.R. II, 3, 3;
       Virg. _Aen._ VI, 696, Hor. _Od._ I, 9 (_alta nive candidum._)



                             CHAPTER XVIII.


It was dark. In the dining-room of Cneius Afranius a small party had
just risen from table. Six guests had shared the modest meal--men
differing in age and position, but agreed in feeling, unanimous in
their hatred of the imperial reign of terror, and alike in courage and
strength of character. During the meal none but commonplace topics were
discussed, convinced as Afranius was of the fidelity of his slaves;
under Domitian’s rule, suspiciousness had risen to the dignity of a
virtue. Even the _commissatio_--the friendly cup which, in accordance
with time-honored custom, closed the meal--lent no impetus to the
conversation. Each one was thinking of the discussion, that was now to
follow.

They all went into the colonnade, if the small and unpretending
court-yard deserved the name. Cneius Afranius, the son of a poor family
of knightly rank of Gallia Lugdunensis,[323] would probably have been
obliged to start on his career in Rome as a mere lodger in hired rooms,
but that a childless friend of his father’s had bequeathed to him a
small legacy,[324] which enabled him to purchase a little house, which
had formerly belonged to a seaman, on the right bank of the Tiber, and
in the midst of a very humble quarter.[325] The situation was crowded
and almost squalid, and the little villa was only rendered rather less
unattractive, by the visible care bestowed on its arrangement by its
new owner, and yet more by the pretty little garden in its peristyle.
Afranius was very conscious of its defects, but they did not distress
him. That painful sensitiveness, which torments many men in narrow
circumstances, when intercourse with other men of greater wealth
reminds them of their poverty, was unknown to him. And as his dress
was always in the best style, though of plain materials, those who
met him elsewhere than in his own house supposed him to be well-to-do;
this impression was partly the result of his general appearance and
demeanor. Aurelius, who had crossed his threshold today for the first
time, thought as he entered the vestibule, that he must have made a
mistake; it seemed impossible that the self-possessed, easy-mannered
Afranius could live in so humble a dwelling.

The six men went slowly and in order from the dining room to the study.
First came the tall figure of the grey-haired Marcus Cocceius Nerva,
leaning on the arm of Ulpius Trajanus; Publius Cornelius Cinna followed
with Caius Aurelius, and last came the host with an old centurion,
who had long served in the wars in Germania and Dacia, and had lost
his left arm in the service. Now, robbed by Domitian of a pension
which had formerly been granted to him, he had for years earned his
living wearily as a teacher in an elementary school kept by a retired
physician, until Ulpius Trajanus had granted the veteran free quarters
in his own house.

The slaves were now strictly enjoined to admit no one to disturb the
party, and Momus, the confidential servant of Afranius, posted himself
at the door of the room, that no eavesdropping intruder might come too
near.

“My friends,” began Marcus Cocceius Nerva, when they were all seated,
“we have met expressly to hold pregnant and momentous council. Our
aim is to find the ways and means of at last carrying into effect the
steps, which we have been deliberating on for many months. The reign
of terror of Domitian has from the first been well-nigh unendurable,
and now his outrages, his unblushing insolence, have reached a pitch
at which our very blood curdles in our veins. Two days since, we all
heard from Cinna of the incredible insults offered by Caesar to the
most illustrious members of the Senate and of the knightly order; since
then other outrages have come to our ears. If Titus[326] once declared
that he regarded a day as lost, in which he had done no good action,
this, his degenerate brother,[327] accounts each day as misspent, in
which he has not trampled justice under-foot, and crowned tyranny
with boastful insolence. You all knew Junius Rusticus;[328] he was an
excellent man, experienced in every branch of learning, generous, and
of the loftiest morality. This illustrious philosopher was, yesterday,
crucified. And why, my friends, why? Because he dared to assert that
Paetus Thrasea, Nero’s noble victim, was a man of blameless character.
For this, and this alone, Junius Rusticus died the death of the basest
assassin.”

A gloomy murmur rose from the audience. All, with the exception of
Aurelius, already knew the facts, but they sounded with renewed horror
from the lips of the venerable man.

“Nor is this all,” Cocceius went on. “A second crime almost throws the
murder of Rusticus into the shade. Not long since a man of fortune
named Caepio,[329] of the order of Equites, died here. His heiress was
his niece, a young girl of about fourteen. However, a man was found,
who would declare openly that in Caepio’s lifetime he had frequently
heard him say, that Caesar was to inherit his fortune.[330] On the
strength of this lie, the property was unhesitatingly appropriated.
The hapless girl, alone and inexperienced, fell into infamy. Sunk in
wickedness, crushed by shame and sickness, a few days since she placed
herself in the way, as Caesar was being borne to the Forum. She lifted
up her hands to the throne on which he was carried, and cried in
desperate accents for justice. She was seized by the body-guard, and
flogged to death this morning.”

“Death to her murderer!” cried Cinna, shaking his fists in the
direction of the palace. “The fate of this poor child may fall on
you, O Nerva! on you, Ulpius Trajanus, on you, Cneius Afranius. In
the empire of this tyrant there is but one law: the mad whim of a
blood-hound.--To-day his Falernian has gone to his head--a beck, a
nod, and the daughters of our noblest families are stolen[331] for his
pleasure. To-morrow he has eaten and is full--he must be amused, and
Rome breaks out in flames. Ah! hideous, bottomless pit of disgrace!
Decide as you will, my resolution is taken. In the Senate, in the
Forum, in the theatre--meet him where I may--I will kill him.”

“Be easy, my dear friend,” said Cocceius. “You are the last man, who
would ever be allowed to get near enough. The suspicious tyrant, who
has the walls of his sleeping-room lined with mirrors,[332] so that
he may see what is going on behind him--he will know how to protect
himself from Cinna. Besides, never let us stain our just cause with
unnecessary bloodshed! The goal, that glimmers before us, can be
reached without the murder of Caesar. If the revolted nation brings him
presently before the judgment-seat of the Senate, he will be legally
condemned to death, and then he may meet the fate he has merited a
thousand times over. But we, whose purpose it is to open an era of
freedom and justice, must, whenever it is in any way possible, keep
our hands clean. We are conspirators against his throne, but not his
executioners.”

Muttered words of approbation assured the orator, that he spoke the
feelings of his friends. Even Cinna agreed.

“You are right,” he said frowning. “You are always clear and logical,
when my heart seethes with rage. It is well, my worthy colleagues,
that you did not put me at your head. I am good in action, or where
energetic decision is needed; but in the history of the world
well-meditated plans and calm resolve weigh heavier in the scale.”

“And their union will suffice to break our bonds,” added Afranius.
“But I must confess I am burning to know how Ulpius has solved the
problem.--I know how I should solve it....”

“Well?” asked Ulpius Trajanus. “You have always been the silent member
at our meetings. Perhaps I may be able to avail myself of what you have
to suggest, to strengthen my own web.”

“What I have to say is very little, but it seems to me all the clearer
and more simple for that very reason. Rage, hatred, and desperation are
fermenting in every soul The fuel is piled, nothing is needed but the
spark. Let us fling the spark in among the masses. Let us boldly and
unreservedly call the people of Rome to open rebellion.”

“Moderation!” exclaimed Cocceius Nerva. “Wildly as our hearts may
throb, let us take no step which calm wisdom cannot approve! We must
not act from sentiment! You are in error, Afranius, if you think that
the populace, which clamors for bread and the Circus, will ever feel
any enthusiasm for liberty. What has this rabble of idlers, this
self-interested mob, that lives on the _largesse_ of the State, to fear
from Caesar? Lightning blasts oak-trees, but not the brushwood that
cumbers the ground. Whether Titus or Domitian rules, whether the Senate
is respected or insulted--it is all the same to the herd, so long as
there are wrestling, running, and fighting to be seen. They would sell
themselves bodily to the first Barbarian, who would buy them, so long
as they had bread and amphitheatres, and a Sicambrian is just as good
in their eyes as the direct descendants of Romulus. Alas! my friends,
when I look out on the scene of confusion I am seized with sudden
terror, and the outlook on the future waxes dim before my eyes. This
indifference and want of patriotism is spreading on all sides; it has
even tainted the army.--If some change for the better does not soon
appear, it may well happen that this haughty city may ere long crumble
into ruins--aye, my friends, into ruins--destroyed and sacked by the
insolent rout of Germanic tribes, who are already thundering at our
gates. They will overcome the small remains of our virtue with the
sword, and the vast host of our crimes with their gold.”

He ceased; an expression of deep grief clouded his handsome features.
Then, turning to Afranius, he said: “And so what I meant to say was,
that the mob of the capital must, come what may, be kept out of the
game.”

“You say the mob,” said Afranius, “but there is a class closely
allied with the mob which, though small in number, is all the greater
in force, high-mindedness, and dignity. Believe me, even among the
third estate--among the fishermen and dealers, the artisans and
handicraftsmen, there still are Romans to be found.”

“Very possibly. But large schemes cannot take account of so small a
factor. The very way in which the State has developed, has thrown the
chief power into the hands of the troops, and he who is master of the
soldiery, is master of Rome and the Empire. You know how completely
the legions in the provinces are dependent on the impression of an
accomplished fact. It can scarcely be expected, that any single
division of the army outside the walls of Rome will take up arms for
Domitian, if once we have the metropolis in our power. We can gain over
the Praetorian guard with a word. Ulpius, my beloved son, make known to
us now, what you have attempted and achieved in this direction.”

Ulpius Trajanus leaned back in his chair, and crossed his arms over his
breast. His noble and frank countenance, stamped in every feature with
generous honesty, suddenly grew anxious and grave. Lucilia had been
right when she said incidentally, that Ulpius Trajanus reminded her of
Caius Aurelius. Although considerably older and of a dark southern
type, the Hispanian, like the young Northman, had that look of genuine
human benevolence, which lends a bright and harmonious expression to
any features.

“My friends,” began Ulpius Trajanus, coloring a little; “I can as yet,
to my great regret, report nothing decisive. I came hither not to
announce a success, but to hear what you had to say. Within the last
few months many new recruits have joined the ranks of the Praetorians;
magnificent gifts of money are distributed every week to the officers
and men. Norbanus, the officer in command, is loaded with favors, so it
would be difficult to find an opening--! Indeed, I am firmly convinced
that Norbanus, who is an honest man, places the welfare of the country
far above any other consideration; however, up to this moment, all my
efforts to fathom him have been in vain. He speaks out more frankly
than many others, it is true, but his openness always bears upon
trifling matters. He instinctively knows the limits of discretion.
It would be waste of words to tell you of every detail. I have given
myself no rest from labor or vigilance, and it is not my fault if the
rock repeatedly rolls back into the gulf.”

“Promise him the consulate,” muttered Cinna frowning; “trip him up,
trample on him, hold the dagger to his breast....”

“The dagger’s point might only too easily be turned upon us,” said
Trajanus smiling.

“He is right, Cinna,” Nerva threw in. “It is precisely his self-command
and coolness, that fit him for the part assigned to him, and he must
play it to the end in the spirit of those who have trusted him.”

“But self-command must come to an end and issue at last,” said
Afranius, leaning his round chin on his hand. “I have no thought of
even hinting a reproach to our worthy Ulpius; I only mean, that if
Lucius Norbanus persists in the part of the mysterious oracle, and
Trajanus waits for the spirit to move him, without giving it a helping
hand, our work of redemption will remain in the clouds. Besides,
nothing is more dangerous than a long-planned conspiracy. Before you
can turn round the palace will have caught wind of it, and by the day
after to-morrow, the splendid museum of Domitian’s victims will be
increased by a few valuable specimens.”

Cornelius Cinna nodded assent.

“Excess is mischievous in anything, even excess of caution,” he said
eagerly. “We must strike now, if not with the aid of the body-guard,
why, then without it--or, if need be, against it. There are troops
enough in Gallia Lugdunensis,[333] to defeat the few cohorts of
Norbanus. Cinna is thought highly of by the legions, and I myself have
many devoted allies among the officers; while not a few of the soldiers
will remember, that I have always been a friend and supporter of the
third estate.”

“I can answer for that,” said the old centurion, who had till this
moment sat silent in his easy-chair. “Nor am I altogether devoid of
adherents, though I cannot compete with Cinna. I should think it would
not be difficult....”

“Enough!” interrupted Cocceius Nerva with a friendly wave of his hand.
“I see that your opinions are divided. Allow me to make a suggestion.
The danger of discovery does not seem so imminent, as to compel us to
forego all attempt to rely on the support of Rome. Let us separate in
the firm determination, to prepare and meditate everything that can
help us towards our goal. I am chiefly thinking of Caius Aurelius,
who made friends so rapidly with Norbanus, and who is regarded with
less suspicion at the palace than Ulpius Trajanus. We will meet again
fourteen days hence, here, in the house of Afranius, and at the same
hour. If in the meanwhile our plan has made no progress, we will give
up the City of the Seven Hills, and set to work in Gallia Lugdunensis.”

This proposal was unanimously agreed to.

“Yet one thing more. It is quite possible, that in the course of these
fourteen days events might occur, on which it is impossible to reckon
beforehand. I am perfectly convinced, that not a soul in the palace
suspects anything as yet; but spies are innumerable, and an accident, a
heedless word, a glance, a gesture, might betray us. Just at this time
fresh suspicions have been roused in Caesar’s court. Let us be ready to
fly at a moment’s notice.”

“To fly!” exclaimed Cinna. “Is that the road to victory?”

“I only say in the worst extremity....”

“That would indeed be the worst! Do you already know of any mischief?
Do you know, that a spy has already betrayed us?”

“No, my dear Cinna, I know nothing; I was only considering
possibilities.”

“But that possibility is exactly what is not to be borne! I feel now,
twice as strongly as before, that our only safety is in action.”

“But can you act?” asked Cocceius. “Is Norbanus our ally? Are the
legions under your command? If so, act, and at once, Cinna! Stand up on
the platform in the Forum, and proclaim that Domitian is deposed.”

“You are very right,” snarled Cinna. “Right as usual! but what is to
happen if the possibility becomes a fact? When flight has dispersed us
to all the four winds...?”

“Then, my friend, the essential point is to agree on a spot, where we
may all quietly meet again. Let that spot be Rodumna,[334] the native
town of Afranius. It is in every respect favorable--at only a short
distance from Lugdunensis, and yet so small as to be out of the turmoil
of the world. There will we meet, rouse the legions to our support, and
march upon Rome!”

“Good, good!” cried Cornelius Cinna.

“Rodumna!” echoed the rest.

Nerva rose.

“One word!” implored Caius Aurelius.

Nerva, who had already grasped their host’s hand in leave-taking,
turned enquiringly to the young man.

“Worthy friends,” the Batavian went on. “Allow me to say, that down at
Ostia lies my trireme. The captain and the crew are all men, whom we
may blindly trust. If anything should occur to drive us hence, we could
not do better than meet on board my bark and reach Gallia by sea.”

“That is a good idea,” said Nerva. “But still one question arises. Does
any one in Rome know of the existence of this trireme?”

“Hardly a soul. The high-priest’s family, it is true, were on board
with me, when I came from Baiae. But here, in Rome, where there is
so much to distract the attention, so trivial a circumstance would
scarcely dwell in their minds.”

“But the slaves!” cried Cinna. “If you are suspected at the palace,
they have been cross-examined ere now....”

“I do not honestly believe, that I have been considered worthy of so
much attention at the palace.”

“And even if it were so,” Nerva added, “there is a way of escape.
To-morrow morning, spread a report among your friends and
acquaintances, that your vessel is on the point of starting to return
to Trajectum. Go to Ostia yourself, and let her set sail with all
ceremony; then, at night, when she is well out at sea, order the
captain, instead of steering southwards, to make a detour to the left
and sail past the islands of Pontia[335] and back to Antium, as if
he had come direct from Messana.[336] There he may wait till we need
him. By the Appian Way and Aricia[337] and Lanuvium,[338] it is not
more than twice the distance to Antium, that it is to Ostia. Give your
captain the name of Rodumna as a password; whoever goes on board with
that token is to be received unquestioned. What do you think of my
plan?”

“Nothing could be better arranged, it seems to me,” exclaimed Cinna.
“In this way we need neither fit out a vessel for ourselves, nor yet
travel by land. The one would excite suspicion, and the other would be
both dangerous and expensive. So let it stand: if the situation should
seem in any way perilous, we meet on board the trireme in the harbor of
Antium.”

The conspirators rose and slowly dispersed.


FOOTNOTES:

 [323] GALLIA LUGDUNENSIS. Lugdunian Gaul (_Gallia Lugdunensis_, so
       called from the principal city Lugdunum, now Lyons) extended
       from the Seine (_Sequana_) to the Garonne (_Garumna_) and
       westward to the Atlantic Ocean. On the south, it was separated
       from the Mediterranean by Narbonensian Gaul.

 [324] BEQUEATHED TO HIM A SMALL LEGACY. Legacies bequeathed by
       childless persons to those not connected by ties of blood,
       played a very important part in the society under the
       emperors. Legacy-hunting thrived greatly in consequence of its
       frequent occurrence.

 [325] IN THE MIDST OF A VERY HUMBLE QUARTER. The right bank of the
       Tiber, in the (14) district, which bore the name “_Trans
       Tiberim_,” was inhabited exclusively by tradesfolk, sailors,
       etc.

 [326] TITUS. The brother and predecessor of Domitian.

 [327] THE FLAVII had come into possession of the government with
       Vespasian, the father of Titus and Domitian. The latter’s full
       name was: Titus Flavius Domitianus Augustus.

 [328] JUNIUS RUSTICUS. See Suet. _Dom._ 10; Dio Cass. LXVII. 13.

 [329] CAEPIO. Suet. _Dom._ 9, mentions a man of this name.

 [330] CAESAR WAS TO INHERIT HIS FORTUNE. See Suet. _Dom._ 12:
       “Estates to which the emperor had no claim were seized, if
       only some one could be found to declare he had heard the dead
       man, during his life-time, say that the Caesar was to inherit
       his property.”

 [331] THE DAUGHTERS OF OUR NOBLEST FAMILIES ARE STOLEN. That this
       was really to be expected, is proved by the incredible
       description Dio Cassius gives us of Nero’s conduct, (LXII, 15.)

 [332] THE SUSPICIOUS TYRANT WHO HAS THE WALLS OF HIS SLEEPING-ROOM
       LINED WITH MIRRORS. See Suet, _Dom._ 14.

 [333] THERE ARE TROOPS ENOUGH IN GALLIA LUGDUNENSIS. True, nothing
       is expressly stated concerning this fact in the reign of
       Domitian; but as it was the case under Nero, this extremely
       probable opposition certainly scarcely involves a license. The
       liberty I take in the treatment of the conspiracy itself, is
       much greater. Strictly speaking, it was only a revolution in
       the palace. Considerations more important to the novelist than
       strict historical accuracy, compel me here to deviate from the
       accounts of Suetonius and Dio Cassius.

 [334] RODUMNA on the Liger, (now the Loire). Called at the present
       day Roanne.

 [335] ISLANDS OF PONTIA. Now Isole di Ponza, opposite the Gulf of
       Gaeta.

 [336] MESSANA. Now Messina.

 [337] ARICIA. Now Ariccia.

 [338] LANUVIUM. Now Civita Lavigna.



                              CHAPTER XIX.


On the second day after the incidents just related dark clouds had
risen over the Tyrrhenian sea and spread in long, heavy banks across
the sky, which a short while since had been so deeply blue. A stiff
south-westerly breeze blew up the stream of the Tiber, and tossed the
little boats and flat-bottomed barges, which lay at anchor at the
foot of the Aventine,[339] till they jostled and bumped each other.
Sudden squalls of rain swept down at short intervals, and obliged the
people to throw on their leather cowls or their long-haired woollen
cloaks.[340] All the life of the streets took refuge in the arcades and
pillared halls; the atria, with their slippery marble pavements, were
deserted, and the water from the guttered roofs dripped dolefully into
the overflowing impluvia.[341] A strange atmosphere of discomfort and
oppression lay over the whole city. Some great races, which were to
have been run in the Circus Maximus, were postponed at the last moment.
The flow and ebb through the palace gates was less persistent than
usual. The Senate even, notwithstanding the importance of the matters
awaiting their debate, came in fewer numbers than usual to the sitting.
In short, the air was full of that dull uneasiness, which infallibly
accompanies the first symptoms of the decay of the year.

The storm increased as evening fell. Quintus, who had dined with no
other company than two of his clients, stood, as it grew dusk, at the
door of the dining-room, looking out at the dreary prospect. The clouds
chased each other wildly, and the wind groaned and howled through the
colonnade like the wailing of suffering humanity.

“Good!” said Quintus, turning back into the room. “And very good! The
wilder the night, the better for our undertaking.”

He signed to the shrewd slave, Blepyrus, who at this moment passed
along the passage with a brazier full of burning charcoal.[342]

“Where are you going?” he asked doubtfully; and when the slave
answered: “To your study, my lord,” he said:

“Very good, I am coming--but take care that we are alone.”

Blepyrus went on through the arcade, and when he had reached his
master’s private room, he carefully set the brazier on the floor. Two
lads, who were standing idle, he promptly dismissed as Quintus came
into the room.

“Listen, Blepyrus,” he began. “Just fancy for a moment, that to-day
is the feast of Saturn.[343] Tell me your honest opinion, frankly
and without reserve, just as if you were sitting at table after the
old-fashioned custom, while I, your master, waited upon you?”

The slave looked up at him in bewilderment.

“You do not seem to understand me,” Quintus continued. “I want to
hear from you, how far you are satisfied with your master. If I have
been unjust, if I have hurt your feelings, or wronged you without
cause--speak! I entreat you--nay, I command you.”

“My lord,” Blepyrus stammered out, “if I am to speak the truth, you
have said many a hard word to your other slaves, but to me you have
never been anything but a kind and just--indeed a considerate master. I
could only say the same, even if the feast of Saturn really licensed me
to complain.”

“I am glad to hear you say so, my good friend. I mean well by you
all, and if I ever.... Ah! I remember now what you have in your mind.
You are thinking of the evening, when I struck Allobrogus in the
face[344] for breaking that precious vase.--You are right; the poor
fellow’s teeth were more precious than the broken jar. It was my first
angry impulse. Believe me, Blepyrus, I have never hurt or injured any
one of you out of ill-will; and you, especially, have always been a
friend rather than a slave. You shared my earliest sports--do you
remember by the Pons Milvius[345] how I sprang to your assistance,
when your arm was suddenly cramped in swimming? And then again, on
the wrestling-ground in the Field of Mars, where we enacted the fight
of Varus against the Germans? You snatched me up and rescued me from
my foes, like a young god of war, when the game suddenly became
earnest....”

“I remember, my lord,” said the slave with a gratified smile.

“Well,” continued Quintus, “then tell me one thing. Are you still ready
to stand in the breach for your master? Understand me, Blepyrus--this
time it is not a question of fisticuffs or even thrashed ribs. It is
for life and death, old fellow. To be sure, your reward now should not
be, as it was then, a saucerfull of Pontian cherries, but the best of
all you can ask....”

“My lord,” said the slave, trembling with agitation, “I will do
whatever you desire.”

“Can you hold your tongue, Blepyrus? Be silent, not merely with your
tongue, but with your eyes--your very breath? You have done me good
service before now, I well remember, which required secrecy--but only
in trifling matters. This time it is not a tender note to the fair
Camilla, not even an assignation with Lesbia or Lycoris. Swear by the
spirit of your father, by all you hold sacred and dear, to be silent to
the very death.”

“I swear it.”

“Then be ready; at the second vigil we must set out on an
expedition--out into the storm and darkness. You can tell your
comrades, that I am going by stealth to Lycoris. The rest you shall
hear later.”

Three hours after this the little gate creaked open, which led from
the cavaedium to the street, and Quintus and the slave, both wrapped
in thick cloaks, slowly mounted the Caelian Hill,[346] and then took
a side road into the valley. Here, on the southern slope, the storm
attacked them with redoubled fury; the blast howled up the Clivus
Martis and the Appian Way. The streets were almost deserted; only
a solitary travelling-chariot now and then rolled thundering and
clattering over the stones.

“We must mend our pace,” whispered Quintus, as the slave paused a
moment, fairly brought to a standstill at the corner of the Via
Latina[347] by a sudden squall of rain. “We have still far to go,
Blepyrus; and we shall have it worse still out there in the open.”

The road gradually trended off to the right; that dark mass, that now
lay to the left, was the tomb of the Scipios,[348] and there, in front
of them, hardly visible in the darkness of night, rose the arch of
Drusus,[349] through which the road led them. They were now outside
the limits of the city itself--the fourteen regions, as they were
called, of Augustus Caesar. But Rome, the illimitable metropolis, flung
out her arms far beyond these prescribed boundaries. That undulating
plain, which we now know as the Campagna, was then dotted over with
villas and pleasure-gardens. The main artery of this straggling suburb
was the magnificent Via Appia--the noble work of a Claudius--leading
to the south. The greater number of these villas were at this time
abandoned, and the tombs that stood by the road-side[350] on either
hand were hardly more silent, than the dwelling places of the living,
before whom these stone witnesses were set to remind them, that life is
fleeting and must be enjoyed to the full while it lasts.

Quintus and his companion went onwards, still to the southwards. The
country-houses became more and more scattered; they might now have
walked about two Roman miles beyond the arch of Drusus. A heavily-laden
wagon, with an escort of riders, had just driven past them, and the
gleam of the lanterns was dwindling in the distance. Quintus stopped in
front of a high-vaulted family tomb, of which the façade was decorated
with a semicircular niche containing a marble seat.

“If I am not mistaken in this Cimmerian blackness,” he muttered, “this
is the spot....”

And at the same moment they heard, approaching from the opposite tomb,
the sound of cautious steps.

A broad beam of light fell on the young man’s face.

“God be praised!” cried a woman’s voice; and in an instant Euterpe,
darkening her lantern again, stood by the side of the two men. The
young woman was trembling with wet and cold; her clothes clung to her
limbs, and her hair hung in dark locks over her forehead and cheeks.

“Are you alone?” asked Quintus.

“With Thrax Barbatus. Here he comes.”

“In such weather!”

“God bless you!” said the old man, coming up to Quintus. “Who is this
with you?”

“Blepyrus, my trusted friend. He will not betray us.”

“My lord, what return can I ever make....”

“Go on, push on!” was the young man’s answer. “Only look how the black
clouds are driving over the hills; it gets worse every minute. Have we
far to go?”

“About three thousand paces,” said Barbatus.

“Then lead the way, my good Euterpe. Come, old friend, lean on me.
Blepyrus, support him on the left.”

“You are too careful of me, my lord,” said the old man, flinging his
wet cloak over his shoulder. “A merciful Providence still grants me
strength, that my white hairs belie, and I am used to rougher roads
than you suppose. It is you, the son of a noble house, accustomed to
tread only on polished marble or soft carpets....”

“Nonsense--why, even this storm is nothing to speak of.”

They turned eastwards, and leaving the high-road, soon reached a
wooden bridge across the waters of the Almo,[351] a rivulet now
swollen by the storm. From hence the path led them across the Via
Latina and through a dense wood. The pine-tops sighed weirdly under
the lashing wind that rocked and bowed them, while now and again, as
one bough crashed against another, there was a sound as of distant
axe-strokes. They first followed a foot-path, which crossed the wood
in a south-easterly direction, but presently--about half way through
the pine forest--their guide pushed aside the boughs of a sturdy
laurel, that stood on the right side of the alley, and they plunged
into the brushwood. Here another path was presently discernible, though
overgrown by a seemingly impenetrable tangle of shrubs, and this
presently brought them out close to a grass-grown mass of rocks. By
walking round one of the huge boulders, they reached an opening into an
old and long-disused stone-quarry. A low passage was visible, sloping
down underground.

“Here we are,” said Euterpe. A gleam from her lantern revealed a
high-piled mass of dèbris. “I will go in first.”

She placed her lantern, half open, on a shelf in the tufa rock, at
such an angle as to light up the passage; then, stooping down, she
disappeared in the doubtful shadow cast by a natural buttress on the
rocky wall. Thrax, Quintus, and Blepyrus followed, the slave bringing
the lantern in his hand. At the spot, where the flute-player had
disappeared, the passage was cut in steps, which led abruptly downwards
about thirty feet underground; then a broad and fairly lofty gallery
ran about fifty paces on a level, opening into a cross gallery.

Quintus signed to his slave to remain where these cross-roads met,
while he followed Thrax Barbatus to the right, where a dim light was
visible at some considerable distance. Approaching nearer, he perceived
that the source of this light lay somewhat on one side, where a large
hall opened out, strangely decorated and lighted up by a few tapers.
At the farther side, opposite the entrance, stood an altar hung with
black, and over it was a wooden image of the crucified Christ. To the
left was a brick-walled hearth, where a bright fire was blazing. The
smoke rose in a tall column to a square opening in the roof. On the
floor, in a niche on one side, Eurymachus--the slave who had escaped
from Stephanus--lay on a straw mat, his pale face resting on his hand.
Glauce, his betrothed, was occupied in mixing the juice of some fruit
with water, to make a drink for the fevered sufferer, while Diphilus,
kneeling in front of a rough-hewn wooden stool, was folding a broad
strip of stuff to make a bandage. He rose as the new-comers entered.

“The Lord is merciful!” said Thrax to Eurymachus. “Greet our deliverer.
All will be well. The night is stormy and dark; we can rest for a short
while and dry our cloaks by the fire; then, by God’s help, we will set
forth with a good courage.--By mid-day you will be in safety.”

The sick man’s features brightened; joyful surprise and eager gratitude
sparkled in the dark eyes, which as suddenly closed again, as though
dimmed by weakness. Euterpe had meanwhile taken the soaked and dripping
cloaks from the shoulders of the two men, and had hung them over two
seats in front of the fire. Then she fetched a little table and spread
it with bread, fruit, and wine, while Glauce brought platters and cups
from a cave in the wall.

“Do us the favor of accepting a little refreshment,” she said, pulling
forward a bench.

Quintus, whose walk through the stormy night, and still more his
anxious excitement, had made very thirsty, emptied his cup at a
draught, and then turned sympathetically to Eurymachus.

“Do you know me again?” he asked smiling.

The slave drew a deep breath, and said in a weak voice:

“Yes, my lord, I know you. In such a moment of torture a man’s memory
is sharpened. It was you, who on that awful day poured balm into my
wounds, you and the fair youth with a grave, kind face....”

“My word for it, but you put me to shame! It was not I, but my
companion, who first made his way through the hedge--it was not I, but
my companion, who gave you that human consolation.”

“Not so,” replied Eurymachus solemnly. “Proud and haughty as you
looked, in your heart there was some stirring of the sense of common
humanity, which is our inheritance from our Heavenly Father. It was but
a small matter, that betrayed this impulse, but--I know not why--it
sank deeper into my soul, than even the brave words of your companion.
In truth, noble Quintus, the touch of your hand, as you tried to drive
away my greedy tormentors, fell like balm upon my heart; it fanned
the dying spark of courage in my soul--aye, and I remembered it when,
in Lycoris’ garden, they were preparing to nail me to the cross. You
smile, my lord, and think me a raving enthusiast--but so it is. When
you came towards me through the gap in the hedge, you appeared to me as
the type of the illustrious Roman--handsome, haughty, absorbed in the
natural desire for enjoyment, and with no heart to pity the sufferings
of the baser millions. But when you turned to go, you left me with a
revived belief, that the gulf, which severs the classes of men, may
be bridged over. Often have I discussed it with Thrax Barbatus.--He
declares, that the doctrine of Nazareth is destined to be the belief
of all mankind; I, on the contrary, maintain that it will never be
the creed of any but the wretched and oppressed. For the noble and
wealthy--so I argue--will naturally cling to their luxury-loving
idols, to whom they attribute their power, dominion, and riches. But
since that hour, when Quintus Claudius came up to me filled with pity,
a divine revelation lives and shines in my soul. And has not the
current of my own fate justified this presentiment? The wealthiest
and haughtiest youth of the City of the Seven Hills, the son of the
all-powerful Flamen, is the deliverer of the wretched slave! Verily,
Quintus, I say unto thee: Thou art, though thou knowest it not, a
follower of the crucified Jesus.”

“I?” said Quintus startled and bewildered.

“Yea, my lord. ‘Not every one that saith unto me Lord, Lord, is my
disciple,’ saith Jesus of Nazareth, ‘but he that doeth the will of my
Father in Heaven.’”

“I do not altogether understand what you mean; the mysteries of your
religion are as yet unknown to me.”

“The doctrine of Jesus is simple and clear. The Master himself has
summed it up in two laws: ‘Thou shalt love the Lord thy God above all
things,’ and the second is like unto it: ‘Thou shalt love thy neighbor
as thyself.’”

Quintus looked down in silence.

“You speak of God,” he said at last. “Which God do you mean,
Eurymachus? Jupiter, whom our forefathers worshipped, is to you a mere
idol. What name then do you give to the Divinity, who commands your
love? And what proof have you, that he too is not a false God?”

“My lord,” said Eurymachus, “our God has no name by which he is known.
A name is used for distinction, and to mark a difference from others of
the same, kind; but He is one alone and eternal from the beginning. He
reveals himself to us through the myriad marvels of the universe, which
would never cease to rouse our awe-struck admiration, but that custom
has dulled our sense. He is manifest in the impulses and emotions
of our own nature, in the ardent yearning for immortality--that
home-sickness of the soul which, in the midst of all the joys and
blessings of this life, makes us aware of an infinite void, a gulf
which nothing else can fill. It is He, whom we apprehend in the joy,
that thrills us like a tender mother’s kiss, when we lift up our
hearts to contemplate Him by faith. We know Him by the strength, the
constancy, the scorn of death, that He can inspire, when every nerve of
our frail body is quivering with pain. Think of our fellow-believers,
who were butchered by Nero--the bloody slaughter in the Arena, the men
burnt alive, buried alive! What upheld these martyrs through their
unspeakable torments? The grace of God, the Almighty and All-merciful,
whom Jesus Christ hath taught us to know.”

“Amen!” whispered Glauce, with an admiring glance at her lover, whose
face glowed with enthusiasm.

Barbatus went anxiously up to him, and laid a hand on his brow.

“Do not agitate yourself,” he said with tender sympathy. “You have
still much to go through.”

“Nay, it is well,” replied Eurymachus. “I feel strengthened since
I have set eyes on my preserver.--Aye, noble Quintus, this is the
God, whom the disciples of the Nazarene worship--this is the faith,
which your empire brands as a crime. Conspirators, they call us, and
traitors. We conspire, it is true, but not against Caesar, to whom
we freely render the things that are Caesar’s, as our Master taught
us; only against sin, against crime and evil-doing. We swear to each
other by the memory of the Crucified,[352] not to betray each other,
nor to lie, nor steal, nor bear false witness, nor commit adultery. We
hate no man for his faith’s sake, for we know that grace is a gift of
omnipotent God, and that, even in the shadow of the false god Jupiter,
a gleam of divine truth may be seen. We are quiet, peaceful folk, who
ask nothing more than to be allowed to live undisturbed in our faith
and hope.”

“You forget one thing,” exclaimed Barbatus, as Eurymachus paused.
“Christ teaches us, that we are all the children of God. In his sight
all differences of high and low, rich and poor, lofty and humble are
as nothing; and we, as true disciples of the Redeemer, must strive to
work out this principle. We must try to found a state of human society,
in which all the distinctions which have hitherto existed are utterly
dissolved.”

“Nay, you are in error,” replied Eurymachus. “Those differences are
not to be done away with. If you levelled them all to-day, they would
originate again of their own accord to-morrow. Their form and aspect
will be modified, but their existence is inevitable. Jesus of Nazareth
never conceived of such changes. He only sought to revive in those,
who have lost it in the varying chances and turmoil of life, some
consciousness of the intrinsic worth of all that is truly human. As
soon as the great ones of the earth learn to see, that even slaves
are their brothers, that even the base-born are the children of the
Almighty, all the most violent contrasts of class will be smoothed
away, and things that now weigh upon us as a yoke, will be turned
into a bond of union. ‘My Kingdom is not of this world,’ said Jesus
of Nazareth. He will indeed regenerate man, but through his heart and
spirit, and not with force or violent upheaval.”

“Then you insist on being miserable, come what may?” cried Barbatus
vehemently.

“By no means. I only dispute the idea, that the teaching of Christ
leads to such issues. Whether rich or poor, master or slave, matters
not in the balance of our salvation. Many a one, who holds his head
high and free, bears heavier fetters, than the convict in the mines of
Sardinia.”

Quintus Claudius once more emptied the cup, which Glauce had filled.
His brain was in a whirl, and his throat parched. The sight of this
slave, lying on a straw mat, and weighing the future destinies of man,
and the mystery of existence, with such calm decision, troubled and
excited him to an extraordinary degree. At this moment he was in a
wilder fever than Eurymachus. He looked down with admiration--almost
with envy--at the pale face, which looked so radiant in the midst of
suffering, so sublimely happy in spite of wretchedness. And he himself?
Did not the saying about the convict in the mines apply to him? Was he
not in fact more fettered and bound, than this fugitive slave? What
was the liberty that Rome--that the whole world was ready to offer to
him? Had he ever been able really to purchase release from that dark
melancholy, which oppressed him like an ever-present incubus? What a
God must He be, who uplifted the slave to such serene heights!

“It is time to start,” he said at last, waking from a deep reverie.
“The roads are bad; I fear we can proceed but slowly; besides, we must
not keep Caius Aurelius waiting too long. He shares our danger, and is
watching in anxious uncertainty.”

“Noble Sir!” exclaimed the slave, deeply moved, “are you really
prepared again to risk your life? You know, Father, how strongly I set
my face against this project; and even now, at the eleventh hour, I
entreat you: Consider well what you are doing.”

“It has all been considered,” said Thrax impatiently. “If you were to
perish in this cavern, would not our fate also be sealed? Do you think,
that Glauce would survive your death? Look at her; see how the mere
thought frightens her.”

“But who talks of my dying? You should have waited eight or ten days,
till the first fury of our persecutors had cooled.”

“And meanwhile you would have cooled, never to be warm again. Your
wound, at first scarcely worth speaking of, has become so much worse in
the unwholesome air of this vault....”

“And your fever increases every day,” interrupted Euterpe.

“Waste no more words!” cried Thrax angrily. “Help him, Diphilus. You
see he can hardly drag himself up.”

Diphilus, zealously seconded by Euterpe, lifted the wounded man from
his wretched couch, and they carried him carefully out into the
gallery, where Blepyrus was wearily leaning against the rough-hewn
wall. A litter was standing there with some thick woollen coverlets,
and Eurymachus was laid upon it as comfortably as possible. Glauce, who
had followed with a clay lamp, pressed a long kiss on his forehead,
and then hurried away, crying bitterly. Quintus had also accompanied
them, and as soon as he saw that all was ready for the start, ran back
to fetch his hardly-dried cloak. But he involuntarily paused at the
entrance of the cavern; the sight that met his eyes was as pathetic as
it was fair to look upon. The young girl had fallen on her knees before
the altar, her slender hands uplifted in prayer; she gazed up at the
cross in a transport of devotion, smiling ecstatically, though tears
rolled down her pale cheeks. Her lips moved, at first inaudibly, but
presently in a low murmur.

“Saviour of the world,” she prayed, “Thou who hast died for us on the
cross.--If Thou requirest a victim, take me, and let me suffer a
thousand deaths, but spare, oh spare my Eurymachus!”

“Where are you, my lord?” called Blepyrus.

“I am coming,” answered Quintus in an agitated voice. “Forgive me,
gentle worshipper, for interrupting your prayer. Your God will hear and
grant it none the less.”

And as he spoke he went up to the fire-place, threw the cloak over
his shoulders, and followed the litter which, borne by Blepyrus and
Diphilus, had already reached the entrance of the quarry. Euterpe also
was with the wounded fugitive. Only Thrax Barbatus remained behind
in the underground cavern, to help Glauce, who had now recovered her
cheerful composure, to deck the altar and throw wood on the fire. It
was nearly midnight, the hour at which a little knot of believers in
the Nazarene were wont to meet and keep the Feast of Love in memory of
their Redeemer.


FOOTNOTES:

 [339] AT THE FOOT OF THE AVENTINE was a slip arranged by the aediles
       M. Aemilius Lepidus and L. Aemilius Paulus in the year 193
       B.C. Ships still lie at anchor there at the present day.

 [340] LONG-HAIRED WOOLLEN CLOAKS. The _paenulae_, the travelling and
       winter garments made of rough woollen material or leather. The
       _lacerna_ differed from the _paenula_ in being an open garment
       like the Greek pallium, and fastened on the right shoulder by
       means of a buckle (_fibula_), whereas the _paenula_ was what
       is called a _vestimentum clausam_ with an opening for the
       head. (Mart. XIV, 132, 133.) See Becker’s _Gallus_, vol. II,
       p. 95, etc.

 [341] IMPLUVIUM. The cistern, in the floor of the atrium, intended
       to receive rain-water.

 [342] A BRAZIER FULL OF BURNING CHARCOAL. In ancient Rome, heat was
       usually supplied by means of movable stoves and iron braziers.
       Chimneys were also known.

 [343] FEAST OF SATURN. The so-called Saturnalia. See note, 292, Vol.
       I.

 [344] WHEN I STRUCK ALLOBROGUS IN THE FACE. This, according to Roman
       views, was a mild punishment for such an offence. It sometimes
       happened in such cases, that slaves were instantly condemned
       by their angry masters “to the _muraenae_,” that is, to be
       thrown into the fish-ponds for food for the _muraenae_.

 [345] PONS MILVIUS. Now Ponte Molle.

 [346] THE CAELIAN HILL. (_Mons Caelius_) south and south-east of the
       Coliseum.

 [347] THE VIA LATINA branched off to the left, on entering the Via
       Appia, from the north.

 [348] TOMB OF THE SCIPIOS. Portions of this tomb, (discovered in the
       Vigna Sassi in the year 1780,) still exist at the present day.
       Here lay buried: among others: L. Cornelius Scipio Barbatus,
       Consul 298 B.C.; his son. Consul 259 B.C., the poet Ennius
       etc. The tomb was originally above the ground.

 [349] ARCH OF DRUSUS. This monument, still extant, was erected in 8
       B.C. to Claudius DRUSUS Germanicus.

 [350] THE TOMBS THAT STOOD BY THE ROAD-SIDE. Abundant traces of
       these tombs on the Via Appia still exist.

 [351] ALMO. The little river still bears this name; it rises at
       Bovillae; mentioned by Ovid. (_Fast._ IV, 337-340.)

 [352] WE SWEAR TO EACH OTHER BY THE MEMORY OF THE CRUCIFIED. See
       Plin. _Ep._ X, 97, where in a report about the deeds of the
       Christians, he says: “But they assert that their guilt or
       error consisted in meeting before dawn on a certain day,
       singing hymns in honor of Christ as a god, and binding
       themselves by a vow, not to commit a crime, but to neither
       steal, commit adultery, break their promise, nor deny the
       possession of accumulated property; after which they usually
       dispersed, only meeting again at an innocent meal, shared by
       all without distinction of persons.”



                              CHAPTER XX.


The little procession slowly made its way through the brushwood;
Euterpe, indefatigable, led the way. In her left hand she carried the
dark lantern, with which now and again she lighted up some especially
perilous spot, while with her right hand she held aside the boughs of
the shrubs. The gale was still blowing through the dripping trees, and
squalls of rain swept over them with a rush and roar. After a short
but difficult walk they reached the foot-bridge, and turned off to
the east, leaving the brook Almo behind them, and then by degrees the
forest grew thinner.

When at last they reached the open, they saw before them the arches of
the Claudian aqueduct,[353] stretching black and ponderous across the
plains. The wind had parted the clouds here and there over the eastern
horizon, and a few stars shone fitfully through the rifts, but this
made the darkness, which brooded over the whole creation, all the more
sensible.

Again they went over a wooden bridge--then under an arch of the
aqueduct, and a few minutes after through that of another, the Aqua
Marcia.[354] So far they had kept to the road. Now, however, they
quitted it, and for a time cut across fields and meadows, over wide
pools and ditches, and through brushwood. A quarter of an hour, half
an hour, a whole hour of this toil, and they had not yet reached the
Labicanian Way,[355] towards which they were marching.

Diphilus held out bravely, but Blepyrus, who was not of the strongest,
and who was accustomed only to the lightest toil, panted so painfully,
that Quintus could not bear to see it.

“Give me hold,” he said with rough good nature. “Why, you are groaning
like a mule dragging blocks of stone.”

“My lord!” said Blepyrus out of breath. “You see I can hold out a
little longer.”

“I see just the reverse. Stop a minute, Diphilus--there! now get your
breath again, Blepyrus, and fill your lungs. In ten minutes we will
change again.”

“But, my lord, what are you thinking of?”

“Do not talk, but save your wind.”

Euterpe, always thoughtful, offered the exhausted man a draught of
mead. Blepyrus drank it eagerly, and the strange convoy went on its way
again through the silent night.

They were indeed a strange party for any one who could have seen them!
A youth of senatorial rank serving as litter-bearer to one slave, while
another walked idle by his side! Quintus thought of his friends and
equals, and could not help smiling; but with his next breath he sighed,
for he thought of his father. He knew indeed, that Titus Claudius would
not have hesitated to lend a hand if needed for the rescue of the
meanest of his dependents; Titus Claudius, no less, would have bent his
shoulder to the strap of a slave’s litter in case of need. And yet,
what bitter grief, what implacable resentment would that generous man
feel, if only he could see--could guess...!

Quintus gazed vaguely up at the driving clouds, that scudded wildly
along like a host of uneasy spirits. They packed and tumbled together,
hiding the few stars which had peeped forth in the dark sky.

“I cannot help it,” thought Quintus, tightening his lips. “I have no
choice in the matter. If the whole world round me crumbles into eternal
night--I cannot help it!”

The wounded man, exhausted by his too eager talk with Thrax, lay
meanwhile silent and motionless on his couch. Even when Quintus slipped
the straps on to his own shoulders he seemed indifferent to the fact;
only a faint cry of surprise betrayed, that he had not swooned or
fallen asleep.

They had gained the Via Labicana at last, and were toiling up the
slippery way. Blepyrus was just going to take his master’s share of the
burden again, when he suddenly became aware of a shade at a few paces
distance, which at first stole stooping down close to the hedge, and
then suddenly made for the open country, bounding across the road with
long steps.

“What was that?” asked Quintus, who had also observed the noise and
running figure.

“Some wild creature perhaps,” said Euterpe.

“It was a man,” said Eurymachus.

Quintus stopped and gazed out into the darkness; then, turning to
Eurymachus, he asked with evident anxiety:

“When did you first see him?”

“This minute, as we came upon the road.”

“I saw him before,” said Blepyrus in a whisper, as though a similar
shade might at any moment start forth in the gloom. “Out there, by that
bush in the middle of the field something moved and scudded past. I
thought it was some night-bird.”

“They are sitting snugly in their nests,” said Diphilus. Blepyrus did
not answer; he was considering.

“It seems to me,” he said at length, “that I have seen that peculiar
skulking walk and sudden disappearance before. He vanished like
lightning.”

“And he meant no good,” added the flute-player. “In short, it was a spy
sent out by the slave-catchers, and before we can reach the gate the
town-watch will be upon us.”

“Then we must be doubly careful,” said Quintus, forcing his pulses to
beat more calmly. “We must toil across country again as far as the Via
Praenestina.[356] It will be heavy walking, almost up to our knees in
the soil.--But listen! is not that the tramp of horses? Coming from the
city--not a thousand paces away.”

“Lord and Saviour!” groaned Euterpe. “The man must have flown like the
wind.”

“He must indeed, if these horsemen have come at his call. No, the
swiftest cannot be so swift as that. It is all the same; forewarned is
forearmed. What is that to the right of the road?”

“A fountain, or something of the kind,” replied Blepyrus.

“We will hide behind the wall, till the horsemen have passed.”

In a few seconds they had reached the fountain, of which the basin was
raised about three feet above the ground. By day it would have been a
perfectly unavailing shelter, but in the darkness it was a sufficient
cover. If the horsemen should have lanterns, to be sure--and this could
not yet be seen for a rise in the ground--they might easily detect the
track of the fugitives across the weeds and grass, and then....

For the first time in his life Quintus was aware of the presence of
a great danger. Although he felt certain, that the unknown runner
could not possibly have fetched the horsemen, who were now close upon
them, there was an infinity of possibilities, of which the mere
thought seized his heart with a cold grip. Even accident might here
have played an important part. If the riders were really agents of the
slave-takers, or even soldiers of the town-watch, the next few minutes
were fateful indeed. The sinister vision that had passed them had made
him anxious and undecided, and gloomy forebodings weighed on his mind.
The thought flashed through his brain: How if you were now at home,
standing by your own triclinium? Would you now appeal as you did to
Blepyrus, or would you not rather seek some excuse for evading the work
of rescue? But the question left him clear of all doubt; he did not
regret the step he had taken, and let what might await him, he would
persist now in the road on which he had started. This short meditation
restored his peace of mind; he still was anxious, but it was not on his
own account; it was for the task he had undertaken, the fugitive who
lay in silence on the drenched couch, the faithful and brave souls who
crouched with him for shelter. Suddenly he felt a trembling hand clasp
his own, and press it with passionate fervor to quivering lips. It was
Eurymachus, whose heart, in spite of every dread, was overflowing with
exalted feeling. The slave’s grateful kiss fired a sacred glow through
the young man’s veins, and it was with a sense of supreme indifference
to all the sports of fate, that he heard the trample of hoofs coming
nearer and nearer.

Blepyrus and the stalwart Diphilus held themselves in readiness to meet
a possible onslaught. Euterpe sat on a low stone, half paralyzed; her
heart beat audibly, her hands trembled convulsively.

The horses were now close upon them. Quintus leaned forward, and saw
five or six dark forms mounted on small, nimble beasts. They were
riding cautiously, at a short trot. Now they were passing the spot
where the fugitives had turned aside from the high-road--Quintus
fancied he saw them check their pace, and hastily felt for the weapon
in his bosom. But it was a mistake. The riders trotted on, and did not
diminish their pace till at some distance to the south-east, where the
road mounted a hill. The hated sound of hoofs gradually died away in
the distance.

“God be praised!” sighed Euterpe.

Diphilus hastened to reload himself.

“We might have spared ourselves the fright,” he said to Eurymachus. “In
this darkness....”

“It was only on account of your fugitive,” said Blepyrus. “It may be,
that the riders were only merchants or other harmless folk....”

“It is all the same,” interrupted Quintus. “Any man is to be regarded
as suspicious. Do not lose another minute! Off! towards the Praenestian
Way.”

And once more the little procession set forth across bog and briar.
Thus they reached a foot-path, which led them past vineyards and at
length down to the high-road. The Via Praenestina was little frequented
at night, even in fine weather; the main traffic led past the towns
of Toleria and Aricia. So they went on, relieved in mind, towards the
town, which was still at about an hour’s distance. By degrees the
south-westerly gale spent itself and lulled, no longer rushing in
wild blasts across the plain, but blowing softly and steadily, like a
long-drawn sigh of respite. The black clouds rolled away to the east
and north, and the waning moon showed a haze-veiled sickle on the
horizon.

Eurymachus as before lay in total silence; and neither Quintus, whose
spirit was tossed by a thousand new and strange feelings, nor Blepyrus,
who was straining every nerve to conceal his utter exhaustion, uttered
a word as they walked on. Only Diphilus and Euterpe exchanged a few
words in low tones. The flute-player described her terror; never in
her life had she quaked so as on the stone by that fountain. After
passing through such perils, she seemed to feel the need of showing all
her love and good feeling to her worthy mate, and she even wished to
relieve him of the litter straps, as Quintus had relieved Blepyrus, and
harness her own shoulders. But Diphilus laughed shortly, and scorned
the idea.

“Yes,” he growled good humoredly, “that is a good notion! You want
to score your white shoulders with the marks of the strap. Think of
business, child! Why, to-morrow you are to play at the house of the
captain of the body-guard; you need not spoil your beauty to-night. It
was mad enough, that you would not stay at home such a night as this.”

They were now close to the limits of the suburbs of Rome. The buildings
on the Esquiline, dimly lighted by the moon, stood out sharper as they
approached them against the western sky. Passing by the field, where
Philippus, the son of Thrax Barbatus, lay buried, they made their way
through the empty streets to the Caelian Hill, and at last reached the
back entrance of the house inhabited by Caius Aurelius. The narrow
path, which led to it across the hill, was entirely deserted; the
houses stood detached, each in the midst of its garden, and shut off
from the road by high walls.

Quintus went forward and knocked three times at the postern gate. The
bolt was instantly drawn, and Magus, the Gothic slave, came joyfully to
meet the strangers.

“Welcome, my lord,” he said in a whisper. “Your arrival relieves us of
the greatest anxiety. I have been listening here at the gate these two
hours.”

“Yes, yes--” said Quintus equally softly, “we are very late; but it
could not be helped. Come, good people, make no noise--go in front,
Magus.”

They all went into the garden, and the Goth barred the door again.
Then they crossed the xystus[357] to the peristyle, and went along a
carpeted corridor to the atrium. Here they were met by Herodianus, who
with difficulty suppressed an exclamation of joy.

“At last!” he said, bustling to and fro with delight, like a busy
mistress receiving guests. “We had begun to think, that you must have
met with some misfortune. Aurelius, my illustrious friend, is in the
greatest anxiety. But softly, for pity’s sake softly! everyone is sound
asleep, and foresight is the mother of prudence.”

A light was shining in one of the rooms that surrounded the court-yard;
before they could reach it, Aurelius appeared in the doorway and
hurried out to embrace Quintus.

“What a fearful night!” he said with a sigh of relief. “How anxious I
have been for you, my dear Quintus! A hundred possibilities, each more
terrible than the last, have racked my brain. Be quick, Magus, lift the
wounded man from his litter! Come, you must be quite tired out.--Such
torrents of rain! Your cloak is as heavy as lead And here is our sweet
little musician, as tender as a baby.--Come, warm yourselves, refresh
yourselves!”

Herodianus had meanwhile hastened to open a cubiculum farther on in
the corridor, while Magus took the place of Blepyrus, who was utterly
exhausted. Eurymachus was laid in bed and soon fell asleep, after
Euterpe and Diphilus had applied a fresh bandage and given him a cup of
refreshing drink. Blepyrus, incapable of standing even a moment longer,
threw off his cloak and sank at full-length on to one of the cushioned
benches in the colonnade; he begged Herodianus, as he passed, to throw
a coverlet over him. “I am more dead than alive,” he said. “When my
master goes home, wake me.”

The freedman tried to persuade him to go into one of the rooms and lie
on a bed; but Blepyrus heard no more. Deep, blank sleep had overpowered
him at once. So Herodianus fetched a couple of warm rugs, in which
he carefully wrapped the weary slave and then he joined Aurelius and
Quintus.

The Gothic slave stayed to watch Eurymachus. Leaning back in a chair,
resting his feet on a stuffed footstool, he sat gazing in the sleeper’s
face which, faintly lighted by the glimmer of a small bronze lamp, was
the picture of worn-out nature, but at the same time, of contentment
and peaceful rest. Magus knew all the history of the hapless slave.
He knew how Domitia’s steward had for years made life a burthen to
him, and had at last condemned him to a martyr’s death. The immutable
steadfastness of the sufferer had excited the enthusiastic admiration
even of the simple Goth, and strange thoughts were surging in his soul.

“How still he lies there with his eyes tight shut,” thought the
Goth, “quite shut, and yet I could fancy he saw through the lids.
Veleda,[358] the prophetess, had just such eyes! When I was carrying
him across the hall he looked up, and it was like a flash of fire, and
yet soft and mild like the blue sea when the sun shines. If he were
fair, he would be just like the priest in the grove of Nerthus.[359]
He indeed was a favorite of the gods; he knew everything on earth and
above the earth. I feel as if this man too must know all secrets, which
make such men wise above all others. It is written on his forehead.--If
only he were not so pale and feeble--if he had limbs as strong as mine,
and hale northern blood in his veins! Odin should melt us down to make
one man.--There would be a hero!”

So thought the worthy Gothic slave, while his eyes remained fixed on
the features of the sleeper; but before long his own eyes also closed,
and the ideas that had roused him to unwonted excitement remained in
his mind in the realm of dreams. He saw Odin, with his wolves and
raven, rushing down through the woods on the shores of the distant
Baltic. He himself, Magus, was standing in the shadow of a sacred
beech-tree, hand-in-hand with the wounded slave, who had dragged
himself painfully through the underwood. As the god rushed past them,
he lightly touched them with his sword; and they flowed and melted, as
it were, into one, each feeling as though this had been their destiny
from the beginning of things. And now, as the newly-created two-in-one
looked up, behold! the mighty sword of the god hung to a branch of
the beech-tree. He put out his hand, took it down, and with a giant’s
strength, whirled it round his head. A flash of light shone through
the grove, and the newly-formed being felt that he was stronger and
mightier than all mortals, from the rising of the sun to the setting
thereof.

“A foolish dream!” Magus whispered to himself, as he suddenly started
wide awake. He gave his charge, who had begun to stir, a draught of
water, and then fell asleep again.

Euterpe and Diphilus had meanwhile gone away, though the Batavian had
begged them to take a change of clothes and rest under a comfortable
roof for the rest of the night. After Quintus had changed his dress and
refreshed himself with food and drink, he also wished to return home.
But Aurelius detained him.

“Listen,” he said, in a tone of strange timidity: “With regard to our
journey to-morrow to Ostia, I have a proposal to make to you. It is
very true, that the mere fact that I am sending my ship off on her
return to Trajectum is a sufficient reason--still--people might....
To be plain with you, my intimacy with Nerva and Cinna has attracted
notice in certain quarters--I fear I may be watched, and therefore
it would perhaps be better to give the whole affair the aspect of a
pleasure excursion--if you only could persuade your sister, and perhaps
your betrothed to accompany us. I have such a perfect disguise for
Eurymachus, that neither of the young ladies can have the faintest
suspicion. Besides--who troubles himself about a slave? It seems to me
the plan is as admirable as it is simple.”

“It is masterly!” exclaimed Quintus. “Cornelia is crazy about the sea,
and Claudia and Lucilia will have no objections. If only the weather
improves...”

“Oh! the day will be splendid,” said Aurelius, going into the hall.
“The wind has quite gone down, and the clouds are parting. I asked
Magus just now.”

“The idea is delightful. The more openly and boldly we go to work, the
better. About what hour should we start?”

“I thought about three hours after sunrise.”

“Very good. I will let Cornelia and my sisters know; the rest I leave
entirely to you, my dear Caius.”

“You shall not be disappointed,” said Aurelius, radiant with
satisfaction.

“And where shall we meet? Out beyond the tomb of Cestius?”

“It will perhaps be better that you should come here, and we will
proceed all together to the place where vehicles wait; that will look
least suspicious and most natural.”

“So be it: we will go to the gates in a little party. Now farewell--I
am very tired, and wish I had my litter.”

“Shall I...?” Aurelius began.

“I should think so indeed! What! risk all that our exertions have so
far accomplished for the sake of my selfish limbs! Nay, nay. I shall
live through it, never fear. Farewell again, my dear Aurelius.”

The friends embraced. Blepyrus, awakened by Herodianus, who lent him
a dry cloak, came dizzy with sleep, down the corridor and followed
his master with a faint groan. Quintus, in spite of all he had gone
through, walked on fresh and eager, and in five minutes they were at
home.


FOOTNOTES:

 [353] THE CLAUDIAN AQUEDUCT (_Aqua Claudia._) Built by the Emperor
       Claudius 50 A.D. was twelve miles and a half long, and reached
       to Sublaqueum, (now Subiaco.)

 [354] AQUA MARCIA. Built 146 B.C. by the Praetor Q. Marcius Rex, was
       twelve miles long, and extended to the Sabine Hills. Its water
       was considered the best in all Rome. Ruins of it, as well as
       of the Aqua Claudia, exist at the present day.

 [355] THE LABICANIAN WAY. (_Via Labicana_) led through Toleria,
       Ferentinum, Frusino and Fregellae to Teanum (north of Capua)
       where it entered the Via Appia.

 [356] THE VIA PRAENESTINA was a road for local intercourse. Just
       beyond Praeneste (now Palestrina,) it entered (at Toleria) the
       Via Labicana.

 [357] XYSTUS (Συστός--Hall) the name of the luxuriously-adorned garden
       back of the peristyle. See Cic. _Acad._ II, 13.

 [358] VELEDA. (Vĕlĕda or Vĕlēda) a German prophetess belonging to the
       Bructerian people, took part in the war against Rome under
       Civilis (A.D. 69) and afterwards roused her countrymen to another
       insurrection, but was captured and dragged to Rome. See Tac.
       _Hist._ IV, 61, 65; V, 23, 24, and Tac. _Germ._ 8.

 [359] THE GROVE OF NERTHUS. Nerthus, an ancient German divinity,
       the personification of mother earth, specially revered in the
       north of Germany. Her principal grove was at Rügen.



                              CHAPTER XXI.


In the house of Cornelius Cinna a slave had just announced that it was
two hours after sunrise.[360] Cinna, though he had slept but badly,
had long been out of bed, he would not, however, receive any of the
numerous visitors, who were enquiring for him in the atrium, but was
pacing the peristyle to and fro with his head sunk on his breast.
Cornelia, who was taking breakfast in the dining-room with Chloe and
one or two slave-girls, sent repeatedly to call her uncle.

“Directly--in a minute,” was all the answer, and Cinna began to walk up
and down the colonnade.

His mind was principally occupied with an incident, which certainly
seemed significant. Shortly before midnight his slave Charicles had
brought him a mysterious note, which had been left with the door-keeper
by a man concealed in a cloak. The paper, which was doubly tied round
for safety, contained but a few words: “You are surrounded by spies; be
on your guard.”

There was no signature, nor did the large thick writing--a feigned
hand no doubt--afford any clew. “Surrounded by spies!” This idea,
stated with such uncompromising plainness, haunted his excited fancy
with urgent persistency. He had long known, that under Domitian’s rule
espionage and underhand reporting everywhere spread their treacherous
snares. And yet it came upon him now, as something impossible and
shocking. In vain he racked his brain to guess who could be the sender
of this mysterious warning, and at last he came to the conclusion, that
the whole thing was perhaps the spiteful jest of some enemy--or a trap
laid by Caesar himself.

While her uncle thus paced the arcade in gloomy displeasure, Cornelia
eat her breakfast in the best of humors. The early day shone so gaily
and invitingly into the room, the air, purified by the night’s rain,
was so sweet! Besides, had not Cornelia, as she thought, the most
particular reasons for seeing the whole world rose-colored to-day? The
soft light in her eyes showed that she had recovered a peace of mind, a
happy confidence, which for some time she had lost entirely.

“Chloe,” she said at last, when the girls had left the room: “Did
you not notice anything yesterday? I mean when I came back into the
sitting-room, after offering sacrifice?”

“Chloe raised her round head on her fat, short neck, and grinned like
a simpleton. Cornelia, who was usually excessively annoyed by this
behavior, seemed on the present occasion to be superior to all petty
vexation. She went on pleasantly enough:

“The faith in the universal Mother has its mysteries. At our third
visit you yourself saw how Barbillus can work by means of his divine
mission. You fell to earth in awe-stricken terror, but the goddess
smiled on you as she did on me, the first time I knelt before her in
the holy of holies. So I venture to tell you, that my heart is full of
unutterable peace and joy. Did you not see yesterday, that I was quite
uplifted with happiness?”

Chloe grinned wider than ever.

“No,” she said with incredible stupidity.

“Then you must be stricken blind. I was almost beside myself; for Isis,
the all-merciful, has bestowed on me the most precious of her gifts.
She promises me protection against every danger, and in proof of her
grace will send her divine brother Osiris to me with a message. He
will lay his hands on my head, and so inspire into me a spark of his
eternal light. Do you comprehend the immensity, the infinitude, of this
celestial mercy? The divine miracle is to be accomplished at the next
new moon, and then no farther penance or sacrifice will be needed. I
shall henceforth be the sealed and adopted daughter of the goddess for
ever.”

Chloe stared blankly in her face. “Yes,” she said, after a few minutes
silence. “Barbillus is a great man! At first there were many things I
thought impossible; but now that I have seen them with my own eyes, I
believe in everything.--Everything, everything! If he were to tell me
he could cut the moon in halves, or bring Berenice’s hair[361] down
from heaven--I should not doubt, I should bow before the magician.”

“Oh! I am so happy!” said Cornelia, while the bright color mounted to
her cheeks. “Only yesterday how sad I was; my heart was darker than the
midnight sky, and the wailing of the storm found an echo in my soul.
Now, to-day, all nature hardly smiles so brightly and happily as my
refreshed and joyful spirit. This excursion to Ostia comes exactly at
the right moment, as if I had planned it myself--it is as if Quintus
had read my inmost soul. I want to be out in the open country by the
everlasting sea, away, far away from this crush of houses.... Ah! and
with him!”

“It is lucky then, that our stern master, your uncle, makes no
difficulties. He is usually averse to all expeditions, which may extend
till nightfall. I almost think he was inclined to say: ‘No.’ It was not
till he heard that Caius Aurelius was to be of the party....”

“It is true,” said Cornelia. “And I myself was surprised to find how he
was silent at once at the name of the Batavian.” She blushed scarlet.
“It almost looks, as if he thought I needed some one to watch my
behavior.”

“It is only that he is anxious,” said Chloe. “And he has a high opinion
of Aurelius.”

“Oh! I know--he has told me often enough. It would be a heaven-sent
boon to him, if I would throw over Quintus and condescend to marry
Aurelius.”

“That would be a bad exchange!” cried Chloe. “The senatorial
purple[362] for the ring of a provincial knight.”

A slave now announced, that Quintus Claudius was waiting in the atrium,
that he sent his greetings, and wished to know whether Cornelia was
ready to start, or whether Claudia and Lucilia should quit their
litters and come into the house. Cornelia started up from her couch and
flew to meet her lover.

“My uncle is in a very bad humor,” she said. “It will be best not to
disturb him. Let us start without any leave-taking.”

“And Chloe?”

“We will leave her at home.”

Quintus smiled; as they stood there in the narrow passage, lighted only
by one small window, he threw his arm round the tall, fine figure and,
unseen by the ostiarius, pressed a burning kiss on her lips--but Chloe
appeared with travelling-cloaks and Tyrian rugs, and the little caravan
set forth at once.

There were four litters, one for each person, followed by a small
escort of slaves. The Numidian guard of the Claudian household, and the
Batavian’s Sicambrians, who were to accompany them into the country,
were awaiting them, mounted on good horses, by the pyramid of Cestius,
where the carriages also were standing.

They first stopped at the house of Aurelius, but here there was no
delay. Hardly had they knocked at the door, when Aurelius came out to
meet his friends, ready to start. He was followed by a litter, in which
lay a fair-haired, weather-beaten, somewhat haggard-looking man.

“This is a seaman, who has brought me news from my native land,” said
Aurelius to the ladies. “In all the wind and rain last night, he came
up from Ostia, and as his ship sails to-day for Parthenope and Greece,
he wants to return to the port as quickly as possible.”

“A fellow-countryman!” exclaimed Quintus. “You Batavians are not too
numerous in Rome, and I can imagine that the meeting must have given
you keen pleasure.”

“Great pleasure!” said Aurelius, as he got into another litter, “though
the worthy Chamavus has found but ill-luck under my roof. Only think,
as he came into the court-yard he slipped on the wet marble flags and
injured his ankle. I begged him to remain and rest, but he assures me
his voyage to Hellas admits of no delay....”

“Poor fellow!” said Lucilia glancing back at the litter. “He does
certainly look very suffering.”

The flaxen-haired German bowed silently to the ladies, and then turned
to Aurelius with a resigned shrug, as though to say, what could not be
cured must be borne.

Meanwhile a crowd of idlers had, as usual, collected round the litters,
and Aurelius felt his anxiety rising at every instant; he spoke almost
angrily to one of the bearers, who could not settle the fastenings of
his scarlet tunic to his satisfaction.

However, they were now fairly off. Past the temple of the Bona Dea[363]
they turned into the Delphian Way,[364] as it was called, and on the
farther side of the Aventine reached the huge monument--then already
a century and a half old--which has survived the storms of so many
historical cataclysms to the present day. At that time the pyramid of
Cestius, cased from top to bottom in white marble, did not present the
dismal aspect it now wears--a pile of weather-stained basalt--standing
in silent dignity on the cemetery-like desert of the Campagna. A busy
population stirred at its foot, and the morning sun shone brightly
on the gilt inscription, which recorded that the deceased had been
Praetor, Tribune, and member of the body of High Priests.

On the eastern side was a second inscription, less monumental and
imposing than that on the north, but to Quintus and Aurelius of the
most pressing interest. There was there an “_album_,” as it was
called, one of the large square stones on which public announcements
or notices were written, and here, in tall, red letters, the following
advertisement might be read:

“Stephanus, the Empress’ steward, advertises for his escaped slave,
Eurymachus. Whoever brings back the fugitive, dead or alive, will
receive a reward of five hundred thousand sesterces. Eurymachus is tall
and slight, lean and pale, with dark eyes and black hair. His back
bears the scars of many floggings. In escaping, he is reported to have
injured his foot.”

The statement of the reward stood out bright and fresh, while the rest
was somewhat washed out; the sum was increased every day, and had been
doubled since the previous evening. Magus and Blepyrus made every
conceivable effort to clear a way through the mass of people[365] that
crowded round this notice, and almost blocked the whole width of the
road, shouting and gesticulating. In vain; the mob were so possessed by
the one idea, that they had neither eyes nor ears for anything else.

“Five hundred thousand sesterces!”

“More than a knight’s portion!”[366]

“And how long ago did it happen?”

“Four days.”

“Impossible!”

“He must be above ground.”

“Bah--he has some patron who hides him.”

_Pros_ and _cons_ were discussed in loud confusion; the cries of the
two slaves were lost in the storm of voices, and the procession came to
a stand-still in the midst of the chaos.

“Use your elbows,” said Aurelius in Gothic. Magus faced about with a
shrug, as much as to say there was indeed nothing else to be done.
Then, with a contemptuous glance at the mob, above which he towered,
with slow but irresistible force he elbowed his way.

“He works like a flail!” cried one, and “Oh! my ribs!” wailed another.

“They are the daughters of Titus Claudius.”

“What do I care? the road is for every one.”

“Certainly--for all alike. Let those who want to go on, get out and
walk if the crowd is too great; it is only a hundred steps to the
chariots.”

“Aye, get out!” cried a chorus. “We have as good a right to be here as
our betters. Get out! Get out!”

The mob closed upon them threateningly from both sides; Quintus
Claudius turned pale. If he could not succeed in scaring off the
people, and if this irresponsible populace insisted on having their
own way, all must be lost. The lame foot of the pretended seaman
must inevitably attract the attention and rouse the suspicion of a
rabble, whose heads were full of the notice and description before
them--discovery was inevitable.

With a leap Quintus Claudius was standing on his feet, and went forward
with calm dignity to face the tumult.

“What do you want?” he asked sternly. “Why do you dare to stop the
public way?”

His cool self-possession worked wonders--their noisy audacity was
quelled.

“Make way,” continued Claudius, while a faint flush rose to his brow.
“I, Quintus Claudius, the friend of Caesar, command you.”

“Not Caesar himself would let our ribs be battered,” shrieked a
croaking voice.

But the excuse came too late. Whether it was Caesar’s name, or the
imposing and attractive presence of the young patrician, who stood
unapproachable as an avenging Apollo, looking calmly on the tumult of
his antagonists--the crowd parted with a dull murmur, and the road was
free. Quintus and Aurelius had some difficulty in dissembling their joy.

“Stupid creatures!” said Lucilia. “What queer fancies men take.”

Cornelia smiled with an expression of supreme contempt. Nothing should
have induced her to walk, she said, and she would have liked to see any
one try to make her.

They safely reached the spot on the road to Ostia, where the chariots
awaited them. Here again they found an excited crowd. Driving inside
the city walls was prohibited by day, and they here found not only the
carriages of the wealthier citizens, but vehicles for hire in numbers,
from the lightest chariots to the heaviest conveyances for travelling
or pleasure parties. The drivers noisily and vehemently offered their
services to the passers-by, while sellers of eatables and cooling
drinks carried their baskets round with monotonous cries, and eating
and drinking went on in the arbors by the roadside. Laughter and song,
scolding and cursing were audible in a variety of tones.

The party of excursionists got into a large four-wheeled chariot[367]
belonging to Caius Aurelius. The fugitive was helped by Blepyrus and
Magus into a two-wheeled vehicle, known as a cisium,[368] which stood
somewhat apart loaded with provisions,[369] but which had room on its
back-seat not only for Eurymachus, but for his two faithful assistants.

“He insisted on it,” said the Batavian to Lucilia; “the worthy man was
anxious not to intrude on our party.”

“That was very wise of him,” replied Lucilia. “He is better off in a
provision wagon with Magus and Blepyrus, than in the most splendid
chariot--and really, here with us there is scarcely room for
him.--Besides, it would seem he brought no slaves with him from Ostia?”

“All the crew were indispensable on board,” replied Aurelius coloring
slightly.

Quintus felt that Aurelius could not carry on the deception any
farther, without involving himself in inextricable discrepancies. He
tried to divert the conversation into a less dangerous channel, and
soon succeeded in so completely engaging the gay Lucilia’s talent
for repartee, that the second vehicle and the traveller in it seemed
entirely forgotten.

With eight Numidians as outriders, the little party made their way
smoothly and unhindered along the fine high-road. The Sicambrians
followed as a rear-guard. That valiant equestrian, Herodianus, who had
been quite upset by his deeds of prowess the night before, remained at
home against his usual custom.

Now again Quintus glanced back at Eurymachus, who had maintained a
quite marvellous composure during the scene at the pyramid of Cestius.
His disguise was, in fact, most successful. None but the most practised
eye, or the scrutiny of the most suspicious, could have detected the
pale, enfeebled fugitive under the fair, curling hair and tanned,
weather-beaten face of the mariner.

The Cappadocian horses made a good pace. In an hour and a quarter they
had reached the little town of Ficana,[370] and as soon as they had
passed it they saw the marshes, which here border the coast of Latium
and the distant houses of the seaport.

During their rapid drive they had overtaken several carriages and
horsemen, and now the Numidian vanguard galloped past a man, whose
light travelling-cloak hung carelessly over his shoulders, while a
broad Thessalian hat[371] shaded his face from the sun, and who sat
his horse comfortably rather than rigidly. Two slaves trotted by his
side on mules. As the carriage gained upon him he turned his head, and
Lucilia exclaimed:

“See, Quintus! there is Cneius Afranius!”

Quintus was unpleasantly startled, for he knew how keen the eye of the
lawyer was, and how great his skill in solving the riddle of the most
involved mystery. But a glance at Caius Aurelius reassured him.

“You know,” said Aurelius, “that his mother lives at Ostia. Besides,”
he added in a whisper, “even if he were to notice ... I pledge my word,
that Afranius will not betray us.”

The carriage had now overtaken the rider. Afranius, surprised and
delighted, waved a well-shaped, though rather large hand, and set spurs
in his horse in order to keep up with the carriage. His horse jibbed
and resisted a little, but then fell into a steady canter.

“What an unexpected meeting!” cried Afranius. “Are you going to Ostia?”

“As you see,” replied Quintus.

“My trireme sails to-night,” said the Batavian gaily. “I am staying
longer in Rome than I had intended, so I am sending it back--home to
Trajectum. Our friends here have come with me for the sake of the
delightful expedition. What a splendid day it is!”

Afranius nodded the Thessalian hat.

“Quite delightful!” said Lucilia.

“And you, my worthy friend Cneius,” continued the Batavian, “what
brings you here to Ostia? Do you suffer from your old longing to
embrace your mother? Are you--escaping the noise of the city? Or have
you business to attend to.”

“Something of all three. I am riding out as much from duty as for
pleasure. You know of my proceedings against Stephanus, Domitia’s
steward. All I have hitherto been able to do has been in vain; but now,
at last, a person whose name I will for the present keep to myself,
has revealed to me certain facts which very probably--well, I will say
no more. But at any rate I propose this very day to hear what certain
citizens of Ostia have to say. If only I could get at all the witnesses
equally easily, then indeed--or at any rate one, the most important of
all. Unfortunately I see no hope for it.”

“Why!” asked Quintus.

“Because he has vanished and left no trace.”

“Then have him hunted up,” said Lucilia.

“Others are doing that already. Perhaps there were never before so
many persons in search of one escaped slave, as there are after this
wretched Eurymachus.”

Quintus turned pale, and even Aurelius felt a certain embarrassment at
the sound of that name.

“But how is it,” asked Quintus, “that Eurymachus did not long since
deliver his testimony? What can have induced him to spare his
prosecutor?”

“Eurymachus did not learn the facts he now knows, till within a few
days of his flight, and it was his highly inconvenient knowledge which
gave cause for his sentence of death.”

“But he might have spoken some days before his escape.”

“Nay, but he could not; he lay in chains with a gag in his mouth, that
might have smothered the voice of Stentor.”

“And are you certain,” persisted Aurelius, “that your informant did not
deceive you?”

“Perfectly certain. So certain, that I would pay down five hundred
thousand sesterces on the spot in hard cash--only unfortunately I do
not own so much--if only I could have that daring rascal under my hand
for five minutes. It is humiliating! Bah! Why need I lose my temper
for nothing? He is safe on shore, by this time, at Utica[372] or
Nicopolis[373] and I am heartily glad to think so. I only hope, that at
the critical moment Stephanus may not follow his example. I am afraid,
that model of all the civic virtues knows his way too, to foreign
shores!”

And he set spurs into his horse, as if suddenly pressed by some
urgent business. His thoughts had involuntarily reverted to that
greater Stephanus, whose misdeeds had filled an empire with horror. He
reflected on the boldly-planned conspiracy, of which the failure would
clear the way for Domitia’s minion, since it must inevitably lead to
the death, or at least the banishment, of his accuser. All the more
prompt and resolute then must their immediate action be against the
steward. Perhaps some combination might be devised which, come what
might, would be fatal to that criminal, whatever the issue might be
as regarded Domitian, and such a plot and attack on Stephanus would
have this additional advantage: that his foes would appear politically
guiltless. Every one must confess, that a man who could fight so
vigorously for distinction in the forum, could not at the same time be
forging plots, which might risk his whole career.

The lawyer’s last words had greatly disturbed and agitated Aurelius,
and he appeared to be on the point of whispering something to Quintus.
He thought better of it, however, and asked Cneius Afranius how it
happened that Fabulla, his respected mother, still remained in Ostia in
spite of the advanced season.

“It is strange, is it not?” answered Afranius. “With the metropolis of
the world so near, to be so indifferent to it! Quite like Diogenes!”

“Has she never been to Rome?”

“Never once. She is accustomed to the quiet of Rodumna, and devoted to
a country life, and she holds the City of the Seven Hills in invincible
aversion. Ostia appeared to offer a suitable suburban residence; a
cousin of hers, who has been staying in Egypt since March, has a small
estate there, which she is taking care of in his absence, and is as
happy doing it as Diana on the hill-tops; all the more so, as she
fancies she would be a hindrance to my advancement, if she lived with
me in Rome. However, when I am fairly launched and settled, I shall
insist on her coming.”

“I understand,” said Aurelius; and he thought to himself: “You are
waiting till our plot succeeds--or fails.”

Quintus, who was still very anxious lest Afranius might ride too
near to the disguised slave, and ask him unpleasant questions--though
there was nothing to fear from the advocate--did his best to engage
his friend’s attention. He alluded to the last speech he had delivered
before the centumvirate, paying him many polite compliments, which the
other laughingly disclaimed; then the cause itself was discussed, and
their debate became eager and almost business-like.

Cornelia had been unusually talkative; not long before Afranius had
joined them she had, with considerable humor, given an account of an
excursion to Pandataria,[374] that she had made not long since from
Sinuessa,[375] with her uncle and the Senator Sextus Furius. Claudia
and Lucilia too had chatted and laughed; only the two young men had
been silent. Now the parts had suddenly changed, and Lucilia was almost
cross, particularly as the lawyer, on his bony grey steed, would
persist in talking to Quintus and Aurelius, instead of addressing
Cornelia and Claudia as politeness required--not to mention herself;
though even she, as it seemed to her, did not look so very badly
to-day; for Baucis had coiled her hair with unprecedented skill and
precision, and her new gold pin, with a handsome ruby head, suited her
dark hair to admiration. To be sure, it was a pity that the careful
folds in which she had arranged her stola to fall over her ankles could
not be appreciated, while she sat in the carriage half covered by
Cornelia’s fuller draperies...!

“Listen, Quintus,” she began, as her brother was again on the point
of addressing Afranius: “You are frightfully uninteresting to-day. For
the whole way you have hardly spoken a hundred words, and now, when
Afranius has at last roused you from your drowsy dulness, you can talk
of nothing but lawsuits.”

“You cannot imagine,” said Claudia with a sly glance at Lucilia, “what
a sworn foe she is to all that concerns lawsuits. The mere name of the
Centumvirate cuts her to the heart, and if she hears of a speech being
made which lasts more than two, or at the outside three hours by the
water-clock,[376] she faints outright.”

Lucilia had colored scarlet.

“You are quite mistaken,” she cried eagerly. “But everything at the
proper time! On the contrary, I am devoted to the pursuit of law and
justice, but not under this glorious sun and within sight of the sea.
The sins and strife of men belong to the Forum, to the Basilica, to the
Senate-house. Here, where all is bright and beautiful, I expect gay
conversation and happy laughter.”

“She is right,” said Cornelia.

Afranius drew himself up to a rigid and military bearing.

“I crave your forgiveness, stern judge!” he said with mock gravity.
“I am greatly grieved to have offended against so wise a clause in
your code of social morals. I have justly merited your lecture, and
could do no less than take myself off, if I were not humbly resolved
to earn your forgiveness by proving my sincere penitence--how sincere
you will see by my entertaining and amiable behavior for the future.
I only crave that you will grant me the opportunity of showing my
repentance.... Do me the favor then of allowing me to invite you, one
and all, to pay a visit to my mother’s little country-house. I can
promise you, that you will be charmed, enchanted, inspired! It is a
tiny villa, but in the loveliest garden--quiet, rural, idyllic. The
muraena and Lucrine oyster are unknown there, to be sure, but as for
salads--lettuces as big as....” and with a flourish of his hand he
described a vast circle in the air--“true Cappadocians, though grown
at Ostia; and fresh eggs, pears as yellow as wax, and mighty loaves of
country bread. A few pigeons or chickens are soon cooked.... You spoilt
town’s-folk will positively revel in this rural simplicity! Then there
are the alleys, where vines hang in wreaths from the trellis...!”

“It is heavenly!” cried Claudia, again glancing knowingly at Lucilia.
“Quintus, we must really accept so tempting an invitation.”

“With pleasure; but first....”

“I understand,” interrupted Afranius. “I too must first attend to
business here. But listen to what I propose. I will first conduct these
ladies to my mother’s house, and then I will fly on the wings of the
wind to speak to the good citizens of Ostia. You meanwhile....”

“Nay, that will not do,” interrupted Aurelius. “Before my trireme
weighs anchor, I have a communication to make to you.”

“To me?”

“Yes, to you. A communication of the greatest importance, in connection
with your action against Stephanus. Allow me, therefore, to amend your
proposal. Write a few words of explanation to your mother on your wax
tablets, and give it to your slave to deliver; he may then conduct the
ladies. The men on horseback can escort them to her house, and then put
up at the nearest tavern. You, meanwhile, accompany us to the ship.
And,” he added after a pause for reflection as to what fiction he might
put forward to the three girls, “we will, at the same time, see my
fellow-countryman, the seaman from Trajectum, on board his own vessel,
which is to sail to-day for the East.”

“Which seaman?” asked the lawyer looking round.

“That I will explain presently.”

“Well, whatever is agreeable to the ladies, is agreeable to me....”

“Oh! we are in the country here,” said Cornelia, “and may dispense with
ceremony. Only your mother will be startled....”

“Delighted, you mean. She can wish for no more agreeable surprise.”

“So be it then!” cried Aurelius; “and when all is settled, we will join
the festivities.”

The first houses of Ostia were now visible on either hand, and the
bustle and stir in the road grew busier. Seamen of every nation,
fishermen with red worsted caps, porters, and barrowmen, pushed and
crowded each other. In five minutes they had reached the quay; at the
farther end of the mole lay the trireme, gaily dressed with flags, and
towering majestically above the fishing vessels and barges. The young
men got out, and the carriage rolled away, escorted by the Sicambrians
and Numidians, as far as the embowered villa, which it reached in a few
minutes.


FOOTNOTES:

 [360] A SLAVE HAD JUST ANNOUNCED, THAT IT WAS TWO HOURS AFTER
       SUNRISE. In aristocratic families the hours of the day were
       announced by a slave, kept specially for this purpose.

 [361] BERENICE’S HAIR. A constellation, so called from the
       glittering hair of Berenice, daughter of Magas of Cyrene. See
       Cat. 66.

 [362] THE SENATORIAL PURPLE. From ancient times the privilege of
       wearing a broad purple stripe upon the edge of the toga was
       one of the distinctions of the Roman senators. The second
       class (_equites_) among other prerogatives, possessed the
       right to wear a gold ring on the finger. But at a very early
       period abuse of this privilege crept in, until members of the
       third class, nay, even freedmen, presumed to assume this badge
       of honor. The severest punishments, such as confiscation of
       property, etc., could not prevent the misdemeanor. At the time
       of my story, the gold ring was actually as common as the use
       of the “von” in addressing simple citizens in Austria at the
       present day. See Mart. _Ep._ XI, 37, where the freedman Zoilus
       ventures to don a huge gold ring. The ring worn by Caius
       Aurelius--though legitimately his--must therefore have seemed
       all the more contemptible, in comparison with the senatorial
       purple. By the way, it may be said, that in the time of
       Tiberius the use of the purple was also abused. See Dio Cass.
       LVII, 13.

 [363] THE BONA DEA. A somewhat mystical divinity, allied with the
       Ops, the Fauna, and the Hellenic Demeter. Her temple stood on
       the northeastern slope of the Aventine Hill.

 [364] THE DELPHIAN WAY, (_Clivus Delphini_), led from the Circus
       Maximus to the Porta Raudusculana.

 [365] CLEAR A WAY THROUGH THE MASS OF PEOPLE. When people of
       distinction went out, this making a way through the crowd was
       often done with much ostentation, but it was always the duty
       of a few slaves to walk before their masters, and thus smooth
       the way for them.

 [366] KNIGHT’S PORTION. 400,000 sesterces.

 [367] A LARGE FOUR-WHEELED CHARIOT. Allusion is here made to
       the _rheda_ (the travelling-coach) or the _carruca_ (a
       comfortable, nay, magnificent equipage).

 [368] CISIUM. Such two-wheeled cabriolets were principally used when
       the greatest speed was desired. (See Cic., _Rosc.: cisiis
       pervolavit_)

 [369] LOADED WITH PROVISIONS. Aristocratic Romans, even on short
       journeys, carried a large quantity of baggage, principally
       table furniture and provisions, for the taverns so often
       mentioned were intended exclusively for the lower classes.

 [370] FICANA..A small town half-way between Ostia and Rome.

 [371] THESSALIAN HAT. This was worn principally in travelling.
       Thessalia was the name given to the eastern part of northern
       Greece.

 [372] UTICA. A city on the coast of the province of Africa, north of
       Tunis.

 [373] NICOPOLIS. A city of Epirus, at the entrance of the Ambracian
       Gulf, opposite Actium.

 [374] PANDATARIA. An island in the Tyrrhenian sea, opposite to the
       Gulf of Gaeta.

 [375] SINUESSA. A city on the Gulf of Gaeta.

 [376] THE WATER-CLOCK (_clepsydra_) served as a measure of time,
       especially in affairs connected with the administration of
       justice. A water-clock usually ran about twenty minutes.



                             CHAPTER XXII.


“Do not be uneasy, Quintus,” Aurelius whispered, as Cneius Afranius
dismounted and threw the bridle to his slave. “By all the gods, this
man is as trustworthy as you and I are! It would be perfect madness,
not to give him an opportunity for an interview with Eurymachus.
His fight with Stephanus is in the interest of common humanity, and
particularly in that of our protégé.”

“It is all the same; I do not like the business at all.”

“Then, so far as you personally are concerned, you can keep altogether
aloof.”

Quintus looked enquiringly at him.

“Why are you so surprised?” Aurelius continued. “It seems to me a very
simple matter. I will put myself forward as his protector, and you can
play the part of entire innocence. You need not frown, as if I had
suggested some cowardly action; if the whole matter ever comes to be
known, it will make wonderfully little difference, whether Afranius is
in possession of the whole or only of half the truth. You will save
yourself nothing but immediate embarrassment. I, for my part, am so
perfectly intimate with Afranius, so completely his friend....”

“If you suppose....”

“Only explain the case to your slave, Blepyrus. He must not be
implicated. Your best way to avoid difficulties will be not to come on
board. I could not even have invited you to come on with me, if I had
not felt it a duty to inform you of my intentions.”

Quintus nodded.

“Very good,” he said thoughtfully. “Then tell our friend, Eurymachus,
not to mention my name. I, meanwhile, will part from Afranius as though
I had business to attend to, and I will wait for you on shore. How long
will you remain on board?”

“Twenty minutes. Afranius must get through his examination as quickly
as possible.”

This brief dialogue had been carried on in haste and in a whisper.
Afranius had been giving instructions to his slave, as to how to treat
his hired nag, which was somewhat overtired, and he now joined Quintus,
while Aurelius hurried off to the two slaves, who carried, rather
than led, Eurymachus. Three words sufficed to explain the situation.
The wounded man cast a look of mournful gratitude at his preserver,
Quintus, who bowed to him with feigned indifference; then he released
Blepyrus, and rested his arm on the Batavian’s shoulder. Blepyrus
turned to follow his master, who went off with long strides landwards
along the high-street.

By every human calculation the perilous work was now happily finished;
all the rest might be considered and carried out at leisure. If
Stephanus could be really unmasked in all his villany, they might yet
succeed in bending the severity of the law in procuring the fugitive’s
return, and in securing him the happiness of a free and independent
existence. Quintus drew a deep breath; that would be a worthy end to
his bold beginning. He felt that Eurymachus, now that he had seen
him again, was far more to him than a high-souled slave. He felt a
spiritual sympathy, a sort of ideal friendship for him, like that of a
disciple for his master. His last struggle to resist the overpowering
urgency of this sentiment had died effete.

After walking about ten minutes, Quintus turned back again, and just as
he reached the strand the boat came to shore with Afranius, Aurelius,
and the Goth. Eurymachus, then, was safe on board, and if the lawyer’s
radiant expression did not belie him, his interview with the fugitive
had yielded a rich harvest. As the men stepped on land, he turned
eagerly to Aurelius and asked him when the trireme was to start.

“Everything was made ready yesterday,” replied Aurelius. “In five
minutes they will be off with all the oars plied.”

He looked across the waters, and raised his right hand to wave a
farewell.

“Good-luck go with you!” he said in a low voice, but loud enough for
Quintus to hear him. “Greet Trajectum fondly from me.”

In a few minutes the trireme began to move. Slowly at first she made
her way through the crowd of merchant and fishing-vessels, which lay at
anchor. But the captain’s hammer-strokes beat faster and faster, and
the oars dipped deeper and more strongly in the dashing waves. Now,
gliding past the jetty at the end of the quay, the trireme was afloat
on the open sea, and rode the broad blue waters like a swan. The men
still stood gazing after the proud and beautiful vessel--Aurelius,
for his part, not altogether without a vague and melancholy homesick
feeling. Although he knew, that within a few hours the trireme would
turn aside from her course and steer for the roads of Antium, still,
the dear north-country and the image of the mother he had left behind
him, suddenly seemed brought nearer to him. He had but spoken the name
of his home--but it had filled his soul with yearning. He thought of
the immediate future.--Ere long he too might be a fugitive, weary
and persecuted like Eurymachus, escaping on board that very ship,
and thanking the gods if he might only flee unrecognized. And then
Rome, and all that it contained of dear and fair, would be closed
against him forever. All--Claudia? the thought sank down on his soul
like lead. Claudia in Rome, and he hundreds of miles away, with the
fearful certainty of never seeing her again! But if she loved him--then
indeed...! If she would follow him, as Peponilla[377] had followed
her banished husband, amid the ice-hills of Scandia, or on the barren
shores of Thule,[378] spring would blossom for him more exquisite
than the rose-gardens of Paestum! But what was there to justify his
hopes of such immeasurable happiness? She had given him proofs of her
friendship, no doubt, and when he was reading the Thebais, or when he
spoke to her of his northern home, she had a way of listening--it had
often brought light and warmth to his soul like a ray of promise--but
then the revulsion had been all the more violent; her greeting would
sound distant and measured, her smile would seem cold and haughty. Oh!
if only he might have time to conquer this indifference.

But a voice was now calling him to the scene of action, and if
that action were to result in failure!--He almost regretted having
so unresistingly yielded to the eloquence of Cinna and to his own
passionate patriotism--though indeed, as he told himself, his eager
passion for Claudia was not the least of the motives that urged him to
action, nay, but for that passion he might still have been hesitating.
As it was, it had dragged him with the force of a possession into the
whirlpool of conspiracy. He longed to stand before her--his chosen
love--as a victor over tyranny, as a liberator of the empire, and say
to her: “Now, noble heart, I may sue for thy love, for I have a grand
advocate in the gratitude of my country.”

All this swept through his mind like a waking dream, as he gazed in
silence at the immeasurable sea. Then, coming to himself, and turning
round, his eyes met those of Quintus. They were the very eyes--those
dear, beautiful, unforgettable eyes--of his loved Claudia, only less
sweetly thoughtful, less tenderly dreamy. Suddenly his resolve was
taken. As soon as it should be possible, this very day if it might be,
he would learn his fate from the woman he loved, and make an end of
this miserable uncertainty.

“Was all prepared?” asked Quintus, as Cneius Afranius withdrew to one
side and wrote some notes on his tablets.

“All quite ready,” replied Aurelius. “He will be cared for, as if he
were my own brother.”

“And what did he tell Afranius?”

“I do not know; they were alone together. Afranius begged to keep it
secret, until he had everything ready to complete his case against
Stephanus.”

Afranius seemed to be entirely absorbed in thinking over what he had
learnt on board the trireme, and Aurelius had to call him twice by
name, before he roused him from his reverie.

They were now walking along the quay in the direction previously taken
by the chariot The two-wheeled cisium, which had been waiting on the
opposite side of the market-place in front of a tavern, followed them
with Magus and Blepyrus, while Afranius’ slave led the grey hack and
his own mule.

“What a tremendous crowd and bustle!” exclaimed the lawyer. “Not such
an emporium as Puteoli, to be sure, but busy enough and not less
noisy! Look at that barge with those gigantic blocks of marble--each
big enough to fill an average store-room! And there--that is really
stupendous!”

He pointed to a spot on the quay, where the crowd was thickest. A
crane there stood up, from which a gigantic rhinoceros was hanging in
mid-air, supported by broad bands and girths.

“A cargo of beasts for the centennial games,”[379] said Quintus.
“There, to the left, are a dozen of iron cages ready to receive them.
Half Asia and Africa have been plundered for the amphitheatres.”

They went nearer, for an interest in wild beasts was a natural
instinct, in all who had ever breathed the air of Rome. The hum and
clatter of the seaport were dully drowned now and again by a hoarse
roar--the growl of one of the lions from Gaetulia, restlessly pacing
up and down behind the bars of their prison, which had just been landed.

“That is something like a cageful!” said the Batavian.

“The freight of two vessels,” remarked Quintus, glancing at the
two large ships, one of which had already unloaded and gone to its
moorings. “Our gladiators may pray for good-luck.”

Another deep roar, as wild and hungry as ever resounded through the
midnight desert, drowned his voice. They were now within a few paces of
the landing-place, and from hence they could command a complete view of
the enormous array of cages, loaded on low trucks, which were waiting
to be transported to their destination by road. Hyrcanian tigers
pressed their glossy striped coats against the iron bars; Cantabrian
bears, standing on their hind legs, poked their sharp muzzles between
the railings; leopards from Mauritania, hyænas, panthers and lynxes
gnashed their blood-thirsty jaws; aurochs and buffaloes whetted their
sheathless horns, or stared in lazy indifference on the strange
surroundings. There were a few rhinoceroses too, a great rarity at
Rome; and some enormous crocodiles, which excited the astonishment and
curiosity of the maritime populace. Farther off, fastened together in
long rows, were numbers of wild asses from the hills of Numidia, wild
horses, giraffes and zebras; for even such beasts as these had their
part in the mighty fights in the Flavian amphitheatre.

Quintus and Aurelius lounged idly towards the cages, while Afranius
studied the movements of the crane, which was now beginning to lower
the grotesque monster. The two young men came to a stand in front of a
lion of unusual size, which was snorting at the bars of its cage, and
standing in a haughty and threatening attitude, its head and tangled
mane held high in the air. It was, in fact, the same beast as had just
now sent out that terrific roar. His keeper, leaning against the corner
of the cage at a respectful distance, had tried to coax and pacify the
brute, and as the two gentlemen approached the cage he respectfully
withdrew to one side. The lion watched him as he moved, and then, as he
turned his head and perceived the two strangers so close to the bars,
he drew back a pace as if startled, bellowed out for the third time his
thundering and appalling roar; and blind with fury, rushed at the iron
railing.

Quintus and Aurelius smiled and looked at each other--but they had both
turned pale at the brute’s unexpected onslaught.

“He seems to have some personal objection to me,” said Quintus. “His
fiery glare is steadily fixed on me. My word! but it increases my
respect for our gladiators; to stand face to face with such a beast in
the arena, must have an unpleasant effect on the nerves. Here we see
nature in all its unmitigated ferocity.”

The lion was, in fact, standing with a burning eye fixed on Quintus, as
though in him he recognized an old enemy.

“Let us go,” said the young man, frowning. “It is only a dumb,
unconscious brute, and I am ashamed to have been so shaken by his mere
roar. Aye, blink away, you hairy old villain. Thirty inches of steel
between your ribs will reduce even you to silence, and that must be
your fate at last, however wildly you may rage and foam over bleeding
men first.”

“That is a thorough bad one,” said the negro keeper, who spoke Latin
with difficulty. “I have tamed more than fifty; but all trouble is
thrown away on this one. He is one of the mountain lions, and his
father was a magician. I saw that at once, when the hunters brought
him, that black tuft on his forehead shows it plainly.”

And, in fact, a tangled lock of black hair hung from the brute’s mane
between his eyes.

“Is it your business to tame lions?” asked Quintus.

“I tame the mildest, and the fierce ones are kept for the fights. I
have brought up three tame ones for the centennial games--as high as
this--and they do the most wonderful things that have ever been shown
in Rome. They take live hares[380] in their jaws and carry them three
times round the arena, without even squeezing them.”

But Quintus was not listening; he had turned away. The brute’s scowl,
as he kept his glaring eyes fixed on him, filled him with an uneasy
feeling. Cneius Afranius appealed to him, too--with a pressing
reminder, that a welcome was awaiting him--not to forget the young
ladies and his mother in favor of rhinoceroses and giraffes; so they
got away from the crowd and back to the high-road, where the chariot
was waiting with the slaves.

The venerable Fabulla had received her guests at the garden gate, and
had conducted them with repeated effusions of delight and gratitude
to her pretty little house, almost hidden among olives and holm oaks,
and bowered in ivy and vines. Here the young girls were seated under
an autumn-tinted arbor-porch, and helped themselves to the grapes
which hung within reach overhead. In front of them, on a round-table
of pine-wood, stood a wicker basket of sweet-smelling wheat-bread, a
half-emptied bowl of milk, and a dish of apples and pears. Near them
lay a distaff, tied round with scarlet ribbons, and a spindle, for
Fabulla was never for an instant idle, and spun her yarn even in the
presence of such illustrious strangers.

“Children,” said Cneius Afranius, “this is the true Elysium.... The
shade, the dull green of the olives, the vine-garlands, the delicious
air, the fresh milk--it is superb! But to feel fully equipped for the
enjoyment of it all, I must first get rid of all my business; for the
present, then, I leave you to your fate. I must drink a cup of this
milk--and then farewell. We shall live to meet again! Within an hour I
shall be here again.” And with the tragic air of an actor playing the
dying Socrates, he took up one of the red clay cups and solemnly lifted
it to his lips.

“Stop, stop!” cried the good mistress. “You are taking mistress
Lucilia’s cup.”

“Ah!” cried Afranius, replacing the cup he had drained on the table
with mock penitence. “Mistress Lucilia will not be too severe, I hope,
to forgive the mistake on the ground of my thirst and absence of
mind.... Mother, your cows are improving, decidedly improving. Never
did this nectar taste so truly Olympian as to-day. Great Pan himself
must bless them.”[381]

And with these words he quitted them.

When Quintus and Aurelius had also refreshed themselves, they all rose
to wander through the garden under Fabulla’s guidance. Quintus and
Cornelia led the way, followed by Aurelius and Claudia. The mistress
of the house came last with Lucilia, who was in the highest spirits,
and never tired of praising the beautiful curly kale and the splendid
heads of lettuce, or of singing fantastical rhapsodies in praise of the
autumn pears and late figs. She had at once detected the happy pride,
with which Fabulla regarded the pretty little estate, a pride which
found an unmistakable echo in Afranius’ jesting praises. A strange
impulse prompted her to humor this natural vanity, and give the worthy
lady, whom she found particularly attractive, a simple and genuine
pleasure. At the bottom of her heart agriculture and horticulture
were as absolutely indifferent to her as any other form of human
industry; but she had a happy gift of throwing herself into sympathy
with every sphere of feeling. She spoke with delight of the charms of
a country-life, and declared quite seriously, that the noise of the
city was irritating and exhausting--an assertion to which her blooming
appearance emphatically gave the lie.

Fabulla was perfectly enchanted with the girl’s ways and manners; she
had never thought it possible, that so fresh, sweet, and unpretending
a creature could come out of Rome--that den of wickedness and
perversion--still less out of the house of a Senator, and under the
very thunder-bolts, so to speak, of the Capitoline Jupiter. She took
the bright, young creature to her heart with all the fervor of a
convert; all the more eagerly because Claudia, though beautiful, was
somewhat taciturn, and Cornelia, with all her graciousness, was still
the unapproachable great lady, mysteriously shut up within an invisible
wall against the advances of strangers.

Lucilia was, in fact, absolutely overflowing with amiability and
graciousness. When, after a quarter of an hour of wandering, Fabulla
explained that she must now go indoors to make some arrangements for
their mid-day meal, Lucilia begged to be allowed to make herself
of use, and to take the opportunity for seeing the kitchen, the
store-rooms, and the slaves’ apartments. Fabulla was enchanted;
she pressed a kiss on her new friend’s brow, and said in a tone of
melancholy:

“You are just like-my sweet Erotion![382] She was not so pretty as you
are, to be sure, nor so elegant, but her eyes were like yours, and
she was just as bright, and had the same love for the garden and for
house-keeping.--Ah! and such a good heart! How often have I dreamed
of future happiness for her when she has come, tired out with play,
and sat on my lap and laid her head on my breast. Then she would go to
sleep, and I would sing some old song, and sit dreaming and hoping till
darkness fell. But the gods would not have it so! A handful of ashes in
a marble urn is all that is left me of my sweet little girl.”

She ceased speaking, and wiped her kind, honest eyes with the back of
her hand. Lucilia gazed thoughtfully at the ground.

“It is a long time since,” Fabulla added presently. “Twenty-two years
next March; but every now and then a feeling comes over me, as if I had
lost the dear child only yesterday.”

“Poor mother!” sighed Lucilia.

Fabulla affectionately stroked her thick, waving hair.

“Do not mind me!” she said; “such dismal reflections do not suit well
with the gaiety of youth.”

“Mirth and sadness dwell side by side,” replied Lucilia, “and to enjoy
what is pleasant and endure what is sorrowful is the only sensible way.”

Then they went on between the box-hedged garden-beds.

The two couples meanwhile had wandered apart. Quintus and Cornelia were
sitting at the farthest side of the orchard, on a rough stone bench
in the deepest shade of the fruit trees, while Aurelius and Claudia
remained meditatively pacing up and down the main walk.

“How happy I feel!” said Cornelia. “Quintus, my dear love, what more
has the world to offer us? If it will only leave us undisturbed, so
that we may enjoy the gifts of the gods in peace! But you are very
silent, my dearest; must I wake you from your dreams with a kiss? Has
happiness struck you dumb? Only think--before the year is out I shall
be your wife! Yes, your wife; and I may call you my own forever. I need
never give you up again, as I must now, when every hour of happiness
ends in a parting.”

She clung fondly to him, and looked into his face with radiant
devotion. Her eyes glowed with feeling, and the fair marble of her
throat and arms gleamed so softly bright, that Quintus, overcome by the
inspiration of the moment, clasped her passionately in his arms, and
their lips met in a long and eager kiss.

“Cornelia--fairest and dearest of mortal creatures!” he whispered
tenderly, as she released herself, “you draw the very soul out of my
body with your perfect, heaven-sent love! Oh! my sweetheart, I too can
picture no purer or more noble delight, than that of living one in
spirit and hope with you. Aye, Cornelia, I am weary of the bustle of
this fevered world, of the vacuous comedy of ambition, of dominion,
of all this parcel-gilt vulgarity. I long for rest and solitude in a
peaceful home. I ask no splendor, no pomp of triumphs, nor lictors with
their fasces. I only want to be at peace with myself--I only seek that
glorious harmony, which reconciles all the discords of life. And that
peace, that respite and rest, I hope to find with you, my sweetest
Cornelia.”

“My whole being, body and soul, are yours,” replied Cornelia. “Do what
you will with me. If love can bring peace, your hopes must certainly be
fulfilled. But tell me, my dearest, do you really so utterly contemn
fame and glory? Will you never make any effort to attain what, merely
as a Claudian, you must desire: the triumph of an immortal name? Are
peace and the joys of love so absolutely antagonistic to the winning of
laurels? Do not yet abandon the post, where the gods have placed you.
Be all they have created you to be: a son of that glorious race, which,
not so long ago, gave us an Emperor! You know me well, my dearest;
you know I would worship you still, even if the Fates deprived you of
all--everything; if you were a fugitive, a beggar, scorned, hated, I
am still and forever yours. But, as it is, you are rich and noble, and
why should I deny, that fame and pomp and splendor have a charm for me?
Even the outward gifts of fortune are bestowed by the gods, and the
best thanks we can offer is to enjoy.”

“Nay, do not misunderstand me, sweet soul! I do not wish to retire
into the desert like an eastern penitent, nor to fling away the last
drinking-cup like the philosopher of Sinope.[383] It is only empty and
fruitless activity that I long to escape, the mad whirl of a life which
swallows men up to the very last fibre, and leaves them not a second
for reflection. It is only from afar, that you know that heart and
brain-consuming turmoil. Cinna is one of those who contemn it, and you
have grown up under his roof. But I see it close, and I shudder at the
sight. Is it worth while to have lived at all, when our last hour only
cuts the thread of a tissue of follies? To what end this hollow, noisy
and bewildering drama? There would be more consolation and refreshment
in studying the inside of an ant-hill.”

“You are so serious,” said Cornelia. “What can be the matter with you?
You used to say things like this, but only as a man out of conceit with
his surroundings. And now you look so strange, so mysterious....”

“You are right, dear heart; I am too grave for so sweet an-hour.
Forgive me, my darling. In time you will know better what it is, that I
... I cannot explain to you at present.”

And he drew her once more to his breast, and kissed her passionately.

Aurelius and Claudia had behaved with far greater coolness and
propriety. Behind this moderation, it is true, lurked an unrest which
now and again betrayed itself in small details. As the Batavian, by way
of opening the conversation, tried to paint the particular beauties
of the autumn season, a faint flush mounted to his brow, and Claudia
made some observations on the noble dimensions of three pumpkins in a
voice that trembled, as though she were craving some favor from Caesar.
Both were in that mood of self-conscious confusion, which is peculiar
to lovers in anticipation of an important explanation. And Claudia was
still more obviously embarrassed, when Caius Aurelius observed that
such gourds grew at Trajectum too.

“It might happen,” he went on after a pause, “that circumstances might
require me to return home sooner, than I at first intended....”

Claudia pulled the leaves off an olive-branch.

“That would be a pity,” she said in a constrained tone. Then she
colored, and went on eagerly: “For, in fact, many interesting features
of our metropolis are still unknown to you.”

“Oh,” replied Aurelius, “I am not particularly devoted to seeing
features of interest. What I far more regret, is taking leave of so
many excellent friends, so many hospitable houses where I have passed
hours of delightful intercourse, and heard so many noble ideas....”

“Ah, yes, of course,” said Claudia, breaking the olive-twig into little
pieces. The Batavian sighed.

“Above all,” he went on, “I can never forget how kindly your
illustrious father received me....”

“Oh!” exclaimed Claudia.

“And your mother.... You cannot imagine how deeply I reverence that
noble matron, how grateful I am to her for allowing me daily admission
and intimacy in her house. Ah! sweet mistress, how happy I have been in
that family circle! Your brother, I may venture to believe, has become
my best and truest friend; even Lucilia, who generally is so severely
critical, has not been unkind to me.... You may laugh at me, but I
swear to you, that when I am forced to leave I shall leave a piece of
my heart behind!”

Claudia looked down and walked on in silence, her hand shook.

“Madam,” the young man went on, and his voice trembled with agitation,
“when I am gone--forever, when miles of land and sea divide us--will
you sometimes think with kindness of the stranger....? Will you recall
the hour in which we met, our happy days at Baiae, and this blissful
time in Rome...?”

“Indeed I shall,” Claudia murmured almost inaudibly.

They had now reached the southern end of the broad walk, where a brick
wall was visible through a screen of shrubs; the patches of light,
which the sun cast on the gravel through the leaves, were visibly
aslant to the left, and the observation struck Aurelius to the heart;
from the register afforded by this natural time-keeper, he perceived
that the best of the day had slipped by unused. He was suddenly seized
with a kind of panic: these rays of light symbolized his happiness. It
was escaping him, vanishing fast--he must lose it, if he did not then
and there find some spell to command and keep it.

He stood still.

“Listen!” he said with an effort. “I cannot help it.... Before I go, I
must ask you a question. I almost feel as though I could foresee the
answer.--It is all the same, I must speak. Only one thing I would beg
beforehand: Do not laugh at my blind self-deceit. You know me--I am
neither highly gifted nor of noble birth, but I have a faithful nature
and a heart full of never-failing devotion--and you are the object of
that devotion. Therefore I must ask: could you bear to make up your
mind to be my wife? I ask no promise, Claudia, no binding vows--only a
word to give me hope, a single word of comfort and encouragement. If
you can, oh Claudia, speak it! If you cannot, at any rate I shall be
free from the anguish of uncertainty.”

Claudia had listened to him in rigid silence, but as he ended, she
gave him her hand--looked up in his face--and smiled through her tears.
Aurelius stood in speechless surprise; he tried to speak, but in vain.
This transcendent happiness seemed to have paralyzed his powers.

“You dear, foolish man,” said Claudia with glowing cheeks. “What have I
done, that you should put a poor girl like me to the blush? I, who have
looked up to you in all humility....”

“Claudia!” cried the Batavian, trembling with rapture. “Am I not
cheated by a dream? You--mine? I am delirious--raving.”

“Nay, it is the truth. I am yours now and till death.”

“Quintus, Claudia, Cornelia,” shouted a clear, girlish voice, “are you
playing at hide-and-seek? or has some tricky god turned you all into
trees? Come forth, Fauns[384] and Dryads![385] The couches are ready in
the triclinium, and a banquet is prepared, that is worthy of Olympus.”

Aurelius did not seem particularly interested in the information. How
gladly would he have dreamed away the remainder of the day out here
under the verdurous shade! But society asserts its rights, and love,
particularly when it is a secret, must early learn to take patience.

“Let us be prudent and say nothing of this,” said Claudia as they went
in. “My father has certain schemes in his head, as perhaps you know--he
has not spoken out about them as yet, but Lucilia told me she was sure
of it, and Lucilia has eyes like a Pannonian lynx.[386] Sextus Furius,
the senator--you know him--wants, they say, to make me his wife, and
my father is not averse to it. We shall have a fight for it, dear
Caius....”

“And you say it as calmly....”

“Shall I worry beforehand over things I cannot prevent? But I will do
my utmost to win my father over. He is stern, but he loves me, and for
his daughter’s happiness he would make a sacrifice--a sacrifice I say
advisedly, for you know how strictly he adheres to his principles, and
one of his principles is a prejudice against the class of knights....”

“And if your hopes deceive you--if all is in vain?”

“Then I remember that the old saying: ‘Where you, Caius, are, there
will I, Caia, be’[387] is a pledge no less sacred than obedience to
parents; and I too am of the race of Claudius!”

They had reached the open plot in front of the house, where Cneius
Afranius was standing with Lucilia and his mother, cutting ripe grapes
into a basket with a sharp knife. Dressed in a flowered tunic, the city
lawyer was humming the air of a Gaulish popular song; every now and
then he interrupted himself with a cry of surprise at the huge size of
the grapes, or a jesting word to the young girl, and all the time his
jolly pleasant face, ruddy with the exertion and with the October sun,
shone like a living tribute to Bacchus.

“There!” he exclaimed, as Quintus and Cornelia also appeared upon the
scene, “now, a few leaves, and men Zeuxis[388] himself could not paint
a prettier picture! Aha! here are our peripatetic[389] philosophers!
Come along, our country dining-room is quite ready! Come, Quintus, and
see if Fabulla’s spelt porridge and cabbage sprouts[390] are to your
liking; I am credibly informed too, that there is a fish salad with
chopped eggs and leeks. Such a cybium[391] as my mother makes, you have
never tasted. Even the great Euphemus, with all his art, must yield to
that triumph of culinary skill. Walk in, most worshipful company, walk
in, for here too the gods abide!”


FOOTNOTES:

 [377] PEPONILLA, the wife of Julius Sabinus, who had incited an
       unsuccessful insurrection in Gaul, lived for nine years with
       her husband in a subterranean cave, always hoping the emperor
       would pardon the hunted man. But Vespasian was inexorable, and
       when Julius Sabinus was discovered, condemned not only him,
       but his faithful wife, to death. See Dio Cass. LXIV, 16. In
       Tacitus (_Hist._ IV, 67) she is called Epponina, in Plutarch
       (_Dial. de amicit_, 25,) Empona.

 [378] THULE (Θούλη) an island in the German ocean, was the moat
       extreme northern point of the earth known in those days. See
       Tac. _Agr._ X., Virg. _Geog._ I. 30. It it supposed to be what
       is now called Iceland, or a part of Norway.

 [379] A CARGO OF BEASTS FOR THE CENTENNIAL GAMES. A catalogue of
       animals, dating from the time of Gordian III, (238 to 244
       A.D.) mentions thirty-two elephants, ten tigers, sixty tame
       lions, three hundred tame leopards--but only one rhinoceros.

 [380] LIVE HARES. See Mart. _Ep._ I, 6, (“the captured hare
       returning often in safety from the kindly tooth”) 14 (“and
       running at large through the open jaws,”) 22, 104.

 [381] GREAT PAN HIMSELF MUST BLESS THEM. Pan, son of Hermes and
       a daughter of Dryops, or of Zeus and the Arcadian nymph
       Callisto, etc., etc., is a divinity of the fields and
       forests. Cneius Afranius here uses the adjective “great” in
       the sense of “powerful,” “influential,”--corresponding with
       the hyperbolical tone of the rest of his speech. The totally
       different expression, “the great Pan,” in the sense of a
       symbolical appellation of the universe, originates in a verbal
       error, according to which the word Pan is derived from the
       Greek πᾶς “all” “the whole” while it really comes from πάω
       (I graze.)

 [382] MY SWEET EROTION. A child of this name, who died in early
       youth, is mentioned by Martial, _Ep._ V, 34, 37, and X, 61.

       _Ep._ V, 34.

          “Ye parents Fronto and Flaccilla here,
          To you do I commend my girl, my dear,
          Lest pale Erotion tremble at the shades,
          And the foul Dog of Hell’s prodigious heads.
          Her age fulfilling just six winters was,
          Had she but known so many days to pass.
          ’Mongst you, old patrons, may she sport and play,
          And with her lisping tongue my name oft say.
          May the smooth turf her soft bones hide, and be
          O earth, as light to her, as she to thee!”
                                           FLETCHER.

       _Ep._ X, 61.

          “Underneath this greedy stone
          Lies little sweet Erotion;
          Whom the Fates, with hearts as cold,
          Nipp’d away at six years old.
          Thou, whoever thou mayst be,
          That hast this small field after me,
          Let the yearly rites be paid
          To her little slender shade;
          So shall no disease or jar,
          Hurt thy house, or chill thy Lar;
          But this tomb be here alone
          The only melancholy stone.”
                                  LEIGH HUNT.

 [383] PHILOSOPHER OF SINOPE. The well-known Cynic philosopher
       Diogenes, born at Sinope on the Black Sea, 404. B.C.

 [384] FAUN (from _faveo_--to be favorable). A god of the fields and
       woods, akin to the Greek woodland deity, Pan.

 [385] DRYAD. The embodied life-principle of the tree, a tree-nymph.

 [386] PANNONIAN LYNX. Pannonia, now Hungary. Lynxes were also
       imported from Gaul.

 [387] WHERE YOU, CAIUS, ARE, THERE WILL I, CAIA, BE. An ancient
       formula, in which the bride vowed faith and obedience to the
       bridegroom.

 [388] ZEUXIS of Heracleia in Greece, a famous artist, who lived
       about 397 B.C. His contest with Parrhasius, in which he
       painted grapes so deceptive, that they lured the birds, is
       well known.

 [389] PERIPATETICS (wanderers.) A name given to Aristotles’ school
       of philosophers, from its founder’s habit of delivering his
       lectures, not seated, but walking about.

 [390] CABBAGE SPROUTS. In the spring the young cabbage shoots
       (_cimae, prototomi_) were eaten, in the summer and autumn the
       larger stalks (_caules cauliculi_) see Mart. _Ep._ V. 78.

 [391] CYBIUM (κύβιον). A sort of mayonnaise made of salt tunny-fish,
       cut into squares. See Mart. _Ep._ V. 78, where the sliced eggs
       are not lacking. There were two kinds of leek (porrum:) _porrum
       sectile_ (chives) and _porrum capitatum_.

                             END OF VOL. I



Transcriber’s Note

The following table summarizes the various textual issues
encountered, and their resolution. A number of punctuation errors and
inconsistencies have been corrected. Where the errors seem most likely
to be attributable to printer’s errors, they have been corrected as
noted below.

The name “Friedlander”, mentioned as a source a number of times in the notes, is variously spelled “Friedlander”, “Friedländer”, and “Friedlaender”. p. 7 the commencement of this story[,/.] Corrected. p. 43 in the wall.[”] Removed. p. 61 n. 115 amounted to 60[./,]000,000 bushels Corrected. p. 75 min[i]ature Added. p. 97 in Caesar’s name[?/.] Corrected. p. 98 glanced at her significantly[.] Added. p. 114 dissipation....[”] Added. p. 129 [‘/“]and I honor and admire it. Corrected. p. 170 n. 265 the most corrupt in all Rome[,/.] Corrected. p. 171 pantomi[n/m]e Corrected. p. 183 n. 278 (Pliny, _Ep._ X, 98.[)] Added. p. 188 po[in/ni]ard Transposed. p. 211 n. 295 was often used for writing[,/.] Corrected. my dear Quintus,[”] he said Added. p. 214 interrupted his father, [“]and I do Added. p. 229 [“]If it is ever in my power Added. p. 246 n. 341 to receive rain-water[,/.] Corrected. p. 265 It i[t/s] all the same Corrected. p. 275 [“]Chloe,” she said at last, Added. [“]Chloe raised her round head Removed. p. 280 to the present day[,/.] Corrected. p. 282 discovery was inevitable.[.] Removed. p. 296 n. 378 Virg. _Geog._ I. 30.[)] Removed. * *** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Quintus Claudius, Volume 1 of 2 - A Romance of Imperial Rome" *** Doctrine Publishing Corporation provides digitized public domain materials. Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians. This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties, including placing technical restrictions on automated querying. We also ask that you: + Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes. + Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help. + Keep it legal - Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States, that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries. Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing ISYS search means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world. Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe. About ISYS® Search Software Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise search solutions for business and government. The company's award-winning software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded search applications. ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.



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