TRANSLATED FROM THE POLISH
BY JEREMIAH CURTIN
In the trilogy “With Fire and Sword,” “The Deluge,” and “Pan Michael,” Sienkiewicz has given pictures of a great and decisive epoch in modern history. The results of the struggle begun under Bogdan Hmelnitski have been felt for more than two centuries, and they are growing daily in importance. The Russia which rose out of that struggle has become a power not only of European but of world-wide significance, and, to all human seeming, she is yet in an early stage of her career. In “Quo Vadis” the author gives us pictures of opening scenes in the conflict of moral ideas with the Roman Empire, — a conflict from which Christianity issued as the leading force in history. The Slavs are not so well known to Western Europe or to us as they are sure to be in the near future; hence the trilogy, with all its popularity and merit, is not appreciated yet as it will be. The conflict described in “Quo Vadis” is of supreme interest to a vast number of persons reading English; and this book will rouse, I think, more attention at first than anything written by Sienkiewicz hitherto.
JEREMIAH CURTIN, Ilom, Northern Guatemala, June, 1896.
Petronius woke only about midday, and as usual greatly wearied. The evening before he had been at one of Nero’s feasts, which was prolonged till late at night. For some time his health had been failing. He said himself that he woke up benumbed, as it were, and without power of collecting his thoughts. But the morning bath and the careful kneading of the body by trained slaves hastened gradually the course of his slothful blood, roused him, restored his strength, so that he issued from the elaeothesium, that is the last division of the bath, as if he had risen from the dead, with eyes gleaming from wit and gladness, rejuvenated, filled witli life, exquisite, so unapproachable that Otho himself could not compare with him, and was really that which he had been called, — arbiter elegantiarum. He visited the public baths rarely, only when some rhetor happened there who roused admiration and who was spoken of in the city, or when in the ephebias there were combats of exceptional interest. Moreover, he had in his own “insula” private baths which Celer, the famous contemporary of Severus, had extended for him, reconstructed and arranged with such uncommon taste that Nero himself acknowledged their excellence over those of the Emperor, though the imperial baths were more extensive and finished with incomparably greater luxury. After that feast, at which he was bored by the jesting of Vatinius with Nero, Lucan, and Seneca, he took part in a diatribe as to whether woman has a soul. Rising late, he used, as was his custom, the baths. Two enormous balneatores laid him on a cypress table covered with snow-white Egyptian byssus, and with hands dipped in perfumed olive oil began to rub his shapely body; and he waited with dosed eyes till the heat of the laconicum and the heat of their hands passed through him and expelled weariness. But after a certain time he spoke, and opened his eyes; he inquired about the weather, and about the gems which the jeweller Idomeneus had promised to send him for examination that day. It appeared that the weather was beautiful, with a light breeze from the Alban hills, and that the gems had not been brought. Petronius closed his eyes again, and had given command to bear him to the tepidarium, when from behind the curtain the nomenclator looked in, announcing that young Marcus Vinicius, recently returned from Asia Minor, had come to visit him. Petronius ordered to admit the guest to the tepidarium, to which he was borne himself. Vinicius was the son of his oldest sister, who years before had married Marcus Vinicius, a man of consular dignity from the time of Tiberius. The young man was serving then under Corbulo against the Parthians, and at the close of the war had returned to the city. Petronius had for him a certain weakness bordering on attachment, for Marcus was a beautiful and athletic young man, who knew at the same time how to preserve a certain aesthetic measure in his profligacy which Petronius prized above everything.
“A greeting to Petronius,” said the young man, entering the tepidarium with a springy step. “May all the gods grant thee success, but especially Asklepios and Kypns, for under their double protection nothing evil can meet one.” “I greet thee in Rome, and may thy rest be sweet after war,” replied Petronius, extending his hand from between the folds of soft karbas stuff in which he was wrapped.“ What’s to be heard in Armenia; or since thou wert in Asia, didst thou not stumble into Bithynia?” Petronius on a time had been proconsul in Bithynia, and, what is more, he had governed with activity and justice. This was a marvellous contradiction in the character of the man noted for effeminacy and love of luxury; hence he was fond of mentioning those times, since they were a proof of what he was, and what he might have been had it pleased him. “I happened to visit Heraklea,” answered Vinicius. “Corbulo sent me there with an order to assemble reinforcements.” “Ah, Heraklea! I knew at Heraklea a certain maiden from Colchis, for whom I would have given all the divorced women of this city, not excluding Poppaea. But these are old stories. Tell me now, rather, what is to be heard from the Parthian boundary. It is true that they weary me every Vologeses of them, and Tiridates and Tigranes, — those barbarians who, as young Arulenus insists, walk on all fours at home, and pretend to be human only when in our presence. But now people in Rome speak much of them, if only for the reason that it is dangerous to speak of aught else.” “The war is going badly, and but for Corbulo it might be turned to defeat.” “Corbulo! by Bacchus! a real god of war, a genuine Mars, a great leader, at the same time quick-tempered, honest, and dull. I love him, even for this, — that Nero is afraid of him.” “Corbulo is not a dull man.” “Perhaps thou art right, but for that matter it is all one. Dulness, as Pyrrho says, is in no -way worse than wisdom, and differs from it in nothing.” Vinicius began to talk about the war; but when Petronius closed his eyes again, the young man, seeing his uncle’s tired and somewhat emaciated face, changed the conversation, and inquired with a certain interest about his health. Petronius opened his eyes again. Health! — No. He did not feel well, he said. He had not gone so far yet, it is true, as young Sissena, who had lost sensation to such a degree that when he was brought to the bath in the morning he inquired, ‘Am I sitting?’ But he was not well. Vinicius had just committed him to the care of Asklepios and Kypris. But he, Petronius, did not believe in Asklepios. It was not known even whose son Asklepios was, the son of Arsinoe or Koronis; and if the mother was doubtful, what was to be said of the father? Who could be sure in that time who his own father was? Thereupon Petronius began to laugh; then he continued, — “Two years ago I sent to Epidaurus three dozen live cocks and a goblet of gold; but dost thou know why? I said to myself, ‘ Whether this helps or not, it will do me no harm.’ Though people make offerings to the gods, yet I believe that all think as I do, — all, with the exception, perhaps, of muledrivers on the road at the Porta Capena. Besides Asklepios, I had to do with sons of Asklepios. When I was troubled a little last year in my bladder, they prescribed for me. I saw that they were tricksters, but I said to myself: ‘What harm I The world stands on deceit, and life is an illusion. The soul is an illusion too. But one must have reason enough to distinguish pleasant from painful illusions.’ I shall give command to burn in my hypocaustum cedar-wood sprinkled with ambergris, for during life I prefer perfumes to stenches. As to Kypris, to whom thou hast confided me, I have known her guardianship to the extent that I have twinges in my right foot. But as to the rest she is a good goddess I suppose that thou wilt bear sooner or later white doves to her altar.” “True,” answered Vinicius. “ The arrows of the Parthians have not reached my body, but a dart of Amor has struck me — unexpectedly, a few stadia from a gate of this city.” “By the white knees of the Graces! thou wilt tell me of this at a leisure hour.” “I have come purposely to get thy advice,” answered Marcus. But at that moment the epilatores came, and occupied themselves with Petronius. Marcus, throwing aside his tunic, entered a bath of tepid water, for Petronius invited him to a plunge bath. “Ah, I have not even asked whether thy feeling is reciprocated,” said Petronius, looking at the youthful body of Marcus, as it were, cut out of marble. “Had Lysippos seen thee, thou wouldst be ornamenting now the gate leading to the Palatine, as a statue of Hercules in youthful years.” The young man smiled with satisfaction, and began to sink in the bath, splashing warm water abundantly on the mosaic which represented Hera at the moment when she was imploring Sleep to lull Zeus to rest. Petronius looked at him with the satisfied eye of an artist. But when he had finished and yielded himself in turn to the epilatores, a lector came in with a bronze tube at his breast and rolls of paper in the tube. “Dost wish to listen?” asked Petronius. “If it is thy creation, gladly!” answered Marcus; “if not, I prefer conversation. Poets are seizing people at present on every street corner.” “Of course they are. Thou wilt not pass any basilica, bath, library, or book-shop without seeing a poet gesticulating like a monkey. Agrippa, on coming here from the East, mistook them for madmen. And it is just such a time now. Caesar writes verses; hence all follow in his steps. Only it is not permitted to write better verses than Caesar, and for that reason I fear a little for Lucan. But I write prose, with which, however, I do not honor myself or others. What the lector has to read are codicilli of that poor Fabricius Veiento.” “Why ‘poor’?” “Because it has been communicated to him that he must dwell in Odyssa and not return to his domestic hearth till he receives a new command. That Odyssey will be easier for him than for Ulysses, since his wife is no Penelope. I need not tell thee, for that matter, that he acted stupidly. But here no one takes things otherwise than superficially. His is rather a wretched and dull little book, which people have begun to read passionately only when the author is banished.
Now one hears on every side, ‘Scandala! scandala!’ and it may be that Veiento invented some things; but I, who know the city, know our patres and our women, assure thee that it is all paler than reality. Meanwhile every man is searching in the book, — for himself with alarm, for his acquaintances with delight. At the bookshop of Avirnus a hundred copyists are writing at dictation, and its success is assured.” “Are thy affairs in it?” “They are; but the author is mistaken, for I am at once worse and less flat than he represents me. Seest thou we have lost long since the feeling of what is worthy or unworthy, — and to me even it seems that in real truth there is no difference between them, though Seneca, Musonius, and Trasca pretend that they see it. To me it is all one 1 By Hercules, I say what I think! I have preserved loftiness, however, because I know what is deformed and what is beautiful; but this our poet, Bronzebeard, for example, or a wagoner, or a ballad singer, or a buffoon, does not understand.” “I am sorry, however, for Fabricius! He is a good companion.” “ Self-love destroyed the man. Every one suspected him, no one knew certainly; but he could not contain himself, and told the secret on all sides in confidence. Hast heard the history of Rufinus?” “No.” “Than come to the frigidarium to cool; there I will tell thee.” They passed into the frigidarium, in the middle of which was playing a fountain of bright rose-color, emitting the odor of violets. There they sat in niches which were covered with velvet, and began to cool themselves. Silence reigned for a time. Vinicius looked awhile thoughtfully at a bronze faun which, bending over the arm of a nymph, was seeking her lips eagerly with his lips. “He is right,” said the young man. “That is what is best in life.” “More or less I But besides this thou lovest war, which I do not love, for under tents one’s fingernails break and cease to be rosy. For that matter, every man has his preferences. Bronzebeard loves song, especially his own; and old Scaurus his Corinthian vase, which stands near his bed at night, and which he kisses when he cannot sleep. lie has kissed the edge off already. Tell me, dost thou not write verses?” “No; I have never composed a single hexameter.” “And dost thou not play on the lute and sing?” “ No.” “And dost thou drive a chariot?” “I tried once in Antioch, but unsuccessfully.” “Then I am at rest concerning thee. And to what party in the hippodrome dost thou belong?” “To the Greens.” “Now I am perfectly at rest, especially since thou hast a large property indeed, though thou art not so rich as Pallas or Seneca. For seest thou, with us at present it is well to write verses, to sing to a lute, to declaim, and to compete in the Circus; but better, and especially safer, not to write verses, not to play, not to sing, and not to compete in the Circus. Best of all, is it to know how to admire when Bronzebeard admires. Thou art a comely young man; hence Poppsea may fall in love with thee. This is thy only peril. But no, she is too experienced; she cares for something else. She has had enough of love with her two husbands; with the third she has other views. Dost thou know that that stupid Otho loves her yet to distraction? He walks on the cliffs of Spain, and sighs; he has so lost his former habits, and so ceased to care for his person, that three hours each day suffice him to dress his hair. Who could have expected this of Otho? “I understand him,” answered Vinicius; “but in his place I should have done otherwise.” “What, namely?” “I should have enrolled faithful legions of mountaineers of that country. They are good soldiers, — those Iberians.” “ Vinicius! Vinicius! I almost wish to tell thee that thou wouldst not have been capable of that. And knowest why? Such things are done, but they are not mentioned even conditionally. As to me, in his place, I should have laughed at Poppaea, laughed at Bronzebeard, and formed for myself legions, not of Iberian men, however, but Iberian women. And what is more, I should have written epigrams which I should not have read to any one, — not like that poor Rufinus.” “Thou wert to tell me his history.” “I will tell it in the unctorium.”
But in the unctorium the attention of Vinicius was turned to something else; namely, to wonderful slave women who were waiting for the bathers there. Two of them, Africans resembling noble statues of ebony, began to anoint their bodies with delicate perfumes from Arabia; others, Phrygians, skilled in hairdressing, held in their hands, which were bending and flexible as serpents, mirrors of polished steel, and combs; two Grecian maidens from Cos, who were simply like deities, waited as vestiplicse, till the moment should come to put statuesque folds in the togas of the lords. “By the cloud-scattering Zeus!” said Marcus Vinicius, “what a choice thou hast!” “I prefer choice to numbers,” answered Petronius. “My whole familia in Rome does not exceed four hundred, and I judge that for personal attendance only upstarts need a greater number of people.” “More beautiful bodies even Bronzebeard does not possess,” said Vinicius, distending his nostrils. “Thou art my relative,” answered Petronius, with a certain friendly indifference, “and I am neither so misanthropic as Barsus nor such a pedant as Aulus Plautius.” But when Vinicius heard this last name, he forgot the maidens from Cos for a moment, and, raising his head vivaciously, inquired, — “Whence did Aulus Plautius come to thy mind? Dost thou know that after I had disjointed my arm outside the city, I passed a number of days in their house? It happened 1 Household servants, that Plautius came up at the moment when the accident happened, and, seeing that I was suffering greatly, he took me to his house; there his slave, the physician Merien, restored me to health. I wished to speak with thee touching this very matter.” “Why? Is it because thou hast fallen in love with Pomponia perchance? In that case I pity thee; she is not young, and she is virtuous 1 I cannot imagine a worse combination. Brr!” “Not with Pomponia — „eheu” answered Vinicius. “With whom, then?” “If I knew myself with whom? But I do not know to a certainty her name even, — Lygia or Callina? They call her Lygia in the house, for she comes of the Lygian nation; but she has her own barbarian name, Callina. It is a wonderful house, — that of those Plautiuses. There are many people in it; but it is quiet there as in the groves of Subiacum. For a number of days I did not know that a divinity dwelt in the house. Once about daybreak I saw her bathing in the garden fountain; and I swear to thee by that foam from which Aphrodite rose, that the rays of the dawn passed right through her body I thought that when the sun rose she would vanish before me in the light, as the twilight of morning does. Since then, I have seen her twice; and since then, too, I know not what rest is, I know not what other desires are, I have no wish to know what the city can give me. I want not women, nor gold, nor Corinthian bronze, nor amber, nor pearls, nor wine, nor feasts; I want only Lygia. I am yearning for her, in sincerity I tell thee, Petronius, as that Dream who is imaged on the Mosaic of thy tepidarium yearned for Paisythea, — whole days and nights do I yearn.” “If she is a slave, then purchase her.” “She is not a slave.” “What is she? A freed woman of Plautius?” “Never having been a slave, she could not be a freed woman.” “Who is she?” “I know not, — a king’s daughter or something of that sort.” “Thou dost rouse my curiosity, Vinicius.” “But if thou wish to listen, I will satisfy thy curiosity straightway. Her story is not a long one. Thou art acquainted, perhaps personally, with Vannius, king of the Suevi, who, expelled from his country, spent a long time grain of Demeter in thy house.” “Thou art greater than Caesar!” exclaimed Vinicius, with enthusiasm.
In fact, Petronius kept his promise. Next day after the visit to Chrysothemis, he slept all day, it is true; but in the evening he gave command to bear him to the Palatine, and he had a confidential conversation with Nero; in consequence of this, on the third day a centurion, at the head of some tens of pretorian soldiers, appeared before the house of Plautius. The period was uncertain and terrible. Messengers of this kind were more frequently heralds of death. So when the centurion struck the hammer at Aulus’s door, and when the guard of the atrium announced that there were soldiers in the anteroom, terror rose through the whole house. The family surrounded the old general at once, for no one doubted that danger hung over him above all. Pomponia, embracing his neck with her arms, pressed up to him with all her strength, and her blue lips moved quickly while uttering some quiet expression.
Lygia, with a face pale as linen, kissed his hand; little Aulus clung to his toga. From the corridor, from chambers in the lower story intended for servant-women and attendants, from the bath, from the arches of lower dwellings, from the whole house, crowds of slaves began to hurry out, and the cries of “Heu hen, me miserum!” were heard. The women broke into great weeping; some scratched their cheeks, or covered their heads with kerchiefs. Only the old general himself, accustomed for years to look death straight in the eye, remained calm, and only his mild eagle face became as if chiselled from stone. After a while, when he had quieted the uproar, and commanded the attendants to disappear, he said, — “Let me go, Pomponia. If my end has come, we shall have time to take farewell.” And he pushed her aside gently; but she said, — “God grant thy fate and mine to be one, O Aulus!” Then, falling on her knees, she began to pray with that force which fear for some dear one alone can give. Aulus passed out to the atrium, where the centurion was waiting for him. It was old Cams Hasta, his former subordinate and companion in British wars. “I greet thee, general,” said he. “I bring a command, and the greeting of Caesar; here are the tablets and the signet to show that I come in his name.” “I am thankful to Caesar for the greeting, and I shall obey the command,” answered Aulus. “ Be welcome, Ilasta, and say what command thou hast brought.” “Aulus Plautius,” began Hasta, “Caesar has learned that in thy house is dwelling the daughter of the king of the Lygians, whom that king during the life of the divine Claudius gave into the hands of the Romans as a pledge that the boundaries of the empire would never be violated by the Lygians. The divine Nero is grateful to thee, O general, because thou hast given her hospitality in thy house for so many years; but, not wishing to burden thee longer, and considering also that the maiden as a hostage should be under the guardianship of Caesar and the senate, he commands thee to give her into my hands.” Aulus was too much a soldier and too much a veteran to permit himself regret in view of an order, or vain words, or complaint. A slight wrinkle of sudden anger and pain, however, appeared on his forehead. Before that frown legions in Britain had trembled on a time, and even at that moment fear was evident on the face of Hasta. But in view of the order, Aulus Plautius felt defenceless. He looked for some time at the tablets and the signet; then raising his eyes to the old centurion, he said calmly, — “Wait, Hasta, in the atrium till the hostage is delivered to thee.” After these words he passed to the other end of the house, to the hall called oecus, where Pomponia Graecina, Lygia, and little Aulus were waiting for him in fear and alarm. “Death threatens no one, nor banishment to distant islands,” said he; “still Caesar’s messenger is a herald of misfortune. It is a question of thee, Lygia.” “Of Lygia?” exclaimed Pomponia, with astonishment. “Yes,” answered Aulus. And turning to the maiden, he began: “Lygia, thou wert reared in our house as our own child; I and Pomponia love thee as our daughter. But know this, that thou art not our daughter. Thou art a hostage, given by thy people to Rome, and guardianship over thee belongs to Caesar. Now Caesar takes thee from our house.” The general spoke calmly, but with a certain strange, unusual voice.
Lygia listened to his words, blinking, as it were, not understanding what the question was. Pomponia’s cheeks were pale. In the doors leading from the corridor to the oecus, the terrified faces of slaves began to show themselves a second time. “The will of Caesar must be accomplished”, said Aulus. “Aulus!” exclaimed Pomponia, embracing the maiden with her arms, as if wishing to defend her, “it would be better for her to die.” Lygia, nestling up to her breast, repeated, “Mother, mother I” unable in her sobbing to find other words. On Aulus’s face anger and pain were reflected again. “If I were alone in the world,” said he, gloomily, “I would not surrender her alive, and my relatives might give offerings this day to ‘Jupiter Liberator.’ But I have not the right to ruin also our child, who may live to happier times I will go this day to Caesar, and implore him to change his command. Whether he will listen to me, I know not. Meanwhile farewell, Lygia, and know that I and Pomponia bless always the day in which thou didst take thy seat at our hearth.” Thus speaking, he placed his hand on her head; but though he strove to preserve his calmness, still when Lygia turned to him, her eyes filled with tears, and seizing his hand pressed it to her lips, there breathed in his voice a deep fatherly sorrow. “Farewell, our joy and the light of our eyes,” said he. And he went to the atrium quickly, so as not to let himself be conquered by emotion unworthy of a Roman and a general. Meanwhile Pomponia, when she had conducted Lygia to the cubiculum, began to comfort, console, encourage her, and utter words which sounded strangely in that house, in which near them in an adjoining chamber was the lararium, and the hearth on which Aulus Plautius, faithful to ancient usage, made offerings to the domestic divinities. Now the hour of trial had come. On a time Virginius had pierced the bosom of his own daughter to save her from the hands of Appius; still earlier Lucretia had redeemed her shame with her life. The house of Caesar is a den of infamy, of evil, of crime. But we, Lygia, know why we have not the right to raise hands on ourselves! Yes I The law under which we both live is another, a greater, a holier, but it gives permission to defend oneself from evil and shame, even should it happen to pay for that defence with life and torment. Whoso goes forth pure from the dwelling of corruption lias the greater merit thereby. The earth is that dwelling; but fortunately life is one twinkle of the eye, and resurrection is only from the grave, beyond which not Nero, but Mercy bears rule, and there is delight instead of pain, joy instead of tears.
Then she began to speak of herself. Yes, she was calm; but in her breast there was no lack of painful wounds. For example, Aulus was a cataract on her eye; the fountain of light had not flowed to him yet. Neither was it permitted her to rear her son in Truth. When she thought, therefore, that it might be thus to the end of her life, and that for them a moment of separation might come which would be a hundred times more grievous and terrible than that temporary one over which they were both suffering then, she could not so much as understand how she could be happy even in heaven without them. And she had wept many nights through already, had passed many nights in prayer, imploring for mercy and grace. But she offered her suffering to God, and waited and trusted. And now, when a new blow struck her, when the command of the tyrant took from her a dear one, — her whom Aulus had called the light of their eyes, — she trusted yet, believing that there was a power greater than Nero’s and a mercy mightier than his anger. And she pressed still more firmly the maiden’s head to her bosom. Lygia dropped to her knees after a while, and, covering her eyes in the folds of Pomponia’s peplus, she remained thus a long time in silence; but when she stood up again, somb calmness was evident on her face. “I grieve for thee, mother, and for father and for brother; but I know that resistance is useless, and would destroy all of us. I promise thee that 1 will never forget thy words in the house of Csesar.” Once more she threw her arms around Pomponia’s neck; then both went out to the oecus, and she took farewell of little Aulus, of the old Greek their teacher, of the dressingmaid who had been her nurse, and of all the slaves. One of these, a tall and broad-shouldered Lygian, called Ursus in the house, who with other servants had in his time gone with Lygia’s mother and her to the camp of the Romans, fell now at her feet, and then bent down to the knees of Pomponia, saying, “ O domina! permit me to go with my lady, to serve her and watch over her in the house of Caesar.” “Thou art not our servant, but Lygia’s,” answered Pomponia; “but if they admit thee through Caesar’s doors, in what way wilt thou be able to watch over her?” „I know not, domina; I know only that iron breaks in my hands just as wood does.” When Aulus, who came up at that moment had heard what the question was, not only did he not oppose the wishes of Ursus, but he declared that he had not even the right to detain him. They were sending away Lygia as a hostage whom Caesar had claimed, and they were obliged in the same way to send her retinue, which passed with her to the control of Caesar. Here he whispered to Pomponia that under the form of an escort she could add as many slaves as she thought proper, for the centurion could not refuse to receive them. There was a certain comfort for Lygia in this.
Pomponia also was glad that she could surround her with servants of her own choice. Therefore, besides Ursus, she appointed to her the old tirewoman, two maidens from Cyprus well skilled in hair-dressing, and two German maidens for the bath. Her choice fell exclusively on adherents of the new faith; Ursus, too, had professed it for a number of years. Pomponia could count on the faithfulness of those servants, and at the same time consoled herself with the thought that grains of truth would be soon in Cresar’s house. She wrote a few words also, committing care over Lygia to Nero’s freedwoman, Acte. Pomponia had not seen her, it is true, at meetings of the adherents of the new faith; but she had heard from them that Acte had never refused them a service, and that she read the letters of Paul of Tarsus eagerly. It was known to her also that the young freedwoman lived in melancholy, that she was a person different from all other women of Nero’s house, and that in general she was the good spirit of the palace. Hasta engaged to deliver the letter himself to Acte. Considering it natural that the daughter of a king should have a retinue of her own servants, he did not raise the least difficulty in taking them to the palace, but wondered rather that there should be so few. He begged haste, however, fearing lest he might be suspected of want of zeal in carrying out orders.
The moment of parting came. The eyes of Pomponia and Lygia were filled with fresh tears; Aulus placed his hand on her head again, and after a while the soldiers, followed by the cry of little Aulus, who in defence of his sister threatened the centurion with his small fists, conducted Lygia to Caesar’s house. But the old general gave command to prepare his litter at once; meanwhile, shutting himself up with Pomponia in the pinacotheca adjoining the oecus, he said to her, — “Listen to me, Pomponia. I will go to Caesar, though I judge that my visit will be useless; and though Seneca’s word means nothing with Nero now, I will go also to Seneca. To-day Sophonius, Tigellinus, Petronius, or Vatinius has more influence. As to Caesar, perhaps he has never even beard of the Lygian people; and if he has demanded the delivery of Lygia, the hostage, he has done so because some one persuaded him to it, — it is easy to guess wlio could do that.” She raised her eyes to him quickly. “Is it Petronius?” “It is.” A moment of silence followed; then the general continued, — “See what it is to admit over the threshold any of those people without conscience or honor. Cursed be the moment in which Vinicius entered our house, for he brought Petronius. Woe to Lygia, since those men are not seeking a hostage, but a concubine.” And his speech became more hissing than usual, because of helpless rage and of sorrow for his adopted daughter. He struggled with himself some time, and only his clinched fists showed how severe was the struggle within him. “I have revered the gods so far,” said he; “but at this moment I think that not they are over the world, but one mad, malicious monster named Nero.” “Aulus,” said Pomponia, “Nero is only a handful of rotten dust before God.” But Aulus began to walk with long steps over the mosaic of the pinacotheca. In his life there had been great deeds, but no great misfortunes; hence he was unused to them. The old soldier had grown more attached to Lygia than he himself was aware of, and now he could not be reconciled to rhe thought that he had lost her. Besides, he felt humiliated. A hand was weighing upon him which he despised, and at the same time he felt that before its power his power was as nothing. But when at last he stifled in himself the anger which disturbed his thoughts, he said, — “I judge that Petronius has not taken her from us for Caesar, since he would not offend Poppaea. Therefore he took her either for himself or Vinicius. To-day I will discover this.” And after a while the litter bore him in the direction of the Palatine. Pomponia, when left alone, went to little Aulus, who did not cease crying for his sister, or threatening Caesar.
Aulus had judged rightly that he would uot be admitted to Nero’s presence. They told him that Caesar was occupied in singing with the lute-player, Terpnos, and that in general he did not receive those whom he himself had not summoned. In other words, it meant that Aulus must not attempt to see him in the future. Seneca, though ill with a fever, received the old general with due honor; but when he had heard what the question was, he laughed bitterly, and said, — “I can render thee only one service, noble Plautius, not to show Caesar at any time that my heart feels thy pain, or that I should like to aid thee; for should Caesar have the least suspicion on this head, know that he would not give thee back Lygia, though for no other reason than to spite me.” He did not advise him, either, to go to Tigellinus or Vatinius or Vitelius. It might be possible to do something with them through money; perhaps, also, they would like to do evil to Petronius, whose influence they were trying to undermine, but most likely they would disclose before Nero how dear Lygia was to Plautius, and then Nero would all the more resolve not to yield her up. Here the old sage began to speak with a biting irony, which he turned against himself: “Thou hast been silent, Plautius, thou hast been silent for whole years, and Caesar does not like those who are silent. How couldst thou help being carried away by his beauty, his virtue, his singing, his declamation, his chariot driving, and his verses? Why didst thou not glorify the death of Britannicus, and repeat panegyrics in honor of the mother-slayer, and not offer congratulations after the stifling of Octavia? Thou art lacking in foresight, Aulus, which we who live happily at the court possess in a proper degree.” Thus speaking, he raised a goblet which he carried at his belt, and took water from the fountain at the impluvium, freshened his burning lips, and continued, — “Ah, Nero has a grateful heart. He loves thee because thou hast served Rome and glorified its name at the ends of the earth; he loves me because I was his master in youth. Therefore, seest thou, I know that this water is not poisoned, and I drink it in peace. Wine in my own house would be less reliable. If thou art thirsty, drink boldly of this water. The aqueducts bring it from beyond the Alban hills, and anyone wishing to poison it would have to poison all the fountains in Rome. As thou seest, it is possible yet to be safe in this world and to have a calm old age. I am sick, it is true, but it is rather my soul than my body that is sick.” This was true. Seneca lacked the strength of soul which Cornutus possessed, for example or Thrasea; hence his life was a series of concessions to crime. He felt this himself; he understood that an adherent of the principles of Zeno, of Citium, should go by another road, and he suffered more from that cause than from the fear of death itself. But the general interrupted these reflections full of grief. “Noble Annaeus,” said he, “I know how Caesar rewarded thee for the care with which thou didst surround his years of youth. But the author of the removal of Lygia is Petronius. Indicate to me a method against him, indicate influence. Perhaps with all his corruption he is worthier than those scoundrels with whom Nero surrounds himself at present. But to show him that he has done an evil deed is to lose time simply. Petronius has lost long since that faculty which distinguishes good from evil. Show him that his act is ugly, he will be ashamed of it. When I see him, I will say, „Thy act is worthy of a freedman.” If that will not help thee, nothing can.” “Thanks for that, even,” answered the general. Then he gave command to carry him to Vinicius, whom he found fencing with his domestic trainer. Aulus was borne away by terrible anger at sight of the young man occupied calmly with fencing during the time of the attack on Lygia; and barely had the curtain dropped behind the trainer when this anger burst forth in a torrent of bitter reproaches and injuries. But Vinicius, when he learned that Lygia had been carried away, grew so terribly pale that Aulus could not for a moment even suspect him of sharing in the deed.
The young man’s forehead was covered with sweat; the blood, which had rushed to his heart for a moment, returned to his face in a burning wave; his eyes began to shoot sparks, his mouth to hurl disconnected questions. Jealousy and rage tossed him in turn, like a tempest. It seemed to him that Lygia, once she had crossed the threshold of Caesar’s house, was lost to him absolutely. When Aulus pronounced the name of Petronius, suspicion flew like a lightning flash through the young soldier’s mind, that Petronius had made sport of him, and either wanted to win new favor from Nero by the gift of Lygia, or keep her for himself. That anyone. who had seen Lygia would not desire her at once, did not find a place in his head. Impetuousness, inherited in his family, carried him away like a wild horse, and took from him presence of mind. “General,” said he, with a broken voice, “return home and wait for me. Know that if Petronius were my own father, I would avenge on him the wrong done to Lygia. Return home and wait for me. Neither Petronius nor Caesar will have her.” Then he went with clinched fists to the waxed masks standing clothed in the atrium, and burst out, — “By those mortal masks! I would rather kill her and myself.” When he had said this, he sent another “Wait for me” after Aulus, ran forth like a madman from the atrium, and flew to Petronius’s house, thrusting pedestrians aside on the way. Aulus returned home with a certain encouragement. He judged that if Petronius had persuaded Caesar to take Lygia to give her to Vinicius, Vinicius would bring her to their house. Finally, the thought was no little consolation to him, that should Lygia not be rescued she would be avenged and protected by death from disgrace. He believed that Vinicius would do everything that he had promised. He had seen his rage, and he knew the excitability innate in the whole family. He himself, though he loved Lygia as her own father, would rather kill her than give her to Caesar; and if he had not regarded his son, the last descendant of his stock, he would doubtless have done so. Aulus was a soldier; he had hardly heard of the Stoics, but in character he was not far from their ideas, — death was more acceptable to his pride than disgrace. When he returned home, he pacified Pomponia, gave her the consolation that he had; and both began to await news from Vinicius. At moments when the steps of some of the slaves were heard in the atrium, they thought that perhaps Vinicius was bringing their beloved child to them, and they were ready in the depth of their souls to bless both. Time passed, however, and no news came. Only in the evening was the hammer heard on the gate. After a while a slave entered and handed Anins a letter.
The old general, though he liked to show command over himself, took it with a somewhat trembling hand, and began to read as hastily as if it were a question of his whole house. All at once his face darkened, as if a shadow from a passing cloud had fallen on it. “Read,” said he, turning to Pomponia. Pomponia took the letter and read as follows: — „Marcus Vinicius to Aulus Plautius greeting. What has happened, has happened by the will of C.” Petronius turned to Vinicius, — “Give command to count out to him five thousand sestertia, but in spirit, in intention.” “I will give thee a young man,” said Vinicius, “who will take the sum necessary; thou wilt say to Euricius that the youth is thy slave, and thou wilt count out to the old man, in the youth’s presence, this money. Since thou hast brought important tidings, thou wilt receive the same amount for thyself. Come for the youth and the money this evening.” “Thou art a real Caesar!” said Chilo. “Permit me, lord, to dedicate my work to thee; but permit also that this evening I come only for the money, since Euricius told me that all the boats had been unloaded, and that new ones would come from Ostia only after some days. Peace be with you! Thus do Christians take farewell of one another. I will buy myself a slave woman, — that is, I wanted to say a slave man. Fish are caught with a bait, and Christians with fish. Pax vobiscum! pax! pax! pax!”
Petronies to Vinicius: “I send to thee from Antium, by a trusty slave, this letter, to which, though thy hand is more accustomed to the sword and the javelin than the pen, I think that thou wilt answer through the same messenger without needless delay. I left thee on a good trail, and full of hope; hence I trust that thou hast either satisfied thy pleasant desires in the embraces of Lygia, or wilt satisfy them before the real wintry wind from the summits of Soracte shall blow on the Campania. Oh, my Vinicius! may thy preceptress be the golden goddess of Cyprus; be thou, on thy part, the preceptor of that Lygian Aurora, who is fleeing before the sun of love. And remember always that marble, though most precious, is nothing of itself, and acquires real value only when the sculptor’s hand makes of it a masterpiece. Be thou such a sculptor, carissime! To love is not sufficient; one must know how to love; one must know how to teach love. Though the plebs, too, and even animals, experience pleasure, a genuine man differs from them in this especially, that he makes love in some way a noble art, and, admiring it, knows all its divine value, makes it present in his mind, thus satisfying not his body merely, but his soul. More than once, when I think here of the emptiness, the uncertainty, the dreariness of life, it occurs to me that perhaps thou hast chosen better, and that not the Caesar’s court, but war and love, are the two only objects for which it is worth while to be born and to live. “Thou wert fortunate in war, be fortunate also in love; and if thou art curious as to what men are doing at the court of Caesar, I will inform thee from time to time. We are living here at Antium, and nursing our heavenly voice; we continue to cherish the same hatred of Rome, and think of betaking ourselves to Baiae for the winter, to appear in public at Naples, whose inhabitants, being Greeks, will appreciate us better than that wolf brood on the banks of the Tiber. People will hasten thither from Baiae, from Pompeii, Puteoli, Cumae, and Stabia; neither applause nor crowns will be lacking, and that will be an encouragement for the proposed expedition to Achaea. “But the memory of the infant Augusta? Yes! we are bewailing her yet. We are singing hymns of our own composition, so wonderful that the sirens have been hiding from envy in Amphitrite’s deepest caves. But the dolphins would listen to us, were they not prevented by the sound of the sea. Our suffering is not allayed yet; hence we will exhibit it to the world in every form which sculpture can employ, and observe carefully if we are beautiful in our suffering and if people recognize this beauty. Oh, my dear! we shall die buffoons and comedians. “All the Augustians are here, male and female, not counting ten thousand servants, and five hundred she asses, in whose milk Poppaea bathes. At times even it is cheerful here. Calvia Crispinilla is growing old. It is said that she has begged Poppaea to let her take the bath immediately after herself. Lucan slapped Nigidia on the face, because he suspected her of relations with a gladiator. Sporus lost his wife at dice to Senecio. Torquatus Silanus has offered me for Eunice four chestnut horses, which this year will win the prize beyond doubt. I would not accept! Thanks to thee, also, that thou didst not take her. As to Torquatus Silanus, the poor man does not even suspect that he is already more a shade than a man. His death is decided. And knowest what his crime is? He is the great-grandson of the deified Augustus. There is no rescue for him. Such is our world. “As is known to thee, we have been expecting Tiridates here; meanwhile Vologeses has written an offensive letter. Because he has conquered Armenia, he asks that it be left to him for Tiridates; if not, he will not yield it in any case. Pure comedy! So we have decided on war. Corbulo will receive power such as Pompeius Magnus received in the war with pirates. There was a moment, however, when Nero hesitated. He seems afraid of the glory which Corbulo will win in case of victory. It was even thought to offer the chief command to our Aulus. This was opposed by Poppaea, for whom evidently Pomponia’s virtue is as salt in the eye. “Vatinius described to us a remarkable fight of gladiators, which is to take place in Beneventum. See to what cobblers rise in our time, in spite of the saying, „Ne sutor ultra crepidam!” Vitelius is the descendant of a cobbler; but Vatinius is the son of one! Perhaps he drew thread himself! The actor Aliturus represented Aedipus yesterday wonderfully. I asked him, by the way, as a Jew, if Christians and Jews were the same. He answered that the Jews have an eternal religion, but that Christians are a new sect risen recently in Judea; that in the time of Tiberius the Jews crucified a certain man, whose adherents increase daily, and that the Christians consider him as God. They refuse, it seems, to recognize other gods, ours especially. I cannot understand what harm it would do them to recognize these gods. “Tigellinus shows me open enmity now. So far he is unequal to me; but he is superior in this, that he cares more for life, and is at the same time a greater scoundrel, which brings him nearer Ahenobarbus. These two will understand each other earlier or later, and then my turn will come. I know not when it will come; but I know this, that as things are it must come; hence let time pass. Meanwhile we must amuse ourselves. Life of itself would not be bad were it not for Bronzebeard. Thanks to him, a man at times is disgusted with himself It is not correct to consider the struggle for his favor as a kind of rivalry in a circus, — as a kind of game, as a struggle, in which victory flatters vanity. True, I explain it to myself in that way frequently; but still it seems to me sometimes that I am like Chilo, and better in nothing than he. When he ceases to be needful to thee, send him to me. I have taken a fancy to his edifying conversation. A greeting from me to thy divine Christian, or rather beg her in my name not to be a fish to thee. Inform me of thy health, inform me of thy love, know how to love, teach how to love, and farewell.” Vinicius to Petronius: “Lygia is not found yet! Were it not for the hope that I shall find her soon, thou wouldst not receive an answer; for when a man is disgusted with life, he has no wish to write letters. I wanted to learn whether Chilo was not deceiving me; and at night when he came to get money for Euricius, I threw on a military mantle, and unobserved followed him and the slave whom I sent with him. When they reached the place, I watched from a distance, hidden behind a portico pillar, and convinced myself that Euricius was not invented. Below, a number of tens of people were unloading stones from a spacious barge, and piling them up on the bank. I saw Chilo approach them, and begin to talk with some old man, who after a while fell at his feet. Others surrounded them with shouts of admiration. Before my eyes the boy gave a purse to Euricius, who on seizing it began to pray with upraised hands, while at his side some second person was kneeling, evidently his son. Chilo said something which I could not distinguish, and blessed the two who were kneeling, as well as others, making in the air signs in the form of a cross, which they honor apparently, for all bent their knees. The desire seized me to go among them, and promise three such purses to him who would deliver to me Lygia; but I feared to spoil Chilo’s work, and after a moment’s hesitation went home. “This happened at least twelve days after thy departure. Since then Chilo has been with me a number of times. He says that he has gained great significance among the Christians; that if he has not found Lygia so far, it is because there are innumerable Christians in Rome, hence all are not acquainted, and each cannot know everything that is done in their community. They are cautious, too, and in general reticent. He gives assurance, however, that when he reaches the elders, who are called presbyters, he will learn every secret. He has made the acquaintance of a number of them already, and has begun to inquire of them, though carefully, so as not to rouse suspicion by haste, and not to make the work still more difficult. Though it is hard to wait, though patience fails, I feel that he is right, and I wait. “He learned, too, that they have places of meeting for prayer, frequently outside the city, in empty houses and even in sandpits. There they worship Christ, sing hymns, and have feasts. There are many such places. Chilo supposes that Lygia goes purposely to different ones from Pomponia, so that the latter, in case of legal proceedings or an examination, might swear boldly that she knew nothing of Lygia’s hiding-place. It may be that the presbyters have advised caution.
When Chilo discovers those places, I will go with him; and if the gods let me see Lygia, I swear to thee by Jupiter that she will not escape my hands this time. “I am thinking continually of those places of prayer. Chilo is unwilling that I should go with him; he is afraid. But I cannot stay at home. I should know her at once, even in disguise or if veiled. They assemble in the night, but I should recognize her in the night even. I should recognize her voice and motions anywhere. I will go myself in disguise, and look at every person who goes in or out. I am thinking of her always, and shall recognize her. Chilo is to come tomorrow, and we shall go. I will take arms. Some of my slaves sent to the provinces have returned empty-handed. But I am certain now that she is in the city, — perhaps not far away even. I myself have visited many houses under pretext of renting them. She will fare better with me a hundred times; where she is, whole legions of poor people dwell. Besides, I shall spare nothing for her sake. Ihou writest that I have chosen well. I have chosen suffering and sorrow. We shall go first to those houses which are in the city, then beyond the gates. Hope looks for something every morning, otherwise life would be impossible. Thou sayest that one should know how to love. I knew how to talk of love to Lygia. But now I only yearn; I do nothing but wait for Chilo. Life to me is unendurable in my own house. Farewell.
Bet Chilo did not appear for some time, and Vinicius knew not at last what to think of his absence. In vain he repeated to himself that searching, if continued to a certain and successful issue, must be gradual. His blood and impulsive nature rebelled against the voice of judgment. To do nothing, to wait, to sit with folded arms, was so repulsive to him that he could not be reconciled to it in any way. To search the alleys of the city in the dark garb of a slave, through this alone, that it was useless, seemed to him merely a mask for his own inefficiency, and could give no satisfaction. His freedmen, persons of experience, whom he commanded to search independently, turned out a hundred times less expert than Chilo. Meanwhile there was in him, besides his love for Lygia, the stubbornness of a player resolved to win. Vinicius had been always a person of this kind. From earliest youth he had accomplished what he desired with the passionateness of one who does not understand failure, or the need of yielding something. For a time military discipline had put his self-will within bounds, but also it engrafted into him the conviction that every command of his to subordinates had to be fulfilled; his prolonged stay in the Orient, among people pliant and inured to slavish obedience, confirmed in him the faith that for his “I wish” there were no limits. At present his vanity, too, was wounded painfully. There was, besides, in Lygia’s opposition and resistance, and in her flight itself, which was to him incomprehensible, a kind of riddle. In trying to solve this riddle he racked his head terribly. He felt that Acte had told the truth, and that Lygia was not indifferent. But if this were true, why had she preferred wandering and misery to his love, his tenderness, and a residence in his splendid mansion? To this question he found no answer, and arrived only at a certain dim understanding that between him and Lygia, between their ideas, between the world which belonged to him and Petronius, and the world of Lygia and Pomponia, there existed some sort of difference, some kind of misunderstanding as deep as an abyss, which nothing could fill up or make even. It seemed to him, then, that he must lose Lygia; and at this thought he lost the remnant of balance which Petronius wished to preserve in him. There were moments in which he did not know whether he loved Lygia or hated her; he understood only that he must find her, and he would rather that the earth swallowed her than that he should not see and possess her. By the power of imagination he saw her at times as definitely as if she had been before his face. He recalled every word which he had spoken to her; every word which he had heard from her. He felt her near; felt her on his bosom, in his arms; and then desire embraced him like a flame. He loved her and called to her. And when he thought that he was loved, that she might do with willingness all that he wished of her, sore and endless sorrow seized him, and a kind of deep tenderness flooded his heart, like a great wave. But there were moments, too, in which he grew pale from rage, and delighted in thoughts of the humiliation and tortures which he would inflict on Lygia when he found her. He wanted not only to have her, but to have her as a trampled slave. At the same time he felt that if the choice were left him, to be her slave or not to see her in life again, he would rather be her slave. There were days in which he thought of the marks the stick would leave on her rosy body, and at the same time he wanted to kiss those marks. It came to his head also that he would be happy if he could kill her. In this torture, torment, uncertainty, and suffering, he lost health, and even beauty. He became a cruel and incomprehensible master. His slaves, and even his freedmen, approached him with trembling; and when punishments fell on them causelessly, — punishments as merciless as undeserved, — they began to hate him in secret; while he, feeling this, and feeling his own isolation, took revenge all the more on them. He restrained himself with Chilo alone, fearing lest he might cease his searches; the Greek, noting this, began to gain control of him, and grew more and more exacting. At first he assured Vinicius at each visit that the affair would proceed easily and quickly; now he began to discover difficulties, and without ceasing, it is true, to guarantee the undoubted success of the searches, he did not hide the fact that they must continue yet a long time. At last he came, after long days of waiting, with a face so gloomy that the young man grew pale at sight of him, and springing up had barely strength to ask, — “Is she not among the Christians?” “She is, lord,” answered Chilo; “but I found Glaucus among them.” “ Of what art thou speaking, and who is Glaucus?” “Thou hast forgotten, lord, it seems, that old man with whom I journeyed from Naples to Rome, and in whose defence I lost these two fingers, — a loss which prevents me from writing. Robbers, who bore away his wife and child, stabbed him with a knife. I left him dying at an inn in Minturna, and bewailed him long. Alas! I have convinced myself that he is alive yet, and belongs to the Christian community in Rome.” Vinicius, who could not understand what the question was, understood only that Glaucus was becoming a hindrance to the discovery of Lygia; hence he suppressed his rising anger, and said, — “ If thou didst defend him, he should be thankful and help thee.” “Ah! worthy tribune, even the gods are not always grateful, and what must the case be with men? True, he should be thankful. But, unhappily, he is an old man, of a mind weak and darkened by age and disappointment; for which reason, not only is he not grateful to me, but, as I learned from his co-religionists, he accuses me of having conspired with the robbers, and says that I am the cause of his misfortunes. That is the recompense for my two fingers!” “Scoundrel, I am certain that it was as he says,” replied Vinicius. “Then thou knowest more than he does, lord, for he only surmises that it was so; which, however, would not prevent him from summoning the Christians, and from revenging himself on me cruelly. He would have done that undoubtedly, and others, with equal certainty, would have helped him; but fortunately he does not know my name, and in the house of prayer where we met, he did not notice me. I, however, knew him at once, and at the first moment wished to throw myself on his neck. Wisdom, however, and the habit of thinking before every step which I intend to take, restrained me. Therefore, on issuing from the house of prayer, I inquired concerning him, and those who knew him declared that he was the man who had been betrayed by his comrade on the journey from Naples. Otherwise I should not have known that he gives out such a story.” “How does this concern me? Tell what thou sawest in the house of prayer.” “It does not concern thee, lord, but it concerns me just as much as my life. Since I wish that my wisdom should survive me, I would rather renounce the reward which thou hast offered, than expose my life for empty lucre; without which, I as a true philosopher shall be able to live and seek divine wisdom.” But Vinicius approached him with an ominous countenance, and began in a suppressed voice, — „But who told thee that death would meet thee sooner at the hands of Glaucus than at mine? Whence knowest thou, dog, that I would not bury thee right away in my garden?” Chilo, who was a coward, looked at Vinicius, and in the twinkle of an eye understood that one more unguarded word and he was lost beyond redemption. “I will search for her, lord, and I will find her!” cried he, hurriedly. Silence followed, during which were heard the quick breathing of Vinicius, and the distant song of slaves at work in the garden. Only after a while did the Greek resume his speech, when he noticed that the young patrician was somewhat pacified. „Death passed me, but I looked on it with the calmness of Socrates. No, lord, I have not said that I refuse to search for the maiden; I desired merely to tell thee that search for her is connected now with great peril to me. On a time thou didst doubt that there was a certain Euricius in the world, and though thou wert convinced by thine own eyes that the son of my father told the truth to thee, thou hast suspicions now that I have invented Glaucus. Ah! would that he were only a fiction, that I might go among the Christians with perfect safety, as I went formerly; I would give up for that the poor old slave woman whom I bought, three days since, to care for my advanced age and maimed condition. But Glaucus is living, lord; and if he had seen me once, thou wouldst not have seen me again, and in that case who would find the maiden?” Here he grew silent again, and began to dry his tears. “But while Glaucus lives,” continued he, “how can I search for her, for I may meet him at any step; and if I meet him I shall perish, and with me will cease all my searching.” “What art thou aiming at? What help is there? What dost thou wish to undertake?” inquired Vinicius. “Aristotle teaches us, lord, that less things should be sacrificed for greater, and King Priam said frequently that old age was a grievous burden.
Indeed, the burden of old age and misfortune weigh upon Glaucus this long time, and so heavily that death would be for him a benefit. For what is death, according to Seneca, but liberation?” “Play the fool with Petronius, not with me! Tell me what thy desire is.” “If virtue is folly, may the gods permit me to be a fool all my life. I desire, lord, to set aside Glaucus, for while he is living my life and searches are in continual peril.” “Hire men to beat him to death with clubs; I will pay them.” “They will rob thee, lord, and afterward make profit of the secret. There are as many ruffians in Rome as grains of sand in the arena, but thou wilt not believe how dear they are when an honest man needs to employ their villany. No, worthy tribune! But if watchmen catch the murderers in the act? They would tell, beyond doubt, who hired them, and then thou wouldst have trouble. They will not point to me, for I shall not give my name. Thou art doing ill not to trust in me, for, setting aside my keenness, remember that there is a question of two other things, — of my life, and the reward which thou hast promised me.” “How much dost thou need?” “A thousand sestertia; for turn attention to this, that I must find honest ruffians, men who when they have received earnest money, will not take it off without a trace. For good work there must be good pay! Something might be added, too, for my sake, to wipe away the tears which 1 shall shed out of pity for Glaucus. I take the gods to witness how I love him. If I receive a thousand sestertia to-day, two days hence his soul will be in Hades; and then, if souls preserve memory and the gift of thought, he will know for the first time how I loved him. I will find people this very day, and tell them that for each day of the life of Glaucus I will withhold one hundred sestertia. I have, besides, a certain idea, which seems to me infallible.” Vinicius promised him once more the desired sum, forbidding him to mention Glaucus again; but asked what other news he brought, where he had been all the time, what he had seen, and what he had discovered. But Chilo was not able to tell much. He had been in two more houses of prayer, — had observed each person carefully, especially the women, — but had seen no one who resembled Lygia: the Christians, however, looked on him as one of their own sect, and, since he redeemed the son of Euricius, they honored him as a man following in the steps of “Christ.” He had | learned from them, also, that a great teacher of theirs, a certain Paul of Tarsus, was in Rome, imprisoned because of charges preferred by the Jews, and he determined to become acquainted with him. But most of all was he pleased by this, — that the supreme priest of the whole sect, who had been the disciple of Christ and to whom Christ had confided the government of the whole world of Christians, might arrive in Rome at any moment. All the Christians desired to see him, and hear his teachings. Some great meetings would follow, at which he, Chilo, would be present; and what is more, since it is easy to hide in the crowd, he would take Vinicius to these meetings. Then they would find Lygia certainly. If Glaucus were once set aside, it would not be connected even with great danger. As to revenge, the Christians, too, would revenge; but in general they were peaceful people. Here Chilo began to relate, with a certain surprise, that he had never seen that they gave themselves up to debauchery, that they poisoned wells or fountains, that they were enemies of the human race, worshipped an ass, or ate the flesh of children. No; he had seen nothing of that sort. Certainly he would find among them even people who would hide away Glaucus for money; but their religion, as far as he knew, did not incite to any crime, — on the contrary, it enjoined forgiveness of offences. Vinicius remembered what Pomponia had said to him at Acte’s, and in general he listened to Chilo’s words with pleasure. Though his feeling for Lygia assumed at times the seeming of hatred, he felt a relief when he heard that the religion which she and Pomponia confessed was neither criminal nor repulsive. But a species of undefined feeling rose in him that it was just that reverence for Christ, unknown and mysterious, which created the difference between himself and Lygia; hence he began at once to fear that religion and to hate it.
For Chilo, it was really important to remove Glaucus, who, though advanced in years, was not by any means decrepit. In that which Chilo narrated to Vinicius, there was considerable truth. He had known Glaucus on a time, had betrayed him, had sold him to robbers, had deprived him of his family, of his property, and delivered him to murder. But he bore the memory of these events easily, for he had thrown him aside dying, not at an inn, but in a field near Minturna. This one thing he had not foreseen, that Glaucus would be cured of his wounds and come to Rome. When he saw him, therefore, in the house of prayer, he was in truth terrified, and wished at the first moment to discontinue the search for Lygia. But on the other hand, Vinicius terrified him still more. He understood that he must choose between the fear of Glaucus, and the pursuit and vengeance of a powerful patrician to whose aid would come, beyond doubt, another and still greater, Petronius. In view of this, Chilo ceased to hesitate. He thought it better to have small enemies than great ones and though his cowardly nature trembled somewhat at bloody methods, he saw the need of killing Glaucus by the aid of other hands. At present it was a question with him only of choosing people, and to them he was turning that thought of which he had made mention to Vinicius. Spending his nights most frequently in wine-shops, and lodging in them, among men without a roof, without faith or honor, he could find persons easily to undertake any work, but still more easily those who, if they sniffed coin in his possession, would begin the work, but when they had received earnest money, would extort the whole sum by threatening to deliver him into the hands of justice. Besides, for a certain time past Chilo had felt a repulsion for nakedness, for those disgusting and terrible figures lurking about suspected houses in the Suburra or in the Trans-Tiber. Measuring everything with his own measure, and not having fathomed sufficiently the Christians or their religion, he judged that among them, too, he could find willing tools. Since they seemed more reliable than others, he resolved to turn to them and present the affair in such fashion that they would undertake it, not for money’s sake merely, but through devotion. In view of this, he went in the evening to Euricius, whom he knew as devoted with his whole soul to his person, and who he was sure would do all in his power to assist him. Naturally cautious, Chilo did not even think of revealing his real intentions, which, moreover, would be in clear opposition to the faith which the old man had in his piety and virtue. He wished to find people who were ready for anything, and to talk with them of the affair only in such a way that, out of regard to themselves, they would guard it as an eternal secret. The old man Euricius, after the redemption of his son, hired one of those little shops so numerous near the Circus Maximus, in which were sold olives, beans, unleavened paste, and water sweetened with honey, to spectators coming to the circus. Chilo found him at home arranging his shop; and when he had greeted him in Christ’s name, he began to speak of the affair which had brought him. Since he had rendered them a service, he considered that they would pay him with gratitude. He needed two or three strong and courageous men, to ward off danger threatening not only him, but all Christians. He was poor, it was true, since he had given to Euricius almost everything that he owned; still he would pay such people for their services if they would trust in him and do faithfully what he commanded. Euricius and his son Quartus listened to him as their benefactor almost on their knees. Both declared that they were ready themselves to do all that he asked of them, believing that a man so holy could not ask for deeds inconsistent with the teaching of Christ. Chilo assured them that that was true, and, raising his eyes to heaven, he seemed to be praying; in fact, he was thinking whether it would not be well to accept their proposal, which might save him a thousand sestertia. But after a moment of thought he rejected it. Euricius was an old man, perhaps not so much weighted by years as weakened by care and disease. Quartus was sixteen years of age. Chilo needed dexterous and, above all, strong men. As to the thousand sestertia, he considered that — thanks to the thought on which he had struck — he would be able in every case to save a large part of it. They insisted for some time, but when he refused decisively they yielded. “I know the baker Demas,” said Quartus, “in whose mills slaves and hired people are employed. One of those hired men is so strong that he would take the place, not oi two, but of four. I myself have seen him raise stones from the ground which four men could not stir.” “If that is a God-fearing man, who can sacrifice himself for the brotherhood, make me acquainted with him,” said Chilo. “He is a Christian, lord,” answered Quartus; “nearly all who work for Demas are Christians, lie has night as well as day laborers; this man is of the night laborers. Were we to go now to the mill, we should find them at supper, and thou mightest speak to him freely. Demas lives near the Emporium.” Chilo consented most willingly. The Emporium was at the foot of the Aventine, hence not very far from the Circus Maximus. It was possible, without going around the hill, to pass along the river through the Portions Emilia, which would shorten the road considerably. “I am old,” said Chilo, when they went under the Colonnade; “at times I suffer effacement of memory. Yes, though our Christ was betrayed by one of his disciples, the name of the traitor I cannot recall at this moment —” “Judas, lord, who hanged himself,” answered Quartus, wondering a little in his soul how it was possible to forget that name. “Oh, yes — Judas! I thank thee,” said Chilo. And they went on some time in silence. When they came to the Emporium, which was closed, they passed it, and going around the storehouse, from which grain was distributed to the populace, they turned toward the left, to houses which stretched along the Via Ostiensis, up to the Mons Testacius and the Forum Pistorium. There they halted before a wooden building, from the interior of which came the noise of millstones. Quartus went in; but Chilo, who did not like to show himself to large numbers of people, and was in continual dread that some fate might bring him to meet Glaucus, remained outside. “I am curious about that Hercules who serves in a mill,” said he to himself, looking at the brightly shining moon. “If he is a scoundrel and a wise man, he will cost me somewhat, if a virtuous Christian and dull, he will do all I want without money.” Further meditation was interrupted by the return of Quartus, who issued from the building with a second man, dressed only in a tunic (called “ exomis”), cut in such fashion that the right arm and right breast were exposed. Such garments, since they left perfect freedom of movement, were used especially by laborers. Chilo, when he saw the man coming, drew a breath of satisfaction, for he had not seen in his life such a breast and such an arm. “Here, lord,” said Quartus, “is the brother whom it was thy wish to see.” “May the peace of Christ be with thee!” answered Chilo. “Do thou, Quartus, tell this brother whether I deserve faith and trust, and then return in the name of God; for there is no need that thy gray-haired father should be left in loneliness.” “This is a holy man,” said Quartus, “who gave alibis property to redeem me from slavery, — me, a man unknown to him. May our Lord the Saviour prepare him a heavenly reward therefor!” The gigantic laborer, hearing this, bent down and kissed Chilo’s hand. “What is thy name, brother?” inquired the Greek. “At holy baptism, father, the name Urban was given me.” “Urban, my brother, hast thou time to talk with me freely?” “Our work begins at midnight, and only now are they preparing our supper.” “There is time sufficient. Let us go to the river, then; there thou wilt hear my words.” They went, and sat on the embankment, in a silence broken only by the distant sound of the millstones and the plash of the onflowing river. Chilo looked into the face of the laborer, which, notwithstanding a somewhat severe and sad expression, such as was usual on faces of barbarians living in Rome, seemed to him still kind and honest. “This is a good-natured, dull man who will kill Glaucus for nothing,” thought Chilo.
“Urban,” inquired he then, “ dost thou love Christ?” “ I love him from the soul of my heart,” said the laborer. “ And thy brethren and sisters, and those who taught thee tinth and faith in Christ?” “I love them, too, father.” “ Then may peace be with thee!” “And with thee, father!” Again silence set in, but in the distance the millstones were roaring, and the river was plashing below the two men. Chilo looked with fixed gaze into the clear moonlight, and with a slow, suppressed voice began to speak of Christ’s death. He seemed not as speaking to Urban, but as if recalling to himself that death, or some secret which he was confiding to the drowsy city. There was in this, too, something touching as well as impressive. The laborer wept; and when Chilo began to groan and complain that in the moment of the Saviour’s passion there was no one to defend him, if not from crucifixion, at least from the insults of Jews and soldiers, the gigantic fists of the barbarian began to squeeze from pity and suppressed rage. The death only moved him; but at thought of that rabble reviling the Lamb nailed to the cross, the simple soul in him was indignant, and a wild desire of vengeance seized hold of the man. “Urban, dost thou know who Judas was?” asked Chilo, suddenly. “I know, I know! — but he hanged himself!” exclaimed the laborer. And in his voice there was a kind of sorrow that the traitor had meted out punishment to himself, and that Judas could not fall into his hands. “But if he had not hanged himself,” continued Chilo, “and if some Christian were to meet him on land or on sea, would it not be the duty of that Christian to take revenge for the torment, the blood, and the death of the Saviour?” “Who is there who would not take revenge, father?” “Peace be with thee, faithful servant of the Lamb! True, it is permitted to forgive wrongs done ourselves; but who has the right to forgive a wrong done to God? But as a serpent engenders a serpent, as malice breeds malice, and treason breeds treason, so from the poison of Judas another traitor has come; and as that one delivered to Jews and Roman soldiers the Saviour, so this man who lives among us intends to give Christ’s sheep to the »wolves; and if no one will anticipate the treason, if no one will crush the head of the serpent in time, destruction is waiting for us all, and with us will perish the honor of the Lamb.”
The laborer looked at Chilo with immense alarm, as if not understanding what he had heard. But the Greek, covering his head with a corner of his mantle, began to repeat, with the voice coining as if from beneath the earth, „Woe to you, servants of the true God! woe to you, Christian men and Christian women!” And again came silence, again were heard only the roar of the millstones, the deep song of the millers, and the sound of the river. “Father,” asked the laborer at last, “what kind of traitor is that?” Chilo dropped his head. “ What kind of traitor? A son of Judas, a son of his poison, a man who pretends to be a Christian, and goes to houses of prayer only to complain of the brotherhood to Caesar, — declaring that they will not recognize Caesar as a god; that they poison fountains, murder children, and wish to destroy the city, so that one stone may not remain on another. Behold! in a few days a command will be given to the pretorians to cast old men, women, and children into prison, and lead them to death, just as they led to death the slaves of Pedanius Secundus. All this has been done by that second Judas. But if no one punished the first Judas, if no one took vengeance on him, if no one defended Christ in the hour of torment, who will punish this one, who will destroy the serpent before Cresar hears him, who will destroy him, who will defend from destruction our brothers in the faith of Christ?” Urban, who had been sitting thus far on a stone, stood up on a sudden, and said, — “I will, father.” Chilo rose also; he looked for a while on the face of the laborer, lighted up by the shining of the moon, then, stretching his arm, he put his hand slowly on his head. „Go among Christians,” said he, with solemnity; “go to the houses of prayer, and ask the brethren about Glaucus; and when they show him to thee, slay him at once in Christ’s name!” “About Glaucus?” repeated the laborer, as if wishing to fix that name in his memory. “Dost thou know him?” “No, I do not. There are thousands of Christians in Rome, and they are not all known to one another. But tomorrow, in Ostranium, brethren and sisters will assemble in the night to the last soul, because a great apostle of Christ has come, who will teach them, and the brethren will point out Glaucus to me.” “In Ostranium?” inquired Chilo. “But that is outside the city gates! The brethren and all the sisters, — at night? Outside the city gates, in Ostranium?” “Yes, father; if that is our cemetery, between the Viae Salaria and Nomentana. Is it not known to thee that the Great Apostle will teach there?” “I have been two days from home, hence I did not receive his epistle; and I do not know where Ostranium is, for I came here not long since from Corinth, where I govern a Christian community. But it is as thou sayest, — there thou wilt find Glaucus among the brethren, and thou wilt slay him on the way home to the city. For this all thy sins will be forgiven. And now peace be with thee —” “ Father —” “ I listen to thee, servant of the Lamb.”
On the laborer’s face perplexity was evident. Not long before he had killed a man, and perhaps two, but the teaching of Christ forbids killing. He had not killed them in his own defence, for evem-that is not permitted. He had not killed them, Christ preserve! for profit. The bishop himself had given him brethren to assist, but had not permitted him to kill; he had killed inadvertently, for God had punished him with too much strength. And now he was doing grievous penance. Others sing when the millstones are grinding; but he, hapless man, is thinking of his sin, of his offence against the Lamb. How much has he prayed already and wept? How much has he implored the Lamb? And he feels that he has not done penance enough yet! But now he has promised again to kill a traitor, — and done welll He is permitted to pardon only offences against himself hence he will kill Glaucus, even before the eyes of all tht brethren and sisters, in Ostranium to-morrow. But le^ Glaucus be condemned previously by the elders among the brethren, by the bishop, or by the Apostle. To kill is not a great thing; to kill a traitor is even as pleasant as to kill a wolf or a bear. But suppose Glaucus to perish innocently? How take on his conscience a new murder, a new sin, a new offence against the Lamb? “There is no time for a trial, my son,” said Chilo. “The traitor will hurry from Ostranium straightway to Caesar in Antium, or hide in the house of a certain patrician whom he is serving. I will give thee a sign; if thou show it after the death of Glaucus, the bishop and the Great Apostle will bless thy deed.” Saying this, he took out a small coin, and began to search for a knife at his belt; having found it, he scratched with the point on the sestertium the sign of the cross; this coin he gave to the laborer. “Here is the sentence of Glaucus, and a sign for thee. If thou show this to the bishop after the death of Glaucus, he will forgive thee the killing which thou hast done without wishing it.” The laborer stretched out his hand involuntarily for the coin; but having the first murder too freshly in his memory just then, he experienced a feeling of terror.
“Father,” said he, with a voice almost of entreaty, “dost thou take this deed on thy conscience, and hast thou thyself heard Glaucus betraying his brethren?” Chilo understood that he must give proofs, mention names, otherwise doubt might creep into the heart of the giant. All at once a happy thought flashed through his head. “Listen, Urban,” said he, “I dwell in Corinth, but I came from Kos; and here in Rome I instruct in the religion of Christ a certain serving maiden named Eunice. She serves as a vestiplica in the house of a friend of Caesar, a certain Petronius. In that house I have heard how Glaucus has undertaken to betray all the Christians; and, besides, he has promised another informer of Caesar’s, Vinicius, to find a certain maiden for him among the Christians.” Here he stopped and looked with amazement at the laborer, whose eyes blazed suddenly like the eyes of a wild beast, and his face took on an expression of mad rage and threat. “What is the matter with thee?” asked Chilo, almost in fear. “Nothing, father; to-morrow I will kill Glaucus.” The Greek was silent. After a while he took the arm of the laborer, and turned him so that the light of the moon struck his face squarely, and he began to examine him carefully. It was evident that he was wavering in spirit whether to inquire further and bring everything out with clearness, or for that time to stop with what he had learned or surmised. At last, however, his innate caution prevailed. He breathed deeply once and a second time; then, placing his hand on the laborer’s head again, he asked, in an emphatic and solemn voice, — “ But in holy baptism the name Urban was given thee?” “It was, father.” “Then peace be with thee, Urban!”
Petronius to Vinicius: “Thy case is a bad one, carissime. It is clear that Venus has disturbed thy mind, deprived thee of reason and memory, as well as the power to think of aught else except love. Read some time thy answer to my letter, and thou wilt see how indifferent thy mind is to all except Lygia; how exclusively it is occupied with her, how it returns to her always, and circles above her, as a falcon above chosen prey. By Pollux! find her quickly, or that of thee which fire has not turned into ashes will become an Egyptian sphinx, which, enamored, as ’t is said, of pale Isis, grew deaf and indifferent to all things, waiting only for night, so as to gaze with stony eyes at the loved one. “Run disguised through the city in the evening, even honor Christian houses of prayer in thy philosopher’s company. Whatever excites hope and kills time is praiseworthy. But for my friendship’s sake do this one thing: Ursus, Lygia’s slave, is a man of uncommon strength very likely; Iike Croton, and go out three together; that will be safer and wiser. The Christians, since Pomponia and Lygia belong to them, are surely not such scoundrels as most people think. But when a lamb of their flock is in question they are no triflers, as they have shown by carrying away Lygia. When thou seest Lygia thou wilt not restrain thyself, I am sure, and wilt try to bear her away on the spot. But how wilt thou and Chilonides do it? Croton would take care of himself, even though ten like Ursus defended the maiden. Be not plundered by Chilo, but be not sparing of money on Croton. Of all counsels which I can give this is the best one. “Here they have ceased to speak of the infant Augusta, or to say that she perished through witchcraft. Poppaea mentions her at times yet; but Caesar’s mind is stuffed with something else. Moreover, if it be true that the divine Augusta is in a changed state again, the memory of that child will be blown away without a trace. We have been in Naples for some days, or rather in Baiae. If thou art capable of any thought, echoes of our life must strike thy ear, for surely all Rome talks of nothing else. We went directly to Baiae, where at first memories of the mother attacked us, and reproaches of conscience. But dost thou know to what Ahenobarbus has gone already? To this, that for him even the murder of his mother is a mere theme for verses, and a reason for buffoonish tragic scenes.
Formerly he felt real reproaches only in so far as he was a coward; now, when he is convinced that the earth is under his feet as before, and that no god is taking vengeance, he feigns them only to move people by his fate. At times he springs up at night declaring that the Furies are hunting him; he rouses us, looks around, assumes the posture of an actor playing the role of Orestes, and the posture of a bad actor too; he declaims Greek verses, and looks to see if we are admiring him. We admire him apparently; and instead of saying to him, Go to sleep, thou buffoon! we bring ourselves also to the tone of tragedy, and protect the great artist from the Furies. By Castor I this news at least must have reached thee, that he has appeared in public at Naples. They drove in from the city and the surrounding towns all the Greek ruffians, who filled the arena with such a vile odor of sweat and garlic that I thank the gods that, instead of sitting in the first rows with the Augustians, I was behind the scenes with Ahenobarbus. And wilt thou believe it, he was afraid really! He took my hand and put it to his heart, which was beating with increased pulsation; his breath was short; and at the moment when he had to appear he grew as pale as a parchment, and his forehead was covered with drops of sweat. Still he saw that in every row of seats were pretorians, armed with clubs, to rouse enthusiasm if the need came. But there was no need. No herd of monkeys from the environs of Carthage could howl as did this rabble. I tell thee that the smell of garlic came to the stage; but Nero bowed, pressed his hand to his heart, sent kisses from his lips, and shed tears. Then he rushed in among us who were waiting behind the scenes like a drunken man, crying, “What are the triumphs of Julius compared with this triumph of mine?” But the rabble was howling yet and applauding, knowing that it would applaud to itself favors, gifts, banquets, lottery tickets, and a fresh exhibition by the Imperial buffoon. I do not wonder that they applauded, for such a sight had not been seen till that evening. And every moment he repeated: „See what the Greeks are I see what the Greeks are!” From that evening it has seemed to me that his hatred for Rome is increasing. Meanwhile special couriers were hurried to Rome announcing the triumph, and we expect thanks from the Senate one of these days.
Immediately after Nero’s first exhibition, a strange event happened here. The theatre fell in on a sudden, but just after the audience had gone. I was there, and did not see even one corpse taken from the ruins. Many, even among the Greeks, see in this event the anger of the gods, because the dignity of Caesar was disgraced; he, on the contrary, finds in it favor of the gods, who have his song, and those who listen to it, in their evident protection. Hence there are offerings in all the temples, and great thanks. For Nero it is a great encouragement to make the journey to Achaea. A few days since he told me, however, that he had doubts as to what the Roman people might say; that they might revolt out of love for him, and fear touching the distribution of grain and touching the games, which might fail them in case of his prolonged absence. “We are going, however, to Beneventum to look at the cobbler magnificence which Vatinius will exhibit, and thence to Greece, under the protection of the divine brothers of Helen. As to me, I have noted one thing, that when a man is among the mad he grows mad himself, and, what is more, finds a certain charm in mad pranks. Greece and the journey in a thousand ships; a kind of triumphal advance of Bacchus among nymphs and bacchantes crowned with myrtle, vine, and honeysuckle; there will be women in tiger skins harnessed to chariots; flowers, thyrses, garlands, shouts of ‘Evoe’ music, poetry, and applauding Hellas. All this is well; but we cherish besides more daring projects. We wish to create a species of Oriental Imperium, — an empire of palm-trees, sunshine, poetry, and reality turned into a dream, reality turned into the delight of life only. We want to forget Rome; to fix the balancing point of the world somewhere between Greece, Asia, and Egypt; to live the life not of men but of gods; not to know what commonness is; to wander in golden galleys under the shadow of purple sails along the Archipelago; to be Apollo, Osiris, and Baal in one person; to be rosy with the dawn, golden with the sun, silver with the moon; to command, to sing, to dream. And wilt thou believe that I, who have still sound judgment to the value of a sestertium, and sense to the value of an as, let myself be borne away by these fantasies, and I do this for the reason that, if they are not possible, they are at least grandiose and uncommon? Such a fabulous empire would be a thing which, some time or other, after long ages, would seem a dream to mankind. Except when Venus takes the form of a Lygia, or even of a slave Eunice, or when art beautifies it, life itself is empty, and many a time it has the face of a monkey. But Bronzebeard will not realize his plans, even for this cause, that in his fabulous kingdom of poetry and the Orient he gives no place to treason, meanness, and death; and that ruling it with the poses of a poet is a wretched comedian, a dull charioteer, and a frivolous tyrant. Meanwhile we are killing people whenever they displease us in any way. Poor Torquatus Silanus is now a shade; he opened his veins a few days ago. Lecanius and Licinus will enter on the consulate with terror. Old Thrasea will not escape death, for he dares to be honest. Tigellinus is not able yet to frame a command for me to open my veins. I am still needed not only as elegant, arbiter, but as a man without whose counsel and taste the expedition to Achsea might fail. More than once, however, I think that sooner or later it must end in opening my veins; and knowest thou what the question will be then with me? — that Bronzebeard should not get my goblet, which thou knowest and admirest. Shouldst thou be near at the moment of my death, I will give it to thee; shouldst thou be at a distance, I will break it. But meanwhile I have before me yet Beneventum of the cobblers and Olympian Greece; I have Fate too, which, unknown and unforeseen, points out the road to every one. “Be well, and engage Croton; otherwise they will snatch Lygia from thee a second time. When Chilonides ceases to be needful, send him to me wherever I may be. Perhaps I shall make him a second Vatinius, and consuls and senators may tremble before him yet, as they trembled before that knight Dratevka. It would be worth while to live to see such a spectacle. When thou hast found Lygia, let me know, so that I may offer for you both a pair of swans and a pair of doves in the round temple of Venus here. Once I saw Lygia in a dream, sitting on thy knee, seeking thy kisses. Try to make that dream prophetic. May there be no clouds on thy sky; or if there be, let them have the color and the odor of roses. Be in good health, and farewell”.
Barely had Vinicius finished reading when Chilo pushed quietly into his library, unannounced by any one, for the servants had the order to admit him at every hour of the day or night. “May the divine mother of thy magnanimous ancestor Eneas be full of favor to thee, as the son of Maia was kind to me.” “What dost thou mean?” asked Vinicius, springing from the table at which he was sitting. Chilo raised his head and said, “Eureka!” The young patrician was so excited that for a long time he could not utter a word. “Hast thou seen her?” asked he, at last. “I have seen Ursus, lord, and have spoken with him.” “Dost thou know where they are secreted?” “No, lord. Another, through boastfulness, would have let the Lygian know that he divined who he was; another would have tried to extort from him the knowledge of where he lived, and would have received either a stroke of the fist, — after which all earthly affairs would have become indifferent to him, — or he would have roused the suspicion of the giant and caused this, — that a new hiding-place would be found for the girl, this very night perhaps. I did not act thus. It suffices me to know that Ursus works near the Emporium, for a miller named Demas, the same name as that borne by thy freedman; now any trusted slave of thine may go in the morning on his track, and discover their hiding-place. I bring thee merely the assurance that, since Ursus is here, the divine Lygia also is in Rome, and a second news that she will be in Ostranium to-night, almost certainly —” “In Ostranium? Where is that?” interrupted Vinicius, wishing evidently to run to the place indicated. “An old hypogeum between the Vise Salaria and Nomentana. That pontifex maximus of the Christians, of whom I spoke to thee, and whom they expected somewhat later, has come, and to-night he will teach and baptize in that cemetery. They hide their religion, for, though there are no edicts to prohibit it as yet, the people hate them, so they must be careful. Ursus himself told me that all, to the last soul, would be iu Ostranium to-night, for every one wishes to see and hear him who was the foremost disciple of Christ, and whom they call Apostle. Since among them women hear instruction as well as men, Pomponia alone perhaps of women will not be there; she could not explain to Aulus, a worshipper of the ancient gods, her absence from home at night. But Lygia, lord, who is under the care of Ursus and the Christian elders, will go undoubtedly with other women.” Vinicius, who had lived hitherto in a fever, and upheld as it were by hope alone, now that his hope seemed fulfilled felt all at once the weakness that a man feels after a journey which has proved beyond his strength. Chilo noticed this, and resolved to make use of it. “The gates are watched, it is true, by thy people, and the Christians must know that. But they do not need gates. The Tiber, too, does not need them; and though it is far from the river to those roads, it is worth while to walk one road more to see the „Great Apostle.” Moreover they may have a thousand ways of going beyond the walls, and I know that they have. In Ostranium thou wilt find Lygia; and even should she not be there, which I will not admit, Ursus will be there, for he has promised to kill Glaucus. He told me himself that he would be there, and that he would kill him. Dost hear, noble tribune? either thou wilt follow Ursus and learn where Lygia dwells, or thou wilt command thy people to seize him as a murderer, and, having him in thy hand, thou wilt make him confess where he has hidden Lygia. I have done my best! Another would have told thee that he had drunk ten cantars of the best wine with Ursus before he wormed the secret out of him; another would have told thee that he had lost a thousand sestertia to him in scriptaz duodecim, or that he had bought the intelligence for two thousand; I know that thou wouldst repay me doubly, but in spite of that, once in my life — I mean, as always in my life — I shall be honest, for I think, as the magnanimous Petronius says, that thy bounty exceeds all my hopes and expectations.”
Vinicius, who was a soldier and accustomed not only to take counsel of himself in all cases, but to act, was overcome by a momentary weakness and said, — “ Thou wilt not deceive thyself as to my liberality, but first thou wilt go with me to Ostranium.” “I, to Ostranium?” inquired Chilo, who had not the least wish to go there. “ I, noble tribune, promised thee to point out Lygia, but I did not promise to take her away for thee. Think, lord, what would happen to me if that Lygian bear, when he had torn Glaucus to pieces, should convince himself straightway that he had torn him not altogether justly? Would he not look on me (of course without reason) as the cause of the accomplished murder? Remember, lord, that the greater philosopher a man is, the more difficult it is for him to answer the foolish questions of common people; what should I answer him were he to ask me why I calumniated Glaucus? But if thou suspect that I deceive thee, I say, pay me only when I point out the house in which Lygia lives; show me to-day only a part of thy liberality, so that if thou, lord (which may all the gods ward from thee), succumb to some accident, I shall not be entirely without recompense. Thy heart could not endure that.” Vinicius went to a casket, called “area,” standing on a marble pedestal, and, taking out a purse, threw it to Chilo. “There are scrupula,” said he; “when Lygia shall be in my house, thou wilt get the same full of aurei.” “Thou art Jove!” exclaimed Chilo. But Vinicius frowned. “Thou wilt receive food here,” said he; “then thou mayest rest. Thou wilt not leave this house till evening, and when night falls thou wilt go with me to Ostranium.” Fear and hesitation were reflected on the Greek’s face for a time; but afterward he grew calm, and said, — “Who can oppose thee, lord! Receive these words as of good omen, just as our great hero received words like them in the temple of Ammon. As to me, these „scruples” (here he shook the purse) “have outweighed mine, not to mention thy society, which for me is delight and happiness.” But Vinicius interrupted him impatiently, and asked for details of his conversation with Ursus. From them it seemed clear that either Lygia’s hiding-place would be discovered that night, or he would be able to seize her on the road back from Ostranium. At thought of this, Vinicius was borne away by wild delight. Now, when he was almost sure of finding Lygia, his anger against her, and his feeling of offence had nearly vanished. In return for that delight he forgave her every fault. He thought of her only as dear and desired, and he had the same impression as if she were returning after a long journey. He wished to summon his slaves and command them to deck the house with garlands. In that hour he had not a complaint against Ursus, even. He was ready to forgive all people everything.
Chilo, for whom, in spite of his services, he had felt hitherto a certain repulsion, seemed to him for the first time an amusing and also an uncommon person. His house grew radiant; his eyes and his face became bright. He began again to feel youth and the pleasure of life. His former gloomy suffering had not given him yet a sufficient measure of how he loved Lygia. He understood this now for the first time, when he hoped to possess her. His desires woke in him, as the earth, warmed by the sun, wakes in spring; but his desires this time were less blind and wild, as it were, and more joyous and tender. He felt also within himself energy without bounds, and was convinced that should he but see Lygia with his own eyes, all the Christians on earth could not take her from him, nor could Caesar himself. Chilo, emboldened by the young tribune’s delight, regained power of speech and began to give advice. According to him, it behooved Vinicius not to look on the affair as won yet, and to observe the greatest caution, without which the whole undertaking might fail. He implored Vinicius not to carry off Lygia from Ostranium. They ought to go there with hoods on their heads, with their faces hidden, and restrict themselves to looking at all who were present from some dark corner. When they saw Lygia, it would be safest to follow her at a distance, see what house she entered, surround it next morning at daybreak, and take her away in open daylight. Since she was a hostage and belonged specially to Caesar, they might do that without fear of law. In the event of not finding her in Ostranium they could follow Ursus, and the result would be the same. To go to the cemetery with a crowd of attendants was impracticable, that might draw attention to them easily; then the Christians need only put out the lights, as they did when she was intercepted, and scatter in the darkness, or betake themselves to places known to them only. But Vinicius and he should arm, and, still better, take a couple of strong, trusty men to defend them in case of need. Vinicius saw the perfect truth of what he said, and, recalling Petronius’s counsel, commanded his slaves to bring Croton. Chilo, who knew every one in Rome, was set at rest notably when he heard the name of the famous athlete, whose superhuman strength in the arena he had wondered at more than once, and he declared that he would go to Ostranium. The purse filled with great aurei seemed to him much easier of acquisition through the aid of Croton. Hence he sat down in good spirits at the table to which, after a time, he was called by the chief of the atrium. While eating, he told the slaves that he had obtained for their master a miraculous ointment. The worst horse, if rubbed on the hoofs with it, would leave every other far behind. A certain Christian had taught him how to prepare that ointment, for the Christian elders were far more skilled in enchantment and miracles than even the Thessalians, though Thessaly was renowned for its witches. The Christians had immense confidence in him — why, any one easily understands who knows what a fish means. While he spoke, he looked sharply at the eyes of the slaves, in the hope of discovering a Christian among them and informing Vinicius. But when the hope failed him, he fell to eating and drinking uncommon quantities, not sparing praises on the cook, and declaring that he would endeavor to buy him of Vinicius. His joyousness was dimmed only by the thought that at night he must go to Ostranium. He comforted himself, however, as he would go in disguise, in darkness, and in the company of two men, one of whom was so strong that he was the idol of Rome; the other a patrician, a man of high dignity in the army. “Even should they discover Vinicius,” said he to himself, “they will not dare to raise a hand on him; as to me, they will be wise if they see the tip of my nose even.” He fell then to recalling his conversation with the laborer; and the recollection of that filled him again with delight. He had not the least doubt that that laborer was Ursus. He knew of the uncommon strength of the man, from the narratives of Vinicius, and those who had brought Lygia from Caesar’s palace. When he inquired of Euricius touching men of exceptional strength, there was nothing remarkable in this, that they pointed out Ursus. Then the confusion and rage of the laborer at mention of Vinicius and Lygia left him no doubt that those persons concerned him particularly; the laborer had mentioned also his penance for killing a man, — Ursus had killed Atacinus; finally, the appearance of the laborer answered perfectly to the account which Vinicius had given of the Lygian. The change of name was all that could provoke doubt, but Chilo knew that frequently Christians took new names at baptism. “Should Ursus kill Glaucus,” said Chilo to himself, “ that will be better still; but should he not kill him, that will be a good sign, for it will show how difficult it is for Christians to murder. I described Glaucus as a real sou of Judas, and a traitor to all Christians; I was so eloquent that a stone would have been moved, and would have promised to fall on the head of Glaucus. Still I hardly moved that Lygian bear to put his paw on him. He hesitated, was unwilling, spoke of his penance and compunction. Evidently murder is not common among them. Offences against one’s self must be forgiven, and there is not much freedom in taking revenge for others. Ergo, stop 1 think, Chilo, what can threaten thee? Glaucus is not free to avenge himself on thee. If Ursus will not kill Glaucus for such a great crime as the betrayal of all Christians, so much the more will he not kill thee for the small offence of betraying one Christian. Moreover, when I have once pointed out to this ardent wood-pigeon the nest of that turtle-dove, I will wash my hands of everything, and transfer myself to Naples. The Christians talk, also, of a kind of washing of the hands; that is evidently a method by which, if one has an affair with them, it is possible to finish it finally. What good people these Christians are, and how ill men speak of them! O God! such is the justice of this world. But I love that religion, since it does not permit killing; but if it does not permit killing, it certainly does not permit stealing, deceit, or false testimony; hence I will not say that it is easy. It teaches, evidently, not only to die honestly, as the Stoics teach, but to live honestly also. If ever I have property and a house, like this, and as many slaves, perhaps I shall be a Christian as long as it may be convenient. For a rich man can permit himself everything, even virtue. This is a religion for the rich; hence I do not understand how there are so many poor among its adherents. What good is it for them, and why do they let virtue tie their hands? I must think over this sometime. Meanwhile praise to thee, Hermes! for helping me discover this badger. But if thou hast done so for the two white yearling heifers with gilded horns, I know thee not. Be ashamed, O slayer of Argos! such a wise god as thou, and not foresee that thou wilt get nothing! I will offer thee my gratitude; and if thou prefer two beasts to it, thou art the third beast thyself, and in the best event thou shouldst be a shepherd, not a god. Have a care, too, lest I, as a philosopher, prove to men that thou1 art non-existent, and then all will cease to bring thee offerings. It is safer to be on good terms with philosophers.” Speaking thus to himself and to Hermes, he stretched on the sofa, put his mantle under his head, and was sleeping when the slave removed the dishes. He woke — or rather they roused him — only at the coming of Croton. He went to the atrium, then, and began to examine with pleasure the form of the trainer, an ex-gladiator, who seemed to fill the whole place with his immensity. Croton had stipulated as to the price of the trip, and was just speaking to Vinicius. “By Hercules I it is well, lord,” said he, “ that thou hast sent to-day for me, since I shall start to-morrow for Beneventum, whither the noble Vatinius has summoned me to make a trial, in presence of Caesar, of a certain Syphax, the most powerful negro that Africa has ever produced. Dost thou imagine, lord, how his spinal column will creak in my arms, or how besides I shall break his black jaw with my fist?” “By Pollux! Croton, I am sure that thou wilt do that,” answered Vinicius. “And thou wilt act excellently,” added Chilo. “Yes; to break his jaw, besides! That’s a good idea, and a deed which befits thee. But rub thy limbs with olive oil to-day, my Hercules, and gird thyself, for know this, thou mayst meet a real Cacus. The man who is guarding that girl in whom the worthy Vinicius takes interest, has exceptional strength very likely.” Chilo spoke thus only to rouse Croton’s ambition. “That is true,” said Vinicius; “I have not seen him, but they tell me that he can take a bull by the horns and drag him wherever he pleases.” “Oil” exclaimed Chilo, who had not imagined that Ursus was so strong. But Croton laughed, from contempt. “I undertake, worthy lord,” said he, “to bear away with this hand whomever thou shalt point out to me, and with this other defend myself against seven such Lygians, and bring the maiden to thy dwelling though all the Christians in Rome were pursuing me like Calabrian wolves. If not, I will let myself be beaten with clubs in this impluvium.” “Do not permit that, lord,” cried Chilo. “They will hurl stones at us, and what could his strength effect? Is it not better to take the girl from the house, — not expose thyself or her to destruction? “This is true, Croton,” said Vinicius. “I receive thy money, I do thy will I But remember, lord, that to-morrow I go to Beneventum.” “I have five hundred slaves in the city,” answered Vinicius. He gave them a sign to withdraw, went to the library himself, and sitting down wrote the following words to Petronius, — “The Lygian has been found by Chilo. I go this evening with him and Croton to Ostranium, and shall carry her off from the house to-day or to-morrow. May the gods pour down on thee everything favorable. Be well, O carissime! for joy will not let me write further.” And, laying aside the reed, he began to walk with quick step; for besides delight, which was overflowing his soul, he was tormented with fever. He said to himself that to-morrow Lygia would be in that house. He did not know how to act with her, but felt that if he wished to love her he would be her servant. He recalled Acte’s assurance that he had been loved, and that moved him to the uttermost. Hence it would be merely a question of conquering a certain maiden modesty, and a question of certain ceremonies which Christian teaching evidently commanded. But if that were true, Lygia, when once in his house, would yield to persuasion or superior force; she would have to say to herself, “It has happened!” and then she would be amiable and loving. But the coming of Chilo interrupted the course of these pleasant thoughts. “Lord,” said the Greek, “this is what has come to my head. Have not the Christians signs, „passwords”, without which no one will be admitted to Ostranium? I know that it is so in houses of prayer, and I have received those passwords from Euricius; permit me then to go to him, lord, to ask precisely, and receive the needful signs.” “Well, noble sage,” answered Vinicius, gladly; “thou speakest as a man of forethought, and for that praise belongs to thee. Thou wilt go, then, to Euricius, or whithersoever it may please thee; but as surely thou wilt leave on this table here that purse which thou hast received from me.” Chilo, who always parted with money unwillingly, squirmed; Still he obeyed the command and went out.
From the Carinae to the Circus, near which was the little shop of Euricius, it was not very far; hence he returned considerably before evening. “Here are the signs, lord. Without them they would not have admitted us. I have inquired carefully about the road. I told Euricius that I needed the signs only for my friends; that I would not go myself, since it was too far for my advanced age; that, moreover, I should see the Great Apostle myself to-morrow, and he would repeat to me the choicest parts of his sermon.” “How I Thou wilt not be there? Thou must go I” said Vinicius. “I know that I must; but I will go well hooded, and I advise thee to go in like manner, or we may frighten the birds.” In fact they began soon to prepare, for darkness had come on the world. They put on Gallic cloaks with hoods, and took lanterns; Vinicius, besides, armed himself and his companions with short, crooked knives; Chilo put on a wig, which he obtained on the way from the old man’s shop, and they went out, hurrying so as to reach the distant Nomentan Gate before it was closed.
They went through the Vicus Patricius, along the Viminal to the former Viminal gate, near the plain on which Diocletian afterward built splendid baths. They passed the remains of the wall of Servius Tullius, and through places more and more deserted they reached the Via Nomentana; there, turning to the left, towards the Via Salaria, they found themselves among hills full of sand-pits, and here and there they found graveyards. Meanwhile it had grown dark altogether, and since the moon had not risen yet, it would have been rather difficult for them to find the road were it not that the Christians themselves indicated it, as Chilo foresaw. In fact, on the right, on the left, and in front, dark forms were evident, making their way carefully toward sandy hollows. Some of these people carried lanterns, — covering them, however, as far as possible with mantles; others, knowing the road better, went in the dark. The trained military eye of Vinicius distinguished, by their movements, younger men from old ones, who walked vith canes, and from women, wrapped carefully in long mantles. The highway police, and villagers leaving the city, took those night wanderers, evidently, for laborers going to sand-pits; or grave-diggers, who at times celebrated ceremonies of their own in the night-time. In proportion, however, as the young patrician and his attendants pushed forward, more and more lanterns gleamed, and the number of persons grew greater. Some of them sang songs in low voices, which to Vinicius seemed filled with sadness. At moments a separate word or a phrase of the song struck his ear, as, for instance, “Arise, thou that sleepest,” or “Rise from the dead;” at times, again, the name of Christ was repeated by men and women. But Vinicius turned slight attention to the words, for it came to his head that one of those dark forms might be Lygia. Some, passing near, said, “Peace be with thee!” or “Glory be to Christ!” but disquiet seized him, and his heart began to beat with more life, for it seemed to him that he heard Lygia’s voice. Forms or movements like hers deceived him in the darkness every moment, and only when he had corrected mistakes made repeatedly did he begin to distrust his own eyes. The way seemed long to him. lie knew the neighborhood exactly, but could not fix places in the darkness. Every moment they came to some narrow passage, or piece of wall, or some booths, which he did not remember in the vicinity of the city. Finally the edge of the moon appeared from behind a mass of clouds, and lighted the place better than dim lanterns. Something from afar began at last to glimmer like a fire, or the flame of a torch. Vinicius turned to Chilo. “Is that Ostranium?” asked he. Chilo, on whom night, distance from the city, and those ghostlike forms made a deep impression, replied in a voice somewhat uncertain, — “I know not, lord; I have never been in Ostranium. But they might praise God in some spot nearer the city.” After a while, feeling the need of conversation, and of strengthening his courage, he added, — “They come together like murderers; still they are not permitted to murder, unless that Lygian has deceived me shamefully.” Vinicius, who was thinking of Lygia, was astonished also by the caution and mysteriousness with which her co-religionists assembled to hear their highest priest; hence he said, — “Like all religions, this has its adherents in the midst of us; but the Christians are a Jewish sect. Why do they assemble here, when in the Trans-Tiber there are temples to which the Jews take their offerings in daylight?” “The Jews, lord, are their bitterest enemies. I have heard that, before the present Caesar’s time, it came to war, almost, between Jews and Christians. Those outbreaks forced Claudius Caesar to expel all the Jews, but at present that edict is abolished. The Christians, however, hide themselves from Jews, and from people who, as is known to thee, accuse them of crimes and hate them.” They walked on some time in silence, till Chilo, whose fear increased as he receded from the gates, said, — “When returning from the shop of Euricius, I borrowed a wig from a barber, and have put two beans in my nostrils. They must not recognize me; but if they do, they will not kill me. They are not malignant! They are even very honest. I esteem and love them.’’ “Do not win them to thyself by premature praises,” retorted Vinicius. They went now into a narrow depression closed, as it were, by two ditches on the side, over which an aqueduct was thrown in one place. The moon came out from behind clouds, and at the end of the depression they saw a wall, covered thickly with ivy, which looked silvery in the moonlight. That was Ostranium. Vinicius’s heart began to beat now with more vigor. At the gate two quarrymen took the signs from them. In a moment Vinicius and his attendants were in a rather spacious place enclosed on all sides by a wall. Here and there were separate monuments, and in the centre was the entrance to the hypogeum itself, or crypt. In the lower part of the crypt, beneath the earth, were graves; before the entrance a fountain was playing. But it was evident that no very large number of persons could find room in the hypogeum; hence Vinicius divined without difficulty that the ceremony would take place outside, in the space where a very numerous throng was soon gathered. As far as the eye could reach, lantern gleamed near lantern, but many of those who came had no light whatever. With the exception of a few uncovered heads, all were hooded, from fear of treason or the cold; and the young patrician thought with alarm that, should they remain thus, he would not be able to recognize Lygia in that crowd and in the dun light. But all at once, near the crypt, some pitch torches were ignited and put into a little pile. There was more light. After a while the crowd began to sing a certain strange hymn, at first in a low voice, and then louder. Vinicius had never heard a hymn like that before. The same yearning which had struck him in the hymns murmured by separate persons on the way to the cemetery, was heard now in this hymn, but with far more distinctness and power; and at last it became as penetrating and immense as if together with the people, that whole cemetery, the hills, the pits, and the region about, had begun to yearn. It might seem, also, that there was in it a certain calling in the night, a certain humble prayer for rescue in wandering and darkness. Eyes turned upward seemed to see some one far above, there on high, and outstretched hands seemed to implore him to descend. When the hymn ceased, there followed a moment as it were of suspense, — so impressive that Vinicius and his companions looked unwittingly toward the stars, as if in dread that something uncommon would happen, and that some one would really descend to them. Vinicius had seen a multitude of temples of most various structure in Asia Minor, in Egypt, and in Rome itself; he had become acquainted with a multitude of religions, most varied in character, and had heard many hymns; but here, for the first time, he saw people calling on a divinity with hymns, — not to carry out a fixed ritual, but calling from the bottom of the heart, with the genuine yearning which children might feel for a father or a mother. One had to be blind not to see that those people not merely honored their God, but loved him with the whole soul. Vinicius had not seen the like, so far, in any land, during any ceremony, in any sanctuary; for in Rome and in Greece those who still rendered honor to the gods did so to gain aid for themselves or through fear; but it had not even entered any one’s head to love those divinities. Though his mind was occupied with Lygia, and his attention with seeking her in the crowd, he could not avoid seeing those uncommon and wonderful things which were happening around him. Meanwhile a few more torches wrere thrown on the fire, which filled the cemetery with ruddy light and darkened the gleam of the lanterns. That moment an old man, wearing a hooded mantle but with a bare head, issued from the hypogeum. This man mounted a stone which lay near the fire. The crowd swayed before him. Voices near Vinicius whispered, “Peter! Peter!” Some knelt, others extended their hands toward him. There followed a silence so deep that one heard every charred particle that dropped from the torches, the distant rattle of wheels on the Via Nomentana, and the sound of wind through the few pines which grew close to the cemetery. Chilo bent toward Vinicius and whispered, — “This is he! The foremost disciple of Christ — a fisherman!” The old man raised his hand, and with the sign of the cross blessed those present, who fell on their knees simultaneously. Vinicius and his attendants, not wishing to betray themselves, followed the example of others. The young man could not seize his impressions immediately, for it seemed to him that the form which he saw there before him was both simple and uncommon, and, what was more, the ’uncommonness flowed just from the simplicity. The old man had no mitre on his head, no garland of oak-leaves on his temples, no palm in his hand, no golden tablet on his breast, and he wore no white robe embroidered with stars; in a word, he bore no insignia of the kind worn by priests — Oriental, Egyptian, or Greek — or by Roman flamens. And Vinicius was struck by that same difference again which he felt when listening to the Christian hymns; for that “ fisherman,” too, seemed to him, not like some high priest skilled in ceremonial, but as it were a witness, simple, aged, and immensely venerable, who had journeyed from afar to relate a truth which he had seen, which he had touched, which he believed as he believed in existence, and he had come to love it precisely because he believed it. There was in his face therefore such a power of convincing as truth itself has. And Vinicius, who had been a sceptic, who did not wish to yield to the charm of the old man, yielded, however, to a certain feverish curiosity to know what would flow from the lips of that companion of the mysterious “Christus,” and what that teaching was of which Lygia and Pomponia Graecina were followers. Meanwhile Peter began to speak, and he spoke from the beginning like a father instructing his children and teaching them how to live. He enjoined on them to renounce excess and luxury, to love poverty, purity of life, and truth, to endure wrongs and persecutions patiently, to obey the government and those placed above them, to guard against treason, deceit, and calumny; finally, to give an example in their own society to each other, and even to pagans. Vinicius, for whom good was only that which could bring back to him Lygia, and evil everything which stood as a barrier between them, was touched and angered by certain of those counsels. It seemed to him that by enjoining purity and a struggle with desires the old man dared, not only to condemn his love, but to rouse Lygia against him and confirm her in opposition. He understood that if she were in the assembly listening to those words, and if she took them to heart, she must think of him as an enemy of that teaching and an outcast. Anger seized him at this thought. “What have I heard that is new?” thought he. “Is this the new religion? Every one knows this, every one has heard it. The Cynics enjoined poverty and a restriction of necessities; Socrates enjoined virtue as an old thing and a good one; the first Stoic one meets, even such a one as Seneca, who has five hundred tables of lemon-wood, praises moderation, enjoins truth, patience in adversity, endurance in misfortune, — and all that is like stale, mouse-eaten grain; but people do not wish to eat it because it smells of age.” And besides anger, he had a feeling of disappointment, for he expected the discovery of some unknown, magic secrets, and thought that at least he would hear some rhetor astonishing by his eloquence; meanwhile he heard only words which were immensely simple, devoid of every ornament. He was astonished only by the mute attention with which the crowd listened. But the old man spoke on to those people sunk in listening, — told them to be kind, poor, peaceful, just, and pure; not that they might have peace during life, but that they might live eternally with Christ after death, in such joy and such glory, in such health and delight, as no one on earth had attained at any time. And here Vinicius, though pre disposed unfavorably, could not but notice that still there was a difference between the teaching of the old man and that of the Cynics, Stoics, and other philosophers; for they enjoin good and virtue as reasonable, and the only thing practical in life, while he promised immortality, and that not some kind of hapless immortality beneath the earth, in wretchedness, emptiness, and want, but a magnificent life, equal to that of the gods almost. He spoke meanwhile of it as of a thing perfectly certain; hence, in view of such a faith, virtue acquired a value simply measureless, and the misfortunes of this life became incomparably trivial. To suffer temporally for inexhaustible happiness is a thing absolutely different from suffering because such is the order of nature. But the old man said further that virtue and truth should be loved for themselves, since the highest eternal good and the virtue existing before ages is God; whoso therefore loves them loves God, and by that same becomes a cherished child of His. Vinicius did not understand this well, but he knew previously, from words spoken by Pomponia Graecina to Petronius, that, according to the belief of Christians, God was one and almighty; when, therefore, he heard now again that He is all good and all just, he thought involuntarily that, in presence of such a demiurge, Jupiter, Saturn, Apollo, Juno, Vesta, and Venus would seem like some vain and noisy rabble, in which all were interfering at once, and each on his or her own account. But the greatest astonishment seized him when the old man declared that God was universal love also; hence he who loves man fulfils God’s supreme command. But it is not enough to love men of one’s own nation, for the Godman shed his blood for all, and found among pagans such elect of his as Cornelius the Centurion; it is not enough either to love those who do good to us, for Christ forgave the Jews who delivered him to death, and the Roman soldiers who nailed him to the cross; we should not only forgive but love those who injure us, and return them good for evil; it is not enough to love the good, we must love the wicked also, since by love alone is it possible to expel from them evil. Chilo at these words thought to himself that his work had gone for nothing, and that never in the world would Ursus dare to kill Glaucus, either that night or any other night. But he comforted himself at once by another inference from the teaching of the old man; namely, that neither would Glaucus kill him, though he should discover and recognize him. Vinicius did not think now that there was nothing new in the words of the old man, but with amazement he asked himself: “What kind of God is that, what kind of religion is that, and what kind of people are these?” All that he had just heard could not find place in his head simply. For him all was an unheard-of medley of ideas. He felt that if he wished, for example, to follow that teaching, he would have to place on a burning pile all his thoughts, habits, and character, his whole nature up to that moment, burn them into ashes, and then fill himself with a life altogether different, and an entirely new soul. To him the science or the religion which commanded a Roman to love Parthians, Syrians, Greeks, Egyptians, Gauls, and Britons, to forgive enemies, to return them good for evil, and to love them, seemed madness. At the same time he had a feeling that in that madness itself there was something mightier than all philosophies so far. He thought that because of its madness it was impracticable, but because of its impracticability it was divine. In his soul he rejected it; but he felt that he was parting as if from a field full of spikenard, a kind of intoxicating incense; when a man has once breathed of this he must, as in the land of the lotus-eaters, forget all things else ever after, and yearn for it only. It seemed to him that there was nothing real in that religion, but that reality in presence of it was so paltry that it deserved not the time for thought. Expanses of some kind, of which hitherto he had not had a suspicion, surrounded him, — certain immensities, certain clouds. That cemetery began to produce on him the impression of a meeting-place for madmen, but also of a place mysterious and awful, in which, as on a mystic bed, something was in progress of birth the like of which had not been in the world so far. He brought before his mind all that, from the first moment of his speech, the old man had said touching life, truth, love, God; and his thoughts were dazed from the brightness, as the eyes are blinded from lightning flashes which follow each other unceasingly. As is usual with people for whom life has been turned into one single passion, Vinicius thought of all this through the medium of his love for Lygia; and in the light of those flashes he saw one thing distinctly, that if Lygia was in the cemetery, if she confessed that religion, obeyed and felt it, she never could and never would be his mistress. For the first time, then, since he had made her acquaintance at Aulus’s, Vinicius felt that though now he had found her he would not get her. Nothing similar had come to his head so far, and he could not explain it to himself then, for that was not so much an express understanding as a dim feeling of irreparable loss and misfortune. There rose in him an alarm, which was turned soon into a storm of anger against the Christians in general, and against the old man in particular. That fisherman, whom at the first cast of the eye he considered a peasant, now filled him with fear almost, and seemed some mysterious power deciding his fate inexorably and therefore tragically.
The quarrymen again, unobserved, added torches to the fire; the wind ceased to sound in the pines; the flame rose evenly, with a slender point toward the stars, which were twinkling in a clear sky. Having mentioned the death of Christ, the old man talked now of Him only. All held the breath in their breasts, and a silence set in which was deeper than the preceding one, so that it was possible almost to hear the beating of hearts. That man had seen! and he narrated as one in whose memory every moment had been fixed in such a way that were he to close his eyes he would see yet. He told, therefore, how on their return from the Cross he and John had sat two days and nights in the supper chamber, neither sleeping nor eating, in suffering, in sorrow, in doubt, in alarm, holding their heads in their hands, and thinking that He had died. Oh, how grievous, how grievous that was! The third day had dawned and the light whitened the walls, but he and John were sitting in the chamber, without hope or comfort. How desire for sleep tortured them for they had spent the night before the Passion without sleep)! They roused themselves then, and began again to lament. But barely had the sun risen when Mary of Magdala, panting, her hair dishevelled, rushed in with the cry, “They have taken away the Lord!” When they heard this, he and John sprang up and ran toward the sepulchre. But John, being younger, arrived first; he saw the place empty, and dared not enter. Only when there were three at the entrance did he, the person now speaking to them, enter, and find on the stone a shirt with a winding sheet; but the body he found not. Fear fell on them then, because they thought that the priests had borne away Christ, and both returned home in greater grief still. Other disciples came later and raised a lament, now in company, so that the Lord of Hosts might hear them more easily, and now separately and in turn. The spirit died within them, for they had hoped that the Master would redeem Israel, and it was now the third day since his death; hence they did not understand why the Father had deserted the Son, and they preferred not to look at the daylight but to die, so grievous was the burden. The remembrance of those terrible moments pressed even then from the eyes of the old man two tears, which were visible by the light of the fire, coursing down his gray beard. His hairless and aged head was shaking, and the voice died in his breast. “That man is speaking the truth and is weeping over it,” said Vinicius in his soul. Sorrow seized by the throat the simple-hearted listeners also. They had heard more than once of Christ’s sufferings, and it was known to them that joy succeeded sorrow; but since an apostle who had seen it told this, they wrung their hands under the impression, and sobbed or beat their breasts. But they calmed themselves gradually, for the wish to hear more gained the mastery. The old man closed his eyes, as if to see distant things more distinctly in his soul, and continued, — “When the disciples had lamented in this way, Mary of Magdala rushed in a second time, crying that she had seen the Lord. Unable to recognize him, she thought him the gardener; but He said, „Mary!” She cried, „Rabboni!” and fell at his feet. He commanded her to go to the disciples, and vanished. But they, the disciples, did not believe her; and when she wept for joy some upbraided her, some thought that sorrow had disturbed her mind, for she said, too, that she had seen angels at the grave, but they, running thither a second time, saw the grave empty. Later in the evening appeared Cleopas, who had come with another from Emmaus, and they returned quickly, saying: ‘The Lord has indeed risen!’ And they discussed with closed doors, out of fear of the Jew’s. Meanwhile He stood among them, though the doors had made no sound, and when they feared, He said, ‘Peace be with you!’ “And I saw Him, as did all, and He was like light, and like the happiness of our hearts, for we believed that He had risen from the dead, and that the seas will dry and the mountains turn to dust, but His glory will not pass. “After eight days Thomas Didymus put his finger in the Lord’s wounds and touched His side; Thomas fell at His feet then, and cried, ‘My Lord and my God!’ ‘Because thou hast seen me thou hast believed; blessed are they who have not seen and have believed!’ said the Lord. And we heard those w’ords, and our eyes looked at Him, for He was among us.” Vinicius listened, and something wonderful took place in him. He forgot for a moment where he was; he began to lose the feeling of reality, of measure, of judgment. He stood in the presence of two impossibilities. He could not believe wrhat the old man said; and he felt that it would be necessary either to be blind or renounce one’s own reason, to admit that that man who said “I saw’” was lying. There was something in his movements, in his tears, in his whole figure, and in the details of the events which he narrated, which made every suspicion impossible. To Vinicius it seemed at moments that he was dreaming. But round about he saw the silent throng; the odor of lanterns came to his nostrils; at a distance the torches wrere blazing; and near him on the stone stood an aged man near the grave, with a head trembling somewhat, who, while bearing witness, repeated, “I saw!” And he narrated to them everything up to the Ascension into heaven. At moments he rested, for he spoke very circumstantially; but it could be felt that each minute detail had fixed itself in his memory, as a thing is fixed in a stone into which it has been engraved. Those who listened to him were seized by ecstasy. They threw back their hoods to hear him better, and not lose a word of those which for them were priceless. It seemed to them that some superhuman power had borne them to Galilee; that they were walking with the disciples through those groves and on those waters; that the cemetery was turned into the lake of Tiberius; and that on the bank, in the mist of morning, stood Christ, as he stood when John, looking from the boat, said, “It is the Lord,” and Peter cast himself in to swim, so as to fall the more quickly at the beloved feet. In the faces of those present were evident enthusiasm beyond bounds, oblivion of life, happiness, and love immeasurable. It was clear that during Peter’s long narrative some of them had visions. When he began to tell how, at the moment of Ascension, the clouds closed in under the feet of the Saviour, covered Him, and hid Him from the eyes of the Apostles, all heads were raised to heaven unconsciously, and a moment followed as it were of expectation, as if those people hoped to see Him or as if they hoped that He would descend again from the fields of heaven, and see how the old Apostle was feeding the sheep confided to him, and bless both the flock and him.
Rome did not exist for those people, nor did the man Caesar; there were no temples of pagan gods; there was only Christ, who filled the land, the sea, the heavens, and the world. At the houses scattered here and there along the Via Nomentana, the cocks began to crow, announcing midnight. At that moment Chilo pulled the corner of Vinicius’s mantle and whispered, — “Lord, I see Urban over there, not far from the old man, and with him is a maiden.” Vinicius shook himself, as if out of a dream, and, turning in the direction indicated by the Greek, he saw Lygia.
Every drop of blood quivered in the young patrician at sight of her. He forgot the crowd, the old man, his own astonishment at the incomprehensible things which he had heard, — he saw her alone. At last, after all his efforts, after long days of alarm, trouble, and suffering, he had found her! For the first time he realized that joy might rush at the heart, like a wild beast, and squeeze it till breath was lost. He, wdio had supposed hitherto that on “Fortuna” had been imposed a kind of duty to accomplish all his wishes, hardly believed his own eyes now and his own happiness. Were it not for that disbelief, his passionate nature might have urged him to some unconsidered step; but he wished to convince himself first that that was not the continuation of those miracles with which his head was filled, and that he was not dreaming. But there was no doubt, — he saw’ Lygia, and an interval of barely a few steps divided them. She stood in perfect light, so that he could rejoice in the sight of her as much as he liked. The hood had fallen from her head and dishevelled her hair; her mouth was open a little, her eyes raised toward the Apostle, her face fixed in listening and delighted. She was dressed in a dark woollen mantle, like a daughter of the people, but never had Vinicius seen her more beautiful; and notwithstanding all the disorder which had risen in him, he was struck by the nobility of that wonderful patrician head in distinction to the dress, almost that of a slave. Love flew over him like a flame, immense, mixed with a marvellous feeling of yearning, homage, honor, and desire. He felt the delight which the sight of her caused him; he drank of her as of life-giving water after long thirst. Standing near the gigantic Lygian, she seemed to him smaller than before, and almost a child; he noticed, too, that she had grown more slender. Her complexion had become almost transparent; she made on him the impression of a flower, and a spirit. But all the more did he desire to possess that woman, so different from all women whom he had seen or possessed in Rome or the Orient. He felt that for her he would have given them all, and with them Rome and the world in addition. He would have lost himself in gazing, and forgotten himself altogether, had it not been for Chilo, who pulled the corner of his mantle, out of fear that he might do something to expose them to danger. Meanwhile the Christians began to pray and sing. After a while Maranatha thundered forth, and then the Great Apostle began to baptize with water from the fountain those whom the presbyters presented as ready for baptism. It seemed to Vinicius that that night would never end. He wished now to follow Lygia as soon as possible, and seize her on the road or at her house. At last some began to leave the cemetery, and Chilo whispered, — “Let us go out before the gate, lord, for we have not removed our hoods, and people look at us.” Such was the case, for during the discourse of the Apostle all had cast aside their hoods so as to hear better, and they had not followed the general example. Chilo’s advice seemed wise, therefore. Standing before the gate, they could look at all who passed; Ursus it was easy to recognize by his form and size. “Let us follow them,” said Chilo; “we shall see to what house they go. To-morrow, or rather to-day, thou wilt surround the entrances with slaves and take her.” “ No!” said Vinicius. “ What dost thou wish to do, lord?” “We will follow her to the house and take her now, if thou wilt undertake that task, Croton?” “I will,” replied Croton, “and I will give myself to thee as a slave if I do not break the back of that bison who is guarding her.” But Chilo fell to dissuading and entreating them by all the gods not to do so. Croton was taken only for defence against attack in case they were recognized, not to carry off the girl. To take her when there were only two of them was to expose themselves to death, and, what was worse, they might let her out of their hands, and then she would hide in another place or leave Rome. And what could they do? Why not act with certainty? Why expose themselves to destruction and the whole undertaking to failure? Though Vinicius restrained himself with the greatest effort from seizing Lygia in his arms at once, right there in the cemetery, he felt that the Greek was right, and would have lent ear, perhaps, to his counsels, had it not been for Croton, to whom reward was the question. “Lord, command that old goat to be silent,” said he, “or let me drop my fist on his head. Once in Buxentum, whither Lucius Saturnius took me to a play, seven drunken gladiators fell on me at an inn, and none of them escaped with sound ribs. I do not say to take the girl now from the crowd, for they might throw stones before our feet, but once she is at home I will seize her, carry her away, and take her whithersoever thou shalt indicate.” Vinicius was pleased to hear those words, and answered, — “Thus let it be, by Hercules! Tomorrow we may not find her at home; if we surprise them they will remove the girl surely.” “This Lygian seems tremendously strong!” groaned Chilo. “No one will ask thee to hold his hands,” answered Croton. But they had to wait long yet, and the cocks had begun to crow before dawn when they saw Ursus coming through the gate, and with him Lygia. They were accompanied by a number of other persons. It seemed to Chilo that he recognized among them the Great Apostle; next to him walked another old man, considerably lower in stature, two women who were not young, and a boy, who lighted the way with a lantern. After that handful followed a crowd, about two hundred in number; Vinicius, Chilo, and Croton walked with these people. “Yes, lord,” said Chilo, “thy maiden is under powerful protection. That is the great Apostle with her, for see how passing people kneel to him.” People did in fact kneel before him, but Vinicius did not look at them. He did not lose Lygia from his eyes for a moment; he thought only of bearing her away and, accustomed as he had been in wars to stratagems of all sorts, he arranged in his head the whole plan of seizure with soldierly precision. He felt that the step on which he had decided was bold, but he knew well that bold attacks give success generally. The way was long; hence at moments he thought too of the gulf which that wonderful religion had dug between him and Lygia. Now he understood everything that had happened in the past, and why it had happened. He was sufficiently penetrating for that. Lygia he had not known hitherto. He had seen in her a maiden wonderful beyond others, a maiden toward whom his feelings were inflamed; he knew now that her religion made her different from other women, and his hope that feeling, desire, wealth, luxury, would attract her he knew now to be a vain illusion. Finally he understood this, which he and Petronius had not understood, that the new religion ingrafted into the soul something unknown to that world in which he lived, and that Lygia, even if she loved him, would not sacrifice any of her Christian truths for his sake, and that, if pleasure existed for her, it was a pleasure different altogether from that which he and Petronius and Caesar’s court and all Rome were pursuing. Every other woman whom he knew might become his mistress, but that Christian would become only his victim. And when he thought of this, he felt anger and burning pain, for he felt that his anger was powerless. To carry off Lygia seemed to him possible; he was even sure that he could do so, but he was equally sure that, in view of her religion, he himself with his bravery was nothing, that his power was nothing, and that through it he could effect nothing. That Roman military tribune, convinced that the power of the sword and the fist which had conquered the world, would command it forever, saw for the first time in life that beyond that power there might be something else; hence he asked himself with amazement what it was. And he could not answer distinctly; through his head flew merely pictures of the cemetery, the assembled crowd, and Lygia, listening with her whole soul to the words of the old man, as he narrated the passion, death, and resurrection of the God-man, who had redeemed the world, and promised it happiness on the other shore of the Styx. When he thought of this, chaos rose in his head. But he was brought out of this chaos by Chilo, who fell to lamenting his own fate. He had agreed to find Lygia, whom he had sought in peril to his life, and he had pointed her out. But what more do they want? Had he offered to carry the maiden away? Who could ask anything like this of a maimed man deprived of two fingers, an old man, devoted to meditation, science, and virtue? What would happen were a lord of such dignity as Vinicius to meet some mishap while bearing the maiden away? It is true that the gods are bound to watch over their chosen ones, — but have not such things happened more than once, as if the gods were playing games instead of watching what was passing in the world? Fortune is blindfold, as is well known, and does not see even in daylight; what must the case be at night? Let something happen — let that Lygian bear hurl a millstone at the noble Vinicius, or a keg of wine, or, still worse, water, — who will give assurance that instead of a reward, blame will not fall on the hapless Chilo? He, the poor sage, has attached himself to the noble Vinicius as Aristotle to Alexander of Macedon. If the noble lord should give him at least that purse which he had thrust into his girdle before leaving home, there would be something with which to invoke aid in case of need, or to influence the Christians. Oh, why not listen to the counsels of an old man, counsels dictated by experience and shrewdness? Vinicius, hearing this, took the purse from his belt, and threw it to the fingers of Chilo. “Thou hast it; be silent.” The Greek felt that it was unusually heavy, and gained confidence. “My whole hope is in this,” said he, “that Hercules or Theseus performed deeds still more arduous; what is my personal, nearest friend, Croton, if not Hercules? Thee, worthy lord, I will not call a demigod, for thou art a full god, and in future thou wilt not forget a poor, faithful servant, whose needs it will be necessary to provide for from time to time, for once he is sunk in books, he thinks of nothing else; some few stadia of garden land and a little house, even with the smallest portico, for coolness in summer would befit such a donor. Meanwhile I shall admire thy heroic deeds from afar, and invoke Jove to befriend thee, and if need be I will make such an outcry that half Rome will be roused to thy assistance.
What a wretched, rough road! The olive oil is burned out in the lantern; and if Croton, who is as noble as he is strong, would bear me to the gate in his arms, he would learn, to begin with, whether he will carry the maiden easily; second, he would act like Eneas, and win all the good gods to such a degree that touching the result of the enterprise I should be thoroughly satisfied.” „I should rather carry a sheep which died of mange a month ago,” answered the gladiator, “but give that purse, bestowed by the worthy tribune, and I will bear thee to the gate.” “Mayst thou knock the great toe from thy foot,” replied the Greek; “what profit hast thou from the teachings of that worthy old man, who described poverty and charity as the two foremost virtues? Has he not commanded thee expressly to love me? Never shall I make thee, I see, even a poor. Christian; it would be easier for the sun to pierce the walls of the Mamertine prison than for truth to penetrate thy skull of a hippopotamus.” “Never fear!” said Croton, who with the strength of a beast had no human feeling. “I shall not be a Christian! I have no wish to lose my bread.” “But if thou knew even the rudiments of philosophy, thou wouldst know that gold is vanity.” “Come to me with thy philosophy. I will give thee one blow of my head in the stomach; we shall see then who wins.” “An ox might have said the same to Aristotle,” retorted Chilo. It was growing gray in the world. The dawn covered with pale light the outlines of the walls. The trees along the wayside, the buildings, and the gravestones scattered here and there began to issue from the shade. The road was no longer quite empty. Costermongers were moving toward the gates, leading asses and mules laden with vegetables; here and there moved creaking carts in which game was conveyed. On the road and along both sides of it was a light mist at the very earth, which promised good weather. People seen at some distance looked like apparitions in that mist. Vinicius stared at the slender form of Lygia, which became more silvery as the light increased. “Lord,” said Chilo, “I should offend thee were I to foresee the end of thy bounty, but now, -when thou hast paid me, I may not be suspected of speaking for my own interest only. I advise thee once more to go home for slaves and a litter, when thou hast learned in what house the divine Lygia dwells, and do not listen to that elephant trunk, Croton, who undertakes to carry off the maiden only to squeeze thy purse as it were a bag of curds.” “I have a blow of the fist to be struck between the shoulders, which means that thou wilt perish,” said Croton. “I have a cask of Cephaloniau wine, which means that I shall be well,” answered Chilo. Vinicius made no answer, for he approached the gate, at which a wonderful sight struck his eyes. Two soldiers knelt when the Apostle was passing; Peter placed his hand on their iron helmets for a moment, and then made the sign of the cross on them. It had never occurred to the patrician before that there could be Christians in the army; with astonishment he thought that as fire in a burning city takes in more and more houses, so to all appearances that doctrine embraces new souls every day, and extends itself over all human understandings. This struck him also with reference to Lygia, for he was convinced that, had she wished to flee from the city, there would be guards willing to facilitate her flight. He thanked the gods then that this had not happened. After they had passed vacant places beyond the wall, the Christians began to scatter. There was need, therefore, to follow Lygia more from a distance, and more carefully, so as not to rouse attention. Chilo fell to complaining of wounds, of pains in his legs, and dropped more and more to the rear. Vinicius did not oppose this, judging that the cowardly and incompetent Greek would not be needed. He would even have permitted him to depart, had he wished; but the worthy sage was detained by circumspection. Curiosity pressed him evidently, since he continued behind, at moments even approached with his previous counsels, and thought too that the old man accompanying the Apostle might be Glaucus, were it not for his rather low stature. They walked a good while before reaching the Trans-Tiber, and the sun was near rising when the group surrounding Lygia dispersed.
The Apostle, an old woman, and a boy went up the river; the old man of lower stature, Ursus, and Lygia entered a narrow vicus, and, advancing still about a hundred yards, went into a house in which were two shops, — one for the sale of olives, the other for poultry. Chilo, who walked about fifty yards behind Vinicius and Croton, halted all at once, as if fixed to the earth, and, squeezing up to the wall, began to hiss at them to turn. They did so, for they needed to take counsel. “Go, Chilo,” said Vinicius, “and see if this house fronts on another street.” Chilo, though he had complained of wounds in his feet, sprang as quickly as if he had the wings of Mercury on his ankles, and returned in a moment. “No,” said he, “there is but one entrance.” Then, putting his hands together, he said, “I implore thee, lord, by Jupiter, Apollo, Vesta, Cybele, Isis, Osiris, Mithra Baal, and all the gods of the Orient and the Occident to drop this plan. Listen to me —” But he stopped on a sudden, for he saw that Vinicius’s face was pale from emotion, and that his eyes were glittering like the eyes of a wolf. It was enough to look at him to understand that nothing in the world would restrain him from the undertaking. Croton began to draw air into his herculean breast, and to sway his undeveloped skull from side to side as bears do when confined in a cage, but on his face not the least fear was evident. “I will go in first,” said he. “Thou wilt go after me,” said Vinicius, in commanding tones. And after a while both vanished in the dark entrance. Chilo sprang to the corner of the nearest alley and watched from behind it, waiting for what would happen.