Page:The Amazing Emperor Heliogabalus.djvu/148

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Early Government in Rome
The Government in Rome to the Year 221 A.D.

To write the history of the years from 219 to 221 (as we have it in the Scriptores) is a task which can only be undertaken adequately in a language not understanded of the people. Not that these years differed materially from those which had gone before, or those that followed. " Every altar in Old Rome had its Clodius " — so Juvenal has told us — "and even in Clodius' absence there were always those breaths of sapphic song that blew through Mitylene. Rome was certainly old, but Rome was not good — not, at least, in the sense in which we use the word to-day. Of this no one who has even sauntered through the catacombs of the classics preserves so much as a lingering doubt. This is because the Roman world was beautiful, ornate, unutilitarian ; a world into which trams, advertisements, and telegraph poles had not yet come ; a world that still had illusions, myths, and mysteries, one in which religion and poetry went hand in hand, a world without newspapers, hypocrisy, and cant," a world into which this boy Emperor, his mind attuned to