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589 pages, Hardcover
First published January 1, 1896
Nero, however, inquired in a honeyed voice, in which more or less deeply wounded vanity was quivering,— “What defect dost thou find in them?” “Do not believe them,” said Petronius, attacking him, and pointing to those present; “they understand nothing. Thou hast asked what defect there is in thy verses. If thou desire truth, I will tell thee. Thy verses would be worthy of Virgil, of Ovid, even of Homer, but they are not worthy of thee. Thou art not free to write such. The conflagration described by thee does not blaze enough; thy fire is not hot enough. Listen not to Lucan’s flatteries. Had he written those verses, I should acknowledge him a genius, but thy case is different. And know thou why? Thou art greater than they. From him who is gifted of the gods as thou art, more is demanded. But thou art slothful,—thou wouldst rather sleep after dinner than sit to wrinkles. Thou canst create a work such as the world has not heard of to this day; hence I tell thee to thy eyes, write better!” And he said this carelessly, as if bantering and also chiding; but Cæsar’s eyes were mist-covered from delight.’For all that I enjoyed Petronius, Chilo was still the most interesting character study. He is thoroughly despicable in the beginning—in every way imaginable. His weaselly, groveling lies are despicably admirable; even more to see him caught in them. Then as the story progresses, and he seems to reach new levels of depravity something of the evil miasma all around him begins to have its affect, or was it the remembered kindness the Christians showed him? Chilo is worth watching.