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PASSING beneath the even then grim and hoary

archway of the Porta Capena,or Capuan Gate, with the dripping aqueduct above it, the centurion and his secretary traversed rapidly the crowded streets of a fashionable suburb—now mere mouldering mounds of desolation—to the Imperial Palace on the Palatine Hill. This eminence, which is now a mass of crumbling ruins, honeycombed with galleries and subterranean corridors through what was once the stately apartment of the Lords of the World, where wandering tourists peer and explore and artists sketch the falling arch or fading fresco of the banquet halls and chambers of a long line of emperors, was then the scene of life and activity, of pomp and splendour. Marble courts and columned porticos stretched on in alınost endless vistas, covering many acres of ground. Flasliing fountains leaping sunward sparkled in the beams of noon day, diffusing a coolness through the air, which was fragrant with blossoms of the orange and magnolia trees growing in the open courts. Snowy statuary gleamed amid the vivid foliage, and beneath the shadow of the frescoeil corridors.

Having dismounted at the outer court anıl given their horses to obsequious grooms, Sertorius and the Greek repaired cach to a inarble bath to remove the stains of travel before entering the presence of the Emperor. Having made their toilet they advanced to the inner court. The guards who stood in burnished mail at the portal of the palace respectfully made way for the wellknown imperial officer, but were about to obstruct the passage of the Greek secretary, when with a gesture of authority Sertorius bade the soldier to permit the man to pass.

'Quite right, Max, as a rule : but wrong this time. He accompanies me on business of state, before the Emperor.'

Two lictors in white tunics with scarlet hem, and bearing each the fasces or bundle of rods bound with filets from the top of which projected a polished silver axe, came forward and conducted the centurion into the Imperial presence chamber, the secretary remaining in an aute-room.

The lictors draw aside a heavy gold-embroidered curtain, and Sertorius stood in the presence of the Lord of the World, the man to whoin divine honours had been ascribed, who held in his haud the lives of all his myriads of subjects, and the word of whose mouth uttering his despotic will might consign even the loftiest, without form or process of law, to degradation or death.

Let us note for a moment what manner of man this god on earth, this Diocletian, whose name is remembered with abhorrence and execration, the degenerate usurper of the august name of the Cæsars, may be. He sits in an ivory, purplecushioned chair, near a table of inlaid precious woods. His short and obese figure is enswathed in the folds of an aniple crimson-bordered toga, or fine linen vestment of flowing folds. His broad, coarse features are of plebeian cast, for he had been originally a Dalmatian slave, or at least the son of a slave; but the long-continued exercise of despotic authority had given an imperious hauglitiness to liis bearing. He was now in his fifty-eighth year, but his features, coarsened and bloated by sensuality, gave him a much older aspect. He was dictating to a secretary who sat at the table writing with a reed pen on a parchnient scroll, when the lictors, lowering their fasces and holding their hands above their eyes, as if to protect their dazzled eyes from the effulgence of the noonday sun, advanced into the apartment.


May it please your divine Majesty," said one of the servile lictors, “ the centurion whom you summoned to your presence awuits your Imperial pleasure."

“ Most humbly at your Imperial Majesty's service,” said Sertorius, coming forward with a profound inclination of his uncovered lead. He had left his helmet and sword in the ante-chamber.

“Flaccus Sertorius, I have heard that thou art a brave and faithful soldier, skilled in affairs of State as well as in the art of war. I have need of such to carry out my purpose here in Rome. Vitalius, the scribe," he went on, with an allusive gesture toward the secretary,“ is copying a decrce to be promulgated to the utmost limits of the empire against the pestilent atleism of the accursed sect of Christians, who have spawned and multiplied like frogs throughout the realm. This execrable superstition must be everywhere destroyed and the worship of the gods revived.*

* Even as far west as Spain the following inscription has been found, which seems designed as a funeral monument of dead and buried Christianity : DIOCLETIAN. CÆS. Avg. SVPERSTITIONE Christ. VBIQ. DELETAET CVLTV, DEOR. PROPAGATO”—“To Diocletian, Cæsar Augustus, the Christian superstition being everywhere destroyed and the worship of the gods extended.” But though apparently destroyed, Christianity, like its divine Author, instinct with immortality, rose triumphant over all its foes.

Even here in Rome the. odious sect swarms like vermin, and 'tis even said that the precincts of this palace are not free. Now, purge me this city as with a besom of wrath. Spare not young or old, the lofty or the low; l'urge even this palace, and look to it that thy own head be not the forfeit if you fail. This seal shall be your warrant;" and lashing himself into rage till the purple veins stood out like whipcorc's on his forehead, he tossed his signet ring across the table to the scribe, who prepared a legal instrument to which he affixed the Imperial seal.

May it please your Imperial Majesty,” said the centurion, with an obeisance, “ I am a rude soldier, unskilled to speak in the Imperial presence; but I have fought your Majesty's enemies in Iberia, in Gaul, in Dacia, in Pannonia, and in Libya, and am ready to fight them anywhere. Nevertheless, I would fain be discharged from this office of censor of the city. I know naught, save by Rumour, who is ever a lying jade, your Imperial Majesty, against this outlawed sect. And I know some of them who were brave soldiers in your Imperial Majesty's service, and many others are feeble old men or innocent women and children. I pray you send me rather to fight against the barbarian Dacians than against these.”

“I was well informed then that you were a

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