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Besides this increasing reverence paid to the deified mortals of ancient mythology, the custom of bestowing divine honours on illustrious men after or even before their death, found new scope for its exercise under the empire.232 Among the manifestations of this tendency, the apotheosis of the emperors themselves, of course, ranks first. We are accustomed to think of it as part of the machinery of despotism, surrounded by official ceremonies and enforced by cruel punishments; but, in fact, it first originated in a spontaneous movement of popular feeling; and in the case of Marcus Aurelius at least, it was maintained for a whole century, if not longer, by the mere force of public opinion. And many prophecies (which, as usual, came true) were made on the strength of revelations received from him in dreams.356 But a much stronger proof of the prevalent tendency is furnished by the apotheosis of Antinous. In its origin this may be attributed to the caprice of a voluptuous despot; but its perpetuation long after the motives of flattery or of fear had ceased to act, shows that the worship of a beautiful youth, who was believed to have given his life for another, satisfied a deep-seated craving of the age. It is possible that, in this and other instances, the deified mortal may have passed for the representative or incarnation of some god who was already believed to have led an earthly existence, and might therefore readily revisit the scene of his former activity. Thus Antinous constantly appears with the attributes of Dionysus; and Apollonius of Tyana, the celebrated Pythagorean prophet of the first century, was worshipped at Ephesus in the time of Lactantius under the name of Heracles Alexicacus, that is, Heracles the defender from evil.357
CHAPTER X. AFTER BRAGG AGAIN
Thus Roman civilisation, even when considered on its liberal, progressive, democratic side, seems to have necessarily favoured the growth and spread of superstition, because the new social strata which it turned up were less on their guard against unwarranted beliefs than the old governing aristocracies with their mingled conservatism and culture. But this was not all; and on viewing the empire from another side we shall find that under it all classes alike were exposed to conditions eminently inconsistent with that individual independence and capacity for forming a private judgment which212 had so honourably distinguished at least one class under the republican rgime. If imperialism was in one sense a levelling and democratic system, in another sense it was intensely aristocratic, or rather timocratic. Superiorities of birth, race, age, and sex were everywhere tending to disappear, only that they might be replaced by the more ignoble superiorities of brute-force, of court-favour, and of wealth. The Palace set an example of caprice on the one side and of servility on the other which was faithfully followed through all grades of Roman society, less from a spirit of imitation than because circumstances were at work which made every rich man or woman the centre of a petty court consisting of voluntary dependents whose obsequiousness was rewarded by daily doles of food and money, by the occasional gift of a toga or even of a small farm, or by the hope of a handsome legacy. Before daybreak the doors of a wealthy house were surrounded by a motley crowd, including not only famished clients but praetors, tribunes, opulent freedmen, and even ladies in their litters; all come nominally for the purpose of paying their respects to the master, but in reality to receive a small present of money. At a later hour, when the great man went abroad, he was attended by a troop of poor hangers-on, who, after trudging about for hours in his train and accompanying him home in the afternoon, often missed the place at his table which their assiduities were intended to secure. Even when it came, the invitation brought small comfort, as only the poorest food and the worst wine were set before the client, while he had the additional vexation of seeing his patron feasting on the choicest dishes and the most delicious vintages; and this was also the lot of the domestic philosopher whom some rich men regarded as an indispensable member of their retinue.326 Of course those who wished for a larger share of the patrons favours could only hope to win it by unstinted tokens of admiration, deference, or assent; and213 probably many besides the master of thirty legions in the well-known story were invariably allowed to be right by the scholars with whom they condescended to dispute.The train was on time, and just as the sun was setting behind the fringe of cottonwoods along Bean Blossom Creek they stopped at the little station, and started to walk out to the farm. A neighbor who was drawing a load of tile from the station recognized Si, and begged them to get up and ride, but the team was too slow for the impatient boys, and they forged ahead. A thousand well-remembered objects along the road would have arrested Si's attention were it not for the supreme interest farther on. At last they came to a little rise of ground which commanded a view of the house, and there, as Si predicted, sat his father and mother engaged in smoking, reading and knitting. His first impulse was to yell with delight, but he restrained himself, and walked as steadily on as he could to the front gate. Old Towser set up a bark and ran down the walk, and then changed his note to de lightful yelps of recognition. Si was so nervous that he fumbled vainly for a minute at the gate-latch, and while he did so he heard his mother say: "Father, there's a couple o' soldiers out there." "Wonder if they kin be from Si's company," said the father, lowering his paper, and looking over his spectacles.
In the crowded depot at Nashville they had an other panic, but the Provost-Guard kept a gangway clear as soon as it was discovered that they were on duty.
CHAPTER XVII. THE DEACON'S INITIATION