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Meanwhile the Senate, as they were now on the eve of the quinquennial contest, wishing to avert scandal, offered the emperor the "victory in song," and added the "crown of eloquence," that thus a veil might be thrown over a shameful exposure on the stage. Nero, however, repeatedly declared that he wanted neither favour nor the Senate's influence, as he was a match for his rivals, and was certain, in the conscientious opinion of the judges, to win the honour by merit. First, he recited a poem on the stage; then, at the importunate request of the rabble that he would make public property of all his accomplishments (these were their words), he entered the theatre, and conformed to all the laws of harp-playing, not sitting down when tired, nor wiping off the perspiration with anything but the garment he wore, or letting himself be seen to spit or clear his nostrils. Last of all, on bended knee he saluted the assembly with a motion of the hand, and awaited the verdict of the judges with pretended anxiety. And then the city-populace, who
were wont to encourage every gesture even of actors, made the place ring with measured strains of elaborate applause. One would have thought they were rejoicing, and perhaps they did rejoice, in their indifference to the public disgrace.

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