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MUSIC OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE.          105
But Nero could not wait even the exceptionally short time which he had set, and appeared at numerous private shows, which were given from time to time by private individuals of wealth and station. For these performances he was glad to be offered compensation, not from any avaricious motive, but because it stamped him as a thorough and professional artist; of course many courtiers took advantage of this foible and were very glad to pay him a princely honorarium. He was offered on one occasion 1,000,000 sesterces for one ap­pearance; this sum being equivalent to 837,500 puts the enormous salaries of the modern prima donna to the blush.
He sometimes sang for two or three days in the same place, only pausing occasionally to take refreshments and recuperate, and seldom was any song of his less than a day in length.
This in itself might have been an easily-avoided bore under ordinary circumstances, but he pre­vented the possibility of a decreasing audieuce, by posting sentinels at the doors, and forbidding all egress. We can judge of the terrible du Iness of these occasions by the fact that some spectators, at times, jumped from the windows, at the risk of their limbs, while others feigned death and were carried out for burial.*
There were spies scattered through the audience, and any inattention to the emperor's singing was dangerous. The soldiers chastised every one who did not applaud properly. If any
•Suetonius Nero. XX III.






E-Book - An Annotated Compendium of Old Time American Songs by James Alverson III