Curiosities of Music - online book

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106                  CURIOSITIES OF MUSIC.
of the lower classes presumed to give adverse criticism, they were summarily dealt with, while those of the upper rank who showed their weari­ness, were marked out for future vengeance. The emperor had in reality the life of any subject in his power, while seemingly only exerting legal authority; for he had hundreds of informers, spies and perjurers about his court who could fasten any charge on any person however high in station, and the awe-struck senate was always ready to condemn. Many when charged with any crime by the emperor's minions, at once commit­ted suicide as the shortest way out of the scrape.
Among those who fell under Nero's displeasure for not appreciating his music, was the future emperor Yespasian, who during one of the songs, fell fast asleep. Nero was with difficulty persuad­ed to spare his life, but finally contented himself with banishing him from the court. The scene must have been to some extent, ludicrous, when these poor, bored victims of the emperor-musician, applauding vehemently, cried out for more. Yet the applause did not always fall in the right place, and to obviate this difficulty, the emperor formed a corps of daquers or professional applauders, whose duty it was to lead, and direct the applause at the proper moments. This army of claquers consisted of many fashionable young men, and five thousand commoners. They could easily be distinguished by their elegant attire and curled locks.
The system pursued was similar to that at

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