er or speaker who knew the period at first hand.
The most dangerous form of falsehood is that which contains some portion of truth. The life of many a Roman was deplorably dissolute; the splendour of Rome was beyond doubt astonishing; of oppression there were too many scattered instances; but we do not judge the civilisation of the British Empire by the choicest scandals of London, nor the good sense of the United States by the freak follies of New York. We do not take it that the modern satirist who vents his spleen on an individual or a class is describing each and all of his contemporaries, nor even that what he says is necessarily true of such individual or class. Nor is the professional moralist himself immune from jaundice or from the disease of exaggeration.
The endeavour here will be to realise more veraciously what life in the Roman world was like. For those who are familiar with the political history and the escapades of Nero there may be some filling in of gaps and adjusting of perspective. F