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<- Previous | Table of Contents | Next -> Digital Library-The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde


shambles of the Circus, and then, in a litter of pearl and purple
drawn by silver-shod mules, been carried through the Street of
Pomegranates to a House of Gold, and heard men cry on Nero
Caesar as he passed by; and, as Elagabalus, had painted his face
with colours, and plied the distaff among the women, and brought
the Moon from Carthage, and given her in mystic marriage to the

Over and over again Dorian used to read this fantastic chapter, and
the two chapters immediately following, in which, as in some
curious tapestries or cunningly-wrought enamels, were pictured
the awful and beautiful forms of those whom Vice and Blood and
Weariness had made monstrous or mad: Filippo, Duke of Milan,
who slew his wife, and painted her lips with a scarlet poison that
her lover might suck death from the dead thing he fondled; Pietro
Barbi, the Venetian, known as Paul the Second, who sought in his
vanity to assume the title of Formosus, and whose tiara, valued at
two hundred thousand florins, was bought at the price of a terrible
sin; Gian Maria Visconti, who used hounds to chase living men,
and whose murdered body was covered with roses by a harlot who
had loved him; the Borgia on his white horse, with Fratricide
riding beside him, and his mantle stained with the blood of
Perotto; Pietro Riario, the young Cardinal Archbishop of Florence,
child and minion of Sixtus IV., whose beauty was equalled only by
his debauchery, and who received Leonora of Aragon in a pavilion
of white and crimson silk, filled with nymphs and centaurs, and
gilded a boy that he might serve at the feast as Ganymede or
Hylas; Ezzelin, whose melancholy could be cured only by the
spectacle of death, and who had a passion for red blood, as other
men have for red wine-the son of the Fiend, as was reported, and
one who had cheated his father at dice when gambling with him
for his own soul: Giambattista Cibo, who in mockery took the
name of Innocent, and into whose torpid veins the blood of three
lads was infused by a Jewish doctor; Sigismondo Malatesta, the
lover of Isotta, and the lord of Rimini, whose effigy was burned at
Rome as the enemy of God and man, who strangled Polyssena with
a napkin, and gave poison to Ginevra d’Este in a cup of emerald,
and in honour of a shameful passion built a pagan church for
Christian worship; Charles VI., who had so wildly adored his
brother’s wife that a leper had warned him of the insanity that was
coming on him, and who, when his brain had sickened and grown
strange, could only be soothed by Saracen cards painted with the
images of Love and Death and Madness; and, in his trimmed jerkin
and jewelled cap and acanthuslike curls, Grifonetto Baglioni, who
slew Astorre with his bride, and Simonetto with his page, and
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