30 April 2015

Gold Daily and Silver Weekly Charts - Unfortunately Predictable Absurdity

Gold and silver were hit by a brutal takedown this morning.
Welcome to the post FOMC reaction, as well as the end of the month, and the beginning of the active month of May for silver.
These jokers aren't even feeling the need to pretend anymore.

There was intraday commentary on silver here and the metals takedown here.

I hear that a carefully coiffed, long time teddy bear acquaintance says that some big traders are rigging the metals market, but "the government isn't involved at all."  For newbies, he has been saying this for about fifteen years so at least he is consistent.   But it is getting old now.
NO involvement. Really? 
When there is a blatant, wide open crime wave with daylight muggings and bombings, and the duly designated authorities aren't doing anything about it, I imagine you could say that technically they are 'not involved.'   After all they didn't do anything.  Except not do their jobs.
This kind of obstinate credulity is a big part of the problem.  Of course they are involved.  The only question is why?  
I have been watching the markets for a long time.  And this is starting to look like a bad dream.  These jokers never know when to stop.  They are emboldened by ever successful caper.  They start to feel like rigging the market is like an entitlement.
I will never forget the reaction from an ex pat trader from a major US Bank in London, who when caught red-handed manipulating euro bonds by smashing a quiet market with sell orders, was indignant at being chastised for it.  Hey, we do this all the time back home!  It even had a cute frat name, the Dr. Evil strategy.  He thought he had universal impunity.
It's funny but there seems to be a double standard for US traders and 'foreign traders.'   Have you noticed?  Doesn't it seem like the US always goes after the foreign banks and traders even when it involves a general free for all of criminality?
Is this some sort of imperial droit du seigneur when it comes to market rigging?  Is this like being able to say that you are a citizen of Rome and entitled to be judged by the emperor alone?
Have a pleasant evening.


SP 500 and NDX Futures Daily Charts - Wash and Rinse Day - Surreal

So after the bell, here was one of the more surreal things I have seen lately, and that is saying a lot in this environment.
Cory Johnson of Bloomberg TV was pounding the table about LinkedIn after the bell, while their ticker showed the stock getting absolutely eviscerated, down over 20%.

I like CJ, and think he is just caught up in the silicon nonsense of stocks that are priced beyond perfection.   Yes Cory, the stock is growing.  But the momentum guys took it to an absurd level where any sniff of reality resulted in a pricing conflagration.
Get used to it.  There are a lot of artificial puffballs out there.  

This is a dangerous market. One of the more technically dangerous I have seen since 1987 and the tech bubble.

Be careful out there.

Have a pleasant evening.



NAV Premiums of Certain Precious Metal Trusts and Funds - Silver Active In May Delivery Report

"We looked into the abyss if the gold price rose further. A further rise would have taken down one or several trading houses, which might have taken down all the rest in their wake.   Therefore at any price, at any cost, the central banks had to quell the gold price, manage it."

Sir Eddie George, Governor Bank of England 1993-2003
And I think they have been desperately attempting to cover up the consequences of their poor decision making in in bailing out the speculative interests of their banking cronies for the past sixteen years, while digging the hole in which they found themselves ever deeper.
The expected FOMC slam on the metals happened this morning with the news that new unemployment claims were much lower than expected.

That the economic news this morning also showed *zero* growth in personal income was ignored. 

Jobs without living wages.   Is this like making bricks without straw?

May is an active month for silver, but not for gold.

So we saw a spike for silver in the delivery report from yesterday as May becomes the silver front month.

I have included that report below. As a reminder, although the number of ounces is large, the volumes moving around the warehouses are also larger than gold.

Still, I wonder what the wiseguys will do if silver ever becomes in short supply, since the central banks do not hold any, and the US long ago depleted its strategic supply.
What happens when there is a run on the bullion banks again?
Excess leverage on supply constrained assets.  Ain't it a bitch?

Post FOMC Metals Rig: Right On Schedule

This is what the pampered princes of privilege do when they fail.
They try to hide it.  They lash out.   They cheat.
They are petty.  But vicious when frightened.

Most of the successes they have obtained throughout their lives have been gained by cheating, using inside information, rigging the game, exercising influence, position, and privilege.

They twist the fabric of society to weave their robes.
They make and break the rules to suit themselves and their friends.
They make our markets into bucket shops.  Our laws are just pieces of paper.
They try to make other people pay for their mistakes.
As they have been doing all throughout their lives.

Success.   They deserve it, one banal and disreputable way or another.

For the good of the system.   


29 April 2015

Gold Daily and Silver Weekly Charts - A Policy of Plunder and the Sickness Unto Death

"An elite class that is free to operate without limits - whether limits imposed by the rule of law or fear of the responses from those harmed by their behavior - is an elite class that will plunder, degrade, and cheat at will, and act endlessly to fortify its own power."

Glenn Greenwald

"You!  You made us in the house of pain!   You made us... things!

Not men. Not beasts.  Things!"

H. G. Wells, The Island of Dr. Moreau

After the bell Moody's cut Greek bonds to CAA2 with the outlook negative.   Greece is facing the gravest threat to its national sovereignty, even worse than the American supported military regimes of the 'Greek colonels,' since 1941.

Who will be next?   Who can stand against the dark power of the world, and wickedness in high places?   C'est la guerre, sans fin.  Ainsi soit-il.

There was intraday commentary about the Fed's policy statement here.

Ex-accounting gimmicks, the US economy contracted in the first quarter.  The BEA fudged this advance estimate a bit, showing one of the lowest positive numbers possible,  but the economy is obviously teetering on recession driven by stagnant wages, policy errors leading to asset bubbles, and weak aggregate demand.   It is not that people are 'saving too much.'  The problem is that too many people have too little income.

They will show a revision of the truth at some point when no one cares as much about it.  The credibility trap forbids Beltway Washington from being honest critics of their policy and political failures to reform.  
I found it amusing that a few minutes after the Fed statement financial TV announced that 'gold was dropping,' and continued with that theme throughout the afternoon, without mention of the dropping dollar or stocks.  

Gold declined from 1210 to 1206 to the dollar.

Reports from The Bucket Shop show that 'deliveries,'  which are the exchange of claim checks, and warehouse movements were relatively quiet.
The bankers and financiers will have another shot at managing our perceptions of their own incompetence tomorrow.
I am keeping an eye on the upcoming elections in the UK.   As you know Europe and the UK are 'bellwethers' of a sort in my thinking.  

The situation in Greece might be more influential than some would allow.

The political and economic situation in the States is 'simmering.'

Uncle Oligarch, wrapped in the flag, is pushing the TPP with an almost desperate zeal.   It is surprising how many politicians and professionals have been 'rented' by corporate money in support of the cause.  

Smells like teen spirit.
Things are unfolding as badly as even a most cynical man might expect, alas. 

And so a group of fools, driven by greed, will push their perceived advantages, blind to the consequences, even to the point of plunging into the abyss.

They see strength and power in numbers, for they are many.
Have a pleasant evening.


SP 500 and NDX Futures Daily Charts - Frauds R Us

The GDP number came in fairly awful today, and was more likely outright negative, which may be shown in some future revision.

The Fed, not wishing to panic the herd or cause any uncomfortable questions about both their integrity and their competency to be raised, dismissed the slumping economy, attributing it to 'transitory' phenomena.

All as had been expected. 

They are no longer making policy for the real economy.  They are making it for themselves, and the Banks.

There will be no sustainable recovery until there is substantial and meaningful reform.

And the credibility trap of lies and canards that the professionals have woven will keep them from even discussing the problem frankly and honestly.

And so until then, the policy of plunder will continue, economic inequality will widen, and the gap between the facts and the perceptions will widen, even until it is a chasm.

They gather all knowledge, both good and evil, to themselves, and they would be as gods.

Have a pleasant evening.


'Transitory Factors' Affect Economy, But the Effete Fed Remains an Intractable Ass

"If the law supposes that," said Mr. Bumble, squeezing his hat emphatically in both hands, "the law is an ass".

Charles Dickens

As suggested, the Fed said what was to be expected— of a collection of elitist asshats, pampered princes, and supercilious elitist boobs caught in the credibility trap of their serial failures.
Although the credibility trap prohibits their mentioning it overtly, their statement omits all references to the tightening that they have led everyone to expect.   So although they exude confidence in their remarks, they must have felt that creeping fear going up their spines, of the broken wall, the burning roof and tower that is characteristic of imperial overreach and folly.
The immediate response from financial television is that stocks are up while the euro is dropping and 'gold is plunging.'  Yeah about six dollars.  Apparently the prepared reaction was not carried out properly.  Well, there is always an opportunity to rig the market reaction tomorrow.  One must keep up appearances.
The Fed has been horribly wrong about nearly everything they have forecast and most of the policy actions they have taken as both a central bank and a regulator for the past twenty years.   The only group that has put forward a more disreputable and counterproductive performance has been the Congress, and the deeply captured professional class.
Federal Reserve Press Release
Release Date: April 29, 2015

For immediate release

Information received since the Federal Open Market Committee met in March suggests that economic growth slowed during the winter months, in part reflecting transitory factors. The pace of job gains moderated, and the unemployment rate remained steady. A range of labor market indicators suggests that underutilization of labor resources was little changed. Growth in household spending declined; households' real incomes rose strongly, partly reflecting earlier declines in energy prices (ROFLMAO), and consumer sentiment remains high.

Business fixed investment softened, the recovery in the housing sector remained slow, and exports declined. Inflation continued to run below the Committee's longer-run objective, partly reflecting earlier declines in energy prices and decreasing prices of non-energy imports. Market-based measures of inflation compensation remain low (not including food and healthcare and rent and the basics); survey-based measures of longer-term inflation expectations have remained stable.

Consistent with its statutory mandate, the Committee seeks to foster maximum employment and price stability. Although growth in output and employment slowed during the first quarter, the Committee continues to expect that, with appropriate policy accommodation, economic activity will expand at a moderate pace, (the Fed has not yet delivered the appropriate policy, sticking with a top down, bank-centric approach) with labor market indicators continuing to move toward levels the Committee judges consistent with its dual mandate.

The Committee continues to see the risks to the outlook for economic activity and the labor market as nearly balanced. Inflation is anticipated to remain near its recent low level in the near term, but the Committee expects inflation to rise gradually toward 2 percent over the medium term as the labor market improves further and the transitory effects of declines in energy and import prices dissipate.  (There goes the 'real income growth')  The Committee continues to monitor inflation developments closely.

To support continued progress toward maximum employment and price stability, the Committee today reaffirmed its view that the current 0 to 1/4 percent target range for the federal funds rate remains appropriate. In determining how long to maintain this target range, the Committee will assess progress--both realized and expected--toward its objectives of maximum employment and 2 percent inflation.

This assessment will take into account a wide range of information, including measures of labor market conditions, indicators of inflation pressures and inflation expectations, and readings on financial and international developments. The Committee anticipates that it will be appropriate to raise the target range for the federal funds rate when it has seen further improvement in the labor market and is reasonably confident that inflation will move back to its 2 percent objective over the medium term.

The Committee is maintaining its existing policy of reinvesting principal payments from its holdings of agency debt and agency mortgage-backed securities in agency mortgage-backed securities and of rolling over maturing Treasury securities at auction. This policy, by keeping the Committee's holdings of longer-term securities at sizable levels, should help maintain accommodative financial conditions.  (Keep doing what is helping to fuel inequality, and has not been working for about six years now)

When the Committee decides to begin to remove policy accommodation, it will take a balanced approach consistent with its longer-run goals of maximum employment and inflation of 2 percent. The Committee currently anticipates that, even after employment and inflation are near mandate-consistent levels, economic conditions may, for some time, warrant keeping the target federal funds rate below levels the Committee views as normal in the longer run.

Voting for the FOMC monetary policy action were: Janet L. Yellen, Chair; William C. Dudley, Vice Chairman; Lael Brainard; Charles L. Evans; Stanley Fischer; Jeffrey M. Lacker; Dennis P. Lockhart; Jerome H. Powell; Daniel K. Tarullo; and John C. Williams.

28 April 2015

Gold Daily and Silver Weekly Charts - 1Q GDP and FOMC Decision Tomorrow

Oil and the metals spiked this morning on a false report that Iran had seized a US vessel.

Tomorrow and the rest of the week may be the bigger test for the precious metals.

We will get the 1Q advance GDP number in the morning and the FOMC decision in the afternoon.

I do not think that the Fed will do anything in particular except move their jawbones a bit more.

So let's see what happens.

There were a few claimchecks for gold bullion exchanged at the Bucket Shop as noted below, but nothing really happened in the warehouses, which some day may just be left in place as museums, a monument to our exceptionalism and past freedoms.

On the lighter side, Twitter accidentally leaked its results before the close. They were seen by an analyst on their website and tweeted out. The stock was pounded down 18 percent before trading was halted.

Have a pleasant evening.


SP 500 and NDX Futures Daily Charts - Twittering Past the Graveyard


The new economy momentum darling, Twitter, accidentally leaked its numbers before the close.

The leak on their website was tweeted out by an analyst and the stock plunged for a time until trading was halted.

They missed on revenue and lowered forecast. When you are holding fat multiples and miss the results can be quite messy.

Buffalo Wild Wings announced that it missed and that stock was spanked after the bell.

Tomorrow will be a huge day for macro data with the GDP Q1 estimate and the FOMC decision.

Have a pleasant evening.


Joblessness, Repression, Inequality, and Despair: Striking at the Root of the Problem

I was struck by this today. It was so pointed that I initially thought it was a hoax.

When we hear President Obama and the Congress publicly admitting their egregious top down stimulus and political policy errors in the service of Big Money, then we will know that reform is nearer to hand.
Serving the one percent is one of the few bipartisan efforts of the greedy and corrupt Washington.

But do not hold your breath for it.  They know.   But they are two faced, and caught in a credibility trap.

How meaningful that the rich and powerful are celebrating their success at the Michael Milken Conference today. Milken!

And the President was cheerleading the Trans-Pacific Trade Agreement with Japan PM Abe at the White House.

When the time comes for a banquet of consequences they will all say, 'Who could have seen this coming?"

Orioles COO John Angelos offers eye-opening perspective on Baltimore protests
By Ted Berg
April 27, 2015

Brett, speaking only for myself, I agree with your point that the principle of peaceful, non-violent protest and the observance of the rule of law is of utmost importance in any society. MLK, Gandhi, Mandela and all great opposition leaders throughout history have always preached this precept. Further, it is critical that in any democracy, investigation must be completed and due process must be honored before any government or police members are judged responsible.

That said, my greater source of personal concern, outrage and sympathy beyond this particular case is focused neither upon one night’s property damage nor upon the acts, but is focused rather upon the past four-decade period during which an American political elite have shipped middle class and working class jobs away from Baltimore and cities and towns around the U.S. to third-world dictatorships like China and others, plunged tens of millions of good, hard-working Americans into economic devastation, and then followed that action around the nation by diminishing every American’s civil rights protections in order to control an unfairly impoverished population living under an ever-declining standard of living and suffering at the butt end of an ever-more militarized and aggressive surveillance state.

The innocent working families of all backgrounds whose lives and dreams have been cut short by excessive violence, surveillance, and other abuses of the Bill of Rights by government pay the true price, and ultimate price, and one that far exceeds the importance of any kids’ game played tonight, or ever, at Camden Yards. We need to keep in mind people are suffering and dying around the U.S., and while we are thankful no one was injured at Camden Yards, there is a far bigger picture for poor Americans in Baltimore and everywhere who don’t have jobs and are losing economic civil and legal rights, and this makes inconvenience at a ballgame irrelevant in light of the needless suffering government is inflicting upon ordinary Americans.

This is from USA Today.

27 April 2015

Gold Daily and Silver Weekly Charts - Option Expiry Today, FOMC on Wednesday

There was some intraday commentary on the metals here.
The bucket shop delivery and warehouse reports were quiet.
Gold and silver had a sharp rally this morning.  Some would ascribe it to a perception that the Fed will not be raising rates anytime soon.
I think we have played that tune many, many times.  Too many to matter much anymore.
Let's see what happens.
Have a pleasant evening.


SP 500 and NDX Futures Daily Charts - Skip the Reform, More Cowbell!

The Dallas Fed numbers this morning sucked out loud.

I expect this is going to be a long, hot summer.

Stocks pulled back from their euphoria today.

Apple releases its numbers after the bell. The pundits are now saying that the market IS Apple.

We don't need no stinkin' economic and financial reform.
We've got bubble fever.  And the only prescription is---
More cowbell!

Have a pleasant evening.

NAV Premiums of Certain Precious Metal Trusts and Funds - FOMC On Wednesday

I think we have a little short squeeze going on this morning.  I have not looked at the composition of the option trade or the futures contracts but maybe some specs came in leaning on the short side, looking for some easy money on an option expiration.

As a reminder there is a two day FOMC meeting this week with their rate decision on Wednesday.  My friend Dave thinks this is a setup for that.  Perhaps he is right.  The price riggers like to take a price up to lure in speculators, and to have their raise their stop loss arrangements, to make the price hit more effective.
This is a bucket shop after all.  That is what most of the US markets are becoming.
I tend to watch support and resistance and try not to predict the future.  There is some precedent for a smackdown on the FOMC announcement as we all know. 

25 April 2015

Walter Brueggemann: Speaking Truth To Power, Confronting Today's Pharaohs

Walter Brueggemann is a contemporary theologian and an Old Testament scholar from the United Church of Christ to whom I have been introduced by one of our patrons.

One of the things I appreciate most about le café, besides the occasional note describing how the patrons may have been affected by things served here, is when readers bring in knowledge and ideas and stories that I have not encountered before.  It is certainly return enough for the simple fare served here.

Below are excerpts from a recent interview regarding his book Truth Speaks To Power.

For the complete interview which is not all that long you may read these excerpts in context here.

"Legitimate power always includes attentiveness to justice, When power is not attentive to justice it cannot endure. This is a summons to us to keep the agenda of justice for the vulnerable alive and front and center to maintain a kind of subversive stance toward power.

Power is the capacity to organize and administer social goods and social access. Truth is the structure of reality that is in the nature of things that cannot be violated by our capacity to administer it. Power can sometimes be administered in harmony with such truthfulness, but very often power is seduced so that it runs contradictory to truth.

Truth is not a set of propositions in the Bible, but a cluster of relationships. Those are relationships of dignity, well-being, security and respect. When power violates those, then those who administer such power learn is that they cannot finally withstand the force of truth. So, the truthfulness of God’s commitment to neighborliness does not give in in the long run.

Moses is designated at the burning bush to be the carrier of God’s truth, which in that narrative is that God does not want people to be enslaved to the economy of Pharaoh. God does not want exploitative labor or excessively cheap labor. Pharaoh never catches on as obtuse power usually does not.

The truth carried by Moses is always coming from below in the cries of the slaves, but it always turns out that power from above never has the capacity to silence the cries from below. It is the cry from below that is finally generative of the historical possibility. Pharaoh is very slowly diminished and his power wanes and he does not catch on until it is too late—which I think is probably a right rendering of how that tends to work...

Early on in the gospel traditions, the power elite in Jesus’ society who were colluding with the Roman Empire, recognized him as a threat and began to conspire to kill him. I think he was presented in the gospel narratives as being a huge threat to the established order of the Roman Empire...

Jesus became a reference point for much of the hostility and resistance to the power of the empire because he refused to accommodate and told another story of reality that the empire could not co opt.

It [the pursuit of political power] is very seductive for all of us. And I suppose it has been the seduction of the Jesus movement since Constantine, when Christians gained access to power and have loved having it. I think the collusion of the church with political order in almost any society causes the church to lose its edge and have failure of nerve about the gospel that has been entrusted to it...

The market ideology is now the new form of imperial power and many of us, without any critical reflection, have signed onto that and organized our lives in that way so we do not have any time, energy or capacity for the things that are rightly important to us."

Here below is a discussion in which Walter Brueggemann presents the place of the prophets in the Old Testament, which is one of his special areas of study. 

I have listened to some other videos of Brueggemann this morning and have found him to be thought provoking.  I especially enjoyed his description of how God, who is of course unchanging and vast, nevertheless evolves through lens of the human understanding, in our perception, as we seek to comprehend the nearly incomprehensible.

The first video is recommended for the topic above. The other two are there for those of you who wish to hear more from him from the array of his videos available on the web. I do urge you to do some exploration on your own if you have the time. The last one is lengthy but particularly thought-provoking.

I know enough to know what I do not know, that I can be no authority in this, no matter how much more time I might spend on it. That is the top of the second hill of learning. Most stop at the first, and fixate there, and tend to cast their thoughts in stone. I tend to see the pluralism in this, and am not troubled by it, because there can be many paths to the same end as there are people who walk forward looking towards the light.  

The point is to look towards and keep walking towards the light, and not sit in a safe place and remark scornfully on the stumbling of your fellows, ignoring your own lack of progress, sitting still in a comfortable mud puddle.    I have never yet seen so much lack of love cloaked in the thin robes of self-righteous judgement and unfounded vanity.  

 And too often the more elaborate the externalities, the more impoverished and empty the heart.   As Paul says so famously,  even if on has prophecy, and understanding, and a wide array of other gifts, at long last, there is only love.   For love is God, and God is love, and the only tragedy is not to have found Him in the end.

But for most of us, and this certainly includes me, a Way has been made for us, and that path is more certain, less prone to self-delusion and folly. It is perfect, but alas, those who try to follow it as best as they can are not. And so it is a struggle, always, even on this road we have been shown.

And so we must be wary of the grandiose and elaborately ostentatious prayers of the Pharisee, compared to the simple, sincere offering of the widow's mite. If you have all the ritual, all the knowledge, all the pomp of power and influence of the world, all the followers even to a countless multitude, but have no love, you have nothing.  And that is, in the end, the only tragedy.

24 April 2015

A Walk in Rome and On the Appian Way

"Peter.  Verily, verily, I say to you, when you were young, you dressed yourself, and walked where you liked: but when you are old, you will stretch forth your hands, and another will gird you, and take you where you would not like to go."

About 23 years ago I went on a trip to Rome with my wife, who was then three months pregnant with our son. We wanted to make a pilgrimage there, and for her and our unborn son to receive a blessing from the Pope, and to have a little holiday together before life would become a little more circumscribed.

We were staying at a charming little hotel tucked away near the Trevi fountain. While we were there one morning we visited the room in which the English poet John Keats died of consumption, just off to the left going down the Spanish Steps, into the Piazza di Spagna. The year before I had visited the house in Hampstead Heath at which he is said to have written, "Ode to a Nightingale."

Later we visited his gravesite in the Cimitero degli Inglesi, and read the inscription on his tombstone.
This Grave contains all that was mortal, of a Young English Poet, who on his Death Bed, in the Bitterness of his heart, at the Malicious Power of his enemies, desired these words to be Engraven on his Tomb Stone: Here lies One Whose Name was writ in Water.
Later we took a bus to the ancient wall of the city, and continued walking through the Porta San Sebastiano, south on the Via Appia in search of a country restaurant at which I desired to have our usual late lunch.  We were then going on to visit the catacombs a little further out from the city.

After a little while on the road we came to a small, simple church, the Chiesa di Santa Maria in Palmis, but commonly known as Chiesa del Domine Quo Vadis. We went inside, and to my surprise, this was the place referenced by Henryk Sienkiewicz in his famous book, Quo Vadis which I had read in high school.

The story of this meeting on the Appian Way so many years ago comes from the apocryphal Acts of Peter, thought to have been written in the 2nd century by a companion to John the Apostle.  But it was not included in the canon of the Bible.

It is a moving experience, to visit the places where these things occurred. I  felt the same way when we toured the Coliseum, the Forum, and the Mamertine Prison which had held both Peter and Paul before their judgement and deaths. 

This reminds us that Keats, and Peter, and Nero, and Paul, and so many other figures whom we remember and read about in history were real people, in most ways just like us, making decisions with confusion, worries, concerns, fears, and the rest of the issues that we have today.  We think that the calling took place in their day, but we do not see it in ours; but it is there.

As John Newman once said,  "every century is like every other, and to those who live in it seems worse than all times before it...  thus much of comfort do we gain from what has been hitherto, not to despond, not to be dismayed, not to be anxious, at the troubles which encompass us. They have ever been; they ever shall be; they are our portion."

Here is the relevant section about this area on the Appian Way from Synkewicz's book.
"About dawn of the following day two dark figures were moving along the Appian Way toward the Campania.

One of them was Nazarius; the other the Apostle Peter, who was leaving Rome and his martyred co-religionists.

The sky in the east was assuming a light tinge of green, bordered gradually and more distinctly on the lower edge with saffron color. Silver-leafed trees, the white marble of villas, and the arches of aqueducts, stretching through the plain toward the city, were emerging from shade. The greenness of the sky was clearing gradually, and becoming permeated with gold. Then the east began to grow rosy and illuminate the Adban Hills, which seemed marvellously beautiful, lily-colored, as if formed of rays of light alone.

The light was reflected in trembling leaves of trees, in the dew-drops. The haze grew thinner, opening wider and wider views on the plain, on the houses dotting it, on the cemeteries, on the towns, and on groups of trees, among which stood white columns of temples.

The road was empty. The villagers who took vegetables to the city had not succeeded yet, evidently, in harnessing beasts to their vehicles. From the stone blocks with which the road was paved as far as the mountains, there came a low sound from the bark shoes on the feet of the two travellers.

Then the sun appeared over the line of hills; but at once a wonderful vision struck the Apostle's eyes. It seemed to him that the golden circle, instead of rising in the sky, moved down from the heights and was advancing on the road. Peter stopped, and asked, --

"See thou that brightness approaching us?"

"I see nothing," replied Nazarius.

But Peter shaded his eyes with his hand, and said after a while,

"Some figure is coming in the gleam of the sun." But not the slightest sound of steps reached their ears. It was perfectly still all around. Nazarius saw only that the trees were quivering in the distance, as if some one were shaking them, and the light was spreading more broadly over the plain. He looked with wonder at the Apostle.

"Rabbi. What ails thee?" cried he, with alarm.

The pilgrim's staff fell from Peter's hands to the earth; his eyes were looking forward, motionless; his mouth was open; on his face were depicted astonishment, delight, rapture.

Then he threw himself on his knees, his arms stretched forward; and this cry left his lips, --

"O Lord! O Lord!"

He fell with his face to the earth, as if kissing some one's feet.

The silence continued long; then were heard the words of the aged man, broken by sobs, --

"Quo vadis, Domine?" (Where are you going, Lord?)

Nazarius did not hear the answer; but to Peter's ears came a sad and sweet voice, which said, --

"If you desert my people, I am going to Rome to be crucified a second time."

The Apostle lay on the ground, his face in the dust, without motion or speech. It seemed to Nazarius that he had fainted or was dead; but he rose at last, seized the staff with trembling hands, and turned without a word toward the seven hills of the city.

The boy, seeing this, repeated as an echo, --

"Quo vadis, Domine?"

"To Rome," said the Apostle, in a low voice.

And he returned.

Paul, John, Linus, and all the faithful received him with amazement; and the alarm was the greater, since at daybreak, just after his departure, praetorians had surrounded Miriam's house and searched it for the Apostle. But to every question he answered only with delight and peace, --

"I have seen the Lord!"

And that same evening he went to the Ostian cemetery to teach and baptize those who wished to bathe in the water of life.

And thenceforward he went there daily, and after him went increasing numbers. It seemed that out of every tear of a martyr new confessors were born, and that every groan on the arena found an echo in thousands of breasts. Caesar was swimming in blood, Rome and the whole pagan world was mad.

But those who had had enough of transgression and madness, those who were trampled upon, those whose lives were misery and oppression, all the weighed down, all the sad, all the unfortunate, came to hear the wonderful tidings of God, who out of love for men had given Himself to be crucified and redeem their sins.

When they found a God whom they could love, they had found that which the society of the time could not give any one, -- happiness and love..."

Quo Vadis, by Henryk Sienkiewicz, 1905

It is too bad that it is not read much today, because it is an interesting book. I think it has been made into several movie versions. I especially like the one with Klaus Maria Brandauer, although the earlier epic with Robert Taylor and Deborah Kerr is more famous and probably more popular.

The novel was a worldwide best seller in its day from about 1906 to 1930. I remember at the time I read it in 1968 enjoying it because of the portrayal of T. Petronius, Nero's Arbiter Elegantiae, who is said to have written the first western novel, The Satyricon.

The people of the world have always treasured such books and stories.  But it seems that they do so especially during times of suffering and troubles, when the great, who would be masters, rise up once again and proclaim their dominion over men and history.   Perhaps it, or some things like it, will have a revival when the madness is once again unleashed, and The New Rome falls, and The New Temple is sacked.

And where is the magnificent Emperor Nero now, immortal god and lord of the world, but a memory, returned to the earth as the dirt and dust.  Perhaps he is to be found beneath the fingernails of some little child, to be plucked out and discarded, with a 'tut tut'  from a doting mother.

The mighty rise and are fallen, but the word and the spirit endure.

Epub: Quo Vadis: A Narrative of the Time of Nero by Henryk Sienkiewicz