From The Bibliophile Library of Literature, Art, & Rare Manuscripts, Vol. IV, compiled and arranged by Nathan Haskell Dole, Forrest Morgan, and Caroline Ticknor; The International Bibliophile Society, New York-London; 1904; p. 1105.
IN the middle of Rome there was once an immense chasm, which no human efforts could fill up. The gods being questioned relative to this extraordinary circumstance, made answer that, unless a man could be found who would voluntarily commit himself to the gulf, it would remain unclosed forever. Proclamations were sent forth, signifying that he who was willing to offer himself a sacrifice for the good of his country should appear — but not a man ventured to declare himself. At length Marcus Aurelius said, “If ye will permit me to live as I please during the space of one whole year, I will cheerfully surrender myself, at the end of it, to the yawning chasm.” The Romans assented with joy, and Aurelius indulged for that year in every wish of his heart. Then, mounting a noble steed, he rode furiously into the abyss, which immediately closed over him.
My beloved, Rome is the world, in the center of which, before the nativity of Christ, was the gulf of hell, yawning for our immortal souls. Christ plunged into it, and by so doing ransomed the human race.