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The Emperor — Volume 05

105 pages
The Project Gutenberg EBook The Emperor, by Georg Ebers, Volume 5. #49 in our series by Georg Ebers
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**Welcome To The World of Free Plain Vanilla Electronic Texts**
**EBooks Readable By Both Humans and By Computers, Since 1971**
*****These EBooks Were Prepared By Thousands of Volunteers*****
Title: The Emperor, Part 1, Volume 5.
Author: Georg Ebers
Release Date: April, 2004 [EBook #5487] [Yes, we are more than one year ahead of schedule] [This file was first posted
on May 28, 2002]
Edition: 10
Language: English
This eBook was produced by David Widger
[NOTE: There is a short list of bookmarks, or pointers, at the end of the file for those who may wish to sample the author's
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The Project Gutenberg EBook The Emperor, byGeorg Ebers, Volume 5. #49 in our series byGeorg EbersCopyright laws are changing all over the world. Besure to check the copyright laws for your countrybefore downloading or redistributing this or anyother Project Gutenberg eBook.This header should be the first thing seen whenviewing this Project Gutenberg file. Please do notremove it. Do not change or edit the headerwithout written permission.Please read the "legal small print," and otherinformation about the eBook and ProjectGutenberg at the bottom of this file. Included isimportant information about your specific rights andrestrictions in how the file may be used. You canalso find out about how to make a donation toProject Gutenberg, and how to get involved.**Welcome To The World of Free Plain VanillaElectronic Texts****EBooks Readable By Both Humans and ByComputers, Since 1971*******These EBooks Were Prepared By Thousandsof Volunteers*****Title: The Emperor, Part 1, Volume 5.
Author: Georg EbersRelease Date: April, 2004 [EBook #5487] [Yes, weare more than one year ahead of schedule] [Thisfile was first posted on May 28, 2002]Edition: 10Language: English*** START OF THE PROJECT GUTENBERGEBOOK THE EMPEROR, BY GEORG EBERS, V5***This eBook was produced by David Widger<>[NOTE: There is a short list of bookmarks, orpointers, at the end of the file for those who maywish to sample the author's ideas before makingan entire meal of them. D.W.]THE EMPEROR, Part 1.By Georg Ebers
Volume 5.CHAPTER XIX.Plutarch was one of the richest citizens ofAlexandria, and the owner of the papyrusmanufactory where Selene and Arsinoe worked;and he had of his own free will offered to provide for the "suitable"entertainment of the wives anddaughters of his fellow-citizens, who were, this veryday, to assemble in one of the smaller theatres ofthe city. Every one that knew him, knew too that"suitable" with him meant as much as to sayimperial splendor.The ship-builder's daughter had prepared Arsinoefor grand doings, but by the time she had reachedthe entrance only of the theatre her expectationswere exceeded, for as soon as she gave herfather's name and her own, a boy, who looked outfrom an arbor of flowers gave her a magnificentbunch of flowers, and another, who sat perched ona dolphin, handed her, as a ticket of admission, afinely-cut ornament of ivory mounted in gold, with apin, by which the invited owner was intended to fixit like a brooch in her peplum; and at eachentrance to the theatre, the ladies, as they camein, had a similar present made them.The passage leading to the auditorium was full ofperfume, and Arsinoe, who had already visited thistheatre two or three times, hardly recognized it, it
was so gaily decorated with colored scarfs. Andwho had ever seen ladies and young girls filling thebest places instead of men, as was the case to-day? Indeed the citizens' daughters were ingeneral not permitted to see a theatricalperformance at all, unless on very special andexceptional occasions. She looked up with a smileat the empty topmost rows of the cheapest seatsof the semicircular auditorium, as one looks at anold playfellow one had outgrown by a head, for itwas there—when she had occasionally beenpermitted to dip into their scanty common purse—that she had almost fainted many a time, withpleasure, fear, or sympathy, though the draught sohigh up and under the open heaven which was theonly roof, was incessantly blowing; and in summerthe discomforts were even greater from the awningwhich shaded the amphitheatre on the sunny side.The wide breadths of canvas were managed bymeans of stout ropes, and when these were pulledthrough the rings they rode in, they made ascreech which compelled the bearer to stop hisears; and often it was necessary to duck his headnot to be hit by the heavy ropes or by the awningitself. But Arsinoe only remembered these thingsto-day as a butterfly sporting in the sun mayremember the hideous pupa-case that it has burstand left behind it.Radiant with happy excitement, she was led to herseat with her young companion, the black-haireddaughter of the shipwright. She perceived indeedthat numerous eyes turned upon her, but that onlyadded to her pleasure, for she knew that she could
well bear looking at, and there could be no greaterpleasure, as she thought, than to give pleasure toa multitude.To-day at any rate! For those who were looking ather were the chief citizens of Alexandria; theystood on the stage, and among them stood kindtall Pollux, waving his hand to her. She could notkeep her feet quiet, but she did contrive to keepher arms still by crossing them in front of her, sothat they might not betray how excited she was.This distribution of parts had already begun, for, bywaiting for Selene, she had come in almost half anhour too late. As soon as she saw that the eyesthat had been attracted to herself as she enteredthe theatre had turned to other objects she herselflooked round her. She was sitting on a bench atthe lowest and narrowest end of one of the wedge-shaped sections of seats, which grew wider at theupper end, and which were divided from each otherby gangways for those who came and went, thusforming the semicircular area of the auditorium.Here she was surrounded only by young girls andwomen who were to have a part or place in theperformances. The places for these interestedpersons were divided from the stage by a spacefor the orchestra, whence the stage was easilyreached by steps up which the chorus were wontto mount to it.Behind Arsinoe, in the larger circular rows, sat theparents and husbands of the performers, among
whom Keraunus, in his saffron robe, had taken aplace, besides a considerable number of sight-loving matrons and older citizens who hadaccepted Plutarch's invitation.Among the young women and girls Arsinoe sawseveral whose beauty struck her, but she admiredthem ungrudgingly, and it never came into herhead to compare herself with them, for she knewvery accurately that she was pretty, and that evenhere she had nothing to conceal, and this wasenough for her.The many-voiced hum which incessantly buzzed inher ears, and the perfume which rose from theattar in the orchestra had something intoxicating inthem. Her gaze round the assembled multitudecould not disturb any one, and her companion hadfound some friends with whom she was chatteringand laughing. Other ladies and young girls satstaring silently in front of them, or studying theappearance of the rest of the audience, male andfemale; while others again concentrated their wholeattention on the stage. Arsinoe soon followed thisexample, nor was this solely on account of Polluxwho, by the prefect's orders, had been enlistedamong the artists to whom the arrangement of thedisplay was entrusted, in spite of the objections ofhis master Papias. More than once before had sheseen the afternoon sun shine as brightly into thetheatre as it did to-day, and the blue skyoverarching it without a cloud, but with whatdifferent feelings did she now direct her gaze to theraised level behind the orchestra. The background,
it is true, was the same as usual, the pillared frontof a palace built entirely of colored marbles, andornamented with gold; but on this occasion freshgarlands of fragrant flowers hung gracefullybetween the pilasters and across from column tocolumn. Several artists, the first of the city, withtablets and styla in their hands were moving aboutamong fifty girls and ladies, and Plutarch himself,and the gentlemen with him, composed, as it werea grand chorus which sometimes divided, andsometimes stood all together.On the right side of the stage were three purple-covered couches. On one of them sat Titianus, theprefect, who, like the artists, used his pencil; withhim was his wife Julia. On another reclined Verus,at full length, and as usual, crowned with roses; thethird was for Plutarch, but was unoccupied. Thepraetor did not hesitate to interrupt any speaker,as though he were the host of the entertainment,and many of his remarks were followed by loudapplause, or approving laughter.The face and figure of the wealthy Plutarch, whichcould never be forgotten, were not altogetherstrange to Arsinoe, for, a few days previously hehad shown himself for the first time in many yearsin his papyrus factory, with an architect to settlewith him how the courts and rooms could best becleaned and decorated for the reception of theEmperor; and on this occasion he had gone intothe room where she worked and had pinched hercheek with a few roguish and flattering words.
There he was, walking across the stage. He wasan old man, said to be about seventy years of age,his legs were half-paralyzed, and they neverthelessmoved with a series of incessant and rapid butunvoluntary jerks under his heavy bowed body, andhe was supported on either hand by a tall youngfellow. His nobly-formed head, must have been inhis youth, of extraordinary beauty. Now his headwas covered by a wig of long brown hair, hiseyebrows and lashes were darkly dyed, his cheeksdaubed with red and white paint, which gave hiscountenance a fixed expression, as if he had beenstricken in the very act of smiling. On his curls hewore a wreath of rare flowers in long racemes. Anabundance of red and white roses stuck out fromthe front folds of his ample toga, and were held intheir place by gold brooches, sparkling withprecious stones of large size. The hems of hismantle were all edged with rose-buds, and eachwas fastened in with an emerald that shone likesome bright insect. The young men who supportedhim seemed like a portion of himself; he took nomore heed of them than if they had been crutches,and they needed not command to tell them wherehe wished to go, where to stand still, and where torest.At a distance his face was like that of a youth, butseen close it looked like a painted plaster mask,with regular features and large movable eyes.Favorinus, the sophist, had said of him that onemight cry over his handsome locomotive corpse, ifone were not obliged to laugh at it, and it was said
that he had himself declared that he would forcehis faithless youth to remain with him. TheAlexandrians called him the Adonis with six legs, onaccount of the lads who supported him, andwithout whom no one ever saw him and whoalways accompanied him when he went out. Thefirst time he heard this nickname he remarked:"They had better have called me sixhanded;" andin fact he had a thoroughly good heart, he wasliberal and benevolent, took fatherly care of hiswork- people, treated his slaves well, enrichedthose whom he set free, and from time to timedistributed large sums among the people in moneyand in grain.Arsinoe looked compassionately on the poor oldman who could not buy back his youth with all hismoney and all his art.In the supercilious man who at once came up toPlutarch she recognized the art-dealer Gabinius towhom her father had shown the door, on accountof the mosaic picture in their sitting-room, but theirconversation was interrupted, for the distribution ofthe women's part for the group of Alexander'sentry into Babylon, was now about to take place;about fifty girls and young women were sent awayfrom the stage and went down into the orchestra.The Exegetes, the highest official in the town, nowcame forward and took a new list out of the handof Papias the sculptor. After rapidly casting an eyeon this, he handed it to a herald who followed him,who proclaimed to all the assembly:
"In the name of the most noble Exegetes I requestyour attention, all you ladies here assembled, thewives and daughters of Macedonians and ofRoman citizens. We now come to a distribution ofthe characters in our representation of the life andhistory of the great Macedonian, of the 'Marriageof Alexander and Roxana,' and I hereby requestthose among you to come upon the stage whomour artists have selected to take part in this scenein the procession." After this exordium he shoutedin a deep and resonant voice a long list of names,and while this was going on every other sound washushed in the wide amphitheatre.Even on the stage all was still; only Veruswhispered a few remarks to Titianus, and thecuriosity-dealer spoke into Plutarch's ear, longsentences with the stringent emphasis which waspeculiar to him; and the old man answeredsometimes with an assenting nod, and sometimeswith a deprecatory motion of his hands.Arsinoe listened with suspended breath to theherald's proclamation; she started and colored allover, with her eyes fixed on the bunch of flowers inher hand, when she heard from the stage loudlyuttered and plain to be heard by all present:"Arsinoe, the second daughter of Keraunus, theMacedonian and a Roman citizen."The ship-builder's daughter had already beencalled before her, and had immediately left herseat, but Arsinoe waited modestly till some older