Cleopatra — Complete eBook

Georg Ebers
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 416 pages of information about Cleopatra Complete.

CHAPTER XXII.

Dion, too, witnessed the departure of the troops.  Gorgias, whom he had found among the Ephebi, accompanied him and, like the Queen, they saw, in the cautious manner with which the army greeted the general, a bad omen for the result of the battle.  The architect had presented Dion to the youths as the ghost of a dead man, who, as soon as he was asked whence he came or whither he was going, would be compelled to vanish in the form of a fly.  He could venture to do this; he knew the Ephebi—­there was no traitor in their ranks.

Dion, the former head of the society, had been welcomed like a beloved brother risen from the dead, and he had the gratification, after so long a time, of turning the scale as speaker in a debate.  True, he had encountered very little opposition, for the resolve to hold aloof from the battle against the Romans had been urged upon the Ephebi by the Queen herself through Antyllus, who, however, had already left the meeting when Dion joined it.  It had seemed to Cleopatra a crime to claim the blood of the noblest sons of the city for a cause which she herself deemed lost.  She knew the parents of many, and feared that Octavianus would inflict a terrible punishment upon them if, not being enrolled in the army, they fell into his power with arms in their hands.

The stars were already setting when the Ephebi accompanied their friend, singing in chorus the Hymenaeus, which they had been unable to chant on his wedding day.  The melody of lutes accompanied the voices, and this nocturnal music was the source of the rumour that the god Dionysus, to whom Mark Antony felt specially akin, and in whose form he had so often appeared to the people, had abandoned him amid songs and music.

The youths left Dion in front of the Temple of Isis.  Gorgias alone remained with him.  The architect led his friend to the Queen’s mausoleum near the sanctuary, where men were toiling busily by torchlight.  Alight scaffolding still surrounded it, but the lofty first story, containing the real tomb, was completed, and Dion admired the art with which the exterior of the edifice suggested its purpose.  Huge blocks of dark-grey granite formed the walls.  The broad front-solemn, almost gloomy in aspect-rose, sloping slightly, above the massive lofty door, surmounted by a moulding bearing the winged disk of the sun.  On either side were niches containing statues of Antony and Cleopatra cast in dark bronze, and above the cornice were brazen figures of Love and Death, Fame and Silence, ennobling the Egyptian forms with exquisite works of Hellenic art.

The massive door, adorned with brass figures in relief, would have resisted a battering-ram.  On the side of the steps leading to it lay Sphinxes of dark-green diorite.  Everything connected with this building, dedicated to death, was grave and massive, suggesting by its indestructibility the idea of eternity.

Copyrights
Project Gutenberg
Cleopatra — Complete from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
Follow Us on Facebook