At the third hour after sunrise a distinguished assemblage of people gathered at the landing place east of the Temple of Poseidon in the great harbour of Alexandria.
Its members belonged to the upper classes, for many had come in carriages and litters, and numerous pedestrians were accompanied by slaves bearing in delicately woven baskets and cornucopias a laurel wreath, a papyrus crown, or bright-hued flowers.
The most aristocratic among the gentlemen had gathered on the western side of the great sanctuary, between the cella and the long row of Doric columns which supported the roof of the marble temple.
The Macedonian Council of the city was already represented by several of its members. Among their number was Archias, Daphne’s father, a man of middle height and comfortable portliness, from whose well-formed, beardless face looked forth a pair of shrewd eyes, and whose quick movements revealed the slight irritability of his temperament.
Several members of the Council and wealthy merchants surrounded him, while the grammateus Proclus first talked animatedlv with other government officials and representatives of the priesthood, and then with Archias. The head of the Museum, who bore the title of “high priest,” had also appeared there with several members of this famous centre of the intellectual life of the capital. They shared the shade of this part of the temple with distinguished masters of sculpture and painting, architecture and poetry, and conversed together with the graceful animation of Greeks endowed with great intellectual gifts.
Among them mingled, distinguishable neither by costume nor language, a number of prominent patrons of art in the great Jewish community. Their principal, the alabarch, was talking eagerly with the philosopher Hegesias and the Rhodian leech Chrysippus; Queen Arsinoe’s favourite, whom at Althea’s instigation she had sent with Proclus to receive the returning traveller.
Sometimes all gazed toward the mouth of the harbour, where the expected ship must soon pass the recently completed masterpiece of Sostratus, the towering lighthouse, still shining in its marble purity.
Soon many Alexandrians also crowded the large platform in front of the Temple of Poseidon, and the very wide marble staircase leading from it to the landing place.
Beneath the bronze statues of the Dioscuri, at the right and left of the topmost step, had also gathered the magnificent figures of the Phebi and the younger men from the wrestling school of Timagetes, with garlands on their curling locks, as well as many younger artists and pupils of the older masters.
The statues of the gods and goddesses of the sea and their lofty pedestals, standing at the sides of the staircase, cast upon the marble steps, gleaming in the radiance of the morning sun, narrow shadows, which attracted the male and female chorus singers, who, also wearing beautiful garlands, had come to greet the expected arrival with solemn chants.