Serapis — Volume 06
91 Pages
English
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Serapis — Volume 06

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91 Pages
English

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The Project Gutenberg EBook Serapis, by Georg Ebers, Volume 6. #67 in our series by Georg EbersCopyright laws are changing all over the world. Be sure to check the copyright laws for your country before downloadingor redistributing this or any other Project Gutenberg eBook.This header should be the first thing seen when viewing this Project Gutenberg file. Please do not remove it. Do notchange or edit the header without written permission.Please read the "legal small print," and other information about the eBook and Project Gutenberg at the bottom of thisfile. Included is important information about your specific rights and restrictions in how the file may be used. You can alsofind out about how to make a donation to Project Gutenberg, and how to get involved.**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: Serapis, Volume 6.Author: Georg EbersRelease Date: April, 2004 [EBook #5506] [Yes, we are more than one year ahead of schedule] [This file was first postedon June 5, 2002]Edition: 10Language: English*** START OF THE PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK SERAPIS, BY GEORG EBERS, V6 ***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'sideas before making an entire meal of them. D.W ...

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The Project Gutenberg EBook Serapis, by GeorgEbers, Volume 6. #67 in our series by Georg 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: Serapis, Volume 6.
Author: Georg EbersRelease Date: April, 2004 [EBook #5506] [Yes, weare more than one year ahead of schedule] [Thisfile was first posted on June 5, 2002]Edition: 10Language: English *** STARTOF THE PROJECT GUTENBERGEBOOK SERAPIS, BY GEORG EBERS, V6 ***This eBook was produced by David Widger<widger@cecomet.net>[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.]SERAPIS
By Georg EbersVolume 6.CHAPTER XXV.The spacious Hippodrome was filled with somethousands of spectators. At first many rows ofseats had been left vacant, though usually on theeve of the great races, the people would set outsoon after midnight and every place would be filledlong before the games began; indeed the uppertiers of the tribune, which were built of wood andwere free to all comers, with standing-room behind,were commonly so crowded early in the morningthat the crush ended in a free fight.On this occasion, the storm of the previous night,the anxiety caused by the conflict round theSerapeum, and the prevalent panic as to theapproaching end of the world, kept great numbersaway from their favorite diversion; but when thesky recovered its radiant blue, and when it becameknown that the statue of Serapis had escapeduninjured in the siege of his sanctuary—whenCynegius, the Imperial legate, and Evagrius, thecity-prefect, had entered the theatre with muchpomp, followed by several senators and ladies andgentlemen of rank-Christians, Heathen, and Jews—the most timid took courage; the games had
been postponed for an hour, and before the firstteam was led into the arched shed whence thechariots started, the seats, though less denselypacked than usual, were amply filled.The number of chariots entered for competitionwas by no means smaller than on formeroccasions, for the heathen had strained everynerve to show their fellow-citizens of differentcreeds, and especially Caesar's representative,that, in spite of persecution and in defiance ofImperial edicts, they were still a power worthy ofconsideration. The Christians, on their part, didtheir utmost to outdo the idolaters on the sameground where, not long since, they had held quitethe second place.The Bishop's epigram: That Christianity hadceased to be the religion of the poor, was amplyconfirmed; the greater proportion of the places forsenators, officials and rich citizens were occupiedby its adherents, and the men and women whoprofessed the Faith were by no means behind theirheathen peers in magnificence of dress and jewels.The horses, too, entered by the Christians couldnot fail to please the connoisseur, as theypunctually made their appearance behind thestarting-place, though he might have felt moreconfidence—and not without reason—in theheathen steeds, and more particularly in theirdrivers, each of whom had won on an average nineraces out of ten.
The horses in the quadriga with which Marcus, theson of Mary, made his appearance in the arenahad never before been driven in the Hippodrome.Demetrius, the owner's brother, had bred andtrained them—four magnificent black Arabs—andthey excited much interest among the knowingjudges who were wont to collect and lounge about'the oppidum', as it was called, behind the'carceres'—[The covered sheds or stalls in whichthe horses were brought to wait for the start.]—toinspect the racers, predict the winner, offer counselto the drivers, and make bets. These perfectcreatures were perhaps as fine as the famousteam of golden bays belonging to Iphicrates, whichso often had proved victorious; but the agitatores,or drivers, attracted even more interest than thehorses. Marcus, though he knew how to handle thereins—he had already been seen in experimentalraces—could hardly hold his own against Hippias,the handsome young heathen, who, like most ofthe drivers in the arena, was an agitator byprofession. A story was told of his having drivenover a bridge which was not quite as wide as theoutside edges of his chariot- wheels; and therewere many witnesses to the feat he had performedof writing his mistress' name with his chariot-tracksin the sand of the Hippodrome.The betting was freest and the wagers highest onHippias and the team belonging to Iphicrates.Some few backed Marcus and his Arabs, but forsmaller sums; and when they compared the tall butnarrow-shouldered figure of the young Christianwith the heroic breadth of Hippias' frame, and his
delicate features, dreamy blue eyes and downyblack moustache with the powerful Hermes-head ofhis rival, they were anxious about their money. Ifhis brother now, the farmer Demetrius—who wasstanding by the horses' heads—or some well-known agitator had held the reins, it would havebeen a pleasure and a profit to back such horses.Marcus had been abroad, too, and men shruggedtheir shoulders over that, for it was not till the lastfew days that he had been seen exercising hishorses in the Hippodrome.Time was going on, and the Imperial envoy, whohad been elected to preside as judge, at lengthtook his place; Demetrius whispered a few lastwords of advice to his brother and went back intothe arena. He had secured a good place on thestone podium and on the shady side, though therewere several seats vacant among those belongingto his family; but he did not care to occupy one ofthese, preferring to keep out of the way of his step-mother, who had made her appearance with asenator and his wife to whom she was related. Hehad not seen her for two days; his promise toKarnis that he would try to find Dada, had kept himfully occupied, and he had done his best in allearnest to discover the girl.The honest indignation with which this youngcreature had refused his splendid offers, in spite ofthe modest circumstances of her life, had rousedhis respect, and he had felt it an insult to himselfand to his brother when Gorgo had spoken of herwith contempt. For his part, he had never met with
any one more fascinating; he could not ceasedreaming of her, and the thought that she might beswallowed up in the foul mire of a great city madehim miserable. His brother had the first claim onher and he would not dispute it; while he hadsought her unweariedly in every resort of theyoung and gay—nay even in Canopus—he hadonly meant to place her in safety, as a treasurewhich runs a risk of being lost to the family,though, when at last its possession is secured, itbecomes the property of the member who canprove the best right of ownership. But all his effortshad been in vain; and it was in an unhappy moodthat he went at last to the Hippodrome. There thebitter hostility and party- feeling which he hadeverywhere observed during his present visit to hisnative city, were not less conspicuous than theyhad been in the streets. The competing chariotsusually arrived at the amphitheatre in grandprocession, but this had not been thoughtadvisable in the prevailing excitement; they haddriven into the oppidum singly and without anydisplay; and the images of the gods, which informer days had always been placed on the spinabefore the games began, had long since fallen intodisuse.[The spina was the division down the middleof the arena. At each end of it were placedthe metae or goals, at a distance from it ofabout 13 feet. The spina was originallyconstructed of wood, subsequently it was ofstone, and its height was generally about 29feet. The spina in the Circus of Caracalla
was more than 900 feet long.]All this was vexatious to Demetrius, and when hehad taken his seat it was in no pleasant temperthat he looked round at the ranks of spectators.His step-mother was sitting on the stuffed benchcovered with lion-skins which was reserved for thefamily. Her tunic and skirt displayed the color blueof the Christian charioteer, being made of brightblue and silver brocade of a beautiful pattern inwhich the cross, the fish, and the olive-branchwere elegantly combined. Her black hair wasclosely and simply smoothed over her temples andshe wore no garland, but a string of large greypearls, from which hung a chaplet of sapphires andopals, lying on her forehead. A veil fell over theback of her head and she sat gazing into her lap asif she were absorbed in prayer; her hands werefolded and held a cross. This placid and demureattitude she deemed becoming to a Christianmatron and widow. Everyone might see that shehad not come for worldly pleasure, but merely tobe present at a triumph of her fellow-Christians—and especially her son—over the idolaters.Everything about her bore witness to the Faith,even the pattern on her dress and the shape of herornaments; down to the embroidery on her silkgloves, in which a cross and an anchor were sodesigned as to form a Greek X, the initial letter ofthe name of Christ. Her ambition was to appearsimple and superior to all worldly vanities; still, allshe wore must be rich and costly, for she was hereto do honor to her creed. She would have regarded
it as a heathen abomination to wear wreaths offresh and fragrant flowers, though for the moneywhich that string of pearls had cost she might havedecked the circus with garlands from end to end,or have fed a hundred poor for a twelvemonth. Itseems so much easier to cheat the omniscientCreator of the Universe than our fellow-fools!So Dame Maria sat there in sour and virtuousdignity, looking like the Virgin Mary as painters andsculptors were at that time wont to represent her;and her farmer-son shuddered whenever his eyefell on his step- mother. It did him good, bycontrast, to hear a hearty peal of laughter thatcame up from the lowest ranks of the podium.When he had discovered the spot from whence itproceeded he could hardly believe his eyes, forthere sat the long-sought Dada, between an oldman and a young woman, laughing as thoughsomething had just occurred to amuse herextremely. Demetrius stretched his limbs with afeeling of relief and satisfaction; then he rose, andseeing his city agent seated just behind the girl, hebegged him to change places with him, as hethought it advisable not to lose sight of the gamenow it was caught; the old man was very ready tooblige him and went up to the other seat with ameaning smile.For the first time since she could recollect anythingDada had spent a sleepless night. Whether thewind and thunder would have sufficed to keep herawake who can tell; but the thoughts that hadwhirled through her brain had been varied and
exciting enough to rob her of sleep. Her ownpeople who were fighting for Serapis—how werethey faring; and Agne —what had become of her?Then her mind turned to the church, and theworthy old priest's sermon; to the races that shewas to see—and the face and figure of thehandsome young Christian rose vividly andirresistibly before her fancy. Of course—of course,she wished his horses to win; but it was strangeenough that she, Karnis' niece, should be on theside of the Christians. Stranger still that she hadentirely ceased to believe in all the abuse which,from her earliest childhood, she had heard heapedon the followers of the crucified Jew. It could onlybe that Karnis had never been able to forgive themfor having ruined his theatre at Tauromenium, andso, perhaps, had never known them thoroughly.She had enjoyed many a happy hour at thefestivals of the old gods; and they were no doubtbeautiful and festive divinities, or terrible when theywere wroth; still, in the depths of her soul there hadfor some time lurked a vague, sweet longing whichfound no fulfilment in any heathen temple. Sheknew no name for it and would have found it hardto describe, but in the church, listening to theprayers and hymns and the old deacon'sdiscourse, it had for the first time been stilled; shehad felt then and there that, helpless and simple asshe was, and even if she were to remain partedfrom her foster parents, she need never feelabandoned, but could rest and hope in a supreme,loving, and helpful power. And indeed she neededsuch a protector; she was so easily beguiled.