SCENE FROM "THE LAST DAYS OF
Arranged by Marguerite W. Morton
an Athenian, has been adjudged guilty of the
murder of Apæcides, a priest of Isis, and doomed to the
arena, where criminals were condemned to fight with wild
beasts. The crime was really committed by Arbaces, the
Egyptian. The only eye-witness of the deed was a priest,
Calenus, whom Arbaces incarcerated in a secret dungeon,
leaving him, as he thought, to die of starvation. Accident
led to his discovery by Nydia, and he was rescued by
Sallust, a friend of Glaucus.
While awaiting his doom Glaucus was confined
in a gloomy cell with a Christian, Olinthus, who was also
under sentence of death. The applauses of the amphitheatre,
as victim after victim fell in desperate conflict before the
eyes of the blood-thirsty crowd, came faintly to their ears.
hearest thou that shout?" said Olinthus.
"They are growling over their human blood!"
my heart grows sick;
(6) but the
gods support me!
thou hear them drag yon heavy body through the passage?
Such as that clay will be ours, soon."
The doors swung gratingly back the gleam of
spears shot along the walls.
the Athenian, thy time has come," said a loud voice. "The lion
ready," said the Athenian.
"Brother and co-mate
Worthy officer, I attend you."
When Glaucus came forth into the air, its hot
breath smote witheringly upon him. His frame shrank and
"Courage!" said the officer who supported
him. "Thou art young, active, well-knit. They give thee a
weapon! Despair not and thou may'st yet conquer."
They placed a stilus in his hand and led him
into the arena. And now, when the Greek saw the eyes of
thousands and tens of thousands upon him, he no longer felt
that he was mortal. All fear was gone. A haughty flush
spread over his features. He towered aloft to the full of
his glorious stature. He seemed the very incarnation of the
valor of his land, of the divinity of its worship at once a
hero and a god. The murmur of hatred and horror which had
greeted his entrance died into the silence of involuntary respect.
The gaze of the spectators turned from the
Athenian (14) to
a dark, uncouth object in the centre of the arena. It was
the grated den of the lion. Slowly the editor gave the
sign. The keeper cautiously removed the grating and the
lion sprang forth with a mighty roar.
with his shining weapon raised on high, awaited the expected rush
the astonishment of all, the lion seemed not even aware of the
presence of the criminal. At half speed it circled round and
round the space, turning its head from side to side as if seeking
only some avenue of escape, and its eye, though it wandered at
times to Glaucus, rolled listlessly from him again. At length it
crept with a moan into its cage.
The editor called to the keeper:
"How is this? Take the goad! prick him
forth, and then close the door of the cage!"
As the keeper was preparing to obey,
loud cry was heard at one of the entrances of the arena.
There was a confusion the crowd gave away, and suddenly
Sallust appeared on the senatorial benches.
the Athenian!" he cried. "Haste he is innocent! Arrest
Arbaces, the Egyptian. He is the murderer of Apæcides!"
thou mad, Sallust?" cried the prætor. "What means this
the Athenian! Quick! or his blood be on your head. Prætor,
delay, and you answer with your life to the Emperor! I bring with
me the eye-witness to the death of the priest Apæcides.
there stand back! give way!
of Pompeii, fix every eye upon Arbaces.
(23)There he sits!
there for the priest Calenus!"
Pale, haggard, fresh from the jaws of famine
and of death, Calenus was supported into the very row in
which Arbaces sat.
priest Calenus! Calenus!" cried the mob. "Is it he?
it is a dead man!"
"It is the priest Calenus," said the prætor,
hast thou to say?"
of Egypt is the murderer of Apæcides, the priest of Isis.
These eyes saw him deal the blow. It is from the dungeon into
which he plunged me it
is from the darkness and horror of a death by famine that the
gods have raised me to proclaim his crime! Release the
Athenian he is innocent!"
for this, then, that the lion spared him a miracle! a miracle!"
"A miracle! a miracle!" shouted the people.
"Remove the Athenian!
to the lion!" And that shout echoed from hill to vale, from coast
to the lion!"
remove the accused Glaucus remove, but guard him yet," said
gods lavish their wonders upon this day!
Calenus, priest of Isis, thou accusest Arbaces of the
murder of Apæcides?"
"Thou didst behold the deed?"
"Prætor, with these eyes "
"Enough, at present.
of Egypt, thou hearest the charge against thee thou hast not yet
spoken what hast thou to say?"
this charge is so mad that it scarcely deserves reply. My first
accuser is the noble Sallust, the most intimate friend of Glaucus!
My second is a priest. I revere his garb and calling but,
Pompeii, ye know somewhat of the character of Calenus.
witness of such men is to be bought!
I am innocent."
said the magistrate, "where found you Calenus?"
"In the dungeons of Arbaces."
"Egyptian," said the prætor, frowning, "thou
didst then dare to imprison a priest of the gods? and
me!" said Arbaces. "This man came to threaten that he would
make against me the charge he has now made unless I would
purchase his silence with half my fortune. Noble prætor,
O people, I was a stranger in the land. I knew myself innocent
of the charge, yet the witness of a priest against me might
destroy me. I may have erred but who among you will not
acknowledge the equity of self-preservation? For the rest,
I throw myself on your laws. I demand their protection. I
will willingly appear before the legitimate tribunal and cheerfully
abide by its decision. This is no place for further parley."
"He says right," said the prætor. "Ho!
guards, remove Arbaces guard Calenus! Sallust, we hold you
responsible for your accusation.
sports be resumed!"
cried Calenus, turning round to the people. "Shall Isis be thus
contemned? Shall the blood of Apæcides yet cry for
vengeance? Shall justice be delayed now that it may be
a god! I feel the god rush to my lips! To the lion to the lion
His exhausted frame could support no more.
He sank to the ground in strong convulsions. The people saw
a god that inspires the holy man? To the lion with the Egyptian!
Arbaces to the lion!"
that cry up sprang on moved thousands upon thousands!
They rushed from the heights they poured down in the
direction of the Egyptian. In vain did the ædile
command in vain did the prætor lift his voice and proclaim
the law. His power was as a reed beneath the whirlwind.
despair and terror which beat down even pride, Arbaces
glanced over the rolling, rushing crowd when, right above
them, through the wide chasm which had been left in the
velaria, he beheld a strange and awful apparition he beheld,
and his craft restored his courage.
he shouted. "Behold how the gods protect the guiltless!
of the avenging Orcus burst forth against the false witness
of my accusers."
eyes of the crowd followed the gesture of the Egyptian, and
beheld, with ineffable dismay, a vast vapor shooting from the
summit of Vesuvius in the form of a gigantic pine-tree the
trunk, blackness, the branches, fire.
was a dead, heart-sunken silence, through which there
suddenly broke the fierce roar of the lions. Dread seers were
they of the burden of the atmosphere and wild prophets of the
wrath to come.
longer thought the crowd of justice or of Arbaces.
felt the earth shake beneath their feet;
(57)the walls of
the theatre trembled;
in the distance, they heard the crash of falling roofs. An instant
more, and the mountain-cloud
toward them, dark and rapid like a torrent. Over the crushing
vines, over the desolate streets, over the amphitheatre itself,
fell that awful shower.
larger and mightier spread the cloud above them. Then,
groans and oaths and prayers and sudden shrieks,
in that ghastly night.
introductory paragraph should be spoken rather slowly,
with careful attention to grouping and emphasis, especial
prominence being given to those points upon which the
understanding of the following scene depends.
left hand a little above the middle plane, listening attitude.
<== Back (3)
Turn head toward right, as if looking at Glaucus, sustaining
gesture of left hand. <== Back
(4) Bring left hand slowly down to
(5) Speak to
left, head bowed.<== Back
(6) Raise head slowly, looking
upward with expression of manly resolution.
(7) Give gesture with right hand
prone, to right. Turn face to left, addressing Olinthus.
(8) Speak a
little to left.<== Back
(9) Speak to
right. <== Back
(10) Turn to left.
(11) Extend both hands.
<== Back (12)
Bow the head. <== Back
(13) Speak to right, inclining
the head slightly.<== Back
of indication with right hand, forward.
Right arm raised above head, with hand closed as if
holding the weapon, weight on left foot retired, left arm
down and back in opposition to right, hand closed, arm
tense. Sustain attitude until (16).
back on left foot, giving gesture of indication back and to
left with left hand.<== Back
weight forward on right foot. Give gesture with right hand,
palm up, middle plane, forward. Repeat gesture on "Haste!"
Point forward to right on "Arrest Arbaces."
to right.<== Back
(20) Turn to
left. Give gesture of indication with hand forward.
(21) Step back on left foot,
and extend left arm, hand vertical, toward entrance
indicated in (17). <== Back
(22) Bringing left foot up in line
with right, turn first to right, then to left, at the same time
extending both arms, palms up, thus including the entire
assemblage in the address.<== Back
(23) Point to Arbaces
with right index finger. <== Back
(24) Turn to left. Give gesture of
command, left arm, palm up.<== Back
(25) Weight on
right foot, slightly advanced. Arms lifted a little from sides,
right forward, left backward, whole attitude suspensive; eyes
fixed upon Calenus. <== Back
(26) Draw back on left foot.
(27) Speak a little
to left. <== Back
(28) Voice partially
aspirated, utterance labored and broken. Breathe with upper
chest, in short inhalations. <== Back
(29) A slight groan or gasp may be
given here, as if the horror of his recent captivity overwhelms
This should be attempted only by those who are thoroughly
skilled in the use of such dramatic effects.
(30) Turning from
right to left, as if addressing those around him.
(32) Wave right hand.
toward audience. <== Back
(34) Aside, a little to right.
(35) Speak to right.
to left. <== Back
to right, addressing Arbaces. <== Back
(38) Speak to
left. The majestic poise of Arbaces does not desert him yet.
Speak slowly. A marked pause after "the noble Sallust" gives
additional effect to the implication contained in the next words.
(39) Turn toward right, letting the
eyes range over the assemblage.
(40) Give strong climax on "bought."
<== Back (41)
Pause, fold arms on chest, and turn to left, addressing the
prætor. Speak the words simply.
(42) Speak to
right, Sallust turning to left in replying.
gesture with left hand, palm down, on "Hear me." On "this
man" turn the head to right without the slightest movement
of the shoulders, as if indicating Calenus by a slightly
contemptuous glance, then look to left again.
(44) Appeal to people, both arms
extended, palms up. <== Back
forward, raising right arm in command.
with intense excitement, but with great effort. Arms extended
as if appealing to people. Emphatic ascending gesture with
right arm on vengeance. <== Back
(47) Arms extended, expression
rapt, eyes looking upward. <== Back
(48) At first the
people are awe-struck, but their excitement increases,
culminating on the words "Arbaces to the lion!"
(49) Rate rapid,
but pauses distinct. <== Back
The calmness of Arbaces momentarily forsakes him. He
glances rapidly, in terror, from right to left; then, as he
catches sight of the "strange and awful apparition" directly
before him his self-command returns.
(51) Speak with
full, ringing voice. Weight on left foot, retired. Give gesture
indication with right arm. <== Back
(52) Extend both arms toward the
These words, though merely descriptive in the narrative,
gain greatly in dramatic effect if uttered as a command
addressed by Arbaces to the "fires of the avenging Orcus,"
and such an interpretation is in perfect harmony with his
reputation for magical Power. <== Back
effectiveness of these closing paragraphs depends upon
perfect control of the voice and facial expression. In the
utterance of the word "fire" should be reflected the terror
naturally inspired by the sight. A slight pause before the word
intensifies the effect. <== Back
lower, entire expression suspensive. The paralysis of
sudden terror is upon the people. <==
slightly accelerated. The paralysis is removed, the excitement
is growing. <== Back
Descending gesture with both hands, palms down.
(57) Carry both hands up and out,
middle plane, palms vertical. <== Back
(58) Carry right
hand forward, bringing left hand down to side.
forward and upward, drawing back
in terror as "the mountain cloud rolled toward them."
gesture with both hands, palms vertical.
(61) Let the
utterance of the words "groans," "oaths," "prayers" and
"shrieks" suggest the meaning of the words. Hands clinched on
"oaths;" look up on "prayers." On "shrieks" step back on left
foot, right arm raised to ward off the impending destruction.
(62) Pause, and
then utter the closing words slowly and impressively