Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Daphne-Daughter of a God: Innocent Victim of Mischief and Lust

Daphne was Apollo's first love. It was not brought about by accident, but by the malice of Cupid. Apollo saw the boy playing with his bow and arrows; and being himself elated with his recent victory over Python, he said to him, "What have you to do with warlike weapons, saucy boy? Leave them for hands worthy of them. Behold the conquest I have won by means of them over the vast serpent who stretched his poisonous body over acres of the plain! Be content with your torch, child, and kindle up your flames, as you call them, where you will, but presume not to meddle with my weapons."

Venus's boy heard these words, and rejoined, ":Your arrows may strike all things else, Apollo, but mine shall strike you.:" So saying, he took his stand on a rock of Parnassus, and drew from his quiver two arrows of different workmanship, one to excite love, the other to repel it. The former was of gold and sharp-pointed, the latter blunt and tipped with lead. With the leaden shaft he struck the nymph Daphne, the daughter of the river god Peneus, and with the golden one Apollo, through the heart. Forthwith the god was seized with love for the maiden, and she abhorred the thought of loving. Her delight was in woodland sports and in the spoils of the chase. Many lovers sought her, but she spurned them all, ranging the woods, and taking thought neither of Cupid nor of Hymen. Her father often said to her, "Daughter, you owe me a son-in-law; you owe me grandchildren." She, hating the thought of marriage as a crime, with her beautiful face tinged all over with blushes, threw her arms around her father's neck, and said, "Dearest father, grant me this favor, that I may always remain unmarried, like Diana." He consented, but at the same time said, "Your own face will forbid it."

Apollo loved her, and longed to obtain her; and he who gives oracles to all in the world was not wise enough to look into his own fortunes. He saw her hair flung loose over her shoulders, and said, "If so charming in disorder, what would it be if arranged?" He saw her eyes bright as stars; he saw her lips, and was not satisfied with only seeing them. He admired her hands and arms bared to the shoulder, and whatever was hidden from view he imagined more beautiful still. He followed her; she fled, swifter than the wind, and delayed not a moment at his entreaties. "Stay," said he, "daughter of Peneus; I am not a foe. Do not fly me as a lamb flies the wolf, or a dove the hawk. It is for love I pursue you. You make me miserable, for fear you should fall and hurt yourself on these stones, and I should be the cause. Pray run slower, and I will follow slower. I am no clown, no rude peasant. Jupiter is my father, and I am lord of Delphos and Tenedos, and know all things, present and future. I am the god of song and the lyre. My arrows fly true to the mark; but alas! An arrow more fatal than mine has pierced my heart! I am the god of medicine, and know the virtues of all healing plants. Alas! I suffer a malady that no balm can cure!"

The nymph continued her flight, and left his plea half uttered. And even as she fled she charmed him. The wind blew her garments, and her unbound hair streamed loose behind her. The god grew impatient to find his wooings thrown away, and, sped by Cupid, gained upon her in the race. It was like a hound pursuing a hare, with open jaws ready to seize, while the feebler animal darts forward, slipping from the very grasp. So flew the god and the virgin he on the wings of love, and she on those of fear. The pursuer is the more rapid, however, and gains upon her, and his panting breath blows upon her hair. Now her strength begins to fail, and, ready to sink, she calls upon her father, the river god: "Help me, Peneus! Open the earth to enclose me, or change my form, which has brought me into this danger!"

Scarcely had she spoken, when a stiffness seized all her limbs; her bosom began to be enclosed in a tender bark; her hair became leaves; her arms became branches; her feet stuck fast in the ground, as roots; her face became a tree-top, retaining nothing of its former self but its beauty. Apollo stood amazed. He touched the stem, and felt the flesh tremble under the new bark. He embraced the branches, and lavished kisses on the wood. The branches shrank from his lips. "Since you cannot be my wife," said he, "you shall assuredly be my tree. I will wear you for my crown. With you I will decorate my harp and my quiver; and when the great Roman conquerors lead up the triumphal pomp to the Capitol, you shall be woven into wreaths for their brows. And, as eternal youth is mine, you also shall be always green, and your leaf know no decay."

The nymph, now changed into a laurel tree, bowed its head in grateful acknowledgment.

Compiled From Sources In The Public Domain.

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Smiles & Good Fortune,
It is not wealth one asks for, but just enough to preserve one’s dignity, to work unhampered, to be generous, frank and independent. W. Somerset Maugham (1874-1965) Of Human Bondage, 1915

Monday, May 28, 2012

Pyramus and Thisbe: The Ancient Babylonian Romeo and Juliet

Pyramus was the handsomest youth, and Thisbe the fairest maiden, in all Babylonia, where Semiramis reigned. Their parents occupied adjoining houses; and neighborhood brought the young people together, and acquaintance ripened into love. They would gladly have married, but their parents forbade. One thing, however, they could not forbid that love should glow with equal ardor in the bosoms of both. They conversed by signs and glances, and the fire burned more intensely for being covered up. In the wall that parted the two houses there was a crack, caused by some fault in the structure. No one had remarked it before, but the lovers discovered it. 'What will love not discover? It afforded a passage to the voice; and tender messages used to pass backward and forward through the gap. As they stood, Pyramus on this side, Thisbe on that, their breaths would mingle. "Cruel wall," they said, "why do you keep two lovers apart? But we will not be ungrateful. We owe you, we confess, the privilege of transmitting loving words to willing ears." Such words they uttered on different sides of the wall; and when night came and they must say farewell, they pressed their lips upon the wall, she on her side, he on his, as they could come no nearer.

One morning, when Aurora had put out the stars, and the sun had melted the frost from the grass, they met at the accustomed spot. Then, after lamenting their hard fate, they agreed that next night, when all was still, they would slip away from watchful eyes, leave their dwellings and walk out into the fields; and to insure a meeting, repair to a well-known edifice, standing without the city's bounds, called the tomb of Ninus, and that the one who came first should await the other at the foot of a certain tree. It was a white mulberry tree and stood near a cool spring. All was agreed on, and they waited impatiently for the sun to go down beneath the waters and night to rise up from them. Then cautiously Thisbe stole forth, unobserved by the family, her head covered with a veil, made her way to the monument and sat down under the tree. As she sat alone in the dim light of the evening she descried a lioness, her jaws reeking with recent slaughter, approaching the fountain to slake her thirst. Thisbe fled at the sight, and sought refuge in the hollow of a rock. As she fled she dropped her veil. The lioness, after drinking at the spring, turned to retreat to the woods, and seeing the veil on the ground, tossed and rent it with her bloody mouth.

Pyramus, having been delayed, now approached the place of meeting. He saw in the sand the footsteps of the lion, and the color fled from his cheeks at the sight. Presently he found the veil all rent and bloody. "Oh, hapless girl," said he, "I have been the cause of thy death! Thou, more worthy of life than I, hast fallen the first victim. I will follow. I am the guilty cause, in tempting thee forth to a place of such peril, and not being myself on the spot to guard thee. Come forth, ye lions, from the rocks, and tear this guilty body with your teeth" He took up the veil, carried it with him to the appointed tree, and covered it with kisses and with tears. "My blood also shall stain your texture," said he, and drawing his sword plunged it into his heart. The blood spurted from the wound, and tinged the white mulberries of the tree all red; and sinking into the earth reached the roots, so that the red color mounted through the trunk to the fruit.

By this time, Thisbe, still trembling with fear, yet wishing not to disappoint her lover, stepped cautiously forth, looking anxiously for the youth, eager to tell him the danger she had escaped. When she came to the spot and saw the changed color of the mulberries she doubted whether it was the same place. While she hesitated she saw the form of one struggling in the agonies of death. She started back, a shudder ran through her frame as a ripple on the face of the still water when a sudden breeze sweeps over it. But as soon as she recognized her lover, she screamed and beat her breast; embracing the lifeless body, pouring tears into its wounds, and imprinting kisses on the cold lips. "Oh, Pyramus," she cried, "what has done this? Answer me, Pyramus; it is your own Thisbe that speaks. Hear me, dearest, and lift that drooping head!" At the name of Thisbe, Pyramus opened his eyes, then closed them again. She saw her veil stained with blood and the scabbard empty of its sword. "Thy own hand has slain thee, and for my sake," she said. "I too can be brave for once, and my love is as strong as thine. I will follow thee in death, for I have been the cause; and death, which alone could part us, shall not prevent my joining thee. And ye, unhappy parents of us both, deny us not our united request. As love and death have joined us, let one tomb contain us. And thou, tree, retain the marks of slaughter. Let thy berries still serve for memorials of our blood." So saying, she plunged the sword into her breast. Her parents acceded to her wish; the gods also ratified it. The two bodies were buried in one sepulcher, and the tree ever after brought forth purple berries, as it does to this day.

Moore, in the Sylph's Ball, speaking of Davy's Safety Lamp, is reminded of the wall that separated Thisbe and her lover:--

  "O for that lamp's metallic gauze,
  That curtain of protecting wire,
  Which Davy delicately draws
  Around illicit, dangerous fire!

  "The wall he sets 'twixt Flame and Air,
  (Like that which barred young Thisbe's bliss),
  Through whose small holes this dangerous pair
  May see each other, but not kiss."

In Mickle's translation of the Lusiad occurs the following allusion to the story of Pyramus and Thisbe, and the metamorphosis of the mulberries.  The poet is describing the Island of Love.

  "here each gift Pomona's hand bestows
  In cultured garden, free uncultured flows,
  The flavor sweeter and the hue more fair
  Than e'er was fostered by the hand of care.
  The cherry here in shining crimson glows,
  And stained with lover's blood, in pendent rows,
  The mulberries o'erload the bending boughs."

If any of our readers can be so hard-hearted as to enjoy a laugh at the expense of poor Pyramus and Thisbe, they may find an opportunity by turning to Shakespeare's play of Midsummer Night's
Dream, where it is most amusingly burlesqued.

Here is the description of the play and the characters by the Prologue.

  "Gentles, perchance you wonder at this show;
  But wonder on, till truth makes all things plain.
  This man is Pyramus, if you would know;
  This lovely lady Thisby is certain.

  This man with lime and roughcast, doth present
  Wall, that vile Wall, which did these lovers sunder;
  And through Wall's chink, poor souls, they are content
  To whisper.  At the which let no man wonder.
  This man, with lanthorn, dog and bush of thorn,
  Presenteth Moonshine; for, if you will know,
  By Moonshine did these lovers think no scorn
  To meet at Ninus' tomb, there, there to woo.
  This grisly beast, which by name Lion hight.
  The trusty Thisby, coming first by night,
  Did scare away, or rather did affright;
  And, as she fled, her mantle she did fall,
  Which Lion vile with bloody mouth did stain.

  Anon comes Pyramus, sweet youth and tall,
  And finds his trusty Thisby's mantle slain;
  Whereat with blade, with bloody blameful blade,
  He bravely broached his boiling bloody breast;
  And, Thisby, tarrying in mulberry shade,
  His dagger drew and died."
  Midsummer Night's Dream,
  v.1,128, et seq

 Compiled From Sources In The Public Domain.

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Smiles & Good Fortune,
It is not wealth one asks for, but just enough to preserve one’s dignity, to work unhampered, to be generous, frank and independent. W. Somerset Maugham (1874-1965) Of Human Bondage, 1915

Friday, May 25, 2012

Boadicea: Warrior Queen and Heroine of Britain

Boadicea, Heroine of Britain

Prasutagus, the king of the Icenians, a tribe of the ancient Britons, had amassed much wealth in the course of a long reign. On his death, in order to secure the favor of the Romans, now masters of the island, he left half his wealth by will to the emperor and half to his two daughters. This well-judged action of the barbarian king did not have the intended effect. No sooner was he dead than the Romans in the vicinity claimed the whole estate as theirs, ruthlessly pillaged his house, and seized all his effects.

This base brigandage roused Boadicea, the widowed queen, to a vigorous protest, but with the sole result of bringing a worse calamity upon her head. She was seized and cruelly scourged by the ruthless Romans, her two daughters were vilely maltreated, and the noblest of the Icenians were robbed of their possessions by the plunderers, who went so far as to reduce to slavery the near relatives of the deceased king.

Roused to madness by this inhuman treatment, the Icenians broke into open revolt. They were joined by a neighboring state, while the surrounding Britons, not yet inured to bondage, secretly resolved to join the cause of liberty. There had lately been planted a colony of Roman veterans at Camalodunum (Colchester), who had treated the Britons cruelly, driven them from their houses, and insulted them with the names of slaves and captives; while the common soldiers, a licentious and greedy crew, still further degraded and robbed the owners of the land.

The invaders went too far for British endurance, and brought a terrible retribution upon themselves. Paulinus Suetonius, an able officer, who then commanded in Britain, was absent on an expedition to conquer the island of Mona. Of this expedition the historian Tacitus gives a vivid account. As the boats of the Romans approached the island they beheld on the shore the Britons prepared to receive them, while through their ranks rushed their women in funereal attire, their hair flying loose in the wind, flaming torches in their hands, and their whole appearance recalling the frantic rage of the fabled Furies. Near by, ranged in order, stood the venerable Druids, or Celtic priests, with uplifted hands, at once invoking the gods and pouring forth imprecations upon the foe.

The novelty and impressiveness of this spectacle filled the Romans with awe and wonder. They stood in stupid amazement, riveted to the spot, and a mark for the foe had they been then attacked. From this brief paralysis the voice of their general recalled them, and, ashamed of being held in awe by a troop of women and a band of fanatic priests, they rushed to the assault, cut down all before them, and set fire to the edifices and the sacred groves of the island with the torches which the Britons themselves had kindled.

But Suetonius had chosen a perilous time for this enterprise. During his absence the wrongs of the Icenians and the exhortations of Boadicea had roused a formidable revolt, and the undefended colonies of the Romans were in danger.

In addition to the actual peril the Romans were frightened with dire omens. The statue of victory at Camalodunum fell without any visible cause, and lay prostrate on the ground. Clamors in a foreign accent were heard in the Roman council chamber, the theaters were filled with the sound of savage howlings, the sea ran purple as with blood, the figures of human bodies were traced on the sands, and the image of a colony in ruins was reflected from the waters of the Thames.

These omens threw the Romans into despair and filled the minds of the Britons with joy. No effort was made by the soldiers for defense, no ditch was dug, no palisade erected, and the assault of the Britons found the colonists utterly unprepared. Taken by surprise, the Romans were overpowered, and the colony was laid waste with fire and sword. The fortified temple alone held out, but after a two days' siege it also was taken, and the legion which marched to its relief was cut to pieces.
Boadicea was now the leading spirit among the Britons. Her wrongs had stirred them to revolt, and her warlike energy led them to victory and revenge. But she was soon to have a master-spirit to meet. Suetonius, recalled from the island of Mona by tidings of rebellion and disaster, marched hastily as far as London, which was even then the chief residence of the merchants and the center of trade and commerce of the island.

His army was small, not more than ten thousand men in all. That of the Britons was large. The interests of the empire were greater than those of any city, and Suetonius found himself obliged to abandon London to the barbarians, despite the supplications of its imperiled citizens. All he would agree to was to take under his protection those who chose to follow his banner. Many followed him, but many remained, and no sooner had he marched out than the Britons fell in rage on the settlement, and killed all they found. In like manner they ravaged Verulamium (St. Albans). Seventy thousand Romans are said to have been put to the sword.

Meanwhile Suetonius marched through the land, and at length the two armies met. The skilled Roman general drew up his force in a place where a thick forest sheltered the rear and flanks, leaving only a narrow front open to attack. Here the Britons, twenty times his number, and confident of victory, approached. The warlike Boadicea, tall, stern of countenance, her hair hanging to her waist, a spear in her hand, drove along their front in a warlike car, with her two daughters by her side, and eloquently sought to rouse her countrymen to thirst for revenge.

Telling them of the base cruelty with which she and her daughters had been treated, and painting in vivid words the arrogance and insults of the Romans, she besought them to fight for their country and their homes. "On this spot we must either conquer or die with glory," she said. "There is no alternative. Though I am a woman, my resolution is fixed. The men, if they prefer, may survive with infamy and live in bondage. For me there is only victory or death."

Stirred to fury by her words, the British host poured like a deluge on their foes. But the Roman arms and discipline proved far too much for barbarian courage and ferocity. The British were repulsed, and, rushing forward in a wedge shape, the legions cut their way with frightful carnage through the disordered ranks. The cavalry seconded their efforts. Thousands fell. The rest took to flight. But the wagons of the British, which had been massed in the rear, impeded their flight, and a dreadful slaughter, in which neither sex nor age was spared, ensued. Tacitus tells us that eighty thousand Britons fell, while the Roman slain numbered no more than four hundred men.

Boadicea, who had done her utmost to rally her flying hosts, kept to her resolution. When all was lost, she took poison, and perished upon the field where she had vowed to seek victory or death. With her decease the success of the Britons vanished. Though they still kept the field, they gradually yielded to the Roman arms, and Britain became in time a quiet and peaceful part of the great empire of Rome.

 Compiled From Sources In The Public Domain.

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Smiles & Good Fortune,
It is not wealth one asks for, but just enough to preserve one’s dignity, to work unhampered, to be generous, frank and independent. W. Somerset Maugham (1874-1965) Of Human Bondage, 1915

Sunday, May 20, 2012

The Murder Of The Empress Julia Agrippina

The Murder Of The Empress Julia Agrippina: Mother of Nero The Mad

Nero was mad lord of Rome. Weak and immoral--a fortune of birth, and the schemes of his mother had granted him unlimited control of the greatest of nations. Utterly destitute of principle, he gradually descended into the deepest vice and profligacy, which was soon succeeded by the basest cruelty and treachery. And one of the first victims of his treachery was his own mother, who had murdered her husband, the Emperor Claudius, to place him on the throne, and had now committed the deeper fault of attempting to control her worthless and faithless son.

She had threatened to replace him on the throne with his half-brother Britannicus, and Nero had escaped this difficulty by poisoning Britannicus. She then opposed his vicious passions, and made a bitter foe of his mistress Poppæa, who by every artifice incensed the weak-minded emperor against his mother, representing her as the only obstacle to his full enjoyment of power and pleasure.
At length the detestable son was wrought up to the resolution of murdering her to whom he owed his life. But how? He was too cowardly and irresolute to take open means. Should he remove her by poison or the poignard? The first was doubtful. Agrippina was too practiced in guilt, too accustomed to vile deeds, to be easily deceived, and had, moreover, by taking poisons, hardened her frame against their effect. Nor could she be killed by the knife and the murder concealed. The murder-seeking wretch, who had no plan, and no stronger person than himself in whom he could confide, was at a loss how to carry out his wicked purpose.

At this juncture his tutor Anicetus came to his aid. This villain, who bitterly hated Agrippina, was now in command of the fleet that lay at Misenum. He proposed to Nero to have a vessel built in such a manner that it might give way in the open sea, and plunge to the bottom with all not prepared to escape. If Agrippina could be lured on board such a vessel, her drowning would seem one of the natural disasters of the open sea.

This suggestion filled with joy the mind of the unnatural son. The court was then at Baiæ, celebrating the festival called the Quinquatria. Agrippina was invited to attend, and Nero, pretending a desire for reconciliation, went to the sea-shore to meet her on her arrival, embraced her tenderly, and conducted her to a villa in a pleasant situation, looking out on a charming bay of the Mediterranean.

On the waters of the bay floated a number of vessels, among which was one superbly decorated, being prepared, as she was told, in her honor as the emperor's mother. This was intended to convey her to Baiæ, where a banquet was to be given to her that evening.

Agrippina was fond of sailing. She had frequently joined coasting parties and made pleasure trips of her own. But for some reason, perhaps through suspicion of Nero's dark project, she now took a carriage in preference, and arrived safely at Baiæ, much to the discomfiture of her worthless son.
Nero, however, was cunning enough to conceal his disappointment. He gave her the most gracious reception, placed her at table above himself, and by his affectionate attentions and his easy flow of talk succeeded in dispelling any suspicions his mother may have entertained.

The banquet was continued till a late hour, and when Agrippina rose to go Nero attended her to the shore, where lay the sumptuously decorated vessel ready to convey her back to her villa. Here he lavished upon her marks of fond affection, clasped her warmly to his bosom, and bade her adieu in words of tender regret, disguising his fell purpose under the utmost show of tenderness.

Agrippina went on board, attended by only two of her train, one of whom, a maid named Acerronia, lay at the foot of her mistress's couch, and gladly expressed her joy at the loving reconciliation which she had just perceived.

The night was calm and serene. The stars shone with their brightest luster. The sea extended with an unruffled surface. The vessel moved swiftly, at no great distance from the shore, under the regular sweep of the rowers' oars. Yet little way had been made when there came a disastrous change. A signal was given, and suddenly the deck over Agrippina's cabin sank in, borne down by a great weight of lead.

One of the attendants of the empress was crushed to death, but the posts of Agrippina's couch proved strong enough to bear the weight, and she and Acerronia escaped and made their way hastily to the deck. Here confusion and consternation reigned. The plot had failed. The vessel had not fallen to pieces at once, as intended. Those who were not in the plot rushed wildly to and fro, hampering, by their distracted movements, the operations of the guilty. These sought to sink the vessel at once, but in spite of their efforts the ship sank but slowly, giving the intended victims an opportunity to escape.
Acerronia, with instinctive devotion to her mistress, or a desire to save her own life, cried out that she was Agrippina, and pathetically implored the mariners to save her life. She won death instead. The assassins attacked her with oars and other weapons, and beat her down to the sinking deck.

Agrippina, on the contrary, kept silent, and, with the exception of a wound on her shoulder, remained unhurt. Dashing into the dark waters of the bay, she swam towards the shore, and managed to keep herself afloat till taken up by a boat, in which some persons who had witnessed the accident from the shore had hastily put out. Telling her rescuers who she was, they conveyed her up the bay to her villa.
Agrippina had been concerned in too many crimes of her own devising to be deceived. The treachery of her son was too evident. Without touching a rock, and in complete calm, the vessel had suddenly broken down, as if constructed for the purpose. Her own wound and the murder of her maid were further proofs of a premeditated plot. Yet she was too shrewd to make her suspicions public. The plot had failed, and she was still alive. She at once dispatched a messenger to her son, saying that by the favor of the gods and his good auspices she had escaped shipwreck, and that she thus hastened to quiet his affectionate fears. She then retired to her couch.

Meanwhile Nero waited impatiently for the news of his mother's death. When word was at length brought him that she had escaped, his craven soul was filled with terror. If this should get abroad; if she should call on her slaves, on the army, on the senate; if the people should learn of the plot of murder, and rise in riot; if any of a dozen contingencies should happen, all might be lost.

The terrified emperor was in a frightful quandary. He sent in all haste for his advisers, but none of them cared to offer any suggestions. At length the villainous Anicetus came to his aid. While they talked the messenger of Agrippina had arrived, and was admitted to give his message to the prince. As he was speaking Anicetus foxily let fall a dagger between his legs. He instantly seized him, snatched up the dagger and showed it to the company, and declared that the wretch had been sent by Agrippina to assassinate her son. The guards were called in, the man was ordered to be dragged away and put in fetters, and the story of the discovered plot of Agrippina was made public.

"Death to the murderess!" cried Anicetus. "Let me hasten at once to her punishment."

Nero gladly assented, and Anicetus hurried from the room, empowered to carry out his murderous intent.

Meanwhile the news of the peril and escape of the empress had spread far and wide. A dreadful accident had occurred, it was said. The people rushed in numbers to the shore, crowded the piers, filled the boats, and gave voice to a medley of cries of alarm. The uproar was at length allayed by some men with lighted torches, who assured the excited multitude that Agrippina had escaped and was now safe in her villa.

While they were speaking a body of soldiers, led by Anicetus, arrived, and with threats of violence dispersed the peasant throng. Then, planting a guard round the mansion, Anicetus burst open its doors, seized the slaves who appeared, and forced his way to the apartment of the empress.

Here Agrippina waited in fear and agitation the return of her messenger. Why came he not? Was new murder in contemplation? She heard the tumult and confusion on the shore, and learned from her attendants what it meant. But the noise was suddenly hushed; a dismal silence prevailed; then came new noises, then loud tones of command, and violent blows on the outer doors. In dread of what was coming, the unhappy woman waited still, till loud steps sounded in the passage, the attendants at her door were thrust aside, and armed men entered her chamber.

The room was in deep shadow, only the pale glimmer of a feeble light breaking the gloom. A single maid remained with the empress, and she, too, hastened to the door on hearing the tramp of warlike feet.

"Do you, too, desert me?" cried Agrippina, in deep reproach.

At that moment Anicetus entered the room, followed by two other ruffians. They approached her bed. She rose to receive them.

"If you come from the prince," she said, "tell him I am well. If your intents are murderous, you are not sent by my son. The guilt of parricide is foreign to his heart."

Her words were checked by a blow on the head with a club. A sword-thrust followed, and she expired under a number of mortal wounds. Thus died the niece, the wife, and the mother of an emperor, and the daughter of the celebrated soldier Germanicus.

 Compiled From Sources In The Public Domain.

Smiles & Good Fortune,
It is not wealth one asks for, but just enough to preserve one’s dignity, to work unhampered, to be generous, frank and independent. W. Somerset Maugham (1874-1965) Of Human Bondage, 1915

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Sunday, May 6, 2012

Zenobia Empress of the Golden Chains

Zenobia: Empress of the Golden Chains

Zenobia was empress of the people of Palmyra; She tried to boss the army when she should have stayed at home. Aurelian, the soldier, led a sort of a hegira Of armies up to fight her—they came all the way from Rome.

Full soon he was pursuing them, with spears and daggers "shooing" them, At last he sent them to defeat and caught the doughty queen. He captured her regretfully, he said, but she said fretfully That she considered him a spiteful thing, and very, very "mean."

He led her back a captive with her hands in jeweled fetters, Though she cast on Aurelian a look of proud disdain; Her manacles were carved and chased and decked by jewel setters, And to securely hold her he had made a golden chain.

There is a lot of mystery connected with all history— Zenobia, they tell us, didn't want to go to jail, But, think of such a fate as that! Why, such a jeweled weight as that Was better than to pawn your clothes and be released on bail!

Zenobia was taken to the royal Roman palace And there the charming prisoner, we read, was quite the rage— Had she lived in this time of ours (we say this without malice), She might have made a lasting hit by going on the stage.

Aurelian was nice to her—he hinted more than twice to her That he was getting pretty tired of kinging it alone. You see, she might have captured him—already she enraptured him— And had that handcuff jewelry to wear upon the throne.

But, no! Zenobia was like 'most any other lady— They've been the same since mother Eve; they have the same way still: No matter if it's Princess May, or Susie, Sal or Sadie, No lady will consent to be convinced against her will.

At last they told her civilly, "You'll have to live in Tivoli" (Which may or may not be the way to speak that city's name). She answered very prettily: "I'll love to live in Italy"— And there she stayed until she was an old, forgotten dame.
Words by Wilbur D·Nesbit
Pictures by Ellsworth Young  
Compiled From Sources In The Public Domain.

Smiles & Good Fortune,
It is not wealth one asks for, but just enough to preserve one’s dignity, to work unhampered, to be generous, frank and independent. W. Somerset Maugham (1874-1965) Of Human Bondage, 1915