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Will share thy destiny. The gay will laugh
So live that when thy summons comes to join
LORD LYTTON EDWARD GEORGE EARLE BULWER, novelist and dramatist, born at Haydon Hall in 1803; died at Torquay in 1873. At Cambridge University he won the chancellor's medal, and graduated in 1825. After his mother's death he added her name of Lytton to his own. Later he was made Baron Lytton. Among his best known works are “ The Last of the Barons," “ The Lady of Lyons,” “ Harold ” ang "The Last Days of Pompeii.”
(From “ The Last Days of Pompeii”) THE procession of Arbaces moved along slowly,
and with much solemnity, till now, arriving at the place where it was necessary for such as came in litters or chariots to alight, Arbaces descended from his vehicle, and proceeded to the entrance by which the more distinguished spectators were admitted. His slaves, mingling with the humbler crowd, were stationed by officers who received their tickets (not much unlike our modern Opera ones), in places in the popularia (the seats apportioned to the vulgar). And now, from the spot where Arbaces sat, his eyes scanned the mighty and impatient crowd that filled the stupendous theater.
On the upper tier (but apart from the male spectators) sat the women, their gay dresses resembling some gaudy flower-bed; it is needless to add that they were the most talkative part of the assembly; and many were the looks directed up to them, especially from the benches appropriated to the young and the unmarried men. On the lower seats round the arena sat the more high-born and wealthy visitors the magistrates and those of senatorial or equestrian dignity: the passages which, by corridors at the right and left, gave access to these seats, at either end of the oval arena, were also the entrances for the combatants. Strong palings at these passages prevented any unwelcome eccentricity in the movements of the beasts, and confined them to their appointed prey. Around the parapet which was raised above the arena, and from which the seats gradually rose, were gladiatorial inscriptions, and paintings wrought in fresco, typical of the entertainments for which the place was designed. Throughout the whole building wound invisible pipes, from which, as the day advanced, cooling and fragrant showers were to be sprinkled over the spectators. The officers of the amphitheater were still employed in the task of fixing the vast awning (or velaria) which covered the whole, and which luxurious invention the Campanians arrogated to themselves: it was woven of the whitest Apulian wool, and variegated with broad stripes of crimson. Owing either to some inexperience on the part of the workmen, or to some defect in the machinery, the awning, however, was not arranged that day so happily as usual; indeed, from the immense space of the circumference, the task was always one of great difficulty and art—so much so, that it could seldom be adventured in rough or windy weather. But the present day was so remarkably still that there seemed to the spectators no excuse for the awkwardness of the artificers; and when a large gap in the back of the awning was still visible, from the obstinate refusal of one part of the velaria to ally itself with the rest, the murmurs of discontent were loud and general.
fect, and vowed bitter vengeance on the head of the chief officer of the show, who fretting, puffing, perspiring, busied himself in idle orders and unavailing threats.
The hubbub ceased suddenly—the operators desisted—the crowd were stilled—the gap was forgotten-for now, with a loud and warlike flourish of trumpets, the gladiators, marshaled in ceremonious procession, entered the arena. They swept round the oval space very slowly and deliberately, in order to give the spectators full leisure to admire the stern serenity of feature-their brawny limbs and various arms, as well as to form such wagers as the excitement of the moment might suggest.
“Oh!" cried the widow Fulvia to the wife of Pansa, as they leaned down from their lofty bench, “ do you see that gigantic gladiator? How drolly he is dressed !”
“Yes,” said the ædile's wife with complacent importance, for she knew all the names and qualities of each combatant;" he is a retiarius or netter; he is armed only, you see, with a three-pronged spear like a trident, and a net; he wears no armor, only the fillet and the tunic. He is a mighty man, and is to fight with Sporus, yon thick-set gladiator, with the round shield and drawn sword, but without body armor; he has not his helmet on now, in order that you may see his face-how fearless it is !-by and by he will fight with his vizor down.”
“But surely a net and a spear are poor arms against a shield and sword?”
“That shows how innocent you are, my dear Fulvia; the retiarius has generally the best of it.”
“But who is yon handsome gladiator, nearly naked-is it not quite improper? By Venus ! but his limbs are beautifully shaped!”
“It is Lydon, a young untried man! he has the rashness to fight yon other gladiator similarly
dressed, or rather undressed-Tetraides. They fight first in the Greek fashion, with the cestus; afterwards they put on armor, and try sword and shield.”
“He is a proper man, this Lydon, and the women, I am sure, are on his side.”
“So are not the experienced betters; Clodius offers three to one against him.”
"Oh, Jove! how beautiful!” exclaimed the widow, as two gladiators, armed cap-a-pie, rode round the arena on light and prancing steeds. Resembling much the combatants in the tilts of the Middle Age, they bore lances and round shields beautifully inlaid: their armor was woven intricately with bands of iron, but it covered only the thighs and right arms; short cloaks, extending to the seat, gave a picturesque and graceful air to their costume; their legs were naked with the exception of sandals, which were fastened a little above the ankle. “Oh, beautiful! Who are these?” asked the widow.
“The one is named Berbix-he has conquered twelve times; the other assumes the arrogant name of Nobilior. They are both Gauls.”
While thus conversing, the first formalities of the show were over. To these succeeded a feigned combat with wooden swords between the various gladiators matched against each other. Amongst these, the skill of two Roman gladiators, hired for the occasion, was the most admired; and next to them the most graceful combatant was Lydon. This sham contest did not last above an hour, nor did it attract any very lively interest, except among those connoisseurs of the arena to whom art was preferable to more coarse excitement; the body of the spectators were rejoiced when it was over, and when the sympathy rose to terror. The combatants were now arranged in pairs, as agreed beforehand; their weapons examined; and the grave sports of the day commenced amidst the deepest silence--broken only