Androcles and the Lion
Behind the Emperor's box at the Coliseum, where the performers assemble
before entering the arena. In the middle a wide passage leading to the arena
descends from the floor level under the imperial box. On both sides of this
passage steps ascend to a landing at the back entrance to the box. The landing
forms a bridge across the passage. At the entrance to the passage are two
bronze mirrors, one on each side.
On the west side of this passage, on the right hand of any one coming from the
box and standing on the bridge, the martyrs are sitting on the steps. Lavinia is
seated half-way up, thoughtful, trying to look death in the face. On her left
Androcles consoles himself by nursing a cat. Ferrovius stands behind them, his
eyes blazing, his figure stiff with intense resolution. At the foot of the steps
crouches Spintho, with his head clutched in his hands, full of horror at the
approach of martyrdom.
On the east side of the passage the gladiators are standing and sitting at ease,
waiting, like the Christians, for their turn in the arena. One (Retiarius) is a nearly
naked man with a net and a trident. Another (Secutor) is in armor with a sword.
He carries a helmet with a barred visor. The editor of the gladiators sits on a
chair a little apart from them.
The Call Boy enters from the passage.
THE CALL Boy. Number six. Retiarius versus Secutor.
The gladiator with the net picks it up. The gladiator with the helmet puts it on; and
the two go into the arena, the net thrower taking out a little brush and arranging
his hair as he goes, the other tightening his straps and shaking his shoulders
loose. Both look at themselves in the mirrors before they enter the passage.
LAVINIA. Will they really kill one another?
SPINTHO. Yes, if the people turn down their thumbs.
THE EDITOR. You know nothing about it. The people indeed! Do you suppose
we would kill a man worth perhaps fifty talents to please the riffraff? I should like
to catch any of my men at it.
SPINTHO. I thought--
THE EDITOR (contemptuously) You thought! Who cares what you think? YOU'LL
be killed all right enough.