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Herodias

CHAPTER III
The great banqueting-hall was filled with guests. This apartment had three naves, like a
basilica, which were separated by columns of sandalwood, whose capitals were of
sculptured bonze. On each side of the apartment was a gallery for spectators, and a third,
with a facade of gold filigree, was at one end, opposite an immense arch at the other.
The candelabra burning on the tables, which were spread the whole length of the
banqueting-hall, glowed like clusters of flaming flowers among the painted cups, the
plates of shining copper, the cubes of snow and heaps of luscious grapes. Through the
large windows the guests could see lighted torches on the terraces of the neighbouring
houses; for this night Antipas was giving a feast to his friends, his own people, and to
anyone that presented himself at the castle.
The slaves, alert as dogs, glided about noiselessly in felt sandals, carrying dishes to and
fro.
The table of the proconsul was placed beneath the gilded balcony upon a platform of
sycamore wood. Rich tapestries from Babylon were hung about the pavilion, giving a
certain effect of seclusion.
Upon three ivory couches, one facing the great hall, and the other two placed one on
either side of the pavilion, reclined Vitellius, his son Aulus, and Antipas; the proconsul
being near the door, at the left, Aulus on the right, the tetrarch occupying the middle
couch.
Antipas wore a heavy black mantle, the texture of which was almost hidden by coloured
embroideries and glittering decorations; his beard was spread out like a fan; blue powder
had been scattered over his hair, and on his head rested a diadem covered with precious
stones. Vitellius still wore the purple band, the emblem of his rank, crossed diagonally
over a linen toga.
Aulus had tied behind his back the sleeves of his violet robe, embroidered with silver. His
clustering curls were laid in carefully arranged rows; a necklace of sapphires gleamed
against his throat, plump and white as that of a woman. Crouched upon a rug near him,
with legs crossed was a pretty white boy, upon whose face shone a perpetual smile. Aulus
had found him somewhere among the kitchens and had taken a violent fancy to him. He
had made the child one of his suite, but as he never could remember his protege's
Chaldean name, called him simply "the Asiatic." From time to time the little fellow
sprang up and played about the dining-table, and his antics appeared to amuse the guests.
At one side of the tetrarch's pavilion were the tables at which were seated his priests and
officers; also a number of persons from Jerusalem, and the more important men from the
Grecian cities. At the table on the left of the proconsul sat Marcellus with the publicans,
several friends of the tetrarch, and various representatives from Cana, Ptolemais, and
 
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