Caesar and Cleopatra HTML version
The edge of the quay in front of the palace, looking out west over the east harbor
of Alexandria to Pharos island, just off the end of which, and connected with it by
a narrow mole, is the famous lighthouse, a gigantic square tower of white marble
diminishing in size storey by storey to the top, on which stands a cresset beacon.
The island is joined to the main land by the Heptastadium, a great mole or
causeway five miles long bounding the harbor on the south.
In the middle of the quay a Roman sentinel stands on guard, pilum in hand,
looking out to the lighthouse with strained attention, his left hand shading his
eyes. The pilum is a stout wooden shaft 41 feet long, with an iron spit about three
feet long fixed in it. The sentinel is so absorbed that he does not notice the
approach from the north end of the quay of four Egyptian market porters carrying
rolls of carpet, preceded by Ftatateeta and Apollodorus the Sicilian. Apollodorus
is a dashing young man of about 24, handsome and debonair, dressed with
deliberate astheticism in the most delicate purples and dove greys, with
ornaments of bronze, oxydized silver, and stones of jade and agate. His sword,
designed as carefully as a medieval cross, has a blued blade showing through an
openwork scabbard of purple leather and filagree. The porters, conducted by
Ftatateeta, pass along the quay behind the sentinel to the steps of the palace,
where they put down their bales and squat on the ground. Apollodorus does not
pass along with them: he halts, amused by the preoccupation of the sentinel.
APOLLODORUS (calling to the sentinel). Who goes there, eh?
SENTINEL (starting violently and turning with his pilum at the charge, revealing
himself as a small, wiry, sandy-haired, conscientious young man with an elderly
face). What's this? Stand. Who are you?
APOLLODORUS. I am Apollodorus the Sicilian. Why, man, what are you
dreaming of? Since I came through the lines beyond the theatre there, I have
brought my caravan past three sentinels, all so busy staring at the lighthouse that
not one of them challenged me. Is this Roman discipline?
SENTINEL. We are not here to watch the land but the water. Caesar has just
landed on the Pharos. (Looking at Ftatateeta) What have you here? Who is this
piece of Egyptian crockery?
FTATATEETA. Apollodorus: rebuke this Roman dog; and bid him bridle his
tongue in the presence of Ftatateeta, the mistress of the Queen's household.
APOLLODORUS. My friend: this is a great lady, who stands high with Caesar.