Page:Ben-Hur a tale of the Christ.djvu/137

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BEN-HUR: A TALE OF THE CHRIST.

BOOK THIRD.

"Cleopatra. . . . Our size of sorrow,
Proportion'd to our cause, must be as great
As that which makes it.—
Enter, below, DIOMEDES.
How now? is he dead?
Diomedes. His death's upon him, but not dead."
Antony and Cleopatra (act iv., sc. xiii.).

CHAPTER I.

The city of Misenum gave name to the promontory which it crowned, a few miles southwest of Naples. An account of ruins is all that remains of it now; yet in the year of our Lord 24—to which it is desirable to advance the reader the place was one of the most important on the western coast of Italy.[1]

In the year mentioned, a traveller coming to the promontory to regale himself with the view there offered, would have mounted a wall, and, with the city at his back, looked over the bay of Neapolis, as charming then as now; and then, as now, he would have seen the matchless shore, the smoking cone, the sky and waves so softly, deeply blue, Ischia here and Capri yonder; from one to the other and back again, through the purpled air, his gaze would have sported; at last—for the eyes do weary of the beautiful as the palate with sweets—at last it would have dropped upon


  1. * The Roman government, it will be remembered, had two harbors in which great fleets were constantly kept—Ravenna and Misenum.