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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesPausanias, The Spartan: An Unfinished Historical Romance - Book 4 - Chapter 3
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Pausanias, The Spartan: An Unfinished Historical Romance - Book 4 - Chapter 3 Post by :cashgalore Category :Long Stories Author :Edward Bulwer-lytton Date :May 2012 Read :2605

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Pausanias, The Spartan: An Unfinished Historical Romance - Book 4 - Chapter 3


On quitting the Hall of the Ephors, Lysander found himself at once on the Spartan Agora, wherein that Hall was placed. This was situated on the highest of the five hills, over which the unwalled city spread its scattered population, and was popularly called the Tower. Before the eyes of the young Spartan rose the statues, rude and antique, of Latona, the Pythian Apollo, and his sister Artemis;--venerable images to Lysander's early associations. The place which they consecrated was called Chorus; for there, in honour of Apollo, and in the most pompous of all the Spartan festivals, the young men were accustomed to lead the sacred dance. The Temple of Apollo himself stood a little in the background, and near to it that of Hera But more vast than any image of a god was a colossal statue which represented the Spartan people; while on a still loftier pinnacle of the hill than that table-land which enclosed the Agora--dominating, as it were, the whole city--soared into the bright blue sky the sacred Chalcioecus, or Temple of the Brazen Pallas, darkening with its shadow another fane towards the left dedicated to the Lacedaemonian Muses, and receiving a gleam on the right from the brazen statue of Zeus, which was said by tradition to have been made by a disciple of Daedalus himself.

But short time had Lysander to note undisturbed the old familiar scenes. A crowd of his early friends had already collected round the doors of the Archeion, and rushed forward to greet and welcome him. The Spartan coldness and austerity of social intercourse vanished always before the enthusiasm created by the return to his native city of a man renowned for valour; and Lysander's fame had come back to Sparta before himself. Joyously, and in triumph, the young men bore away their comrade. As they passed through the centre of the Agora, where assembled the various merchants and farmers, who, under the name of Perioeci, carried on the main business of the Laconian mart, and were often much wealthier than the Spartan citizens, trade ceased its hubbub; all drew near to gaze on the young warrior; and now, as they turned from the Agora, a group of eager women met them on the road, and shrill voices exclaimed: "Go, Lysander, thou hast fought well--go and choose for thyself the maiden that seems to thee the fairest. Go, marry and get sons for Sparta."

Lysander's step seemed to tread on air, and tears of rapture stood in his downcast eyes. But suddenly all the voices hushed; the crowds drew back; his friends halted. Close by the great Temple of Fear, and coming from some place within its sanctuary, there approached towards the Spartan and his comrades a majestic woman--a woman of so grand a step and port, that, though her veil as yet hid her face, her form alone sufficed to inspire awe. All knew her by her gait; all made way for Alithea, the widow of a king, the mother of Pausanias the Regent. Lysander, lifting his eyes from the ground, impressed by the hush around him, recognised the form as it advanced slowly towards him, and, leaving his comrades behind, stepped forward to salute the mother of his chief. She, thus seeing him, turned slightly aside, and paused by a rude building of immemorial antiquity which stood near the temple. That building was the tomb of the mythical Orestes, whose bones were said to have been interred there by the command of the Delphian Oracle. On a stone at the foot of the tomb sate calmly down the veiled woman, and waited the approach of Lysander. When he came near, and alone--all the rest remaining aloof and silent--Alithea removed her veil, and a countenance grand and terrible as that of a Fate lifted its rigid looks to the young Spartan's eyes. Despite her age--for she had passed into middle life before she had borne Pausanias--Alithea retained all the traces of a marvellous and almost preterhuman beauty. But it was not the beauty of woman. No softness sate on those lips: no love beamed from those eyes. Stern, inexorable--not a fault in her grand proportions--the stoutest heart might have felt a throb of terror as the eye rested upon that pitiless and imposing front. And the deep voice of the Spartan warrior had a slight tremor in its tone as it uttered its respectful salutation.

"Draw near, Lysander. What sayest thou of my son?"

"I left him well, and--"

"Does a Spartan mother first ask of the bodily health of an absent man-child? By the tomb of Orestes and near the Temple of Fear, a king's widow asks a Spartan soldier what he says of a Spartan chief."

"All Hellas," replied Lysander, recovering his spirit, "might answer thee best, Alithea. For all Hellas proclaimed that the bravest man at Plataea was thy son, my chief."

"And where did my son, thy chief, learn to boast of bravery? They tell me he inscribed the offerings to the gods with his name as the victor of Plataea--the battle won not by one man but assembled Greece. The inscription that dishonours him by its vainglory will be erased. To be brave is nought. Barbarians may be brave. But to dedicate bravery to his native land becomes a Spartan. He who is everything against a foe should count himself as nothing in the service of his country."

Lysander remained silent under the gaze of those fixed and imperious eyes.

"Youth," said Alithea, after a short pause, "if thou returnest to Byzantium, say this from Alithea to thy chief:--'From thy childhood, Pausanias, has thy mother feared for thee; and at the Temple of Fear did she sacrifice when she heard that thou wert victorious at Plataea; for in thy heart are the seeds of arrogance and pride; and victory to thine arms may end in ruin to thy name. And ever since that day does Alithea haunt the precincts of that temple. Come back and be Spartan, as thine ancestors were before thee, and Alithea will rejoice and think the Gods have heard her. But if thou seest within thyself one cause why thy mother should sacrifice to Fear, lest her son should break the laws of Sparta, or sully his Spartan name, humble thyself, and mourn that thou didst not perish at Plataea. By a temple and from a tomb I send thee warning.' Say this. I have done; join thy friends."

Again the veil fell over the face, and the figure of the woman remained seated at the tomb long after the procession had passed on, and the mirth of young voices was again released.

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Pausanias, The Spartan: An Unfinished Historical Romance - Book 4 - Chapter 4 Pausanias, The Spartan: An Unfinished Historical Romance - Book 4 - Chapter 4

Pausanias, The Spartan: An Unfinished Historical Romance - Book 4 - Chapter 4
BOOK IV CHAPTER IVThe group that attended Lysander continued to swell as he mounted the acclivity on which his parental home was placed. The houses of the Spartan proprietors were at that day not closely packed together as in the dense population of commercial towns. More like the villas of a suburb, they lay a little apart, on the unequal surface of the rugged ground, perfectly plain and unadorned, covering a large space with ample court-yards, closed in, in front of the narrow streets. And still was in force the primitive law which ordained that doorways should be shaped only by

Pausanias, The Spartan: An Unfinished Historical Romance - Book 4 - Chapter 2 Pausanias, The Spartan: An Unfinished Historical Romance - Book 4 - Chapter 2

Pausanias, The Spartan: An Unfinished Historical Romance - Book 4 - Chapter 2
BOOK IV CHAPTER IIThe communication of Pausanias had caused an animated discussion in the Council, and led to a strong division of opinion. But the faces of the Ephors, rigid and composed, revealed nothing to guide the sagacity of Lysander, as he re-entered the chamber. He himself, by a strong effort, had recovered the disturbance into which the words of the boy had thrown his mind, and he stood before the Ephors intent upon the object of defending the name, and fulfilling the commands of his chief. So reverent and grateful was the love that he bore to Pausanias, that he