Letters of Lucius M. Piso, from Palmyra (Google eBook)

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Page 24 - But why pause here ? Is so much ambition praiseworthy, and more criminal ? Is it fixed in nature that the limits of this empire should be Egypt, on the one hand, the Hellespont and the Euxine, on the other? Were not Suez and Armenia more natural limits ? Or hath empire no natural limit, but is broad as the genius that can devise, and the power that can win ? 3.
Page 25 - ... above the walls, and over all the other buildings, and gave vast ideas of the greatness of the place, leading the mind to crowd .it with other edifices that should bear some proportion to this noble monument of imperial magnificence. As suddenly as the view of this imposing scene had been revealed, so suddenly was it again eclipsed, by another short turn in the road, which took us once more into the mountain valleys. But the overhanging and impenetrable foliage of a Syrian forest shielding me...
Page 27 - I urged forward my steed, and in a moment the most wonderful prospect I ever beheld, — no, I cannot except even Rome, — burst upon my sight. Flanked by hills of considerable elevation on the East, the city filled the whole plain below as far as the eye could reach, both toward the North and toward the South. This immense plain was all one vast and boundless city. It seemed to me to be larger than Rome. Yet I knew very well that it could not be, — that it was not. And it was some...
Page 262 - I could have wept to see her so — yes, and did. My impulse was to break through the crowd, and support her almost fainting form — but I well knew that my life would answer for the rashness on the spot. I could only, therefore, like the rest , wonder and gaze . And never did she seem to me . not even in the midst of her own court . to blaze forth with such transcendent beauty — yet touched with grief. Her look was not that of dejection — of one who was broken and crushed by misfortune —...
Page 262 - And it was the ninth hour before the alternate shouts and deep silence of the multitudes announced that the conqueror was drawing near the Capitol. As the first shout arose, I turned toward the quarter whence it came, and beheld, not Aurelian as I expected, but the Gallic emperor Tetricus— yet slave of his army and of Victoria —accompanied by the prince his son, and followed by other illustrious captives from Gaul. All eyes were turned with pity upon him, and with indignation too that Aurelian...
Page 246 - No language which I can use, my Curtius, can give you any just conception of the horrors which met our view on the way to the walls, and in the city itself. For more than a mile before we reached the gates, the roads, and the fields on either hand, were strewed with the bodies of those who, in their attempts to escape, had been overtaken by the enemy and slain. Many a group of bodies did we notice, evidently those of a family, the parents and the children, who, hoping to reach in company some place...
Page 244 - ... buildings could not reach it. But we watched not long ere from its western extremity the fire broke forth, and warned us that that peerless monument of human genius, like all else, would soon crumble to the ground. To our amazement, however, and joy, the flames, after having made great progress, were suddenly arrested, and by some cause extinguished — and the vast pile stood towering in the centre of the desolation, of double size, as it seemed, from the fall and disappearance of so many of...
Page 24 - Let the ambition be a noble one, and who shall blame it ? I confess I did once aspire to be queen, not only of Palmyra, but of the East. That I am. I now aspire to remain so. Is it not an honorable ambition...
Page 263 - Her look was not that of dejection, of one who was broken and crushed by misfortune— there was no blush of shame. It was rather one of profound heartbreaking melancholy. Her full eyes looked as if privacy only was wanted for them to overflow with floods of tears. But they fell not. Her gaze was fixed on vacancy, or else cast toward the ground. She seemed like one unobservant of all around her, and buried in thoughts to which all else were strangers, and had nothing in common with. They were in...
Page 78 - IF the gods, dear Marcus and Lucilia, came down to dwell upon earth, they could not but choose Palmyra for their seat, both on account of the general beauty of the city and its surrounding plains, and the exceeding sweetness and serenity of its climate. It is a joy here only to sit still and live. The air, always loaded with perfume, seems to convey essential nutriment to those who breathe it ; and its hue, especially when a morning or evening sun shines through it, is of that golden cast, which,...

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