SCENE IThe Temple of Isis
Enter Serapion, Myris, Priests of Isis.
Serap. Portents and prodigies have grown so frequent,
That they have lost their name. Our fruitful Nile
ere the wonted season, with a torrent
So unexpected, and so wondrous fierce,
That the wild deluge overtook
Even of the hinds that watched it: Men and beasts
Were borne above the tops of trees, that
On the utmost margin of the water-mark.
Then, with so swift an ebb the flood drove backward,
slipt from underneath the scaly herd:
Here monstrous phocæ panted on the shore;
Forsaken dolphins there
with their broad tails,
Lay lashing the departing waves: hard by them,
Sea horses floundering in the slimy
Tossed up their heads, and dashed the ooze about them
Enter Alexas behind them.
Myr. Avert these omens, Heaven!
Serap. Last night, between the hours of twelve and one,
In a lone aisle of the temple while I walked,
whirlwind rose, that, with a violent blast,
Shook all the dome: the doors around me clapt;
The iron wicket,
that defends the vault,
Where the long race of Ptolemies is laid,
Burst open, and disclosed the mighty
From out each monument, in order placed,
An armed ghost starts up: the boy-king last
inglorious head. A peal of groans
Then followed, and a lamentable voice
Cried, Egypt is no more! My
blood ran back,
My shaking knees against each other knocked;
On the cold pavement down I fell entranced,
so unfinished left the horrid scene.
Alex. And dreamed you this? or did invent the story,
To frighten our Egyptian boys withal,
And train them up, betimes, in fear of priesthood?
Serap. My lord, I saw you not,
Nor meant my words should reach your ears; but what
I uttered was most
Alex. A foolish dream.
Bred from the fumes of indigested feasts,
And holy luxury.
Serap. I know my duty:
This goes no further.
Alex. Tis not fit it should;
Nor would the times now bear it, were it true.
All southern, from yon hills, the
Hangs oer us black and threatening, like a storm
Just breaking on our heads.
Serap. Our faint Egyptians pray for Antony;
But in their servile hearts they own Octavius.
Myr. Why then does Antony dream out his hours,
And tempts not fortune for a noble day,
redeem what Actium lost?
Alex. He thinks tis past recovery.
Serap. Yet the foe
Seems not to press the siege.
Alex. Oh, theres the wonder.
Mæcenas and Agrippa, who can most
With Cæsar, are his foes. His wife Octavia,
from his house, solicits her revenge;
And Dolabella, who was once his friend,
Upon some private grudge,
now seeks his ruin:
Yet still war seems on either side to sleep.