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And while all the guests marvelled at the conduct of the king, seeing that he was not illustrious but absolutely mad, Masurius brought forward Callixenus the Rhodian, who [p. 313] in the fourth book of his History of Alexandria has given an account of a spectacle and procession which was exhibited by that most admirable of all monarchs, Ptolemy Phiadelphus. And he says—"But before I begin, I will give a description of the tent which was prepared within the circuit of the citadel, apart from the place provided for the reception of the soldiers, and artisans, and foreigners. For it was wonderfully beautiful, and worth hearing about. Its size was such as to be able to hold a hundred and thirty couches placed in a circle, and it was furnished in the following manner:—There were wooden pillars at intervals, five on each side of the tent longwise, fifty cubits high, and something less than one cubit broad. And on these pillars at the top was a capital, of square figure, carefully fitted, supporting the whole weight of the roof of the banqueting room. And over this was spread in the middle a scarlet veil with a white fringe, like a canopy; and on each side it had beams covered over with turreted veils, with white centres, on which canopies embroidered all over the centre were placed. And of the pillars four were made to resemble palm-trees, and they had in the centre a representation of thyrsi. And on the outside of these a portico ran, adorned with a peristyle on three sides, with a vaulted roof. And in this place it was intended that the company of the feasters should sit down. And the interior of it was surrounded with scarlet curtains. But in the middle of the space there were strange hides of beasts, strange both as to their variegated colour and their size, suspended. And the part which surrounded this portico in the open air was shaded by myrtle-trees and daphnes, and other suitable shrubs. And the whole floor was strewed with flowers of every description. For Egypt, on account of the temperate character of the atmosphere which surrounds it, and on account of the fondness of the inhabitants for gardening, produces in great abundance, and all the year round, those things which in other countries are rarely found, and only at particular seasons. And roses, and white lilies, and numberless other flowers are never wanting in that country. On which account, though this entertainment took place in the middle of winter, still there was a show of flowers which was quite incredible to the foreigners. For flowers of which one could not easily have found enough to make one chaplet in any other city [p. 314] were supplied in the greatest abundance here, to make chaplets for every one of the guests at this entertainment, and were strewed thickly over the whole floor of the tent; so as really to give the appearance of a most divine meadow.
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