Glaucus and Arbaces in the Amphitheater

The Last Days of Pompeii, by English writer and politician Lord Edward Bulwer-Lytton, takes place in 1st century Rome. It tells the story of Glaucus, a young Greek in love with Ione, a beautiful and intelligent Greek set to marry him. Ione was left orphan in her childhood; the Egyptian sorcerer and high Isis priest Arbaces was her tutor and tries to seduce her repeatedly. Arbaces murdered his pupil and Ione’s brother Apaecides after the latter’s conversion to Christianity. As a consequence, Arbaces framed the young Glaucus for the crime, as a way to get rid of him and reach Ione. However, another Isis priest Calenus witnessed the crime, but Arbaces, after promising him a large sum for his silence, imprisoned him in a dungeon, leaving him to die. Glaucus was imprisoned too and there met Olinthus, an early Christian, who was also sentenced for his beliefs. According to ancient custom, Glaucus was to be devoured by lions for his alleged crime, but, unbeknownst to everyone, the priest Calenus had escaped and chaos ensued. This selection from Chapter IV of Part V details the encounter of Glaucus with Arbaces and the lion in the amphitheater. I transcribed it in Anniversary Gregg for the blog.

Attachment: glaucus-and-arbaces-in-the-amphitheater.pdf

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  1. I found the end was a bit of a let down. For after the time in the cells, the Androcles-like moment in the arena, the sudden appearance of a truthful witness, the anger of the crowd …. But the final truth was never to be revealed.

    I was not keen of his writing. He used words I would never have dreamt of using as he did. I found it very difficult to transcribe (though I sped up about half way through). Shortly after the start I got to a paragraph which I transcribed, but with several words just written down in letters, and it was completely meaningless. So I turned to the text you mentioned and strangely found that I had transcribed it mostly correctly. Only when I filled in my sound-written words did it make sense. Therefore I have no questions on words I could not interpret.

    But I have a question on your method of writing the shorthand. Did you make a recording of the piece and then take down the shorthand from playing back that? (I noticed quite a few differences between the text and your shorthand — although it all made complete sense. Also there was more variability among your outlines than usual. So perhaps you were pressed for time this month.)

    Anyway, there were lots of words which I found helpful (and many that I doubt I’ll ever use) for example the word “bench”. I had slipped into writing it b-n-ch. Incorrect — but I don’t think there’s a likely conflict of interpretation.

    1. I wrote it from the text, not from dictation. However, the audiobook is available on YouTube if you want to practice writing that way.

      I like this novel because it is like a good ole soap opera, with lots of intrigue, plot twists, and cliffhangers. The writer uses flowery language, but surprisingly, he uses more or less the same vocabulary, so you get used to his style, and if you sound out the text it makes perfect sense. The last chapter of the novel is Chapter 11 of Part 5; this one is Chapter 4 — eventually the truth is revealed and the evil Arbaces gets his comeuppance once an unexpected event happens, so the novel has a happy ending.

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