The Silver Chalice by Thomas B. Costain is a spectacular story which takes place about twenty years after Jesus ascended into Heaven. It tells of how a young man named Basil was adopted by a rich merchant. But, when the rich merchant died, Basils cousin stole Basils inheritance; and made him a slave. After a few years he was to be rescued, married, and to gain back his inheritance.
The story begins when a rich merchant named Ignatius asked Theron, a seller of pens, if he was willing to give Ambrose up for adoption. The reason he chose Ambrose was because Ignatius loved the talent which enabled Ambrose to create such beautiful masterpieces of silver, clay, and wood. Theron gave his son Ambrose up for adoption only for one reason, because he was too poor to take good care of him. They made sure that the procedure of the adoption was followed to the letter of the law of the Twelve Tables. As a proof of the adoption, Ignatius gave each of the witnesses a belt. The name of Basil( Ignatius changed Ambroses name to Basil in honor of his father), and the date. Basil loved his new father, and became very devoted to hiBasils father passed away about three years after the adoption. Basil was heart broken. Even the servants grieved of his death. But the only person who was filled with ecstasy upon hearing the news, was Linus. He was Basils cousin. Little did Basil know how much his heart would harden against his cousin.
Linus wanted the rich inheritance of his cousin, so he decided make it seem that he was never adopted as a son, but as a slave. By bribing the witnesses of the adoption to lie, Linus won the case. Basil was stripped of his inheritance, and was sold as a slave to a silver smith. The Silver Smith was a nice man, but his wife was meaner than a pack of wolves. She made Basil and the other slaves work past their limits. There, Basil met a slave girl named Agnes. She helped Basil deal with his losses and comforted him. She told him that if you pray and believe, you will be set free. Basil decided to pray. He prayed long and hard. What a surprise to see that his prayers were answered!That very night an old man knocked on the door of the silver smiths house. The cruel wife answered the knock. Did you want to buy something? No, but I have come to buy your slave, Basil. replied the old man. The wife found out that the old mans name was Luke and she also found out that he was a doctor. It took much fighting and offers to convince them to sell Basil. When Basil packed what was his, they were on their way. After a long hard journey to Jerusalem, Basil and Luke entered into a large, elegant, beautiful house of Joseph of Arimathia. He was the richest man alive; he was also known as a major financial supporter of Christianity. Basil felt greatly indebted to this man when he found out that Joseph arranged the purchase of his freedom. But why did Joseph choose to buy his freedom? He was to find out about six months later.
After that period of time passed, Basil was asked to go to the bedroom of Joseph of Arimathia. You have proved yourself, Basil, you have proved to me the existence of your wonderful talent. I have a cup that was given to me many years ago. I want you to build a frame that contains the faces of the apostles and of the Holy One, Jesus. Basil also found out that the cup was the cup that was used for The Last Supper.
Basil set to work on the chalice. He was to travel to many places. This was necessary so that he could record the faces of the Apostles which were to be recorded on the frame that the silver cup was to be put into. Basil was glad that he had a chance to travel. The reason was because he would stop by Antioch ( the city where Basil was born) and go to court to fight for the retrieval his inheritance.
While he was at work on the chalice, he met Josephs granddaughter, Deborra. She lived with her old grandfather because he needed her help walking, remembering to take medicines, ect. Deborra was sixteen years old, not much younger than Basil who was seventeen. Little did Basil know that Deborra was going to be more than just a friend.
Basil was half way done with the chalice when something tragic happened, Joseph of Arimathia died. During the last weeks of Josephs life, the evil hearted priest of the temple wanted the chalice so that he could break it into pieces himself. The priest made sure that guards were kept near the house of Joseph so that when they hear the news of Josephs death, they can go in, take the chalice and destroy it. The counselors of Joseph told Deborra and Basil that if they were to get married, the hances of getting back the inheritance of Basil and the chances of Deborra keeping the inheritance( Deborras father was the son of Joseph, but Joseph didnt want his son to receive the inheritance, he wanted Deborra to have the great inheritance for life his son would squander the inheritance) would be greater. By this time, Basil and Deborra grew to love each other and because of this great love, they got married. Knowing that the priest would want to take the chalice, the counselors told Basil and Derra to flee with the chalice to Basils birthplace, Antioch.
When they reached Antioch, a wonderful home was waiting for the newly wed couple and for Luke who was invited to stay with them. It took them a few days to settle down into their permanent home. In a workroom, Basil was often found working on the chalice day and night. So much that Deborra sometimes questioned the importance of the chalice, but she would not bother him because she knew that many people were counting on the finishing of the chalice before danger towers over them. Little did they know that danger was one step ahead of them.
After many weeks of traveling to places and working, Basil was finally done with the chalice. Luke agreed with the counselors to put the sacred silver chalice on display. The rules were that only three people could see it at a time. This rule prevented anybody from pilfering the silver chalice. There were many attempts, but each of them failed.
One day an old lady asked to see the silver chalice. But a guardian of the silver chalice recognized the voice as the voice of a leader of a small group of men which numbered to about seventy-five whose mission was to take the chalice to the priest. You tricker! said the guard. He took a shovel and tried to kill the impostor. But the group of people behind the leader were well armed and fought their way through, went to the room where the chalice was on display, and left with the it.
Basil was gone at the time the incident took place. But when he returned home, he found Luke the Physician tending on a person. Basil quickly ran toward Luke, devastated to find that the person was his own wife. Shes not badly hurt, just a couple of bruises. replied Luke. Basil blamed himself for not being there to make sure that she was safe from harm. But his wife comforted him. Thinking that something happened to the chalice, he asked, Is the chalice safe? Luke told Basil that the chalice was stolen, and he told him how it happened. You would think that this would of made him even angrier at himself, but it didnt. Strangely enough, he felt peaceful about what happened to the silver chalice.
God just told me that the chalice will be found, but years later, there will be a convulsion of nature of some kind; and it will be buried deep down the earth and lie there perhaps for centuries. replied Luke.
I loved reading The Silver Chalice because it kept me on the edge of my seat through the very end. Anyone would enjoy reading this book. It showed me that God does answer prayers like he did with Basil when he prayed for his freedom. This book is filled with humor, sadness, hope, and mystery. Again, I would recommend this to anyone.
Why “On Christmas Morning” By Frank O’Connor Deserves A Place In An Anthology
Frank O’Connor’s stories are frequently featured in collections of short stories due to their reputation as quality works. However, it is imperative to select one particular story by Frank O’Connor that deserves to be included in an anthology, and provide a comprehensive explanation for its inclusion. Personally, I found great pleasure in reading “On Christmas Morning” by Frank O’Connor, primarily due to its exploration of various themes. In this essay, I will examine the story’s merits and demonstrate why it deserves a place amongst other exceptional short stories. “On Christmas Morning” revolves around the formative years of Larry, a young Irish boy.
In the story, we learn that Larry is the eldest of two brothers and has a dislike for Sonny. Larry shows little interest in school and would prefer to play with his friends, questioning why his mother values education. He has a poor relationship with Sonny, who is skilled in academics and holds a favored position in their mother’s eyes.
Larry chooses not to try to be smarter than Sonny because he knows he will fail. He blames his inability on the difficult math problems assigned by Flogger Dawley. Larry and Peter Doherty end up getting into trouble instead. As the story progresses, Larry becomes more deceitful, mainly due to his association with the Doherty gang. His mother is unhappy with this, often urging him to prioritize his lessons over playtime. The most significant example of Larry’s deceitfulness is when he switches presents with Sonny, believing he has received the better gift. He convinces himself that Sonny would prefer a picture book over a popgun and that he is doing Sonny a favor. Despite what the Dohertys believe, Larry genuinely believes in Santa Claus. However, when he and Sonny show their presents to their parents, Larry notices his mother’s brief smile and realizes that she had bought the gifts herself—thereby discovering that Santa Claus is not real.
He is filled with remorse for his actions, tearfully exclaiming, “I burst out crying, threw the popgun on the floor, and ran bawling out of the house………” He has now come to understand his mother’s desire for more from him and recognizes that she fears he will follow in his father’s footsteps. Larry’s mother is the second character who gives the story its authenticity. She struggles to raise two children largely on her own, with only minimal financial support from her husband.
The husband neglects his wife and spends money at the pub, providing no real support. He is frequently drunk and lacks awareness of her presence at home. The author characterizes him as “mean, common, and a drunkard.” The mother finds solace in her youngest child, Sonny, who excels academically. However, she cannot shake her concerns about her eldest son, Larry. Despite her efforts, she fears he will follow in his father’s footsteps.
The story focuses on two main themes: growing up and familial relationships. Despite his young age, Larry has already experienced a challenging life. It appears that his mother, lacking support from her husband, expects him to mature faster than usual. However, due to Larry not meeting these expectations, his mother loses faith in him prematurely. Additionally, the story explores the significance of family relationships.
The story showcases several troubled relationships. Larry and Sonny, the mother and father, as well as Larry and his mother all have strained connections. The only positive relationship depicted is between Sonny and his mother. The boys’ poor relationship stems from growing up in an environment where their parents’ relationship is strained. Additionally, there is a minor theme of lost innocence and guilt.
Larry is the character who experiences these emotions, feeling guilty towards his mother towards the end of the story. It is evident that Larry has lost his childlike innocence and may follow in his father’s footsteps. O’Connor’s use of Irish dialect adds an Irish touch to the story, while the first person narration provides a more personal and possibly biased perspective of events.
Larry, the narrator, expresses his thoughts, emotions, and realization of his disappointing life in the ironic-titled story. Despite the association of Christmas with happiness, Larry reflects on how he has let down his mother. This captivating story explores various themes and features realistic characters, making it a valuable addition to any anthology. The multiple readings required to fully comprehend the events adds to its appeal.
The aspect that intrigued me was the ability for one person to read it and derive a completely different meaning compared to someone else.
Cleopatra: Biography And Facts
Cleopatra Vll was born in 69 BC in Alexandria, Egypt.
Despite her glamorous and stunning perception, she actually had a different physical appearance. Ancient coins depict her with a long nose that was hooked and masculine traits. However, despite lacking conventional beauty, she possessed an alluring charm that she employed for political purposes in Egypt. Additionally, she had a melodious singing voice.
Cleopatra, a highly intelligent individual fluent in multiple languages including Egyptian, became the first Ptolemy pharaoh to possess such linguistic skills. At just seventeen years old, Cleopatra took on the role of ruler of Egypt after her father Ptolemy XII Auletes passed away in 51 BC. As per their father’s will, her twelve-year-old brother Ptolemy XIII was selected as her husband.
At first, Ptolemy and his advisers shared the rule of Egypt. However, under their influence, he assumed full authority in their third year of reign. As a result, Cleopatra was compelled to go into exile and find refuge in Syria. Nonetheless, she eventually came back with an army, which prompted Ptolemy to dispatch his own troops to confront her.
While in Egypt, Cleopatra had to hide inside a rolled-up rug to save herself from an enemy seeking help from Ptolemy during Julius Caesar’s visit. This act of concealment allowed her to escape death. When the rug was finally unwrapped before Caesar, he instantly developed intense emotions for her. As a result, Caesar now faced the challenge of deciding which Egyptian ruler he should back in order to preserve his power.
He chose Cleopatra as his lover and restored her to the throne in 47 BC. This happened after her older brother, Ptolemy Xlll, drowned in the Nile while trying to escape. After Ptolemy Xlll’s death, tradition required Cleopatra to marry her youngest brother, named Ptolemy XlV, who was around eleven years old at that time. Once Cleopatra and Ptolemy XlV became co-regents, she and Caesar went on a two-month journey along the Nile.
During this period, according to common belief, Cleopatra conceived and later gave birth to a son. Officially named Ptolemy XV Caesar but commonly known as Caesarion, there were doubts about his biological father. However, due to their resemblance, Caesar acknowledged him as his son. After the cruise, while Cleopatra returned to Egypt, Caesar went back to Rome.
Caesar assigned three men from the army to ensure Cleopatra’s protection and asked her to accompany him to Rome in 46 BC. Cleopatra agreed, bringing Caesarion with her. Later that year, in September, Caesar celebrated his victorious war campaigns with a grand event known as the March of Triumph. During this march, he proudly showcased his captured prisoners, among them Cleopatra’s sister Arsinoe.
After betraying Cleopatra, Arsinoe’s life was spared by Caesar, but later Mark Antony executed her as per Cleopatra’s orders. Cleopatra resided in Caesar’s villa near Rome for close to two years, during which Caesar lavished her with gifts and fulfilled all her desires. Rumors circulated that Caesar planned to pass a law enabling him to marry Cleopatra and make their son his heir. Additionally, it was said that Caesar, who had accepted a lifetime dictatorship and occupied a golden throne in the Senate, had intentions to become the king of Rome. On March 15, 44 BC, a group of conspirators encompassed Caesar during a Senate meeting and fatally stabbed him.
Cleopatra, aware of the threat to her safety, promptly departed Rome accompanied by her protectors. Shortly after their arrival in Egypt, Ptolemy XIV passed away, with rumors suggesting Cleopatra’s involvement in his death. Consequently, Cleopatra appointed her son, Caesarion, as co-regent. Following Caesar’s assassination, Rome faced a power vacuum and erupted into civil war. Ultimately, the empire became divided among three individuals.
Caesar’s great-nephew Octavian, later known as the emperor Augustus, along with Marcus Lepidus and Marcus Antonius, also known as Mark Antony, were present. In 42 B.C., Mark Antony summoned Cleopatra to Tarsus in order to interrogate her regarding her alleged assistance to his enemies. Cleopatra made an impressive entrance on a barge adorned with a gilded stern, purple sails, and silver oars.
Her maids, dressed as sea nymphs, sailed the boat while Cleopatra, dressed as Venus, the goddess of love, lounged beneath a gold canopy. She was fanned by boys wearing Cupid costumes, impressing Antony with this opulent demonstration of luxury.
Cleopatra had arranged for this event to occur. That night, she entertained Antony on her barge. The next evening, Antony asked her to dine with him in an attempt to outdo her in magnificence. Regrettably, he did not succeed but he took it lightheartedly and made jests about it. Cleopatra didn’t seem bothered by his inappropriate sense of humor and even joined in. Like Caesar before him, Antony was falling in love with Cleopatra. He neglected his responsibilities as a ruler and traveled to Alexandria with her, where they spent the winter.
After saying goodbye to Cleopatra, Antony returned to his duties as the ruler of the Roman empire. Six months later, Cleopatra gave birth to twins named Cleopatra Selene and Alexander Helios. It took four years for Antony and Cleopatra to meet again. During that time, Antony married Octavia, who was actually Octavian’s half-sister.
In 37 BC, Antony visited Cleopatra while preparing to invade Parthia. Having three children, he swiftly completed his military campaign and returned to Cleopatra, making Alexandria his permanent residence. Cleopatra became his sole focus.
In 36 BC, Cleopatra married Antony and had a son named Ptolemy Philadelphus. Meanwhile in Rome, Octavia remained faithful to her unfaithful husband and decided to visit Antony. While she was in Athens, she received a letter from him informing her of their planned meeting. However, Cleopatra was determined to prevent Antony from reuniting with his other wife and employed tactics such as crying, fainting, and starving herself. These strategies ultimately proved successful as Antony canceled his trip, leaving Octavia to return home without seeing her husband.
Octavia’s mistreatment and Cleopatra and Antony’s self-proclamation as gods deeply shocked the Roman people. Moreover, Antony’s decision to appoint Alexander Helios as king of Armenia, Cleopatra Selene as queen of Cyrenaica and Crete, and Ptolemy Philadelphus as king of Syria only exacerbated the situation. Caesarion was declared “King of Kings,” while Cleopatra assumed the title of “Queen of Kings.” These actions provoked Octavian’s fury, ultimately convincing the Roman Senate to initiate a war against Egypt in 31 B.C.
Antony’s forces engaged in a naval battle against the Romans near Actium, Greece. Cleopatra accompanied him with her own fleet of sixty ships. Observing that the Romans’ agile vessels were overpowering Antony’s slow and poorly manned galleys, Cleopatra departed the scene. Antony, in turn, deserted his men to pursue her.
The Romans interpreted Antony’s retreat as a manifestation of his obsession with Cleopatra and his inability to make independent decisions. Despite the possibility of prearrangement, Antony spent three days in isolation at the forefront of Cleopatra’s vessel, rejecting any interaction with her. Eventually, they returned to Egypt where Antony secluded himself for a period. Meanwhile, Cleopatra made arrangements in anticipation of an imminent Roman invasion. Upon discovering that his troops had surrendered at Actium and his allies had switched allegiance to Octavian, Antony abandoned his solitary existence and reunited with Cleopatra to savor their remaining time together. Cleopatra commenced experimenting with various toxins in search of the least agonizing means of death.
In 30 B.C., Octavian arrived in Alexandria and Mark Antony departed the city with his army to confront the opposing forces. Antony anticipated a naval confrontation between his fleet and the Roman fleet, as they were situated on elevated terrain. However, he was taken aback when he witnessed his own fleet honoring the Romans by lifting their oars and coordinating with them.
Prior to this event, she had constructed a mausoleum wherein she relocated all her wealth, encompassing gold, silver, emeralds, pearls, ebony, ivory, and various other precious possessions.
After Antony’s cavalry abandoned him, his infantry was defeated. Upon returning to the city, Antony accused Cleopatra of betraying him in anger. Fearing Antony’s wrath, Cleopatra sought sanctuary in a monument where she stored her treasures and locked herself inside. To trick Antony, she instructed her servants to inform him that she had died. Astonishingly, Antony fell for the fake news and went to his room. There, he opened his coat and expressed his longing to reunite with Cleopatra.
Antony instructed his servant, Eros, to end his life, but instead Eros took his own life. In desperation, Antony inflicted a self-inflicted stab wound to his stomach and collapsed onto a couch. Upon awakening, he pleaded with his servants to end his suffering, but they fled. Finally, Cleopatra’s secretary arrived and informed him that Cleopatra wished to see him. Filled with relief upon learning Cleopatra was still alive, Antony was transported to her mausoleum.
Cleopatra, fearing the arrival of Octavian’s army, hesitated to open the door. However, she and her two serving women devised a plan to hoist him up by ropes through a window. In distress, Cleopatra placed Antony on her bed and she mournfully lamented her loss, referring to him as her lord, husband, and emperor. Antony advised her not to pity him but to recall their past happiness. Shortly thereafter, he passed away. Upon reaching her monument, Octavian and his soldiers were denied entry by Cleopatra. She conversed with them from behind the door, demanding that her children be granted control of her kingdom.
Octavian directed one individual to engage her in conversation while the rest prepared ladders and ascended through the window. Upon spotting the men, Cleopatra brandished a dagger and endeavored to inflict harm upon herself; however, she was disarmed and apprehended. Similarly, her children were captured but treated favorably. Octavian permitted Cleopatra to organize Antony’s burial ceremony. Following the funeral, she fell into bed, consumed by sorrow.
Despite her desire to end her own life, Cleopatra was closely watched by Octavian. On a particular day, she threw herself half-naked at his feet, expressing her will to continue living. With Octavian’s consent, she paid a visit to Antony’s tomb before returning to her own mausoleum. After taking a bath, she requested a lavish feast. While the meal was being prepared, a man arrived at her monument carrying a basket of figs. Though the guards inspected the basket and found nothing suspicious, they allowed the man to present it to Cleopatra.
Cleopatra wrote a letter to Octavian after eating. She sealed it and requested to be buried in Antony’s tomb. Octavian opened the letter and became alarmed by Cleopatra’s plea. He sent messengers to warn her guards about her plans to commit suicide, but they arrived too late. They discovered the 39-year old queen dead on her golden bed, with her maid Iras dying beside her.
It was rumored that Cleopatra had intentionally allowed herself to be bitten by an asp, which had been smuggled in with the figs, resulting in two puncture marks on her arm. Consistent with her final wishes, she was laid to rest alongside Antony.