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Herodias by Gustave Flaubert
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By Gustave Flaubert


In the eastern side of the Dead Sea rose the citadel of Machaerus. It
was built upon a conical peak of basalt, and was surrounded by four deep
valleys, one on each side, another in front, and the fourth in the rear.
At the base of the citadel, crowding against one another, a group of
houses stood within the circle of a wall, whose outlines undulated with
the unevenness of the soil. A zigzag road, cutting through the rocks,
joined the city to the fortress, the walls of which were about one
hundred and twenty cubits high, having numerous angles and ornamental
towers that stood out like jewels in this crown of stone overhanging an

Within the high walls stood a palace, adorned with many richly carved
arches, and surrounded by a terrace that on one side of the building
spread out below a wide balcony made of sycamore wood, upon which tall
poles had been erected to support an awning.

One morning, just before sunrise, the tetrarch, Herod-Antipas, came out
alone upon the balcony. He leaned against one of the columns and looked
about him.

The crests of the hill-tops in the valley below the palace were just
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