According to this Roman floor mosaic found in Pompeii and preserved in the Naples National Archeological Museum, Alexander had not only a nose but a splendid one at that. However, he lost a piece of that schnozzola about 300 years after he died, about 50 years before Miriam’s time.
The Macedonian conqueror was laid to rest in the Soma, the sacred walled precinct Ptolemy II built in the center of Alexandria to honor his divine hero. The body was interred under a funereal temple built of the finest Greek and Egyptian marbles and furnished with the most exquisite mortuary relics.
The rhinal insult occurred when Augustus, a great admirer of Alexander, wanted to see the mummy. In his eagerness to examine the remains, while crowning the head with a golden diadem, he accidentally crushed part of the noble nose.
Still, when Miriam passes the intersection of her city’s two great thoroughfares, she sees the tourists lining up along the walls around the Soma to pass through its heavy bronze doors into the restrained beauty of the temple, its clouds of lavender incense, its floors inlaid with mother-of-pearl, and its priests’ undulating robes.
Where was Miriam going? Check out Chapter 9 of THE DEADLIEST LIE, or go to www.junetrop.com to read the first two chapters.
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