Cleopatra Wasn’t the Only One


Despite Plutarch and other ancient historians’ accounts, modern toxicologists challenge the notion that Cleopatra died from the bite of the asp known as the Egyptian cobra. (See my blog of April 7, 2015.) They assert that her having studied the effects of various poisons on condemned prisoners, she would have known of the violent and painful effects of the cobra’s bite. Instead they claim she killed herself with a mixture of drugs.

Fortunately, Miriam as an alchemist also has a thorough knowledge of drugs, but she gained her knowledge from De Medicina and uses it to heal. For example, in THE DEADLIEST SPORT, the next Miriam bat Isaac adventure to be released, she learns that her elderly friend, Amram, is flushed with fever and gasping for air. She recommends a change from the physician’s treatment and rushes to his bedside:

As soon as we left the eucalyptus-scented atrium, the acrid breath of Amram’s sickness, a pungent mixture of flatulence, soiled linens, and dried blood, assailed my nostrils. The stench become more insistent with each tiptoe along the palatial corridor, past silk drapes swagged to reveal room after room of massive, highly varnished furniture, some walls veneered in marble, others frescoed with murals of trees, birds, and mythical animals.

Surrounded by a battery of squat tables, some rosewood, others mahogany and teak, each jammed with herbs and unguents, vials and flasks, ligatures and sweat-drenched towels, Amram looked smaller than ever on his sleeping couch, like a skin-draped skeleton, his teeth too big for his face. His ancient hands were translucent as they poked out from the coverlet, his knuckles as iridescent as a string of pearls. His face was flecked with fever and his lips caked w