Little did I know to ask Miriam whether the sphinxes she passed on the Canopic Way were Greek or Egyptian. Only now do I see that it makes a difference. A sphinx is a mythical creature with the head of a human, falcon, cat, or sheep and the body of a lion with the wings of an eagle. But the Greek sphinx has the head of woman and was regarded as treacherous and merciless. On the other hand, an Egyptian sphinx (an androsphinx) has the head of a man and was regarded as benevolent. Both, having great strength, were regarded as guardians often flanking the entrances to temples.
Listen to Miriam’s description of Alexandria’s most impressive boulevard:
The city’s colonnades and porticoes, fountains and monuments, sphinxes and temples, statues and palaces glistened in the midday sun as the bearers ferried me past a drove of pigs, a platoon of soldiers, a herd of sheep, and a caravan of camels, all the while casting a thick, swiftly moving shadow of our chair on the one-hundred-foot-wide Canopic Way. Wheeled vehicles are banned from sunrise to late afternoon, but the bearers still had to weave around other obstacles like bronze-fitted sedan chairs and curtained litters, street philosophers and impromptu orators. Likewise, they had to dodge dung sweepers wielding shovels, priests waving palm fronds, whores flaunting their charms, and idlers drinking honey-sweetened water inside dwarfed polygons of shade.
Still, you’ll get more than a description of Alexandria in THE DEADLIEST HATE. You’ll cross the Mediterranean to arrive in Caesarea where Miriam is hunted by Judean terrorists. Why? Just watch the book trailer here.