The Robe [UPDATED]
Shortly after the crucifixion, Marcellus wins Jesus's robe from Paulus in a dice game on Calvary, but when he uses it to shield himself from rain, it causes him sudden, intense pain. Demetrius denounces Marcellus and the Roman Empire and leaves with the robe. Marcellus, now haunted by nightmares of the crucifixion, reports back to Tiberius at Capri, where the emperor's soothsayer says that the robe is cursed and has begun to work its dark magic. Tiberius gives Marcellus an imperial commission to find and destroy the robe as well as the followers of Jesus. At Diana's request, Tiberius leaves her free to marry Marcellus, provided he successfully returns from his commission and cures himself of his madness.
Marcellus travels to Cana, whose inhabitants believe Jesus has risen from the dead. Marcellus learns from a weaver, Justus, that Demetrius has arrived at the village and confronts him at an inn, where he is unable to destroy the robe. Demetrius says the robe has no real power and it is Marcellus' guilt over killing an innocent man that has caused his troubles. Justus is killed by Paulus, who informs Marcellus that Caligula has succeeded Tiberius as emperor and his original orders are no longer valid. Marcellus defeats Paulus in a duel and is invited by the fisherman Simon Peter to join Demetrius and him as missionaries. After confessing his role in Jesus' death, Marcellus pledges his life to Jesus and their missionary journey takes them to Rome, where Caligula has proscribed them.
At his trial, Marcellus admits to being a follower of Jesus but denies that he and his friends are plotting against the state. Caligula condemns Marcellus to death unless he denounces his beliefs that Jesus is the son of God and rose from the dead, but Marcellus defies him. Diana stands with Marcellus and denounces Caligula, who condemns Diana to die alongside Marcellus. As they depart the audience hall for their execution, Marcellus is pitied by his forlorn father and Diana gives the robe to Marcipor. The two are led from the hall and prepare for an eternal life together in heaven.
Following the crucifixion, Marcellus takes part in a banquet attended by Pontius Pilate. During the banquet, a drunken centurion insists that Marcellus wear Jesus' robe. Reluctantly wearing the garment, Marcellus apparently suffers a nervous breakdown and returns to Rome.
Sent to Athens to recuperate, Marcellus finally gives in to Demetrius' urging and touches the robe, and his mind is subsequently restored. Marcellus, now believing the robe has some sort of innate power, returns to Judea, follows the path Jesus took, and meets many people whose lives Jesus had affected. Based upon their experiences, first Demetrius and then Marcellus become followers of Jesus.
Marcellus then returns to Rome, where he must report his experiences to the emperor Tiberius at Villa Jovis on Capri. Marcellus frees Demetrius, who escapes. However, later on, because of his uncompromising stance regarding his Christian faith, both Marcellus and his new wife Diana are executed by the new emperor, Caligula. Marcellus arranges that the robe be given to "The Big Fisherman" (Simon Peter).
Women with coquettish airs were imposing in robes à la française and robes à l'anglaise throughout the period between 1720 and 1780. The robe à la française was derived from the loose negligee sacque dress of the earlier part of the century, which was pleated from the shoulders at the front at the back. The silhouette, composed of a funnel-shaped bust feeding into wide rectangular skirts, was inspired by Spanish designs of the previous century and allowed for expansive amounts of textiles with delicate Rococo curvilinear decoration. The wide skirts, which were often open at the front to expose a highly decorated underskirt, were supported by panniers created from padding and hoops of different materials such as cane, baleen or metal. The robes à la française are renowned for the beauty of their textiles, the cut of the back employing box pleats and skirt decorations, known as robings, which showed endless imagination and variety.
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Demetrius rolled up the robe and thrust it inside his tunic, pressing it tightly under his arm. The intimate touch of the garment relieved his feeling of desolation. He wondered if Marcellus might not let him keep the robe. It would be a comfort to own something that this courageous man had worn. He would cherish it as a priceless inheritance. It would have been a great experience, he felt, to have known this man; to have learned the nature of his mind. Now that there would be no opportunity to share his friendship, it would be an enduring consolation to possess his robe.
By the time he reached the city streets, night had fallen on Jerusalem, though it was only mid-afternoon. Lights flickered in the windows. Pedestrians moved slowly, carrying torches. Frightened voices called to one another. Demetrius could not understand what they were saying, but their tone was apprehensive, as if they were wondering about the cause of this strange darkness. He wondered, too, but felt no sense of depression or alarm. The sensation of being alone and unwanted in an unfriendly world had left him. He was not lonely now. He hugged the robe close to his side as if it contained some inexplicable remedy for heartache.
Paulus, who had returned to his seat, rose unsteadily; and, holding up the robe by its shoulders, picked his way carefully to the head table. The room grew suddenly quiet, as he stood directly before Pilate.
Feeling that the short way out of the dilemma was to humour the drunken crowd, Marcellus rose and reached for the robe. Demetrius stood clutching it in his arms, seemingly unable to release it. Marcellus was pale with anger.
'Give it to me!' he commanded, severely. All eyes were attentive, and the place grew quiet. Demetrius drew himself erect, with the robe held tightly in his folded arms. Marcellus waited a long moment, breathing heavily. Then suddenly drawing back his arm he slapped Demetrius in the face with his open hand. It was the first time he had ever ventured to punish him.
Demetrius slowly bowed his head and handed Marcellus the robe; then stood with stooping shoulders while his master tugged it on over the sleeves of his toga. A gale of appreciative laughter went up, and there was tumultuous applause. Marcellus did not smile. His face was drawn and haggard. The room grew still again. As a man in a dream, he fumbled woodenly with the neck of the garment, trying to pull it off his shoulders. His hands were shaking.
'Thank you, sir,' replied Marcellus, remotely. He half-rose from his couch, but finding that his knees were still weak, sank down again. Too much attention had already been focused on him: he would not take the risk of an unfortunate exit. Doubtless his sudden enfeeblement would soon pass. He tried to analyse this curious enervation. He had been drinking far too much to-day. He had been under a terrific emotional strain. But even in his present state of mental confusion, he could still think straight enough to know that it wasn't the wine or the day's tragic task. This seizure of unaccountable inertia had come upon him when he thrust his arms into the sleeves of that robe! Pilate had taunted him about his superstition. Nothing could be farther from the truth: he was not superstitious. Nobody had less interest in or respect for a belief in supernatural persons or powers. That being true, he had not himself invested this robe with some imagined magic.
He hadn't accomplished his freedom yet, but he was beginning to experience the sense of it. After he had strapped the bulky baggage, Demetrius quietly left the room and returned to his own small cubicle at the far end of the barracks occupied by the contingent from Minoa where he gathered up his few belongings and stowed them into his bag. Carefully folding the Galilean's robe, he tucked it in last after packing everything else.
It was, he admitted, a very irrational idea, but the softness of the finely woven, homespun robe had a curious quality. The touch of it had for him a strangely calming effect, as if giving him a new reliance. He remembered a legend from his childhood, about a ring that bore the insignia of a prince. And the prince had given the ring to some poor legionary who had pushed him out of an arrow's path. And, years afterwards, when in great need, the soldier had turned the ring to good account in seeking an audience with the prince. Demetrius could not remember all the details of the story, but this robe seemed to have much the same properties as the prince's ring. It was in the nature of a surety, a defence.
'Better get rid of that robe!' shouted Melas, his voice shrill with anger. 'That's what drove your smart young Marcellus out of his mind! He began to go crazy the minute he put it on! He is accursed! The Galilean has had his revenge!'
'This Jesus of Galilee wore a simple, brown, homespun robe to the cross. They stripped it off and flung it on the ground. While he hung there, dying, my master and a few other officers sat near-by playing with dice. One took up this robe and they cast lots for it. My master won it. Later in the evening, there was a banquet at the Insula. Everyone had been drinking to excess. A Centurion urged my master to put on the robe.'
'My master was not himself when he gave that order. I have occasionally disobeyed him when I felt that the command was not to his best interest. And now I am glad I kept the robe. If it was the cause of his derangement, it might become the instrument of his recovery.'
After the villa was quiet and Demetrius was assured that Marcellus was asleep, he retired to his adjacent bedchamber. Presently there was a light tap on the door, and Marcipor entered. They drew their chairs close and talked in hushed voices until the birds began to stir in the pale blue light of the oncoming dawn. It was a long, strange story that Demetrius had to tell. Marcipor wanted to see the robe. Demetrius handed it to him, and he examined it curiously. 041b061a72