Selene Thrown Down by Argus — Ferdinand Keller


Selene Thrown Down by Argus, 1886 by Ferdinand Keller (1842–1922)

Keller’s painting depicts the following scene in Georg Ebers’ 1880 novel The Emperor (English translation by Clara Bell):

In order to reach this fountain, Selene had to go along the corridor where lay the rooms occupied by the Emperor and his followers. She only knew that an architect from Rome had taken up his quarters at Lochias, for, some time after midnight, she had been to get out meat and salt for him, but in what rooms the strangers had been lodged no one had told her. But this morning as she followed the path she was accustomed to tread day by day at the same hour, she felt an anxious shiver. She felt as if everything were not quite the same as usual, and just as she had set her foot on the cop step of the flight leading to the corridor, she raised her lamp to discover whence came the sound she thought she could hear, she perceived in the gloom a fearful something which as she approached it resembled a dog, and which was larger—much larger—than a dog should be.

Her blood ran cold with terror; for a few moments she stood as if spellbound, and was only conscious that the growling and snarling that she heard meant mischief and threatening to herself. At last she found strength to turn to fly, but at the same instant a loud and furious bark echoed behind her and she heard the monster’s quick leaps as he flew after her along the stone pavement.

She felt a violent shock, the pitcher flew out of her hand and was shattered into a thousand fragments, and she sank to the ground under the weight of a warm, rough, heavy mass. Her loud cries of alarm resounded from the hard bare walls, and roused the sleepers and brought them to her side.

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