Melanthius You Old Goat


I knew there was more implied than depicted in that formative scene from Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger, so I tracked down the novelization.  Here’s the relevant excerpt:

The old man’s expression of surprise and astonishment changed to a wide smile. “Well, well, well, and what—by Zeus and all the Gods—do we have here?” He peered closer. “And who?”

The old scholar reached down to pick up the tiny figure, but Zenobia tried to run. She lurched to her feet, staggered, tried to get between a metal case and a wooden chest; but the Greek’s hand was too quick. He snatched her up, gleefully. She struggled, biting and scratching, but the fingers were huge ridged tubes to her, incredibly thick and impervious to her clawing. Melanthius stared in fascination at the squirming form in his grasp, as if he were examining some particularly rare and interesting type of insect.

Then, reaching behind him with his free hand, he, picked up a wide-necked distilling bottle, and popped the specimen inside. Zenobia glared furiously through the glass walls of the retort. She had lost her composure and haughty bearing completely and found that the thick curving glass of her prison distorted and magnified her view and made her dizzy.

Melanthius was still enraptured by her size. “She looks exactly like a woman, but in miniature! More like a doll than a real living being!”

“Never mind,” Sinbad growled. “For all her puny size she’s still a witch!”

“Fascinating,” murmured Melanthius, observing the perfect scaled-down proportions.

“How did she get here?” Farah asked, her eyes wide.

“She’s a sorceress,” grumbled Sinbad, glaring back at the tiny figure. “And dangerous. They have ways of doing things .. . ” He glanced at the baboon, who was trying to see what was happening. “We should have left her to Kassim,” be saId, reaching down to lift up the baboon’s cage so that he could see the tabletop.

“No,” the old man disagreed. “She cannot harm us . . . not now.”

Sinbad gestured at the captured witch in the retort. “What do you want to do with her then?” He gave Farah a look that said if she were not present he would have offered some interesting and deadly alternatives.

Melanthius was still studying the tiny figure. “A most interesting and remarkable physiological curiosity.”

“A witch,” Farah said grimly.

Melanthius glanced at the princess. “Then all the more reason that I should be allowed to examine her, interrogate her. . . .” He looked back at the tiny figure, now standing sullenly, staring at them. “In the interests of science . . . I insist!”

Sinbad raised his eyebrows to Farah. “Princess?” he asked, “Dione?”

Farah took a deep breath, her eyes troubled. She glanced at the baboon, then sighed. “All right,” she said to Melanthius. “As long as you take every care.”

Melanthius nodded happily, his eyes on the content of the retort. “Never fear. I shall be on my guard. I’ll try to extract the information from her.” He turned to look at Sinbad, his daughter, and the princess over his shoulder. “Take them on deck, Captain. A confrontation between good and evil may unleash forces that . . . that can be dangerous.”

Zenobia watched them rise and heard Sinbad’s voice echoing inside the smooth hard walls of her transparent prison. “I’ll leave her in your charge then.”

“Where are you going?” Farah asked.

Sinbad looked down at the tiny figure and their eyes locked. “I’m interested now in knowing how this witch came on board. How did she find us?” Almost to himself, the sailor continued. “Perhaps she managed to find a ship after all. But what ship? And where is it now?” He started out. “I’m going to double the lookouts.”

Melanthius gestured after Sinbad. “Go with him, Princess, Dione.” He glanced back at the glaring figure within the retort. “I will have to ask certain questions of a somewhat . . . er . . . delicate nature.” He looked at the princess with concern.” I would prefer to interrogate our prisoner alone.”

Farah nodded. “As you wish.” She went out the door, pausing only to give her aunt, the tiny Zenobia, a look of fear and loathing.

The old scholar seated himself again at the table, his feet stirring the rolls of scrolls. He pulled the retort closer for study, causing Zenobia to lose her balance and sprawl ungracefully. She arose swiftly to her feet, glaring and angry, with red spots of anger on her cheeks. Silently, she suffered under the old man’s critical examination as he studied her from all sides and angles.

Zenobia masked her very real fear with her sullen and angry attitude. She knew what she would do under such circumstances, but she did not know the old Greek well enough to anticipate what he might decide. To Zenobia there would have been only one sensible solution—destroy her. But Zenobia had more than once been successful because the opposition had not done the sensible thing.

Melanthius said, “Raise your arms above your head, please.” Zenobia refused to move, her gaze sullenly set off at some distant point. The old man tapped on the glass with his fingernail, not meaning to harm her, but the noise within the confines of the retort was deafening. “Raise your arms, please.” Knowing that further disobedience would only anger him, and hoping to find some weakness, Zenobia obeyed.

“Thank you,” the old man said. “Now lower them . . . very good. Would you open your mouth, please? Wide. Wider. Excellent. Um. Yes. Perhaps you’d be good enough to remove your clothing?”

Zenobia was cautious. “Why?”

Melanthius shrugged. “I must begin with a thorough medical examination.”

Zenobia tipped her head up and away. “I would prefer not to.”

Melanthius chuckled. “Come now, you are hardly in a position to be modest.” He smiled tautly. “And what is there to be ashamed of? In your proper shape and size, you must be an extremely handsome woman.”

Despite herself Zenobia was pleased, having arrived at that time in her life when compliments of any kind were getting rare. “Thank you,” she said with a kind of strained politeness.

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