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Title: History of Cleopatra, Queen of Egypt
Author: Abbott, Jacob, 1803-1879
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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With Engravings.

New York:
Harper & Brothers, Publishers.

Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year one thousand eight
hundred and fifty-one, by
Harper & Brothers,
in the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the Southern District of
New York.


In selecting the subjects for the successive volumes of this series, it
has been the object of the author to look for the names of those great
personages whose histories constitute useful, and not merely entertaining,
knowledge. There are certain names which are familiar, as names, to all
mankind; and every person who seeks for any degree of mental cultivation,
feels desirous of informing himself of the leading outlines of their
history, that he may know, in brief, what it was in their characters or
their doings which has given them so widely-extended a fame. This
knowledge, which it seems incumbent on every one to obtain in respect to
such personages as Hannibal, Alexander, Cæsar, Cleopatra, Darius, Xerxes,
Alfred, William the Conqueror, Queen Elizabeth, and Mary, queen of Scots,
it is the design and object of these volumes to communicate, in a
faithful, and, at the same time, if possible, in an attractive manner.
Consequently, great historical names alone are selected; and it has been
the writer's aim to present the prominent and leading traits in their
characters, and all the important events in their lives, in a bold and
free manner, and yet in the plain and simple language which is so
obviously required in works which aim at permanent and practical


  Chapter                                Page

     I. THE VALLEY OF THE NILE             13

    II. THE PTOLEMIES                      35

   III. ALEXANDRIA                         61

    IV. CLEOPATRA'S FATHER                 87

     V. ACCESSION TO THE THRONE           112

    VI. CLEOPATRA AND CÆSAR               132

   VII. THE ALEXANDRINE WAR               157

  VIII. CLEOPATRA A QUEEN                 181

    IX. THE BATTLE OF PHILIPPI            200

     X. CLEOPATRA AND ANTONY              225

    XI. THE BATTLE OF ACTIUM              256

   XII. THE END OF CLEOPATRA              286



  MAP, SCENE OF CLEOPATRA'S HISTORY      _Frontispiece._

  MAP, THE RAINLESS REGION                            21

  MAP, THE DELTA OF THE NILE                          29

  THE BIRTH-DAY PRESENT                               50

  ANTONY CROSSING THE DESERT                         107


  VIEW OF ALEXANDRIA                                 162


  THE ENTERTAINMENTS AT TARSUS                       242

  THE TOMB                                           303




The story of Cleopatra is a story of crime. It is a narrative of the
course and the consequences of unlawful love. In her strange and romantic
history we see this passion portrayed with the most complete and graphic
fidelity in all its influences and effects; its uncontrollable impulses,
its intoxicating joys, its reckless and mad career, and the dreadful
remorse and ultimate despair and ruin in which it always and inevitably

       *       *       *       *       *

Cleopatra was by birth an Egyptian; by ancestry and descent she was a
Greek. Thus, while Alexandria and the delta of the Nile formed the scene
of the most important events and incidents of her history, it was the
blood of Macedon which flowed in her veins. Her character and action are
marked by the genius, the courage, the originality, and the impulsiveness
pertaining to the stock from which she sprung. The events of her history,
on the other hand, and the peculiar character of her adventures, her
sufferings, and her sins, were determined by the circumstances with which
she was surrounded, and the influences which were brought to bear upon her
in the soft and voluptuous clime where the scenes of her early life were

Egypt has always been considered as physically the most remarkable country
on the globe. It is a long and narrow valley of verdure and fruitfulness,
completely insulated from the rest of the habitable world. It is more
completely insulated, in fact, than any literal island could be, inasmuch
as deserts are more impassable than seas. The very existence of Egypt is a
most extraordinary phenomenon. If we could but soar with the wings of an
eagle into the air, and look down upon the scene, so as to observe the
operation of that grand and yet simple process by which this long and
wonderful valley, teeming so profusely with animal and vegetable life, has
been formed, and is annually revivified and renewed, in the midst of
surrounding wastes of silence, desolation, and death, we should gaze upon
it with never-ceasing admiration and pleasure. We have not the wings of
the eagle, but the generalizations of science furnish us with a sort of
substitute for them. The long series of patient, careful, and sagacious
observations, which have been continued now for two thousand years, bring
us results, by means of which, through our powers of mental conception, we
may take a comprehensive survey of the whole scene, analogous, in some
respects, to that which direct and actual vision would afford us, if we
could look down upon it from the eagle's point of view. It is, however,
somewhat humiliating to our pride of intellect to reflect that
long-continued philosophical investigations and learned scientific
research are, in such a case as this, after all, in some sense, only a
sort of substitute for wings. A human mind connected with a pair of
eagle's wings would have solved the mystery of Egypt in a week; whereas
science, philosophy, and research, confined to the surface of the ground,
have been occupied for twenty centuries in accomplishing the undertaking.

It is found at last that both the existence of Egypt itself, and its
strange insulation in the midst of boundless tracts of dry and barren
sand, depend upon certain remarkable results of the general laws of rain.
The water which is taken up by the atmosphere from the surface of the sea
and of the land by evaporation, falls again, under certain circumstances,
in showers of rain, the frequency and copiousness of which vary very much
in different portions of the earth. As a general principle, rains are much
more frequent and abundant near the equator than in temperate climes, and
they grow less and less so as we approach the poles. This might naturally
have been expected; for, under the burning sun of the equator, the
evaporation of water must necessarily go on with immensely greater
rapidity than in the colder zones, and all the water which is taken up
must, of course, again come down.

It is not, however, wholly by the latitude of the region in which the
evaporation takes place that the quantity of rain which falls from the
atmosphere is determined; for the condition on which the falling back, in
rain, of the water which has been taken up by evaporation mainly depends,
is the cooling of the atmospheric stratum which contains it; and this
effect is produced in very various ways, and many different causes operate
to modify it. Sometimes the stratum is cooled by being wafted over ranges
of mountains; sometimes by encountering and becoming mingled with cooler
currents of air; and sometimes, again, by being driven in winds toward a
higher, and, consequently, cooler latitude. If, on the other hand, air
moves from cold mountains toward warm and sunny plains, or from higher
latitudes to lower, or if, among the various currents into which it falls,
it becomes mixed with air warmer than itself, its capacity for containing
vapor in solution is increased, and, consequently, instead of releasing
its hold upon the waters which it has already in possession, it becomes
thirsty for more. It moves over a country, under these circumstances, as a
warm and drying wind. Under a reverse of circumstances it would have
formed drifting mists, or, perhaps, even copious showers of rain.

It will be evident, from these considerations, that the frequency of the
showers, and the quantity of the rain which will fall, in the various
regions respectively which the surface of the earth presents, must depend
on the combined influence of many causes, such as the warmth of the
climate, the proximity and the direction of mountains and of seas, the
character of the prevailing winds, and the reflecting qualities of the
soil. These and other similar causes, it is found, do, in fact, produce a
vast difference in the quantity of rain which falls in different regions.
In the northern part of South America, where the land is bordered on every
hand by vast tropical seas, which load the hot and thirsty air with vapor,
and where the mighty Cordillera of the Andes rears its icy summits to
chill and precipitate the vapors again, a quantity of rain amounting to
more than ten feet in perpendicular height falls in a year. At St.
Petersburg, on the other hand, the quantity thus falling in a year is but
little more than one foot. The immense deluge which pours down from the
clouds in South America would, if the water were to remain where it fell,
wholly submerge and inundate the country. As it is, in flowing off through
the valleys to the sea, the united torrents form the greatest river on the
globe--the Amazon; and the vegetation, stimulated by the heat, and
nourished by the abundant and incessant supplies of moisture, becomes so
rank, and loads the earth with such an entangled and matted mass of
trunks, and stems, and twining wreaths and vines, that man is almost
excluded from the scene. The boundless forests become a vast and almost
impenetrable jungle, abandoned to wild beasts, noxious reptiles, and huge
and ferocious birds of prey.

Of course, the district of St. Petersburg, with its icy winter, its low
and powerless sun, and its twelve inches of annual rain, must necessarily
present, in all its phenomena of vegetable and animal life, a striking
contrast to the exuberant prolificness of New Grenada. It is, however,
after all, not absolutely the opposite extreme. There are certain regions
on the surface of the earth that are actually rainless; and it is these
which present us with the true and real contrast to the luxuriant
vegetation and teeming life of the country of the Amazon. In these
rainless regions all is necessarily silence, desolation, and death. No
plant can grow; no animal can live. Man, too, is forever and hopelessly
excluded. If the exuberant abundance of animal and vegetable life shut him
out, in some measure, from regions which an excess of heat and moisture
render too prolific, the total absence of them still more effectually
forbids him a home in these. They become, therefore, vast wastes of dry
and barren sands in which no root can find nourishment, and of dreary
rocks to which not even a lichen can cling.

The most extensive and remarkable rainless region on the earth is a vast
tract extending through the interior and northern part of Africa, and the
southwestern part of Asia. The Red Sea penetrates into this tract from the
south, and thus breaks the outline and continuity of its form, without,
however, altering, or essentially modifying its character. It divides it,
however, and to the different portions which this division forms,
different names have been given. The Asiatic portion is called Arabia
Deserta; the African tract has received the name of Sahara; while between
these two, in the neighborhood of Egypt, the barren region is called
simply _the desert_. The whole tract is marked, however, throughout, with
one all-pervading character: the absence of vegetable, and, consequently,
of animal life, on account of the absence of rain. The rising of a range
of lofty mountains in the center of it, to produce a precipitation of
moisture from the air, would probably transform the whole of the vast
waste into as verdant, and fertile, and populous a region I as any on the

[Illustration: VALLEY OF THE NILE]

As it is, there are no such mountains. The whole tract is nearly level,
and so little elevated above the sea, that, at the distance of many
hundred miles in the interior, the land rises only to the height of a few
hundred feet above the surface of the Mediterranean; whereas in New
Grenada, at less than one hundred miles from the sea, the chain of the
Andes rises to elevations of from ten to fifteen thousand feet. Such an
ascent as that of a few hundred feet in hundreds of miles would be wholly
imperceptible to any ordinary mode of observation; and the great rainless
region, accordingly, of Africa and Asia is, as it appears to the traveler,
one vast plain, a thousand miles wide and five thousand miles long, with
only one considerable interruption to the dead monotony which reigns, with
that exception, every where over the immense expanse of silence and
solitude. The single interval of fruitfulness and life is the valley of
the Nile.

There are, however, in fact, three interruptions to the continuity of this
plain, though only one of them constitutes any considerable interruption
to its barrenness. They are all of them valleys, extending from north to
south, and lying side by side. The most easterly of these valleys is so
deep that the waters of the ocean flow into it from the south, forming a
long and narrow inlet called the Red Sea. As this inlet communicates
freely with the ocean, it is always nearly of the same level, and as the
evaporation from it is not sufficient to produce rain, it does not even
fertilize its own shores. Its presence varies the dreary scenery of the
landscape, it is true, by giving us surging waters to look upon instead of
driving sands; but this is all. With the exception of the spectacle of an
English steamer passing, at weary intervals, over its dreary expanse, and
some moldering remains of ancient cities on its eastern shore, it affords
scarcely any indications of life. It does very little, therefore, to
relieve the monotonous aspect of solitude and desolation which reigns
over the region into which it has intruded.

The most westerly of the three valleys to which we have alluded is only a
slight depression of the surface of the land marked by a line of _oases_.
The depression is not sufficient to admit the waters of the Mediterranean,
nor are there any rains over any portion of the valley which it forms
sufficient to make it the bed of a stream. Springs issue, however, here
and there, in several places, from the ground, and, percolating through
the sands along the valley, give fertility to little dells, long and
narrow, which, by the contrast that they form with the surrounding
desolation, seem to the traveler to possess the verdure and beauty of
Paradise. There is a line of these oases extending along this westerly
depression, and some of them are of considerable extent. The oasis of
Siweh, on which stood the far-famed temple of Jupiter Ammon, was many
miles in extent, and was said to have contained in ancient times a
population of eight thousand souls. Thus, while the most easterly of the
three valleys which we have named was sunk so low as to admit the ocean to
flow freely into it, the most westerly was so slightly depressed that it
gained only a circumscribed and limited fertility through the springs,
which, in the lowest portions of it, oozed from the ground. The third
valley--the central one--remains now to be described.

The reader will observe, by referring once more to the map, that south of
the great rainless region of which we are speaking, there lie groups and
ranges of mountains in Abyssinia, called the Mountains of the Moon. These
mountains are near the equator, and the relation which they sustain to the
surrounding seas, and to currents of wind which blow in that quarter of
the world, is such, that they bring down from the atmosphere, especially
in certain seasons of the year, vast and continual torrents of rain. The
water which thus falls drenches the mountain sides and deluges the
valleys. There is a great portion of it which can not flow to the
southward or eastward toward the sea, as the whole country consists, in
those directions, of continuous tracts of elevated land. The rush of water
thus turns to the northward, and, pressing on across the desert through
the great central valley which we have referred to above, it finds an
outlet, at last, in the Mediterranean, at a point two thousand miles
distant from the place where the immense condenser drew it from the
skies. The river thus created is the Nile. It is formed, in a word, by the
surplus waters of a district inundated with rains, in their progress
across a rainless desert, seeking the sea.

If the surplus of water upon the Abyssinian mountains had been constant
and uniform, the stream, in its passage across the desert, would have
communicated very little fertility to the barren sands which it traversed.
The immediate banks of the river would have, perhaps, been fringed with
verdure, but the influence of the irrigation would have extended no
further than the water itself could have reached, by percolation through
the sand. But the flow of the water is not thus uniform and steady. In a
certain season of the year the rains are incessant, and they descend with
such abundance and profusion as almost to inundate the districts where
they fall. Immense torrents stream down the mountain sides; the valleys
are deluged; plains turn into morasses, and morasses into lakes. In a
word, the country becomes half submerged, and the accumulated mass of
waters would rush with great force and violence down the central valley of
the desert, which forms their only outlet, if the passage were narrow, and
if it made any considerable descent in its course to the sea. It is,
however, not narrow, and the descent is very small. The depression in the
surface of the desert, through which the water flows, is from five to ten
miles wide, and, though it is nearly two thousand miles from the rainy
district across the desert to the sea, the country for the whole distance
is almost level. There is only sufficient descent, especially for the last
thousand miles, to determine a very gentle current to the northward in the
waters of the stream.

Under these circumstances, the immense quantity of water which falls in
the rainy district in these inundating tropical showers, expands over the
whole valley, and forms for a time an immense lake, extending in length
across the whole breadth of the desert. This lake is, of course, from five
to ten miles wide, and a thousand miles long. The water in it is shallow
and turbid, and it has a gentle current toward the north. The rains, at
length, in a great measure cease; but it requires some months for the
water to run off and leave the valley dry. As soon as it is gone, there
springs up from the whole surface of the ground which has been thus
submerged a most rank and luxuriant vegetation.

This vegetation, now wholly regulated and controlled by the hand of man,
must have been, in its original and primeval state, of a very peculiar
character. It must have consisted of such plants only as could exist under
the condition of having the soil in which they grew laid, for a quarter of
the year, wholly under water. This circumstance, probably, prevented the
valley of the Nile from having been, like other fertile tracts of land,
encumbered, in its native state, with forests. For the same reason, wild
beasts could never have haunted it. There were no forests to shelter them,
and no refuge or retreat for them but the dry and barren desert, during
the period of the annual inundations. This most extraordinary valley seems
thus to have been formed and preserved by Nature herself for the special
possession of man. She herself seems to have held it in reserve for him
from the very morning of creation, refusing admission into it to every
plant and every animal that might hinder or disturb his occupancy and
control. And if he were to abandon it now for a thousand years, and then
return to it once more, he would find it just as he left it, ready for his
immediate possession. There would be no wild beasts that he must first
expel, and no tangled forests would have sprung up, that his ax must
first remove. Nature is the husbandman who keeps this garden of the world
in order, and the means and machinery by which she operates are the grand
evaporating surfaces of the seas, the beams of the tropical sun, the lofty
summits of the Abyssinian mountains, and, as the product and result of all
this instrumentality, great periodical inundations of summer rain.

For these or some other reasons Egypt has been occupied by man from the
most remote antiquity. The oldest records of the human race, made three
thousand years ago, speak of Egypt as ancient then, when they were
written. Not only is Tradition silent, but even Fable herself does not
attempt to tell the story of the origin of her population. Here stand the
oldest and most enduring monuments that human power has ever been able to
raise. It is, however, somewhat humiliating to the pride of the race to
reflect that the loftiest and proudest, as well as the most permanent and
stable of all the works which man has ever accomplished, are but the
incidents and adjuncts of a thin stratum of alluvial fertility, left upon
the sands by the subsiding waters of summer showers.

The most important portion of the alluvion of the Nile is the northern
portion, where the valley widens and opens toward the sea, forming a
triangular plain of about one hundred miles in length on each of the
sides, over which the waters of the river flow in a great number of
separate creeks and channels. The whole area forms a vast meadow,
intersected every where with slow-flowing streams of water, and presenting
on its surface the most enchanting pictures of fertility, abundance, and
beauty. This region is called the Delta of the Nile.

[Illustration: DELTA OF THE NILE]

The sea upon the coast is shallow, and the fertile country formed by the
deposits of the river seems to have projected somewhat beyond the line of
the coast; although, as the land has not advanced perceptibly for the last
eighteen hundred years, it may be somewhat doubtful whether the whole of
the apparent protrusion is not due to the natural conformation of the
coast, rather than to any changes made by the action of the river.

The Delta of the Nile is so level itself, and so little raised above the
level of the Mediterranean, that the land seems almost a continuation of
the same surface with the sea, only, instead of blue waters topped with
white-crested waves, we have broad tracts of waving grain, and gentle
swells of land crowned with hamlets and villages. In approaching the
coast, the navigator has no distant view of all this verdure and beauty.
It lies so low that it continues beneath the horizon until the ship is
close upon the shore. The first landmarks, in fact, which the seaman
makes, are the tops of trees growing apparently out of the water, or the
summit of an obelisk, or the capital of a pillar, marking the site of some
ancient and dilapidated city.

The most easterly of the channels by which the waters of the river find
their way through the Delta to the sea, is called, as it will be seen
marked upon the map, the Pelusiac branch. It forms almost the boundary of
the fertile region of the Delta on the eastern side. There was an ancient
city named Pelusium near the mouth of it. This was, of course, the first
Egyptian city reached by those who arrived by land from the eastward,
traveling along the shores of the Mediterranean Sea. On account of its
thus marking the eastern frontier of the country, it became a point of
great importance, and is often mentioned in the histories of ancient

The westernmost mouth of the Nile, on the other hand, was called the
Canopic mouth. The distance along the coast from the Canopic mouth to
Pelusium was about a hundred miles. The outline of the coast was formerly,
as it still continues to be, very irregular, and the water shallow.
Extended banks of sand protruded into the sea, and the sea itself, as if
in retaliation, formed innumerable creeks, and inlets, and lagoons in the
land. Along this irregular and uncertain boundary the waters of the Nile
and the surges of the Mediterranean kept up an eternal war, with energies
so nearly equal, that now, after the lapse of eighteen hundred years
since the state of the contest began to be recorded, neither side has been
found to have gained any perceptible advantage over the other. The river
brings the sands down, and the sea drives them incessantly back, keeping
the whole line of the shore in such a condition as to make it extremely
dangerous and difficult of access to man.

It will be obvious, from this description of the valley of the Nile, that
it formed a country which was in ancient times isolated and secluded, in a
very striking manner, from all the rest of the world. It was wholly shut
in by deserts, on every side, by land; and the shoals, and sand-bars, and
other dangers of navigation which marked the line of the coast, seemed to
forbid approach by sea. Here it remained for many ages, under the rule of
its own native ancient kings. Its population was peaceful and industrious.
Its scholars were famed throughout the world for their learning, their
science, and their philosophy. It was in these ages, before other nations
had intruded upon its peaceful seclusion, that the Pyramids were built,
and the enormous monoliths carved, and those vast temples reared whose
ruined columns are now the wonder of mankind. During these remote ages,
too, Egypt was, as now, the land of perpetual fertility and abundance.
There would always be corn in Egypt, wherever else famine might rage. The
neighboring nations and tribes in Arabia, Palestine, and Syria, found
their way to it, accordingly, across the deserts on the eastern side, when
driven by want, and thus opened a way of communication. At length the
Persian monarchs, after extending their empire westward to the
Mediterranean, found access by the same road to Pelusium, and thence
overran and conquered the country. At last, about two hundred and fifty
years before the time of Cleopatra, Alexander the Great, when he subverted
the Persian empire, took possession of Egypt, and annexed it, among the
other Persian provinces, to his own dominions. At the division of
Alexander's empire, after his death, Egypt fell to one of his generals,
named Ptolemy. Ptolemy made it his kingdom, and left it, at his death, to
his heirs. A long line of sovereigns succeeded him, known in history as
the dynasty of the Ptolemies--Greek princes, reigning over an Egyptian
realm. Cleopatra was the daughter of the eleventh in the line.

The capital of the Ptolemies was Alexandria. Until the time of Alexander's
conquest, Egypt had no sea-port. There were several landing-places along
the coast, but no proper harbor. In fact, Egypt had then so little
commercial intercourse with the rest of the world, that she scarcely
needed any. Alexander's engineers, however, in exploring the shore, found
a point not far from the Canopic mouth of the Nile where the water was
deep, and where there was an anchorage ground protected by an island.
Alexander founded a city there, which he called by his own name. He
perfected the harbor by artificial excavations and embankments. A lofty
light-house was reared, which formed a landmark by day, and exhibited a
blazing star by night to guide the galleys of the Mediterranean in. A
canal was made to connect the port with the Nile, and warehouses were
erected to contain the stores of merchandise. In a word, Alexandria became
at once a great commercial capital. It was the seat, for several
centuries, of the magnificent government of the Ptolemies; and so well was
its situation chosen for the purposes intended, that it still continues,
after the lapse of twenty centuries of revolution and change, one of the
principal emporiums of the commerce of the East.



The founder of the dynasty of the Ptolemies--the ruler into whose hands
the kingdom of Egypt fell, as has already been stated, at the death of
Alexander the Great--was a Macedonian general in Alexander's army. The
circumstances of his birth, and the events which led to his entering into
the service of Alexander, were somewhat peculiar. His mother, whose name
was Arsinoë, was a personal favorite and companion of Philip, king of
Macedon, the father of Alexander. Philip at length gave Arsinoë in
marriage to a certain man of his court named Lagus. A very short time
after the marriage, Ptolemy was born. Philip treated the child with the
same consideration and favor that he had evinced toward the mother. The
boy was called the son of Lagus, but his position in the royal court of
Macedon was as high and honorable, and the attentions which he received
were as great, as he could have expected to enjoy if he had been in
reality a son of the king. As he grew up, he attained to official
stations of considerable responsibility and power.

In the course of time, a certain transaction occurred, by means of which
Ptolemy involved himself in serious difficulty with Philip, though by the
same means he made Alexander very strongly his friend. There was a
province of the Persian empire called Caria, situated in the southwestern
part of Asia Minor. The governor of this province had offered his daughter
to Philip as the wife of one of his sons named Aridæus, the half brother
of Alexander. Alexander's mother, who was not the mother of Aridæus, was
jealous of this proposed marriage. She thought that it was part of a
scheme for bringing Aridæus forward into public notice, and finally making
him the heir to Philip's throne; whereas she was very earnest that this
splendid inheritance should be reserved for her own son. Accordingly, she
proposed to Alexander that they should send a secret embassage to the
Persian governor, and represent to him that it would be much better, both
for him and for his daughter, that she should have Alexander instead of
Aridæus for a husband, and induce him, if possible, to demand of Philip
that he should make the change.

Alexander entered readily into this scheme, and various courtiers, Ptolemy
among the rest, undertook to aid him in the accomplishment of it. The
embassy was sent. The governor of Caria was very much pleased with the
change which they proposed to him. In fact, the whole plan seemed to be
going on very successfully toward its accomplishment, when, by some means
or other, Philip discovered the intrigue. He went immediately into
Alexander's apartment, highly excited with resentment and anger. He had
never intended to make Aridæus, whose birth on the mother's side was
obscure and ignoble, the heir to his throne, and he reproached Alexander
in the bitterest terms for being of so debased and degenerate a spirit as
to desire to marry the daughter of a Persian governor; a man who was, in
fact, the mere slave, as he said, of a barbarian king.

Alexander's scheme was thus totally defeated; and so displeased was his
father with the officers who had undertaken to aid him in the execution of
it, that he banished them all from the kingdom. Ptolemy, in consequence of
this decree, wandered about an exile from his country for some years,
until at length the death of Philip enabled Alexander to recall him.
Alexander succeeded his father as King of Macedon, and immediately made
Ptolemy one of his principal generals. Ptolemy rose, in fact, to a very
high command in the Macedonian army, and distinguished himself very
greatly in all the celebrated conqueror's subsequent campaigns. In the
Persian invasion, Ptolemy commanded one of the three grand divisions of
the army, and he rendered repeatedly the most signal services to the cause
of his master. He was employed on the most distant and dangerous
enterprises, and was often intrusted with the management of affairs of the
utmost importance. He was very successful in all his undertakings. He
conquered armies, reduced fortresses, negotiated treaties, and evinced, in
a word, the highest degree of military energy and skill. He once saved
Alexander's life by discovering and revealing a dangerous conspiracy which
had been formed against the king. Alexander had the opportunity to requite
this favor, through a divine interposition vouchsafed to him, it was said,
for the express purpose of enabling him to evince his gratitude. Ptolemy
had been wounded by a poisoned arrow, and when all the remedies and
antidotes of the physicians had failed, and the patient was apparently
about to die, an effectual means of cure was revealed to Alexander in a
dream, and Ptolemy, in his turn, was saved.

At the great rejoicings at Susa, when Alexander's conquests were
completed, Ptolemy was honored with a golden crown, and he was married,
with great pomp and ceremony, to Artacama, the daughter of one of the most
distinguished Persian generals.

At length Alexander died suddenly, after a night of drinking and carousal
at Babylon. He had no son old enough to succeed him, and his immense
empire was divided among his generals. Ptolemy obtained Egypt for his
share. He repaired immediately to Alexandria, with a great army, and a
great number of Greek attendants and followers, and there commenced a
reign which continued, in great prosperity and splendor, for forty years.
The native Egyptians were reduced, of course, to subjection and bondage.
All the offices in the army, and all stations of trust and responsibility
in civil life, were filled by Greeks. Alexandria was a Greek city, and it
became at once one of the most important commercial centers in all those
seas. Greek and Roman travelers found now a language spoken in Egypt which
they could understand, and philosophers and scholars could gratify the
curiosity which they had so long felt, in respect to the institutions, and
monuments, and wonderful physical characteristics of the country, with
safety and pleasure. In a word, the organization of a Greek government
over the ancient kingdom, and the establishment of the great commercial
relations of the city of Alexandria, conspired to bring Egypt out from its
concealment and seclusion, and to open it in some measure to the
intercourse, as well as to bring it more fully under the observation, of
the rest of mankind.

Ptolemy, in fact, made it a special object of his policy to accomplish
these ends. He invited Greek scholars, philosophers, poets, and artists,
in great numbers, to come to Alexandria, and to make his capital their
abode. He collected an immense library, which subsequently, under the name
of the Alexandrian library, became one of the most celebrated collections
of books and manuscripts that was ever made. We shall have occasion to
refer more particularly to this library in the next chapter.

Besides prosecuting these splendid schemes for the aggrandizement of
Egypt, King Ptolemy was engaged, during almost the whole period of his
reign, in waging incessant wars with the surrounding nations. He engaged
in these wars, in part, for the purpose of extending the boundaries of his
empire, and in part for self-defense against the aggressions and
encroachments of other powers. He finally succeeded in establishing his
kingdom on the most stable and permanent basis, and then, when he was
drawing toward the close of his life, being in fact over eighty years of
age, he abdicated his throne in favor of his youngest son, whose name was
also Ptolemy. Ptolemy the father, the founder of the dynasty, is known
commonly in history by the name of Ptolemy Soter. His son is called
Ptolemy Philadelphus. This son, though the youngest, was preferred to his
brothers as heir to the throne on account of his being the son of the most
favored and beloved of the monarch's wives. The determination of Soter to
abdicate the throne himself arose from his wish to put this favorite son
in secure possession of it before his death, in order to prevent the older
brothers from disputing the succession. The coronation of Philadelphus was
made one of the most magnificent and imposing ceremonies that royal pomp
and parade ever arranged. Two years afterward Ptolemy the father died,
and was buried by his son with a magnificence almost equal to that of his
own coronation. His body was deposited in a splendid mausoleum, which had
been built for the remains of Alexander; and so high was the veneration
which was felt by mankind for the greatness of his exploits and the
splendor of his reign, that divine honors were paid to his memory. Such
was the origin of the great dynasty of the Ptolemies.

Some of the early sovereigns of the line followed in some degree the
honorable example set them by the distinguished founder of it; but this
example was soon lost, and was succeeded by the most extreme degeneracy
and debasement. The successive sovereigns began soon to live and to reign
solely for the gratification of their own sensual propensities and
passions. Sensuality begins sometimes with kindness, but it ends always in
the most reckless and intolerable cruelty. The Ptolemies became, in the
end, the most abominable and terrible tyrants that the principle of
absolute and irresponsible power ever produced. There was one vice in
particular, a vice which they seem to have adopted from the Asiatic
nations of the Persian empire, that resulted in the most awful
consequences. This vice was incest.

The law of God, proclaimed not only in the Scriptures, but in the native
instincts of the human soul, forbids intermarriages among those connected
by close ties of consanguinity. The necessity for such a law rests on
considerations which can not here be fully explained. They are
considerations, however, which arise from causes inherent in the very
nature of man as a social being, and which are of universal, perpetual,
and insurmountable force. To guard his creatures against the deplorable
consequences, both physical and moral, which result from the practice of
such marriages, the great Author of Nature has implanted in every mind an
instinctive sense of their criminality, powerful enough to give effectual
warning of the danger, and so universal as to cause a distinct
condemnation of them to be recorded in almost every code of written law
that has ever been promulgated among mankind. The Persian sovereigns were,
however, above all law, and every species of incestuous marriage was
practiced by them without shame. The Ptolemies followed their example.

One of the most striking exhibitions of the nature of incestuous domestic
life which is afforded by the whole dismal panorama of pagan vice and
crime, is presented in the history of the great-grandfather of the
Cleopatra who is the principal subject of this narrative. He was
Ptolemy Physcon, the seventh in the line. It is necessary to give some
particulars of his history and that of his family, in order to explain the
circumstances under which Cleopatra herself came upon the stage. The name
Physcon, which afterward became his historical designation, was originally
given him in contempt and derision. He was very small of stature in
respect to height, but his gluttony and sensuality had made him immensely
corpulent in body, so that he looked more like a monster than a man. The
term Physcon was a Greek word, which denoted opprobriously the ridiculous
figure that he made.

The circumstances of Ptolemy Physcon's accession to the throne afford not
only a striking illustration of his character, but a very faithful though
terrible picture of the manners and morals of the times. He had been
engaged in a long and cruel war with his brother, who was king before him,
in which war he had perpetrated all imaginable atrocities, when at length
his brother died, leaving as his survivors his wife, who was also his
sister, and a son who was yet a child. This son was properly the heir to
the crown. Physcon himself, being a brother, had no claim, as against a
son. The name of the queen was Cleopatra. This was, in fact, a very common
name among the princesses of the Ptolemaic line. Cleopatra, besides her
son, had a daughter, who was at this time a young and beautiful girl. Her
name was also Cleopatra. She was, of course, the niece, as her mother was
the sister, of Physcon.

The plan of Cleopatra the mother, after her husband's death, was to make
her son the king of Egypt, and to govern herself, as regent, until he
should become of age. The friends and adherents of Physcon, however,
formed a strong party in _his_ favor. They sent for him to come to
Alexandria to assert his claims to the throne. He came, and a new civil
war was on the point of breaking out between the brother and sister, when
at length the dispute was settled by a treaty, in which it was stipulated
that Physcon should marry Cleopatra, and be king; but that he should make
the son of Cleopatra by her former husband his heir. This treaty was
carried into effect so far as the celebration of the marriage with the
mother was concerned, and the establishment of Physcon upon the throne.
But the perfidious monster, instead of keeping his faith in respect to the
boy, determined to murder him; and so open and brutal were his habits of
violence and cruelty, that he undertook to perpetrate the deed himself, in
open day. The boy fled shrieking to the mother's arms for protection, and
Physcon stabbed and killed him there, exhibiting the spectacle of a
newly-married husband murdering the son of his wife in her very arms!

It is easy to conceive what sort of affection would exist between a
husband and a wife after such transactions as these. In fact, there had
been no love between them from the beginning. The marriage had been solely
a political arrangement. Physcon hated his wife, and had murdered her son,
and then, as if to complete the exhibition of the brutal lawlessness and
capriciousness of his passions, he ended with falling in love with her
daughter. The beautiful girl looked upon this heartless monster, as ugly
and deformed in body as he was in mind, with absolute horror. But she was
wholly in his power. He compelled her, by violence, to submit to his will.
He repudiated the mother, and forced the daughter to become his wife.

Physcon displayed the same qualities of brutal tyranny and cruelty in the
treatment of his subjects that he manifested in his own domestic
relations. The particulars we can not here give, but can only say that his
atrocities became at length absolutely intolerable, and a revolt so
formidable broke out, that he fled from the country. In fact, he barely
escaped with his life, as the mob had surrounded the palace and were
setting it on fire, intending to burn the tyrant himself and all the
accomplices of his crimes together. Physcon, however, contrived to make
his escape. He fled to the island of Cyprus, taking with him a certain
beautiful boy, his son by the Cleopatra whom he had divorced; for they had
been married long enough, before the divorce, to have a son. The name of
this boy was Memphitis. His mother was very tenderly attached to him, and
Physcon took him away on this very account, to keep him as a hostage for
his mother's good behavior. He fancied that, when he was gone, she might
possibly attempt to resume possession of the throne.

His expectations in this respect were realized. The people of Alexandria
rallied around Cleopatra, and called upon her to take the crown. She did
so, feeling, perhaps, some misgivings in respect to the danger which such
a step might possibly bring upon her absent boy. She quieted herself,
however, by the thought that he was in the hands of his own father, and
that he could not possibly come to harm.

After some little time had elapsed, and Cleopatra was beginning to be well
established in her possession of the supreme power at Alexandria, her
birth-day approached, and arrangements were made for celebrating it in the
most magnificent manner. When the day arrived, the whole city was given up
to festivities and rejoicing. Grand entertainments were given in the
palace, and games, spectacles, and plays in every variety, were exhibited
and performed in all quarters of the city. Cleopatra herself was enjoying
a magnificent entertainment, given to the lords and ladies of the court
and the officers of her army, in one of the royal palaces.

[Illustration: THE BIRTH-DAY PRESENT.]

In the midst of this scene of festivity and pleasure, it was announced to
the queen that a large box had arrived for her. The box was brought into
the apartment. It had the appearance of containing some magnificent
present, sent in at that time by some friend in honor of the occasion. The
curiosity of the queen was excited to know what the mysterious coffer
might contain. She ordered it to be opened; and the guests gathered
around, each eager to obtain the first glimpse of the contents. The lid
was removed, and a cloth beneath it was raised, when, to the unutterable
horror of all who witnessed the spectacle, there was seen the head and
hands of Cleopatra's beautiful boy, lying among masses of human flesh,
which consisted of the rest of his body cut into pieces. The head had been
left entire, that the wretched mother might recognize in the pale and
lifeless features the countenance of her son. Physcon had sent the box to
Alexandria, with orders that it should be retained until the evening of
the birth-day, and then presented publicly to Cleopatra in the midst of
the festivities of the scene. The shrieks and cries with which she filled
the apartments of the palace at the first sight of the dreadful spectacle,
and the agony of long-continued and inconsolable grief which followed,
showed how well the cruel contrivance of the tyrant was fitted to
accomplish its end.

It gives us no pleasure to write, and we are sure it can give our readers
no pleasure to peruse, such shocking stories of bloody cruelty as these.
It is necessary, however, to a just appreciation of the character of the
great subject of this history, that we should understand the nature of
the domestic influences that reigned in the family from which she sprung.
In fact, it is due, as a matter of simple justice to her, that we should
know what these influences were, and what were the examples set before her
in her early life; since the privileges and advantages which the young
enjoy in their early years, and, on the other hand, the evil influences
under which they suffer, are to be taken very seriously into the account
when we are passing judgment upon the follies and sins into which they
subsequently fall.

The monster Physcon lived, it is true, two or three generations before the
great Cleopatra; but the character of the intermediate generations, until
the time of her birth, continued much the same. In fact, the cruelty,
corruption, and vice which reigned in every branch of the royal family
increased rather than diminished. The beautiful niece of Physcon, who, at
the time of her compulsory marriage with him, evinced such an aversion to
the monster, had become, at the period of her husband's death, as great a
monster of ambition, selfishness, and cruelty as he. She had two sons,
Lathyrus and Alexander. Physcon, when he died, left the kingdom of Egypt
to her by will, authorizing her to associate with her in the government
whichever of these two sons she might choose. The oldest was best entitled
to this privilege, by his priority of birth; but she preferred the
youngest, as she thought that her own power would be more absolute in
reigning in conjunction with him, since he would be more completely under
her control. The leading powers, however, in Alexandria, resisted this
plan, and insisted on Cleopatra's associating her oldest son, Lathyrus,
with her in the government of the realm. They compelled her to recall
Lathyrus from the banishment into which she had sent him, and to put him
nominally upon the throne. Cleopatra yielded to this necessity, but she
forced her son to repudiate his wife, and to take, instead, another woman,
whom she fancied she could make more subservient to her will. The mother
and the son went on together for a time, Lathyrus being nominally king,
though her determination that she would rule, and his struggles to resist
her intolerable tyranny, made their wretched household the scene of
terrible and perpetual quarrels. At last Cleopatra seized a number of
Lathyrus's servants, the eunuchs who were employed in various offices
about the palace, and after wounding and mutilating them in a horrible
manner, she exhibited them to the populace, saying that it was Lathyrus
that had inflicted the cruel injuries upon the sufferers, and calling upon
them to arise and punish him for his crimes. In this and in other similar
ways she awakened among the people of the court and of the city such an
animosity against Lathyrus, that they expelled him from the country. There
followed a long series of cruel and bloody wars between the mother and the
son, in the course of which each party perpetrated against the other
almost every imaginable deed of atrocity and crime. Alexander, the
youngest son, was so afraid of his terrible mother, that he did not dare
to remain in Alexandria with her, but went into a sort of banishment of
his own accord. He, however, finally returned to Egypt. His mother
immediately supposed that he was intending to disturb her possession of
power, and resolved to destroy him. He became acquainted with her designs,
and, grown desperate by the long-continued pressure of her intolerable
tyranny, he resolved to bring the anxiety and terror in which he lived to
an end by killing her. This he did, and then fled the country. Lathyrus,
his brother, then returned, and reigned for the rest of his days in a
tolerable degree of quietness and peace. At length Lathyrus died, and left
the kingdom to his son, Ptolemy Auletes, who was the great Cleopatra's

We can not soften the picture which is exhibited to our view in the
history of this celebrated family, by regarding the mother of Auletes, in
the masculine and merciless traits and principles which she displayed so
energetically throughout her terrible career, as an exception to the
general character of the princesses who appeared from time to time in the
line. In ambition, selfishness, unnatural and reckless cruelty, and utter
disregard of every virtuous principle and of every domestic tie, she was
but the type and representative of all the rest.

She had two daughters, for example, who were the consistent and worthy
followers of such a mother. A passage in the lives of these sisters
illustrates very forcibly the kind of sisterly affection which prevailed
in the family of the Ptolemies. The case was this:

There were two princes of Syria, a country lying northeast of the
Mediterranean Sea, and so not very far from Egypt, who, though they were
brothers, were in a state of most deadly hostility to each other. One had
attempted to poison the other, and afterward a war had broken out between
them, and all Syria was suffering from the ravages of their armies. One of
the sisters, of whom we have been speaking, married one of these princes.
Her name was Tryphena. After some time, but yet while the unnatural war
was still raging between the two brothers, Cleopatra, the other
sister--the same Cleopatra, in fact, that had been divorced from Lathyrus
at the instance of his mother--espoused the other brother. Tryphena was
exceedingly incensed against Cleopatra for marrying her husband's mortal
foe, and the implacable hostility and hate of the sisters was thenceforth
added to that which the brothers had before exhibited, to complete the
display of unnatural and parricidal passion which this shameful contest
presented to the world.

In fact, Tryphena from this time seemed to feel a new and highly-excited
interest in the contest, from her eager desire to revenge herself on her
sister. She watched the progress of it, and took an active part in
pressing forward the active prosecution of the war. The party of her
husband, either from this or some other causes, seemed to be gaining the
day. The husband of Cleopatra was driven from one part of the country to
another, and at length, in order to provide for the security of his wife,
he left her in Antioch, a large and strongly-fortified city, where he
supposed that she would be safe, while he himself was engaged in
prosecuting the war in other quarters where his presence seemed to be

On learning that her sister was at Antioch, Tryphena urged her husband to
attack the place. He accordingly advanced with a strong detachment of the
army, and besieged and took the city. Cleopatra would, of course, have
fallen into his hands as a captive; but, to escape this fate, she fled to
a temple for refuge. A temple was considered, in those days, an inviolable
sanctuary. The soldiers accordingly left her there. Tryphena, however,
made a request that her husband would deliver the unhappy fugitive into
her hands. She was determined, she said, to kill her. Her husband
remonstrated with her against this atrocious proposal. "It would be a
wholly useless act of cruelty," said he, "to destroy her life. She can do
us no possible harm in the future progress of the war, while to murder her
under these circumstances will only exasperate her husband and her
friends, and nerve them with new strength for the remainder of the
contest. And then, besides, she has taken refuge in a temple; and if we
violate that sanctuary, we shall incur, by such an act of sacrilege, the
implacable displeasure of heaven. Consider, too, that she is your sister,
and for you to kill her would be to commit an unnatural and wholly
inexcusable crime."

So saying, he commanded Tryphena to say no more upon the subject, for he
would on no account consent that Cleopatra should suffer any injury

This refusal on the part of her husband to comply with her request only
inflamed Tryphena's insane resentment and anger the more. In fact, the
earnestness with which he espoused her sister's cause, and the interest
which he seemed to feel in her fate, aroused Tryphena's jealousy. She
believed, or pretended to believe, that her husband was influenced by a
sentiment of love in so warmly defending her. The object of her hate, from
being simply an enemy, became now, in her view, a rival, and she resolved
that, at all hazards, she should be destroyed. She accordingly ordered a
body of desperate soldiers to break into the temple and seize her.
Cleopatra fled in terror to the altar, and clung to it with such
convulsive force that the soldiers cut her hands off before they could
tear her away, and then, maddened by her resistance and the sight of
blood, they stabbed her again and again upon the floor of the temple,
where she fell. The appalling shrieks with which the wretched victim
filled the air in the first moments of her flight and her terror,
subsided, as her life ebbed away, into the most awful imprecations of the
judgments of heaven upon the head of the unnatural sister whose implacable
hate had destroyed her.

       *       *       *       *       *

Notwithstanding the specimens that we have thus given of the character and
action of this extraordinary family, the government of this dynasty,
extending, as it did, through the reigns of thirteen sovereigns and over a
period of nearly three hundred years, has always been considered one of
the most liberal, enlightened, and prosperous of all the governments of
ancient times. We shall have something to say in the next chapter in
respect to the internal condition of the country while these violent men
were upon the throne. In the meantime, we will here only add, that whoever
is inclined, in observing the ambition, the selfishness, the party spirit,
the unworthy intrigues, and the irregularities of moral conduct, which
modern rulers and statesmen sometimes exhibit to mankind in their personal
and political career, to believe in a retrogression and degeneracy of
national character as the world advances in age, will be very effectually
undeceived by reading attentively a full history of this celebrated
dynasty, and reflecting, as he reads, that the narrative presents, on the
whole, a fair and honest exhibition of the general character of the men by
whom, in ancient times, the world was governed.



It must not be imagined by the reader that the scenes of vicious
indulgence, and reckless cruelty and crime, which were exhibited with such
dreadful frequency, and carried to such an enormous excess in the palaces
of the Egyptian kings, prevailed to the same extent throughout the mass of
the community during the period of their reign. The internal
administration of government, and the institutions by which the industrial
pursuits of the mass of the people were regulated, and peace and order
preserved, and justice enforced between man and man, were all this time in
the hands of men well qualified, on the whole, for the trusts committed to
their charge, and in a good degree faithful in the performance of their
duties; and thus the ordinary affairs of government, and the general
routine of domestic and social life, went on, notwithstanding the
profligacy of the kings, in a course of very tolerable peace, prosperity,
and happiness. During every one of the three hundred years over which the
history of the Ptolemies extends, the whole length and breadth of the land
of Egypt exhibited, with comparatively few interruptions, one wide-spread
scene of busy industry. The inundations came at their appointed season,
and then regularly retired. The boundless fields which the waters had
fertilized were then every where tilled. The lands were plowed; the seed
was sown; the canals and water-courses, which ramified from the river in
every direction over the ground, were opened or closed, as the case
required, to regulate the irrigation. The inhabitants were busy, and,
consequently, they were virtuous. And as the sky of Egypt is seldom or
never darkened by clouds and storms, the scene presented to the eye the
same unchanging aspect of smiling verdure and beauty, day after day, and
month after month, until the ripened grain was gathered into the
store-houses, and the land was cleared for another inundation.

We say that the people were virtuous because they were busy; for there is
no principle of political economy more fully established than that vice in
the social state is the incident and symptom of idleness. It prevails
always in those classes of every great population who are either released
by the possession of fixed and unchangeable wealth from the necessity, or
excluded by their poverty and degradation from the advantage, of useful
employment. Wealth that is free, and subject to its possessor's control,
so that he can, if he will, occupy himself in the management of it, while
it sometimes may make individuals vicious, does not generally corrupt
classes of men, for it does not make them idle. But wherever the
institutions of a country are such as to create an aristocratic class,
whose incomes depend on entailed estates, or on fixed and permanent
annuities, so that the capital on which they live can not afford them any
mental occupation, they are doomed necessarily to inaction and idleness.
Vicious pleasures and indulgences are, with such a class as a whole, the
inevitable result; for the innocent enjoyments of man are planned and
designed by the Author of nature only for the intervals of rest and repose
in a life of activity. They are always found wholly insufficient to
satisfy one who makes pleasure the whole end and aim of his being.

In the same manner, if, either from the influence of the social
institutions of a country, or from the operation of natural causes which
human power is unable to control, there is a class of men too low, and
degraded, and miserable to be reached by the ordinary inducements to daily
toil, so certain are they to grow corrupt and depraved, that degradation
has become in all languages a term almost synonymous with vice. There are
many exceptions, it is true, to these general laws. Many active men are
very wicked; and there have been frequent instances of the most exalted
virtue among nobles and kings. Still, as a general law, it is
unquestionably true that vice is the incident of idleness; and the sphere
of vice, therefore, is at the top and at the bottom of society--those
being the regions in which idleness reigns. The great remedy, too, for
vice is employment. To make a community virtuous, it is essential that all
ranks and gradations of it, from the highest to the lowest, should have
something to do.

In accordance with these principles, we observe that, while the most
extreme and abominable wickedness seemed to hold continual and absolute
sway in the palaces of the Ptolemies, and among the nobles of their
courts, the working ministers of state, and the men on whom the actual
governmental functions devolved, discharged their duties with wisdom and
fidelity, and throughout all the ordinary ranks and gradations of society
there prevailed generally a very considerable degree of industry,
prosperity, and happiness. This prosperity prevailed not only in the rural
districts of the Delta and along the valley of the Nile, but also among
the merchants, and navigators, and artisans of Alexandria.

Alexandria became, in fact, very soon after it was founded, a very great
and busy city. Many things conspired to make it at once a great commercial
emporium. In the first place, it was the depôt of export for all the
surplus grain and other agricultural produce which was raised in such
abundance along the Egyptian valley. This produce was brought down in
boats to the upper point of the Delta, where the branches of the river
divided, and thence down the Canopic branch to the city. The city was not,
in fact, situated directly upon this branch, but upon a narrow tongue of
land, at a little distance from it, near the sea. It was not easy to enter
the channel directly, on account of the bars and sand-banks at its mouth,
produced by the eternal conflict between the waters of the river and the
surges of the sea. The water was deep, however, as Alexander's engineers
had discovered, at the place where the city was built, and, by
establishing the port there, and then cutting a canal across to the Nile,
they were enabled to bring the river and the sea at once into easy

The produce of the valley was thus brought down the river and through the
canal to the city. Here immense warehouses and granaries were erected for
its reception, that it might be safely preserved until the ships that came
into the port were ready to take it away. These ships came from Syria,
from all the coasts of Asia Minor, from Greece, and from Rome. They
brought the agricultural productions of their own countries, as well as
articles of manufacture of various kinds; these they sold to the merchants
of Alexandria, and purchased the productions of Egypt in return.

The port of Alexandria presented thus a constant picture of life and
animation. Merchant ships were continually coming and going, or lying at
anchor in the roadstead. Seamen were hoisting sails, or raising anchors,
or rowing their capacious galleys through the water, singing, as they
pulled, to the motion of the oars. Within the city there was the same
ceaseless activity. Here groups of men were unloading the canal boats
which had arrived from the river. There porters were transporting bales of
merchandise or sacks of grain from a warehouse to a pier, or from one
landing to another. The occasional parading of the king's guards, or the
arrival and departure of ships of war to land or to take away bodies of
armed men, were occurrences that sometimes intervened to interrupt, or as
perhaps the people then would have said, to adorn this scene of useful
industry; and now and then, for a brief period, these peaceful avocations
would be wholly suspended and set aside by a revolt or by a civil war,
waged by rival brothers against each other, or instigated by the
conflicting claims of a mother and son. These interruptions, however, were
comparatively few, and, in ordinary cases, not of long continuance. It was
for the interest of all branches of the royal line to do as little injury
as possible to the commercial and agricultural operations of the realm. In
fact, it was on the prosperity of those operations that the revenues
depended. The rulers were well aware of this, and so, however implacably
two rival princes may have hated one another, and however desperately each
party may have struggled to destroy all active combatants whom they should
find in arms against them, they were both under every possible inducement
to spare the private property and the lives of the peaceful population.
This population, in fact, engaged thus in profitable industry,
constituted, with the avails of their labors, the very estate for which
the combatants were contending.

Seeing the subject in this light, the Egyptian sovereigns, especially
Alexander and the earlier Ptolemies, made every effort in their power to
promote the commercial greatness of Alexandria. They built palaces, it is
true, but they also built warehouses. One of the most expensive and
celebrated of all the edifices that they reared was the light-house which
has been already alluded to. This light-house was a lofty tower, built of
white marble. It was situated upon the island of Pharos, opposite to the
city, and at some distance from it. There was a sort of isthmus of shoals
and sand-bars connecting the island with the shore. Over these shallows a
pier or causeway was built, which finally became a broad and inhabited
neck. The principal part of the ancient city, however, was on the main

The curvature of the earth requires that a light-house on a coast should
have a considerable elevation, otherwise its summit would not appear above
the horizon, unless the mariner were very near. To attain this elevation,
the architects usually take advantage of some hill or cliff, or rocky
eminence near the shore. There was, however, no opportunity to do this at
Pharos; for the island was, like the main land, level and low. The
requisite elevation could only be attained, therefore, by the masonry of
an edifice, and the blocks of marble necessary for the work had to be
brought from a great distance. The Alexandrian light-house was reared in
the time of Ptolemy Philadelphus, the second monarch in the line. No pains
or expense were spared in its construction. The edifice, when completed,
was considered one of the seven wonders of the world. It was indebted for
its fame, however, in some degree, undoubtedly to the conspicuousness of
its situation, rising, as it did, at the entrance of the greatest
commercial emporium of its time, and standing there, like a pillar of
cloud by day and of fire by night, to attract the welcome gaze of every
wandering mariner whose ship came within its horizon, and to awaken his
gratitude by tendering him its guidance and dispelling his fears.

The light at the top of the tower was produced by a fire, made of such
combustibles as would emit the brightest flame. This fire burned slowly
through the day, and then was kindled up anew when the sun went down, and
was continually replenished through the night with fresh supplies of fuel.
In modern times, a much more convenient and economical mode is adopted to
produce the requisite illumination. A great blazing lamp burns brilliantly
in the center of the lantern of the tower, and all that part of the
radiation from the flame which would naturally have beamed upward, or
downward, or laterally, or back toward the land, is so turned by a curious
system of reflectors and polyzonal lenses, most ingeniously contrived and
very exactly adjusted, as to be thrown forward in one broad and thin, but
brilliant sheet of light, which shoots out where its radiance is needed,
over the surface of the sea. Before these inventions were perfected, far
the largest portion of the light emitted by the illumination of
light-house towers streamed away wastefully in landward directions, or was
lost among the stars.

Of course, the glory of erecting such an edifice as the Pharos of
Alexandria, and of maintaining it in the performance of its functions,
was very great; the question might, however, very naturally arise whether
this glory was justly due to the architect through whose scientific skill
the work was actually accomplished, or to the monarch by whose power and
resources the architect was sustained. The name of the architect was
Sostratus. He was a Greek. The monarch was, as has already been stated,
the second Ptolemy, called commonly Ptolemy Philadelphus. Ptolemy ordered
that, in completing the tower, a marble tablet should be built into the
wall, at a suitable place near the summit, and that a proper inscription
should be carved upon it, with his name as the builder of the edifice
conspicuous thereon. Sostratus preferred inserting his own name. He
accordingly made the tablet and set it in its place. He cut the
inscription upon the face of it, in Greek characters, with his own name as
the author of the work. He did this secretly, and then covered the face of
the tablet with an artificial composition, made with lime, to imitate the
natural surface of the stone. On this outer surface he cut a new
inscription, in which he inserted the name of the king. In process of time
the lime moldered away, the king's inscription disappeared, and his own,
which thenceforward continued as long as the building endured, came out to

The Pharos was said to have been four hundred feet high. It was famed
throughout the world for many centuries; nothing, however, remains of it
now but a heap of useless and unmeaning ruins.

Besides the light that beamed from the summit of this lofty tower, there
was another center of radiance and illumination in ancient Alexandria,
which was in some respects still more conspicuous and renowned, namely, an
immense library and museum established and maintained by the Ptolemies.
The Museum, which was first established, was not, as its name might now
imply, a collection of curiosities, but an institution of learning,
consisting of a body of learned men, who devoted their time to
philosophical and scientific pursuits. The institution was richly endowed,
and magnificent buildings were erected for its use. The king who
established it began immediately to make a collection of books for the use
of the members of the institution. This was attended with great expense,
as every book that was added to the collection required to be transcribed
with a pen on parchment or papyrus, with infinite labor and care. Great
numbers of scribes were constantly employed upon this work at the Museum.
The kings who were most interested in forming this library would seize the
books that were possessed by individual scholars, or that were deposited
in the various cities of their dominions, and then, causing beautiful
copies of them to be made by the scribes of the Museum, they would retain
the originals for the great Alexandrian Library, and give the copies to
the men or the cities that had been thus despoiled. In the same manner
they would borrow, as they called it, from all travelers who visited
Egypt, any valuable books which they might have in their possession, and,
retaining the originals, give them back copies instead.

In process of time the library increased to four hundred thousand volumes.
There was then no longer any room in the buildings of the Museum for
further additions. There was, however, in another part of the city, a
great temple called the Serapion. This temple was a very magnificent
edifice, or, rather, group of edifices, dedicated to the god Serapis. The
origin and history of this temple were very remarkable. The legend was

It seems that one of the ancient and long-venerated gods of the Egyptians
was a deity named Serapis. He had been, among other divinities, the object
of Egyptian adoration ages before Alexandria was built or the Ptolemies
reigned. There was also, by a curious coincidence, a statue of the same
name at a great commercial town named Sinope, which was built upon the
extremity of a promontory which projected from Asia Minor into the Euxine
Sea.[2] Sinope was, in some sense, the Alexandria of the north, being the
center and seat of a great portion of the commerce of that quarter of the

The Serapis of Sinope was considered as the protecting deity of seamen,
and the navigators who came and went to and from the city made sacrifices
to him, and offered him oblations and prayers, believing that they were,
in a great measure, dependent upon some mysterious and inscrutable power
which he exercised for their safety in storms. They carried the knowledge
of his name, and tales of his imaginary interpositions, to all the places
that they visited; and thus the fame of the god became extended, first, to
all the coasts of the Euxine Sea, and subsequently to distant provinces
and kingdoms. The Serapis of Sinope began to be considered every where as
the tutelar god of seamen.

Accordingly, when the first of the Ptolemies was forming his various plans
for adorning and aggrandizing Alexandria, he received, he said, one night,
a divine intimation in a dream that he was to obtain the statue of Serapis
from Sinope, and set it up in Alexandria, in a suitable temple which he
was in the mean time to erect in honor of the god. It is obvious that very
great advantages to the city would result from the accomplishment of this
design. In the first place, a temple to the god Serapis would be a new
distinction for it in the minds of the rural population, who would
undoubtedly suppose that the deity honored by it was their own ancient
god. Then the whole maritime and nautical interest of the world, which had
been accustomed to adore the god of Sinope, would turn to Alexandria as
the great center of religious attraction, if their venerated idol could be
carried and placed in a new and magnificent temple built expressly for him
there. Alexandria could never be the chief naval port and station of the
world, unless it contained the sanctuary and shrine of the god of seamen.

Ptolemy sent accordingly to the King of Sinope and proposed to purchase
the idol. The embassage was, however, unsuccessful. The king refused to
give up the god. The negotiations were continued for two years, but all in
vain. At length, on account of some failure in the regular course of the
seasons on that coast, there was a famine there, which became finally so
severe that the people of the city were induced to consent to give up
their deity to the Egyptians in exchange for a supply of corn. Ptolemy
sent the corn and received the idol. He then built the temple, which, when
finished, surpassed in grandeur and magnificence almost every sacred
structure in the world.

It was in this temple that the successive additions to the Alexandrian
library were deposited, when the apartments at the Museum became full. In
the end there were four hundred thousand rolls or volumes in the Museum,
and three hundred thousand in the Serapion. The former was called the
parent library, and the latter, being, as it were, the offspring of the
first, was called the daughter.

Ptolemy Philadelphus, who interested himself very greatly in collecting
this library, wished to make it a complete collection of all the books in
the world. He employed scholars to read and study, and travelers to make
extensive tours, for the purpose of learning what books existed among all
the surrounding nations; and, when he learned of their existence, he
spared no pains or expense in attempting to procure either the originals
themselves, or the most perfect and authentic copies of them. He sent to
Athens and obtained the works of the most celebrated Greek historians, and
then causing, as in other cases, most beautiful transcripts to be made, he
sent the transcripts back to Athens, and a very large sum of money with
them as an equivalent for the difference of value between originals and
copies in such an exchange.

In the course of the inquiries which Ptolemy made into the literature of
the surrounding nations, in his search for accessions to his library, he
heard that the Jews had certain sacred writings in their temple at
Jerusalem, comprising a minute and extremely interesting history of their
nation from the earliest periods, and also many other books of sacred
prophecy and poetry. These books, which were, in fact, the Hebrew
Scriptures of the Old Testament, were then wholly unknown to all nations
except the Jews, and among the Jews were known only to priests and
scholars. They were kept sacred at Jerusalem. The Jews would have
considered them as profaned in being exhibited to the view of pagan
nations. In fact, the learned men of other countries would not have been
able to read them; for the Jews secluded themselves so closely from the
rest of mankind, that their language was, in that age, scarcely ever heard
beyond the confines of Judea and Galilee.

Ptolemy very naturally thought that a copy of these sacred books would be
a great acquisition to his library. They constituted, in fact, the whole
literature of a nation which was, in some respects, the most extraordinary
that ever existed on the globe. Ptolemy conceived the idea, also, of not
only adding to his library a copy of these writings in the original
Hebrew, but of causing a translation of them to be made into Greek, so
that they might easily be read by the Greek and Roman scholars who were
drawn in great numbers to his capital by the libraries and the learned
institutions which he had established there. The first thing to be
effected, however, in accomplishing either of these plans, was to obtain
the consent of the Jewish authorities. They would probably object to
giving up any copy of their sacred writings at all.

There was one circumstance which led Ptolemy to imagine that the Jews
would, at that time particularly, be averse to granting any request of
such a nature coming from an Egyptian king, and that was, that during
certain wars which had taken place in previous reigns, a considerable
number of prisoners had been taken by the Egyptians, and had been brought
to Egypt as captives, where they had been sold to the inhabitants, and
were now scattered over the land as slaves. They were employed as servile
laborers in tilling the fields, or in turning enormous wheels to pump up
water from the Nile. The masters of these hapless bondmen conceived, like
other slave-holders, that they had a right of property in their slaves.
This was in some respects true, since they had bought them of the
government at the close of the war for a consideration; and though they
obviously derived from this circumstance no valid proprietary right or
claim as against the men personally, it certainly would seem that it gave
them a just claim against the government of whom they bought, in case of
subsequent manumission.

Ptolemy or his minister, for it can not now be known who was the real
actor in these transactions, determined on liberating these slaves and
sending them back to their native land, as a means of propitiating the
Jews and inclining them to listen favorably to the request which he was
about to prefer for a copy of their sacred writings. He, however, paid to
those who held the captives a very liberal sum for ransom. The ancient
historians, who never allow the interest of their narratives to suffer for
want of a proper amplification on their part of the scale on which the
deeds which they record were performed, say that the number of slaves
liberated on this occasion was a hundred and twenty thousand, and the sum
paid for them, as compensation to the owners, was six hundred talents,
equal to six hundred thousand dollars.[3] And yet this was only a
preliminary expense to pave the way for the acquisition of a single series
of books, to add to the variety of the immense collection.

After the liberation and return of the captives, Ptolemy sent a splendid
embassage to Jerusalem, with very respectful letters to the high priest,
and with very magnificent presents. The embassadors were received with the
highest honors. The request of Ptolemy that he should be allowed to take a
copy of the sacred books for his library was very readily granted.

The priests caused copies to be made of all the sacred writings. These
copies were executed in the most magnificent style, and were splendidly
illuminated with letters of gold. The Jewish government also, at Ptolemy's
request, designated a company of Hebrew scholars, six from each tribe--men
learned in both the Greek and Hebrew languages--to proceed to Alexandria,
and there, at the Museum, to make a careful translation of the Hebrew
books into Greek. As there were twelve tribes, and six translators chosen
from each, there were seventy-two translators in all. They made their
translation, and it was called the _Septuagint_, from the Latin
_septuaginta duo_, which means seventy-two.

Although out of Judea there was no feeling of reverence for these Hebrew
Scriptures as books of divine authority, there was still a strong interest
felt in them as very entertaining and curious works of history, by all
the Greek and Roman scholars who frequented Alexandria to study at the
Museum. Copies were accordingly made of the Septuagint translation, and
were taken to other countries; and there, in process of time, copies of
the copies were made, until, at length the work became extensively
circulated throughout the whole learned world. When, finally, Christianity
became extended over the Roman empire, the priests and monks looked with
even a stronger interest than the ancient scholars had felt upon this
early translation of so important a portion of the sacred Scriptures. They
made new copies for abbeys, monasteries, and colleges; and when, at
length, the art of printing was discovered, this work was one of the first
on which the magic power of typography was tried. The original manuscript
made by the scribes of the seventy-two, and all the early transcripts
which were made from it, have long since been lost or destroyed; but,
instead of them, we have now hundreds of thousands of copies in compact
printed volumes, scattered among the public and private libraries of
Christendom. In fact, now, after the lapse of two thousand years, a copy
of Ptolemy's Septuagint may be obtained of any considerable bookseller in
any country of the civilized world; and though it required a national
embassage, and an expenditure, if the accounts are true, of more than a
million of dollars, originally to obtain it, it may be procured without
difficulty now by two days' wages of an ordinary laborer.

Besides the building of the Pharos, the Museum, and the Temple of Serapis,
the early Ptolemies formed and executed a great many other plans tending
to the same ends which the erection of these splendid edifices was
designed to secure, namely, to concentrate in Alexandria all possible
means of attraction, commercial, literary, and religious, so as to make
the city the great center of interest, and the common resort for all
mankind. They raised immense revenues for these and other purposes by
taxing heavily the whole agricultural produce of the valley of the Nile.
The inundations, by the boundless fertility which they annually produced,
supplied the royal treasuries. Thus the Abyssinian rains at the sources of
the Nile built the Pharos at its mouth, and endowed the Alexandrian

The taxes laid upon the people of Egypt to supply the Ptolemies with funds
were, in fact, so heavy, that only the bare means of subsistence were
left to the mass of the agricultural population. In admiring the greatness
and glory of the city, therefore, we must remember that there was a gloomy
counterpart to its splendor in the very extended destitution and poverty
to which the mass of the people were every where doomed. They lived in
hamlets of wretched huts along the banks of the river, in order that the
capital might be splendidly adorned with temples and palaces. They passed
their lives in darkness and ignorance, that seven hundred thousand volumes
of expensive manuscripts might be enrolled at the Museum for the use of
foreign philosophers and scholars. The policy of the Ptolemies was,
perhaps, on the whole, the best, for the general advancement and ultimate
welfare of mankind, which could have been pursued in the age in which they
lived and acted; but, in applauding the results which they attained, we
must not wholly forget the cost which they incurred in attaining them. At
the same cost, we could, at the present day, far surpass them. If the
people of the United States will surrender the comforts and conveniences
which they individually enjoy--if the farmers scattered in their
comfortable homes on the hill-sides and plains throughout the land will
give up their houses, their furniture, their carpets, their books, and the
privileges of their children, and then--withholding from the produce of
their annual toil only a sufficient reservation to sustain them and their
families through the year, in a life like that of a beast of burden, spent
in some miserable and naked hovel--send the rest to some hereditary
sovereign residing upon the Atlantic sea-board, that he may build with the
proceeds a splendid capital, they may have an Alexandria now that will
infinitely exceed the ancient city of the Ptolemies in splendor and
renown. The nation, too, would, in such a case, pay for its metropolis the
same price, precisely, that the ancient Egyptians paid for theirs.

The Ptolemies expended the revenues which they raised by this taxation
mainly in a very liberal and enlightened manner, for the accomplishment of
the purposes which they had in view. The building of the Pharos, the
removal of the statue of Serapis, and the endowment of the Museum and the
library were great conceptions, and they were carried into effect in the
most complete and perfect manner. All the other operations which they
devised and executed for the extension and aggrandizement of the city
were conceived and executed in the same spirit of scientific and
enlightened liberality. Streets were opened; the most splendid palaces
were built; docks, piers, and breakwaters were constructed, and fortresses
and towers were armed and garrisoned. Then every means was employed to
attract to the city a great concourse from all the most highly-civilized
nations then existing. The highest inducements were offered to merchants,
mechanics, and artisans to make the city their abode. Poets, painters,
sculptors, and scholars of every nation and degree were made welcome, and
every facility was afforded them for the prosecution of their various
pursuits. These plans were all eminently successful. Alexandria rose
rapidly to the highest consideration and importance; and, at the time when
Cleopatra--born to preside over this scene of magnificence and
splendor--came upon the stage, the city had but one rival in the world.
That rival was Rome.



When the time was approaching in which Cleopatra appeared upon the stage,
Rome was perhaps the only city that could be considered as the rival of
Alexandria, in the estimation of mankind, in respect to interest and
attractiveness as a capital. In one respect, Rome was vastly superior to
the Egyptian metropolis, and that was in the magnitude and extent of the
military power which it wielded among the nations of the earth. Alexandria
ruled over Egypt, and over a few of the neighboring coasts and islands;
but in the course of the three centuries during which she had been
acquiring her greatness and fame, the Roman empire had extended itself
over almost the whole civilized world. Egypt had been, thus far, too
remote to be directly reached; but the affairs of Egypt itself became
involved at length with the operations of the Roman power, about the time
of Cleopatra's birth, in a very striking and peculiar manner; and as the
consequences of the transaction were the means of turning the whole
course of the queen's subsequent history, a narration of it is necessary
to a proper understanding of the circumstances under which she commenced
her career. In fact, it was the extension of the Roman empire to the
limits of Egypt, and the connections which thence arose between the
leading Roman generals and the Egyptian sovereign, which have made the
story of this particular queen so much more conspicuous, as an object of
interest and attention to mankind, than that of any other one of the ten
Cleopatras who rose successively in the same royal line.

Ptolemy Auletes, Cleopatra's father, was perhaps, in personal character,
the most dissipated, degraded, and corrupt of all the sovereigns in the
dynasty. He spent his whole time in vice and debauchery. The only honest
accomplishment that he seemed to possess was his skill in playing upon the
flute; of this he was very vain. He instituted musical contests, in which
the musical performers of Alexandria played for prizes and crowns; and he
himself was accustomed to enter the lists with the rest as a competitor.
The people of Alexandria, and the world in general, considered such
pursuits as these wholly unworthy the attention of the representative of
so illustrious a line of sovereigns; and the abhorrence which they felt
for the monarch's vices and crimes was mingled with a feeling of contempt
for the meanness of his ambition.

There was a doubt in respect to his title to the crown, for his birth, on
the mother's side, was irregular and ignoble. Instead, however, of
attempting to confirm and secure his possession of power by a vigorous and
prosperous administration of the government, he wholly abandoned all
concern in respect to the course of public affairs; and then, to guard
against the danger of being deposed, he conceived the plan of getting
himself recognized at Rome as one of the allies of the Roman people. If
this were once done, he supposed that the Roman government would feel
under an obligation to sustain him on his throne in the event of any
threatened danger.

The Roman government was a sort of republic, and the two most powerful men
in the state at this time were Pompey and Cæsar. Cæsar was in the
ascendency at Rome at the time that Ptolemy made his application for an
alliance. Pompey was absent in Asia Minor, being engaged in prosecuting a
war with Mithradates, a very powerful monarch, who was at that time
resisting the Roman power. Cæsar was very deeply involved in debt, and
was, moreover, very much in need of money, not only for relief from
existing embarrassments, but as a means of subsequent expenditure, to
enable him to accomplish certain great political schemes which he was
entertaining. After many negotiations and delays, it was agreed that Cæsar
would exert his influence to secure an alliance between the Roman people
and Ptolemy, on condition that Ptolemy paid him the sum of six thousand
talents, equal to about six millions of dollars. A part of the money,
Cæsar said, was for Pompey.

The title of ally was conferred, and Ptolemy undertook to raise the money
which he had promised by increasing the taxes of his kingdom. The
measures, however, which he thus adopted for the purpose of making himself
the more secure in his possession of the throne, proved to be the means of
overthrowing him. The discontent and disaffection of his people, which had
been strong and universal before, though suppressed and concealed, broke
out now into open violence. That there should be laid upon them, in
addition to all their other burdens, these new oppressions, heavier than
those which they had endured before, and exacted for such a purpose too,
was not to be endured. To be compelled to see their country sold on any
terms to the Roman people was sufficiently hard to bear; but to be forced
to raise, themselves, and pay the price of the transfer, was absolutely
intolerable. Alexandria commenced a revolt. Ptolemy was not a man to act
decidedly against such a demonstration, or, in fact, to evince either
calmness or courage in any emergency whatever. His first thought was to
escape from Alexandria to save his life. His second, to make the best of
his way to Rome, to call upon the Roman people to come to the succor of
their ally!

Ptolemy left five children behind him in his flight. The eldest was the
Princess Berenice, who had already reached maturity. The second was the
great Cleopatra, the subject of this history. Cleopatra was, at this time,
about eleven years old. There were also two sons, but they were very
young. One of them was named Ptolemy.

The Alexandrians determined on raising Berenice to the throne in her
father's place, as soon as his flight was known. They thought that the
sons were too young to attempt to reign in such an emergency, as it was
very probable that Auletes, the father, would attempt to recover his
kingdom. Berenice very readily accepted the honor and power which were
offered to her. She established herself in her father's palace, and began
her reign in great magnificence and splendor. In process of time she
thought that her position would be strengthened by a marriage with a royal
prince from some neighboring realm. She first sent embassadors to make
proposals to a prince of Syria named Antiochus. The embassadors came back,
bringing word that Antiochus was dead, but that he had a brother named
Seleucus, upon whom the succession fell. Berenice then sent them back to
make the same offers to him. He accepted the proposals, came to Egypt, and
he and Berenice were married. After trying him for a while, Berenice found
that, for some reason or other, she did not like him as a husband, and,
accordingly, she caused him to be strangled.

At length, after various other intrigues and much secret management,
Berenice succeeded in a second negotiation, and married a prince, or a
pretended prince, from some country of Asia Minor, whose name was
Archelaus. She was better pleased with this second husband than she had
been with the first, and she began, at last, to feel somewhat settled and
established on her throne, and to be prepared, as she thought, to offer
effectual resistance to her father in case he should ever attempt to

It was in the midst of the scenes, and surrounded by the influences which
might be expected to prevail in the families of such a father and such a
sister, that Cleopatra spent those years of life in which the character is
formed. During all these revolutions, and exposed to all these exhibitions
of licentious wickedness, and of unnatural cruelty and crime, she was
growing up in the royal palaces a spirited and beautiful, but indulged and
neglected child.

In the mean time, Auletes, the father, went on toward Rome. So far as his
character and his story were known among the surrounding nations, he was
the object of universal obloquy, both on account of his previous career of
degrading vice, and now, still more, for this ignoble flight from the
difficulties in which his vices and crimes had involved him.

He stopped, on the way, at the island of Rhodes. It happened that Cato,
the great Roman philosopher and general, was at Rhodes at this time. Cato
was a man of stern, unbending virtue, and of great influence at that
period in public affairs. Ptolemy sent a messenger to inform Cato of his
arrival, supposing, of course, that the Roman general would hasten, on
hearing of the fact, to pay his respects to so great a personage as he, a
king of Egypt--a Ptolemy--though suffering under a temporary reverse of
fortune. Cato directed the messenger to reply that, so far as he was
aware, he had no particular business with Ptolemy. "Say, however, to the
king," he added, "that, if he has any business with me, he may call and
see me, if he pleases."

Ptolemy was obliged to suppress his resentment and submit. He thought it
very essential to the success of his plans that he should see Cato, and
secure, if possible, his interest and co-operation; and he consequently
made preparations for paying, instead of receiving, the visit, intending
to go in the greatest royal state that he could command. He accordingly
appeared at Cato's lodgings on the following day, magnificently dressed,
and accompanied by many attendants. Cato, who was dressed in the plainest
and most simple manner, and whose apartment was furnished in a style
corresponding with the severity of his character, did not even rise when
the king entered the room. He simply pointed with his hand, and bade the
visitor take a seat.

Ptolemy began to make a statement of his case, with a view to obtaining
Cato's influence with the Roman people to induce them to interpose in his
behalf. Cato, however, far from evincing any disposition to espouse his
visitor's cause, censured him, in the plainest terms, for having abandoned
his proper position in his own kingdom, to go and make himself a victim
and a prey for the insatiable avarice of the Roman leaders. "You can do
nothing at Rome," he said, "but by the influence of bribes; and all the
resources of Egypt will not be enough to satisfy the Roman greediness for
money." He concluded by recommending him to go back to Alexandria, and
rely for his hopes of extrication from the difficulties which surrounded
him on the exercise of his own energy and resolution there.

Ptolemy was greatly abashed at this rebuff, but, on consultation with his
attendants and followers, it was decided to be too late now to return. The
whole party accordingly re-embarked on board their galleys, and pursued
their way to Rome.

Ptolemy found, on his arrival at the city, that Cæsar was absent in Gaul,
while Pompey, on the other hand, who had returned victorious from his
campaigns against Mithradates, was now the great leader of influence and
power at the Capitol. This change of circumstances was not, however,
particularly unfavorable; for Ptolemy was on friendly terms with Pompey,
as he had been with Cæsar. He had assisted him in his wars with
Mithradates by sending him a squadron of horse, in pursuance of his policy
of cultivating friendly relations with the Roman people by every means in
his power. Besides, Pompey had received a part of the money which Ptolemy
had paid to Cæsar as the price of the Roman alliance, and was to receive
his share of the rest in case Ptolemy should ever be restored. Pompey was
accordingly interested in favoring the royal fugitive's cause. He received
him in his palace, entertained him in magnificent style, and took
immediate measures for bringing his cause before the Roman senate, urging
upon that body the adoption of immediate and vigorous measures for
effecting his restoration, as an ally whom they were bound to protect
against his rebellious subjects.

There was at first some opposition in the Roman senate against espousing
the cause of such a man, but it was soon put down, being overpowered in
part by Pompey's authority, and in part silenced by Ptolemy's promises and
bribes. The senate determined to restore the king to his throne, and began
to make arrangements for carrying the measure into effect.

The Roman provinces nearest to Egypt were Cilicia and Syria, countries
situated on the eastern and northeastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea,
north of Judea. The forces stationed in these provinces would be, of
course, the most convenient for furnishing the necessary troops for the
expedition. The province of Cilicia was under the command of the consul
Lentulus. Lentulus was at this time at Rome; he had repaired to the
capital for some temporary purpose, leaving his province and the troops
stationed there under the command, for the time, of a sort of lieutenant
general named Gabinius. It was concluded that this Lentulus, with his
Syrian forces, should undertake the task of reinstating Ptolemy on his

While these plans and arrangements were yet immature, a circumstance
occurred which threatened, for a time, wholly to defeat them. It seems
that when Cleopatra's father first left Egypt, he had caused a report to
be circulated there that he had been killed in the revolt. The object of
this stratagem was to cover and conceal his flight. The government of
Berenice soon discovered the truth, and learned that the fugitive had gone
in the direction of Rome. They immediately inferred that he was going to
appeal to the Roman people for aid, and they determined that, if that were
the case, the Roman people, before deciding in his favor, should have the
opportunity to hear their side of the story as well as his. They
accordingly made preparations at once for sending a very imposing
embassage to Rome. The deputation consisted of more than a hundred
persons. The object of Berenice's government in sending so large a number
was not only to evince their respect for the Roman people, and their sense
of the magnitude of the question at issue, but also to guard against any
efforts that Ptolemy might make to intercept the embassage on the way, or
to buy off the members of it by bribes. The number, however, large as it
was, proved insufficient to accomplish this purpose. The whole Roman
world was at this time in such a condition of disorder and violence, in
the hands of the desperate and reckless military leaders who then bore
sway, that there were every where abundant facilities for the commission
of any conceivable crime. Ptolemy contrived, with the assistance of the
fierce partisans who had espoused his cause, and who were deeply
interested in his success on account of the rewards which were promised
them, to waylay and destroy a large proportion of this company before they
reached Rome. Some were assassinated; some were poisoned; some were
tampered with and bought off by bribes. A small remnant reached Rome; but
they were so intimidated by the dangers which surrounded them, that they
did not dare to take any public action in respect to the business which
had been committed to their charge. Ptolemy began to congratulate himself
on having completely circumvented his daughter in her efforts to protect
herself against his designs.

Instead of that, however, it soon proved that the effect of this atrocious
treachery was exactly the contrary of what its perpetrators had expected.
The knowledge of the facts became gradually extended among the people of
Rome, and it awakened a universal indignation. The party who had been
originally opposed to Ptolemy's cause seized the opportunity to renew
their opposition; and they gained so much strength from the general odium
which Ptolemy's crimes had awakened, that Pompey found it almost
impossible to sustain his cause.

At length the party opposed to Ptolemy found, or pretended to find, in
certain sacred books, called the Sibylline Oracles, which were kept in the
custody of the priests, and were supposed to contain prophetic intimations
of the will of Heaven in respect to the conduct of public affairs, the
following passage:

"_If a king of Egypt should apply to you for aid, treat him in a friendly
manner, but do not furnish him with troops; for if you do, you will incur
great danger._"

This made new difficulty for Ptolemy's friends. They attempted, at first,
to evade this inspired injunction by denying the reality of it. There was
no such passage to be found, they said. It was all an invention of their
enemies. This point seems to have been overruled, and then they attempted
to give the passage some other than the obvious interpretation. Finally,
they maintained that, although it prohibited their furnishing Ptolemy
himself with troops, it did not forbid their sending an armed force into
Egypt under leaders of their own. _That_ they could certainly do; and
then, when the rebellion was suppressed, and Berenice's government
overthrown, they could invite Ptolemy to return to his kingdom and resume
his crown in a peaceful manner. This, they alleged, would not be
"furnishing him with troops," and, of course, would not be disobeying the

These attempts to evade the direction of the oracle on the part of
Ptolemy's friends, only made the debates and dissensions between them and
his enemies more violent than ever. Pompey made every effort in his power
to aid Ptolemy's cause; but Lentulus, after long hesitation and delay,
decided that it would not be safe for him to embark in it. At length,
however, Gabinius, the lieutenant who commanded in Syria, was induced to
undertake the enterprise. On certain promises which he received from
Ptolemy, to be performed in case he succeeded, and with a certain
encouragement, not very legal or regular, which Pompey gave him, in
respect to the employment of the Roman troops under his command, he
resolved to march to Egypt. His route, of course, would lay along the
shores of the Mediterranean Sea, and through the desert, to Pelusium,
which has already been mentioned as the frontier town on this side of
Egypt. From Pelusium he was to march through the heart of the Delta to
Alexandria, and, if successful in his invasion, overthrow the government
of Berenice and Archelaus, and then, inviting Ptolemy to return, reinstate
him on the throne.

In the prosecution of this dangerous enterprise, Gabinius relied strongly
on the assistance of a very remarkable man, then his second in command,
who afterward acted a very important part in the subsequent history of
Cleopatra. His name was Mark Antony. Antony was born in Rome, of a very
distinguished family, but his father died when he was very young, and
being left subsequently much to himself, he became a very wild and
dissolute young man. He wasted the property which his father had left him
in folly and vice; and then going on desperately in the same career, he
soon incurred enormous debts, and involved himself, in consequence, in
inextricable difficulties. His creditors continually harassed him with
importunities for money, and with suits at law to compel payments which he
had no means of making. He was likewise incessantly pursued by the
hostility of the many enemies that he had made in the city by his violence
and his crimes. At length he absconded, and went to Greece.

Here Gabinius, when on his way to Syria, met him, and invited him to join
his army rather than to remain where he was in idleness and destitution.
Antony, who was as proud and lofty in spirit as he was degraded in morals
and condition, refused to do this unless Gabinius would give him a
command. Gabinius saw in the daring and reckless energy which Antony
manifested the indications of the class of qualities which in those days
made a successful soldier, and acceded to his terms. He gave him the
command of his cavalry. Antony distinguished himself in the Syrian
campaigns that followed, and was now full of eagerness to engage in this
Egyptian enterprise. In fact, it was mainly his zeal and enthusiasm to
embark in the undertaking which was the means of deciding Gabinius to
consent to Ptolemy's proposals.

The danger and difficulty which they considered as most to be apprehended
in the whole expedition was the getting across the desert to Pelusium. In
fact, the great protection of Egypt had always been her isolation. The
trackless and desolate sands, being wholly destitute of water, and utterly
void, could be traversed, even by a caravan of peaceful travelers, only
with great difficulty and danger. For an army to attempt to cross them,
exposed, as the troops would necessarily be, to the assaults of enemies
who might advance to meet them on the way, and sure of encountering a
terrible opposition from fresh and vigorous bands when they should
arrive--wayworn and exhausted by the physical hardships of the way--at the
borders of the inhabited country, was a desperate undertaking. Many
instances occurred in ancient times in which vast bodies of troops, in
attempting marches over the deserts by which Egypt was surrounded, were
wholly destroyed by famine or thirst, or overwhelmed by storms of sand.[4]

These difficulties and dangers, however, did not at all intimidate Mark
Antony. The anticipation, in fact, of the glory of surmounting them was
one of the main inducements which led him to embark in the enterprise. The
perils of the desert constituted one of the charms which made the
expedition so attractive. He placed himself, therefore, at the head of his
troop of cavalry, and set off across the sands in advance of Gabinius, to
take Pelusium, in order thus to open a way for the main body of the army
into Egypt. Ptolemy accompanied Antony. Gabinius was to follow.

With all his faults, to call them by no severer name, Mark Antony
possessed certain great excellences of character. He was ardent, but then
he was cool, collected, and sagacious; and there was a certain frank and
manly generosity continually evincing itself in his conduct and character
which made him a great favorite among his men. He was at this time about
twenty-eight years old, of a tall and manly form, and of an expressive and
intellectual cast of countenance. His forehead was high, his nose
aquiline, and his eyes full of vivacity and life. He was accustomed to
dress in a very plain and careless manner, and he assumed an air of the
utmost familiarity and freedom in his intercourse with his soldiers. He
would join them in their sports, joke with them, and good-naturedly
receive their jokes in return; and take his meals, standing with them
around their rude tables, in the open field. Such habits of intercourse
with his men in a commander of ordinary character would have been fatal to
his ascendency over them; but in Mark Antony's case, these frank and
familiar manners seemed only to make the military genius and the
intellectual power which he possessed the more conspicuous and the more
universally admired.

Antony conducted his troop of horsemen across the desert in a very safe
and speedy manner, and arrived before Pelusium. The city was not prepared
to resist him. It surrendered at once, and the whole garrison fell into
his hands as prisoners of war. Ptolemy demanded that they should all be
immediately killed. They were rebels, he said, and, as such, ought to be
put to death. Antony, however, as might have been expected from his
character, absolutely refused to allow of any such barbarity. Ptolemy,
since the power was not yet in his hands, was compelled to submit, and to
postpone gratifying the spirit of vengeance which had so long been
slumbering in his breast to a future day. He could the more patiently
submit to this necessity, since it appeared that the day of his complete
and final triumph over his daughter and all her adherents was now very
nigh at hand.


In fact, Berenice and her government, when they heard of the arrival of
Antony and Ptolemy at Pelusium, of the fall of that city, and of the
approach of Gabinius with an overwhelming force of Roman soldiers, were
struck with dismay. Archelaus, the husband of Berenice, had been, in
former years, a personal friend of Antony's. Antony considered, in fact,
that they were friends still, though required by what the historian calls
their duty to fight each other for the possession of the kingdom. The
government of Berenice raised an army. Archelaus took command of it, and
advanced to meet the enemy. In the mean time, Gabinius arrived with the
main body of the Roman troops, and commenced his march, in conjunction
with Antony, toward the capital. As they were obliged to make a circuit to
the southward, in order to avoid the inlets and lagoons which, on the
northern coast of Egypt, penetrate for some distance into the land, their
course led them through the heart of the Delta. Many battles were fought,
the Romans every where gaining the victory. The Egyptian soldiers were, in
fact, discontented and mutinous, perhaps, in part, because they considered
the government on the side of which they were compelled to engage as,
after all, a usurpation. At length a great final battle was fought, which
settled the controversy. Archelaus was slain upon the field, and Berenice
was taken prisoner; their government was wholly overthrown, and the way
was opened for the march of the Roman armies to Alexandria.

Mark Antony, when judged by our standards, was certainly, as well as
Ptolemy, a depraved and vicious man; but his depravity was of a very
different type from that of Cleopatra's father. The difference in the men,
in one respect, was very clearly evinced by the objects toward which their
interest and attention were respectively turned after this great battle.
While the contest had been going on, the king and queen of Egypt,
Archelaus and Berenice, were, of course, in the view both of Antony and
Ptolemy, the two most conspicuous personages in the army of their enemies;
and while Antony would naturally watch with the greatest interest the fate
of his friend, the king, Ptolemy, would as naturally follow with the
highest concern the destiny of his daughter. Accordingly, when the battle
was over, while the mind of Ptolemy might, as we should naturally expect,
be chiefly occupied by the fact that his _daughter_ was made a captive,
Antony's, we might suppose, would be engrossed by the tidings that his
_friend_ had been slain.

The one rejoiced and the other mourned. Antony sought for the body of his
friend on the field of battle, and when it was found, he gave himself
wholly to the work of providing for it a most magnificent burial. He
seemed, at the funeral, to lament the death of his ancient comrade with
real and unaffected grief. Ptolemy, on the other hand, was overwhelmed
with joy at finding his daughter his captive. The long-wished-for hour for
the gratification of his revenge had come at last, and the first use which
he made of his power when he was put in possession of it at Alexandria was
to order his daughter to be beheaded.



At the time when the unnatural quarrel between Cleopatra's father and her
sister was working its way toward its dreadful termination, as related in
the last chapter, she herself was residing at the royal palace in
Alexandria, a blooming and beautiful girl of about fifteen. Fortunately
for her, she was too young to take any active part personally in the
contention. Her two brothers were still younger than herself. They all
three remained, therefore, in the royal palaces, quiet spectators of the
revolution, without being either benefited or injured by it. It is
singular that the name of both the boys was Ptolemy.

The excitement in the city of Alexandria was intense and universal when
the Roman army entered it to reinstate Cleopatra's father upon his throne.
A very large portion of the inhabitants were pleased with having the
former king restored. In fact, it appears, by a retrospect of the history
of kings, that when a legitimate hereditary sovereign or dynasty is
deposed and expelled by a rebellious population, no matter how intolerable
may have been the tyranny, or how atrocious the crimes by which the
patience of the subject was exhausted, the lapse of a very few years is
ordinarily sufficient to produce a very general readiness to acquiesce in
a restoration; and in this particular instance there had been no such
superiority in the government of Berenice, during the period while her
power continued, over that of her father, which she had displaced, as to
make this case an exception to the general rule. The mass of the people,
therefore--all those, especially, who had taken no active part in
Berenice's government--were ready to welcome Ptolemy back to his capital.
Those who had taken such a part were all summarily executed by Ptolemy's

There was, of course, a great excitement throughout the city on the
arrival of the Roman army. All the foreign influence and power which had
been exercised in Egypt thus far, and almost all the officers, whether
civil or military, had been Greek. The coming of the Romans was the
introduction of a new element of interest to add to the endless variety of
excitements which animated the capital.

The restoration of Ptolemy was celebrated with games, spectacles, and
festivities of every kind, and, of course, next to the king himself, the
chief center of interest and attraction in all these public rejoicings
would be the distinguished foreign generals by whose instrumentality the
end had been gained.

Mark Antony was a special object of public regard and admiration at the
time. His eccentric manners, his frank and honest air, his Roman
simplicity of dress and demeanor, made him conspicuous; and his
interposition to save the lives of the captured garrison of Pelusium, and
the interest which he took in rendering such distinguished funeral honors
to the enemy whom his army had slain in battle, impressed the people with
the idea of a certain nobleness and magnanimity in his character, which,
in spite of his faults, made him an object of general admiration and
applause. The very faults of such a man assume often, in the eyes of the
world, the guise and semblance of virtues. For example, it is related of
Antony that, at one time in the course of his life, having a desire to
make a present of some kind to a certain person, in requital for a favor
which he had received from him, he ordered his treasurer to send a sum of
money to his friend--and named for the sum to be sent an amount
considerably greater than was really required under the circumstances of
the case--acting thus, as he often did, under the influence of a blind and
uncalculating generosity. The treasurer, more prudent than his master,
wished to reduce the amount, but he did not dare directly to propose a
reduction; so he counted out the money, and laid it in a pile in a place
where Antony was to pass, thinking that when Antony saw the amount, he
would perceive that it was too great. Antony, in passing by, asked what
money that was. The treasurer said that it was the sum that he had ordered
to be sent as a present to such a person, naming the individual intended.
Antony was quick to perceive the object of the treasurer's maneuver. He
immediately replied, "Ah! is that all? I thought the sum I named would
make a better appearance than that; send him double the amount."

To determine, under such circumstances as these, to double an extravagance
merely for the purpose of thwarting the honest attempt of a faithful
servant to diminish it, made, too, in so cautious and delicate a way, is
most certainly a fault. But it is one of those faults for which the
world, in all ages, will persist in admiring and praising the perpetrator.

In a word, Antony became the object of general attention and favor during
his continuance at Alexandria. Whether he particularly attracted
Cleopatra's attention at this time or not does not appear. She, however,
strongly attracted _his_. He admired her blooming beauty, her
sprightliness and wit, and her various accomplishments. She was still,
however, so young--being but fifteen years of age, while Antony was nearly
thirty--that she probably made no very serious impression upon him. A
short time after this, Antony went back to Rome, and did not see Cleopatra
again for many years.

When the two Roman generals went away from Alexandria, they left a
considerable portion of the army behind them, under Ptolemy's command, to
aid him in keeping possession of his throne. Antony returned to Rome. He
had acquired great renown by his march across the desert, and by the
successful accomplishment of the invasion of Egypt and the restoration of
Ptolemy. His funds, too, were replenished by the vast sums paid to him and
to Gabinius by Ptolemy. The amount which Ptolemy is said to have agreed
to pay as the price of his restoration was two thousand talents--equal to
ten millions of dollars--a sum which shows on how great a scale the
operations of this celebrated campaign were conducted. Ptolemy raised a
large portion of the money required for his payments by confiscating the
estates belonging to those friends of Berenice's government whom he
ordered to be slain. It was said, in fact, that the numbers were very much
increased of those that were condemned to die, by Ptolemy's standing in
such urgent need of their property to meet his obligations.

Antony, through the results of this campaign, found himself suddenly
raised from the position of a disgraced and homeless fugitive to that of
one of the most wealthy and renowned, and, consequently, one of the most
powerful personages in Rome. The great civil war broke out about this time
between Cæsar and Pompey. Antony espoused the cause of Cæsar.

In the mean time, while the civil war between Cæsar and Pompey was raging,
Ptolemy succeeded in maintaining his seat on the throne, by the aid of the
Roman soldiers whom Antony and Gabinius had left him, for about three
years. When he found himself drawing toward the close of life, the
question arose to his mind to whom he should leave his kingdom. Cleopatra
was the oldest child, and she was a princess of great promise, both in
respect to mental endowments and personal charms. Her brothers were
considerably younger than she. The claim of a son, though younger, seemed
to be naturally stronger than that of a daughter; but the commanding
talents and rising influence of Cleopatra appeared to make it doubtful
whether it would be safe to pass her by. The father settled the question
in the way in which such difficulties were usually surmounted in the
Ptolemy family. He ordained that Cleopatra should marry the oldest of her
brothers, and that they two should jointly occupy the throne. Adhering
also, still, to the idea of the alliance of Egypt with Rome, which had
been the leading principle of the whole policy of his reign, he solemnly
committed the execution of his will and the guardianship of his children,
by a provision of the instrument itself, to the Roman senate. The senate
accepted the appointment, and appointed Pompey as the agent, on their
part, to perform the duties of the trust. The attention of Pompey was,
immediately after that time, too much engrossed by the civil war waged
between himself and Cæsar, to take any active steps in respect to the
duties of his appointment. It seemed, however, that none were necessary,
for all parties in Alexandria appeared disposed, after the death of the
king, to acquiesce in the arrangements which he had made, and to join in
carrying them into effect. Cleopatra was married to her brother--yet, it
is true, only a boy. He was about ten years old. She was herself about
eighteen. They were both too young to govern; they could only reign. The
affairs of the kingdom were, accordingly, conducted by two ministers whom
their father had designated. These ministers were Pothinus, a eunuch, who
was a sort of secretary of state, and Achillas, the commander-in-chief of
the armies.

Thus, though Cleopatra, by these events, became nominally a queen, her
real accession to the throne was not yet accomplished. There were still
many difficulties and dangers to be passed through, before the period
arrived when she became really a sovereign. She did not, herself, make any
immediate attempt to hasten this period, but seems to have acquiesced, on
the other hand, very quietly, for a time, in the arrangements which her
father had made.

Pothinus was a eunuch. He had been, for a long time, an officer of
government under Ptolemy, the father. He was a proud, ambitious, and
domineering man, determined to rule, and very unscrupulous in respect to
the means which he adopted to accomplish his ends. He had been accustomed
to regard Cleopatra as a mere child. Now that she was queen, he was very
unwilling that the real power should pass into her hands. The jealousy and
ill will which he felt toward her increased rapidly as he found, in the
course of the first two or three years after her father's death, that she
was advancing rapidly in strength of character, and in the influence and
ascendency which she was acquiring over all around her. Her beauty, her
accomplishments, and a certain indescribable charm which pervaded all her
demeanor, combined to give her great personal power. But, while these
things awakened in other minds feelings of interest in Cleopatra and
attachment to her, they only increased the jealousy and envy of Pothinus.
Cleopatra was becoming his rival. He endeavored to thwart and circumvent
her. He acted toward her in a haughty and overbearing manner, in order to
keep her down to what he considered her proper place as his ward; for he
was yet the guardian both of Cleopatra and her husband, and the regent of
the realm.

Cleopatra had a great deal of what is sometimes called spirit, and her
resentment was aroused by this treatment. Pothinus took pains to enlist
her young husband, Ptolemy, on his side, as the quarrel advanced. Ptolemy
was younger, and of a character much less marked and decided than
Cleopatra. Pothinus saw that he could maintain control over him much more
easily and for a much longer time than over Cleopatra. He contrived to
awaken the young Ptolemy's jealousy of his wife's rising influence, and to
induce him to join in efforts to thwart and counteract it. These attempts
to turn her husband against her only aroused Cleopatra's resentment the
more. Hers was not a spirit to be coerced. The palace was filled with the
dissensions of the rivals. Pothinus and Ptolemy began to take measures for
securing the army on their side. An open rupture finally ensued, and
Cleopatra was expelled from the kingdom.

She went to Syria. Syria was the nearest place of refuge, and then,
besides, it was the country from which the aid had been furnished by which
her father had been restored to the throne when he had been expelled, in
a similar manner, many years before. Her father, it is true, had gone
first to Rome; but the succors which he had negotiated for had been sent
from Syria. Cleopatra hoped to obtain the same assistance by going
directly there.

Nor was she disappointed. She obtained an army, and commenced her march
toward Egypt, following the same track which Antony and Gabinius had
pursued in coming to reinstate her father. Pothinus raised an army and
went forth to meet her. He took Achillas as the commander of the troops,
and the young Ptolemy as the nominal sovereign; while he, as the young
king's guardian and prime minister, exercised the real power. The troops
of Pothinus advanced to Pelusium. Here they met the forces of Cleopatra
coming from the east. The armies encamped not very far from each other,
and both sides began to prepare for battle.

The battle, however, was not fought. It was prevented by the occurrence of
certain great and unforeseen events which at this crisis suddenly burst
upon the scene of Egyptian history, and turned the whole current of
affairs into new and unexpected channels. The breaking out of the civil
war between the great Roman generals Cæsar and Pompey, and their
respective partisans, has already been mentioned as having occurred soon
after the death of Cleopatra's father, and as having prevented Pompey from
undertaking the office of executor of the will. This war had been raging
ever since that time with terrible fury. Its distant thundering had been
heard even in Egypt, but it was too remote to awaken there any special
alarm. The immense armies of these two mighty conquerors had moved
slowly--like two ferocious birds of prey, flying through the air, and
fighting as they fly--across Italy into Greece, and from Greece, through
Macedon, into Thessaly, contending in dreadful struggles with each other
as they advanced, and trampling down and destroying every thing in their
way. At length a great final battle had been fought at Pharsalia. Pompey
had been totally defeated. He had fled to the sea-shore, and there, with a
few ships and a small number of followers, he had pushed out upon the
Mediterranean, not knowing whither to fly, and overwhelmed with
wretchedness and despair. Cæsar followed him in eager pursuit. He had a
small fleet of galleys with him, on board of which he had embarked two or
three thousand men. This was a force suitable, perhaps, for the pursuit
of a fugitive, but wholly insufficient for any other design.

Pompey thought of Ptolemy. He remembered the efforts which he himself had
made for the cause of Ptolemy Auletes, at Rome, and the success of those
efforts in securing that monarch's restoration--an event through which
alone the young Ptolemy had been enabled to attain the crown. He came,
therefore, to Pelusium, and, anchoring his little fleet off the shore,
sent to the land to ask Ptolemy to receive and protect him. Pothinus, who
was really the commander in Ptolemy's army, made answer to this
application that Pompey should be received and protected, and that he
would send out a boat to bring him to the shore. Pompey felt some
misgivings in respect to this proffered hospitality, but he finally
concluded to go to the shore in the boat which Pothinus sent for him. As
soon as he landed, the Egyptians, by Pothinus's orders, stabbed and
beheaded him on the sand. Pothinus and his council had decided that this
would be the safest course. If they were to receive Pompey, they reasoned,
Cæsar would be made their enemy; if they refused to receive him, Pompey
himself would be offended, and they did not know which of the two it
would be safe to displease; for they did not know in what way, if both the
generals were to be allowed to live, the war would ultimately end. "But by
killing Pompey," they said, "we shall be sure to please Cæsar, and Pompey
himself will _lie still_."

In the mean time, Cæsar, not knowing to what part of Egypt Pompey had
fled, pressed on directly to Alexandria. He exposed himself to great
danger in so doing, for the forces under his command were not sufficient
to protect him in case of his becoming involved in difficulties with the
authorities there. Nor could he, when once arrived on the Egyptian coast,
easily go away again; for, at the season of the year in which these events
occurred, there was a periodical wind which blew steadily toward that part
of the coast, and, while it made it very easy for a fleet of ships to go
to Alexandria, rendered it almost impossible for them to return.

Cæsar was very little accustomed to shrink from danger in any of his
enterprises and plans, though still he was usually prudent and
circumspect. In this instance, however, his ardent interest in the pursuit
of Pompey overruled all considerations of personal safety. He arrived at
Alexandria, but he found that Pompey was not there. He anchored his
vessels in the port, landed his troops, and established himself in the
city. These two events, the assassination of one of the great Roman
generals on the eastern extremity of the coast, and the arrival of the
other, at the same moment, at Alexandria, on the western, burst suddenly
upon Egypt together, like simultaneous claps of thunder. The tidings
struck the whole country with astonishment, and immediately engrossed
universal attention. At the camps both of Cleopatra and Ptolemy, at
Pelusium, all was excitement and wonder. Instead of thinking of a battle,
both parties were wholly occupied in speculating on the results which were
likely to accrue, to one side or to the other, under the totally new and
unexpected aspect which public affairs had assumed.

Of course the thoughts of all were turned toward Alexandria. Pothinus
immediately proceeded to the city, taking with him the young king.
Achillas, too, either accompanied them, or followed soon afterward. They
carried with them the head of Pompey, which they had cut off on the shore
where they had killed him, and also a seal which they took from his
finger. When they arrived at Alexandria, they sent the head, wrapped up
in a cloth, and also the seal, as presents to Cæsar. Accustomed as they
were to the brutal deeds and heartless cruelties of the Ptolemies, they
supposed that Cæsar would exult at the spectacle of the dissevered and
ghastly head of his great rival and enemy. Instead of this, he was shocked
and displeased, and ordered the head to be buried with the most solemn and
imposing funeral ceremonies. He, however, accepted and kept the seal. The
device engraved upon it was a lion holding a sword in his paw--a fit
emblem of the characters of the men, who, though in many respects
magnanimous and just, had filled the whole world with the terror of their

The army of Ptolemy, while he himself and his immediate counselors went to
Alexandria, was left at Pelusium, under the command of other officers, to
watch Cleopatra. Cleopatra herself would have been pleased, also, to
repair to Alexandria and appeal to Cæsar, if it had been in her power to
do so; but she was beyond the confines of the country, with a powerful
army of her enemies ready to intercept her on any attempt to enter or pass
through it. She remained, therefore, at Pelusium, uncertain what to do.

In the mean time, Cæsar soon found himself in a somewhat embarrassing
situation at Alexandria. He had been accustomed, for many years, to the
possession and the exercise of the most absolute and despotic power,
wherever he might be; and now that Pompey, his great rival, was dead, he
considered himself the monarch and master of the world. He had not,
however, at Alexandria, any means sufficient to maintain and enforce such
pretensions, and yet he was not of a spirit to abate, on that account, in
the slightest degree, the advancing of them. He established himself in the
palaces of Alexandria as if he were himself the king. He moved, in state,
through the streets of the city, at the head of his guards, and displaying
the customary emblems of supreme authority used at Rome. He claimed the
six thousand talents which Ptolemy Auletes had formerly promised him for
procuring a treaty of alliance with Rome, and he called upon Pothinus to
pay the balance due. He said, moreover, that by the will of Auletes the
Roman people had been made the executor; and that it devolved upon him as
the Roman consul, and, consequently, the representative of the Roman
people, to assume that trust, and in the discharge of it to settle the
dispute between Ptolemy and Cleopatra; and he called upon Ptolemy to
prepare and lay before him a statement of his claims, and the grounds on
which he maintained his right to the throne to the exclusion of Cleopatra.

On the other hand, Pothinus, who had been as little accustomed to
acknowledge a superior as Cæsar, though his supremacy and domination had
been exercised on a somewhat humbler scale, was obstinate and pertinacious
in resisting all these demands, though the means and methods which he
resorted to were of a character corresponding to his weak and ignoble
mind. He fomented quarrels in the streets between the Alexandrian populace
and Cæsar's soldiers. He thought that, as the number of troops under
Cæsar's command in the city, and of vessels in the port, was small, he
could tease and worry the Romans with impunity, though he had not the
courage openly to attack them. He pretended to be a friend, or, at
least, not an enemy, and yet he conducted toward them in an overbearing
and insolent manner. He had agreed to make arrangements for supplying
them with food, and he did this by procuring damaged provisions of a most
wretched quality; and when the soldiers remonstrated, he said to them,
that they who lived at other people's cost had no right to complain of
their fare. He caused wooden and earthen vessels to be used in the palace,
and said, in explanation, that he had been compelled to sell all the gold
and silver plate of the royal household to meet the exactions of Cæsar. He
busied himself, too, about the city, in endeavoring to excite odium
against Cæsar's proposal to hear and decide the question at issue between
Cleopatra and Ptolemy. Ptolemy was a sovereign, he said, and was not
amenable to any foreign power whatever. Thus, without the courage or the
energy to attempt any open, manly, and effectual system of hostility, he
contented himself with making all the difficulty in his power, by urging
an incessant pressure of petty, vexatious, and provoking, but useless
annoyances. Cæsar's demands may have been unjust, but they were bold,
manly, and undisguised. The eunuch may have been right in resisting them;
but the mode was so mean and contemptible, that mankind have always taken
part with Cæsar in the sentiments which they have formed as spectators of
the contest.

With the very small force which Cæsar had at his command, and shut up as
he was in the midst of a very great and powerful city, in which both the
garrison and the population were growing more and more hostile to him
every day, he soon found his situation was beginning to be attended with
very serious danger. He could not retire from the scene. He probably would
not have retired if he could have done so. He remained, therefore, in the
city, conducting all the time with prudence and circumspection, but yet
maintaining, as at first, the same air of confident self-possession and
superiority which always characterized his demeanor. He, however,
dispatched a messenger forthwith into Syria, the nearest country under the
Roman sway, with orders that several legions which were posted there
should be embarked and forwarded to Alexandria with the utmost possible



In the mean time, while the events related in the last chapter were taking
place at Alexandria, Cleopatra remained anxious and uneasy in her camp,
quite uncertain, for a time, what it was best for her to do. She wished to
be at Alexandria. She knew very well that Cæsar's power in controlling the
course of affairs in Egypt would necessarily be supreme. She was, of
course, very earnest in her desire to be able to present her cause before
him. As it was, Ptolemy and Pothinus were in communication with the
arbiter, and, for aught she knew, assiduously cultivating his favor, while
she was far away, her cause unheard, her wrongs unknown, and perhaps even
her existence forgotten. Of course, under such circumstances, she was very
earnest to get to Alexandria.

But how to accomplish this purpose was a source of great perplexity. She
could not march thither at the head of an army, for the army of the king
was strongly intrenched at Pelusium, and effectually barred the way. She
could not attempt to pass alone, or with few attendants, through the
country, for every town and village was occupied with garrisons and
officers under the orders of Pothinus, and she would be certainly
intercepted. She had no fleet, and could not, therefore, make the passage
by sea. Besides, even if she could by any means reach the gates of
Alexandria, how was she to pass safely through the streets of the city to
the palace where Cæsar resided, since the city, except in Cæsar's
quarters, was wholly in the hands of Pothinus's government? The
difficulties in the way of accomplishing her object seemed thus almost

She was, however, resolved to make the attempt. She sent a message to
Cæsar, asking permission to appear before him and plead her own cause.
Cæsar replied, urging her by all means to come. She took a single boat,
and with the smallest number of attendants possible, made her way along
the coast to Alexandria. The man on whom she principally relied in this
hazardous expedition was a domestic named Apollodorus. She had, however,
some other attendants besides. When the party reached Alexandria, they
waited until night, and then advanced to the foot of the walls of the
citadel. Here Apollodorus rolled the queen up in a piece of carpeting,
and, covering the whole package with a cloth, he tied it with a thong, so
as to give it the appearance of a bale of ordinary merchandise, and then
throwing the load across his shoulder, he advanced into the city.
Cleopatra was at this time about twenty-one years of age, but she was of a
slender and graceful form, and the burden was, consequently, not very
heavy. Apollodorus came to the gates of the palace where Cæsar was
residing. The guards at the gates asked him what it was that he was
carrying. He said that it was a present for Cæsar. So they allowed him to
pass, and the pretended porter carried his package safely in.

When it was unrolled, and Cleopatra came out to view, Cæsar was perfectly
charmed with the spectacle. In fact, the various conflicting emotions
which she could not but feel under such circumstances as these, imparted a
double interest to her beautiful and expressive face, and to her naturally
bewitching manners. She was excited by the adventure through which she had
passed, and yet pleased with her narrow escape from its dangers. The
curiosity and interest which she felt on the one hand, in respect to
the great personage into whose presence she had been thus strangely
ushered, was very strong; but then, on the other, it was chastened and
subdued by that feeling of timidity which, in new and unexpected
situations like these, and under a consciousness of being the object of
eager observation to the other sex, is inseparable from the nature of


The conversation which Cæsar held with Cleopatra deepened the impression
which her first appearance had made upon him. Her intelligence and
animation, the originality of her ideas, and the point and pertinency of
her mode of expressing them, made her, independently of her personal
charms, an exceedingly entertaining and agreeable companion. She, in fact,
completely won the great conqueror's heart; and, through the strong
attachment to her which he immediately formed, he became wholly
disqualified to act impartially between her and her brother in regard to
their respective rights to the crown. We call Ptolemy Cleopatra's brother;
for, though he was also, in fact, her husband, still, as he was only ten
or twelve years of age at the time of Cleopatra's expulsion from
Alexandria, the marriage had been probably regarded, thus far, only as a
mere matter of form. Cæsar was now about fifty-two. He had a wife, named
Calpurnia, to whom he had been married about ten years. She was living, at
this time, in an unostentatious and quiet manner at Rome. She was a lady
of an amiable and gentle character, devotedly attached to her husband,
patient and forbearing in respect to his faults, and often anxious and
unhappy at the thought of the difficulties and dangers in which his ardent
and unbounded ambition so often involved him.

Cæsar immediately began to take a very strong interest in Cleopatra's
cause. He treated her personally with the fondest attention, and it was
impossible for her not to reciprocate in some degree the kind feeling with
which he regarded her. It was, in fact, something altogether new to her to
have a warm and devoted friend, espousing her cause, tendering her
protection, and seeking in every way to promote her happiness. Her father
had all his life neglected her. Her brother, of years and understanding
totally inferior to hers, whom she had been compelled to make her husband,
had become her mortal enemy. It is true that, in depriving her of her
inheritance and expelling her from her native land, he had been only the
tool and instrument of more designing men. This, however, far from
improving the point of view from which she regarded him, made him appear
not only hateful, but contemptible too. All the officers of government,
also, in the Alexandrian court had turned against her, because they had
supposed that they could control her brother more easily if she were away.
Thus she had always been surrounded by selfish, mercenary, and implacable
foes. Now, for the first time, she seemed to have a friend. A protector
had suddenly arisen to support and defend her--a man of very alluring
person and manners, of a very noble and generous spirit, and of the very
highest station. He loved her, and she could not refrain from loving him
in return. She committed her cause entirely into his hands, confided to
him all her interests, and gave herself up wholly into his power.

Nor was the unbounded confidence which she reposed in him undeserved, so
far as related to his efforts to restore her to her throne. The legions
which Cæsar had sent for into Syria had not yet arrived, and his situation
in Alexandria was still very defenseless and very precarious. He did not,
however, on this account, abate in the least degree the loftiness and
self-confidence of the position which he had assumed, but he commenced
immediately the work of securing Cleopatra's restoration. This quiet
assumption of the right and power to arbitrate and decide such a question
as that of the claim to the throne, in a country where he had accidentally
landed and found rival claimants disputing for the succession, while he
was still wholly destitute of the means of enforcing the superiority which
he so coolly assumed, marks the immense ascendency which the Roman power
had attained at this time in the estimation of mankind, and is, besides,
specially characteristic of the genius and disposition of Cæsar.

Very soon after Cleopatra had come to him, Cæsar sent for the young
Ptolemy, and urged upon him the duty and expediency of restoring
Cleopatra. Ptolemy was beginning now to attain an age at which he might be
supposed to have some opinion of his own on such a question. He declared
himself utterly opposed to any such design. In the course of the
conversation he learned that Cleopatra had arrived at Alexandria, and that
she was then concealed in Cæsar's palace. This intelligence awakened in
his mind the greatest excitement and indignation. He went away from
Cæsar's presence in a rage. He tore the diadem which he was accustomed to
wear from his head in the streets, threw it down, and trampled it under
his feet. He declared to the people that he was betrayed, and displayed
the most violent indications of vexation and chagrin. The chief subject of
his complaint, in the attempts which he made to awaken the popular
indignation against Cæsar and the Romans, was the disgraceful impropriety
of the position which his sister had assumed in surrendering herself as
she had done to Cæsar. It is most probable, however, unless his character
was very different from that of every other Ptolemy in the line, that what
really awakened his jealousy and anger was fear of the commanding
influence and power to which Cleopatra was likely to attain through the
agency of so distinguished a protector, rather than any other consequences
of his friendship, or any real considerations of delicacy in respect to
his sister's good name or his own marital honor.

However this may be, Ptolemy, together with Pothinus and Achillas, and all
his other friends and adherents, who joined him in the terrible outcry
that he made against the coalition which he had discovered between
Cleopatra and Cæsar, succeeded in producing a very general and violent
tumult throughout the city. The populace were aroused, and began to
assemble in great crowds, and full of indignation and anger. Some knew the
facts, and acted under something like an understanding of the cause of
their anger. Others only knew that the aim of this sudden outbreak was to
assault the Romans, and were ready, on any pretext, known or unknown, to
join in any deeds of violence directed against these foreign intruders.
There were others still, and these, probably, far the larger portion, who
knew nothing and understood nothing but that there was to be tumult and a
riot in and around the palaces, and were, accordingly, eager to be there.

Ptolemy and his officers had no large body of troops in Alexandria; for
the events which had thus far occurred since Cæsar's arrival had succeeded
each other so rapidly, that a very short time had yet elapsed, and the
main army remained still at Pelusium. The main force, therefore, by which
Cæsar was now attacked, consisted of the population of the city, headed,
perhaps, by the few guards which the young king had at his command.

Cæsar, on his part, had but a small portion of his forces at the palace
where he was attacked. The rest were scattered about the city. He,
however, seems to have felt no alarm. He did not even confine himself to
acting on the defensive. He sent out a detachment of his soldiers with
orders to seize Ptolemy and bring him in a prisoner. Soldiers trained,
disciplined, and armed as the Roman veterans were, and nerved by the ardor
and enthusiasm which seemed always to animate troops which were under
Cæsar's personal command, could accomplish almost any undertaking against
a mere populace, however numerous or however furiously excited they might
be. The soldiers sallied out, seized Ptolemy, and brought him in.

The populace were at first astounded at the daring presumption of this
deed, and then exasperated at the indignity of it, considered as a
violation of the person of their sovereign. The tumult would have greatly
increased, had it not been that Cæsar--who had now attained all his ends
in thus having brought Cleopatra and Ptolemy both within his
power--thought it most expedient to allay it. He accordingly ascended to
the window of a tower, or of some other elevated portion of his palace, so
high that missiles from the mob below could not reach him, and began to
make signals expressive of his wish to address them.

When silence was obtained, he made them a speech well calculated to quiet
the excitement. He told them that he did not pretend to any right to judge
between Cleopatra and Ptolemy as their superior, but only in the
performance of the duty solemnly assigned by Ptolemy Auletes, the father,
to the Roman people, whose representative he was. Other than this he
claimed no jurisdiction in the case; and his only wish, in the discharge
of the duty which devolved upon him to consider the cause, was to settle
the question in a manner just and equitable to all the parties concerned,
and thus arrest the progress of the civil war, which, if not arrested,
threatened to involve the country in the most terrible calamities. He
counseled them, therefore, to disperse, and no longer disturb the peace of
the city. He would immediately take measures for trying the question
between Cleopatra and Ptolemy, and he did not doubt but that they would
all be satisfied with his decision.

This speech, made, as it was, in the eloquent and persuasive, and yet
dignified and imposing manner for which Cæsar's harangues to turbulent
assemblies like these were so famed, produced a great effect. Some were
convinced, others were silenced; and those whose resentment and anger
were not appeased, found themselves deprived of their power by the
pacification of the rest. The mob was dispersed, and Ptolemy remained with
Cleopatra in Cæsar's custody.

The next day, Cæsar, according to his promise, convened an assembly of the
principal people of Alexandria and officers of state, and then brought out
Ptolemy and Cleopatra, that he might decide their cause. The original will
which Ptolemy Auletes had executed had been deposited in the public
archives of Alexandria, and carefully preserved there. An authentic copy
of it had been sent to Rome. Cæsar caused the original will to be brought
out and read to the assembly. The provisions of it were perfectly explicit
and clear. It required that Cleopatra and Ptolemy should be married, and
then settled the sovereign power upon them jointly, as king and queen. It
recognized the Roman commonwealth as the ally of Egypt, and constituted
the Roman government the executor of the will, and the guardian of the
king and queen. In fact, so clear and explicit was this document, that the
simple reading of it seemed to be of itself a decision of the question.
When, therefore, Cæsar announced that, in his judgment, Cleopatra was
entitled to share the supreme power with Ptolemy, and that it was his
duty, as the representative of the Roman power and the executor of the
will, to protect both the king and the queen in their respective rights,
there seemed to be nothing that could be said against his decision.

Besides Cleopatra and Ptolemy, there were two other children of Ptolemy
Auletes in the royal family at this time. One was a girl, named Arsinoë.
The other, a boy, was, singularly enough, named, like his brother,
Ptolemy. These children were quite young, but Cæsar thought that it would
perhaps gratify the Alexandrians, and lead them to acquiesce more readily
in his decision, if he were to make some royal provision for them. He
accordingly proposed to assign the island of Cyprus as a realm for them.
This was literally a gift, for Cyprus was at this time a Roman

The whole assembly seemed satisfied with this decision except Pothinus. He
had been so determined and inveterate an enemy to Cleopatra, that, as he
was well aware, her restoration must end in his downfall and ruin. He
went away from the assembly moodily determining that he would not submit
to the decision, but would immediately adopt efficient measures to prevent
its being carried into effect.

Cæsar made arrangements for a series of festivals and celebrations, to
commemorate and confirm the re-establishment of a good understanding
between the king and the queen, and the consequent termination of the war.
Such celebrations, he judged, would have great influence in removing any
remaining animosities from the minds of the people, and restore the
dominion of a kind and friendly feeling throughout the city. The people
fell in with these measures, and cordially co-operated to give them
effect; but Pothinus and Achillas, though they suppressed all outward
expressions of discontent, made incessant efforts in secret to organize a
party, and to form plans for overthrowing the influence of Cæsar, and
making Ptolemy again the sole and exclusive sovereign.

Pothinus represented to all whom he could induce to listen to him that
Cæsar's real design was to make Cleopatra queen alone, and to depose
Ptolemy, and urged them to combine with him to resist a policy which would
end in bringing Egypt under the dominion of a woman. He also formed a
plan, in connection with Achillas, for ordering the army back from
Pelusium. The army consisted of thirty thousand men. If that army could be
brought to Alexandria and kept under Pothinus's orders, Cæsar and his
three thousand Roman soldiers would be, they thought, wholly at their

There was, however, one danger to be guarded against in ordering the army
to march toward the capital, and that was, that Ptolemy, while under
Cæsar's influence, might open communications with the officers, and so
obtain command of its movements, and thwart all the conspirators' designs.
To prevent this, it was arranged between Pothinus and Achillas that the
latter should make his escape from Alexandria, proceed immediately to the
camp at Pelusium, resume the command of the troops there, and conduct them
himself to the capital; and that in all these operations, and also
subsequently on his arrival, he should obey no orders unless they came to
him through Pothinus himself.

Although sentinels and guards were probably stationed at the gates and
avenues leading from the city, Achillas contrived to effect his escape
and to join the army. He placed himself at the head of the forces, and
commenced his march toward the capital. Pothinus remained all the time
within the city as a spy, pretending to acquiesce in Cæsar's decision, and
to be on friendly terms with him, but really plotting for his overthrow,
and obtaining all the information which his position enabled him to
command, in order that he might co-operate with the army and Achillas when
they should arrive.

All these things were done with the utmost secrecy, and so cunning and
adroit were the conspirators in forming and executing their plots, that
Cæsar seems to have had no knowledge of the measures which his enemies
were taking, until he suddenly heard that the main body of Ptolemy's army
was approaching the city, at least twenty thousand strong. In the mean
time, however, the forces which he had sent for from Syria had not
arrived, and no alternative was left but to defend the capital and himself
as well as he could with the very small force which he had at his

He determined, however, first, to try the effect of orders sent out in
Ptolemy's name to forbid the approach of the army to the city. Two
officers were accordingly intrusted with these orders, and sent out to
communicate them to Achillas. The names of these officers were Dioscorides
and Serapion.

It shows in a very striking point of view to what an incredible exaltation
the authority and consequence of a sovereign king rose in those ancient
days, in the minds of men, that Achillas, at the moment when these men
made their appearance in the camp, bearing evidently some command from
Ptolemy in the city, considered it more prudent to kill them at once,
without hearing their message, rather than to allow the orders to be
delivered and then take the responsibility of disobeying them. If he could
succeed in marching to Alexandria and in taking possession of the city,
and then in expelling Cæsar and Cleopatra and restoring Ptolemy to the
exclusive possession of the throne, he knew very well that the king would
rejoice in the result, and would overlook all irregularities on his part
in the means by which he had accomplished it, short of absolute
disobedience of a known command. Whatever might be the commands that these
messengers were bringing him, he supposed that they doubtless originated,
not in Ptolemy's own free will, but that they were dictated by the
authority of Cæsar. Still, they would be commands coming in Ptolemy's
name; and the universal experience of officers serving under the military
despots of those ancient days showed that, rather than to take the
responsibility of directly disobeying a royal order once received, it was
safer to avoid receiving it by murdering the messengers.

Achillas therefore directed the officers to be seized and slain. They were
accordingly taken off and speared by the soldiers, and then the bodies
were borne away. The soldiers, however, it was found, had not done their
work effectually. There was no interest for them in such a cold-blooded
assassination, and perhaps something like a sentiment of compassion
restrained their hands. At any rate, though both the men were desperately
wounded, one only died. The other lived and recovered.

Achillas continued to advance toward the city. Cæsar, finding that the
crisis which was approaching was becoming very serious in its character,
took, himself, the whole command within the capital, and began to make the
best arrangements possible under the circumstances of the case to defend
himself there. His numbers were altogether too small to defend the whole
city against the overwhelming force which was advancing to assail it. He
accordingly intrenched his troops in the palaces and in the citadel, and
in such other parts of the city as it seemed practicable to defend. He
barricaded all the streets and avenues leading to these points, and
fortified the gates. Nor did he, while thus doing all in his power to
employ the insufficient means of defense already in his hands to the best
advantage, neglect the proper exertions for obtaining succor from abroad.
He sent off galleys to Syria, to Cyprus, to Rhodes, and to every other
point accessible from Alexandria where Roman troops might be expected to
be found, urging the authorities there to forward re-enforcements to him
with the utmost possible dispatch.

During all this time Cleopatra and Ptolemy remained in the palace with
Cæsar, both ostensibly co-operating with him in his councils and measures
for defending the city from Achillas. Cleopatra, of course, was sincere
and in earnest in this co-operation; but Ptolemy's adhesion to the common
cause was very little to be relied upon. Although, situated as he was, he
was compelled to seem to be on Cæsar's side, he must have secretly desired
that Achillas should succeed and Cæsar's plans be overthrown. Pothinus
was more active, though not less cautious in his hostility to them. He
opened a secret communication with Achillas, sending him information, from
time to time, of what took place within the walls, and of the arrangements
made there for the defense of the city against him, and gave him also
directions how to proceed. He was very wary and sagacious in all these
movements, feigning all the time to be on Cæsar's side. He pretended to be
very zealously employed in aiding Cæsar to secure more effectually the
various points where attacks were to be expected, and in maturing and
completing the arrangements for defense.

But, notwithstanding all his cunning, he was detected in his double
dealing, and his career was suddenly brought to a close, before the great
final conflict came on. There was a barber in Cæsar's household, who, for
some cause or other, began to suspect Pothinus; and, having little else to
do, he employed himself in watching the eunuch's movements and reporting
them to Cæsar. Cæsar directed the barber to continue his observations. He
did so; his suspicions were soon confirmed, and at length a letter, which
Pothinus had written to Achillas, was intercepted and brought to Cæsar.
This furnished the necessary proof of what they called his guilt, and
Cæsar ordered him to be beheaded.

This circumstance produced, of course, a great excitement within the
palace, for Pothinus had been for many years the great ruling minister of
state--the king, in fact, in all but in name. His execution alarmed a
great many others, who, though in Cæsar's power, were secretly wishing
that Achillas might prevail. Among those most disturbed by these fears was
a man named Ganymede. He was the officer who had charge of Arsinoë,
Cleopatra's sister. The arrangement which Cæsar had proposed for
establishing her in conjunction with her brother Ptolemy over the island
of Cyprus had not gone into effect; for, immediately after the decision of
Cæsar, the attention of all concerned had been wholly engrossed by the
tidings of the advance of the army, and by the busy preparations which
were required on all hands for the impending contest. Arsinoë, therefore,
with her governor Ganymede, remained in the palace. Ganymede had joined
Pothinus in his plots; and when Pothinus was beheaded, he concluded that
it would be safest for him to fly.

He accordingly resolved to make his escape from the city, taking Arsinoë
with him. It was a very hazardous attempt, but he succeeded in
accomplishing it. Arsinoë was very willing to go, for she was now
beginning to be old enough to feel the impulse of that insatiable and
reckless ambition which seemed to form such an essential element in the
character of every son and daughter in the whole Ptolemaic line. She was
insignificant and powerless where she was, but at the head of the army she
might become immediately a queen.

It resulted, in the first instance, as she had anticipated. Achillas and
his army received her with acclamations. Under Ganymede's influence they
decided that, as all the other members of the royal family were in
durance, being held captive by a foreign general, who had by chance
obtained possession of the capital, and were thus incapacitated for
exercising the royal power, the crown devolved upon Arsinoë; and they
accordingly proclaimed her queen.

Every thing was now prepared for a desperate and determined contest for
the crown between Cleopatra, with Cæsar for her minister and general, on
the one side, and Arsinoë, with Ganymede and Achillas for her chief
officers, on the other. The young Ptolemy, in the mean time, remained
Cæsar's prisoner, confused with the intricacies in which the quarrel had
become involved, and scarcely knowing now what to wish in respect to the
issue of the contest. It was very difficult to foresee whether it would be
best for him that Cleopatra or that Arsinoë should succeed.



The war which ensued as the result of the intrigues and maneuvers
described in the last chapter is known in the history of Rome and Julius
Cæsar as the Alexandrine war. The events which occurred during the
progress of it, and its termination at last in the triumph of Cæsar and
Cleopatra, will form the subject of this chapter.

Achillas had greatly the advantage over Cæsar at the outset of the
contest, in respect to the strength of the forces under his command.
Cæsar, in fact, had with him only a detachment of three or four thousand
men, a small body of troops which he had hastily put on board a little
squadron of Rhodian galleys for pursuing Pompey across the Mediterranean.
When he set sail from the European shores with this inconsiderable fleet,
it is probable that he had no expectation even of landing in Egypt at all,
and much less of being involved in great military undertakings there.
Achillas, on the other hand, was at the head of a force of twenty
thousand effective men. His troops were, it is true, of a somewhat
miscellaneous character, but they were all veteran soldiers, inured to the
climate of Egypt, and skilled in all the modes of warfare which were
suited to the character of the country. Some of them were Roman soldiers,
men who had come with the army of Mark Antony from Syria when Ptolemy
Auletes, Cleopatra's father, was reinstated on the throne, and had been
left in Egypt, in Ptolemy's service, when Antony returned to Rome. Some
were native Egyptians. There was also in the army of Achillas a large
number of fugitive slaves--refugees who had made their escape from various
points along the shores of the Mediterranean, at different periods, and
had been from time to time incorporated into the Egyptian army. These
fugitives were all men of the most determined and desperate character.

Achillas had also in his command a force of two thousand horse. Such a
body of cavalry made him, of course, perfect master of all the open
country outside the city walls. At the head of these troops Achillas
gradually advanced to the very gates of Alexandria, invested the city on
every side, and shut Cæsar closely in.

The danger of the situation in which Cæsar was placed was extreme; but he
had been so accustomed to succeed in extricating himself from the most
imminent perils, that neither he himself nor his army seem to have
experienced any concern in respect to the result. Cæsar personally felt a
special pride and pleasure in encountering the difficulties and dangers
which now beset him, because Cleopatra was with him to witness his
demeanor, to admire his energy and courage, and to reward by her love the
efforts and sacrifices which he was making in espousing her cause. She
confided every thing to him, but she watched all the proceedings with the
most eager interest, elated with hope in respect to the result, and proud
of the champion who had thus volunteered to defend her. In a word, her
heart was full of gratitude, admiration, and love.

The immediate effect, too, of the emotions which she felt so strongly was
greatly to heighten her natural charms. The native force and energy of her
character were softened and subdued. Her voice, which always possessed a
certain inexpressible charm, was endued with new sweetness through the
influence of affection. Her countenance beamed with fresh animation and
beauty, and the sprightliness and vivacity of her character, which became
at later periods of her life boldness and eccentricity, now being softened
and restrained within proper limits by the respectful regard with which
she looked upon Cæsar, made her an enchanting companion. Cæsar was, in
fact, entirely intoxicated with the fascinations which she unconsciously

Under other circumstances than these, a personal attachment so strong,
formed by a military commander while engaged in active service, might have
been expected to interfere in some degree with the discharge of his
duties; but in this case, since it was for Cleopatra's sake and in her
behalf that the operations which Cæsar had undertaken were to be
prosecuted, his love for her only stimulated the spirit and energy with
which he engaged in them.

The first measure to be adopted was, as Cæsar plainly perceived, to
concentrate and strengthen his position in the city, so that he might be
able to defend himself there against Achillas until he should receive
re-enforcements from abroad. For this purpose he selected a certain group
of palaces and citadels which lay together near the head of the long pier
or causeway which led to the Pharos, and, withdrawing his troops from all
other parts of the city, established them there. The quarter which he thus
occupied contained the great city arsenals and public granaries. Cæsar
brought together all the arms and munitions of war which he could find in
other parts of the city, and also all the corn and other provisions which
were contained either in the public depôts or in private warehouses, and
stored the whole within his lines. He then inclosed the whole quarter with
strong defenses. The avenues leading to it were barricaded with walls of
stone. Houses in the vicinity which might have afforded shelter to an
enemy were demolished, and the materials used in constructing walls
wherever they were needed, or in strengthening the barricades. Prodigious
military engines, made to throw heavy stones, and beams of wood, and other
ponderous missiles, were set up within his lines, and openings were made
in the walls and other defenses of the citadel, wherever necessary, to
facilitate the action of these machines.

[Illustration: VIEW OF ALEXANDRIA.]

There was a strong fortress situated at the head of the pier or mole
leading to the island of Pharos, which was without Cæsar's lines, and
still in the hands of the Egyptian authorities. The Egyptians thus
commanded the entrance to the mole. The island itself, also, with the
fortress at the other end of the pier, was still in the possession of the
Egyptian authorities, who seemed disposed to hold it for Achillas. The
mole was very long, as the island was nearly a mile from the shore. There
was quite a little town upon the island itself, besides the fortress or
castle built there to defend the place. The garrison of this castle was
strong, and the inhabitants of the town, too, constituted a somewhat
formidable population, as they consisted of fishermen, sailors, wreckers,
and such other desperate characters as usually congregate about such a
spot. Cleopatra and Cæsar, from the windows of their palace within the
city, looked out upon this island, with the tall light-house rising in the
center of it and the castle at its base, and upon the long and narrow
isthmus connecting it with the main land, and concluded that it was very
essential that they should get possession of the post, commanding, as it
did, the entrance to the harbor.

In the harbor, too, which, as will be seen from the engraving, was on the
south side of the mole, and, consequently, on the side opposite to that
from which Achillas was advancing toward the city, there were lying a
large number of Egyptian vessels, some dismantled, and others manned and
armed more or less effectively. These vessels had not yet come into
Achillas's hands, but it would be certain that he would take possession of
them as soon as he should gain admittance to those parts of the city which
Cæsar had abandoned. This it was extremely important to prevent; for, if
Achillas held this fleet, especially if he continued to command the island
of Pharos, he would be perfect master of all the approaches to the city
on the side of the sea. He could then not only receive re-enforcements and
supplies himself from that quarter, but he could also effectually cut off
the Roman army from all possibility of receiving any. It became,
therefore, as Cæsar thought, imperiously necessary that he should protect
himself from this danger. This he did by sending out an expedition to burn
all the shipping in the harbor, and, at the same time, to take possession
of a certain fort upon the island of Pharos which commanded the entrance
to the port. This undertaking was abundantly successful. The troops burned
the shipping, took the fort, expelled the Egyptian soldiers from it, and
put a Roman garrison into it instead, and then returned in safety within
Cæsar's lines. Cleopatra witnessed these exploits from her palace windows
with feelings of the highest admiration for the energy and valor which her
Roman protectors displayed.

The burning of the Egyptian ships in this action, however fortunate for
Cleopatra and Cæsar, was attended with a catastrophe which has ever since
been lamented by the whole civilized world. Some of the burning ships were
driven by the wind to the shore, where they set fire to the buildings
which were contiguous to the water. The flames spread and produced an
extensive conflagration, in the course of which the largest part of the
great library was destroyed. This library was the only general collection
of the ancient writings that ever had been made, and the loss of it was
never repaired.

The destruction of the Egyptian fleet resulted also in the downfall and
ruin of Achillas. From the time of Arsinoë's arrival in the camp there had
been a constant rivalry and jealousy between himself and Ganymede, the
eunuch who had accompanied Arsinoë in her flight. Two parties had been
formed in the army, some declaring for Achillas and some for Ganymede.
Arsinoë advocated Ganymede's interests, and when, at length, the fleet was
burned, she charged Achillas with having been, by his neglect or
incapacity, the cause of the loss. Achillas was tried, condemned, and
beheaded. From that time Ganymede assumed the administration of Arsinoë's
government as her minister of state and the commander-in-chief of her

About the time that these occurrences took place, the Egyptian army
advanced into those parts of the city from which Cæsar had withdrawn,
producing those terrible scenes of panic and confusion which always
attend a sudden and violent change of military possession within the
precincts of a city. Ganymede brought up his troops on every side to the
walls of Cæsar's citadels and intrenchments, and hemmed him closely in. He
cut off all avenues of approach to Cæsar's lines by land, and commenced
vigorous preparations for an assault. He constructed engines for battering
down the walls. He opened shops and established forges in every part of
the city for the manufacture of darts, spears, pikes, and all kinds of
military machinery. He built towers supported upon huge wheels, with the
design of filling them with armed men when finally ready to make his
assault upon Cæsar's lines, and moving them up to the walls of the
citadels and palaces, so as to give to his soldiers the advantage of a
lofty elevation in making their attacks. He levied contributions on the
rich citizens for the necessary funds, and provided himself with men by
pressing all the artisans, laborers, and men capable of bearing arms into
his service. He sent messengers back into the interior of the country, in
every direction, summoning the people to arms, and calling for
contributions of money and military stores.

These messengers were instructed to urge upon the people that, unless
Cæsar and his army were at once expelled from Alexandria, there was
imminent danger that the national independence of Egypt would be forever
destroyed. The Romans, they were to say, had extended their conquests over
almost all the rest of the world. They had sent one army into Egypt
before, under the command of Mark Antony, under the pretense of restoring
Ptolemy Auletes to the throne. Now another commander, with another force,
had come, offering some other pretexts for interfering in their affairs.
These Roman encroachments, the messengers were to say, would end in the
complete subjugation of Egypt to a foreign power, unless the people of the
country aroused themselves to meet the danger manfully, and to expel the

As Cæsar had possession of the island of Pharos and of the harbor,
Ganymede could not cut him off from receiving such re-enforcements of men
and arms as he might make arrangements for obtaining beyond the sea; nor
could he curtail his supply of food, as the granaries and magazines within
Cæsar's quarter of the city contained almost inexhaustible stores of corn.
There was one remaining point essential to the subsistence of an army
besieged, and that was an abundant supply of water. The palaces and
citadels which Cæsar occupied were supplied with water by means of
numerous subterranean aqueducts, which conveyed the water from the Nile to
vast cisterns built under ground, whence it was raised by buckets and
hydraulic engines for use. In reflecting upon this circumstance, Ganymede
conceived the design of secretly digging a canal, so as to turn the waters
of the sea by means of it into these aqueducts. This plan he carried into
effect. The consequence was, that the water in the cisterns was gradually
changed. It became first brackish, then more and more salt and bitter,
until, at length, it was wholly impossible to use it. For some time the
army within could not understand these changes; and when, at length, they
discovered the cause, the soldiers were panic-stricken at the thought that
they were now apparently wholly at the mercy of their enemies, since,
without supplies of water, they must all immediately perish. They
considered it hopeless to attempt any longer to hold out, and urged Cæsar
to evacuate the city, embark on board his galleys, and proceed to sea.

Instead of doing this, however, Cæsar, ordering all other operations to
be suspended, employed the whole laboring force of his command, under the
direction of the captains of the several companies, in digging wells in
every part of his quarter of the city. Fresh water, he said, was almost
invariably found, at a moderate depth, upon sea-coasts, even upon ground
lying in very close proximity with the sea. The diggings were successful.
Fresh water, in great abundance, was found. Thus this danger was passed,
and the men's fears effectually relieved.

A short time after these transactions occurred, there came into the harbor
one day, from along the shore west of the city, a small sloop, bringing
the intelligence that a squadron of transports had arrived upon the coast
to the westward of Alexandria, and had anchored there, being unable to
come up to the city on account of an easterly wind which prevailed at that
season of the year. This squadron was one which had been sent across the
Mediterranean with arms, ammunition, and military stores for Cæsar, in
answer to requisitions which he had made immediately after he had landed.
The transports being thus wind-bound on the coast, and having nearly
exhausted their supplies of water, were in distress; and they accordingly
sent forward the sloop, which was probably propelled by oars, to make
known their situation to Cæsar, and to ask for succor. Cæsar immediately
went, himself, on board of one of his galleys, and ordering the remainder
of his little fleet to follow him, he set sail out of the harbor, and then
turned to the westward, with a view of proceeding along the coast to the
place where the transports were lying.

All this was done secretly. The land is so low in the vicinity of
Alexandria that boats or galleys are out of sight from it at a very short
distance from the shore. In fact, travelers say that, in coming upon the
coast, the illusion produced by the spherical form of the surface of the
water and the low and level character of the coast is such that one seems
actually to descend from the sea to the land. Cæsar might therefore have
easily kept his expedition a secret, had it not been that, in order to be
provided with a supply of water for the transports immediately on reaching
them, he stopped at a solitary part of the coast, at some distance from
Alexandria, and sent a party a little way into the interior in search for
water. This party were discovered by the country people, and were
intercepted by a troop of horse and made prisoners. From these prisoners
the Egyptians learned that Cæsar himself was on the coast with a small
squadron of galleys. The tidings spread in all directions. The people
flocked together from every quarter. They hastily collected all the boats
and vessels which could be obtained at the villages in that region and
from the various branches of the Nile. In the mean time, Cæsar had gone on
to the anchorage ground of the squadron, and had taken the transports in
tow to bring them to the city; for the galleys, being propelled by oars,
were in a measure independent of the wind. On his return, he found quite a
formidable naval armament assembled to dispute the passage.

A severe conflict ensued, but Cæsar was victorious. The navy which the
Egyptians had so suddenly got together was as suddenly destroyed. Some of
the vessels were burned, others sunk, and others captured; and Cæsar
returned in triumph to the port with his transports and stores. He was
welcomed with the acclamations of his soldiers, and, still more warmly, by
the joy and gratitude of Cleopatra, who had been waiting during his
absence in great anxiety and suspense to know the result of the
expedition, aware as she was that her hero was exposing himself in it to
the most imminent personal danger.

The arrival of these re-enforcements greatly improved Cæsar's condition,
and the circumstance of their coming forced upon the mind of Ganymede a
sense of the absolute necessity that he should gain possession of the
harbor if he intended to keep Cæsar in check. He accordingly determined to
take immediate measures for forming a naval force. He sent along the
coast, and ordered every ship and galley that could be found in all the
ports to be sent immediately to Alexandria. He employed as many men as
possible in and around the city in building more. He unroofed some of the
most magnificent edifices to procure timber as a material for making
benches and oars. When all was ready, he made a grand attack upon Cæsar in
the port, and a terrible contest ensued for the possession of the harbor,
the mole, the island, and the citadels and fortresses commanding the
entrances from the sea. Cæsar well knew that this contest would be a
decisive one in respect to the final result of the war, and he accordingly
went forth himself to take an active and personal part in the conflict. He
felt doubtless, too, a strong emotion of pride and pleasure in exhibiting
his prowess in the sight of Cleopatra, who could watch the progress of
the battle from the palace windows, full of excitement at the dangers
which he incurred, and of admiration at the feats of strength and valor
which he performed. During this battle the life of the great conqueror was
several times in the most imminent danger. He wore a habit or mantle of
the imperial purple, which made him a conspicuous mark for his enemies;
and, of course, wherever he went, in that place was the hottest of the
fight. Once, in the midst of a scene of most dreadful confusion and din,
he leaped from an overloaded boat into the water and swam for his life,
holding his cloak between his teeth and drawing it through the water after
him, that it might not fall into the hands of his enemies. He carried, at
the same time, as he swam, certain valuable papers which he wished to
save, holding them above his head with one hand, while he propelled
himself through the water with the other.

The result of this contest was another decisive victory for Cæsar. Not
only were the ships which the Egyptians had collected defeated and
destroyed, but the mole, with the fortresses at each extremity of it, and
the island, with the light-house and the town of Pharos, all fell into
Cæsar's hands.

The Egyptians now began to be discouraged. The army and the people,
judging, as mankind always do, of the virtue of their military commanders
solely by the criterion of success, began to be tired of the rule of
Ganymede and Arsinoë. They sent secret messengers to Cæsar avowing their
discontent, and saying that, if he would liberate Ptolemy--who, it will be
recollected, had been all this time held as a sort of prisoner of state in
Cæsar's palaces--they thought that the people generally would receive him
as their sovereign, and that then an arrangement might easily be made for
an amicable adjustment of the whole controversy. Cæsar was strongly
inclined to accede to this proposal.

He accordingly called Ptolemy into his presence, and, taking him kindly by
the hand, informed him of the wishes of the people of Egypt, and gave him
permission to go. Ptolemy, however, begged not to be sent away. He
professed the strongest attachment to Cæsar, and the utmost confidence in
him, and he very much preferred, he said, to remain under his protection.
Cæsar replied that, if those were his sentiments, the separation would
not be a lasting one. "If we part as friends," he said, "we shall soon
meet again." By these and similar assurances he endeavored to encourage
the young prince, and then sent him away. Ptolemy was received by the
Egyptians with great joy, and was immediately placed at the head of the
government. Instead, however, of endeavoring to promote a settlement of
the quarrel with Cæsar, he seemed to enter into it now himself,
personally, with the utmost ardor, and began at once to make the most
extensive preparations both by sea and land for a vigorous prosecution of
the war. What the result of these operations would have been can now not
be known, for the general aspect of affairs was, soon after these
transactions, totally changed by the occurrence of a new and very
important event which suddenly intervened, and which turned the attention
of all parties, both Egyptians and Romans, to the eastern quarter of the
kingdom. The tidings arrived that a large army, under the command of a
general named Mithradates, whom Cæsar had dispatched into Asia for this
purpose, had suddenly appeared at Pelusium, had captured that city, and
were now ready to march to Alexandria.

The Egyptian army immediately broke up its encampments in the neighborhood
of Alexandria, and marched to the eastward to meet these new invaders.
Cæsar followed them with all the forces that he could safely take away
from the city. He left the city in the night and unobserved, and moved
across the country with such celerity that he joined Mithradates before
the forces of Ptolemy had arrived. After various marches and maneuvers,
the armies met, and a great battle was fought. The Egyptians were
defeated. Ptolemy's camp was taken. As the Roman army burst in upon one
side of it, the guards and attendants of Ptolemy fled upon the other,
clambering over the ramparts in the utmost terror and confusion. The
foremost fell headlong into the ditch below, which was thus soon filled to
the brim with the dead and the dying; while those who came behind pressed
on over the bridge thus formed, trampling remorselessly, as they fled, on
the bodies of their comrades, who lay writhing, struggling, and shrieking
beneath their feet. Those who escaped reached the river. They crowded
together into a boat which lay at the bank and pushed off from the shore.
The boat was overloaded, and it sank as soon as it left the land. The
Romans drew the bodies which floated to the shore up upon the bank again,
and they found among them one, which, by the royal cuirass which was upon
it, the customary badge and armor of the Egyptian kings, they knew to be
the body of Ptolemy.

The victory which Cæsar obtained in this battle and the death of Ptolemy
ended the war. Nothing now remained but for him to place himself at the
head of the combined forces and march back to Alexandria. The Egyptian
forces which had been left there made no resistance, and he entered the
city in triumph. He took Arsinoë prisoner. He decreed that Cleopatra
should reign as queen, and that she should marry her youngest brother, the
other Ptolemy--a boy at this time about eleven years of age. A marriage
with one so young was, of course, a mere form. Cleopatra remained, as
before, the companion of Cæsar.

Cæsar had, in the mean time, incurred great censure at Rome, and
throughout the whole Roman world, for having thus turned aside from his
own proper duties as the Roman consul, and the commander-in-chief of the
armies of the empire, to embroil himself in the quarrels of a remote and
secluded kingdom, with which the interests of the Roman commonwealth were
so little connected. His friends and the authorities at Rome were
continually urging him to return. They were especially indignant at his
protracted neglect of his own proper duties, from knowing that he was held
in Egypt by a guilty attachment to the queen--thus not only violating his
obligations to the state, but likewise inflicting upon his wife Calpurnia,
and his family at Rome, an intolerable wrong. But Cæsar was so fascinated
by Cleopatra's charms, and by the mysterious and unaccountable influence
which she exercised over him, that he paid no heed to any of these
remonstrances. Even after the war was ended he remained some months in
Egypt to enjoy his favorite's society. He would spend whole nights in her
company, in feasting and revelry. He made a splendid royal progress with
her through Egypt after the war was over, attended by a numerous train of
Roman guards. He formed a plan for taking her to Rome, and marrying her
there; and he took measures for having the laws of the city altered so as
to enable him to do so, though he was already married.

All these things produced great discontent and disaffection among Cæsar's
friends and throughout the Roman army. The Egyptians, too, strongly
censured the conduct of Cleopatra. A son was born to her about this time,
whom the Alexandrians named, from his father, Cæsarion. Cleopatra was
regarded in the new relation of mother, which she now sustained, not with
interest and sympathy, but with feelings of reproach and condemnation.

Cleopatra was all this time growing more and more accomplished and more
and more beautiful; but her vivacity and spirit, which had been so
charming while it was simple and childlike, now began to appear more
forward and bold. It is the characteristic of pure and lawful love to
soften and subdue the heart, and infuse a gentle and quiet spirit into all
its action; while that which breaks over the barriers that God and nature
have marked out for it, tends to make woman masculine and bold, to
indurate all her sensibilities, and to destroy that gentleness and
timidity of demeanor which have so great an influence in heightening her
charms. Cleopatra was beginning to experience these effects. She was
indifferent to the opinions of her subjects, and was only anxious to
maintain as long as possible her guilty ascendency over Cæsar.

Cæsar, however, finally determined to set out on his return to the
capital. Leaving Cleopatra, accordingly, a sufficient force to secure the
continuance of her power, he embarked the remainder of his forces in his
transports and galleys, and sailed away. He took the unhappy Arsinoë with
him, intending to exhibit her as a trophy of his Egyptian victories on his
arrival at Rome.



The war by which Cæsar reinstated Cleopatra upon the throne was not one of
very long duration. Cæsar arrived in Egypt in pursuit of Pompey about the
1st of August; the war was ended and Cleopatra established in secure
possession by the end of January; so that the conflict, violent as it was
while it continued, was very brief, the peaceful and commercial pursuits
of the Alexandrians having been interrupted by it only for a few months.

Nor did either the war itself, or the derangements consequent upon it,
extend very far into the interior of the country. The city of Alexandria
itself and the neighboring coasts were the chief scenes of the contest
until Mithradates arrived at Pelusium. He, it is true, marched across the
Delta, and the final battle was fought in the interior of the country. It
was, however, after all, but a very small portion of the Egyptian
territory that was directly affected by the war. The great mass of the
people, occupying the rich and fertile tracts which bordered the various
branches of the Nile, and the long and verdant valley which extended so
far into the heart of the continent, knew nothing of the conflict but by
vague and distant rumors. The pursuits of the agricultural population went
on, all the time, as steadily and prosperously as ever; so that when the
conflict was ended, and Cleopatra entered upon the quiet and peaceful
possession of her power, she found that the resources of her empire were
very little impaired.

She availed herself, accordingly, of the revenues which poured in very
abundantly upon her, to enter upon a career of the greatest luxury,
magnificence, and splendor. The injuries which had been done to the
palaces and other public edifices of Alexandria by the fire, and by the
military operations of the siege, were repaired. The bridges which had
been broken down were rebuilt. The canals which had been obstructed were
opened again. The sea-water was shut off from the palace cisterns; the
rubbish of demolished houses was removed; the barricades were cleared from
the streets; and the injuries which the palaces had suffered, either from
the violence of military engines or the rough occupation of the Roman
soldiery, were repaired. In a word, the city was speedily restored once
more, so far as was possible, to its former order and beauty. The five
hundred thousand manuscripts of the Alexandrian library, which had been
burned, could not, indeed, be restored; but, in all other respects, the
city soon resumed in appearance all its former splendor. Even in respect
to the library, Cleopatra made an effort to retrieve the loss. She
repaired the ruined buildings, and afterward, in the course of her life,
she brought together, it was said, in a manner hereafter to be described,
one or two hundred thousand rolls of manuscripts, as the commencement of a
new collection. The new library, however, never acquired the fame and
distinction that had pertained to the old.

The former sovereigns of Egypt, Cleopatra's ancestors, had generally, as
has already been shown, devoted the immense revenues which they extorted
from the agriculturalists of the valley of the Nile to purposes of
ambition. Cleopatra seemed now disposed to expend them in luxury and
pleasure. They, the Ptolemies, had employed their resources in erecting
vast structures, or founding magnificent institutions at Alexandria, to
add to the glory of the city, and to widen and extend their own fame.
Cleopatra, on the other hand, as was, perhaps, naturally to be expected of
a young, beautiful, and impulsive woman, suddenly raised to so conspicuous
a position, and to the possession of such unbounded wealth and power,
expended her royal revenues in plans of personal display, and in scenes of
festivity, gayety, and enjoyment. She adorned her palaces, built
magnificent barges for pleasure excursions on the Nile, and expended
enormous sums for dress, for equipages, and for sumptuous entertainments.
In fact, so lavish were her expenditures for these and similar purposes
during the early years of her reign, that she is considered as having
carried the extravagance of sensual luxury and personal display and
splendor beyond the limits that had ever before or have ever since been

Whatever of simplicity of character, and of gentleness and kindness of
spirit she might have possessed in her earlier years, of course gradually
disappeared under the influences of such a course of life as she now was
leading. She was beautiful and fascinating still, but she began to grow
selfish, heartless, and designing. Her little brother--he was but eleven
years of age, it will be recollected, when Cæsar arranged the marriage
between them--was an object of jealousy to her. He was now, of course, too
young to take any actual share in the exercise of the royal power, or to
interfere at all in his sister's plans or pleasures. But then he was
growing older. In a few years he would be fifteen--which was the period of
life fixed upon by Cæsar's arrangements, and, in fact, by the laws and
usages of the Egyptian kingdom--when he was to come into possession of
power as king, and as the husband of Cleopatra. Cleopatra was extremely
unwilling that the change in her relations to him and to the government,
which this period was to bring, should take place. Accordingly, just
before the time arrived, she caused him to be poisoned. His death released
her, as she had intended, from all restraints, and thereafter she
continued to reign alone. During the remainder of her life, so far as the
enjoyment of wealth and power, and of all other elements of external
prosperity could go, Cleopatra's career was one of uninterrupted success.
She had no conscientious scruples to interfere with the most full and
unrestrained indulgence of every propensity of her heart, and the means of
indulgence were before her in the most unlimited profusion. The only bar
to her happiness was the impossibility of satisfying the impulses and
passions of the human soul, when they once break over the bounds which the
laws both of God and of nature ordain for restraining them.

In the mean time, while Cleopatra was spending the early years of her
reign in all this luxury and splendor, Cæsar was pursuing his career, as
the conqueror of the world, in the most successful manner. On the death of
Pompey, he would naturally have succeeded at once to the enjoyment of the
supreme power; but his delay in Egypt, and the extent to which it was
known that he was entangled with Cleopatra, encouraged and strengthened
his enemies in various parts of the world. In fact, a revolt which broke
out in Asia Minor, and which it was absolutely necessary that he should
proceed at once to quell, was the immediate cause of his leaving Egypt at
last. Other plans for making head against Cæsar's power were formed in
Spain, in Africa, and in Italy. His military skill and energy, however,
were so great, and the ascendency which he exercised over the minds of men
by his personal presence was so unbounded, and so astonishing, moreover,
was the celerity with which he moved from continent to continent, and
from kingdom to kingdom, that in a very short period from the time of his
leaving Egypt, he had conducted most brilliant and successful campaigns in
all the three quarters of the world then known, had put down effectually
all opposition to his power, and then had returned to Rome the
acknowledged master of the world. Cleopatra, who had, of course, watched
his career during all this time with great pride and pleasure, concluded,
at last, to go to Rome and make a visit to him there.

The people of Rome were, however, not prepared to receive her very
cordially. It was an age in which vice of every kind was regarded with
great indulgence, but the moral instincts of mankind were too strong to be
wholly blinded to the true character of so conspicuous an example of
wickedness as this. Arsinoë was at Rome, too, during this period of
Cæsar's life. He had brought her there, it will be recollected, on his
return from Egypt, as a prisoner, and as a trophy of his victory. His
design was, in fact, to reserve her as a captive to grace his _triumph_.

A triumph, according to the usages of the ancient Romans, was a grand
celebration decreed by the senate to great military commanders of the
highest rank, when they returned from distant campaigns in which they had
made great conquests or gained extraordinary victories. Cæsar concentrated
all his triumphs into one. They were celebrated on his return to Rome for
the last time, after having completed the conquest of the world. The
processions of this triumph occupied four days. In fact, there were four
triumphs, one on each day for the four days. The wars and conquests which
these ovations were intended to celebrate were those of Gaul, of Egypt, of
Asia, and of Africa; and the processions on the several days consisted of
endless trains of prisoners, trophies, arms, banners, pictures, images,
convoys of wagons loaded with plunder, captive princes and princesses,
animals, wild and tame, and every thing else which the conqueror had been
able to bring home with him from his campaigns, to excite the curiosity or
the admiration of the people of the city, and illustrate the magnitude of
his exploits. Of course, the Roman generals, when engaged in distant
foreign wars, were ambitious of bringing back as many distinguished
captives and as much public plunder as they were able to obtain, in order
to add to the variety and splendor of the triumphal procession by which
their victories were to be honored on their return. It was with this view
that Cæsar brought Arsinoë from Egypt; and he had retained her as his
captive at Rome until his conquests were completed and the time for his
triumph arrived. She, of course, formed a part of the triumphal train on
the _Egyptian_ day. She walked immediately before the chariot in which
Cæsar rode. She was in chains, like any other captive, though her chains,
in honor of her lofty rank, were made of gold.


The effect, however, upon the Roman population of seeing the unhappy
princess, overwhelmed as she was with sorrow and chagrin, as she moved
slowly along in the train, among the other emblems and trophies of
violence and plunder, proved to be by no means favorable to Cæsar. The
populace were inclined to pity her, and to sympathize with her in her
sufferings. The sight of her distress recalled, too, to their minds the
dereliction from duty of which Cæsar had been guilty of in his yielding to
the enticements of Cleopatra, and remaining so long in Egypt to the
neglect of his proper duties as a Roman minister of state. In a word, the
tide of admiration for Cæsar's military exploits which had been setting
so strongly in his favor, seemed inclined to turn, and the city was filled
with murmurs against him even in the midst of his triumphs.

In fact, the pride and vainglory which led Cæsar to make his triumphs more
splendid and imposing than any former conqueror had ever enjoyed, caused
him to overact his part so as to produce effects the reverse of his
intentions. The case of Arsinoë was one example of this. Instead of
impressing the people with a sense of the greatness of his exploits in
Egypt, in deposing one queen and bringing her captive to Rome, in order
that he might place another upon the throne in her stead, it only
reproduced anew the censures and criminations which he had deserved by his
actions there, but which, had it not been for the pitiable spectacle of
Arsinoë in the train, might have been forgotten.

There were other examples of a similar character. There were the feasts,
for instance. From the plunder which Cæsar had obtained in his various
campaigns, he expended the most enormous sums in making feasts and
spectacles for the populace at the time of his triumph. A large portion of
the populace was pleased, it is true, with the boundless indulgences thus
offered to them; but the better part of the Roman people were indignant
at the waste and extravagance which were every where displayed. For many
days the whole city of Rome presented to the view nothing but one
wide-spread scene of riot and debauchery. The people, instead of being
pleased with this abundance, said that Cæsar must have practiced the most
extreme and lawless extortion to have obtained the vast amount of money
necessary to enable him to supply such unbounded and reckless waste.

There was another way, too, by which Cæsar turned public opinion strongly
against himself, by the very means which he adopted for creating a
sentiment in his favor. The Romans, among the other barbarous amusements
which were practiced in the city, were specially fond of combats. These
combats were of various kinds. They were fought sometimes between
ferocious beasts of the same or of different species, as dogs against each
other, or against bulls, lions, or tigers. Any animals, in fact, were
employed for this purpose, that could be teased or goaded into anger and
ferocity in a fight. Sometimes men were employed in these combats--captive
soldiers, that had been taken in war, and brought to Rome to fight in the
amphitheaters there as gladiators. These men were compelled to contend
sometimes with wild beasts, and sometimes with one another. Cæsar, knowing
how highly the Roman assemblies enjoyed such scenes, determined to afford
them the indulgence on a most magnificent scale, supposing, of course,
that the greater and the more dreadful the fight, the higher would be the
pleasure which the spectators would enjoy in witnessing it. Accordingly,
in making preparations for the festivities attending his triumph, he
caused a large artificial lake to be formed at a convenient place in the
vicinity of Rome, where it could be surrounded by the populace of the
city, and there he made arrangements for a naval battle. A great number of
galleys were introduced into the lake. They were of the usual size
employed in war. These galleys were manned with numerous soldiers. Tyrian
captives were put upon one side, and Egyptian upon the other; and when all
was ready, the two squadrons were ordered to approach and fight a real
naval battle for the amusement of the enormous throngs of spectators that
were assembled around. As the nations from which the combatants in this
conflict were respectively taken were hostile to each other, and as the
men fought, of course, for their lives, the engagement was attended with
the usual horrors of a desperate naval encounter. Hundreds were slain. The
dead bodies of the combatants fell from the galleys into the lake, and the
waters of it were dyed with their blood.

There were land combats, too, on the same grand scale. In one of them five
hundred foot soldiers, twenty elephants, and a troop of thirty horse were
engaged on each side. This combat, therefore, was an action greater, in
respect to the number of the combatants, than the famous battle of
Lexington, which marked the commencement of the American war; and in
respect to the slaughter which took place, it was very probably ten times
greater. The horror of these scenes proved to be too much even for the
populace, fierce and merciless as it was, which they were intended to
amuse. Cæsar, in his eagerness to outdo all former exhibitions and shows,
went beyond the limits within which the seeing of men butchered in bloody
combats and dying in agony and despair would serve for a pleasure and a
pastime. The people were shocked; and condemnations of Cæsar's cruelty
were added to the other suppressed reproaches and criminations which every
where arose.

Cleopatra, during her visit to Rome, lived openly with Cæsar at his
residence, and this excited very general displeasure. In fact, while the
people pitied Arsinoë, Cleopatra, notwithstanding her beauty and her
thousand personal accomplishments and charms, was an object of general
displeasure, so far as public attention was turned toward her at all. The
public mind was, however, much engrossed by the great political movements
made by Cæsar and the ends toward which he seemed to be aiming. Men
accused him of designing to be made a king. Parties were formed for and
against him; and though men did not dare openly to utter their sentiments,
their passions became the more violent in proportion to the external force
by which they were suppressed. Mark Antony was at Rome at this time. He
warmly espoused Cæsar's cause, and encouraged his design of making himself
king. He once, in fact, offered to place a royal diadem upon Cæsar's head
at some public celebration; but the marks of public disapprobation which
the act elicited caused him to desist.

At length, however, the time arrived when Cæsar determined to cause
himself to be proclaimed king. He took advantage of a certain remarkable
conjuncture of public affairs, which can not here be particularly
described, but which seemed to him specially to favor his designs, and
arrangements were made for having him invested with the regal power by the
senate. The murmurs and the discontent of the people at the indications
that the time for the realization of their fears was drawing nigh, became
more and more audible, and at length a conspiracy was formed to put an end
to the danger by destroying the ambitious aspirant's life. Two stern and
determined men, Brutus and Cassius, were the leaders of this conspiracy.
They matured their plans, organized their band of associates, provided
themselves secretly with arms, and when the senate convened, on the day in
which the decisive vote was to have been passed, Cæsar himself presiding,
they came up boldly around him in his presidential chair, and murdered him
with their daggers.

Antony, from whom the plans of the conspirators had been kept profoundly
secret, stood by, looking on stupefied and confounded while the deed was
done, but utterly unable to render his friend any protection.

Cleopatra immediately fled from the city and returned to Egypt.

Arsinoë had gone away before. Cæsar, either taking pity on her
misfortunes, or impelled, perhaps, by the force of public sentiment, which
seemed inclined to take part with her against him, set her at liberty
immediately after the ceremonies of his triumph were over. He would not,
however, allow her to return into Egypt, for fear, probably, that she
might in some way or other be the means of disturbing the government of
Cleopatra. She proceeded, accordingly, into Syria, no longer as a captive,
but still as an exile from her native land. We shall hereafter learn what
became of her there.

Calpurnia mourned the death of her husband with sincere and unaffected
grief. She bore the wrongs which she suffered as a wife with a very
patient and unrepining spirit, and loved her husband with the most devoted
attachment to the end. Nothing can be more affecting than the proofs of
her tender and anxious regard on the night immediately preceding the
assassination. There were certain slight and obscure indications of danger
which her watchful devotion to her husband led her to observe, though they
eluded the notice of all Cæsar's other friends, and they filled her with
apprehension and anxiety; and when at length the bloody body was brought
home to her from the senate-house, she was overwhelmed with grief and

She had no children. She accordingly looked upon Mark Antony as her
nearest friend and protector, and in the confusion and terror which
prevailed the next day in the city, she hastily packed together the money
and other valuables contained in the house, and all her husband's books
and papers, and sent them to Antony for safe keeping.



When the tidings of the assassination of Cæsar were first announced to the
people of Rome, all ranks and classes of men were struck with amazement
and consternation. No one knew what to say or do. A very large and
influential portion of the community had been Cæsar's friends. It was
equally certain that there was a very powerful interest opposed to him. No
one could foresee which of these two parties would now carry the day, and,
of course, for a time, all was uncertainty and indecision.

Mark Antony came forward at once, and assumed the position of Cæsar's
representative and the leader of the party on that side. A will was found
among Cæsar's effects, and when the will was opened it appeared that large
sums of money were left to the Roman people, and other large amounts to a
nephew of the deceased, named Octavius, who will be more particularly
spoken of hereafter. Antony was named in the will as the executor of it.
This and other circumstances seemed to authorize him to come forward as
the head and the leader of the Cæsar party. Brutus and Cassius, who
remained openly in the city after their desperate deed had been performed,
were the acknowledged leaders of the other party; while the mass of the
people were at first so astounded at the magnitude and suddenness of the
revolution which the open and public assassination of a Roman emperor by a
Roman senate denoted, that they knew not what to say or do. In fact, the
killing of Julius Cæsar, considering the exalted position which he
occupied, the rank and station of the men who perpetrated the deed, and
the very extraordinary publicity of the scene in which the act was
performed, was, doubtless, the most conspicuous and most appalling case of
assassination that has ever occurred. The whole population of Rome seemed
for some days to be amazed and stupefied by the tidings. At length,
however, parties began to be more distinctly formed. The lines of
demarkation between them were gradually drawn, and men began to arrange
themselves more and more unequivocally on the opposite sides.

For a short time the supremacy of Antony over the Cæsar party was readily
acquiesced in and allowed. At length, however, and before his
arrangements were finally matured, he found that he had two formidable
competitors upon his own side. These were Octavius and Lepidus.

Octavius, who was the nephew of Cæsar, already alluded to, was a very
accomplished and elegant young man, now about nineteen years of age. He
was the son of Julius Cæsar's niece.[6] He had always been a great
favorite with his uncle. Every possible attention had been paid to his
education, and he had been advanced by Cæsar, already, to positions of
high importance in public life. Cæsar, in fact, adopted him as his son,
and made him his heir. At the time of Cæsar's death he was at Apollonia, a
city of Illyricum, north of Greece. The troops under his command there
offered to march at once with him, if he wished it, to Rome, and avenge
his uncle's death. Octavius, after some hesitation, concluded that it
would be most prudent for him to proceed thither first himself, alone, as
a private person, and demand his rights as his uncle's heir, according to
the provisions of the will. He accordingly did so. He found, on his
arrival, that the will, the property, the books and parchments, and the
substantial power of the government, were all in Antony's hands. Antony,
instead of putting Octavius into possession of his property and rights,
found various pretexts for evasion and delay. Octavius was too young yet,
he said, to assume such weighty responsibilities. He was himself also too
much pressed with the urgency of public affairs to attend to the business
of the will. With these and similar excuses as his justification, Antony
seemed inclined to pay no regard whatever to Octavius's claims.

Octavius, young as he was, possessed a character that was marked with
great intelligence, spirit, and resolution. He soon made many powerful
friends in the city of Rome and among the Roman senate. It became a
serious question whether he or Antony would gain the greatest ascendency
in the party of Cæsar's friends. The contest for this ascendency was, in
fact, protracted for two or three years, and led to a vast complication of
intrigues, and maneuvers, and civil wars, which can not, however, be here
particularly detailed.

The other competitor which Antony had to contend with was a distinguished
Roman general named Lepidus. Lepidus was an officer of the army, in very
high command at the time of Cæsar's death. He was present in the senate
chamber on the day of the assassination. He stole secretly away when he
saw that the deed was done, and repaired to the camp of the army without
the city and immediately assumed the command of the forces. This gave him
great power, and in the course of the contests which subsequently ensued
between Antony and Octavius, he took an active part, and held in some
measure the balance between them. At length the contest was finally closed
by a coalition of the three rivals. Finding that they could not either of
them gain a decided victory over the others, they combined together, and
formed the celebrated _triumvirate_, which continued afterward for some
time to wield the supreme command in the Roman world. In forming this
league of reconciliation, the three rivals held their conference on an
island situated in one of the branches of the Po, in the north of Italy.
They manifested extreme jealousy and suspicion of each other in coming to
this interview. Two bridges were built leading to the island, one from
each bank of the stream. The army of Antony was drawn up upon one side of
the river, and that of Octavius upon the other. Lepidus went first to the
island by one of the bridges. After examining the ground carefully, to
make himself sure that it contained no ambuscade, he made a signal to the
other generals, who then came over, each advancing by his own bridge, and
accompanied by three hundred guards, who remained upon the bridge to
secure a retreat for their master in case of treachery. The conference
lasted three days, at the expiration of which time the articles were all
agreed upon and signed.

This league being formed, the three confederates turned their united force
against the party of the conspirators. Of this party Brutus and Cassius
were still at the head.

The scene of the contests between Octavius, Antony, and Lepidus had been
chiefly Italy and the other central countries of Europe. Brutus and
Cassius, on the other hand, had gone across the Adriatic Sea into the East
immediately after Cæsar's assassination. They were now in Asia Minor, and
were employed in concentrating their forces, forming alliances with the
various Eastern powers, raising troops, bringing over to their side the
Roman legions which were stationed in that quarter of the world, seizing
magazines, and exacting contributions from all who could be induced to
favor their cause. Among other embassages which they sent, one went to
Egypt to demand aid from Cleopatra. Cleopatra, however, was resolved to
join the other side in the contest. It was natural that she should feel
grateful to Cæsar for his efforts and sacrifices in her behalf, and that
she should be inclined to favor the cause of his friends. Accordingly,
instead of sending troops to aid Brutus and Cassius, as they had desired
her to do, she immediately fitted out an expedition to proceed to the
coast of Asia, with a view of rendering all the aid in her power to
Antony's cause.

Cassius, on his part, finding that Cleopatra was determined on joining his
enemies, immediately resolved on proceeding at once to Egypt and taking
possession of the country. He also stationed a military force at Tænarus,
the southern promontory of Greece, to watch for and intercept the fleet of
Cleopatra as soon as it should appear on the European shores. All these
plans, however--both those which Cleopatra formed against Cassius, and
those which Cassius formed against her--failed of accomplishment.
Cleopatra's fleet encountered a terrible storm, which dispersed and
destroyed it. A small remnant was driven upon the coast of Africa, but
nothing could be saved which could be made available for the purpose
intended. As for Cassius's intended expedition to Egypt, it was not
carried into effect. The dangers which began now to threaten him from the
direction of Italy and Rome were so imminent, that, at Brutus's urgent
request, he gave up the Egyptian plan, and the two generals concentrated
their forces to meet the armies of the triumvirate which were now rapidly
advancing to attack them. They passed for this purpose across the
Hellespont from Sestos to Abydos, and entered Thrace.[7]

After various marches and countermarches, and a long succession of those
maneuvers by which two powerful armies, approaching a contest, endeavor
each to gain some position of advantage against the other, the various
bodies of troops belonging, respectively, to the two powers, came into the
vicinity of each other near Philippi. Brutus and Cassius arrived here
first. There was a plain in the neighborhood of the city, with a rising
ground in a certain portion of it. Brutus took possession of this
elevation, and intrenched himself there. Cassius posted his forces about
three miles distant, near the sea. There was a line of intrenchments
between the two camps, which formed a chain of communication by which the
positions of the two commanders were connected. The armies were thus very
advantageously posted. They had the River Strymon and a marsh on the left
of the ground that they occupied, while the plain was before them, and the
sea behind. Here they awaited the arrival of their foes.

Antony, who was at this time at Amphipolis, a city not far distant from
Philippi, learning that Brutus and Cassius had taken their positions in
anticipation of an attack, advanced immediately and encamped upon the
plain. Octavius was detained by sickness at the city of Dyrrachium, not
very far distant. Antony waited for him. It was ten days before he came.
At length he arrived, though in coming he had to be borne upon a litter,
being still too sick to travel in any other way. Antony approached, and
established his camp opposite to that of Cassius, near the sea, while
Octavius took post opposite to Brutus. The four armies then paused,
contemplating the probable results of the engagement that was about to

The forces on the two sides were nearly equal; but on the Republican side,
that is, on the part of Brutus and Cassius, there was great inconvenience
and suffering for want of a sufficient supply of provisions and stores.
There was some difference of opinion between Brutus and Cassius in respect
to what it was best for them to do. Brutus was inclined to give the enemy
battle. Cassius was reluctant to do so, since, under the circumstances in
which they were placed, he considered it unwise to hazard, as they
necessarily must do, the whole success of their cause to the chances of a
single battle. A council of war was convened, and the various officers
were asked to give their opinions. In this conference, one of the officers
having recommended to postpone the conflict to the next winter, Brutus
asked him what advantage he hoped to attain by such delay. "If I gain
nothing else," replied the officer, "I shall live so much the longer."
This answer touched Cassius's pride and military sense of honor. Rather
than concur in a counsel which was thus, on the part of one of its
advocates at least, dictated by what he considered an inglorious love of
life, he preferred to retract his opinion. It was agreed by the council
that the army should maintain its ground and give the enemy battle. The
officers then repaired to their respective camps.

Brutus was greatly pleased at this decision. To fight the battle had been
his original desire, and as his counsels had prevailed, he was, of course,
gratified with the prospect for the morrow. He arranged a sumptuous
entertainment in his tent, and invited all the officers of his division of
the army to sup with him. The party spent the night in convivial
pleasures, and in mutual congratulations at the prospect of the victory
which, as they believed, awaited them on the morrow. Brutus entertained
his guests with brilliant conversation all the evening, and inspired them
with his own confident anticipations of success in the conflict which was
to ensue.

Cassius, on the other hand, in his camp by the sea, was silent and
desponding. He supped privately with a few intimate friends. On rising
from the table, he took one of his officers aside, and, pressing his hand,
said to him that he felt great misgivings in respect to the result of the
contest. "It is against my judgment," said he, "that we thus hazard the
liberty of Rome on the event of one battle, fought under such
circumstances as these. Whatever is the result, I wish you to bear me
witness hereafter that I was forced into this measure by circumstances
that I could not control. I suppose, however, that I ought to take
courage, notwithstanding the reasons that I have for these gloomy
forebodings. Let us, therefore, hope for the best; and come and sup with
me again to-morrow night. To-morrow is my birth-day."

The next morning, the scarlet mantle--the customary signal displayed in
Roman camps on the morning of a day of battle--was seen at the tops of the
tents of the two commanding generals, waving there in the air like a
banner. While the troops, in obedience to this signal, were preparing
themselves for the conflict, the two generals went to meet each other at a
point midway between their two encampments, for a final consultation and
agreement in respect to the arrangements of the day. When this business
was concluded, and they were about to separate, in order to proceed each
to his own sphere of duty, Cassius asked Brutus what he intended to do in
case the day should go against them. "We hope for the best," said he,
"and pray that the gods may grant us the victory in this most momentous
crisis. But we must remember that it is the greatest and the most
momentous of human affairs that are always the most uncertain, and we can
not foresee what is to-day to be the result of the battle. If it goes
against us, what do you intend to do? Do you intend to escape, or to die?"

"When I was a young man," said Brutus, in reply, "and looked at this
subject only as a question of theory, I thought it wrong for a man ever to
take his own life. However great the evils that threatened him, and
however desperate his condition, I considered it his duty to live, and to
wait patiently for better times. But now, placed in the position in which
I am, I see the subject in a different light. If we do not gain the battle
this day, I shall consider all hope and possibility of saving our country
forever gone, and I shall not leave the field of battle alive."

Cassius, in his despondency, had made the same resolution for himself
before, and he was rejoiced to hear Brutus utter these sentiments. He
grasped his colleague's hand with a countenance expressive of the greatest
animation and pleasure, and bade him farewell, saying, "We will go out
boldly to face the enemy. For we are certain either that we shall conquer
them, or that we shall have nothing to fear from their victory over us."

Cassius's dejection, and the tendency of his mind to take a despairing
view of the prospects of the cause in which he was engaged, were owing, in
some measure, to certain unfavorable omens which he had observed. These
omens, though really frivolous and wholly unworthy of attention, seem to
have had great influence upon him, notwithstanding his general
intelligence, and the remarkable strength and energy of his character.
They were as follows:

In offering certain sacrifices, he was to wear, according to the usage
prescribed on such occasions, a garland of flowers, and it happened that
the officer who brought the garland, by mistake or accident, presented it
wrong side before. Again, in some procession which was formed, and in
which a certain image of gold, made in honor of him, was borne, the bearer
of it stumbled and fell, and the image was thrown upon the ground. This
was a very dark presage of impending calamity. Then a great number of
vultures and other birds of prey were seen, for a number of days before
the battle, hovering over the Roman army; and several swarms of bees were
found within the precincts of the camp. So alarming was this last
indication, that the officers altered the line of the intrenchments so as
to shut out the ill-omened spot from the camp. These and other such things
had great influence upon the mind of Cassius, in convincing him that some
great disaster was impending over him.

Nor was Brutus himself without warnings of this character, though they
seem to have had less power to produce any serious impression upon his
mind than in the case of Cassius. The most extraordinary warning which
Brutus received, according to the story of his ancient historians, was by
a supernatural apparition which he saw, some time before, while he was in
Asia Minor. He was encamped near the city of Sardis at that time. He was
always accustomed to sleep very little, and would often, it was said, when
all his officers had retired, and the camp was still, sit alone in his
tent, sometimes reading, and sometimes revolving the anxious cares which
were always pressing upon his mind. One night he was thus alone in his
tent, with a small lamp burning before him, sitting lost in thought, when
he suddenly heard a movement as of some one entering the tent. He looked
up, and saw a strange, unearthly, and monstrous shape, which appeared to
have just entered the door and was coming toward him. The spirit gazed
upon him as it advanced, but it did not speak.

Brutus, who was not much accustomed to fear, boldly demanded of the
apparition who and what it was, and what had brought it there. "I am your
evil spirit," said the apparition. "I shall meet you at Philippi." "Then,
it seems," said Brutus, "that, at any rate, I shall see you again." The
spirit made no reply to this, but immediately vanished.

Brutus arose, went to the door of his tent, summoned the sentinels, and
awakened the soldiers that were sleeping near. The sentinels had seen
nothing; and, after the most diligent search, no trace of the mysterious
visitor could be found.

The next morning Brutus related to Cassius the occurrence which he had
witnessed. Cassius, though very sensitive, it seems, to the influence of
omens affecting himself, was quite philosophical in his views in respect
to those of other men. He argued very rationally with Brutus to convince
him that the vision which he had seen was only a phantom of sleep, taking
its form and character from the ideas and images which the situation in
which Brutus was then placed, and the fatigue and anxiety which he had
endured, would naturally impress upon his mind.

But to return to the battle. Brutus fought against Octavius; while
Cassius, two or three miles distant, encountered Antony, that having been,
as will be recollected, the disposition of the respective armies and their
encampments upon the plain. Brutus was triumphantly successful in his part
of the field. His troops defeated the army of Octavius, and got possession
of his camp. The men forced their way into Octavius's tent, and pierced
the litter in which they supposed that the sick general was lying through
and through with their spears. But the object of their desperate hostility
was not there. He had been borne away by his guards a few minutes before,
and no one knew what had become of him.

The result of the battle was, however, unfortunately for those whose
adventures we are now more particularly following, very different in
Cassius's part of the field. When Brutus, after completing the conquest of
his own immediate foes, returned to his elevated camp, he looked toward
the camp of Cassius, and was surprised to find that the tents had
disappeared. Some of the officers around perceived weapons glancing and
glittering in the sun in the place where Cassius's tents ought to appear.
Brutus now suspected the truth, which was, that Cassius had been defeated,
and his camp had fallen into the hands of the enemy. He immediately
collected together as large a force as he could command, and marched to
the relief of his colleague. He found him, at last, posted with a small
body of guards and attendants upon the top of a small elevation to which
he had fled for safety. Cassius saw the troop of horsemen which Brutus
sent forward coming toward him, and supposed that it was a detachment from
Antony's army advancing to capture him. He, however, sent a messenger
forward to meet them, and ascertain whether they were friends or foes. The
messenger, whose name was Titinius, rode down. The horsemen recognized
Titinius, and, riding up eagerly around him, they dismounted from their
horses to congratulate him on his safety, and to press him with inquiries
in respect to the result of the battle and the fate of his master.

Cassius, seeing all this, but not seeing it very distinctly, supposed that
the troop of horsemen were enemies, and that they had surrounded Titinius,
and had cut him down or made him prisoner. He considered it certain,
therefore, that all was now finally lost. Accordingly, in execution of a
plan which he had previously formed, he called a servant, named Pindarus,
whom he directed to follow him, and went into a tent which was near. When
Brutus and his horsemen came up, they entered the tent. They found no
living person within; but the dead body of Cassius was there, the head
being totally dissevered from it. Pindarus was never afterward to be

Brutus was overwhelmed with grief at the death of his colleague; he was
also oppressed by it with a double burden of responsibility and care,
since now the whole conduct of affairs devolved upon him alone. He found
himself surrounded with difficulties which became more and more
embarrassing every day. At length he was compelled to fight a second
battle. The details of the contest itself we can not give, but the result
of it was, that, notwithstanding the most unparalleled and desperate
exertions made by Brutus to keep his men to the work, and to maintain his
ground, his troops were borne down and overwhelmed by the irresistible
onsets of his enemies, and his cause was irretrievably and hopelessly

When Brutus found that all was lost, he allowed himself to be conducted
off the field by a small body of guards, who, in their retreat, broke
through the ranks of the enemy on a side where they saw that they should
meet with the least resistance. They were, however, pursued by a squadron
of horse, the horsemen being eager to make Brutus a prisoner. In this
emergency, one of Brutus's friends, named Lucilius, conceived the design
of pretending to be Brutus, and, as such, surrendering himself a prisoner.
This plan he carried into effect. When the troop came up, he called out
for quarter, said that he was Brutus, and begged them to spare his life,
and to take him to Antony. The men did so, rejoiced at having, as they
imagined, secured so invaluable a prize.

In the mean time, the real Brutus pressed on to make his escape. He
crossed a brook which came in his way, and entered into a little dell,
which promised to afford a hiding-place, since it was encumbered with
precipitous rocks and shaded with trees. A few friends and officers
accompanied Brutus in his flight. Night soon came on, and he lay down in a
little recess under a shelving rock, exhausted with fatigue and suffering.
Then, raising his eyes to heaven, he imprecated, in lines quoted from a
Greek poet, the just judgment of God upon the foes who were at that hour
triumphing in what he considered the ruin of his country.

He then, in his anguish and despair, enumerated by name the several
friends and companions whom he had seen fall that day in battle, mourning
the loss of each with bitter grief. In the mean time, night was coming on,
and the party, concealed thus in the wild dell, were destitute and
unsheltered. Hungry and thirsty, and spent with fatigue as they were,
there seemed to be no prospect for them of either rest or refreshment.
Finally they sent one of their number to steal softly back to the rivulet
which they had crossed in their retreat, to bring them some water. The
soldier took his helmet to bring the water in, for want of any other
vessel. While Brutus was drinking the water which they brought, a noise
was heard in the opposite direction. Two of the officers were sent to
ascertain the cause. They came back soon, reporting that there was a party
of the enemy in that quarter. They asked where the water was which had
been brought. Brutus told them that it had all been drank, but that he
would send immediately for more. The messenger went accordingly to the
brook again, but he came back very soon, wounded and bleeding, and
reported that the enemy was close upon them on that side too, and that he
had narrowly escaped with his life. The apprehensions of Brutus's party
were greatly increased by these tidings: it was evident that all hope of
being able to remain long concealed where they were must fast disappear.

One of the officers, named Statilius, then proposed to make the attempt to
find his way out of the snare in which they had become involved. He would
go, he said, as cautiously as possible, avoiding all parties of the enemy,
and being favored by the darkness of the night, he hoped to find some way
of retreat. If he succeeded, he would display a torch on a distant
elevation which he designated, so that the party in the glen, on seeing
the light, might be assured of his safety. He would then return and guide
them all through the danger, by the way which he should have discovered.

This plan was approved, and Statilius accordingly departed. In due time
the light was seen burning at the place which had been pointed out, and
indicating that Statilius had accomplished his undertaking. Brutus and his
party were greatly cheered by the new hope which this result awakened.
They began to watch and listen for their messenger's return. They watched
and waited long, but he did not come. On the way back he was intercepted
and slain.

When at length all hope that he would return was finally abandoned, some
of the party, in the course of the despairing consultations which the
unhappy fugitives held with one another, said that they _must not_ remain
any longer where they were, but must make their escape from that spot at
all hazards. "Yes," said Brutus, "we must indeed make our escape from our
present situation, but we must do it with our hands, and not with our
feet." He meant by this that the only means now left to them to evade
their enemies was self-destruction. When his friends understood that this
was his meaning, and that he was resolved to put this design into
execution in his own case, they were overwhelmed with sorrow. Brutus took
them, one by one, by the hand and bade them farewell. He thanked them for
their fidelity in adhering to his cause to the last, and said that it was
a source of great comfort and satisfaction to him that all his friends had
proved so faithful and true. "I do not complain of my hard fate," he
added, "so far as I myself am concerned. I mourn only for my unhappy
country. As to myself, I think that my condition even now is better than
that of my enemies; for, though I die, posterity will do me justice, and I
shall enjoy forever the honor which virtue and integrity deserve; while
they, though they live, live only to reap the bitter fruits of injustice
and of tyranny.

"After I am gone," he continued, addressing his friends, as before, "think
no longer of me, but take care of yourselves. Antony, I am sure, will be
satisfied with Cassius's death and mine. He will not be disposed to pursue
you vindictively any longer. Make peace with him on the best terms that
you can."

Brutus then asked first one and then another of his friends to aid him in
the last duty, as he seems to have considered it, of destroying his life;
but one after another declared that they could not do any thing to assist
him in carrying into effect so dreadful a determination. Finally, he took
with him an old and long-tried friend named Strato, and went away a
little, apart from the rest. Here he solicited once more the favor which
had been refused him before--begging that Strato would hold out his sword.
Strato still refused. Brutus then called one of his slaves. Upon this
Strato declared that he would do any thing rather than that Brutus should
die by the hand of a slave. He took the sword, and with his right hand
held it extended in the air. With the left hand he covered his eyes, that
he might not witness the horrible spectacle. Brutus rushed upon the point
of the weapon with such fatal force that he fell and immediately expired.

Thus ended the great and famous battle of Philippi, celebrated in history
as marking the termination of the great conflict between the friends and
the enemies of Cæsar, which agitated the world so deeply after the
conqueror's death. This battle established the ascendency of Antony, and
made him for a time the most conspicuous man, as Cleopatra was the most
conspicuous woman, in the world.



How far Cleopatra was influenced, in her determination to espouse the
cause of Antony rather than that of Brutus and Cassius, in the civil war
described in the last chapter, by gratitude to Cæsar, and how far, on the
other hand, by personal interest in Antony, the reader must judge.
Cleopatra had seen Antony, it will be recollected, some years before,
during his visit to Egypt, when she was a young girl. She was doubtless
well acquainted with his character. It was a character peculiarly fitted,
in some respects, to captivate the imagination of a woman so ardent, and
impulsive, and bold as Cleopatra was fast becoming.

Antony had, in fact, made himself an object of universal interest
throughout the world, by his wild and eccentric manners and reckless
conduct, and by the very extraordinary vicissitudes which had marked his
career. In moral character he was as utterly abandoned and depraved as it
was possible to be. In early life, as has already been stated, he plunged
into such a course of dissipation and extravagance that he became utterly
and hopelessly ruined; or, rather, he would have been so, had he not, by
the influence of that magic power of fascination which such characters
often possess, succeeded in gaining a great ascendency over a young man of
immense fortune, named Curio, who for a time upheld him by becoming surety
for his debts. This resource, however, soon failed, and Antony was
compelled to abandon Rome, and to live for some years as a fugitive and
exile, in dissolute wretchedness and want. During all the subsequent
vicissitudes through which he passed in the course of his career, the same
habits of lavish expenditure continued, whenever he had funds at his
command. This trait in his character took the form sometimes of a noble
generosity. In his campaigns, the plunder which he acquired he usually
divided among his soldiers, reserving nothing for himself. This made his
men enthusiastically devoted to him, and led them to consider his
prodigality as a virtue, even when they did not themselves derive any
direct advantage from it. A thousand stories were always in circulation in
camp of acts on his part illustrating his reckless disregard of the value
of money, some ludicrous, and all eccentric and strange.

In his personal habits, too, he was as different as possible from other
men. He prided himself on being descended from Hercules, and he affected a
style of dress and a general air and manner in accordance with the savage
character of this his pretended ancestor. His features were sharp, his
nose was arched and prominent, and he wore his hair and beard very
long--as long, in fact, as he could make them grow. These peculiarities
imparted to his countenance a very wild and ferocious expression. He
adopted a style of dress, too, which, judged of with reference to the
prevailing fashions of the time, gave to his whole appearance a rough,
savage, and reckless air. His manner and demeanor corresponded with his
dress and appearance. He lived in habits of the most unreserved
familiarity with his soldiers. He associated freely with them, ate and
drank with them in the open air, and joined in their noisy mirth and rude
and boisterous hilarity. His commanding powers of mind, and the desperate
recklessness of his courage, enabled him to do all this without danger.
These qualities inspired in the minds of the soldiers a feeling of
profound respect for their commander; and this good opinion he was
enabled to retain, notwithstanding such habits of familiarity with his
inferiors as would have been fatal to the influence of an ordinary man.

In the most prosperous portion of Antony's career--for example, during the
period immediately preceding the death of Cæsar--he addicted himself to
vicious indulgences of the most open, public, and shameless character. He
had around him a sort of court, formed of jesters, tumblers, mountebanks,
play-actors, and other similar characters of the lowest and most
disreputable class. Many of these companions were singing and dancing
girls, very beautiful, and very highly accomplished in the arts of their
respective professions, but all totally corrupt and depraved. Public
sentiment, even in that age and nation, strongly condemned this conduct.
The people were pagans, it is true, but it is a mistake to suppose that
the formation of a moral sentiment in the community against such vices as
these is a work which Christianity alone can perform. There is a law of
nature, in the form of an instinct universal in the race, imperiously
enjoining that the connection of the sexes shall consist of the union of
one man with one woman, and that woman his wife, and very sternly
prohibiting every other. So that there has probably never been a community
in the world so corrupt, that a man could practice in it such vices as
those of Antony, without not only violating his own sense of right and
wrong, but also bringing upon himself the general condemnation of those
around him.

Still, the world are prone to be very tolerant in respect to the vices of
the great. Such exalted personages as Antony seem to be judged by a
different standard from common men. Even in the countries where those who
occupy high stations of trust or of power are actually selected, for the
purpose of being placed there, by the voices of their fellow-men, all
inquiry into the personal character of a candidate is often suppressed,
such inquiry being condemned as wholly irrelevant and improper, and they
who succeed in attaining to power enjoy immunities in their elevation
which are denied to common men.

But, notwithstanding the influence of Antony's rank and power in shielding
him from public censure, he carried his excesses to such an extreme that
his conduct was very loudly and very generally condemned. He would spend
all the night in carousals, and then, the next day, would appear in
public, staggering in the streets. Sometimes he would enter the tribunals
for the transaction of business when he was so intoxicated that it would
be necessary for friends to come to his assistance to conduct him away. In
some of his journeys in the neighborhood of Rome, he would take a troop of
companions with him of the worst possible character, and travel with them
openly and without shame. There was a certain actress, named Cytheride,
whom he made his companion on one such occasion. She was borne upon a
litter in his train, and he carried about with him a vast collection of
gold and silver plate, and of splendid table furniture, together with an
endless supply of luxurious articles of food and of wine, to provide for
the entertainments and banquets which he was to celebrate with her on the
journey. He would sometimes stop by the road side, pitch his tents,
establish his kitchens, set his cooks at work to prepare a feast, spread
his tables, and make a sumptuous banquet of the most costly, complete, and
ceremonious character--all to make men wonder at the abundance and
perfection of the means of luxury which he could carry with him wherever
he might go. In fact, he always seemed to feel a special pleasure in doing
strange and extraordinary things in order to excite surprise. Once on a
journey he had lions harnessed to his carts to draw his baggage, in order
to create a sensation.

Notwithstanding the heedlessness with which Antony abandoned himself to
these luxurious pleasures when at Rome, no man could endure exposure and
hardship better when in camp or on the field. In fact, he rushed with as
much headlong precipitation into difficulty and danger when abroad, as
into expense and dissipation when at home. During his contests with
Octavius and Lepidus, after Cæsar's death, he once had occasion to pass
the Alps, which, with his customary recklessness, he attempted to traverse
without any proper supplies of stores or means of transportation. He was
reduced, on the passage, together with the troops under his command, to
the most extreme destitution and distress. They had to feed on roots and
herbs, and finally on the bark of trees; and they barely preserved
themselves, by these means, from actual starvation. Antony seemed,
however, to care nothing for all this, but pressed on through the
difficulty and danger, manifesting the same daring and determined
unconcern to the end. In the same campaign he found himself at one time
reduced to extreme destitution in respect to men. His troops had been
gradually wasted away until his situation had become very desperate. He
conceived, under these circumstances, the most extraordinary idea of going
over alone to the camp of Lepidus and enticing away his rival's troops
from under the very eyes of their commander. This bold design was
successfully executed. Antony advanced alone, clothed in wretched
garments, and with his matted hair and beard hanging about his breast and
shoulders, up to Lepidus's lines. The men, who knew him well, received him
with acclamations; and pitying the sad condition to which they saw that he
was reduced, began to listen to what he had to say. Lepidus, who could not
attack him, since he and Antony were not at that time in open hostility to
each other, but were only rival commanders in the same army, ordered the
trumpeters to sound, in order to make a noise which should prevent the
words of Antony from being heard. This interrupted the negotiation; but
the men immediately disguised two of their number in female apparel, and
sent them to Antony to make arrangements with him for putting themselves
under his command, and offering, at the same time, to murder Lepidus, if
he would but speak the word. Antony charged them to do Lepidus no injury.
He, however, went over and took possession of the camp, and assumed the
command of the army. He treated Lepidus himself, personally, with extreme
politeness, and retained him as a subordinate under his command.

Not far from the time of Cæsar's death, Antony was married. The name of
the lady was Fulvia. She was a widow at the time of her marriage with
Antony, and was a woman of very marked and decided character. She had led
a wild and irregular life previous to this time, but she conceived a very
strong attachment to her new husband, and devoted herself to him from the
time of her marriage with the most constant fidelity. She soon acquired a
very great ascendency over him, and was the means of effecting a very
considerable reform in his conduct and character. She was an ambitious and
aspiring woman, and made many very efficient and successful efforts to
promote the elevation and aggrandizement of her husband. She appeared,
also, to take a great pride and pleasure in exercising over him, herself,
a great personal control. She succeeded in these attempts in a manner that
surprised every body. It seemed astonishing to all mankind that such a
tiger as he had been could be subdued by any human power. Nor was it by
gentleness and mildness that Fulvia gained such power over her husband.
She was of a very stern and masculine character, and she seems to have
mastered Antony by surpassing him in the use of his own weapons. In fact,
instead of attempting to soothe and mollify him, she reduced him, it
seems, to the necessity of resorting to various contrivances to soften and
propitiate her. Once, for example, on his return from a campaign in which
he had been exposed to great dangers, he disguised himself and came home
at night in the garb of a courier bearing dispatches. He caused himself to
be ushered, muffled and disguised as he was, into Fulvia's apartments,
where he handed her some pretended letters, which, he said, were from her
husband; and while Fulvia was opening them in great excitement and
trepidation, he threw off his disguise, and revealed himself to her by
clasping her in his arms and kissing her in the midst of her amazement.

Antony's marriage with Fulvia, besides being the means of reforming his
morals in some degree, softened and civilized him in respect to his
manners. His dress and appearance now assumed a different character. In
fact, his political elevation after Cæsar's death soon became very
exalted, and the various democratic arts by which he had sought to raise
himself to it, being now no longer necessary, were, as usual in such
cases, gradually discarded. He lived in great style and splendor when at
Rome, and when absent from home, on his military campaigns, he began to
exhibit the same pomp and parade in his equipage and in his arrangements
as were usual in the camps of other Roman generals.

After the battle of Philippi, described in the last chapter, Antony--who,
with all his faults, was sometimes a very generous foe--as soon as the
tidings of Brutus's death were brought to him, repaired immediately to the
spot, and appeared to be quite shocked and concerned at the sight of the
body. He took off his own military cloak or mantle--which was a very
magnificent and costly garment, being enriched with many expensive
ornaments--and spread it over the corpse. He then gave directions to one
of the officers of his household to make arrangements for funeral
ceremonies of a very imposing character, as a testimony of his respect for
the memory of the deceased. In these ceremonies it was the duty of the
officer to have burned the military cloak which Antony had appropriated to
the purpose of a pall, with the body. He did not, however, do so. The
cloak being very valuable, he reserved it; and he withheld, also, a
considerable part of the money which had been given him for the expenses
of the funeral. He supposed that Antony would probably not inquire very
closely into the details of the arrangements made for the funeral of his
most inveterate enemy. Antony, however, did inquire into them, and when he
learned what the officer had done, he ordered him to be killed.

The various political changes which occurred, and the movements which took
place among the several armies after the battle of Philippi, can not be
here detailed. It is sufficient to say that Antony proceeded to the
eastward through Asia Minor, and in the course of the following year came
into Cilicia. From this place he sent a messenger to Egypt to Cleopatra,
summoning her to appear before him. There were charges, he said, against
her, of having aided Cassius and Brutus in the late war instead of
rendering assistance to him. Whether there really were any such charges,
or whether they were only fabricated by Antony as pretexts for seeing
Cleopatra, the fame of whose beauty was very widely extended, does not
certainly appear. However this may be, he sent to summon the queen to come
to him. The name of the messenger whom Antony dispatched on this errand
was Dellius. Fulvia, Antony's wife, was not with him at this time. She had
been left behind at Rome.

Dellius proceeded to Egypt and appeared at Cleopatra's court. The queen
was at this time about twenty-eight years old, but more beautiful, as was
said, than ever before. Dellius was very much struck with her beauty, and
with a certain fascination in her voice and conversation, of which her
ancient biographers often speak as one of the most irresistible of her
charms. He told her that she need have no fear of Antony. It was of no
consequence, he said, what charges there might be against her. She would
find that, in a very few days after she had entered into Antony's
presence, she would be in great favor. She might rely, in fact, he said,
on gaining, very speedily, an unbounded ascendency over the general. He
advised her, therefore, to proceed to Cilicia without fear, and to present
herself before Antony in as much pomp and magnificence as she could
command. He would answer, he said, for the result.

Cleopatra determined to follow this advice. In fact, her ardent and
impulsive imagination was fired with the idea of making, a second time,
the conquest of the greatest general and highest potentate in the world.
She began immediately to make provision for the voyage. She employed all
the resources of her kingdom in procuring for herself the most magnificent
means of display, such as expensive and splendid dresses, rich services of
plate, ornaments of precious stones and of gold, and presents in great
variety and of the most costly description for Antony. She appointed,
also, a numerous retinue of attendants to accompany her, and, in a word,
made all the arrangements complete for an expedition of the most imposing
and magnificent character. While these preparations were going forward,
she received new and frequent communications from Antony, urging her to
hasten her departure; but she paid very little attention to them. It was
evident that she felt quite independent, and was intending to take her own

At length, however, all was ready, and Cleopatra set sail. She crossed the
Mediterranean Sea, and entered the mouth of the River Cydnus. Antony was
at Tarsus, a city upon the Cydnus, a small distance above its mouth. When
Cleopatra's fleet had entered the river, she embarked on board a most
magnificent barge which she had constructed for the occasion, and had
brought with her across the sea. This barge was the most magnificent and
highly-ornamented vessel that had ever been built. It was adorned with
carvings and decorations of the finest workmanship, and elaborately
gilded. The sails were of purple, and the oars were inlaid and tipped with
silver. Upon the deck of this barge Queen Cleopatra appeared, under a
canopy of cloth of gold. She was dressed very magnificently in the costume
in which Venus, the goddess of Beauty, was then generally represented. She
was surrounded by a company of beautiful boys, who attended upon her in
the form of Cupids, and fanned her with their wings, and by a group of
young girls representing the Nymphs and the Graces. There was a band of
musicians stationed upon the deck. This music guided the oarsmen, as they
kept time to it in their rowing; and, soft as the melody was, the strains
were heard far and wide over the water and along the shores, as the
beautiful vessel advanced on its way. The performers were provided with
flutes, lyres, viols, and all the other instruments customarily used in
those times to produce music of a gentle and voluptuous kind.

In fact, the whole spectacle seemed like a vision of enchantment. Tidings
of the approach of the barge spread rapidly around, and the people of the
country came down in crowds to the shores of the river to gaze upon it in
admiration as it glided slowly along. At the time of its arrival at
Tarsus, Antony was engaged in giving a public audience at some tribunal in
his palace, but every body ran to see Cleopatra and the barge, and the
great triumvir was left consequently alone, or, at least, with only a few
official attendants near him. Cleopatra, on arriving at the city, landed,
and began to pitch her tents on the shores. Antony sent a messenger to bid
her welcome, and to invite her to come and sup with him. She declined the
invitation, saying that it was more proper that he should come and sup
with her. She would accordingly expect him to come, she said, and her
tents would be ready at the proper hour. Antony complied with her
proposal, and came to her entertainment. He was received with a
magnificence and splendor which amazed him. The tents and pavilions where
the entertainment was made were illuminated with an immense number of
lamps. These lamps were arranged in a very ingenious and beautiful manner,
so as to produce an illumination of the most surprising brilliancy and
beauty. The immense number and variety, too, of the meats and wines, and
of the vessels of gold and silver, with which the tables were loaded, and
the magnificence and splendor of the dresses worn by Cleopatra and her
attendants, combined to render the whole scene one of bewildering


The next day, Antony invited Cleopatra to come and return his visit; but,
though he made every possible effort to provide a banquet as sumptuous and
as sumptuously served as hers, he failed entirely in this attempt, and
acknowledged himself completely outdone. Antony was, moreover, at these
interviews, perfectly fascinated with Cleopatra's charms. Her beauty, her
wit, her thousand accomplishments, and, above all, the tact, and
adroitness, and self-possession which she displayed in assuming at once
so boldly, and carrying out so adroitly, the idea of her social
superiority over him, that he yielded his heart almost immediately to her
undisputed sway.

The first use which Cleopatra made of her power was to ask Antony, for her
sake, to order her sister Arsinoë to be slain. Arsinoë had gone, it will
be recollected, to Rome, to grace Cæsar's triumph there, and had afterward
retired to Asia, where she was now living an exile. Cleopatra, either from
a sentiment of past revenge, or else from some apprehensions of future
danger, now desired that her sister should die. Antony readily acceded to
her request. He sent an officer in search of the unhappy princess. The
officer slew her where he found her, within the precincts of a temple to
which she had fled, supposing it a sanctuary which no degree of hostility,
however extreme, would have dared to violate.

Cleopatra remained at Tarsus for some time, revolving in an incessant
round of gayety and pleasure, and living in habits of unrestrained
intimacy with Antony. She was accustomed to spend whole days and nights
with him in feasting and revelry. The immense magnificence of these
entertainments, especially on Cleopatra's part, were the wonder of the
world. She seems to have taken special pleasure in exciting Antony's
surprise by the display of her wealth and the boundless extravagance in
which she indulged. At one of her banquets, Antony was expressing his
astonishment at the vast number of gold cups, enriched with jewels, that
were displayed on all sides. "Oh," said she, "they are nothing; if you
like them, you shall have them all." So saying, she ordered her servants
to carry them to Antony's house. The next day she invited Antony again,
with a large number of the chief officers of his army and court. The table
was spread with a new service of gold and silver vessels, more extensive
and splendid than that of the preceding day; and at the close of the
supper, when the company was about to depart, Cleopatra distributed all
these treasures among the guests that had been present at the
entertainment. At another of these feasts, she carried her ostentation and
display to the astonishing extreme of taking off from one of her ear-rings
a pearl of immense value and dissolving it in a cup of vinegar,[8] which
she afterward made into a drink, such as was customarily used in those
days, and then drank it. She was proceeding to do the same with the other
pearl, when some of the company arrested the proceeding, and took the
remaining pearl away.

In the mean time, while Antony was thus wasting his time in luxury and
pleasure with Cleopatra, his public duties were neglected, and every thing
was getting into confusion. Fulvia remained in Italy. Her position and her
character gave her a commanding political influence, and she exerted
herself in a very energetic manner to sustain, in that quarter of the
world, the interests of her husband's cause. She was surrounded with
difficulties and dangers, the details of which can not, however, be here
particularly described. She wrote continually to Antony, urgently
entreating him to come to Rome, and displaying in her letters all those
marks of agitation and distress which a wife would naturally feel under
the circumstances in which she was placed. The thought that her husband
had been so completely drawn away from her by the guilty arts of such a
woman, and led by her to abandon his wife and his family, and leave in
neglect and confusion concerns of such momentous magnitude as those which
demanded his attention at home, produced an excitement in her mind
bordering upon phrensy. Antony was at length so far influenced by the
urgency of the case that he determined to return. He broke up his quarters
at Tarsus and moved south toward Tyre, which was a great naval port and
station in those days. Cleopatra went with him. They were to separate at
Tyre. She was to embark there for Egypt, and he for Rome.

At least that was Antony's plan, but it was not Cleopatra's. She had
determined that Antony should go with her to Alexandria. As might have
been expected, when the time came for the decision, the woman gained the
day. Her flatteries, her arts, her caresses, her tears, prevailed. After a
brief struggle between the sentiment of love on the one hand and those of
ambition and of duty combined on the other, Antony gave up the contest.
Abandoning every thing else, he surrendered himself wholly to Cleopatra's
control, and went with her to Alexandria. He spent the winter there,
giving himself up with her to every species of sensual indulgence that the
most remorseless license could tolerate, and the most unbounded wealth

There seemed, in fact, to be no bounds to the extravagance and infatuation
which Antony displayed during the winter in Alexandria. Cleopatra devoted
herself to him incessantly, day and night, filling up every moment of time
with some new form of pleasure, in order that he might have no time to
think of his absent wife, or to listen to the reproaches of his
conscience. Antony, on his part, surrendered himself a willing victim to
these wiles, and entered with all his heart into the thousand plans of
gayety and merry-making which Cleopatra devised. They had each a separate
establishment in the city, which was maintained at an enormous cost, and
they made a regular arrangement by which each was the guest of the other
on alternate days. These visits were spent in games, sports, spectacles,
feasting, drinking, and in every species of riot, irregularity, and

A curious instance is afforded of the accidental manner in which
intelligence in respect to the scenes and incidents of private life in
those ancient days is sometimes obtained, in a circumstance which occurred
at this time at Antony's court. It seems that there was a young medical
student at Alexandria that winter, named Philotas, who happened, in some
way or other, to have formed an acquaintance with one of Antony's
domestics, a cook. Under the guidance of this cook, Philotas went one day
into the palace to see what was to be seen. The cook took his friend into
the kitchens, where, to Philotas's great surprise, he saw, among an
infinite number and variety of other preparations, eight wild boars
roasting before the fires, some being more and some less advanced in the
process. Philotas asked what great company was to dine there that day. The
cook smiled at this question, and replied that there was to be no company
at all, other than Antony's ordinary party. "But," said the cook, in
explanation, "we are obliged always to prepare several suppers, and to
have them ready in succession at different hours, for no one can tell at
what time they will order the entertainment to be served. Sometimes, when
the supper has been actually carried in, Antony and Cleopatra will get
engaged in some new turn of their diversions, and conclude not to sit down
just then to the table, and so we have to take the supper away, and
presently bring in another."

Antony had a son with him at Alexandria at this time, the child of his
wife Fulvia. The name of the son, as well as that of the father, was
Antony. He was old enough to feel some sense of shame at his father's
dereliction from duty, and to manifest some respectful regard for the
rights and the honor of his mother. Instead of this, however, he imitated
his father's example, and, in his own way, was as reckless and as
extravagant as he. The same Philotas who is above referred to was, after a
time, appointed to some office or other in the young Antony's household,
so that he was accustomed to sit at his table and share in his convivial
enjoyments. He relates that once, while they were feasting together, there
was a guest present, a physician, who was a very vain and conceited man,
and so talkative that no one else had any opportunity to speak. All the
pleasure of conversation was spoiled by his excessive garrulity. Philotas,
however, at length puzzled him so completely with a question of logic--of
a kind similar to those often discussed with great interest in ancient
days--as to silence him for a time; and young Antony was so much delighted
with this feat, that he gave Philotas all the gold and silver plate that
there was upon the table, and sent all the articles home to him, after the
entertainment was over, telling him to put his mark and stamp upon them,
and lock them up.

The question with which Philotas puzzled the self-conceited physician was
this. It must be premised, however, that in those days it was considered
that cold water in an intermittent fever was extremely dangerous, except
in some peculiar cases, and in those the effect was good. Philotas then
argued as follows: "In cases of a certain kind it is best to give water to
a patient in an ague. All cases of ague are cases of a certain kind.
Therefore it is best in all cases to give the patient water." Philotas
having propounded his argument in this way, challenged the physician to
point out the fallacy of it; and while the physician sat perplexed and
puzzled in his attempts to unravel the intricacy of it, the company
enjoyed a temporary respite from his excessive loquacity.

Philotas adds, in his account of this affair, that he sent the gold and
silver plate back to young Antony again, being afraid to keep them. Antony
said that perhaps it was as well that this should be done, since many of
the vessels were of great value on account of their rare and antique
workmanship, and his father might possibly miss them and wish to know what
had become of them.

As there were no limits, on the one hand, to the loftiness and grandeur
of the pleasures to which Antony and Cleopatra addicted themselves, so
there were none to the low and debasing tendencies which characterized
them on the other. Sometimes, at midnight, after having been spending many
hours in mirth and revelry in the palace, Antony would disguise himself in
the dress of a slave, and sally forth into the streets, excited with wine,
in search of adventures. In many cases, Cleopatra herself, similarly
disguised, would go out with him. On these excursions Antony would take
pleasure in involving himself in all sorts of difficulties and dangers--in
street riots, drunken brawls, and desperate quarrels with the
populace--all for Cleopatra's amusement and his own. Stories of these
adventures would circulate afterward among the people, some of whom would
admire the free and jovial character of their eccentric visitor, and
others would despise him as a prince degrading himself to the level of a

Some of the amusements and pleasures which Antony and Cleopatra pursued
were innocent in themselves, though wholly unworthy to be made the serious
business of life by personages on whom such exalted duties rightfully
devolved. They made various excursions upon the Nile, and arranged
parties of pleasure to go out on the water in the harbor, and to various
rural retreats in the environs of the city. Once they went out on a
fishing-party, in boats, in the port. Antony was unsuccessful; and feeling
chagrined that Cleopatra should witness his ill luck, he made a secret
arrangement with some of the fishermen to dive down, where they could do
so unobserved, and fasten fishes to his hook under the water. By this plan
he caught very large and fine fish very fast. Cleopatra, however, was too
wary to be easily deceived by such a stratagem as this. She observed the
maneuver, but pretended not to observe it; she expressed, on the other
hand, the greatest surprise and delight at Antony's good luck, and the
extraordinary skill which it indicated.

The next day she wished to go a fishing again, and a party was accordingly
made as on the day before. She had, however, secretly instructed another
fisherman to procure a dried and salted fish from the market, and,
watching his opportunity, to get down into the water under the boats and
attach it to the hook, before Antony's divers could get there. This plan
succeeded, and Antony, in the midst of a large and gay party that were
looking on, pulled out an excellent fish, cured and dried, such as was
known to every one as an imported article, bought in the market. It was a
fish of a kind that was brought originally from Asia Minor. The boats, and
the water all around them, resounded with the shouts of merriment and
laughter which this incident occasioned.

       *       *       *       *       *

In the mean time, while Antony was thus spending his time in low and
ignoble pursuits and in guilty pleasures at Alexandria, his wife Fulvia,
after exhausting all other means of inducing her husband to return to her,
became desperate, and took measures for fomenting an open war, which she
thought would compel him to return. The extraordinary energy, influence,
and talent which Fulvia possessed, enabled her to do this in an effectual
manner. She organized an army, formed a camp, placed herself at the head
of the troops, and sent such tidings to Antony of the dangers which
threatened his cause as greatly alarmed him. At the same time news came of
great disasters in Asia Minor, and of alarming insurrections among the
provinces which had been committed to his charge there. Antony saw that he
must arouse himself from the spell which had enchanted him and break away
from Cleopatra, or that he would be wholly and irretrievably ruined. He
made, accordingly, a desperate effort to get free. He bade the queen
farewell, embarked hastily in a fleet of galleys, and sailed away to Tyre,
leaving Cleopatra in her palace, vexed, disappointed, and chagrined.



Cleopatra, in parting with Antony as described in the last chapter, lost
him for two or three years. During this time Antony himself was involved
in a great variety of difficulties and dangers, and passed through many
eventful scenes, which, however, can not here be described in detail. His
life, during this period, was full of vicissitude and excitement, and was
spent probably in alternations of remorse for the past and anxiety for the
future. On landing at Tyre, he was at first extremely perplexed whether to
go to Asia Minor or to Rome. His presence was imperiously demanded in both
places. The war which Fulvia had fomented was caused, in part, by the
rivalry of Octavius, and the collision of his interests with those of her
husband. Antony was very angry with her for having managed his affairs in
such a way as to bring about a war. After a time Antony and Fulvia met at
Athens. Fulvia had retreated to that city, and was very seriously sick
there, either from bodily disease, or from the influence of long-continued
anxiety, vexation, and distress. They had a stormy meeting. Neither party
was disposed to exercise any mercy toward the other. Antony left his wife
rudely and roughly, after loading her with reproaches. A short time
afterward, she sank down in sorrow to the grave.

The death of Fulvia was an event which proved to be of advantage to
Antony. It opened the way to a reconciliation between him and Octavius.
Fulvia had been extremely active in opposing Octavius's designs, and in
organizing plans for resisting him. He felt, therefore, a special
hostility against her, and, through her, against Antony. Now, however,
that she was dead, the way seemed to be in some sense opened for a

Octavius had a sister, Octavia, who had been the wife of a Roman general
named Marcellus. She was a very beautiful and a very accomplished woman,
and of a spirit very different from that of Fulvia. She was gentle,
affectionate, and kind, a lover of peace and harmony, and not at all
disposed, like Fulvia, to assert and maintain her influence over others by
an overbearing and violent demeanor. Octavia's husband died about this
time, and, in the course of the movements and negotiations between Antony
and Octavius, the plan was proposed of a marriage between Antony and
Octavia, which, it was thought, would ratify and confirm the
reconciliation. This proposal was finally agreed upon. Antony was glad to
find so easy a mode of settling his difficulties. The people of Rome, too,
and the authorities there, knowing that the peace of the world depended
upon the terms on which these two men stood with regard to each other,
were extremely desirous that this arrangement should be carried into
effect. There was a law of the commonwealth forbidding the marriage of a
widow within a specified period after the death of her husband. That
period had not, in Octavia's case, yet expired. There was, however, so
strong a desire that no obstacle should be allowed to prevent this
proposed union, or even to occasion delay, that the law was altered
expressly for this case, and Antony and Octavia were married. The empire
was divided between Octavius and Antony, Octavius receiving the western
portion as his share, while the eastern was assigned to Antony.

It is not probable that Antony felt any very strong affection for his new
wife, beautiful and gentle as she was. A man, in fact, who had led such a
life as his had been, must have become by this time incapable of any
strong and pure attachment. He, however, was pleased with the novelty of
his acquisition, and seemed to forget for a time the loss of Cleopatra. He
remained with Octavia a year. After that he went away on certain military
enterprises which kept him some time from her. He returned again, and
again he went away. All this time Octavia's influence over him and over
her brother was of the most salutary and excellent character. She soothed
their animosities, quieted their suspicions and jealousies, and at one
time, when they were on the brink of open war, she effected a
reconciliation between them by the most courageous and energetic, and at
the same time, gentle and unassuming efforts. At the time of this danger
she was with her husband in Greece; but she persuaded him to send her to
her brother at Rome, saying that she was confident that she could arrange
a settlement of the difficulties impending. Antony allowed her to go. She
proceeded to Rome, and procured an interview with her brother in the
presence of his two principal officers of state. Here she pleaded her
husband's cause with tears in her eyes; she defended his conduct,
explained what seemed to be against him, and entreated her brother not to
take such a course as should cast her down from being the happiest of
women to being the most miserable. "Consider the circumstances of my
case," said she. "The eyes of the world are upon me. Of the two most
powerful men in the world, I am the wife of one and the sister of another.
If you allow rash counsels to go on and war to ensue, I am hopelessly
ruined; for, whichever is conquered, my husband or my brother, my own
happiness will be for ever gone."

Octavius sincerely loved his sister, and he was so far softened by her
entreaties that he consented to appoint an interview with Antony in order
to see if their difficulties could be settled. This interview was
accordingly held. The two generals came to a river, where, at the opposite
banks, each embarked in a boat, and, being rowed out toward each other,
they met in the middle of the stream. A conference ensued, at which all
the questions at issue were, for a time at least, very happily arranged.

Antony, however, after a time, began to become tired of his wife, and to
sigh for Cleopatra once more. He left Octavia at Rome and proceeded to
the eastward, under pretense of attending to the affairs of that portion
of the empire; but, instead of doing this, he went to Alexandria, and
there renewed again his former intimacy with the Egyptian queen.

Octavius was very indignant at this. His former hostility to Antony, which
had been in a measure appeased by the kind influence of Octavia, now broke
forth anew, and was heightened by the feeling of resentment naturally
awakened by his sister's wrongs. Public sentiment in Rome, too, was
setting very strongly against Antony. Lampoons were written against him to
ridicule him and Cleopatra, and the most decided censures were passed upon
his conduct. Octavia was universally beloved, and the sympathy which was
every where felt for her increased and heightened very much the popular
indignation which was felt against the man who could wrong so deeply such
sweetness, and gentleness, and affectionate fidelity as hers.

After remaining for some time in Alexandria, and renewing his connection
and intimacy with Cleopatra, Antony went away again, crossing the sea into
Asia, with the intention of prosecuting certain military undertakings
there which imperiously demanded his attention. His plan was to return as
soon as possible to Egypt after the object of his expedition should be
accomplished. He found, however, that he could not bear even a temporary
absence from Cleopatra. His mind dwelled so much upon her, and upon the
pleasures which he had enjoyed with her in Egypt, and he longed so much to
see her again, that he was wholly unfit for the discharge of his duties in
the camp. He became timid, inefficient, and remiss, and almost every thing
that he undertook ended disastrously. The army, who understood perfectly
well the reason of their commander's remissness and consequent ill
fortune, were extremely indignant at his conduct, and the camp was filled
with suppressed murmurs and complaints. Antony, however, like other
persons in his situation, was blind to all these indications of
dissatisfaction; probably he would have disregarded them if he had
observed them. At length, finding that he could bear his absence from his
mistress no longer, he set out to march across the country, in the depth
of the winter, to the sea-shore, to a point where he had sent for
Cleopatra to come to join him. The army endured incredible hardships and
exposures in this march. When Antony had once commenced the journey, he
was so impatient to get forward that he compelled his troops to advance
with a rapidity greater than their strength would bear. They were,
besides, not provided with proper tents or with proper supplies of
provision. They were often obliged, therefore, after a long and fatiguing
march during the day, to bivouac at night in the open air among the
mountains, with scanty means of appeasing their hunger, and very little
shelter from the cold rain, or from the storms of driving snow. Eight
thousand men died on this march, from cold, fatigue, and exposure; a
greater sacrifice, perhaps, than had ever been made before to the mere
ardor and impatience of a lover.

When Antony reached the shore, he advanced to a certain sea-port, near
Sidon, where Cleopatra was to land. At the time of his arrival but a small
part of his army was left, and the few men that survived were in a
miserably destitute condition. Antony's eagerness to see Cleopatra became
more and more excited as the time drew nigh. She did not come so soon as
he had expected, and during the delay he seemed to pine away under the
influence of love and sorrow. He was silent, absent-minded, and sad. He
had no thoughts for any thing but the coming of Cleopatra, and felt no
interest in any other plans. He watched for her incessantly, and would
sometimes leave his place at the table, in the midst of the supper, and go
down alone to the shore, where he would stand gazing out upon the sea, and
saying mournfully to himself, "Why does not she come?" The animosity and
the ridicule which these things awakened against him, on the part of the
army, were extreme; but he was so utterly infatuated that he disregarded
all the manifestations of public sentiment around him, and continued to
allow his mind to be wholly engrossed with the single idea of Cleopatra's

She arrived at last. She brought a great supply of clothes and other
necessaries for the use of Antony's army, so that her coming not only
gratified his love, but afforded him, also, a very essential relief, in
respect to the military difficulties in which he was involved.

After some time spent in the enjoyment of the pleasure which being thus
reunited to Cleopatra afforded him, Antony began again to think of the
affairs of his government, which every month more and more imperiously
demanded his attention. He began to receive urgent calls from various
quarters, urging him to action. In the mean time, Octavia--who had been
all this while waiting in distress and anxiety at Rome, hearing
continually the most gloomy accounts of her husband's affairs, and the
most humiliating tidings in respect to his infatuated devotion to
Cleopatra--resolved to make one more effort to save him. She interceded
with her brother to allow her to raise troops and to collect supplies, and
then proceed to the eastward to re-enforce him. Octavius consented to
this. He, in fact, assisted Octavia in making her preparations. It is
said, however, that he was influenced in this plan by his confident belief
that this noble attempt of his sister to reclaim her husband would fail,
and that, by the failure of it, Antony would be put in the wrong, in the
estimation of the Roman people, more absolutely and hopelessly than ever,
and that the way would thus be prepared for his complete and final

Octavia was rejoiced to obtain her brother's aid to her undertaking,
whatever the motive might be which induced him to afford it. She
accordingly levied a considerable body of troops, raised a large sum of
money, provided clothes, and tents, and military stores for the army; and
when all was ready, she left Italy and put to sea, having previously
dispatched a messenger to her husband to inform him that she was coming.

Cleopatra began now to be afraid that she was to lose Antony again, and
she at once began to resort to the usual artifices employed in such cases,
in order to retain her power over him. She said nothing, but assumed the
appearance of one pining under the influence of some secret suffering or
sorrow. She contrived to be often surprised in tears. In such cases she
would hastily brush her tears away, and assume a countenance of smiles and
good humor, as if making every effort to be happy, though really oppressed
with a heavy burden of anxiety and grief. When Antony was near her she
would seem overjoyed at his presence, and gaze upon him with an expression
of the most devoted fondness. When absent from him, she spent her time
alone, always silent and dejected, and often in tears; and she took care
that the secret sorrows and sufferings that she endured should be duly
made known to Antony, and that he should understand that they were all
occasioned by her love for him, and by the danger which she apprehended
that he was about to leave her.

The friends and secret agents of Cleopatra, who reported these things to
Antony, made, moreover, direct representations to him, for the purpose of
inclining his mind in her favor. They had, in fact, the astonishing
audacity to argue that Cleopatra's claims upon Antony for a continuance of
his love were paramount to those of Octavia. She, that is, Octavia, had
been his wife, they said, only for a very short time. Cleopatra had been
most devotedly attached to him for many years. Octavia was married to him,
they alleged, not under the impulse of love, but from political
considerations alone, to please her brother, and to ratify and confirm a
political league made with him. Cleopatra, on the other hand, had given
herself up to him in the most absolute and unconditional manner, under the
influence solely of a personal affection which she could not control. She
had surrendered and sacrificed every thing to him. For him she had lost
her good name, alienated the affections of her subjects, made herself the
object of reproach and censure to all mankind, and now she had left her
native land to come and join him in his adverse fortunes. Considering how
much she had done, and suffered, and sacrificed for his sake, it would be
extreme and unjustifiable cruelty in him to forsake her now. She never
would survive such an abandonment. Her whole soul was so wrapped up in
him, that she would pine away and die if he were now to forsake her.

Antony was distressed and agitated beyond measure by the entanglements in
which he found that he was involved. His duty, his inclination perhaps,
certainly his ambition, and every dictate of prudence and policy, required
that he should break away from these snares at once and go to meet
Octavia. But the spell that bound him was too mighty to be dissolved. He
yielded to Cleopatra's sorrows and tears. He dispatched a messenger to
Octavia, who had by this time reached Athens, in Greece, directing her not
to come any farther. Octavia, who seemed incapable of resentment or anger
against her husband, sent back to ask what she should do with the troops,
and money, and the military stores which she was bringing. Antony directed
her to leave them in Greece. Octavia did so, and mournfully returned to
her home.

As soon as she arrived at Rome, Octavius, her brother, whose indignation
was now thoroughly aroused at the baseness of Antony, sent to his sister
to say that she must leave Antony's house and come to him. A proper
self-respect, he said, forbade her remaining any longer under the roof of
such a man. Octavia replied that she would not leave her husband's house.
That house was her post of duty, whatever her husband might do, and there
she would remain. She accordingly retired within the precincts of her old
home, and devoted herself in patient and uncomplaining sorrow to the care
of the family and the children. Among these children was one young son of
Antony's, born during his marriage with her predecessor Fulvia. In the
mean time, while Octavia was thus faithfully though mournfully fulfilling
her duties as wife and mother, in her husband's house at Rome, Antony
himself had gone with Cleopatra to Alexandria, and was abandoning himself
once more to a life of guilty pleasure there. The greatness of mind which
this beautiful and devoted wife thus displayed, attracted the admiration
of all mankind. It produced, however, one other effect, which Octavia must
have greatly deprecated. It aroused a strong and universal feeling of
indignation against the unworthy object toward whom this extraordinary
magnanimity was displayed.

In the mean time, Antony gave himself up wholly to Cleopatra's influence
and control, and managed all the affairs of the Roman empire in the East
in the way best fitted to promote her aggrandizement and honor. He made
Alexandria his capital, celebrated triumphs there, arranged ostentatious
expeditions into Asia and Syria with Cleopatra and her train, gave her
whole provinces as presents, and exalted her two sons, Alexander and
Ptolemy, children born during the period of his first acquaintance with
her, to positions of the highest rank and station, as his own acknowledged
sons. The consequences of these and similar measures at Rome were fatal to
Antony's character and standing. Octavius reported every thing to the
Roman senate and people, and made Antony's misgovernment and his various
misdemeanors the ground of the heaviest accusations against him. Antony,
hearing of these things, sent his agents to Rome and made accusations
against Octavius; but these counter accusations were of no avail. Public
sentiment was very strong and decided against him at the capital, and
Octavius began to prepare for war.

Antony perceived that he must prepare to defend himself. Cleopatra entered
into the plans which he formed for this purpose with great ardor. Antony
began to levy troops, and collect and equip galleys and ships of war, and
to make requisitions of money and military stores from all the eastern
provinces and kingdoms. Cleopatra put all the resources of Egypt at his
disposal. She furnished him with immense sums of money, and with an
inexhaustible supply of corn, which she procured for this purpose from her
dominions in the valley of the Nile. The various divisions of the immense
armament which was thus provided for were ordered to rendezvous at
Ephesus, where Antony and Cleopatra were awaiting to receive them, having
proceeded there when their arrangements in Egypt were completed, and they
were ready to commence the campaign.

When all was ready for the expedition to set sail from Ephesus, it was
Antony's judgment that it would be best for Cleopatra to return to Egypt,
and leave him to go forth with the fleet to meet Octavius alone. Cleopatra
was, however, determined not to go away. She did not dare to leave Antony
at all to himself, for fear that in some way or other a peace would be
effected between himself and Octavius, which would result in his returning
to Octavia and abandoning _her_. She accordingly contrived to persuade
Antony to retain her with him, by bribing his chief counselor to advise
him to do so. His counselor's name was Canidius. Canidius, having received
Cleopatra's money, while yet he pretended to be wholly disinterested in
his advice, represented to Antony that it would not be reasonable to send
Cleopatra away, and deprive her of all participation in the glory of the
war, when she was defraying so large a part of the expense of it. Besides,
a large portion of the army consisted of Egyptian troops, who would feel
discouraged and disheartened if Cleopatra were to leave them, and would
probably act far less efficiently in the conflict than they would do if
animated by the presence of their queen. Then, moreover, such a woman as
Cleopatra was not to be considered, as many women would be, an
embarrassment and a source of care to a military expedition which she
might join, but a very efficient counselor and aid to it. She was, he
said, a very sagacious, energetic, and powerful queen, accustomed to the
command of armies and to the management of affairs of state, and her aid
in the conduct of the expedition might be expected to conduce very
materially to its success.

Antony was easily won by such persuasions as these, and it was at length
decided that Cleopatra should accompany him.

Antony then ordered the fleet to move forward to the island of Samos.[9]
Here it was brought to anchor and remained for some time, waiting for the
coming in of new re-enforcements, and for the completion of the other
arrangements. Antony, as if becoming more and more infatuated as he
approached the brink of his ruin, spent his time while the expedition
remained at Samos, not in maturing his plans and perfecting his
arrangements for the tremendous conflict which was approaching, but in
festivities, games, revelings, and every species of riot and dissolute
excess. This, however, is not surprising. Men almost always, when in a
situation analogous to his, fly to similar means of protecting themselves,
in some small degree, from the pangs of remorse, and from the forebodings
which stand ready to terrify and torment them at every instant in which
these gloomy specters are not driven away by intoxication and revelry. At
least Antony found it so. Accordingly, an immense company of players,
tumblers, fools, jesters, and mountebanks were ordered to assemble at
Samos, and to devote themselves with all zeal to the amusement of
Antony's court. The island was one universal scene of riot and revelry.
People were astonished at such celebrations and displays, wholly
unsuitable, as they considered them, to the occasion. If such are the
rejoicings, said they, which Antony celebrates before going into the
battle, what festivities will he contrive on his return, joyous enough to
express his pleasure if he shall gain the victory?

After a time, Antony and Cleopatra, with a magnificent train of
attendants, left Samos, and, passing across the Ægean Sea, landed in
Greece, and advanced to Athens; while the fleet, proceeding westward from
Samos, passed around Tænarus, the southern promontory of Greece, and then
moved northward along the western coast of the peninsula. Cleopatra wished
to go to Athens for a special reason. It was there that Octavia had
stopped on her journey toward her husband with re-enforcements and aid;
and while she was there, the people of Athens, pitying her sad condition,
and admiring the noble spirit of mind which she displayed in her
misfortunes, had paid her great attention, and during her stay among them
had bestowed upon her many honors. Cleopatra now wished to go to the same
place, and to triumph over her rival there, by making so great a display
of her wealth and magnificence, and of her ascendency over the mind of
Antony, as should entirely transcend and outshine the more unassuming
pretensions of Octavia. She was not willing, it seems, to leave to the
unhappy wife whom she had so cruelly wronged even the possession of a
place in the hearts of the people of this foreign city, but must go and
enviously strive to efface the impression which injured innocence had
made, by an ostentatious exhibition of the triumphant prosperity of her
own shameless wickedness. She succeeded well in her plans. The people of
Athens were amazed and bewildered at the immense magnificence that
Cleopatra exhibited before them. She distributed vast sums of money among
the people. The city, in return, decreed to her the most exalted honors.
They sent a solemn embassy to her to present her with these decrees.
Antony himself, in the character of a citizen of Athens, was one of the
embassadors. Cleopatra received the deputation at her palace. The
reception was attended with the most splendid and imposing ceremonies.

One would have supposed that Cleopatra's cruel and unnatural hostility to
Octavia might now have been satisfied; but it was not. Antony, while he
was at Athens, and doubtless at Cleopatra's instigation, sent a messenger
to Rome with a notice of divorcement to Octavia, and with an order that
she should leave his house. Octavia obeyed. She went forth from her home,
taking the children with her, and bitterly lamenting her cruel destiny.

In the mean time, while all these events had been transpiring in the East,
Octavius had been making his preparations for the coming crisis, and was
now advancing with a powerful fleet across the sea. He was armed with
authority from the Roman senate and people, for he had obtained from them
a decree deposing Antony from his power. The charges made against him all
related to misdemeanors and offenses arising out of his connection with
Cleopatra. Octavius contrived to get possession of a will which Antony had
written before leaving Rome, and which he had placed there in what he
supposed a very sacred place of deposit. The custodians who had it in
charge replied to Octavius, when he demanded it, that they would not give
it to him, but if he wished to take it they would not hinder him. Octavius
then took the will, and read it to the Roman senate. It provided, among
other things, that at his death, if his death should happen at Rome, his
body should be sent to Alexandria to be given to Cleopatra; and it evinced
in other ways a degree of subserviency and devotedness to the Egyptian
queen which was considered wholly unworthy of a Roman chief magistrate.
Antony was accused, too, of having plundered cities and provinces to make
presents to Cleopatra; of having sent a library of two hundred thousand
volumes to her from Pergamus, to replace the one which Julius Cæsar had
accidentally burned; of having raised her sons, ignoble as their birth
was, to high places of trust and power in the Roman government, and of
having in many ways compromised the dignity of a Roman officer by his
unworthy conduct in reference to her. He used, for example, when presiding
at a judicial tribunal, to receive love-letters sent him from Cleopatra,
and then at once turn off his attention from the proceedings going forward
before him to read the letters.[10] Sometimes he did this when sitting in
the chair of state, giving audience to embassadors and princes. Cleopatra
probably sent these letters in at such times under the influence of a
wanton disposition to show her power. At one time, as Octavius said in his
arguments before the Roman senate, Antony was hearing a cause of the
greatest importance, and during a time in the progress of the cause when
one of the principal orators of the city was addressing him, Cleopatra
came passing by, when Antony suddenly arose, and, leaving the court
without any ceremony, ran out to follow her. These and a thousand similar
tales exhibited Antony in so odious a light, that his friends forsook his
cause, and his enemies gained a complete triumph. The decree was passed
against him, and Octavius was authorized to carry it into effect; and
accordingly, while Antony, with his fleet and army, was moving westward
from Samos and the Ægean Sea, Octavius was coming eastward and southward
down the Adriatic to meet him.

In process of time, after various maneuvers and delays, the two armaments
came into the vicinity of each other at a place called Actium, which will
be found upon the map on the western coast of Epirus, north of Greece.
Both of the commanders had powerful fleets at sea, and both had great
armies upon the land. Antony was strongest in land troops, but his fleet
was inferior to that of Octavius, and he was himself inclined to remain on
the land and fight the principal battle there. But Cleopatra would not
consent to this. She urged him to give Octavius battle at sea. The motive
which induced her to do this has been supposed to be her wish to provide a
more sure way of escape in case of an unfavorable issue to the conflict.
She thought that in her galleys she could make sail at once across the sea
to Alexandria in case of defeat, whereas she knew not what would become of
her if beaten at the head of an army on the land. The ablest counselors
and chief officers in the army urged Antony very strongly not to trust
himself to the sea. To all their arguments and remonstrances, however,
Antony turned a deaf ear. Cleopatra must be allowed to have her way.

On the morning of the battle, when the ships were drawn up in array,
Cleopatra held the command of a division of fifty or sixty Egyptian
vessels, which were all completely manned, and well equipped with masts
and sails. She took good care to have every thing in perfect order for
flight, in case flight should prove to be necessary. With these ships she
took a station in reserve, and for a time remained there a quiet witness
of the battle. The ships of Octavius advanced to the attack of those of
Antony, and the men fought from deck to deck with spears, boarding-pikes,
flaming darts, and every other destructive missile which the military art
had then devised. Antony's ships had to contend against great
disadvantages. They were not only outnumbered by those of Octavius, but
were far surpassed by them in the efficiency with which they were manned
and armed. Still, it was a very obstinate conflict. Cleopatra, however,
did not wait to see how it was to be finally decided. As Antony's forces
did not immediately gain the victory, she soon began to yield to her fears
in respect to the result, and, finally, fell into a panic and resolved to
fly. She ordered the oars to be manned and the sails to be hoisted, and
then forcing her way through a portion of the fleet that was engaged in
the contest, and throwing the vessels into confusion as she passed, she
succeeded in getting to sea, and then pressed on, under full sail, down
the coast to the southward. Antony, as soon as he perceived that she was
going, abandoning every other thought, and impelled by his insane
devotedness to her, hastily called up a galley of five banks of oars, and,
leaping on board of it, ordered the oarsmen to pull with all their force
after Cleopatra's flying squadron.

Cleopatra, looking back from the deck of her vessel, saw this swift galley
pressing on toward her. She raised a signal at the stern of the vessel
which she was in, that Antony might know for which of the fifty flying
ships he was to steer. Guided by the signal, Antony came up to the vessel,
and the sailors hoisted him up the side and helped him in. Cleopatra had,
however, disappeared. Overcome with shame and confusion, she did not dare,
it seems, to meet the look of the wretched victim of her arts whom she had
now irretrievably ruined. Antony did not seek her. He did not speak a
word. He went forward to the prow of the ship, and, throwing himself down
there alone, pressed his head between his hands, and seemed stunned and
stupefied, and utterly overwhelmed with horror and despair.

He was, however, soon aroused from his stupor by an alarm raised on board
his galley that they were pursued. He rose from his seat, seized a spear,
and, on ascending to the quarter-deck, saw that there were a number of
small light boats, full of men and of arms, coming up behind them, and
gaining rapidly upon his galley. Antony, now free for a moment from his
enchantress's sway, and acting under the impulse of his own indomitable
boldness and decision, instead of urging the oarsmen to press forward more
rapidly in order to make good their escape, ordered the helm to be put
about, and thus, turning the galley around, he faced his pursuers, and
drove his ship into the midst of them. A violent conflict ensued, the din
and confusion of which was increased by the shocks and collisions between
the boats and the galley. In the end, the boats were beaten off, all
excepting one: that one kept still hovering near, and the commander of it,
who stood upon the deck, poising his spear with an aim at Antony, and
seeking eagerly an opportunity to throw it, seemed by his attitude and the
expression of his countenance to be animated by some peculiarly bitter
feeling of hostility and hate. Antony asked him who he was, that dared so
fiercely to threaten _him_. The man replied by giving his name, and saying
that he came to avenge the death of his father. It proved that he was the
son of a man whom Antony had at a previous time, on some account or
other, caused to be beheaded.

There followed an obstinate contest between Antony and this fierce
assailant, in the end of which the latter was beaten off. The boats then,
having succeeded in making some prizes from Antony's fleet, though they
had failed in capturing Antony himself, gave up the pursuit and returned.
Antony then went back to his place, sat down in the prow, buried his face
in his hands, and sank into the same condition of hopeless distress and
anguish as before.

When husband and wife are overwhelmed with misfortune and suffering, each
instinctively seeks a refuge in the sympathy and support of the other. It
is, however, far otherwise with such connections as that of Antony and
Cleopatra. Conscience, which remains calm and quiet in prosperity and
sunshine, rises up with sudden and unexpected violence as soon as the hour
of calamity comes; and thus, instead of mutual comfort and help, each
finds in the thoughts of the other only the means of adding the horrors of
remorse to the anguish of disappointment and despair. So extreme was
Antony's distress, that for three days he and Cleopatra neither saw nor
spoke to each other. She was overwhelmed with confusion and chagrin, and
he was in such a condition of mental excitement that she did not dare to
approach him. In a word, reason seemed to have wholly lost its sway--his
mind, in the alternations of his insanity, rising sometimes to fearful
excitement, in paroxysms of uncontrollable rage, and then sinking again
for a time into the stupor of despair.

In the mean time, the ships were passing down as rapidly as possible on
the western coast of Greece. When they reached Tænarus, the southern
promontory of the peninsula, it was necessary to pause and consider what
was to be done. Cleopatra's women went to Antony and attempted to quiet
and calm him. They brought him food. They persuaded him to see Cleopatra.
A great number of merchant ships from the ports along the coast gathered
around Antony's little fleet and offered their services. His cause, they
said, was by no means desperate. The army on the land had not been beaten.
It was not even certain that his fleet had been conquered. They endeavored
thus to revive the ruined commander's sinking courage, and to urge him to
make a new effort to retrieve his fortunes. But all was in vain. Antony
was sunk in a hopeless despondency. Cleopatra was determined on going to
Egypt, and he must go too. He distributed what treasure remained at his
disposal among his immediate followers and friends, and gave them advice
about the means of concealing themselves until they could make peace with
Octavius. Then, giving up all as lost, he followed Cleopatra across the
sea to Alexandria.



The case of Mark Antony affords one of the most extraordinary examples of
the power of unlawful love to lead its deluded and infatuated victim into
the very jaws of open and recognized destruction that history records.
Cases similar in character occur by thousands in common life; but
Antony's, though perhaps not more striking in itself than a great
multitude of others have been, is the most conspicuous instance that has
ever been held up to the observation of mankind.

In early life, Antony was remarkable, as we have already seen, for a
certain savage ruggedness of character, and for a stern and indomitable
recklessness of will, so great that it seemed impossible that any thing
human should be able to tame him. He was under the control, too, of an
ambition so lofty and aspiring that it appeared to know no bounds; and yet
we find him taken possession of, in the very midst of his career, and in
the height of his prosperity and success, by a woman, and so subdued by
her arts and fascinations as to yield himself wholly to her guidance, and
allow himself to be led about by her entirely at her will. She displaces
whatever there might have been that was noble and generous in his heart,
and substitutes therefor her own principles of malice and cruelty. She
extinguishes all the fires of his ambition, originally so magnificent in
its aims that the world seemed hardly large enough to afford it scope, and
instead of this lofty passion, fills his soul with a love of the lowest,
vilest, and most ignoble pleasures. She leads him to betray every public
trust, to alienate from himself all the affections of his countrymen, to
repel most cruelly the kindness and devotedness of a beautiful and
faithful wife, and, finally, to expel this wife and all of his own
legitimate family from his house; and now, at last, she conducts him away
in a most cowardly and ignoble flight from the field of his duty as a
soldier--he knowing, all the time, that she is hurrying him to disgrace
and destruction, and yet utterly without power to break from the control
of his invisible chains.

       *       *       *       *       *

The indignation which Antony's base abandonment of his fleet and army at
the battle of Actium excited, over all that part of the empire which had
been under his command, was extreme. There was not the slightest possible
excuse for such a flight. His army, in which his greatest strength lay,
remained unharmed, and even his fleet was not defeated. The ships
continued the combat until night, notwithstanding the betrayal of their
cause by their commander. They were at length, however, subdued. The army,
also, being discouraged, and losing all motive for resistance, yielded
too. In a very short time the whole country went over to Octavius's side.

In the mean time, Cleopatra and Antony, on their first return to Egypt,
were completely beside themselves with terror. Cleopatra formed a plan for
having all the treasures that she could save, and a certain number of
galleys sufficient for the transportation of these treasures and a small
company of friends, carried across the isthmus of Suez and launched upon
the Red Sea, in order that she might escape in that direction, and find
some remote hiding-place and safe retreat on the shores of Arabia or
India, beyond the reach of Octavius's dreaded power. She actually
commenced this undertaking, and sent one or two of her galleys across the
isthmus; but the Arabs seized them as soon as they reached their place of
destination, and killed or captured the men that had them in charge, so
that this desperate scheme was soon abandoned. She and Antony then finally
concluded to establish themselves at Alexandria, and made preparation, as
well as they could, for defending themselves against Octavius there.

Antony, when the first effects of his panic subsided, began to grow mad
with vexation and resentment against all mankind. He determined that he
would have nothing to do with Cleopatra or with any of her friends, but
went off in a fit of sullen rage, and built a hermitage in a lonely place
on the island of Pharos, where he lived for a time, cursing his folly and
his wretched fate, and uttering the bitterest invectives against all who
had been concerned in it. Here tidings came continually in, informing him
of the defection of one after another of his armies, of the fall of his
provinces in Greece and Asia Minor, and of the irresistible progress which
Octavius was now making toward universal dominion. The tidings of these
disasters coming incessantly upon him kept him in a continual fever of
resentment and rage.

At last he became tired of his misanthropic solitude, a sort of
reconciliation ensued between himself and Cleopatra, and he went back
again to the city. Here he joined himself once more to Cleopatra, and,
collecting together what remained of their joint resources, they plunged
again into a life of dissipation and vice, with the vain attempt to drown
in mirth and wine the bitter regrets and the anxious forebodings which
filled their souls. They joined with them a company of revelers as
abandoned as themselves, and strove very hard to disguise and conceal
their cares in their forced and unnatural gayety. They could not, however,
accomplish this purpose. Octavius was gradually advancing in his progress,
and they knew very well that the time of his dreadful reckoning with them
must soon come; nor was there any place on earth in which they could look
with any hope of finding a refuge in it from his vindictive hostility.

Cleopatra, warned by dreadful presentiments of what would probably at last
be her fate, amused herself in studying the nature of poisons--not
theoretically, but practically--making experiments with them on wretched
prisoners and captives whom she compelled to take them, in order that she
and Antony might see the effects which they produced. She made a
collection of all the poisons which she could procure, and administered
portions of them all, that she might see which were sudden and which were
slow in their effects, and also learn which produced the greatest distress
and suffering, and which, on the other hand, only benumbed and stupefied
the faculties, and thus extinguished life with the least infliction of
pain. These experiments were not confined to such vegetable and mineral
poisons as could be mingled with the food or administered in a potion.
Cleopatra took an equal interest in the effects of the bite of venomous
serpents and reptiles. She procured specimens of all these animals, and
tried them upon her prisoners, causing the men to be stung and bitten by
them, and then watching the effects. These investigations were made, not
directly with a view to any practical use which she was to make of the
knowledge thus acquired, but rather as an agreeable occupation, to divert
her mind, and to amuse Antony and her guests. The variety in the forms and
expressions which the agony of her poisoned victims assumed--their
writhings, their cries, their convulsions, and the distortions of their
features when struggling with death, furnished exactly the kind and
degree of excitement which she needed to occupy and amuse her mind.

Antony was not entirely at ease, however, during the progress of these
terrible experiments. His foolish and childish fondness for Cleopatra was
mingled with jealousy, suspicion, and distrust; and he was so afraid that
Cleopatra might secretly poison him, that he would never take any food or
wine without requiring that she should taste it before him. At length, one
day, Cleopatra caused the petals of some flowers to be poisoned, and then
had the flowers woven into the chaplet which Antony was to wear at supper.
In the midst of the feast, she pulled off the leaves of the flowers from
her own chaplet and put them playfully into her wine, and then proposed
that Antony should do the same with his chaplet, and that they should then
drink the wine, tinctured, as it would be, with the color and the perfume
of the flowers. Antony entered very readily into this proposal, and when
he was about to drink the wine, she arrested his hand, and told him that
it was poisoned. "You see now," said she, "how vain it is for you to watch
against me. If it were possible for me to live without you, how easy it
would be for me to devise ways and means to kill you." Then, to prove that
her words were true, she ordered one of the servants to drink Antony's
wine. He did so, and died before their sight in dreadful agony.

The experiments which Cleopatra thus made on the nature and effects of
poison were not, however, wholly without practical result. Cleopatra
learned from them, it is said, that the bite of the asp was the easiest
and least painful mode of death. The effect of the venom of that animal
appeared to her to be the lulling of the sensorium into a lethargy or
stupor, which soon ended in death, without the intervention of pain. This
knowledge she seems to have laid up in her mind for future use.

The thoughts of Cleopatra appear, in fact, to have been much disposed, at
this time, to flow in gloomy channels, for she occupied herself a great
deal in building for herself a sepulchral monument in a certain sacred
portion of the city. This monument had, in fact, been commenced many years
ago, in accordance with a custom prevailing among Egyptian sovereigns, of
expending a portion of their revenues during their life-time in building
and decorating their own tombs. Cleopatra now turned her mind with new
interest to her own mausoleum. She finished it, provided it with the
strongest possible bolts and bars, and, in a word, seemed to be preparing
it in all respects for occupation.

In the mean time, Octavius, having made himself master of all the
countries which had formerly been under Antony's sway, now advanced,
meeting none to oppose him, from Asia Minor into Syria, and from Syria
toward Egypt. Antony and Cleopatra made one attempt, while he was thus
advancing toward Alexandria, to avert the storm which was impending over
them, by sending an embassage to ask for some terms of peace. Antony
proposed, in this embassage, to give up every thing to his conqueror on
condition that he might be permitted to retire unmolested with Cleopatra
to Athens, and allowed to spend the remainder of their days there in
peace; and that the kingdom of Egypt might descend to their children.
Octavius replied that he could not make any terms with Antony, though he
was willing to consent to any thing that was reasonable in behalf of
Cleopatra. The messenger who came back from Octavius with this reply spent
some time in private interviews with Cleopatra. This aroused Antony's
jealousy and anger. He accordingly ordered the unfortunate messenger to
be scourged and then sent back to Octavius, all lacerated with wounds,
with orders to say to Octavius that if it displeased him to have one of
his servants thus punished, he might revenge himself by scourging a
servant of Antony's, who was then, as it happened, in Octavius's power.

The news at length suddenly arrived at Alexandria that Octavius had
appeared before Pelusium, and that the city had fallen into his hands. The
next thing Antony and Cleopatra well knew would be, that they should see
him at the gates of Alexandria. Neither Antony nor Cleopatra had any means
of resisting his progress, and there was no place to which they could fly.
Nothing was to be done but to await, in consternation and terror, the sure
and inevitable doom which was now so near.

Cleopatra gathered together all her treasures and sent them to her tomb.
These treasures consisted of great and valuable stores of gold, silver,
precious stones, garments of the highest cost, and weapons, and vessels of
exquisite workmanship and great value, the hereditary possessions of the
Egyptian kings. She also sent to the mausoleum an immense quantity of
flax, tow, torches, and other combustibles. These she stored in the lower
apartments of the monument, with the desperate determination of burning
herself and her treasures together rather than to fall into the hands of
the Romans.

In the mean time, the army of Octavius steadily continued its march across
the desert from Pelusium to Alexandria. On the way, Octavius learned,
through the agents in communication with him from within the city, what
were the arrangements which Cleopatra had made for the destruction of her
treasure whenever the danger should become imminent of its falling into
his hands. He was extremely unwilling that this treasure should be lost.
Besides its intrinsic value, it was an object of immense importance to him
to get possession of it for the purpose of carrying it to Rome as a trophy
of his triumph. He accordingly sent secret messengers to Cleopatra,
endeavoring to separate her from Antony, and to amuse her mind with the
profession that he felt only friendship for her, and did not mean to do
her any injury, being in pursuit of Antony only. These negotiations were
continued from day to day while Octavius was advancing. At last the Roman
army reached Alexandria, and invested it on every side.

As soon as Octavius was established in his camp under the walls of the
city, Antony planned a sally, and he executed it, in fact, with
considerable energy and success. He issued suddenly from the gates, at the
head of as strong a force as he could command, and attacked a body of
Octavius's horsemen. He succeeded in driving these horsemen away from
their position, but he was soon driven back in his turn, and compelled to
retreat to the city, fighting as he fled, to beat back his pursuers. He
was extremely elated at the success of this skirmish. He came to Cleopatra
with a countenance full of animation and pleasure, took her in his arms
and kissed her, all accoutered for battle as he was, and boasted greatly
of the exploit which he had performed. He praised, too, in the highest
terms, the valor of one of the officers who had gone out with him to the
fight, and whom he had now brought to the palace to present to Cleopatra.
Cleopatra rewarded the faithful captain's prowess with a magnificent suit
of armor made of gold. Notwithstanding this reward, however, the man
deserted Antony that very night, and went over to the enemy. Almost all of
Antony's adherents were in the same state of mind. They would have gladly
gone over to the camp of Octavius, if they could have found an opportunity
to do so.

In fact, when the final battle was fought, the fate of it was decided by a
grand defection in the fleet, which went over in a body to the side of
Octavius. Antony was planning the operations of the day, and
reconnoitering the movements of the enemy from an eminence which he
occupied at the head of a body of foot soldiers--all the land forces that
now remained to him--and looking off from the eminence on which he stood
toward the harbor, he observed a movement among the galleys. They were
going out to meet the ships of Octavius, which were lying at anchor not
very far from them. Antony supposed that his vessels were going to attack
those of the enemy, and he looked to see what exploits they would perform.
They advanced toward Octavius's ships, and when they met them, Antony
observed, to his utter amazement, that, instead of the furious combat that
he had expected to see, the ships only exchanged friendly salutations, by
the use of the customary naval signals; and then his ships, passing
quietly round, took their positions in the lines of the other fleet. The
two fleets had thus become merged and mingled into one.

Antony immediately decided that this was Cleopatra's treason. She had made
peace with Octavius, he thought, and surrendered the fleet to him as one
of the conditions of it. Antony ran through the city, crying out that he
was betrayed, and in a phrensy of rage sought the palace. Cleopatra fled
to her tomb. She took in with her one or two attendants, and bolted and
barred the doors, securing the fastenings with the heavy catches and
springs that she had previously made ready. She then directed her women to
call out through the door that she had killed herself within the tomb.

The tidings of her death were borne to Antony. It changed his anger to
grief and despair. His mind, in fact, was now wholly lost to all balance
and control, and it passed from the dominion of one stormy passion to
another with the most capricious facility. He cried out with the most
bitter expressions of sorrow, mourning, he said, not so much Cleopatra's
death, for he should soon follow and join her, as the fact that she had
proved herself so superior to him in courage at last, in having thus
anticipated him in the work of self-destruction.

He was at this time in one of the chambers of the palace, whither he had
fled in his despair, and was standing by a fire, for the morning was
cold. He had a favorite servant named Eros, whom he greatly trusted, and
whom he had made to take an oath long before, that whenever it should
become necessary for him to die, Eros should kill him. This Eros he now
called to him, and telling him that the time was come, ordered him to take
the sword and strike the blow.

Eros took the sword while Antony stood up before him. Eros turned his head
aside as if wishing that his eyes should not see the deed which his hands
were about to perform. Instead, however, of piercing his master with it,
he plunged it into his own breast, fell down at Antony's feet, and died.

Antony gazed a moment at the shocking spectacle, and then said, "I thank
thee for this, noble Eros. Thou hast set me an example. I must do for
myself what thou couldst not do for me." So saying, he took the sword from
his servant's hands, plunged it into his body, and staggering to a little
bed that was near, fell over upon it in a swoon. He had received a mortal

The pressure, however, which was produced by the position in which he lay
upon the bed, stanched the wound a little and stopped the flow of blood.
Antony came presently to himself again, and then began to beg and implore
those around him to take the sword and put him out of his misery. But no
one would do it. He lay for a time suffering great pain, and moaning
incessantly, until, at length, an officer came into the apartment and told
him that the story which he had heard of Cleopatra's death was not true;
that she was still alive, shut up in her monument, and that she desired to
see him there. This intelligence was the source of new excitement and
agitation. Antony implored the by-standers to carry him to Cleopatra, that
he might see her once more before he died. They shrank from the attempt;
but, after some hesitation and delay, they concluded to undertake to
remove him. So, taking him in their arms, they bore him along, faint and
dying, and marking their track with his blood, toward the tomb.

Cleopatra would not open the gates to let the party in. The city was all
in uproar and confusion through the terror of the assault which Octavius
was making upon it, and she did not know what treachery might be intended.
She therefore went up to a window above, and letting down ropes and
chains, she directed those below to fasten the dying body to them, that
she and the two women with her might draw it up. This was done. Those who
witnessed it said that it was a most piteous sight to behold--Cleopatra
and her women above exhausting their strength in drawing the wounded and
bleeding sufferer up the wall, while he, when he approached the window,
feebly raised his arms to them, that they might lift him in. The women had
hardly strength sufficient to draw the body up. At one time it seemed that
the attempt would have to be abandoned; but Cleopatra reached down from
the window as far as she could to get hold of Antony's arms, and thus, by
dint of great effort, they succeeded at last in taking him in. They bore
him to a couch which was in the upper room from which the window opened,
and laid him down, while Cleopatra wrung her hands, and tore her hair, and
uttered the most piercing lamentations and cries. She leaned over the
dying Antony, crying out incessantly with the most piteous exclamations of
grief. She bathed his face, which was covered with blood, and vainly
endeavored to stanch his wound.

Antony urged her to be calm, and not to mourn his fate. He asked for some
wine. They brought it to him, and he drank it. He then entreated
Cleopatra to save her life, if she possibly could do so, and to make some
terms or other with Octavius, so as to continue to live. Very soon after
this he expired.


In the mean time, Octavius had heard of the mortal wound which Antony had
given himself; for one of the by-standers had seized the sword the moment
that the deed was done, and had hastened to carry it to Octavius, and to
announce to him the death of his enemy. Octavius immediately desired to
get Cleopatra into his power. He sent a messenger, therefore, to the tomb,
who attempted to open a parley there with her. Cleopatra talked with the
messenger through the keyholes or crevices, but could not be induced to
open the door. The messenger reported these facts to Octavius. Octavius
then sent another man with the messenger, and while one was engaging the
attention of Cleopatra and her women at the door below, the other obtained
ladders, and succeeded in gaining admission into the window above.
Cleopatra was warned of the success of this stratagem by the shriek of her
woman, who saw the officer coming down the stairs. She looked around, and
observing at a glance that she was betrayed, and that the officer was
coming to seize her, she drew a little dagger from her robe, and was
about to plunge it into her breast, when the officer grasped her arm just
in time to prevent the blow. He took the dagger from her, and then
examined her clothes to see that there were no other secret weapons
concealed there.

The capture of the queen being reported to Octavius, he appointed an
officer to take her into close custody. This officer was charged to treat
her with all possible courtesy, but to keep a close and constant watch
over her, and particularly to guard against allowing her any possible
means or opportunity for self-destruction.

In the mean time, Octavius took formal possession of the city, marching in
at the head of his troops with the most imposing pomp and parade. A chair
of state, magnificently decorated, was set up for him on a high elevation
in a public square; and here he sat, with circles of guards around him,
while the people of the city, assembled before him in the dress of
suppliants, and kneeling upon the pavement, begged his forgiveness, and
implored him to spare the city. These petitions the great conqueror
graciously condescended to grant.

Many of the princes and generals who had served under Antony came next to
beg the body of their commander, that they might give it an honorable
burial. These requests, however, Octavius would not accede to, saying that
he could not take the body away from Cleopatra. He, however, gave
Cleopatra leave to make such arrangements for the obsequies as she thought
fit, and allowed her to appropriate such sums of money from her treasures
for this purpose as she desired. Cleopatra accordingly made the necessary
arrangements, and superintended the execution of them; not, however, with
any degree of calmness and composure, but in a state, on the contrary, of
extreme agitation and distress. In fact, she had been living now so long
under the unlimited and unrestrained dominion of caprice and passion, that
reason was pretty effectually dethroned, and all self-control was gone.
She was now nearly forty years of age, and, though traces of her
inexpressible beauty remained, her bloom was faded, and her countenance
was wan with the effects of weeping, anxiety, and despair. She was, in a
word, both in body and mind, only the wreck and ruin of what she once had

When the burial ceremonies were performed, and she found that all was
over--that Antony was forever gone, and she herself hopelessly and
irremediably ruined--she gave herself up to a perfect phrensy of grief.
She beat her breast, and scratched and tore her flesh so dreadfully, in
the vain efforts which she made to kill herself, in the paroxysms of her
despair, that she was soon covered with contusions and wounds, which,
becoming inflamed and swelled, made her a shocking spectacle to see, and
threw her into a fever. She then conceived the idea of pretending to be
more sick than she was, and so refusing food and starving herself to
death. She attempted to execute this design. She rejected every medical
remedy that was offered her, and would not eat, and lived thus some days
without food. Octavius, to whom every thing relating to his captive was
minutely reported by her attendants, suspected her design. He was very
unwilling that she should die, having set his heart on exhibiting her to
the Roman people, on his return to the capital, in his triumphal
procession. He accordingly sent her orders, requiring that she should
submit to the treatment prescribed by the physician, and take her food,
enforcing these his commands with a certain threat which he imagined might
have some influence over her. And what threat does the reader imagine
could possibly be devised to reach a mind so sunk, so desperate, so
wretched as hers? Every thing seemed already lost but life, and life was
only an insupportable burden. What interests, then, had she still
remaining upon which a threat could take hold?

Octavius, in looking for some avenue by which he could reach her,
reflected that she was a mother. Cæsarion, the son of Julius Cæsar, and
Alexander, Cleopatra, and Ptolemy, Antony's children, were still alive.
Octavius imagined that in the secret recesses of her wrecked and ruined
soul there might be some lingering principle of maternal affection
remaining which he could goad into life and action. He accordingly sent
word to her that, if she did not yield to the physician and take her food,
he would kill every one of her children.

The threat produced its effect. The crazed and frantic patient became
calm. She received her food. She submitted to the physician. Under his
treatment her wounds began to heal, the fever was allayed, and at length
she appeared to be gradually recovering.

When Octavius learned that Cleopatra had become composed, and seemed to be
in some sense convalescent, he resolved to pay her a visit. As he entered
the room where she was confined, which seems to have been still the upper
chamber of her tomb, he found her lying on a low and miserable bed, in a
most wretched condition, and exhibiting such a spectacle of disease and
wretchedness that he was shocked at beholding her. She appeared, in fact,
almost wholly bereft of reason. When Octavius came in, she suddenly leaped
out of the bed, half naked as she was, and covered with bruises and
wounds, and crawled miserably along to her conqueror's feet in the
attitude of a suppliant. Her hair was torn from her head, her limbs were
swollen and disfigured, and great bandages appeared here and there,
indicating that there were still worse injuries than these concealed. From
the midst of all this squalidness and misery there still beamed from her
sunken eyes a great portion of their former beauty, and her voice still
possessed the same inexpressible charm that had characterized it so
strongly in the days of her prime. Octavius made her go back to her bed
again and lie down.

Cleopatra then began to talk and excuse herself for what she had done,
attributing all the blame of her conduct to Antony. Octavius, however,
interrupted her, and defended Antony from her criminations, saying to her
that it was not his fault so much as hers. She then suddenly changed her
tone, and acknowledging her sins, piteously implored mercy. She begged
Octavius to pardon and spare her, as if now she were afraid of death and
dreaded it, instead of desiring it as a boon. In a word, her mind, the
victim and the prey alternately of the most dissimilar and inconsistent
passions, was now overcome by fear. To propitiate Octavius, she brought
out a list of all her private treasures, and delivered it to him as a
complete inventory of all that she had. One of her treasurers, however,
named Zeleucus, who was standing by, said to Octavius that that list was
not complete. Cleopatra had, he alleged, reserved several things of great
value, which she had not put down upon it.

This assertion, thus suddenly exposing her duplicity, threw Cleopatra into
a violent rage. She sprang from her bed and assaulted her secretary in a
most furious manner. Octavius and the others who were there interposed,
and compelled Cleopatra to lie down again, which she did, uttering all the
time the most grievous complaints at the wretched degradation to which she
was reduced, to be insulted thus by her own servants at such a time. If
she had reserved any thing, she said, of her private treasures, it was
only for presents to some of her faithful friends, to induce them the more
zealously to intercede with Octavius in her behalf. Octavius replied by
urging her to feel no concern on the subject whatever. He freely gave her,
he said, all that she had reserved, and he promised in other respects to
treat her in the most honorable and courteous manner.

Octavius was much pleased at the result of this interview. It was obvious,
as it appeared to him, that Cleopatra had ceased to desire to die; that
she now, on the contrary, wished to live, and that he should accordingly
succeed in his desire of taking her with him to grace his triumph at Rome.
He accordingly made his arrangements for departure, and Cleopatra was
notified that in three days she was to set out, together with her
children, to go into Syria. Octavius said Syria, as he did not wish to
alarm Cleopatra by speaking of Rome. She, however, understood well where
the journey, if once commenced, would necessarily end, and she was fully
determined in her own mind that she would never go there.

She asked to be allowed to pay one parting visit to Antony's tomb. This
request was granted; and she went to the tomb with a few attendants,
carrying with her chaplets and garlands of flowers. At the tomb her grief
broke forth anew, and was as violent as ever. She bewailed her lover's
death with loud cries and lamentations, uttered while she was placing the
garlands upon the tomb, and offering the oblations and incense, which were
customary in those days, as expressions of grief. "These," said she, as
she made the offerings, "are the last tributes of affection that I can
ever pay thee, my dearest, dearest lord. I can not join thee, for I am a
captive and a prisoner, and they will not let me die. They watch me every
hour, and are going to bear me far away, to exhibit me to thine enemies,
as a badge and trophy of their triumph over thee. Oh intercede, dearest
Antony, with the gods where thou art now, since those that reign here on
earth have utterly forsaken me; implore them to save me from this fate,
and let me die here in my native land, and be buried by thy side in this

When Cleopatra returned to her apartment again after this melancholy
ceremony, she seemed to be more composed than she had been before. She
went to the bath, and then she attired herself handsomely for supper. She
had ordered supper that night to be very sumptuously served. She was at
liberty to make these arrangements, for the restrictions upon her
movements, which had been imposed at first, were now removed, her
appearance and demeanor having been for some time such as to lead Octavius
to suppose that there was no longer any danger that she would attempt
self-destruction. Her entertainment was arranged, therefore, according to
her directions, in a manner corresponding with the customs of her court
when she had been a queen. She had many attendants, and among them were
two of her own women. These women were long-tried and faithful servants
and friends.

While she was at supper, a man came to the door with a basket, and wished
to enter. The guards asked him what he had in his basket. He opened it to
let them see; and, lifting up some green leaves which were laid over the
top, he showed the soldiers that the basket was filled with figs. He said
that they were for Cleopatra's supper. The soldiers admired the appearance
of the figs, saying that they were very fine and beautiful. The man asked
the soldiers to take some of them. This they declined, but allowed the man
to pass in. When the supper was ended, Cleopatra sent all of her
attendants away except the two women. They remained. After a little time,
one of these women came out with a letter for Octavius, which Cleopatra
had written, and which she wished to have immediately delivered. One of
the soldiers from the guard stationed at the gates was accordingly
dispatched to carry the letter. Octavius, when it was given to him, opened
the envelope at once and read the letter, which was written, as was
customary in those days, on a small tablet of metal. He found that it was
a brief but urgent petition from Cleopatra, written evidently in agitation
and excitement, praying that he would overlook her offense, and allow her
to be buried with Antony. Octavius immediately inferred that she had
destroyed herself. He sent off some messengers at once, with orders to go
directly to her place of confinement and ascertain the truth, intending to
follow them himself immediately.

The messengers, on their arrival at the gates, found the sentinels and
soldiers quietly on guard before the door, as if all were well. On
entering Cleopatra's room, however, they beheld a shocking spectacle.
Cleopatra was lying dead upon a couch. One of her women was upon the
floor, dead too. The other, whose name was Charmion, was sitting over the
body of her mistress, fondly caressing her, arranging flowers in her hair,
and adorning her diadem. The messengers of Octavius, on witnessing this
spectacle, were overcome with amazement, and demanded of Charmion what it
could mean. "It is all right," said Charmion. "Cleopatra has acted in a
manner worthy of a princess descended from so noble a line of kings." As
Charmion said this, she began to sink herself, fainting, upon the bed, and
almost immediately expired.

The by-standers were not only shocked at the spectacle which was thus
presented before them, but they were perplexed and confounded in their
attempts to discover by what means Cleopatra and her women had succeeded
in effecting their design. They examined the bodies, but no marks of
violence were to be discovered. They looked all around the room, but no
weapons, and no indication of any means of poison, were to be found. They
discovered something that appeared like the slimy track of an animal on
the wall, toward a window, which they thought might have been produced by
an _asp_; but the animal itself was nowhere to be seen. They examined the
body with great care, but no marks of any bite or sting were to be found,
except that there were two very slight and scarcely-discernible punctures
on the arm, which some persons fancied might have been so caused. The
means and manner of her death seemed to be involved in impenetrable

There were various rumors on the subject subsequently in circulation both
at Alexandria and at Rome, though the mystery was never fully solved. Some
said that there was an asp concealed among the figs which the servant man
brought in in the basket; that he brought it in that manner, by a
preconcerted arrangement between him and Cleopatra, and that, when she
received it, she placed the animal on her arm. Others say that she had a
small steel instrument like a needle, with a poisoned point, which she had
kept concealed in her hair, and that she killed herself with that, without
producing any visible wound. Another story was, that she had an asp in a
box somewhere in her apartment, which she had reserved for this occasion,
and when the time finally came, that she pricked and teased it with a
golden bodkin to make it angry, and then placed it upon her flesh and
received its sting. Which of these stories, if either of them, were true,
could never be known. It has, however, been generally believed among
mankind that Cleopatra died in some way or other by the self-inflicted
sting of the asp, and paintings and sculptures without number have been
made to illustrate and commemorate the scene.

This supposition in respect to the mode of her death is, in fact,
confirmed by the action of Octavius himself on his return to Rome, which
furnishes a strong indication of his opinion of the manner in which his
captive at last eluded him. Disappointed in not being able to exhibit the
queen herself in his triumphal train, he caused a golden statue
representing her to be made, with an image of an asp upon the arm of it,
and this sculpture he caused to be borne conspicuously before him in his
grand triumphal entry into the capital, as the token and trophy of the
final downfall of the unhappy Egyptian queen.



[1] See Map of the Delta of the Nile, page 29; also the View of
Alexandria, page 162.

[2] See map; frontispiece.

[3] It will be sufficiently accurate for the general reader of history to
consider the Greek talent, referred to in such transactions as these, as
equal in English money to two hundred and fifty pounds, in American to a
thousand dollars. It is curious to observe that, large as the total was
that was paid for the liberation of these slaves, the amount paid for each
individual was, after all, only a sum equal to about five dollars.

[4] For an account of one of these disasters, with an engraving
illustrative of the scene, see the HISTORY OF CYRUS.

[5] For the position of this island in respect to Egypt and the
neighboring countries, see map, frontispiece.

[6] This Octavius, on his subsequent elevation to imperial power, received
the name of Augustus Cæsar, and it is by this name that he is generally
known in history. He was, however, called Octavius at the commencement of
his career, and, to avoid confusion, we shall continue to designate him by
this name to the end of our narrative.

[7] See map, at the frontispiece.

[8] Pearls, being of the nature of _shell_ in their composition and
structure, are soluble in certain acids.

[9] See map for the situation of Ephesus and of Samos.

[10] These letters, in accordance with the scale of expense and
extravagance on which Cleopatra determined that every thing relating to
herself and Antony should be done, were engraved on tablets made of onyx,
or crystal, or other hard and precious stones.

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