Cassius Dio Cocceianus.

Dio's Roman history, with an English translation online

. (page 3 of 35)
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them vigorously to do so.

At the news concerning Pelusium Antony returned
from Paraetonium and went to meet Caesar in front
of Alexandria, and attacking him with his cavalry,
while the other was wearied from his march, he won
the day. Encouraged by this success, and because he
had shot arrows into Caesar's camp carrying leaflets
which promised the men six thousand sesterces,
he joined battle also with his infantry and was
defeated. For Caesar of his own accord personally
read the leaflets to his soldiers, at the same time re-
viling Antony and trjring to turn them to a feeling of
shame for the suggested treachery and of enthusiasm
for himself ; the result was that they were fired by
zeal through this very incident, both by reason of
their indignation at the attempt made upon their
loyalty and by way of demonstrating that they were
not subject to the suspicion of being base traitors.
After his unexpected setback, Antony took refuge
in his fleet, and was preparing to give battle on the
sea or at any rate to sail to Spain. But Cleopatra, i
upon perceiving this, caused the ships to desert, and i
she herself rushed suddenly into the mausoleum,
pretending that she feared Caesar and desired by
some means or other to forestall him by taking her :
own life, but really as an invitation to Antony to
enter there also. He had a suspicion, to be sure,
that he was being betrayed, yet in his infatuation he
could not believe it, but actually pitied her more,
one might say, than himself. Cleopatra, doubtless,
was fully aware of this and hoped that if he should
be informed that she was dead, he would not wish
to^ survive her, but would die at once. Accordingly


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she hastened into the tomb with a eunuch and two b.c. so
maidservants^ and from there sent a message to him
from which he should infer that she was dead.
And he, when he heard it, did not delay, but was
seized by a desire to follow her in death. He first
asked one of the bystanders to slay him ; but when
the man drew his sword and slew himself, Antony
wished to imitate his courage and so gave himself a
wound and fell upon his face, causing the bystanders
to believe that he was dead. At this an outcry was
raised, and Cleopatra, hearing it, peered out over
the top of the tomb. By a certain contrivance its
doors, once closed, could not be opened again, but
the upper part of it next to the roof was not yet
fully completed. Now when some of them saw her
peering out at this point, they raised a shout so that
even Antony heard. So he, learning that she sur-
vived, stood up, as if he had still the power to live ;
but, as he had lost much blood, he despaired of his
life and besought the bystanders to carry him to the
monument and to hoist him up by the ropes that
were hanging there to lift the stone blocks.

So Antony died there in Cleopatra's bosom; and
she now felt a certain confidence in Caesar, and im-
mediately informed him of what had taken place ;
still, she was not altogether convinced that she
would suffer no harm. She accordingly kept herself
within the building, in order that, even if there
should be no other motive for her preservation, she
might at least purchase pardon and her kingdom
through his fear for the money. So thoroughly^
mind&l was she even then, in the midst of her dire \
misfortune, of her royal rank, and chose rather to J


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^ npoKov\4iov Bs., vpoKo6\ioy VM.

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die with the name and dignity of a sovereign than^ b.c. so
to live in a private station. At all events, she kept^
at hand fire to consume her wealth, and asps and
other reptiles to destroy herself, and she had the
latter tried on human beings, to see in what way <
they killed in each case. Now Caesar was anxious
not only to get possession of her treasures but also to
seize her alive and to carry her back for his triumph,
yet he was unwilling to appear to have tricked her
himself after having given her a kind of pledge,
since he wished to treat her as a captive and to a
certain exteAt subdued against her will. He there-
fore sent to her Gaius Proculeius, a knight, and
Epaphroditus, a freedman, giving them directions
as to what they were to say and do. Following out
this plan, they obtained an audience with Cleopatra,
and after discussing with her some moderate pro-
posals they suddenly seized her before any agree-
ment was reached. After this they put out of her
way everything by means of which she could cause
her own death and allowed her to spend some days
where she was, occupied in embalming Antony's
body ; then they took her to the palace, but did not
remove any of her accustomed retinue or attendants,
in order that she should entertain more hope than
ever of accomplishing all she desired, and so should
do no harm to herself. At any rate, when she ex-
pressed a desire to appear before Caesar and to have
an interview with him, she gained her request ;
and to deceive her still more, he promised that he
would come to her himself.

She accordingly prepared a splendid apartment
and a costly couch, and moreover arrayed herself
with affected negligence, — indeed, her mourning



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^ 4ppv0fufffi,4vri is the reading of VM; some editors have
preferred iipv0piatrfi4vri, the reading found in XiphiUnus'
Epitome, * koI M, om. V.


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garb wonderfdlly became her, — and seated herself b.c. so
upon the couch ; beside her she placed many images
of his father, .of all kinds, and in her bosom she put
all the letters that his father had sent her. When,
after this, Caesar entered, she leaped gi'acefully ^ to
her feet and cried : ^^ Hail, master — ^for Heaven has
granted you the mastery and taken it from me.^
But surely you can see with your own eyes how
your father looked when he visited me on many
occasions, and you have heard people tell how he
honoured me in various ways and made me queen of
the Egyptians. That you may, however, learn some-
thing about me from him himself, take and read the
letters which he wrote me with his own hand."

After she had spoken thus, she proceeded to read
many passionate expressions of Caesar's. And now
she would lament and kiss the letters, and again she
would fall before his images and do them reverence.
She kept turning her eyes toward Caesar and be-
wailing her fate in musical accents. She spoke in
melting tones, saying at one time, " Of what avail to
me, Caesar, are these thy letters ? " and at another,
" But in this man here thou also art alive for me '* ;
again, " Would that I had died before thee," and still
again, ^* But if I have him, I have thee."

Such were the subtleties of speech and of attitude ■
which she employed, and sweet were the glances she
cast at him and the words she murmured to him.
Now Caesar was not insensible to the ardour of her
speech and the appeal to his passions, but he pre-

* Or " blushing/' if the variant reading offered by Xiphi- '
linus be accepted.

* That is, the power she had exercised over Caesar, in
conseanence of which he had become her willing subject,
was of no avail in the case of Augustus.

D 2

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^ 8iaxf>^ff77Tai R. Steph., ^laxp'tlfrtrcu VM.


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tended to be ; and letting his eyes rest upon the rc so
ground^ he merely said : ^^ Be of good cheer, woman,
and keep a stout heart ; for you shall suffer no harm."
She was greatly distressed because he would neither
look at her nor say anything about the kingdom nor
even utter a word of love, and falling at his knees,
she said with an outburst of sobbing: ''I neither
wish to live nor can I live, Caesar. But this favour
I beg of you in memory of your father, that, since
Heaven gave me to Antony after him, I may also
die with Antony. Would that I had perished then,
straightway after Caesar ! But since it was decreed
by fate that I should suffer this affliction also,^ send
me to Antony; grudge me not burial with him, in
order that, as it is because of him 1 die, so I may
dwell with him even in Hades."

Such words she uttered, expecting to move him to
pity, but Caesar made no answer to them ; fearing,
however, that she might destroy herself, he exhorted
her again to be of good cheer, and not only did not
remove any of her attendants but also took special
care of her, that she might add brilliance to his tri-
umph. This purpose she suspected, and regardingl
that fate as worse than a thousand deaths, she conX
ceived a genuine desire to die, and not only addressed ||^
many entreaties to Caesar that she might perish in )
some manner or other, but also devised many plan9
herself. But when she could accomplish nothing,
she feigned a change of heart, pretending to set
great hopes in him and also in Livia. She said she
would sail of her own free will, and she made ready
some treasured articles of adornment to use as gifts,

^ That is, that she had not been able to die with Caesar.


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* Tf BHi^tiv Dind., reBv^cuv VM.

2 $ic€p M, &<rir€p V.

3 fijpi'^ R. Steph., v^pdai VM.

* ri Oddey, rtvl VM.


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in the hope that by these means she might inspire b.c. so
belief that it was not her purpose to die, and so
might be less closely guarded and thus be able to
destroy herself. And so it came about. For as soon as
the others and Epaphroditus, to whose charge she had
been committed, had come to believe that she really
felt as she pretended to, and neglected to keep a
careful watch, she made her preparations to die as
])ainlessly as possible. First she gave a sealed paper,
in which she begged Caesar to order that she be
buried beside Antony, to Epaphroditus himself to
deliver, pretending that it contained some other
matter, and then, having by this excuse freed herself
of his presence, she set to her task. She put on her
most beautiful apparel, arranged her body in most
seemly fashion, took in her hands all the emblems of
royalty, and so died.

No one knows clearly in what way she perished,
for the only marks on her body were slight pricks on
the arm. Some say that she applied . to herself an
asp which had been brought in to her in a water-jar,
or perhaps hidden in some flowers. Others declare
that she had smeared a pin, with which she was wont to
fasten her hair, with some poison possessed of such a
property that in ordinary circumstances it would not
injure the body at all, but if it came in contact with
even a drop of blood would destroy the body very
quickly and painlessly ; and that previous to this time
* she had worn it in her hair as usual, but now had
made a slight scratch on her arm and had dipped the
pin in the blood. In this or in some very similar
way she perished, and her two handmaidens with
her. As for the eunuch, he had of his own accord
delivered himself up to the serpents at the very time


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6 TOVTO fiev ToiovTOV ia-Tiv, 6 he Brj Kaiaap p/qheva
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2 fiiov ToidvBe. 6 pep avvelvai re to Beov ovBevo<i
rjaaoov eyevero Kal ttoXXcl d<f)p6v(o<: eirpa^ev,
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of Cleopatra's arrest, and after being bitten by them b.c.
had leaped into a coffin already prepared for him.
When Caesar heard of Cleopatra's death, he was I v
astounded, and not only viewed her body but also ]
made use of drugs and Psylli ^ in the hope that she
might revive. These Psylli are males, for there is no j
woman bom in their tribe, and they have the power
to suck out any poison of any reptile, if use is made
of them immediately, before the victim dies; and
they are not harmed themselves when bitten by any
such creature. They are propagated from one
another and they test their offspring either by having
them thrown among serpents as soon as they are
bom or else by having their swaddling-clothe? thrown
upon serpents ; for the reptiles in the one case do no
harm to the child, and in the other case are benumbed
by its clothing. So much for this matter. But Caesar^
when he could not in any way resuscitate Cleopatra,S
felt both admiration and pity for her, and was ex-^
cessively grieved on his own account, as if he had
been deprived of all the glory of his victory.

Thus Antony and Cleopatra, who had caused
many evils to the Egyptians and many to the Romans,
made war and met their death in the manner I have
described; and they were both embalmed in the
same fashion and buried in the same tomb. Their
qualities of character and the fortunes of their lives
were as follows. Antony had no superior in com-
prehending his duty, yet he committed many acts
of folly. He sometimes distinguished himself for
bravery, yet often failed through cowardice. He
was characterized equally by greatness of soul

1 Of. Pliny, Nat, Hist, xxi. 78.


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5 OvToi fi€v Bf) TOiovToi T€ iyivovTO /cal out©?
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fiev, Kairoi rrjv re rov Kaiaapo^ Ovyarepa
fiyyvrifievo^ 2 ^^^ ^^ ^j ^^0 irarpo^ avTOv '^p^ov,
o fi KXeoTrdrpa iireiroirJKei, /caTa<f>vy(ov, eifOif^
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irdrpa *Iov/3a r^ rov ^lov^ov iratZX a-vvfpKrfo-e*
TOVT(p ydp o J^alaap Tpad>€VTV re iv rfj IraXla
Kal ava-Tparevaafievtp ot ravTrjv re Kal rtfv
^a^CKeiav rrjv warp^av eBcDKe, Kal airol^ Kal
rov ^AXi^avBpov Kal rov UroXcfiaiov €%a/>t(raTo.

7 rah re dB€\<f>iBac<;, ^9 ck rov *Avtq)vlov y) 'O^ra-
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* hirdovTiTo Naber, ikicdvaro VM cod. Peir.

' iiyyvrififvos Dind., iyytyvrnxtvos M, iyytvrifiivos V.

Online LibraryCassius Dio CocceianusDio's Roman history, with an English translation → online text (page 3 of 35)