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The ancient history of the Egyptians, Carthaginians, Assyrians ..., Volume 8 online

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Ant J. c. 40. jijg yfifQ Puivia was very active at Rome in sup-
porting his interests, and the army of the Parthians was upon the
point of entering; Syria, as if those things did not concern him, he
suffered himseli to be drawn away by Cleopatra to Alexandria,
where they passed their time in games, amusements, and voluptu-
ousness, treating each other every day at excessive and incre(hble

*PUn. I. iz.c.35. Miicrob* Satur. 1. ii. c. 13. .

t OtiUes H. S. Hoc «t, MntiM eentena milUa testertHam. Which amounted to iaoi«
than a million of livres, or S3,[i0(tf. sterling.

t The ancients changed their tables at every course.

^ Vinegar is strong enough to dissolve the hardest things. Aceti auceu* domttor rermwi,
as Pliny says of it, I. xxxiii. c. 3. Cleppatra had not the glory of the invention. Before
her, to the disgrace of royalty, the son of a comedian (Clodius, the son of ^Mpus) had
done something of the same Mnd, and often swallowed pearls dissolved in that manner,
from the sole pleasure of naking the expense of his meals enormous.
^ . •• PfflliS iBsohi detraci!hm ex aare Metetlo;,
/ Sci|i»ett uc dSbiesjBolidmb exsorberet, aceto

.;.»^. . "1 ',^"»»l iarfgtem b&ccam-« Hor. I. II. Sat 3.

imila oftier ptfari was afterwards conlecrated to Venus by Augustus, who carried It
to Rome on liui return from Alexandrvi ; and havhig caused it to be cut in two, itfr d»
was so extraordinary, that it served for fitulants in the ears of that goddess. PUn. iUo.



E6TPT. 4l^

expenses; which nuLy he judged of ftom the feOowing ciicuxn-

A young Greek,* who went to Alexandria to atudy physic, npoii
the great noise those feasts made, had the cunositv to assure himself
with his own eyes about them. Having been admitted into Anto-
ny's kitchen, be saw, amongst other things, eight wild boars roast*
ing whole at the same time. Upon which he expressed surprise at
the great number of guests that he supposed were to be at the
supper. One of the officers could not forbear laughing, and told
him, that they were not so many as he imagined, and that there
would not be above a dozen in all ; but that it was necessary every
thing chould be served in a degree of perfection, which every mo-
ment ceases and spoils. ** For," added he, ^' it often happens that
Antony will order his supper, and a moment after forbid it to be
served, having entefed into some conversation that diverts him
For that reason, not one but many suppers are provided, because
it is hard to know at what time he will think fit to have it set on

Cleopatra, lest Antony should escape her, never lost sight of
him, nor quitted him day or night, but was always employed in di-
verting and retaining him in her chains. She played with him at
dice, hunted with him, and, when he exercised his troops, was
always present. Her sole attention was to amuse him agreeably,
and not to leave him time to conceive the least disgust.

One day when he was fishing with an angle, and catched nothing,
he was very much vexed on that account, because tlie queen was
of the party, and he was unwilling to seem to want skill or good
fortune in her presence. It therefore came into his thoughts to
order fishermen to dive secretly under water, and to fasten to his
hook some of their large fishes, wliich they had taken before. That
OI'der was executed immediately, and Antony drew op his line se-
veral times with a great fish at the end of it. This artifice did not
escape the fair Egyptian. She affected great admiration and sur-
prise at Antony's good fortune ; but told her friends privately what
had passed, and invited them to come the next dav and be specta-
tors of a like pleasantry. They did not fail. When they were
all got into the fishing-boats, and Antony had thrown in his hue,
she commanded one of her people to dive immediately into the
water, to prevent Antony's divers, and to make fast a large salt
tish, one of those that came from the kingdom of Pontus, to his
hook. When Antony perceived his line had its load, he drew it
u{i. It is easy to imagine what bursts of laughter arose at the
sight of that salt fish ; and Cleopatra said to him, ^ Leave the line,
good genera], to us, the kiii^ and queens of Pharos and Caaopus;
vour business is to fish for cities, kin^oins, and kinffs."
Whilst Antony amused himself in these pneiue fooirts and

* Plot bi Aiooiv pw na.



trilling divenrions, Uie newi he received of Labienne'fl cc»ii|aest8,
at the head of the Parthian army, awakened him from his letnargj,
and obliged him to march against them. But having received ad-
vice, upon his route, of Fuivia's death, he returned to Rome, where
ne reconciled himself to young C»sar, whoee sister Octavia be
married, a woman of extraordinary merit, who was lately become
a widow by the death of Marcellus. It was believed this mar-
A. M. asss. riage would make him forget Cleopatra. But

Ant J. c. 39. having begun his march affainst the Parthians, his
pasnon for the Egyptian, which had something of enchantment in
it, rekindled with more violence than ever.
''a. M. 3066. This queen,'" in the midst of the most violent

Ant J. c. 38. passions, and the intoxication of pleasures, still
retained a taste ror polite learning and the sciences. In the place
where stood the famous library of Alexandria, which had been
burnt some years before, as we have observed, she erected a new
one, to the augmentation of which Antony very much contributed,
by presenting her with the libraries of Pergamus, in which were
above 200,000 volames. She did not collect books merely for orna-
ment; she made use of them. There were few barbarous nations
to wbom she spoke by an interpreter ; she answered most of them
in their own language, the Ethiopians, Troglodyte, Hebrews, Ara-
bians, Syrians, medes, Parthians. She knew,t besides, several
other languages ; whereas the kings who had reigned before her in
Egypt had scarcely been able to Team the Egyptian, and some of
them had even forgotten the Macedonian, their natural tongue.

Cleopatra, pretending herself to be the lawful wife of Antony,
saw him marry Octavia with great emotion, whom she looked upon
as her rival. Antony, to appease her, was obliged to make her
magnificent presents. He gave her Phcenicia, the Lower Syria,
the isle of Cyprus, with a great part of Cilicia. To these he added
part of Judea and Arabia. These great presents, which conside-
rably abridged the extent of the empire, very much afilicted tha
Romans, and they were no less offended at the excessive honours
which he paid this foreign princess.

Two years passed, during which Antony made several voyages
to Rome, and undertook some expeditions against the Partliiaos
and Armenians, in which he acquired no great honour.

It was in one of these expeditions,! that the temple of AnaYtta
was pkindered, a goddess much celebrated amongst a certain peo
pie of Armenia. Her statue o^ massy gold was broken* in pieces
by the soldiers, with which several of them were considerably en
riched. One of them, a veteran, who afterwards settled at Bologna,
in Italy, had the ^od fortune to receive Augustus in his bouse,
and to entertain him at supper. ^ Is it true," said that prince, ^r
ing the repast, talking of this story, ^' that the man who made the

Wpban. de men. et pond. t Flat In Antori. pw 997. t PUn. L acziiil. cSH


BGTPT, 131

fint stioke at the statue of- thiseoddess was immediately deprived
of si^ht, lost the use of bis limhs, and expired the same hpur ?"
»* If It were," replied the veteran with a smile, " I should not now
have the honour of seeing Augustus beneath my roof, being myself
the rash person who made the first attack upon her, which has
been of CTeat service to me. For, if I have any thing, I am en-
tirely in&bted for it to the good goddess; upon one of whose legs,
my loitd, you are now supping.**
A. H. 3909. Antony,* believing he had made every thing

Ant-J. c. 35. secure in these countries, led back his troops.
From his impatience to rejoin Cleopatra, he hastened his march so
much, notwithstanding the rigour of the season, and the continual
snows, that he lost 8000 men upon his route, and marched into
Phcenicia with very few followers. He rested there in expecta-
tion of Cleopatra; and, as she was slow in coming, he fell into
anxiety, grief, and languor, that visibly preyed upon him. She
arrived at length with clothes and great sums of money for liis

Octavia, at the same time, had quitted Rome to join him, and
was already arrived at Athens. Cleopatra rightly perceived that
she came only to dispute Antony's heart with her. She was afraid
that with her virtue, wisdom, and gravity of manners, if she had
time to make use of her modest, but lively and insinuating attrac-
tions, to win her husband, that she would gain an absolute power
over him. To avoid which danger, she affected to be dying for
love of Antony; and with that view made herself lean and wan,
by taking very little nourishment. Whenever he entered her apart-
ment, she looked upon him with an air of surprise and amazement;
and when he left her, seemed to languish with sorrow and dejec-
tion. She oflen contrived to appear bathed in tears, and at the
same moment endeavoured to tiry and conceal them, as if to hide
from him her weakness and disorder. Antony, who feared nothing
so much fUB occasioning the least uneasiness to Cleopatra, wrote
letters to Octavia, to order her to stay for him at Athens, and to
come no farther, because he was upon the point of undertaking
some new expedition. And in fact, at the request of the king of
the Medes, who promised him powerful succours, he was making
preparations to renew the war against the Parthians.

That virtuous Roman lady, dissembling the wrong he did her,
sent to him to know where it would be agreeable to him to have
the piesents carried which she had designed for him, since he did
not think fit to let her deliver them in person. Antony received
this second compliment no better than the first ; and Cleopatra, who
had prevented his seeing Octavia, would not permit him to receive
any thing from her. Octavia was obliged, therefore, to return to
Rome, without having produced any other efiect by her voyage,

• riat in Anton, p. 039—049



IImo tl»t cf mtkiitt Antonf more inexcntafaie. Thk was what
Casar denied, in oraer to have a jnet reaaon for bretking entirely
with him.

When Octavia came to Rome, Csear, profiMsing a high resent-
ment of the affiroot she had received, ordered her to quit Antony's
house, and to go to her own. Bhe answered, that she would not
leave her husband's house, and that if he had no other reasons for a
war with Antony than what related to her, she conjored him to re-
nounce her interests. She accordingly always continued there, as
if he had been present, and educated with great care and magnifi-
cence not only the children he had by her, but also those whom he
had by Fulvia. What a contrast is here between Octavia and
Cleopatra! In the midst of rebuffs and affronts, bow worthy does
the one seem <^ esteem and respect; and the other, with all her
grandeur and magnificence, of contempt and abhorrence!

Cleopatra omitted no kind of arts to retain Antony in her chains.
Tears, caresses, reproaches, menaces, aU were employed. By dint
of presents she had gained all who approached him, and in whom
he placed most confi&nce. Those flatterers represented to him, in
the strongest terms, that it would be absolutely cruel and inhuman
to abandon Cleopatra in the mournful condition she then was; and
that it would be the^eath of that unfortunate princess, who loved
and lived for him alone. They softened and melted the heart of
Antony so effectually, that, for fear of occasioning Cleopatra's death,
he returned immediately to Alexandria, and put off the Medes to
the following spring.

A. H. atrre. it was with great difficulty then that he resolved

Aut J. c. 34. to leave Egypt, and remove himself from his dear
Cleopatra. She agreed to attend him as far as the banks of the

A. M. 3871. After having made himself master of Armecia,

Aot. J. c. 33. ng much by treachery as tbrce of arms, be returned
to Alexandria, which he entered in triun^h, dragging at his chariot-
wheels the king of Armenia, laden with chains of gold, and presented
him in that condition to Cleopatra, who was pleased to see a captive
king at her feet. He unbent his mind at leisure after his great
fatigues in feasts and parties of pleasure, in which Cleopatra and
himself passed days and nights. That vain Egyptian woman,* at
one of these banquets, seeing Antony flushed with wine, presumed
to ask him to give her the Roman empire, which he was not ashamed
to promise her.

Before he set out on a new expedition, Antony, to bind the quera
to him by new obligations, and to give her new proofs of his being
entirely devoted to her, resolved to solemnize the coronation of her
and her children. A throne of massy gold was erected for that

,y Google


purpose in the palace, the ascent to which was by several steps of
stiver. Antony was seated upon this throne, dressed in a purple
robe, embroidered with gold, and with diamond buttons. On his
side he wore a scimetar, after the Persian mode, the hilt and scab
bard of which were loaded with precious stones; he had a diadem
on his brows, and a sceptre of ffold in his hand ; in order, as he said,
that in that equipa^ he might deserve to be the hushand of a queen
Cleopatra sat on his right hand in a brilliant robe, made of the pre-
cious linen which was appropriated to the use of the goddess Isis,
whose name and habit she had the vanity to assume. Upon the
same throne, but a little lower, sat Cie8arion, the son of Julius Cesar
and Cleopatra, and the two other children, Alexander and Ptolemy,
whom she had by Antony.

Every one having taken the place assigned him, the heralds, by
the command of Antony, and in the presence of all the people, to
whom the gates of the palace had been thrown open, proclaimed
Cleopatra queen of Egypt, Cyprus, Libya, and CoBle-syria, in con-
junction with her son CflBsarion. They afterwards proclaimed the
other princes kings of kings ; and declared, that, till they should
possess a more am^e inheritance, Antony gave Alexander, the eldest,
the kingdoms of Armenia and Media, with that of Parthia, when
he should have conquered it; and to the youngest, Ptolemy, the
kingdoms of Syria, Phoenicia, and Cilicia. Those two young princes
were dressed after the mode of the several countries over which
they were to reign. After the proclamation, the three princes,
rising from their seats, approached the throne, and, putting one
knee to the ground, kissed the hands of Antony and Cleopatra.
They had soon after a train assigned them, proportioned to their
new dignity, and each his regiment of guards, drawn out of the
principS families of his dominions.

Antony repaired early into Armenia, in order to act against the
Parthians, and had already advanced as far as the banks of the
A raxes; but the news of what was passing at Rome against him
prevented his going on, and induced him to abandon the Parthian
expedition. He immediately detached Canidius with sixteen legions
to the coast of the Ionian Sea, and joined them himself soon after
at Ephesus, where he might be ready to act in case of an open
rupture between Caesar and him; which there was great reason to

Cleopatra was of the party ; and that occasioned Antony's rmn
His friends advised him to send her back to Alexandria, till the
event of the war should be known. But that queen, apprehending
that by Octavia*s mediation he mi^ht come to an accommodation
with Uesar, gained Canidius, by dint of money, to speak in her
&vour to Antony, and to represent to him, that it was neither just
to remove a princess from this war, who contributed so much to-
wards it on Mr aide, nor useful to himself; because her departure
would discoarage the Egyptians, of whom the greatest part of bis

VOL. Tin N

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nmntime foreei connated. Besides, contiutied thoee who talked in
ttoM maimer, it did not appear that Cleopatra was inferior, either in
prudence or capacity, to any of the princes or kings in his army -
she, who had governed so great a kingdom so long, and who might
have learnt, in her intercourse with Antony, how to conduct the
most important and difficult affairs with wisdom and address. An-
tony did not oppose these remonstrances, which flattered at once
hispassion and vanity.

From Ephesiis he repaired with Cleopatra to Samos, where the
greatest part of their troops had their rendezvous, and where they
passed their time in feasting and pleasure. The kings in their train
exhausted themselves in making their court hy extraordinary ex-
penses, and displayed excessive luxury in their entertainments.

It was probably in one of these feasts that the circumstance hap-
pened which is related by Pliny.* Whatever passion Cleopatra
professed for Antony, as he perfectly knew her character for dissi-
mulation, and that she was capable of the blackest crimes, he ap-
prehended, I know not upon what foundation, that she might have
thoughts of poisoning him, for which reason he never touched any
dish at their banquet till it had been tasted. It was impossible that
the queen should not perceive so manifest a distrust. She employed
a very extraordinary method to make him sensible how ill founded
his fears were: and at the same time, if she had so bad an intention,
how ineflfectual ail the precautions be took would be. She caused
the extremities of the flowers to be poisoned, of which the wreaths,
worn by Antony and herself at table, according to the custom of
the ancients, were composed. When their heads began to grow
warm with wine, in the height of their gayety, Cleopatra proposed
to Antony to drink off those flowers. He made no difficulty; and,
after having plucked off the ends of his wreath with his fingers, and
thrown them into his cup filled with wine, he was upon the point
of drinking it, when the queen, taking hold of his arm, sedd to him,
*' I ain the poisoner against whom yrou take such mighty precaution.
If it were possible for me to live without you, judge now whether I
wanted either the opportunity or means for such an action." Hav-
ing ordered a prisoner, condemned to die, to be brought thither, she
made him drink that liquor, upon which he died immediately.

The court went from Samos to Athens, where they passed many
days in the same excesses. Cleopatra spared no pains to obtain
the same marks of afiection and esteem as Octavia had received
during her residence in that city. But whatever she could do, she
could extort from them only forced civilities, which terminated m
a triflinc^ deputation, which Antonjr obliged the citizens to send to
her, and at the head of which he himself would be in quality of a
citizen of Athens.

» PUn. L xd. e. S


teGYPT. 135

A. H. 3973. The new consuls, Caius Sosius and Domitius

Ant J. c. as. ^nobarbuB,* having declared openly for Antony,
quitted Rome, and repaired to him. Ccesar, instead of seizing them,
or causing them to be pursued, ordered it to be ^ven out, that they
went to him by his permission ; and declared publicly, that all persons
who were so disposed, had his consent to retire whither they thought
fit. By that means he remained master at Rome, and was in a
condition to decree and act whatever he thought proper for his own
mterests, or contrary to those of Antony.

When Antony was apprized of this, he assembled all the heads
of his party : and the result of their deliberations was, that he
should declare war against Ciesar, and repudiate Octavia. He
did both. Antony's preparations for the war were so far advanced,
that if he had attacked Ccesar vigorously without loss of time, the
advantage must inevitably have oeen wholly on his side ; for his
adversary was not then in a condition to make head against him,
either by sea or land. But voluptuousness prevailed, and the ope-
rations were put off to the next year. This was his ruin. Coesar,
by his delay, had time to assemble all his forces.

The deputies sent by Antony to Rome to declare bis divorce from
Octavia, had orders to command her to quit his house, with all her
children, and, in case of refusal, to turn her out by force, and to
leave nobody in it but the son of Antony by Fulvia ; an indignity
the more sensible to Octavia, as a rival was the cause of it. How*
ever, stifling her resentment, she answered the deputies only with
her tears; and, unjust as his orders were, she obeyed them, and
removed with her children. She even laboured to appease the
people, whom so unworthy an action had incensed against him, and
did her utmost to mollify the ra^e of Ciesar. She represented to
them, that it was inconsistent with the wisdom and dignity of the
Roman people to enter into such petty differences; that it was
only a quarrel between women, which did not merit that they should
resent it ; and that she should be very wretched if she were tbo
occasion of a new war ; she who had consented to lier marriage
with Antony, solely from the hope that it would prove the pledge
of a union between him and Cesar. Her remonstrances bad a
different effect from her intentions ; and the people, charmed w^ith
her virtue, had still more compassion for her misfortune, and de-
testation for Antony, than before.

But nothing enraged them to such a height as Antony's w^ili,
which he had deposited in the hands of the Vestal virgins. This
mystery was revealed by two persons of consular dignity,! ^^^^Qi
not bemff able to endure the pride of Cleopatra, and the aban-
dooed voluptuousness of Antony, had retired to Cesar. As they
had been witnesses of this will, and knew the secret, they disco-
vered it to Cesar. The Vestals made great difficulty to give up

• Plat in Anton, p. 9I8-BS5 t TiUui and PlaoetMk



an l u g tfumm t oonfided to their caie; allegimr in their excuse tlie
faiUi of trusts, which they were obliged to obeerve ; and were de-
termined to be forced to it by the authority of the people. The
will accordyua^ly beinff brought into the Forum, these three articlee
were read in it: I. That Antony acknowledged Ciesaron as lawful
son of Julius Cesar. II. That he appointed his sons by Cleopatra
to be his heirs, with the title of kmgt of kingg. III. That he de-
creed, in case he should die at Rome, that his body, after having
been carried in pomp through the city, should be laid the same
eveninff on a bea of state, in order to its being sent to Cleopatra, to
whom he teft the care of his funeral and interment.

There are some authors, however, who believe this will to be
forgery contrived by Cesar to render Antony more odious to the
people. And indeed what probability was there, that Antony, who
well knew to what a degree the Roman people were jealous of
their rights and customs, should confide to them the execution
of a testament, which violated them with so much contempt?

When Cesar had an army and fleet ready, which seemed strong
enough to make head against his enemy, he also declared war
on his side. But in the decree enacted by the people to that
purpose, he caused it to be expressed, that it was against Cleopa-
tra: it was from a refinement of policy, that he acted in that man-
ner, and did not insert Antony's name in the declaration of war,
though actually intended against him. For, besides throwing the
blame upon Antony, by malung him the aggressor in a war against
his country, he did not hurt the feelings of those who were still
attached to him, whose number and credit might have proved for-
midable, and whom he would have been under the necessity of de-
claring enemies to the commonwealth, if Antony had been expressly
named in the decree.

Antony returned from Athens to Samos, where the whole fleet
was assembled. It consisted of 500 ships of war of extraordinanr
size and structure, having several decks one above another, wim
towers upon the head and stem of a prodigious height ; so that
those superb vessels upon the sea might have, been taken for float
ing islands. Such great crews were necessary for completely man-
ning those heavy machines, that Antony, not being able to And
mariners enough, had been obliged to take husbandmen, artificers,
muleteers, and all sorts of peo^e void of experience, and fitter to
give trouble than do real service.

On board this fleet were 200,000 foot and 12,000 horse. The

Online LibraryCharles RollinThe ancient history of the Egyptians, Carthaginians, Assyrians ..., Volume 8 → online text (page 17 of 39)