Charles Rollin.

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

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kings of Libya, Cilicia, Cappadocia, Paphlagonia, Comagena, and
Thrace, were there in person; and those of Pontus, Judea, Ly-
caonia, Galatia, and Media, had sent their troops. A more splen-
did and pompous sight could not be seen than this fleet when it
put to sea, and had unfurled its sails. But nothing equalled the
magnificence of Cleopatra's galley, all flaming with^ld; its sails
of purple; its flags and stroamers floating in the wiii{ whilst trum-



pec8» and other instnimeiitB of war,inade the heavens raaonndwith
airs of joy and triumph. Antony followed her close in a galley
equally splendid. That queen,^ intoxicated with her fortune and
grandeur, and hearkening only to her unbridled ambition, foolidilT
threatened the Capitol with approaching ruin, and prepared witn
her infamous troop of eunuchs utterly to subvert the Roman em

On the other side, less pomp and splendour were seen, but more
utility. Ceesar had only 250 ships, and 80,000 foot, with as many
horse as Antony. But all his troops were chosen men, and on
board his fleet were none but experienced seamen. His vessels
were not so large as Antony's, but then they were much lighter
and fitter for service.

Cesar's rendezvous was at Brundusium, and Antonv advanced to.
Corcynu But the season of the year was over, and bad weatlier
came on ; so that they were both obliged to retire,, and to put their
troops into winter-quarters, and their fleets ioto good ports, till the
approach of spring.

A. M. 3973. . Antony and Ceesar, as soon as the season would

Ant. J. c. 31. admit, took the field both by sea and land. The
two fleets entered the Ambracian gulf in Epirus. Antony's braveal
and most experienced officers advised him not to hazard a battle
by sea, to send back Cleopatra into £gypt, and to make all possible
baste into Thrace or Macedonia, in order to fight tliere by land :
because his army, composed of good troops, and much 6uperior~>in
numbers to Caesar's, seemed to promise him the victory; whereas
a fleet so ill manned as his, how numerous soever it might be, was
by no means to be rjslied on. But Antony had been not susceptible
of good advice for ^long time, and had acted only to please Cleo-
patra. That proud princess, who judged of things solely from
(appearances, believed her fleet invincible, and that Coesar's ships
could not approach it without being dashed to pieces. Besides, she
rightly perceived that in case of misfortune it would be easier for
her to escape in her ships than by land. Her opinion, therefbre,
took place against the advice of aU the generals.

-Dum Capitolio

Regina deroentes ruinas,

FuDUS ct imperio parabat,
Contaminato cum grege turplum
Morbo virorum ; quidlibet impotena
Sperare, fortun&que duici

Ebria • Hvr. Od. ^axf^. ..

WhUat drunk with fortune's headf wine,

Fiird with vaat hope, though impotent in armt,
The haughty queen conceives the wild design,

8o much her vain ambition charms !
With her polluted band of supple slaves,
Her sillcen eunuchs, and her Fbarlan knaves,
TiM Capitol bi dust to level kyw, ^ .^.

And five Bome*s empire, and tbe world, a last and Ihtat bkifw.
S 1


in nkBTimt OP

The iMttk wtB iboght opcm the second of September,* at the
BOttth of the gulf of Ambracia, near the city of Actium» in ragbt
of both the land anmes; the one of which was drawn up in bme
upon the north, and the other upon the south of that strait, ex-
pectins the event. The contest was doubtful for some time, and
seemed as much in favour of Antony as Ciesar, till the retreat of
Cleopatra. That queen, frightened with the noise of the battle, in
which every thing was terrible to a woman, took to fiight when she
was in no danger, and drew after her the whole Egyptian squad-
ron, which consisted of sixty ships of the line, with which she sailed
for the coast of Peloponnesus. Antony, who saw her fly, forget^
tinff every thing, forgetting even himself, foUowed her precipitately,
and yielded a victory to Cssar, which, till then, he had exceed-
ingly well disputed. It, however, cost the victor extremely dear.
For Antony's ships fought so weU after his departure, that, though
the battle beffan before noon, it was not over when night came
on; so that CaDsar's troops were obliged to pass it on board their

The next day Cesar, seeing his victory complete, detached a
squadron in pursuit of Antony and Cleopatra. But that squadron
despairing of ever coming up with them, because so far before it,
soon returned to join the main body of the fleet. Antony having
entered the admiral-^aUey, in which Cleopatra was, went and sat
down at the head of it; where, leaning hut elbows on his knees,
and supporting his head with his two hands, he remained like a
man overwhe&ned with shame and rage; reflecting with profouud
melancholy upon his ill conduct, and the misfortunes it had brought
upon him. He kept in that posture, and in those gloomy thoughts
during the three days they were going to Taenarus,f without see-
ing or speaking to Cleopatra. At the end of that time, they saw
each other agam, and lived together as usua].

The land army still remained entire, and consisted of eighteen
legions and 22,000 horse, under the command of Canidius, Antony's
lieutenant-general, and mi^ht have made head against Ciesar, and
ffiven him abundance of difficulty. But seeing themselves aban-
doned by their generals, they surrendered to Cesar, who received
them with open arms.

From Tenarus, Cleopatra took the route of Alexandria, and
Antony that of Libya, where he had left a considerable army to
guard the frontiers of that country. Upon his landing he was in-
formed tiiat Scarpus, who commanded this army, had declared for
Ciesar. He was so struck with this news, which he had no rea-
son to expect, that he would have killed himself, and was with dif-
ficulty prevented from it by his friends. He, therefore, had no other
choice to make than to follow Cleopatra to Alexandria, where she
was arrived.

•TlM4thbefbrai]MiiaMiorBcpceBiber. f Pnunamory of Laeoiria.



Whec she wproaohed that port, she was afraid, if her ima&r-
tune ahruld be laiown, that she should be refused entraace. Si^
tbereibre caused her ships to be crowned, as if she was returned
victorious; and no sooner landed, than she caused all the great
lords of her kingdom, whom she suspected, to be put to death, lest
they should excite seditions against her, when they were inft>rmed
of her defeat. Antony found her in the midst of these bloody
A. M. 3974. Soon after she formed another very extraordi*

Ant. J. c. 30. nary design. To avoid falling into Coesar's hand,
who, she foresaw, would follow her into Egypt, she designed to
have her ships in the Mediterranean carried into the Red Sea, over
the isthmus between them, which is no more than thirty leagues
broad ; and afterwards to put all her treasures on board those ships
and others which she already bad in that sea : but the Arabians
who inhabited the coast having burnt all the ships she had there,
she was obliged to abandon her design.

Changing, therefore, her resolution, she thought only of gaining
Cesar, whom she looked upon as her conqueror, and to make him
a sacrifice of Antony, whose misfortunes had rendered him indiffe*
rent to her. Such was this princess's disposition. Though she
loved even to madness, she had still more ambition than love; and
the crown being dearer to her than her husband, she entertained
thoughts of preserving it at the price of Antony's life. But con-
cealing her sentiments from hint, she .persuaded him to send am-
bassadors to Ciesar, to negotiate a treaty of peace, with him. She
joined her ambassadors with his ; but gave them instructions tc
treat separately for herself. Cesar would not so much as see
Antony's ambassadors. He dismissed Cleopatra's with a favour-
able answer. He passionately desired to make sure of her person
and treasures ; her person to adorn his triumph, her treasures to
enable him to discharge the debts he had contracted upon account
of this war. He* therefore gave her reason to conceive great
hopes, in case she would sacrifice Antony to him.

The latter, after his return from Libya, had retired into a country-
house, which he had caused to be built expressly on the banks of
the Nile, in order to enjoy the conversation of two of his friends^
who had followed him thither. In his retirement it mi^ht have
been expected, that he would hear with pleasure the wise discourses
of those two philosophers. But as they could not banish from his
heart his love for Cleopatra, the sole cause of all his misfortunes,
that passion, which tbey had only suspended, soon resumed its
former empire. He returned to Alexandria, abandoned liimself
again to the charms and caresses of Cleopatra, and, with design
to ^etise her, sent deputies again to Cesar to demand life of him,
upon the shaineful conditions of passing it at Athens as a private
peraon; provided Ciesar would assoie Egypt to Cleopatra uid her



TIiIb Meond deputation not having^ met with a more favoonble
reception than the fbrmer, Antony endeavoured to extinguish in
himself the sense of his present misfortunes, and the apprehenaoD
of those that threatened him, by abandoning himself mimoderatelj
to feasting and voluptuousness. Cleopatra and he regaled one
another alternately, and strove with emulation to exceed each other
in the incredible magnificence of their banquets.

The queen, however, who foresaw what might happen, collected
aM sorts of poisons, and to try which of them occasioned death
with the least pain, she made the experiment of their virtues and
strength upon criminals in the prisons condemned to die. Having
observed that the strongest poisons caused death the soonest, but
with great torment, and that those which were gentle brought on
an easy but slow death, she tried the biting of venomous creatures,
and caused various kinds of serpents to be applied in her presence
to different persons. She made these' experiments every day, and
discovered at length that the aspic was the only one that caused
neither torture nor convulsions ; but merely throwing the persona
bitten into an inunediate heaviness and stupefaction, attended with
a light sweating upon the face and a numbness of all the organ i
of sense, gently extinguished life ; so that those in that condition
were angry when any one awakened them, or endeavoured to make
them rise, like people exceedingly sleepy. Tiiis was the poison
site fixed upon.

To dispel Antony's suspicions and subjects of complaint, she ap-
plied herself with more than ordinary solicitude in caressing him.
Thouffh she celebrated her own birth-day with little solemnity, and
suitable to her present condition, she kept that of Antony with a
splendour and magnificence above what she had ever displayed
before ; so that many of the guests who came poor to that feast
went rich from it.

Cesar, knowing how important it was to him not to leave his
victory imperfect, marched in the beginning of ttie spring into Sy-
ria, and from thence sat down before Pelusium. He sent to sum-
mon the governor to open the gates to him ; and Seleucus, who
commanded there for Cleopatra, having received secret orders
upon that^ head, surrendered the place without waiting a siege.
The rumour of this treason spread in the city. Cleopatra, to clear
herself of the accusation, put the wife and children of Seleucua
mto Antony's hands, in order that he might revenge his treachery
by putting them to death. What a monster was this princess !
The most odious of vices were united in her person ; an avowed
disregard of modesty, breach of faith, injustice, cruelty, and, what
crowns all the rest, the fal^e exterior of a deceitful friendship,
which covers a fixed design of delivering up to his enemy the per-
son she loads with the most tender caresses, and with marks of the
t and most sincere attachment. Such are the eflTects of
D, which was her predominant vice.


£«¥JPT. 141

A^cmun^ to the temple of las she had caused tombs and halb
lo be erected, superb as well for theb beauty and magnificence, as
their loftiness and extent. Thither she ordered her most precious
effects and moveables to be carried ; gold, silver, jewels, ebon^,
ivory, and a large quantity of perfumes and aromatic wood; as if
she intended to raise a funeral pile, upon which she would consume
herself with her treasures. Ciesar, alarmed for the latter, and
apprehending lest her despair should induce her to bum them,
despatched every day some person to her, to give her great hopes
of the most kind and generous treatment, and nevertheless ad-
vanced towards the city by great marches.

Upon arriving there, he encamped near the Hippodrome. He
ivas in hopes of making himself master of the city soon, by meahs
nf the intelligence which he held with Cleopatra, upon which he
relied no less than upon his army.

Antony was ignorant of that princess's intrigues, and, being un^
willing to believe what was told him of tliem, prepared for a good
defence. He made a vigorous sally; and after having severely
bandied the besiegers, and warmly pursued to the gates of their
camp a detachment of horse which had been sent against him, be
returned victorious into the city. This was the last effort of ex-
piring valour; for, after this exploit, his fortitude and sense of
glory abandoned him, or were never after of any service to him.
Instead of making use of this advantage, and of applying himself
seriously to his £fence, by observing the motions of Cleopatra,
who was betraying him, he came, completely armed as he was, to
throw himself at her feet, and to kiss her hands. The whole palace
of Alexandria immediately resounded with acclamations, as if the
siege had been raised ; and Cleopatra, who had no thoughts but of
amusing Antony, ordered a magnificent feast to be prepared, at
which they passed the rest of the day and part of the night- toge-

Early on the morrow, Antonv resolved to attack Cvsar by sea
and land. He drew up his lana army upon some eminences in the
city; and from thence kept his galleys in view, which were going
out of the port in order to charge those of Cssar. He watted
without making any motion, to see the success of that attack ; but
was nmch astonished when he saw Cleopatra's admiral strike his
flaff when he came in view of Caesar's, and surrender his whole fleet
to him.

This treason opened Antony's eyes, and made him, when too
late, give credit to what his friends had told him of the queen's
perfidy. In this extremity, lie was for signalizing himself by an ex-
traormnary act of valour, capable, in his opinion, of doing him^
abundance of honour. He sent to challenge Caesar to a single
combat. Ciesar made answer, that if Antony was weary of life,
there were other ways to die besides that. Antony, seeing himself
ridiculed by Cissar, and betrayed by Cleopatra, returned into tb«



dty, and wu a mooMiit after abandoned by aU his cavalry. Seized
with rage and despair, he then flew to the palace, with design t«
avenge nimself upon Cleopatra, but did not find her there.

That artful princess, who had foreseen what happened, to escape
the rage of Antony, had retired into the quarter where stood the
tombs of the kings of Bgypt, which was fortified with strong walls,
and the gates or which she had ordered to be closed. She caused
Antony to be told that preferring an honourable death to a shame-
ful captivity, she had killed herself in the midst of her ancestors*
tombs, where she had also chosen her own sepulchre. Antony,
too credulous, did not give himself time to examine a piece of
news which he ought to have suspected after all Cleopatra's other
infidelities; and struck with the idea of her death, passed immedi-
ately from excess of rage to the most violent transports of grief^
and thought only of folfowing her to the grave;

Having taken this furious resolution, he shut himself up in hi*
apartment with a slave ; and having caused his armour to be taken
off, he commanded him to plunge his dagger into liis breast. But
that slave, full of affection, respect, and fidelity, for his roaster,
•tabbed himself with it, and fell dead at his feet. Antony, looking
upon this action as an example for him to follow, thrust his sword
into his body, and fell upon the floor in a torrent of his blood,
which he mingled with that of his slave. At that moment an officer
of the queen's ffuards came to let him know that she was alive. He
no sooner heard the name of Cleopatra pronounced, than he opened
his dying eyes : and being informed that she was not dead, be suf-
(bred his wound to be dressed, and afterwards caused himself to
be carried to the fort where she had shut herself up. Cleopatra
would not permit the gates to be opened to give him entrance, for
fear of some surprise ; but she appeared at a high window, irom
whence she threw down chains and cords. Antony was made fast
to these, and Cleopatra, assisted by two women, w^o were the only
persons she had brought with her into the tomb, drew him up. Never
was there a more moving sight. Antony, all bathed in hie blood,
with death painted in his face, was dragged up in the air, ijrning
his dying eves, and extending his feeble hands towards Cleopatra,
as if to conjure her to receive his last breath ; whilst she, with her
features distorted and her arms strained, pulled the cords with her
whole strength ; the people below, who could give her uo farther
aid, encouraging her with their cries.

When she had drawn him up to her, and had laid him' on a bed,
she tore her clothes upon him ; and beating her breast, and wiping
the blood from his wound, with her face close to his, she called him
her prince, her lord, her dearest spouse. Whilst she made these
Inoumful exclamations, she cut off Antony's hair, according to the
superstition of the Pagans, who believed that it gave relief to those
who died a violent death.

Antony, recovering his senses, and seeing Cleopatra's affliction.


mud to hereto comfort her, that he thought himself happy since he
lied in her arms ; and that, as to his defeat, he inras not ashamed of
it, it being no disgrace for a Roman to be overcome by Romans.
He afterwards advised her to save her Jife and kingdom, provided
Bhe could do so virith honour ; to be upon her guard against the
traitora of her own court, as well as the Romans in Csesar's train,
and to trust only Proculeius. He expired with these words.

The same moment Proculeius arrived from Csesar, who could
not refrain from tears at the sad relation of what had passed, and
at the sight of the sword still reeking with Antony's blood, which
was presented to him. He had particular orders to get Cleopatra
into his hands, and to take her alive if possible. That princess re-
fnsed to surrender herself to him. She had, however, a conversa-
tion with him» without letting him enter the tomb. He only came
close to the gates, which were well fastened, but gave passage for
the voice through cracks. They talked a considerable time toge-
ther, during which she continually asked the kingdom for her
children ; whilst he exhorted her to hope the best, and pressed her
to confide all her interests to Cesar.

After having considered the place well, he went to make his
report to Cesar, who immediately sent Gallus to talk again with
her. Gallus went to the gates as Proculeius had done, and spoke
like him through the crevices, protracting the conversation on pur-
pose. In the meanwhile Proculeius brought a ladder to the wall,
entered the tomb by the^ame window through which she and her
women had drawn up Antony, and followed by two officers who
were with him, went down to the gate where she was speaking to
Galliis. One of the two women who were shut up with her, seeing
him come, cried out, quite out of her senses with fear and surprise,
'* O unfortunate Cleopatra, you are taken!" Cleopatra turned her
head, saw Proculeius, and would have stabbed herself with a dag-
ger, which she always carried at her girdle. But Proculeius ran
nimbly to her, took her in his arms, and said to her, " You wrong
yourself and Cesar too, in depriving him of so grateful an occasion
of showing his goodness and clemency.'^ At the same time he
forced the dagger out of her hands, and shook her robes, lest she
should have concealed poison in them.

Cesar sent one of his freedmen, named Epaphroditus, with orders
to guard her carefully, to prevent her making any attempt upon
herself, and to behave to her at the same time with all the attention
and con^laisance she could desire ; he likewise instructed Proculeius
to ask the queen what she desired of him.

Cesar afterwards prepared to enter Alexandria, the conquest of
which there were no longer any to dispute with him. He found the
gates of it open$ and all the inhabitants in extreme consternation,
not knowing what they had to hope or fear. He entered the city,
coDTersinff with the philosopher Arius, upon whom he leaned with
tB air of familiarity, to testify publicly the regard he had ibr him.


• Rueran OF

aniTed at the pakce, he ascended a tidranal, which he oi
dnej^to be erected there; and, seeing the whole people proetrate
upon the ground, he commanded them to rise. He then told them,
that he pardoned them for three reasons: the filet, upon the accoonl
of Alexander their founder; the second, for the beauty of their city;
and the third, for the sake of Arius, one of their citizens, whose
merit and knowledge he esteemed.

Proculeius, in the meantime, acquitted himself of his commission
to the queen, who at first asked nothing of Cesar but his penniasxHi
to bury Antony, which was granted her without difficulty. She
spared no cost to render his interment magnificent, according to the
custom of Egypt. She caused his body to be embalmed with the
most exquisitejperfumes of the East, and placed it amongst the tombs
of the kinfifs oiEeyrpL

Cssar did not Uiink proper to see Cleopatra in the first days of
her mourning: but, when he believed he might do it with decency,
he was intn^uced into her chamber, after bavin? asked her per*
mission; beinff desirous to conceal his designs under the regard be
professed for her. She was laid upon a httle bed, in a very simple
and neglected manner. When he entered her chamber, though sbe
had nothing on but a single tunic, she rose immediately, and went
to throw herself at Us feet, horribly disfigured, her hair loose and
disordered, her visase wild and haggard, her voice faltering, hei
eyes almost dissolved by excessive weepiog, and her bosom covered
with wounds and bruises. That natural grace and lofty mien which
were inspired by her beautv, were, however, not wholly extinct^
and notwithstandinff the deplorable condition to which she was re
duced, even througn that depth of grief and dejection, as from a
dark cloud, shot forth keen glances, and a kind of radiance which
brightened in her looks, and in every movement of her countenance
Though she was almost dying, she did not despair of in^lring that
young victor vrith love, as she had formerly done Cesar and An«

The chamber where she received him was fuU of the portraits of
Julius CfBsar. ^ My lord," said she to him, pointing to those pic*
tures, '< behold those images of him who adopted you his successor
in the Roman empire, and to whom I am indebted for my crown."
Then taking letters out of her bosom, which she had concealed in
it, « See also," said she, kissing them, «* the dear testimonies of his
love." She afterwards read some of the most tender of them, com*
menting upon them, at proper intervals, with moving exclamations,
and passionate glances, but she employed those arts with no sue
cess; for, whether her charms had no longer the power they had m
her youth, or that ambition was Cesar's ruling passion, he did not
seem affected with either her person or conversation; contenting
himself with exhorting her to tiike courage, and assuring her of lus
good intentions. She was far from not discerning that coldness^
from which she presaged no good ; but dissembling her concern, and

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EGYPT. lift

ehanging the discourM, she thanked him for the complhnents Pro-
cuieius bad made her in his name, and wliich he had thought fit to
repeat in person. She added, that in return she would deliver to
him all the treasures of the kings of Egypt. And in foct, she put
an inventory into his hands of iQl her moveahles, jewels, and reve-

Online LibraryCharles RollinThe ancient history of the Egyptians, Carthaginians, Assyrians ..., Volume 8 → online text (page 18 of 39)