Jump to content
Invision Community

Innate xx


Recommended Posts

Antony appears to have arranged with Cleopatra that her ships should give him full assistance in the fight, and should sail for Egypt as soon as the victory was won. He intended, no doubt, to board her flagship at the close of the battle and to bid her farewell. They had separated that morning, it would seem from subsequent events, with anger and bitterness. Cleopatra, I imagine, had once more told him how distasteful was her coming departure to her, and had shown him how little she trusted him. She had bewailed the misery of her life and the bitterness of her disillusionment. She had accused him of wishing to abandon her cause, and she had, no doubt, called him coward and traitor. Very possibly in her anger she had told him that she was leaving him with delight, having found him wholly degenerate, and that she hoped never to see his face again. Her accusations, I fancy, had stung Antony to bitter retorts; and they had departed, each to their own flagship, with cruel words upon their lips and fury in their minds. Antony’s nature, however, always boyish, impulsive, and quickly repentant, could not bear with equanimity so painful a scene with the woman to whom he was really devoted, and as he passed out to battle he must have been consumed by the desire to ask her forgiveness. The thought, if I understand him aright, was awful to him that they should thus separate in anger; and being probably a little intoxicated, the contemplation of his coming loneliness reduced him almost to tears. He was perhaps a little cheered by the thought that when next he saw her the battle would probably be won, and he would appear to her in the _rôle_ of conqueror--a theatrical situation which made an appeal to his dramatic instincts; yet, in the meantime, I think he was as miserable as any young lover who had quarrelled with his sweetheart.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The wound, however, was not immediately mortal, and presently, the flow of blood having ceased, he recovered consciousness. Some of the Egyptian servants had gathered around him, and now he implored them to put him out of his pain. But when they realised that he was not dead they rushed from the room, leaving him groaning and writhing where he lay. Some of them must have carried the news to the Queen as she sat at the window of the mausoleum, for, a few moments later, a certain Diomedes, one of her secretaries, came to Antony telling him that she had not yet killed herself, and that she desired his body to be brought to her. Thereupon Antony eagerly gave orders to the servants to carry him to her, and they, lifting him in their arms, placed him upon an improvised stretcher and hurried with him to the mausoleum. A crowd seems now to have collected around the door of the building, and when the Queen saw the group of men bringing her husband to her, she must have feared lest some of them, seeking a reward, would seize her as soon as they had entered her stronghold and carry her alive to Octavian. Perhaps, also, it was a difficult matter to shoot back the bolts of the door which in her excitement she had managed to drive deep into their sockets. She, therefore, was unable to admit Antony into the mausoleum; and there he lay below her window, groaning and entreating her to let him die in her arms. In the words of Plutarch, Cleopatra thereupon “let down ropes and cords to which Antony was fastened; and she and her two women, the only persons she had allowed to enter the mausoleum, drew him up. Those who were present say that nothing was ever more sad than this spectacle, to see Antony, covered all over with blood and just expiring, thus drawn up, still holding up his hands to her, and raising up his body with the little force he had left. And, indeed, it was no easy task for the women; for Cleopatra, with all her strength clinging to the rope and straining at it with her head bent towards the ground, with difficulty pulled him up, while those below encouraged her with their cries and joined in all her efforts and anxiety.” The window must have been a considerable distance from the ground, and I do not think that the three women could ever have succeeded in raising Antony’s great weight so far had not those below fetched ladders, I suppose, and helped to lift him up to her, thereafter, no doubt, watching the terrible scene from the head of these ladders outside the window.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

At this piece of news Cæsar must have been filled with triumphant excitement. The wished-for moment had come. At last he was to be made king, and the dominions to be delivered over to him were obviously but the first instalment of the vaster gift which assuredly he would receive in due course. The doubt and the gloom of the last few weeks in a moment were banished, for this day he would be monarch of an empire such as had never before been seen. What did it matter that in Rome itself he would be but Dictator? He would establish his royal capital elsewhere: in Alexandria, perhaps, or on the site of Troy. He would be able at once to marry Cleopatra and to incorporate her dominions with his own. Calpurnia might remain for the present the wife of the childless Dictator in Rome, and his nephew Octavian might be his official heir; but outside his fatherland, Queen Cleopatra should be his consort, and his own little son should be his heir and successor. The incongruities of the situation would so soon be felt that Rome would speedily acknowledge him king in Italy as well as out of it. Probably he had often discussed with Cleopatra the possibilities of this solution of the problem, for the idea of making him king outside Italy had been proposed some weeks previously;[74] and he must now have thought how amused and delighted the Queen would be by this unexpected decision of the Senate to adopt the rather absurd scheme. As soon as he had married the Sovereign of Egypt and had made Alexandria one of his capitals, his dominions would indeed be an Egypto-Roman Empire; and when at length Rome should invite him to reign also within Italy, the situation would suggest rather that Egypt had incorporated Rome than that Rome had absorbed Egypt. How that would tickle Cleopatra, whose dynasty had for so long feared extinction at the hands of the Romans!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Cæsar’s astonishment when the bundle was untied in his presence, revealing the dishevelled little Queen, must have been unbounded; and Plutarch tells us that he was at once “captivated by this proof of Cleopatra’s bold wit.” One pictures her bursting with laughter at her adventure, and speedily winning the admiration of the susceptible Roman, who delighted almost as keenly in deeds of daring as he did in feminine beauty. All night long they were closeted together, she relating to him her adventures since she was driven from her kingdom, and he listening with growing interest, and already perhaps with awakening love. And here it will be as well to leave them while some description is given of the appearance and character of the man who now found himself looking forward to the ensuing days of his holiday in Alexandria with an eagerness which it must have been difficult for him to conceal.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Antony appears to have arranged with Cleopatra that her ships should give him full assistance in the fight, and should sail for Egypt as soon as the victory was won. He intended, no doubt, to board her flagship at the close of the battle and to bid her farewell. They had separated that morning, it would seem from subsequent events, with anger and bitterness. Cleopatra, I imagine, had once more told him how distasteful was her coming departure to her, and had shown him how little she trusted him. She had bewailed the misery of her life and the bitterness of her disillusionment. She had accused him of wishing to abandon her cause, and she had, no doubt, called him coward and traitor. Very possibly in her anger she had told him that she was leaving him with delight, having found him wholly degenerate, and that she hoped never to see his face again. Her accusations, I fancy, had stung Antony to bitter retorts; and they had departed, each to their own flagship, with cruel words upon their lips and fury in their minds. Antony’s nature, however, always boyish, impulsive, and quickly repentant, could not bear with equanimity so painful a scene with the woman to whom he was really devoted, and as he passed out to battle he must have been consumed by the desire to ask her forgiveness. The thought, if I understand him aright, was awful to him that they should thus separate in anger; and being probably a little intoxicated, the contemplation of his coming loneliness reduced him almost to tears. He was perhaps a little cheered by the thought that when next he saw her the battle would probably be won, and he would appear to her in the _rôle_ of conqueror--a theatrical situation which made an appeal to his dramatic instincts; yet, in the meantime, I think he was as miserable as any young lover who had quarrelled with his sweetheart.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Cleopatra was the last of the regnant Ptolemaic sovereigns of Egypt, and was the seventh Egyptian Queen of her name,[13] in her person all the rights and privileges of that extraordinary line of Pharaohs being vested. The Ptolemaic Dynasty was founded in the first years of the third century before Christ by Ptolemy, the son of Lagus, one of the Macedonian generals of Alexander the Great, who, on his master’s death, seized the province of Egypt, and, a few years later, made himself King of that country, establishing himself at the newly-founded city of Alexandria on the sea-coast. For two and a half centuries the dynasty presided over the destinies of Egypt, at first with solicitous care, and later with startling nonchalance, until, with the death of the great Cleopatra and her son Ptolemy XVI. (Cæsarion), the royal line came to an end.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

On the next night Cleopatra at last deigned to dine with Antony, who had exhausted the resources of Tarsus in his desire to provide a feast which should equal in magnificence those given by the Queen; but in this he failed, and he was the first to make a jest of his unsuccess and of the poverty of his wits. The Queen’s entertainments had been marked by that brilliancy of conversation and atmosphere of refinement which in past years had so appealed to the intelligence of the great Dictator; but Antony’s banquet, on the contrary, was notable for the coarseness of the wit and for what Plutarch describes as a sort of rustic awkwardness. Cleopatra, however, was equal to the occasion, and speedily adjusted her conduct to suit that of her burly host. “Perceiving that his raillery was broad and gross, and that it savoured more of the soldier than of the courtier, she rejoined in the same taste, and fell at once into that manner, without any sort of reluctance or reserve.”[86] Thus she soon succeeded in captivating this powerful Roman, and in making him her most devoted friend and ally. There was something irresistible in the excitement of her presence: for the daintiness of her person, the vivacity of her character, and the enchantment of her voice, were, so to speak, enhanced by the audacity of her treatment of the broad subjects introduced in conversation. Antony had sent for her to censure her for a supposed negligence of his interests; but speedily he was led to realise that he himself, and not the Queen, had deviated from the course upon which they had agreed in Rome. It was he who, by his association with Octavian, had appeared to desert what Cleopatra believed to be the genuine Cæsarian cause; whereas, on the other hand, the Queen was able to show that she had refrained from sending aid to the Triumvirate simply because she could not decide in what manner the welfare of her son, the little Cæsar, was to be promoted by such an action. Under the spell of her attraction Antony, who in the Dictator’s lifetime had never been permitted to receive in his heart the full force of her charming attack, now fell an easy victim to her strategy, and declared himself ready to carry out her wishes in all things.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Dragging him through the window the women carried him to the bed, upon which he probably swooned away after the agonies of the ascent. Cleopatra was distracted by the pitiful sight, and fell into uncontrolled weeping. Beating her breast and tearing her clothes, she made some attempts, at the same time, to stanch the scarlet stream which flowed from his wound; and soon her face and neck were smeared with his blood. Flinging herself down by his side she called him her lord, her husband, and her emperor. All her pity and much of her old love for him was aroused by his terrible sufferings, and so intent was she upon his pain that her own desperate situation was entirely forgotten. At last Antony came to his senses, and called for wine to drink; after which, having revived somewhat, he attempted to soothe the Queen’s wild lamentations, telling her to make her terms with Octavian, so far as might honourably be done, and advising her to trust only a certain Proculeius amongst all the friends of the conqueror. With his last breath, he begged her, says Plutarch, “not to pity him in this last turn of fate, but rather to rejoice for him in remembrance of his past happiness, who had been of all men the most illustrious and powerful, and in the end had fallen not ignobly, a Roman by a Roman vanquished.” With these words he lay back upon the bed, and soon had breathed his last in the arms of the woman whose interests he had so poorly served, and whom now he left to face alone the last great struggle for her throne and for the welfare of her son.

Cleopatra’s situation was at this moment terrible in the extreme. The blood-stained body of her husband lay stretched upon the bed, covered by her torn garments which she had thrown over it. Charmion and Iras, her two waiting-women, were probably huddled in the corner of the room, beating their breasts and wailing as was the Greek habit at such a time. Below the open window a few Romans and Egyptians appear to have gathered in the sun-baked courtyard; and, I think, the ladders still rested against the wall where they had been placed by those who had helped to raise Antony up to the Queen. It must now have been early afternoon, and the sunlight of the August day, no doubt, beat into the room, lighting the disarranged furniture and revealing the wet blood-stains upon the tumbled carpets over which the dying man’s heavy body had been dragged. From the one side the surge of the sea penetrated into the chamber; from the other the shouts of Octavian’s soldiers and the clattering of their arms came to Cleopatra’s ears, telling her of the enemy’s arrival in the Palace. She might expect at any moment to be asked to surrender, and more than probably an attempt would be made to capture her by means of an entry through the window. She had determined, however, never to be made prisoner in this manner, and she had, no doubt, given it to be clearly understood that any effort to seize her would be her signal for firing the funeral pyre which had been erected in the adjoining room and destroying herself upon it. To be made a captive probably meant her degradation at Octavian’s Triumph and the loss of her throne; but to surrender by mutual arrangement might assure her personal safety and the continuity of her dynasty. With this in view, it seems likely that she now armed her two women to resist any assault upon the windows, and told them to warn all who attempted to climb the ladders that she, with her priceless jewellery and treasures, would be engulfed in the flames before ever they had reached to the level of her place of refuge.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

In B.C. 54 the Alexandrians made an attempt to shake off the incubus, and drove Rabirius out of Egypt. Roman attention was at once fixed upon Alexandria, and it is probable that the country would have been annexed at once had not the appalling Parthian catastrophe in the following year, when Crassus was defeated and killed, diverted their minds to other channels. Auletes, however, did not live long to enjoy his dearly-bought immunity; for in the summer of B.C. 51 he passed away, leaving behind him the four children born to him of his second marriage with the unknown lady who was now probably dead. The famous Cleopatra, the seventh of the name, was the eldest of this family, being, at her father’s death, about eighteen years of age. Her sister Arsinoe, whom she heartily disliked, was a few years younger. The third child was a boy of ten or eleven years of age, afterwards known as Ptolemy XIV.; and lastly, there was the child who later became Ptolemy XV., now a boy of seven or eight.[17] Auletes, warned by his own bitter experiences, had taken the precaution to write an explicit will in which he stated clearly his wishes in regard to the succession. One copy of the will was kept at Alexandria, and a second copy, duly attested and sealed, was placed in the hands of Pompey at Rome, who had befriended the King when he was in that city, with the request that it should be deposited in the _ærarium_. In this will Auletes decreed that his eldest surviving daughter and eldest surviving son should reign jointly; and he called upon the Roman people in the name of all their gods and in view of all their treaties made with him, to see that the terms of his testament were carried out. He further asked the Roman people to act as guardian to the new King, as though fearing that the boy might be suppressed, or even put out of the way by his co-regnant sister. At the same time he carefully urged them to make no change in the succession, and his words have been thought to suggest that he feared lest Cleopatra, in like manner, might be removed in favour of Arsinoe. In a court such as that of the Ptolemies the fact that two sons and two daughters were living at the palace at the King’s death boded ill for the prospects of peace; and it would seem that Auletes’ knowledge that Cleopatra and Arsinoe were not on the best of terms gave rise in his mind to the greatest apprehension. Being aware of the domestic history of his family, and knowing that his own hands were stained with the blood of his daughter Berenice, whom he had murdered on his return from exile, he must have been fully alive to the possibilities of internecine warfare amongst his surviving children; and, being in his old age sick of bloodshed and desiring only a bibulous peace for himself and his descendants, he took every means in his power to secure for them that pleasant inertia which had been denied so often to himself.

His wish that his eighteen-year-old daughter should reign with his ten-year-old son involved, as a matter of course, the marriage of the sister and brother, for the Ptolomies had conformed to ancient Egyptian customs to the extent of perpetrating when necessary a royal marriage between a brother and sister in this manner. The custom was of very ancient establishment in Egypt, and was based originally on the law of female succession, which made the monarch’s eldest daughter the heiress of the kingdom. The son who had been selected by his father to succeed to the throne, or who aspired to the sovereignty either by right or by might, obtained his legal warrant to the kingdom by marriage with this heiress. When such an heiress did not exist, or when the male claimant to the throne had no serious rivals, this rule often seems to have been set aside; but there are few instances of its disuse when circumstances demanded a solidification of the royal claim to the throne.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The ill-feeling towards Cæsar, which was very decidedly on the increase, is sufficient to account for the growing unpopularity of Cleopatra; but it is possible that it was somewhat accentuated by a slight jealousy which must have been felt by the Romans owing to the Dictator’s partiality for things Egyptian. Not only did it appear to Cæsar’s friends that he was modelling his future throne upon that of the Ptolemies and was asserting his divinity in the Ptolemaic manner; not only had he been thought to desire Alexandria as the capital of the Empire; but also he was employing large numbers of Egyptians in the execution of his schemes. Egyptian astronomers had reformed the Roman calendar; the Roman mint was being improved by Alexandrian coiners; the whole of his financial arrangements, it would seem, were entrusted to Alexandrians;[66] while many of his public entertainments, as, for example, the naval displays enacted at the inauguration of the Temple of Venus, were conducted by Egyptians. Cæsar’s object in thus using Cleopatra’s subjects must have been due, to some extent, to his desire to familiarise his countrymen with those industrious Alexandrians who were to play so important a part in the construction of the new Roman Empire.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

As Cæsar sailed out of the Great Harbour of Alexandria he must have turned his keen grey eyes with peculiar interest upon the splendid buildings of the Palace, which towered in front of the city, upon the Lochias Promontory; and that quiet, whimsical expression must have played around his close-shut lips as he thought of the change that had been wrought in his mental attitude by the months spent amidst its royal luxuries. Enthusiasm for the work which lay before him must have burnt like a fire within him; but stamped upon his brain there must have been the picture of a darkened room in which the wild, happy-go-lucky, little Queen of Egypt, now so subdued and so gentle, lay clasping to her breast the new-born Cæsar, the sole heir to the kingdom of the whole world.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

With this object in view his four thousand troops were landed, and he set out in procession towards the Royal Palace, the lictors carrying the _fasces_ and axes before him as in the consular promenades at Rome.[22] No sooner, however, were these ominous symbols observed by the mob than a rush was made towards them; and for a time the attitude of the crowd became ugly and menacing. The young King and his Court were still at Pelusium, where his army was defending the frontier from the expected attack of Cleopatra’s invading forces; but there were in Alexandria a certain number of troops which had been left there as a garrison, and both amongst these men and amongst the heterogeneous townspeople there must have been many who realised the significance of the _fasces_. The city was full of Roman outlaws and renegades, to whom this reminder of the length of her arm could but bring foreboding and terror. To them Cæsar’s formal entry meant the establishment of that law from which they had fled; while to many a merry member of the crowd the stately procession appeared to bring to Egypt at last that dismal shadow of Rome[23] by which it had so long been menaced. On all sides it was declared that this state entry into the Egyptian capital was an insult to the King’s majesty; and so, indeed, it was, though little did that trouble Cæsar, who was well aware now of his unassailable position in the councils of Rome.

The city was in a ferment, and for some days after Cæsar had taken up his quarters at the Palace rioting continued in the streets, a number of his soldiers being killed in different parts of the town. He therefore sent post-haste to Asia Minor for reinforcements, and took such steps as were necessary for securing his position from attack. It is probable that he did not suppose the Alexandrians would have the audacity to make war upon him, or attempt to drive him from the city; but at the same time he desired to take no risks, for he seems at the moment to have been heartily sick of warfare and slaughter. The Palace and royal barracks in which his troops were quartered, being built mainly upon the Lochias Promontory, were easily able to be defended from attack by land--for, no doubt, in so turbulent a city, the royal quarter was protected by massive walls; and at the same time the position commanded the eastern half of the Great Harbour and the one side of its entrance over against the Pharos Lighthouse. His ships lay moored under the walls of the Palace; and a means of escape was thus kept open which, if the worst came to the worst, might be used with comparative safety upon any dark night. I think the turbulence of the mob, therefore, did not much trouble him, and he was able to set about the task which he desired to perform with a certain degree of quietude. The Civil War had been a very great strain upon his nerves, and he must have looked forward to a few weeks of actual holiday here in the luxurious royal apartments which he had so casually appropriated. Summer at Alexandria is in many ways a delightful time of year; and one may therefore picture Cæsar, at all times fond of luxury and opulence, now heartily enjoying these warm breezy days upon the beautiful Lochias Promontory. The crisis of his life had been passed; he was now absolute master of the Roman world; and his triumphant entry into the capital, when, in a few weeks’ time, the passions of the mob had cooled, was an anticipation pleasant enough to set his restless heart at ease, while he applied himself to the agreeable little task of regulating the affairs in Egypt. He had sent a courier to Rome announcing the death of Pompey, but it does not seem that this messenger was told to proceed with any great rapidity, for he did not arrive in the capital until near the middle of November.[24]

Link to comment
Share on other sites

In the autumn of B.C. 37 these considerations bore their inevitable fruit. On his way to Corfu, in pursuit of his Parthian schemes, he came to the conclusion that he would once and for all cut himself off from Rome until that day when he should return to it as the earth’s conqueror. He therefore sent his wife Octavia back to Italy, determined never to see her again; and at the same time he despatched a certain Fonteius Capito to Alexandria to invite Cleopatra to meet him in Syria. Octavia was a woman of extreme sweetness, goodness, and domesticity. Her gentle influence always made for peace; and her invariable good behaviour and meekness must have almost driven Antony crazy. No doubt she wanted to make his clothes for him, as she had made those of her brother; and she seems always to have been anxious to bring before his notice, in her sweet way, the charms of old-fashioned, respectable, family life, a condition which absolutely nauseated Antony. She now accepted her marching orders with a wifely meekness which can hardly command one’s respect; and in pathetic obedience she returned forthwith to Rome. I cannot help thinking that if only she had now shown some spirit, and had been able to substitute energy for sweetness in the movements of her mind, the history of the period would have been entirely altered.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

By March 1st the conspirators numbered in their ranks some sixty or eighty senators, mostly friends of the Dictator, and had Cæsar attempted then to proclaim himself king he would at once have been assassinated. There were too many rumours current of plots against him, however, to permit him to take this step, and so the days passed in uneventfulness. He had planned to leave Rome for the East on March 17th, and it was thought possible that his last visit to the Senate on March 15th, or his departure from the capital, would be the occasion of a demonstration in his favour which would lead to his being offered the crown as a parting gift. The conspirators therefore decided to make an end of Cæsar on March 15th, the Ides of March, upon which date he would probably come for the last time to the Senate as Dictator.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

On Cleopatra’s side the case was somewhat different. The stress of bitter experience had knocked out of her all that harum-scarum attitude towards life which had been her marked characteristic in earlier years; and she was no longer able to play with her fortune nor to romp through her days as formerly she had done. Antony, whom in her way she had loved, had cruelly deserted her, and now was asking for a renewal of her favours. Could she believe (for no doubt such was his excuse) that his long absence from her and his marriage to another woman were purely political manœuvres which had in no way interfered with the continuity of his love for her? Could she put her trust in him this second time? Could she, on the other hand, manage her complicated affairs without him? Evidently he was now omnipotent in the East; Parthia was likely to go down before him; and Octavian’s sombre figure was already almost entirely eclipsed by this new Dionysos, save only in little Italy itself. Would there be any hope of enlarging her dominions, or even of retaining those she already possessed, without his assistance? Such questions could only have one solution. She must come to an absolutely definite understanding with Antony, and must make a binding agreement with him. In a word, if there was to be any renewal of their relationship, he must marry her. There must be no more diplomatic manœuvring, which, to her, meant desertion, misery, and painful anxiety. He must become the open enemy of Octavian, and, with her help, must aim at the conquest both of the limitless East and of the entire West. He must act in all things as the successor of the divine Julius Cæsar, and the heir to their joint power must be Cæsar’s son, the little Cæsarion, now a growing boy of over ten years of age.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Her policy, then, was obvious. She must attempt to retain Cæsar’s affection, and at the same time must nurse with care the growing aspirations towards monarchy which were developing in his mind. She must bind him to her so that, when the time came, she might ascend the throne of the world by his side; and she must make apparent to him, and keep ever present to his imagination, the fact of her own puissance and the splendour of her royal status, so that there should be no doubt in Cæsar’s mind that her flesh and blood, and hers alone, were fitted to blend with his in the foundation of that single royal line which was to rule the whole Earth.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It has generally been thought that the Queen’s extravagance was to be attributed to her vain desire to impress Antony with the fact of her personal wealth. But, as we have seen, there was certainly a strong political reason for her actions; and there is no need to suppose that she was actuated by vanity. Indeed, the display of her wealth does not appear to have been on any occasion as ostentatious as one might gather from the Greek authors, whose writings suggest that they attributed to her a boastful profligacy in financial matters which could only be described as bad form. It would seem rather that the instances of her prodigality recorded here were all characterised in appearance by a subtle show of unaffected simplicity and ingenuousness, a sort of breath-taking audacity, while in quality they were largely political and speculative.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Having thus rid herself of one serious menace to her throne, Cleopatra persuaded Antony to assist her to remove from her mind another cause for deep anxiety. It will be remembered that when Cæsar defeated the Egyptian army in the south of the Delta in March B.C. 47, the young King Ptolemy XIV. was drowned in the rout, his body being said to have been recognised by his golden corselet. Now, however, a man who claimed to be none other than this unfortunate monarch was trying to obtain a following, and possibly had put himself in correspondence with his supposed sister Arsinoe. The pretender was residing at this time in Phœnicia, a fact which suggests that he had also been in communication with Serapion, who at the time of his arrest was likewise travelling in that country. Antony therefore consented to the arrest and execution of this pseudo-monarch, and in a few weeks’ time he was quietly despatched.

Historians are inclined to see in the deaths of these three conspirators an instance of Cleopatra’s cruelty and vindictiveness; and one finds them described as victims of her insatiable ambition, the killing of Arsinoe being named as the darkest stain upon the Queen’s black reputation. I cannot see, however, in what manner a menace to her throne of this kind could have been removed, save by the ejection of the makers of the trouble from the earthly sphere of their activities. The death of Arsinoe, like that of Thomas à Beckett, is rendered ugly by the fact that it took place at the steps of a sacred altar; but, remembering the period in which these events occurred, the executions are not to be censured too severely, for what goodly king or queen of former days has not thus removed by death all pretenders to the throne?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Cæsar’s astonishment when the bundle was untied in his presence, revealing the dishevelled little Queen, must have been unbounded; and Plutarch tells us that he was at once “captivated by this proof of Cleopatra’s bold wit.” One pictures her bursting with laughter at her adventure, and speedily winning the admiration of the susceptible Roman, who delighted almost as keenly in deeds of daring as he did in feminine beauty. All night long they were closeted together, she relating to him her adventures since she was driven from her kingdom, and he listening with growing interest, and already perhaps with awakening love. And here it will be as well to leave them while some description is given of the appearance and character of the man who now found himself looking forward to the ensuing days of his holiday in Alexandria with an eagerness which it must have been difficult for him to conceal.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Upon the next day, at Antony’s suggestion, a general amnesty was proclaimed, and matters were amicably discussed. It was then decided that Cæsar’s will should be opened, but the contents must have been a surprise to both parties. The dead man bequeathed to every Roman citizen 300 _sesterces_, giving also to the Roman people his vast estates and gardens on the other side of the Tiber, where Cleopatra was, at the time, residing. Three-quarters of the remainder of his estate was bequeathed to Octavian, and the other quarter was divided between his two nephews, Lucius Pinarius and Quintus Pedius. In a codicil he added that Octavian should be his official heir; and he named several guardians for his son, should one be born to him after his death.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

While waiting for the desired event Cæsar could not remain inactive in the Palace at Alexandria. He desired to ascertain for himself the resources of the land which was to be considered as his wife’s dowry; and he therefore determined to conduct a peaceful expedition up the Nile with this subject in view. The royal _dahabiyeh_ or house-boat was therefore made ready for himself and Cleopatra, whose condition might be expected to benefit by the idle and yet interesting life upon the river; and orders were given both to his own legionaries and to a considerable number of Cleopatra’s troops to prepare themselves for embarkation upon a fleet of four hundred Nile vessels. The number of ships suggests that there were several thousand soldiers employed in the expedition; and it appears to have been Cæsar’s intention to penetrate far into the Sudan.[41] The royal vessel, or _thalamegos_, as it was called by the Greeks, was of immense size, and was propelled by many banks of oars.[42] It contained colonnaded courts, banqueting saloons, sitting-rooms, bedrooms, shrines dedicated to Venus and to Dionysos, and a grotto or “winter garden.” The wood employed was cedar and cypress, and the decorations were executed in paint and gold-leaf. The furniture was Greek, with the exception of that in one dining-hall, which was decorated in the Egyptian style.[43] The rest of the fleet consisted, no doubt, of galleys and ordinary native transports and store-ships.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

These buildings, all able to be seen from the harbour, formed the quarter of the city known as the Regia, Brucheion, or Royal Area. Here the white stone structures reflected in the mirror of the harbour, the statues and monuments, the trees and brilliant flower-gardens, the flights of marble steps passing down to the sea, the broad streets and public places, must have formed a scene of magnificence not surpassed at that time in the whole world. Nor would the traveller, upon stepping ashore from his vessel, be disappointed in his expectations as he roamed the streets of the town. Passing through the Forum he would come out upon the great thoroughfare, more than three miles long, which cut right through the length of the city in a straight line, from the Gate of the Necropolis, at the western end, behind the Harbour of the Happy Return, to the Gate of Canopus, at the eastern extremity, some distance behind the Lochias Promontory. This magnificent boulevard, known as the Street of Canopus, or the Meson Pedion, was flanked on either side by colonnades, and was 100 feet in breadth.[8] On its north side would be seen the Museum, the Sema, the palaces, and the gardens; on the south side the Gymnasium with its long porticos, the Paneum towering up against the sky, and numerous temples and public places. Were the traveller to walk eastwards along this street he would pass through the Jewish quarter, adorned by many synagogues and national buildings, through the Gate of Canopus, built in the city walls, and so out on to open ground, where stood the Hippodromos or Racecourse, and several public buildings. Here the sun-baked soil was sandy, the rocks glaring white, and but little turf was to be seen. A few palms, bent southward by the sea wind, and here and there a cluster of acacias, gave shade to pedestrians; while between the road and the sea the Grove of Nemesis offered a pleasant foreground to the sandy beach and the blue expanse of the Mediterranean beyond. Near by stood the little settlement of Eleusis, which was given over to festivities and merry-making. Here there were several restaurants and houses of entertainment which are said to have commanded beautiful views; but so noisy was the fun supplied, and so dissolute the manners of those who frequented the place, that better-class Alexandrians were inclined to avoid it. At a distance of some three miles from Alexandria stood the suburb of Nicopolis, where numerous villas, themselves “not less than a city,” says Strabo,[9] had been erected along the sea-front, and the sands in summer-time were crowded with bathers. Farther eastwards the continuation of the Street of Canopus passed on to the town of that name and Egypt proper.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Antony appears to have arranged with Cleopatra that her ships should give him full assistance in the fight, and should sail for Egypt as soon as the victory was won. He intended, no doubt, to board her flagship at the close of the battle and to bid her farewell. They had separated that morning, it would seem from subsequent events, with anger and bitterness. Cleopatra, I imagine, had once more told him how distasteful was her coming departure to her, and had shown him how little she trusted him. She had bewailed the misery of her life and the bitterness of her disillusionment. She had accused him of wishing to abandon her cause, and she had, no doubt, called him coward and traitor. Very possibly in her anger she had told him that she was leaving him with delight, having found him wholly degenerate, and that she hoped never to see his face again. Her accusations, I fancy, had stung Antony to bitter retorts; and they had departed, each to their own flagship, with cruel words upon their lips and fury in their minds. Antony’s nature, however, always boyish, impulsive, and quickly repentant, could not bear with equanimity so painful a scene with the woman to whom he was really devoted, and as he passed out to battle he must have been consumed by the desire to ask her forgiveness. The thought, if I understand him aright, was awful to him that they should thus separate in anger; and being probably a little intoxicated, the contemplation of his coming loneliness reduced him almost to tears. He was perhaps a little cheered by the thought that when next he saw her the battle would probably be won, and he would appear to her in the _rôle_ of conqueror--a theatrical situation which made an appeal to his dramatic instincts; yet, in the meantime, I think he was as miserable as any young lover who had quarrelled with his sweetheart.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

When the news of the coming celebrations was conveyed to Antony in his hermitage, he seems to have been much disturbed by it. Cæsarion and his rights had been to a large extent the cause of his ruin, and he must have been somewhat frightened at the audacity of the Queen in thus giving Octavian further cause for annoyance. Here was Alexandria preparing to celebrate in the most triumphant manner the coming of age of Octavian’s rival, the claimant to Julius Cæsar’s powers and estate. Was the move to be regarded as clever policy or as reckless effrontery? Leaving the passive solitude of his little Timonium, he seems to have entered once more into active discussions with Cleopatra; and as a result of these conversations, he appears to have received the impression that his wife’s desire was now to resign her power to a large extent into her son’s hands, thus leaving to the energy of youth the labours which middle age had failed to accomplish. This aspect of the movement appealed to him, and he determined in like manner to be represented in future by a younger generation. His son by Fulvia, Antyllus, who was a year or so younger than Cæsarion, was living in the Alexandrian Palace; and Antony therefore arranged with Cleopatra that the two youths should together be declared of age (_ephebi_), Antyllus thenceforth being authorised to wear the legal dress of Roman manhood. Cleopatra then appears to have persuaded her husband to give up his ridiculous affectation of misanthropy, and either to make himself useful in organising her schemes of defence, or to leave Egypt altogether. Antony was by this time heartily tired of his solitary life, and he was glad enough to abandon his Timonian pose. He therefore took up his residence once more in the Palace, and both he and Cleopatra made some attempt to renew their old relationship. Their paths had diverged, however, too far ever to resume any sort of unity. Antony had brooded in solitude over his supposed wrongs, and he now regarded his wife with a sort of suspicion; and she, on her part, accepted him no longer as her equal, but as a creature deserving her contempt, though arousing to some extent her generous pity.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 4 weeks later...

Antony’s body was now, I suppose, prepared for burial. Though mummification was still often practised in Alexandria by Greeks and Egyptians, I do not think that any elaborate attempt was made to embalm the corpse, and it was probably ready for the funeral rites within a few days. Out of respect to the dead general a number of Roman officers and foreign potentates who were with Octavian’s army begged to be allowed to perform these rites at their own expense; but in deference to Cleopatra’s wishes the body was left in the Queen’s hands, and instructions were issued that her orders were to be obeyed in regard to the funeral. Thus Antony was buried, with every mark of royal splendour and pomp, in a tomb which had probably long been prepared for him, not far from his wife’s mausoleum. Cleopatra followed him to his grave, a tragic, piteous little figure, surrounded by a group of her lamenting ladies; and, while the priests burnt their incense and uttered their droning chants, the Queen’s fragile hands ruthlessly beat her breasts as she called upon the dead man by his name. In these last terrible hours only the happier character of her relationship with Antony was remembered, and the recollection of her many disagreements with him were banished from her mind by the piteous scenes of his death, and by the thought of his last tender words to her as he lay groaning upon her bed. In her extreme loneliness she must have now desired his buoyant company of earlier years with an intensity which she could hardly have felt during his lifetime; and it must have been difficult indeed for her to refrain from putting an end to her miserable life upon the grave of her dead lover. Yet Octavian’s threat in regard to her children held her hand; and, moreover, even in her utter distress, she had not yet abandoned her hope of saving Egypt from the clutch of Rome. Her own dominion, she knew, was over, and the best fate which she herself could hope for was that of an unmolested exile; yet Octavian’s attitude to her indicated in every way that he would be willing to leave the throne to her descendants. She did not know how falsely he was acting towards her, how he was making every effort to encourage hope in her heart in order that he might bring her alive to Rome to be exhibited in chains to the jeering populace. She did not understand that his messages of encouragement, and even of affection, to her were written with sardonic cunning, that his cheerful assurances in regard to her children were made at a time when he was probably actually sending messages post-haste to Berenice to attempt to recall Cæsarion in order to put him to death. She did not understand Octavian’s character: perhaps she had never even seen him; and she hoped somehow to make a last appeal to him. She had played her wonderful game for the amalgamation of Egypt and Rome into one vast kingdom, ruled by her descendants and those of the great Julius Cæsar, and she had lost. But there was yet hope that out of the general wreck she might save the one asset with which she had started her operations--the independent throne of Egypt; and to accomplish this she must live on for a while longer, and must face with bravery the nightmare of her existence.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Restore formatting

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...