The Ancient Library

Scanned text contains errors.



made her way to Alexandria, the harbour of which she entered with her prows crowned and music sounding, as if victorious, fearing an outbreak in the city. With the same view of retaining the Alexandrians in their allegiance, she and Antony (who soon joined her) proclaimed their children, Antyllus and Cleopatra, of age. She then pre­pared to defend herself in Alexandria, and also sent embassies to the neighbouring tribes for aid. (Dion Cass. li. 6.) She had also a plan of re­tiring to Spain, or to the Persian gulf; and either was building ships in the Red Sea, as Dion asserts, or, according to Plutarch, intended to draw her ships across the isthmus of Suez. Which­ever was the case, the ships were burnt by the Arabs of Petra, and this hope failed. She scru­pled not to behead Artavasdes, and send his head as a bribe for aid to the king of Media, who was his enemy. Finding, however, no aid nigh, she prepared to negotiate with Augustus, and sent him on his approach her sceptre and throne (unknown to Antony), as thereby resigning her kingdom. His public answer required her to resign and sub­mit to a trial; but he privately urged her to make away with Antony, and promised that she should retain her kingdom. On a subsequent occasion, Thyrsus, Caesar's freedman, brought similar terms, and represented Augustus as captivated by her, which she seems to have believed, and, seeing Antony's fortunes desperate, betrayed Pelusium to Augustus, prevented the Alexandrians from going

out against him, and frustrated Antony's plan of escaping to Rome by persuading the fleet to desert him. She then fled to a mausoleum she had built, where she had collected her most valuable treasures, and proclaimed her intention of putting an end to her life, with a view to entice Antony thither, and thus ensure his capture. (This is the account of Dion Cassius, 3i. 6, 8—1.1; the same facts for the most part are recorded by Plutarch, who however represents Cleopatra's perfidy as less glar­ing.) She then had Antony informed of her death, as though to persuade him to die with her; and this stratagem, if indeed she had this object, fully succeeded, and he was drawn up into the unfinish­ed mausoleum, and died in her arms. She did not however venture to meet Augustus, though his rival was dead, but remained in the mausoleum, ready if need was to put herself to death, for which purpose she had asps and other venomous animals in readiness. Augustus contrived to apprehend her, and had all instruments of death removed, and then requested an interview (for an account of which see Dion Cass. li. 12, 13, and Prut. Ant. 83). The charms of Cleopatra, however, failed in softening the colder heart of Augustus. He only " bade her be of good cheer, and fear no vio­lence." Seeing that her case was desperate, and determined at all events not to be carried captive to Rome, she resolved on death; but in order to compass this, it was necessary to disarm the vigi­lance of her goalers, and she did this by feigning a readiness to go to Rome, and preparing presents for Livia, the wife of Augustus. This artifice suc­ceeded, and she was thereby enabled to put an end to her life, either by the poison of an asp, or by a j poisoned comb (Dion Cass. li. 14 ; Pint. Ant. 85, 86), the former supposition being adopted by most writers. (Suet. Aug. 17; Galen. Theriac. ad Pis. p. 4-60, ed. Basil; Veil. Pat. ii. 87.)

Cleopatra died in b. c. 30, in the thirty-ninth


year of her age, and with her ended the dynasty of the Ptolemies in Egypt. She had three children by Antony: Alexander and Cleopatra, who were twins, and Ptolemy surnamed Philadelphus. The leading points of her character were, ambition and voluptuousness. History presents to us the former as the prevailing motive, the latter being frequently employed only as the means of gratifying it. In all the stories of her luxury and lavish expense, there is a splendour and a grandeur that somewhat refines them. (See Plin. H. N. ix. 58.) In the days of her prosperity, her arrogance was un­bounded, and she loved to swear by the Capitol, in which she hoped to reign with Antony. She was avaricious, to supply her extravagance, and cruel, or at least had no regard for human life when her own objects were concerned,—a Caesar with a woman's caprice. Her talents were great and varied; her knowledge of languages was pe­culiarly remarkable (Plut. Ant. 27), of which she had seven at command, and was the more remark­able from the fact, that her predecessors had not been able to master even the Egyptian, and some had forgotten their native Macedonian ; and in the midst of the most luxurious scenes we see traces of a love of literature and critical research. She added the library of Perganvus, presented to her by Antony, to that of Alexandria. Her ready and versatile wit, her knowledge of human nature and powerof using it,her attractive manners, and her exquisitely musical and flexible voice, compared by Plutarch (Ant. 27) to a many-stringed instrument, are also the subjects of well-attested praise. The higher points in her character are admirably touched by Horace in the ode (i. 37) on her defeat. The following coin represents the head of An­tony on the obverse, and Cleopatra's on the reverse.

12. A daughter of Mithridates, who married Tigranes, king of Armenia, She seems to have

11. Daughter of Antony, the triumvir, and Cleopatra, was born with her twin brother Alex­ander in B. c. 40. Her early history till the time she was carried to Rome is given under alexan­der, p. 112, a. She continued to reside at Rome till her marriage with Juba, king of Numiclia, who was brought to Rome in b. c. 46, when quite a boy, along with his father, after the defeat of the latter by Caesar. (Dion Cass. li. 15; Plut. Ant. 87.) By Juba, Cleopatra had two children, Ptolemy, Avho succeeded him in the kingdom, and Drusilla? who married Antonius Felix, the governor of Judaea. The following coin contains the head of Juba on the obverse, and Cleopatra's on the reverse.

About | First



page #  
Search this site
All non-public domain material, including introductions, markup, and OCR © 2005 Tim Spalding.
Ancient Library was developed and hosted by Tim Spalding of