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Table of contents
THE VALLEY OF THE NILE.
THE PTOLEMIES.
ALEXANDRIA.
CLEOPATRA'S FATHER.
ACCESSION TO THE THRONE.
CLEOPATRA AND Caesar.
THE ALEXANDRINE WAR.
CLEOPATRA A QUEEN.
THE BATTLE OF PHILIPPI.
CLEOPATRA AND ANTONY.
THE BATTLE OF ACTIUM.
THE END OF CLEOPATRA.

CHAPTER I.

 

 

THE VALLEY OF THE NILE.

 

 

The parentage and birth of Cleopatra.--Cleopatra's residence in 

Egypt.--Physical aspect of Egypt.--The eagle's wings and 

science.--Physical peculiarities of Egypt connected with the laws of 

rain.--General laws of rain.--Causes which modify the quantity of 

rain.--Striking contrasts.--Rainless regions.--Great rainless region of 

Asia and Africa.--The Andes.--Map of the rainless region.--Valley of the 

Nile.--The Red Sea.--The oases.--Siweh.--Mountains of the Moon.--The 

River Nile.--Incessant rains.--Inundation of the Nile.--Course of the 

river.--Subsidence of the waters.--Luxuriant vegetation.--Absence of 

forests.--Great antiquity of Egypt.--Her monuments.--The Delta of the 

Nile.--The Delta as seen from the sea.--Pelusiac mouth of the Nile.--The 

Canopic mouth.--Ancient Egypt.--The Pyramids.--Conquests of the Persians 

and Macedonians.--The Ptolemies.--Founding of Alexandria.--The Pharos. 

 

The story of Cleopatra is a story of crime. It is a narrative of the 

course and the consequences of unlawful love. In her strange and 

romantic history we see this passion portrayed with the most complete 

and graphic fidelity in all its influences and effects; its 

uncontrollable impulses, its intoxicating joys, its reckless and mad 

career, and the dreadful remorse and ultimate despair and ruin in which 

it always and inevitably ends. 

 

Cleopatra was by birth an Egyptian; by ancestry and descent she was a 

Greek. Thus, while Alexandria and the Delta of the Nile formed the scene 

of the most important events and incidents of her history, it was the 

blood of Macedon which flowed in her veins. Her character and action are 

marked by the genius, the courage, the originality, and the 

impulsiveness pertaining to the stock from which she sprung. The events 

of her history, on the other hand, and the peculiar character of her 

adventures, her sufferings, and her sins, were determined by the 

circumstances with which she was surrounded, and the influences which 

were brought to bear upon her in the soft and voluptuous clime where the 

scenes of her early life were laid. 

 

Egypt has always been considered as physically the most remarkable 

country on the globe. It is a long and narrow valley of verdure and 

fruitfulness, completely insulated from the rest of the habitable world. 

It is more completely insulated, in fact, than any literal island could 

be, inasmuch as deserts are more impassable than seas. The very 

existence of Egypt is a most extraordinary phenomenon. If we could but 

soar with the wings of an eagle into the air, and look down upon the 

scene, so as to observe the operation of that grand and yet simple 

process by which this long and wonderful valley, teeming so profusely 

with animal and vegetable life, has been formed, and is annually 

revivified and renewed, in the midst of surrounding wastes of silence, 

desolation, and death, we should gaze upon it with never-ceasing 

admiration and pleasure. We have not the wings of the eagle, but the 

generalizations of science furnish us with a sort of substitute for 

them. 

 

The long series of patient, careful, and sagacious observations, which 

have been continued now for two thousand years, bring us results, by 

means of which, through our powers of mental conception, we may take a 

comprehensive survey of the whole scene, analogous, in some respects, to 

that which direct and actual vision would afford us, if we could look 

down upon it from the eagle's point of view. It is, however, somewhat 

humiliating to our pride of intellect to reflect that long-continued 

philosophical investigations and learned scientific research are, in 

such a case as this, after all, in some sense, only a sort of substitute 

for wings. A human mind connected with a pair of eagle's wings would 

have solved the mystery of Egypt in a week; whereas science, philosophy, 

and research, confined to the surface of the ground, have been occupied 

for twenty centuries in accomplishing the undertaking. 

 

It is found at last that both the existence of Egypt itself, and its 

strange insulation in the midst of boundless tracts of dry and barren 

sand, depend upon certain remarkable results of the general laws of 

rain. The water which is taken up by the atmosphere from the surface of 

the sea and of the land by evaporation, falls again, under certain 

circumstances, in showers of rain, the frequency and copiousness of 

which vary very much in different portions of the earth. As a general 


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