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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.

shallow. Extended banks of sand protruded into the sea, and the sea 

itself, as if in retaliation, formed innumerable creeks, and inlets, and 

lagoons in the land. Along this irregular and uncertain boundary the 

waters of the Nile and the surges of the Mediterranean kept up an 

eternal war, with energies so nearly equal, that now, after the lapse of 

eighteen hundred years since the state of the contest began to be 

recorded, neither side has been found to have gained any perceptible 

advantage over the other. The river brings the sands down, and the sea 

drives them incessantly back, keeping the whole line of the shore in 

such a condition as to make it extremely dangerous and difficult of 

access to man. 

 

It will be obvious, from this description of the valley of the Nile, 

that it formed a country which in ancient times isolated and secluded, 

in a very striking manner, from all the rest of the world. It was wholly 

shut in by deserts, on every side, by land; and the shoals, and 

sand-bars, and other dangers of navigation which marked the line of the 

coast, seemed to forbid approach by sea. Here it remained for many ages, 

under the rule of its own native ancient kings. Its population was 

peaceful and industrious. Its scholars were famed throughout the world 

for their learning, their science, and their philosophy. 

 

It was in these ages, before other nations had intruded upon its 

peaceful seclusion, that the Pyramids were built, and the enormous 

monoliths carved, and those vast temples reared whose ruined columns are 

now the wonder of mankind. During these remote ages, too, Egypt was, as 

now, the land of perpetual fertility and abundance. There would always 

be corn in Egypt, wherever else famine might rage. The neighboring 

nations and tribes in Arabia, Palestine, and Syria, found their way to 

it, accordingly, across the deserts on the eastern side, when driven by 

want, and thus opened a way of communication. At length the Persian 

monarchs, after extending their empire westward to the Mediterranean, 

found access by the same road to Pelusium, and thence overran and 

conquered the country. At last, about two hundred and fifty years before 

the time of Cleopatra, Alexander the Great, when he subverted the 

Persian empire, took possession of Egypt, and annexed it, among the 

other Persian provinces, to his own dominions. At the division of 

Alexander's empire, after his death, Egypt fell to one of his generals, 

named Ptolemy. Ptolemy made it his kingdom, and left it, at his death, 

to his heirs. A long line of sovereigns succeeded him, known in history 

as the dynasty of the Ptolemies--Greek princes, reigning over an 

Egyptian realm. Cleopatra was the daughter of the eleventh in the line. 

 

The capital of the Ptolemies was Alexandria. Until the time of 

Alexander's conquest, Egypt had no sea-port. There were several 

landing-places along the coast, but no proper harbor. In fact Egypt had 

then so little commercial intercourse with the rest of the world, that 

she scarcely needed any. Alexander's engineers, however, in exploring 

the shore, found a point not far from the Canopic mouth of the Nile 

where the water was deep, and where there was an anchorage ground 

protected by an island. Alexander founded a city there, which he called 

by his own name. He perfected the harbor by artificial excavations and 

embankments. A lofty light-house was reared, which formed a landmark by 

day, and exhibited a blazing star by night to guide the galleys of the 

Mediterranean in. A canal was made to connect the port with the Nile, 

and warehouses were erected to contain the stores of merchandise. In a 

word, Alexandria became at once a great commercial capital. It was the 

seat, for several centuries, of the magnificent government of the 

Ptolemies; and so well was its situation chosen for the purposes 

intended, that it still continues, after the lapse of twenty centuries 

of revolution and change, one of the principal emporiums of the commerce 

of the East. 


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