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would not hinder him. Octavius then took the will, and read it to the 

Roman Senate. It provided, among other things, that at his death, if his 

death should happen at Rome, his body should be sent to Alexandria to be 

given to Cleopatra; and it evinced in other ways a degree of 

subserviency and devotedness to the Egyptian queen which was considered 

wholly unworthy of a Roman chief magistrate. Antony was accused, too, of 

having plundered cities and provinces, to make presents to Cleopatra; of 

having sent a library of two hundred thousand volumes to her from 

Pergamus, to replace the one which Julius Caesar had accidentally burned; 

of having raised her sons, ignoble as their birth was, to high places of 

trust and power in the Roman government, and of having in many ways 

compromised the dignity of a Roman officer by his unworthy conduct in 

reference to her. He used, for example, when presiding at a judicial 

tribunal, to receive love-letters sent him from Cleopatra, and then at 

once turn off his attention from the proceedings going forward before 

him to read the letters.[1] 


[Footnote 1: These letters, in accordance with the scale of 

expense and extravagance on which Cleopatra determined that 

every thing relating to herself and Antony should be done, 

were engraved on tablets made of onyx, or crystal, or other 

hard and precious stones.] 


Sometimes he did this when sitting in the chair of state, giving 

audience to embassadors and princes. Cleopatra probably sent these 

letters in at such times under the influence of a wanton disposition to 

show her power. At one time, as Octavius said in his arguments before 

the Roman Senate, Antony was hearing a cause of the greatest importance, 

and during a time in the progress of the cause when one of the principal 

orators of the city was addressing him, Cleopatra came passing by, when 

Antony suddenly arose, and, leaving the court without any ceremony, ran 

out to follow her. These and a thousand similar tales exhibited Antony 

in so odious a light, that his friends forsook his cause, and his 

enemies gained a complete triumph. The decree was passed against him, 

and Octavius was authorized to carry it into effect; and accordingly, 

while Antony, with his fleet and army, was moving westward from Samos 

and the Aegean Sea, Octavius was coming eastward and southward down the 

Adriatic to meet him. 


In process of time, after various maneuvers and delays, the two 

armaments came into the vicinity of each other at a place called Actium, 

which will be found upon the map on the western coast of Epirus, north 

of Greece. Both of the commanders had powerful fleets at sea, and both 

had great armies upon the land. Antony was strongest in land troops, but 

his fleet was inferior to that of Octavius, and he was himself inclined 

to remain on the land and fight the principal battle there. But 

Cleopatra would not consent to this. She urged him to give Octavius 

battle at sea. The motive which induced her to do this has been supposed 

to be her wish to provide a more sure way of escape in case of an 

unfavorable issue to the conflict. She thought that in her galleys she 

could make sail at once across the sea to Alexandria in case of defeat, 

whereas she knew not what would become of her if beaten at the head of 

an army on the land. The ablest counselors and chief officers in the 

army urged Antony very strongly not to trust himself to the sea. To all 

their arguments and remonstrances, however, Antony turned a deaf ear. 

Cleopatra must be allowed to have her way. On the morning of the battle, 

when the ships were drawn up in array, Cleopatra held the command of a 

division of fifty or sixty Egyptian vessels, which were all completely 

manned, and well equipped with masts and sails. She took good care to 

have every thing in perfect order for flight, in case flight should 

prove to be necessary. With these ships she took a station in reserve, 

and for a time remained there a quiet witness of the battle. The ships 

of Octavius advanced to the attack of those of Antony, and the men 

fought from deck to deck with spears, boarding-pikes, flaming darts, and 

every other destructive missile which the military art had then devised. 

Antony's ships had to contend against great disadvantages. They were not 

only outnumbered by those of Octavius, but were far surpassed by them in 

the efficiency with which they were manned and armed. Still, it was a 

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