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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.

were completely beside themselves with terror. Cleopatra formed a plan 

for having all the treasures that she could save, and a certain number 

of galleys sufficient for the transportation of these treasures and a 

small company of friends, carried across the isthmus of Suez and 

launched upon the Red Sea, in order that she might escape in that 

direction, and find some remote hiding-place and safe retreat on the 

shores of Arabia or India, beyond the reach of Octavius's dreaded power. 

She actually commenced this undertaking, and sent one or two of her 

galleys across the isthmus; but the Arabs seized them as soon as they 

reached their place of destination, and killed or captured the men that 

had them in charge, so that this desperate scheme was soon abandoned. 

She and Antony then finally concluded to establish themselves at 

Alexandria, and made preparation, as well as they could, for defending 

themselves against Octavius there. 

 

Antony, when the first effects of his panic subsided, began to grow mad 

with vexation and resentment against all mankind. He determined that he 

would have nothing to do with Cleopatra or with any of her friends, but 

went off in a fit of sullen rage, and built a hermitage in a lonely 

place, on the island of Pharos, where he lived for a time, cursing his 

folly and his wretched fate, and uttering the bitterest invectives 

against all who had been concerned in it. Here tidings came continually 

in, informing him of the defection of one after another of his armies, 

of the fall of his provinces in Greece and Asia Minor, and of the 

irresistible progress which Octavius was now making toward universal 

dominion. The tidings of these disasters coming incessantly upon him 

kept him in a continual fever of resentment and rage. 

 

At last he became tired of his misanthropic solitude, a sort of 

reconciliation ensued between himself and Cleopatra, and he went back 

again to the city. Here he joined himself once more to Cleopatra, and, 

collecting together what remained of their joint resources, they plunged 

again into a life of dissipation and vice, with the vain attempt to 

drown in mirth and wine the bitter regrets and the anxious forebodings 

which filled their souls. They joined with them a company of revelers as 

abandoned as themselves, and strove very hard to disguise and conceal 

their cares in their forced and unnatural gayety. They could not, 

however, accomplish this purpose. Octavius was gradually advancing in 

his progress, and they knew very well that the time of his dreadful 

reckoning with them must soon come; nor was there any place on earth in 

which they could look with any hope of finding a refuge in it from his 

vindictive hostility. 

 

Cleopatra, warned by dreadful presentiments of what would probably at 

last be her fate, amused herself in studying the nature of poisons--not 

theoretically, but practically--making experiments with them on wretched 

prisoners and captives whom she compelled to take them in order that she 

and Antony might see the effects which they produced. She made a 

collection of all the poisons which she could procure, and administered 

portions of them all, that she might see which were sudden and which 

were slow in their effects, and also learn which produced the greatest 

distress and suffering, and which, on the other hand, only benumbed and 

stupefied the faculties, and thus extinguished life with the least 

infliction of pain. These experiments were not confined to such 

vegetable and mineral poisons as could be mingled with the food or 

administered in a potion. Cleopatra took an equal interest in the 

effects of the bite of venomous serpents and reptiles. She procured 

specimens of all these animals, and tried them upon her prisoners, 

causing the men to be stung and bitten by them, and then watching the 

effects. These investigations were made, not directly with a view to any 

practical use, which she was to make of the knowledge thus acquired, but 

rather as an agreeable occupation, to divert her mind, and to amuse 

Antony and her guests. The variety in the forms and expressions which 

the agony of her poisoned victims assumed,--their writhings, their 

cries, their convulsions, and the distortions of their features when 

struggling with death, furnished exactly the kind and degree of 

excitement which she needed to occupy and amuse her mind. 

 

[Illustration: CLEOPATRA TESTING THE POISONS UPON THE SLAVES] 

 

Antony was not entirely at ease, however, during the progress 


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