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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.

of these terrible experiments. His foolish and childish fondness 

for Cleopatra was mingled with jealousy, suspicion, and distrust; 

and he was so afraid that Cleopatra might secretly poison him, 

that he would never take any food or wine without requiring that she 

should taste it before him. At length, one day, Cleopatra caused the 

petals of some flowers to be poisoned, and then had the flowers woven 

into the chaplet which Antony was to wear at supper. In the midst of the 

feast, she pulled off the leaves of the flowers from her own chaplet and 

put them playfully into her wine, and then proposed that Antony should 

do the same with his chaplet, and that they should then drink the wine, 

tinctured, as it would be, with the color and the perfume of the 

flowers. Antony entered very readily into this proposal, and when he was 

about to drink the wine, she arrested his hand, and told him that it was 

poisoned. "You see now," said she, "how vain it is for you to watch 

against me. If it were possible for me to live without you, how easy it 

would be for me to devise ways and means to kill you." Then, to prove 

that her words were true, she ordered one of the servants to drink 

Antony's wine. He did so, and died before their sight in dreadful agony. 

 

The experiments which Cleopatra thus made on the nature and effects of 

poison were not, however, wholly without practical result. Cleopatra 

learned from them, it is said, that the bite of the asp was the easiest 

and least painful mode of death. The effect of the venom of that animal 

appeared to her to be the lulling of the sensorium into a lethargy or 

stupor, which soon ended in death, without the intervention of pain. 

This knowledge she seems to have laid up in her mind for future use. 

 

The thoughts of Cleopatra appear, in fact, to have been much disposed, 

at this time, to flow in gloomy channels, for she occupied herself a 

great deal in building for herself a sepulchral monument in a certain 

sacred portion of the city. This monument had, in fact, been commenced 

many years ago, in accordance with a custom prevailing among Egyptian 

sovereigns, of expending a portion of their revenues during their 

life-time in building and decorating their own tombs. Cleopatra now 

turned her mind with new interest to her own mausoleum. She finished it, 

provided it with the strongest possible bolts and bars, and, in a word, 

seemed to be preparing it in all respects for occupation. 

 

In the mean time, Octavius, having made himself master of all the 

countries which had formerly been under Antony's sway, now advanced, 

meeting none to oppose him, from Asia Minor into Syria, and from Syria 

toward Egypt. Antony and Cleopatra made one attempt, while he was thus 

advancing toward Alexandria, to avert the storm which was impending over 

them, by sending an embassage to ask for some terms of peace. Antony 

proposed, in this embassage, to give up every thing to his conqueror on 

condition that he might be permitted to retire unmolested with Cleopatra 

to Athens, and allowed to spend the remainder of their days there in 

peace; and that the kingdom of Egypt might descend to their children. 

Octavius replied that he could not make any terms with Antony, though he 

was willing to consent to any thing that was reasonable in behalf of 

Cleopatra. The messenger who came back from Octavius with this reply 

spent some time in private interviews with Cleopatra. This aroused 

Antony's jealousy and anger. He accordingly ordered the unfortunate 

messenger to be scourged and then sent back to Octavius, all lacerated 

with wounds, with orders to say to Octavius that if it displeased him to 

have one of his servants thus punished, he might revenge himself by 

scourging a servant of Antony's who was then, as it happened, in 

Octavius's power. 

 

The news at length suddenly arrived at Alexandria that Octavius had 

appeared before Pelusium, and that the city had fallen into his hands. 

The next thing Antony and Cleopatra well knew would be, that they should 

see him at the gates of Alexandria. Neither Antony nor Cleopatra had any 

means of resisting his progress, and there was no place to which they 

could fly. Nothing was to be done but to await, in consternation and 

terror, the sure and inevitable doom which was now so near. 

 

Cleopatra gathered together all her treasures and sent them to her tomb. 

These treasures consisted of great and valuable stores of gold, silver, 


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