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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.

the body of her mistress, fondly caressing her, arranging flowers in her 

hair, and adorning her diadem. The messengers of Octavius, on witnessing 

this spectacle, were overcome with amazement, and demanded of Charmian 

what it could mean. "It is all right," said Charmian. "Cleopatra has 

acted in a manner worthy of a princess descended from so noble a line of 

kings." As Charmian said this, she began to sink herself, fainting, upon 

the bed, and almost immediately expired. 

 

The by-standers were not only shocked at the spectacle which was thus 

presented before them, but they were perplexed and confounded in their 

attempts to discover by what means Cleopatra and her women had succeeded 

in effecting their design. They examined the bodies, but no marks of 

violence were to be discovered. They looked all around the room, but no 

weapons, and no indication of any means of poison, were to be found. 

They discovered something that appeared like the slimy track of an 

animal on the wall, toward a window, which they thought might have been 

produced by an _asp_; but the reptile itself was nowhere to be seen. 

They examined the body with great care, but no marks of any bite or 

sting were to be found, except that there were two very slight and 

scarcely discernible punctures on the arm, which some persons fancied 

might have been so caused. The means and manner of her death seemed to 

be involved in impenetrable mystery. 

 

There were various rumors on the subject subsequently in circulation 

both at Alexandria and at Rome, though the mystery was never fully 

solved. Some said that there was an asp concealed among the figs which 

the servant man brought in in the basket; that he brought it in that 

manner, by a preconcerted arrangement between him and Cleopatra, and 

that, when she received it, she placed the creature on her arm. Others 

say that she had a small steel instrument like a needle, with a poisoned 

point, which she had kept concealed in her hair, and that she killed 

herself with that, without producing any visible wound. Another story 

was, that she had an asp in a box somewhere in her apartment, which she 

had reserved for this occasion, and when the time finally came, that she 

pricked and teased it with a golden bodkin to make it angry, and then 

placed it upon her flesh and received its sting. Which of these stones, 

if either of them, was true, could never be known. It has, however, been 

generally believed among mankind that Cleopatra died in some way or 

other by the self-inflicted sting of the asp, and paintings and 

sculptures without number have been made to illustrate and commemorate 

the scene. 

 

This supposition in respect to the mode of her death is, in fact, 

confirmed by the action of Octavius himself on his return to Rome, which 

furnishes a strong indication of his opinion of the manner in which his 

captive at last eluded him. Disappointed in not being able to exhibit 

the queen herself in his triumphal train, he caused a golden statue 

representing her to be made, with an image of an asp upon the arm of it, 

and this sculpture he caused to be borne conspicuously before him in his 

grand triumphal entry into the capital, as the token and trophy of the 

final downfall of the unhappy Egyptian queen. 

 


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