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and the young Ptolemy as the nominal sovereign; while he, as the young 

king's guardian and prime minister, exercised the real power. The troops 

of Pothinus advanced to Pelusium. Here they met the forces of Cleopatra 

coming from the east. The armies encamped not very far from each other, 

and both sides began to prepare for battle. 


The battle, however, was not fought. It was prevented by the occurrence 

of certain great and unforeseen events which at this crisis suddenly 

burst upon the scene of Egyptian history, and turned the whole current 

of affairs into new and unexpected channels. The breaking out of the 

civil war between the great Roman generals Caesar and Pompey, and their 

respective partisans, has already been mentioned as having occurred soon 

after the death of Cleopatra's father, and as having prevented Pompey 

from undertaking the office of executor of the will. This war had been 

raging ever since that time with terrible fury. Its distant thundering 

had been heard even in Egypt, but it was too remote to awaken there any 

special alarm. The immense armies of these two mighty conquerors had 

moved slowly--like two ferocious birds of prey, flying through the air, 

and fighting as they fly--across Italy into Greece, and from Greece, 

through Macedon, into Thessaly, contending in dreadful struggles with 

each other as they advanced, and trampling down and destroying every 

thing in their way. At length a great final battle had been fought at 

Pharsalia. Pompey had been totally defeated. He had fled to the 

sea-shore, and there, with a few ships and a small number of followers, 

he had pushed out upon the Mediterranean, not knowing whither to fly, 

and overwhelmed with wretchedness and despair. Caesar followed him in 

eager pursuit. He had a small fleet of galleys with him, on board of 

which he had embarked two or three thousand men. This was a force 

suitable, perhaps, for the pursuit of a fugitive, but wholly 

insufficient for any other design. 


Pompey thought of Ptolemy. He remembered the efforts which he himself 

had made for the cause of Ptolemy Auletes, at Rome, and the success of 

those efforts in securing that monarch's restoration--an event through 

which alone the young Ptolemy had been enabled to attain the crown. He 

came, therefore to Pelusium, and, anchoring his little fleet off the 

shore, sent to the land to ask Ptolemy to receive and protect him. 

Pothinus, who was really the commander in Ptolemy's army, made answer to 

this application that Pompey should be received and protected, and that 

he would send out a boat to bring him to the shore. Pompey felt some 

misgivings in respect to this proffered hospitality, but he finally 

concluded to go to the shore in the boat which Pothinus sent for him. As 

soon as he landed, the Egyptians, by Pothinus's orders, stabbed and 

beheaded him on the sand. Pothinus and his council had decided that this 

would be the safest course. If they were to receive Pompey, they 

reasoned, Caesar would be made their enemy; if they refused to receive 

him, Pompey himself would be offended, and they did not know which of 

the two it would be safe to displease; for they did not know in what 

way, if both the generals were to be allowed to live, the war would 

ultimately end. "But by killing Pompey," they said, "we shall be sure to 

please Caesar and Pompey himself will _lie still."_ 


In the mean time, Caesar, not knowing to what part of Egypt Pompey had 

fled, pressed on directly to Alexandria. He exposed himself to great 

danger in so doing, for the forces under his command were not sufficient 

to protect him in case of his becoming involved in difficulties with the 

authorities there. Nor could he, when once arrived on the Egyptian 

coast, easily go away again; for, at the season of the year in which 

these events occurred, there was a periodical wind which blew steadily 

toward that part of the coast, and, while it made it very easy for a 

fleet of ships to go to Alexandria, rendered it almost impossible for 

them to return. 


Caesar was very little accustomed to shrink from danger in any of his 

enterprises and plans, though still he was usually prudent and 

circumspect. In this instance, however, his ardent interest in the 

pursuit of Pompey overruled all considerations of personal safety. He 

arrived at Alexandria, but he found that Pompey was not there. He 

anchored his vessels in the port, landed his troops, and established 

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