Main  Contacts  
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.

off the Roman army from all possibility of receiving any. It became, 

therefore, as Caesar thought, imperiously necessary that he should 

protect himself from this danger. This he did by sending out an 

expedition to burn all the shipping in the harbor, and, at the same 

time, to take possession of a certain fort upon the island of Pharos 

which commanded the entrance to the port. This undertaking was 

abundantly successful. The troops burned the shipping, took the fort, 

expelled the Egyptian soldiers from it, and put a Roman garrison into it 

instead, and then returned in safety within Caesar's lines. Cleopatra 

witnessed these exploits from her palace windows with feelings of the 

highest admiration for the energy and valor which her Roman protectors 

displayed. 

 

The burning of the Egyptian ships in this action, however fortunate for 

Cleopatra and Caesar, was attended with a catastrophe which has ever 

since been lamented by the whole civilized world. Some of the burning 

ships were driven by the wind to the shore, where they set fire to the 

buildings which were contiguous to the water. The flames spread and 

produced an extensive conflagration, in the course of which the largest 

part of the great library was destroyed. This library was the only 

general collection of the ancient writings that ever had been made, and 

the loss of it was never repaired. 

 

The destruction of the Egyptian fleet resulted also in the downfall and 

ruin of Achillas. From the time of ArsinoŽ's arrival in the camp there 

had been a constant rivalry and jealousy between himself and Ganymede, 

the eunuch who had accompanied ArsinoŽ in her flight. Two parties had 

been formed in the army, some declaring for Achillas and some for 

Ganymede. ArsinoŽ advocated Ganymede's interests, and when, at length, 

the fleet was burned, she charged Achillas with having been, by his 

neglect or incapacity, the cause of the loss. Achillas was tried, 

condemned, and beheaded. From that time Ganymede assumed the 

administration of ArsinoŽ's government as her minister of state and the 

commander-in-chief of her armies. 

 

About the time that these occurrences took place, the Egyptian army 

advanced into those parts of the city from which Caesar had withdrawn, 

producing those terrible scenes of panic and confusion which always 

attend a sudden and violent change of military possession within the 

precincts of a city. Ganymede brought up his troops on every side to the 

walls of Caesar's citadels and intrenchments, and hemmed him closely in. 

He cut off all avenues of approach to Caesar's lines by land, and 

commenced vigorous preparations for an assault. He constructed engines 

for battering down the walls. He opened shops and established forges in 

every part of the city for the manufacture of darts, spears, pikes, and 

all kinds of military machinery. He built towers supported upon huge 

wheels, with the design of filling them with armed men when finally 

ready to make his assault upon Caesar's lines, and moving them up to the 

walls of the citadels and palaces, so as to give to his soldiers the 

advantage of a lofty elevation in making their attacks. He levied 

contributions on the rich citizens for the necessary funds, and provided 

himself with men by pressing all the artisans, laborers, and men capable 

of bearing arms into his service. He sent messengers back into the 

interior of the country, in every direction, summoning the people to 

arms, and calling for contributions of money and military stores. 

 

These messengers were instructed to urge upon the people that, unless 

Caesar and his army were at once expelled from Alexandria, there was 

imminent danger that the national independence of Egypt would be forever 

destroyed. The Romans, they were to say, had extended their conquests 

over almost all the rest of the world. They had sent one army into Egypt 

before, under the command of Mark Antony, under the pretense of 

restoring Ptolemy Auletes to the throne. Now another commander, with 

another force, had come, offering some other pretexts for interfering in 

their affairs. These Roman encroachments, the messengers were to say, 

would end in the complete subjugation of Egypt to a foreign power, 

unless the people of the country aroused themselves to meet the danger 

manfully, and to expel the intruders. 

 

As Caesar had possession of the island of Pharos and of the harbor, 

Ganymede could not cut him off from receiving such re-enforcements of 


Page 3 from 7:  Back   1   2  [3]  4   5   6   7   Forward