Front Cover
 Half Title
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Title: History of Cleopatra, queen of Egypt
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00001908/00001
 Material Information
Title: History of Cleopatra, queen of Egypt
Physical Description: 318 p., : ill., maps. ; 17 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Abbott, Jacob, 1803-1879
Sinclair, Thomas S., ca. 1805-1881 ( Printer )
Harper & Brothers ( Publisher )
Publisher: Harper & Brothers
Place of Publication: New York
Publication Date: c1851
Subject: Queens -- Biography -- Juvenile literature -- Egypt   ( lcsh )
History -- Juvenile literature -- Egypt -- 332-30 B.C   ( lcsh )
History -- Juvenile literature -- Rome -- Republic, 265-30 B.C   ( lcsh )
Biographies -- 1851   ( rbgenr )
Embossed cloth bindings (Binding) -- 1851   ( rbbin )
Publishers' advertisements -- 1851   ( rbgenr )
Bldn -- 1851
Genre: Biographies   ( rbgenr )
Embossed cloth bindings (Binding)   ( rbbin )
Publishers' advertisements   ( rbgenr )
individual biography   ( marcgt )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )
Spatial Coverage: United States -- New York -- New York
Statement of Responsibility: By Jacob Abbott.
General Note: Added t. p. in colors, printed by T. Sinclair.
General Note: Publisher's advertisements: 2 p. at end.
Funding: Brittle Books Program
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Bibliographic ID: UF00001908
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: aleph - 002220812
oclc - 02841082
notis - ALG1021
lccn - 05023385
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Table of Contents
    Front Cover
        Page i
        Page ii
    Half Title
        Page iii
        Page iv
    Title Page
        Page v
        Page vi
        Page vii
        Page viii
    Table of Contents
        Page ix
        Page x
    List of Illustrations
        Page xi
        Page xii
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    Back Cover
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Full Text


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Wtftb 3n ngrabnias.



Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year one thousand
eight hundred and fifty-one, by
in the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the Southern District
of New York.


IN selecting the subjects for the successive
volumes of this series, it has been the object of
the author to look for the names of those great
personages whose histories constitute useful, and
not merely entertaining, knowledge. There are
certain names which are familiar, as names, to
all mankind; and every person who seeks for
any degree of mental cultivation, feels desir-
ous of informing himself of the leading outlines
of their history, that he may know, in brief,
what it was in their characters or their doings
which has given them so widely-extended a
fame. This knowledge, which it seems incum-
bent on every one to obtain in respect to such
personages as Hannibal, Alexander, Caesar, Cle-
opatra, Darius, Xerxes, Alfred, William the
Conqueror, Queen Elizabeth, and Mary, queen
of Scots, it is the design and object of these vol-
umes to communicate, in a faithful, and, at the
same time, if possible, in an attractive manner.
Consequently, great historical names alone are

selected; and it has been the writer's aim to
present the prominent and leading traits in their
characters, and all the important events in their
lives, in a bold and free manner, and yet in the
plain and simple language which is so obvious-
ly required in works which aim at permanent
and practical usefulness.


Chapter Page
I. THE VALLEY OF THE NILE............... 13
II. THE PTOLEMIES ......................... 35
III. ALEXANDRIA ............................ 61
IV. CLEOPATRA S FATHER.................... 87
V. ACCESSION TO THE THRONE. ............. 112
VI. CLEOPATRA AND CJESAR .....-............ 132
VII. THE ALEXANDRINE WAR ................. 157
VIII. CLEOPATRA A QUEEN ................... 181
IX. THE BATTLE OF PHILIPPI ................ 200
X. CLEOPATRA AND ANTONY ................ 225
XI. THE BATTLE OF ACTIUM ................. 256
XII. THE END OF CLEOPATRA ................. 286

E N G R A V I N ( S.

MAP, THE RAINLESS REGION .-....-...- ....... 21
MAP, THE DELTA OF THE NILE --..-.......... 29
THE BIRTH-DAY PRESENT ..................... 50
ANTONY CROSSING THE DESERT ............... 107
VIEW OF ALEXANDRIA ........................ 162
SION ................................... 190
OF THE TOMB ........--------- ......---. 303


The parentage and birth of Cleopatra.

T HE story of Cleopatra is a story of crime.
It is a narrative of the course and the con-
sequences of unlawful love. In her strange and
romantic history we see this pn in portrayed
with the most complete and gil&fplr y in
all its influences and effects; its uncontrollable
impulses, its intoxicating joys, its reckless and
mad career, and the dreadful remorse and ulti.
mate despair and ruin in which it always and
inevitably ends.

Cleopatra was by birth an Egyptian; by an-
cestry and descent she was a Greek. Thus,
while Alexandria and the delta of the Nile form-
ed the scene of the most important events and
incidents of her history, it was the blood of
Macedon which flowed in her veins. Her char-
acter and action are marked by the genius, the

Cleopatra's residence in Egypt. Physical aspect of Egypt.
courage, the originality, and the impulsiveness
pertaining to the stock from which she sprung.
The events of her history, on the other hand,
and the peculiar character of her adventures,
her sufferings, and her sins, were determined by
the circumstances with which she was sur-
rounded, and the influences which were brought
to bear upon her in the soft and voluptuous
clime where the scenes of her early life were
Egypt has always been considered as physic-
ally the most remarkable country on the globe.
It is a long and narrow valley of verdure and
fruitfulness, completely insulated from the rest
of the habitable world. It is more completely
insulated, in fact, than any literal island could
be, inasmuch as deserts are more impassable
than seas. The very existence of Egypt is a
most extraordinary phenomenon. If we could
but soar with the wings of an eagle into the air,
and look down upon the scene, so as to observe
the operation of that grand and yet simple pro-
cess by which this long and wonderful valley,
teeming so profusely with animal and vegetable
life, has been formed, and is annually revivified
and renewed, in the midst of surrounding wastes
of silence, desolation, and death, we should gaze




The eagle's wings and science.
upon it with never-ceasing admiration and pleas-
ure. We have not the wings of the eagle, but
the generalizations of science furnish us with
a sort of substitute for them., The long series
of patient, careful, and sagacious observations,
which have been continued now for two thou-
sand years, bring us results, by means of which,
through our powers of mental conception, we
may take a comprehensive survey of the whole
scene, analogous, in some respects, to that which
direct and actual vision would afford us, if we
could look down upon it from the eagle's point
of view. It is, however, somewhat humiliating
to our pride of intellect to reflect that long-con-
tinued philosophical investigations and learned
scientific research are, in such a case as this,
after all, in some sense, only a sort of substitute
for wings. A human mind connected with a
pair of eagle's wings would have solved the mys-
tery of Egypt in a week; whereas science, phi-
losophy, and research, confined to the surface of
the ground, have been occupied for twenty cen-
turies in accomplishing the undertaking.
It is found at last that both the existence of
Egypt itself, and its strange insulation in the
midst of boundless tracts of dry and barren sand,
depend upon certain remarkable results of the


Physical peculiarities of Egypt connected with the laws of rain.
general laws of rain. The water which is taken
up by the atmosphere from the surface of the
sea and of the land by evaporation, falls again,
under certain circumstances, in showers of rain,
the frequency and copiousness of which vary
very much in different portions of the earth.
As a general principle, rains are much more fre-
quent and abundant near the equator than in
temperate climes, and 'they grow less and less
so as we approach the poles. This might nat-
urally have been expected; for, under the burn-
ing sun of the equator, the evaporation of water
must necessarily go on with immensely greater
rapidity than in the colder zones, and all the
water which is taken up must, of course, again
come down.
It is not, however, wholly by the latitude of
the region in which the evaporation takes place
that the quantity of rain which falls from the
atmosphere is determined; for the condition on
which the falling back, in rain, of the water
which has been taken up by evaporation' mainly
depends, is the cooling of the atmospheric stra-
tum which contains it; and this effect is pro-
duced in very various ways, and many different
causes operate to modify it. Sometimes the
stratum is cooled by being wafted over ranges




General laws of rain.
of mountains; sometimes by encountering and
becoming mingled with cooler currents of air;
and sometimes, again, by being driven in winds
toward a higher, and, consequently, cooler lati-
tude. If, on the other hand, air moves from
cold mountains toward warm and sunny plains,
or from higher latitudes to lower, or if, among
the various currents into which it falls, it be-
comes mixed with air warmer than itself, its
capacity for containing vapor in solution is in-
creased, and, consequently, instead of releasing
its hold upon the waters which it has already
in possession, it becomes thirsty for more. It
moves over a country, under these circumstan-
ces, as a warm and drying wind. Under a re-
verse of circumstances it would have formed
drifting mists, or, perhaps, even copious showers
of rain.
It will be evident, from these considerations,
that the frequency of the showers, and the quan-
tity of the rain which will fall, in the various
regions respectively which the surface of the
earth presents, must depend on the combined
influence of many causes, such as the warmth
of the climate, the proximity and the direction
of mountains and of seas, the character of the
prevailing winds, and the reflecting qualities of


Causes which modify the quantity of rain.
the soil. These and other similar causes, it is
found, do, in fact, produce a vast difference in
the quantity of rain which falls in different re-
gions. In the northern part of South America,
where the land is bordered on every hand by
vast tropical seas, which load the hot and thirsty
air with vapor, and where the mighty Cordillera
of the Andes rears its icy summits to chill and
precipitate the vapors again, a quantity of rain
amounting to more than ten feet in perpendic-
ular height falls in a year. At St. Petersburg,
on the other hand, the quantity thus falling in
a year is but little more than one foot. The
immense deluge which pours down from the
clouds in South America would, if the water
were to remain where it fell, wholly submerge
and inundate the country. As it is, in flowing
off through the valleys to the sea, the united
torrents form the greatest river on the globe-
the Amazon; and the vegetation, stimulated by
the heat, and nourished by the abundant and
incessant supplies of moisture, becomes so rank,
and loads the earth with such an entangled and
matted mass of trunks, and stems, and twining
wreaths and vines, that man is almost excluded
from the scene. The boundless forests become
a vast and almost impenetrable jungle, aban-




Striking contrasts. Rainless regions.
doned to wild beasts, noxious reptiles, and huge
and ferocious birds of prey.
Of course, the district of St. Petersburg, with
its icy winter, its low and powerless sun, and
its twelve inches of annual rain, must necessa-
rily present, in all its phenomena of vegetable
and animal life, a striking contrast to the exu-
berant prolificness of New Grenada. It is, how-
ever, after all, not absolutely the opposite ex-
treme. There are certain regions on the sur-
face of the earth that are actually rainless; and
it is these which present us with the true and
real contrast to the luxuriant 4Pgetation and
teeming life of the country of the Amazon. In
these rainless regions all is necessarily silence,
desolation, and death. No plant can grow; no
animal can live. Man, too, is forever and hope-
lessly excluded. If the exuberant abundance
of animal and vegetable life shut him out, in
some measure, from regions which an excess of
heat and' moisture render too prolific, the total
absence of them still more effectually forbids him
a home in these. They become, therefore, vast
wastes of dry and barren sands in which no
root can find nourishment, and of dreary rocks
to which not even a lichen can cling.
The most extensive and remarkable rainless


Great rainless region of Asia and Africa.
region on the earth is a vast tract extending
through the interior and northern part of Af-
rica, and the southwestern part of Asia. The
Red Sea penetrates into this tract from the
south, and thus breaks the outline and continu-
ity of its form, without, however, altering, or
essentially modifying its character. It divides
it, however, and to the different portions which
this division forms, different names have been
given. The Asiatic portion is called Arabia
Deserta; the African tract has received the
name of Sahara; while between these two, in
the neighbor^d of Egypt, the barren region is
called simply the desert. The whole tract is
marked, however, throughout, with one all-per-
vading character: the absence of vegetable, and,
consequently, of animal life, on account of the
absence of rain. The rising of a range of lofty
mountains in the center of it, to produce a pre-
cipitation of moisture from the air, would prob-
ably transform the whole of the vast waste into
as verdant, and fertile, and populous a region
as any on the globe.
As it is, there are no such mountains. The
whole tract is nearly level, and so little eleva-
ted above the sea, that, at the distance of many
hundred miles in the interior, the land rises only



The Andes. Map of the rainless region
to the height of a few hundred feet above the
surface of the Mediterranean; whereas in New
Grenada, at less than one hundred miles fro
the sea, the chain of the Andes rises to eleva-
tions of from ten to fifteen thousand feet. Such
an ascent as that of a few hundred feet in hund-
reds of miles would be wholly imperceptible to
any ordinary mode of observation; and the great
rainless region, accordingly, of Africa and Asia


ds, as it appears to the traveler, one vast plain,
a thousand miles wide and five thousand miles

Valley of the Nile. The Red Sea.
song, with only one considerable interruption to
the dead monotony which reigns, with that ex-
ception, every where over the immense expanse
of silence and solitude. The single interval of
fruitfulness and life is the valley of the Nile.
There are, however, in fact, three interrup-
tions to the continuity of this plain, though only
one of them constitutes any considerable inter-
ruption to its barrenness. They are all of them
valleys, extending from north to south, and ly-
ing side by side. The most easterly of these
valleys is so deep that the waters of the ocean
flow into it from the south, forming a long and
narrow inlet called the Red Sea. As this inlet
communicates freely with the ocean, it is al-
ways nearly of the same level, and as the evap-
oration from it is not sufficient to produce rain,
it does not even fertilize its own shores. Its
presence varies the dreary scenery of the land-
scape, it is true, by giving us surging waters to
look upon instead of driving sands; but this is
all. With the exception of the spectacle of an
English steamer passing, at weary intervals,
over its dreary expanse, and some moldering re-
mains of ancient cities on its eastern shore, it
affords scarcely any indications of life. It does
very little, therefore, to relieve the monotonous

*c 222



The oases. Siweh.
aspect of solitude and desolation which reigns
over the region into which it has intruded.
The most westerly of the three valleys to
which we have alluded is only a slight depres-
sion of the surface of the land marked by a line
of oases. The depression is not sufficient to
admit the waters of the Mediterranean, nor are
there any rains over any portion of the valley
which it forms sufficient to make it the bed of
a stream. Springs issue, however, here and
there, in several places, from the ground, and,
percolating through the sands along the valley,
give fertility to little dells, long and narrow,
which, by the contrast that they form with the
surrounding desolation, seem to the traveler to
possess the verdure and beauty of Paradise.
There is a line of these oases extending along
this westerly depression, and some of them are
of considerable extent. The oasis of Siweh, on
which stood the far-famed temple of Jupiter
Ammon, was many miles in extent, and was
said to have contained in ancient times a popu-
lation of eight thousand souls. Thus, while the
most easterly of the three valleys which we
have named was sunk so low as to admit the
ocean to flow freely into it, the most westerly
was so slightly depressed that it gained only a


Mountains of the Moon. The River Nile.
circumscribed and limited fertility through the
springs, which, in the lowest portions of it, oozed
from the ground. The third valley-the cen-
tral one-remains now to be described.
The reader will observe, by referring once
more to the map, that south of the great rain-
less region of which we are speaking, there lie
groups and ranges of mountains in Abyssinia,
called the Mountains of the Moon. These
mountains are near the equator, and the rela-
tion which they sustain to the surrounding seas,
and to currents of wind which blow in that quar-
ter of the world, is such, that they bring down
from the atmosphere, especially in certain sea-
sons of the year, vast and continual torrents of
rain. The water which thus falls drenches the
mountain sides and deluges the valleys. There
is a great portion of it which can not flow to
the southward or eastward toward the sea, as
the whole country consists, in those directions,
of continuous tracts of elevated land. The rush
of water thus turns to the northward, and, press-
ing on across the desert through the great cen-
tral valley which we have referred to above, it
finds an outlet, at last, in the Mediterranean,
at a point two thousand miles distant from the
place where the immense condenser drew it




Incessant rains. Inundation of the Nile.
from the skies. The river thus created is the
Nile. It is formed, in a word, by the surplus
waters of a district inundated with rains, in their
progress across a rainless desert, seeking the sea.
If the surplus of water upon the Abyssinian
mountains had been constant and uniform, the
stream, in its passage across the desert, would
have communicated very little fertility to the
barren sands which it traversed. The imme-
diate banks of the river would have, perhaps,
been fringed with verdure, but the influence of
the irrigation would have extended no further
than the water itself could have reached, by per-
colation through the sand. But the flow of the
water is not thus uniform and steady. In a
certain season of the year the rains are inces-
sant, and they descend with such abundance
and profusion as almost to inundate the districts
where they fall. Immense torrents stream down
the mountain sides; the valleys are deluged;
plains turn into morasses, and morasses into
lakes. In a word, the country becomes half
submerged, and the accumulated mass bf wa-
ters would rush with great force and violence
down the central valley of the desert, which
forms their only outlet, if the passage were nar-
row, and if it made any considerable descent in


Course of the river. Subsidence of the waters.
its course to the sea. It is, however, not nar-
row, and the descent is very small. The de-
pression in the surface of the desert, through
which the water flows, is from five to ten miles
wide, and, though it is nearly two thousand
miles from the rainy district across the desert
to the sea, the country for the whole distance
is almost level. There is only sufficient de-
scent, especially for the last thousand miles, to
determine a very gentle current to the north-
ward in the waters of the stream.
Under these circumstances, the immense
quantity of water which falls in the rainy dis-
trict in these inundating tropical showers, ex-
pands over the whole valley, and forms for a
time an immense lake, extending in length
across the whole breadth of the desert. This
lake is, of course, from five to ten miles wide,
and a thousand miles long. The water in it is
shallow and turbid, and it has a gentle current
toward the north. The rains, at length, in a
great measure cease; but it requires some
months for the water to run off and leave the
valley dry. As soon as it is gone, there springs
up from the whole surface of the ground which
has been thus submerged a most rank and lux-
uriant vegetation.




Luxuriant vegetation. Absence of forests.
This vegetation, now wholly regulated and
controlled by the hand of man, must have been,
in its original and primeval state, of a very pe-
culiar character. It must have consisted of
such plants only as could exist under the condi-
tion of having the soil in which they grew laid,
for a quarter of the year, wholly under water.
This circumstance, probably, prevented the val-
ley of the Nile from having been, like other fer-
tile tracts of land, encumbered, in its native
state, with forests. For the same reason, wild
beasts could never have haunted it. There were
no forests to shelter them, and no refuge or re-
treat for them but the dry and barren desert,
during the period of the annual inundations.
This most extraordinary valley seems thus to
have been formed and preserved by Nature her-
self for the special possession of man. She her-
self seems to have held it in reserve for him from
the very morning of creation, refusing admis-
sion into it to every plant and every animal that
might hinder or disturb his occupancy and con-
trol. And if he were to abandon it now for a
thousand years, and then return to it once more,
he would find it just as he left it, ready for his
immediate possession. There would be no wild
beasts that he must first expel, and no tangled


Great antiquity of Egypt. Her monuments.
forests would have sprung up, that his ax must
first remove. Nature is the husbandman who
keeps this garden of the world in order, and the
means and machinery by which she operates
are the grand evaporating surfaces of the seas,
the beams of the tropical sun, the lofty summits
of the Abyssinian mountains, and, as the prod-
uct and result of all this instrumentality, great
periodical inundations of summer rain.
For these or some other reasons Egypt has
been occupied by man from the most remote an-
tiquity. The oldest records of the human race,
made three thousand years ago, speak of Egypt
as ancient then, when they were written. Not
only is Tradition silent, but even Fable herself
does not attempt to tell the story of the origin
of her population. Here stand the oldest and
most enduring monuments that human power
has ever been able to raise. It is, however,
somewhat humiliating to the pride of the race
to reflect that the loftiest and proudest, as well
as the most permanent and stable of all the
works which man has ever accomplished, are
but the incidents and adjuncts of a thin stra-
tum of alluvial fertility, left upon the sands by
the subsiding waters of summer showers.
The most important portion of the alluvion

The Delta of the Nile. Map.
of the Nile is the northern portion, where the
valley widens and opens toward the sea, form-
ing a triangular plain of about one hundred
miles in length on each of the sides, over which
the waters of the river flow in a great number
of separate creeks and channels. The whole
area forms a vast meadow, intersected every
where with slow-flowing streams of water, and
presenting on its surface the most enchanting
pictures of fertility, abundance, and beauty.
This region is called tho Delta of the Nile.

The Delta as seen from the sea.
The sea upon the coast is shallow, and the fer-
tile country formed by the deposits of the river
seems to have projected somewhat beyond the
line of the coast; although, as the land has not
advanced perceptibly for the last eighteen hund-
red years, it may be somewhat doubtful wheth-
er the whole of the apparent protrusion is not
due to the natural conformation of the coast,
rather than to any changes made by the action
of the river.
The Delta of the Nile is so level itself, and so
little raised above the level of the Mediterra-
nean, that the land seems almost a continuation
of the same surface with the sea, only, instead
of blue waters topped with white-crested waves,
we have broad tracts of waving grain, and gen-
tle swells of land crowned with hamlets and
villages. In approaching the coast, the navi-
gator has no distant view of all this verdure and
beauty. It lies so low that it continues be-
neath the horizon until the ship is close upon
the shore. The first landmarks, in fact, which
the seaman makes, are the tops of trees grow-
ing apparently out of the water, or the sum-
mit of an obelisk, or the capital of a pillar,
marking the site of some ancient and dilapida-
ted city.





Pelusiac mouth of the Nile. The Canopic mouth.
The most easterly of the channels by which
the waters of the river find their way through
the Delta to the sea, is called, as it will be seen
marked upon the map, the Pelusiac branch. It
forms almost the boundary of the fertile region
of the Delta on the eastern side. There was an
ancient city named Pelusium near the mouth
of it. This was, of course, the first Egyptian
city reached by those who arrived by land from
the eastward, traveling along the shores of the
Mediterranean Sea. On account of its thus
marking the eastern frontier of the country, it
became a point of great importance, and is often
mentioned in the histories of ancient times.
The westernmost mouth of the Nile, on the
other hand, was called the Canopic mouth. The
distance along the coast from the Canopic mouth
to Pelusium was about a hundred miles. The
outline of the coast was formerly, as it still con-
tinues to be, very irregular, and the water shal-
low. Extended banks of sand protruded into
the sea, and the sea itself, as if in retaliation,
formed innumerable creeks, and inlets, and la-
goons in the land. Along this irregular and un-
certain boundary the waters of the Nile and the
surges of the Mediterranean kept up an eternal
war, with energies so nearly equal, that now,



Ancient Egypt The Pyramids.
after the lapse of eighteen hundred years since
the state of the contest began to be recorded,
neither side has been found to have gained any
perceptible advantage over the other. The river
brings the sands down, and the sea drives them
incessantly back, keeping the'whole ine of the
shore in such a condition as to make it extreme-
ly dangerous and difficult of access to man.
It will be obvious, from this description of the
valley of the Nile, that it formed a country which
was in ancient times isolated and secluded, in
a very striking manner, from all the rest of the
world. It was wholly shut .a by deserts, on
every side, by land; and 1M als, and sand-
bars, and other dangers of navigation which
marked the line of the coast, seemed to forbid
approach by sea. Here it remained for many
ages, under the rule of its own native ancient
kings. Its population was peaceful and indus-
trious. Its scholars were famed throughout the
world for their learning, their science, and their
philosophy. It was in these ages, before other
nations had intruded upon its peaceful seclu-
sion, that the Pyramids were built, and the
enormous monoliths carved, and those vast tem-
ples reared whose ruined columns are now the
wonder of mankind. During these remote ages,

Conquests of the Persians and Macedonians. The Ptolemies.
too, Egypt was, as now, the land of perpetual
fertility and abundance. There would always
be corn in Egypt, wherever else famine might
rage. The neighboring nations and tribes in
Arabia, Palestine, and Syria, found their way
to it, accordingly, across the deserts on the east-
ern side, when driven by want, and thus opened
a way of communication. At length the Per-
sian monarchs, after extending their empire
westward to the Mediterranean, found access
by the same road to Pelusium, and thence over-
ran and conquered the country. At last, about
two hundred ajfifty years before the time of
Cleopatra, Al a r the Great, when he sub-
verted the Persian empire, took possession of
Egypt, and annexed it, among the other Per-
sian provinoes, to his own dominions. At the
division of Alexander's empire, after his death,
Egypt fell to one of his generals, named Ptol-
emy. Ptolemy made it his kingdom, and left
it, at his death, to his heirs. A.long line of sov-
ereigns succeeded him, known in history as the
dynasty of the Ptolemies-Greek prirees, reign-
ieg over an Egyptian realm. Cleopatra was
the daughter of the eleventh in the life?
The capital of the Ptolemies was Alexandria
Until the time of Alexander's conquest, Egypt

Founding of Alexandria. The Pharos.
had no sea-port. There were several landing-
places along the coast, but no proper harbor.
In fact, Egypt had then so little commercial in-
tercourse with the rest of the world, that she
scarcely needed any. Alexander's engineers,
however, in exploring the shore, found a point
not far from the Canopic mouth of the Nile
where the water was deep, and where there was
an anchorage ground protected by an island.
Alexander founded a city there, which he called
by his own name. He perfected the harbor by
artificial excavations and embankments. A
lofty light-house was rearedc&hich formed a
landmark by day, and exhibited a blazing star
by night to guide the galleys of the Mediterra-
nean in. A canal was made to connect the port
with the Nile, and warehouses were erected to
contain the stores of merchandise. In a word,
Alexandria became at once a great commercial
capital. It was the seat, for several centuries,
of the magnificent government of the Ptolemies;
and so well was its situation chosen for the pur-
poses intended, that it still continues, after the
lapse of twenty centuries of revolution adm
change, one of the principal emporiums of the
commerce of the East.



[B.C. 323.

B.C. 358.] THE PTOLEMIES. 35
The dynasty of the Ptolemies. Its founder.

T HE founder of the dynasty of the Ptole-
mies-the ruler into whose hands the king-
dom of Egypt fell, as has already been stated,
at the death of Alexander the Great-was a
Macedonian general in Alexander's army. The
circumstances of his birth, and the events which
led to his en2tEfig pto the service of Alexander,
were somewhat peculiar. His mother, whose
name was Arsinoe, was a personal favorite and
companion of Philip, king of Macedon, the fa-
ther of Alexander. Philip at length gave Arsi-
noe in marriage to a certain man of his court
named Lagus. A very short time after the
marriage, Ptolemy was born. Philip treated
the child with the same consideration and favor
that he had evinced toward the mother. The
boy was called the son of Lagus, but his posi-
tion in the royal court of Macedon was as high
and honorable, and the attentions which he re-
ceived were as great, as he could have expected
to enjoy if he had been in reality a son of the

Philip of Macedon. Alexander.
king. As he grew up, he attained to official sta-
tions of considerable responsibility and power.
In the course of time, a certain transaction
occurred, by means of which Ptolemy involved
himself in serious difficulty with Philip, though
by the same means he made Alexander very
strongly his friend. There was a province of
the Persian empire called Caria, situated in the
southwestern part of Asia Minor. The govern-
or of this province had offered his daughter to
Philip as the wife of one of his sons named
Aridmus, the half brother of Alexander. Alex-
ander's mother, who was not te mother of Ari-
dseus, was jealous of this proposed marriage.
She thought that it was part of a scheme for
bringing Aridaus forward into public notice, and
finally making him the heir to Philip's throne;
whereas she was very earnest that this splendid
inheritance should be reserved for her own son.
Accordingly, she proposed to Alexander that
they should send a secret embassage to the
Persian governor, and represent to him that it
would be much better, both for him and for his
daughter, that she should have Alexander in-
stead of Aridaeus for a husband, and induce
him, if possible, to demand of Philip that lie
should make the change.



[B.C. 358.


The intrigue discovered. Ptolemy banished.
Alexander entered readily into this scheme,
and various courtiers, Ptolemy among the rest,
undertook to aid him in the accomplishment of
it. The embassy was sent. The governor of
Caria was very much pleased with the change
which they proposed to him. In fact, the whole
plan seemed to be going on very successfully
toward its accomplishment, when, by some
means or other, Philip discovered the intrigue.
He went immediately into Alexander's apart-
ment, highly excited with resentment and an-
ger. He had never intended to make Aridaeus,
whose birth on the mother's side was obscure
and ignoble, the heir to his throne, and he re-
proached Alexander in the bitterest terms for
being of so debased and degenerate a spirit as
to desire to marry the daughter of a Persian
governor; a man who was, in fact, the mere
slave, as he said, of a barbarian king.
Alexander's scheme was thus totally defeat-
ed; and so displeased was his father with the
officers who had undertaken to aid him in the
execution of it, that he banished them all from
the kingdom. Ptolemy, in consequence of this
decree, wandered about an exile from his coun-
try for some years, until at length the death of
Philip enabled Alexander to recall him. Alex.


Accession of Alexander. Ptolemy's elevation.
ander succeeded his father as King of Macedon,
and immediately made Ptolemy one of his prin-
cipal generals. Ptolemy rose, in fact, to a very
high command in the Macedonian army, and
distinguished himself yery greatly in all the
celebrated conqueror's subsequent campaigns.
In the Persian invasion, Ptolemy commanded
one of the three grand divisions of the army,
and he rendered repeatedly the most signal
services to the cause of his master. He was
employed on the most distant and dangerous
enterprises, and was often intrusted with the
management of affairs of the utmost import-
ance. He was very successfuljnj& his under-
takings. He conquered armtelW4duced fort-
resses, negotiated treaties, and evinced, in a
word, the highest degree of military energy
and skill. He once saved Alexander's life by
discovering and revealing a dangerous conspir-
acy which had been formed against the king.
Alexander had the opportunity to requite this
favor, through a divine interposition vouchsafed
to him, it was said, for the express purpose of
enabling him to evince his gratitude. Ptolemy
had been wounded by a poisoned arrow, and
when all the remedies and antidotes of the
physicians had failed, and the patient was ap-



[B.C. 336.


Death of Alexander. Ptolemy becomes King of Egypt
parently about to die, an effectual means of
cure was revealed to Alexander in a dream, and
Ptolemy, in his turn, was saved.
At the great rejoicings at Susa, when Alex-
ander's conquests-were completed, Ptolemy was
honored with a golden crown, and he was mar-
ried, with great pomp and ceremony, to Arta-
cama, the daughter of one of the most distin-
guished Persian generals.
At length Alexander died suddenly, after a
night of drinking and carousal at Babylon. He
had no son old enough to succeed him, and his
immense empire was divided among his gener-
als. Ptolen obtained Egypt for his share. He
repaired in iediately to Alexandria, with a
great army, aMl a great number of Greek at-
tendants and followers, and there commenced a
reign which continued, in great prosperity and
splendor, for forty years. The native Egyp-
tians were reduced, of course, to subjection and
bondage. All the offices in the army, and all
stations of trust and responsibility in civil life,
were filled by Greeks. Alexandria was a Greek
city, and it became at once one of the most im-
portant commercial centers in all those seas.
Greek and Roman travelers found now a lan-
guage spoken in Egypt which they could un-


Character of Ptolemy's reign. The Alexandrian library.
derstand, and philosophers and scholars could
gratify the curiosity which they 'had so long
felt, in respect to the institutions, and monu-
ments, and wonderful physical characteristics
of the country, with safety and pleasure. In a
word, the organization of a Greek government
over the ancient kingdom, and the establishment
of the great commercial relations of the city of
Alexandria, conspired to bring Egypt out from
its concealment and seclusion, and to open it in
some measure to the intercourse, as well as to
bring it more fully under the observation, of
the rest of mankind.
Ptolemy, in fact, made it a special object of
his policy to accomplish these ends. He invit-
ed Greek scholars, philosophersppoets, and art-
ists, in great numbers, to come to Alexandria,
and to make his capital their abode. He col-
lected an immense library, which subsequently,
under the name of the Alexandrian library, be-
came one of the most celebrated collections of
books and manuscripts that was ever made.
We shall have occasion to refer more particu-
larly to this library in the next chapter.
Besides prosecuting these splendid schemes
for the aggrandizement of Egypt, King Ptole-
my was engaged, during almost the whole pe.



[B.C. 323.


Abdication of Ptolemy. Ptolemy Philadelphus
riod of his reign, in waging incessant wars with
the surrounding nations. He engaged in these
wars, in part, for the purpose of extending the
boundaries of his empire, and in part for self-
defense against the aggressions and encroach-
ments of other powers. He finally succeeded
in establishing his kingdom on the most stable
and permanent basis, and then, when he was
drawing toward the close of his life, being in
fact over eighty years of age, he abdicated his
throne in favor of his youngest son, whose name
was also Ptolemy. Ptolemy the father, the
founder of the dynasty, is known commonly in
history by the name of Ptolemy Soter. His
son is called Ptolemy Philadelphus. This son,
though the youngest, was preferred to his broth-
ers as heir to the throne on account of his being
the son of the most favored and beloved of the
monarch's wives. The determination of Soter
to abdicate the throne himself arose from his
wish to put this favorite son in secure possession
of it before his death, in order to prevent the
older brothers from disputing the succession.
The coronation of Philadelphus was made one
of the most magnificent and imposing ceremo-
nies that royal pomp and parade ever arranged.
Two years afterward Ptolemy the father died,


Death of Ptolemy. Subsequent degeneracy of the Ptolemies.
and was buried by his son with a magnificence
almost equal to that of his own coronation. His
body was deposited in a splendid mausoleum,
which had been built for the remains of Alex-
ander; and so high was the veneration which
was felt by mankind for the greatness of his ex-
ploits and the splendor of his reign, that divine
honors were paid to his memory. Such was
the origin of the great dynasty of the Ptolemies.
Some of the early sovereigns of the line fol-
lowed in some degree the honorable example set
them by the distinguished founder of it; but
this example was soon lost, and was succeeded
by the most extreme degeneracy and debase-
ment. The successive sovereigns began soon
to live and to reign solely for the gratification
of their own sensual propensities and passions.
Sensuality begins sometimes with kindness, but
it ends always in the most reckless and intoler-
able cruelty. The. Ptolemies became, in the
end, the most abominable and terrible tyrants
that the principle of absolute and irresponsible
power ever produced. There was one vice in
particular, a vice which they seem to have
adopted from the Asiatic nations of the Persian
empire, that resulted in the most awful conse-
quences. This vice was incest.



[B.C. 283.


Incestuous marriages of the Ptolemy family.
The law of God, proclaimed not only in the
Scriptures, but in the native instincts of the hu-
man soul, forbids intermarriages among those
connected by close ties of consanguinity. The
necessity for such a law rests on considerations
which can not here be fully explained. They
are considerations, however, which arise from
causes inherent.in the very nature of man as a
social being, and which are of universal, per-
petual, and insurmountable force. To guard
his creatures against the deplorable consequen-
ces, both physical and moral, which result from
the practice of such marriages, the great Au-
thor of Nature has implanted in every mind
an instinctive sense of their criminality, pow-
erful enough to give effectual warning of the
danger, and so universal as to cause a distinct
condemnation of them to be recorded in almost
every code of written law that has ever been
promulgated among mankind. The Persian
sovereigns were, however, above all law, and
every species of incestuous marriage was prac-
ticed by them without shame. The Ptolemies
followed their example.
One of the most striking exhibitions of the
nature of incestuous domestic life which is af-
forded by the whole dismal panorama of pagan


Ptolemy Physcon. Origin of his name.
vice and crime, is presented in the history of
the great-grandfather of the Cleopatra who is
the principal subject of this narrative. He was
Ptolemy Physcon, the seventh in the line. It
it is necessary to give some particulars of his
history and that of his family, in order to ex-
plain the circumstances under which Cleopatra
herself came upon the stage. The name Phys-
con, which afterward became his historical des-
ignation, was originally given him in contempt
and derision. He was very small of stature in
respect to height, but his gluttony and sensual-
ity had made him immensely corpulent in body,
so that he looked more like a monster than a
man. The term Physcon was a Greek word,
which denoted opprobiously the ridiculous fig-
ure that he made. --.
The circumstances of Ptolemy Physcon's ac-
cession to the throne afford not only a striking
illustration of his character, but a very faithful
though terrible picture of the manners and mor-
als of the times. He had been engaged in a
long and cruel war with his brother, who was
king before him, in which war he had perpe-
trated all imaginable atrocities, when at length
his brother died, leaving as his survivors his
wife, who was also his sister, and a son who



[B.C. 170.


Circumstances of Physcon's accession. Cleopatra.
was yet a child. This son was properly the
heir.to the crown. Physcon himself, being a
brother, had no claim, as against a son. The
name of the queen was Cleopatra. This was,
in fact, a very common name among the prin.
cesses of the Ptolemaic line. Cleopatra, be-
sides her son, had a daughter, who was at this
time a young and beautiful girl. Her name
was also Cleopatra. She was, of course, the
niece, as her mother was the sister, of Physcon.
The plan of Cleopatra the mother, after her
husband's death, was to make her son the king
of Egypt, and to govern herself, as regent, un-
til he should become of age. The friends and
adherents of Physcon, however, formed a strong
party in his favor. They sent for him to come
to Alexandria to assert his claims to the throne.
He came, and a new civil war was on the point
of breaking out between the brother and sister,
when at length the dispute was settled by a
treaty, in which it was stipulated that Phys-
con should marry Cleopatra, and be king; but
that he should make the son of Cleopatra by
her former husband his heir. This treaty was
carried into effect so far as the celebration of
the marriage with the mother was concerned,
and the establishment of Physcon upon the


Physcon's brutal perfidy. He marries his wife's daughter.
throne. But the perfidious monster, instead of
keeping his faith in respect to the boy, determ-
ined to murder him; and so open and brutal
were his habits of violence and cruelty, that he
undertook to perpetrate the deed himself, in
open day. The boy fled shrieking to the moth-
er's arms for protection, and Physcon stabbed
and killed him there, exhibiting the spectacle
of a newly-married husband murdering the son
of his wife in her very arms!
It is easy to conceive what sort of affection
would exist between a husband and a wife after
such transactions as these. In fact, there had
been no love between them from the'beginning.
The marriage had been solely a political arrange-
ment. Physcon hated his wife, and had mur-
dered her son, and then, as if to complete the
exhibition of the brutal lawlessness and capri-
ciousness of his passions, he ended with falling
in love with her daughter. The beautiful girl
looked upon this heartless monster, as ugly and
deformed in body as he was in mind, with ab-
solute horror. But she was wholly in his power.
He compelled her, by violence, to submit to his
will. He repudiated the mother, and forced
the daughter to become his wife.
Physcon displayed the same qualities of bru-

[B.C. 170.




Atrocities of Physcon. His flight.
tal tyranny and cruelty in the treatment of his
subjects that he manifested in his own domestic
relations. The particulars we can not here give,
but can only say that his atrocities became at
length absolutely intolerable, and a revolt so
formidable broke out, that he fled from the
country. In fact, he barely escaped with his
life, as the mob had surrounded the palace and
were setting it on fire, intending to burn the
tyrant himself and all the accomplices of his
crimes together. Physcon, however, contrived
to make his escape. He fled to the island of
Cyprus, taking with him a certain beautiful
boy, his son by the Cleopatra whom he had di-
vorced; for they had' been married long enough,
before the divorce, to have a son. The name
of this boy was Memphitis. His mother was
very tenderly attached to him, and Physoon
took him away on this very account, to keep
him as a hostage for his mother's good behav-
ior. He fancied that, when he was gone, she
might possibly attempt to resume possession of
the throne.
His expectations in this respect were realized.
The people of Alexandria rallied aeund Cleo-
patra, and called upon her to take the crown.
She did so, feeling, perhaps, some misgivings in


48 CLEOPATRA. [B.C.130.
Cleopatra assumes the government. Her birth-day.
respect to the danger which such a step might
possibly bring upon her absent boy. She quiet-
ed herself, however, by the thought that he was
in the hands of his own father, and that he
could not possibly come to harm.
After some little time had elapsed, and Cle-
opatra was beginning to be well established in
her possession of the supreme power at Alex-
andria, her birth-day approached, and arrange-
ments were made for celebrating it in the most
magnificent manner. When the day arrived,
the whole city was given up to festivities and
rejoicing. Grand entertainments were given in
the palace, and games, spectacles, and plays in
every variety, were exhibited and performed in
all quarters of the city. Cleopatra herself was
enjoying a magnificent entertainment, given to
the lords and ladies of the court and the officers
of her army, in one of the royal palaces.
In the midst of this scene of festivity and
pleasure, it was announced to the queen that a
large box had arrived for her. The box was
brought into the apartment. It had the appear-
ance of containing some magnificent present,
sent in at hat time by some friend in honor of
the occasion. The curiosity of the queen was
excited to know what the mysterious coffer

In. A



Barbarity of Phyacon. Grief of Cleoptra.
might contain. She ordered it to be ope4i
and the guests gathered around, each eager
obtain the first glimpse of the contents. The
lid was removed, and a cloth beneath it was
raised, when, to the unutterable horror of all
who witnessed the spectacle, there was seen the
head and hands of Cleopatra's beautiful boy,
lying among masses of human flesh, which con.
sisted of the rest of his body cut into pieces.
The head had been left entire, that the wretch.
ed mother might recognize in the pale and life-
less features the countenance of her son. Phys-
con had sent the box to Alexandria, with orders
that it should be retained until the evening of
the birth-day, and then presented publicly to
Cleopatra in the midst of the festivities of the
scene. The shrieks and cries with which she
filled the apartments of the palace at the first
sight of the dreadful spectacle, and the agony
of long-continued and inconsolable grief which
followed, showed how well the cruel contrivanb
of the tyrant was fitted to accomplish its end.
It gives us no pleasure to write, and we are
sure it can give our readers no pleasure to pe-
ruse, such shocking stories of bloody cruelty as
these. It is necessary, however, to a just ap.
preciation of the character of the great subject


General character of the Ptolemy family.
of this history, that we should understand the
nature of the domestic influences that reigned
in the family from which she sprung. In fact,
it is due, as a matter of simple justice to her,
that we should know what these influences
were, and what were the examples set before
her in her early life; since the privileges and
advantages which the young enjoy in their ear-
ly years, and, on the other hand, the evil influ-
ences under which they suffer, are to be taken
very seriously into the account when we are
passing judgment upon the follies and sins into
which they subsequently fall.
The monster Physcon lived, it is true, two or
three generations before the great Cleopatra;
but the character of the intermediate genera-
tions, until the time of her birth, continued
much the same. In fact, the cruelty, corrup-
tion, and vice which reigned in every branch of
the royal family increased rather than dimin-
ished. The beautiful niece of Physcon, who, at
the time of her compulsory marriage with him,
evinced such an aversion to the monster, had
become, at the period of her husband's death, as
great a monster of ambition, selfishness, and
cruelty as he. She had two sons, Lathyrus and
Alexander. Physcon, when he died, left the



[B.C. 117.


Lathyrus. Terrible quarrels with his mother.
kingdom of Egypt to her by will, authorizing
her to associate .with her in the government
whichever of these two sons she might choose.
The oldest was best entitled to this privilege,
by his priority of birth; but she preferred the
youngest, as she thought that her own power
would be more absolute in reigning in conjunc-
tion with him, since he would be more com-
pletely under her control. The leading powers,
however, in Alexandria, resisted this plan, and
insisted on Cleopatra's associating her oldest
son, Lathyrus, with her in the government of
the realm. They compelled her to recall Lath-
yrus from the banishment into which she had
sent him, and to put him nominally upon the
throne. Cleopatra yielded to this necessity, but
she forced her son to repudiate his wife, and to
take, instead, another woman, whom she fancied
she could make more subservient to her will.
The mother and the son went on together for a
time, Lathyrus being nominally king, though
her determination that she would rule, and his
struggles to resist her intolerable tyranny, made
their wretched household the scene of terrible
and perpetual quarrels. At last Cleopatra seiz-
ed a number of Lathyrus's servants, the eu-
nuchs who were employed in various offices


Cruelties of Cleopatra. Alexander kills her.
about the palace, and after wounding and mu.
tilating them in a horrible manner, she exhib-
ited them to the populace, saying that it was
Lathyrus that had inflicted the cruel injuries
upon the sufferers, and calling upon them to
arise and punish him for his crimes. In this
and in other similar ways she awakened among
the people of the court and of the city such an
animosity against Lathyrus, that they expelled
him from the country. There followed a long
series of cruel and bloody wars between the
mother and the son, in the course of which each
party perpetrated against the other almost ev-
ety imaginable deed of atrocity and crime. Al-
exander, the youngest son, was so afraid of his
terrible mother, that he did not dare to remain
in Alexandria with her, but went into a sort of
banishment of his own accord. He, however,
finally returned to Egypt. His mother imme-
diately supposed that he was intending to dis-
turb her possession of power, and resolved to de-
stroy him. He became acquainted with her
designs, and, grown desperate by the long-con-
tinued pressure of her intolerable tyranny, he
resolved to bring the anxiety and terror in which
he lived to an end by killing her. This he did,
and then fled the country. Lathyrus, his brother

[B.C. 117.




Cleopatra a type of the family. Her two daughters.
er, then returned, and reigned for the rest of
his days in a tolerable degree of quietness and
peace. At length Lathyrus died, and left the
kingdom to his son, Ptolemy Auletes, who was
the great Cleopatra's father.
We can not soften the picture which is ex-
hibited to our view in the history of this cele-
brated family, by regarding the mother of Au-
letes, in the masculine and merciless traits and
principles which she displayed so energetically
throughout her terrible career, as an exception
to the general character of the princesses who
appeared from time to time in the line. In am-
bition, selfishness, unnatural and reckless cru-
elty, and utter disregard of every virtuous prin-
ciple and of every domestic tie, she was but the
type and representative of all the rest.
She had two daughters, for example, who were
the consistent and worthy followers of such a
mother. A passage in the lives of these sisters
illustrates very forcibly the kind of sisterly af-
fection which prevailed in the family of the
Ptolemies. The case was this:
There were two princes of Syria, a country
lying northeast of the Mediterranean Sea, and
so not very far from Egypt, who, though they
were brothers, were in a state of most deadly


Natural war. Tryphena's hatred of her sister.
hostility to each other. One had attempted to
poison the other, and afterward a war had bro-
ken out between them, and all Syria was suf-
fering from the ravages of their armies. One
of the sisters, of whom we have been speaking,
married one of these princes. Her name was
Tryphena. After some time, but yet while the
unnatural war was still raging between the two
brothers, Cleopatra, the other sister-the same
Cleopatra, in fact, that had been divorced from
Lathyrus at the instance of his mother-es-
poused the other brother. Tryphena was ex-
ceedingly incensed against Cleopatra for mar-
rying her husband's mortal foe, and the implac-
able hostility and hate of the sisters was thence-
forth added to that which the brothers had be-
fore exhibited, to complete the display of unnat-
ural and parricidal passion which this shameful
contest presented to the world.
In fact, Tryphena from this time seemed to
feel a new and highly-excited interest in the
contest, from her eager desire to revenge her-
self on her sister. She watched the progress
of it, and took an active part in pressing for-
ward the active prosecution of the war. The
party of her husband, either from this or some
other causes, seemed to be gaining the day.


[B.C. 101.


Taking of Antioch. Cleopatra fees to a temo.
The husband of Cleopatra was driven from one
part of the country to another, and at length,
in order to provide for the security of his wife,
he left her in Antioch, a large and strongly-
fortified city, where he supposed that she would
be safe, while he himself was engaged in prose-
cuting the war in other quarters where his pres-
ence seemed to be required.
On learning that her sister was at Antioch,
Tryphena urged her husband to attack the place.
He accordingly advanced with a strong detach-
ment of the army, and besieged and took the
city. Cleopatra would, of course, have fallen
into his hands as a captive; but, to escape this
fate, she fled to a temple for refuge. A temple
was considered, in those days, an inviolable sanc-
tuary. The soldiers accordingly left her there.
Tryphena, however, made a request that her
husband would deliver the unhappy fugitive
into her hands. She was determined, she said,
to kill her. Her husband remonstrated with
her against this atrocious proposal. It would
be a wholly useless act of cruelty," said he, "to
destroy her life. She can do us no possible harm
in the future progress of the war, while to mur-
der her under these circumstances will only ex-
asperate her husband and her friends, and nerve


Jealousy of Tryphena. Her resentment increases.
them with new strength for the remainder of
the contest. And then, besides, she has taken
refuge in a temple; and if we violate that sanc-
tuary, we shall incur, by such an act of sacri-
lege, the implacable displeasure of heaven. Con-
sider, too, that she is your sister, and for you to
kill her would be to commit an unnatural and
wholly inexcusable crime."
So saying, he commanded Tryphena to say
no more upon the subject, for he would on no
account consent that Cleopatra should suffer
any injury whatever.
This refusal on the part of her husband to
comply with her request only inflamed Try-
phena's insane resentment and anger the more.
In fact, the earnestness with which he espoused
her sister's cause, and the interest which he
seemed to feel in her fate, aroused Tryphena's
jealousy. She believed, or pretended to believe,
that her husband was influenced by a sentiment
of love in so warmly defending her. The ob-
ject of her hate, from being simply an enemy,
became now, in her view, a rival, and she re-
solved that, at all hazards, she should be de-
stroyed. She accordingly ordered a body of des-
perate soldiers to break into the temple and
seize her. Cleopatra fled in terror to the altar,



[B.C. 101.


Cruel and sacrilegious murder.
and clung to it with such convulsive force that
the soldiers out her hands off before they could
tear her away, and then, maddened by her re-
sistance and the sight of blood, they stabbed her
again and again upon the floor of the temple,
where she fell. The appalling shrieks with
which the wretched victim filled the air in the
first moments of her flight and her terror, sub-
sided, as her life ebbed away, into the most
awful imprecations of the judgments of heaven
upon the head of the unnatural sister whose
implacable hate had destroyed her.

Notwithstanding the specimens that we have
thus given of the character and action of this
extraordinary family, the government of this dy-
nasty, extending, as it did, through the reigns of
thirteen sovereigns and over a period of nearly
three hundred years, has always been considered
one of the most liberal, enlightened, and pros-
perous of all the governments of ancient times
We shall have something to say in the next
chapter in respect to the internal condition of
the country while these violent men were upon
the throne. In the mean time, we will here only
add, that whoever is inclined, in observing the
ambition, the selfishness, the party spirit, the


60 CLEOPATRA. [B.C. 90.
The moral condition of mankind not degenerating.
unworthy intrigues, and the irregularities of
moral conduct, which modern rulers and states-
men sometimes exhibit to mankind in their per-
sonal and political career, to believe in a retro-
gression and degeneracy of national character
as the world advances in age, will be very ef-
fectually undeceived by reading attentively a
full history of this celebrated dynasty, and re-
flecting, as he reads, that the narrative presents,
on the whole, a fair and honest exhibition of the
general character of the men by whom, in an-
cient times, the world was governed.

Internal administration of the Ptolemies.

IT must not be imagined by the reader that
the scenes of vicious indulgence, and reck-
less cruelty and crime, which were exhibited
with such dreadful frequency, and carried to
such an enormous excess in the palaces of the
Egyptian kings, prevailed to the same extent
throughout the mass of the community during
the period of their reign. The internal admin-
istration of government, and the institutions by
which the industrial pursuits of the mass of the
people were regulated, and peace and order pre-
served, and justice enforced between man and
man, were all this time in the hands of men
well qualified, on the whole, for the trusts com-
mitted to their charge, and in a good degree
faithful in the performance of their duties; and
thus the ordinary affairs of government, and the
general routine of domestic and social life, went
on, notwithstanding the profligacy of the kings,
in a course of very tolerable peace, prosperity,
and happiness. During every one of the three



Industry of the people. Its happy effects.
hundred years over which the history of the
Ptolemies extends, the whole length and breadth
of the land of Egypt exhibited, with compara-
tively few interruptions, one wide-spread scene
of busy industry. The inundations came at
their appointed season, and then regularly re-
tired. The boundless fields which the waters
had fertilized were then every where tilled.
The lands were plowed; the seed was sown;
the canals and water-courses, which ramified
from the river in every direction over the
ground, were opened or closed, as the case re-
quired, to regulate the irrigation. The inhab-
itants were busy, and, consequently, they were
virtuous. And as the sky of Egypt is seldom
or never darkened by clouds and storms, the
scene presented to the eye the same unchang-
ing aspect of smiling verdure and beauty, day
after day, and month after month, until the rip.
ened grain was gathered into the store-houses,
and the land was cleared for another inundation.
We say that the people were virtuous be-
cause they were busy; for there is no principle
of political economy more fully established than
that vice in the social state is the incident and
symptom of idleness. It prevails always in those
classes of every great population who are either



Idleness the parent of vice. An idle aristocracy generally vicious
released by the possession of fixed and un.
changeable wealth from the necessity, or ex.
eluded by their poverty and degradation from
the advantage, of useful employment. Wealth
that is free, and subject to its possessor's con-
trol, so that he can, if he will, occupy himself in
the management of it, while it sometimes may
make individuals vicious, does not generally
corrupt classes of men, for it does not make
them idle. But wherever the institutions of a
country are such as to. create an aristocratic
class, whose incomes depend on entailed estates,
or on fixed and permanent annuities, so that the
capital on which they live can not afford them
any mental occupation, they are doomed neces-
sarily to inaction and idleness. Vicious pleas-
ures and indulgences are, with such a class as
a whole, the inevitable result; for the innocent
enjoyments of man are planned and designed by
the Author of nature only for the intervals of
rest and repose in a life of activity. They are
always found wholly insufficient to satisfy one
who makes pleasure the whole end and aim of
his being.
In the same manner, if, either from the influ*
ence of the social institutions of a country, or
from the operation of natural causes which hu-



Degradation and vice. Employment a cure for both.
man power is unable to control, there is a class
of men too low, and degraded, and miserable to
be reached by the ordinary inducements to daily
toil, so certain are they to grow corrupt and de-
praved, that degradation has become in all lan-
guages a term almost synonymous with vice.
There are many exceptions, it is true, to these
general laws. Many active men are very wick-
ed; and there have been frequent instances of
the most exalted virtue among nobles and kings.
Still, as a general law, it is unquestionably true
that vice is the incident of idleness; and the
sphere of vice, therefore, is at the top and at the
bottom of society-those being the regions in
which idleness reigns. The great remedy, too,
for vice is employment. To make a commu-
nity virtuous, it is essential that all ranks and
gradations of it, from the highest to the lowest,
should have something to do.
In accordance with these principles, we ob-
serve that, while the most extreme and abom-
inable wickedness seemed to hold continual and
absolute sway in the palaces of the Ptolemies,
and among the nobles of their courts, the work-
ing ministers of state, and the men on whom
the actual governmental functions devolved, dis-
charged their duties with wisdom and fidelity,




Greatness of Alexandria. Situation of its port
and throughout all the ordinary ranks and gra-
dations of society there prevailed generally a
very considerable degree of industry, prosperity,
and happiness. This prosperity prevailed not
only in the rural districts of the Delta and along
the valley of the Nile, but also among the mer-
chants, and navigators, and artisans of Alex-
Alexandria became, in fact, very soon after
it was founded, a very great and busy city.
Many things conspired to make it at once a
great commercial emporium. In the first place,
it was the depot of export for all the surplus
grain and other agricultural produce which was
raised in such abundance along the Egyptian
valley. .This produce was brought down in
boats to the upper point of the Delta, where the
branches of the river divided, and thence down
the Canopio branch to the city. The city was
not, in fact, situated directly upon this branch,
but upon a narrow tongue of land, at a little
distance from it, near the sea. It was not easy
to enter the channel directly, on account of the
bars and sand-banks at its mouth, produced by
the eternal conflict between the waters of the
river and the surges of the sea. The water
was deep, however, as Alexahder's engineers


Warehouses and granaries. Business of the port,
had discovered, at the place where the city was
built, and, by establishing the port there, and
then cutting a canal across to the Nile, they
were enabled to bring the river and the sea at
once into easy communication.
The produce of the valley was thus brought
down the river and through the canal to the
city. Here immense warehouses and granaries
were erected for its reception, that it might be
safely preserved until the ships that came into
the port were ready to take it away. These
ships came from Syria, from all the coasts of
Asia Minor, from Greece, and from Rome
They brought the agricultural productions of
their own countries, as well as articles of man,
ufacture of various kinds; these they sold to
the merchants of Alexandria, and purchased
the productions of Egypt in return.
The port of Alexandria presented thus a con-
stant picture of life and animation. Merchant
ships were continually coming and going, or
lying at anchor in the roadstead. Seamen were
hoisting sails, or raising anchors, or rowing their
capacious galleys through the water, singing, as
they pulled, to the motion of the oars. Within
the city there was the same ceaseless activity.
Here groups of men were unloading the canal



Saoma Wgre the city. The natives protected in their industry.
boats which had arrived from the river. There
porters were transporting bales of merchandise
or sacks of grain from, a warehouse to a pier,
or from one landing to another. The occasion-
al parading of the king's guards, ot the arrival
and departure of ships of war to land or to take
away bodies of armed men, were occurrences
that sometimes intervened to interrupt, or as
perhaps the people then would have said, to
adorn this scene of useful industry; and now
and then, for a brief period, these peaceful avo-
cations would be wholly suspended and set aside
by a revolt or by a civil war, waged by rival
brothers against each other, or instigated by the
conflicting claims of a mother and son. These
interruptions, however, were comparatively few,
and, in ordinary cases, not of long oontinuanoe.
It was for the interest of all branches of the
royal line to do as little injury as possible to the
commercial and agricultural operations of the
realm. In fact, it was on the prosperity of those
operations that the revenues depended. The
rulers were well aware of this, and so, however
implacably two rival princes may have hated
one another, and however desperately each party
may have struggled to destroy all active com-
batants whom they should find in arms against

Public edifice. The light-home.
them, they were both under every possible in-
ducement to spare the private property and the
lives of the peaceful population. This popula-
tion, in fact, engaged thus in profitable indus-
try, constituted, with the avails of their labors,
the very estate for which the combatants were
Seeing the subject in this light, the Egyptian
sovereigns, especially Alexander and the earlier
Ptolemies, made every effort in their power to
promote the commercial greatness of Alexan-
dria. They built palaces, it is true, but they
also built warehouses. One of the most expen-
sive and celebrated of all the edifices that they
reared was the light-house which has been al-
ready alluded to. This light-house was a lofty
tower, built of white marble. It was situated
upon the island of Pharos, opposite to the city,
and at some distance from it. There was a
sort of isthmus of shoals and sand-bars connect-
ing the island with the shore. Over these shal-
lows a pier or causeway was built, which final-
ly became a broad and inhabited neck. The
principal part of the ancient city, however, was
on the main land.*
See Map of the Delta of the Nile, page 29; also the View
of Alexandria, page 162.


Fame of the light-house. Its conspicuous position.
The curvature of the earth requires that a
light-house on a coast should have a consider-
able elevation, otherwise its summit would not
appear above the horizon, unless the mariner
were very near. To attain this elevation, the
architects usually take advantage of some hill or
cliff, or rocky eminence near the shore. There
was, however, no opportunity to do this at Pha-
ros ; for the island was, like the main land, level
and low. The requisite elevation could only be
attained, therefore, by the masonry of an edi-
fice, and the blocks of marble necessary for the
work had to be brought from a great distance.
The Alexandrian light-house was reared in the
time of Ptolemy Philadelphus, the second mon-
arch in the line. No pains or expense were
spared in its construction. The edifice, when
completed, was considered one of the seven won-
ders of the world. It was indebted for its fame,
however, in some degree, undoubtedly to the
conspicuousness of its situation, rising, as it did,
at the entrance of the greatest commercial em-
porium of its time, and standing there, like a
pillar of cloud by day and of fire by night, to
attract the welcome gaze of every wandering
mariner whose ship came within its horizon,
and to awaken his gratitude by tendering him
its guidance and dispelling his fears.




Mode of lighting the tower. Modern method
The light at the top of the tower was pro-
duced by a fire, made of such combustibles as
would emit the brightest flame. This fire
burned slowly through the day, and then was
kindled up anew when the sun went down, and
was continually replenished through the night
with fresh supplies of fuel. In modern times,
a much more convenient and economical mode
is adopted to produce the requisite illumina-
tion. A great blazing lamp burns brilliantly
in the center of the lantern of the tower, and
all that part of the radiation from the flame
which would naturally have beamed upward,
or downward, or laterally, or back toward the
land, is so turned by a curious system of re-
flectors and polyzonal lenses, most ingeniously
contrived and very exactly adjusted, as to be
thrown forward in one broad and thin, but brill-
iant sheet of light, which shoots out where its
radiance is needed, over the surface of the sea.
Before these inventions were perfected, far the
largest portion of the light emitted by the illu-
mination of light-house towers streamed away
wastefully in landward directions, or was lost
among the stars.
Of course, the glory of erecting such an edi-
fice as the Pharos of Alexandria, and of main-

B.C. 283.] AI, XANIDRIA.

The architect of the Pharos. His ingenious stratagem.
training it in the performance of its functions,
was very great; the question might, however,
very naturally arise whether this glory was
justly due to the architect through whose scien-
tific skill the work was actually accomplished,
or to the monarch by whose power and reour-
ces the architect was sustained. The name of
the architect was Sostratus. He was a Greek,
The monarch was, as has already been stated,
the second Ptolemy, called commonly Ptolemy
Philadelphus. Ptolemy ordered that, in com-
pleting the tower, a marble tablet should be
built into the wall, at a suitable place near the
summit, and that a proper inscription should
be carved upon it, with his name as the builder
of the edifice conspicuous thereon. Sostratus
preferred inserting his own name. He accord-
ingly made the tablet and set it in its place.
He cut the inscription upon the face of it, in
Greek characters, with his own name as the
author of the work. He did this secretly, and
then covered the face of the tablet with an ar-
tificial composition, made with lime, to imitate
the natural surface of the stone. On this outer
surface he out a new inscription, in which he
inserted the name of the king. In process of
time the lime moldered away, the king's in-


Ruins of the Pharos. The Alexandrian library.
scription disappeared, and his own, which thence-
forward continued as long as the building en-
dured, came out to view.
The Pharos was said to have been four hund-
red feet high. It was famed throughout the
world for many centuries; nothing, however,
remains of it now but a heap of useless and
unmeaning ruins.
Besides the light that beamed from the sum-
mit of this lofty tower, there was another cen-
ter of radiance and illumination in ancient Al-
exandria, which was in some respects still more
conspicuous and renowned, namely, an im-
mense library and museum established and
maintained by the Ptolemies. The Museum,
which was first established, was not, as its name
might now imply, a collection of curiosities, but
an institution of learning, consisting of a body
of learned men, who devoted their time to phil-
osophical and scientific pursuits. The institu-
tion was richly endowed, and magnificent build-
ings were erected for its use. The king who
established it began immediately to make a col-
lection of books for the use of the members of
the institution. This was attended with great
expense, as every book that was added to the
collection required to be transcribed with a pen


[B.C. 283.

Immense magnitude of the library. The Serapion.
on parchment or papyrus, with infinite labor and
care. Great numbers of scribes were constant-
ly employed upon this work at the Museum.
The kings who were most interested in forming
this library would seize the books that were pos-
sessed by individual scholars, or that were de-
posited in the various cities of their dominions,
and then, causing beautiful copies of them to be
made by the scribes of the Museum, they would
retain the originals for the great Alexandrian
Library, and give the copies to the men or the
cities that had been thus despoiled. In the
same manner they would borrow, as they called
it, from all travelers who visited Egypt, any
valuable books which they might have in their
possession, and, retaining the originals, give
them back copies instead.
In process of time the library increased to
four hundred thousand volumes. There was
then no longer any room in the buildings of the
Museum for further additions. There was,
however, in another part of the city, a great
temple called the Serapion. This temple was
a very magnificent edifice, or, rather, group of
edifices, dedicated to the god Serapis. The or-
igin and history of this temple were very re-
markable. The legend was this:





The Serapis of Egypt. The Serapis of Greece.
It seems that one of the ancient and long-
venerated gods of the Egyptians was a deity
named Serapis. He had been, among other di.
vinities, the object of Egyptian adoration ages
before Alexandria was built or the Ptolemies
reigned. There was also, by a curious coinci-
dence, a statue of the same name at a great
commercial town named Sinope, which was
built upon the extremity of a promontory which
projected from Asia Minor into the Euxine
Sea.* Sinope was, in some sense, the Alexan-
dria of the north, being the center and seat of a
great portion of the commerce of that quarter
of the world.
The Serapis of Sinope was considered as the
protecting deity of seamen, and the navigators
who came and went to and from the city made
sacrifices to him, and offered him oblations and
prayers, believing that they were, in a great
measure, dependent upon some mysterious and
inscrutable power which he exercised for their
safety in storms. They carried the knowledge
of his name, and tales of his imaginary inter-
positions, to all the places that they visited;
and thus the fame of the god became extended,
first, to all the coasts of the Euxine Sea, and
See map; frontispiece.

Ptolemy's dream. Importance of the statue.
subsequently to distant provinces and kingdoms.
The Serapis of Sinope began to be considered
every where as the tutelar god of seamen.
Accordingly, when the first of the Ptolemies
was forming his various plans for adorning and
aggrandizing Alexandria, he received, he said,
one night, a divine intimation in a dream that
he was to obtain the statue of Serapis from Si-
nope, and set it up in Alexandria, in a suitable
temple which he was in the mean time to erect
in honor of the god. It is obvious that very
great advantages to the city would result from
the accomplishment of this design. In the first
place, a temple to the god Serapis would be a
new distinction for it in the minds of the rural
population, who would undoubtedly suppose that
the deity honored by it was their own ancient
god. Then the whole maritime and nautical
interest of the world, which had been accustom-
ed to adore the god of Sinope, would turn to Al.
exandria as the great center of religious attrac-
tion, if their venerated idol could be carried and
placed in a new and magnificent temple built
expressly for him there. Alexandria could nev-
er be the chief naval port and station of the
world, unless it contained the sanctuary and
shrine of the god of seamen.



Ptolemy's proposal to the King of Sinope. His ultimate success.
Ptolemy sent accordingly to the King of Si-
nope and proposed to purchase the idol. The
embassage was, however, unsuccessful. The
king refused to give up the god. The negotia-
tions were continued for two years, but all in
vain. At length, on account of some failure in
the regular course of the seasons on that coast,
there was a famine there, which became finally
so severe that the people of the city were induc-
ed to consent to give up their deity to the Egyp-
tians in exchange for a supply of corn. Ptole-
my sent the corn and received the idol. He
then built the temple, which, when finished,
surpassed in grandeur and magnificence almost
every sacred structure in the world.
It was in this temple that the successive ad-
ditions to the Alexandrian library were depos-
ited, when the apartments at the Museum be-
came full. In the end there were four hundred
thousand rolls or volumes in the Museum, and
three hundred thousand in the Serapion. The
former was called the parent library, and the
latter, being, as it were, the offspring of the first,
was called the daughter.
Ptolemy Philadelphus, who interested him-
self very greatly in collecting this library, wished
to make it a complete collection of all the books



Mode of obtaining books. The Jewish Scripture.
in the world. He employed scholars to read
and study, and travelers to make extensive
tours, for the purpose of learning what books
existed among all the surrounding nations; and,
when he learned of their existence, he spared
no pains or expense in attempting to procure
either the originals themselves, or the most per-
feet and authentic copies of them. He sent to
Athens and obtained the works of the most cel-
ebrated Greek historians, and then causing, as
in other cases, most beautiful transcripts to be
made, he sent the transcripts back to Athens,
and a very large sum of money with them as
an equivalent for the difference of value between
originals and copies in such an exchange.
In the course of the inquiries which Ptolemy
made into the literature of the surrounding na-
tions, in his search for accessions to his library,
he heard that the Jews had certain sacred writ-
ings in their temple at Jerusalem, comprising
a minute and extremely interesting history of
their nation from the earliest periods, and also
many other books of sacred prophecy and poe-
try. These books, which were, in fact, the He-
brew Scriptures of the Old Testament, were
then wholly unknown to all nations except the
Jews, and among the Jews were known only



Seoelion ofthe Jews. Interest felt in their S~riptues.
to priests and scholars. They were kept sacred
at Jerusalem. The Jews would have consid.
ered them as profaned in being exhibited to the
view of pagan nations. In fact, the learned
men of other countries would not have been
able to read them; for the Jews secluded them-
selves so closely from the rest of mankind, that
their language was, in that age, scarcely ever
heard beyond the confines of Judea and Galilee.
Ptolemy very naturally thought that a copy
of these sacred books would be a great acquisi-
tion to his library. They constituted, in fact,
the whole literature of a nation which was, in
some respects, the most extraordinary that ever
existed on the globe. Ptolemy conceived the
idea, also, of not only adding to his library a
copy of these writings in the original Hebrew,
but of causing a translation of them to be made
into Greek, so that they might easily be read
by the Greek and Roman scholars who were
drawn in great numbers to his capital by the
libraries and the learned institutions which he
had established there. The first thing to be ef.
fected, however, in accomplishing either of these
plans, was to obtain the consent of the Jewish
authorities. They would probably object to giv-
ing up any copy of their sacred writings at alL

JewIaisavm la Egypt. Ptolmy's dewiag
There was one circumstance which led Ptol-
emy to imagine that the Jews would, at that
time particularly, be averse to granting any re-
quest of such a nature coming from an Egyp.
tian king, and that was, that during certain
wars which had taken place in previous reigns,
a considerable number of prisoners had been ta-
ken by the Egyptians, and had been brought to
Egypt as captives, where they had been sold to
the inhabitants, and were now scattered over
the land as slaves. They were employed as
servile laborers in tilling the fields, or in turn-
ing enormous wheels to pump up water from
the Nile. The masters of these hapless bond-
men conceived, like other slave-holders, that they
had a right of property in their slaves. This
was in some respects true, since they had bought
them of the government at the close of the war
for a consideration; and though they obviously
derived from this circumstance no valid propri-
etary right or claim as against the men person-
ally, it certainly would seem that it gave them
a just claim- against the government of whom
they bought, in case of subsequent manumis.
Ptolemy or his minister, for it can not now
be known who was the real actor in these trans-



Ptolemy liberates the slaves. Their ransom pid.
actions, determined on liberating these slaves
and sending them back to their native land, as
a means of propitiating the Jews and inclining
them to listen favorably to the request which
he was about to prefer for a copy of their sacred
writings. He, however, paid to those who held
the captives a very liberal sum for ransom. The
ancient historians, who never allow the interest
of their narratives to suffer for want of a proper
amplification on their part of the scale on which
the deeds which they record were performed,
say that the number of slaves liberated on this
occasion was a hundred and twenty thousand,
and the sum paid for them, as compensation to
the owners, was six hundred talents, equal to
six hundred thousand dollars.* And yet this
was only a preliminary expense to pave the
way for the acquisition of a single series of
books, to add to the variety of the immense
After the liberation and return of the cap-
It will be sufficiently accurate for the general reader of
history to consider the Greek talent, referred to in such trans-
actions as these, as equal in English money to two hundred
and fifty pounds, in American to a thousand dollars. It is
curious to observe that, large as the total was that was paid
for the liberation of these slaves, the amount paid for each in-
dividual was, after all, only a sum equal to about five dollars.



B.C. 298-285.] ALEXANDRIA.

Ptolemy's success. The Septuagint.
tives, Ptolemy sent a splendid embassage to
Jerusalem, with very respectful letters to the
high priest, and with very magnificent pres-
ents. The embassadors were received with the
highest honors. The request of Ptolemy that
he should be allowed to take a copy of the sa-
cred books for his library was very readily
The priests caused copies to be made of all
the sacred writings. These copies were executed
in the most magnificent style, and were splen-
didly illuminated with letters of gold. The
Jewish government also, at Ptolemy's request,
designated a company of Hebrew scholars, six
from each tribe-men learned in both the Greek
and Hebrew languages-to proceed to Alexan-
dria, and there, at the Museum, to make a care-
ful translation of the Hebrew books into Greek.
As there were twelve tribes, and six translators
chosen from each, there were seventy-two trans-
lators in all. They made their translation, and
it was called the Septuagint, from the Latin
septuaginta duo, which means seventy-two.
Although out of Judea there was no feeling of
reverence for these Hebrew Scriptures as books
of divine authority, there was still a strong in-
terest felt in them as very entertaining and cu-


82 CLEOPATRA. [B.C. 298-285.
Early copies of the Septuagint. Present copies.
rious works of history, by all the Greek and
Roman scholars who frequented Alexandria to
study at the Museum. Copies were accord-
ingly made of the Septuagint translation, and
were taken to other countries; and there, in
process of time, copies of the copies were made,
until at length the work became extensively
circulated throughout the whole learned world.
When, finally, Christianity became extended
over the Roman empire, the priests and monks
looked with even a stronger interest than the
ancient scholars had felt upon this early trans-
lation of so important a portion of the sacred
Scriptures. They made new copies for abbeys,
monasteries, and colleges; and when, at length,
the art of printing was discovered, this work
was one of the first on which the magic power
of typography was tried. The original manu-
script made by the scribes of the seventy-two,
and all the early transcripts which were made
from it, have long since been lost or destroyed;
but, instead of them, we have now hundreds of
thousands of copies in compact printed volumes,
scattered among the public and private libraries
of Christendom. In fact, now, after the lapse
of two thousand years, a copy of Ptolemy's Sep.
tuagint may be obtained of any considerable

B.C.298-285.] ALEXANDRIA. 83
Various other plans of the Ptolemies. Means of raising money.
bookseller in any country of the civilized world;
and though it required a national embassage,
and an expenditure, if the accounts are true,
of more than a million of dollars, originally to
obtain it, it may be procured without difficulty
now by two days' wages of an ordinary laborer.
Besides the building of the Pharos, the Mu-
seum, and the Temple of Serapis, the early
Ptolemies formed and executed a great many
other plans tending to the same ends which the
erection of these splendid edifices was designed
to secure, namely, to concentrate in Alexan-
dria all possible means of attraction, commer-
cial, literary, and religious, so as to make the
city the great center of interest, and the com-
-mon resort for all mankind. They raised im-
mense revenues for these and other purposes by
taxing heavily the whole agricultural produce
of the valley of the Nile. The inundations, by
the boundless fertility which they annually pro-
duced, supplied the royal treasuries. Thus the
Abyssinian rains at the sources of the Nile built
the Pharos at its mouth, and endowed the Al-
exandrian library.
The taxes laid upon the people of Egypt to
supply the Ptolemies with funds were, in fact,
so heavy, that only the bare means of subsist.

Heavy taxes. Poverty of the people.
ence were left to the mass of the agricultural
population. In admiring the greatness and glo-
ry of the city, therefore, we must remember
that there was a gloomy counterpart to its
splendor in the very extended destitution and
poverty to which the mass of the people were
every where doomed. They lived in hamlets
of wretched huts along the banks of the river,
in order that the capital might be splendidly
adorned with temples and palaces. They pass-
ed their lives in darkness and ignorance, that
seven hundred thousand volumes of expensive
manuscripts might be enrolled at the Museum
for the use of foreign philosophers and scholars.
The policy of the Ptolemies was, perhaps, on
the whole, the best, for the general advance-
ment and ultimate welfare of mankind, which
could have been pursued in the age in which
they lived and acted; but, in applauding the re-
sults which they attained, we must not wholly
forget the cost which they incurred in attaining
them. At the same cost, we could, at the pres-
ent day, far surpass them. If the people of the
United States will surrender the comforts and
conveniences which they individually enjoy-if
the farmers scattered in their comfortable homes
on the hill-sides and plains throughout the land

Anciendand modern capitals. Liberality of the Ptolemies.
will give up their houses, their furniture, their
carpets, their books, and the privileges of their
children, and then-withholding from the pro-
duce of their annual toil only a sufficient reser-
vation to sustain them and their families through
the year, in a life like that of a beast of burden,
spent in some miserable and naked hovel-send
the rest to some hereditary sovereign residing
upon the Atlantic sea-board, that he may build
with the proceeds a splendid capital, they may
have an Alexandria now that will infinitely ex-
ceed the ancient city of the Ptolemies in splen-
dor and renown. The nation, too, would, in
such a case, pay for its metropolis the same
price, precisely, that the ancient Egyptians paid
for theirs.
The Ptolemies expended the revenues which
they raised by this taxation mainly in a very
liberal and enlightened manner, for the accom-
plishment of the purposes which they had in
view. The building of the Pharos, the removal
of the statue of Serapis, and the endowment of
the Museum and the library were great concep-
tions, and they were carried into effect in the
most complete and perfect manner. All the
other operations which they devised and exe-
cuted for the extension and aggrandizement of



Splendor and renown of Alexandria. Her grt rival.
the city were conceived and executed in the
same spirit of scientific and enlightened liberal-
ity. Streets were opened; the most splendid
palaces were built; docks, piers, and breakwa-
ters were constructed, and fortresses and towers
were armed and garrisoned. Then every means
was employed to attract to the city a great con-
course from all the most highly-civilized nations
then existing. The highest inducements were
offered to merchants, mechanics, and artisans
to make the city their abode. Poets, painters,
sculptors, and scholars of every nation and de-
gree were made welcome, and every facility
was afforded them for the prosecution of their
various pursuits. These plans were all emi-
nently successful. Alexandria rose rapidly to
the highest consideration and importance; and,
at the time when Cleopatra-born to preside
over this scene of magnificence and splendor-
came upon the stage, the city had but one rival
in the world. That rival was Rome.

Rome the rival of Alexandria. Extent of their rule,

W HEN the time was approaching in which
Cleopatra appeared upon the stage, Rome
was perhaps the only city that could be consid-
ered as the rival of Alexandria, in the estima-
tion of mankind, in respect to interest and at.
tractiveness as a capital. In one respect, Rome
was vastly superior to the Egyptian metropolis,
and that was in the magnitude and extent of
the military power which it wielded among the
nations of the earth. Alexandria ruled over
Egypt, and over a few of the neighboring coasts
and islands; but in the course of the three cen.
tries during which she had been acquiring her
greatness and fame, the Roman empire had ex.
tended itself over almost the whole civilized
world. Egypt had been, thus far, too remote
to be directly reached; but the affairs of Egypt
itself became involved at length with the opera-
tions of the Roman power, about the time of
Cleopatra's birth, in a very striking and pecu-
liar manner; and as the consequences of the

88 CLEOPATRA. [B.C. 80.
Extension of the Roman empire. Cleopatra's father.
transaction were the means of turning the whole
course of the queen's subsequent history, a nar-
ration of it is necessary to a proper understand-
ing of the circumstances under which she com-
menced her career. In fact, it was the exten-
sion of the Roman empire to the limits of
Egypt, and the connections which thence arose
between the leading Roman generals and the
Egyptian sovereign, which have made the story
of this particular queen so much more conspic-
uous, as an object of interest and attention to
mankind, than that of any other one of the ten
Cleopatras who rose successively in the same
royal line.
Ptolemy Auletes, Cleopatra's father, was per-
haps, in personal character, the most dissipated,
degraded, and corrupt of all the sovereigns in
the dynasty. He spent his whole time in vice
and debauchery. The only honest accomplish-
ment that he seemed to possess was his skill in
playing upon the flute; of this he was very vain.
He instituted musical contests, in which the
musical performers of Alexandria played for
prizes and crowns; and he himself was accus-
tomed to enter the lists with the rest as a com-
petitor. The people of Alexandria, and the
world in general, considered such pursuits as

Ptolemy's ignoble birth. Cesar and Pompey.
these wholly unworthy the attention of the rep-
resentative of so illustrious a line of sovereigns;
and the abhorrence which they felt for the mon-
arch's vices and crimes was mingled with a feel-
ing of contempt for the meanness of his ambi-
There was a doubt in respect to his title to
the crown, for his birth, on the mother's side,
was irregular and ignoble. Instead, however,
of attempting to confirm and secure his posses-
sion of power by a vigorous and prosperous ad-
ministration of the government, he wholly aban-
doned all concern in respect to the course of
public affairs; and then, to guard against the
danger of being deposed, he conceived the plan
of getting himself recognized at Rome as qne
of the allies of the Roman people. If this were
once done, he supposed that the Roman govern-
ment would feel under an obligation to sustain
him on his throne in the event of any threat-
ened danger.
The Roman government was a sort of repub-
lic, and the two most powerful men in the state
at this time were Pompey and Caesar. Caesar
was in the ascendency at Rome at the time
that Ptolemy made his application for an alli-
ance. Pompey was absent in Asia Minor, be-


Ptolemy purchases the alliance of Rome. Taxes to raise the money.
ing engaged in prosecuting a war with Mith-
radates, a very powerful monarch, who was at
that time resisting the Roman power. Caesar
was very deeply involved in debt, and was, more-
over, very much in need of money, not only for
relief from existing embarrassments, but as a
means of subsequent expenditure, to enable him
to accomplish certain great political schemes
which he was entertaining. After many nego-
tiations and delays, it was agreed that Caesar
would exert his influence to secure an alliance
between the Roman people and Ptolemy, on con-
dition that Ptolemy paid him the sum of six
thousand talents, equal to about six millions of
dollars. A part of the money, Caesar said, was
for Pompey.
The title of ally was conferred, and Ptolemy
undertook to raise the money which he had
promised by increasing the taxes of his kingdom.
The measures, however, which he thus adopt-
ed for the purpose of making himself the more
secure in his possession of the throne, proved
to be the means of overthrowing him. The dis-
content and disaffection of his people, which had
been strong and universal before, though sup-
pressed and concealed, broke out now into open
violence. That there should be laid upon them,


[B.C. 58.


Revolt at Alexandria. Ptolemy's flight.
in addition to all their other burdens, these new
oppressions, heavier than those which they had
endured before, and exacted for such a purpose
too, was not to be endured. To be compelled
to see their country sold on any terms to the
Roman people was sufficiently hard to bear; but
to be forced to raise, themselves, and pay the
price of the transfer, was absolutely intolerable.
Alexandria commenced a revolt. Ptolemy was
not a man to act decidedly against such a dem-
onstration, or, in fact, to evince either calmness
or courage in any emergency whatever. His
first thought was to escape from Alexandria to
save his life. His second, to make the best of
his way to Rome, to call upon the Roman peo-
ple to come to the succor of their ally!
Ptolemy left five children behind him in his
flight. The eldest was the Princess Berenice,
who had already reached maturity. The sec-
ond was the great Cleopatra, the subject of this
history. Cleopatra was, at this time, about
eleven years old. There were also two sons,
but they were very young. One of them was
named Ptolemy.
The Alexandrians determined on raising Ber-
enice to the throne in her father's place, as soon
as his flight was known. They thought that



Berenice. Her marriage with Seleucu.
the sons were too young to attempt to reign in
such an emergency, as it was very probable
that Auletes, the father, would attempt to re-
cover his kingdom. Berenice very readily ac-
cepted the honor and power which were offered
to her. She established herself in her father's
palace, and began her reign in great magnifi-
cence and splendor. In process of time she
thought that her position would be strengthened
by a marriage with a royal prince from some
neighboring realm. She first sent embassadors
to make proposals to a prince of Syria named
Antiochus. The embassadors came back, bring-
ing word that Antiochus was dead, but that he
had a brother named Seleucus, upon whom the
succession fell. Berenice then sent them back
to make the same offers to him. He accepted
the proposals, came to Egypt, and he and Ber-
enice were married. After trying him for a
while, Berenice found that, for some reason or
other, she did not like him as a husband, and,
accordingly, she caused him to be strangled.
At length, after various other intrigues and
much secret management, Berenice succeeded
in a second negotiation, and married a prince,
or a pretended prince, from some country of
Asia Minor, whose name was Arohelaus. She


[B.C. 58.

Cleopatra's early life. Ptolemy an object of contempt.
was better pleased with this second husband
than she had been with the first, and she began,
at last, to feel somewhat settled and establish-
ed on her throne, and to be prepared, as she
thought, to offer effectual resistance to her fa-
ther in case he should ever attempt to re-
It was in the midst of the scenes, and sur-
rounded by the influences which might be ex-
pected to prevail in the families of such a father
and such a sister, that Cleopatra spent those
years of life in which the character is formed.
During all these revolutions, and exposed to all
these exhibitions of licentious wickedness, and
of unnatural cruelty and crime, she was grow-
ing up in the royal palaces a spirited and beau-
tiful, but indulged and neglected child.
In the mean time, Auletes, the father, went
on toward Rome. So far as his character and
his story were known among the surrounding
nations, he was the object of universal obloquy,
both on account of his previous career of de-
grading vice, and now, still more, for this igno-
ble flight from the difficulties in which his vices
and crimes had involved him.
He stopped, on the way, at the island of
Rhodes. It happened that Cato, the great Ro-

94 CLEOPATRA. [B.C. 58.
Ptolemy's interview with Cato. Character of Cato.
man philosopher and general, was at Rhodes at
this time. Cato was a man of stern, unbend-
ing virtue, and of great influence at that period
in public affairs. Ptolemy sent a messenger to
inform Cato of his arrival, supposing, of course,
that the Roman general would hasten, on hear-
ing of the fact, to pay his respects to so great a
personage as he, a king of Egypt-a Ptolemy
-though suffering under a temporary reverse
of fortune. Cato directed the messenger to re-
ply that, so far as he was aware, he had no par-
ticular business with Ptolemy. Say, how-
ever, to the king," he added, that, if he has
any business with me, he may call and see me,
if he pleases."
Ptolemy was obliged to suppress his resent-
ment and submit. He thought it very essen-
tial to the success of his plans that he should
see Cato, and secure, if possible, his interest and
co-operation; and he consequently made prepa-
rations for paying, instead of receiving, the vis-
it, intending to go in the greatest royal state
that he could command. He accordingly ap-
peared at Cato's lodgings on the following day,
magnificently dressed, and accompanied by
many attendants. Cato, who was dressed in
the plainest and most simple manner, and whose


Ptolemy's reception. Cato's advice to him.
apartment was furnished in a style correspond-
ing with the severity of his character, did not
even rise when the king entered the room. He
simply pointed with his hand, and bade the vis-
itor take a seat.
Ptolemy began to make a statement of his
case, with a view to obtaining Cato's influence
with the Roman people to induce them to in-
terpose in his behalf. Cato, however, far from
evincing any disposition to espouse his visitor's
cause, censured him, in the plainest terms, for
having abandoned his proper position in his own
kingdom, to go and make himself a victim and
a prey for the insatiable avarice of the Roman
leaders. "You can do nothing at Rome," he
said, but by the influence of bribes; and all
the resources of Egypt will not be enough to
satisfy the Roman greediness for money." He
concluded by recommending him to go back to
Alexandria, and rely for his hopes of extrication
from the difficulties which surrounded him on
* the exercise of his own energy and resolution
Ptolemy was greatly abashed at this rebuff,
but, on consultation with his attendants and
followers, it was decided to be too late now to
return. The whole party accordingly re-em-


Ptolemy arrives at Rome. His application to Pompey.
barked on board their galleys, and pursued their
way to Rome.
Ptolemy found, on his arrival at the city, that
Caesar was absent in Gaul, while Pompey, on
the other hand, who had returned victorious
from his campaigns against Mithradates, was
now the great leader of influence and power at
the Capitol. This change of circumstances was
not, however, particularly unfavorable; for Ptol-
emy was on friendly terms with Pompey, as he
had been with Casar. He had assisted him in
his wars with Mithradates by sending him a
squadron of horse, in pursuance of his policy of
cultivating friendly relations with the Roman
people by every means in his power. Besides,
Pompey had received a part of the money which
Ptolemy had paid to Caesar as the price of the
Roman alliance, and was to receive his share
of the rest in case Ptolemy should ever be re-
stored. Pompey was accordingly interested in
favoring the royal fugitive's cause. He re-
ceived him in his palace, entertained him in
magnificent style, and took immediate meas-
ures for bringing his cause before the Roman
senate, urging upon that body the adoption of
immediate and vigorous measures for effecting
his restoration, as an ally whom they were

[B.C. 58.


Action of the Roman senate. Plans for restoring Ptolemy.
bound to protect against his rebellious sub-
There was at first some opposition in the
Roman senate against espousing the cause of
such a man, but it was soon put down, being
overpowered in part by Pompey's authority,
and in part silenced by Ptolemy's promises and
bribes. The senate determined to restore the
king to his thront, and began to make arrange-
ments for carrying the measure into effect.
The Roman provinces nearest to Egypt were
Cilicia and Syria, countries situated on the east-
ern and northeastern coast of the Mediterranean
Sea, north of Judea. The forces stationed in
these provinces would be, of course, the most
convenient for furnishing the necessary troops
for the expedition. The province of Cilicia was
under the command of the consul Lentulus.
Lentulus was at this time at Rome; he had
repaired to the capital for some temporary pur-
pose, leaving his province and the troops sta-
tioned there under the command, for the time,
of a sort of lieutenant general named Gabinius.
It was concluded that this Lentulus, with his
Syrian forces, should undertake the task of re-
instating Ptolemy on his throne.
While these plans and arrangements were

Measures of Berenice. Her embassage to Rome.
yet immature, a circumstance occurred which
threatened, for a time, wholly to defeat them.
It seems that when Cleopatra's father first left
Egypt, he had caused a report to be circulated
there that he had been killed in the revolt.
The object of this stratagem was to cover and
conceal his flight. The government of Berenice
soon discovered the truth, and learned that the
fugitive had gone in the direction of Rome.
They immediately inferred that he was going
to appeal to the Roman people for aid, and they
determined that, if that were the case, the Ro-
man people, before deciding in his favor, should
have the opportunity to hear their side of the
story as well as his. They accordingly made
preparations at once for sending a very impos-
ing embassage to Rome. The deputation con.
sisted of more than a hundred persons. The
object of Berenice's government in sending so
large a number was not only to evince their
respect for the Roman people, and their sense
of the magnitude of the question at issue, but
also to guard against any efforts that Ptolemy
might make to intercept the embassage on the
way, or to buy off the members of it by bribes.
The number, however, large as it was, proved
insufficient to accomplish this purpose. The

(B.C. 57.



Ptolemy's treachery. Its consequences.
whole Roman world was at this time in such a
condition of disorder and violence, in the hands
of the desperate and reckless military leaders
who then bore sway, that there were every where
abundant facilities for the commission of any
conceivable crime. Ptolemy contrived, with the
assistance of the fierce partisans who had es-
poused his cause, and who were deeply interest-
ed in his success on account of the rewards
which were promised them, to waylay and de-
stroy a large proportion of this company before
they reached Rome. Some were assassinated;
some were poisoned; some were tampered with
and bought off by bribes. A small remnant
reached Rome; but they were so intimidated
by the dangers which surrounded them, that
they did not dare to take any public action in
respect to the business which had been com-
mitted to their charge. Ptolemy began to con-
gratulate himself on having completely circum-
vented his daughter in her efforts to protect
* herself against his designs.
Instead of that, however, it soon proved that
the effect of this atrocious treachery was exact-
ly the contrary of what its perpetrators had ex-
pected. The knowledge of the facts became
gradually extended among the people of Rome,


Opposition to Ptolemy. The prophecy.
and it awakened a universal indignation. The
party who had been originally opposed to Ptol-
emy's cause seized the opportunity to renew
their opposition; and they gained so much
strength from the general odium which Ptol-
emy's crimes had awakened, that Pompey found
it almost impossible to sustain his cause.
At length the party opposed to Ptolemy
found, or pretended to find, in certain sacred
books, called the Sibylline Oracles, which were
kept in the custody of the priests, and were sup-
posed to contain prophetic intimations of the
will of Heaven in respect to the conduct of pub-
lic affairs, the following passage:
If a king of Egypt should apply to you
for aid, treat him in a friendly manner, but do
not furnish him with troops; for if you do, you
will incur great danger."
This made new difficulty for Ptolemy's
friends. They attempted, at first, to evade this
inspired injunction by denying the reality of it.
There was no such passage to be found, they *
said. It was all an invention of their enemies.
This point seems to have been overruled, and
then they attempted to give the passage some
other than the obvious interpretation. Finally,
they maintained that, although it prohibited



[B.C. 57.

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