It seemed that bewitched

Cleopatra reëntered Alexandria without opposition, but the civil war
which threatened between the adherents of Cæsar and the republicans
made her situation difficult and her crown precarious. The ally of the
Roman people, she could not remain neutral in the struggle; but at
the risk of the victors’, whoever they might be, making her pay the
penalty of her desertion by annexing Egypt to the empire, she inclined
to the Triumvirs; for the partisans of Cæsar had been less inimical
to her while in Rome, and Antony, through policy indeed, rather than
friendship, had spoken in favor of her son’s succession. On the other
hand, if the Triumvirs possessed the West, their adversaries were
almost the masters of the East, and directly threatened Egypt. At
the very commencement of hostilities Cassius, who with eight legions
occupied Syria, called upon Cleopatra to send him reënforcements, and
almost at the same time one of the lieutenants of Antony, Dolabella,
besieged in Laodicea, addressed the same demand to her.

Cassius was seemingly victorious, Dolabella the reverse; prudence
would have advised to side with the former, nevertheless Cleopatra
remained faithful to her tacit alliance with the Cæsarians. Four
Roman legions, two left by Cæsar and two composed of the veterans of
Gabinius, were stationed at Alexandria. The queen commanded them to
set out for Laodicea, but the envoy of Dolabella, Allienus, who had
taken the command of these troops, came upon the army of Cassius in
Syria. Whether from pusillanimity or premeditated treachery, Allienus
united his legions with those of the enemy against whom he was leading
them, and only a single Egyptian squadron, which Cleopatra had also
despatched to Laodicea, reached Antony.

Soon after the departure of the legions, 43 B. C., the young king
Ptolemy died suddenly. Cleopatra was accused of having him poisoned.
This crime, which is far from being authenticated, is by no means
improbable. It may be that when Cleopatra by the departure of the Roman
soldiers found herself without any reliable troops, she dreaded either
a conspiracy in the palace or an insurrection which would drive her
from the throne to place on it her brother. Six years previously the
same circumstance had resulted to the advantage of her other brother,
and Cleopatra had nearly fallen a victim. Immediately on the death of
Ptolemy XIII., the queen took as the sharer of the throne her young son
Ptolemy-Cæsarion, then four years of age.

Stationed at Cyprus was an Egytian fleet. Cassius sent orders direct to
the navarch Sarapion, who commanded it, to unite with the republican
fleet, and the latter obeyed without even referring to his sovereign.
Not satisfied with the four legions and the squadron which he had
already received from Cleopatra, much against her will, indeed, Cassius
again sent her word to furnish him new supplies of troops, ships,
provisions, and money. The queen, who feared an invasion, which she was
without forces to repel, sought to temporize. She expressed her regrets
to Cassius that she could not at once send him aid, Egypt being ruined
by famine and pestilence. Famine indeed reigned there by reason of an
insufficient inundation of the Nile, but Egypt was not ruined for all
that, and whilst Cleopatra was evading the demands of Cassius she was
preparing a new fleet to assist the Triumvirs. Cassius was not deceived
by the diplomacy of Cleopatra’s envoy. He determined to invade Egypt.
He had already set out on his march when Brutus, on the approach of the
army of Antony, summoned him into Macedonia. Then Cleopatra sent her
fleet to join the party of the Cæsarians, but on the way this fleet was
dispersed and almost utterly destroyed by a tempest. Throughout this
war ill-fortune seemed to pursue Cleopatra—with the best will to second
the Triumvirs she had been able to give them almost no assistance; on
the contrary, she had furnished reënforcements to the republicans,
who, well knowing that these reënforcements had been most unwillingly
supplied, desired to take vengeance for her reluctance.

The battle of Philippi freed Cleopatra from her anxiety on the score of
the republicans; but she had still to fear the penalty of her apparent
desertion of the Triumvirs. After his victory over Brutus, Antony
overran Greece and Asia Minor for the purpose of levying tribute, and
was everywhere received as a conqueror. Cities and kings vied with
each other in adulation, heaped up honors and lavished gifts on him
to secure immunity for the succor they had afforded, willingly or by
force, to the vanquished party. At Athens, Megara, Ephesus, Magnesia,
and Tarsus embassies and royal visits followed each other. To preserve
to their kingdoms a quasi-autonomy, every petty sovereign of Asia
hastened to obtain from the powerful triumvir a new investiture of his
crown. Cleopatra alone, whether from queenly pride or womanly art,
remained in Egypt and sent no ambassador; she seemed to pretend to
ignore that the victory at Philippi had rendered Antony the master of
the East.

The silence of Cleopatra surprised and irritated Antony. Perhaps
wounded pride was not the only sentiment in the soul of the triumvir.
When he was commanding the cavalry of Gabinius he had seen Cleopatra,
then fifteen years old; he had seen her again at Rome, the year of
Cæsar’s death. Without agreeing wholly with Appian, that Antony was
already in love with the queen of Egypt, it may be credited that her
beauty and her attractions had made on him a deep impression. He
remembered the “Siren of the Nile,” and amid the visits of so many
kings and powers it was, above all, hers that he awaited, but awaited
in vain. In the position of Antony, however, to speak was to be obeyed.
He commanded Cleopatra to repair to Tarsus, to vindicate before his
tribunal her ambiguous conduct during the civil war. Antony enjoyed in
advance this deliciously cruel pleasure: the beautiful Cleopatra, the
haughty queen of Egypt, the woman at whose feet he had seen the divine
Julius, coming to him as a suppliant.

Quintus Dellius, a creature of Antony’s, was appointed to bear the
message to Cleopatra. This Dellius, an unscrupulous intriguer and
agreeable man of pleasure, had by turns betrayed all men and all
parties. He was called “The Hunter of the Civil Wars”—_Desultor
bellorum civilium_. He was destined to die the friend of Horace, who
dedicated an ode to him, and the friend of Augustus who enriched him.
In the meanwhile he was going to make use of Cleopatra to enable him to
attain still higher favor with Antony. At the first audience granted
him by the beautiful queen, he understood the passion of Cæsar and
foresaw that of Antony. Feeling that Cleopatra would captivate the
triumvir at the first glance, he saw at once the advantage to be gained
in the near future from the patronage of the Egyptian queen; and from
the envoy of Antony he suddenly became the courtier of Cleopatra,
and from an ambassador an intermeddler. He exhorted the queen to
hasten into Cilicia, assuring her that, despite his appearance and
manners suitable to the amphitheater, the rough soldier of Pharsalia
and Philippi was not so ferocious as he seemed. “Never,” said he,
“will Antony call tears to eyes so beautiful, and far from causing
you the least pain he will fulfil your every wish.” Dellius found no
difficulty in persuading Cleopatra: she saw, shining through his words,
the dawn of a new fortune equal to that which she had dreamed of as
the mistress of Cæsar. According to a somewhat doubtful tradition,
Dellius might have succeeded in more than securing the attention of
Cleopatra: he might have made himself beloved by her. Be this as it
may, the queen, yielding to his counsels, determined to set out for
Tarsus, but in order to enhance the value of the proceeding and to make
it more effective she was careful not to precipitate it, and under
various pretexts she often delayed her departure, notwithstanding
the entreaties of Dellius and the messages constantly increasing in
earnestness despatched by Antony.

On a day when the triumvir on his judgment-seat was giving public
audience in the midst of the agora of Tarsus, a great uproar arose on
the banks of the Cydnus. Antony inquired what it meant. Flatterers as
all Greeks are, the Cilicians replied that it was Aphrodite herself
who, for the happiness of Asia, was coming to visit Bacchus. Antony
liked to assume the name of Bacchus. The crowd which thronged the
public square rushed in a body to the shore. Antony was left alone
with his lictors in the deserted agora—his dignity kept him there, but
he fidgets in his curule chair, till finally curiosity gains the day.
Unaccustomed to self-control, he, also, descends to the strand. The
sight is worth the trouble—a vision divine which carries one back to
the dawn of mythologic times. Cleopatra is entering Tarsus, ascending
the Cydnus on a vessel plated with gold over which float sails of
Tyrian purple. The silver oars rise and fall in measured cadence to
the music of Greek lyres and Egyptian harps. The queen, the goddess
Cleopatra, lying beneath an awning of cloth of gold which shades the
deck, appears as the painters usually represent Aphrodite, surrounded
by rosy children like the Loves, beautiful young girls scarcely clad
with lightest drapery as Graces and sea-nymphs, bearing garlands of
roses and the lotus-flower and waving great fans of the feathers of
the ibis. On the prow of the vessel other Nereides form groups worthy
the brush of Apelles; Loves suspended to the yards and rigging seem
descending from the skies. Incense and spikenard kept burning by slaves
surround the vessel with a light and odorous vapor which sends its
perfume to both banks of the stream.

Antony at once despatched one of his favorites to Cleopatra to request
her to sup with him that same night. Cleopatra, availing herself
doubtless of her title of goddess rather than of that of queen—a queen
of Egypt was nobody in comparison with a triumvir—made response that it
was she who invited Antony to supper, and the Roman did not decline the
invitation. He went at the hour appointed to the palace, which several
days previously Cleopatra had had secretly prepared with gorgeous
magnificence. The banquet-hall, sumptuously adorned, shone with the
brilliancy of chandeliers, candelabra, and a multitude of golden
sconces arranged symmetrically in circles, lozenges, etc. The feast,
worthy of its decorations, abounded in nectarean wines served in vases
of solid gold, and in rare and artistic viands prepared by a master
hand. Antony was a great gastronomist, and three months before this had
given his cook a house for a dish that pleased him. He would have given
a whole town to the cook of Cleopatra. As for the beautiful Egyptian,
the triumvir was already willing to give her the whole world. The next
day Antony gave a supper to the queen. He hoped to surpass, by means
of money, the magnificence of his reception, but he was the first to
recognize his inability to rival her as an Amphitryon, and, clever man
that he was,[3] he jested gaily in Cleopatra’s presence at his meanness
and coarse taste. Probably in these two entertainments there was no
mention of the grievances, real or pretended, with which Rome charged
Cleopatra. Antony had no longer any thought of summoning her before his
tribunal as a suppliant—the suppliant would have been Antony himself
if Cleopatra had rejected his advances. Henceforth it was the queen
that commanded; the all-powerful triumvir had become the “slave of the
Egyptian woman,” as Dion Cassius indignantly exclaims.

The first advantage Cleopatra took of her power was to have her son, by
Cæsar, Ptolemy-Cæsarion, recognized as legitimate heir to the crown of
Egypt. At Antony’s request the decree was immediately ratified by his
colleagues, Octavius and Lepidus. Antony alleged as a pretext for this
favor to Cleopatra, the services she rendered to the Romans during the
civil war. After having satisfied her ambition, Antony became without
difficulty the executor of her revenge. Like most women the beautiful
queen was vindictive, and like Dionysius the Tyrant, she carried her
prudence to the extent of crime. Her sister Arsinoë had escaped from
Rome, where she had contributed to Cæsar’s triumph; she had found
an asylum at Miletus. Whether Cleopatra feared that, ambitious and
intriguing as she had already shown herself in the War of Alexandria,
she might again create trouble in Egypt, or simply to avenge herself
for Arsinoë’s former conduct, the queen besought Antony to have her put
to death. One crime more or less weighed but little on the conscience
of the proscriber of the year 711 A. U. C. The unfortunate Arsinoë was
murdered in the temple of Artemis Leucophryne, where she had sought
refuge from the hired assassins of Antony. An Egyptian, also a refugee
in Asia Minor where he passed himself off as Ptolemy XII., drowned as
was well-known in the Nile, was also put to death. Cleopatra bore an
ill-will, the cause of which is not known, also to Megabyses, of the
great temple of Ephesus. He was arrested by Antony’s order, and his
life was saved only by the interference of the magistrates of the city,
speaking in the name of the people, who rose in insurrection to rescue
him. At the same time, Sarapion, the former commander of the Egyptian
squadron at Cyprus, was beheaded by the order of Antony, thus avenging
Cleopatra for the defection of her officer and Antony for the aid given
to Cassius. When Cleopatra arrived at Tarsus in the summer of 41 B. C.,
Antony was preparing to march against the Parthians. At the end of a
month the concentration of his troops was accomplished, the fleets
ready, and no obstacle remained to the departure of the army. But this
month had been passed with Cleopatra, and Antony had found it very
short. Listening only to his passion, he put off the expedition till
the spring and followed the queen into Egypt.

Then began that mad life of pleasure and debauchery, that long and
sumptuous orgy, which even in the third century of our era, and after
the excesses of Nero and Heliogabalus, was still quoted in the Roman
world, though then slaves to every corruption and exhausted in efforts
of magnificence, as an inimitable model.

Οι Αχιμητοδιοι: “Those whose life is inimitable.” This, moreover, was
the name assumed by Antony and Cleopatra and the intimate companions of
their pleasures.[4] Plutarch and Dion relate that festival succeeded
to festival, entertainment to entertainment, and hunting parties to
excursions on the Nile. Cleopatra quitted Antony neither day nor night.
She drank with him, she gambled with him, hunted with him, she was
even present at his military exercises when by chance this man of war,
remembering that he was a soldier, took a fancy to review his legions.
It is further related that Cleopatra was incessantly inventing some
new diversion, some unexpected pleasure. But this list is very brief,
this sketch a very modest and faint description to give an idea of
the superb orgies, the unrestrained voluptuousness, and the nameless
prodigalities of the “Inimitables.” Pliny alone of the ancient writers
has summed them up, perhaps unknown to himself, in the legend, more or
less symbolic, of the Pearl. One day, says this writer, when Antony was
extolling the luxuriousness and profusion of a certain entertainment,
he exclaimed that no other could surpass it. Cleopatra, who always
affected to put no limit to the possible, replied that the present
feast was a wretched affair, and she laid a wager that the next day
she would give one on which she would expend ten millions of sesterces
(two millions one hundred thousand francs). Antony took the bet. The
next day the feast, magnificent as it was, had nothing to distinguish
it from the preceding, and Antony did not fail to rally Cleopatra. “Per
Bacchus,” cried he, “this would never cost ten millions of sesterces!”
“I know that,” replied the queen, “but you see only the accessories. I
myself will drink alone the ten millions,” and at once detaching from
her ear a single pearl—the largest and most perfect ever seen—she threw
it into a golden cup, in which it was dissolved in the vinegar there
prepared, and swallowed at one draught the acid beverage. She was about
to sacrifice the second pearl when L. Plancus, the umpire of the wager,
arrested her hand by declaring that she had won.[5]

Picture to yourself the most costly materials, marbles, breccia,
granites, ebony and cedar woods, porphyry, basalt, agate, onyx,
lapis-lazuli, bronze, silver, ivory, and gold; conceive the most
imposing Egyptian, the most beautiful Grecian architecture, imagine
the Parthenon and the temple of Jupiter Olympus, the Pavilion of
Rameses, and the ruins of Apollinopolis Magna; recreate the royal
palaces of Alexandria, which, with their dependencies, their gardens,
their terraces, rising one above another, made up a third of the
city: reconstruct the massive enclosures—those double pylons into
which opened avenues bordered with sphinxes; those obelisks, those
magnificent propylæa, those saloons three hundred feet long and a
hundred and fifty wide, supported by vast columns, in which rise
double rows of pillars ten meters in circumference and twenty meters
in height, bursting into lotus blossoms at their summits; those
sanctuaries with their screens enameled in gold and tortoiseshell,
and studded with gems; those long picture galleries adorned with
the paintings of Zeuxis, Apelles, and Protogenes; those magnificent
thermæ with their calidaria, their basins of hot and cold water, their
retiring-rooms with walls of red porphyry, their porticos adorned
with statues; those gymnasia, theaters, hippodromes, those stages
covered with saffron powder, those triclinia where the couches of
embossed silver rested on Babylonian carpets; those atria with their
uncovered roofs, sustained by Corinthian columns with capitals of
golden bronze, by day shaded by purple awnings, the silk of which
was worth its weight in gold, and at night open to the starry sky.
See, at all seasons, blooming in the gardens roses and violets, and
scatter the pavements of onyx and mosaics four times a day with fresh
flowers; people this scenery with crowds of slaves, pipers, players
of the harp and psaltery, dancers, actors, Atellans [of the drama,
as at Atellan, of lascivious character, Atellanæ], acrobats, mimes,
gymnasts, ballet-dancers, and serpent-charmers. Load these tables with
oysters from Tarentum, lampreys dressed with garum, bonitos cooked
in fig-leaves, pink ousels, quails, pheasants, swans, geese livers,
stews made of the brains of birds, hares cooked rare and dusted with
coriander seeds, truffles as large as the fist which were assumed to
fall from the sky like aërolites, cakes of honey and wheat flour, and
the most delicious fruits of the Mediterranean basin. In the kitchens,
roasting before the fires on immense hearths, for the entertainment of
fifteen guests, twelve wild boars, spitted successively at intervals
of three minutes, so that, according to the duration of the feast,
one of these animals might be exactly cooked at the very moment it
was required to be served. Cool in snow the old Cæcuban wine, the
Falernian ripened for twenty years, the wines of Phlemtes, Chios,
Issa, the imperial wine of Lesbos, the ripe wine of Rhodes, the sweet
wine of Mitylene, the Saprian, smelling of violets, and the Thasos,
said to “rekindle failing love.” Light up the lamps, the torches, and
the chandeliers, wind the pillars with streamers of fire; open the
mouths of the bronze colossi that the icy water may flow and cool the
atmosphere, and the breasts of Isis that the sweet waters may perfume
it; call in the choirs of singing women with their harps and cythera,
and the females who dance nude with castanets of gold in their hands;
add to them representations of comedies, the farces of mimes, the
tricks of jugglers, and the phantasmagorias of the magicians; offer
mock engagements in the harbor, and in the hippodrome chariot races
and combats between lions; summon the masqueraders and witness the
processions where cluster, around the golden car of Bacchus and the
Cyprian, fifteen hundred satyrs, a thousand cupids, and eight hundred
beautiful slaves as nymphs and mimes. Finally, imagine all that Asiatic
pomp, Egyptian state, and Grecian refinement and depravity, and Roman
power and licentiousness blended in a single form—a sensual and
splendid woman, delighting in pleasure and sumptuousness—can achieve
with such elements and you will have some idea, though very vague and
feeble, of the “Life Inimitable.”

Sometimes Antony and Cleopatra indulged in more vulgar pleasures.
Disguised, she as a barmaid, and he as a porter or a sailor, they
ran, by night, about the streets of Alexandria, knocking at the doors
of houses, abusing belated pedestrians, entering low lodging-houses,
and quarreling with drunken men. To the great delight of Antony these
frolics usually ended in fights. Despite his strength and skill, the
Roman did not always win, and Cleopatra was sometimes well splashed
with mud; but victors or vanquished, the lovers returned happy to the
palace, quite willing to renew their adventures. The secret, however,
escaped, and thenceforth the royal pair were handled more cautiously,
without being entirely spared.[6]

These follies did not turn the Alexandrians against the triumvir as
much as might have been supposed. If they had little esteem for him,
they liked him for his good humor, and the ease with which he was
approached. They delighted to say: “Antony wears for the Romans a
tragic mask, but here he lays it aside, and assumes for us the mask of
comedy.” His intimate companions and his officers, who shared without
scruple his voluptuous and unbridled excesses, were still less inclined
to resent them, for, like himself, they yielded to the bewitching charm
of Cleopatra. They loved, they admired her, they bore cheerfully her
snubs and sarcasms, and were not shocked, even if in the midst of a
feast, at a sign from Antony, she quitted the banquet hall with him,
and returning after a short absence resumed her position on the couch
of the triclinium. They studied to please and divert her, each strove
to be the vilest toady to the queen—“humillimus assentator reginæ”—for
a smile of Cleopatra they sacrificed all dignity. Once, L. Plancus, a
man of consular dignity, crowned with rushes, a fish’s tail attached to
his loins, and his naked body painted blue, actually performed in her
presence the dance of Glaukos.

With Cæsar, Cleopatra had instinctively played the part of a crowned
Aspasia, ever bewitching, but uniting dignity with grace, concealing
the courtesan beneath the robe of a queen, ever equable in mood,
expressing herself in the choicest language, talking politics, art,
literature, her marvelous faculties rising without effort to the level
of the lofty intelligence of the dictator: with Antony, Cleopatra, at
first through policy, afterwards through love, played the part of a
Laïs born by chance to a throne. Seeing at once that the inclinations
of Antony were coarse and low, that his wit was commonplace and his
language very loose, she immediately set herself to the same tone. She
kept pace with this great drinker, remaining even till dawn with the
foaming flagons and goblets continually replenished; she accompanied
him by night into the suspicious streets of Rhakotis, the old portion
of Alexandria; she jested cynically, sang amatory songs, recited
licentious poems; she quarreled with him, provoking and returning
both abuse and blows. Nothing delighted Antony like the sight of that
ravishing little hand threatening and beating him, or to hear from
those divine lips, fit for the choruses of Sophocles or the odes of
Sappho, the same words that he had heard bandied among the guard of the
Esquiline gate and in the unmentionable dens of the Suburra.

In the winter of 39 B. C. the war of Persia recalled Antony into
Italy. Through ambition or resentment against Octavius, and also, says
Plutarch, through jealousy, Fulvia his wife had fomented this war. She
hoped that these disturbances would compel Antony to leave Cleopatra,
in order to defend his power threatened in Rome. Fulvia had succeeded
but too well. Antony, it is true, was sailing towards Brundusium with
two hundred sail, but the victorious Octavius was all-powerful in
Italy, his adversaries dispersed or proscribed; she herself had fled
and was dying, without a hope of again seeing her husband. Antony heard
of her death while touching at a port in Sicily. This, in the end, made
a peace easy. Antony had taken no part in the war of Persia; Fulvia
alone, aided by her father-in-law, had excited it; her death rendered
an accommodation possible between Antony and Octavius. Cocceius Nerva,
Pollio, and Mecænas contrived an interview at Brundusium. They were
reconciled and made a new division of the empire: Octavius took the
West, as far as the Adriatic; Antony, the East; and Lepidus had to be
content with the Roman possessions in Africa.

The treaty of Brundusium gave great satisfaction at Rome, where,
after so much dissension and bloodshed, peace was ardently desired.
To secure the fulfilment of it, the friends of the Triumvirs sought
to unite them by family ties, and they proposed a marriage between
Antony, who had just lost his wife, and Octavia, sister of Octavius,
the widow of Marcellus. This noble woman, who to the rarest qualities
added great beauty of person, could not fail, they thought, to secure
and fix the love of Antony; she would thus maintain harmony between
the brothers-in-law, to the great advantage of both and the good of
the state. Octavius gladly accepted the project, and notwithstanding
the passion he still entertained for Cleopatra, Antony, in view of the
political advantages of this union, took good care not to refuse. The
marriage was forthwith celebrated. The law forbade widows to marry
before the tenth month, but the senate granted a dispensation to the
sister of Octavius.

Antony remained at Rome during nearly the whole year 39 B. C. He lived
in perfect accord with Octavius and shared with him the government of
the empire; but although he had an equal part in authority and honors
he felt that he was only second in Rome. In his justifiable pride as
an old soldier, an accomplished warrior, the lieutenant of Cæsar at
Pharsalia, and commander-in-chief at Philippi, he was indignant when
he thought of the supremacy, acknowledged by all, of this almost
beardless youth. A famous Egyptian soothsayer, whom probably Cleopatra
herself had despatched to Rome, encouraged Antony in these ideas by
his predictions and horoscopes. “Your tutelar genius dreads that of
Octavius,” said he constantly. “Proud and lofty when alone, he loses
power when you are with Octavius. Here your star is eclipsed; it is
only away from Rome—it is in the East that it shines in full luster.”
A new revolt of the Parthians gave Antony a pretext for leaving Rome.
He set out with Octavia, and touched first at Athens. There he remained
during the winter of 39–38 B. C., forgetting not only the Parthians
(leaving his lieutenant Ventidius to conduct the war against them), but
Alexandria, the “Life Inimitable,” and Cleopatra herself.[7] Doubtless
he did not love his new wife, the beautiful Octavia, as ardently as he
had loved Cleopatra, or in the same way, but assuredly he did love her.
As feeble in will as powerful in body, Antony, the slave of woman, was
easily dominated. Erewhile Fulvia had enslaved him, then Cleopatra had
bewitched him, now he yielded to the quiet charm of Octavia.

At the close of the winter he undertook a brief campaign into Syria
against Antiochus of Commagene, and soon after returned to Athens,
where he remained two years. In 36, a new difficulty occurring between
him and Octavius on the subject of the naval expedition against the
pirates, in which he had refused to second the latter, civil war
again became imminent. Antony planned a descent upon Italy, with three
hundred vessels; Octavius, on his side, collected his legions; if
blood did not yet flow, swords were half unsheathed. In the hope of
preventing this unnatural war, Octavia entreated Antony to take her
with him into Italy. The port of Brundusium having refused entrance to
Antony’s fleet, his vessels moored before Tarentum. Informed of this,
Octavius was leading his troops by forced marches against that city.
Octavia desired to land alone. She went to meet Octavius on the way to
Venosa; passing through the outposts and sentinels, she approached her
brother, who was attended by Agrippa and Mecænas. She warmly pleaded
the cause of Antony, and especially conjured Octavius not to reduce her
from the happiest of women to the most miserable. “At this moment,”
said she, “the eyes of the world are upon me, the wife of one of the
rulers of Rome, and the sister of the other. Should the counsel of
wrath prevail, should war be declared, it may be doubtful to which of
you two Fate may give the victory, but it is certain to whichever it
inclines I shall be in grief and desolation.” The ambitious Octavius
was already coveting universal dominion, but he was a temporizer. He
yielded to the prayers of Octavia, and for the second time this woman,
who was the good genius of Antony, maintained the peace of the Roman
world. The two triumvirs met on the shores of the Gulf of Tarentum, and
after having lavished on each other various marks of affection they
agreed to renew the triumvirate for five years. Octavius gave Antony
two legions to reënforce his army of the East, and in return Antony
gave up one hundred triremes with brazen rostra and twenty Liburnian
galleys for his Mediterranean fleet. These were the vessels that were
to conquer at Actium! From Tarentum, Octavia returned alone to Rome
with the two children she had borne to Antony; he himself embarked for
Asia Minor, whither he was summoned by the war with the Parthians. The
pair agreed to meet again, the expedition over, either at Athens or at
Rome, when Antony hoped to receive the honors of a triumph.

From the winter of 39 to the summer of 36 B. C., for three long years,
Cleopatra remained thus parted from Antony. She was queen of Egypt and
Cyprus, she had borne one son to Cæsar and two to Antony, she possessed
immense revenues and treasures inexhaustible, but she suffered in her
pride and in her love from the desertion of the triumvir. Cleopatra
at twenty years of age had in all probability not loved Cæsar, who
was over fifty. She loved Antony. In fact, though she had at first
given herself to the triumvir through policy, yet she soon felt for
this rough soldier, handsome with the beauty of Hercules, master of
the East, surrounded by glory and power, the same passion that she
had inspired in him. If, indeed, the ancient authors do not state in
words that Cleopatra loved Antony, the scenes which they depict can
scarcely permit a doubt of it. There is a logic of circumstances. With
his martial air, his lofty stature and broad chest, his mane of black
hair and eyes of gloom, his aquiline nose and harshly cut features,
Antony certainly possessed manly attractions. His first wife, Fulvia,
loved him passionately; his second wife, Octavia, loved him supremely;
the haughty Cleopatra gave him love for love. Besides, Shakspeare tells
us this, and the word of this great painter of the human heart, of this
marvelously comprehensive genius, may well make up for the silence on
this point of a Dion Cassius or a Paul Orose.

Great as might have been the suffering of this other Dido, one can
scarcely imagine her enveloped in habiliments of woe and sighing in
the retirement of her palace. In all probability Cleopatra continued
her gay life of pompous show, giving to pleasure all the time that was
left from official ceremonies, public audiences and other duties of the
government, and her conferences with architects and engineers.[8] The
Typhonium, at Denderah, dates from the reign of Cleopatra. As is shown
by its cartouches, she also labored at the great temple of Denderah, at
those of Edfou, Heminthis, and Coptos, as well as at the monuments of
Thebes situated on the left bank of the Nile. At Alexandria, besides
the Cæsarium, which it appears was begun by Cleopatra, she had many
fine buildings erected; but as with many other more ancient palaces and
temples, there remains of them not a vestige on that surface which the
ruins of centuries have in so many places raised to a height of fully
ten meters.

Did the queen seek to play the indifferent by leaving Antony without
tidings, or, as Plutarch insinuates and Shakspeare declares, did
she, during these three years, overwhelm him with dolorous appeals
and burning messages of love? According to Josephus, her voluptuous
temperament was ever leading her into transient amours. Besides Cneius
Pompey, Cæsar, Dellius, Antony, and Herod, king of the Jews, the five
lovers who are accredited or attributed to her, the queen of Egypt had
many flirtations and anonymous entanglements. Is this calumny? It is
rather a slander. Be this as it may, the accusation is no proof that
Cleopatra no longer loved Antony. These riddles of the heart and the
senses are, after all, no enigma.

As for Antony, it seems that he had indeed forgotten Cleopatra.
Not only during the three years that he had passed with Octavia at
Athens and Rome; not only on his return from the expedition against
Antiochus of Commagene had he not visited Egypt, but even on his way
from Tarentum to Laodicea he had not touched at Alexandria, which
was almost directly in his course. He sailed straight for Syria. By
a singular fatality, scarcely had he set foot in Asia when he felt
his passion rekindle with the utmost violence. He established himself
at Laodicea, and at once despatched his friend Fonteius Capito into
Egypt to conduct Cleopatra to Syria. The queen, enchanted, had no
thought of delaying her departure in order to make herself the more
desired, as she had done five years before. She embarked at once, and
was received at Laodicea by her lover with transports of joy. To prove
otherwise than by caresses his unspeakable happiness at seeing her
again, he gave her, not jewels, but kingdoms: Chalcedon, Phœnicia,
Cœolo-Syria, a great part of Cilicia, Genesereth in Judea, noted for
its balm, and Nabathae in Arabia. Antony had no right to dispose of
these territories, which belonged to the _Roman people_; but mad with
pride as much as with love he declared that “The glory of Rome was
displayed much less in her conquests and possessions than in the gifts
she bestowed.”[9]

A few days after they were again compelled to part, with the promise,
however, of meeting again in the spring at Alexandria. Antony passed
with his army into Armenia; Cleopatra returned to Egypt, passing
through Apamea, Damascus, and Petrea. She desired to settle with the
kings of Judea and Arabia the amount of the tribute which these rulers
were to pay yearly for the portions of territory which Antony had
bestowed. The king of Arabia promised three hundred talents (sixteen
hundred and sixty thousand francs); the tribute of the king of the Jews
was greater. This king was Herod, whom the protection of Antony had
a few years before placed on the throne. He went to Damascus to meet
Cleopatra. According to Josephus, Herod, who was remarkably handsome,
repulsed the shameless advances of the queen, even proposing to put
her to death whilst she was in his power in order to deliver Antony
from her fatal influence; but his counselors dissuaded him from this
crime, telling him that from that moment he would incur the terrible
vengeance of Antony.

Cleopatra had not been long in Alexandria when she received a message
from Antony, dated at Leucocoma, a city on the seaboard of Syria. He
entreated her to join him at once with money, stores, and clothing
for his soldiers, who were destitute of everything. The war had been
unsuccessful. By his too eager desire to rejoin Cleopatra in the
spring, Antony had compromised the success of the campaign. When he
reached Armenia, after a forced march of eight thousand stadia, he
should have gone into winter quarters and not opened the campaign
till the spring, with troops rested and refreshed, and at a favorable
season. Too impatient to submit to this long delay, he entered Upper
Media, and that his march might be more rapid he left behind all his
siege machinery under the guard of one detachment. Chariots, towers,
catapults, battering-rams eighty feet long—all were destroyed by the
Parthian cavalry. Through the want of these batteries Antony failed
in the attack on the city of Phraata. Threatened by an overwhelming
force, he was compelled to retreat. It was midwinter, the legionaries
had to march through the snow amid freezing squalls. Every morning many
were found frozen to death. Provisions failed, they lost their way,
and the formidable Parthian cavalry harassed the exhausted columns.
In this terrible retreat, the remembrance of which may have occurred
to Napoleon before crossing the Niemen, Antony recovered his energy
and his qualities as a general; insensible to fatigue and hunger he
was everywhere present; he was both imperator and centurion. Ever
at the point where danger threatened most, in twenty-seven days he
fought eighteen battles. Victor at night, the next day the struggle
was renewed against fresh and ever-increasing forces. When Antony
reached the coast of Syria his army was reduced from seventy thousand
to thirty-eight thousand men. More fortunate than Crassus, however, the
Romans brought back their eagles.

Cleopatra in vain used all despatch; she did not reach Antony as soon
as he had hoped, and his impatience became agony. He imagined that the
queen would not comply with the appeal of a conquered man. Overcome
by despair he fell into a sort of stupor. Then he sought distraction
in drinking, but the pleasures of the table, of which he had been so
utterly deprived during the campaign of Media, had no power to relieve
his anxiety. At the very height of an orgy he would suddenly rise from
the table, leave his companions, and hasten to the seashore, where he
would remain whole hours with his eyes fixed on the horizon in the
direction whence he expected Cleopatra to appear.

At length the long-desired queen arrived with provisions and clothing,
and about two hundred and forty talents of silver. The paying of the
legionaries,[10] the reorganization of the army, and the collection
of contributions compelled Antony to remain some time longer at
Leucocoma, and Cleopatra remained with him. Meanwhile, the news of the
disastrous expedition having reached Rome, Octavia, still devoted to
her husband despite the efforts of Octavius, who had had the cruelty to
inform her of the reunion of Antony and Cleopatra, determined to embark
for Asia. She entreated Octavius to furnish her with ships, soldiers,
and money. Report had informed Octavius of the renewed passion of
Antony. He yielded to the request of Octavia in the hope that the
insulting reception she was likely to receive from her husband might
detach her from him forever and rouse the indignation of the Romans.
Not to risk a meeting with Cleopatra, Octavia landed at Athens, whence
she sent word to Antony of her arrival. But the triumvir would not
dismiss his mistress; he wrote to Octavia to remain at Athens, offering
her as a pretext his intention of undertaking a new expedition against
the Parthians. In fact, the king of Media, incessantly a prey to these
wild hordes, had proposed to Antony an alliance against them. Without
resenting Antony’s refusal to receive her, of which refusal she did
not deceive herself as to the cause, Octavia wrote again to Antony.
This letter contained no reproaches; the young wife asked the triumvir
simply whither she should send the reënforcements and the munitions
she had brought for him. These included, besides military clothing
and arms, machines of war and a large amount of money, three thousand
chosen men as splendidly armed as the prætorian cohorts. Octavia had
sacrificed a portion of her private fortune to add this quota to the
supplies. Niger was charged with the delivery of this letter. Often
interviewed by Antony, who held him in great esteem, he mildly pointed
out the wrongs of Octavia, reminded him of the rare virtues of this
admirable woman, and exhorted him in the name of his own interests so
seriously involved, and of his renown so sadly compromised, to abandon

Much shaken, Antony hesitated. He thought he would go to Media. By
this means he could send Cleopatra back to Egypt, leave Octavia in
Greece, and delay, until his return from the campaign, the decision
which he could not resolve now to make; but Cleopatra, with the
penetration of a woman who loves, read the heart of Antony. She saw
herself a second time in danger of losing her lover; moreover, she had
the advantage over Octavia of being near Antony. She redoubled her
smiles and caresses, purposely exaggerating the passion already very
warm and unfeigned which possessed her. Then, at the first broaching
of his departure for Media, she pretended a mortal sorrow. She would
neither eat nor sleep, she passed her days and nights in tears; her
pale face, her haggard features and sunken eyes, her stony look and
pallid lips struck all who approached her. Her women, her friends, the
intimates of the triumvir whom she had won over by her flatteries and
promises, reproached Antony with his want of feeling. They accused him
of allowing to die of grief the most adorable of women, who breathed
only for him. “Octavia,” said they, “is bound to you merely by her
brother’s interest; she enjoys all the advantages of a wife’s title,
while Cleopatra, the queen of so many peoples, is called only the
mistress of Antony, ἐρω.μένην Ἀντωνíου. She refuses not this name,
she does not feel humiliated by it—she glories in it: her sole bliss,
her only ambition, is to live with thee!” Antony yielded, overcome by
such speeches and by the fear that Cleopatra, who possessed his whole
heart, and whom only his reason urged him to resist, would die of grief
or take poison. He therefore postponed his expedition into Media, and
returned with Cleopatra to Alexandria, where they resumed the “Life

At the commencement of the year 34, Antony joined his legions in Asia.
In a few days he defeated the Armenians, made prisoner the king and all
his family, and reduced the country to subjection. After this glorious
campaign Antony was to enjoy a triumph at Rome, but through love and
devotion to Cleopatra, whom he wished to share his honors, the ceremony
was given at Alexandria. For the first time a Roman received the reward
of a triumph outside of Rome. It was an insult to the city, which thus
seemed discrowned; it was an offense to the senate and the people, from
whom alone the honor of a triumph could be received.

This scandalous triumph was of the utmost magnificence. Through
Alexandria, decorated with the richest ornaments and massed with
flowers, filed to the sound of horns and trumpets, the legionaries, the
auxiliary cavalry, the priests, the censer-bearers, and the deputies
from different cities, wearing crowns of gold, chariots filled with
trophies, and thousands of captives. Before the triumphal chariot,
drawn by four white horses, walked the king Artavasdes, his wife, and
two sons, bound in chains of gold. When the chariot arrived before
Cleopatra, who, seated on a throne of gold and ivory, presided at the
triumph, Antony stayed his quadriga, and presented to the queen his
royal captives. After the procession and the sacrifices, he gave a
mammoth banquet to the citizens of Alexandria. Enormous tables were
spread in the gardens of the palace and in the public squares. The
feast over, Antony seated Cleopatra on her throne of gold and ivory
[chryselephantine], and placed himself on a similar one; the trumpets
sounded, the soldiers presented arms, and the whole people collected
in crowds around the two lovers. Then Antony proclaimed that from
that time Cleopatra should be called the Queen of Kings, and her son,
Cæsarion, the heir of Julius, the divine, the King of Kings; and he
renewed to them the sovereignty of Egypt and Cyprus. Next he publicly
settled the state of the three children borne him by Cleopatra. He gave
to the eldest, Alexander, called by him Helios, Armenia, Media, and the
country of the Parthians; to his twin-sister Cleopatra, whom he called
Selene, the kingdom of Lybia; to Ptolemy, Phœnicia, Syria, and Cilicia.
At each proclamation of the triumvir, heralds repeated his words and
the trumpets sounded. The same day the youthful (infant) sovereigns
were presented by Antony to the army and the people. Alexander appeared
in the robes of the Mede with the cidaris (sash) of the kings of
Persia, and a platoon of Armenians as a guard of honor. Ptolemy had an
escort of Macedonian mercenaries armed with lances eighteen feet long;
he wore the long purple mantle, the sandals embroidered with gold, and
the crown of precious stones of the successors of Alexander.

Cleopatra had already set the example of such masquerades. Two years
before, on her return from Laodicea, when Antony had added to her
dominions Phœnicia, Chalcedon, Cœlo-Syria and many other countries she
had opened a new era and had assumed the name of the New Isis, or New
Goddess. It was in the narrow garment of Isis, and on her head the
covering of Isis (the golden horns, between which rested the vulture
head), with the lotoform scepter in her hand, that she presided at
public ceremonies or gave state audiences.

Submissive to these caprices Antony allowed himself to be represented
in paintings and groups of statuary under the figures of Osiris and
Bacchus, seated beside Cleopatra Isis and Cleopatra Selene. It seemed
that bewitched by his mistress he renounced his country for her. He
accepted the office of grand-gymnasiarch of Alexandria. He commanded
that the effigy of the Egyptian queen should be engraved on the back of
his imperial coins; he even dared to inscribe the name of Cleopatra on
the shields of his legionaries. He permitted, by a shameless inversion
of parts, that the queen should go about Alexandria seated in a curule
chair, whilst he, carrying a scimeter and wearing a purple robe with
jeweled clasps, accompanied her on foot surrounded by Egyptian officers
and the base troop of eunuchs.

By deposing Lepidus, Octavius had changed the triumvirate into a
duumvirate, and the empire became divided between himself and Antony.
But the domination of the East satisfied the pride of Antony no
better than the domination of the West sufficed for the ambition of
Octavius. Though twice deferred, the civil war remained inevitable.
In his extreme caution, Octavius would still have delayed it; in his
folly, Antony precipitated it. He despised Octavius as a general; his
flatterers and his soldiers, who adored him, predicted victory to his
arms; Cleopatra, who retained the angry recollection of the insolent
reception by the Romans, burned to avenge it, and confiding in the
sword of Antony, she already swore “By the justice which she would soon
dispense at the Capitol.”[11]

Antony began by overwhelming Octavius with reproaches and dark threats.
His clients, who were numerous in Rome, his friends, his emissaries
sent from Egypt, made themselves busy in enhancing with the people his
grievances, real and supposed. Octavius, said they, has robbed Sextus
Pompey of Sicily without dividing the spoils with his colleague: he
has not even restored the hundred and twenty triremes borrowed for
that war; he has deposed Lepidus and retained for himself alone the
provinces, the legions, and the ships of war that had been assigned
to that triumvir; he has distributed to his own soldiers nearly all
the public lands of Italy, without keeping any for the veterans of
Antony. Every act of the government of Octavius was criticized and
incriminated. The people were reminded that he was crushing Italy under
the weight of taxes; he was accused of aiming at sovereign power.
They even went the length of saying that the true heir of Cæsar was
not Octavius, his nephew, but Cæsar’s own son Cæsarion, and that a
second will of the Dictator would some day be forthcoming. According
to Dion Cassius, Antony, by his formal recognition of Cæsarion as the
legitimate son of Cæsar, had raised to a climax the uneasiness and
anger of Octavius.

Meanwhile Octavius bided his time; his preparations for war were not
complete, and Antony was still popular in Rome, where he maintained
very many clients, protected by Octavia his wife. She, in spite of
the insult inflicted by Antony, was still wholly devoted to him; in
vain, on her return from Greece, had Octavius besought her to forget
her husband and to quit his dwelling; she had utterly refused to do
so. She continued to reside in that famous mansion, once the property
of the great Pompey, there educating with equal care and tenderness
her own children by Antony and those of his first wife. The clients of
Antony and the friends he sent from Alexandria were sure of finding
support and assistance from Octavia; she even obtained favors for them
from Octavius, irritated though he might be; finally she incessantly
assumed in his presence the defense of Antony, excusing both faults
and follies, and declaring that it was a hateful thing for two great
emperors to incite Romans to slay each other, the one to avenge
personal wrongs, the other for the love of a foreign woman.

Octavius, who took for his motto: “That which is well done is done
quickly enough,” _sat celeriter feri quidquid fiat satis bene_,
appeared to give way to the prayers of Octavia; but if he made no
haste to declare war he was preparing it slowly, and preparing also
public opinion. He made the most of Antony’s disgraceful life in
Egypt—his enslavement by Cleopatra. It was said in the senate, in the
army, among the people, “Antony is no longer a Roman; he is the slave
of the queen of Egypt, the incestuous daughter of the Lagidæ: his
country is Alexandria and thither he would transfer the capital of the
empire; his gods are Knouph with the ram’s head, Ra of the vulture
beak, the dog-headed Anubis—latrans Anubis; his counselors are the
eunuch Mardion, Charmion, and Iras, the tire-woman of that Cleopatra
on whom he has promised to bestow Rome.” These idle tales inspired the
Romans with a sentiment of horror which still survives in the verses
of the poets of that period: “Among our eagles,” says Horace, “the sun
beholds, O infamy, the base standard of an Egyptian woman…. Romans
sold to a woman blush not to bear arms for her…. In the intoxication
of her success and the madness of her hopes, this monster—_monstrum
illud_—dreams the fall of the Capitol, and is preparing with her
troops of despicable slaves and eunuchs the funeral rites of the
empire.” “Thus,” writes Propertius, “this royal prostitute—_meretrix
regina_—eternal disgrace of the blood of Philip, would force the Tiber
to endure the menaces of the Nile, and thrust aside the Roman trumpets
to make way for the shrieking sistra (Egyptian timbrels).”[12]

Domitius Ænobarbus and C. Sossius were elected consuls 32 B. C. Both
were partisans of Antony, and made vain attempts to save him by
unmasking Octavius to the senate, but the majority declared against
them. Dreading the anger of the implacable Perusian lover of justice
they went into exile with several of the senators. They could not at
once join Antony, who was in Armenia, negotiating the marriage of his
very youthful son, Alexander, with Jotapa, daughter of the king of
Media. They announced to him by letter that Octavius was hastening
his preparations, and that immediate hostilities might be expected.
Antony, like a good general, determined, in order to get the start of
his enemy, to carry the war into Italy. He immediately sent Canidius
with sixteen legions to the sea-coast of Asia Minor, and himself
proceeded to Ephesus, where all his allies were directed to unite
their contingents. Cleopatra was the first to arrive, with two hundred
vessels of from three to ten banks of oars, and a war subsidy of twenty
thousand talents (one hundred thousand francs).

It would have been better for Antony had this fleet remained in
Egyptian waters, this money in the treasury of the Lagidæ, and
Cleopatra herself in Alexandria. This bewitching but fatal being
brought to the Roman camp her gorgeous licentiousness and her unbridled
desire of pleasure. At Ephesus where she landed, at Samos whither they
afterwards proceeded, the mad follies of Alexandria were renewed. The
constant arrivals of kings, governors, deputations from cities bringing
to Antony troops and vessels served as a pretext for magnificent feasts
and innumerable dramatic representations. A thousand comedians and
rope-dancers were collected, and whilst the whole world, says Plutarch,
echoed with the noise of arms and the groans of men, at Samos nothing
was heard but laughter and the music of flutes and citharæ. Time passed
quickly in these pleasures, and there was not an hour to lose if the
offensive were to be taken. Until then the friends and captains of
Antony, Dellius, Marcus Silanus, Titius, Plancus, all equally yielding
to the seductions of Cleopatra, had made no effort to separate their
leader from this fatal woman. Now the great game was to be played, and
in this game they staked, as it were, their lives against the dominion
of the world. They appealed to Antony. Ænobarbus, the only one of the
Antonites who had never hailed Cleopatra as queen, was spokesman, and
declared plainly that the Egyptian must be sent back to Alexandria till
the close of the war. Antony promised to send her. Unfortunately for
him, Cleopatra heard of this proceeding. Now less than ever would she
leave Antony alone, exposed to the final appeals of Octavia her former
successful rival; she knew too well the vacillating mind and weak soul
of Antony. Would he have strength to refuse a reconciliation so much
desired in the camp as well as at Rome, which would consolidate its
threatened power and secure peace to the empire? Cleopatra won over
Canidius, after Ænobarbus the most noted captain of the army of the
East; and by dint of prayers, coquetry, and money, it is said, she
persuaded him to espouse her cause. He represented to Antony that it
was neither just nor wise to send away an ally who furnished to the war
supplies so considerable; that he would thus alienate the Egyptians,
whose ships formed the main strength of the fleet. He added that
Cleopatra was, in the council, inferior to none of the kings who were
to fight under the orders of Antony; she, who had so long governed
alone so great an empire, and who, since they had been associated
together, had acquired still greater experience in affairs. He talked
against reason, but he spoke in accordance with the heart of Antony,
and Cleopatra remained with the army.

Meanwhile the friends that still remained to Antony in Rome despatched
one of their number, Geminius, to make a last attempt to free him from
his mistress. Geminius for days tried in vain to see Antony alone.
Cleopatra, who suspected the Roman of working in the interests of
Octavia, never left her lover for an instant. At length, at the close
of a supper, Antony, half-drunk, called upon Geminius to declare
instantly the object of his coming. “The matters of which I have to
speak,” replied Geminius angrily, “cannot be discussed after drinking;
but what I can tell you as well drunk as sober is that all would be
well if Cleopatra returned to Egypt.” In a rage, the queen exclaimed:
“You do well to speak before the torture compels it.” Antony was no
less enraged. The next day Geminius, feeling by no means in safety,
reëmbarked for Italy.

The vindictive Egyptian also bore malice against the friends of Antony
who had joined with Ænobarbus to procure her departure. Sarcasms,
offenses, insults, and ill offices were all employed by her so
effectually that Silanus, Dellius (her former lover, it is said), and
Plancus and Titius, both persons of consular dignity, abandoned the
party of Antony.

As much to revenge themselves on their former leader as to conciliate
their new master, Plancus and Titius on their return to Rome revealed
to Octavius certain clauses in the will of Antony, the divulging of
which would complete his ruin in the minds of the people. Antony,
recognizing Cæsarion as the son of Cæsar, was dividing the Roman East
among his other children and the queen of Egypt, and willed that even
should he die in Rome, his body should be transported to Alexandria and
delivered to Cleopatra. The two officers added that they were positive
as to these dispositions, as, at the desire of Antony, they themselves
had read the will, had affixed their seal, and had deposited it in
the college of the Vestals. Octavius demanded the will. The Vestals
declared that they would not give it up, but that if he would come and
take it himself they could not prevent him. Octavius felt no scruple in
doing so; he took the will and read it before the Senate. The Conscript
Fathers, it must be confessed, were no less indignant at the violation
of the will of Antony than at the contents of the document itself.
Octavius, however, had the excuse of acting for the good of the people.
The skillful and patient politician was about to attain his end. He
procured also a _senatus-consultum_ (a judgment of the Senate), by
which Antony was deposed from the consular dignity, and the same day,
January 1, 31 B. C., he declared war, not on Antony, but on the queen
of Egypt. This was a last tribute to public opinion—Cæsar would not
risk the odium of arming Roman against Roman.

He knew well that Antony would not desert Cleopatra, and therefore by
conducting his legions against the detested Egyptian, he would throw on
Antony the responsibility of the civil war.

Antony and Cleopatra passed at Athens the autumn of 32 and part of
the winter of 31 B. C. Whilst their soldiers were exhausting all
the cities of Greece by enormous requisitions, and completing their
crews by means of the press-gang, dragging sons from their mothers,
and husbands from their wives, the lovers continued to lead their gay
life. Spectacles, public games, interminable feasts, and mad orgies
incessantly succeeded each other. Jealous of the memory which Octavia
had left in Athens, where her beauty was still talked of, Cleopatra
would fain have effaced it by her pomp, her flatteries, and her
largesses to the people. The Athenians, setting little value on honors,
even now somewhat obsolete, which it was in their power to bestow,
determined to offer Cleopatra the “Freedom of the City,” and decreed
that a statue should be erected to her. The decree was presented to
her by deputies, among whom figured Antony as an Athenian citizen. The
document was read to the queen, after which her virtues and merits
were eulogized in an eloquent address. The vanity of Cleopatra was
gratified, but her hatred unappeased. She exacted from Antony his
repudiation of Octavia, and that from Athens itself, that city where
the couple had spent three happy years, he should send to Rome his
command for her to depart from his house. Octavia quitted it, clad in
mourning and weeping, and leading with her the two children of Antony.
The unhappy woman loved him still.