At length, however, all was ready, and Cleopatra set sail. She crossed
the Mediterranean Sea, and entered the mouth of the River Cydnus. Antony
was at Tarsus, a city upon the Cydnus, a small distance above its mouth.
When Cleopatra's fleet had entered the river, she embarked on board a
most magnificent barge which she had constructed for the occasion, and
had brought with her across the sea. This barge was the most magnificent
and highly-ornamented vessel that had ever been built. It was adorned
with carvings and decorations of the finest workmanship, and elaborately
gilded. The sails were of purple, and the oars were inlaid and tipped
with silver. Upon the deck of this barge Queen Cleopatra appeared,
under a canopy of cloth of gold. She was dressed very magnificently in
the costume in which Venus, the goddess of Beauty, was then generally
represented. She was surrounded by a company of beautiful boys, who
attended upon her in the form of Cupids, and fanned her with their
wings, and by a group of young girls representing the Nymphs and the
Graces. There was a band of musicians stationed upon the deck. This
music guided the oarsmen, as they kept time to it in their rowing; and,
soft as the melody was, the strains were heard far and wide over the
water and along the shores, as the beautiful vessel advanced on its way.
The performers were provided with flutes, lyres, viols, and all the
other instruments customarily used in those times to produce music of a
gentle and voluptuous kind.

[Illustration: MEETING OF CLEOPATRA AND ANTONY.]

In fact, the whole spectacle seemed like a vision of enchantment.
Tidings of the approach of the barge spread rapidly around, and the
people of the country came down in crowds to the shores of the river to
gaze upon it in admiration as it glided slowly along. At the time of its
arrival at Tarsus, Antony was engaged in giving a public audience at
some tribunal in his palace, but everybody ran to see Cleopatra and the
barge, and the great triumvir was left consequently alone, or, at least,
with only a few official attendants near him. Cleopatra, on arriving at
the city, landed, and began to pitch her tents on the shores. Antony
sent a messenger to bid her welcome, and to invite her to come and sup
with him. She declined the invitation, saying that it was more proper
that he should come and sup with her. She would accordingly expect him
to come, she said, and her tents would be ready at the proper hour.
Antony complied with her proposal, and came to her entertainment. He was
received with a magnificence and splendor which amazed him. The tents
and pavilions where the entertainment was made were illuminated with an
immense number of lamps. These lamps were arranged in a very ingenious
and beautiful manner, so as to produce an illumination of the most
surprising brilliancy and beauty. The immense number and variety, too,
of the meats and wines, and of the vessels of gold and silver, with
which the tables were loaded, and the magnificence and splendor of the
dresses worn by Cleopatra and her attendants, combined to render the
whole scene one of bewildering enchantment.

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