The next day, Antony invited Cleopatra to come and return his visit;
but, though he made every possible effort to provide a banquet as
sumptuous and as sumptuously served as hers, he failed entirely in this
attempt, and acknowledged himself completely outdone. Antony was,
moreover, at these interviews, perfectly fascinated with Cleopatra's
charms. Her beauty, her wit, her thousand accomplishments, and, above
all, the tact, and adroitness, and self-possession which she displayed
in assuming at once so boldly, and carrying out so adroitly, the idea of
her social superiority over him, that he yielded his heart almost
immediately to her undisputed sway.

The first use which Cleopatra made of her power was to ask Antony, for
her sake, to order her sister ArsinoŽ to be slain. ArsinoŽ had gone, it
will be recollected, to Rome, to grace Caesar's triumph there, and had
afterward retired to Asia, where she was now living an exile. Cleopatra,
either from a sentiment of past revenge, or else from some apprehensions
of future danger, now desired that her sister should die. Antony readily
acceded to her request. He sent an officer in search of the unhappy
princess. The officer slew her where he found her, within the precincts
of a temple to which she had fled, supposing it a sanctuary which no
degree of hostility, however extreme, would have dared to violate.

Cleopatra remained at Tarsus for some time, revolving in an incessant
round of gayety and pleasure, and living in habits of unrestrained
intimacy with Antony. She was accustomed to spend whole days and nights
with him in feasting and revelry. The immense magnificence of these
entertainments, especially on Cleopatra's part, were the wonder of the
world. She seems to have taken special pleasure in exciting Antony's
surprise by the display of her wealth and the boundless extravagance in
which she indulged. At one of her banquets, Antony was expressing his
astonishment at the vast number of gold cups, enriched with jewels, that
were displayed on all sides. "Oh," said she, "they are nothing; if you
like them, you shall have them all." So saying, she ordered her servants
to carry them to Antony's house. The next day she invited Antony again,
with a large number of the chief officers of his army and court. The
table was spread with a new service of gold and silver vessels, more
extensive and splendid than that of the preceding day; and at the close
of the supper, when the company was about to depart, Cleopatra
distributed all these treasures among the guests that had been present
at the entertainment. At another of these feasts, she carried her
ostentation and display to the astonishing extreme of taking off from
one of her ear-rings a pearl of immense value and dissolving it in a cup
of vinegar,[1] which she afterward made into a drink, such as was
customarily used in those days, and then drank it. She was proceeding to
do the same with the other pearl, when some of the company arrested the
proceeding, and took the remaining pearl away.

[Footnote 1: Pearls, being of the nature of _shell_ in their
composition and structure, are soluble in certain acids.]

In the mean time, while Antony was thus wasting his time in luxury and
pleasure with Cleopatra, his public duties were neglected, and every
thing was getting into confusion. Fulvia remained in Italy. Her position
and her character gave her a commanding political influence, and she
exerted herself in a very energetic manner to sustain, in that quarter
of the world, the interests of her husband's cause. She was surrounded
with difficulties and dangers, the details of which can not, however, be
here particularly described. She wrote continually to Antony, urgently
entreating him to come to Rome, and displaying in her letters all those
marks of agitation and distress which a wife would naturally feel under
the circumstances in which she was placed. The thought that her husband
had been so completely drawn away from her by the guilty arts of such a
woman, and led by her to abandon his wife and his family, and leave in
neglect and confusion concerns of such momentous magnitude as those
which demanded his attention at home, produced an excitement in her mind
bordering upon frensy. Antony was at length so far influenced by the
urgency of the case that he determined to return. He broke up his
quarters at Tarsus and moved south toward Tyre, which was a great naval
port and station in those days. Cleopatra went with him. They were to
separate at Tyre. She was to embark there for Egypt, and he for Rome.

[...]
begin
[1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] [8] [9] [10] [11] [12] [13] [14] [15] [16] [17] [18] [19] [20] [21] [22] [23] [24] [25] [26] [27] [28] [29] [30] [31] [32] [33] [34] [35] [36] [37] [38] [39] [40] [41] [42] [43] [44] [45] [46] [47] [48] [49] [50] [51] [52] [53] [54] [55] [56] [57] [58] [59] [60] [61] [62] [63] [64] [65] [66] [67] [68] [69] [70] [71] [72] [73] [74] [75] [76] [77] [78] [79] [80] [81] [82] [83] [84] [85] [86] [87] [88] [89] [90] [91] [92] [93] [94] [95] [96] [97] [98] [99] [100] [101] [102] [103] [104] [105] [106] [107] [108] [109] [110] [111] [112] [113] [114] [115] [116] [117] [118] [119] [120] [121] [122] [123] [124] [125] [126] [127] [128] [129] [130] [131] [132] [133] [134] [135] [136] [137] [138] [139] [140] [141] [142] [143] [144] [145] [146] [147] [148] [149] [150] [151] [152] [153] [154] [155] [156] [157] [158] [159] [160] [161] [162] [163] [164] [165]