CHAPTER XII.

THE END OF CLEOPATRA.

Infatuation of Antony.--His early character--Powerful influence of
Cleopatra over Antony,--Indignation at Antony's conduct.--Plans of
Cleopatra.--Antony becomes a misanthrope.--His hut on the island of
Pharos--Antony's reconciliation with Cleopatra.--Scenes of
revelry.--Cleopatra makes a collection of poisons.--Her experiments with
them.--Antony's suspicions.--Cleopatra's stratagem.--The bite of the
asp.--Cleopatra's tomb.--Progress of Octavius.--Proposal of
Antony.--Octavius at Pelusium.--Cleopatra's treasures.--Fears of
Octavius.--He arrives at Alexandria.--The sally.--The unfaithful
captain.--Disaffection of Antony's men.--Desertion of the fleet.--False
rumor of Cleopatra's death.--Antony's despair.--Eros.--Antony's attempt
to kill himself.--Antony taken to Cleopatra.--She refuses to open the
door.--Antony taken in at the window.--Cleopatra's grief.--Death of
Antony.--Cleopatra made prisoner.--Treatment of Cleopatra.--Octavius
takes possession of Alexandria.--Antony's funeral.--Cleopatra's wretched
condition.--Cleopatra's wounds and bruises.--She resolves to starve
herself.--Threats of Octavius.--Their effect.--Octavius visits
Cleopatra.--Her wretched condition.--The false inventory.--Cleopatra in
a rage.--Octavius deceived.--Cleopatra's determination.--Cleopatra
visits Antony's tomb.--Her composure on her return.--Cleopatra's
supper.--The basket of figs.--Cleopatra's letter to Octavius.--She is
found dead.--Death of Charmion.--Amazement of the by-standers.--Various
conjectures as to the cause of Cleopatra's death.--Opinion of
Octavius.--His triumph.

The case of Mark Antony affords one of the most extraordinary examples
of the power of unlawful love to lead its deluded and infatuated victim
into the very jaws of open and recognized destruction that history
records. Cases similar in character occur by thousands in common life;
but Antony's, though perhaps not more striking in itself than a great
multitude of others have been, is the most conspicuous instance that has
ever been held up to the observation of mankind.

In early life, Antony was remarkable, as we have already seen, for a
certain savage ruggedness of character, and for a stern and indomitable
recklessness of will, so great that it seemed impossible that any thing
human should be able to tame him. He was under the control, too, of an
ambition so lofty and aspiring that it appeared to know no bounds; and
yet we find him taken possession of, in the very midst of his career,
and in the height of his prosperity and success, by a woman, and so
subdued by her arts and fascinations as to yield himself wholly to her
guidance, and allow himself to be led about by her entirely at her will.
She displaces whatever there might have been that was noble and generous
in his heart, and substitutes therefor her own principles of malice and
cruelty. She extinguishes all the fires of his ambition, originally so
magnificent in its aims that the world seemed hardly large enough to
afford it scope, and instead of this lofty passion, fills his soul with
a love of the lowest, vilest, and most ignoble pleasures. She leads him
to betray every public trust, to alienate from himself all the
affections of his countrymen, to repel most cruelly the kindness and
devotedness of a beautiful and faithful wife, and, finally to expel this
wife and all of his own legitimate family from his house; and now, at
last, she conducts him away in a most cowardly and ignoble flight from
the field of his duty as a soldier--he knowing, all the time, that she
is hurrying him to disgrace and destruction, and yet utterly without
power to break from the control of his invisible chains.

The indignation which Antony's base abandonment of his fleet and army at
the battle of Actium excited, over all that part of the empire which had
been under his command, was extreme. There was not the slightest
possible excuse for such a flight. His army, in which his greatest
strength lay, remained unharmed, and even his fleet was not defeated.
The ships continued the combat until night, notwithstanding the betrayal
of their cause by their commander. They were at length, however,
subdued. The army, also, being discouraged, and losing all motive for
resistance, yielded too. In a very short time the whole country went
over to Octavius's side.

In the mean time, Cleopatra and Antony, on their first return to Egypt,
were completely beside themselves with terror. Cleopatra formed a plan
for having all the treasures that she could save, and a certain number
of galleys sufficient for the transportation of these treasures and a
small company of friends, carried across the isthmus of Suez and
launched upon the Red Sea, in order that she might escape in that
direction, and find some remote hiding-place and safe retreat on the
shores of Arabia or India, beyond the reach of Octavius's dreaded power.
She actually commenced this undertaking, and sent one or two of her
galleys across the isthmus; but the Arabs seized them as soon as they
reached their place of destination, and killed or captured the men that
had them in charge, so that this desperate scheme was soon abandoned.
She and Antony then finally concluded to establish themselves at
Alexandria, and made preparation, as well as they could, for defending
themselves against Octavius there.

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