In the mean time, Octavius, having made himself master of all the
countries which had formerly been under Antony's sway, now advanced,
meeting none to oppose him, from Asia Minor into Syria, and from Syria
toward Egypt. Antony and Cleopatra made one attempt, while he was thus
advancing toward Alexandria, to avert the storm which was impending over
them, by sending an embassage to ask for some terms of peace. Antony
proposed, in this embassage, to give up every thing to his conqueror on
condition that he might be permitted to retire unmolested with Cleopatra
to Athens, and allowed to spend the remainder of their days there in
peace; and that the kingdom of Egypt might descend to their children.
Octavius replied that he could not make any terms with Antony, though he
was willing to consent to any thing that was reasonable in behalf of
Cleopatra. The messenger who came back from Octavius with this reply
spent some time in private interviews with Cleopatra. This aroused
Antony's jealousy and anger. He accordingly ordered the unfortunate
messenger to be scourged and then sent back to Octavius, all lacerated
with wounds, with orders to say to Octavius that if it displeased him to
have one of his servants thus punished, he might revenge himself by
scourging a servant of Antony's who was then, as it happened, in
Octavius's power.

The news at length suddenly arrived at Alexandria that Octavius had
appeared before Pelusium, and that the city had fallen into his hands.
The next thing Antony and Cleopatra well knew would be, that they should
see him at the gates of Alexandria. Neither Antony nor Cleopatra had any
means of resisting his progress, and there was no place to which they
could fly. Nothing was to be done but to await, in consternation and
terror, the sure and inevitable doom which was now so near.

Cleopatra gathered together all her treasures and sent them to her tomb.
These treasures consisted of great and valuable stores of gold, silver,
precious stones, garments of the highest cost, and weapons, and vessels
of exquisite workmanship and great value, the hereditary possessions of
the Egyptian kings. She also sent to the mausoleum an immense quantity
of flax, tow, torches, and other combustibles. These she stored in the
lower apartments of the monument, with the desperate determination of
burning herself and her treasures together rather than to fall into the
hands of the Romans.

In the mean time, the army of Octavius steadily continued its march
across the desert from Pelusium to Alexandria. On the way, Octavius
learned, through the agents in communication with him from within the
city what were the arrangements which Cleopatra had made for the
destruction of her treasure whenever the danger should become imminent
of its falling into his hands. He was extremely unwilling that this
treasure should be lost. Besides its intrinsic value, it was an object
of immense importance to him to get possession of it for the purpose of
carrying it to Rome as a trophy of his triumph. He accordingly sent
secret messengers to Cleopatra, endeavoring to separate her from Antony,
and to infuse her mind with the profession that he felt only friendship
for her, and did not mean to do her any injury, being in pursuit of
Antony only. These negotiations were continued from day to day while
Octavius was advancing. At last the Roman army reached Alexandria, and
invested it on every side.

As soon as Octavius was established in his camp under the walls of the
city, Antony planned a sally, and he executed it, in fact, with
considerable energy and success. He issued suddenly from the gates, at
the head of as strong a force as he could command, and attacked a body
of Octavius's horsemen. He succeeded in driving these horsemen away from
their position, but he was soon driven back in his turn, and compelled
to retreat to the city, fighting as he fled, to beat back his pursuers.
He was extremely elated at the success of this skirmish. He came to
Cleopatra with a countenance full of animation and pleasure, took her in
his arms and kissed her, all accoutered for battle as he was, and
boasted greatly of the exploit which he had performed. He praised, too,
in the highest terms, the valor of one of the officers who had gone out
with him to the fight, and whom he had now brought to the palace to
present to Cleopatra. Cleopatra rewarded the faithful captain's prowess
with a magnificent suit of armor made of gold. Notwithstanding this
reward, however, the man deserted Antony that very night, and went over
to the enemy. Almost all of Antony's adherents were in the same state of
mind. They would have gladly gone over to the camp of Octavius, if they
could have found an opportunity to do so.

In fact, when the final battle was fought, the fate of it was decided by
a grand defection in the fleet, which went over in a body to the side of
Octavius. Antony was planning the operations of the day, and
reconnoitering the movements of the enemy from an eminence which he
occupied at the head of a body of foot soldiers--all the land forces
that now remained to him--and looking off, from the eminence on which he
stood, toward the harbor, he observed a movement among the galleys. They
were going out to meet the ships of Octavius, which were lying at anchor
not very far from them. Antony supposed that his vessels were going to
attack those of the enemy, and he looked to see what exploits they would
perform. They advanced toward Octavius's ships, and when they met them,
Antony observed, to his utter amazement, that, instead of the furious
combat that he had expected to see, the ships only exchanged friendly
salutations, by the use of the customary naval signals; and then his
ships, passing quietly round, took their positions in the lines of the
other fleet. The two fleets had thus become merged and mingled into one.

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