The law of God, proclaimed not only in the Scriptures, but in the native
instincts of the human soul, forbids intermarriages among those
connected by close ties of consanguinity. The necessity for such a law
rests on considerations which can not here be fully explained. They are
considerations, however, which arise from causes inherent in the very
nature of man as a social being, and which are of universal, perpetual,
and insurmountable force. To guard his creatures against the deplorable
consequences, both physical and moral, which result from the practice of
such marriages, the great Author of Nature has implanted in every mind
an instinctive sense of their criminality, powerful enough to give
effectual warning of the danger, and so universal as to cause a distinct
condemnation of them to be recorded in almost every code of written law
that has ever been promulgated among mankind. The Persian sovereigns
were, however, above all law, and every species of incestuous marriage
was practiced by them without shame. The Ptolemies followed their
example.

One of the most striking exhibitions of the nature of incestuous
domestic life which is afforded by the whole dismal panorama of pagan
vice and crime, is presented in the history of the great-grandfather of
the Cleopatra who is the principal subject of this narrative. He was
Ptolemy Physcon, the seventh in the line. It is necessary to give some
particulars of his history and that of his family, in order to explain
the circumstances under which Cleopatra herself came upon the stage. The
name Physcon, which afterward became his historical designation, was
originally given him in contempt and derision. He was very small of
stature in respect to height, but his gluttony and sensuality had made
him immensely corpulent in body, so that he looked more like a monster
than a man. The term Physcon was a Greek word, which denoted
opprobriously the ridiculous figure that he made.

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