The danger and difficulty which they considered as most to be
apprehended in the whole expedition was the getting across the desert to
Pelusium. In fact, the great protection of Egypt had always been her
isolation. The trackless and desolate sands, being wholly destitute of
water, and utterly void, could be traversed, even by a caravan of
peaceful travelers, only with great difficulty and danger. For an army
to attempt to cross them, exposed, as the troops would necessarily be,
to the assaults of enemies who might advance to meet them on the way,
and sure of encountering a terrible opposition from fresh and vigorous
bands when they should arrive--wayworn and exhausted by the physical
hardships of the way--at the borders of the inhabited country, was a
desperate undertaking. Many instances occurred in ancient times in which
vast bodies of troops, in attempting marches over the deserts by which
Egypt was surrounded, were wholly destroyed by famine or thirst, or
overwhelmed by storms of sand.

These difficulties and dangers, however, did not at all intimidate Mark
Antony. The anticipation, in fact, of the glory of surmounting them was
one of the main inducements which led him to embark in the enterprise.
The perils of the desert constituted one of the charms which made the
expedition so attractive. He placed himself, therefore, at the head of
his troop of cavalry, and set off across the sands in advance of
Gabinius, to take Pelusium, in order thus to open a way for the main
body of the army into Egypt. Ptolemy accompanied Antony. Gabinius was to
follow.

[...]
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