In the mean time, the ships were passing down as rapidly as possible on the western coast of Greece. When they reached Taenarus, the southern promontory of the peninsula, it was necessary to pause and consider what was to be done. Cleopatra’s women went to Antony and attempted to quiet and calm him. They brought him food. They persuaded him to see Cleopatra. A great number of merchant ships from the ports along the coast gathered around Antony’s little fleet and offered their services. His cause, they said, was by no means desperate. The army on the land had not been beaten. It was not even certain that his fleet had been conquered. They endeavored thus to revive the ruined commander’s sinking courage, and to urge him to make a new effort to retrieve his fortunes. But all was in vain. Antony was sunk in a hopeless despondency. Cleopatra was determined on going to Egypt, and he must go too. He distributed what treasure remained at his disposal among his immediate followers and friends, and gave them advice about the means of concealing themselves until they could make peace with Octavius. Then, giving up all as lost, he followed Cleopatra across the sea to Alexandria.
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.