She availed herself, accordingly, of the revenues which poured in very abundantly upon her, to enter upon a career of the greatest luxury, magnificence, and splendor. The injuries which had been done to the palaces and other public edifices of Alexandria the fire, and by the military operations of the siege, were repaired. The bridges which had been down were rebuilt. The canals which had been obstructed were opened again. The sea-water was shut off from the palace cisterns; the rubbish of demolished houses was removed; the barricades were cleared from the streets; and the injuries which the palaces had suffered either from the violence of military engines or the rough occupation of the Roman soldiery, were repaired. In a word, the city was speedily restored once more, so far as was possible, to its former order and beauty. The five hundred, thousand manuscripts of the Alexandrian library, which had been burned, could not, indeed, be restored; but, in all other respects, the city soon resumed in appearance all its former splendor. Even in respect to the library, Cleopatra made an effort to retrieve the loss. She repaired the ruined buildings, and afterward, in the course of her life, she brought together, it was said, in a manner hereafter to be described, one or two hundred thousand rolls of manuscripts, as the commencement of a new collection. The new library, however, never acquired the fame and distinction that had pertained to the old.
The former sovereigns of Egypt, Cleopatra’s ancestors, had generally, as has already been shown, devoted the immense revenues which they extorted from the agriculturalists of the valley of the Nile to purposes of ambition. Cleopatra seemed now disposed to expend them in luxury and pleasure. They, the Ptolemies, had employed their resources in erecting vast structures, or founding magnificent institutions at Alexandria, to add to the glory of the city, and to widen and extend their own fame. Cleopatra, on the other hand, as was, perhaps, naturally to be expected of a young, beautiful, and impulsive woman suddenly raised to so conspicuous a position, and to the possession of such unbounded wealth and power, expended her royal revenues in plans of personal display, and in scenes of festivity, gayety, and enjoyment. She adorned her palaces, built magnificent barges for pleasure excursions on the Nile, and expended enormous sums for dress, for equipages, and for sumptuous entertainments. In fact, so lavish were her expenditures for these and similar purposes during the early years of her reign, that she is considered as having carried the extravagance of sensual luxury, and personal display, and splendor, beyond the limits that had ever before or have ever since been attained.