Cleopatra eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 219 pages of information about Cleopatra.

How far Cleopatra was influenced, in her determination to espouse the cause of Antony rather than that of Brutus and Cassius, in the civil war described in the last chapter, by gratitude to Caesar, and how far, on the other hand, by personal interest in Antony, the reader must judge.  Cleopatra had seen Antony, it will be recollected, some years before, during his visit to Egypt, when she was a young girl.  She was doubtless well acquainted with his character.  It was a character peculiarly fitted, in some respects, to captivate the imagination of a woman so ardent, and impulsive, and bold as Cleopatra was fast becoming.

Antony had, in fact, made himself an object of universal interest throughout the world, by his wild and eccentric manners and reckless conduct, and by the very extraordinary vicissitudes which had marked his career.  In moral character he was as utterly abandoned and depraved as it was possible to be.  In early life, as has already been stated, he plunged into such a course of dissipation and extravagance that he became utterly and hopelessly ruined; or, rather, he would have been so, had he not, by the influence of that magic power of fascination which such characters often possess, succeeded in gaining a great ascendency over a young man of immense fortune, named Curio, who for a time upheld him by becoming surety for his debts.  This resource, however, soon failed, and Antony was compelled to abandon Rome, and to live for some years as a fugitive and exile, in dissolute wretchedness and want.  During all the subsequent vicissitudes through which he passed in the course of his career, the same habits of lavish expenditure continued, whenever he had funds at his command.  This trait of character took the form sometimes of a noble generosity.  In his campaigns, the plunder which he acquired he usually divided among his soldiers, reserving nothing for himself.  This made his men enthusiastically devoted to him, and led them to consider his prodigality as a virtue, even when they did not themselves derive any direct advantage from it.  A thousand stories were always in circulation in camp of acts on his part illustrating his reckless disregard of the value of money, some ludicrous, and all eccentric and strange.

In his personal habits, too, he was as different as possible from other men.  He prided himself on being descended from Hercules, and he affected a style of dress and a general air and manner in accordance with the savage character of this his pretended ancestor.  His features were sharp, his nose was arched and prominent, and he wore his hair and beard very long—­as long, in fact, as he could make them grow.  These peculiarities imparted to his countenance a very wild and ferocious expression.  He adopted a style of dress, too, which, judged of with reference to the prevailing fashions of the time, gave to his whole appearance a rough, savage, and reckless air.  His manner and demeanor corresponded with his dress

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Cleopatra from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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