After accompanying Dion to the harbour, the architect had gone to the Forum to converse with the men he met there, and learn what they feared and expected in regard to the future fate of the city.
All news reached this meeting-place first, and he found a large number of Macedonian citizens who, like himself, wished to discuss passing events in these decisive hours.
The scene was very animated, for the most contradictory messages were constantly arriving from the fleet and the army.
At first they were very favourable; then came the news of the treason, and soon after of the desertion of the cavalry and foot soldiers.
A distinguished citizen had seen Mark Antony, accompanied by several friends, dashing down the quay. The goal of their flight was the little palace on the Choma.
Grave men, whose opinion met with little opposition, thought that it was the duty of the Imperator—now that Fate had decided against him, and nothing remained save a life sullied by disgrace—to put himself to death with his own hand, like Brutus and so many other noble Romans. Tidings soon came that he had attempted to do what the best citizens expected.
Gorgias could not endure to remain longer in the Forum, but hastened to the Choma, though it was difficult to force his way to the wall, where a breach had been made. He had found the portion of the shore from which the promontory ran densely crowded with people—from whom he learned that Antony was no longer in the palace—and the sea filled with boats.
A corpse was just being borne out of the little palace on the Street of the King and, among those who followed, Gorgias recognized one of Antony’s slaves. The man’s eyes were red with weeping. He readily obeyed the architect’s sign and, sobbing bitterly, told him that the hapless general, after his army had betrayed him, fled hither. When he heard in the palace that Cleopatra had preceded him to Hades, he ordered his body-slave Eros to put an end to his life also. The worthy man drew back, pierced his own breast with his sword, and sank dying at his master’s feet; but Antony, exclaiming that Eros’s example had taught him his duty, thrust the short sword into his breast with his own hand. Yet deep and severe as was the wound, it did not destroy the tremendous vitality of the gigantic Roman. With touching entreaties he implored the bystanders to kill him, but no one could bring himself to commit the deed. Meanwhile Cleopatra’s name, coupled with the wish to follow her, was constantly on the lips of the Imperator.
At last Diomedes, the Queen’s private secretary, appeared, to bring him, by her orders, to the mausoleum where she had taken refuge.
Antony, as if animated with fresh vigour, assented, and while being carried thither gave orders that Eros should have a worthy burial. Even though dying, it would have been impossible for the most generous of masters to permit any kindness rendered to pass unrequited.