|The Story of the Romans|
|by Helene A. Guerber|
| Elementary history of Rome, presenting short stories of the great heroes, mythical and historical, from Aeneas and the founding of Rome to the fall of the western empire. Around the famous characters of Rome are graphically grouped the great events with which their names will forever stand connected. Vivid descriptions bring to life the events narrated, making history attractive to the young, and awakening their enthusiasm for further reading and study. Ages 10-14 |
ANTONY AND CLEOPATRA
THE victory at Philippi left Mark Antony, Lepidus, and
Octavius masters of the Roman world. They soon made a
new division of it, by which while Antony went to Asia,
and Lepidus to Africa, Octavius staid in Rome.
Although these three men were apparently the best of
friends, they really feared and hated one another, and
their alliance could not last very long. Octavius, the
most ambitious of the three, soon determined to become
sole ruler. He knew that Lepidus was old and could
easily be disposed of; but Mark Antony was so powerful
that it was necessary to avoid open war for a long
On arriving in Asia, Antony's first care had been to
summon Cleopatra, Queen of Egypt, to appear before him
and answer to the accusation of having helped Brutus.
Cleopatra obeyed; but, instead of judging her, Antony
fell deeply in love with her.
 To please this proud queen, he left his post in Asia,
and went with her to Egypt, where he spent month after
month at her side. His wife sent for him many times;
and, as he did not come back, she at last stirred up a
rebellion in Italy.
Before Antony could join her, the revolt had been put
down; and he treated her so badly that she soon died of
grief. Then Antony married Octavia, the sister of
Octavius, and the two triumvirs joined forces against
Sextus Pompey, the son of Pompey the Great; for this
man had taken possession of Sicily, and was collecting
a large fleet.
After some fighting, the two colleagues made peace with
Sextus Pompey, but this peace was soon broken, and the
war was renewed. Sicily, in time, fell into the hands
of the triumvirs, and Pompey fled to Syria, where he
was put to death by order of Antony.
The aged Lepidus was now recalled to Italy, where his
share of the government was taken away from him.
Instead of a province, he was given the office of chief
pontiff, or high priest, of Rome, which he retained
until he died.
Antony, in the mean while, had wended his way eastward
again; and, instead of attending to his business in
Asia, he once more joined Cleopatra in Egypt. In spite
of his wife's letters and of the threats of Octavius,
Antony lingered there year after year. Such was the
influence which Cleopatra won over him that he even
divorced his wife Octavia, and married the Egyptian
Antony and Cleopatra.
Octavius had been longing for a good excuse to make war
against Antony; for, as you know, he wished to be the
only head of the government. He therefore pretended
 to be very angry because Antony had divorced Octavia,
and he made ready a large army.
While Octavius was gathering troops, and manning his
fleet, Antony staid with Cleopatra, and
thought of nothing but pleasure and feasting. He gave
magnificent banquets in her honor, and it was at one of
these feasts that the Egyptian queen once dissolved a
priceless pearl in vinegar, and swallowed it, merely to
be able to say that no one had ever quaffed so costly a
drink as she.
Forced at last to meet Octavius, who was coming with a
large fleet, Antony and Cleopatra sailed to Actium, where a great naval battle took place. The combined
fleets of Antony and Cleopatra were very large indeed;
but Octavius won a glorious victory.
Cleopatra had come in her gilded galley, with its sails
of purple silk and a richly dressed crew. But as soon
as the fighting began, she was so frightened that she
turned and fled. When Antony saw her galley sailing
away, he forgot honor and duty, and quickly followed
her, leaving his people to end the battle as best they
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