Excerpt for The Queen of Blood and Seduction by , available in its entirety at Smashwords


The Queen of Blood and Seduction

By

Kenneth R. Rooks

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Published by

Kenneth R. Rooks at Smashwords


The Queen of Blood and Seduction

Copyright © 2017 Kenneth R. Rooks

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Smashwords Edition, License Notes


This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was purchased for your use only, then please return to Smashwords.com and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author. This new work is based on an original work titled Cleopatra, by Jacob Abbott.

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PREFACE


Cleopatra is considered one of the most beautiful women in the history of the world. This is probably true because no other woman down through time has left us with such convincing proofs of her beauty and charms. The young Queen’s father Pharaoh Ptolemy Auletes took her innocence in an incestuous marriage and then passed her into another incestuous relationship with her younger brother.

The vivacious young lady used her lovely body to turn aside the tide of Rome's destiny, and, therefore, that of the world. Julius Caesar led his famous legions as they trampled and conquered the known world from Canopus to the Thames, before finally succumbing to her feminine charms.

Then Marc Antony threw a fleet, an empire, and his own honor to the winds to follow her to his destruction. The Egyptian temptress was disarmed at last and made to stand before Octavius. There she found her nearly-naked body measured by the cold eye of her captor, not for its abilities to bring sensual pleasure, but only as a captive for his triumphal procession through the streets of Rome.

After testing various poisons on dozens of poor souls, she selects the nearly painless death from an asp bite to spare her the humiliation and indignity of being paraded as a captive through the streets of Rome.


TABLE OF CONTENTS


CHAPTERS

1. THE CONQUEST OF THE VALLEY OF THE NILE

2. A SHORT HISTORY OF THE INCEST & OTHER INDISCRETIONS OF THE PTOLEMIES.

3. THE CITY OF ALEXANDRIA

4. THE IMMORAL FATHER OF CLEOPATRA

5. CLEOPATRA’S INCESTUOUS ACCESSION TO THE THRONE

6. CLEOPATRA MEETS CAESAR

7. THE ALEXANDRINE WAR

8. CLEOPATRA BECOMES QUEEN AGAIN

9. THE BATTLE OF PHILIPPI

10. CLEOPATRA MEETS ANTONY AGAIN

11. THE BATTLE OF ACTIUM

12. THE DEATH OF CLEOPATRA


CHAPTER 1

THE CONQUEST OF THE VALLEY OF THE NILE.


Cleopatra is a story about incest, murder, adultery, and a variety of other assorted crimes. This is a real story about the consequences of passionate and adulterous loves that ends in tragedy. In this strange and romantic history, we see this passion portrayed with all its influences and effects; its uncontrollable impulses, its intoxicating joys, its reckless and mad choices, and the dreadful remorse and ultimate despair and ruin in which it always and inevitably ends.

Since the earliest periods of human history, Egypt has always been considered one of the most remarkable countries in the world. It’s a long and narrow valley of green and fruitfulness, completely insulated from the rest of the habitable world. In fact, it is more completely insulated, than any island could be, inasmuch as deserts are generally more impassable than seas.

The very existence of Egypt is a most extraordinary phenomenon. It has been occupied by man from the most remote times of antiquity. The oldest records of the human race which were made over three thousand years ago, tell of Egypt as being ancient even when those writing were first made.

These ancient records and even fables don’t attempt to tell the story of the origin of her population. In this amazing land stand the oldest, highest, proudest, as well as the most permanent, and stable of all the works which mankind has ever built.

The most important area of the Nile is the northern portion of the country, where the valley widens and opens toward the sea, forming a triangular plain of about one hundred miles in length on each of the sides. Over this area, the waters of the river flow in a great number of separate creeks and channels. The whole area forms a vast meadow, intersected everywhere with slow-flowing streams of water, and showing on its surface the most enchanting pictures of fertility, abundance, and beauty. This lush region is called the Nile Delta.

This delta is so level, and rises so little above the level of the Mediterranean, that the land seems almost a continuation of the same surface as the sea. Only, instead of blue waters topped with white-crested waves, we have broad tracts of waving grain, and gentle swells of land crowned with hamlets and villages.

The nautical visitor has no distant view of all this luscious beauty. The land lies so low that it continues beneath the horizon until the ship is close up to the shore. The first landmarks, in fact, which the seaman sees, are the tops of trees growing apparently out of the water, or the summit of an obelisk, or the capital of a pillar, marking the site of some ancient and dilapidated city.

The most easterly of the channels by which the waters of the river find their way through the Delta to the sea, is called the Pelusiac branch. It almost forms the boundary of the fertile region of the Delta on the eastern side. There was an ancient city named Pelusium located near the mouth of the waterway.

This was, of course, the first Egyptian city reached by those who arrived by land from the eastward side, traveling along the shores of the Mediterranean Sea. Because of its placement along the eastern frontier of the country, it became a point of great importance, and is often mentioned in the historic records of ancient times.

The westernmost mouth of the Nile, on the other hand, was called the Canopic mouth. The distance along the coast from the Canopic mouth to Pelusium was about a hundred miles. The outline of the coast was formerly, as it still continues to be, very irregular with shallow waters.

The Mediterranean kept up an eternal war along this irregular and uncertain boundary. The waters of the Nile and the surges of the sea are so nearly equal, that even now, after a lapse of over two thousand years, neither side has been able to have gained any perceptible advantage over the other.

The river brings the sands down, and the sea drives them incessantly back, keeping the whole line of the shore in such an unstable condition as to make it extremely dangerous and difficult for man to access.

It will be obvious, from this description of the valley of the Nile, that it formed a country which in ancient times was isolated and secluded from all the rest of the world. It was totally surrounded by deserts, on most sides, and on the coast by shoals, sand-bars, and other dangers of navigation which seemed to forbid approach by sea.

Thus, it remained for many eons, under the rule of its own native ancient Pharaohs. Its population was peaceful and hard working. Its scholars were famed throughout the world for their learning, science, and philosophy.

It was during these ages, before other nations intruded upon their peaceful seclusion, that the Pyramids were built, and those vast temples built whose ruined columns are now the wonder of mankind. During these remote ages, too, Egypt was, as now, the land of perpetual fertility and abundance.

There would always be grain growing in Egypt, despite the fact that other areas might be suffering with famine. The neighboring nations and tribes in Arabia, Palestine, and Syria, finally found their way to this abundant land. They crossed the deserts on the eastern side, driven there by their need, and thereby opened a trade route.

After extending their empire westward to the Mediterranean, the Persian monarchs used this same route to Pelusium, and thus overran and conquered the country. The conquest lasted for about two hundred and fifty years before the time of Cleopatra until a Greek by the name of Alexander III of Macedon (20/21 July 356 – 10/11 June 323 BC), commonly known as Alexander the Great arrived there. He drove out the Persian’s and took possession of Egypt in 322 B.C. The Greek then annexed this great prize, along with other Persian provinces, to the other vast areas he held domination over.

After Alexander’s death, his empire was divided up among his generals with Egypt being claimed by his good friend Auletes Ptolemy (367 BC – 283 BC.)

Auletes then made it his kingdom, and left it, at his death, to his heirs. A long line of sovereigns succeeded him, known in history as the dynasty of the Ptolemies--Greek princes, reigning over an Egyptian realm. Cleopatra VII (69 BC – 30 BC) was the daughter of the eleventh ruler in this line.

The Ptolemies selected Alexandria as their capital. It wasn’t until Alexander's conquest that Egypt finally gained a sea-port. There were several landing-places along the coastline, but no proper harbor. In fact, Egypt had so little commercial contacts with the rest of the world, that she scarcely needed a port.

Alexander's ambitions for the area included greater trade with the rest of the world, and he sent his engineers out to survey the shoreline. They found a point not far from the Canopic mouth of the Nile, where the water was deep and where there was an anchorage area protected by an island. Alexander liked the spot so much that he founded a city there, which he named after himself. He had the harbor greatly improved by the addition of artificial excavations and embankments.

A towering light-house was raised, which formed a landmark by day, and shined a blazing light by night to guide the galleys of the Mediterranean into shore. A canal was dug to connect the seaport with the Nile, and warehouses were built to hold the stores of trade goods.

These improvements quickly turned Alexandria into a great commercial capital. The city served as the center of government for the Ptolemies for several centuries. It was so well situated for its purposes that it still continues, after the lapse of twenty-one centuries of change to be one of the principal points of the commerce in the East.


CHAPTER 2

A SHORT HISTORY OF THE INCEST & OTHER INDISCRETIONS OF THE PTOLEMIES.


The founder of the Ptolemies dynasty, General Auletes Ptolemy was a Macedonian officer in Alexander the Great’s army. The circumstances of his birth, and the events which led to his entering into the service of Alexander, were somewhat strange. His mother, Arsinoë (323 BC – 283 BC), was a favorite concubine of Philip (382–336 BC), the King of Macedon, and the father of Alexander.

After a period of time, Philip gave Arsinoë in marriage to a man in his court named Lagus. It wasn’t long after the marriage that Ptolemy was born. The king treated the child with the same consideration and favor that he had shown towards the child’s mother.

Although, the boy was known as the son of Lagus, his position at the royal court of Macedon was more than this. He received the same attention, as if he were the officially recognized son of the king. As he grew older, he was promoted to increasingly more powerful positions that required greater responsibility.

Over a period of time, Ptolemy and Alexander became very close friends. There was a province of the Persian Empire called Caria, situated in the southwestern part of Asia Minor. The governor of this province had offered to give his daughter to Philip as the wife for one of his sons, a man named Aridaeus, the half-brother of Alexander.

Alexander's mother, who was not the mother of Aridaeus, was jealous of this proposed marriage. She thought that it was part of a plot to give Aridaeus greater public recognition, and eventually make him the heir to Philip's throne. She wanted to insure that this great inheritance would go to her own son.

Accordingly, she proposed to Alexander that they send a secret messenger to the Persian governor. They wanted to persuade him, that it would be much better, both for him and for his daughter, that she chose Alexander instead of Aridaeus for her husband. If the messenger was successful, he was then to induce the Persian to ask Philip to make the suggested change.

Alexander happily embraced the plan, and various people agreed to help him carry it through including Ptolemy. A messenger was selected and sent on the mission. The Governor of Caria was very pleased with the suggested change and readily approved of it.

In fact, the whole plan seemed to be going along very well, when, by some means or another, King Philip found out about it. He then went immediately to find Alexander while in a highly excited and agitated state of mind. When he found him, he made it clear that he had never intended to make Aridaeus the heir to his throne because the the woman’s mother wasn’t from noble stock.

Philip reproached Alexander in the harshest terms for being of so stupid as to want to marry the daughter of a Persian governor; who he said was just the mere slave of a barbarian king.

Alexander's plan was thus doomed to failure, and it so angered his father that the officers who had helped him with it, were banished from the kingdom. Therefore, Ptolemy was forced to leave his country and wander around in exile for several years, until King Philip died enabling Alexander to recall him.

Alexander succeeded his father as King of Macedon, and immediately made Ptolemy one of his principal generals. Ptolemy distinguished himself in subsequent campaigns for the celebrated conqueror, and thereby rose to a very high position in the Macedonian army.

In the Persian campaign, Ptolemy commanded one of the three major divisions of the army, and he repeatedly demonstrated his loyalty, and competent in the service of his king. He was often entrusted with the management of very importance affairs requiring him to travel to distant locations on highly dangerous missions.

Ptolemy was very successful in all his undertakings for Alexander. He conquered armies, reduced fortresses, negotiated treaties, and displayed the highest degree of military competence and skill. He once saved Alexander's life by discovering a dangerous conspiracy against him.

It is said that Alexander had the opportunity to repay this favor, through a divine vision given him for the express purpose of enabling him to express his gratitude. Ptolemy had been wounded by a poisonous arrow and was in terrible condition.

When all the remedies and antidotes tried by the physicians failed, and it appeared that the patient was going to die. It is said that an effective cure was revealed to Alexander in one of his dreams, and Ptolemy was saved.

When Alexander's conquests were completed, there was great rejoicings in Susa, the capital of ancient Elan, located in what is now Western Iran. Ptolemy was honored with a golden crown, and married with great pomp and ceremony, to Artacama, the daughter of one of the most distinguished Persian generals.

One night Alexander died suddenly, after a night of heavy drinking and whoring in Babylon. The king had no heir old enough to succeed him, and his immense empire was divided among his generals.

General Ptolemy obtained Egypt as his rightful share of these spoils. He then immediately returned to Alexandria, taking with him a great army, and a large number of Greek attendants and followers. He commenced a reign there which resulted in great prosperity and splendor, for the next forty years.

After Ptolemy’s return, the native Egyptians were quickly subdued and placed into bondage. All the higher ranks in the army and all top political positions were taken over by Greeks loyal to him. Alexandria, the Greek dominated city that he choose as his capitol quickly became one of the most important commercial centers in that a part of the world.

Greek and Roman travelers found that there was a language now spoken in Egypt which they could finally understand. Philosophers and scholars could satisfy the great curiosity they had so long felt, in respect to the institutions, monuments, and wonderful physical characteristics of the country.

The organization of a Greek government and the establishment of the great commercial relations of the city of Alexandria with other areas of the world helped to bring Egypt out from its isolation. This opened it up to study and closer observation by the rest of mankind.

If fact, it was a primary goal of Ptolemy’s to accomplish these very ends. He invited Greek scholars, philosophers, poets, and artists, in great numbers, to come to Alexandria, and to make his capital their home. He collected an immense library, which subsequently, was called the Alexandrian Library, and became one of the most celebrated collections of books and manuscripts that was ever put together.

Pharaoh Ptolemy was engaged in waging almost constant wars with the surrounding countries during almost the total period of his reign. He engaged in these wars for two reasons. First, Ptolemy wanted to defend against the aggressions and encroachments of other powers, and secondly he wanted to extend the boundaries of his empire.

After many years of hard struggle, Pharaoh Ptolemy finally succeeded in establishing his kingdom on a firm footing. But by then, he was over eighty years of age and drawing towards the end of his life. He decided to abdicate his throne in favor of his youngest son, whose name was also Ptolemy.

Ptolemy the father, and founder of the dynasty, is commonly known in history by the name of Ptolemy Soter. His son Ptolemy II Philadelphus (309–246 BC) is referred to as Ptolemy Philadelphia. The youngest Ptolemy was the son of the favorite and most beloved wife of the Pharaoh.

The decision of Soter to abdicate the throne arose from his wish to ensure this favorite son was securely in possession of the throne before he died. This was to prevent his older brothers from disputing the line of succession favored by the Pharaoh.

The coronation of Philadelphus was one of the most magnificent and imposing royal ceremonies that had ever taken place in Egypt. Two years later, Ptolemy the father died, and the son gave him a magnificent burial that was almost equal to the pomp of his own coronation.

The former Pharaoh’s body was placed in the splendid mausoleum, which had been built to store the remains of Alexander. The splendor of his reign and exploits were so great that the highest respects and divine honors were paid to his memory. Such was the origin of the great dynasty of the Ptolemies.

Some of the early monarchs of this line followed in the footsteps of the founder to some degree, but his example was soon lost, and was succeeded by the most extreme degeneracy and debasement imaginable. The successive sovereigns soon began to reign solely for the gratification of their own sexual propensities and pleasures.

The Ptolemies ended up as some of the most abominable and terrible tyrants in world history that absolute and irresponsible power has ever produced. There was one vice in particular that they seem to have adopted from the Asian nations of the Persian Empire that resulted in the most awful of consequences--this vice was incest.

The law of God, states not only in the Scriptures, but in the natural instincts of the human soul, forbids intermarriages among those connected by close family relationship. The Persian sovereigns considered themselves above all laws, and practiced every type of incestuous relationships without guilt or shame. The Ptolemies adopted their example of this shameful practice.

One of the most striking examples of this type of incestuous conduct is shown in the history of the great-grandfather of Cleopatra VII. His name was Ptolemy VIII Euergetes II (182 BC – June, 26, 116 BC.) It’s necessary to give some information about his history and that of his family, in order to explain the circumstances under which Cleopatra VII found herself when she was born into this highly dysfunctional and incestuous family.

His nickname Physcon meaning Potbelly or Bladder, was originally given him in contempt and derision because of his small stature and height. His gluttonous lifestyle made him so immensely fat that he looked more like a monster than a man. The term Physcon was a Greek word that was used to denote the disgraceful and ridiculous figure that he presented to the world.

The circumstances of Ptolemy Physcon's accession to the throne offers not only a striking illustration of his character, but a very faithful, although terrible picture of the manners and morals of his times.

Phycon had been engaged in a very long and cruel war with his brother Ptolemy 6 Philomentor (186 BC – 145 BC), who had been the king before him. In this war, the little tyrant had perpetrated all manners of atrocities, which at length resulted in his brother’s death. Ptolemy 6 was survived by his wife, who was also Phycon’s sister, and a young son.

This son was the lawful and legitimate heir to the crown. Physcon himself, being a brother, had no claim whatsoever against that of his brother’s son. The name of this Queen was Cleopatra II (185 BC – 116 BC.) This was, in fact, a very common name among the princesses of the Ptolemaic line.

Cleopatra II, in addition to her son, had a daughter, who was at this time a young and beautiful girl. Her name was also Cleopatra. She was, of course, the niece, as her mother was the sister, of Physcon.

After her husband's death, Queen Cleopatra II wanted to make her son the Pharaoh of Egypt, and to govern herself, as regent, until he became of age. However, Phycon’s friends sent for him to come to Alexandria to assert his claims to the throne.

He came, and a new civil war was on the verge of starting between the brother and sister, but after some negations the dispute was settled by a treaty. This agreement stipulated that Physcon would marry Cleopatra II and become Pharaoh; but that he should make the son of Cleopatra by her former husband his heir.

The treaty was put into effect with the two getting married and Phycon assuming the throne. But the treacherous monster, decided to murder the boy instead of keeping his word. In fact, he was so open and brazen with his violence and cruelty that he committed the crime himself during the full light of day.

The young boy fled crying to the mother's arms for protection, but that didn’t deter Physcon, he stabbed and killed him where he was. This created the bloody spectacle of a newly-married husband murdering the son of his wife in her very arms!

It’s easy to see why this destroyed any hopes of an affection ever existing between the newlyweds. In fact, there hadn’t been any love lost between them from the very beginning. The marriage had been solely a political arrangement forced on them. Physcon hated his wife, murdered her son, and then, as if to complete his display of brutal lawlessness and mercurial passions--he ended up taking her daughter’s virtue as well.

The beautiful virgin, known in history as Cleopatra III (161 BC – 101 BC) looked upon this heartless monster with absolute horror and disgust. Physcon was as ugly and deformed in body as he was in his mind. But, he had her totally within his power and he took advantage of his opportunity.

He went to her bedroom soon after killing her brother and used threats of violence to force her to submit to his will. After raping her, he married her and had both mother and daughter in his bed at the same time. He later repudiated his marriage to the mother and threw her out.

Physcon showed the same qualities of brutal tyranny and cruelty in the treatment of his subjects as he did with his own family. After a time, his atrocities became so absolutely intolerable that a revolt broke out, and he was forced to flee the country.

In fact, he barely escaped with his life, while the mob was outside surrounding the royal palace and trying to start a fire to burn it down. After escaping by the skin of his teeth, Physcon fled to the island of Cyprus, taking with him, his son by Cleopatra II whom he had divorced. They hadn’t been married for long, but it was long enough to impregnate her with his foul seed.

The name of this boy was Memphitis. Cleopatra II was very closely attached to him, and Physcon kidnapped him away from her for just that very reason. The tyrant wanted to keep the boy as a hostage to insure his mother's good behavior. He assumed that, after he left, she might possibly attempt to regain possession of the throne.

Physcon’s expectations in this regard were soon realized. The people of Alexandria rallied around Cleopatra, and called upon her to take the crown. She did so, despite feeling, some misgivings in respect to the danger that such a step might bring to her absent son. But, she reassured herself that his own father couldn’t possibly do any harm to him.

After some little time had elapsed, Cleopatra became more secure in her position as the sole supreme power in Alexandria. Her birth-day approached, and arrangements were made for celebrating it in a lavish manner suitable for a person in her high position.

When the day finally arrived, the whole city joined in the festivities and rejoicing. Entertainments were held in the palace, and in addition games, spectacles, and plays of every sort were exhibited and performed in all areas of the city.

Cleopatra II was enjoying her birthday entertainment, when it was announced that a large box had arrived for her. The box was brought in front of the throne chair and presented to her. It had all the appearance of containing some magnificent gift that had been sent by some friend to honor her birthday.

The Queen was excited and curious to know what was inside the mysterious box. She ordered it to be opened; and the guests all gathered around, each eager to obtain the first glimpse of the contents. The lid was removed, and the cloth that was covering the interior was pulled away.

To the shock and horror of all those gathered around to witness the spectacle, there was the head and hands of Cleopatra's beautiful young son lying among the pieces of cut up human flesh. The head had been left intact so that the mother could recognize the pale and lifeless features of her son.

Physcon had sent the box to Alexandria with orders that it should be held until the evening of the celebrations, and then presented publicly to Cleopatra II in the midst of the birthday festivities. The awful cries of anguish that filled the royal palace at the sight of the dreadful spectacle, showed just how successful the cruel tyrant had been in accomplishing his vulgar mission.

This tragic event helps give a better understanding of the nature of the domestic influences that reigned in the family from which Cleopatra VII was born. In fact, as a matter of simple justice to her, we should know what these influences were, and what types of examples were set for her during her in her early development.

The privileges and advantages that the young enjoy in their early years, as well as, the evil influences under which they suffer, must be taken into account when we are passing judgment upon the decisions and crimes that they are accused of committing.

While it is true that the monster Physcon lived, two or three generations before the great Cleopatra; it is also true that the character of the intermediate generations, continued in much the same way. In fact, the cruelty, corruption, and vice which reigned supreme in every branch of the royal family seems to have increased rather than diminished over the years.

One example of this was the niece of Physcon, who, at the time of her rape and compulsory marriage to him, had clearly shown an aversion to the monster. But, by the time of her husband's death, she had become just as great a selfish and cruel monster as him.

Cleopatra III had two sons with Physcon named Lathyros and Alexander. When he died, he left the kingdom of Egypt to her in his will, and authorized her to choose whichever of these two sons she thought would be the strongest and best fit to rule the country. The oldest was entitled to this position, by his priority of birth, but she preferred the youngest because she could more easily control him and retain her power.

However, the most powerful citizens in Alexandria refused to accept this plan, and insisted that Cleopatra serve as co-regent with her oldest son, Lathyros or as he became known in history, Ptolemy IX Soter II (142 BC – 81 BC.)

The Queen was forced by them to recall Lathyros from the banishment into which she had sent him, and to put him upon the throne beside her. Cleopatra yielded to this necessity, but she forced her son to repudiate his current wife, and instead take another woman who she thought she could more easily bend to her will.

The mother and the son ruled together for a time, Lathyros acting in name only as king, as she remained determined that she would continue to be the real ruler. The palace was the scene of loud and perpetual quarrels as he struggled to resist what he considered her intolerable interference with his ability to govern the country.

At last Cleopatra grew tired of the situation and decided to seize a number of Lathyros' eunuch servants who were employed in various offices around the palace. After having them mutilated in a very horrible way, she displayed them to the people of the city claiming that it was Lathyros that had caused the terrible injuries. Cleopatra then called upon the citizens to rise up and punish him for his crimes.

By resorting to this tactic and several others, she caused such hard feeling against Lathyros, that they forced him from the country. The result of these actions by the Queen was a long series of cruel and bloody wars between the mother and the son. Each side then perpetrated almost every imaginable type of atrocity against the other that was imaginable.

Alexander the youngest of her sons, known in history as Ptolemy X Alexander I (birth unknown - died 88 BC), was so afraid of his vicious mother, that he didn’t dare to stay in Alexandria with her, but went into a sort of self-banishment of his own freewill. However, this didn’t last and he finally returned to Egypt. His mother immediately suspected that he was intending on trying to make a grab for power, and decided to have him killed.

Alexander was well acquainted with what his mother was capable of and soon realized what his mother was up too. This of course caused him a great deal of anxiety and fear and he decided the best way to end to the situation was by killing her before she killed him. He was able to accomplish this and then fled the country.

His brother Lathyros then returned and reigned for the rest of his days in a tolerable degree of peace and quiet. After a period of time, Lathyros died and left the kingdom to his son Ptolemy XII Auletes (117 BC – 51 BC), who was the great Cleopatra's father.

We shouldn’t soften the picture that this celebrated family presented to history, by thinking that the mother of Auletes was an exception to the general character of the princesses who appeared from time to time in this line. This woman also energetically displayed the same cruel and merciless traits throughout her terrible time on earth.

It is clear from historical records that Auletes’ mother was of the same vile type that was representative of all the rest of the Ptolemy women. She was ambitious, selfish, and displayed reckless cruelty, and utter disregard of every virtuous principle in regards to her domestic relationships.

She had two daughters, for example, who learned well from her examples and were worthy successors of such an evil mother. A story in the lives of these sisters illustrates very forcibly the kind of sisterly affection which prevailed in the family of the Ptolemies. The story goes as follows:

There were two princes in Syria, a country lying to the northeast of the Mediterranean Sea, not too distant from Egypt. The two brothers were involved in terrible civil war, and displaying very deadly hostility towards each other.

One brother had attempted to poison the other, and this had caused a war to break out between them, thereby making all of Syria suffer from the damages inflicted by their armies. One of the sisters, of whom we have been speaking, married one of these two princes. Her name was Tryphena know as Cleopatra V Tryphaena (Born c. 95 BC, died c. 69/68 BC or c. 57 BC.)

After a period of time, but while the war was still raging between the two brothers, Cleopatra, the other sister--the same Cleopatra, in fact, that had been divorced from Lathyros at the instance of his mother--married the other prince.

This caused a big problem among the sisters as Tryphena became exceedingly upset with her sister Cleopatra for marrying her husband's mortal foe. The hostility and hatred between the sisters boiled over and was combined with that which the brothers had displayed towards each other.

From this time forward, Tryphena took a new and highly-excited interest in the war, mainly stemming from her desire to revenge herself against her sister. She intently watched the progress of the war, and even took a part in encouraging her husband to actively prosecute the war.

The army of this woman’s husband seemed to be winning the war. The husband of the other Cleopatra found himself being driven from one part of the country to another. Finally, in order to provide security of his wife, he left her in Antioch, which was a large and strongly-fortified city. He assumed that she would be safe there while he was engaged in fighting the war in another area of the country where his presence was badly needed.

After learning that her sister was in Antioch, Tryphena urged her husband to attack the city so she could get her revenge. Her husband agreed and advanced with a strong detachment of his army. He besieged and took the city, and Cleopatra would have fallen into his hands as a captive if she hadn’t fled to a nearby temple for refuge.

In those days, a temple was considered a safe an inviolable place of sanctuary. The soldiers therefore respected this tradition and didn’t enter. When Tryphena leaned this, she was furious and demanded that her husband go get the fugitive despite this, and place her into her hands so that she could kill her.

Her husband refused to carry out her atrocious proposal, "It would be a wholly useless act of cruelty," he argued, "To destroy her life. She can’t do us any possible harm now, but if we murder her under these circumstances we will only exasperate her husband and her friends. This will fill them with anger and renewed strength for the remainder of the war. Also, she’s taken refuge in a temple; and if we violate that sanctuary, we will incur the great displeasure of the Gods, if we commit such an act of sacrilege. Consider this too, she is your sister, and if you kill her in that sacred place you would be committing an unnatural and totally inexcusable crime."

He then demanded that Tryphena refrain from saying anymore on that subject because wasn’t going to consent to having Cleopatra injured while she was in the safety of the sanctuary. Her husband’s refusal to comply with her request only inflamed Tryphena's insane resentment and anger that much more.

The strength of his argument in defense of her sister aroused Tryphena's jealousy. She believed, or pretended to believe, that her husband was in love with her sister and that was why he was so interested in defending her. The object of her hatred turned from simply being an enemy and became a rival.

Tryphena decided that despite all roadblocks, her sister had to be destroyed. She then ordered a group of soldiers to break into the temple and take her prisoner. When they arrived Cleopatra fled in terror to the altar, and clung to it with such force that the soldiers cut her hands off. Then, angered by her resistance and the sight of blood, they stabbed her again and again on the floor of the temple, where she fallen.

Cleopatra’s appalling shrieks which had filled the temple in the first moments of her terror and her attempt to escape grew quieter as her life ebbed away. The judgment of Heaven must have been called down upon the head of the unnatural sister whose implacable hate had destroyed her sister.

This bloody example of the character of the Ptolemy family is only one of many, extending, as it did, through the reigns of thirteen sovereigns and over a period of nearly three hundred years. Despite this, the Ptolemaic rule has always been considered one of the most liberal, enlightened, and prosperous of all the governments of ancient times.


CHAPTER 3

THE CITY OF ALEXANDRIA.


It shouldn’t be assumed that the scenes of vicious indulgence, and reckless cruelty and crime, which occurred with such dreadful frequency, and carried to such an enormous excess in the palaces of the Egyptian kings, prevailed to the same extent throughout the rest of the country during the period of their reign.

The internal administration of government was generally in the hands of men well qualified, on the whole, for the trusts committed to their charge, and who were in a good degree faithful to the performance of their duties. Thus, the ordinary affairs of government, and the general routine of domestic and social life, went on, notwithstanding the shameless conduct of the members of the royal family.

During every one of the three hundred years over which the history of the Ptolemies extends, the whole length and breadth of the land of Egypt existed, with comparatively few interruptions. It was one wide-spread scene of people busily tending their fields and taking care of their families. Generation after generation worked and tilled these boundless fields which the waters of the Nile had fertilized.

The lands were plowed; the seed was sown; the canals, which spread out from the river in every direction, were opened or closed, as needed to regulate the irrigation. The inhabitants were very busy, and consequently, lived much more virtuous lives than the royal family.

The sky of Egypt was seldom if ever darkened by clouds and storms, and the outdoor scene presented the same unchanging green vegetation and beauty, day after day, and month after month, until the ripened grain was gathered into the store-houses, and the land was cleared for another harvest.

It can be said that the people were virtuous because they were busy; for there isn’t any principle more fully established than that vice in the social state is the symptom of idleness. It always exists in those classes of every great population who have too much wealth and never have to engage in useful employment.

This class of men, too wealthy to be induced to perform daily toil generally turns to other avenues of enjoyment. This can cause them to become corrupt and depraved, and that degradation has become in all languages a term almost synonymous with vice and depravity.

However, there are many exceptions to this general rule. Many businessmen have turn out to be very wicked; and there have been frequent instances of nobles and kings who were socially responsible individuals.

Still, as a general law, it is unquestionably true that vice is the brother of idleness; and the sphere of vice, therefore, is at both the top and bottom of society. These are the regions in which idleness is most likely found. The best way to remedy a vice filled life is through full employment. Therefore, in order to make a community lawful and virtuous, it is essential that all levels of society, from the highest to the lowest, should have something to keep themselves busy.

In accordance with this principle, we observe that, while the most extreme and abominable crimes, incest, and other forms of wickedness occupied the palaces of the Ptolemies, and the nobles of their courts, this was not true in the rest of the government. The working ministers of state, and the men who ran the actual governmental functions performed their duties with wisdom and fidelity.

In fact, throughout all the ordinary citizens of Egypt, there prevailed a very deep work ethic that helped create prosperity and happiness. This prosperity prevailed not only in the rural districts of the Delta and along the valley of the Nile, but also among the merchants, and navigators, and artisans of Alexandria.

Alexandria became a very great and busy commercial seaport very soon after it was founded. Many things helped to make this happen. In the first place, it was the storage depot for the export for all surplus grain, and other agricultural produce which was produced in such abundance along the Nile valley.

This produce was brought down in boats to the upper point of the Delta, where the branches of the river divided, and from there to the Canopic branch to the city. The city was not, in fact, situated directly upon this branch, but upon a narrow tongue of land, at a little distance from it, near the sea.

It was not easy to enter the channel directly because of the sand-bars and banks situated at its mouth, caused by the eternal conflict between the waters of the river and the surges of the sea. Alexander's engineers had discovered that the water was deep at the place where the city was built, and, by establishing the port there, and then cutting a canal across to the Nile, they were able to bring the river and the sea together into a safe place for navigation by the merchant ships.

The produce of the valley was thus brought down the river and through the canal to the city. Here immense warehouses and granaries were built for its storage so that it could be safely preserved until the ships that came into the port were ready to carry it away.

These ships came from Syria, Greece, Rome, and from all the coasts of Asia Minor. They brought the agricultural productions of their own countries, as well as various other items of manufacture. They sold these to the merchants of Alexandria, and in return, purchased the products of Egypt.

The port of Alexandria was thus a constant moving picture of life and business activities. Merchant ships were continually coming and going, or lying at anchor in the sheltered waters near the shoreline. Seamen were hoisting sails, raising anchors, or rowing their spacious galleys through the water, and singing, as they pulled to the motion of the oars.

There were the same ceaseless activities happening within the city. Here groups of men were busy unloading the canal boats which had arrived from the river. There porters were transporting bales of merchandise or sacks of grain from a warehouse to a pier, or from one landing to another.

These commercial activities were sometimes interrupted by the occasional parading of the Pharaoh’s guards, or the arrival and departure of warships which would drop off or take away groups of armed men. Sometimes there would be a brief period, when trade was wholly suspended because of a revolt or by a civil war waged by rival brothers against each other, or instigated by the conflicting claims of a mother and son.

However, these interruptions were comparatively few, and in ordinary cases, didn’t last for very long. It was in the best interest of all branches of the royal line that the commercial and agricultural operations of the realm were not interrupted for any great length of time.

The rulers were well aware that their prosperity depended on these revenues. No matter how much two rival princes may have hated one another, they were both under every possible inducement to spare the private property and the lives of the peaceful population. This population, in fact, was engaged in the profitable labors that the combatants were so interested in obtaining for themselves.

Understanding the valve of this trade, the Egyptian sovereigns, especially Alexander and the earlier Ptolemies, made every effort in their power to promote the commercial greatness of Alexandria. While it is true that they built palaces, it is also true that they built great warehouses.

One of the most expensive and celebrated of all the edifices they built was the light-house which has been already alluded to. This light-house was a lofty tower, built of white marble. It was situated upon the island of Pharos, opposite to the city, and at some distance from it.

There was a sort of isthmus of shoals and sand-bars connecting the island with the shore. A pier or causeway was built over these shallows, which finally became a broad and inhabited neck like area. The principal inhabited area of the ancient city, however, was on the main land.

The curvature of the earth requires that a light-house on a coast should have a considerable height, otherwise its summit wouldn’t be visible above the horizon, unless the ship was very near. The architects would usually take advantage of some hill or cliff, or rocky eminence near the shore to attain the necessary height

Unfortunately, there was no opportunity to do this at Pharos, because the island, like the main land, was low and level. The required elevation could only be attained by the construction of a masonry base, and the blocks of marble necessary for the work had to be brought in from a great distance.

The Alexandrian light-house was built in the time of Ptolemy Philadelphus, the second monarch in the line. He spared no expense or effort in its construction. The structure, when completed, was considered one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.

The lighthouse was undoubtedly indebted for its fame in some degree to its prominent location, rising, as it did, at the entrance of one of the greatest commercial seaports of its time. It stood there like a pillar of cloud in the daytime, and lit the sky up with fire at night, to attract the welcome gaze of every wandering mariner. These ships came within its horizon, and rejoiced with gratitude at the guidance it offered them.

The light at the top of the tower was produced by a fire, made from select combustibles that would emit the brightest flame possible. This fire burned slowly during the day, and then at night it was kindled up anew, and was continually replenished throughout the night with fresh supplies of fuel.

In more modern times, a much more convenient and economical mode is adopted to produce the required illumination. A great blazing lamp would burn brilliantly in the center of the lantern of the tower, and all that part of the radiation from the flame which would naturally have beamed upward, or downward, or laterally, or back toward the land, was turned by a curious system of reflectors and polyzonal lenses.

This ingenious system could be exactly adjusted, so as to be thrown forward in a broad, thin, but brilliant sheet of light over the surface of the sea. Before these inventions were perfected, the largest portion of the light emitted by the lighthouses was streamed away wastefully in landward directions, or was lost among the stars.

The question might be asked whether the fame and glory from this amazing structure was justly due to the architect through whose scientific skill the work was actually accomplished, or to the Pharaoh whose power and resources made the project possible. The architect of the lighthouse was a Greek by the name of Sostratus. The Pharaoh was, as has already been stated, the second Ptolemy, commonly called Ptolemy Philadelphus .

Ptolemy ordered that when the tower was completed, a marble tablet should be built into the wall, at a suitable place near the summit. The tablet was to have a conspicuous inscription carved with the Pharaoh’s name as the builder of the lighthouse.

Sostratus thought he was being robbed of the credit, and decided that his own name should be carved as the true builder of the lighthouse. He made the tablet and set it in its position just as the Pharaoh had ordered. He then cut his own name into the rock in Greek characters as the author of the work.

Sostratus did this secretly, and then covered the face of the tablet with an artificial composition, made with lime, to imitate the natural surface of the stone. On this outer surface he cut a new inscription, in which he inserted the name of the Pharaoh. Over time the lime moldered away, the Pharaoh's inscription disappeared, and his own replaced it for as long as the building endured.

The lighthouse at Pharos was said to have been four hundred feet high. It was famous throughout the world for many centuries, however now nothing remains of it but a heap of useless and undecipherable ruins.

In addition to the light that beamed from the top of this lofty tower, there was another center of radiance and illumination in ancient Alexandria. In some respects, it was still more famous and renowned than the lighthouse. It was the immense library and museum established and maintained by the Ptolemies.

The Museum was established first, and was not as its name might now imply, a collection of curiosities. But, an institution of learning, consisting of a body of educated men, who devoted their time to philosophical and scientific pursuits. The institution was richly endowed, and magnificent buildings were erected for its use.

The Pharaoh who established it began immediately to assemble a collection of books for the use of the members of the institution. This was a costly venture because every book that was added to the collection had to be carefully transcribed with a pen on parchment or papyrus with time consuming labor and care.

This work required a great numbers of scribes who were constantly employed doing this work at the Museum. The Pharaohs who were most interested in forming this library would confiscate the books that were possessed by individual scholars, or that were held in the various cities under their dominion.

The scribes at the Museum would make beautiful copies of them and retain the originals for the great Alexandrian Library. The copies were then given to the men or the cities from where the originals had been taken. In this same manner, they would borrow, as they called it, from all the travelers who visited Egypt. They would take any valuable books in their possession, and give them back copies instead.

Over time, the library’s collection increased to four hundred thousand volumes. They reached a point where there wasn’t any more room in the buildings of the Museum for further additions. There was, however, in another part of the city, a great temple called the Serapion. This temple was a very magnificent building, or, rather, group of buildings, dedicated to the god Serapis. The origin and history of this temple were very remarkable and the legend goes something like this:

It seems that one of the ancient and long-venerated gods of the Egyptians was a deity named Serapis. He was among the divinities, that the Egyptian worshiped ages before Alexandria was built or the Ptolemies came to power. There was also, by a curious coincidence, a statue of the same name at a great commercial town named Sinope.

This was built upon the extremity of a cliff which projected from Asia Minor out into the Euxine Sea. Sinope was, in some sense, the Alexandria of the north, being the center and seat of a great portion of the commerce of that area of the world.

The Serapis of Sinope was considered as the protecting deity of seamen, and the navigators who came and went from the city made sacrifices to him. They offered bread and wine believing that they were dependent on some mysterious and inscrutable power which he exercised for their safety in storms.

They carried tales of his imaginary help during storms to all the places that they visited; and thus the fame of the god became extended far and wide. This happened first along the coasts of the Euxine Sea, and subsequently to distant provinces and kingdoms. The Serapis of Sinope began to be considered everywhere as the main deity that protected seamen.

When the first of the Ptolemies was forming a plan to promote and advertise Alexandria, he claims to have had a divine dream telling him to obtain the statue of Serapis from Sinope, and set it up in Alexandria. This he believed would offer great advantages to the city if he were able to carry it out. In the first place, a temple to the god Serapis would have a big impact on the minds of the rural population, who would undoubtedly suppose that the deity honored by it was their own ancient god.

Then the whole maritime and nautical industry of the world, would turn to Alexandria as the great center of religious attraction, if the idol could be carried and placed in a new and magnificent temple built expressly for it there. Alexandria could never be the chief naval port of the world, unless it contained the sanctuary and shrine of the god that was thought to protect seamen during their dangerous voyages.

Ptolemy decided to send the King of Sinope a proposal for the purchase of the idol. However, the king turned down the offer and refused to give up the god. The negotiations continued for the next two years, but without much progress.

It was after this time, that a famine came to Sinope that was so severe the king was forced to give up his deity to the Egyptians in exchange for a supply of grain to feed his starving population before they revolted against him. Ptolemy sent the grain and received the statue in exchange. He then built the temple, which, when finished, surpassed in grandeur almost every sacred structure in the world.

It was in this temple that the successive additions to the Alexandrian library were stored, when the Museum became full. When completed, there were four hundred thousand rolls or volumes in the Museum, and another three hundred thousand in the Serapion. The Museum was called the parent library, and the latter, being, as it were, the offspring of the first, was called the daughter.

Ptolemy Philadelphus, was very interested in collecting all the volumes he could for his library, and wished to make it a complete collection of all the books in the world. He hired scholars to read and study, and travelers to make extensive tours, for the purpose of learning what books existed in all the surrounding countries.

When he learned of the existence of books he didn’t possess, he spared no expense in attempting to procure either the originals, or the most perfect and authentic copies of them that could be made. He even sent people to Athens to obtain the works of the most celebrated Greek historians. He would then have the most beautiful copies made of them before sending the copies back to Athens with a very large sum of money hoping to exchange the copies and cash for the originals.

During the course of his inquiries, Ptolemy discovered that the Jews had certain sacred writings in their temple at Jerusalem. These writings comprised a minute and extremely interesting history of their nation from the earliest periods, and there were also many other books of sacred prophecy and poetry. In fact, these books were the Hebrew Scriptures of the Old Testament, which were totally unknown to any other nations except for the Jews, and even among the Jews they were only known to priests and scholars.

These sacred documents were hidden some place safe in Jerusalem. The Jews would have likely considered it profane to exhibit them to the view of the pagan nations. But the fact was, even if the educated men of other countries got hold of them, they would not have been able to read them. The Jews secluded themselves so completely away from the rest of mankind, that their language was scarcely ever heard beyond the confines of Judea and Galilee.

Ptolemy naturally thought that a copy of these sacred books would be a great acquisition to his library. They constituted, in fact, the whole literature of a nation which was, in some respects, the most extraordinary that ever existed on the planet.

Ptolemy conceived the idea of not only adding copies of these to his library in the original Hebrew, but of making a translation of them into Greek. This way they could be easily read by the Greek and Roman scholars who were drawn there in great numbers. He knew the first thing he had to do to put his plan in effect was to obtain the consent of the Jewish authorities. He knew that they would probably be very resistant to giving up any copy of their sacred writings to him.

There was one thing which led Ptolemy to believe that the Jews might consider his offer. During the past, wars had been fought, and a considerable number of Jewish prisoners had been captured by the Egyptians. They had been brought to Egypt as captives, where they had been sold as slaves to the inhabitants of the country.

They were employed as servile laborers in tilling the fields, or in turning enormous wheels to pump up water from the Nile. The owners of these hapless prisoners believed that like other slave-holders, that they had a right of property to these slaves. This was in some respects true, since they had bought them from the government at the end of the war.

Although they obviously derived no valid proprietary right or claim against the men personally, it certainly would seem that it gave them a just claim against the government for whom they had purchased the slaves, in case of their subsequent release from captivity.


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