Cleopatra HTML version

Author's Note
The history of the ruin of Antony and Cleopatra must have struck many
students of the records of their age as one of the most inexplicable of tra-
gic tales. What malign influence and secret hates were at work, continu-
ally sapping their prosperity and blinding their judgment? Why did
Cleopatra fly at Actium, and why did Antony follow her, leaving his
fleet and army to destruction? An attempt is made in this romance to
suggest a possible answer to these and some other questions.
The reader is asked to bear in mind, however, that the story is told, not
from the modern point of view, but as from the broken heart and with
the lips of an Egyptian patriot of royal blood; no mere beast- worshipper,
but a priest instructed in the inmost mysteries, who believed firmly in
the personal existence of the gods of Khem, in the possibility of commu-
nion with them, and in the certainty of immortal life with its rewards
and punishments; to whom also the bewildering and often gross symbol-
ism of the Osirian Faith was nothing but a veil woven to obscure secrets
of the Sanctuary. Whatever proportion of truth there may have been in
their spiritual claims and imaginings, if indeed there was any, such men
as the Prince Harmachis have been told of in the annals of every great re-
ligion, and, as is shown by the testimony of monumental and sacred in-
scriptions, they were not unknown among the worshippers of the Egyp-
tian Gods, and more especially of Isis.
Unfortunately it is scarcely possible to write a book of this nature and
period without introducing a certain amount of illustrative matter, for by
no other means can the long dead past be made to live again before the
reader's eyes with all its accessories of faded pomp and forgotten mys-
tery. To such students as seek a story only, and are not interested in the
faith, ceremonies, or customs of the Mother of Religion and Civilisation,
ancient Egypt, it is, however, respectfully suggested that they should ex-
ercise the art of skipping, and open this tale at its Second Book.
That version of the death of Cleopatra has been preferred which attrib-
utes her end to poison. According to Plutarch its actual manner is very
uncertain, though popular rumour ascribed it to the bite of an asp. She
seems, however, to have carried out her design under the advice of that
shadowy personage, her physician, Olympus, and it is more than doubt-
ful if he would have resorted to such a fantastic and uncertain method of
destroying life.
It may be mentioned that so late as the reign of Ptolemy Epiphanes,
pretenders of native blood, one of whom was named Harmachis, are