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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
Africa: Vol. XXIV. 1876–79.

Egypt, Nubia, and Abyssinia: Alexandria

The Death of Cleopatra

By Horace (65–8 B.C.)

Translated by R. M. Hovenden

NOW let us drink; with nimble feet

Now let us strike the holy ground;

With couches deck the temple round

For Saliaric banquets meet.

Which of us, friends, had disinterred

His costly wines, what time the Queen,

Puffed up with pride and female spleen,

Encircled by a loathsome herd

Unsexed, but foul with barren lust,

Marshalled her powers to overwhelm

Our Capitol and ancient realm,

And lay Rome’s glories in the dust?

But Egypt knows her dream a cheat

Begot of Mareotic fumes,

When the devouring fire consumes,

Ship after ship, her Actium fleet.

When Cæsar, following in her wake,

Like hawk or hunter giving chase

To timorous dove or hare of Thrace,

Urges his crew to overtake

And load the monster-queen with chains,

She homeward steers, resolved to die,

Preferring death to slavery

Or exile from her old domains.

Now, in her royal house serene,

Upon her breast she dares to clasp

The venom of the deadly asp,

Unshrinking, to the last a Queen.

She scorns, the haughty one, to go

In keel Liburnian over sea,

No golden-fettered captive she

To grace the triumph of her foe.