This section is from the book "A Library Of Wonders And Curiosities Found In Nature And Art, Science And Literature", by I. Platt. Also available from Amazon: A library of wonders and curiosities.
The vessel in which the lovely and luxurious Queen of Egypt floated upon the Nile, has been described by historians and portrayed by poets at various times. We give Shakespeare's account of it:
"The barge she sat in, like a burnished throne Burned on the water; the poop was beaten gold; Purple the sails, and so perfumed, that The winds were lovesick with them; the oars were silver, Which to the tunes of flutes kept stroke, and made The water which they beat to follow faster, As amorous of their strokes. For her own person, She beggared all description; she did lie On her pavilion (cloth of gold and tissue) O'erpicturing that Venus where we see The fancy outwork nature; on each side her Stood pretty dimpled boys, like smiling Cupids, With divers-colored fans, whose wind did seem To glow the delicate cheeks which they did cool, And what they undid, did."
Cleopatra was the daughter of Ptolemy Auletes, King of Egypt, and was co-heir to the throne with her brother. She was robbed of her possessions; but on appealing to Rome she was restored by Julius Caesar. After his death she became the friend of Marc Antony, who left his wife, Octavia, for love of this bewitching woman. Antony having suffered defeat at Actium, Cleopatra ended her troubled life by allowing an asp to poison her. She was in her thirty-ninth year when she died.