Cleopatra was reclining comfortably in the forward area of her ship, a large barge. She was lying on a couch under a canopy of gold cloth. Overhead, large purple sails were billowing in the wind. Down below, the sun was flashing its reflections off silver-tipped oars as they dipped in and out of the water to the beat of the music coming from flutes, fifes, and harps.
Beautiful maids, dressed like sea nymphs, were working the ropes. Down at the gilded stern, more maids were manning the rudders, steering the barge as it glided smoothly up the river Cydnus toward the port of Tarsus.
Charmion, her head handmaiden, walked up to her and smiled. “You truly look like a goddess!”
“How is my makeup?”
“It looks fine. I’ll check it again when we get close to port.”
“What a beautiful day, not a cloud in the sky,” said Cleopatra, “and there’s just enough wind to fill the sails.”
“Look at the people gathering along the shoreline,” said Charmion. “They’re enjoying the music and the scent of the perfumes you’ve released. The men are especially enjoying looking at the pretty girls. I’m sure they’ve never experienced anything like this, and I doubt that Antony has ever seen anything quite like it either.”
“It should make an impression on him.” Cleopatra smiled. “I don’t know if you heard this, but he recently declared himself to be Dionysus, the Greek god of wine, rather than Bacchus, the Roman god of wine. This will give us something to talk about because I prefer to be known as Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love, or as Isis, the most prominent of all Greek goddesses.”
“Why is Antony making so much of a point of being called a god?”
“Octavian, or young Caesar as he is now called, became the son of a god at the beginning of last year when Caesar was declared a god. So, Antony wants to be a god too…..