Donations of Alexandria

Octavian Chronicle #10, Donations of Alexandria-34 BC, tells the whole story.
In the fall of 34 BC, Antony and Cleopatra called the people of Alexandria to a celebration in the city’s gymnasium. The two of them were seated side by side on golden thrones on a silver platform in the middle of the large building so that all the people could see them.Off to the side, stood two of Antony’s top Roman commanders, Lucius Munatius Plancus and his nephew Titius. As they watched the proceedings, they became even more disgusted with Antony than they already were. They began to consider switching their allegiance to Octavian as they watched the ceremony.

Antony stood up from his golden throne and took a few steps forward to address the people. They cheered him enthusiastically as he waved to them. When he stopped waving and pulled out a scroll, it quieted down. The people were eager to hear what he had to say.

He began, “We’re here today to declare that Queen Cleopatra and her son Caesarion are the co-rulers of Cyprus and Egypt!

“Today we also officially declare that Caesarion is the one, true flesh-and-blood, son of the great Julius Caesar who was recently declared a god in Rome. Caesarion’s mother, Cleopatra, is declared the goddess Isis. Caesarion was, therefore, born from the sacred union of a god and goddess.

“Caesarion, as co-ruler of Egypt and the son of a god and goddess, can now be declared a king of kings, and his mother, Cleopatra, will now bear the title ‘Queen of Monarchs’.”

Titius leaned over and said to his uncle, “That won’t go over well with young Caesar. Caesarion is a clear threat to his position as the adopted son of Julius Caesar.”

They listened carefully as Antony continued, “Our son, Alexander Helios, will now be crowned as the ruler of Armenia, Media, and Parthia.” The crowd cheered when a crown was placed on the little boy’s head.

Antony paused until it was quiet enough for him to continue. “Our daughter, Cleopatra Selene the Second, will now be crowned as the ruler of Cyrenaica and Libya.”

Their cheering continued. A crown was placed on the little girl’s head.

“Look at that,” said Plancus. “They have those children dressed up in the costumes of the countries that they’ve been named to rule.”

“Cleopatra’s beaming,” said Titius. “Look at that smile on her face as she looks down at the children.”

Plancus grunted. “I’d smile too, if you handed me the eastern half of the Roman Republic. I know this is only a symbolic gesture by Antony, but the symbolism won’t be lost on Rome. It won’t only be young Caesar who’ll be unhappy about this. I can think of quite a few senators and noblemen who won’t like it.”

Plancus and Titius looked at Antony who now had an even broader smile on his face.

Antony gestured toward the two-year-old boy and said in a loud voice, “Our young son, Ptolemy Philadelphus, will now be crowned as ruler of Phoenicia, Syria, and Cilicia.” Then he turned and looked at Cleopatra. She was smiling as she pointed for him to look at little Ptolemy.

The people were applauding and laughing as the little boy tried his best to keep the crown from sliding off his head. Young girls came running forward. They quickly surrounded him and tied the little crown to his hair with small golden ribbons. When they were done, they ran back and disappeared behind the large golden thrones.

Antony pointed to the sides of the gymnasium and said, “We’re serving food for all of you.” Then he gestured to the musicians off to his right and said, “Let the music begin!”

Titius turned to his uncle and asked, “Are you going to eat?”

“I’ve lost my appetite. Let’s go. I want to get back to my quarters to write to some of my friends in Rome and let them know what happened here today.

“Even though it’s just symbolic, Antony has insulted Rome by giving the eastern territories to the Egyptians. I’m going to refer to this as the ‘Donations of Alexandria’.”

Titius asked, “Would you rather that I take this information secretly to young Caesar in Rome so that he’ll learn about it firsthand from us?”

“That’s a good idea.”