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Dellius laughed as he walked away. ” Mark Antony had been remarkably sober since marching for the East, but the sixty men in his entourage had expected that Nicomedia would see Antony the Sybarite erupt. An opinion shared by a troupe of musicians and dancers who had hastened from Byzantium at the news of his advent in the neighborhood; from Spain to Babylonia, every member of the League of Dionysiac Entertainers knew the name Marcus Antonius. Then, to general amazement, Antony had dismissed the troupe with a bag of gold and stayed sober, albeit with a sad, wistful expression on his ugly-handsome face.

At first the youth everyone now called Octavian hadn’t worried him; Antony was a man in his prime, a famous general of troops and owner of a large faction in the Senate, whereas Octavian was a sickly adolescent as easy to crush as the carapace of a beetle. Only it hadn’t worked out that way, and Antony hadn’t known how to deal with a crafty, sweet-faced boy owning the intellect and wisdom of a seventy-year-old. Most of Rome had assumed that Antony, a notorious spendthrift in desperate need of Caesar’s fortune to pay his debts, had been a part of the conspiracy to eliminate Caesar, and his conduct following the deed had only reinforced that.

This Marcus Antonius is no Caesar, therefore he can be duped. You must awe him into pardoning you. After all, you didn’t aid Cassius, and he can’t prove you did. When this Quintus Dellius arrives, he will try to cow you. ” “A pity that the fleet you sent Antonius and Octavianus was obliged to turn back,” said Apollodorus. ” Cleopatra said impatiently. She sat back in her chair, suddenly pensive. “No one can cow Pharaoh, but…Cha’em, ask Tach’a to look at the lotus petals in her bowl. ” Sosigenes looked startled.

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