KING PTOLEMY XII
It is the season of Inundation, the time of year when the Nile overflows its banks, flooding the fields and renewing them for planting. The royal palace is quiet. I, the king’s third daughter, called Cleopatra, am ten years old. I sit alone in my quarters, reading the scroll laid out on my table. I am nearly halfway through a history by my favorite Greek writer, Herodotus, when I hear a commotion in the forecourt. I abandon the scroll and step outside to investigate.
Glistening with sweat, a runner bows low before me and delivers his message. A lookout has sighted the royal fleet outside the...