History of the Egyptian Kingdom of the Ptolemies
(B.C. 323 to 30)
The kingdom of the Ptolemies, which owed its origin to Alexander the Great, rose to a pitch of greatness and prosperity which, it is probable, was never dreamt-of by the Conqueror. His subjection of Egypt was accomplished rapidly; and he spent but little time in the organization of his conquest. Still, the foundation of all Egypt's later greatness was laid, and the character of its second civilization determined, by him, in the act by which he transferred the seat of government from the inland position of Memphis to the maritime Alexandria. By this alteration not only was the continued pre-eminence of the Macedo-Greek element secured, but the character of the Egyptians themselves was modified. Commercial pursuits were adopted by a large part of the nation. Intercourse with foreigners, hitherto checked and discouraged, became common. Production was stimulated; enterprise throve; and the stereotyped habits of this most rigid of ancient peoples were to a large extent broken into. In language and religion they still continued separate from their conquerors; but their manners and tone of thought underwent a change. The stiff-necked rebels against the authority of the Persian crown became the willing subjects of the Macedonians. Absorbed in the pursuits of industry, or in the novel employment of literature, the Egyptians forgot their old love of independence, and contentedly acquiesced in the new regime.
In the history of nations much depends on the characters of individuals; and Egypt seems to have been very largely indebted to the first Ptolemy for her extraordinary prosperity. Assigned the African provinces in the division of Alexander's dominions after his death (B.C. 323), he proceeded at once to his government, and, resigning any great ambition, sought to render his own territory unassailable, and to make such additions to it as could be attempted without much risk. It was among his special aims to make Egypt a great naval power; and in this he succeeded almost beyond his hopes, having after many vicissitudes established his authority over Palestine, Phoenicia, and Coele-Syria; and also possessed himself of the island of Cyprus. Cilicia, Caria, and Pamphylia were open to his attacks, and sometimes subject to his sway. For a time he even held important positions in Greece, e.g., Corinth and Sicyon; but he never allowed the maintenance of these distant acquisitions to entangle him inextricably in foreign wars, or to endanger his home dominions. Attacked twice in his own province, once by Perdiccas (B.C. 321), and once by Demetrius and Antigonus (B.C. 306), he both times repulsed his assailants and maintained his own territory intact. Readily retiring if danger threatened, lie was always prompt to advance when occasion offered. His combined prudence and vigor obtained the reward of ultimate success; and his death left Egypt in possession of all the more important of his conquests.
In one quarter alone did Ptolemy endeavor to extend his African dominion. The flourishing country of the Cyrenaica, which lay not far from Egypt upon the west, had welcomed Alexander as a deliverer from the power of Persia, and bad been accepted by him into alliance. Ptolemy, who coveted its natural wealth, and disliked the existence of an independent republic in his neighborhood, found an occasion in the troubles which at this time fell upon Cyrene, to establish his authority over the whole region. At the same time be must have brought under subjection the Libyan tribes of the district between Egypt and the Cyrenaica, who in former times had been dependent upon the native Egyptian monarchy, and had submitted to the Persians when Egypt was conquered by Cambyses.
The system of government established by Ptolemy Lagi, so far as it can be made out was the following. The monarch was supreme, and indeed absolute, having the sole direction of affairs and the sole appointment of all officers. The changes, however, made in the internal administration were few. The division of the whole country into nomes was maintained; and most of the old nomes were kept, a certain number only being subdivided. Each was ruled by its nomarch, who received his appointment from the crown, and might at any time be superseded. The nomarchs were frequently, perhaps even generally, native Egyptians. They administered in their provinces the old Egyptian laws, and maintained the old Egyptian religion. It was from first to last a part of the established policy of the Lagid monarchs to protect and honor the religion of their subjects, which they regarded as closely akin to their own, and of which they ostentatiously made themselves the patrons. Ptolemy Lagi began the practice of rebuilding and ornamenting the temples of the Egyptian gods, and paid particular honor to the supposed incarnations of Apis. The old privileges of the priests, and especially their exemption from land tax, were continued; and they were allowed everywhere the utmost freedom in the exercise of every rite of their religion. In return for these favors the priests were expected to acknowledge a quasi-divinity in the Lagid monarchs, and to perform certain ceremonies in their honor, both in their lifetime and after their decease.
At the same time many exclusive privileges were reserved for the conquering race. The tranquillity of the country was maintained by a standing army composed almost exclusively of Greeks and Macedonians, and officered wholly by members of the dominant class. This army was located in, comparatively, a few spots, so that its presence was not much felt by the great bulk of the population. As positions of authority in the military service were reserved for Graeco-Macedonians, so also in the civil service of the country all offices of any importance were filled tip front the same class. This class, moreover, which was found chiefly in a small number of the chief towns, enjoyed full municipal liberty in these places, electing its own officers, and, for the most part, administering its own affairs without interference on the part of the central government.
One of the chief peculiarities of the early Lagid kingdom peculiarity for which it was indebted to its founder-was its encouragement of literature and science. Ptolemy Lagi was himself an author; and, alone among the successors of Alexander, inherited the regard for men of learning and research which had distinguished his great patron. Following the example of Aristotle, he set himself to collect an extensive library, and lodged it in a building connected with the royal palace. Men of learning were invited by him to take up their residence at Alexandria; and the " Museum " was founded, a College of Professors, which rapidly drew to it a vast body of students, and rendered Alexandria the university of the Eastern world. It was too late in the history of the Greek race to obtain, by the fostering influence of judicious patronage, the creation of masterpieces; but exact science, criticism, and even poetry of an unpretentious kind, were produced; and much excellent literary work was done, to the great benefit of the moderns. Euclid, and Apollonius of Perga, in mathematics; Philetas, Callimachus, and Apollonius of Rhodes, in poetry; Aristoplianes of Byzantium, and Aristarchus, in criticism ; Eratostlienes in chronology and geography; Hipparchus in astronomical science; and Manetho in history-adorned the Lagid period, and sufficiently indicate that the Lagid patronage of learning was not unfruitful. Apelles, too, and Antiphilus produced many of their best pictures at the Alexandrian court.
The character of Ptolemy Lagi was superior to that of most of the princes who were his contemporaries. In an age of treachery and violence, he appears to have remained faithful to his engagements, and to have been rarely guilty of any bloodshed that was not absolutely necessary for his own safety and that of his kingdom. His mode of life was simple and unostentatious. He was a brave soldier, and never scrupled to incur personal danger. The generosity of his temper was evinced by his frequently setting his prisoners free without ransom. In his domestic relations he was, however, unhappy. He married two wives, Eurydice, the daughter of Antipater, whom he divorced, and Berenice, her companion. By Eurydice he had it son, Ptolemy Ceraunus, who should naturally have been his successor; but Berenice prevailed on him in his old age to prefer her son, Philadelphus; and Ptolemy Ceraunus, offended, became an exile from his country, and an intrigue against the interests of his brother and his other relatives. Enmity and bloodshed were thus introduced into the family; and to that was shortly afterwards added the crime of' Incest, a fatal cause of decay and corruption.
Ptolemy Lagi adorned his capital with a number of great works. The principal of these were the royal palace, the Museum, the lofty Pharos, upon the island which formed the port, the mole or causeway, nearly a mile in length (Heptastadium), which connected this island with the shore, the Soma or mausoleum, containing the body of Alexander the temple of Serapis (completed by his son, Philadelphus), and the Hippodrome or great race-course. He likewise rebuilt the inner chamber of the grand temple at Karnak, and probably repaired many other Egyptian buildings. After a reign of forty years, having attained to the advanced age of eighty-four, he died in Alexandria, B.C. 283, leaving his crown to his son, Philadelphus, the eldest of his children by Berenice, whom he had already two years before associated with him in the kingdom.
Ptolemy II., surnamed Philadelphus, was born at Cos, B.C. 309, and was consequently twenty-six years of age at the commencement of his sole reign. He inherited his father's love for literature and genius for administration, but not his military capacity. Still, he did not abstain altogether even from aggressive wars, but had an eye to the events which were passing in other countries, and sought to maintain by his arms the balance of power established in his father's lifetime. His chief wars were with the rebel king of Cyr~n6, his half-brother, Magas; with Antiochus I and Antiochus II, kings of Syria; and with Antigonus Gonatas, king of Macedon. They occupied the space of about twenty years, from B.C. 269 to 249. Philadelphus was fairly successful in them, excepting that he was forced, as the result of his struggle with Magas, to acknowledge the independence of that monarch.
The home administration of Ptolemy Philadelphus was in all respects eminently successful. To him belongs the credit of developing to their fullest extent the commercial advantage which the position of Egypt throws open to her, and of bringing by these means her material prosperity to its culminating point. By reopening the canal uniting the Red Sea with the Nile-a construction of the greatest of the Ramesside kings - and building the port of ArsinoŽ on the site of the modern Suez, lie united the East and West, allowing the merchandise of either region to reach the other by water carriage. As this, however, owing to the dangers of the Red Sea navigation, was not enough, he constructed two other harbors, and founded two other cities, each called Berenic6, on the eastern African coast, one nearly in lat. 24*, the other still farther to the south, probably about lat. 13*. A high-road was opened from the northern Berenice to Coptos on the Nile (near Thebes), and the merchandise of India, Arabia, and Ethiopia flowed to Europe for several centuries chiefly by this route. The Ethiopian trade was particularly valuable. Not only was ivory imported largely from this region, but the elephant was hunted oil a large scale, and the hunters' captures were brought alive into Egypt, where they were used in the military service. Ptolemais, in lat. 18* 40', was tile emporium for this traffic.
The material prosperity of Egypt which these measures insured was naturally accompanied by a flourishing condition of the revenue. Philadelphus is said to have derived from Egypt alone, without counting the tribute in grain, an annual income of 14,800 talents (more than three and a half millions sterling), or as much as Darius Hystaspis obtained from the whole of his vast empire. The revenue was raised chiefly from customs, but was supplemented from other sources. The remoter provinces, Palestine, Phoenicia, Cyprus, etc., seem to have paid a tribute; but of the mode of its assessment we know nothing.
The military force which Philadelphus maintained is said to have amounted to 200,000 foot and 40,000 horse, besides elephants and war-chariots. He had also a fleet of 1500 vessels, many of which were of extraordinary size. The number of rowers required to man these vessels must have exceeded, rather than fallen short of, 6oo,ooo men.
The fame of Philadelphus depends, however, far less upon his military exploits, or his talents for organization and administration, than upon his efforts in the cause of learning. In this respect, if in no other, lie surpassed his father, and deserves to be regarded as the special cause of the literary glories of his country. The library which the first Ptolemy had founded was by the second so largely increased that he has often been regarded as its author. The minor library of the Serapeium was entirely of his collection. Learned men were invited to his court from every quarter; and literary works of the highest value were undertaken at his desire or under his patronage. Among these the most important were the translation of the Hebrew Scriptures into the Greek language (which was commenced in his reign and continued under several of his successors), and the "History of Egypt," derived from the native records, which was composed in Greek during his reign by the Egyptian priest Manetho. Philadelphus also patronized painting and sculpture, and adorned his capital with architectural works of great magnificence.
In his personal character, Philadelphus presents an unfavorable contrast to his father. Immediately upon attaining the throne he banished Demetrius Phalereus, for the sole offense that he had advised Ptolemy Lagi against altering the succession. Shortly afterwards he put to death two of his brothers. He divorced his first wife ArsinoŽ, the daughter of Lysimachus, and banished her to Coptos in Upper Egypt, in order that he might contract an incestuous marriage with his full sister, ArsinoŽ, who had been already married to his half brother Ceraunus. To this princess, who bore him no children, he continued tenderly attached, taking in reference to her the epithet "Philadelphus," and honoring her by giving her name to several of the cities which he build and erecting to her memory a magnificent monument at Alexandria, which was known as the Arsinoeum. Nor did he long survive her decease. He died in B.C. 247 of disease, at Alexandria, having lived sixty-two years, and reigned thirty-eight, or thirty-six from the death of his father.
Ptolemy III., surnamed Euergetes ("the Benefactor"), the eldest son of Philadelphus by his first wife, succeeded him. This prince was the most enterprising of all the Lagid monarchs; and under him Egypt, which had hitherto maintained a defensive attitude, became an aggressive power, and accomplished important conquests. The greater part of these were, it is true, retained for only a few years; but others were more permanent, and became real additions to the empire. The empire obtained now its greatest extension, comprising, besides Egypt and Nubia, the Cyrenaica, which was recovered by the marriage of Berenio:6, daughter and heiress of Magas, to Euergetes; parts of Ethiopia, especially the tract about Adule; a portion of the Opposite or western coast of Arabia; Palestine, Phoenicia, and Coele-Syria; Cyprus, Cilicia, Pamphylia, Lycia, Caria, and Ionia; the Cyclades; and a portion of Thrace, including the city of Lysiniaclicia in the Chersonese.
Friendly relations had been established with Rome by Ptolemy Philadelphus, as early as B.C. 273. Euergetes continued this policy, but declined the assistance which the great republic was anxious to lend him in his Syrian wars. It would seem that the ambitious projects of Rome 'and her aspirations after universal dominion were already, at the least, suspected.
Like his father and grandfather, Euergetes was a patron of art and letters. He added largely to the great library at Alexandria, collecting the best manuscripts from all quarters, sometimes by very questionable means. The poet, Apollonius Rhodius, the geographer and chronologist, Eratosthenes, and the grammarian Aristophanes of Byzantium, adorned his court. Alexandria does not seem to have owed to him many of her buildings; but he gratified his Egyptian subjects by important architectural works, as well as by the restoration of various images of their gods, which he had recovered in his Eastern expedition.
After a reign of twenty-five years, during which he had enjoyed almost uninterrupted success, and had raised Egypt to perhaps the highest pitch of prosperity that she ever attained, Euergetes died, according to the best authority, by a natural death; though there were not wanting persons to ascribe his decease to the machinations of his son. He left behind him three children-Ptolemy, who succeeded him, Magas, and ArsinoŽ, who became the wife of her elder brother.
The glorious period of the Macedo-Egyptian history terminates with Euergetes. Three kings of remarkable talent, and of moderately good moral character, had held the throne for a little more than a century (101 years), and had rendered Egypt the most flourishing of the kingdom which had arisen out of the disruption of Alexander's empire. They were followed by a succession of wicked and incapable monarchs, among whom it is difficult to find one who has any claim to our respect or esteem. Historians reckon nine Ptolemies after Euergetes. Except Philometor, who was mild and humane, Lathyrus, who was amiable but weak, and Ptolemy XII. (sometimes called Dionysus), who was merely young and incompetent, they were all, almost equally, detestable.
Ptolemy IV., who assumed the title of Philopator to disarm the suspicions which ascribed to him the death of his father, was the eldest son of Euergetes, and ascended the throne B.C. 222. His first acts, after seating himself upon the throne, were the murder of his mother, Berenic6, who had wished her younger son to obtain the succession; of his brother, Magas; and of his father's brother, Lysimachus. He followed up these outrages by quarreling with the Spartan refugee Cleomenes, and driving him into a revolt, which cost him and his family their lives. He then contracted an incestuous marriage with his sister, ArsinoŽ, and abandoning the direction of affairs to his minister, Sosibius, the adviser of these measures, gave himself tip to a life of intemperance and profligacy. Agathoclea, a professional singer, and her brother, Agathocles, the children of a famous courtesan, became his favorites, and ruled the court, while Sosibius managed the kingdom. To gratify these minions of his pleasures, Philopator, about B.C. 2og, put to death his wife, ArsinoŽ, after she had borne him an heir to the empire.
The weakness of Philopator, and the mismanagement of the State by Sosibius, who was at once incapable and wicked, laid the empire open to attack; and it was not long before the young king of Syria, Antiochus III., took advantage of the condition of affairs to advance his own pretensions to the possession of the long-disputed tract between Syria Proper and Egypt. It might have been expected that, under the circumstances, he would have been successful. But the Egyptian forces, relaxed though their discipline had been by Sosibius, were still superior to the Syrians; and the battle of Raphia (&C. 217) was a repetition of the lessons taught at Pelusium and Gaza. The invader was once more defeated upon the borders, and by the peace which followed, the losses of the two preceding years were, with one exception, recovered.
The Syrian war was only just brought to a close when disaffection showed itself among Philopator's Egyptian subjects. The causes of their discontent are obscure; and we are without any details as to the course of the struggle. But there is evidence that it lasted through a considerable number of years, and was only brought to a close after much effusion of blood on both sides.
Notwithstanding his inhumanity and addiction to the worst forms of vice, Philopator so far observed the traditions of his house as to continue their patronage of letters. He lived on familiar terms with the men of learning who frequented his court, and especially distinguished with his favor the grammarian Aristarchus. To show his admiration for Homer, he dedicated a temple to him. He further even engaged, himself, in literary pursuits, composing tragedies and poems of various kinds.
Worn out prematurely by his excesses, Philopator died at about the age of forty, after he had held the throne for seventeen years. He left behind him one only child, a son, named Ptolemy, the issue of his marriage with ArsinoŽ. This child, who at the time of his father's death was no more than five years old, was immediately acknowledged as king. He reigned from B.C. 205 to 181, and is distinguished in history by the surname of Epiphanes. The affairs of Egypt during his minority were, at first, administered by the infamous Agathocles, who, however, soon fell a victim to the popular fury, together with his sister, his mother, and his whole family. The honest but incompetent Tlepolemus succeeded as regent; but in the
critical circumstances wherein Egypt was now placed by the league of Antiochus with Philip of Macedon (see Book IV.), it was felt that incompetence would be fatal; and the important step was taken of calling in the assistance of the Romans, who sent M. Lepidus, B.C. 2oi, to undertake the management of affairs. Lepidus saved Egypt front conquest; but was unable, or unwilling, to obtain for- her the restoration of the territory whereof the two spoilers had deprived her by their combined attack, Antiochus succeeded in first deferring and then evading the restoration of his share of the spoil , while Philip did not even make a pretense of giving back a single foot of territory. Thus Egypt lost in this reign the whole of her foreign possessions except Cyprus and the Cyrenaica-losses which were never recovered.
Lepidus, on quitting Egypt, B.C. 199, handed over the administration to Aristomenes, the Acarnanian, a man of vigor and probity, who restored the finances, and put fresh life into the administration. But the external were followed by internal troubles. A revolt of the Egyptians, and a conspiracy on the part of the general, Scopas, showed the danger of a long minority, and induced the new regent to curtail his own term of office. At the age of fourteen, Epiphanes was declared of full age, and assumed the reins of government, B.C. 196.
But little is known of Epiphanes from the time of his assuming the government. His marriage with Cleopatra, the daughter of Antiochus the Great, which had been arranged in B.C. 199 as a portion of the terms of peace, was not celebrated till B.C. 193, when he had attained the age of seventeen. Shortly after this the monarch appears to have quarreled with his minister and late guardian, Aristomenes, whom he barbarously removed by poison. A certain Polycrates then became his chief adviser and assisted him to quell a second very serious revolt on the part of the native Egyptians. Towards the close of his reign lie formed designs for the recovery of Coel6-Syria and Palestine, which lie proposed to wrest from Seleucus, who had succeeded his father, Antiochus. But before he could carry his designs into effect, lie was murdered by his officers, whom lie had alarmed by an unguarded expression, B.C. 181.
By his marriage with Cleopatra, Epiphanes had become the father of three children, two sons, both of whom received the name of Ptolemy, and a daughter, called after her mother. The eldest of these children, who took the surname of Philometor, succeeded him, and reigned as Ptolemy VI. His age at his accession was only seven, and during his early years lie remained under the regency of his mother, whose administration was vigorous and successful. At her death, in B.C. 173, the young prince fell under far inferior guardianship-that of Eulacus the eunuch and Lenaeus, ministers at once corrupt and incapable. These weak men, mistaking audacity for vigor, rashly claimed from Antiochus Epiphanes the surrender of Cocl6-Syria and Palestine, the nominal dowry of the late queen mother, and, when their demand was contemptuously rejected, flew to arms. Their invasion of Syria quickly brought upon them the vengeance of Antiochus, who defeated their forces at Pelusium, B.C. 170, and would certainly have conquered all Egypt, had it not been for the interposition of the Romans, who made him retire, and even deprived him of all his conquests.
By the timely aid thus given, Rome was brought into a new position with respect to Egypt. Hitherto she had merely been a friendly ally, receiving more favors than she conferred. Henceforth she was viewed as exercising a sort of protectorate; and her right was recognized to interfere in the internal troubles of the kingdom, and to act as arbiter between rival princes. The claims of such persons were discussed before the Roman Senate, and the princes themselves went to Rome in person to plead their cause. The decision of the Senate was not, indeed, always implicitly obeyed; but still Rome exercised a most important influence from this time, not only over the external policy but over the dynastic squabbles of the Egyptians.
The joint reign of the two kings, Philometor and Physcon, which commenced in B.C. 169, continued till B.C. 165, when the brothers quarreled and Philometor was driven into exile. Having gone to Rome and implored assistance from the Senate, he was re-instated in his kingdom by Roman deputies, who arranged a partition of the territory between the brothers, which might have closed the dispute, could Physcon have remained contented with his allotted portion. But his ambition and intrigues caused fresh troubles, which were, however, quelled after a time by the final establishment of Physcon as king of Cyrene only.
During the continuance of the war between the two brothers, Demetrius L, who had become king of Syria, B.C. 162, had made an attempt to obtain possession of Cyprus by bribing the governor, and had thereby provoked the hostility of Philometor. No sooner, therefore, was Philometor free from domestic troubles than, resolving to revenge himself, he induced Alexander Balas to come forward as a pretender to the Syrian crown, and lent him the full weight of his support, even giving him his daughter, Cleopatra, in marriage, B.C. i5o. But the ingratitude of Balas, after he had obtained the throne by Ptolemy's aid, alienated his patron. The Egyptian king, having with some difficulty escaped a treacherous attempt upon his life, passed over to the side of the younger Demetrius, gave Cleopatra in marriage to him, and succeeded in seating him upon the throne. In the last battle, however, which was fought near Antioch, lie was thrown from his horse, and lost his life, B.C. 146.
Ptolemy Philometor left behind him three children, the issue of his marriage with his full sister, Cleopatra, viz., a son, Ptolemy, who was proclaimed king, under the name of Eupator (or Philopator, according to Lepsius), and two daughters, both called Cleopatra, the elder married first to Alexander Balas and then to Demetrius II., the younger still a virgin. Eupator, after reigning a few days, was deposed and then murdered by his uncle, Physcon, the king of Cyrene, who claimed and obtained the throne.
Ptolemy Physcon, called also Euergetes II., acquired the throne in consequence of an arrangement mediated by the Romans, who stipulated that he should marry his sister Cleopatra, the widow of his brother, Philometor. Having become king in this way, his first act was the murder of his nephew. He then proceeded to treat with the utmost severity all those who had taken part against him in the recent contest, killing some and banishing others. By these measures he created such alarm, that Alexandria became half emptied of its inhabitants, and he was forced to invite new colonists to repeople it. Meanwhile he gave himself tip to gluttony and other vices, and became bloated to an extraordinary degree, and so corpulent that he could scarcely walk. He further repudiated Cleopatra, his sister, though she had borne him a son, Memphitis, and took to wife her daughter, called also Cleopatra, the child of his brother, Philometor. After a while his cruelties and excesses disgusted the Alexandrians, who broke out into frequent revolts. Several of these were put down; but at last Physcon was compelled to fly to Cyprus, and his sister Cleopatra was made queen, B.C. 130.
On the re-establishment of Physcon in his kingdom, he resolved to revenge himself on Demetrius for the support which he had given to Cleopatra. He therefore brought forward the pretender Alexander Zabinas, and lent him such support that he shortly became king of Syria, B.C. 126. But Zabinas, like his reputed father, Balas, proved ungrateful; and the offended Physcon proceeded to pull down the throne which he had erected, joining Antiochus Grypus against Zabinas, and giving him his daughter Tryphaena, in marriage. The result was the ruin of Zabinas, and the peaceful establishment of Grypus, with whom Physcon lived on friendly terms during the remainder of his life.
Physcon died in B.C. 117, and was succeeded by his eldest son, Ptolemy IX., commonly distinguished by the epithet of Lathyrus. Egypt now lost the Cyrenaica, which was bequeathed by Physcon to his natural son, Apion, who at his death made it over to the Romans. The ties which bound Cyprus to Egypt also became relaxed, for Lathyrus, and his brother, Alexander, alternately held it, almost as a separate .kingdom. The reign of Lathyrus, which commenced B.C. 117, did not terminate till B.C. 81, thus covering a space of thirty-six years; but during one-half of this time he was a fugitive from Egypt, ruling only over Cyprus, while his brother took his place at Alexandria. We must divide his reign into three periods-the first lasting from B.C. 117 to 107, a space of ten years, during which he was nominal king of Egypt under the tutelage of his mother; the second, from B.C. 107 to 89, eighteen years, which he spent in Cyprus; and the third, from B.C. 89 to 81, eight years, during which lie ruled Egypt as actual and sole monarch.
Lathyrus left behind him one legitimate child only, Berenice, his daughter by Selene, who succeeded him upon the throne, and remained for six months sole monarch. She was then married to her firm cousin, Ptolemy Alexander II, the son of Ptolemy Alexander I, who claimed the crown of Egypt under the patronage of the great Sulla. It was agreed that they should reign conjointly; but within three weeks of his marriage, Alexander put his wife to death. This act so enraged the Alexandrians that they rose in revolt against the murderer and slew him in the public gymnasium, B.C. 80.
A time of trouble followed. The succession was disputed between two illegitimate sons of Lathyrus, two legitimate sons of Sel~n6, the sister of Lathyrus, by Antiochus Eusebes, king of Syria, her third husband, and probably other claimants. Roman influence was wanted to decide the contest, and Rome for some reason or other hung back. A further disintegration of the empire was the consequence. The younger of the two sons of Ptolemy Lathyrus seized Cyprus, and made it a separate kingdom. The elder seems to have possessed himself of a part of Egypt. Other parts of Egypt appear to have fallen into the power of a certain Alexander, called by some writers Ptolemy Alexander III, who was driven out after some years, and, flying to Tyre, died there and bequeathed Egypt to the Romans.
Ultimately the whole of Egypt passed under the sway of the elder of the two illegitimate sons of Lathyrus, who took the titles of Neos Dionysos (" the New Bacchus "), Philopator, and Philadelphus, but was most commonly known as Auletes, the "Flute-player." The years of his reign were counted from. B.C. 80, though he can scarcely have become king of all Egypt till fifteen years later, B.C. 65. It was his great object during the earlier portion of his reign to get himself acknowledged by the Romans; but this he was not able to effect till B.C. 59, the year of Caesar's consulship, when his bribes were effectual. But his orgies and his " fluting " had by this time disgusted the Alexandrians; so that, when he increased the weight of taxation in order to replenish his treasury, exhausted by the vast sums he bad spent in bribery, they rose against him, and after a short struggle, drove him from his kingdom. Auletes fled to Rome; and the Alexandrians placed upon the throne his two daughters, Tryphaena and Berenice, of whom the former lived only a year, while the latter retained the crown till the restoration of her father, B.C. 55. He returned under the protection of Pompey, who sent Gabinius at the head of a strong Roman force to reinstate him. The Alexandrians were compelled to submit; and Auletes immediately executed Berenic6, who had endeavored to retain the crown and had resisted his return in arms. Auletes then reigned about three years and a half in tolerable peace, under the protection of a Roman garrison. He died B.C. 51, having done as much as in him lay to degrade and ruin his country.
Ptolemy Auletes left behind him four children-Cleopatra, aged seventeen; a boy, Ptolemy, aged thirteen; another boy, called also Ptolemy; and a girl, called ArsinoŽ. The last two were of very tender age. He left the crown, under approval of the Romans, to Cleopatra and the elder Ptolemy, who were to rule conjointly, and to be married when Ptolemy was of full age. These directions were carried out; but the imperious spirit of Cleopatra ill brooked any control, and it was not long ere she quarreled with her boy-husband, and endeavored to deprive him of the kingdom. War followed; and Cleopatra, driven to take refuge in Syria, was fortunate enough to secure the protection of Julius Caesar, whom she fascinated by her' charms, B.C. 48. With his aid she obtained the victory over her brother, who perished in the struggle. Cleopatra was now established sole queen, B.C. 47, but on condition that she married in due time her other brother, the younger son of Auletes. Observing the letter of this agreement, Cleopatra violated its spirit by having her second husband, shortly after the wedding, removed by poison, B.C. 44. The remainder of Cleopatra's reign was, almost to its close, prosperous. Protected by Julius Caesar during his lifetime, she succeeded soon after his decease in fascinating Antony, B.C. 41, and making him her slave for the rest of his lifetime. The details of this period belong to Roman rather than to Egyptian history; and will be treated in the last book of this Manual. It will be sufficient to note here that the latest descendant of the Ptolemies retained the royal title to the end, and showed something of the spirit of a queen in preferring death to captivity, and perishing upon the capture of her capital, B.C. 30
|Copyright © 2003 ancientmacedonia.com | All rights reserved | Terms of Service | Feedback: email@example.com|