The House of Ptolemy
Alexander the Great
In the autumn of the year 332 BC an army of Macedonians and Greeks, numbering some 40,000 men, invaded Egypt. It was led by the young king of Macedonia, Alexander, who had gone forth two years before, Captain-General of the states of Hellas, to assail the huge Persian Empire. Before he reached Egypt he had defeated an army gathered by the Persian satraps on the river Granicus in Asia Minor and an army commanded by the Great King himself at Issus on the Syrian coast. By the autumn of 332 the Persian power had disappeared from the coast-lands of the Eastern Mediterranean, except from Egypt. There Mazakes still ruled as satrap in the name of the Great King (perhaps as the lieutenant of the satrap Sabakes who had left Egypt to join Darius at Issus). It was necessary for Alexander to obtain possession of Egypt, and perhaps of Cyrene, farther west, before he plunged into the countries of the East, because his enemies were still strong at sea, and he had no fleet with which to counter them; the only plan which would secure his base would be for him to hold all the ports round the Eastern Mediterranean and leave the hostile fleets in the air with no place in which they could refit or provision. Thus it was that the army of Ionians, as the Egyptians called the Greeks, appeared in the old land of the Pharaohs.
Greek soldiers were not an altogether unfamiliar sight to Egyptians. In the days of Herodotus, a century before, Egyptians had looked upon Greeks as unclean foreigners, but in the interval there had come the national struggles against the Persian, in which native kings had had the help of forces sent by Greek states; Egyptians and Greeks had fought side by side against the common foe. Only ten years before Alexander's arrival, the last Pharaoh, whose Egyptian name the Greeks rendered as Nectanebo, had been overthrown and Persian rule restored. Thus the army of Alexander, coming in all the prestige of its astonishing victories, seemed to the Egyptians as strong friends and deliverers.
The struggle with Persia was still proceeding; Egyptians and Greeks were still natural allies. At that moment the Egyptians could hardly have realized that the Ionians came this time to Egypt not as allies, but as masters. They were coming to Egypt to bring Egypt under a rule stronger and more durable than that of the Persians. After former invasions of foreign people, Hyksos and others, Egypt had again always in the end recovered its freedom and set up new dynasties of native Pharaohs, carrying on the immemorially old national tradition in government and culture and language; but now there would never again, to the end of time, be a Pharaoh of native blood ruling beside the Nile. From the coming of Alexander, for a thousand years Egypt would be subject to alien rulers of Hellenistic civilization, Macedonian and Roman, and at the end of the thousand years, the Egypt which became part of the body of Islam would be a different Egypt, with another language, another social system, another religion. The gods whom for thousands of years the land of Egypt had worshipped as its own gods would have been forsaken forever, buried in its dust.
No foreboding of this can have troubled the Egyptians who in 332 hailed Alexander as a liberator. Persian rule in the country collapsed without fighting. The Persian garrison had been strong enough to crush a Greek adventurer called Amyntas, who fought on the Persian side at Issus, and after the battles had raided Egypt with 8000 men; possibly the natives had ultimately been turned against him by his plundering. But there could be no question of opposing the army of Alexander. Mazakes, the acting satrap, ordered the towns of Egypt, beginning with Pelusium, to open their gates to the conqueror. After putting a garrison in Pelusium, Alexander moved up the eastern arm of the Nile, first to Heliopolis and then to Memphis. According to Curtius, Mazakes, delivered over to Alexander in Memphis 800 talents and the goodly things of the King's House. A Macedonian walked as king in the palace of Pharaoh.
The Romance of Alexander, composed in Egypt, probably in the 3rd century AD, says that Alexander actually went through the ceremony of enthronement in the temple of Ptah at Memphis, according to the rites used in the case of the old Pharaohs. Mahaffy believed that this statement was a bit of tradition, preserving a historical fact. The statement may be true, but one has to remember that the Romance was concocted partly in order to flatter Egyptian national feeling and represent Alexander as a true successor of the native kings. The writer invented or propagated the story that Alexander was really the son of Nectanebo who, being a magician, had taken the form of a serpent in order to have intercourse with the wife of king Philip of Macedon. His statement about the enthronement at Memphis is likely to be an invention with a similar purpose.
But there is good authority for saying that Alexander did show conspicuous honor to the gods of the land. His conduct was a contrast to that of the Persian conquerors, who had outraged national feeling by killing the sacred Apis bull. Alexander on his arrival at Memphis offered sacrifice to the sacred bull and the other national deities. The religion of the Persians, like that of the Hebrews, made them regard the idolatrous worships of other peoples with contempt; but the Greeks, however superior they might believe their culture to be to that of the barbarians, felt a strange awe in the presence of traditions as old as the Egyptian. They were accustomed to think of Egypt as a land of marvels. Verses of Homer, which ran in their minds from childhood, connected Egypt with the heroic age of long ago. The immense antiquity, the vast imposing monuments and temples, the spectacle of an ancient order of life going on, enigmatic and eccentric in many of its features, the peculiar aspect and charm of the land fed by the mysterious Nile—all this had filled the idea of Egypt with a unique body of associations for the Greeks. And now they found themselves in this wonderful land, amongst its pylons and groves of palm, a land which to their fathers had always been something far off and strange, as the masters of it. Alexander offered sacrifice to the Egyptian gods, but he did not forget that he was a champion of Hellenic culture. At Memphis he also held a gymnastic and musical festival in the Greek manner. Some of the most renowned musicians and actors of the Greek world took part in the competitions. How did they happen to be on the spot, miles up the Nile, just at the right moment? Niese, arguing that they must have been invited some time beforehand, supposed that their presence here was a proof that Alexander had privately arranged with Mazakes for the surrender of Egypt before ever he began his invasion; Mahaffy thought that the Greek artists had gone to Egypt on the chance, and had perhaps had “a little acting season at Naucratis, among their Greek friends”, so as to be ready at hand if Alexander wanted them. We may draw to any extent on our imagination, but we shall never know.
The thing of most enduring importance which Alexander did in Egypt was the founding of Alexandria. In the summer of 332 Alexander had taken and destroyed the great commercial port of the Eastern Mediterranean, Tyre. He may have desired to create a new port in Egypt—a "Macedonian Tyre"—which would take the place Tyre had taken. He chose a site some forty miles from the old Greek city of Egypt, Naucratis, communicating with the interior by the Canopic branch of the Nile.
"As for the site of the city, it has often been pointed out why wretched little Egyptian Rhacotis was selected to be transformed into a world capital. The Canopic mouth of the Nile had long served for the comparatively little sea-borne commerce with the alien Levant, which Egypt had hitherto had. Of the other mouths the Pelusiac alone remained open to anything much larger than a fishing-boat. Even the Canopic had a dangerous bar. If merchant ships might enter, it offered nevertheless a good port to the Macedonian war-fleets, which must henceforth keep the Levant. Entry, exit, conditions ashore, which made for neither health nor security, were all against it. But at Rhacotis, a few miles west, Alexander found a dry limestone site, raised above the Delta level, within easy reach of drinkable and navigable inland water by a canal to be taken off the Nile, not seriously affected by the Canopic silt which the point of Abukir directs seaward, and covered by an island which, if joined to the mainland by a mole, would give alternative harbours against the sea-winds, blow they whence they might. It was the one possible situation in Egypt for a healthy open port to be used by Macedonian sea-going fleets, and particularly by warships, already tending, at that epoch, to increase their tonnage and their draught."
Strabo gives us to understand that the site, when Alexander found it, was occupied only by a fishing village. "The former kings of Egypt, content with home produce and not desirous of imports, and thus opposed to foreigners, and especially to Greeks (for these were pillagers and covetous of foreign land, because of the scantiness of their own), established a military post at this spot, to keep off intruders, and gave to the soldiers as their habitation what was called Rhacotis, which is now the part of Alexandria above the dockyards, but was then a village. The country lying around this spot they entrusted to herdsmen, who themselves also should be able to keep off strangers"—herdsmen, a wild and formidable breed, themselves a kind of brigands, if we may go by the Romance of Heliodorus.
In front of the site chosen by Alexander, about a mile out to sea, lay the island called by the Greeks Pharos, some three miles long, constituted by what had once been a line of separate islands. Homer had spoken of it as a place where seals came to lie on the beach, and said that it had a good harbour. But it has been supposed that, when Alexander examined the coast, Pharos was little more than a habitation of native fishermen, and that it was Alexander and his successors of the house of Ptolemy who first created a great port for world commerce at this spot.
Recently, however, the researches of Monsieur Gaston Jondet, Engineer-in-Chief of the Ports and Lighthouses of Egypt, has given history a new and sensational problem. For he has discovered under the sea, reaching in some places to a quarter of a mile beyond what was in ancient times the island of Pharos, the remains of large and massive harbour-works, moles, and quays; and it is still a question whether they were part of Greek Alexandria or whether they were works of a far earlier age, abandoned and fallen into ruins long before Alexander passed that way.
Monsieur Jondet himself is disposed to think that the submerged harbour was made by the great Rameses as a defence against the marauding peoples of the sea. "The mass of material used is colossal, as in all the Pharaonic buildings; its transport and construction must have presented graver difficulties than the piling up of the stones which form the great pyramids." A French scholar, Monsieur Raymond Weill, has advanced the theory that the works in question are a relic of the Cretan sea-power in the second millennium BC, which held at some time or other, so he supposes, this bit of the Egyptian coast. It seems wise to suspend judgment till a more thorough examination of the works has taken place. In any case, the submersion of these works is due to the soil in this region sinking suddenly, either in consequence of a seismic disturbance or from a simple subsidence at some moment of the alluvial soil.
A subsidence of the soil of Alexandria generally to an extent of at least 7'1/2 feet has taken place since Graeco-Roman times, and the remains of the city of Alexander and the Ptolemies probably are now for the most part buried below the water level. This has made it harder than ever for archaeology to reconstruct a picture of the ancient Alexandria. We know that Alexander laid out his city on the straight rectangular plan which had been brought into fashion for new cities by Hippodamus of Miletus a century before. The architect employed by Alexander was Dinocrates, according to the Romance, a Rhodian. The city, as he planned it, formed an extended oblong along the neck of land between Lake Mareotis and the sea. The foundation feast of the city was afterwards kept on the 25th of Tybi, and it was therefore perhaps about January 20, in the year 331, that the actual ceremony of foundation took place. Legend afterwards told how the architects had marked the lines of the city for Alexander's inspection with white meal taken from the rations of the army, and found an omen for the city's future greatness in what took place at the first tracing of it upon the ground, though we are given two different and contradictory forms of the story.
The original citizen-body of Alexandria must have consisted of Macedonians and Greeks; how Alexander got together the families which constituted the first nucleus, we do not know. Natives later on formed a considerable proportion of the population of the city, though they did not belong to the privileged disease-body. A story to which we shall presently refer says that a large number of Egyptians from the neighboring Canopus were compelled to migrate to the new city. Although the Jewish element in Alexandria was large a few generations later, it is very questionable whether the statements of Josephus about Alexander encouraging the Jews especially to settle in Alexandria and giving them citizen-rights there are true. There was no reason why Alexander should be interested especially in the Jews. The Jews were not in those days what they afterwards became—a people connected to a preeminent degree with trade and finance. "We are not a commercial people", Josephus could still write in the 1st century AD.
The other event, beside the foundation of Alexandria, which stands out in connection with Alexander's winter residence in Egypt, is his visit to the Temple of Ammon—as the Greeks called Amen—in the Oasis now called Siwah. The first problem connected with it is why Alexander should have chosen, when in Egypt itself there were ancient and magnificent temples of Amon, to make a journey across the desert to the "lone and distant temple in the palm-groves of Siwah", fifteen to twenty days' journey from the Nile Valley. It seems a sufficient reason that the oracle of Amon in this oasis had had for many generations a peculiar prestige in the Greek world. Croesus had consulted it, as well as the principal Greek oracles in the 6th century. Pindar had composed a hymn to Ammon. We hear of Greeks—Eleans, Spartans, Athenians—sending embassies to the shrine, to procure oracular advice, in the days before Alexander. Euripides speaks of the "rainless seat of Ammon" as of a place familiar to the Greeks, a place to which people in need of divine counsel might naturally go.
Greek legend asserted that Perseus and Herakles had gone to consult Ammon before their great enterprises. Callisthenes, who was, later on if not now, in Alexander's entourage, affirmed that the thought of these two heroes had been one of the chief motives which prompted Alexander to make his journey. It might be naïve to posit such a motive in the case of a modern practical man, but it is thoroughly in accordance with the temperament of Alexander. There is certainly a problem here; but the problem is not why Alexander in particular wanted to consult the ram-headed god, but why this shrine, so far out of the world and so difficult of access, had ever become a place to which Greeks resorted.
It is plain that the prestige of Ammon in the Greek world had to do with the growth of the Greek colony, Cyrene, on the African coast. For whilst Cyrene maintained constant commercial relations with the other Greek states of the Mediterranean, from Cyrene coasting vessels easily would reach Paraetonium about 345 miles eastwards, and from Paraetonium a comparatively easy caravan-road goes from the coast inland over the desert to Siwah, a journey of some seven days by camel. The Cyrenaeans would thus have been the intermediaries between the shrine of Ammon and the Greek world, and the road running up from Paraetonium the ordinary road by which Greeks reached the shrine. It is noteworthy that Herodotus gets his information about Siwah from Cyrenaeans who have been there. And this would explain another problem about the expedition of Alexander, why he went to Siwah by way of Paraetonium and not across the Nitrian desert—the more direct way, as Mahaffy points out, from Egypt. Mr. Hogarth supposes that Alexander was at Paraetonium, because he was marching from Egypt to get possession of Cyrene, but that, being met there by the Cyrenaean envoys, who brought him some hundreds of fine horses as a token of the submission of their state, he held it unnecessary to proceed, and, instead, struck inland to visit Ammon. No ancient authority, however, says anything about an expedition to conquer Cyrene. Even the statement about the Cyrenaean envoys is not found in Arrian, and perhaps goes back to Clitarchus, from whom Diodorus and Curtius largely draw—an unworthy authority. Mahaffy so far believed the statement as to suppose that Cyrenaean envoys really did meet Alexander; he conjectured, however, that what they offered was not horses, but guides to Siwah.
This march across the desert sands to Siwah was accompanied, according to all the ancient books, by various miraculous circumstances. An unwonted downpour of rain came to relieve Alexander's company in the extremities of thirst. Two crows flew by short flights ahead of the company to show them the way, obliterated as it was by the shifting sand. Two serpents went before them, "uttering a voice". It is certain that these stories were told by people who had actually been with Alexander in the East. The most staggering one, that of the two serpents, stands upon the authority of Ptolemy, the son of Lagus, who, if he did not himself accompany the expedition (we are not told whether he did or not), must have been at any rate for years in daily contact with people who had; and we know that Ptolemy's history of Alexander was distinguished generally for its sober veracity. Rationalization of the stories is really easy enough. Rain still occurs, as a rare phenomenon, in this region. Crows and snakes might not impossibly be met with in the desert; a company marching through the solitude startles any animals which may be about, and these naturally flee in front of the advancing column.
A more or less true picture of the Oasis of the Oracle of Ammon, as it was in those days, may be made out by combining what we are told by ancient writers (the fullest account is to be found in Diodorus, XVII.50) with the data furnished by Siwah today. There are two principal villages, Siwah and Aghurmi, two miles apart, huddled upon two isolated rocks which stand up over the surrounding expanse of palm-groves and olive-yards. It is at Aghurmi that the remains of the temple of Amen are to be found. Below the rock, a few hundred yards to the south, there are remains of another smaller temple (called by the present natives Ummebeida). The remains are said to indicate that both temples had been rebuilt during the days of Persian rule in Egypt. With regard to the temple of Amen "one can still mark, near the ancient Fountain of the Sun, the line of a wall of squared stones, forming a rectangular enclosure of about 50 yards by 48. The temple itself comprised different courts and halls, with or without columns, now completely in ruins; then came, at the extremity of the chief quadrangle, the shrine. The two chambers which once adjoined it have disappeared, and it is barely possible to make out the position of the doors which gave admission to them; but of the door of the shrine itself, and of the front portion of it, considerable remains are left. It was a chamber about 30 feet long, 10 to 13 broad, covered in with enormous blocks, of which several are still in place, ornamented with at least three rows of writing and imagery.
"There Amen dwelt in the darkness, and his sacred bark rested upon an altar, or rather a cube of stone or wood, in the middle of the chamber. The classical historians describe the bark as being of gold"; that means it was of wood, covered with plates of gold. Its length must have come short of the length of the shrine by some 7 or 8 feet. One can imagine it by looking at the bas-reliefs of Luxor or Karnak, where the barks of the Theban Amen are depicted, with their thin high build, their prows and poops decorated with rams' heads, their crew of gods, their cargo of figures, their naos half-curtained by a white veil and enshrining the image within its slight walls. The image, Callisthenes tells us, was a mass of emeralds and other precious stones. We must conceive it like one of those composite idols mentioned, for example, at Denderah, the body of which was made up of different substances, ordinarily fitted together on a framework of wood or bronze. The emerald in question was certainly not our emerald, but one or other of the numerous stones which the Egyptians classed together under the term mafket—chiefly green feldspar, the root of emerald, very largely used during the Saite epoch. Like all prophetic images, this one, too, was constructed so as to be able to make a limited number of gestures, move its head, wave its arms or hands. A priest pulled the string, which made the image move, and uttered the oracle. Every one knew him, and nobody charged him with any sort of fraud. He was the instrument of the god—an unconscious instrument. At a definite moment the spirit seized him; he made the image work, and moved his own lips; he lent his hands and his voice, but it was the god who impelled his actions and inspired his words."
As to what happened when Alexander came to the shrine of Ammon, the account given by Callisthenes was as follows:
"The king alone was suffered by the priest to enter the temple in his ordinary dress; his retinue were compelled to change their clothes. All except Alexander stood outside to listen to the delivery of the oracle, Alexander alone inside. Oracles are here not given, as at Delphi and Branchidae, in words, but for the most part by gestures and symbols . . . the 'prophet' assuming the character of Zeus [i.e. of Amen]. This, however, was said distinctly in words by the prophet to the king — that he, Alexander, was the son of Zeus."
In later forms of the story, which come through Clitarchus, it has been expanded and embellished. Alexander asks whether the god, his father, will grant him the dominion over the whole earth, and receives the answer that the god will surely do so. He asks further whether all those implicated in the murder of his father, Philip, have now been punished, and the prophet cries out that the question is impious, because his father (the god) cannot be hurt. This elaboration of the story may be part of the growth of the Alexander myth, which began even before Alexander was dead. On the other hand, it seems certain that when Alexander put forward instructions received from Ammon to explain why he offered sacrifice in India to a particular group of gods, such instructions had really been given by the oracle. It may still remain a question whether the instructions were given on the occasion of Alexander's historic visit to the shrine, or whether they had been received later through envoys, since we know, in connection with the apotheosis of Hephaestion, that Alexander continued to consult the god by envoys in later years.
There is no reason to doubt that Alexander was really hailed by the priest of Ammon as a son of the Supreme God. It is now, however, generally recognized that this was common form in the case of a king of Egypt. All the Pharaohs since the second millennium had been officially sons of Amen-Ra. According to established formulas, Amen gave to his royal sons "the heads of all living,", "all countries, all peoples", "all the lands as far as the circuit of the sun". Mr. Tarn may be right in thinking that Alexander did not go through "the ritual", if by that is meant the particular ceremony by which native Pharaohs had been instituted, but he can obviously not have consulted the oracle without going through some ritual; and such ritual, where priests of Amen were receiving one who came to them in the character of king of Egypt, would almost necessarily have included formulas which attributed to the reigning Pharaoh divine sonship and universal dominion.
The remarkable thing is not that Alexander should have been called a son of Amen by Egyptian priests, but that this particular utterance should have been laid hold of by the Greeks, and probably by Alexander himself, and insisted upon with apparent seriousness before the whole world. Alexander "continued", as Mr. Hogarth says, the son of Amen "in lands with which Amen had nothing to do ... It is not clear that the usage of Middle Asiatic religions offered either means or precedents of nearly so literal and satisfactory a sort as did the usage of Egypt for affiliating the mortal sovereign to a supreme deity. But what is certain is this — that so far as his own followers imputed divinity in honour of him while he was on the march, and so far as his Greek and other critics imputed it in ridicule, it continued to be expressed as sonship of Ammon.
After his death the apotheosis of him, which his successors promoted for their own ends, whether in Asia Minor or in Syria or in Babylon, was from first to last as a divinity in the Egyptian, not in any Asiatic, pantheon. For the benefit of Greeks or Philhellenic princes he might appear on coins with the attributes of a hero, such as Herakles; but, if he was to be a full god, the ram-horns of Ammon must protrude from his beautiful hair. . . . It is as 'Dhulkarnein' the Two-horned that he has passed from pre-Islamic folklore into the Koran, and out of it again into the pseudo-history of half Asia and much Africa. These facts, more than any other evidence, dispose me to think that Alexander himself insisted on his sonship of Ammon, after he left Egypt, and imposed it as a cult with greater or less effect wherever he went."
From Siwah, Alexander and his company returned to Egypt, according to Ptolemy, by the direct way across the Nitrian desert to Memphis. Aristobulus said he returned as he came by Paraetonium, but Ptolemy is here the better authority. At Memphis, Alexander was busy receiving embassies from the Greek states and reinforcements from Macedonia. The children of the land saw once more the culture of their new masters displayed in a great musical and gymnastic festival, and a sacrifice was offered to Zeus the King, no doubt in Hellenic fashion. Yet we know that in some way this god, with his Greek name and Greek ritual, was regarded by the Greeks as identical with the Egyptian Amen, of whom Alexander had just been declared the son.
In the spring of 331—it cannot have been more than a month or two at most after Alexander's return from Siwah—he left Egypt to attack the Persian king in Mesopotamia. His corpse was destined to return one day to Egypt, but he himself never. He had probably not seen much of the Nile Valley above Memphis, though the Macedonian effective occupation extended at any rate as far as the first cataract, since we hear of Alexander sending Apollonides of Chios (a Greek who had joined the Persians and had been captured by Alexander's forces) to be interned at Elephantine.
Egypt was left solidly organized as a province of the new Macedonian empire. "He made two Egyptians nomarchs of [all] Egypt, Doloaspis and Peteesis, and divided the country between them; but when Peteesis presently resigned, Doloaspis undertook the whole charge. As commanders of the Macedonian garrisons he appointed Pantaleon of Pydna at Memphis, and Polemo of Pella at Pelusium; as general of the mercenaries, Lucidas the Aetolian; as secretary (grammateus) of the mercenaries, Eugnostus son of Xenophantus, one of the 'Companions' (hetairoi); as overseers over them (episkopoi), Aeschylus and Ephippus of Chalcis. Governor of the adjacent Libya he made Apollonius son of Charinus, of Arabia about Heroönpolis, Cleomenes of Naucratis, and him he directed to permit the [native] nomarchs to control their nomes according to established and ancient custom, but to obtain from them their taxes, which they were ordered to pay to him. He made Peucestas and Balacrus [two of his noblest Macedonians] generals of the [whole] army he left in Egypt, and Polemo the son of Theramenes admiral ... He is said to have divided the government of Egypt into many hands, because he was surprised at the nature and [military] strength of the country, so that he did not consider it safe to let one man undertake the sole charge of it."
We have here the sketch of an organization, of which we are unable to fill in the details. It was destined to be of very short duration. Even during Alexander' s time, the effective control of the country seems to have been soon gathered into his hands by one man, the Greek, Cleomenes of Naucratis, who had become a citizen of the new Alexandria, and the system as devised by Alexander must have lost reality, if it was not definitely abandoned. When a new system was contrived by Alexander's successors of the house of Ptolemy, it was on other lines. So far as we can see the principle of Alexander's arrangement from Arrian's summary description, it was one of elaborate checks. Even the supreme military command is divided between Peucestas and Balacrus. Cleomenes is to receive the taxes, but their collection is to be left in the hands of native nomarchs. The high position given in Alexander's arrangement to two native Egyptians is a feature not reproduced under the house of Ptolemy till the later days of the dynasty. Cleomenes was apparently clever enough to use his power of financial control to wrest the real power to himself. He seems soon to have gained a reputation in the Greek world for dishonesty and extortion. He was unpopular at Athens because the effect of his measures was to raise the price of corn. Instances of his drastic modes of raising money are given in the work on Economics which goes (wrongly) under the name of Aristotle.
"Cleomenes the Alexandrine, satrap of Egypt, when a severe famine occurred in the neighbouring countries, but in Egypt only to a small extent, forbade the exportation of corn. But when the nomarchs complained that they were unable to pay their tribute, owing to this regulation, he allowed the export, but put so high a price upon it that for a small quantity exported, he obtained a large sum of money, besides getting rid of the excuse made by the nomarchs. Again, as he was going by water through the nome where the crocodile is a god, one of his slaves was carried off by a crocodile; so, calling the priests together, he said he must have revenge for this wanton attack, and ordered a crocodile hunt to be set on foot. Thereupon the priests, in order that their god might not be brought into contempt, collected all the gold they could and gave it to him and so appeased him.
Again, when Alexander directed him to found a city at Pharos [Alexandria] and to remove the trade-mart of Canopus thither, he went to Canopus and told all the priests and wealthy people that he had come for the purpose of moving them out. They, therefore, collected a large sum of money, which they gave him, in order to keep their mart. He departed with this, but, after a while, when everything was ready for building operations on the new city to begin, he came again and asked them for a still larger sum, declaring that he estimated the difference of the mart being there or at Alexandria at this figure. And when they said they could not pay it, he transferred them all to the new city ...
Again, when corn was selling at 10 drachmas [the medimnus] he called together the peasants and asked them on what terms they would work for him; they said they would do so at a cheaper rate than that at which they sold to the merchants. Then he told them to sell to him at the same price as to the rest, but fixed the price of corn at 32 drachmas, and sold at this rate. [This seems to mean that he got rid of the middlemen, and so made all the profit himself for the Crown. — M.] Again, having called together the priests, he told them that the expenses of religion in the country were extravagant, and that a certain number of temples and priests must be abolished. Then the priests offered him money, both privately and from their temple funds, as they thought he was really going to reduce them, and each wanted to preserve his own temple and his own priesthood." [If this argument meant, either you must sacrifice some of your endowments or give a large contribution to the Crown, then any one who knows the enormous wealth of the old Egyptian priesthood will hardly quarrel with Cleomenes. — M.]
How far Cleomenes really deserved his evil reputation, it is not possible now to say. It is always easy by a slight twist of the facts to represent any drastic fiscal administration as unjust and oppressive, and it was the interest obviously of the house of Ptolemy later on to have the memory of Cleomenes blackened. Alexander, we know, would not remove him. Arrian quotes from a supposed letter of Alexander to Cleomenes, in which he says: "If I find the temples in Egypt and the heroon of Hephaestion well appointed, I shall condone your former transgressions; and whatever wrong you may do hereafter, you shall suffer nothing disagreeable at my hands." But Mahaffy has pointed out that the letter cannot be genuine, because it mentions the Pharos lighthouse, not constructed till many years after Alexander's death. It is possible, of course, that Cleomenes did contrive to keep in Alexander’s good graces by showing zeal in the things which Alexander specially cared about, such as the development of Alexandria and the cult of Hephaestion. It is worth noting that Cleomenes is specially connected with the founding of Alexandria in the Romance — that is, in local Alexandrine tradition, some three or four centuries later.
Ptolemy I (Soter)
(Satrap of Egypt, 323305; King of Egypt, 305 to 283-282 BC)
In June 323 Alexander, having created a Macedonian Empire over the whole extent of the old Persian Empire and more, died suddenly in Babylon. About five months later, one of his marshals, Ptolemy, the son of Lagus, appeared in Egypt as the satrap appointed by the new Macedonian king, Philip Arrhidaeus. The new king was a feeble-minded half-brother of Alexander's, and the real power was in the hands of the great Macedonian chiefs who had served under Alexander, especially in that of Perdiccas, whose precise office, if it is somewhat obscure to modern scholars, was perhaps already a matter of controversy amongst the great chiefs themselves in the confused struggle of those days which followed the great conqueror's abrupt removal. It is plain that Perdiccas was determined to act as supreme regent of the empire, and that he was the most powerful person in Babylon, when an agreement was come to amongst the chiefs assembled there for a fresh assignment of the satrapies. In that moment of doubt and confusion, Ptolemy saw quickly and decidedly the thing he wanted for himself—Egypt. Perdiccas, or the council of chiefs, gave him, in the imbecile king's name, the appointment he desired, and Ptolemy withdrew as speedily as he could to a safe position outside the mellay he foresaw. "There must have been a bargain between Perdiccas and Ptolemy; Ptolemy's price for recognizing Perdiccas was Egypt and the appointment of Arrhidaeus [a Macedonian chief, not the king] to control the funeral arrangements."
According to a statement in Diodorus, it had been settled, amongst other things, by the Macedonian chiefs in Babylon that the body of Alexander should be buried in the temple of his Divine Father in the Oasis of Siwah. Arrhidaeus, one of their number, was at any rate commissioned to construct a funeral car and arrange a cortège of unprecedented magnificence, and it seems quickly to have occurred to Ptolemy that it would add immensely to the prestige of the principality he already in imagination designed for himself in Egypt, if it possessed, as a fetish of extraordinary power over the minds of men, the body of the great Macedonian hero. The most natural place in which to bury Alexander would have been the royal city of the Macedonian kings, Aegae, in the homeland of the dynasty, and possibly this, and not burial in the Oasis, had been the original plan. At any rate, this sooner or later became the plan of Perdiccas. But Ptolemy forestalled him. When Perdiccas was in Asia Minor, Arrhidaeus, acting on an understanding with Ptolemy, set out from Babylon with the funeral cortège on the road to Egypt. If the body were to be taken to Siwah, it would in any case (unless it went to Paraetonium by sea) have to go first to Memphis; it is likely that Arrhidaeus, on leaving Babylon, gave out the Oasis as his destination. Ptolemy met the cortège in Syria with a powerful escort, and took control. When it reached Memphis, it proceeded no farther towards the Oasis. Whether Ptolemy had already determined that Alexandria should be Alexander's ultimate resting-place, we do not know. Pausanias says that the body remained at Memphis till it was transferred to Alexandria by Ptolemy's son, some forty years later.
Diodorus, Strabo, and other ancient authorities say that it was the first Ptolemy himself who placed Alexander's body in the Sema at Alexandria, where it still was in Roman times. Possibly this is the truth, and the fact behind the statement of Pausanias would then be simply that the body reposed for some years at Memphis, till the sepulchre at Alexandria was ready for it. The regular road from Syria to Alexandria went, as Mahaffy pointed out, not across the Delta, but by way of Memphis. But Pausanias gives it so definitely as one of the evil deeds of Ptolemy II that he brought the body from its resting-place in Memphis to Alexandria, that he may have been going upon some good historical authority. In any case, there is proof of a state-cult, whose priest serves to determine the year in the dating of documents all over the kingdom, under Ptolemy I. The priesthood is held in two documents by the king's brother Menelaus, and since, later on, the eponymous priest of the state-cult is the priest of Alexander, it is probable (though not stated) that Menelaus was priest of Alexander. If so, the cult may originally have centred in a temple-sepulchre of Alexander at Memphis, and been afterwards transferred by Ptolemy II to the Sema at Alexandria.
The Macedonian chieftain, bearing the Greek name of Ptolemaios, who came to Egypt in 323 as its new ruler, was the son of a certain Lagus (Lagos or Laagos: the longer form of the name is given in the contemporary papyrus of Elephantine, and it is probably just the Greek Laagos, "Leader-of-the-People"). When the house of Ptolemy had become very great in the world, its origin from the obscure Laagos came to be thought rather discreditable. There was a malicious story that when Ptolemy asked a grammarian who the father of Pelops was—notoriously an obscure point of mythology —the grammarian retorted by saying, "I will tell you, if you first tell me who was the father of Lagus." Justin, in his rhetorical way, exaggerates the contrast between Ptolemy's comparatively humble origin and his later greatness by saying that Alexander had promoted him from the ranks. This is nonsense. We know at any rate that Ptolemy as a boy had belonged to the corps of pages at the court of Philip, and was an intimate friend of Alexander before his accession. Lagus must have belonged to the petite noblesse of the country.
Ptolemy's mother was called Arsinoe: the official genealogy later on represented her as related to the royal family, possibly with truth. In the campaigns of Alexander, Ptolemy had won distinction as a commander. He had become one of the seven Bodyguards of the king. In India especially he had taken a leading part. So far as we can see Ptolemy's personality through the mists of time, he was a robust, full-blooded Macedonian, with the sound common sense which often characterizes the leaders of a people of country farmers, the shrewd caution which looks a long way ahead, and likes to play a safe game and secure solid advantages, an animal lustihood which made him take joy in many women, a genial bonhomie which attracted soldiers of fortune to his standard from all Greek lands—a man rather of vigorous bodily and mental constitution than of fine fibre. Yet he was not without interest in Greek letters; young Macedonians of the upper class had learnt for a generation or two to talk Greek and read Greek; and Ptolemy was not only eager to get Greek men of letters and philosophers and artists to his court, but himself made, as an author, a very creditable addition to Greek historical literature—a narrative of the campaigns of Alexander distinguished by its plain adherence to fact and its freedom from rhetorical claptrap. Such was the man who now came to Egypt as satrap for king Philip Arrhidaeus, and the joint-king, baby Alexander, the posthumous son of Alexander the Great. Ptolemy's age was then about forty-four.
According to the arrangement made in Babylon, Cleomenes was to remain in power in Egypt, as Ptolemy's assistant (hyparchos). Cleomenes was devoted to the interests of Perdiccas, and would thus, it was hoped, act as a check upon the new satrap. But when once Ptolemy, in defiance of Perdiccas, had seized Alexander's body, it was open war between the satrap and the would-be regent. Cleomenes could act as a check only so long as Ptolemy was afraid of breaking openly with Perdiccas. Now he had broken; and Ptolemy caused Cleomenes to be arraigned on some charge, condemned, and put to death. Of course he had now to expect to be attacked by Perdiccas with his whole power, as soon as Perdiccas could get his hands free. Meantime Ptolemy extended his dominion along the African coast by possessing himself of the ancient Greek colony of Cyrene and its daughter towns. Civil war had broken out in that country in the days of confusion after the death of Alexander, one faction led by the Spartan condottiere Thibron, and another by the Cretan Mnasicles. Refugees of the defeated party came to Egypt to entreat the satrap to intervene. Ptolemy dispatched a force, military and naval, under Ophellas, an Olynthian in his service, to occupy the country, and the two condottieri joined forces against him. Ophellas beat them down, captured Thibron, and had him crucified. Then Ptolemy came in person to take possession of Cyrene, towards the end of 322 BC. The subjugation of a state so illustrious, with more than a century's tradition of republican freedom, since the fall of its old Greek dynasty, by a Macedonian ruler made a powerful impression upon the Greek world. The Cyrenaeans never acquiesced in the position of a subject province. They were destined to be often in the future, not an accession of strength to the Macedonian kings of Egypt, but a thorn in their side. Yet Cyrene furnished to Ptolemaic Egypt, as Ireland has done to England, a roll of illustrious men like Callimachus the poet and Eratosthenes the geographer, and numbers of soldiers. Amongst the soldier-colonists of the Fayûm and of Upper Egypt the papyri show a noticeable proportion of Cyrenaeans. For the moment Ptolemy left Ophellas in the country as governor.
The attack of Perdiccas came in the spring of 321. It was then seen how wise Ptolemy had been in securing for his power a territorial basis hard to assail. Perdiccas failed to get across the eastern branch of the Nile, and was assassinated in his own camp. Ptolemy might have stepped into his place. But he knew that it was safer to be ruler of Egypt than to be regent of the Empire. The victorious chiefs of the party opposed to Perdiccas met at Triparadisus, a place apparently somewhere in North Syria, in the autumn of 321, to make a new settlement of offices and governorships in the Empire. Ptolemy was confirmed in the possession of Egypt and the Cyrenaica.
Through the forty years of struggle which followed between the great Macedonian chiefs—the men who had learnt war under Alexander—Ptolemy, the son of Lagus, remained in his African province, safe as a tortoise in his shell, while armies marched to and fro across Asia and rival fleets battled in the Aegean. To some extent, indeed, he stretched forth out of his shell to mingle in the melée, for the power ruling Egypt was now one of Hellenistic character, having various connections, political, economic, cultural, with the other states of the Greek world. It looked northwards, seawards, from Alexandria, with an interest which could not have been felt by one of the old native Pharaohs. And while Ptolemy wished to have the safe seat and centre of his power in the country of the Nile, he wished to have certain other neighboring countries attached as appendages to his principality, and to have points d'appui for his sea-power in the islands and on the coasts of the Levant.
Ptolemaic Egypt was more of a Mediterranean, and less of an African, power than the old Pharaonic Egypt had been, which sometimes extended its power far into the Sudan. The Ptolemies never cared to make conquests up the Nile much beyond the First Cataract. But Ptolemy did aspire to hold Southern Syria, like the conquering Pharaohs before him—an appendage on the east to his principality as the Cyrenaica was on the west. He desired, too, to possess Cyprus, as Aahmes had done in the 6th century BC, and beyond that to extend the sphere of his control over the Greeks of the Aegean islands, over places on the coast of Asia Minor, and even places in the old Greece itself. To that extent he had to come out of his shell and take risks. If Egypt, in the new days of world politics and world commerce, was to be a strong and prosperous state, it could not be altogether self-enclosed and self-sufficing. Large timber, for instance, for shipbuilding was not to be found in the country of the Nile, but was furnished by the Lebanon and the hills of Cyprus. The line of commercial traffic which went along the Nile, to and from Alexandria, had a rival in the line which went from the Persian Gulf across Arabia to Gaza, and it was to the advantage of the ruler of Egypt to control both.
Since this is a history of Egypt, rather than of the house of Ptolemy, it lies outside its scope to trace the activity of Ptolemy and his successors, in war and diplomacy, as a power of the Greek world. We have, however, to note the vicissitudes of world-politics so far as they affected the internal history of Egypt. In the two years following the settlement of Triparadisus, Ptolemy possessed himself of Syria from Lebanon southwards, the country we now call Palestine, commonly called by the Greeks of those days Coele-Syria ("Hollow Syria", from the depression of the Jordan Valley). The governor of this region, according to the settlement of Triparadisus, was a Greek of Amphipolis, called Laomedon. Ptolemy tried first to buy the country of him, and when Laomedon refused, occupied it by force. It was on this occasion, according to the common view, that Ptolemy seized Jerusalem on the Sabbath day, when the Jews felt that their religion forbade them to offer any resistance. Bouché-Leclercq thinks that it was more probably in 312. Yet Ptolemy can hardly have avoided securing the city of this singular community (as they seemed to the Greeks) when he extended his power over Palestine in the years 320318.
When Antigonus, the satrap of Phrygia, returned from the eastern provinces in 316, victorious over the remains of the party of Perdiccas, Antigonus in turn became to his old allies the same danger which Perdiccas had been. Seleucus, the satrap of Babylonia, had fled to Egypt, and a new league of chiefs was constituted against Antigonus. Ptolemy, by his occupation of Coele-Syria, had obviously given a ground of complaint to any one who aspired to be master of the whole Empire.
In 315 Antigonus invaded Coele-Syria, and Ptolemy prudently withdrew before him the tortoise shrinking into his shell. Antigonus occupied the cities of the Syrian coast as far as Gaza. But Ptolemy's navy, under the command of Seleucus, was meanwhile carrying on the war against Antigonus at sea. Ptolemy threw a force into Cyprus. That island, with its mixed Greek and Phoenician population, was in a divided condition. Its several districts were ruled by a number of petty independent princes. Some of these were partisans of Antigonus; the dynasts of Soli, Salamis, Paphos, and Chytri held by Ptolemy. With the arrival of the Ptolemaic force, Ptolemy's ascendancy began to be established in the island as a whole. He could use it as a naval basis against Antigonus, who now had command of the Phoenician ports on the Syrian coast.
In 313 Ptolemy, having lost Coele-Syria, temporarily lost Cyrene as well. The city, after nine years' subjection to a foreign Macedonian ruler, broke into revolt and besieged the Ptolemaic garrison in the citadel. Ptolemy, however, could spare a new expeditionary force which beat down this revolt and brought Cyrene again under the hand of his governor Ophellas. During the same year Ptolemy went to Cyprus in person and completed the conquest of the island. The Phoenician prince of Citium, Pumayyaton (Pygmalion), who had held by Antigonus, was put to death.
In 312 Ptolemy issued again out of Egypt into Palestine to strike a blow for its recovery. Antigonus had left his son Demetrius, then a boy of twenty, in command there. Demetrius was destined to have a brilliant and adventurous career, and to be known to history by the surname of "the Besieger" (Poliorketes), but at his encounter in the spring of 312 of the confines of Palestine with the veteran who had fought under Alexander, he sustained a shattering defeat. The battle of Gaza marks an epoch in history, for it was after this defeat of Demetrius that Seleucus saw the way open for his return to Babylon, and from this year (312) was dated ever afterwards the beginning of the Seleucid Empire in Asia. For the second time Ptolemy occupied Palestine and obtained command over the cities of Phoenicia.
Then came a sudden reverse of fortune, as was the way in those tempestuous days. A Ptolemaic force was defeated in 311 by Demetrius in Northern Syria, and Antigonus came marching down into Palestine from the north. For the second time Ptolemy withdrew from Palestine into his shell. Simultaneously Cyrene again revolted, not against Ophellas this time, but under the leadership of Ophellas. It was a bad moment for Ptolemy. In 311 he and the other Macedonian chiefs, his allies, Cassander, the ruler of Macedonia, and Lysimachus, the ruler of Thrace, made a peace with Antigonus, by which Ptolemy abandoned Coele-Syria. This was only a breathing-space in the long struggle, and soon the war was going on just as before. The efforts of Ptolemy were now mainly bent to establishing his power on the seas. He had lost Coele-Syria and Phoenicia, but he still held Cyprus. The Macedonian chiefs all professed to adhere to the principle expressed in the phrase "autonomy of the Hellenes", and on this pretext each might turn his rival's garrison out of any Greek city it happened to hold, and install his own garrison—as a guardian of the city's liberty — in its place.
The naval forces of Ptolemy were active in the years following 311 on the coasts of Asia Minor, detaching, where they could, cities from the power of Antigonus. Agents of Antigonus, on the other hand, tried to buy over to his cause the dynasts of Cyprus. They succeeded in the case of one of them—or Ptolemy believed at any rate that they had succeeded—whether it was Nicocles, the prince of Paphos (as Diodorus says), or Nicocreon, the prince of Salamis, who acted as Ptolemy's lieutenant-governor in the island, is uncertain—and the dynast in question was compelled by Ptolemy to commit suicide. Ptolemy retained for the present his hold on Cyprus in spite of his enemy's intrigues. In 308 he even landed with a force in Greece itself, and put his garrisons in Megara, Corinth, and Sicyon. In the same year he took the first step, by liberating Andros from a hostile garrison, towards establishing the Ptolemaic protectorate over the Cyclad group of islands in the Aegean, which was to be an important factor in the Mediterranean in years to come. Delos, obviously marked out by its religious prestige to be the political centre of this group, Ptolemy also detached about this time from Athens, to which it had been subject for nearly two centuries. An inventory of temple possessions found at Delos mentions a vase bearing the dedication: "Ptolemy, son of Lagos, to Aphrodite." It was also probably in 308 that an army commanded by Ptolemy's stepson, Magas, recovered the Cyrenaica: Magas was installed there as viceroy.
In 306 the whole fabric of Ptolemaic sea-power collapsed under a new blow. Demetrius swept down with a fleet upon Cyprus, and in a naval battle off the Cyprian Salamis inflicted upon Ptolemy as severe a defeat as Ptolemy had inflicted upon him at Gaza six years before. Ptolemy's brother Menelaus, who had been his lieutenant-governor in the island, Ptolemy's son Leontiscus—a son by one of his many mistresses —together with many of his principal officers, fell into the hands of the victor. Demetrius, with the showy chivalry which was proper for Macedonian aristocrats in their dealings with each other, sent back all his noble prisoners to Ptolemy without a ransom. But there was an end for the present to Ptolemaic rule in Cyprus and to Ptolemaic sea-power. The things which Ptolemy had striven during sixteen years to gain outside Africa—Palestine, Cyprus—he had now lost them all. But Egypt and Cyrene remained to him. He was still absolute lord in the rich and populous country of the Nile, shut off by its desert frontiers and its almost harbourless coast from the rest of the world. Here, in spite of all disasters, he could await the turn of fortune, drawn safely in from the outside storm. The sagacity of his first choice was more than ever apparent.
His position in Egypt was now different from what it had been when he first came there in 323. His official position had then been that of satrap of the kings Philip Arrhidaeus and Alexander. Philip Arrhidaeus had been murdered in 317 by the mother of Alexander the Great, and the boy Alexander had been murdered in 311 by Cassander. There was then no longer any pretence of one Macedonian Empire. But the rival Macedonian chieftains did not immediately after the boy king's death assume the title of kings. Antigonus was the first to do so in 306 after the victory of Salamis. Our literary texts represent Ptolemy as having immediately followed suit, in order to show that his defeat had not bowed his head. Yet the Alexandrine "Canon of Kings" makes the kingship of Ptolemy begin not earlier than November 305, and this is borne out by a number of demotic papyri. Up to that time apparently official documents in Egypt continued to be dated by the years of the young Alexander, even after he was dead. The fiction served to fill up an interregnum, whilst Ptolemy was waiting on events to determine what form his rule of Egypt was to take in the unprecedented world situation.
It might be thought a formal change of no importance when the satrap began to be called a king. Yet, if the supremacy of the boy far away in Macedonia was a fiction, even while he was alive, it may well have been a fiction which had its effect upon the minds of multitudes beside the waters of the Nile. Somewhere, behind the machinery of government which they saw, there had been a divine person, still described in the old formulas applied generations ago to their own Pharaohs—"Horus the youthful", "Lord of diadems", "Lord in the whole world", "King of Upper Egypt and Lower Egypt", "the Delight of the heart of Amon", "Chosen by the Sun". And the nearer ruler—Ptlumis the Egyptians apparently pronounced his name—was a mighty governor under Pharaoh, like Una in the days of old.
The hieroglyphic stele discovered in 1871 in Cairo, dated in the summer of 311 BC, throws light on the relations of Ptolemy with the native priesthood, whilst he was still nominally only the satrap of the boy Alexander:
"In the year 7 (i.e. in the seventh year of the boy king Alexander IV, whose formal reign began at the death of Philip Arrhidaeus), at the beginning of the inundation, under the sanctity of Horus, the youthful, the rich in strength, the Lord of diadems, loving the gods who gave him the dignity of his father, the Horus of gold, Lord in the whole world, the king of Upper and Lower Egypt, the Lord of both lands, the Delight of the heart of Amen, chosen by the Sun, of Alexander the ever-living, the friend of the gods of the cities Pe and Tep, while his Holiness, being also king in the world of foreigners, was in the interior of Asia, there was a great Viceroy in Egypt, Ptolemy was his name.
"A person of youthful vigour was he, strong in his two arms, wise in spirit, mighty among the people, of stout courage, of firm foot, resisting the furious, not turning his back, striking his adversaries in the face in the midst of the battle. When he had seized the bow, it was not to shoot (from afar) at the assailant, his fighting was with the sword; in the midst of the battle none could stand against him, because of the might of his arm there was no parrying his hand; there was no return of that which went forth out of his mouth, there was not his like in the world of foreigners. He brought back the images of the gods found in Asia; all the furniture and the books of all the temples of North and South Egypt, he had them restored to their place. He had made his residence the fortress of King Alexander, chosen of the Sun, the son of the Sun: Alexandria it is called, on the shore of the Great Sea of the Ionians, Rakoti was its former name. He had assembled many of the Ionians, and cavalry and ships many in number with their crews, when he went with his people to the land of the Syrians, who were at war with him. He penetrated into their land, his courage was mighty as that of the hawk among little birds. Having captured them all together, he carried their princes, their cavalry, their ships, their works of art to Egypt. After this, when he had invaded the territory of Mermerti (Cyrene), he, laying hold of them at one time, led captive their men, women, horses, in requital for what they had done to Egypt.
"When he returned to Egypt, his heart being glad at what he had done, he celebrated a good day, and this great Viceroy was seeking the best (thing to do) for the gods of Upper and Lower Egypt. Then there spoke to him he who was at his side, and the elders of the land of Lower Egypt, saying:
" 'The sea-land, the land of Patanut is its name, was granted by the king, the son of the Sun, Khabbash living for ever, to the gods of Pe and Tep, after his Holiness had gone to Pe and Tep to examine all the sea-land in their territory, to go into the interior of the marshes, to examine every arm of the Nile which goes into the Great Sea, to keep off the fleet of Asia from Egypt. Then spoke his Holiness (Khabbash) to him who was at his side: "This sea-land, let me get to know it." They spoke before his Holiness: "This sea-land (it is called the land of Patanut) has been the property of the gods of Pe and Tep from immemorial time. The enemy Xerxes reversed it, nor did he leave anything of it to the gods of Pe and Tep." His Holiness spoke that there should be brought before him the priests and magistrates of Pe and Tep. They brought them to him in haste. Then spoke his Holiness: "Let me be informed concerning the quality of the gods of Pe and Tep, what they did to the miscreant on account of the wicked action which he had done, seeing that the miscreant Xerxes had done evil to Pe and Tep, and had taken away their property."
"They spoke before his Holiness: "The king our Lord Horus, son of Isis, son of Osiris, the king of the kings of Lower Egypt, the avenger of his father, the lord of Pe, the beginning and the end of the gods, after whom there is no king, cast out the miscreant Xerxes with his eldest son, making himself manifest in the town of Neit, even in Saïs, on that day beside the holy Mother." There spoke his Holiness: "This powerful god among the gods after whom there is no king, he shall be the way and the rule of my Holiness; that I swear." Then spoke the priests and the magistrates of Pe and Tep: "Then may your Holiness command that there be granted the sea-land (the land of Patanut it is called) to the gods of Pe and Tep, with bread, drink, oxen, birds, all good things. May the renewal of the donation he registered in your name on account of your bounty to the gods of Pe and Tep, as requital for the excellence of your actions." '
"This great Viceroy spoke: 'Let a decree be drawn up in writing at the office of the king's scribe of finance as follows:
"I Ptolemy, the Satrap, I restore to Horus, the avenger of his father, the lord of Pe, and to Buto, the lady of Pe and Tep, the territory of Patanut, from this day forth for ever, with all its villages, all its towns, all its inhabitants, all its fields, all its waters, all its oxen, all its birds, all its herds, and all things produced in it, as it was aforetime, together with what has been added since, by the gift, made by the king, the lord of both lands, Khabbash, the ever-living. Let its south boundary be the territory of the town of Buto, and the northern Hermopolis, as far as the place called Naunebu. Let its north boundary be the dunes on the shore of the Great Sea. Let its west boundary be the windings of the navigable river as far as the dunes. Let its east boundary be the nome of Sebennytus. Its calves shall be (a supply) for the great Hawks, its bulls for the countenance of the goddess Nebtaui, its oxen for the living Hawks, its milk for the august Child, its fowls for Him in the Shat, whose life is in himself. All things produced on its soils shall be for the altar of Horus himself, the lord of Pe and Buto, the head of RaHarmachis, for ever.'
"The land in its full extent which had been given by the king, the lord of both lands, the image of Tanen, chosen by Ptah, the son of the Sun, Khabbash living for ever, the donation thereof has been renewed by this great Viceroy of Egypt, Ptolemy, to the gods of Pe and Tep for ever. As a reward for this that he has done, may there be given him victory and strength to his heart's content, so that fear of him may continue among all the strange nations which there are today. Concerning the land of Patanut, whosoever shall venture to take ought from it, may he be under ban of Those that are in Pe, under the curse of Those that are in Tep, may he be consulted by the fiery breath of the goddess Aptaui in the day of her terrors, and may neither his son, nor his daughter, give him water."
From 305 onwards it was Ptolemy himself who was king, the supreme divine power in the land of Egypt. It was upon him that the Egyptian priests and scribes now heaped the titles of the old Pharaohs. And the people were now taught to understand that he had really been king all the time since the death of Alexander the Great. In the official dating of documents the years of his reign after 305 were reckoned, not from the time when he had first assumed the name and style of king, but from 324323 BC. One can understand how the Greeks of that extraordinary time came to think of Fortune as an incalculable deity who might play the strangest game in human affairs, when some one who in boyhood had anticipated probably no other life than that which a Macedonian country gentleman might naturally lead amongst his native fields and hills found himself, at the age of sixty-four, Pharaoh in the land of Egypt!
After Ptolemy's loss of all his external possessions in 306, fortune turned once more against Antigonus. His arms encountered two severe checks during the two years which followed. First he was imprudent enough, having despoiled Ptolemy of Palestine and Cyprus, to renew the attempt of Perdiccas, and attack Egypt itself. He did not do so without forming a large force, military and naval, which he hoped would enable him to triumph over the well-known obstacles—the desert between Palestine and Egypt, the Nile, Egypt's "immortal wall". The army was concentrated first at Antigoneia in North Syria (the city afterwards superseded by Antioch) and then moved to Gaza (November 306) on the borders of the desert. Diodorus gives its numbers as over 80,000 foot, 8000 horse, and 83 Indian elephants, whilst it was accompanied by a fleet of 150 vessels of war and 100 transports under the command of Demetrius. (Not much trust, as Mahaffy pointed out, can be put in the figures of ancient historians in such connections.) At Gaza, before crossing the desert, the army was furnished with rations for ten days, and a body of Bedouin on camels was procured to escort it with 130,000 medimni of corn and fodder for the beasts. From the point of view of physical conditions it would have been better for Antigonus to have deferred his attack till the summer. During the winter the Nile is in flood, and navigation along the coast is made difficult and dangerous by strong north-west winds. But the exigencies of the world-struggle, the necessity to strike Ptolemy while he was still weakened by his losses in Cyprus, no doubt forbade Antigonus to postpone the attempt. It would have been best, if the attempt could not be postponed, for it to have been given up altogether. In the circumstances everything went wrong. The fleet of Demetrius could make no head against the winds; several ships were driven on shore at Raphia; co-operation according to plan between army and fleet was impracticable.
"When the combined forces arrived at Pelusium they found it amply defended; the entrance of the river blocked with boats, and the river above covered with small armed cruisers to resist any attempt at crossing, ready moreover to circulate among the invaders promises of large bribes and good service if they would desert and join Ptolemy. As these bribes amounted to two minae for a private, a talent for the officer, it was with difficulty, and by punishing such deserters as he could stop with death by torture, that Antigonus escaped an end similar to that of Perdiccas. Demetrius, finding any entrance at Pelusium impracticable, attempted to land farther west—first at a socalled pseudostomos, or sham outlet, probably from the present Lake Menzaleh, and then at the Damietta mouth (Phatnitic). In both places he was beaten off, and was then overtaken by another storm, which wrecked three more of his largest ships; and with difficulty did he make his way back to his father's camp east of the Pelusiac entrance" (M.).
There was nothing for Antigonus but to make his retreat from the frontiers of Egypt as speedily as he could. Ptolemy's real strength, after all his defeats and losses, was made manifest to the world. A second check awaited Antigonus. Demetrius attacked Rhodes early in 305. The great maritime and commercial state of Rhodes, where the spirit of republican freedom lived on for centuries after Alexander, had no doubt manifold connections with the new important mart of Alexandria. The Rhodians were Ptolemy's friends.
Demetrius, having besieged Rhodes for some fifteen months, 305304, failed in the end to take it, and had to consent to a compromised peace. The successful defence of Rhodes had been largely due to the provisions and reinforcements which Ptolemy contrived from time to time to throw into the besieged city.
In 303302 a new league was conformed of Cassander, Lysimachus, Ptolemy, and Seleucus against Antigonus. Seleucus was in the depths of the East, conquering the farther provinces of the Empire as far as India. In the winter of 302301 he was moving westward, to bring his allies the support of a large body of Indian elephants. Ptolemy played a cautious and not very glorious game. All he did was to occupy Coele-Syria again for the third time—whilst the forces of the other three kings were concentrating against Antigonus in Asia Minor. Then the news came that Antigonus had won a great victory and was marching on Syria. Ptolemy immediately evacuated Coele-Syria for the third time. But the news was false. It was the three kings who won a great and decisive victory at Ipsus in the summer of 301. The body of old Antigonus was left dead upon the field.
The victory of the allies at Ipsus brought a new controversial question into the political field, the Coele-Syrian Question, destined to be with us through all the subsequent history of Ptolemaic Egypt. In the pact between the allies before the last fight with Antigonus, Palestine (Coele-Syria) had apparently been assigned to Ptolemy in the event of victory. But it was natural that the kings who actually bore the brunt at Ipsus should take the view that the king of Egypt, by failing to make any appearance on the critical theatre of war and by his precipitate evacuation of Coele-Syria on a false rumour, had forfeited his claim. A new arrangement made by the victorious kings between themselves after Ipsus now annexed Coele-Syria to the Asiatic empire of Seleucus. Ptolemy refused to recognize the new arrangement; Seleucus refused to regard the original pact as still binding. Here was matter for a controversy which would remain open between the house of Ptolemy and the house of Seleucus for generations to come. As Palestine had been in ancient Pharaonic days a debatable region between the power ruling in Mesopotamia and the power ruling on the Nile, so it was to be still, when the place of the old native kings had been taken by two Macedonian houses.
After the battle of Ipsus, Ptolemy occupied Coele-Syria again for the fourth time. "When Seleucus after the partition of the kingdom of Antigonus arrived with his army in Phoenicia, and tried, according to the arrangement concluded, to take over Coele-Syria, he found Ptolemy already in possession of its towns. Ptolemy complained that Seleucus, in violation of their old friendship, should have agreed to an arrangement which put territory governed by Ptolemy into his own share. Although he (Ptolemy) had taken part in the war against Antigonus, the kings had not, he protested, assigned him any portion of the conquered territory. To these reproaches Seleucus replied that it was quite fair that those who had fought the battle should dispose of the territory. With regard to Coele-Syria he would not for the present, for the sake of their friendship, take any action; later on he would consider the best way of treating friends who tried to grasp more than was their right."
The three old men who survived of the companions of Alexander—Ptolemy, Seleucus, and Lysimachus—together with those kings who represented the second generation—Cassander in Macedonia, Pyrrhus in Epirus, Demetrius still ranging at large—carried on between them, in the years of comparative peace which followed the battle of Ipsus, a complicated game of diplomatic intrigue, now impossible to trace, in which the tension between one party and another, the friendships and antagonisms, varied continually according to the circumstances of the moment. The tension was always liable to issue in fresh war, as when Demetrius seized the throne of Macedonia in 294, after the death of Cassander, when Demetrius attacked the kingdom of Lysimachus (287), or in the last great fight between Seleucus and Lysimachus, which did not break out till after Ptolemy was dead.
Ptolemy himself, after Ipsus, engaged no more in war with any of the rival kings. He took part merely in the diplomatic game, and supported, now one, now another, according to the turns of the game. We can see indications of the state of the game, now and again, in the dynastic marriages. Relations had become strained, as we have seen, between Ptolemy and Seleucus, immediately after Ipsus, by the emergence of the Coele-Syrian Question, and we see a rapprochement between Seleucus and Demetrius, between Ptolemy and Lysimachus; Seleucus marries Stratonice, the daughter of Demetrius, and Lysimachus (sometime between 300 and 298) marries Arsinoe, the daughter of Ptolemy. Then we find Alexander, the son of Cassander, marrying another daughter of Ptolemy's, Lysandra, Demetrius marrying yet a third daughter, Ptolemais (betrothed about 300; married, 286); Antigone, the daughter of Ptolemy's wife Berenice by a former husband, is married to Pyrrhus (298295); another daughter of Berenice's, Theoxena, is married to Agathocles, the ruler of Syracuse (about 300); and finally the other Agathocles, the son of Lysimachus, had a daughter of Ptolemy's to wife.
When Demetrius besieged Athens (296294), Ptolemy sent no effectual help to his friends, the Athenians; his fleet hovered off Aegina, but did nothing to prevent the city's fall. In 287, when Athens revolted against Demetrius, Ptolemy sent 50 talents and a quantity of coin; but again his fleet did nothing to arrest Demetrius.
The acquisitions which Ptolemy really cared about outside Egypt he recovered after Ipsus. Seleucus, as we saw, found him again in possession of Coele-Syria, when he came to take over the Syrian part of Antigonus' kingdom. Apparently Ptolemy's occupation of Palestine was then far from complete. The cities of the Phoenician coast were still held by garrisons of Demetrius, and one odd notice speaks of Demetrius capturing Samaria in 296925. Bouché-Leclercq thinks (or thought when he wrote vol. I in 1903) that the possessions of Demetrius in Phoenicia and Palestine passed into the hands of Seleucus, not of Ptolemy. The house of Ptolemy would not in that case have acquired Palestine for good (or rather for a period of eighty years) till after the death of Seleucus in 281. Bouché-Leclercq builds upon the contention of the Seleucid diplomats in 219, who argued from the lordship of Seleucus "in these regions." It seems more probable, as the great majority of scholars hold, that Ptolemy was master of Palestine from Ipsus onward, except of such places as remained for a time in possession of Demetrius, and that Ptolemy acquired these too when Demetrius ceased to be able to hold them. The "dynasty" of Seleucus in Palestine, to which the Seleucid diplomats appealed, may well have been a lordship, not which he actually exercised, but which he claimed by right in virtue of the partition made by the victorious kings.
Cyprus Ptolemy recovered in 295294. Here, too, the forces of Demetrius remained in possession for six years after Ipsus. The defence of the island against Ptolemy was energetically conducted by Demetrius' brave wife, Phila, Antipater's daughter, but she had ultimately to surrender in Salamis. Ptolemy returned the chivalry shown by Demetrius in 306 by sending Phila and her children to Demetrius in Macedonia, "loaded with presents and honours."
About 287 the Egyptian fleet was again powerful in the Aegean, and regained for Ptolemy the protectorate over the League of the Cyclad Islands. At some time he had (between 294 and 287?) close and friendly relations with Miletus, which had passed under the dominion of Lysimachus; Ptolemy used his influence, apparently, with his ally to secure the city a remission of taxation.
The Greek books tell us a little about the part which Ptolemy played in the struggle between the world-powers during forty years after Alexander's death. But when we ask what all this time was happening in Egypt itself, our documents give us no material for a narrative. We can only infer the developments taking place from the conditions which we afterwards find existing in the country.
Looking at this period of the history of Egypt as a whole, we can see its main characteristic to be that Egypt has now, instead of the comparatively homogeneous native population which it had under the old Pharaohs, two strata of population living together within its borders—the upper stratum constituted by a European ruling race and the lower stratum constituted by the great subject mass of Egyptians. It was a state of things not altogether unlike that which is found in certain countries today, for the civilization of the ruling race in Ptolemaic Egypt was precisely that same Greek civilization which is the parent of the modern civilization of Europe, and their feeling of superiority to the people of the land was not unlike the feeling which "white men" have today towards "natives". Indeed, a word which means "natives" was the common one in the mouths of the Greeks when they spoke of Egyptians.
This Graeco-Macedonian stratum in Egypt was not due simply to Greeks and Macedonians drifting spontaneously into the country just because the natural conditions of the country attracted European immigrants, as Europeans have drifted into America or Australasia in recent times. It was a deliberate creation of the Macedonian ruling house. When Ptolemy chose Egypt as the basis of his position in the world after Alexander, Egypt gave him many things. It gave him an easily defended territory; it gave him great material riches both in its native products and in the merchandise brought down the Nile; it threw over his kingship something of the glamour of the wonderful old Egyptian tradition. But it did not give him everything necessary. It did not give him one thing supremely necessary—man-power. There were plenty of men, it is true, in Egypt, but these were not the right kind of men, the men out of which one could make armies able to stand against armies of Macedonian and Greek soldiers such as Antigonus or Seleucus could put into the field. Ptolemy must have his sure supply of Macedonians, too. He could remember how the nucleus of the army, which under Alexander had conquered half the world, had been drawn from the man-power of old Macedonia, the horse-riding aristocracy, the stout pike-men who were farmers or field-labourers of the Balkan countryside in peace time. Ptolemy was now cut off from Macedonia, the old home-land. He conceived the idea of creating a new artificial Macedonia in this strange and incongruous land of Egypt— a stratum of Macedonian and Greek farmers, thousands of them, to be spread over Egypt, men who in peace time would grow corn or breed cattle in their plots of land irrigated by the Nile, but could be called up, whenever there was need, to take sarissa in hand or mount their war-horses, to form phalanx and march with Ptolemy or one of his generals into Palestine or to Cyrene. This system of European military colonists, the characteristic feature of Ptolemaic Egypt, must certainly go back in its origins to the first Ptolemy.
Both for the new Greek cities, Alexandria and Ptolemais, and for the military colonists to be settled in the country, Ptolemy needed to bring thousands of Greeks and Macedonians into Egypt. He could not transport them wholesale from Macedonia and Greece, countries outside the sphere of his authority, as the old Assyrian kings had transported populations from one part of their kingdom to another. His plan might have been impracticable if the man-power of Macedonia and Greece had not been, at that moment of time, largely flung out already over the Nearer East, in consequence of the conquests of Alexander, distributed in camps and garrisons under the command of one or other of the great Macedonian chiefs. When Ptolemy came to Egypt in 323 he must have found a certain body of Macedonians and Greeks already there as the garrison of the country. He may have brought others with him from Babylon. When one of the Macedonian chiefs in those days defeated another in battle, the troops of the defeated side were often ready to pass over in numbers to the service of the victor. If they were Macedonians, the victor also was after all one of their national chiefs. Part of the defeated army of Perdiccas in 321 may have found a new home under Ptolemy in Egypt. Diodorus tells us that after the battle of Gaza in 312 Ptolemy sent more than 8000 soldiers of the defeated army to Egypt to be distributed in certain regions of the country. Probably an allotment in Egypt soon attached large numbers of the shifting mass of Macedonian soldiery to Ptolemy by a tie which even a defeat could not break. We are told that when Demetrius captured an army of Ptolemy's in Cyprus in 306, large numbers of men, instead of accepting service under Demetrius, tried to make their way back to Egypt, where they had left their families and chattels.
Besides bodies of soldiers brought en masse into Egypt, many men from the Greek world may have individually entered the service of Ptolemy as mercenaries, and then accepted the offer of a permanent settlement in the country. The armies which could be formed from Macedonians domiciled in Egypt were not by themselves adequate. They had to be supplemented by Greek and Balkan mercenaries. The essential distinction of the mercenary troops of those days was that they were hired individually by some condottiere or other, usually at one of the soldier-markets— Taenarum in the Peloponnesus or Aspendus in Asia Minor—where soldiers of fortune from all parts of the Greek world met and mingled, in order to accept service under whatever captain offered the most attractive prospect of money, excitement, and glory. The captain would then, with the troops he had got together, sell his services to any of the kings or city-states he chose. Certain arms in an army of the period were almost always furnished, not by Macedonian regulars, but by mercenaries from some particular region—archers from Crete, javelineers from Thrace. Of the Cretans, Thracians, Athenians, Spartans, Boeotians, Sicilians, who came in this way to Egypt, many apparently stayed there. Ptolemy seems to have exerted himself to be known all over the Greek world as the kind of genial, free-handed, valiant gentleman whom any young man inclined to the life of a soldier might cross the sea to serve. The great resources of Egypt made it possible for him to be liberal on a scale with which many of his rivals could not compete.
The reign of Ptolemy, the son of Lagus, in Egypt was marked by one new creation, destined to have a future in the Greek world—the creation of a new cult. A deity whose name had hitherto been unknown to the Greeks outside Egypt became one of the great gods of later Paganism—Sarapis. The origin of Sarapis-worship has been the subject of a good deal of learned controversy, but the question has been brought into clearer light by Wilcken's great edition of the Ptolemaic papyri now in process of coming out. We must begin by looking at an ancient Egyptian temple near Memphis, known from this time onward to the Greeks by the name of Serapeum, temple of Sarapis. It stood about four miles from Memphis to the west of the Nile, close under the sterile hills which shut in the Nile Valley on this side. Some suppositions about the Serapeum, which had been passed on from Mariette to one writer after another, Wilcken shows to be mistakes. There was no "Greek Serapeum" separate from the "Egyptian Serapeum." There was only one Serapeum, a considerable complex of buildings, on the higher ground beyond the cultivated land. Immediately beside the river was, and is, the strip of cultivated land, then, a little higher, a narrow strip of desert, and then the hills. On the edge of the desert, close to the cultivated land, was a temple of Anubis, surrounded by a precinct. (In this precinct there was later on a government police-station with a prison attached to it, a government bureau (grapheion), and quaestors for the representative of the strategos of the Memphite nome. The strategos himself, when he visited the Serapeum put up here, and on one occasion, under Ptolemy VI, we hear of a strategos who spends two days in the temple of Anubis "drinking.") From the temple of Anubis a paved road, flanked with Sphinxes, led across the strip of desert to the Serapeum.
The Serapeum was a temple erected in connection with the sepulchres of the dead Apis bulls, whose mummies were here bestowed in subterranean corridors. The living Apis bull was kept at Memphis in an Apieum adjoining the great temple of Ptah, in the cultivated land, four miles away. The bull during his lifetime was ordinarily regarded as an embodiment of the divinity of the Nile, sometimes it was identified with Ptah. Just, however, as a man at death became an Osiris, so the dead bull became Osiris-Apis (Osir-Hapi). According to a view, prevalent in Roman times, if not earlier, the sacred animal's deity began with its death. Its funeral was an event for the whole of Egypt. There was mourning everywhere for seventy days, whilst the process of mummification went on. All the temples sent byssus for the wrappings. Two women priestesses lamented near the body in Memphis. When the mummy was ready it was brought in procession, led by a priest masked to impersonate the god Thoth, to the temple of Anubis on the edge of the desert. Here the mummy was taken over by another priest with the jackal-mask of Anubis, the Conductor of the dead, and escorted along the paved way to the Serapeum. It was laid to rest in a chamber prepared for it in one of the underground corridors. Ever since the chamber had been finished, perhaps years before, the corridors had been shut, no priest even allowed to set foot in them. The divine mummy once laid to rest, the corridors would be shut again till the funeral of the next bull, except for the time required to make a chamber ready to receive the next bull's mummy.
Wilcken's theory is that, while the workmen were hewing out the chamber under the Serapeum destined to receive the bull now living in Memphis, a cult of this living bull was started in the underground corridors, in which he was identified with Osiris, the god of the dead, not simply in the way any dead person became "Osiris," but in a more distinct and personal way. As such, the living bull was called Apis-Osiris, whereas the dead bull was Osiris-Apis. The worship in the Temple above ground, Wilcken thinks, was addressed to Osiris-Apis, only not to any particular one of the multitude of dead bulls buried below; it was addressed to the general Osiris divinity embodied in them all. The minds of the worshippers tended to think of this Osiris-Apis not so much as a dead bull, but as the god of the lower world himself, under a local form, a human form, probably, represented sitting on a throne, though possibly with a bull's head.
The earliest Greek papyrus we possess is a curse written by a Greek woman in Egypt, called Artemisia, in which the vengeance of the "Lord (despotes) Oserapis" is called down upon a man by whom she had had a daughter. That scrap of papyrus, destined to be an object of interest for alien eyes, centuries later, in the Imperial Library at Vienna, may have been laid by Artemisia, fresh-written, at the feet of the god before ever there was a king Ptolemy in Egypt, in the days of Alexander the Great. It is a proof that, even before Ptolemy I established a cult of Sarapis at Alexandria, the Osir-Hapi of the Memphis Serapeum was already a deity of prestige for Greeks resident in Egypt.
According to the traditional view, the worship of Sarapis was deliberately established by the Ptolemaic court; Schubart questions this, and believes that it sprang up spontaneously as a new religion among the Egyptian Greeks, but the arguments brought forward by Wilcken seem to me to prove that it was pushed forward under the first Ptolemies by active court patronage. A further question is whether Sarapis was the Egyptian god, Osir-Hapi. Lehmann-Haupt has tried to make out that he was a Babylonian god, Shar-apsi, but this theory does not seem to commend itself to other Assyriologists. Wilcken at one time was inclined to deny any connection between the name Sarapis and the Egyptian name Osir-Hapi, transcribed by Artemisia as Oserapis. Now, however, he holds that the name Sarapis was originally an inexact popular rendering of the Egyptian Osir-Hapi amongst the Egyptian Greeks. The Sarapis worshipped at Alexandria was, he thinks, understood to be identical with the god of the lower world worshipped in the temple over the tombs of the mummied bulls near Memphis: to that extent Sarapis was a really Egyptian god. There can, however, be no question that the sculptured type of Sarapis at Alexandria was Greek, not Egyptian—a bearded god, resembling Zeus or Hades or Asklepios, seated on a throne with the three-headed Cerberus, the dog of the lower world, beside his feet, and wearing on his head a tall head-dress called from its appearance a kalathos, "basket." A legend recorded by Tacitus describes how Ptolemy, instructed by a dream, procured the image which represented Sarapis, from a temple in the Greek city of Sinope on the Black Sea. In itself there is nothing unlikely in the story, but doubt has been thrown upon it by the fact that the temple of the mummied bulls near Memphis, or the region of desert hill where the temple was, was called Sinōpion—so the Greeks transcribed some Egyptian name which cannot now be made out. If the worship of Sarapis at Alexandria was, at the outset, a worship of the deity of the Memphian Sinopion, it may be thought a confusion in the legend, when it makes the image of Sarapis brought from Sinope on the Black Sea. That there should be an accidental association of the god Sarapis with two places, far apart, of similar name seems to go beyond probability. Perhaps, however, the association was not accidental. Supposing it is true that the image of Sarapis was procured from Sinope, in consequence of a dream —and that the people of antiquity really were guided in such matters by dreams, instances given by the papyri and inscriptions themselves are enough to attest—it may well be that the mind of the dreamer, when he was casting about for the right mode of presenting the god of the Sinopion to the Greeks, flew to Sinope just because of the association of sound. Whether the image was made originally for a temple in Sinope, or for Alexandria, it seems probable that the tradition which gave as its creator the well-known fourth-century sculptor, Bryaxis, preserves a true fact.
So far as we today can see what happened, Ptolemy, whilst only a satrap of Egypt, though thinking already of Egypt as his permanent possession, conceived that it would be good if he could establish some form of religion for the country in which Greeks and Egyptians could be drawn together. He had beside him, as advisers, Timotheus the Athenian, a member of the priestly Eumolpid family, an authority on Greek religious practice, and the Egyptian priest, Manetho, who would speak with knowledge about Egyptian religion. And here it appeared that there was one Egyptian god, the Memphian Osiris-Apis, who was already invoked by the Greeks in Egypt under the name of Sarapis. Ptolemy laid hold of this as the nucleus of his new religion.
To the Egyptians perhaps it hardly appeared as a new religion. When they spoke of Sarapis in their own tongue, he was Osir-Hapi, as of old. Macrobius says that the Egyptians accepted the worship of Sarapis only under compulsion: one might observe, he says, that the temples of Sarapis in the case, not indeed of Alexandria, but of native Egyptian towns, were always outside the walls. Probably, as Wilcken contends, the idea that the Egyptians had resisted Sarapis-worship was simply a false inference from the fact noticed by Macrobius, or by some earlier Greek author, that the Serapeums in Egypt were usually outside the cities, on the edge of the desert. The real explanation of the fact was that these temples, having to do with a god of the dead, were built near the burying-places.
When Sarapis had once been established by Ptolemy at Alexandria as a chief god for the Egyptian Greeks, and had been presented to them in the visible likeness of a Greek god, he came to receive attributes analogous to one or other of the ancestral Greek gods. He became especially assimilated to Asklepios as a god of healing. Sick men might sleep in his temple and receive instructions by dream regarding their case. So far as we know, there had been nothing of the kind in the case of the Memphian Osir-Hapi. But these attributes must have been quite early attached by the Greeks to Sarapis. An inscription has been found in the ruins of a little Greek temple built beside the paved way joining the Memphian Serapeum to the Anubieum, which by the shape of its letters can hardly be later than 300 or so BC, and in this a Greek returns thanks to Sarapis for his healing.
But although the Greeks made Sarapis in his images look like a Greek god and contaminated his worship with Hellenistic elements, his Egyptian side was always conspicuous, even when his cult was carried through Greek lands overseas, in his close association with definitely Egyptian deities, with Isis, Anubis, Horus, and the Apis bull. As himself originally a form of Osiris, he usually in the Greek world supplants Osiris altogether by the side of Isis, but occasionally Osiris appears as well. Wilcken points out that the Egyptian deities associated with Sarapis are just those which seem to have been associated with Osir-Hapi at the Memphian Serapeum. Geese, too, were offered to Sarapis, as they were not to any genuinely Greek god.
The cult of Sarapis was launched in a new temple, another and greater Serapeum, erected in Rakoti, the native quarter of Alexandria, to supersede the temple erected on this site by Alexander to Isis. The obelisks of that older temple continued to stand outside the precinct of the new temple. The architect was a Greek, Parmeniscus, and the style (so far as we can tell from descriptions and coins) was Greek, its impressive columned façade rising at the top of a long flight of steps. It counted as one of the most majestic temples of the Mediterranean world; only the Capitol at Rome, Ammianus says, can be put above it. Sarapis became the great god for Alexandria, for Egypt generally. Under Ptolemy III we find the "Royal Oath"—that is, the oath prescribed by the government for use in the law-courts and in legal transactions—to be an oath by the kings, "by Sarapis and Isis and all other gods and goddesses"—Sarapis and Isis are the only two deities singled out by name. But that from the very beginning, from the time when Ptolemy was only satrap of Egypt, the court at Alexandria showed special interest in the cult of the new god, can be shown by the inscription put up by Arsinoe at Halicarnassus: "With good fortune for Ptolemy the Saviour and God, Arsinoe erected the shrine to Sarapis and Isis." The inscription seems to belong to a time before Ptolemy had the title of king. Again, the Zeno papyri have shown us Sarapis-worship actively carried on in the entourage of the court under Ptolemy II.
And then from Alexandria the cult spread to other cities of the Greek world. Temples of Sarapis, or of Sarapis and Isis, were built in one place after another, during the centuries which followed, round about the Mediterranean. The cult received a fresh stimulus in the first century of our era, when the Imperial Court at Rome, from the Flavian Emperors onwards, used its influence to promote the worship of Sarapis and Isis in Rome and in the Empire.
Sarapis was not the only new deity whom the Macedonians and Greeks of Ptolemaic Egypt worshipped in addition to the gods of their fathers. The deification of men recently dead or still living was a feature of the Greek world after Alexander. It was a Hellenic development, not borrowed (as sometimes supposed) from an Oriental tradition. Even in fifth-century Athens the idea of offering divine honours to men, as the expression of enthusiastic reverence or gratitude, occurs as a figure of speech, and in days when rationalism was corroding the old religious awe, when theories were abroad which explained the traditional gods as men of an earlier age deified by imagination, it was easy to go from idea to practice, and use the forms of religious worship as a mode of flattery addressed to eminent men of the time. Old-fashioned religious people protested against the practice as impious, but it became common. It began in the Greek world even before Alexander.
Alexander himself, as we have seen, was deified, probably by his own desire. And when his marshals, after his death, became the powers of the world whose favour Greek cities wished to gain, or to whom for some benefit bestowed they might feel a genuine wave of gratitude, they rushed into ascriptions of deity, the offering of sacrifice and incense, the establishment of priesthoods. The next step was for the new Hellenistic courts themselves to establish a state-worship of deceased and living members of the royal families, as a mode by which their subjects throughout their kingdoms might show their loyalty.
For the Greeks of Egypt, Alexander the Great had been a god from the beginning. The kings and queens of the house of Ptolemy soon came to be gods and goddesses as well. Educated Greeks no doubt regarded the official cult as merely a symbolic form. It had become so easy in those days to call a man a god without meaning very much by it.
The worship of a dead man was much more in accordance with the ancestral religion of the Greeks than the newfangled worship of men still living. The soul of a dead man has any way passed into a mysterious world, and from quite early times Greeks had believed that the soul of a great personality might act for good or evil upon the living, very much as a god did. Worship of a kind slightly differing from the worship offered to gods had been offered to many powerful spirits of dead men under the name of heroes. A Greek city especially would often carry on a ritual worship or "tendence" of its founder as a hero. It was therefore something quite according to traditional Greek practice that the city of Alexandria should worship Alexander, the step from worshipping a dead man as a hero to worshipping him as a god being a slight one. In these days, however, it was not only the dead Alexander who was worshipped by the Greeks, it was also the living Ptolemy.
It is important to distinguish between four different kinds of cults of which kings and queens of the house of Ptolemy were the object. There was (1) the worship offered to them in the Egyptian temples in Egyptian forms which had become traditional in the worship of the native Pharaohs. Such worship had been offered by the Egyptian priests to Alexander, and no doubt such worship was offered to Ptolemy from the moment he became king. The Greeks had nothing to do with this Egyptian cult: what went on in Egyptian temples, what was written up in hieroglyphic script—all that lay outside their ken, though the court must have continued to make sure, through its native agents, that the Egyptian priests were giving the proper expressions of loyalty. There was (2) the worship offered privately by Greeks in Greek forms—whether by single individuals, who might erect a shrine or altar for the king or queen, or by voluntary associations who chose the king or queen as the deity, or as one of the deities, specially worshipped by the association. Such private worship might, of course, take any form the worshipper chose, and he was free to apply to the king or queen in question any epithets, "Saviour," "Benefactor," etc., which expressed his homage, whether they were the official epithets or not. There were (3) the cults established as city-cults by the nominally free Greek city-states in Egypt, Alexandria and Ptolemais, or by the Greek cities outside Egypt, which were within the Ptolemaic sphere of power, or which, like Athens and Rhodes, wished to show honour to the Greek rulers of Egypt. Lastly (4) there was the cult of Alexander established by the Ptolemaic government as a state institution for the whole of Egypt, with the annual priest by whom each year was dated in legal documents, of which we shall have more to say hereafter. During the reign of Ptolemy I there was as yet no officially established cult of the reigning king—none, that is to say, for the Greeks, though Ptolemy was worshipped as a god by individual Greeks and by Greek cities.
The Rhodians, we read in Diodorus, after the frustration of Demetrius' attempt to take the city of Rhodes in 304, showed their gratitude to Ptolemy in this manner. They sent an embassy to the Oasis of Siwah, "to ask the oracle of Ammon whether he advised the Rhodians to honour Ptolemy as a god. The oracle answering Yes, they consecrated in their city a rectangular precinct and built along each side of it a called a stadium long; this precinct they named the Ptolemaeum."
Pausanias says that it was now that the Rhodians attached to Ptolemy, in his character of god, the surname by which he was afterwards to be known in history, Soter, "Saviour." But the credit of having been the first to worship Ptolemy as a god is claimed in an inscription by the Confederation of the Cyclad Islands, over which Ptolemy, as we have seen, had established a kind of protectorate in 308. And if the dedication made by Arsinoe, really belongs to the years between 308 and 306, Ptolemy must already have been styled "Saviour and God" before he lost control of the Aegean by his defeat at Salamis, and before he assumed the title of king. When a member of his family is found giving him the style of deity, we may be sure that courtiers in Alexandria did so too. In an inscription recently published, three Greeks who have been delivered from danger of some kind, do homage to king Ptolemy and queen Berenice as "Saviour Gods," in fulfillment of a vow.
In 285 Ptolemy felt that the time was come for him to set his successor upon the throne. He was then an old man of eighty-two, whose life, since he went forth as a young man from his Balkan home, had been full of incredible adventures. He had led men to battle in Central Asia, amongst the hills of Afghanistan, and by the rivers of India; he had married a Persian princess in Susa, and he ended up as a Pharaoh to the Egyptians and a god to the Greeks. He had numerous children by his various wives and concubines. His first recorded wife is the Persian princess Artacama, whom he had married at that strange marriage festival at Susa in 324, when, at Alexander's desire, a large number of his Macedonian and Greek officers took Persian wives. We never hear of Artacama again. Probably Ptolemy quietly discarded her after Alexander's death, when he left Babylon for Egypt. If so, his action was a contrast to that of his friend Seleucus, whose Persian wife, Apama, married also on that occasion, remained with him permanently, and became the ancestress of the kings of the Seleucid dynasty— ancestress also, through a future dynastic marriage, of the last Ptolemies and Cleopatras. Soon after Alexander's death (perhaps not till after the settlement of Triparadisus in 321) Ptolemy made a political marriage with Eurydice, the daughter of old Antipater, who then held Macedonia. She bore him two sons, one of whom (probably the elder) was called Ptolemy, and at least two daughters, Ptolemais and Lysandra. If Ptolemy did not marry her till 321, as Mahaffy supposed, she is not likely to have borne him more than four children, since Ptolemy must have married Berenice before 316—unless, indeed, Ptolemy continued to have children by Eurydice after he had married Berenice. In that year at latest, he married Berenice—a love-match this time. She was a Macedonian lady, who had come to Egypt in Eurydice's retinue, and had three children already by a former husband. We know of two children born to Ptolemy by Berenice—Arsinoe, born at latest in 315, since she was married to Lysimachus about 300, and a son called, like his elder half-brother, Ptolemy, born in 308 at Cos, when his father's fleet ruled the Aegean. It seems probable, from the position given to her later, that Philotera was also a daughter of Ptolemy and Berenice. Ptolemy had no legitimate wives in Egypt beside Eurydice and Berenice. Whether he divorced Eurydice before he married Berenice, or whether after 315 he had two wives concurrently, our sources do not say. The later kings of the dynasty are never found with more than one legitimate wife at the same time, according to the universal practice of the Greek world. But the Macedonian kings before Alexander were apparently polygamous, and amongst Alexander's successors Demetrius and Pyrrhus were polygamous; hence it is possible that the first Ptolemy was in this respect rather Macedonian than Greek.
He probably had numerous concubines beside his legitimate wives. He had at one time a liaison with the celebrated Thaïs of Athens, a star of the Greek demi-monde, who had been present, according to one very doubtful story, at a celebrated banquet in Persepolis in 330, when the palace, at her instigation, was set on fire. Ptolemy's children by Thaïs were Leontiscus, Lagus, and Irene. Possibly the text should be read "Leontiscus also called Lagus." Irene married Eunostus, king (or dynast) of Soli in Cyprus. Beside the children mentioned there are two sons named, whose mother we do not know—Meleager and Argaeus. Since Meleager afterwards joins Ptolemy Keraunos in Macedonia, he might be conjectured to have been a son of Eurydice's. In that case he must either have been a twin with one of Eurydice's other four children, or Eurydice must have been married to Ptolemy before 321 or have borne him children after 316.
If Ptolemy had followed the practice of Alexander and of ancient Egyptian kings who started new dynasties, he would have married an Egyptian of royal lineage to legitimatize his rule in the eyes of his native subjects. He did not do so. We only once hear of a Ptolemy having a native Egyptian woman even among his mistresses.
Ptolemy at the age of eighty-two wished to pass his power on to his successor, less, probably, because he desired rest than because he wanted to see his favourite son securely established upon the throne before he died. He had loved Berenice more than Eurydice, and although Eurydice's son Ptolemy was the elder of the two, it was Berenice's son Ptolemy whom his father determined to make king. Possibly Eurydice had made herself odious, when her waiting-woman, Berenice, was exalted into her place. In 286 we find that Eurydice had left Egypt and was living at Miletus, her daughter Ptolemais with her. It was here that Demetrius, driven from the throne of Macedonia, came at this time with his fleet and married Ptolemais, whom Ptolemy had promised to him some thirteen years before.
Eurydice's son Ptolemy remained in Egypt, still hoping to be his father's successor. The distinguished Athenian refugee, Demetrius of Phalerum, used the influence he had with the old king, in the elder son's favour. No doubt a strong party amongst the Macedonians preferred the grandson of old Antipater to the son of Berenice. But the old king's attachment to Berenice and her children, even if Berenice herself was dead at this time, as seems probable, resisted all pressure from the other side. Early in 284 BC the young Ptolemy, Berenice's son, was proclaimed king in Alexandria. It seems more likely that the old Ptolemy associated his son with himself on the throne than that he divested himself of his own royalty. The son of Eurydice, Ptolemy nicknamed later on Keraunos, "Thunderbolt," found Egypt no longer a healthy place for him, and took refuge at the court of Lysimachus, who had now become king in Macedonia. Lysimachus' queen was full sister to the young king of Egypt—Arsinoe, daughter of old Ptolemy and Berenice. But the full sister of Ptolemy Keraunos, Lysandra, daughter of Ptolemy and Eurydice, was the wife of Agathocles, Lysimachus' eldest son by a former wife, and heir apparent to the Macedonian throne. In order to secure the throne for her own son, Arsinoe, then a young woman of about twenty-one —one of those Macedonian princesses of masterful and daring spirit, shrinking from no violent deed which might further their purposes, a type of whom the famous Cleopatra was the last specimen—caused Agathocles to be put to death on a false charge, soon after Ptolemy Keraunos arrived in Macedonia. Lysandra, widowed, fled to the court of Seleucus, and Keraunos, her brother, went with her, or joined her there. The ambition of the old Seleucus to make himself lord of the whole empire of Alexander drew, at this time, the Macedonian court and the Egyptian court together. It was, perhaps, at this moment that Agathocles' sister or half-sister, a daughter at any rate of Lysimachus, herself called by the same name as her stepmother, Arsinoe, came from Macedonia to Egypt, to marry the young king.
A fresh storm was gathering in the world. But the old Ptolemy did not live to see it burst. He died, aged eighty-four, in 283 or 282—the only one, of all those great Macedonian chiefs who had fought over the empire of Alexander, to die a natural death in his bed. So sure had been his foresight in Babylon forty years before, when he asked for Egypt.
The Second Ptolemy, "Philadelphus"
The young man of twenty-five who became sole king of Egypt in 283 or 282 BC is known in history as Ptolemy "Philadelphus". This surname he never bore in his own lifetime. He was known to his contemporaries simply as "Ptolemy the son of Ptolemy." The name Ptolemy did not yet sound in their ears as the dynastic name of a long line of kings. It happened to be the personal name of a Macedonian chief who had had the singular fortune to make himself king of Egypt, and now the name of his son. There may have been no intention at this time that all the kings of this house, suppose it continued to rule Egypt, should be called Ptolemy. In the house of Antigonus there were several royal names—Antigonus, Demetrius, Philip; in the house of Seleucus there were at first two, Seleucus and Antiochus; later on, Demetrius and Philip were added, to show that Seleucid kings also represented by their blood the house of Antigonus. It may have been more or less an accident that the first kings of the house of Ptolemy were all called by the name of the founder of the line, and it may then have come to be established as the invariable rule.
Ptolemy the son was of a very different character from Ptolemy the father. The softening of fibre which became more pronounced in several of the later kings already showed itself in the son of the tough old Macedonian marshal. It was something of the contrast between David and Solomon, the magnificent voluptuary with intellectual and artistic interests succeeding the man of war. His education had been directed by Strato, one of the chief representatives of the school of Aristotle, and Ptolemy II's eager interest in geography and zoology was, no doubt, quickened by the attention devoted to scientific studies by Aristotle and his disciples. Yet probably the climate of Egypt had not yet changed the robust Macedonian stock in the second Ptolemy as far as it had done in later kings. He was of fair complexion, an obvious European, probably of a ruddy corpulence; there was plainly in the kings of this house an inherited tendency to grow fat in later life. Some constitutional weakness, or, it may be, too tender care for his own health, made him averse from bodily exertions.
Often during his reign Egypt was at war, but the wars were carried on by Ptolemy's generals and admirals. Only on an expedition up the Nile do we hear of Ptolemy II going forth himself to war as his father had done, and as his contemporaries Antiochus I and Antigonus Gonatas did. His statecraft was soon confronted by new convulsions in the countries of the Eastern Mediterranean. In 281 the last two survivors of the generation of Alexander, both old men over eighty, Seleucus and Lysimachus, addressed themselves to their crowning fight. Lysimachus fell, and Seleucus was left with apparently no rival between him and the supreme position of Alexander. The situation was threatening for the young Ptolemy in Egypt. His half-brother Ptolemy Keraunos was with Seleucus, and it was plainly possible that Seleucus might support his claims to the Egyptian throne. Then suddenly everything was plunged into confusion by Ptolemy Keraunos assassinating Seleucus on the Dardanelles. It relieved the situation for the king of Egypt. Seleucus had been the great danger, and the ambitions of Ptolemy Keraunos were now diverted from Egypt to Macedonia. Arsinoe, the widow of Lysimachus, full sister of Ptolemy II and half-sister of Ptolemy Keraunos, was still in Macedonia, and she determined to secure the vacant throne for her infant son. She was little more than a girl, but she was also, as we have seen, a Macedonian princess, with not a little of the tigress. Yet Keraunos could outmatch her in cunning and ferocity. He first married her, and then murdered her child, the son of Lysimachus. Arsinoe took refuge in the sanctuary of Samothrace. And now came a new and frightful complication — an irruption of masses of wild Gauls from beyond the Balkan into Macedonia, Greece, and Asia Minor. Ptolemy Keraunos perished in that barbaric deluge (280). There was a period of confused fighting in Macedonia, during which for two months another son of the old Ptolemy — Meleager — held the position of king, to disappear again into darkness. Another man, Antipater, the nephew of Cassander, who held the throne of Macedonia for a few months at this time, took refuge, after his overthrow, at Alexandria; he was known there by his nickname of Etesias (the wind that blows for forty-five days), and a chance papyrus has revealed him as the patron of a certain maker of knuckle-bone dice. In Asia Minor and Northern Syria, Antiochus I, the son of Seleucus and the Persian princess Apama, contrived to establish himself as king in his father's place, though in Asia Minor his authority could now assert itself only in conflict with other new powers — native principalities here, Persian dynasties there, the Greek principality centred in Pergamon, and the roving hordes of Gauls. In the end, after the half-century of confusion which followed Alexander's death, the Eastern Mediterranean world settled down into a fairly stable group of powers — in Macedonia, the house of Antigonus; in Northern Syria, a good part of Asia Minor, Mesopotamia, Babylonia, and Persia, the house of Seleucus; in other parts of Asia Minor, the new local dynasties; in Egypt, Palestine, Cyrene, and Cyprus, the house of Ptolemy. In Greece itself, in the islands and on the coasts of the Aegean, on the Bosphorus and in the Black Sea, the old Greek city-states continued to have more or less freedom according as circumstances enabled them to stave off subjection to one or other of the monarchic powers.
Between all these powers great political and military activity went on throughout the reign of the second Ptolemy. Macedonian Egypt was at the height of its power and glory. But the histories which would have given us a narrative of what this ancient Roi Soleil, his generals and ambassadors, did in the world, have perished. Only by the inadequate epitomes of later writers, incidental references and a few sporadic inscriptions, it is possible to trace a doubtful outline.
The ambition of the house of Ptolemy to extend its dominion outside Egypt over certain regions of Asia, to be the strongest sea-power and intervene effectively in the politics of the Greek world, made it impossible for them to avoid foreign entanglements. Sometime between 279 and 274 a stronger will than Ptolemy's came to govern the policy of the Alexandrine court. His sister Arsinoe, for whom all prospect of being queen in Macedonia had now vanished, arrived in Egypt, perhaps with the formed intention of becoming queen in the house of her father. There was already a queen in Egypt, the other Arsinoe, the daughter of Lysimachus, wife of Ptolemy. That, however, was not an obstacle to a woman like Arsinoe, the daughter of Ptolemy I. She had already in Macedonia, years before, swept Agathocles from her path by causing her father to kill him on a false charge. The other Arsinoe had already borne her husband three children — two sons, Ptolemy and Lysimachus, and a daughter, Berenice. She was now accused of conspiring against the king her husband's life. Two of her supposed accomplices — a certain Amyntas and a Rhodian called Chrysippus, her physician — were put to death and the queen herself banished to Coptos in Upper Egypt.
Mahaffy was the first to point out an Egyptian stele, found at Coptos, which refers to Arsinoe I. "It is the memorial of Sennukhrud, an Egyptian, who in an account of his life says he was her steward, and for her rebuilt and beautified a shrine. . . . Though the lady is called 'the king's wife, the grand, filling the palace with her beauties, giving repose to the heart of King Ptolemy,' she is not qualified as loving her brother, and, what is perhaps more significant, her name is not enclosed in a royal cartouche, as a queen's name should be."
Arsinoe, the daughter of Lysimachus, having been thus got rid of, Arsinoe, the daughter of Ptolemy I, took her brother Ptolemy to husband, and became queen of Egypt. The marriage of a full brother and sister was before unheard of in the Greek world, although quite common amongst the Egyptian natives, and according to the practice of the Pharaohs. Many people were scandalized. Arsinoe at this time was about forty; she was in any case several years older than her brother-husband. But the Greeks had to remember that Ptolemy and Arsinoe were gods; the case of Zeus and Hera showed that what was incest for men was permissible for gods.
Sotades, a Greek writer of indecent verses, famous at the time (hardly, as Mahaffy calls him, "like John the Baptist"), described the marriage in a coarse line as incestuous. According to the story in Athenaeus, he fled from Alexandria immediately after having given it forth, but was caught by the king's admiral, Patroclus, off the coast of Caria, and thrown into the sea in a leaden coffin.
Arsinoe assumed, or was given, the surname of Philadelphus ("loving-herbrother"). She probably had no hope of bearing any more children, and adopted apparently the children of the other Arsinoe. It seems to have been an understood thing in the Greek world that the line henceforward followed by the Egyptian court in foreign policy was drawn by the firm hand of Arsinoe Philadelphus. What Ptolemy himself felt about it all no one will ever know. He made a great show of devotion to Arsinoe after her death, but that proves little. Even if he had not the feelings of a lover for his sister, he may have sincerely mourned the loss of her strong directing intelligence. For the rest, he had many mistresses to amuse him.
If we can go by the order of Pausanias' brief statement, it was under the drastic régime of Arsinoe Philadelphus that inconvenient members of the royal family were cleared away. Ptolemy's brother Argaeus was put to death on the charge of conspiring against him. With Arsinoe in command one never knows whether such charges were true or fabricated. Then another half-brother, a son of Eurydice's (we are not told his name), was accused of stirring up trouble in Cyprus, and put to death.
The Coele-Syrian Question now entailed almost permanent antagonism between the house of Seleucus and the house of Ptolemy. It came to actual war probably in the spring of 276 BC, when Ptolemy invaded Syria, as we know by a Babylonian cuneiform inscription. This is what modern historians have labelled the "First Syrian War." It is impossible to write any history of it. Only points in it here and there receive a doubtful illumination. Pausanias says briefly that the Egyptian forces, by striking here and there at different points over the far-spread out Seleucid realm, prevented Antiochus from ever attacking Egypt itself. There was evident some apprehension in Egypt of an attack. The stele of Pithom mentions a visit of Ptolemy to Heroönpolis (Tell Mashkhutah), on the Isthmus of Suez, in January 273, to inspect the arrangements for defence. Arsinoe, as might be expected, came with him; she was probably the real inspector. On the Ptolemaic side our two accounts of the war are, unfortunately, one a hieroglyphic inscription, now in the Louvre, composed largely of the traditional phrases coming down from the days when Pharaohs invaded Asia, and the other the passage of a poem composed by Theocritus to win favour at Alexandria.
The stele put up by the priests at Saïs tells us that Ptolemy "received the tribute of the cities of Asia," that he chastised the nomads of Asia, cut off quantities of heads and shed blood in floods, that his enemies in vain arrayed against him innumerable ships of war, horses, and chariots, "more than those possessed by the princes of Arabia and Phoenicia," that he had celebrated his triumph by festivals, and that the crown of Egypt had been firm upon his head. Whatever course the war beyond the frontiers had taken, the phrases used by the priests would not have been very different. What Theocritus says, after extolling the greatness of Ptolemy's principal possession, Egypt, is: "Aye, and he cuts off for himself portions of Phoenicia and Arabia and Syria and Libya and of the black Ethiopians. He gives commands to all the Pamphylians and the Cilician spearmen, and to the Lycians and the war-loving Carians and to the isles of the Cyclades, since his ships are the best that sail over the waves — yea, all the sea and the land and the sounding rivers have Ptolemy for their king" (XVII.8692).
The Babylonian inscription claims that in 276 the Seleucid army routed the Ptolemaic army in Syria. It may have been now that Antiochus recaptured Damascus from the Ptolemaic general Dio. Ptolemy's hold upon Phoenicia seems to be firm. At Sidon, on the death of king Eshmunazar II (280 BC?), Ptolemy had installed as king his chief admiral, Philocles, possibly, as Clermont-Ganneau thought, a Hellenized Phoenician; but Philocles may have died before the war began.
Tyre, which, owing to the disasters come upon it during the last sixty years, had sunk to be a mere dependency of Sidon, begins a new era as an independent city in 274273, indicating some change due to Ptolemaic policy in Phoenicia at the time of the First Syrian War. Tripolis is shown as Ptolemaic in 258257.
A little more can be extracted from the panegyric of the Greek poet than from that of the Egyptian priests. Where Theocritus mentions peoples of the coast of Asia Minor and the Aegean Islands as subject to Ptolemy, this must really mean that in the naval part of the war the Egyptian fleet was successful in inducing many seaboard cities in Cilicia, Pamphylia, Lycia, and Caria to acknowledge Ptolemaic supremacy. These were conquests of the second Ptolemy in a region where the Ptolemaic forces, operating from the sea, could counter the Seleucid armies coming down from the hinterland. The supremacy of Ptolemy over the Confederation of the Cyclades, on the other hand, was not something new; it was inherited by the second Ptolemy from his father; only the accession of Samos to the Confederation about 280 meant an extension of Ptolemy's sea-power. Miletus, still a port of consequence, on the coast of Asia Minor, seems to have passed under the control of Ptolemy even before the outbreak of the First Syrian War, as early as 279278. At the neighbouring shrine of Didymae we find a statue of Ptolemy's sister Philotera put up by the Milesian demos. Halicarnassus appears as a Ptolemaic possession in 258257.
In Crete, Ptolemaic power had a firm hold, where its relations seem to have been particularly close with the city of Itanus. Patroclus is mentioned in an inscription as strategos in the island, possibly at a later date in connection with his command in the Chremonidean War, or later still.
The trouble in which Egypt was involved by the Syrian War was complicated by another revolt of the Cyrenaica. This time it was Ptolemy's half-brother Magas, viceroy of the country since 308, who declared himself independent, and set out to invade Egypt (summer of 274). He had to turn back, because the Libyan nomads, the Marmaridae, rose in his rear. The Egyptian army was prevented from taking advantage of this circumstance by a revolt in Egypt of the four thousand wild Gauls who had been engaged as mercenaries. There must have been terror for the moment at Alexandria, so that it seemed like a great victory when the Gauls were somehow manoeuvred on to an island in the Nile, and there cut off and left to die of starvation. What part the unwarlike king had in the business we do not know, but it was afterwards the sole action which a court poet could attribute to the second Ptolemy as a brilliant feat of arms. The Cyrenaica remained for the present detached from Egypt. Magas married a daughter of Antiochus I, called Apama after her Persian grandmother, and exchanged the style of viceroy for that of king. It meant an entente between Magas and the Seleucid against Ptolemy.
In 272271 Antiochus made a peace, which left the balance of gain in the war on the Egyptian side; beside the failure of his arms, he may have been moved by an outbreak of plague which seems to have occurred at this moment in Babylonia.
Arsinoe Philadelphus was a power whose goodwill many men in those days found it wise to conciliate. "Of no other queen do we find so many memorials in various parts of the Greek world. She was honoured with statues at Athens and Olympia. . . . The honours done to her in Samothrace and Boeotia, where a town Arsinoe is named, may have been during her early life, when she was queen of Thrace. But beside these, we have votive inscriptions in her honour from Delos, Amorgos, Thera, Lesbos, Cyrene, Cyprus, Oropus, and doubtless yet more will be found. The dedications to her in Egypt are numerous, and are only the formal part of the many exceptional honours heaped upon her by her husband. There seems to have been a statue of her, seated upon an ostrich, at Thespiae in Greece. Though not a co-regent in the sense that some later queens were (as we shall see in due time), she was associated in every titular honour with the king. It is noted by Wilcken (Pauly-Wissowa) from Naville's transcription of the Pithom stele, that the Egyptian priests had even assigned her a throne-name in addition to her ordinary cartouche, an honour quite exceptional for a queen. We have many coins issued with her effigy only, as well as those with the king her brother, as Gods Adelphi. She was deified together with him, and gradually declared co-templar (synnaos) with the gods of the great shrines throughout Egypt" (M.).
In July 269 Arsinoe died. A hieroglyphic inscription records, in the phraseology of the priests, that in the month of Pachon of the fifteenth year of King Ptolemy, "this goddess departed to the sky; she was reunited to the members of Ra." The reign of Ptolemy II enters upon a new epoch. Some two and a half years later the documents begin to show a younger Ptolemy, the "son" of Ptolemy II, associated with his father upon the throne. One would say without hesitation that this was his son by the other Arsinoe, the future Ptolemy Euergetes, who succeeded him, were it not that the name of this younger associated king disappears from the documents some time between May and November 258. Hence a problem, upon which historians are still at variance. Three hypotheses have been put forward: (1) the joint-king of the papyri was an otherwise unknown son of Ptolemy II and Arsinoe Philadelphus, who died in 258. This is in direct contradiction to the Scholiast on Theocritus, who says that Arsinoe Philadelphus died without children, and adopted the children of the other Arsinoe, and the Scholiast is confirmed by the documents of the reign of Ptolemy III, who, although without question the son of the other Arsinoe, is always described as the son of the "Brother-andSister Gods". (2) The joint-king was the son of Arsinoe Philadelphus by her first husband Lysimachus. He had escaped when her other son was murdered by Ptolemy Keraunos, had come with her to Egypt and been adopted by Ptolemy II as his heir. His disappearance in 259258 is due to his death. This is the hypothesis preferred by Beloch amongst others, but this, too, is really incompatible with the statement of the Scholiast, and, fragmentary as our sources are, it is hardly conceivable that no notice of so striking an event as the designation of a son of Lysimachus as heir to the Egyptian throne should appear in any ancient author. (3) The joint-king was the future Ptolemy III, and his disappearance in 259258 is due to some cause unknown. Mahaffy thought that he left Egypt in that year to reside in Cyrene as viceroy. (This view is taken not only by Mahaffy but by Bouché-Leclercq and Grenfell.) But it is an objection to this view that the years of Ptolemy III are afterwards reckoned from Nov. 247, when he was associated, on this hypothesis, a second time with his father on the throne, whereas, according to the precedent of Ptolemy II himself, one would have expected his years to be reckoned from his first association in the throne.
Perhaps a fourth hypothesis may be suggested, as open to least objection and the simplest of all — that the joint-king of 266258 was an elder brother of Ptolemy III (Evergetes), a son of Ptolemy II by Arsinoe I, that he died in 258, and consequently left no mark in history. Any theory which makes the joint-king a son of Arsinoe II (whether by Lysimachus or by Ptolemy) entails absurd consequences, which Beloch and others do not seem to have thought out. We should have to suppose that, although Arsinoe II up to her death was trying to oust the son of Ptolemy II and Arsinoe I from the throne, in favour of her own son, and although for eleven years after her death Euergetes remained excluded from the throne by this machination of his stepmother's he, nevertheless, when he came to the throne, always officially called himself a son of his stepmother, not of his real mother! For that he did always officially call himself a son of Ptolemy II and Arsinoe II (the "Brother and Sister Gods") is the one thing fixed in the midst of these uncertainties. Even if Arsinoe II had adopted the children of Arsinoe I before she died, in addition to her own son by Lysimachus, Euergetes would hardly have thought of his stepmother gratefully. And that Arsinoe II would have adopted the sons of Arsinoe I and maintained them in their position at court, if she was all the time trying to oust them (the real heirs) from the throne in favour of a son of her own (who, if his father was Lysimachus, had no claim to the Ptolemaic inheritance) — that surely is not like Arsinoe Philadelphus! The only hypothesis which makes the action of Euergetes intelligible in calling himself a son of the Theoi Adelphoi, is that he really had been adopted (as the Scholiast says all the children of Arsinoe I were) by Arsinoe II, and that no attempt had been made by Arsinoe II to defraud him of his inheritance. But there is no chronological difficulty in the supposition that Arsinoe I had a son older than Euergetes, who was adopted, like her other children, by Arsinoe II, and associated with his father on the throne from 266 to 258, that he then died prematurely, and left his brother, Ptolemy Euergetes, as the next heir, to be in turn associated with his father in 247.
The next war in which Egypt was involved is labelled the "Chremonidaean War," after the Athenian Chremonides, who led the revolt in Greece against Macedonia. The enemy for Ptolemy this time was the house of Antigonus, represented by the king of Macedonia, Antigonus Gonatas, the son of Demetrius the Besieger. An anti-Macedonian League had been formed by a number of the old illustrious cities of Greece, headed by Athens and Sparta, who saw an opportunity of recovering the liberty lost a century before. This league Ptolemy joined, "carrying out the policy," says an Attic inscription, "of his sister." Even after her death, the mind of Arsinoe continued to rule at Alexandria. The war was opened by Athens throwing off the Macedonian yoke (end of 266 BC). Great hopes were evidently built by the Greeks upon the support of Egypt, whose fleet dominated the Aegean. Never in its history was Egypt more true to the character once given it by a Hebrew prophet — of being a "broken reed." Antigonus invested Athens and held up the Spartans at the Isthmus. And all the time the Egyptian fleet under Ptolemy's admiral Patroclus rode off the little island, afterwards called "Patroclus' Island," close to the Attic coast, and did nothing effectual. Patroclus, of Macedonian race himself, excused himself by saying that his marine troops consisted only of native Egyptians. Perhaps the invasion of Macedonia at this moment by Alexander of Epirus (the son and successor of Pyrrhus) was a success for Ptolemy's diplomacy; but, if so, it was a useless success, since the Egyptian forces were incapable of taking advantage of it. Antigonus was able to recover Macedonia and crush Epirus without raising the siege of Athens. The king of Sparta, who tried to break through to the help of Athens, fell on the battlefield. In the end, Athens had to surrender (261). Chremonides and his brother Glaucon took refuge in Egypt, where Glaucon held the eponymous priesthood of Alexander and the Brother and Sister Gods in 255-254 BC, as a papyrus has recently shown. The Chremonidaean War was a miserable exhibition of incapacity or timidity or dilettantism on Ptolemy's part. Perhaps, if Arsinoe had still been alive, to supervise her brother's carrying out of her policy —!
The years between the Chremonidaean War and the accession of Antiochus III to the Seleucid throne in 223 are some of the most obscure of Greek history, since none of the historical works which deal with them have survived, and we can only piece together some general idea of them from occasional references in later writers and a few casual inscriptions and papyri. In the Aegean the outstanding fact of the years which immediately followed the Chremonidaean War was a struggle between Egypt and Macedonia for command of the sea. So much is certain. We also know that two signal sea-fights took place — the battle of Cos and the battle of Andros — and that in the first of these Antigonus Gonatas defeated the Egyptian fleet. There is also a sea-fight off Ephesus in which the Egyptian fleet, commanded by Chremonides, was defeated by a Rhodian fleet, Rhodes being presumably allied with Macedonia. But whether it was Antigonus Gonatas or his nephew and successor Antigonus Doson who fought at Andros, and whether the two battles occurred when Ptolemy II or when Ptolemy III was king of Egypt, and whether Andros was a defeat or (as Mahaffy thought) a victory for Egypt, and when the battle of Ephesus took place, are matters on which there is no general agreement. In an important inscription published by Rehm, we see Miletus, at a certain moment in the reign of Ptolemy II, holding fast for Ptolemy, but hard pressed by war, on land and on sea; and since the inscription seems to belong to 262 or one of the two following years, and it is hard to see how Miletus could have been pressed by an enemy at sea, unless the Egyptian sea-power had been already weakened, Rehm argues that the battle of Cos must have taken place — that is, just before, or just after, the capitulation of Athens. Inscriptions make it plain that for a certain period the Ptolemaic protectorate over the federation of the Cyclades were replaced by a Macedonian one (from about 260 to 247, according to Kolbe), though before the death of Ptolemy II. Egypt had probably recovered its position there, since the Adulis Inscription puts the Cyclades amongst the dependencies which Ptolemy III inherited from his father, not amongst those he acquired by conquest.
In the Milesian inscription just referred to, Ptolemy II in his letter to Miletus speaks of the favourable report of their loyalty sent him by his "son and Callicrates [chief admiral in the Aegean from about 274 to 266] and the other Friends [i.e. persons attached to the Ptolemaic court] who are with you." Who is this son? Those who believe in the fiction of the son of Lysimachus and Arsinoe Philadelphus, adopted by Ptolemy II, and identical with "Ptolemy the bastard," who commands for Ptolemy II at some time after 261 in Ephesus, are naturally disposed to claim the son of the Milesian inscription as another appearance of this same man. Here, it is said, you find him commandant in Miletus. (One may observe that the inscription never says that the son held any command in Miletus; its language would be quite compatible with the supposition that the young prince was simply making a tour of inspection through the Ptolemaic dependencies and visiting Miletus on his way.) If, on the other hand, the suggestion I have put forward — that the associated king of 266 to 258 was an elder son of Ptolemy II and Arsinoe I — be accepted, he would naturally be the "son" of the Milesian inscription. But it is certainly possible that the "son" of the inscription was identical with "Ptolemy the bastard."
Since the end of the First Syrian War, the internal troubles of the Seleucid realm had prevented it from taking any strong action in the Mediterranean. In 261 Antiochus I (Soter) fell in battle against Eumenes I of Pergamon, and was succeeded by his son Antiochus II (Theos). The new Seleucid king, some time after his accession, believed himself strong enough to try to recover from Ptolemy the losses which his house had suffered in the First Syrian War. A war between Egypt and Syria seems to have broken out which modern scholars have decided to classical the "Second Syrian War." Of its dates and course and extent we know even less than we do about those of the First Syrian War. Jerome says vaguely that Antiochus "fought with the whole military force of Babylon and the East." But he certainly did not succeed in detaching Coele-Syria from Egypt; perhaps he did not penetrate into the coveted province. There must have been a complicated struggle of fighting and diplomatic intrigue along the coast of Asia Minor, where the Egyptian fleet could not operate as effectively as before, now that it had lost command of the seas. Antigonus of Macedonia had probably an entente with Antiochus II, with whom he was connected by two dynastic marriages. Miletus about this time is found in the possession of an adventurer called Timarchus who made himself tyrant of the city, and perhaps also got hold of Samos. He was certainly no friend to Antiochus, since it was the suppression of Timarchus which earned for Antiochus II, from the grateful Milesians, the surname of "God." Nor does he seem to have been friendly to Egypt, since he allied himself against Ptolemy with Ptolemy's bastard, a young man who also bore the name of Ptolemy. In the course of this war apparently Egypt had got hold of Ephesus, and the king of Egypt had put this illegitimate son of his in command there. Ptolemy the bastard revolted against his father in collusion with Timarchus, but was before long killed by his Thracian mercenaries.
In 253, probably after these events, Ephesus is proved by an inscription to have been in Seleucid hands. It was certainly one of the residences of the Seleucid court at the end of the reign of Antiochus II. From the fact that Cilicia and Pamphylia, which are mentioned by Theocritus as subject to Ptolemy II, are not mentioned in the Monument of Adulis amongst the possessions inherited by Ptolemy III from his father, it has been inferred that the places conquered in this region during the First Syrian War were lost in the Second Syrian War.
In the end Ptolemy II and Antiochus II made peace (end of 252 BC). It was probably considered at Alexandria a triumph for Ptolemy's diplomacy. Antiochus agreed to take as his wife and queen, Ptolemy's daughter, Berenice. He already had a wife, Laodice, who had borne him two sons, but he agreed to repudiate her, or keep her in Asia Minor, at Sardis or Ephesus, whilst Berenice was to be queen at Antioch. The elderly king escorted his daughter in state as far as Pelusium. This fact, taken by itself, might seem an indication that Coele-Syria was included in Berenice's dowry, so that Pelusium had become the frontier-town. We now know, however, that this was not so. In the archive of Zeno there is a letter written by the house-steward of Apollonius the dioiketes from Phoenicia in the spring of 251 BC, saying that Apollonius is approaching Sidon with the retinue "escorting the queen to the frontier," which was therefore still north of Coele-Syria. Whether the dowry included any cession of territory at all, we cannot say. Its vastness, at any rate, gained for this Berenice the appellation of phernophoros. Ptolemy, we are told, sent his daughter after her marriage a regular supply of Nile water, which was supposed to promote fertility. When Berenice, in due course, bore Antiochus a son, Ptolemy might consider the house of Seleucus firmly attached to Egypt. The future king of Asia would be his grandson. That he lived to see the tragedy which shattered his plan now seems to be made probable.
There are other directions in which the policy of the Ptolemaic court outside Egypt may be discovered during the reign of Ptolemy II. In 273, when Rome was engaged in war with Pyrrhus of Epirus, an embassy from Alexandria arrived in Italy, to offer Rome the friendship of the house of Ptolemy. It is the first time that the new Power rising in the West appears on the horizon of Egypt. Alexandria, no doubt, by its extending commerce, was already at this date forming connections all over the Mediterranean. In 273 Arsinoe Philadelphus had still her hand upon the helm. In 264, when the First Punic War began between Rome and Carthage, Carthage applied to her African neighbour for a loan. In those years, after Arsinoe' death, the Alexandrine court could be trusted to do the right thing when the right thing was to sit still. Perhaps in this case it was the wisest policy to be strictly neutral. Ptolemy refused to give the Carthaginians the loan they asked for. Both sides, he said, were his friends. He would be happy to give his services as mediator, if they were required.
It is certainly noteworthy, if a papyrus of 252251 BC is read right, that "Dinnus [or 'Dinnius'] a Roman" appears as a soldier serving in Ptolemy's army—an individual Roman attracted to adventure overseas by the prospects of service under the great king of Egypt.
Palestine, as we have seen, was a dependency of great importance to the king of Egypt. The Zeno papyri exhibit the extensive trade connections between Greeks in Egypt and the country south of the Lebanon — the country which supplied olive-oil, and livestock, and slaves. Ptolemaic rule stamped itself upon the country in the new names given to various towns. Near the western end of the Sea of Galilee there was a Philotera; in the Lebanon valley above Damascus there was an Arsinoe. Stephen of Byzantium says that there was also another Arsinoe somewhere in Syria, and a Berenice. But the chief seat of Ptolemaic rule in Palestine was the old town on the coast called Akko in the Old Testament and Acre today, but then renamed Ptolemais, a name which it continued to bear in Roman times. The little Jewish state on the hills — Jerusalem and the country round it — was allowed to go on living its own life, as tributary to Ptolemy.
The Zeno papyri give us a glimpse of Ptolemaic rule under Ptolemy II in Transjordania, or, as it was then called, the Ammonite country — in Greek, Ammanitis. We knew already that its capital—Rabbath-Ammon in the Old Testament, Amman today—was renamed Philadelphia after the great queen. The papyri show us a local sheikh, Tubias—that is, in Hebrew, Tobiah—as the commander of a cavalry corps in the Ptolemaic service. The troopers of the corps have allotments of land (kleroi) assigned them, presumably in Ammanitis, just as the soldiers of the regular army have in Egypt. Of the three members of the corps who appear in a deed of sale, two are described as "Persians," one as a Macedonian." The sale takes place in "Birta of the Ammanitis": Bîrtâ is the Aramaic for "fortress."
Tubias corresponds with king Ptolemy in terms which suggest one potentate addressing another. His letter, accompanying the dispatch of a number of animals to Alexandria — perhaps for the royal menagerie — runs, without any phraseological trimmings: "To king Ptolemy, Tubias, greeting. I have sent you two horses, six dogs, one hybrid ass (wild ass crossed with domestic ass), two white Arabian beasts of burden, two colts of half-wildass stock, one wild ass colt. Good-bye."
Putting together other statements from the Old Testament and Josephus, in which the name Tobiah occurs, it seems likely that Ptolemy's cavalry commander was the head of a powerful local family, which had its seat in Ammanitis, and, being linked with the priestly aristocracy in Jerusalem, had become half-Jews. Tobiah the Ammonite of the Book of Nehemiah, who had married a daughter of the Jewish High Priest, and whom Nehemiah roughly chased out of Jerusalem, was probably an ancestor of the Ptolemaic Tubias. The name Tobiah ("Jehovah is good") is specifically Jewish; so is the name Ananias, borne, curiously enough, by the father of one of the "Persians" serving in the cavalry corps. Later on, in the days of Antiochus Epiphanes, the "sons of Tobiah" play a part in the strife of factions at Jerusalem. One of them, Hyrcanus, had in 183 BC withdrawn to a rock-fortress of his own in the Ammonite country. Today in Transjordania galleries hewn out of the rock, which might serve for fortresses — they have stalls for more than a hundred horses — may still be seen. Over the entrance to one of them the name Tobiah (in Hebrew characters) can be descried.
The kind of slaves for which there was a demand in rich Greek households in Egypt were got from Syria and Palestine. One of our papyri is a contract by which Tubias sells to Zeno a slave-girl called Sphragis. Another shows us Tubias sending to Apollonius the dioiketes a young eunuch and four "black-eyed" slave-boys.
At Cyrene there were fresh developments in the latter years of the second Ptolemy's reign. These events were no doubt connected with what was happening elsewhere — in Macedonia and Greece, in the Aegean, in the Seleucid realm. But what the connection was can now be only a matter of very hazardous conjecture, the chronology upon which conjectures must rest being itself highly conjectural. When Magas died, old and portentously fat, after a reign in Cyrene, first as viceroy and then as king, of fifty years, he left a widow, the Seleucid princess Apama, and a daughter called, like her grandmother and like her cousin, Berenice (about 259258 BC). Before his death he had come to an agreement with his half-brother, the king of Egypt, that his daughter and heiress, Berenice, should marry Ptolemy's son, the heir-apparent to the Egyptian throne. That would be a happy way of reuniting Cyrene to Egypt. After his death, however, Apama, who naturally inclined rather to the side of the Syro-Macedonian entente than to the side of Egypt, sent to Macedonia to procure a husband from that quarter for Bernice. The husband was Demetrius the Fair, a half-brother of the king Antigonus Gonatas and a son of Ptolemy's half-sister Ptolemais. He was, indeed, so fair that, when he arrived, Apama could not resign him to her daughter. Although officially he was Berenice's husband, he was actually Apama's paramour. In the bold and masterful assertion of her passions and her ambitions, Apama was another of those terrible Macedonian princesses whom we meet with all through this history. But Berenice, although still little more than a child, was a Macedonian princess too. She refused to accept the humiliating situation, conspired with the soldiers of the royal guard, and had Demetrius assassinated in her mother's bedchamber. She herself maintained command of the operation, and saw to it that, whilst Demetrius was properly killed, her mother was spared. The poet Callimachus, who knew Berenice later on, when she was queen of Egypt, testifies that she did really, as a child, give this evidence of the spirit of her race. There was now nothing to prevent Berenice being married to her first cousin, the young Ptolemy, according to her father's arrangement, and becoming eventually, as she no doubt desired, queen of Egypt. Yet the marriage of Berenice to Ptolemy Euergetes did not take place till on the eve of Euergetes' setting out for the war in Syria (245). Mahaffy, as we have seen, supposed that he resided as viceroy in Cyrene from 259258 till his father's death. It is surely hard on this supposition to see why the marriage was delayed thirteen or fourteen years! If such a supposition is necessary in order to make Euergetes the mysterious joint-king of 266 to 258, that is a point against the identification.
If the joint-king who disappears in 258 was, as I have suggested, an elder brother of Euergetes who died in that year, it would have been to him, not to Euergetes, that Berenice had, in the first instance, been affianced, and the young prince's death would explain why the marriage did not take place when Berenice came to the throne. In any case, the accession of the girl-queen would have meant that the Cyrenaica turned from Syria to Egypt. The coins of Berenice, without the veil — i.e. as a virgin — probably belong to this period. They bear the superscription "Of King Ptolemy as well as the superscription "Of Queen Berenice." This would point to Berenice having recognized the king of Egypt as her suzerain. Yet a few years later, apparently, the coins show the cities of the Cyrenaica as a republican koinon. Its institution seems to have been carried out under the guidance of two adherents of the Platonic school — Ecdemus (or Ecdelus) and Demophanes) — who came to Cyrene in 251 or 250 — to show the way of freedom. How long the koinon lasted, and what happened meantime to the young queen, are obscure questions. Bouché-Leclercq supposes that Ptolemy II reconquered the Cyrenaica before his death, because in the inscription of Adulis "Libya" is one of the countries inherited, not gained, by Ptolemy III. Tarn thinks that the koinon went on into the reign of Ptolemy III, because the first proved instance of the use of the surname "Euergetes" belongs to the king's fifth year, and his surname probably referred to the benefit he conferred by regaining the Cyrenaica. But it is merely a guess in the dark of Bouché-Leclercq's that the surname had anything to do with the reconquest of the Cyrenaica, and it seems to me much more likely, as Jerome says, that it had to do with the restoration of the images to Egypt. The reconquest of a bit of his paternal estate would have been a benefit to himself, more than to anybody else. In any case, the marriage of Ptolemy III with Berenice took place quite at the beginning of his reign — possibly even before the death of his father. It was perhaps after the reconquest that new names were given to three of the Cyrenaic towns: Euhesperides became Berenice, Tauchira became Arsinoe, and Barca became Ptolemais.
In the great days of old Egypt the Pharaohs had carried their arms far south beyond the first cataract into the region which the Greeks called Ethiopia ("Land of the Men of Burnt Faces") and which we know today as the Sudan. The dominant population of Nubia and the Upper Nile were of a kindred stock to the Egyptians, not negroes, though with a certain infusion, it would seem, of negro blood, since the negro peoples of the interior pressed upon the dwellers on the Upper Nile. Egyptian culture became the culture of the land — or, at any rate, of its ruling houses: temples "thoroughly Egyptian in style" are found as far south as Khartûm. In an earlier volume of this series Sir W. Flinders Petrie has told how kings of Ethiopia in the 8th and 7th centuries B.C. united for a time under their sceptre the whole country of the Nile as far as the Delta, and later on, when Egypt itself fell under the foreign rule of Assyrians and Persians, Ethiopian Pharaohs and priests of Amen were still bearing rule on the Upper Nile.
When the rule of Persians gave place to the rule of Greeks, when the externals of Pharaonic royalty disappeared from the palaces of Alexandria and Memphis, at Napata, the Ethiopian capital (near the modern Gebel Barkal), king Nastasen still showed the Pharaonic tradition in being. The Ptolemies had not the same ambition, which the old Pharaohs had had, to annex Ethiopia to their kingdom. As Greeks, their interests were turned rather northwards to the Mediterranean world, and they were content to have their southern frontier at the first cataract, or a little beyond. Under Alexander the Great we saw Elephantine held by his forces, and the Greeks and Macedonians who were in garrison there under Ptolemy I have left us some of the earliest Greek papyri we have. Possibly at this time Elephantine was the frontier station. But Ptolemy II, Diodorus tells us, made an expedition with a Greek force into Ethiopia, thus opening to the knowledge of the Greeks a country hitherto outside their ken. One rather gathers that geographical curiosity and the desire to obtain strange beasts counted for something amongst Ptolemy II's motives; we hear at any rate of no attempt to annex Ethiopia. Apparently since the death of Nastasen in 308 B.C. (according to Reisner's calculation) Ethiopia had been split into two kingdoms. A new dynasty had established itself at Meroë farther to the south (modern Begerawîyeh, about 130 miles this side of Khartûm), more powerful than the dynasty at Napata, though the dynasty at Napata still went on for a time. Greeks began to make journeys to the far south. A man called Dalion is said to have been the first king to penetrate beyond Meroe — probably early in the reign of Ptolemy II. He left a book about Ethiopia.
A scrap of papyrus in Greek found at Elephantine is not improbably a report of the commandant of the Ptolemaic garrison there (an Egyptian by his name) to the king at a time when there was war between Egypt and Ethiopia. "To king Ptolemy Pertaeus son of Arnuphis, greeting . . . the Ethiopians came down and besieged . . . constructing a stockade, I and my two brothers . . . as reinforcements, and we took up . . ." The style of writing seems to assign this fragment to the first half of the 3rd century, and it is perhaps connected with Ptolemy II's Ethiopian campaign.
On November 12 or 13, 247 B.C., the young Ptolemy (Ptolemy III) was associated with his father on the throne. Possibly he took over the active functions of government.
In 245 (on the 25th of the Macedonian month Dios = Jan. 27), Ptolemy II died at the age of sixty-three. He was a parallel to Solomon in his wealth, surpassing that of any other king of his time, in his intellectual interests, in his proclivity to fall under the sway of women. Later Greek writers tell us the names of many of his mistresses. One was a native Egyptian, though she is mentioned by a Greek name, Didyme ("Twin"). Another, Myrtion, was taken from the low comedy stage; her house, after she had captured the royal favour, was known as one of the finest in Alexandria. Mnesis and Pothīne were flute-players, and became also known for the magnificence of their houses. Clino was another, whose statues and statuettes, no doubt in demand at Alexandria, represented her clad in nothing but a chiton and carrying a cornucopia like the goddess Arsinoe. A Delian inscription mentions "two little silver pigs" which Clino dedicated to the deity. Stratonice, another mistress, was remembered by the imposing sepulchre at the Egyptian Eleusis, near Alexandria, in which her body reposed. The most celebrated of all was Bilistiche, whose name does not sound Greek, though it probably is. Plutarch says she was a barbarian, a "trull from the market-place"; Pausanias says she came from the seaboard of Macedonia; Athenaeus says she was an Argive, of noble family, descended from Atreus. Whether the low origin was fabricated out of malice or the high origin was fabricated out of flattery it is idle now to conjecture. In the year 268 Bilistiche ran a chariot at Olympia in the two-horse chariot race and won a prize. She is probably the "Bilistiche, daughter of Philo," who is kanephoros of Arsinoe in the year 260259. Ptolemy caused her to be declared a goddess. Shrines were erected and offerings made to her under the name of Aphrodite Bilistiche.
Perhaps it was less the real Solomon to whom Ptolemy II was a parallel than the ideal Solomon portrayed in the Book of Ecclesiastes — the book written by some world-weary Jew at a date not far off from Ptolemy's time. Ptolemy, too, was a king who had "gathered silver and gold and the peculiar treasure of kings and of provinces," who got him "men-singers and women-singers, and the delights of the sons of men, as musical instruments, and that of all sorts," who had "proved his heart with mirth and enjoyed pleasure," who had "made great works and builded him houses," who had "given his heart to seek and search out by wisdom concerning things that are done under heaven"; and Ptolemy, too, the story says, felt in the end that it was all vanity of vanities. We are told how one day, after a severe attack of gout, he looked out of a window of his palace and saw a group of natives of the poorest class beside one of the canals, eating the scraps they had collected and lying at ease on the hot sand, and cried out in bitterness of spirit that he had not been born as one of them. Or perhaps the story is as apocryphal as the words which the writer of Ecclesiastes puts into the mouth of Solomon, and in both cases an imaginative moralist chose a famous king, who had had everything which mind or heart could desire, in order through him to read the world his own lesson of disillusionment.
Ptolemy III, Euergetes I
According to the arrangement made between Ptolemy II and Antiochus II, the former queen of Antiochus, Laodice, was to be left with her two sons in a secondary position in Asia Minor, whilst Ptolemy's daughter, Berenice, reigned at Antioch and bore children for the Seleucid inheritance. But both Laodice and Berenice were Macedonian princesses true to type. Laodice induced Antiochus to come back to her at Ephesus, and then, after Antiochus suddenly died (in 246) (not without some suspicion falling on Laodice), she sent her emissaries to Antioch to murder Berenice and her infant son. Berenice fought, we are told, like a tigress, but in vain. The double murder was accomplished. Laodice’s son, Seleucus II (Kallinikos), was proclaimed king of the Seleucid realm. The murder of the daughter and grandson of Ptolemy II was an outrage which could not but rouse Egypt to a new war. That was the situation which confronted the young king of Egypt, Ptolemy III, called afterwards Euergetes, soon after he took over the government from his father in 247. He was then something over thirty, a son by birth of Ptolemy II and the daughter of Lysimachus, a son by court fiction of Ptolemy and Arsinoe Philadelphus. It was soon seen that there was a strong man once again upon the Egyptian throne. By a kind of oscillation in heredity, just as the vigorous founder of the dynasty had been succeeded by the soft dilettante, the dilettante was succeeded in turn by a man in whom the warlike Macedonian stock showed itself still persist in spite of the influences of a luxurious court and the climate of Egypt. In Ptolemy III we see less the son of Ptolemy "Philadelphus" than the grandson of Alexander's stalwart marshals, Ptolemy and Lysimachus.
According to Justin, Ptolemy III marched from Egypt at the head of his army, whilst Berenice was still alive, besieged at Daphne, near Antioch, but was too late to save her. Before leaving, he had established his own position in Egypt by accomplishing his marriage with Berenice of Cyrene, arranged years before. The Cyrenaica became once more an adjunct of the Ptolemaic realm. Ptolemy III had by his side a queen who had also given proof of Macedonian strength of will. Then he opened war upon the house of Seleucus—the "Third Syrian War" modern scholars call it; it seems to have been known at the time as the "Laodicean War", the war against the murderess Laodice. Ptolemy himself went forth from Egypt at the head of his army to invade Northern Syria. On the eve of his setting out, the young queen dedicated a lock of her hair in the temple of Arsinoe Aphrodite at Alexandria. This lock the court astronomer, Conon, soon after professed that he had discovered in the sky, transformed into a constellation which, so Conon said, had never been there before. No doubt this was taken by the Alexandrine court as a charming poetical conceit, not as serious astronomy—just as such things were taken in the court of Louis XIV, a court in its artificial literary culture not unlike the Alexandrine. In any case the great poet of the day, Callimachus of Cyrene, wrote a pretty poem about it, which antiquity must have admired, since Catullus translated it two centuries later into Latin. Whilst the original has perished, it may still be read in the Roman poet's version—the Coma Berenices. In our dearth of data for the history of the time, this jeu d'esprit has come to have the value of a serious historical document; it yields, if pressed, a small quantum of fact.
The expedition which Ptolemy III led into Asia was the greatest military triumph ever achieved by the house of Ptolemy. Unfortunate loyal no detailed history of it has come down to us. All we can know of it has to be got by combining four very inadequate and summary accounts, a casual notice in Polyaenus, and a curious fragment of a papyrus letter or report, discovered at Gurob in the Fayûm. A translation in full of three of the accounts is given in Mahaffy’s History, and one cannot do better than follow his example.
1. One account is taken from an inscription put up at Adulis (near Suakin), probably by some Ptolemaic officer who had been sent to these regions in connection with weight elephant-hunting. The original inscription we have no longer, and must trust to the copy of it made by the monk Cosmas ("Indicopleustes") in the 8th century AD, or rather to the copy of Cosmas's copy which has come down to us in existing MSS. As we have it, it runs:
"The Great King Ptolemy, son of king Ptolemy and queen Arsinoe, Brother and Sister Gods, children of king Ptolemy and queen Berenice, Saviour Gods, the descendant on the father's side of Herakles, son of Zeus, on the mother's side of Dionysos, son of Zeus, having inherited from his father the kingdom of Egypt and Libya and Syria and Phoenicia and Cyprus and Lycia and Caria and the Cyclades, set out on a campaign into Asia with infantry and cavalry forces and a naval armament and elephants both Trogodyte and Ethiopic, which his father and he himself first captured from these places and, bringing them to Egypt, trained them to military use. But having become master of all the country this side of the Euphrates and of Cilicia and Pamphylia and Ionia and the Hellespont and Thrace, and of all the military forces in these countries and of Indian elephants, and having made the local dynasts in all these regions his vassals, he crossed the river Euphrates, and having brought under him Mesopotamia and Babylonia and Susiana and Persis and Media, and all the rest as far as Bactria, and having sought out whatever sacred things had been carried off by the Persians from Egypt, and having brought them back with the other treasure from these countries to Egypt, he sent forces through the canals—Here the inscription, as Cosmas found it, was broken off.
2. A second account is contained in three verses of the Book of Daniel, written some eighty years after the event:
"But out of a branch of her root shall one stand up in his estate, which shall come with an army, and shall enter into the fortress of the king of the north, and shall deal with them, and shall prevail: and shall also carry captives into Egypt their gods, with their princes, and with their precious vessels of silver and gold; and he shall continue more years than the king of the north. So the king of the south shall come into his kingdom, and shall right into his own land."
3. The third account is the commentary on this passage of Daniel written by Saint Jerome, taken from an older work in which Porphyry had treated of the Book of Daniel and explained its historical background; Porphyry had had before him Greek historians now lost. Saint Jerome's commentary is as follows:
"Berenice being murdered, and her father Ptolemy Philadelphus having died in Egypt, her brother, himself also a Ptolemy called Euergetes, succeeded as the third king, of the stock of that root, in that he was her brother; and he came with a great army, and entered into the province of the king of the north, i.e. of Seleucus called Callinicus, who with his mother Laodice was reigning in Syria, and dealt masterfully with them and obtained so much as to take Syria and Cilicia, and the upper parts across the Euphrates, and almost all Asia. And when he heard that in Egypt a sedition was in progress, he, plundering the kingdom of Seleucus, carried away 40,000 talents of silver, and precious cups and images of the gods, 2500, among which were those also which Cambyses, when he took Egypt, had brought to the country of the Persians. Finally the Egyptian race, being given to idolatry, because he had brought back their gods after many years, called him Euergetes. And Syria he himself retained; but Cilicia he handed over to his friend Antiochus to govern, and to Xanthippus, another general, the provinces beyond the Euphrates."
4. Fourthly, there is Justin's account, abridged from the Latin history of Trogus Pompeius:
"When it was announced to the cities of Asia (Asiae civitatibus) that she [Berenice] and her infant son were besieged [in ah], in consideration of her ancestral dignity they felt pity at so undeserved a misfortune, and all dispatched succour. Her brother too, Ptolemy, alarmed at his sister's danger, hurried from his kingdom with all his forces. But before the arrival of help, Berenice, who could not be captured by force, was deceived by treachery and murdered. Universal indignation ensued. And so, when all the cities which had revolt could have prepared a great fleet, forthwith alarmed at this specimen of [Laodice's] cruelty, and in order to avenge her whom they had meant to protect, they went over to Ptolemy, who, unless he had been called home by a domestic sedition, would have taken possession of all the kingdom of Seleucus."
5. Polyaenus, after telling the story of Berenice's murder in Antioch, says that her women concealed the body and induced the people of Antioch to believe that she was still alive “until Ptolemy the father (sic) of the murdered queen arrived, in answer to their summons, and by sending out letters as in the name of the murdered boy and of Berenice, as if they were still alive, made himself master of the whole realm from the Taurus as far as India, without war or battle”. The element of unhistorical romance here, at any rate, is obvious.
From these imperfect accounts one thing is plain, that the army of Ptolemy III carried all before it in Asia. It is certain that it must have effectively beaten down any opposition it may have met in Northern Syria, since till Northern Syria was subjugated and garrisoned the Egyptian army cannot have moved on across the Euphrates into Mesopotamia. But the accounts leave many questions unanswered: (1) How far eastwards did Ptolemy go? Did he cross the Tigris too and climb with his army up the rough roads to the tableland of Iran? Did he really carry his arms, as Polyaenus says he did, "as far as India"? (2) What was the cause which compelled Ptolemy to return prematurely to Egypt? Jerome and Justin say it was a rebellion of some sort in the Ptolemaic kingdom. What can this mean? (3) Did Ptolemy ever intend to hold permanently the countries he conquered, to make himself king of the Seleucid realm, as well as of Egypt? That would have been to conceive in his turn the ambition which Perdiccas and Antigonus and Seleucus had perished in pursuing— the ambition of becoming lord of the whole inheritance of Alexander—now when the rival dynasties had firmer territorial hold than in the times of confusion after Alexander' death. Can we credit the grandson of Ptolemy Soter with such grandiose schemes?
With regard to the first set of questions there seems no absolute impossibility in the supposition that the Egyptian army penetrated as far as Bactria and the Hindu-kush. One must remember that an army in those days travelled lighter than in the days of guns, and could move with less difficulty over great spaces. It might represent a larger aggregate of organized power than any local force which could be set against it in the regions to which it came, and so dominate each region successively so long as it stayed there. What Alexander accomplished in Nearer Asia three generations before Ptolemy III, and what Antiochus III accomplished in the same regions one generation later, show that the Egyptian army, supposing the Seleucid king could not get together an army capable of beating it, might quite well move right through the vast Seleucid realm unchecked. Of course, it was a different matter if conquests were to be retained, when the moving camp had pas on elsewhere. Even Alexander had difficulty about that; the reassertion of Seleucid supremacy in the Eastern provinces by Antiochus III proved ephemeral; and even if Ptolemy III had not been called home prematurely by the "domestic sedition," a good deal more would have been needed before his march into the East could have been counted a real conquest of Media and Persis. In the north and east of Irân Ptolemy would have found at this time new Powers in possession — in one region the Parthians under their Arsacid king, in Bactria the Greek Diodotus, who had recently broken away from the Seleucid and declared himself an independent king. We never hear of these young Powers suffering any interference from the king of Egypt. It seems unlikely that Ptolemy went far into Iran, that he would have remained for so long at such a dc from his base in Egypt. It is probable enough that at one of the old royal cities of the Persian kings, at Ecbatana or Persepolis or Susa, he held some kind of durbar, to which envoys came from the dynasts of Parthia and Bactria and the Hindu-kush with messages of homage. That would have been enough to warrant courtiers in Egypt describing the king's operations as a conquest of the East as far as Bactria and India. Ptolemy evidently never penetrated far into Asia Minor, where Seleucus II and his mother still held a force together; thus, whilst humiliating the Seleucid power, he left the nucleus of it intact, ready to expand again, so soon as the Egyptian army withdrew.
With regard to the question, what the trouble at home was which compelled Ptolemy to return, we can only speculate. Droysen thought it must have been another revolt in the Cyrenaica—a hypothesis which Mahaffy emphatically rejected Mahaffy himself conjectured that it was trouble in Egypt consequent upon a defective rise of the Nile and threatened famine. There are indications that a scarcity of corn in Egypt did occur at some moment during the reign of Ptolemy III.
With regard to the third question whether Ptolemy ever intended to retain his Eastern conquests, we have no documentary data except the statement of Saint Jerome, that he left his general Xanthippus in command of the provinces beyond the Euphrates, and appointed his "friend" Antiochus governor of Cilicia. Certainly, if he ever intended to hold regions beyond the Euphrates as provinces of his empire, he must have soon abandoned the idea. The Xanthippus in question may quite well be the Spartan condottiere who had been employed by the Carthaginians in 256 BC. The "friend" Antiochus was identified by Niebuhr (followed by Droysen and others) with the younger brother of Seleucus II, Antiochus Hierax, then a boy of about fourteen, who later on is his brother's enemy. But Bouché-Leclercq is almost certainly right in maintaining that this Antiochus was a "friend" in the well-known sense of the term, i.e. some one attached to the court, a Macedonian or Greek who had taken service in Egypt, and by accident had the name of Antiochus. He is mentioned in an inscription simply as a governor appointed by king Ptolemy in Asia Minor.
It is noteworthy how the statement occurs that Ptolemy brought back to Egypt the images of Egyptian gods and other sacred objects carried off in former times by the Persians. It is found in the decree of Canopus, presently to be given in translation. If it were only found in documents drawn up by Egyptian priests or scribes little importance would be attached to it, because it happens to be one of the conventional formularies habitually used, according to the hieratic tradition, in describing the victorious return of a Pharaoh from an invasion of Asia. The odd thing in this case is that we find prominence given to the statement in the inscription of Adulis and in the commentary of Saint Jerome. The Book of Daniel also speaks of Ptolemy bringing back captive to Egypt gods belonging to the conquered peoples and precious things. The inscription of Adulis seems to have been drawn up by a Greek; it insists upon the descent of Ptolemy from Greek gods and used no specially Egyptian formularies. Yet it singles out, in connection with Ptolemy's conquests, the feature that he brought back to Egypt the sacred things carried off by the Persians—a feature which would normally be without any interest to a Greek. We can only suppose that the Egyptian priesthood had put before Ptolemy what was expected of a king of Egypt who invaded Asia, if he were to be true to the Pharaonic pattern, and that Ptolemy determined, as a matter of policy, to fulfil the prescribed rôle in this point with a certain ostentation. Egyptian idols and other objects discovered in Babylon or Ecbatana or Susa he must have restored to the Egyptian priesthood with such pomp and circumstance on his return that it was talked about at court, that Greek courtiers and Greek historians noted the action as significant and interesting, and that Jews in Jerusalem eighty years later could remember hearing their fathers describe how the army of the king of Egypt had come home through Palestine, triumphantly escorting the idols which they had taken away from the countries of the king of the north.
Whilst the Egyptian land army invaded Northern Syria and Mesopotamia, the Egyptian fleet was busy on the coasts of Syria and Asia Minor and wherever Seleucid possessions were assailable from the sea. It is one moment of the story of those days which is strangely and vividly illuminated for us in the Gurob papyrus already spoken of. The first column of the piece of the roll discovered describes how some town or other was captured by a Ptolemaic force, but it is too tattered for a continuous account to be reconstructed from it. Then the roll becomes more coherent:
"Meanwhile Pythagoras and Aristocles, [having made ready] 15 boats, since the Sister had sent a message to them, . . . to add to their good services by performing zealously what yet remained to be done, sailed along the coast to Soli (?) in Cilicia (?), where they collected the money which had been seized and deposited there and conveyed it to Seleucia. It amounted to 1500 talents of silver. (This money Aribazus the strategos in Cilicia had intended to send to Ephesus, to Laodice, but the citizens of Soli (?) had conspired with the soldiers of the place, Pythagoras and Aristocles had come in strength to their assistance, and all had given a brave account of themselves, with the result that this money had been seized and both the town and the citadel had fallen into our possession. Aribazus slipped out and got away as far as the pass over the Taurus; there certain of the natives cut off his head and brought it to Antioch.) For our part, when we had got everything in readiness on board, at the beginning of the first watch we embarked in as many ships as the harbour in Seleucia would hold, and sailed along the coast to the fortress called Posideon and anchored there about the eighth hour of the day. Thence at dawn we set sail again and reached Seleucia. The priests, the magistrates, the rest of the citizens, the officers, and the soldiers met us on the road leading to the harbour, crowned with garlands and . . . of goodwill towards us and . . . to the city . . . the sacrificial victims stationed beside . . . on the altars prepared by them . . . [When they had outdone (?)] in the bazaar (ἐν τῷ ἐμπρορίῳ) the honours [already paid to us] they . . . So this day they . . ., and the next da . . . as . . . possible . . . [the ships . . .], into which we took up all those who had sailed with us, and the satraps who were there and the generals and the other officers, except those appointed [to garrison duty] in the city [Seleucia] and the citadel, whom we left behind. . . . For they were wonderful. . . . [We reached] Antioch . . . such preparations . . . we found as to strike us with amazement. For [there came to meet us] outside the gate the . . . satraps and the other officers and the soldiers and the priests and the colleges of magistrates and all the young men from the gymnasium and a great multitude beside, crowned with garlands, and they carried out all the holy things into the road before the gate, and some greeted us with the right hand and others . . . us with shouting and applause . . . [Twelve lines wanting] . . . beside every house . . . they continued to . . . Though there were so many things [calculated to gratify us] nothing gave us so much pleasure as the intense loyalty (ἐκτένεια) of these people. When then we had sacrificed the victims presented to us by officers (?) and by private persons, the sun now verging to its decline, we immediately visited the Sister, and after that attended to various matters which required our diligence, giving audience to the officers and the soldiers and to other people belonging to the place, and holding council on the general conduct of our affairs. Beside this, for some days . . ."
No more of the roll remains. It is certainly a did not of extraordinary human interest — a bit of ancient history which comes to us still alive, in which the events narrated are not told by some historian at second, or third, or tenth, hand, but by some one who writes of what he himself saw and did, the actual scrap of torn papyrus being, if not the handwriting of the narrator, at any rate a copy made at a date not far from that of the original. Yet while its human interest is great, its value as a historical document is diminished by our inability to say after certain who the writer was, or who "the Sister" was, or what the places were in which the events described happened. The document certainly speaks plainly about a Seleucia and an Antioch, but whilst in Northern Syria there was the great Antioch, the chief residence of the Seleucid kings, and the strong city of Seleucia-in Pieria which guarded the approach to Antioch at the mouth of the Orontes, there was also an Antioch and a Seleucia on the opposite Cilician coast, and some scholars have thought that it was these lesser cities to which the document refers. Again, in order to read the name "Soli in Cilicia," we have to suppose that the scribe in writing left out by mistake one of two sigmas which came together, and "Cilicia," is simply a conjecture filling in the place of a lost word. Instead of "Soli in Cilicia," Holleaux reads "all the places." Further on again, where our translation gives "the citizens of Soli," Holleaux reads "the citizens of Seleucia," though Wilcken affirms that the photographic facsimile of the papyrus proves "Soli" to be right. And then, who was the writer? An officer from one of the soldier-settlements in the Fayûm, Mahaffy at first thought. A naval commander, Wilcken held when he brought out his Chrestomathie. The king Ptolemy III himself, Mahaffy thought, after column iv of the papyrus came to light, and this view has been accepted by Holleaux, Wilhelm, Bouché-Leclercq, Wilamowitz-Moellendorff, and now by Wilcken. Lastly, there is the problem—Who was "the Sister"? Before the discovery of column iv, the Sister was thought to be Laodice; that column made it evident that she was some one of the Egyptian side, resident at Antioch after it had been occupied by the Egyptian forces. She is now commonly held to have been Berenice, the queen of Syria, Ptolemy III's sister, not yet murdered, it is supposed, at this date.
It can, I think, now be hardly questioned that the Seleucia and Antioch in question are the great Antioch and Seleucia. In ant the writer found a large number of magnates and military chiefs gathered together, which is much more natural in the chief city of Syria than in the comparatively obscure city on the Cilician coast. That the narrator is the king himself may also be taken as established. The way he speaks of giving audience to the magnates at the end of the scrap can hardly be reconciled with any other hypothesis. In this case the papyrus would not, of course, be his original dispatch, but a copy of it in the possession of some veteran in the Fayûm. The original would have been a royal "memorandum" somewhat analogous to the "commentaries" of Julius Caesar—the summary account of a campaign by the commander of it. But the hypothesis that "the Sister" was Berenice, queen of Syria, seems to me to have insuperable difficulties against it. Justin, it is true, indicates that Berenice was still alive when Ptolemy set out from Egypt, but he says that Ptolemy was too late to save her. That Berenice should have been still alive and in Antioch at this stage of the campaign, when Antioch had been securely occupied for some time by the Egyptian forces, and that she should after that have been murdered by Laodice's agents in ah, is surely incredible. It makes nonsense of every other account we have of the war—that it was waged to avenge Berenice's murder. My own conviction—though no one, so far as I know, has yet put forward the suggestion—is that "the Sister" is the other Berenice, the queen of Egypt. She was, of course, not Ptolemy's sister, but his first cousin; yet the queens of Egypt were officially called "Sisters" the king, and the king himself, in speaking of the queen, might quite well call her simply "the Sister." From the poem of Callimachus, it is true, we gather that when Ptolemy set out on his campaign, Berenice remained in Egypt. But this would not rule out the supposition that, at a stage of the campaign when Northern Syria had been occupied by Ptolemy's forces, queen Berenice should have made the comparatively easy journey from Egypt to Antioch to see her husband and the front— a woman of Berenice's spirit! That two commanders in the Egyptian army should receive a special message from the queen of Egypt, encouraging them to do their utmost, is quite consistent with the part played by queens in Ptolemaic history. Lastly, if "the Sister" was Berenice, queen of Egypt, the objections which Wilcken raised, on the ground of the language of the document, to the supposition that the writer was the king, fall. It would, as Wilcken rightly said, have been more natural, if the king were referring to his real sister, that he should write ἡ ἀδελφή μου, and not simply ἡ ἀδελφή. And Wilcken with perfect justice felt it incredible that the meeting of brother and sister at Antioch, supposing Ptolemy were arriving just in time to save his sister from imminent death, should have been dismissed in a colourless phrase. On the other hand, it was a difficulty in the view then held by Wilcken that a mere naval commander, narrating his visit of respect to the queen of Syria, should have written εισελθομεν ευθεως πρὸς τὴν ἀδελφὸν καὶ μετὰ ταῦτα κτλ. If, however, "the Sister" was Berenice, queen of Egypt, and the writer was Ptolemy, everything becomes natural.
With regard to further operations of the Egyptian fleet in the Aegean, we can discern only an indefinite number of local struggles. Each city of the seaboard would fall to one side or other as Seleucus II could bring pressure to bear by his land-forces from the interior, or by naval squadrons got together in some port still under his control, or as the Egyptian fleet could bring pressure to bear from the sea, or as the citizens themselves threw their weight, from interest or sympathy, in one scale or the other. Ephesus seems to have been delivered up to the Ptolemaic forces by Sophron, who commanded there for king Seleucus. Some regions on the Thracian coast, including the cities of Aenos and Maronea, belonged to the Seleucid realm; even these were reached and conquered by the Egyptian fleet. Ptolemy became master of the peninsula now called Gallipoli.
If there had been at the time of the sea-battle off Ephesus a breach between the house of Ptolemy and Rhodes, it cannot have lasted long, since when, towards the end of Ptolemy's reign, Rhodes was visited by a severe earthquake, Ptolemy came forward, as well as Antigonus and Seleucus, to help to repair the damage. Ptolemy promised the Rhodians "300 talents of silver, a million artabae of corn, ship-timber for 10 quinqueremes and 10 triremes, consisting of 40,000 cubits of squared pine planking, 1000 talents of bronze coinage, 180,000 pounds of tow (for ropes), 3000 pieces of sailcloth, 3000 talents (of copper?) for the repair of the Colossus, 100 master-builders with 350 workmen, and 14 talents yearly to pay their wages. Beside this, he gave 12,000 artabae of corn for their public games and sacrifices, and 20,000 artabae for victualling 10 triremes. The greater part of these goods were delivered at once, as well as one-third of the money named."
After Ptolemy had returned to Egypt the war went on. Seleucus recovered Northern Syria with his capital, Antioch, although Seleucia-in-Pieria remained in the hands of an Egyptian garrison—cutting off Seleucid Antioch from its communication with the sea. The loss of Northern Syria meant, of course, the loss of all the Eastern provinces also. In 242241 the Seleucid counter-attack had apparently reached so far south that the Seleucus was able to deliver Damascus and Orthosia (on the Phoenician coast), which were being besieged by Egyptian forces. But an attempt of Seleucus to penetrate farther south into Palestine itself led to his meeting with a disastrous defeat. Soon after this the two Powers signed a peace (about 240 BC). For the remaining years of his life, nearly twenty in number, Ptolemy Euergetes rested on his laurels. The Alexandrine court had its hand in the politics and conflicts of the Mediterranean world. In Crete the possession of Itanus continued to give Ptolemy a hold upon the island. In Greece, after Antigonus Doson had become king of Macedonia (229), there was a three-cornered contest between Macedonia, the Achaean League, and Sparta. Egypt at first gave support to the Achaeans, then Ptolemy made promises to the Socialist king of Sparta, Cleomenes, and induced him to send his mother and his children to Alexandria as hostages. But in the end Ptolemy allowed the Spartans to be crushed by Antigonus at the battle of Sellasia (222). Cleomenes took refuge at Alexandria—a strange lion-like figure amongst the courtiers. According to one questionable text, Antigonus at the beginning of his reign had "subjugated Caria," that is, had driven the Ptolemaic garrisons out of that country and substituted garrisons of his own.
But if there were these occasional sputters of war between Egyptian forces in some part of the world and the forces of some other Power, Ptolemy III no more himself went out to war. Perhaps after the energy of his younger days, he had grown fat and easy-going. The neck on his coins looks like that of a fat man. According to some later sources he was given the nickname of Tryphon ("luxurious," "soft-living"), which seems odd in the case of a king who appears, at any rate, sober and vigorous in contrast with the voluptuary who preceded, and the voluptuary who succeeded, him. Bouché-Leclercq thought, with great plausibility, that a surname belonging to Ptolemy IV or the other Ptolemy Euergetes (Ptolemy VII) had been wrongly attached to Ptolemy III by some muddle-headed abbreviator or scribe; but the surname has received curious confirmation from a demotic inscription, which speaks of "Ptlumis who is also Trupn." The inscription seems to belong to the days when Ptolemy III was still only co-king with his father. If so, one might conjecture that Tryphon was not a depreciatory nickname given to a king at the end of his reign, but the personal name of the boy before he acquired the dynastic name of Ptolemy. From the fact that no scandalous stories are told about the court of Ptolemy III by the writers who dealt in such things it is inferred that his life offered a singular example of domestic virtue amongst the kings of his house. We never hear of his having any mistresses. Perhaps the high-spirited Berenice of Cyrene was a woman of force enough to keep her husband to herself. He died in October 221, but little over sixty—a natural death, Polybius expressly says. The crime of hastening his father's end, which later scandal charged upon Ptolemy IV, is probably one of which that wretched creature was not guilty. Ptolemy III left two sons—the Ptolemy who succeeded him and a son called Magas—also a daughter, Arsinoe. Another daughter, Berenice, died as a child. Queen Berenice and his brother Lysimachus survived him. The two brothers seem to have lived in mutual confidence. A hieroglyphic inscription from Coptos shows Lysimachus to have been governor of a province in Upper Egypt in the year 241240: "Lady of Asher, grant life to Lysimachus, the brother of the sovereigns, strategos."
When we look at the interior of Egypt during the reign of Ptolemy III we can see that the glory of the Alexandrine Museum as a chief centre of Hellenic culture was undiminished. Those were the days when the great savant Eratosthenes had charge both of the Library and of the education of the boy Ptolemy, the heir to the horse.
In the Fayûm the population of soldier-colonists received a considerable accession in consequence of Ptolemy's great expedition into Asia. There were not only veterans to be rewarded with allotments, but large numbers of soldiers who had been fighting in the armies of Seleucus were brought back to Egypt as prisoners, and settled on the land. These were, no doubt, for the most part men of Greek or Macedonian stock who would make a home for themselves as happily in Egypt as in Asia; but there were also Jews amongst them, who would swell the Jewish element, by this time considerable, in Egypt. We find traces of it here and there under Ptolemy III in inscriptions and papyri. On an Egyptian temple in the desert near Redesieh in Upper Egypt, amongst the king votive inscriptions written up on the walls by travellers and visitors, we find: "Ptolemy the son of Dionysius, a Jew, blesses God," "Blessing to God: Theudotus son of Dorion, a Jew, saved from the sea." An inscription found in the Delta runs: "On behalf of king Ptolemy and queen Berenice, the Sister and Wife, and their children, the Jews dedicated this house of prayer."
There are indications that the Alexandrine court under Ptolemy III was ready to correct existing institutions with a large and enlightened scientific interest. We see this in the attempt to reform the calendar. A double attempt was made (1) to establish a fixed era from which years could be reckoned, instead of their being described simply as the such-and-such year of the reigning king—an unscientific mode of dating which, as time went on, and the number of reigns increased, was bound to become more and more inconvenient; (2) to have a year constant to the seasons. Hitherto the year ordinarily in use, both for Greeks and Egyptians, was the Egyptian year of 365 days, beginning with Thoth 1, though the Greeks commonly put the Macedonian month as well in dating documents. As there was no leap-year with an extra day, the Egyptian year slipped one day ahead of the season every four years and would move round the whole natural year in a period of 1460 years. A feast celebrated on a certain date of the artificial year would at one time be a midwinter festival, and 730 years later have become a midsummer one.
To remedy the first inconvenience, the year 311 was taken as a fixed era—the year of the death of the boy Alexander. This year was already used as a fixed era in Phoenicia and by the Babylonians, and later on, years were reckoned generally in the Seleucid realm from 312—a slight modification of the earlier practice, taking the return of Seleucus to Babylon, not the death of the young Alexander, as the starting-point. The coins of Ptolemy III give the year as reckoned from 311, not the regnal year of Ptolemy III. From the fact that the era chosen is one already in use in Greek Asia, we may see a design on the part of the Alexandrine court to establish a system of dating to be valid all over the Hellenistic world. But it was to be many centuries yet before the peoples of European culture had this rational convenience not till the general acceptance of AD. 1 as the starting-point of universal chronology.
To remedy the other inconvenience, the shifting relation between the Egyptian year and the natural year, Greek science at Alexandria was quite advanced enough to know that what was wanted was an extra day intercalated every fourth year. An attempt was made under Ptolemy III to carry this, too, into effect. We know of it, because the decree of the Egyptian priesthood establishing the new system for their sacred year has been preserved for us. It is improbable that the Egyptian priesthood by themselves would ever have thought of instituting this rational change. We may, I think, believe that it came from a Greek brain at Alexandria and was supported by the royal will. Yet in this particular, too, Ptolemy III, owing to the unworthiness of his successors, was before his time. To get a reformed calendar, the world would have to wait for Julius Caesar.
The state-cult at Alexandria received further development after Ptolemy's return from the East. Ptolemy III and Berenice were now associated as the "Benefactor Gods" with Alexander and the "Brother and Sister Gods." An official document of the year 240239 is dated: "In the reign of Ptolemy, the son of Ptolemy and Arsinoe, Brother and Sister Gods, in the 8th year, Onomastus son of Pyrgon being Priest of Alexander and of the Brother and Sister Gods and of the Benefactor Gods, Archestrate daughter of Ctesides being Kanephoros of Arsinoe Philadelphus. . . ." The cult of the Saviour Gods (Ptolemy Soter and Berenice I) remained still distinct, its priest not being mentioned in the dating of documents.
Perhaps under the third Ptolemy more systematic attempts were made to win or confirm the loyalty of the natives, to persuade them that the foreign king was as good as a Pharaoh. At least there are signs of the court trying to attach the Egyptian priesthood to their interests. The great document in this connection is the Decree of Canopus, of which three copies inscribed on stone are extant. One was found in 1866 amongst the remains of the ancient town of Tanis; the hieroglyphic text of the decree stands above, and the Greek text below; the demotic text is engraved round the edge: this stone is now in Cairo. A second copy, also with hieroglyphic, Greek, and demotic texts, was found in 1881, which is also in Cairo. A third and very damaged copy, found at Cairo, is now in the Louvre. The decree is one passed by a synod of Egyptian priests from all Egypt gathered at Canopus in March 237.
As in Mahaffy's History, a complete translation of the document follows:
"In the reign of Ptolemy, son of Ptolemy and Arsinoe, Brother and Sister Gods, year 9, Apollonices son of Moschion being priest of Alexander and the Brother and Sister Gods and the Benefactor Gods, Menecrateia daughter of Philammon being Kanephoros of Arsinoe Philadelphos, on the 7th of (the month) Apellaios, but of the Egyptians the 17th of Tybi. Decree. The chief priests and the prophets and those who enter the inner shrine for the robing of the gods and the feather-bearers and the sacred scribes and the rest of the priests who came together from the temples throughout the land for the 5th of Dios, on which the birth-feasts of the king are celebrated, and for the 25th of the same month, on which he received the sovereignty from his father, in formal assembly on this day in the temple of the Benefactor Gods in Canopus declared:— Since king Ptolemy son of Ptolemy and Arsinoe, Brother and Sister Gods, and Berenice, his sister and wife, Benefactor Gods, are continually performing many great benefits to the national temples, and increasing the honours of the gods, and in every respect take good care of Apis and Mnevis and the other renowned sacred animals with great expense and good appointments; and the sacred images carried off from the land by the Persians, the king, having made a foreign campaign, recovered into Egypt, and restored to the temples from which each of them had been carried away; and has kept the land in peace, defending it with arms against many nations and their sovereigns; and afford (sic) good government to all that dwell in the land and to all others who are subject to their sovereignty; and when the river once failed to rise sufficiently and all in the land were in despair at what had occurred, and called to mind the disasters which had occurred under some of the former kings, when it happened that the inhabitants of the land suffered from want of inundation; (they) protecting with care both those that dwelt in the temples and the other inhabitants, with much forethought, and foregoing not a little of their revenue for the sake of saving life, sending for corn for the country from Syria, Phoenicia, Cyprus, and many other lands at high prices, saved the dwellers in Egypt, thus bequeathing an immoral benefaction, and the greatest record of their own merit both to this and future generations, in requital for which the gods have given them their royalty well established, and will give them all other good things for all time. With the favour of fortune: It is decreed by the priests throughout the country: to increase the pre-existing honours paid in the temples to king Ptolemy and queen Berenice, Benefactor Gods, and to their parents the Gods Adelphoi, and to their grandparents the Saviour Gods, and that the priests in each of the temples throughout the country shall be entitled in addition Priests of the Benefactor Gods, and that there be inserted on all their documents, and added to the engraving of the rings which they wear, the priesthood of the Benefactor Gods, and that there be constituted in addition to the now existing 4 tribes of the community of the priests in each temple another, to be entitled the fifth tribe of the Benefactor Gods, since it also happened with good fortune that the birth of king Ptolemy, son of the Brother-andSister Gods, took place on the fifth of Dios, which was the beginning of many good things for all mankind; and that into this tribe be enrolled the priests born since the first year and those to be entered among them up to the month Mesore in the 9th year, and their offspring for ever, but that the pre-existing priests up to the first year shall remain in the tribes in which they were, and likewise that their children shall henceforth be enrolled in the tribes of their fathers; and that instead of the 20 Councillor priests chosen each year from the pre-existing 4 tribes, of whom 5 are taken from each tribe, the Councillor priests shall be 25, an additional 5 being chosen from the 5th tribe of the Benefactor Gods; and that the members of the 5th tribe of the Benefactor Gods shall share in the holy offices and everything else in the temples, and that there shall be a phylarch thereof, as is the case with the other tribes. And since there are celebrated every month in the temples feasts of the Benefactor Gods according to the previous decree, viz. the 1st and 9th and 25th, and to the other supreme gods are performed yearly national feasts and solemn assemblies, there shall be kept yearly a national solemn assembly both in the temples and throughout all the land to king Ptolemy and queen Berenice, Benefactor Gods, on the day when the star of Isis rises, which is held in the sacred books to be the new year, and is now in this 9th year kept on the 1st of the month Payni, on which the little Bubastia and the great Bubastia are celebrated, and the gathering of the crops and the rise of the river takes place; but if it happen that the rising of the star changes to another day in 4 years, the feast shall not be changed, but shall still be kept on the 1st of Payni, on which it was originally held in the 9th year, and it shall last for 5 days with wearing of crowns and sacrifices and libations and the other suitable observances; And in order that the seasons may correspond regularly according to the establishment of the world, and in order that it may not occur that some of the national feasts kept in winter may come to be kept in the summer, the sun changing one day in every four years, and that other feasts now kept in summer may come to be kept in winter in future times, as has formerly happened, and now would happen if the arrangement of the year remained of 360 days, and the five additional days added; from now onward one day, a feast of the Benefactor Gods, shall be added every four years to the five additional days before the new year, in order that all may know that the former defect in the arrangement of the seasons and the year and the received opinions concerning the whole arrangement of the heavens has been corrected and made good by the Benefactor Gods.
"And since it happened that the daughter born of king Ptolemy and queen Berenice, Benefactor Gods, and called Berenice, who was also forthwith declared Basilissa, being yet a virgin, passed away suddenly into the everlasting world, while the priests who came together to the king every year from the country were yet with him, who forthwith made great lamentation at the occurrence, and having petitioned the king and queen, persuaded them to settle the goddess with Osiris in the temple in Canopus, which is not only among the temples of first rank, but is among those most honoured by the king and all in the country — and the procession of the sacred boat of Osiris to this temple takes place yearly from the temple in the Heracleion on the 29th of Choiach, when all those of the first-class temples contribute sacrifices upon the altars established by them on both sides of the way—and after this they performed the ceremonies of her deification and the conclusion of the mourning with pomp and circumstance, as is the custom in the case of Apis and Mnevis. It is decreed: to perform everlasting honours to queen Berenice, daughter of the Benefactor Gods, in all the temples of the land; and since she passed away to the gods in the month Tybi, in which also the daughter of the Sun in the beginning departed this life, whom her loving father sometimes called his diadem, sometimes his sight, and they celebrate to her a feast and a boat-procession in most of the first-rank temples in this month, in which her apotheosis originally took place—[it is decreed] to perform to queen Berenice also, daughter of the Benefactor Gods, in all the temples of the land in the month Tybi a feast, a boat-procession for four days from the 17th, in which the procession and concluding of the mourning originally took place; also to fashion a sacred image of her, gold and jewelled, in each of the first and second rank temples, and set it up in the (inner) shrine, which the prophet or those of the priests who enter the adytum for the robing of the gods shall bear in his arms, when the going abroad and feasts of the other gods take place, in order that being seen by all it may be honoured and worshipped as that of Berenice, Lady of Virgins; and that the royal headgear placed upon her image, differing from that set upon the head of her mother queen Berenice, shall consist of two ears of corn, in the midst of which shall be the asp-shaped crown, and behind this a suitable papyrus-shaped sceptre, such as goddesses are wont to hold in their hands, about which also the tail of the asp-crown shall be wound, so that the sign marking the name of Berenice, according to the symbolic system of the sacred script, shall be taken from the design of her royal headgear; and when the Kikellia are celebrated in the month Choiach before the second cruise of Osiris, the maidens and the priests shall prepare another image of Berenice, Lady of Virgins, to which they shall perform likewise a sacrifice and the other observances performed at this feast, and it shall be lawful in the same way for any other maidens that choose to perform the customary observances to the goddess; and that she shall be hymned also by the chosen sacred maidens who are in service to the gods, and they shall put on them the several royal headgears of the gods whose priestesses they are wont to be; and when the early harvest is at hand, the sacred maidens shall carry up ears of corn which are to be set before the image of the goddess; and that the singing men and the women shall sing to her by day, in the feasts and assemblies of the remaining gods also, whatever hymns the sacred scribes, having composed, may hand over to the teacher of choirs, of which also copies shall be entered in the sacred boats; and seeing that the rations (of corn) are given to the priests out of the sacred property, when they are brought to the whole caste, there shall be given to the daughters of the priests from the sacred revenues, (counting) from whatever day they may be born, the maintenance determined by the councillor priests in each of the temples; in proportion to the sacred revenues; and the bread served out to the wives of the priests shall have a peculiar shape, and be called the bread of Berenice. The person appointed overseer and high priest in each of the temples and the scribes of the temple shall copy this decree on a stone or bronze stele in hieroglyphics, in Egyptian, and in Greek, and shall set it up in the most conspicuous place in the first, second, and third rank temples, in order that the priests throughout the land may show that they honour the Benefactor Gods and their children, as is just."
It would be an important point, if the view of some scholars could be proved, that, whilst in the case of the Rosetta Decree (Forty-three years later) the Egyptian text is the original and the Greek text is a translation, the Canopic Decree, on the other hand, was originally drawn up in Greek, and the Egyptian text is a translation. This would show a notable increase of the authority of the Egyptian priesthood in the interval. But the question of which text is original, and which translation, will perhaps never be capable of a sure answer. Mahaffy held that the Canopic Decree, too, had originally been drawn up in Egyptian. It is conceivable, of course, that the texts might have been prepared by Egyptian priests and Greek officials working together, in which case one phrase might have been first suggested by the Greeks and another phrase by the Egyptians; it is also possible that a draft of what the court wanted said was supplied to the priests in Greek and expanded by them into a fuller form in Egyptian, which was retranslated into Greek; or the other way round, that the priests first submitted to the court a rough draft, which was expanded by Greek court secretaries, and retranslated into Egyptian. In fact, when so many suppositions are possible, to discuss the question as if we knew for certain that it was a plain case of one side drawing up the document as it is, and the other side translating it, is academic unreality.
The second Ptolemy, as was said, has left few traces of himself as a builder or restorer of Egyptian temples. His son has left more. He must have built a new temple of Osiris in Canopus — the temple, probably, in which the Synod of priests met; and he must have founded it early in his reign, if the Synod met there in 237. A gold plate laid, according to a frequent practice, between some of the foundation stones, has come to light again. It is inscribed in Greek, "King Ptolemy, son of Ptolemy and Arsinoe, Brother and Sister Gods, and queen Berenice, his Sister and Wife, dedicate the precinct to Osiris." The naos of the temple of Isis at Philae, which had been very nearly finished by Ptolemy II, was completed by Ptolemy III. Its big northern pylon has over it an inscription in Greek stating that king Ptolemy, queen Berenice, and their children dedicate the naos to Isis and Harpocrates. On the neighbouring island of Biggeh there are temple ruins on which the name of Ptolemy III is found associated with that of the old native kings. At Aswan the façade of a small temple dedicated to Isis-Sothis shows two Pharaonic figures which the hieroglyphs declare to represent Ptolemy and Berenice. Another small temple put up by Ptolemy III at Esneh would have been particularly interesting, because its walls contained the ecclesiastical scribe's account of the king's campaigns in Asia—an Egyptian parallel to the Greek monument of Adulis; the little temple, however, was "destroyed in this [i.e. the 19th] century by an enterprising pasha" (M.). On the great remaining pylon at Karnak, Ptolemy III is portrayed, and in this case the priestly artist, by an unusual departure from sacred tradition, shows him dressed, not as an ancient Pharaoh, but in a costume evidently intended to represent the Greek robe which he really wore. But the most imposing monument which remains of the third Ptolemy as a temple-builder is the vast temple of Apollinopolis Magna (Edfu), the most perfectly preserved of all Egyptian temples. It was dedicated to the local god, Horus, whom the Greeks identified with their Apollo, and the foundation of it was laid on the 7th of Epiph in the tenth year of the king (August 23, 237) in the presence of the king himself. But a work planned on this scale could not be carried out in a single reign. It was not till the reign of the twelfth Ptolemy, some hundred and eighty years later, that the temple of Edfu received its final additions.
Ptolemy IV, Philopator
Within a short time of each other the three great Macedonian kingdoms came all into the hands of young men. Antiochus III succeeded to the Seleucid realm in 223, aged eighteen; Ptolemy IV succeeded to the Egyptian throne in 221, aged about twenty-three; Philip V succeeded to the kingdom of Macedonia in 220, aged seventeen. From the various characters and ambitions of these three young men, a new distribution of power in the Mediterranean world could not fail to result. Their reigns mark an epoch in another way. The world in which their reigns began was the Graeco-Macedonian world as it had been contracted by the conquests of Alexander the Great; the world in which they ended was a new world over which was flung the shadow of Rome.
Antiochus III inherited his paternal realm in a state of ruin and disintegration; Ptolemy IV received from his father the Ptolemaic realm strongly knit and powerful — Coele-Syria, Cyrene, and Cyprus firmly attached to it; its navy still giving it the command of many islands in the Aegean, of gallipoli, and the parts of Thrace round Aenus and Maronea; its prestige still high among the states of Greece. Yet, owing to the different character of the two young men, in twenty years' time the relative standing of the two houses had been reversed. Antiochus III, if he hardly deserved the surname of "the Great" which came to be attached to him in popular parlance, had, at any rate, the adventurous fighting vein of his race, and by a somewhat happy-golucky campaigning energy in the first twenty years of his reign he had restored the authority of his house over most of its old territories from the Aegean to the Hindu-kush; Ptolemy IV brought down Egypt, before he died, to a condition of feebleness and humiliation from which it never again rose to the proud position it had held under the first three Macedonian kings. From his reign onward, the history of Ptolemaic Egypt is marked by the growing power of the native element within, and the diminishing power of Egypt, as a factor in international politics, without.
There have been princes whose nature was corrupted by the enjoyment of despotic power, but Ptolemy IV came to the throne already corrupted. He cast back to his grandfather, the dilettante and voluptuary, but he reproduced his grandfather's vices in a more extravagant form, without the serious intellectual interests which gave a touch of greatness to the second Ptolemy. The grandson not only followed ease and pleasure, but he was indifferent to the character of the people whom he allowed to direct the affairs of the kingdom, so long as they provided him the means for a life of literary and aesthetic sensuality and saved him the trouble of governing. The man who really governed the Ptolemaic realm during the reign of Ptolemy Philopator was an Alexandrine, Sosibius, son of Dioscurides. In the year 235234 he had held one of the posts of highest dignity in the kingdom, the priesthood of Alexander, of the Brother and Sister Gods, and of the Benefactor Gods at Alexandria, so that his name had been used in that year for the dating of documents all over the realm. Polybius admits that he had ability of a kind—a "cunning and world-practised old scoundrel" , he calls him. If Sosibius wanted power, he had it, when the young Ptolemy became king. His sinister ambition would encounter no obstacles from a creature of this mould. But there were other members of the royal family! There was the king's uncle Lysimachus; there was the old queen Berenice, not, as we know from her record in girlhood, a woman to be trifled with; and there was the king's more manly younger brother, Magas, the idol of the soldiers. All these must be put out of the way. A mere Alexandrine, however high placed in the civil service, could not, of course, touch a hair of the head of a member of the royal house, unless the king could be got to give the order. But with such a minister as Sosibius, and such a king as Ptolemy Philopator, even this could be done. Love of ease, wine, lasciviousness, literary dilettantism, had so swallowed up in this young degenerate every natural affection that he did, at the suggestion of Sosibius, in order to remove uncomfortable agitations from his life, have his uncle, his brother, and his mother killed. It was arranged that when young Magas was having a bath, scalding water should be poured over him; the old queen, Berenice of Cyrene, whose hair was among the stars, was poisoned.
Another person whom Sosibius thought it well to remove was the Spartan king, Cleomenes, a refugee, as we have seen, at Alexandria. Although Ptolemy Euergetes had paid him every honour—as one soldier to another — and had put up a statue of him at Olympiad, the basis of which has been discovered, Cleomenes had become impatient, when he found that promises to send him back to Greece with a Ptolemaic force were always made, but never carried out. When the new king came to the throne, and Cleomenes found it impossible to make him take the faintest interest in foreign affairs, he grew desperate. Sosibius feared his influence with the mercenary soldiers, thousands of whom were regularly stationed at Alexandria. Many of them were Peloponnesians and Cretans, and the prestige of the Spartan king was very high amongst them. Cleomenes having spoken unadvisedly with his lips, Sosibius had him and thirteen other Spartans, who were with him, interned. At a time when the court was temporarily at Canopus, Cleomenes and others effected their escape from confinement, and rushing through the streets of Alexandria, with daggers in their hands, called upon the people to rise, like true Greeks, in the name of liberty and establish a free state in place of the Ptolemaic despotism. The Alexandrines looked strangely upon the group of excited, vociferous men, as curious eccentrics. When the Spartans saw that they could not escape recapture, except by death, they gave and exhibition of the Spartan way, and turned their daggers upon each other or themselves. The wife and children of Cleomenes, who were left in the hands of Ptolemy, Sosibius caused to be put to death (January or February, 219).
Side by side with Sosibius was a trio of very unsavoury character, who, in collusion with the astute old Alexandrine, ruled the voluptuary upon the throne—the handsome and vicious young man, Agathocles, his handsome sister Agathoclea, and their horrible mother Oenanthe. With people of this kind supreme in the kingdom, the prestige of Egypt in the Levant quickly sake to nothing. Already in 220 we find the inhabitants of the Cyclades, when harassed by Illyrian pirates, turning for help, not to their old protector, the king of Egypt, but to Rhodes.
About the same time in Crete, where the Ptolemaic influence had been so strong, we find the cities in conflict looking elsewhere for allies. Yet Egypt continued to hold Itanus, and Ptolemy Philopator supplied means to Gortyna for beginning new fortifications. Ptolemaic garrisons continued all through the reign of Ptolemy IV to hold certain regions in and round the Aegean; Ptolemaic officials gathered tribute from them for Alexandria—coast districts of Lycia, Caria, Thrace, the great port of Ephesus, the islands of Thera, Samos, and Lesbos, Even Seleucia, at the mouth of the Orontes, was still occupied by a Ptolemaic garrison in the spring of 219. It must have been rather the want of the will to act, than the want of power, which men took for granted in the Egyptian court under its present régime.
Even before he took up the inheritance of his father, it seems to have been generally known in the Greek world what kind of man the young Ptolemy was. For it must have been in the very same year in which Ptolemy Euergetes died (221) that the young Antiochus came hammering at the fortresses in the Lebanon which guarded the entrance into Coele-Syria from the north; and Polybius tells us that he was persuaded by his chief minister Hermias to attempt, before anything else, the conquest of Coele-Syria—the country to which for eighty years the house of Seleucus had asserted its claim in vain—on the very ground of the known slackness of the new king of Egypt. The Ptolemaic army, however, was still commanded by efficient officers. An Aetolian, Theodotus, who held the supreme command in Coele-Syria, had put the Lebanon fortresses in a proper state of defence, and the first assaults upon them by the Seleucid army failed. Before Antiochus could push the attack home, he was obliged to give up the expedition and hasten with his army east wards to engage the rebel satrap of Media, Timarchus, in Babylonia. A respite was granted to Egypt.
The respite lasted nearly two years, during which time Antiochus was busy re-establishing the authority of his house in Media. Meantime, after the attack on Coele-Syria, there must have been a state of enmity, if not of active war, between Syria and Egypt. It was during this interval that a complication took place in the Seleucid realm, in which the Alexandrine court could not help being interested. Achaeus, who governed Asia Minor for the house of Seleucus, and who was both first cousin and brother-in-law to the king, renounced his allegiance and declared himself an independent sovereign. Egypt might have been expected to support him after his revolt, as the enemy of its enemy; Achaeus had, even before his revolt, been accused (Polybius holds falsely accused) of secret correspondence with Alexandria. There was a further reason which led to correspondence between Achaeus and the Alexandrine court. At some moment in the course of his war with the Seleucid Power, we do not know when, Ptolemy Euergetes had taken prisoner a person of very high standing indeed, Andromachus, the father of Achaeus. Andromachus' sister, Laodice, was the queen of Seleucus II and mother of Antiochus III. When Ptolemy Euergetes died, Andromachus was still a prisoner in Egypt. Since Achaeus had long shown great anxiety to secure his father's release, Sosibius naturally regarded the captive Macedonian grandee as a very valuable piece to play in the political game. He had, perhaps, before the revolt of Achaeus, tried to strike a bargain with him — the release of Andromachus as the price of Achaeus deserting the Seleucid cause. When Achaeus had once revolted, pushed by other circumstances, and without having made any compact with Egypt, there was the less reason to let Andromachus go. Sosibius was, indeed, very unwilling to part with such a valuable asset. However, the Rhodians now exerted themselves zealously as intercessors on behalf of Achaea, and when Rhodes desired anything strongly, Alexandria was likely to be accommodating. Andromachus was delivered over to the Rhodians, who escorted him back to Asia Minor. But the Alexandrine court did not make any alliance with Achaea. It preferred to wait and see the issue of the conflict between the two cousins in the Seleucid realm.
When Antiochus came back victorious from the East, it was not against Achaea, it was against Egypt that he first turned. In the spring of 219 he renewed the attack he had abandoned in 221. A force was sent under Theodotus "One-and-a-half," the namesake of the Aetolian who commanded in Coele-Syria for Ptolemy, to clear the passes through the Lebanon, whilst Antiochus himself moved to the walls of his ancestral cities, Seleucia-in-Pieria, to recover it from Ptolemaic occupation and remove the shame of twenty years. When Antiochus began assaulting its strong fortifications, there were so many in the city ready to co-operate with the Seleucid king, that Leontius, who commanded the garrison for Ptolemy, did not dare to prolong resistance and surrendered.
Antiochus was still in Seleucia when he received a letter from the other Theodotus, the Aetolian governor of Coele-Syria, who had barred the passes against him two years before. Theodotus had found, soon after, that the Alexandrine court regarded him as a person to be got rid of. In a narrow escape he had from death, Theodotus had suspected the hand of Sosibius. The court had already sent to Greece for another Aetolian condottiere, Nicolaus, to supersede him. The difficulty to Alexandrine court was that, while it desired to get efficient military men for its money, it was immediately afraid of any commander who gained credit and influence at Alexandria by his services. The only expedient seemed to be to hire efficient officers, but change them rapidly, before they had time to assert dangerous ambitions. After his success in Coele-Syria, Theodotus must go. Theodotus forestalled the court by occupying Ptolemais and Tyre with men he could trust, and writing to Antiochus, offering to put the two cities in his hands. It was not long before the Seleucid army was in Palestine. Antiochus marched along the coast and took possession of Tyre and Ptolemais. Nicolaus, who had arrived and taken over the command in Coele-Syria for Ptolemy, still held the interior and some cities on the coast, such as Sidon, Arados, and Dora.
These events in Syria took the court by surprise. Sosibius and the palace cabal saw that unless they now took drastic action the Seleucid king might come so near as to blast their voluptuous paradise for good. Self-interest quickened their wits and energies. The defection of Theodotus made them feverishly suspicious. A distinguished Greek painter of the day, employed in Alexandria, narrowly escaped having his head cut off, as a supposed accomplice of the traitor's.
They saw that they must create an Egyptian army capable of meeting the practised troops of Antiochus. That in itself was not a difficult thing to do for any Power as rich as Egypt. The court could hire the best military experts of the day and commission them to put the disorganized forces of the realm through a thorough training and take command of them in the field. It could increase the size of the army by fresh recruitment on a large scale. Only all this required time, and Antiochus was at the doors. The problem for the Alexandrine court was, therefore, to keep Antiochus in play by negotiations till the Egyptian army was ready. The first thing was to prevent his invading Egypt straight away in 219. The available forces were concentrated at Pelusium under the ostensible command of the young king present in person, and the canals connected up with the river in a way to make them serve as lines of defence.
Antiochus did not yet advance on Egypt. When the winter 219218 approached, he was still master of little in Coele-Syria, except the coast, and, even there, he had not succeeded in dislodging Nicolaus from Dora. The Alexandrine court now opened negotiations and led Antiochus to believe that it was almost ready to accept such terms as Antiochus might wish to impose. Antiochus agreed to an armistice of four months, and returned for the winter to Seleucia-in-Pieria. During the winter, negotiations between the two courts continued, and to make them still more complicated, the Alexandrine court induced a number of Greek states to intervene as mediators. Sosibius was even clever enough to turn to account Ptolemy's notorious inertia; he used it as a means for creating in Antiochus a false confidence. At Alexandria the winter was one of unparalleled activity—camps of soldiers being drilled by Greek officers who had had experience of real war under the last two kings of Macedonia, material of war being manufactured and prepared, fresh mercenaries pouring in from overseas. The foreign envoys who came to Egypt were not allowed to come as far as Alexandria, to see what was going on there; the court took up its residence for the winter at Memphis —through which, as Mahaffy was fond of pointing out, the regular road from Syria to Alexandria ran — and it was there that foreign ambassadors were entertained. In that ancient inland town, amongst its groves of palms, there were no signs of anything like war.
Polybius gives us to understand that the Ptolemaic army was reorganized from top to bottom. The old cadres were broken up, and the men redistributed, according as they were specially adapted by their race or their age to the use of some particular—the sarissa of the phalangite, the light shield of the peltast, the bow, the javelin, the sling.
The emergency led to one momentous innovation. The court decided to form a phalanx of natives, beside the ordinary phalanx of Greek and Macedonian soldiers; 20,000 strong-bodied and docile, if unwarlike, fellahîn were armed like Macedonians, taught to wield the long Macedonian pike (the sarissa), and move in a solid mass, as Macedonians did, at the words of command. Some hundreds of native Egyptians were also enrolled in the cavalry and trained by Polycrates of Argos, whose family had been honourable in the great days of Greek freedom. Beside the natives of Egypt, some thousands of Libyans, the fair-skinned natives of the Cyrenaica, were enrolled in the new army — some of them in the cavalry under Polycrates, 3000 of them armed like Macedonians under a commander, who belonged himself to the Cyrenaica, a Greek, no doubt, Ammonius of Barca.
Amongst those called up from the soldier-colonists in Egypt, in the Fayûm and elsewhere, were 4000 Gauls and Thracians; and another 2000 arrived by ship from Thrace under a Thracian captain, Dionysius. But the bulk of the army remained Greek and Macedonian. The phalanx of Macedonians and Greeks, commanded by Andromachus of Aspendus, numbered 25,000, as against the native phalanx of 20,000; there were, besides, all the Greek light-armed troops and the Greek and Macedonian cavalry.
In the spring of 218, the negotiations between Memphis and Seleucia having led to no agreement, as Sosibius never intended that they should, Antiochus continued the conquest of Coele-Syria. Philotera, Scythopolis (Beth-shan), the cities of the Decapolis, Philadelphia (Rabbath-Ammon), fell into his possession. His forces stormed the fortress on Mount Tabor. By the end of the campaign the Ptolemaic forces had been driven out of most of Palestine. He took up his winter quarters in Ptolemais, considering that his enterprise against the house of Ptolemy would need but little further effort to bring it to a final and triumphant conclusion. Either in the campaign of 218, or during the winter, the cities of Philistia, including Gaza, came under his control.
The Egyptian court had evidently detached only weak forces to oppose Antiochus in Palestine during 218. Their great army, being prepared at Alexandria, was not yet ready, and they were not going to bring it into the field prematurely. (The Frankfurt papyrus refers to a movement of forces under the king's command to the Bubastite nome in this year, about which we otherwise know nothing.) In the spring of 217 they felt that the time was come. On June 13, the army, 70,000 foot and 5000 horse, with 73 African elephants, moved out across the desert to Palestine. Ptolemy himself, doing, no doubt, what Sosibius and Agathocles told him to do, came with it, and not only Ptolemy, but his sister Arsinoe, still probably little more than a child. Her mother, Berenice, had been only about fifteen when she arranged the assassination of Demetrius, and Arsinoe was old enough to show herself to the soldiers and work up their enthusiasm for the house of Ptolemy and for herself, the young princess whose fair eyes would be upon them, to see them fight for her.
On the news of the Egyptian army's approach, Antiochus concentrated his own army at Gaza and went to meet Ptolemy. The two armies met near the town of Raphia on the edge of the desert, where a king of Assyria had defeated an Egyptian kay just five centuries before. Antiochus had a slight inferiority in numbers; beside his Greek and Macedonian troops, he had a large proportion of Asiatics, recruited from all over his vast realm, from Syria and Persia and Central Asia, many of them trained and armed in the Macedonian manner. He had also 102 Indian elephants.
From the account of Polybius it would appear that Antiochus would have won the battle, but for his characteristic impetuosity — brave and happy-golucky, as has been said. The day began badly for Ptolemy. The African elephants, procured with such vast pains and expense from far-off Somaliland, proved worse than useless against the Indian elephants of the Seleucid.
The cavalry charge led by Antiochus on his own right broke and routed the cavalry on the Ptolemaic left, where Ptolemy himself had his place in the battle, so that the king of Egypt was soon swept along in a wild flight to the rear. But Antiochus, in the exhilaration of the pursuit, failed to keep in touch with the rest of the field, and on the other wing the Ptolemaic horse drove in the Seleucid. In the shock between these two solid bodies of men, the systematic drilling and training of the last year and a half at Alexandria proved its virtue. Even the fellahîn, wielding their Macedonian pikes for the first time in real war, must have given a good account of themselves. The Seleucid phalanx, Macedonians, Greeks, Asiatics, gave way. When the day ended, the whole Seleucid army was in flight, back to Gaza and beyond. That was the battle of Raphia, June 22, 217 BC. The news of it set the world wondering and laughing. The old fox of Alexandria had sprung his surprise with dramatic success. Coele-Syria came back again to the house of Ptolemy, for Antiochus had, of course, to evacuate the whole country up to the Lebanon. The Alexandrine court, having recovered Palestine and secured the safety of its paradise, had all it wanted. Further conquests and military triumphs were remote from its desires. It let off Antiochus easily, not even demanding an indemnity.
An inscription found in the island of Siphnos tells how the ambassadors, sent out from Egypt to announce the great victory to the island-cities within the sphere of Ptolemy's sea-power, came to Siphnos, and how at the same time the chief admiral in the Aegean, Perigenes, visited the island and expressed his satisfaction at the little state's display of loyalty to the house of Ptolemy.
The 3rd Book of Maccabees gives a picture of Ptolemy, after table of Raphia, going on royal progress through the cities of the recovered province, coming to Jerusalem amongst the rest. He was curious, the story says, to go into the Holy of holies, and bore a bitter grudge against the Jews, because they prevented him from doing so. Mahaffy believed that the story in its outlines was true. A religious romance like the 3rd Book of Maccabees is very poor historical evidence, yet Polybius says that the king did spend three months in Syria and Phoenicia after the battle, personally 0superintending the restoration of the Ptolemaic ascendancy in the various cities and communities of the country, and, if so, one might certainly expect him to visit Jerusalem and the Jewish priestly state, which was noted amongst the Greeks as an odd and interesting community. And if he went to Jerusalem, it would be quite natural, one might argue, that he should want to go into the Temple and be incensed at any opposition — he who, himself a divinity, was associated with the gods worshipped in every temple of Egypt. While, therefore, the story in 3 Maccabees is not attested by any other source, it might be thought to have, so far, probability on its side. But the continuation of the story—how Ptolemy, after his return to Egypt, tried to force the Egyptian Jews to worship Dionysos, the account of the great persecution from which they were saved by a miracle—is almost certainly fiction which throws back into the days of Ptolemy IV a kind of persecution which the Jews first experienced under Antiochus Epiphanes fifty years later in Palestine.
And I believe, against the view of Mahaffy, that the story of Ptolemy's attempt to enter the Temple is pure fiction. The proof of this seems to me to be the silence of Daniel XI, written weight possibly by some one who himself remembered the events of 217, written in any case by some one who must have known scores of old people in Jerusalem who did. It is surely incredible that an event of the kind narrated in 3 Maccabees, bearing as it would have done in the most direct way upon the Jewish writer's theme, should not have been referred to in his survey of the doings of the kings of the north and the kings of the south in Palestine, had it ever really occurred.
On October 12, Ptolemy Philopator returned as victor to Egypt. Soon after his return he married his sister Arsinoe. He followed the precedent set by his grandfather in adopting this bit of Pharaonic practice. Mahaffy put forward an adventurous suggestion that the marriage had been deferred so long, because the court cabal had hoped that Agathoclea would produce an heir to the Ptolemaic throne, and only arranged the marriage of Ptolemy and his sister, when this hope failed. There is not a word in any ancient author to support this theory, and its seems much more likely that the marriage was deferred, only because Arsinoe had not been of marriageable age at her brother's accession. Ptolemy and Arsinoe were now associated as "the Father-loving Gods," Theoi Philopatores, with Alexander, their grandparents and their parents, in the Alexandrine state-cult. Why the particular surname of "Father-loving" was adopted by Ptolemy IV we do not know. Possibly Ptolemy Euergetes had been particularly popular in Egypt, and it was considered desirable that the reigning king and queen should gain popularity for themselves by associating themselves with the general sentiment in regard to the great king who was gone. About the same time the gap in the chief state-cult, created by the omission of the first Ptolemy and Berenice I, the "Saviour Gods," which had become noticeable, now that the practice had established itself of associating each reigning pair in turn with their predecessors and with Alexander in this cult, was filled in. Hitherto, as we have seen, the "Saviour Gods" had had a separate cult of their own, whose priest was not mentioned in the dating of documents. The earliest papyrus, which shows the new system, is of the eighth year of Ptolemy IV (215214). The eponymous priest is now described as "the priest of Alexander and the Saviour Gods and the Brother-andSister Gods and the Benefactor Gods and the Father-loving Gods." In the twelfth year of Ptolemy IV the papyri show another accession; a special annual priestess has been established for the king's mother, Berenice of Cyrene, analogous to the Kanephoros of Arsinoe Philadelphus. The new priestess has the title of Athlophoros, and henceforth is mentioned, together with the priest of Alexander and the Kanephoros, in the official dating. Since Ptolemy Philopator had had his mother poisoned, his establishing a special cult in her honour must not be regarded as the sign of exceptional filial affection. One would like to think it was remorse, but perhaps it was only policy. Berenice, too, we may believe, had been popular, and the manner of her death was already beginning to be whispered about in Alexandria.
Another stele has recently been discovered at Pithom recording, in hieroglyphics, in demotic, and in Greek, a resolution passed by a synod of Egyptian priests at Memphis in November 217, in view of the recent victory in Syria. From the description given of it by Henri Gauthier one does not gather that it tells us much of value about the Syrian campaign. It repeats the conventional phrases — the Pharaoh, like Horus, had massacred his enemies, had captured immense quantities of prisoners and gold and silver and precious things, had restored to the temples [in Syria?] the images which Antiochus had cast out of them, had repaired at immense expense those which were mutilated, had heaped gifts upon the temples of the realm, and brought back to Egypt and replaced the images which the Persian had carried away. That is all common form, but the inscription does give us a few dates which were not known before. And the inscription is interesting as showing the encroachment of Egyptian forms in the Ptolemaic kingdom. For the first time, so far as we know, the fulsome formulas of Pharaonic royalty, which are absent in the Canopus Decree, begin to appear in a hand translation. The inscription further tells us something about the new forms of worship instituted in the Egyptian temples in honour of the reigning house — images of Philopator and Arsinoe, carved pictures with the old motive of Pharaoh transpiercing his fallen enemy in battle, the celebration of the anniversary of the battle of Raphia and the five following days as a festival of rejoicing, a feast on the 20th of every month in honour of Ptolemy I and Berenice I.
We have other instances of the use of the Pharaonic formulas in the case of Philopator — a papyrus which seems to contain a royal rescript (addressed, no doubt, to the Egyptians), and which, therefore, shows the formulas to have been actually used by the court; a trilingual inscription in the Cairo Museum. The titles heaped upon Ptolemy Philopator — "Lord of Crowns, the Greatly Glorious, the One Pious towards the Gods, the Saviour of men," etc. — correspond closely with those given to Ptolemy Epiphanes on the Rosetta Stone.
The king's marriage with his sister did not mean any change of régime in the capital. The unhappy girl had been made her brother's wife, simply in order that an heir to the throne of the requisite royal blood might be bred from her. Agathocles and Agathoclea still, as before, ruled the king's corrupt affections The palace swarmed with literary pretenders, poets, grammarians, whores, buffoons, philosophers. Amongst the philosophers who resided for a time at the court of Ptolemy Philopator was the eminent Stoic Sphaerus. One of the anecdotes preserved concerns a practical joke which Ptolemy played upon him. The Stoics taught that the wise man would never yield to a false appearance, and Ptolemy at table had a sham fruit, made of wax, presented to Sphaerus, and, when the philosopher's teeth were stuck fast in it, asked him whether in this case a wise man had not yielded to a false appearance. Ptolemy had an ambition to figure as a poet himself, and wrote a play called Adonis, as its name indicates, of an idyllic erotic character. Agathocles followed suit by writing a commentary to it.
Apart from the Egyptian temples which he caused to be built, we know of three works of construction carried out by Ptolemy IV's command. One — characteristically enough—was a temple of Homer. The other two were ships of an unprecedented size —one a sea-going vessel whose banks of oars reached the astounding number of forty, and which measured 129 metres from stem to stern, not a vessel of much use, but one which enabled Ptolemy to say with pride that he possessed the largest ship in the world; the other a gigantic pleasure-boat for the court to use in excursions up[ the Nile, with saloons and bed-chambers and colonnades, all carried out in precious woods and ivory and gilt bronze, and decorated by Greek artists with carpets and embroideries.
To one form of emotional exaltation the king was especially addicted — the orgiastic worship of Dionysos. From this god the house of Ptolemy claimed to be descended, and Ptolemy IV desired apparently to reproduce in some way in his own person his divine ancestor. If he did not yet, like one of his descendants, adopt Neos Dionysos as an official surname, he was apparently often called "Dionysos" by the multitude or by the court. We are told that to mark his devotion to Dionysos he had the figure of the ivy-leaf tattooed upon his body. "Gallus"—the name given to the devotees of Great Mother who emasculated themselves in the state of frenzy—was, we are told, one of the nicknames given to Ptolemy IV in Alexandria.
A Berlin papyrus throws a vivid light upon the king's zeal for the worship of his special god:
"By the Order of the King. Those in the country districts who impart initiation into the mysteries of Dionysos are to come down by river to Alexandria, those residing not farther than Naucratis within 10 days after the promulgation of this decree, those beyond Naucratis within 20 days, and register themselves before Aristobulus at the registry office (katalogeion) within 3 days of the day of their arrival, and they shall immediately declare from whom they have received the rites for three generations back and give in the Sacred Discourse (Logos) sealed, each man writing upon his copy his own name."
There is some uncertainty in the interpretation of this document. The words τελοῦντας τῷ Διονύσῳ may mean (as Wilcken takes them), "who perform mystic rites to Dionysus," or (as Schubart takes them), "who impart initiation into the mystic rites of Dionysus." The latter translation seems to me more likely, since the ordinary members of the thiasos would hardly have to show that they have received the rites for three generations and have to submit the sacred Logos which the officiant had to pronounce. It is further uncertain for what purpose the telountes are summoned to Alexandria, whether, as Schubart thinks, for a synod, or, as Wilcken thinks, simply for the purpose of registration, so that the government may have the celebration of mysteries in each locality under its control. In any case the document seems to show a special interest on the part of the king in the worship of Dionysos.
On October 9 (Mesori 30), 209 BC— the date is fixed by the Rosetta Stone — Arsinoe fulfilled the purpose for which she had been made queen, and gave birth to a son. Within a few weeks of his birth apparently he was proclaimed joint-king with his father. Arsinoe's life, immured in the palace of Ptolemy Philopator was one of continuous humiliation and misery. She may have had the same high spirit as the other Macedonian princesses who figure in this story, but the unfriendly forces all round her, shutting her in, were too great for one lonely girl to combat. We get a chance glimpse of her—an authentic one. The great Eratosthenes lived on at Alexandria to look with sadness of heart at the outcome of all the teaching he had bestowed upon the son of Ptolemy Euergetes. When Ptolemy IV was dead, the old man published a book called Arsinoe in memory of the young queen. In this book he described how he had once been with her, when she and certain of her retinue were passing through some place, in or near the palace, and how they had met a man carrying green boughs, as for a festival. The queen wondered what festival day it could be—these things were obviously arranged by Ptolemy and his associates without any reference to her—and she inquired of the man. The man said it was the Feast of Flagons (λαγυνοφορία), and that it ended up with every one, court and people, getting gloriously drunk in a revel out of doors. Then, Eratosthenes wrote, Arsinoe "turned her eyes upon us" and broke out in bitter words at the shame of her father's house and the abasement of the royal dignity. For that one moment Arsinoe Philopator flashes into vivid light out of the darkness of the palace, to vanish again into darkness.
In Egypt itself, the reign of Ptolemy IV, after he returned, as a victor, from Palestine, was not without ominous troubles. After the battle of Raphia, the native question had become much more difficult to handle. It made an immense difference to the national self-consciousness of the Egyptians that 20,000 Egyptians had faced and put to flight Macedonian troops, or troops, at any rate, trained and armed as Macedonians. It was natural that a wild hope should run through parts of the country, that in Egypt, too, the old people of the land might successfully stand up to the ruling Greek and Macedonian race, might do to them as their fathers had done to the Hyksos. The Hyksos had ruled Egypt for four hundred years, and Egypt had been recovered in the end for the Egyptians under Pharaohs of their blood. Why should not the same thing happen again? The foreign king continued, according to the policy of his predecessors, to try to attach the natives to his rule by building, restoring, or beautifying Egyptian temples. Work proceeded under Ptolemy Philopator upon the great temple of Horus at Edfu. "At Luxor his cartouche is found on various buildings, showing that if he did not there erect buildings, he, at least, decorated them, and desired his name to be identified with them. On the opposite side of the river he certainly founded the beautiful little temple of Dêr-el Medineh, which was completed by his successors. Moreover, at Aswan he attempted the completion (which seems not to have been accomplished) of the small temple egun by his father" (M.).
But there were now many Egyptians whom the building of temples by royal order no longer availed to persuade that the Macedonian king was as good as a native Pharaoh. The army which fought at Raphia was hardly back in Egypt when native risings began. The story of this rug was told by Polybius in a part of his great work now lost. But from what he says about it in a fragment preserved we gather that it was a long-drawn out, confused affair—no great signal events, like pitched battles between large armies, no sea-battles or sieges, as in regular war—a mass of local encounters between bodies of rebels and government forces, one supposes, guerilla warfare creating misery over this or that district—only marked, Polybius says, by exceptional frightfulness, ferocity, and treachery. Egyptians, usually a gentle and long-suffering race, are capable, when excited, of abnormal atrocities. As Mahaffy justly pointed out, the fact that building continued on the temple at Edfu till the sixteenth year of the king (207206) (so the hieroglyphic inscription tells us) proves that the native troubles did not, at any rate, cut communications before that year between the court and Upper Egypt. Mahaffy's view is probably right that the districts affected at first by the rebellion were in Lower Egypt — the papyrus-swamps of the Delta had given refuge to Egyptian chiefs who rebelled against the Persians in former days—and that the rebellion did not break out in Upper Egypt (causing building operations at Edfu to be suspended) till the last years of Ptolemy IV's reign. Mahaffy was, however, mistaken in putting under Ptolemy IV the victory of Polycrates of Argos over the rebels. That belongs to the next reign. Whether the rebels in Lower Egypt had been rounded up before the rebellion broke out in Upper Egypt, or whether they were still at large, we do not know. On the wall of the temple at Edfu may still be read in the sacred Egyptian script:
"So was the temple built, the inner sanctuary being completed for the golden Horus, up to the year 10, Epiph the 7th, in the time of king Ptolemy Philopator. The wall in it was adorned with fair writing, with the great name of his Majesty and with pictures of the gods and goddesses of Edfu, and its great gateway completed, and the double doors of its broad chamber, up to the year 16 of his Majesty. Then there broke out a rebellion, and it came to pass that bands of insurgents hid themselves in the interior of the temple. . . ."
Not till nearly twenty years later was building resumed. The rebels in this region were apparently still holding the field when Ptolemy Philopator died.
A curious document illustrating the hopes which at this time lived in the hearts of the native population is a demotic papyrus giving what purports to be an oracle delivered in the days of king Tachōs (366 to 360 BC), though really of quite recent composition, accompanied by an explanation. Unfortunately for us, the explanation is very nearly as dark as the oracle itself. But so much can be discerned: the oracle gives a sketch of what has happened to Egypt since the days of Tachōs in the form of a prophecy (very much as Daniel sketches the history from Alexander to Antiochus Epiphanes as a prophecy supposed to be given in the days of Cyrus). And the prophecy is carried on to foreshadow the liberation of Egypt still to come, the native deliverer who will be king when the foreigners have been driven out. "A man of Chnês [Heracleopolis] is it, who after the Aliens [the Persians] and the Ionian [the Greeks] will bear rule." "Exult in joy, Prophet of Harsaphes!" And the commentary explains: "That means: the Prophet of Harsaphes rejoices after the Uinn; he is become a ruler in Chnês." The oracle then goes on to indicate the gathering of his army, his battles, his crowning, and the joy of Isis of Aphroditopolis. And the commentary ends up: "Rejoice over the Ruler, which is to be, for he will not forsake the Law."
Possibly another little literary peace—the "Potter's Prophecy"—of which we have fragments in some tattered papyri of the 2nd and 3rd centuries AD, may be taken as showing the hopes of Egyptian nationalism under the later Ptolemaic kings. The papyri which preserve it are in Greek, but the work professes to be, and probably is, in part at any rate, the translate of an Egyptian document. It purports to give the prophecy uttered by an inspired potter before a king Amenophis in ancient days. The papyri are too fragmentary to yield a connected story, but one can make out that days of oppression and misery are prophesied for Egypt under foreign enemies who are called "girdle-wearers", probably the Persians; then the Saviour-king arises by whom the city of the girdle-wearers shall be laid waste and the holy things brought back to Egypt. Then comes a passage which can refer to nothing but a looked-for destruction of Alexandria: "And the City beside the sea shall become a place where fishers dry their nets, because the Good Daimon and Knephis shall have departed to Memphis, so that certain who go by shall say: 'This City was a universal nurse (pantotrophos), every race of men did settle in her.' And then Egypt shall be [blessed?], when the king who for fifty-five years shall be benevolent shall come from the Sun-god, a giver of good things, established by the greatest goddess Isis, so that they who are alive and remain shall pray that they who have died may rise again to share in the good things."
A few Greek inscriptions which chance has here and there brought to light show us members of the ruling race as well as natives active under Ptolemy Philopator. At Alexandria, Apollonius, son of Ammonius, with his wife Timocion and his children, dedicate an image on behalf of king Ptolemy and queen Arsinoe, Father-loving Gods, to Demeter and Kore and Justice. Another Alexandrine, Diodōtus, son of Myrtaeus, makes a dedication on behalf of the king and queen to Sarapis and Isis. The foundations of an ancient building uncovered at Alexandria about thirty years ago proved to have between the stones four plaques, one of gold, with a hieroglyphic and a Greek inscription. The Greek inscription indicates that the building was a temple of Sarapis and Isis, Saviour Gods, and of king Ptolemy and queen Arsinoe, Father-loving Gods. We do not know by whom the temple was erected; from the fact that there is a hieroglyphic, as well as a Greek inscription, one would suppose the dedicator or the dedicators to have been Egyptian. At Thebes, a Hellenized Egyptian, Teos, son of Horus, policeman (φυλακίτης) in a quarter of Thebes called Ammoniēum, from the great temple of Amen situate there, makes a dedication on behalf of the king and queen, to what deity is not stated. Another Greek inscription from Thebes runs: "On behalf of Ptolemy the great Father-loving God, Saviour and Victorious, and of Ptolemy the son, Comon, son of Asclepiades, oikonomos of the [dues and customs?] in the district of Naucratis, to Isis, Sarapis, Apollo." A Greek official, posted at present to the district of Naucratis, comes to visit the famous city of Thebes on his holiday tour, or for some private business, and takes occasion to make an offering on behalf of the king and his son in the celebrated temple, displaying his loyalty by adding extra surnames of his own choice to the royal name. That the queen is not mentioned does not prove anything; in a private dedication the dedicator might choose which members of the royal family to pray for. It is possible that the palace cabal did keep Arsinoe as much as possible in the background, and that an official anxious to gain favour in high quarters would know that his omitting the queen's name would by no means go against him.
In spite of the unfortunate experience at Raphia, the Egyptian government continued to organize elephant-hunting in the regions of the south. A Greek inscription on a black marble pedestal from Edfu records a dedication made there to the Father-loving Gods, to Sarapis and Isis, by the man sent to take command of the forces operating in the elephant-country, Lichas, son of Pyrrhus, an Acarnanian. This command has been given to Lichas, the inscription says, for the second time. Since Ptolemy and Arsinoe appear in it as king and queen, it must be later than the battle of Raphia. As we have seen, the name of Lichas remained attached to a strip of the Somaliland coast.
Another of the Ptolemaic commanders of the elephant-country mentioned by Strabo—Charimortus—appears in an inscription in the British Museum. From what place in Egypt it comes is not known. Charimortus must have held the command at a later date than Lichas. The inscription is a dedication on behalf of Ptolemy, Arsinoe, and their little son, put up by the man who is going as second in command to Charimortus in the elephant-country, and by the subordinate officer and soldiers with him. Both the two officers are Pisidians. The dedication is made to Ares Nikephoros Euagros—the War God who gives victory and good hunting. Since the little son is mentioned, the inscription must be later than October 8, 209.
The Ethiopian dynasty of Napata came to an end when the king of Meroe, Arqamani, whom the Greeks called Ergamenes, reunited all Ethiopia under his rule. Reisner calculates that this happened about 225 BC, though it might possibly, he thinks, have been as early as 240. Diodorus says that the coup d'état of Ergamenes took place "in the time of Ptolemy II". This statement has long been questioned on the ground that Ergamenes appears in the monuments as a contemporary of Ptolemy IV; but this would not by itself rule out the possibility of his coup d'état having taken place as early as 250, still in the reign of Ptolemy II, as F. Ll. Griffith supposes. Since the later archaeological researches at Meroe, however, it appears hard to reconcile such an early date with the other reigns which have to be got in between 308 and Ergamenes. The passage of Diodorus about Ergamenes is as follows:
"In former times [in Ethiopia] the kings were subject to the priests, not through any material force, but because their reason was crushed by superstition; but in the time of Ptolemy II the king of the Ethiopians, Ergamenes, who had some tincture of Hellenic education and had studied philosophy, first had the courage to make light of the command. For, acting with a spirit conformable to his royal standing, he went with a party of soldiers into the holy place, where was the golden shrine of the Ethiopians, and put all the priests to the sword. Having so broken down the old custom, he governed thenceforth according to his judgment."
Diodorus does not say that "Ergamenes was educated at the court of Ptolemy II," as Reisner inadvertently supposes, taking a little bit of romancing on Mahaffy's part for a statement by an ancient author. Diodorus does not even say that Ergamenes had ever visited Egypt, though, of, he may have done so. Many Greek teachers, no doubt, could have been induced to go up the Nile as far as Meroe the instruct a king, or a king's son. We do actually hear of a Greek man of letters, Simonides, who lived for five years in Meroe, and wrote a book about Ethiopia. We know that even an Indian king at this time asked to have a Greek sophist sent him. It is interesting that a desire should have arisen at the Pharaonic court of Ethiopia to learn the wisdom of the Greeks, but it is what we should expect. This new culture which had recently come to rule over the Mediterranean lands and the area of the old Persian Empire had acquired a prestige in the world which inevitably made the kings and peoples around its sphere eager to know what it meant. A splendid court like that of the second Ptolemy set a standard, just as the court of Louis XIV did for contemporary Europe, and it would hardly been possible for Ptolemy's neighbour, whose frontier marched with his own higher up the Nile, to remain unaffected by it. Hellenic rationalism found its way to Meroe and changed the Pharaoh who had been a puppet, dominated by the ecclesiastical tradition, into an emancipated worldly wise autocrat like a Hellenistic king.
Yet, if Ergamenes himself took to Greek philosophy, the court and kingdom, to judge by the monumental remains, continued in externals to be Pharaonic. There is no trace, so far as I know, of Hellenistic influence in the temples and pyramids of Meroe or the remains of its art. The temple built by Ergamenes at Dakkeh is on purely Egyptian lines. And when he died, his mummy was laid to rest in a pyramid near Meroe, decorated with copies of scenes from the Book of the Dead according to the correct Egyptian tradition. It has even been observed that the hieroglyphics inscribed for Ergamenes are of such a good Pharaonic type as to make it likely that he procure priestly craftsmen from Egypt. This would not invalidate the story of his having had personally Greek ideas, since we can see, in the case of the Ptolemies, that no inference can be made from the style of the Egyptian temples built at the king's command to the king's own culture.
Another Ethiopian king, Azechramon (Ezekher-Amun), seemingly the immediate successor, and possibly the son (or nephew if the succession went in Ethiopia by mother-right) of Ergamenes, built a chapel which may still be seen at the modern Debôd (about 9'1/2 miles above Philae). He appears in the hieroglyphics as a perfect Egyptian Pharaoh, with no sign of Nubian or negro blood, and makes the traditional claim of a Pharaoh to be "King of the Two Countries" — an astounding claim for any one who was an ally (if indeed he was) of the actual king of Egypt.
Yet about 200 BC Ethiopia was so far abandoning the Pharaonic tradition that the Egyptian language began to give place in inscriptions to the language of the country, for which a new script, "Meroïtic," had been invented, whilst a new system of hieroglyphics came in (ruder in execution) to replace the traditional Egyptian system.
Ptolemy IV would appear to have maintained close relations of some kind with the Ethiopian Pharaoh Ergamenes. Above the First Cataract the desert hills close in upon the Nile, only leaving here and there a very narrow fringe of cultivation beside the river. Through this sterile passage is the way to the wide open regions of Ethiopia on the Upper Nile. The reach from Philae to Tachompso (modern Derâr) was called by the Egyptians the "Land of the Twelve ar" (an Ar being equivalent to about 7'1/2 miles), and this the Greeks translated as Dodekaschoinos. The priesthood of Philae claimed that this stretch of land had been given to Isis. Possibly its sacred character has something to do with the fact that the Ptolemaic rule and Ethiopian rule seem here to overlap in a strange way under Ptolemy IV. The temple at Pselcis (modern Dakkeh) is stated by its hieroglyphic inscriptions to have been built by Ergamenes, yet on the same temple we find reliefs added by Ptolemy IV. On the side of one doorway one may see Ergamenes making offering to Isis, and on the side of another, Ptolemy Philopator worshipping Anukis, Satis, Isis, and Hathor. On the lintel Philopator has inscribed his own cartouche, together with those of Arsinoe, his Sister-Wife, of his father and mother, and of the "Daughter of Amen Arsinoe." The theory that the Dodekaschoinos was neutral territory, in which both kings might honour the goddess, is hard to reconcile with the hieroglyphic statement of Ergamenes that Isis had given to him the Land of the Twelve Ar, "from Syene to Tachompso." And, indeed, in Philae itself Ergamenes had himself represented on the walls as Pharaoh, yet in close neighbourhood to representations of Ptolemy IV, in the same character. This curious overlapping of Ptolemaic and Ethiopian kingship seems, however, more easy to account for by some sort of friendly arrangement at this time between the two courts than by the hypothesis of an alternating dominion between two hostile Powers; for, on the latter supposition, one would have expected the king in possession to have effaced his rival's monuments, as Ptolemy V did some of those of Ergamenes at Philae later on.
Greece, during the later years of Ptolemy Philopator, was torn by the quarrel between Philip, king of Macedonia, and the Aetolian League. Egypt took no active part in it. But it obviously acted in various ways diplomatically; there was constant intercourse between the Alexandrine court and the states of Greece; it was convenient to many, all over the Greek world, to gain favor with the powers ruling in Alexandria. The gifts which the rich king of Egypt could make to any city whom he wished to benefit were not to be despised.
A dedication in honor of Ptolemy Philopator has been found in Rhodes; dedications in honor of Ptolemy and Arsinoe at Oropus and Thespiae in Boeotia. Honors are voted to Sosibius by Tanagra and Orchomenus. Polybius mentions with disgust the fulsome honors poured by Athens upon Ptolemy under the guidance of the popular leaders Euryclides and Micion.
Beside these traces of Ptolemaic influence in the independent states of Greece, we find naturally honour paid to the house of Ptolemy and its chief minister in states which were still directly under Egyptian control. Thera, Sestos, Methymnas in Lesbos, Cnidos (a statue of Sosibius),Halicarnassus, Cyprus.
In the fight between Antiochus III and his cousin Achaea, in Asia Minor, which followed the peace between Egypt and Syria, Ptolemy stood aloof. We only find that when Achaea was being besieged in Sardis, the Alexandrine court made an attempt to contrive his escape by sending a secret agent, a Cretan named Bolis. The man proved treacherous, and, instead of rescuing Achaea, delivered him up to Antiochus, who put him to death.
But much more momentous for the destinies of the Mediterranean world than any events happening in Greece or Asia were the events happening, during the reign of Ptolemy Philopator, in Italy and the West — the "Second Punic War," the decisive struggle between Hannibal and Rome. Already clear-sighted statesmen saw what was coming upon the world. At the Conference of Naupactus in 217 — a conference at which envoys from Ptolemy were present — the Aetolian Agelaus put plainly before the representatives of the Macedonian Powers and the Greek states that the dominion of the world was being decided in Italy. Unless they composed their quarrels and stood together, they would soon all be under the rule of either Carthage or Rome. His warning made an impression, but was of no avail.
Later on, the king of Macedonia allied himself with Hannibal, and the Aetolians with Rome. The Egyptian court observed a careful neutrality. When in 216 a Carthaginian ship, carrying to Carthage as prisoner a pro-Roman Italian, Decius Magius, was compelled by bad weather to run into the harbour of Cyrene, Magius escaped to shore and took refuge at the king's statue. He was brought to Alexandria, but was set free, only when the court had ascertained that Hannibal had made him prisoner in violation of a treaty. The following year a Sicilian, Zoippus, came to Alexandria, as the envoy of the young king of Syracuse, Hieronymus, to persuade Ptolemy to throw in his lot with the Carthaginians, but was, of course, unsuccessful. Between 215 and 210 Roman ambassadors appeared in Alexandria. There may have been occasions before this when the Alexandrines had seen pass through their streets envoys from the strong people of the West, figures stiff and self-contained in their voluminous white togas, looking with a settled conviction of superiority at the crowd of Greeks and Egyptians in the great Levantine city — but this embassy is the first of which we have trustworthy record. It came to procure corn from Egypt, the one country in those days not at war; famine conditions prevailed in Italy, where the fields had been laid waste by moving armies. We are not told what answer was given it by the Ptolemaic court; probably Ptolemy did not think it inconsistent with his neutrality to supply the Romans with corn. When Rome, after the battle on the Metaurus in 207, made it plain that it did not desire to see the Aetolians make peace with Philip, the Alexandrine court, which had been sending envoys, together with other states of the Greek world, to mediate between the fighting Powers in Greece, seems to have drawn back and shrunk from offending Rome.
The end of Ptolemy Philopator is wrapped in some mystery. Justin says that his death was kept a secret for some time by the court cabal. Ptolemy and Arsinoe perhaps appeared very little in public in the latter end of the reign. Ptolemy may have become altogether besotted with his wine and other excesses, and Arsinoe may have been kept more or less a prisoner in the palace.
It now seems made out that Philopator died and Epiphanes succeeded to the throne on November 28, 203 BC.
Mahaffy argued that the picture of Ptolemy Philopator drawn by Polybius, and indeed all our ancient authorities, was unfair. He was not such a hopeless state of things as he is represented. It is true that a collection of scandalous stories about Ptolemy Philopator was published by Ptolemy, son of Agesarchos (Ptolemy of Megalopolis), who had been employed in his diplomatic service, and who wrote a history of the reign, but it does not prove the account given by Polybius and others of Philopator to be untrue, that they may have drawn from this work.
It appears to me that, whilst it is always possible that an account given of a person in history by contemporary writers is biased, one way or the other, and whilst it is a pleasure to many people to see an established estimate upset, there is no real evidence in this case to invalidate the testimony of Polybius and other writers about the character of Ptolemy Philopator. One of Mahaffy's arguments was that if we knew of Ptolemy IV from the inscriptions only, we should think much better of him. We should really know nothing about him; for inscriptions expressing official loyalty by men in government service, or honours paid to the king of Egypt as a matter of policy by Greek city-states, are even more worthless as evidence regarding the king's character than epitaphs are regarding the character of the person buried below. A more substantial argument was that Antiochus and Philip, after the battle of Raphia, deferred their attack on Egypt till after Ptolemy IV was dead. They therefore obviously considered that, so long as he lived, Egypt was stronger than under his infant son. Mahaffy admitted that this argument would not hold on the supposition that Antiochus and Philip were afraid, not of Philopator personally, but of a government directed by Sosibius. Mahaffy, however, held that Sosibius died before the end of Philopator's reign. Yet the evidence is in favour of Sosibius having been still active at the proclamation of the infant Ptolemy as king.
Ptolemy V, Epiphanes (203-181 B.C.)
The natural person to be guardian of the infant-king and regent of the kingdom was his mother, Arsinoe. So long as Philopator lived, Arsinoe could do nothing against Agathocles. As soon as Philopator was dead, with the favour of the people to support her, Arsinoe became dangerous. Before, therefore, the king's death was divulged, before Arsinoe could make a public appearance, Agathocles and Sosibius resolved to have her murdered in the secrecy of the palace. Even so, it was no easy matter to arrange the murder in such a way that it should not get bruited abroad and draw the wrath of the people upon their heads. If the queen suddenly died or disappeared, many people in the palace were bound to know it — the queen's women, we learn afterwards, were devoted to her — and the murder must therefore be contrived in some way which would not excite the suspicion of those outside the plot. It required evidently a good deal of managing, since a number of agents were employed under the direction of a certain Philammon, a friend of Agathocles, and correspondence in writing took place between the conspirators. One letter fell into the hands of an outsider, who might have exposed the plot and saved the queen, had he been loyal. Unhappily he was not, and the murder was successfully accomplished.
It may have been towards the end of 203 B.C. when Agathocles and Sosibius thought the time come to announce to the world that Ptolemy and Arsinoe, the Father-loving Gods, had departed to heaven.
By the curious chance which has reigned in the preservation of particular bits of ancient historical literature, there is no part of the history of Ptolemaic Egypt — not the great events of the reign of the second Ptolemy —, not the campaigns of Ptolemy Euergetes beyond the Euphrates — which comes into clearer illumination, showing scenes and events in their manifold details, than the events in Alexandria, when Agathocles and Sosibius made their announcement to the people. You have to wait till the reign of the last great Cleopatra, before scenes in Alexandria are put before us with the same fullness of detail as the scene in Alexandria when the announcement was made in 203, and the scenes which followed it, described for us by Polybius, as they might be by a modern newspaper reporter. A full translation of those chapters of the ancient historian may be read in Mahaffy's Empire of the Ptolemies. There you see Agathocles and Sosibius, the two villains, on the wooden platform built in the great pillared court of the palace; the diadem bound round the head of the six-yearold child, the little heir to the great Ptolemaic heritage; the will, or supposed will, of the dead king read aloud, constituting Agathocles and Sosibius his guardians; the speech of Agathocles to the soldiers, drawn up alongside in their Macedonian armour; and then the production of the two silver urns, which Agathocles declares to contain the ashes of the late king and queen, and which, he says, are to be given ceremonious funeral — no doubt in the Sema, where the bodies of the kings were put near the body of Alexander. And then you are made to hear the murmurs spreading through the crowd, through the great city, the mystery of Arsinoe's death, the pathos of her story, exciting popular emotion and unrest.
For the moment Agathocles and Sosibius retained their position of power in Alexandria. But they were conscious of dangers all round. There was the danger from other personalities at court, who might cherish ambitions of their own, some of them, like Philammon, privy to the queen's murder. There was the danger from the mercenary troops, who might be infected with the popular feeling against the young king's unworthy guardians. And lastly there was the foreign danger, from Antiochus and Philip. Antiochus might renew his attack on Coele-Syria; Philip might attack the Ptolemaic possessions in the Aegean, to say nothing of the native rebellion in Upper Egypt, still unsubdued.
Agathocles and Sosibius took what measures they could. Prominent personalities at court were got out of Egypt. Philammon was made Libyarch, that is, governor of the Cyrenaica. Ptolemy, son of Agesarchus, was sent as ambassador to Rome. Scopas, the Aetolian condottiere, was sent to Greece to recruit a new body of mercenaries, who would occupy the camps in Alexandria and furnish the palace guards, whilst the old mercenaries were removed to a distance from Alexandria, sent in scattered detachments to do garrison duty in Upper Egypt or in the outlying dependencies. A son of old Sosibius called Ptolemy was sent as ambassador to Macedonia to prevent Philip, if possible, joining with Antiochus in an attack on the Ptolemaic possessions, and Pelops, son of Pelops, was sent as ambassador to Antiochus. Even before Philopator's death, Antiochus had already begun to seize the Ptolemaic possessions in Asia Minor. Pelops had to entreat him to abide by his treaty with Philopator. A letter from Antiochus to Amyzon, near Tralles, promising them the privileges which they had enjoyed under Ptolemy, is dated May or June, 203.
Agathocles, however, was not prudent in his way of life. The parvenu put no restraint upon his pride or his lusts. Popular feeling against him waited only for a suitable leader in order to explode. As for old Sosibius, he is no more heard of and must have died soon after the institution of the new régime. A leader was found in 202 in the person of Tlepolemus, whom Agathocles had appointed to command as strategos at Pelusium and organize the defence of the frontier, in case Antiochus reconquered Palestine. Pelusium was soon a centre of revolt against Agathocles. When the Macedonian troops in Alexandria went over to the side of Tlepolemus, the fate of Agathocles and his associates were sealed. The incidents which led up to the explosion in Alexandria, and the scenes which followed it, are again described for us in vivid detail by Polybius, but cannot be told at length here — the storming of the palace, the pitiful attempts of Agathocles to compromise, to gain mercy; at last the surrender of the boy-kg to the Macedonian troops. We see the bewildered child of seven set on a horse amongst shouting crowds, brought to the Stadium, set upon a throne in the sight of the people. Then a young Sosibius, a son of the old intriguer — a young man who is an officer of the Bodyguard and is sagaciously on the popular side — slips up to the small figure on the throne, bends to his ear, asks whether he delivers over the murderers of his mother to popular vengeance. It is easy to make the boy, dazed and frightened, give a sign of assent, and immediately the cry goes out, through the soldiery, over the city, "It is the king's will!" Alexandria gives itself up to an orgy of lynching: Agathocles dragged out from his house and killed; Agathoclea, the wretched old mother Oenanthe, the wife of Philammon, all carried through the streets naked, torn literally piecemeal; Philammon himself, who happened to have just come to Alexandria from Cyrene, beaten to death, his little son throttled. It is with regard to these scenes that Polybius remarks that the inhabitants of Egypt (the remark applies evidently not only to the natives, but to the Greeks, who in this case were mainly, if not exclusively, concerned, and who must be supposed to have taken on, by their residence, some quality of the environment) have an abnormal tendency to commit atrocities, when their angry passions are roused.
Tlepolemus stepped, as regent, into the place of Agathocles. It was better to have a soldier than a king's catamite as ruler of the kingdom. But Tlepolemus was not a success; he was vain and boisterous, and neglected affairs of state for conviviality and games of ball. Antiochus and Philip made a compact to fall upon the Ptolemaic possessions — Antiochus again invading Coele-Syria, as he had done seventeen years before, and Philip driving the Ptolemaic garrisons out of the places they held in and round the Aegean. In 202, within a few months of the announcement of Philopator's death in Alexandria, Philip began expelling the Ptolemaic garrisons from Thrace and Gallipoli and establishing his own supremacy in their stead. In 201 his fleet took Samos and invaded Caria. By tend of the year Ephesus was almost the only place on the eastern shores of the Aegean still remaining to the house of Ptolemy. Meanwhile, in 202 probably, Antiochus invaded Coele-Syria and pushed back the Ptolemaic forces up to the desert between Palestine and Egypt. The city o Gaza did not fall till after a famous siege (autumn of 201).
About this time ambassadors from Rome appeared again at Alexandria — Marcus Aemilius Lepidus and two others. When Roman ambassadors had come nine years before, Rome had been hard pressed by Hannibal; now the ambassadors came from a victorious Rome, officially in order to announce the victory of Rome over Carthage to the friendly Ptolemaic court, really, no doubt, in order to get more information about the situation in the Levant, in view of their impending war with Philip. A curious point about this embassy is the statement which we find in later authors that Marcus Lepidus was made the young king's guardian, with power to administer the realm in his name. The statement, as it stands, is unquestionably false. To say nothing of the absence of any such idea in our better authorities (Polybius and Livy), it would be impossible to fit in such an office for Marcus Lepidus with the other things we know about his activities and about the history of the time. Yet we have a coin struck in Rome by a later member of the family of Lepidi, probably in 54 B.C., in which his ancestor, Marcus Lepidus, is represented crowning the boy-king, with the inscription TVTOR REGIS. Now, whilst we can easily understand the family giving currency to a legend in their ancestor's honour, it does not seem likely that the legend arose without any basis at all. A relation of some particular kind must, one would think, have been formed between the Roman noble and the boy-king of Egypt. Mahaffy ingeniously suggested that Lepidus might have undertaken to act at Rome as the formal protector of Egypt's interests, as the king's patronus. Whether the further statement in Justin is true — that at the same time that Lepidus was sent to Egypt, ambassadors from Rome were also sent to Antiochus warning him not to attack Egypt — we do not know. Certainly Rome can have done nothing at this moment to make an enemy of Antiochus as well as of Philip. Justin says also in this passage that the boy-king had been placed "by his father's last prayers" under the guardianship of Rome, as the ward (pupillus) of the Republic. This does not seem necessarily to imply a formal will and testament of Philopator's making Rome his son's guardian. If Ptolemy Philopator had done no more than express to Rome, in the course of his diplomatic correspondence, his hope that his son after his death might continue to have the friendly support of the Roman People, that would be enough to give a text to Roman statesmen and start a literary tradition which might appear in later rhetorical writers like Justin in the form of the statement we have before us. It seems likely, indeed, that letters written from the Alexandrine court to Rome, when Philopator's end drew near, would contain expressions of this kind. That is all we can say.
The ease with which the foreign enemies had despoiled the house of Ptolemy showed up the incapacity of Tlepolemus as regent. We find him in about a year replaced by another regent, Aristomenes, an Acarnanian officer of the Bodyguard, who had been, to his discredit, a friend and flatterer of Agathocles, but who showed shaft, Polybius says, an admirable and virtuous administrator when he came himself into power. With the Acarnanian regent was closely associated the Aetolian Scopas, whom we have already heard of, as employed by Agathocles. To Scopas, who had a high reputation as a soldier, although he had a freebooter's passion for gain, was no doubt entrusted the supreme direction of the military affairs of the realm. During the winter, 201202, Scopas was successful in recapturing a number of places in Southern Palestine from the forces of Antiochus — Jerusalem among them. He threw a garrison into Jerusalem, and returned to Egypt, taking with him the leaders of the Jewish aristocracy who had supported the Ptolemaic cause. Then, apparently in the spring of 200, he returned to Palestine to open a new campaign, and was again successful in pushing back the Seleucid forces as far as the Lebanon.
But any glory Scopas won by these successes proved elusive. Antiochus came south to conquer Coele-Syria for the third time. Where the road through the Lebanon enters Palestine, at the place called by the Greeks Panion — from the sanctuary of some Semitic god near the source of the river Jordan, whom the Greeks identified with Pan — the Ptolemaic army under Scopas met the Seleucid army under Antiochus. It was a complete victory for the Seleucid. The battle of Panion ended finally, after the strife of a century, the rule of the house of Ptolemy in Palestine. Antiochus repossessed himself, this time for good, of the coveted province. Scopas himself, after undergoing a siege in Sidon, was allowed to return to Egypt.
At Alexandria, with the large body of mercenaries attached to him, Scopas was still powerful. Using, as his principal agent, Charimortus, whom we have heard of as a governor of the elephant-country, he amassed riches to a degree which Polybius describes as "burgling the kingdom." He conceived the design of a coup d'état which would place him in supreme power. Aristomenes forestalled him, had him arrested in his house, and tried by the Council. Distinguished representatives of the Greek states, who happened to be in Alexandria — Aetolian ambassadors amongst them — were invited to be present at the trial as assessors, so that all the Greek world might have proof that Scopas was rightfully condemned. Scopas, together with a number of his associates, was executed by poison.
It was apparently soon after this that Aristomenes thought the time come for the young king to celebrate his coming of age. He was (in October 197) only twelve years of age, but it was no doubt thought desirable that a point should be stretched in order to have as soon as possible a king in Egypt with personal authority. The ceremonies of a king's majority, called in Greek anakleteria, were celebrated at Alexandria with becoming splendour. The surname chosen for the fifth Ptolemy was that of Theos Epiphanes, the God Manifest, to which a second surname, Eucharistos, "Gracious," was sometimes officially added. The Greek anakleteria were followed by another ceremony which, so far as we know, was an innovation in the house of Ptolemy. The left king was consecrated by Egyptian priests at the old capital, Memphis, with the coronation ceremony proper for a native Pharaoh. It was a new bid, of a dramatic kind, to secure the loyalty of the Egyptians to the foreign rule, Something of the sort seemed imperatively demanded. During all these years the native revolts, which had begun under Philopator, had been going miserably on.
The hostile bands were led by two men whose names are read (by Revillout) as Anmachis and Hermachis. They may be Egyptians who aspire to Pharaonic dignity, or Ethiopian chiefs who have taken the opportunity to raid Upper Egypt.
In any case, the friendly relation which seems to have subsisted under Philopator between the courts of Alexandria and Meroë gave place under Epiphanes to hostility. The later cartouches of Ergamenes in Philae have been defaced. Amongst the fragments of Agatharchides is one which says that "Ptolemy formed a corps of 500 horsemen from Greece his war against the Ethiopians." We are not told which Ptolemy is meant, but in other fragments we seem to be given bits of a discourse supposed to be addressed to a young king by his guardian (epitropos), giving him advice with regard to a war against that Ethiopians. This would fit in with the hypothesis that the Ptolemy meant is the young Epiphanes.
When we inquire into the factors which brought about the spirit of nationalist revolt under the later Ptolemies, especially in Upper Egypt, an important one was probably the continued maintenance of the Pharaonic tradition in the Nile country to the south of Egypt. The Greek conquerors had subjugated Egypt, but they had not subjected the whole realm of the ancient Pharaohs, the whole area of Egyptian culture; and so long as the Egyptian nationalists saw their old tradition still ruling, there just beyond the southern frontier, they might well refuse to believe that it had been crushed for good. After all, the old legends told of Egyptian kings in former days, when Egypt was overrun by strangers, taking refuge in Ethiopia on the Upper Nile and issuing thence again to recover the land down to the sea.
In the year 200199 we hear incidentally that Abydos was being besieged. Then, in 197, it is in the Delta that we find the rebels dangerous. They are in possession of the town of Lycopolis in the Busirite nome. The rebel bands have taken refuge behind its walls, and are besieged there by government troops, the young king, it would seem, being present with his soldiers. The summer of 197 saw an abnormally high rise of Nile, which threatened, by submerging the siege-works constructed round the town, to the king's troops to relax their pressure. To obviate this, the king's troops blocked the canals which fed the neighbourhood of Lycopolis and diverted the water elsewhere. The rebel chiefs saw that their position was hopeless, and capitulated. The king, says Polybius, "treated them cruelly, and fell into many dangers." The vague phrase, due perhaps to the abbreviator of Polybius, probably means that the cruelty of the king's reprisals provoked more furious revolts later on. Another set of rebels — the chiefs who had headed the nationalist revolt under Ptolemy Philopator — were apparently brought to Memphis, and their execution combined with the ceremonies of the king's enthronement as a Pharaoh on Phaophi 17 (= November 26), 197. One can hardly make the boy of twelve responsible for what was done; even if he was officially of age, his public actions must have been still those of his Greek ministers.
We do not know how large a section of the Egyptian people was infected with the spirit of nationalist revolt. The bulk probably remained quiet and acquiescent. The court, at any rate, had thought it prudent in the years since the young king's accession to perform a number of acts of grace. Certain taxes were abolished; others were lightened. Debts, to a large amount, owing to the royal treasury were remitted. Prisoners, including many who had been a long time in confinement, awaiting trial, were set free. Members of the caste of machimoi and others who had taken part in the revolt, but had returned home, were granted an amnesty. Possibly Egyptians began to be given higher posts in the bureaucratic system. In a papyrus which seems to belong to the latter part of the 3rd century we find an Imonthes who is (provincial) dioiketes. The court especially directed its care to conciliating the Egyptian priesthood by new graces and concessions, and by new honours paid to the national religion. These are enumerated on the famous Rosetta Stone, to which we now come.
This stone, of black basalt, now to be seen in the British Museum, was discovered at Rosetta by the French in 1799, when Napoleon was occupying Egypt, and was left for the English to take possession of in 1801. On it is inscribed in hieroglyphic script, in Greek, and in demotic (the stone is broken and a good part of the hieroglyphics is gone) a decree passed on Mechir 18 (= March 27,) 196, by the general synod of Egyptian priests from the whole kingdom assembled at Memphis. It was this stone which first gave the key of the ancient language of Egypt to the younger Champollion in 1824, and is thus the foundation stone upon which the whole of modern Egyptology has been built up. The occasion for which the synod was assembled was what was called in Egyptian a sed festival. The rites of a king's institution having been originally conceived to impart a supernatural power and virtue to the new king, there had been a custom in ancient Egypt of renewing the rites at irregular intervals during a king's reign — as if to recharge him with the divine electricity. The intervals, originally, it seems, of thirty years, are not found in Pharaonic Egypt shorter than two years. There is, therefore, something strange in a sed festival for the young Ptolemy taking place only four months after his enthronement. Possibly, as Bouché-Leclercq suggests, the original ceremony of enthronement the previous November had been "somewhat scamped owing to the circumstances of the moment," and it was thought well to make sure that the young king was charged with power. A stone discovered in 1884 at Damanhûr shows that another synod of similar character took place at Memphis in 182. Since this second synod takes place in Pharmuthi (= June in this particular year), it is obvious that there was no necessity for the date of a sed festival to be the anniversary of the enthronement. The decree on the Rosetta Stone is as follows:
"In the reign of the young one — who has received the royalty from his father — lord of crowns, glorious, who has established Egypt, and is pious towards the gods, superior to his foes, who has restored the civilized life of men, lord of the Thirty Years' Feasts, even as Hephaistos the Great; a king, like the Sun, the great king of the upper and lower regions; offspring of the God Philopatores, one whom Hephaistos has approved, to whom the Sun has given the victory, the living image of Zeus, son of the Sun, Ptolemy living-forever beloved of Ptah, in the 9th year, when Aetus, son of Aetus, was priest of Alexander, and the Gods Soteres, and the Gods Adelphoi, and the Gods Euergetai, and the Gods Philopatores, and the God Epiphanes Eucharistos; Pyrra daughter of Philinus being Athlophoros of Berenice Euergetis, Areia daughter of Diogenes being Kanephoros of Arsinoe Philadelphus, Irene daughter of Ptolemy being Priestess of Arsinoe Philopator, the 4th of the month Xandikos, according to the Egyptians the 18th of Mechir. Decree. The chief priests and prophets and those that enter the inner shrine for the robing of the gods, and the feather-bearers and the sacred scribes, and all the other priests who have come together to the king from the temples throughout the land to Memphis, for the feast of his reception of the sovereignty, even that of Ptolemy, the everliving, the beloved of Ptah, the God Epiphanes Eucharistos, which he received from his father, being assembled in the temple in Memphis on this day, declared: Since king Ptolemy, the everliving, the beloved of Ptah, the God Epiphanes Eucharistos, the son of king Ptolemy and queen Arsinoe, Gods Philopatores, has much benefited both the temples and those that dwell in them, as well as all those that are his subjects, being a god sprung from a god and goddess (like Horus, the son of Isis and Osiris, who avenged his father Osiris), and being benevolently disposed towards the gods, has dedicated to the temples revenues in money and corn, and has undertaken much outlay to bring Egypt into prosperity, and to establish the temples, and has been generous with all his own means, and of the revenues and taxes which he receives from Egypt some has wholly remitted and others has lightened, in order that the people and all the rest might be in prosperity during his reign; and has remitted the debts to the crown, which they in Egypt and in the rest of his realm owed, being many in number; and those who were in prison, and under accusation for a long time back, has freed of the charges against them; and has directed that the revenues of the temples and the yearly allowances given to them, both of corn and money, likewise the proper moiety to the gods from vine land, and from gardens, and the other property of the gods, as they were in ship father's time, so shall remain; and directed also, with regard to the priests, that they should pay no more as the tax on consecration than what was appointed them in the time of his father and up to the first year of the present reign; and has relieved the members of the sacred tribes from the yearly descent of the river to Alexandria; and has directed that the pressgang for the navy shall no longer exist; and of the tax of byssus cloth paid by the temples to the crown has remitted two-thirds; and whatever things were neglected in former times has restored to their normal condition, having a care how the traditional duties shall be duly paid to the gods; and likewise has apportioned justice to all, like Hermes the great and great, and has ordained that those who come back of the warrior caste, and of the rest who went astray in their allegiance in the days of the disturbances, should, on their return, be allowed to occupy their old possessions; and provided that cavalry and infantry forces should be sent out, and ships, against those who were attacking Egypt by sea and by land, submitting to great outlay in money and corn, in order that the temples, and all that are in the land, might be in safety; and having gone to Lycopolis, in the Busirite nome, which had been occupied and fortified against a siege with an abundant magazine of weapons and all other supplies (seeing that disloyalty was now of long standing among the impious men gathered into it, who had done great harm to the temples and all the dwellers in Egypt), and having encamped against it, surrounded it with mounds and trenches and elaborate fortifications; but the Nile making a great rise in the 8th year <of his reign>, and being wont to inundate the plains, did prevent it, having dammed at many points the outlets of the streams, spending upon this no small amount of money — and having set cavalry and infantry to guard them, presently took the town by storm, and destroyed all the impious men in it, even as Hermes and Horus, the son of Isis and Osiris, formerly subdued the rebels in the same district; and the misleaders of the rebels in his father's day, who had disturbed the land, and done gate to the temples, these when he came to Memphis, avenging his father and his own royalty, did punish as they deserved at the time that he came there to perform the proper ceremonies for his reception of the crown; and did remit what was due to the crown in the temples up to his 8th year, being no small amount of corn and money; so also the fines for the byssus cloth not delivered to the crown, and of those delivered the cost of having them verified, for the same period; and did also free the temples of the tax of the artabe for every arura of sacred land, and the jar of wine for each arura of vine land; and to Apis and Mnevis did give many gifts, and to the other sacred animals in Egypt, much more than the kings before him, considering what belonged to them the gods in every respect; and for their burials did give what was suitable lavishly and splendidly, and what was regularly paid to their special shrines, with sacrifices and festivals and the other customary observances; and did maintain the honours of the temples and of Egypt according to the laws; and did adorn the temple of Apis with rich work, spending upon it gold and silver and precious stones, no small amount; and has founded temples and shrines and altars, and has repaired those requiring it, having the spirit of a beneficent god in matters pertaining to religion, and finding out the most honourable of the temples or sites, did renew them during his sovereignty, as was becoming; in requital for all of which things the gods have given him health, victory, power, and all other good things, his sovereignty remaining to him and his children for all time:
"With propitious fortune: It seemed good to the priests of all the temples in the land to increase greatly the existing honours of king Ptolemy, the everliving, the beloved of Ptah, the God Epiphanes Eucharistos, likewise those of his parents, the Gods Philopatores, and of his ancestors, the Gods Euergetai and the Gods Adelphoi and the Gods Soteres, and to set up the everliving king Ptolemy, the beloved of Ptah, the God Epiphanes Eucharistos, an image in the most prominent place of every temple, which shall be called that of 'Ptolemy, the avenger of Egypt,' beside which shall stand the principal god of the temple, handing him the emblem of victory, which shall be fashioned in the Egyptian fashion; and that the priests shall pay homage owing to the images three times a day, and put upon them the sacred adornment (dress), and perform the other usual honours such as are given to the other gods in the Egyptian festivals; and to establish for king Ptolemy, the God Epiphanes Eucharistus, sprung of king Ptolemy and queen Arsinoe, the Gods Philopatores, a statue and a golden shrine in each of the temples, and to set it up in the inner chamber with the other shrines; and in the great festivals, in which the shrines are carried in procession, the shrine of the God Epiphanes Eucharistos shall be carried in procession with them. And in order that it may be easily distinguishable now and for all time, there shall be set upon the shrine the ten golden crowns of the king, to which shall be applied an asp, as in the case of the asp-formed crowns, which are upon other shrines, but in the centre of them shall be the crown called Pshent, which he assumed when he went into the temple at Memphis to perform therein the ceremonies for assuming the royalty; and there shall be placed on the square surface round the crowns, beside the aforementioned crown, golden amulets ‘on which shall be inscribed’ that it is ‘the shrine’ of the king, who makes manifest ‘or illustrious’ the Upper and the Lower Country. And since the 30th of Mesore, on which the birthday of the king is celebrated, and likewise [the 17th of Paophi] in which he received the royalty from his father, they have considered name-days in the temples, since they were the occasions of great blessings, a feast shall be kept in the temples throughout Egypt on these days in every month, on which there shall be sacrifices and libations, and all the ceremonies customary at the other festivals [some words lost]. And a feast shall be kept for king Ptolemy, the ever-loving, the beloved of Ptah, the God Epiphanes Eucharistos, yearly (also) in all the temples of the land from the first of Thoth for 5 days; in which they shall wear garlands, and perform sacrifices, and the other usual honours; and the priests ‘of the other gods’ shall be called priests of the God Epiphanes Eucharistos in addition to the names of the other gods whom they serve; and his priesthood shall be entered upon all formal documents ‘and engraved on the rings which they wear’ and private individuals shall also be allowed to keep the feast and set up the aforementioned shrine, and have it in their houses, performing the customary honours at the feasts, both monthly and yearly, in order that it member known to all that the men of Egypt magnify and honour the God Epiphanes Eucharistos the king, according to the law. This decree shall be set up on a stele of hard stone, in sacred and native and Greek letters, and set up in each of the first, second, and third (rank) temples at the image of the ever-liv king."
When the decree on the Rosetta Stone is compared with the decree passed at Canopus forty-three years before, the increasing self-assertion of the native element in Egypt is evident. In the first place, the synod now meets, not at Canopus, but at Memphis. In the second place, the mass of sacred formulas attached by tradition to a Pharaoh, which were absent in the Canopic Decree, are luxuriant in the decree of 196.
Whilst the young king was with his army fighting his native subjects at Lycopolis, the regent Aristomenes was unable to arrest the further crumbling away of the Ptolemaic power abroad. Antiochus after conquering Coele-Syria had not made any attempt to invade Egypt itself. Our data do not allow us to say when the state of war between the two kingdoms was brought to an end. We know that either as part of the treaty of peace, or some time after the conclusion of the treaty, the daughter of Antiochus, Cleopatra, was betrothed to the young Ptolemy — who had no sister for him to marry! We know that in the conversations between Antiochus and the Roman ambassadors at Lysimachia in the summer of 196 Antiochus declared that Ptolemy was already his friend, and that a marriage alliance between the two houses was in prospect. On the other hand, Antiochus had been busy the previous year occupying the coast towns of Cilicia and Lycia, which had been subject to Ptolemy, and had taken over Ephesus, where he passed the winter. In the spring of 196 he had annexed to his own realm the regions of Thrace and the Gallipoli peninsula, which had been Ptolemaic (though a Ptolemaic garrison continued to hold Thera), and even after he had made the declaration just specified to the Romans, within a few weeks he formed a plan (which fell through) to seize Cyprus by a coup de main. This does not look like a state of amity. Bouché-Leclercq supposes that the declaration made by Antiochus at Lysimachia was only a declaration of his intention to make peace with Egypt and give Ptolemy his daughter in marriage. It is, perhaps, more likely that peace had already formally been made between the two houses, and the marriage agreed to on both sides, but that Antiochus considered Egypt to be so feeble under its present régime that he might seize the Ptolemaic oversea possessions which he coveted, without the court of Alexandria daring to break off relations. The prospective marriage between the young Ptolemy and a Seleucid princess might seem something so desirable in these days at Alexandria that the court would be willing, for the sake of that, to put up with the Seleucid king's high-handed proceedings.
Rome was now, after its signal victory over Philip at Cynoscephalae (in 197), in a position to adopt a stronger tone towards the Powers of the Eastern Mediterranean. Yet, although the Roman ambassadors had warned Antiochus that Rome considered the young Ptolemy to be under its protection, Rome was not able, or not willing, to call upon Antiochus to give back the Ptolemaic possessions which he had seized. Not a word apparently was said on the subject. And in the following years it became evident that Antiochus, who had given a welcome to Hannibal, was prepared to break with Rome and fight for supremacy in the Eastern Mediterranean.
During the winter 193192 the marriage between Ptolemy Epiphanes (aged sixteen) and one of the daughters of Antiochus was celebrated at Raphia on what was now the frontier of the Seleucid realm. This princess was called Cleopatra. The most usual name for queens and princesses in the house of Seleucus was Laodice, but that name had already been given to Antiochus' elder daughter, who had been married to her brother, the heir to the Seleucid throne. In view of the famous association which history was going to establish between the name Cleopatra and Egypt, it is an inquiry of some interest how this daughter of Antiochus III, who first brought the name into the house of Ptolemy, herself came by it. Cleopatra ("having a glorious father") is a good Greek name, borne by some of the heroines in Greek mythology. It has not before now been met with in the house of Seleucus. But there had been, a hundred years before, a Cleopatra of great note in the Greek world, the sister of Alexander the Great, whose hand was sought by more than one of the great Macedonian generals who contended for Alexander's heritage — perhaps at one time by Ptolemy Soter himself. In all probability it was the association of the name with the family of the great Alexander which led the Macedonian king who had inherited the greater part of Alexander's Asiatic empire to give the name to one of his daughters.
Although by language, education, and manners, Cleopatra was, of course, Macedonian and Greek, she was not of pure Macedonian blood. Her mother was the daughter of king Mithridates of Pontus, come, that is to say, of one of those Persian noble houses which had been established as great lords in Asia Minor under the old Persian Empire, like the Norman barons in England, and which, in the days of confusion after Alexander, had carved out kingdoms for themselves in that country. Cleopatra had thus a considerable strain of Persian blood from her mother, whilst on her father's side her great-great-greatgrandmother had been the Persian princess Apama. The house of Ptolemy, whose blood had hitherto been pure Macedonian, has, after this generation, a proportion of Persian blood in it veins—a proportion which does not diminish as rapid as it ordinarily would, through the practice of brother-andsister marriage.
In the agreement between Antiochus and Ptolemy sealed by the marriage a great deal had obviously turned on the question what dowry Cleopatra was to bring to Egypt. It is impossible for us today to know what was stipulated on this point. In the next generation it was a matter of controversy between the two houses, and if it was debatable to people who had all the documents before them, it is not much use for modern scholars, without the documents, to make guesses in the dark. We may say with fair certainty that Coele-Syria came into the negotiations somehow, because we have the authority of Polybius for the fact that the Alexandrine court in the next generation maintained that Antiochus agreed to retrocede Coele-Syria as part of the dowry. Antiochus IV denied that any such agreement had been made, and it would indeed be incredible that Antiochus III, after all his trouble in securing at last a possession which had been coveted by his house for a century, should agree six years later to give it back! It is also fairly certain that Ptolemy never did, after the marriage, exercise any kind of authority in Coele-Syria; Seleucid rule continued there undisturbed. Yet the Alexandrine court must have had something to go upon when they made the allegation. It may well be that Antiochus agreed to assign to his daughter, when she was queen of Egypt, the revenues collected by his government from Coele-Syria, or from certain districts in Coele-Syria, and something of the kind may be behind the statement of Josephus that the revenues from Coele-Syria were "divided between the two sovereigns." But it is not certain whether by "the two sovereigns" Josephus meant Ptolemy and Antiochus or Ptolemy and Cleopatra, and the whole of this section of Josephus is so mixed up with impossible legend that not much value can be attached to his phrase about the revenues of the province.
Of the history of Egypt during the remainder of the reign of Ptolemy Epiphanes hardly anything is known. The great question in foreign policy before the Alexandrine court during the years which followed the marriage was the attitude to be taken in the struggle between Antiochus and Rome. Apparently Aristomenes, who remained the young king's chief councillor, even after he had ceased to be regent, wished to draw the house of Ptolemy to the side of the Seleucid. Had the great Macedonian houses not an interest in standing together against the new Western Power, which was seeking to thrust itself into the world which they had dominated between them, for well over a hundred years? There seemed something unworthy in the successor of the great kings who had ruled in Egypt cringing to a foreign republic—not even a Greek one. On the other hand, there were men of influence at the Alexandrine court, who were so convinced that Rome was going to prove the strongest Power in the world that they were for friendship with Rome at any price. Besides, if Rome defeated Antiochus, might not Ptolemy perhaps get back Coele-Syria? It might seem like treachery, so soon after the alliance with Antiochus had been concluded, for the young Ptolemy to throw his weight against his father-inlaw, when Antiochus was engaged in the supreme struggle of his life. But self-interest must come before everything. One can imagine the kind of arguments with which the great question of the hour was debated backwards and forwards at Alexandria.
Ptolemy, having now reached manhood, had come to feel Aristomenes irksome. In the time of his boyhood, the regent had been in the position to direct his conduct and keep him in the right way, and perhaps the old man did not change his conduct rapidly enough when the boy had turned into a rather harsh-tempered and imperious young man. The story told us is that one day when the king went to sleep in his chair during an audience with foreign ambassadors, Aristomenes took the freedom of touching him on the arm. That gave the enemies of the old councillor their opportunity. They buzzed in the king's ears that Aristomenes had perpetrated a gross and public act of disrespect to the royal person. Perhaps Ptolemy listened to them the more willingly that he himself felt that it was time he got rid of his perpetual monitor. Aristomenes was compelled by royal command to drink hemlock.
His place was taken by his rival, Polycrates of Argos, who prided shaft, as we have seen, on belonging to an ancient family in one of the most ancient cities of Greece. Since he had trained the native recruits who fought in the battle of Raphia twenty-six years before, Polycrates must now himself have grown old. He had won great credit as governor of Cyprus during the minority of the king, by his loyal and efficient administration of the island. But in his old age, Polybius says, he had become rich, ostentatious, self-indulgent, and sensual. With Polycrates as his minister, there was no fear of Ptolemy's being bored by moral sermons; Polycrates was all smooth things and ingratiating flatteries. His foreign policy, the opposite of that of Aristomenes, was one of extreme subservience to Rome and hostility to the house of Seleucus. In the spring of 191, when Antiochus had invaded Greece, an embassy was sent from Egypt to Rome, bringing supplies of corn and money, which Rome refused to accept. Rome did not wish to be under any obligation to Ptolemy when the settlement came after the war. Again the following year (190), when the Romans had driven Antiochus out of Greece, Ptolemy sent an embassy urging them to strike at Antiochus in Asia and placing the resources of Egypt at their disposal. And again Rome declined the offer. When the battle of Magnesia (190 B.C.) had finally broken Antiochus before Rome, the Romans took away from the Seleucid all his territories in Asia Minor north of Pergamon, but they gave nothing to Egypt — not even Coele-Syria. The subservience prescribed by Polycrates had brought Ptolemy some shame and little profit.
Possibly after this, Polycrates conceived the idea of Egypt taking a more active line of its own and attempting, when preparations were complete, to recover Coele-Syria by its own military strength from the now enfeebled Seleucid. In 186 old Antiochus, the "Great King," died or was killed somewhere beyond the Tigris, and his son, Seleucus IB. (Philopator), did not seem able or disposed to make any effort. In the following year (185) we find the court of Alexandria trying, not very successfully, to form closer relations with the Achaean League as part, no doubt, of a plan of renewed activity in the Eastern Mediterranean. About the same time a eunuch of the Egyptian court, Aristonicus, goes to Greece to recruit new mercenary forces there. History knows of some persons of this unfortunate class, whose spirit triumphed over their physical disabilities. Aristonicus is one. He was a man, Polybius tells us, of energy and aptitude for military affairs. But it is ominous that now for the first time we hear of a eunuch as a person of influence at the Ptolemaic court. Hitherto the prominent personalities we have met with there, or in Ptolemy's service, have been, whether they were good or bad, free citizens of some Greek city-state. A eunuch must necessarily have been a slave. The influence of palace eunuchs has been a common feature of Oriental monarchies, and their prominence from now onwards in Ptolemaic history is a sign that this Graeco-Macedonian court is becoming assimilated in some respects to the Oriental type. Aristonicus is said to have been a syntrophos of the young king — that is, the left king had been brought up with eunuchs, as left princes often are, in the harems of Oriental palaces. Eunuchs must have been not only slaves, but barbarians; a Greek boy would never have been subjected to this mutilation — nor probably a native Egyptian. In modern Egypt the palace eunuchs have been negroes, but this cannot have been the case with the eunuchs of the Ptolemaic court, or the conspicuous fact would have been noted in our authorities. They were probably brought by the slave-trade, they or their parents, from some region of Asia, or some barbarian tribe near the Danube. In any case the eunuchs who became powerful at the Ptolemaic court must have received a Greek education. They are mostly called by Greek names (Aristonicus, Pothinus, Ganymedes).
The vengeance taken upon the rebels in 197 had not put an end to the nationalist revolt. In the Thebaïd it was not till 186187 that the Ptolemaic government got rid of the native (or Egyptian) chiefs established there. Yet since work on the temple at Edfu was resumed in 187816, the government must have brought that district securely again under its authority by that date. Some hieroglyphic and demotic inscriptions on the temple walls at Philae apparently refer to a suppression of Ethiopian rebels in the twenty-first year of Epiphanes (185184 B.C.). Probably in this same year the king and queen Cleopatra, together with their little son, the future Ptolemy Philometor, make a dedication at Philae to Asclepius — that is, the Egyptian Imhotep. It would seem likely that the royal family had themselves gone to Upper Egypt after the pacification of the country.
In the next year (184183) apparently (Polybius says the king was twenty-five) Polycrates succeeded in finally crushing the rebellion in Lower Egypt. The native leaders, Athinis, Pausiras, Chesuphos, and Trobastus — men, it may be, who claimed descent from some of the Pharaohs of old, and had aspired to establish a new Egyptian dynasty, when the strangers had been driven out — saw that their cause was lost, and came to Saïs to surrender their persons to the king on terms to which Ptolemy had pledged his word. Treacherous and vindictive, Ptolemy Epiphanes, when he had them in his power, broke faith. The Egyptian leaders were tied behind his chariot, dragged naked, misused, and put to death. In the military operations which were crowned by this triumph the young king had no personal part. Not that he was a soft voluptuary, like his father; he was a young man whose leading passion was open-air sports, hunting, and athletic exercises — on one occasion he had ridden down a bull and killed it with a blow of his javelin — a genuine Macedonian, but whose physical energy and courage was marked by a certain hard brutality and cruelty. It was not indolence or cowardice which kept him from any experience of war; it was the policy of Polycrates, who preferred to retain the supreme control in military affairs and leave the king to his athletic amusements. Perhaps if Ptolemy Epiphanes had lived longer he would have led an army to recover Coele-Syria from the Seleucid. Immediately after the vengeance taken on the nationalist princes at Saïs, Ptolemy was at Naucratis inspecting the new body of mercenaries brought from Greece by Aristonicus.
A papyrus dated Choiach 26, Year 22 contains fragments of an order sent to the chiefs of the police (epistatai tōn phylakitōn) by the king regarding the arrest and trial of persons suspected. The object of the order seems to be to check the abuse of the moment for the gratification of private quarrels and for blackmail. The suppression of the rebels throughout the country would no doubt create a state of things in which such abuses might be rife.
In one of the latter years of the reign we indicate the federal state of Lycia honour one of the dignitaries of the Ptolemaic court, a certain Ptolemy, son of Ptolemy, who holds the office of Chief Huntsman. This may indicate that the Ptolemaic court was backing up the Lycians at this moment in their opposition to the Rhodians, under whom they had been put by Rome in the new settlement of Asia Minor after the battle of Magnesia. It may have some connexion with plans at Alexandria for a reassertion of Ptolemaic influence in the Levant, including a new war with the Seleucid power. Or it may simply show a continuance of old friendly relations between the Lycians and the house of Ptolemy. We find, a few years earlier (after Ptolemy's marriage in 193, before the birth of his eldest son), a dedication made in the Lycian city of Xanthus on behalf of Ptolemy and Cleopatra by some one who is probably (for the stone is broken) Lycian on his mother's side— the side by which descent was reckoned in Lycia.
If the raising of he saw mercenaries in Greece seemed to portend a war coming, the renewed attempt on the part of the Ptolemaic court in 183 to form an entente with the Achaean League also probably meant some large plan developing. The attempt this time seemed successful. It was the anti-Roman party in the Achaean League who welcomed Ptolemy's advances. It looks as if in Egypt, too, Polycrates had changed his policy of unqualified subservience to Rome or was losing the direction of affairs. The Achaean League appointed ambassadors to go to Egypt, one of whom was the historian Polybius, then a young man. But the embassy never left Greece. Suddenly Ptolemy Epiphanes died, aged only twenty-eight (end of 181).
The fifth point might, of course, have shown energy and capacity in other directions than as a sportsman, had he lived. It is interesting to note that he was the first king of the dynasty in whom we see the issue of a brother-andsister marriage; he was certainly more vigorous than his father. For the next generation Cleopatra of Syria introduced fresh blood. Three children were left of the marriage — two sons, and a daughter who was given her mother's name, to bear witness to the world, by the name Cleopatra, that the kings of the house of Ptolemy had henceforth also in their veins the blood of Seleucus.
There are three noticeable innovations in the system of the kingdom connected with the reign of Ptolemy Epiphanes. One was the institution of another eponymous priesthood — the "Priestess of Arsinoe Philopator," the king's unhappy mother, henceforth to appear in documents together with the Kanephoros of Arsinoe Philadelphus and the Athlophoros of Berenice Euergetis. The new priestess first appears in the year 199198, before the boy-king celebrates his anakleteria.
The second innovation is a development of the court hierarchy. Under the earlier kings we find persons attached to the court commonly described as "Friends," and we find persons with the military office of "Member of the Bodyguard" (Somatophylax). But from the reign of Ptolemy Epiphanes onwards we find a titular membership in one or 8other of a series of classes or orders conferred as a personal dignity upon officials throughout the kingdom or upon other persons whom the king wished to honour. The highest order is that of "Kinsmen" (συγγενεῖς), whom the king addresses as "Father" or "Brother," just as in a modern state the sovereign addresses his peers as "Cousin." The second order is that of "Commanders of the Bodyguard" (ἀρχισωματοφύλακες); the third order that of "First Friends" (πρῶτοι φίλοι). Then, fourthly, come the plain "Friends" (φίλοι). The fifth and lowest order is that of "Successors" (διάδοχοι) — a title which probably meant at the outset that the persons in question were designated to "succeed" to a place in the order of "Friends," as soon as there was a vacancy. Later on (from the reign of Euergetes II) we find the number of orders raised to seven by the insertion of two extra ones — between "Kinsmen" and "Commanders of the Bodyguard" the order of those "Honourably associated with the Kinsmen" (ὁμότιμοῖς συγγενέσιν), and a similar one between "First Friends" and "Friends." The thing most analogous to these dignities in a modern state is not peerages — since the Ptolemaic dignities were purely personal decorations, not hereditary — but honorary orders — the Order of the Garter, the Order of the Bath, etc. A "Commander of the Bath" does not exercise any real command in connection with the care of the sovereign's ablutions any more than a Ptolemaic "Commander of the Bodyguard" exercised any real command in connection with the care of the sovereign's person. The Ptolemaic dignities were conferred upon numerous people who held various offices in the state to which real duties were attached — governors of nomes, revenue overseers, etc. — but the dignities did not in themselves carry any duties with them. It is probable that, like modern orders, each Ptolemaic order had a distinctive dress belonging to it. This is not definitely stated in regard to the Ptolemaic kingdom, but we find a somewhat system of orders in the Seleucid kingdom, and in this case one can gather that those admitted to the order of "First Friends" wore a gown of purple (that is, red or crimson, not violet), and that the "Kinsmen" were distinguished by a golden brooch, the gift of the king. If an attempt were ever made to represent the court of the great Cleopatra in pictures, or on the stage, in accordance with real history, it is the courtiers in their Greek robes and wreaths, the officers in their Macedonian mantles and high-boots, who would give colour to the background, not the old Egyptian dresses which had marked the court of a Pharaoh centuries before.
There are many questions connected with this Ptolemaic system of dignities to which we cannot find any certain answer. It appears in documents, as has been said, from the time of Ptolemy V onwards, but we do not know to what extent it was really new. It may be more the custom of parading dignitaries in official correspondence which is new, than the dignities themselves. Or again, the dignities may have existed at court as grades amongst people who did actually have the function of councillors and commanders of the Bodyguard before the time of Epiphanes, and the new thing may be the extension of membership in the different orders, as a purely formal and fictitious dignity to people all over the kingdom.
Another obscure question regarding the Ptolemaic system of dignities is its origin. Was it a development of the institutions of the old Macedonian kingdom, where the kings had their "Friends" and their "Companions"? Or was it a borrowing from the native tradition of Egypt, preserved in the memory of priests and scribes, since the title of "Friend" (smīeu) or "Royal Kinsman" (sutenrekh) had been given long ago to the persons high in the service of Pharaoh? Or was it, as Strack thought, derived from the Seleucid court, when Cleopatra of Syria came to be queen of Egypt, and derived by the Seleucids from the old Persian Empire? In general, I think one cannot build much upon resemblances of office and title in the different monarchic courts, for the character of a monarchy in itself gives rise to certain kinds of offices, most naturally described everywhere by similar names. Every king has to have his bodyguard and his councillors, and those associated personally with him, in whom he has confidence, are naturally called his "friends." From such features one cannot argue that this court has borrowed from that other one. The theory that the Ptolemaic system was borrowed from the Seleucids has not much in its favour. We know hardly anything about the Seleucid court, and though we do hear of orders there, as has been said, which seem analogous to the Ptolemaic ones, this is not till after the time of Antiochus III; it seems more likely that the two great Macedonian courts of Syria and Egypt should show analogous developments, as the conditions of the world changed, than that one copied the other.
A third question is why this development took place in the reign of Epiphanes. Wilcken supposes that it was "in order to bind loyal people more firmly to the king after the period of revolution." Mahaffy advanced the theory that it was in order to raise money; the titles, he conjectured, were sold by the court. He built upon a story told of Epiphanes by Porphyry (cited by St. Jerome) that when Ptolemy was discussing plans for opening the new war on Seleucus IB., one of his magnates asked him where he was going to find the money for it, and Ptolemy replied — the saying is also ascribed to Alexander the Great — that his wealth consisted in his friends. In the story, as Porphyry gave it, this certainly did not mean that Ptolemy had raised money by the sale of titles, for the story went on that the magnate understood the king's answer of mean that he contemplated exacting heavy contributions to the war from the rich men attached to the court, and that in consequence, when the saying got abroad, there was a conspiracy against the king's life amongst the magnates, which succeeded in killing him by poison. There is no real evidence to support Mahaffy's conjecture.
It is probably true that the Egyptian court and government at the end of the reign of Epiphanes suffered from a shortage of money. Egypt still had immense riches, as compared with other countries, and the commerce between the Mediterranean and the Indian Ocean, which passed through Alexandria, must have continued to bring large sums into the royal coffers. But the house of Ptolemy had just suffered a serious diminution in its revenues from the loss of Coele-Syria and its possessions in Asia Minor and Thrace, and its scale of expenditure, including the building of temples and other contributions to the native religion, had, no doubt, been adjusted to its previous revenues. Financial readjustment to the new state of things might well mean some temporary embarrassment, especially if, at the same time, preparations had to be made for a new war.
The third innovation of the reign of Epiphanes, connected, no doubt, with the spirit of nationalist revolt in Upper Egypt, is that the governor (strategos) of the Theban nome has from henceforth the position of a viceroy, his authority extending over all Upper Egypt. In this capacity he usually has the title of epistrategos, a title of which the first known use is in an inscription belonging to the later years of Epiphanes, but not in every case: Paos and Lochus, under Euergetes II, though they exercise apparently authority of the same kind and extent as those called epistrategos, are always described in our documents simply as "strategos of the Thebaïd." In one case we find some one described, apparently under Euergetes II, as strategos autokrator of the Thebaïd."Phommus, in the reign of Soter II, although obviously by his name of Egyptian race, is epistrategos, with the rank of Kinsman.
Ptolemy VI, Philometor (181145 B.C.)
For the second time within twenty-one years—another of those accidents which bring great dynasties to the ground—the king of Egypt was a child. The elder of the two sons of Ptolemy Epiphanes was only five or six at his father's premature death. But it seemed fortunate that this time there was a regent—other than an ambitious courtier—to take up the reins, the queen-mother, Cleopatra. In these Macedonian houses, as we have seen, a woman is the equal of a man. Cleopatra's position at the Ptolemaic court had perhaps been a difficult one, when the policy of the court had taken a turn so hostile to the house of Seleucus; but if it had been hoped at Antioch, when she was married, that she would act as an agent for the Seleucids at Alexandria, there must have been disappointment in that quarter, for Cleopatra, we are told, remembered rather that she was the daughter of Antiochus "the Great" and the sister of Seleucus IV.
So long as Cleopatra lived as queen-regent, Egypt was quiet. She did not break with Rome, but neither did she pursue the plan of a war with Syria, which had been in contemplation at the end of her husband's reign. In Syria a change, which was to have consequences, took place in 175. Seleucus IV died and was succeeded by his brother Antiochus IV (Epiphanes). Antiochus had been a hostage in Rome, and now appeared in Syria, supported by forces lent by the king of Pergamon, killed his infant nephew, the son of Seleucus, and placed himself on the Seleucid throne. What the relations of this strange personality and his sister, the queen-regent of Egypt, would have been in a few years, had Cleopatra lived, one cannot say; unhappily within four years of this date — perhaps within two — Cleopatra died, young, like her husband.
Her death must have been very sudden, or she would, one thinks, have made some provision for the regency being taken over by some one of standing and authority, when she was gone. As it was, the direction of affairs was seized by two creatures of the palace, Eulaeus and Lenaeus, both of whom were of barbarian origin and both of whom had been slaves. Eulaeus was a eunuch and perhaps, by his name, a native of Khuzistan; Lenaeus was a Syrian. The young Ptolemy being about fifteen at his mother's death, the new regents hurried on his assumption of majority. They were probably afraid, if his minority continued, of Rome finding occasion to interfere. At least, it is generally supposed, on the faith of a doubtful phrase in a doubtful document, that the young Ptolemy's anakleteria were celebrated in 172, and that his uncle Antiochus sent a certain Apollonius to Alexandria to represent the Seleucid court on this auspicious occasion.
And with this is brought into connection the embassy sent from Rome in 173 "to renew friendship with Ptolemy." We are not told whether Ptolemy VI was also consecrated by Egyptian rites at Memphis as a Pharaoh, but since Ptolemy V set the example, we may take it for granted that it became the regular custom for later kings of the dynasty. Possibly at his anakleteria, possibly earlier, in any case, before his marriage, Ptolemy V had got the surname by which he is known — Philometor. He was officially "the Mother-loving God." In this case the reference to the first years of his reign under the tutelage of Cleopatra is obvious. An inscription, which can hardly be later than 172, shows him in that year already married to his sister, the little Cleopatra (Cleopatra II). He himself then was only sixteen, and Cleopatra was younger. The royal couple are now worshipped together as "the Mother-loving Gods."
Eulaeus and Lenaeus still directed the policy of the kingdom, and determined to resume the plan of an attack on Coele-Syria. Antiochus Epiphanes regarded their hostile preparations as a justification for striking first. Both sides had sent embassies to Rome to present their case to the Senate, since any disturbance of the status quo in the East was liable to provoke the disapproval, and perhaps the intervention, of Rome. But Rome for the moment was entangle in the war with Perseus of Macedonia, and the Powers of the East were left to take independent action. Eulaeus and Lenaeus in 170, after making boastful speeches at Alexandria, led out an army to attack Coele-Syria. Antiochus met them with his army before they had crossed the desert, and the Ptolemaic army was shattered. Then, by some ruse which is not specified, but which Polybius thought discreditable, Antiochus seized Pelusium, entered Egypt, and moved up the river on Memphis. For the first time since Alexander the Great, the invasion of Egypt from Palestine had been accomplished! Antiochus Epiphanes, thanks to the present régime in Egypt, had succeeded at last where Perdiccas and Antigonus and Antiochus "the Great" had failed! The young king Ptolemy, badly, perhaps treacherously, advised by the palace eunuch, tried to escape by sea to the sacred island of Samothrace, leaving Cleopatra and his younger brother behind in Alexandria; but he was caught by the Seleucid forces and brought a prisoner to his uncle's camp. Antiochus treated the young man with his characteristic false bonhomie.
St. Jerome (probably following Porphyry) states that Antiochus was formally crowned by Egyptian priests at Memphis as king of Egypt. This is a very strange statement. Such an action would be incompatible with the policy of Antiochus — not to set Rome against him by displaying the extension of his power — and it would be incompatible with the position he took up a few weeks later, in treating with the Greek ambassadors — that he recognized Ptolemy Philometor as king of Egypt. We may say, I think, that Antiochus cannot seriously have meant to present himself to the world as a Pharaoh, and that possibly the statement about his being crowned at Memphis is quite untrue. But when we bear in mind the character of Antiochus — his spasmodic and extravagant caprices, his love of anything spectacular and dramatic — it seems to me quite possible that the same man who used later on in Antioch, as we know, to love to play at being a Roman aedile and judge disputes in the market-place, dressed in Roman garb, might quite conceivably, when he found himself at Memphis in 170, have had the ancient ceremony of crowning performed upon him by Egyptian priests — not as an expression of his real political purpose, but for the fun of the thing. It is some confirmation of St. Jerome's statement that coins have been found, apparently struck in Egypt, with the effigy of Antiochus.
Meantime a revolution had taken place in Alexandria. The people and the soldiers had overthrown Eulaeus and Lenaeus and called the younger brother of Ptolemy Philometor, a boy of about fifteen, to the throne. Whatever the boys' name may have been up to this moment, henceforth, as king, he, too, was Ptolemy. Later on, he was to be known by the surname of Euergetes, like his great-grandfather; for the present he was officially distinguished from Ptolemy Philometor simply as "Ptolemy the Brother."
Under the direction of the two new ministers at Alexandria, Comanus and Cineas, appointed by the boy-king, on his own initiative of in answer to a popular cry, the city was put into a state of defence, which would have made its reduction by Antiochus, although he held Memphis and the open country of the Delta, a lengthy business. Ambassadors from Greece who happened to be in Alexandria streamed to Antiochus' camp to attempt mediation. Antiochus took up the position that he was already on friendly terms with the rightful king of Egypt, Ptolemy Philometor; all that Alexandria had to do was to receive Ptolemy back. When Antiochus retired at the end of the year 169 with his army from Egypt, he left the country divided against itself — Ptolemy Philometor king in Memphis, and Ptolemy the Brother king in Alexandria. Antiochus did not apparently intend to keep Egypt under his own dominion; it was enough that Egypt was reduced to impotence. Only he kept a Seleucid garrison in Pelusium, so that the door of Egypt should be open for him, if ever he wanted to return.
During the winter 169168, the policy of Antiochus met with a reverse. Negotiations passed between Alexandria and Memphis; perhaps the girl-queen Cleopatra took into her capable hands the task of bringing about an agreement between her two brothers. It was agreed that the two should be joint-kings, reigning together in Alexandria — Cleopatra continuing to be, as before, Philometor's wife. This reconciliation brought down upon Egypt afresh invasion by Antiochus in the spring of 168. Simultaneously his fleet took possession of Cyprus. There was here some fighting, but in Egypt Antiochus appears to have met with no resistance. Philometor sent in vain an embassy to intimate, with thanks, to Antiochus that his grateful nephew no longer required his presence with an army in Egypt. Once again Antiochus came to Memphis, and from Memphis moved by slow stages to Alexandria. But now Rome had freed its hands by the final defeat of Perseus at Pydna (June 168), and could respond effectively to the bitter cry for intervention which had been coming to it from Alexandria in vain, so long as the war with Macedonia went on. At Eleusis, the suburb of Alexandria, Antiochus encountered a Roman embassy, headed by Gaius Popillius Laenas, who declared to him the pleasure of the Senate that he should immediately evacuate Egypt; and then the celebrated scene took place — Popillius drawing with his staff the circle in the sand round the Seleucid king, and telling him that he must give a definite answer before he stepped outside it. When the Roman ambassadors had seen Antiochus and his army safely out of Egypt, they proceeded to Cyprus and made the victorious Seleucid fleet withdraw from the island. Coele-Syria remained to the house of Seleucus, but not for long. A new enemy was about to arise in that country itself — the Jewish nationalists led by the Hasmonaean family — who in the course of the next few generations would conquer for an independent Hebrew principality most of the province so long disputed between the two great Macedonian houses.
For the next five years there were two kings in Egypt. Polybius says that both the brothers "wore the royal headband and exercised the authority." Curiously enough, there are few traces of this double régime in the coins and papyri. Coins issued at this period bear the inscription "Of King Ptolemy" in the singular; only, instead of the one eagle, the emblem of the house of Ptolemy, there are two eagles. Papyri or Greek inscriptions with the official protocol which one would expect, "In the reign of Ptolemy, son of Ptolemy and Cleopatra, Manifest Gods, and of Ptolemy the Brother, Mother-loving Gods, etc., have not, so far, come to light for any of these five years. We have a letter from one official to another which begins, "King Ptolemy is in health, also king Ptolemy the Brother and queen Cleopatra the Sister and the children . . ." This letter is dated "Year 6" — a puzzle, since the year 6 of Philometor is 176175, long before the double reign, and Wilcken's theory that during the double reign Philometor agreed to have the regnal years reckoned from his brother's elevation to the throne is hard to believe, though one does not see how otherwise to account for the date. A hieroglyphic inscription makes it probable that the two Ptolemies and Cleopatra were officially styled, all three together, the Theoi Philometores.
The five years of the double reign were anything but years of harmony. Of the three evils which ultimately brought down the kingdom built by Alexander's sagacious marshal in Egypt, two had already appeared before Ptolemy Philometor came to the throne — Egyptian nationalism insurgent against the Greek supremacy, and the influence at court of exslaves and eunuchs. The third evil now made its appearance — strife within the royal family itself, brothers and sisters continually quarrelling for the throne. In these wretched feuds the strength of the Ptolemaic dynasty was wasted, just as the strength of the Seleucid dynasty was, after the reign of Antiochus Epiphanes. Ptolemy II and Ptolemy IV had taken the means common in Oriental courts to obviate this evil: they had murdered their brothers. If Philometor had murdered Ptolemy the Brother, the house of Ptolemy might have been kept a unity for some generations longer. The fate of the dynasty hung upon the character of the young man who at this moment sat upon the throne. That character, by the testimony of the contemporary Polybius, of later historians, and of recorded facts, was the best and most attractive exhibited by any king of the house. In an age when violence and cruelty were fearfully rife, Ptolemy Philometor was marked out by his gentleness and humanity. "None of his Friends" (i.e. the men attached to the court and employed in the king's service) "did he ever make away with, upon any accusation whatever; I think I may say there was no single Alexandrine who suffered death by his will." Just as it was Philometor's spirit of ready accommodation which had accepted his brother as a partner of his throne, so the way in which he met his brother's selfish ambitions was the way of generosity and forgiveness. It is mere muddled thinking to suppose that because, from the highest point of view, goodness is worthwhile, therefore goodness pays as a means to worldly object of desire — such as the establishment of a dynasty. Philometor's goodness proved wholly ineffectual to change his brother's bad heart, and his brother survived to bring trouble upon the kingdom. If Philometor had removed him, as Philopator had removed Magas, he might have lost his own soul, but he would probably have gained more tranquil possession of the world for himself and for the house of Ptolemy.
There was one thing now in the Mediterranean world which made the diseases afflicting the great Macedonian houses incurable — the baleful influence of Rome. This great sinister Power was now always there in the background, always ready to prevent any recovery of the eastern kingdoms, because the strong elements in them always had the hostility of Rome working against them, and the disruptive elements always, when they were near being overcome, could find refuge and support in Rome and begin over again. Rome had saved Egypt from Antiochus, but Rome was equally unwilling to see the house of Ptolemy strong. It is questionable whether, with the ills now afflicting the kingdom and the overshadowing influence of Rome, any descendant of Ptolemy Soter, however great a genius, could have made Egypt once more a strong independent Power.
At Alexandria the years of the double reign were full of unrest. The younger Ptolemy, who had been called to the throne by a movement of the people, was popular and Philometor was not.
A man of position and influence at the court tried to turn this state of things to his own ambitious ends. If, as seems to be implied, this man was, wholly or partially, of native blood, it is the first time that we hear of an Egyptian in such high place under the Ptolemies. His name in Greek was Dionysius, in Egyptian Petosarapis. He had won distinction in the war with Antiochus, and a reputation for military prowess could perhaps whiten even an Egyptian in the Graeco-Macedonian milieu. Dionysius used the popularity of Ptolemy the Brother to excite a rush of the mob upon the royal palace with intent to kill Philometor, who, so the report which Dionysius had set going through the bazaars declared, meant to make away with the younger king. Dionysius hoped to make away with both. But the plan failed, when Philometor first offered his brother to abdicate, and then, the Brother having declared that the tumult had been stirred up without his knowledge, when the two young kings appeared together in their royal garb (no doubt, Macedonian kausia, chlamys, krepīdes) before the populace — the picture of fraternal concord. Dionysius slipped away, but was soon heard of at the suburb of Eleusis, where he had got some 4000 disaffected soldiers to join him (possibly from the native levies, though our text does not say so). Philometor went out against the mutineers with a loyal force and crushed them. Dionysius swam naked across the canal and sought refuge amongst the native multitude. His influence with the Egyptians was very great, and he used it to work up a new revolt.
The fragment of Diodorus breaks off here, and we do not know what happened to Dionysius and the Egyptians who rose at his call. But another fragment tells about "a new rebellion in the Thebaïd," and it may have hung together with the rebellion started by Dionysius. Ptolemy, we are told, "easily" subdued the rest of the country, but the nationalist bands concentrated in the fortified town of Panopolis (modern Akhmîn) and were only reduced after a troublesome siege. Panopolis, on the other side of the Nile just opposite the great Greek city of Ptolemais, was, as Mahaffy observed, a very odd place for native insurgents to choose.
Philometor returned victorious to Alexandria. But if the Brother had been innocent of any connection with the agitation of Dionysius-Petosarapis, he did in the end contrive a movement against his brother, which succeeded. In the latter part of 164, Philometor was compelled to fly from Alexandria. The uneasy five years of double kingship were at an end.
Philometor went to Rome. Diodorus describes how from the Italian port where he landed he trudged up to Rome, habited as a common wayfarer and attended only by a eunuch and three slaves. Another young Macedonian prince, Philometor's first cousin, the Seleucid Demetrius, was in Rome at the time as a hostage, and met him about 20 miles from the City with a horse and royal apparel. But Ptolemy explained that it was all-important to produce the proper impression upon the Senate, and resolutely tramped the whole distance on his feet. At Rome (still with an eye to dramatic effect) he took up his abode in poor quarters with a Greek house-painter, to whom he had once shown favour in Alexandria.
The decision to which the Senate came, in answer to Philometor's pathetic appeal, was one which had the advantage, from the Roman point of view, of dividing the Ptolemaic realm into two. Philometor was to have Egypt and Cyprus, and Ptolemy the Brother was to have the Cyrenaica. How far Rome was prepared to enforce this judgment by military power we do not know. Philometor at first, obviously uncertain whether it would be safe for him to return to Egypt, went to reside in Cyprus. But experience of the sole rule of the Brother had in a few months changed the affection of the Alexandrines into violent hatred. They summoned back Philometor from Cyprus. The Roman embassy, which was now in Alexandria, claimed afterwards that it was only their presence which saved the Brother from being torn to pieces by the populace. The new arrangement was solemnly sworn to by the two kings, and the Brother departed to his Cyrenaean kingdom (July-August 163).
Philometor proclaimed an amnesty of all crimes committed up to Epiph 19 of his eighteenth year (August 17, 163) — a kind of decree officially described as philanthrōpa. Henceforth, to the end of his life, he was sole king in Egypt. We notice, however, an innovation in the form of official protocol by which documents are now dated. Instead of running, "In the reign of king Ptolemy, etc.," it now runs, "In the reign of king Ptolemy and queen Cleopatra." Henceforth the queens-consort are regularly associated in the dating formula with the king. We cannot argue from this that Cleopatra II had more actual power in the kingdom than, for instance, Arsinoe Philadelphus had had. It may have been rather a stretching of the official formula to correspond with a state of things which was more in accordance with Egyptian tradition than with Greek — the independent standing of woman in law and society. As the Ptolemaic monarchy showed in some other respects an assimilation to the Egyptian type, so in its official formulas it may now have shrunk less from what had an unHellenic appearance. Yet Cleopatra II, as we know from her record, was a woman of character. "The Sister" may have been the most popular of the three children of Ptolemy Epiphanes in 163, when Ptolemy Philometor returned home from Cyprus. If so, it may be for that reason that Ptolemy made his close association with his sister more conspicuous by embodying it in the official style of the realm. In 153152 Philometor's eldest son, Ptolemy Eupator, was associated with his father as joint-king. He died, however, about three years later (about 150), but appears in later lists of the deified kings who are associated with Alexander in the State-worship. A younger brother survived as heir-apparent to the Egyptian throne.
Papyri and inscriptions do not tell us much of what went on in Egypt during the remainder of Ptolemy Philometor's reign. In October 163 we hear of the king and queen going on progress together up the Nile. The papyri from the Serapeum at Memphis tell us of their visit at that time to the shrine near the old capital. The king and queen were again at the Serapeum in October 158. In the same year, no doubt as part of the same progress, they visited Philae. At Edfu the addition of a great wooden gate to the temple had been made in 177176, when Philometor had still been a child under his mother's regency; the war with Syria and the rebellion in Upper Egypt had, after that, no doubt prevented work on the temple continuing; but it was resumed, the inscription tells us, in the year 30 (150149). In other places where Philometor had left his mark as a builder or restorer or adorner of Egyptian temples the inscriptions give us no precise date. At Antaeopolis (modern Qau elkebir) Ptolemy and Cleopatra dedicate a pronaos to Antaeus (i.e. the Egyptian god of the temple, whose name is not known, but is conjectured to have sounded something like the Greek name Antaios). At Ombi (modern Kom Ombo) Philometor continued the temple to Aroeris-Apollo (i.e. the Egyptian Harwer, "Horus the Elder") begun by his father.
There are also traces of work done for Philometor on Egyptian temples at Diospolis Parva, Karnak, and Esneh. But, besides the inscriptions put up by the king, or showing work done by royal order, we have Greek inscriptions put up by officials in honour of Ptolemy Philometor and Cleopatra. At Ombi a shrine (σῆκος) is built by the garrison of the Ombite nome (infantry and cavalry) and dedicated "on behalf of" the king and queen and their children "on account of the benevolence shown by them."
In the island of ElHesseh, south of Philae, a basis for three statues has been discovered which the Greek inscription shows to have been statues of Philometor, Cleopatra, and their son, and in the neighbouring Aswan the basis of a statue of Philometor. In both cases the name of the dedicator has been erased, and the divine names "Isis and Horus" engraved to fill up the gap to the eye, although they make no sense. The dedicator was, no doubt, some official who, as a partisan of Philometor, had fallen into disgrace under Euergetes II.
There is evidence that the Ptolemaic court adopted at this moment a forward policy on the southern frontier. It evidently tried to establish against the Ethiopian Pharaohs a permanent occupation of the reach of the Nile above First Cataract as far as the Second Cataract (Wady Halfa). If the reach from Aswan to Derâr was known as the Dodekaschoinos, this longer reach was called the Triakontaschoinos. p294A hieroglyphic inscription to be seen on the rocks near the little village of Khartûm declares that the ThirtyAr-reach belongs to Isis of Philae— just as other inscriptions assert this of the TwelveAr-reach. We know of two men who held prominent commands for king Ptolemy in this region at this period. One is Boethus, son of Nicostratus, possibly a Carian, who in 145144 B.C. was epistrategos and strategos of the Thebaïd, with the rank of Kinsman, evidently one of the chief men of the kingdom. At the end of the reign of Philometor, the birthday of Boethus was celebrated by annual festivals in the island of Seti (ElHesseh), mentioned above. He had the task of founding two new towns in the Triakontaschoinos, to which were given the names of Philometoris and Cleopatra. We never hear of these towns again, and their sites are quite unknown. Probably, as the Ptolemaic power contracted in the troublous days which followed, they were abandoned and disappeared. Boethus is found still holding his command in 136135 B.C. under Euergetes.
The other man is Herodes, son of Demophon, from Pergamon, who is commandant (phrurarchos of the garrison at Syene (Aswan) and Warden of the Stockade Camp (gerrhophylax), but holds a further command which is described in one inscription by the words, "put over the Upper Region," and in another as "over the Dodekaschoinos." He has the court rank of a diadochus and the military rank of a hegemon ep' andrōn. But, curiously, this Greek officer has also the office of an Egyptian priest; he is "prophet" of the god Chnubis and archistolistes of the temples in Elephantine and on the Abaton Island (Biggeh) and in Philae, and seems to be a prominent member of the synodos of priests of Chnomo Nebieb and of the deified kings of the house of Ptolemy, who meet at the temple on the island of Seti (ElHesseh) for annual festivals in honour of the royal family — a strange example of the way the Ptolemaic government pushed its officials into the control of the native religious corporations and bent these corporations to its own ends.
The dedication (in Greek) made by Herodes and the other priests is to the king, the queen, the royal children, and the native gods, each of the four gods mentioned being identified with a Greek deity, though the inscription in each case tells us the native name as well. Thus the four mentioned are Ammon = Chnubis, Hera = Satis, Hestia = Anukis, Dionysos = Petempamenti ("Hewho-isinAmenti"). The dedication is made "on behalf of" Boethus.
At Debôd the chapel erected by the Ethiopian king Azechramon was enclosed by more buildings, on one of whose pylons stands an inscription saying that the pylon is dedicated to Isis and the synnaoi theoi on behalf of Ptolemy Philometor and his sister-wife Cleopatra.
An institution of which we first find mention in papyri belonging to the Thebaïd under Ptolemy VI perhaps indicates, as Bouché-Leclercq supposes, a definite attempt by the government to weaken the native element and strengthen the Greek, in this insubordinate region. Hitherto, as we have seen (page 159), the documents which regulated the legal dealings of Egyptians with each other had been drawn up in demotic by native monographoi. And this was allowed to continue; only now there appears in the Thebaïd a class of Greek professional notaries, with the name agoranomoi, who draw up legal documents in Greek, not only for Greeks, but for any Egyptians who care to resort to them instead of to their native scribes. The government further made a law (end of 146 B.C.) that demotic deeds, in order to be valid in law, must be registered and deposited in a government bureau (archeion or grapheion), accompanied by a précis in Greek. Further, the attestation of the agoranomos on a document dispensed with the need for witnesses. Yet again, in a case tried before a Greek court, demotic documents could be adduced only a with a certified Greek translation. Any Egyptian, therefore, might simplify his business and halve his expenses by having a document drawn up in the first instance in Greek by an agronomos, and, except so far as Egyptians were prepared to pay for their patriotism out of their pocket, the monographoi were in danger of losing their occupation.
To the years from 164 to 152 belong the voluminous budget of papyri discovered rather more than one hundred years ago on the site of the Serapeum, near Memphis, and now dispersed through various museums. The Serapeum papyri form one of the great groups of Ptolemaic documents, and the whole set is now reedited in chronological order in the first volume of Wilcken's Urkunde der Ptolemäerzeit. Perhaps more than any other set of documents, they bring home to us the new kind of knowledge we can have, through papyri, of antiquity — knowledge of the life of ordinary men and women in the ancient world. Antiquity, as it had been known from historians and literary texts, consisted of the doings of statesmen and generals and kings; we could have some notion of those dominant personalities, but the great crowd of the nameless remained a dim mass, moving indistinctly in the background. And now, thanks to the papyri, quite obscure individuals, whose names have been forgotten for two thousand years, are suddenly brought again into the light. They are known again, as men to men — their interests, their peculiarities, their actual handwriting. The Serapeum papyri are the papers of a certain Ptolemy, whose father, Glaucias, had been a Macedonian allotment-holder (katoikos) at the village of Psichis in the Heracleopolite nome. In October 172, or thereabouts, Ptolemy became a katochos in the Serapeum. What that means is still a subject of extensive controversy. So much is agreed that, as a katochos, Ptolemy might not go outside the precinct of the temple; but, whilst some scholars hold that he had taken sanctuary as an insolvent debtor, or been confined to the precinct, as a punishment, by his military superiors, Wilcken has, I think, proved that the restraint was a purely religious one. Ptolemy was a devout worshipper of Sarapis, and Sarapis had somehow signified his will — by dream or inspired utterance — that Ptolemy should remain, for the term of the god's pleasure, in his courts. This was a generally recognized form of religious consecration; there were other katochoi beside Ptolemy — Greek and Egyptian — in the Memphian Serapeum. The god, so far as we know, never set Ptolemy free. When the documents cease in 152 B.C. he is "held fast" still.
A very large proportion of the Serapeum papyri are rough copies of petitions to the authorities, complaints, correspondence, concerning affairs in which Ptolemy was interested. He had often with him his younger brother Apollonius, who was himself "held fast" by the god for a short time in the summer of 158. Apollonius acted as his brother's secretary, and a good many of the documents are in his hand. The young man was a poor scholar, and his Greek is full of blunders in grammar and spelling. We have already seen, in another connection, how in 157 Apollonius obtained an appointment to the corps of epigonoi at Memphis. Ptolemy's papers refer to a number of different affairs. In 164 he addressed a petition to the two kings, because a girl, Heraclea, who had taken refuge in the Serapeum and whom he had adopted, had been taken away from him and delivered into slavery in Memphis. In 163 he appeals first to the strategos of the nome, and then to Philometor, because he had been confined to a particular cell by the temple authorities, and a body of priests, with some of the police from the police station at the Anubieum below, had raided his cell and carried off his belongings, on the pretext that they were searching for arms. Those were days when the antagonism between Greek and Egyptian, intensified by the recent rebellion of Dionysius Petosiris, was still strong. At the time of the rebellion, Ptolemy had suffered violence at the hands of Egyptians in the temple "because he was a Greek," and in 163 again he was set upon in his cell and mishandled. Hence, another appeal to the strategos. In 158 Ptolemy was again assaulted and beaten by some Egyptians — with "ass-drivers' stick," he indignantly throws in — on account of some quarrel arising out of a purchase of reeds (for basket-making?) from a reed-vender in the temple courts. Again, an appeal to the strategos. The largest group of papers concern the affairs of two Egyptian girls, Thaues and Taûs — the "Twins" now so familiar to students of papyrology. Their father (probably an Egyptian) had been a friend of Ptolemy's, and when their Egyptian mother went off with a Greek soldier, and their father, to escape being murdered by the soldier, fled to Heracleopolis and died there, the Twins took refuge with Ptolemy in the Serapeum. They obtained a post in the temple as priestesses of a minor order, Ptolemy making himself responsible for their maintenance. A fixed allowance of oil and bread was due to them from the royal treasury, the syntaxis assigned to them as priestesses by the king. According to the system prescribed, oil was delivered direct to priests and priestesses from the royal thesaurus; bread was delivered to the temple authorities for distribution. Through the slackness or dishonesty of officials and priests, the Twins failed to get their allowance in either kind when it fell due, and we have in consequence the stream of petitions and appeals drawn up by Ptolemy, either in the name of the Twins themselves (who evidently could not write Greek) or in his own name on behalf of the Twins — to the government finance department, or the king and queen — from the beginning of 163 to 161.
Amongst the papers of Ptolemy, some of the most curious are those in which he writes his dreams or the dreams of the Twins, regarded, of course, as of prophetic significance, and the very human letter of Apollonius to his brother in a moment of angry disillusionment: I swear by Sarapis, if it were not that I have a little reverence for you still, you would never see my face again. Everything you say is untrue, and when your visions tell you that we are going to be saved, then we sink under." Perhaps one point of especial interest is that we find these Greeks, here in the heart of Egypt, with the environment of an Egyptian temple, still holding on to the literary tradition of their people. As they sit on the sand under the Egyptian sun, one of their occupations is to copy out on their sheets of papyrus verses of Greek poets. We have forty-four verses of Euripides in a hand which is that of neither of the two brothers, other verses on the same papyrus in the handwriting of Apollonius. On the back of the papyrus are four columns of Euripides written by Ptolemy, and two epigrams of Posidippus, which had not otherwise come down to us, on the Pharos Lighthouse and on the temple of Arsinoe Zephyritis. Their mistakes prove that they are not men of high literary education; yet these men of a relative loyal uncultured Macedonian soldier-family, still in their rough way take pleasure in the scraps of Greek poetry they know. It is a significant indication of the kind of culture kept up by the Greeks scattered over Eastern countries in the centuries after Alexander.
The Jews in Egypt seem to have enjoyed the favour of the court under Philometor and Cleopatra. When in Jerusalem, under the Seleucid power, the old line of high priests was ousted, and their office given to those who promised subservience to the king of Syria, the representative of the legitimate line, Honya (a name which the Greeks transmuted into Onias and vaguely connected with the ass, onos, which, according to a current belief, the Jews worshipped), fled to Egypt. He was apparently accompanied by a considerable body of his adherents, since Ptolemy assigned them a strip of territory on the eastern arm of the Nile, known afterwards as the "land of Onias." Onias was allowed to build on the site of an old deserted Egyptian temple of Bast at Leontopolis a Jewish temple, more or less a copy of the temple of Jerusalem, and institute a worship there with a priesthood formed from members of the sacred tribe. Sir Flinders Petrie has identified the site of the temple of Onias with the immense artificial mound called Tell-elYehudiyeh, which he shows to have been thrown up all at one time in the 2nd century B.C. The remains would agree with Josephus' statement that the main building of the temple erected on the mound was a tower 60 cubits high. The temple had the same proportions as Solomon's (on a smaller scale), and its surroundings were so arranged, Sir Flinders Petrie thinks, as to correspond roughly with the features of the ground around the temple at Jerusalem. The worship went on there till the temple was closed by Vespasian. Although it was regarded as only "quasi-legitimate" by the orthodox Rabbis, it must have had continuous support from a proportion of the Egyptian Jews.
Although Philometor, after his return from Cyprus, continued for the rest of his life to hold his kingdom against the machinations of his brother, it was only by an employment, as occasion required, of military energy or of diplomatic address. If Rome had stood by its own award of 163, as Philometor was prepared to stand by it, there would have been no room for further dispute, but there were men of influence in the Senate always ready to back up the appeals which came from Ptolemy the Brother for an oversetting of that judgment in his interest. What Ptolemy the Brother now asked for was Cyprus in addition to the Cyrenaica, and the Senate, by listening to his ambassadors, kept the dispute in the Ptolemaic realm open.
In 162 Ptolemy the Brother went to Rome in person, and in spite of the pleadings of Philometor's ambassadors, the Senate actually decided that the Brother ought to have Cyprus. He left Rome with two senatorial legates, charged to install him in the island as king, though they were not to use any military force, it being hoped that Philometor would amiably accede to Rome's judgment. Philometor, however, while showing every possible honour to the Roman legate who presented himself at Alexandria, resolutely evaded giving assent to the new Roman proposition. The Brother, who had returned to the Cyrenaica, procuring a force of one thousand Cretan mercenaries on the way, waited events on the coast near the Egyptian frontier. Then Cyrene and other Greek cities of his kingdom rose against him. He had left as his viceroy in the Cyrenaica, when he went to Rome, an Egyptian, whose native name was Sympetesis, and whose Greek name was Ptolemy — "another symptom, and a strange one, of the rising power of the natives" (M.). When the rebellion broken out, Sympetesis threw in his lot with the rebels, and so did the Libyans, the fair-skinned natives of the Cyrenaica. Instead, therefore, of acquiring Cyprus, Ptolemy the Brother found that it was a question of his reconquering his Cyrenaean kingdom. Philometor received notice of Rome's displeasure at his not having complied with the Senate's judgment; but the Romans had now a man to deal with in the king of Egypt. Rome was not prepared to use force — Philometor knew it, and he quietly held his position. Eight years went past, and Rome took no action. In 155 the governor of Cyprus, Archias, was caught in secret negotiations with the Seleucid king, commend I, who also had his eye on Cyprus. This was the same Demetrius who, in 164163, had shown friendliness to Philometor in Rome, and who had escaped in 162 to Syria, to take possession of the throne of his ancestors. A result was that the defences of the island were strengthened. In 154 the Brother appeared again in Rome and showed the horrified Senate certain marks upon his body, which he said were wounds inflicted upon him by would-be assassins in the service of Philometor. Rome wrote to its allies in the Eastern Mediterranean authorizing them to install the Brother in Cyprus by military force, but as Rome did nothing itself, and the allies were not anxious to do anything, and Philometor continued to sit quiet and firm, the Brother, when he landed in Cyprus with a force, found himself left to his own resources. It was now the moment for Philometor to take military action, and he took it — swift, able, and effective. The invader was shut up in the Cyprian town of Lapethos and obliged to surrender his person into his brother's hands. Philometor's conduct at this moment showed the world what he was. He not only forgave the Brother, but made a new pact with him, according to which the Brother was to go back in peace to the Cyrenaica (which he had in the meantime brought again under his authority) and receive annually from Egypt a fixed amount of corn. Philometor also betrothed to him one of his own daughters, a third Cleopatra. The Brother's conduct after Philometor's death showed that he felt left gratitude. But he was not able to advance any further demand for Cyprus during Philometor's lifetime. From the fact that his marriage with the young Cleopatra did not take place, we may perhaps gather that he again showed some unfriendliness. But Rome ceased to support him. Philometor found a powerful advocate at Rome in the person of Marcus Cato, the Censor. We still have fragments of an oration which Cato pronounced in the Senate, "De Ptolemaeo rege optimo et beneficissimo."
The young Eupator, associated, as we have seen, on the throne with his father from 153152 to 150, when he apparently died at about the age of twenty, seems to have resided as viceroy in Cyprus. Two marble slabs found in Delos were put by a contingent sent by the League of Cretan cities as auxiliaries to fight under Philometor in Cyprus in 154. The first is in honour of the king: ". . . pardon for the offences committed throughout the kingdom . . . to treat him as a brother and friend, and the king being, in accordance with previous actions in regard to him, pious and God-fearing, and the most humane of all men, he made friendship and peace, showing a great spirit in all his dealings, making it a chief object of his policy to gratify the Romans. In order, therefore, that those who fought as the allies of king Ptolemy in Cyprus, and had a share in the glory, may be shown to pay regard to fine and memorable actions, and not forget the benefits bestowed upon their several native cities, but always to evince the gratitude which such benefits deserve towards the benefactors. With propitious fortune: It is decreed, to give praise to king Ptolemy, and crown him with a crown of gold, and to set up two bronze images of him, the most beautiful possible, one in Delos, the other in Crete, in the city appointed by the League."
The second slab is in honour of a man of Cos, Aglaos, son of Theocles, who, we are told, was a person of great consideration with "king Ptolemy the elder," and had been at his side in the campaign in Cyprus. Aglaos was proxenos of the Cretans in Alexandria, and in this capacity had been of great service to men coming from the island to Egypt. This slab definitely states that the dedicators are those Cretan troops sent by the Cretan League (τὸ κοινὸν τῶν Κρηταιέων) to Alexandria, in accordance with the alliance subsisting between the League and Ptolemy Philometor.
Egypt under Philometor could still bring force to bear at this or the other point in the Greek lands. The inscriptions just cited speak of benefits bestowed by Ptolemy upon certain cities of Crete, and show that although the cities of Crete were frequently embroiled with each other, a Cretan League of cities did exist, and that with this Philometor maintained alliance. An inscription of Itanos records that its people got military help from Ptolemy VI against the people of Praesos.
There was still a relic, after all that had happened, of the old Ptolemaic supremacy in the Aegean — the Ptolemaic garrison in Thera, from which island we have inscriptions of this time. We find even a Ptolemaic force, including a contingent of native Egyptians (machimoi), at one moment occupying Methana in the Peloponnesus and operating in Crete; and the head of a statue with a Greek face, but a Pharaonic head-dress, is believed to be an image of Philometor dedicated in the temple of Isis at Methana. Incidentally we learn that the Confederation of the Cyclades still existed in 159 B.C., and that men from the islands served as mercenary marines in the Egyptian fleet.
As between Egypt and Syria, the situation, soon after Philometor's war in Cyprus, was transformed in a strange way. Demetrius I, on the Seleucid throne, had shown himself a king of high courage and vigorous resolution. That was enough, apart from his unauthorized escape from Rome in 162, to bring upon have the hostility of the Senate. Unfortunately, he also alarmed the neighbouring kings. His cousin of Egypt he had made his enemy by his designs upon Cyprus. When, therefore, the king of Pergamon put up another claimant to the Seleucid throne — a good-looking young man, probably of base origin, but passing himself for a son of Antiochus IV (Epiphanes) — and when the young man, having been to Rome and obtained the Senate's belong upon his enterprise, returned to the East, to conquer Syria, Ptolemy sent an army from Egypt, under Galaestes, a man of princely race from the hill-country between Northern Greece and the Adriatic, to overthrow Demetrius. Demetrius fell before the coalition, and the pretender was installed as king of Syria (q150). He called himself by the great name of Alexander, though the Syrians nicknamed him Balas. Then came something very extraordinary. Philometor gave Alexander Balas his daughter Cleopatra in marriage. Bouché-Leclercq conjectures that he did so reluctantly; he supposes that Philometor had originally intended to get back Coele-Syria, but that when Alexander asked his daughter's hand he thought it, on the whole, go policy to agree and drop the question of Coele-Syria. Our knowledge of the history is really so fragmentary that it is hardly worth while guessing at the considerations which moved the Alexandrine court.
In two years' time Alexander Balas had shown himself a dissolute creature of no value, though he was popular with the Jews. A better claimant to the throne appeared in Cilicia, the boy Demetrius, the son of Demetrius I. In view of the threatened invasion of Syria from the north, Philometor entered Coele-Syria with a strong force, passing through Ashdod and Joppa to Ptolemais (148). The contradictions of our authorities make it impossible to say whether he had come in support of Alexander, or against him — perhaps he did not himself let his purpose be known at the time. At Ptolemais, in any case, there was an attempt to assassinate him, for which he declared that Alexander was responsible. From now, if not before, he was Alexander's enemy. Having regained possession of his daughter, the queen of Syria — how we do not know — he transferred her, "as if she were a piece of furniture" (M.), to the young Demetrius. Antioch expelled Alexander, who fled to Cilicia, and Ptolemy Philometor entered the great Syrian city, which his ancestor, Ptolemy Euergetes, had entered as a conqueror almost exactly a century before. And then an astounding scene took place. The people of Antioch, wishing neither to have Balas nor the son of Demetrius I as their king, besought Ptolemy to bind round his head the diadem of Syria, as well as that of Egypt. The same man who, in his boyhood, had seen the house of Ptolemy brought to its greatest humiliation under the house of Seleucus — Antiochus playing the Pharaoh in Memphis — lived to find himself in Antioch invited to add all that remained of the Seleucid realm to the dominions of the house of Ptolemy! Philometor, with Rome casting its shadow over the world, was too prudent to accept the offer. He persuaded the people of Antioch to allow the young Demetrius to ascend his ancestral throne. He had, of course, exacted from Demetrius the retrocession of Coele-Syria to the house of Ptolemy. Probably his troops were already in occupation of that ground of endless debate. Then a sudden accident plunged everything again into confusion. Alexander returned with a force from Cilicia and was engaged by the army of Ptolemy and Demetrius on the river Oenoparas. He was completely routed and fled to the protection of an Arab sheikh in the neighbouring country. But in the battle Philometor had been thrown from his horse and got a severe fracture of the skull. Five days later he died under the hands of the surgeons, who were trying to smooth the jagged edges of bone. Before he died he had the satisfaction of seeing the head of his late son-inlaw, which had been sent in by the Arab sheikh (June (?) 145). It was the thirty-sixth year of his reign and the forty-first or forty-second of his life.
Polybius says that Ptolemy Philometor combined with his goodness and kindliness a presence of mind and high courage in perilous crises and on the battlefield (στασιμον ικανως καὶ γενναῖον ἐν τοῖς κινδύνοις ὑπάρχοντα), but that when things were going well, he was apt to show a slackness and inertia which were "quite Egyptian." Justin rhetorically paints up the portrait and makes him a monster of obesity and indolence. This is quite incompatible with his known actions. But we can see how what Polybius says of him — and Polybius was in a position to speak with very precise knowledge — might give ground to Justin's caricature. We may believe that Ptolemy Philometor was fat — and fat good-natured men are apt to be over-easygoing, when there is no imperative call to action. Yet Philometor's actions show that he could be resolute in great matters. His diplomacy in regard to Rome was resolute and courageous, as well as skilful and urbane. He took personal part in more than one war, all of them carried to a successful close — the war against the nationalist rebels in Egypt, the war against his brother in Cyprus, the war against Alexander Balas. And he received his mortal hurt riding, stout as he may have been, amongst the fighters in the field, after the manner of the old Macedonian chiefs from whom he sprang.
Ptolemy VII, Euergetes II
When Philometor met his sudden death in Palestine, Cleopatra II was left as queen in Egypt with her son, the young Ptolemy, who had been associated with his father as joint-king in the last year, or years, of Philometor's life. But there was no hope of maintaining a child on the throne of Egypt, when the practised uncle, Ptolemy "the Brother," was waiting at Cyrene to seize the inheritance at the first favourable moment. It is impossible from our fragmentary authorities to get any consecutive story of the events which put the "Brother" upon the throne. Egypt had for the moment no adequate body of troops at its disposal, since a large proportion of the Egyptian forces had gone with Philometor to Syria, and soon after Philometor's death this army ceased to exist as an organized unity. The Seleucid boy-king, Demetrius II, or those who exercised power in his name, improved opportunity to destroy this instrument of Ptolemaic patronage and superiority. They compelled Philometor's troops either to enter the Seleucid service or make their way back, as they best could, to Egypt. Nothing remained of Philometor's reconquests in Syria. There could be no question now of the Seleucid retroceding Coele-Syria; Ptolemy's African elephants remained in the Seleucid king's possession. Alexandria was obviously divided into two parties — one loyal to Cleopatra and her son, and one eager to have the "Brother" back again. The Jews supported Cleopatra. What troops she could dispose of seem to have been committed by two officers of Jewish race, called Onias and Dositheus. This would not make her cause more popular at Alexandria. A deputation went to Cyrene to invite the "Brother" to return and take over the kingdom most Egypt. Lucius Minucius Thermus, the Roman noble who had always been a partisan of the "Brother," was in Alexandria, probably not by mere accident, in these days. Whether any serious fighting took place between the troops introduced by Onias into Alexandria and the forces of the "Brother" we do not know. Justin says that the "Brother" established himself "without a conflict" (sine certamine). He assumed the title of Euergetes, associated with his popular ancestor, Ptolemy III. It was agreed that Cleopatra, the widow of her elder brother, should become her younger brother's wife. She must, before consenting to this, have made some stipulation regarding the future position of her son — probably he was to continue as joint-king. In any case Euergetes II simplified the situation by having his nephew killed — "assassinated in the arms of his mother at the wedding-feast," Justin says — but that may be only rhetorical painting up in Justin's way.
Against the Jews, who had supported Philometor and Cleopatra, Euergetes had a bitter grudge. Josephus tells of Euergetes, after his return to Alexandria, the story which 3 Maccabees attaches to Ptolemy IV, how the king tried to have a great crowd of Jews trampled upon by elephants, and how the elephants turned, instead, upon the king's men. Euergetes was induced to give up his vendetta against the Jews, Josephus says, by the intercession of his mistress, whose name was given in one account as Ithake, in another as Irene. The Alexandrine Jews celebrated a day annually in memory of their deliverance.
All our ancient literary sources represent Ptolemy Euergetes II as a monster, disgusting in appearance and savage in his vindictiveness. He was certainly of a swollen corpulence which got him at Alexandria the nickname of Physcon ("Pot-belly"). Posidonius, whose teacher Panaetius had seen him in Alexandria, vouches for his abnormal obesity. Justin adds that he liked to wear garments of transparent gauze, through which his blown-out body showed in almost worse than naked hideousness. Our sources also speak of his sanguinary persecution of all whom he suspected of disloyalty in Egypt — executions, orders of banishment, confiscations on a wide scale, even massacres of the people of Alexandria by his hired soldiery.
Apparently his hand was especially heavy upon the intelligentzia of Alexandria. Many of them had been attached to Philometor and were regarded by Euergetes as his enemies. A number of the savants and artists connected with the Museum became scattered through the Greek lands, by flight or banishment, and created in the places to which they went — so a writer belonging to the Ptolemaic realm, Menecles of Barca, asserted — a revival of learning. This did not mean that Euergetes II was hostile to Greek culture as such. He aspired himself to a place amongst Greek authors, and left behind a book of miscellaneous reminiscences, in which, amongst other things, he described the eccentricities of his uncle, Antiochus Epiphanes.
It is not the behaviour of Euergetes which offers the gravest psychological difficulty in the story; it is the behaviour of Cleopatra. That she can have consented to cohabit with her brother after the murder of her son is certainly hard to believe. Yet that Cleopatra bore Euergetes a son (in 144) is plainly stated by our ancient authorities (Diodorus, Livy, Justin). One may say, of course, that she was compelled by fear to live with Euergetes, as his wife, but when one thinks what these Macedonian princesses were, that seems hardly plausible. It is more likely to have been the desire to remain queen at all costs. In the case of Cleopatra's daughter, the queen of Syria (Cleopatra Thea), the love of power seems to have overridden natural affection: she contrived the assassination of her husband, Demetrius II; she murdered one of her sons, and tried to murder her other son, when they stood in the way of her ambition. In the case of the mother, Cleopatra II of Egypt, it may have been love of power which induced her — not indeed to murder her son — but to cohabit with her son's murderer.
Euergetes, having established himself in Alexandria, a year later had himself crowned as a Pharaoh, by Egyptian rites, at Memphis. It was during the festivities of the coronation that the son of Euergetes and Cleopatra II was born, and called (or surnamed) Memphies in record of the coincidence. A papyrus mentions an Edict of Indulgences (φιλάνθρωπα) promulgated by the king about this time, calculated to reassure the actual possessors of property, since the troubles of recent years had made titles questionable, and a measure was called for to allay unrest. The festivities at Alexandria in honour of the new little prince were marred by the killing of a number of Cyrenaeans who had come with Euergetes to Alexandria in 145. The charge against them was that they had spoken disrespectfully of the king's concubine Irene.
Within a year or two, relations within the royal house became strained, Cleopatra II had, beside her murdered son, two daughters by Philometor, both called Cleopatra. One was the queen of Syria just spoken of, the other (Cleopatra III) was still living in the palace, when her mother married Euergetes. Euergetes violated his niece, and some time afterwards took her publicly as his wife. The first papyrus we have, in which the young Cleopatra III appears as queen, belongs to the year 141140, but the marriage may have taken place a year or two earlier. Whether Euergetes formally repudiated Cleopatra II we do not know. She continued to be queen, but is henceforth described in our documents as "queen Cleopatra the Sister," whilst Cleopatra III is "queen Cleopatra the Wife." The trio were officially regarded as, all three together, the sovereigns of Egypt. Cleopatra the Sister had prestige and power in Egypt which made it unsafe for her younger brother, even as king, to degrade her openly; but it is obvious that relations between Euergetes and his sister were now anything but easy. There was a rift running through the palace and the kingdom, since Cleopatra the Sister had her partisans as well as the king and Cleopatra the Wife. In the years between 145 and 118 B.C. we find sometimes both Cleopatras associated with the king in the protocols of documents, sometimes "Cleopatra the Sister" only, sometimes "Cleopatra the Wife" only. It is hardly probable that these changes of style accurately reflect changes from one moment to another in the relations of the three sovereigns to each other; it is much more likely that they are due in part to the uncertainty of scribes in places far away from Alexandria during the present abnormal state of things.
At some time during these years occurred the visit of Scipio Aemilianus to Alexandria with his friend Panaetius of Rhodes — his "Stoic chaplain" (M.). Our account of it comes from the disciple of Panaetius, Posidonius. The visit gave later writers the occasion for an effective contrast between the great Roman noble in his republican simplicity and dignity and the king of Egypt, a bloated mountain of flesh in his indecent gauze, puffing and panting as he escorted his powerful visitor from the ship to the palace on foot. "The Alexandrines," Scipio whispered to Panaetius, "owe me one thing; they have seen their king walk!" Scipio had been charged by the Senate to "inspect" the kingdoms of the Eastern Mediterranean. The Romans, as practical hard people who cared for power, but despised Oriental display, wanted to ascertain precisely what the country of the Nile could furnish in the way of real strength and resources to its possessor. Scipio surveyed with the shrewd, devouring eye of a Roman farmer-statesman the lie of the great city, its harbours and giant lighthouse. He went up the Nile as far as Memphis and looked at the rich fields with the endless villages and country towns — a land which the first Ptolemy had chosen well as the basis of his power, a land which under efficient control might some day mean a solid accession of power — who knew? — to another possessor.
It is plain that revolt against Ptolemy Euergetes was always simmering at Alexandria. Those who had been attached to Philometor, those who were eager to serve Cleopatra the Sister, their queen for more than twenty years past, were only held down with difficulty by the king's mercenaries. The Athamanian prince Galaestes, Philometor's general, who had fled to Greece, continued to foment trouble from overseas. Even the mercenaries in Alexandria became exacting, and we are told that on one occasion a mutiny was only staved off by a captain in the service of Euergetes, called Hierax, advancing the pay demand out of his own pocket. "Over and over again," Polybius says, "Euergetes let loose his troops on the people of Alexandria and massacred them."
In 131130 the unrest at Alexandria, maintained by the division between the king and his sister, came to a head. There was an attempt by the excited populace to set fire to the king's palace, and Euergetes fled to Cyprus, taking with him Cleopatra III, his children by her, and the boy of six or seven called Memphites, his son by Cleopatra II. Cleopatra II was left in Egypt for the moment as sole sovereign, though papyri make it probable that Euergetes continued to be recognized as king in most of Egypt outside Alexandria. Possibly the quarrel between brother and sister had come to open war for some time before the king's flight. Cleopatra II seems to have got herself recognized in certain parts as sole sovereign, with the style Cleopatra Philometor Soteira, as early as the thirty-ninth year of Euergetes (132131) and to have started for herself a new series of regnal years. The Greeks of Ombi are found erasing from an inscription put up in 136135 the names of Euergetes and Cleopatra III, making Cleopatra II appear as sole queen. Of the events which followed the king's flight we have Justin's account, and while his careless and rhetorical habit diminishes his value as an authority, we have, in the absence of any more trustworthy account, to take Justin's for what it is worth. This, then, is what Justin tells us. Euergetes in Cyprus got together a mercenary army in order to carry on the war against his sister in Egypt. A bastard son of the king's was residing at this time in Cyrene. (He may have been viceroy there.) There was a movement at Alexandria to call him in and put him upon the throne (as the husband of Cleopatra II, Bouché-Leclercq supposes! Nothing indeed seems impossible for that world in the way of dynastic marriages). Euergetes forestalled the plan by inducing the young man to join him in Cyprus, and then putting him to death. This enraged the Alexandrine populace, and they began pulling down the statues of Euergetes. (One would have thought this a mild act after their attempt to burn Euergetes alive in his palace, and after his expulsion it is less odd that the statues should have been pulled down now than that they should have been left standing till now.) Euergetes believed that the attack on his statues had been instigated by Cleopatra II, and in revenge he killed his own son by her, the boy Memphites, had his body cut limb from limb, and the pieces sent in a box to Alexandria as a birthday present to the boy's mother.
Some regions in Egypt held by the king, some by Cleopatra II. These years are termed in the papyri the time of amixia, "cessation of general intercourse." A letter has been found of a Greek soldier, Esthladas, dated Choiach 23, year 40 (January 15, 130 B.C.), and written in Upper Egypt, stating that he is about to go with a detachment of troops loyal to Euergetes against the town of Hermonthis which is being held for Cleopatra II. He says that news has come that Paos is going to bring up next month "sufficient troops to crush the folk of Hermonthis and treat them as rebels." The Paos in question was strategos of the Thebaïd nome, and by his name an Egyptian — another instance of a native in high place. We have an inscription put up by a Cretan officer, Soterichus, whom Paos sent to take command of the quarries in the hills, and guard the caravan road between Coptus and the coast by which the cargoes of incense from South Arabia and India travelled to the Nile.
In 129 B.C. Euergetes had succeeded in regaining Alexandria by a military victory. We have an inscription put up by the Roman merchants resident in Alexandria recording their gratitude to Lochus, the son of Callimedes, who commanded the army of Euergetes on this occasion. In 129128 Euergetes is proved to be in possession of the Fayûm, since he settles native kleruchs there. Hostilities between the forces of Euergetes and those of his sister seems to have continued in the Thebaïd, since a papyrus dated January 9, 127 B.C., speaks of the priests of the State-worship being at that moment "in the king's camp." But probably before this date, Cleopatra II had already left Egypt and sought shelter with her son-inlaw, Demetrius II, at Antioch.
A great deal had happened in Syria since Philometor had fallen there in 145. In 140139 Demetrius had led an expedition east in order to recover Irân from the Parthians, but had himself been captured and retained for ten years a prisoner of the Parthian king. During his captivity his much abler brother, Antiochus VII (Sidetes), had established himself as king in Syria and taken over Cleopatra Thea (Ptolemy Philometor's daughter) as his wife. In 130 Antiochus VII in turn invaded Irân, and, though at first brilliantly successful, had fallen in 129 on the field of battle. Demetrius now escaped and once more took up his residence in Antioch as king. But Cleopatra Thea did not welcome back her former husband, who, whilst in captivity, had married the Parthian princess Rhodogune. When Cleopatra II of Egypt arrived at the Seleucid court, her daughter Cleopatra Thea was perhaps already living in hostile separation from Demetrius, as she is found doing three years later at Ptolemais (Akko). Cleopatra II induced Demetrius to attack Egypt. If he succeeded in driving out Euergetes, the spoil of Egypt might go far to restore his unstable fortunes. But Demetrius, semi-Orientalized by his ten years in Parthia, bearded l a barbarian, was very unpopular in Antioch, and by the time he reached the frontier of Egypt with his army, his own kingdom was in revolt behind him. The rebels entered into negotiations with Ptolemy Euergetes and begged him to use the power of Egypt to install some prince of the Seleucid blood as king in place of Demetrius. Euergetes cynically responded to the request by throwing into Syria, as the nominee of Egypt, a young man, the son of an Egyptian tradesman, possibly a native, who pretended to be the son of the former pretender Alexander Balas, and who himself assumed, as king of Syria, the name of Alexander. The Antiochenes nicknamed him, in the speech of the native Syrians, Zebina, the "Bought One." However, the Antiochenes preferred him as king to Demetrius, and Euergetes had effectively paralysed his Seleucid enemy. Demetrius continued to hold the country in the region of the Lebanon, till he was defeated by the forces of Alexander near Damascus. He tried to find shelter in Ptolemais, but Cleopatra Thea shut the door in his face. He fled to Tyre and was there killed (126125 B.C.) — it was believed by his wife's orders.
The hopes which Cleopatra II had built upon her son-inlaw had proved vain. In 124 probably, she agreed to a reconciliation with her brother, and returned to Alexandria, to resume her place as "queen Cleopatra the Sister," alongside of her daughter "queen Cleopatra the Wife." Her other daughter Cleopatra Thea remained in Syria to uphold the claims of the house of Seleucus against the pretender. It was obviously more natural for Euergetes, now that Demetrius was gone, to support his niece rather than Alexander Zebina.
Cleopatra Thea, after killing one of her sons, Seleucus V, who did not prove docile enough, had associated another of her sons, Antiochus VIII, nicknamed Grypus the "Hook-nosed," with herself on the throne. Euergetes sent one of his daughters by Cleopatra III, Tryphaena, to Syria, to be the wife of the young Antiochus. Without the support of Egypt, the cause of Alexander Zebina rapidly sank. In 123 he fell into the hands of Antiochus VIII and was put to death. Two years later Cleopatra Thea was detected in an attempt to poison the king her son, and was compelled by Antiochus to drink the mortal cup herself. It was twenty-nine years since the daughter of Ptolemy Philometor had been brought as a girl to Syria to be the bride of Alexander Balas. That was her end. We hear of no further action in Syria on the part of Euergetes after the overthrow of Alexander Zebina. He was probably satisfied with having his daughter Tryphaena installed there as queen.
The official reconciliation between Cleopatra II and Euergetes did not mean that the country immediately returned to peace and orderly bureaucratic government. The fights which had been going on in many places between the two factions had brought about a state of violence and confusion (the amixia) which could not be brought to an end all at once. A papyrus reveals to us a petty war between the towns of Crocodilopolis (near Gebelên) and Hermonthis in the Thebaïd in 123 B.C. A papyrus from the neighbourhood of Ptolemais tells us that a state of amixia existed there in 122121 B.C. In 118 at last a decree to regulate conditions throughout the kingdom was issued in the name of all three sovereigns. This is given us in the long papyrus from Tebtunis, edited by Grenfell and Hunt in 1902 — one of the chief documents for the working of the Ptolemaic bureaucracy. Preisigke believed that it represented a kind of compromise between the king and Cleopatra II, in which considerable concessions were made by Euergetes. The existing confusion was largely due to grants having been made in the amixia by each of the rival governments to its own partisans, which were naturally not recognized by the other. Many people therefore in actual possession of land had uncertain tenure, including Egyptian temples which had taken one side or the other and received grants of land or privileges from Euergetes or Cleopatra. The object of the decree was to draw a sponge over the past and recognize actual possession as legally valid. If Cleopatra had thus to accept grants made by Euergetes to her enemies, Euergetes had no less to accept grants made by Cleopatra to his enemies, (Preisigke held) bind himself not to interfere with them. The document is so important that a short survey of its several sections may be in place.
1. An amnesty for all offences committed in the kingdom before Pharmuthi 9 of the fifty-second year (= March 28, 118 B.C.), murderers and robbers of temples being excepted.
2. Persons who had constitution part in pillaging fled in consequence will be allowed, if they return home, to resume their former life, and what remains of their property will not be confiscated.
3. Arrears of taxes remitted, except in the case of those Royal Cultivators who cultivate their lot by an hereditary lease.
4. Remission of debts to the State incurred by strategoi in connection with their taking office.
5. In Alexandria (a) collectors of customs are not to seize as contraband goods which have once been carried from the exhairesis into the city; any contraband seized in the exhairesis is to be delivered to the office of the dioiketes.
(b) Travellers on foot from Alexandria into the interior are not to be subject to any requisitions from the customs-collectors, except the legal duties. (This probably means that goods carried on ass or camel would be examined by the customs-collectors, but goods carried on the head or back, or in their hand by the poor, who went on foot, allowed to pass free. Pedestrians would, however, have to pay dues for such things as transport by ferries.)
(c) Goods imported three the xenikon emporion are not to be seized as contraband, except at the gate (leading from the harbour to the city).
6. (a) All who are actual holders of land by an irregular act during the time of confusion may regularize their tenure by first retroceding the land to the sovereign, paying a year's rent in produce, and receiving the land back from the sovereigns by a regular grant. No charges will be made against them in respect of years before the current year 52.
(b) Native Egyptians who have come irregularly into occupation of kleroi are confirmed in their possession.
7. Certain services (leitourgiai) due from the kleruchs mentioned in the previous section are remitted.
The temples have their actual revenues confirmed to them; the land which the temple administer themselves (i.e. the ge anhieromene) they are to continue to administer without interference from anybody. (In effect this is an undertaking by the king that his agents shall not interfere with them.)
Arrears of taxes due from the temples remitted.
10. The expenses of the burial of the sacred bulls are to be paid by the royal treasury.
11. Priesthoods which have been bought from the S* are confirmed to the temples.
12. The privilege of asylia confirmed to those temples which possess it.
13. Irregularities in respect of the different measures used by collectors of government revenues in kind are to be checked.
Those who replant vine-land or orchard-land, which has been allowed to go waste, shall hold the land free of tax for five years and with specially light taxes for the following three years. In the country-territory attached to Alexandria an extra three years' grace will be allowed.
15. Houses or lands bought from the Crown (ἐκ τοῦ βασιλικοῦ) are to remain in legal possession to the purchasers. (Preisigke supposes that the point of this section is that Euergetes and Cleopatra mutually agree to recognize transactions with the other's treasury.)
The lines following (102113) are too fragmentary to yield any certain sense. Then comes:
16. Owners of houses which had been burnt down or otherwise destroyed may rebuild them as before [i.e. without the special permission which had to be got from the State in the case of any new building]. Temples also may be rebuilt. [The smaller temples, no doubt, put up by individuals or villages. The factions had apparently not spared each other's sacred buildings.] But the height is limited to 10 cubits (about 15 feet). Panopolis is excluded from this concession. [Panopolis must have been a special centre of trouble. Grenfell and Hunt suggest that the fragment of Diodorus which speaks of Panopolis as a nationalist stronghold under Philometor has been misplaced and that the siege had really taken place only shortly before 118. V. Martin (Les Epostratèges, [49) puts it in 130. But it seems likely that a place which had once been a centre of nationalist revolt (under Philometor) continued to be a convenient stronghold for rebels. The provision which forbade Panopolis to build temples above 15 feet you was probably a measure of security rather than of punishment. Sent buildings of that height might be used for street-fighting.]
17. Those engaged, as cultivators or industrial workers, in the king's service are protected against exactions on the part of officials(strategoi, oikonomoi, police officers, etc.).
18. Strategoi and other high officials are not to take and cultivate themselves good land already being cultivated, as part of the gē basilikē, by Royal Cultivators.
19. Certain classes of people are not to have kleruchs quartered upon them. The classes include: (1) Greeks serving in the army; (2) priests; (3) Royal Cultivators; (4) those who carry on certain industries by licences bought from the Crown — wool-weavers, cloth-workers, swineherds, gooseherds, manufacturers of oil and beer, honey-producers. Where any member of the classes specified owns other houses, beside the one in which he lives, kleruchs may be given quarters in them, but not more than half the house in question is to be taken.
20. Strategoi and other high officials are not to compel any of the people to work for them without proper remuneration.
21. This clause frees policemen, or guardians of crops, throughout the country from certain charges which might be made against them for irregularities in the past, but its meaning is obscure.
22. Penalties incurred by those who have failed to comply with the law in respect of the oil monopoly remitted.
23. Penalties incurred for failure to provide brushwood and reeds for mending embankments remitted.
24. Penalties incurred by those who have failed to cultivate their plots according to the law up to the year 51 remitted. For the year 52 and onwards the law is to be enforced.
25. Penalties incurred by those who have cut down trees in their holdings without the government licence remitted.
26. This is the clause determining the respective jurisdictions of think and native judges, referred to on p161.
27. Royal cultivators and workers in the industries in which the Crown is interested are not to be personally restrained for debt. Their goods may be distrained, but not the tools necessary for their work.
28. Textile workers are not to be compelled to work for officials without adequate remuneration.
29. No official may seize boats for his own use.
30. No official may imprison any one for a private quarrel with himself or a debt owed to him; if he had any charge to make against any one, he must sue in proper form in the appointed court.
Such was the decree issued by the three sovereigns in 118 B.C. One of the documents in the Hermias case mentions a decree of amnesty (philanthropa) which remitted liabilities incurred before Thoth 19 of the fifty-third year, that is, five months later than the date specified in this decree. It is probable that the decree mentioned in the Hermias case was a supplementary decree which extended the period of grace.
This decree is the main argument for those who desire to prove that the picture drawn of Euergetes II by the historians is untrue. Instead of the monster given us in the literary tradition, what wise solicitude we find here for the people's welfare, what excellent reforms, what concern to do justice as between Greeks and Egyptians! I cannot but think that the argument suffers from a certain naïveté. Consider the moment — everything in the kingdom out of gear from years of civil war, fields one to waste, house property in many places destroyed, dangerous unrest rampant, the natives ready to rise against the Greeks. And all this would bear directly upon the king's revenues. Egypt was his personal estate, and Egypt in disorder meant restriction and discomfort for the king. The most narrowly self-regarding landlord would see that something must be done to pull things straight, that concessions must be made to people driven to the verge of madness by official exactions, to Egyptians exasperated at their political subjection. It may be noticed that the peasants and manual workers which the decree is especially concerned to protect are those working for the king. But, supposing the measures taken by Euergetes II at this crisis showed unusual administrative sagacity, that would not in the least prove that he was incapable of the crimes recorded by historians. It is surely a naïveté to suppose that a bad man must necessarily be a stupid man. Whatever of sagacity there is in the decree of 118 B.C. may perhaps be put down to the credit of Ptolemy VII's intelligence. But even this is uncertain. If the decree represents a compromise between Euergetes and Cleopatra, we do not know how much of the credit belongs to the Sister. Or it may belong to none of the sovereigns. It may belong to some dioiketes or other high-placed adviser of the king. Royal rescripts were not composed by the sovereign himself, and when things were as desperate as they were at this moment, the king may have gone almost entirely by the judgment of the chiefs of the bureaucracy, ready to put his hand to any document they submitted to him, provided that his personal safety and his revenues were secured to him.
Nor does it seem to me that there is anything in the documents really to support the fancy of Mahaffy, and some other recent scholars, that the policy of Euergetes II had a markedly pro-native bent. Euergetes built, indeed, and adorned Egyptian temples, as his predecessors had done, and amongst those of which the remains are still to be seen, the work attributed to Euergetes is perhaps rather conspicuous. Amongst other things, the inscription on the great temple at Edfu, which went on growing, one reign after another, describes notable additions made by the seventh Ptolemy. In his twenty-eighth year (142 B.C.) the formal dedication of the temple took place, ninety-five years after the foundation stone had been laid by the first Euergetes. But Mahaffy himself admitted that this did not "prove anything very distinctive." It is also true that the inscriptions on some other Egyptian temples speak of benefits conferred or wrongs redressed by the king. The Aswan stele mentions philantropa conferred by Euergetes II Cleopatra III ("the wife") upon the temple of Chnubo Nebieb in Elephantine. A small temple has been found at Philae, dedicated by him to Hathor. At KomOmbo, at Medinet-Habu, at Dêr-elMedineh, at ElKab, the existing remains bear witness to Euergetes II as a builder or restorer of temples in honour of Egyptian gods. But the fact that the remains of his work in this line are (perhaps accidentally) somewhat more extensive than those of his predecessors, is hardly evidence that his policy was more distinctively pro-native than theirs. We have a petition of the priests of Isis at Philae addressed to Euergetes II and the two queens in the last ten years of his reign, complaining that the royal officials and military commanders visiting Philae, or passing through on their way south, have laid a heavy burden upon them in the matter of ceremonial receptions; and we have the sovereigns' rescript, dated 118117 B.C., commanding the strategos of the nome to dispense these priests in future from such obligations. But this only shows that the Alexandrine court was ready on occasion to check abuses by which influential bodies of Egyptian priests might be exasperated. Petitions must have been continually coming in to Alexandria from individuals and corporations throughout the kingdom, and it was naturally the successful petitions which were preserved, with the royal answers. All the kings of the dynasty realized that the conciliation of their native subjects was good policy, so far as it did not clash with other objects they might have in view.
The decree of 118 B.C. contains provisions which would protect the natives, or certain classes of the natives, against oppression by royal officials, and would secure the Egyptian priesthood in the possession of privileges they had won. But such clauses may well be due to the necessity of doing something at the moment to reconcile the natives to the re-established order, not to any systematic policy of favouring the Egyptians. It is true that from the days of Philopator the native element in Egypt goes on regaining strength and gradually pushes its way into the higher grades of the bureaucracy. But this rise of the natives was, so far as one can see, due to a natural process, not to a deliberate policy on the part of the kings. Of course, as the natives grew stronger, the necessity of conciliating them, removing the abuses which caused the worst bitterness, extending the privileges of temples, etc., became more urgent. But I can see no evidence for Mahaffy's statement in regard to Euergetes II that "this policy of fusing Greeks with natives was a reasonable and gracious one"; or for the notion that he had such a policy at all.
No doubt Justin's rhetorical sensationalism provokes modern readers to take the contrary view. Yet is there any reason to disbelieve that Alexandria, after the accession of Euergetes in 145, lived through a period of terror? One of the nicknames which Euergetes got — Kakergates — will not have been given without cause. Mahaffy thought the crimes attributed to him too outrageous to be credible. But perhaps a modern writer is apt to judge what human nature is capable of by the men he sees round him in Western society today. Human nature, under other conditions, may take on developments in which moral inhibitions which seem to us an essential part of it cease to exist. I question whether any one who had a close acquaintance with what has one on in the courts of Indian rajahs — even to quite recent times — would find anything out of the way in the story of Ptolemy VII. Or perhaps a closer parallel would be found in the princely Indian courts of the 15th and 16th centuries. We see there a high level of literary and artistic culture, keen intellectual vigour and practical ability, go with moral monstrosities quite equal to those narrated of the house of Ptolemy. If Euergetes II was an able administrator — as he may have been for all we know — we ought to think of him as a specimen analogous to that of an Italian despot of the Renaissance. The horrors of lust and bloodshed which Elizabethan dramatists, like Webster and Tourneur, pile up, in depicting the life of those circles in contemporary Italy, should be in our mind when we study the later Ptolemies and Cleopatras. The story of Euergetes cutting his son piecemeal and sending his limbs in a box to his mother as a birthday present is exceedingly like the plot of an Elizabethan play. Indeed, one Indian playwright of the Renaissance, Spinello, did find it a subject made to his hand and embodied it in a play called Cleopatra, brought out and dedicated to a bishop in the year 1540. To judge what is possible or not in the Alexandria of the 2nd and the last century B.C. we must free our minds from the environments of 20thcentury London or Oxford, or Dublin.
In regard to Lower Nubia, Euergetes evidently continued the policy of his brother in treating it as part of his kingdom. At Debôd there was a naos of red granite, placed in the temple in the name of Euergetes and one of the Cleopatras. In the temple at Pselchis (Dakkeh) Euergetes added a pronaos, on which is an inscription, in Greek: "On behalf of king Ptolemy and queen Cleopatra the Sister, Beneficent Gods, and of their children, to the greatest god Hermes, who is also Paotpnuphis and the gods associated in the temple. Year 35." We have an inscription of Herodes of Pergamon, from the Twelveschoinos-reach, still in command there in the earlier years of Euergetes: "On behalf of king Ptolemy and queen Cleopatra the Sister, Beneficent Gods, and their children. "But Herodes has now risen from the order of diadochoi to that of the archisomatophylakes, and he calls himself now, not "Pergamenos" but "Berenikeus," that is, probably a member of the deme in Ptolemais called after Berenice. The synodos with which Herodes is connected is now given the name of Basilistai. In the list given of its members most the names are Greek, some are Egyptian.
After the return of Cleopatra II eight years elapsed till the death of Euergetes on Payni 11 of the fifty-fourth year (June 28, 116 BC), at the age of about sixty-five. Whether Cleopatra II survived her brother or not is uncertain; a demotic document of October 116 gives the name "queen Cleopatra" twice over, but that may be due merely to an inadvertent repetition on the part of the scribe. The wickedest of all the Ptolemies, Euergetes had a longer life than any of his predecessors since Ptolemy II, and died in peace after thirteen years' unbroken possession of the desirable things for which he had intrigued and murdered.
Ptolemy VIII Soter II and Ptolemy IX Alexander I
Ptolemy VII Evergetes II left behind him the niece whom he had married, Cleopatra III, two sons, Ptolemy and Ptolemy Alexander, and three daughters, Cleopatra Tryphaena, the queen of Syria, a second Cleopatra, who was married to her brother the elder Ptolemy (Cleopatra IV) and Cleopatra Selene. He also left a natural son, probably by his concubine Irene, Ptolemy Apion. On the death of Evergetes a strange will was produced which showed that the old king had cared more to gratify the individuals made dear to him by his lusts than to safeguard the integrity of the great estate of the house of Ptolemy. He broke up again the unity of the realm by bequeathing the Cyrenaica to Ptolemy Apion, who was probably already installed there as viceroy, and he bequeathed the throne of Egypt to Cleopatra III, giving her the power to associate with herself as joint-sovereign whichever of her sons she preferred. Cleopatra III, officially styled Thea Evergetis so long as she was her uncle's queen, and now styled, as her mother had been, Thea Philometor Soteira — perhaps nicknamed by the Alexandrines Kokke — now comes into the foreground. Whilst her mother lived, all that we can say of her is that she held her own, as her mother's rival, in the affections of her horrible uncle; now the third of the Cleopatras was to play a part in her turn as principal.
The older son of Evergetes and Cleopatra III, a young man of twenty-five or so, was probably residing in Cyprus when his father died. It was the younger, Alexander, whom Cleopatra wished to make king, either because she cared for him more, or because she thought he would not, as king, be able to assert his will so effectively against hers. But in questions of succession to the throne in old Macedonia the national army seems to have had the determining power, and the people of Alexandria, who called themselves Macedonians, claimed a similar right in Egypt. Cleopatra found that her purpose to make Alexander king encountered vehement popular opposition, and she had to give way. The elder Ptolemy became king, as Ptolemy Philometor Soter, in conjunction with his mother, whose name was mentioned before his in official acts. From the time when Evergetes II assumed the same epithet as his ancestor Ptolemy III, the imagination of the Ptolemaic court in coining epithets seems to have run dry. Henceforward Ptolemaic kings and queens use only, in various combinations, the epithets already consecrated by previous use. When once the practice of using again the old epithets had been introduced by Evergetes II, the epithet of the great Founder of the dynasty could not fail soon to be re-appropriated. The eighth Ptolemy is Soter II. His popular nickname was Lathyrus, “Chick-Pea”; what the point of the Alexandrine joke was we are never likely to know.
The young man was not at first in a position to withstand his mother. He could not resist even when she took away from him his sister-wife, Cleopatra IV, to whom, Justin says, he was very much attached, and compelled him to marry instead his younger sister Cleopatra Selene. The Aswan stele informs us that in the second year of his reign (September 20, 116 to September 19, 115 BC) Ptolemy visited Upper Egypt with his mother; in August they were at Elephantine and on the Ethiopian frontier. There is no mention of any queen-consort; if Cleopatra IV or Selene came with Ptolemy, she is, so far as we can tell by what remains of the inscription, ignored. The epistrategos of the Thebaid at this moment is again a native Egyptian, Phommus, who is mentioned in papyri of 111 BC as still holding this position.
The queen-mother thought it prudent to get her younger son, Alexander, away from Egypt. He was installed as viceroy in Cyprus, and though he had officially the title of strategos of the island only, he seems to have regarded himself as, in effect, king: he reckoned later on as the first of his own regnal years the fourth year of his brother Soter II (114113) — the date presumably when his rule in Cyprus began. The exqueen-consort, Cleopatra IV, showed that she well deserved a place in the series of queens bearing that famous name. She was as ready to take a line against her mother as Cleopatra III had been to supplant Cleopatra II. She went off to Cyprus, to raise an army of her own there amongst the troops quartered in the island. What part Alexander took in the matter, help Cleopatra intended (as Bouché-Leclercq supposes) to marry him and remain in Cyprus as an antagonist of her mother, whether Alexander encouraged her for a time and was then brought to heel once more by his mother, our sources do not allow us to say. In any case, Cleopatra IV did not stay in Cyprus. She departed with her army to Syria, to offer her hand and her troops to Antiochus IX, nicknamed Cyzicenus, who had driven out of Syria his cousin Antiochus VIII (“Grypus”), the husband of Cleopatra's elder sister Tryphaena. The war between the two Seleucid cousins now became a war also between the two Ptolemaic sisters. Cleopatra was in Antioch when the city was taken by Grypus, and she fled to the temple of Apollo at Daphne. Grypus, we are told, would have spared his sister-inlaw, but Tryphaena was implacable. As Cleopatra clung to the altar, her hands were hacked off, and she died calling curses on her sister's head (112 BC). A year later Tryphaena was captured by Cyzicenus and killed as a sacrifice to his wife's ghost (111 BC).
An inscription from Paphos gives the copy of a letter, dated in the month Gorpiaeum, year 203 of the Seleucid era (August 109 BC), addressed by “king Antiochus” to “king Ptolemy Alexander”, informing him that he has made Seleucia-in-Pieria a free city. At that date Ptolemy Alexander seems, according to our other data, to have been still reigning in Cyprus. Which "king Antiochus" is the author of the letter is doubtful. Most modern authorities (including Dittenberger) take it to be Grypus; Bouché-Leclercq prefers Cyzicenus. Both at this time were fighting for the inheritance in Syria, and it is not known which was master of Seleucia.
A papyrus of 112 BC shows us a Roman senator, Lucius Memmius, visiting Egypt, apparently for pleasure, to see the sights of the country. The papyrus consists of instructions issued by somebody — perhaps, as Wilcken thinks, the dioiketes — to a local official in the Fayum, regarding the reception to be given to Memmius — a reception similar to that which would be given to a great dignitary of the kingdom — when he comes to see the Labyrinth, and the Lake, and the sacred crocodiles. Everything is to be got ready for his entertainment, including the food for the crocodiles. It is an incidental light upon the subservience to members of the Roman nobility which it was now thought politic to show in the kingdom of Ptolemy.
There are indications that, as time went on, Soter II managed to assert himself more against his mother. A papyrus of the year 6 (112111 BC) gives the queen-consort (Selene) in place of the queen-mother.
After 110 the head-dress of Isis disappears from the coinage of Cyrene, and the double cornucopiae from that of Egypt. In Soter’s tenth year (autumn 108 to autumn 107 BC), Cleopatra tried to regain her power by a coup d'état. She accused Soter of trying to murder her, and so worked on the feelings of the Alexandrine mob that Soter fled overseas. Cleopatra summoned Ptolemy Alexander from Cyprus to take his place in Egypt. Soter’s wife Selene and his two sons remained in Egypt in Cleopatra's hands. Cleopatra, with her second son, continued the official style of her joint-reign with her elder son: the couple were now “Queen Cleopatra and Ptolemy the son, called Alexander, Mother-loving Gods, Saviours” (theoi Philometores Soteres).
Cleopatra had not intended “Chick-Pea” to escape. She sent forces to Cyprus to capture him, but Soter found refuge in Seleucia-in-Pieria. Thence he returned and established himself securely in Cyprus. It appeared that the forces sent from Egypt would not fight against the elder Ptolemy, and Cleopatra had to reconcile herself to seeing the son she hated king, beyond her power to dislodge, in a Ptolemaic dependency.
But the war between mother and son found a field of contact in Syria. Conditions in that distracted country were more confused than ever — Antiochus Grypus king in Damascus; Antiochus Cyzicenus king in Northern Syria; Palestine, for which the houses of Ptolemy and Seleucus had fought so long, now field almost entirely to the Jewish king, Alexander Jannaeus; the Greek and Philistine cities on the coast maintaining what independence they could by attaching themselves to one or other of the contending princes. To make a further complication, Soter plunged into Palestine from Cyprus, and Cleopatra III from Egypt — Soter as the ally of Cyzicenus, and Cleopatra as the ally of Grypus and of the Jewish king. Cleopatra, like her uncle Philometor and like her mother Cleopatra II, leant much upon the Jewish element in Egypt, and the army with which she entered Palestine was commanded by two Jewish generals, Chelkias and Ananias, sons of the high priest Onias, who had built the temple at Leontopolis. Cleopatra Selene, the ex-wife of Soter, went, by her mother's orders, to take the place of her dead sister Tryphaena, as the wife of Antiochus Grypus. In view of contingencies Cleopatra deposited a quantity of treasure and "her grandchildren" in the sanctuary of Asklepios at Cos. One of these grandchildren was apparently the young Ptolemy Alexander, a son of Alexander I; who the others were we do not know (Bouché-Leclercq conjectures children of Soter and Selene). Of the vicissitudes of the war in Palestine we need not speak; it all ended in nothing, so far as the house of Ptolemy was concerned; Soter went back about 102 BC to Cyprus, and Cleopatra to Egypt. For a moment it appears that Cleopatra thought of overthrowing Alexander Jannaeus, and recovering Coele-Syria once more after all these years for the house of Ptolemy; but Ananias warned her that to attempt to do so would make all the Jews everywhere her enemies, and she did not dare to risk that.
Cleopatra did not live long after her futile operations in Palestine. She died some time between September 16 and October 31, 101 BC, not far short of sixty.
The Greek historical tradition (Justin, Pausanias, Athenaeus) alleged that Alexander had his mother killed, and Justin has a story about how the Alexandrine populace rose forthwith in indignation, drove out Alexander, and called back Soter. But as the expulsion of Alexander did not take place until twelve years later, Justin (or Trogus, whom he abbreviates) is once again aiming at dramatic effect in disregard of the facts. Whether Cleopatra III really died by the order of her son must remain doubtful.
The name of the queen-mother disappears from the dating of documents, and Ptolemy Alexander's name is now coupled with that of his queen-consort, Berenice III, the daughter of his brother, Ptolemy Soter. She has the style “Queen Berenice, Brother-loving Goddess” (Thea Philadelphus), though Alexander and Berenice, when coupled together, are “Mother-loving Gods”. The first document, amongst those so far discovered, to give Berenice’s name, is a papyrus of date, October 31, 101 BC. If Berenice’s mother was Cleopatra IV, she may have been as old as nineteen or twenty in 101; if, on the other hand, her mother was Selene, she cannot have been more than thirteen. At some later date, when Berenice had borne Ptolemy Alexander children, the royal family visited Upper Egypt and left a record of their homage to Isis in the great temple at Philae.
The reign of Ptolemy Alexander in Egypt after the death of his mother (10189 BC) is a blank for us. We have four Greek inscriptions from the Fayum, belonging to these years. Two of them record the endowment of the temple of the Egyptian crocodile god Sebek (Sebek-enpaï, “Sebek-of-theIsland”, transcribed by the Greeks as Sochnopaios) with an annual offering of corn by officials (with Greek names) connected with the collection of the taxes in corn in one of the divisions (the “Meris of Heraclides”) in the nome. They are dated 9796 and November 95 BC respectively. The other two record the dedication to Sebek, by Greeks who had been connected with some local gymnasium, of the meeting-place or practising-ground (topos) belonging to their band (hairesis). The students (epheboi) of the same year at a gymnasium were organized in these bands, called after their leaders, which remained a bond of fellowship in after-life. Here men who had been epheboi of the same year together in 113112 BC dedicate their topos on March 27, 98 B.C. The other dedication is of April 3, 95 AD.
In 96 an event occurred which marked a stage in the disintegration of the Ptolemaic realm. Ptolemy Apion, king of Cyrene, died and bequeathed his kingdom to the Roman People. It was the first bit of inheritance of the house of Ptolemy to be swallowed up by Rome. Rome did not immediately assume the government of this region. The five Greek cities of the Cyrenaica were allowed to mismanage their affairs as they pleased, for a season. Only Rome claimed for herself the royal domains and the yield of a tax on the medicinal plant silphium — a chief product of the country. Then in 74 BC the Cyrenaica was definitely made a Roman province. A quaestor pro praetore took the place in Cyrene of a prince of the great Macedonian family which had ruled here for two hundred and twenty-six years. The Ptolemies who still reigned in Egypt had Rome for an inconvenient neighbor, 500 miles west of Alexandria.
By 89 BC Ptolemy Alexander had become exceedingly unpopular in Alexandria. We are told that, like his father, he was monstrously fat — unable to walk, when sober, except with an attendant on each side to support him, though when drunk, he could display extraordinary agility in indecent dances. The army turned against him. He fled to Syria and, in that still distracted country, raised a new force of mercenaries with which he re-entered Alexandria. In order to pay these new troops he took from the Sema the golden sarcophagus of the great Alexander, whose name he bore — an outrage calculated to exasperate the fury of the Alexandrines. Alexander was driven out again almost immediately, and fled this time to Lycia with queen Berenice and his daughter. In attempting to cross from there to Cyprus he was caught at sea by the Alexandrine admiral Chaereas, and was killed or perished in the encounter (88 BC).
For the second time "Chick-Pea" came back from Cyprus to be king in Egypt, and Egypt and Cyprus were once more united under a single hand. Ptolemy Soter II was now about fifty-four, and had no legitimate issue living, except queen Berenice Philadelphus, who was brought back from Lycia to be associated with her father on the throne. Her style was communicated to him in this new period of his reign. Before, his mother and he had been together Theoi Philometores Soteres; now he and his daughter were Theoi Philadelphoi Philometores Soteres, “Chick-Pea” by himself was “the Great God, Mother-loving, Brother-loving Saviour”. There was apparently no princess of the house of Ptolemy in existence whom he could have taken as his consort, had he wished to marry again. The daughter of his brother Alexander, besides being quite a child, was Soter's granddaughter, and although the marriage of father and daughter was quite regular in Persia (and presumably therefore also of grandfather and granddaughter), this form of incest had never been adopted by the Hellenistic dynasties, as brother and sister marriage had been. Soter’s sister and ex-wife, Selene, was still alive in Syria. In 96, her second husband, Antiochus Grypus, had been assassinated, and Selene became the wife of his rival, Antiochus Cyzicenus. A year later Cyzicenus had been killed, and Selene passed to her fourth husband (if it is still the same Selene as our authorities allege), Antiochus Eusebes, the son of Cyzicenus by a former wife, and consequently Selene's stepson. By him, we are told, she had two sons somewhere about 90 BC, one of whom became known as Antiochus Asiaticus. We never hear of her wanting to return to her brother in Egypt, or of Soter wanting to have her back.
The eight years during which Soter ruled Egypt after his return were years of agitation at home and abroad. Egyptian nationalism had flamed up once more. Before his return, while Alexander still ruled in Alexandria, new native leaders had arisen, who hoped to drive out the Greek and begin a new line of Pharaohs. The ancient town of Thebes, the centre of the national movement which had put an end to Hyksos’ rule many centuries before, was again the centre of revolt.
Several letters have been found which throw a momentary light on the situation. The writer is Plato, presumably the epistrategos of the Thebaid. The Thebaid as a whole is in a state of rebellion, but the town of Pathyris is holding out for Ptolemy. The commandant in the town is a native Egyptian, Nechthyris, like Paos in 130, serving under Ptolemy against his countrymen. The first letter is written on March 28, 88 BC, when the return of Soter was not yet known in the Thebaid; Plato dates by the years of Alexander.
"Plato to the inhabitants of Pathyris, greeting and health. Having marched out from Latopolis in order to grapple with the situation, as may be of advantage to the realm, I thought well to let you know, and exhort you to keep up a good courage yourselves, and rally to Nechthyris who has command over you, until I myself arrive, as I shall with all speed. Farewell. Year 26, Phamenoth 16."
On the same day Plato writes to Nechthyris:
“Plato to Nechthyris, greeting. I have marched out from Latopolis in order to grapple with the situation, as may be of advantage to the realm, and I have written to the inhabitants, bidding them rally to you. You will do well to hold the place and exercise your command. Those who show a tendency to disobey you . . . until I come to join you, as I shall do with all speed”.
The next letter is written two days later; only a fragment of it remains, but it seems to be instructions to Nechthyris regarding the rations with which the defenders of Pathyris are to provide themselves.
The fourth letter, addressed “To the priests and the others in Pathyris”, is also fragmentary and undated, but, according to Wilcken's conjectural emendation in the Archiv, it closely corresponds with the first one.
“You will do well to rally [to Nechthyris] in order that the place may be kept safe for our lord the king. For if you do so, and maintain your loyalty to the realm . . . from those above us you will meet with the fitting gratitude . . .”
Finally the fifth letter, written seven months later than the first (November 1, 88 BC), shows the town still holding out. The return of Soter, by whose years Plato now dates, has made some difference to the situation.
“Plato, to the priests and others in Pathyris, greeting. Philoxenus my brother has informed me in a letter which Orses has brought me that the Greatest God King Soter has come to Memphis and that Hierax has been appointed to subjugate the Thebaïd with very large forces. In order that this news may keep up your courage, I have decided to communicate it to you. Year 30, Phaophi 19”.
Wilcken tells us that the Russian scholar Krüger has promised further interesting information about Plato frontier papyri at Petrograd still unpublished.
Pausanias says that it took three years to get the rebellion under, and that Thebes was frightfully punished, remained a mere shadow of its former self, a place of ruins. An inscription put up by the priests and people of Thebes some forty odd years later in honor of a certain Callimachus mentions that the festivals of the Theban gods had been celebrated worthily "from the time when the grandfather of Callimachus" — Did what? The rest of the clause is broken away. Franz conjectured that the missing verb meant "died." Mahaffy thought there was some allusion to services which the grandfather had rendered to Thebes at the time of its punishment at the hands of Soter in 85, and that consequently "the privileges of the city had been spared more than our other sources admit" — a theory built on a fragile basis.
The traces which Soter has left of himself in Egyptian buildings seem to belong to his earlier reign (116107). "Perhaps the most interesting of all the remains he has left us is the underground work (foundations and crypt) of the great temple of Denderah (Tentyra), which was indeed built upon an ancient site and according to an old plan, but which is, as we see it, wholly due to late Ptolemaic and Roman munificence. . . . To build afresh this great temple from the ground was not a moderate undertaking, like the adding of a pylon or a gateway, but points both to wealth and leisure on the part of the government. At the same time Soter added (like his father) to the Pharaonic temple of Medamût, some miles north of Karnak, and rebuilt the pylon of Taharka at the small temple of Medinet Habu on the opposite bank. . . . At ElKab the rock temple commenced by Physkon ['Pot-belly,' i.e. Euergetes II] was completed by this king; and like all his predecessors, as far back as Ptolemy III, he worked at Edfu. But it was now only the surroundings which remained to be completed. Of these Soter II is specially credited with the great forecourt, with its surrounding thirty-two pillars and the high outer wall (which was completed by Ptolemy Alexander). This court is minutely described in the inscription. Its measurements are 155 feet by 138 feet, the surrounding wall is 34’1/2 feet high by 8’1/2 feet thick — truly a splendid piece of work for one of the degenerate and degraded Ptolemies! He added inscriptions and decorations to the great temple of Philae and even in far Talmis (Kalabsheh in Nubia), and in the great oasis of Khargeh we find traces of his activity" (M.)
It is to be noted that about 100 B.C. Ethiopia, united since Ergamenes under one government, seems again to have fallen apart into two kingdoms, with their two capitals at Napata and at Meroe — not to be reunited till about 22 BC, at which time Ptolemaic rule in Egypt would have given place to Rome.
Abroad the time was one of collisions between great Powers, and the line of the king of Egypt was simply to play for safety — to avoid committing himself to any side till the issue of the giant struggle was decided. At the beginning of Soter's second reign, a new and alarming power had arisen in Mithridates Eupator of Pontus (Soter's second cousin, the mother of Mithridates having been a daughter of Antiochus Epiphanes). At the moment Alexandrine statesmen might well wonder whether it was Rome or the house of Mithridates which was the coming Power in the Nearer East. In 88 BC — the very year of Soter’s return — Mithridates beat a Roman general in Asia Minor, overran the Roman province of Asia, and threw a force into Greece, where Athens declared against Rome. In the course of his operations Mithridates occupied Cos, and there seized the Egyptian treasure deposited some fourteen years before by Cleopatra III, and, together with the treasure, the person of the young Ptolemy Alexander, the son of Ptolemy Alexander I by his earlier wife. This boy was the only legitimate male of the house of Ptolemy now left besides old Soter II — unless the children of Tryphaena and of Selene in Syria could claim to represent the house of Ptolemy through their mothers as they represented the house of Seleucus through their fathers. It could not but cause concern at Alexandria to know that the sole heir of the Egyptian throne was in the hands of the Pontic king. Even when Roman armies capable of throwing back Mithridates appeared in the Eastern Mediterranean, it was still dangerous for Egypt to take sides, since Rome at this moment was divided against itself, and the Roman nobles who commanded these armies were at enmity with the popular party, which in 87 re-established itself under Marius in Rome. In the winter 8786, whilst Sulla was besieging Athens, his representative, Lucius Lucullus, appeared in Alexandria. Soter gave the great Roman aristocrat a royal reception, but evaded giving him any substantial help except a few vessels to escort him, when he left, as far as Cyprus. Lucullus, on his side, declined the king's presents, all except one magnificent emerald, This had engraved upon it the king's effigy, and Lucullus, when this was pointed out to him by the king, thought it prudent not to refuse it, lest Soter, mortified by the slight, should have him assassinated at sea — an indication of the estimate which Lucullus had formed of "Chick-Pea's" character. But at Athens this Ptolemy was always well spoken of, for he gave liberal help towards the restoration of the city after the fearful punishment inflicted upon it by Sulla. The statues of Ptolemy Soter II and of Berenice were seen by Pausanias, two hundred years later, at the entrance of the Odeum.
Ptolemy Soter II died in 80 BC, about sixty-two years old — apparently a somewhat weak man, capable of sanctioning cruelties, but without violent ambitions.
Berenice III, Ptolemy X Alexander II, Ptolemy XI (Auletes)
Queen Berenice was left by her father's death sole sovereign in Egypt, a woman now well on in life. Cicero, a contemporary, says that she was much beloved by the Alexandrines. So far as the Alexandrines and Egyptians were concerned, there would probably have been no objection to her continuing to rule as queen, without any associated king, though even Cleopatra III had been compelled to associate one or other of her sons with herself on the throne. The only legitimate male representative of the royal house was, as we have seen, the young Ptolemy Alexander. He was now no longer in the hands of Mithridates. After a residence at the Pontic court, where the king, his cousin, had given him an education fitting a Hellenistic prince, he had escaped to the camp of Sulla, and gone with Sulla to Rome. When Soter II died (80) Sulla was Dictator and master of the Roman world. Sulla, thinking it no doubt good policy to establish a protégé of his own upon the Egyptian throne, dispatched Ptolemy Alexander, with the authority of Rome to back him, to Alexandria. It was arranged that Ptolemy X (Alexander II) should marry his elderly widowed cousin, queen Berenice. She was not likely, as the wife of a boy, to give up the power to which she had become accustomed after twenty years. Within three weeks the young man found his situation intolerable and took the course, obvious to any young king who understood his business, of having Berenice assassinated. But he had miscalculated.
The Alexandrines were exceedingly angry at having their queen taken in this way from them. So angry were they that they dragged the young Ptolemy then and there to the great Gymnasium killed them. But then they were faced by an awkward situation. There were no legitimate descendants of Ptolemy, son of Lagus, except Selene and the Seleucid princes who had Ptolemaic blood. In this emergency the Alexandrines bethought them of two young men, the sons of their late king, Soter II, by a concubine. It was important to fill the throne before Rome intervened. One of them they made king of Egypt, and the other, king of Cyprus. Thus it came to pass that a Ptolemy ruled in the palace of Alexandria, who was known as “the Bastard” (Nothos), although the official style of Ptolemy XI was “the Father-loving Brother-(or Sister)-loving God” (Theos Philopator Philadelphus). Later on there was added to his official style the surname, “the young Dionysos”. The earliest instance of this surname is in 6463 B.C. His most common popular nickname came to be "the Flute-Player" (Auletes). Who his mother was we do not know. As the mistress of a king, she was in all probability an accomplished and beautiful woman from some city of the Greek world. It is unlikely that she had any native Egyptian blood. Mahaffy conjectured (though without any evidence) that “the Cyrenaean Eirene”, the mistress of Evergetes II, was “a grandee of the old Greek aristocracy in that most aristocratic of Hellenic colonies”. We do not know anything about the mistress of Soter II. She may quite well have been a dancing girl of plebeian origin, though the fact that the Alexandrines chose her son to fill the vacant throne would be more explicable if, although not legally married to the king, she was a woman of good Greek family.
Cicero says that Ptolemy XI was “a boy in Syria” when he was suddenly summoned to mount the Egyptian throne. What could have brought the son, or sons, of Soter II to Syria, now mostly occupied by Tigranes, king of Armenia? Tigranes was an ally of Mithridates, and it may be that not only had Ptolemy Alexander been sent in his boyhood for safety to Cos, but the illegitimate children of Soter II also, and that they too were captured there by Mithridates in 88. Supposing the two sons of Soter were brought up, like also, between 88 and 80 BC at the Pontic court, that might explain the difficult statement of Appian, that the two daughters of Mithridates — Mithridatis and Nyssa — had been betrothed to the kings of Egypt and Cyprus. It is notoriously hard to find any moment at which this could have happened. Bouché-Leclercq supposed that it took place between the time when Ptolemy the Bastard was put upon the Egyptian throne in 80, and his marriage with Cleopatra Tryphaena. When Bouché-Leclercq wrote his history of the Ptolemies, the first mention known of Cleopatra Tryphaena was in a demotic papyrus of May 78,and it was therefore then possible to suppose an interval of about two years, during which Mithridates might have made to the Alexandrine court his overtures for a dynastic alliance. Now, however, Ptolemy XI is shown to have been already married to Cleopatra Tryphaena in January 79, and it seems probable that his marriage took place immediately after he was put upon the throne. No room is left for the discussion of a Pontic marriage. But if Ptolemy XI and his brother had been brought up at the Pontic court with the royal children, it would be intelligible that Mithridates, when Soter II died, rather than see Alexander II, Rome's nominee, installed as king, should have seized the opportunity to dispatch the young men to Egypt to become kings in opposition to Rome. And he might very well have sought to bind them to his interests, before he let them go, by arranging a marriage between the two young Ptolemies and two of his daughters.7 If the young men proceeded from Pontus to Egypt by way of Syria, that would account for Cicero's statement, that Ptolemy XI was in Syria at the moment when Alexander II was assassinated.
A demotic papyrus of January 79 shows the king of Egypt in his second regnal year already provided with a wife. She is called “queen Cleopatra, surnamed Tryphaena”, and the royal pair are together Theoi Philopatores Philadelphoi. Who this Cleopatra Tryphaena (Cleopatra V) was, we are not told. The likeliest hypothesis is that she was Ptolemy's sister — the new illegitimate branch of the house of Ptolemy leading off with a brother and sister marriage, according to the practice of the extinct legitimate branch. Or she might have been a daughter of Ptolemy Alexander I. If illegitimate, like Ptolemy X, she would in any case be presumably the daughter of a Greek mother.
The Egyptian coronation of Ptolemy X did not take place, for some reason, till March 76, and then, strangely enough, not at Memphis, but in Alexandria. But the Egyptian priest Pshereni-ptah, who crowned him, was High Priest of the great temple at Memphis, the chief dignitary of the Egyptian priesthood, representative of that family of princes of the church, whose history, as we have seen, can be traced right through the Ptolemaic period. The dignity being hereditary, Pshereni-ptah had succeeded to the great office, although in 76 only a boy of fourteen. When he died, in the eleventh year of Cleopatra (4241 B.C.), the sepulchral stele, by which he still speaks to the world from the British Museum, recorded the great moment of his boyhood. Owing to anomalies, such as in the Ptolemaic period are apt to mark attempts of Egyptian priests to write the old sacred tongue in the hieroglyphic script, the interpretation of the stele is in some points doubtful. Brugsch published two translations of it — one in French in the Dictionnaire de Géographie Egyptienne (1879), and one in German in the Thesaurus Inscriptionum Aegyptiacarum (18831891). The two translations in many significant points disagree. Mr. S. R. K. Glanville, of the Egyptian Department in the British Museum, has been good enough to re-examine the original Egyptian for me, and the translation which follows (based on Brugsch) is given according to what, in Mr. Glanville's judgment, the hieroglyphics require.
“In the year 25, on the 21st of Phaophi, in the reign of the king, the lord of the land, Ptolemy, the Saviour God, the Conqueror, was the day whereon I was born. I lived thirteen years in the presence of my father. There went forth a command from the king, the lord of the land, the Father-loving Sister-loving God, the New Osiris, son of the Sun, Lord of Diadems, Ptolemy, that the high office of you Priest of Memphis should be conferred upon me, I being then fourteen years old. I set the adornment of the serpent-crown upon the head of the king on the day that he took possession of Upper Egypt and Lower Egypt, and performed all the customary rites in the chambers which are appointed for the Thirty Years' Festivals. I was leader in all the secret offices. I gave instruction for the consecration of the Horus [the king as divine] at the time of the birth of the [Sun-]god [i.e. the spring equinox] in the Golden House. I betook me to the residence of the kings of the Ionians [the Greek kings] which is on the shore of the Great Sea to the west of Rakoti. The king of Upper and Lower Egypt, the Master of two worlds, the Father-loving Sister-loving God, the New Osiris, was crowned in his royal palace. He proceeded to the temple of Isis, the Lady of Yat-udjat. He offered unto her sacrifices many and costly. Riding in his chariot forth from the temple of Isis, the king himself caused his chariot to stand still. He wreathed my head with a beautiful wreath of gold and all manner of gems, except only the royal pectoral which was on his own breast. I was nominated Prophet, and he sent out a royal rescript to the capitals of all the nomes, saying: 'I have appointed the High Priest of Memphis, Pshereni-ptah, to be my Prophet.' And there was delivered to me from the temples of Upper Egypt and Lower Egypt a yearly revenue for my maintenance.
“The king came to Memphis on a feast-day. He passed up and down in his ship that he might behold both sides of the place. So soon as he landed at the quarter of the city called Onkhtawy, he went into the temple escorted by his magnates and his wives and his royal children, with all the things prepared for the feast; sitting in the ship, he sailed up, in order to celebrate the feast in honor of all the gods who dwell in Memphis, according to the greatness of the goodwill in the heart of the lord of the land, and the white crown was upon his brow.
“I was a great man, rich in all riches, whereby I possessed a goodly harem. I lived forty-three years without any man-child being born to me. In which matter the majesty of this glorious god, Imhotep, the son of Ptah, was gracious unto me. A man-child was bestowed upon me, who was called Imhotep, and was surnamed Petubast. Taimhotepe, the daughter of the father of the god, the Prophet of Horus, the lord of Letopolis, Kha-hapi, was his mother.
“Under the majesty of the princess, the lady of the land, Cleopatra and her son Caesar, in the year 11, the 15th of Phamenoth was the day on which I was carried into the haven. I was brought to the necropolis, and there was performed upon me every rite customary for a well-prepared mummy. The laying in the grave took place in the year 12 on the 30th of Thoth. The years of my life in all were forty and nine”.
Various points in this inscription are curious, besides the performance of the Egyptian ceremony of crowning in the palace at Alexandria. It has been noted elsewhere that the assigning of revenues to the high priest of Memphis from the temples of Upper, as well as Lower Egypt, seems to imply that at this time, at any rate, the high priest of Memphis had a primacy over the whole Egyptian priesthood, of which, as far as I know, there is no other evidence. Auletes is said to have entered the temple at Memphis “with his wives”. A Ptolemy had only one legal wife at a time, and Mahaffy argued from the plural that concubines only were meant, and that Auletes had therefore probably still no legal wife in 76 BC. We know now that Auletes married Cleopatra Tryphaena immediately after he ascended the throne. The plural must, therefore, be merely conforming to the traditional Pharaonic phraseology, which might seem all the more appropriate in that Auletes would very probably be accompanied by ladies of the court, whom an Egyptian would not easily distinguish from the official “wife”. It is odd that Auletes is described as wearing the white crown at Memphis. The white crown was the crown of Upper Egypt; at the capital of Lower Egypt one would have expected him to wear the red crown, if he wished to habit himself as a Pharaoh. But the tall white crown is unmistakably depicted in the hieroglyphic ideogram.
In Pshereni-ptah the worldliness which had marked this great family of pontiffs seems to have reached its culmination. Although, according to the law of the Egyptian priesthood, priests should be strictly monogamous, Pshereni-ptah boasts of his “goodly harem”. No parallel to this has been found among the records of the Egyptian priesthood, and it throws light upon what the primate of the Egyptian Church had become in the days of Ptolemy Auletes. The young man must have been a worthy boon-companion to his sovereign. In the sepulchral inscription put up over his wife, composed, it seems likely, by Pshereni-ptah himself, the dead woman speaks from the tomb to bid him follow pleasure still, before there is an end of it all in the dusty darkness.
“O brother, husband, uncle, priest of Ptah, cease not to drink, to eat, to be drunken, to take carnal pleasure, to make the day joyful, to follow thy heart day and night; suffer not grief to enter thy heart. What are the years, how many soever they be, which a man liveth upon the earth? The West Land is a land of sleep and of deep darkness, a place whose inhabitants lie still. Sleeping in their form of mummies, they awake not up to see their brothers; they perceive not their father nor their mother; their heart forgetteth their wives and their little ones. The earth giveth fresh water to them that are upon it, but for me the water is foul. The water runneth to every man who is upon the earth, and to me it is foul, even the water close at hand. I know not any more where I am, since I came into this great darkness. Give me running water to drink, saying unto me, 'Take not thy libation vessel away from the water.' Set me with my face to the north wind by the side of the water, and let the coolness therefore ease my heart of its pain”.
The accession of Ptolemy the Bastard meant a delicate situation between Alexandria and Rome. Rome refused to recognize the new king. A document was produced in Rome purporting to be the last will and testament of the murdered Alexander, in which, like Attalus III of Pergamon and Ptolemy Apion of Cyrene, he bequeathed his kingdom to the Roman People. In 75 other claimants to the Egyptian throne appeared in Rome. These were the two young sons of Cleopatra Selene, Antiochus XIII (Asiaticus) and his brother, who had taken refuge from Tigranes in Cilicia. Old queen Selene was indeed the only legitimate member of the house of Ptolemy left alive, and her sons might hope that Rome would enforce her claim. That, however, Rome would not do. It was better to have at Alexandria a discreditable king whom Rome did not recognize, and whom Rome had always a good pretext for replacing, whenever it might be convenient to do so, than a king who might claim to unite the Seleucid and Ptolemaic realms under one scepter. The boys effected nothing in Rome, in spite of the magnificent candelabrum they presented to Jupiter of the Capitol, and they were robbed by Verres in Sicily on their way home. The situation was nevertheless a very uneasy one for the Flute-player.
In the present phase of things at Rome, almost anything might be effected by bribery. It meant that if Ptolemy Auletes was to be left in possession, a considerable proportion of the revenues of Egypt must find their way into the pockets of this and the other Roman noble and politician. Rome, even if its pressure did not issue in Egypt becoming definitely a province of the Republic, kept it in a state of dishonor and weakness. And Ptolemy Auletes had none of the personal qualities which might have enabled someone, even in such a precarious position, to maintain a moral dignity. His surname of Neos Dionysos indicates that like his contemptible ancestor Ptolemy IV, whose surname of Philopator he bore, Ptolemy XI was devoted to sensuality under the forms of religion. Proficiency in flute-playing may go with serious interests, as it did in the case of Frederick the Great, but in Ptolemy XI the serious interests seem to have been lacking, and the regular accompaniments of flute-playing in ancient days were justly held discreditable in a king. The great Romans, who took this creature's bribes, despised him, as Europeans today despise a dissolute and spendthrift Oriental potentate, whose money they may be glad enough to enjoy.
At Rome the annexation of Egypt was an idea which hovered before the mind of the democratic party — the proposal of Crassus as Censor in 65 BC, the agrarian law brought in by the tribune Rullus in December 64, against which Cicero as Consul in 63 made the speech which we still have. The party of the nobles resisted any measure which would make the riches of Egypt a prize of the opposite faction — not from any tenderness to the freedom of Egypt. It was in these years that Pompey was finally crushing Mithridates and Tigranes — conquering for Rome the Pontic dominions in Asia Minor and the former dominions of the house of Seleucus in Syria, which for a few years Tigranes had made, in large part, a province of Armenia. In 64 BC, Pompey made Syria a province of Rome. Queen Selene was then no longer alive. In 69 Tigranes, into whose hands she had fallen, had put her to death at Seleucia on the Euphrates — the end of the house of Ptolemy in the legitimate line, unless one counts it continued in the Seleucid princes, sons and grandsons of Selene and Tryphaena.
Ptolemy Auletes sent a corps of eight thousand cavalry to help Pompey to subjugate Palestine for Rome. The Alexandrines, who remembered the time when Palestine had been a possession of the house of Ptolemy, showed signs of displeasure dangerous to their unworthy king. It was probably only the fear of provoking annexation by Rome which prevented revolt breaking out, there and then. Diodorus Siculus, who visited Egypt about 60 BC, observes that persons coming from Italy were received with effusive attentions because of the abiding fear that any “incident” (in our modern phrase) might bring on a war with Rome. Yet, in spite of that fear, Diodorus witnessed an incident. He saw a Roman who had killed a cat lynched by the crowd — the religious passion of the native Egyptians overbearing every other consideration.
Diodorus tells us that at the time of his visit the population of Alexandria, according to the official census, included more than 300,000 free citizens and that the king's annual revenue from Egypt was more than 6000 talents.
It is difficult to say how far Diodorus pushed any inquiries of his own. He professes to repeat what he himself learnt from the priests about the old royalty and old religion of Egypt. And a few things which he notes do seem to have been drawn from what he heard and saw — that in his own day, for instance, the keepers of sacred animals had been known to spend 100 talents upon their obsequies, that quails were caught in nets raised along the coast, into which they flew by night on their passage, that in high summer the inundations made the country look like the Archipelago with the cities and villages standing up like islands, that the Egyptians used the sakya wheel (as the modern Egyptians do) for irrigating their fields — an invention, Diodorus says, of the Greek Archimedes. But most of what he says is copied from earlier books — his description of the horrors of the Nubian gold mines from Agatharchides, the rest mainly from Hecataeus of Abdera. “Even as regards the pyramids, his statements are open to the same suspicion. He speaks of inscriptions on them, and of other details which cannot be verified, and so he gives us but one more example of the very reprehensible habit of Greek historians, who ordinarily passed off second-hand information as if it were observation of their own” (M.). Sir F. Petrie points out that the account of the Egyptian monarchy given us by Diodorus (following Hecataeus) probably represents the historic system as it had remained to the later native dynasties, Ptolemaic rule being looked upon as a temporary usurpation.
In 59 BC Julius Caesar, the leader of the democratic party, was one of the consuls. It was believed that the annexation of Egypt was part of his own political programme. Yet Ptolemy contrived, by an enormous payment of 6000 talents, to buy Caesar's support. Caesar carried a law, in spite of the opposition of the nobles, by which Ptolemy Auletes was recognized at last as king of Egypt, and, by a new treaty, “ally and friend of the Roman People”. But the treaty said nothing about Cyprus, where the other Ptolemy, the brother of Auletes, had been reigning since 80 BC as king. In 58 BC the tribune Clodius, a partisan of Caesar's, carried a law by which Cyprus was constituted a Roman province, and Marcus Cato was commissioned to go to Cyprus and induce the king to make over ship island kingdom to Rome. The only accusation against the king of Cyprus which Rome could find to justify this act of high-handed spoliation was that he was very rich and had not been sufficiently free-handed with his riches. Cato offered the king, in exchange for his kingdom, to have him installed by the authority of Rome, as high priest in the temple of Aphrodite at Paphos. But Ptolemy of Cyprus preferred to commit suicide. His treasures — plate, furniture, gems, fabrics — were transported with scrupulous honesty by the Roman Stoic to Rome. Cyrene gone, Cyprus gone, only Egypt itself was now left to the bastard Ptolemy.
The loss of Cyprus exasperated the rage of the Alexandrines against Auletes, who had not lifted a finger to save his brother. The sums he had to spend on bribes meant financial oppression at home and renewed debasement of the coinage. Auletes went in 58 to Rome to complain that the Alexandrines were practically in revolt and to beg that his position there might be secured by Roman military power. That was the historic occasion when Cato, combining the grossness of a Cynic with the brutality of a Roman, deliberately received the king of Egypt whilst sitting on the stool and evacuating his bowels. Upon a Levantine monarch of the type of Auletes a Roman commander in those days could put any affront with impunity.
Curiously enough Auletes had left his family behind in Egypt. Whether his wife, Cleopatra Tryphaena, was there is alive is a doubtful point, and also whether the Cleopatra Tryphaena, whom the Alexandrines, according to Porphyry, recognized as sovereign in conjunction with Berenice (IV), Auletes’ daughter, when they found Auletes gone, was the wife of Auletes or, as Porphyry asserts, his eldest daughter, called by the same name as her mother. In any case the Cleopatra Tryphaena associated with Berenice died after a year and left the young Berenice sole queen in Alexandria. An inscription at Edfu tells us that the work done by so many kings of the house of Ptolemy since 237 BC upon the great temple was finally completed in the twenty-fifth year of Ptolemy XI, when the doors of cedar-wood, covered with bronze, were put up in the entrance pylon on Choiach 1 (December 5, 57 BC). The names are written up on the pylon — “Ptolemy, Young Osiris, with his Sister, queen Cleopatra, surnamed Tryphaena”. The king, at that moment, as we have seen, had fled the country, but the priestly builders of Edfu might easily still regard him as the legitimate sovereign and attribute the work to him. The inscription never suggests that the king was present in person at the dedication of the doors, and we cannot therefore infer from the mention of him in this connection that the inscription has no relation to fact, and argue that its reference to queen Cleopatra Tryphaena as still alive is worthless as evidence. Her name, it is true, disappears from the papyri so far discovered after August 7, 69 BC. But if she died then, as German scholars seem now generally to take as established, it is hard to understand how the priests of Edfu, eleven and a half years later, has not yet discovered the fact! We have also to suppose that all the children of Auletes born after 69 BC were illegitimate, or the children of a wife who never appears on the monuments. If, on the other hand, Cleopatra Tryphaena lived till 57 BC it is a mystery why her name disappears from the papyri after 69 BC. One can imagine other reasons besides her death. She might, for instance, have quarreled with the king, taking the view of the Alexandrines, and perhaps of her other brother in Cyprus, that Auletes was frivolously throwing away the great Ptolemaic heritage, and the king's adherents might have been given to understand his pleasure that the queen's name should no more figure in official acts. If that was the case, it would explain why Tryphaena remained in Alexandria when Auletes fled to Rome, and why the Alexandrines recognized her as their sovereign, as soon as he was gone — on the supposition that she is the Cleopatra Tryphaena whom Porphyry meant.
From 58 till the end of 57 Ptolemy Auletes resided in Rome or at Pompey's villa in the Alban hills, busily working upon the senators by bribes or promises, and procuring the assassination of envoy sent from Alexandria to Rome. Cut off from the revenues of his kingdom, Ptolemy had to borrow largely by giving drafts upon the future, and he thus became indebted for large sums to the Roman financier Rabirius Postumus. It was decided in the course of 57 that the king of Egypt should be restored by Rome, but the question who should be given the command became an issue mixed up with the complicated struggle of parties in that moment in the Republic. Towards the end of 57 Ptolemy thought it prudent to leave Italy, and presently took up his abode at Ephesus, in the sacred precinct of Artemis. His hopes came to be fixed upon the proconsul of Syria, Aulus Gabinius, to whom he promised 10,000 talents, if Gabinius restored him with the forces at his disposal. Gabinius was an adherent of Pompey, and Pompey had, at one time, desired to restore the king of Egypt himself.
Meantime the Alexandrines had been trying to block the return of Auletes by finding a king-consort for their young queen. They first tried two Seleucid princes — a son of Selene's, and then a grandson of Antiochus Grypus and Tryphaena, called Philip. But the former, probably identical with the younger of the two boys who in 75 had gone to Rome to claim the Ptolemaic inheritance, died whilst negotiations were in process, and the second was forbidden by Gabinius to accept the invitation. The Alexandrines then, thirdly, procured a man called Seleucus, who claimed to be connected somehow with the royal house, possibly the illegitimate issue of some Seleucid king. When he came, he turned out to be a person of such vulgar appearance and manners, that the Alexandrines nicknamed him Kybiosactes, “Salt-fish-monger”, and Berenice, after a few days' experience of such a husband, decided that there was nothing for it but to have him strangled. His father, called also Archelaus, had been one of the chief marshals of Mithridates and had gone over to the Romans before the last Mithridatic war. The younger Archelaus claimed to be in reality a son of Mithridates himself (and, if so, to be distantly related in blood to the Ptolemies). Pompey had given him a dignified position as prince-pontiff at the temple of the Great Mother at Comana in Pontus. In the winter 5655 Archelaus came to Egypt, married Berenice, and sat as king on the Ptolemaic throne.
In the spring of 55 Gabinius invaded Egypt, bringing Ptolemy Auletes with him. His cavalry was commanded by the young Marcus Antonius. Archelaus tried to put up a fight, but his Alexandrine troops proved mutinous, and he fell on the field. Ptolemy Auletes was installed once more as king in Alexandria by a Roman army, acting intelligent end with royal household troops, who had been called out to oppose it.
One of Ptolemy's first acts after his restoration was to kill his daughter Berenice, who had usurped his throne. He had four children left: the eldest a girl of fourteen, Cleopatra; another daughter, Arsinoe, from a year to four years younger; and two sons whom we know only by the dynastic name of Ptolemy, then children of about six and four respectively. People afterwards said that the girl Cleopatra, already on this first occasion of their meeting, made an impression upon the young Roman cavalry commander, Mark Antony.
The proconsul of Syria' military intervention in Egypt, outside his province, became in its turn a cardinal question of the political struggle in Rome. Gabinius in the end was condemned to pay a fine of 10,000 talents and went into exile as insolvent (54 BC). He had left in Egypt a considerable Roman force to secure Auletes on his throne. It was now that all the Romans, from whom Auletes had borrowed money during his residence abroad, began to dun the wretched king for repayment. The principal creditor was Rabirius Postumus, and, as a way of repaying him, Auletes saw himself constrained to make him dioiketes head of the whole financial administration of the kingdom. Rabirius, in view of the immense opportunities such a post gave him for squeezing money out of the unhappy inhabitants of the country of the Nile, was fain to accept the office, although it meant his exchanging the Roman toga for the himation of the Greek official — an indignity in the eyes of his countrymen. With a Roman army of occupation and a Roman dioiketes laying his hands upon the wealth of the country, Egypt would have been in no worse position, had there been outright annexation. Before a year was out, Rabirius was driven by a popular rising from Alexandria, though not before he had extracted substantial sums and placed them securely abroad. He was put on his trial the Rome by the opposite faction and defended by Cicero in a still extant speech. The verdict is not recorded.
Auletes did not live long after his restoration. He died in the spring or early summer of 51 B.C., aged only forty-fought or forty-five, to be remembered by Greeks and Romans with contempt. We see in their descriptions a degenerate, masquerading as the young Dionysos, covering his debauches with an aesthetic pageantry borrowed from Greek poetry and Greek art, flitting about overseas, a parasite of the hard Roman masters of the world. But if we drew our knowledge of this man from the Egyptian monuments, we should see someone portrayed like the great kings of old. On the walls of Philae we may find both the shameless inscription of one of his Greek votaries, who carves his record as “Tryphon, catamite of the Young Dionysos”, and not far off, the colossal figure of the king himself, in the guise of a Pharaoh, still plain there in the Egyptian sunlight, smiting his enemies to the ground — the old motive which goes back to the very earliest royal monuments in the country of the Nile.
“The crypts of the great temple at Denderah, which Lathyrus [Soter II] and Alexander had not finished, were completed by Auletes; he set up an altar at Coptos to Khem, Isis, and Heh; put his name more than once on the temples at Karnak (Thebes); set up bronze-bound gates at the great pylon of Edfu; enlarged Philometor’s temple at KomOmbo; and set his name on older work both at Philae and Biggeh; indeed, the greater part of his activity at these temples was confined to surface work, adorning older structures. It would seem that he desired the credit of being a temple-builder without incurring any considerable expense” (M.).
There is a naos made for Auletes in the temple at Debod in the Dodekaschoinos.
Cleopatra VI, Ptolemy XII, Ptolemy XIII, Ptolemy XIV
On the death of Ptolemy in 51 BC his eldest surviving daughter, Cleopatra VI, began her reign as queen of Egypt. In Cleopatra VII the dynasty founded by the shrewd Macedonian marshal in Egypt, nearly three hundred years before, was destined to come to its end. When she came to the throne it seemed on the point of extinction. The dependencies, Coele-Syria, Cyrene, Cyprus, were gone; the dignity of the royal house had never been brought so low — the king a lackey of the Romans, Egypt almost a Roman province. The Ptolemaic dynasty, it seemed, was going to peter out, in a few years, like the Seleucid. But destiny had determined that the fortune of the house of Ptolemy, before going out, should blaze up in a manner dramatic and astonishing. The reign of the last sovereign would be the reign which men afterwards would remember more than any other. When everything seemed lost, the heirs of the house of Ptolemy would suddenly have almost put within their grasp a dominion stretching not only over the lost ancestral lands, but over wider territories than Ptolemy I or Ptolemy II or Ptolemy III had ever dreamed of. Those kings, being men, had based their dominion on the power of their arms; but now, when the military power of Egypt had become contemptible beside that of Rome, the sovereign of Egypt would bring to the contest power of a wholly different kind — the power of a fascinating woman. The strength of Rome was so sight that no king of Egypt could hope to save the falling kingdom by any power a king could command, but a queen of Egypt, with this power of a different order, might actually convert the very strength of Rome to be the instrument of her purposes. At no other moment of history do we see the attraction exercised by woman upon man made so definitely a determining force in the political and military field, used so deliberately by a woman amid the clash of great armies to achieve the ends of her own imperialist ambition. And Cleopatra came very near ultimate success.
The last of a whole series of Cleopatras, Berenices, Arsinoes, presented in this history, she shows a family resemblance to those other queens and princesses of Macedonian blood — the same precocious masculine purpose, passion for power, ruthlessness in killing. But we have to remember that Cleopatra VI perhaps had added qualities which those others did not have. She was probably only half-Macedonian; the other half of her blood was probably drawn from her grandmother, the mistress of Ptolemy Soter II, who, as we saw, is likely to have been some beautiful and accomplished Greek demi-mondaine. If Cleopatra’s Macedonian blood gave her her masculine energy and hard cruelty, the blood of her Greek grandmother may have given her not only a physical seductiveness which fired men's blood, but a wit which captivated their minds. She had the versatile cleverness which might be expected in a courtesan chosen to be a king's mistress, and astonished her contemporaries, we are told, by her ability to pick up other languages (a thing which Greeks very seldom did) — not only Egyptian, the language of her native subjects, but Aramaic, Hebrew, Arabic, Persian, Ethiopian, Somali. She was not, Plutarch says, exceptionally beautiful, but extraordinarily amusing, vital, and attractive, not above quickening her talk with lubricity, when it was a case of ensnaring the coarse, masterful Roman.
Cleopatra found herself queen of Egypt at the age of seventeen or eighteen. By the custom of the house, and according to the will and testament of Ptolemy Auletes, the elder of her two brothers, then only nine or ten, was associated with her, as king (Ptolemy XII). They probably had, as a pair, the style of “Father-loving Gods” (Theoi Philopatores), though neither during the reign of Cleopatra with Ptolemy XII, nor during her reign, later on, with the younger brother, Ptolemy XIII, do the coins bear any head or name but that of the queen, and in Egyptian sepulchral inscriptions put up during the reign of Cleopatra with her younger brother (regnal years 5, 6, and 7 of Cleopatra) the regnal year of the boy-king is ignored. The chief power at court was engrossed by the eunuch Pothinus, by the tropheus of the young king, the Greek Theodotus of Chios, responsible for teaching him rhetoric, and by the commander-in-chief, Achillas, called an ‘Egyptian’, that is, probably, a man of native, or mixed Greek and native, blood. The army of occupation left by Gabinius, composed mainly of Gauls and Germans, was still encamped near Alexandria. These foreign troops showed a disposition to settle permanently upon the soil of Egypt, marrying with the inhabitants of the country, whether native Egyptians or descendants of the earlier bands of settlers — Macedonians, Greeks, Thracians, Asiatics — a new class of katoikoi. When the proconsul of Syria, Marcus Bibulus, sent two of his sons to Egypt to summon the ‘Gabinian’ army to return to Syria, the troops incontinently murdered them. The Mediterranean world generally was on the eve of a new convulsion — the civil war between Pompey and Julius Caesar. In 49 BC Pompey's son, the younger Gnaeus Pompeius, appeared at Alexander, to procure ships, troops, and money from Egypt. The eastern princes and peoples held as a whole by the great Pompey in the coming struggle, and the children of Ptolemy Auletes, who had been restored by Pompey's man, Gabinius, were under special obligations to Pompey. The young Pompeius succeeded in getting from Egypt a squadron of some fifty ships, a supply of corn and five hundred men of the ‘Gabinians’. The son of Pompey was the Roman of highest standing upon whom the young queen of Egypt had yet tried the power of her eyes. It was afterwards said that more than diplomatic intercourse had passed between them, and that the woman who could put the names of Caesar and Antonius in the roll of her lovers could also put the great name Pompeius. We cannot hope now to separate fact from scandal.
In Egypt itself there was probably, after the death of Auletes, a recrudescence of native revolts. Caesar mentions, amongst the wars in which the royal troops who confronted his legions in 49 had seen active service, "wars against the Egyptians." The wars may, of course, have occurred still earlier, when Auletes was still alive, but Caesar mentions them after the murder of the sons of Bibulus, and it is likely that his enumeration follows chronological sequence. No troubles in Upper Egypt are mentioned during the reign of Auletes, and if things were quiet there, we mace that it was due to the government there being in the hands of someone whom, by our broken records, we may conjecture to have been a man of great consideration and influence, Callimachus the epistrategos. Our first record of him in this office belongs to July 786 (year 3, Epiph 1), and our last to February 51,7 so that he must have ruled the Thebaid practically through the whole of Auletes' reign. He combines with his other titles that of “Commander of the Red Sea and the Indian Sea” — that is, the Arabian and Indian trade and the stations on the coast away to the south would have been under his authority. If he is identical (as seems likely) with the father of Callimachus the epistates, then he must at the beginning of the reign of Cleopatra have been raised to the post of epistolographos at Alexandria.
As Cleopatra grew in experience and ambition, she became intractable to the palace-cabal, Pothinus, Theodotus, and Achillas. They accused her of wishing to oust her brother, and the mob rose against her. But when she fled from the city, this girl of twenty-one set about collecting an army, as her predecessor Cleopatra IV had done in 113 BC. She recruited it probably amongst the Arab tribes beyond the eastern frontier, and was presently on the march to invade Egypt. The cabal gathered a force and went with the boy king to bar her way near Pelusium.
While the dynastic war was coming to a head in Egypt, the great Roman civil war between Pompey and Caesar was decided by the battle of Pharsalus. Pompey fled to Egypt, hoping that the old ties which bound the royal family to him would secure him here a refuge in his fall. He directed his course not to Alexandria, but to the coast near Pelusium, where the boy-king was encamped. And then came the great act of treachery — the assassination of Pompey in the little boat by which he was being conveyed from his ship to the shore, by the hand of the ‘Gabinian’ officer, Septimius, by the order of the palace-cabal — Achillas present himself in the boat to supervise the murder — under the eyes of the boy Ptolemy, who watched the deed, arrayed in his purple chlamys, from the shore (September 48 BC).
By assassinating Ptolemy, the palace-cabal hoped, no doubt, to demonstrate to the victor of the day that they had repudiated all association with his enemies, and thus to give him no reason for invading Egypt as a stronghold for the senatorial cause. But Caesar, following hard on the fugitive, arrived with his squadron off Alexandria a few days after Pompey had been murdered near Pelusium. Theodotus of Chios brought Pompey's head to Caesar's ship, but the sight of it did not make Caesar sail away. He determined to enter Alexandria with the little force he carried on his squadron — 3200 men and 800 horse. He landed, marched through the streets with the insignia of a Roman consul, preceded by his lictors, and took up his abode in the palace of the Ptolemies. Mahaffy strangely found it strange “that the Alexandrine populace, accustomed to royal state, should take umbrage at this display of power”. As if it made no difference that the power was displayed this time by a Roman intruder! Incidents soon occurred to show that Alexandria was in an ugly temper — street brawls, assassinations of isolated soldiers belonging to Caesar's force.
The king and queen were absent, encamped against each other, on the frontier. Caesar, as representing Rome, claimed the right to summon them both to disband their armies and submit to his arbitration. In his will Auletes had besought the Roman People to give effect to his dispositions. In answer to Caesar’s summons, Pothinus returned to Alexandria with the young Ptolemy, but he did not disband the king's army. He left it in being near Pelusium, under the command of Achillas. For Cleopatra the difficulty was how to get from the frontier to Caesar without being murdered by the palace-gang on the way. It was for this reason that her adherent, Apollodorus of Sicily, conveyed her by boat to Alexandria and then smuggled her into the palace, concealed in a roll of carpet. For the charming queen of Egypt to emerge suddenly from a carpet in Caesar's presence was also an admirable way of putting their relations on a gay informal footing from the outset.
Caesar had now both the king and queen in his hands, and with the queen his relations soon became those of lover with mistress. He brought about in public a reconciliation between Ptolemy and his sister; they were once more joint-sovereigns, according to their father's will. But in Alexandria, ill-will against the stranger, fomented by Pothinus, continued, and presently the royal army — Achillas acting in concert with Pothinus — moved upon teach. This army, some 20,000 in numbers, consisted of men who had practical experience of fighting and a large proportion of whom had undergone Roman discipline, and were officered by Romans. Beside the troops of Gabinius (mainly, as we have seen, Gauls and Germans) it included a considerable number of refugees and escaped slaves from Italy and the West, and also as considerable number of bandits and pirates from Asia Minor and Syria — relics of the great pirate power broken by Pompey. Two courtiers, dispatched from the palace to parley, were, by the order of Achillas, one killed and the other very nearly done to death. This meant for Caesar another war — the “Alexandrine War”, it was afterwards called — in which Caesar was fighting at the head of a force vastly inferior in numbers in the labyrinth of a Levantine city. Others of his legions were on the march to Egypt through Syria, but meantime his position was an awkward one. With his little army in a barricaded quarter of the city adjoining the Great Harbour, he might keep the enemy at bay, but he could not attempt to re-embark his army without putting it, during the operation, at the enemy's mercy. He saved his communications by sea from being cut, by burning the Alexandrine fleet which had been l undefended in the Great Harbour. It was on this occasion that some warehouses near the Harbour, containing corn and papyrus rolls (books probably prepared in Alexandria for export), caught fire, and a large number of precious volumes — 40,000, Livy says — were destroyed. This probably gave rise to the legend, current a few generations later, that the great Alexandrine Library had been burnt. Caesar also threw a detachment into the island of Pharos to prevent the passage between the Harbour and the sea from being closed.
The royal palace, with the king and queen and the two younger children of Ptolemy Auletes, remained in Caesar's possession. The queens no doubt altogether on the side of her great lover, but her younger sister Arsinoe, a girl then of about fifteen, had the precocious ambition and will we have learnt to expect in Macedonian princesses. She escaped from the palace with the eunuch under whose care she had been brought up, Ganymedes, and took up her position as the representative of the royal house, with the army of Achillas (late autumn? 48 BC). This change in the situation was soon followed by another — the removal of the two men who had held the chief power in Egypt a few months before, and had contrived the murder of Pompey. In the attacking army, jealousy broke out between Achillas and Ganymedes, and Achillas was put to death by order of Arsinoe. About the same time in the palace, Pothinus, convicted of being in correspondence with the enemy, was put to death by Caesar — ostensibly no doubt by order of Cleopatra.
The attacking army, now commanded by Ganymedes, pressed Caesar’s little force hard. At one time it seemed to have succeeded in depriving it of the fresh water which had been brought in conduits from Lake Mareotis, but Caesar sunk wells. In an attempt to get possession of the mole connecting Pharos with the mainland Caesar lost four hundred of his legions, and only saved his own life by swimming to his ship. Then the Alexandrines opened negotiations, promising that if Caesar would send them the young king, they would throw over Arsinoe and accept the orders of Ptolemy. Caesar thought it good policy to let the boy of thirteen go, though he had no confidence in Ptolemy's promises. As soon as the boy joined the Alexandrine army, he put himself at the head of the fight against the invading Romans.
At last, the reinforcements expected by Caesar reached Egypt. It was a force commanded by a man of mixed Greek and Gaulish parentage, Mithridates of Pergamon, a devoted adherent of Caesar’s, and included a contingent of three thousand Jews under the Idumaean Antipater. Mithridates crossed the desert from Palestine, stormed Pelusium, moved up the eastern branch of the Nile to Memphis, and from Memphis down the western branch on Alexandria. The Alexandrine army tried to intercept him before he could form a junction with the legions of Caesar, but Caesar, going by forced marches round Lake Mareotis, moved too quickly, and the combined force attacked the Alexandrine position on the river. On the second day the position was taken, and a great part of the Alexandrine army — Gauls, Germans, Asiatics, Romans, Italians, beside Egyptian Greeks and natives — was put to the sword. When the massacre was over, the boy-king was nowhere to be found. It was reported that the boat in which he had tried to escape across the river had been overcrowded with fugitives and had gone down.
Caesar returned to Alexandria, master of the situation (January 47 BC). Although Cleopatra was now hated by her subjects — at any rate, by the Greeks and Macedonians of Egypt — because she had given herself to the Roman, they had to see her established as queen by the invincible Caesar. Her official boy-husband, Ptolemy XII, having vanished, Caesar replaced him by her still younger brother, Ptolemy XIII, then about twelve. The official style Theos Philopator, which had presumably belonged to the elder brother in association with Cleopatra, was taken by the younger as well. Arsinoe was sent to Rome, in order that, later on, this princess of the great Macedonian house might walk in chains behind Caesar's triumphal chariot. Caesar himself, although senatorial armies were still afoot overseas, and the world situation seemed crying for his immediate departure, would not give up his pleasant winter season in Egypt with Cleopatra. He made an expedition up the Nile with her, in the magnificent royal pleasure-boat, as far as the Ethiopian frontier. So these two, representing one the conquering power of Macedon, and the other the conquering power of Rome, visited together, as a pair of lovers, the stupendous monuments of the ancient Theban kings — temples where the old worship was still in those days being carried on by throngs of white-robed native priests. It was not till April that Caesar sailed from Alexandria for Syria. He left three legions under Rufinus in Egypt to secure Cleopatra upon the throne. It was possibly at this time that Caesar retroceded Cyprus to Ptolemaic rule. Cyprus was, at any rate, a Ptolemaic dependency again at Caesar's death in 44.
On Payni 23 (June 23, 47 BC) Cleopatra bore a son — her son, she declared, and Caesar’s. To acknowledge have a son of Caesar's was to stamp him a bastard and display the queen's dishonour in the eyes of those Greeks and Macedonians who took pride in the house of Ptolemy. But Cleopatra, without any shame, gave the child the name of Caesar. The Alexandrines nicknamed him Caesarion (a diminutive). The native priesthood at Hermonthis celebrated the birth of the child by figures and hieroglyphics still to be seen on their temple walls, in which it was declared that his true father was the god Ra, manifested under the form of Caesar. For her Greek subjects Cleopatra was represented on the coins as Aphrodite with the infant Eros. As the boy grew older, some of the Greeks believed they could detect in his movements something characteristic of Julius Caesar.
When Caesar returned to Rome in 46, triumphant Dictator of the Roman world, Cleopatra took up her residence there, in Caesar's gardens on the other side of the Tiber. She had brought her brother, Ptolemy XIII, with her from Egypt, and a great retinue. To the high society of Rome, which frequented her salon, she assumed royal airs, which many resented. She was spoken of as “the Queen” (regina), without further addition. “I hate the Queen”, Cicero writes in one of his letters, though he had got from her a promise of some books or other things from Alexandria, which might be of interest to a man of letters. Caesar recognized the infant Caesar as his son. He dedicated a golden statue of Cleopatra in his new temple of Venus Genetrix, the divinity from whom the Julian house claimed to have sprung.
In the eyes of the Romans, the Queen was still the mistress only, not the wife, of the Dictator, who had all the time his legitimate Roman wife, Calpurnia, though he had no legitimate children. But for Cleopatra at this moment the future must have held giddy possibilities. Things seemed rapidly moving to a great dénouement, in which Julius Caesar, who despised the traditions of the Republic, would boldly convert the Roman world into a monarchy of the Hellenistic type, with himself as king, exalted above the narrow Roman exclusiveness, one in whom all the races of that world — Italian, Greek, Macedonian, Gaulish, Spanish, Egyptian, Asiatic — would see their common sovereign. And, as a signal of his throwing off the narrow Roman tradition, of the universal character of the new monarchy, what could be more striking than if he took as his queen the surviving representative of the Macedonian empire, of the house of Ptolemy. For Cleopatra, too, the three -centuries-long association of her house with Egypt must now have seemed only a transient connection, a stage on its way to the throne of the world. She saw herself the empress of a realm, in which Egypt would be a mere province. And to that realm the boy Caesar would be heir, the boy in whom the Macedonian blood of Ptolemy and the Roman blood of Caesar mingled.
But the Roman aristocrats, who also felt that things were moving to such a dénouement, regarded the prospect with abhorrence and alarm. The idea of their being subject, they, Romans, to a queen whom they contemptuously, if incorrectly, described as "an Egyptian," stung them to rage. And that was only one intolerable feature in what they suspected to be projects of Caesar. On the Ides of March 44 BC, the daggers of Brutus and his fellows put an abrupt end to Cleopatra's dream. The assassination of Caesar made her own position in Rome one of extreme peril. “The Queen” fled about a fortnight later. She must get back, while she could, to her old narrow kingdom on the Nile, and hope to be safe in Egypt through the coming convulsions in the Roman world, as her ancestor the first Ptolemy had been safe there through the convulsions which followed the death of Alexander.
Cleopatra must have brought back her young brother, Ptolemy XIII, with her to Egypt, since a document at Oxyrhyncus of July 26, 44, is still dated by Cleopatra and Ptolemy together. But he died shortly after her return. Porphyry says that Cleopatra contrived his death, and Josephus says that she poisoned him — which is likely enough, ancient he would naturally appear as a rival to the openly Caesar. According to Dio Cassius, Cleopatra, soon after her return to Egypt, associated her son with herself upon the throne, and the temple at Denderah shows the colossal figure of Cleopatra, depicted as the Egyptian goddess Hathor, together with the boy Caesar, habited as an ancient Pharaoh. A Fayûm Greek about this time dedicates a stele on behalf of queen Cleopatra and king Ptolemy Caesar “and of their ancestors” [of the house of Ptolemy and of the gens Julia?] to the Egyptian crocodile god, whom he declares to be the young king’s “great-grandfather”. The inscription on the stele in Turin begins: “In the reign of Cleopatra, Father-loving goddess, and of Ptolemy who is also Caesar, Father-loving, Mother-loving God. . . .” Unfortunately the inscription is broken and the date can be restored only by conjecture.
The stele in question throws a chance light upon internal conditions in Upper Egypt at this moment. It was put up by the priests of Amen-Ra-Sonther at Thebes and other heads of the native community in the city in honour of Callimachus, the chief magistrate (epistates) of the Theban division of the Pathyrite nome. He had been devoted, we are told, in his paternal care for the city of Thebes, “ruined by a variety of grievous circumstances” — an allusion probably to the treatment inflicted upon Thebes by Soter II in 88 BC — and had labored for the city's revival. Again, in the recent year of famine and the following year of pestilence, he had done all that was possible to relieve the terrible distress. Above all, he had taken pains to secure that the rites of religion in the Egyptian temples should be carried out in the proper manner. Various things may be gathered from the inscription. One is that the officials in Upper Egypt were acting independently of the court in a new way — a consequence of the distractions of the royal family, and perhaps of the prolonged absence of Cleopatra in Rome. The eulogy of the Thebans is piled upon the divisional magistrate, and not a word is said of the queen except in the dating. Further, we may gather that the destruction of the old Egyptian capital by Soter II had not been complete: Thebes, if sadly reduced and battered, continued to exist.
Another inscription belonging to the year 11 of Cleopatra has been found at Heracleopolis, embodying a decree issued by Cleopatra and Ptolemy Caesar on a date corresponding to April 13, 41 BC. The purport of the edict is to enforce the privileges of Alexandrines residing in Egypt for agricultural work outside Alexandria. The local officials had been harassing Alexandrines for the payment of dues and taxes which the ordinary inhabitants had to pay, but from which Alexandrines were immune. A delegation of these Alexandrines had presented themselves before the queen in person on March 15 (the Ides of March! — an anniversary Cleopatra would remember) to submit their case, and the promulgation of the decree a month later was the consequence. It was addressed individually to the strategoi of different nomes, and it was ordered that a copy of it should be put up in the nome-capital, in hand and in Egyptian. Chance has preserved for us the slab on which it was inscribed at Heracleopolis.
“Queen Cleopatra, Father-loving Goddess, and king Ptolemy, who is also Caesar, Father-loving, Mother-loving God, to the strategos of the Heracleopolite nome, greeting. Let the subjoined decree, with the present royal letter, be transcribed in Greek and in native letters, and let it be put up publicly in the metropolis and in the principal places of the nome, and let all else be done according to our commands. Farewell. Year 11. Daisios 13, which is Pharmuthi 13.
“To Theon [the dioiketes?]. Whereas those from the City who do agricultural work in the Prosopite and Bubastite nomes have addressed a petition to us in audience on the 15th of Phamenoth against the officials of the Ten Nomes, setting forth how these, contrary to our will and to the orders repeatedly sent out in accordance with our decision, by those over the administration [the dioiketai], to the effect that no one should demand of them anything above the essential royal dues, essay to act wrongfully and to include them amongst those of whom rural and provincial dues, which concern them not, are exacted, we, being exceedingly indignant and judging it well to issue a general and universal ordinance regarding the whole matter, have decreed that all those from the City, who carry on agricultural work in the country, shall not be subjected, as others are, to demands for stephanoi and epigraphai such as may be made from time to time, and on special occasions, in the nomes, nor shall their goods be distrained for such contributions, nor shall any new tax be required of them, but when they have once paid the essential dues, in kind or in money, for corn-land and for vine-land, which have regularly in the past been assigned to the royal treasury, they shall not be molested for anything further, on any pretext whatever. Let it be done accordingly, and let this be put up publicly, according to law”.
The last decree we know of issued by a sovereign of the house of Ptolemy!
From Egypt Cleopatra watched the great struggle in the Roman world which followed Caesar's death. Till Antony and Octavianus Caesar, standing for the cause of the dead Dictator, could intervene effectively in the Eastern Mediterranean, the senatorial forces in those countries, commanded by Brutus and Cassius, ruled the field. Caesar's cause was represented in the East by the hot-headed and inefficient Dolabella, and the Roman legions, which had ever since the spring of 47 been left as a garrison in Egypt, marched out under Allienus to join him in Asia, but in Syria they changed sides and joined Cassius instead. In July 43 Dolabella committed suicide in the Syrian Laodicea, to avoid falling into the hands of the enemy. Cleopatra had given Dolabella no help, though her sentiments, so far as she had any apart from her policy, must have been on the side of the Caesarians. The applications from Cassius for the help of the Egyptian fleet, which was considered formidable, she steadily evaded. When at last Antony and Octavian stood on the field of Philippi as victors (autumn, 42 BC) the queen of Egypt had done nothing to help either the victorious or the defeated side. Her policy of inactivity, so long as the issue was undecided, may have seemed safe and prudent, but it left her now exposed to the resentment of the victors, who might not unreasonably have expected her to have shown a warmer interest in the cause of her great dead lover. But Cleopatra had her own way of mingling in the world-conflict — to mark the man in the ascendant, attach herself to him, and subjugate him to her purposes.
By the victory of Philippi, Mark Antony became ruler of the eastern part of the Roman world. At Ephesus, a few months after the battle, he was already hailed as a manifestation of the god Dionysos. Cleopatra took no step to communicate with him, or justify herself, till Antony, provoked by her reserve, sent his friend, the dissolute Quintus Dellius, to suggest her coming to meet him in Cilicia.
Then Cleopatra went forth to conquer, with her own weapons of warfare. A gorgeous ship sailed up the river Cydnus, bearing the new Aphrodite with a pageantry of little Cupids and Nereids and Graces, to meet the new Dionysos. The pageantry, as Mahaffy points out, and as we should expect, was all Greek, not Egyptian. At Tarsus Cleopatra was as completely victorious as Antony and Octavian had been at Philippi. She was once more the mistress of the most powerful man — or one of the two most powerful men — in the world. Antony would use all that power of his to further her purposes. Yet it would be a mistake to read into Antony's liaison that quality of romance and chivalry which the modern world associates with love. In "that hard Pagan world," as may be seen by the frank brutality with which Antony himself spoke of his relation to Cleopatra in one of his letters to Octavian, these things had no such transfiguring halo. Antony seems even to have taken a vulgar pride in having as the instrument of his pleasures a real queen; his first Roman wife had been a freedman's daughter, his present Roman wife, the terrible Fulvia, was of humble origin, and his host of vagrant amours had been with mimes and common trulls. But he would do almost anything that Cleopatra wished; and that was the important thing from her point of view.
He did indeed ask for some explanation of her failure to give any help to the Caesarian cause before Philippi. And Cleopatra had an explanation ready — a feminine explanation, much more effective, no doubt, than any grave political argument could have been. She really had tried to come to the help of the cause. She had sailed out herself with the Egyptian fleet, but the weather had been atrocious, and she had been so dreadfully ill. And then Antony began doing the things she asked. It was, in the first instance, to have a number of people killed, killed or delivered up to her — her sister Arsinoe, who, since she had been led a captive through the streets of Rome, had taken refuge in the precinct of Artemis at Ephesus, where she was now murdered to gratify Cleopatra's undying hatred; a young man at Aradus, who professed to be her vanished brother Ptolemy XII; Serapion, the Ptolemaic governor of Cyprus, who had given help to Cassius.