Extracts from Greek and Latin writers in translation


  1. Galen, three extracts
  2. Agatharchides, "On the Erythraean Sea"
  3. Augustus, on the funeral games of Julius Caesar
  4. Dio Cassius, additional fragments
  5. Apuleius, "Florida"
  6. P. Haun. 6, brief notes on the Ptolemaic Dynasty
  7. Zenobius, "Proverbs"
  8. Cassiodorus, "Chronica"


Galen of Pergamum was a Greek medical writer who lived in the 2nd century A.D. He wrote a huge number of books, most of which have never been translated into English. The three passages translated here refer respectively to the method used by Archimedes to burn warships, the death of Cleopatra, and the collection of books for the library at Alexandria. The numbers in red are the volume and page numbers in Kühn's edition of the complete works of Galen, which contains 22 volumes.

[1.657] { De Temperamentis }   For in Mysia, which is in Asia, a building was once burnt down in the following manner. There was a pile of pigeon droppings, already rotting and growing warm and emitting steam; and it was fairly hot to hold. Near to this, and immediately touching it, was a window made of wood that had recently been wiped with a lot of resin. So in the middle of summer a fierce sun struck them, and set fire to the resin and the wood. Immediately from there the fire easily caught onto some doors that were nearby and some windows that had recently been wiped with resin; and the flames reached as far as the roof. Once the fire had taken hold of the roof, it soon spread throughout the whole building. I imagine that it was in a similar way that Archimedes, as they say, burnt the triremes of the enemy by means of (?) firesticks.

[14.235] { De Theriaca - translated by P.J.Jones }   Of the asps, the one called ptyas { "spitter" } extends its throat, estimates the length of the interval and then, like a rational being, the creature spits venom from its body with perfect aim. They say that it was by means of one of these creatures (for there are three kinds of asps, the one mentioned above, the one called chersaea, and the one known as chelidonia) that queen Cleopatra, wishing to foil her guards, died swiftly and without arousing suspicion. For Augustus, after conquering Antonius, wished to take her alive and wished very much to keep her alive, as is reasonable, so that he might exhibit to the Romans in his triumph so famous a woman. But she, they say, perceived this and, choosing to leave the human race still a queen rather than to appear before the Romans as a private citizen, engineered her own death by this beast. And they say that she called her two most trustworthy maids to her - they were the ones who attended to her toilette and cared for her body; their names were Naeira and Carmione. 236 The one arranged her hair becomingly and the other dexterously trimmed the tips of her nails. Then Cleopatra ordered the creature brought in hidden among grapes and figs, so that, as I have said, she might elude the guards. She tried this method beforehand on these women to determine whether it could cause death quickly, and after they perished swiftly, she turned it upon herself, and they say that, on this account, Augustus was greatly amazed, in part because of the affection these women had to die with their queen, and in part because she did not wish to live in slavery, but preferred to die nobly. Indeed, they say that her right hand was found resting on her head, holding her crown, as was appropriate, so that she might appear to those who saw her to be a queen even in death. Just so, the tragic poet tells us, Polyxena, although she was dying, nevertheless had the foresight to fall with grace. Those who wish to explain to us the woman’s skill in deception and creature’s speed in killing say that 237 she wounded her own arm with a deep bite and poured into the wound venom brought to her in a container. Not long after receiving this aid, she foiled the guards and died contentedly.

But let this tale be told not only for pleasure, because you are interested in every topic, but also so that we understand how quickly these creatures can kill, for they are truly swift in taking a life. Often in great Alexandria I have seen the speed with which death results from their bite. For when someone is sentenced to punishment under the law and must be executed quickly and humanely, they put a snake on his chest and make him walk around a little, thus swiftly removing the man from their midst.

[17a.605] { Commentary on Hippocrates' Epidemics }   What I am about to say has been said previously by Zeuxis in the first volume of his commentary on the present book [the third book of Hippocrates' Epidemics]; and perhaps it would have been better for me, as I usually do in such cases, to refer those who want to know the [full] story to that book. But since Zeuxis' commentary is no longer respected, and has become difficult to find, therefore they asked me 606 to tell the story, beginning with Mnemon.

Some say that Mnemon took the third book of the Epidemics out of the great library at Alexandria, as if he intended to read it, and then put it back after inserting these characters in it, in the same ink and similar handwriting. Others say that he brought the book [to Alexandria] from Pamphylia. Ptolemaeus the king of Egypt was so eager to collect books, that he ordered the books of everyone who sailed there to be brought to him. The books were then copied into new manuscripts. He gave the new copy to the owners, whose books had been brought to him after they sailed there, but he put the original copy in the library with the inscription "a [book] from the ships". They say that a copy of the third book of the Epidemics has been found with the inscription, "a [book] from the ships, as emended by Mnemon of Sidē". Some claim that the inscription does not say "as emended", but simply gives the name of Mnemon; because when books were taken from all the others who sailed there, 607 the servants of the king wrote down their names in the copies that were deposited in the storehouses (the servants did not place the books in the library immediately, but first they stored them away in piles in some other buildings).

This Ptolemaeus is said to have given sufficient proof of his eagerness to collect old books, by his behaviour towards the Athenians. After giving them fifteen talents of silver as a surety, he received from them the manuscripts of Sophocles and Euripides and Aeschylus, on the understanding that he would simply make new copies from the manuscripts, and then promptly return them intact. But after he had produced magnificent new copies on the finest writing material, he kept the books that the Athenians had sent to him, and sent back to them the copies that he had made. He urged them to keep the fifteen talents, and at the same time to receive new copies instead of the old books that they had sent to him. The Athenians would have had no other option, even if he had kept the old books without sending new copies to them, because when they accepted the money, they had agreed that if he kept the books, then they would keep the money; and so they accepted the new copies and kept the money.

608 But Mnemon - whether he brought the book himself, or took it out of the library and interpolated the characters - seems to have done this as a subterfuge . . .


Agatharchides, who lived in Egypt in the second century B.C., wrote several books of history, all of which have been lost. However, considerable portions of his "On the Erythraean Sea" have been preserved by the Byzantine scholar Photius. The three short passages shown here describe the attempts of the Egyptian king Ptolemaeus II to expand his influence in the south around the coasts of the Red Sea. The men and animals captured during these expeditions were paraded in Alexandria in about 271 B.C. (Athenaeus, 5.200-201).

All the surviving fragments of "On the Erythraean Sea", including a detailed and interesting account of the inhabitants of Ethiopia, have been translated by S.M.Burstein (Hakluyt Society, 1989).

[1]   [Agatharchides] says that Ptolemaeus, the successor of the son of Lagus, was the first to organise the hunting of elephants as well as other similar activities. Animals which had been separated by Nature he brought together to live in one place.

[20]   For the war against the Ethiopians Ptolemaeus recruited 500 cavalrymen from Greece. To those who were to fight in the front ranks and to be in the vanguard - they were a hundred in number - he assigned the following form of equipment. For he distributed to them and their horses quilted robes, which the natives of that county call kasai, that conceal the whole body except for the eyes.

[57]   Ptolemaeus, the king of Egypt, urged these hunters [ the "elephant fighters" - Diod_3.26-27 ] to refrain from slaughtering the beasts in order that he might have them alive. Although he promised them many wondrous things, he not only did not persuade them but he heard that their reply was that they would not exchange his whole kingdom for their present way of life.


Two of the surviving fragments from the Memoirs of Augustus [Commentarii de vita sua] refer to the appearance of a comet at the funeral games for his adoptive father Julius Caesar, which were held in 44 B.C. Augustus clearly attached great importance to the appearance of the comet, as proof of the divine status of his adoptive father, and the episode is also described in the Metamorphoses of Ovid, right at the end of the poem [ 15'746-851 ], as the prelude to the glorious reign of Augustus.

One of the passages about the comet (Fr_6) was quoted by Pliny the Elder [ HN_2'23(93) ] and the other passage (Fr_7), which was quoted by a commentator on Vergilius known as "Servius Auctus", is translated here. The translation is based on the Latin text in "Imp. Augusti Operum Fragmenta", edited by H.Malcovati (1948).

[7] When Augustus Caesar was holding the funeral games for his father, a star appeared in the middle of the day, and Augustus declared that it was [the star] of his father. Baebius Macer said that a large star rose up in about the eighth hour of the day, and it was crowned with rays, like (?) ribbons. Some people thought that the star was an omen foretelling the [future] glory of the young Caesar but Caesar himself interpreted it as the soul of his father, and he placed a statue of him on the Capitol, with a golden crown on his head and this inscription on the base: Καίσαρι ἡμιθέῳ ["to Caesar the demi-god"]. Vulcatius the haruspex said in an assembly that it was a comet, which portended the end of the ninth saeculum and the start of the tenth saeculum. But because he had revealed this secret against the will of the gods, he would die immediately; and he collapsed in the midst of the assembly, before he had completed his speech. This is mentioned by Augustus in the second book of his Memoirs about his life.

[16] Augustus in the Memoirs of his Life relates that Antonius ordered his legions to watch over Cleopatra and to obey her nod and her command.


A translation of Dio's Roman History is available on the Lacus Curtius website. A few additional fragments are shown here. Modern scholars have allocated them to book 12 of the history.

[45]   After Claudius had made terms with the Corsicans, and the Romans had then waged war upon them and subdued them, they first sent Claudius to them, offering to surrender him, on the ground that the fault in breaking the compact lay with him and not with themselves; and when the Corsicans refused to receive him, they drove him into exile.

[46]   The Romans, after exacting more money from the Carthaginians, renewed the truce. At first, however, upon the arrival of the embassy which the latter had sent because they realized their foes' state of preparedness and also because they themselves were still occupied at that time with the war against the neighbouring tribes, they had given them no mild answer. Afterwards Hanno, a man of youthful years who used striking frankness of speech, was sent. He spoke his mind unreservedly on a number of matters, and finally exclaimed: "If you do not wish to be at peace, restore to us both Sardinia and Sicily; for with these we purchased not a temporary truce, but eternal friendship." Thus shamed, they not only became milder . . .
2 . . . and the others, lest they might in turn suffer the same injuries; so that they were very glad to delay, the one side choosing to preserve the prosperity inherited from the past, and the other to hold on at least to what it had. So far as their threats went, they were no longer keeping the peace, but when it came to deeds they still continued to deliberate about it, so that it became clear to all that whichever of the two nations first found it to its advantage to make a move would likewise be the one to begin the war. Indeed, most men abide by their compacts just so long as suits their own convenience; but in the interest of some greater advantage to themselves, they deem it safe even to break a truce.

[48]   On one occasion they sent envoys to investigate {the movements of Hamilcar, in the consulship of Marcus Pomponius and} Gaius Papirius, in spite of the fact that they had no interests in Spain as yet. Hamilcar showed them all due honour and offered them plausible explanations, declaring, among other things, that he was obliged to fight against the Spaniards in order that the money which was still owing to the Romans might be paid; for it was impossible to obtain it from any other source. The envoys were consequently embarrassed to know how to censure him.

[49]   The island of Issa surrendered itself voluntarily to the Romans. This was the first time the islanders were to make their acquaintance, but they regarded them as more friendly than those whom they had now come to dread. They reasoned that more reliance was to be placed on the unknown than on the known; for while the one, because of actual experience had with it, inspired resentment, the other, because of their anticipations, inspired good hope.

2 When the Issaeans had attached themselves to the Romans, the latter, desiring to show them some prompt and ready favour in return, so as to get the reputation of aiding such as joined their cause, and also to punish the Ardiaeans, who were annoying those who sailed from Brundisium, sent envoys to Agron, to ask for clemency for the Issaeans and at the same time to censure the king for wronging them without cause. Now these men found Agron no longer alive; he had died, leaving behind a child named Pinnes. Teuta, the wife of Agron and stepmother of Pinnes, was ruling the Ardiaeans, . . . as a result of her boldness, she gave them no respectful reply, but, woman-like, in addition to her innate recklessness, she was puffed up with vanity because of the power that she possessed; and she accordingly cast some of the ambassadors into prison and killed others for expressing themselves freely. 4 Such was her action at that time, and she actually took pride in it as if she had displayed some strength by her facile cruelty. In a very short time, however, she demonstrated the weakness of the female sex, which quickly flies into a passion through lack of judgment, and quickly becomes terrified through cowardice. 5 For just as soon as she learned that the Romans had voted for war against her she became panic-stricken, and promised to restore their men whom she held, while she tried to defend herself in the matter of the death of the others, declaring that they had been slain by some robbers. When the Romans for this reason stopped their campaign and demanded the surrender of the murderers, she once more showed her contempt, because the danger was not yet at her doors, and declaring she would not give up anybody, despatched an army against Issa. 6   But when she learned that the consuls were at hand, she grew terrified again, abated her high spirit, and became ready to heed them in everything whatsoever. She had not yet, however, been brought fully to her senses, for when the consuls had crossed over to Corcyra, she felt imbued with new courage, revolted and despatched an army against Epidamnus and Apollonia. But after the Romans had rescued the cities and had captured ships of hers laden with treasure, she was again on the point of yielding obedience. 7 Meanwhile they mounted to a high place above the sea, and were defeated near the Atyrian hill ; and she now waited, hoping for their withdrawal, in view of the fact that it was already winter. But on perceiving that Albinus remained where he was and that Demetrius, as a result of her caprice, as well as from fear of the Romans, had transferred his allegiance, besides persuading some others to desert, she became utterly terrified and gave up her power.

[50]   The Romans were alarmed over an oracle of the Sibyl which told them that they must beware of the Gauls when a thunderbolt should fall upon the Capitol near the temple of Apollo.

2   The Gauls became dejected on seeing that the Romans had already seized the most favourable positions. For all men, if they obtain the object of their first aim, proceed more readily toward their subsequent goals, and likewise if they fail of it, lose interest in everything else. Those of the Gallic race, however, rather more than the rest of mankind, seize very eagerly upon what they desire, and cling most tenaciously to their successes, but if they meet with the slightest obstacle, have no hope at all left for the future. In their folly they are ready to expect whatsoever they wish, and in their ardour are ready to carry out whatsoever they undertake. 3 They are men of ungoverned passion and uncontrolled impulse, and for that reason they have in these qualities no element of endurance, since it is impossible for reckless audacity to prevail for any time ; and if once they suffer a setback, they are unable, especially if any fear also be present, to recover themselves, and are plunged into a state of panic corresponding to their previous fearless daring. In brief time they rush abruptly to the very opposite extremes, since they can furnish no sound motive based on reason for either course.

4   Aemilius on conquering the Insubres celebrated a triumph, and in it conveyed the foremost captives clad in armour up to the Capitol, making jests at their expense because he had heard that they had sworn not to remove their breastplates until they had mounted to the Capitol.

[51]   If any of the details, even the smallest, that were customary in festivals had been omitted, the ceremonies were always performed a second or a third time, and even oftener still, so far as was possible in one day, until everything seemed to have been done faultlessly.

[53]   Demetrius, encouraged by his position as guardian of Pinnes and by the fact that he had married the latter's mother Triteuta after Teuta's death, was not only proving oppressive to the natives, but was also ravaging the territory of the neighbouring tribes. So as soon as they [the consuls] heard of this, they summoned him before them, since it appeared that it was by abusing the friendship of the Romans that he was able to wrong those peoples. When he paid no heed, but actually proceeded to assail their allies, they made a campaign against him in Issa.

5. APULEIUS, "Florida"

The "Florida" is a book of rhetorical flourishes, apparently taken from real speeches. You might not expect much from such a compilation, but Apuleius was a skilled speaker, and this fragment (number 16) has won the admiration of modern readers. The translation is by H.E.Butler.

Before I begin, illustrious representatives of Africa, to thank you for the statue, with the demand for which you honoured me while I was still with you, setting the seal upon your kindness by actually decreeing its erection during my absence, I wish first to explain to you why I absented myself for a considerable number of days from the sight of my audience and betook myself to the Persian baths, where the healthy may find delightful bathing, and the sick a no less welcome relief. For I have resolved to make it clear to you, to whose service I have dedicated myself irrevocably and for ever, that every moment of my life is well spent. There shall be no action of mine, important or trivial, but you shall be informed of it and pass judgement upon it. Well then! to come to the reason for my sudden departure from the presence of this most distinguished assembly, I will tell you a story of the comic poet Philemon which is not so very unlike my own and will serve to show you how sudden and unexpected are the perils that threaten the life of man. You all are well acquainted with his talents, listen then to a few words concerning his death, or perhaps you would like a few words on his talents as well.

This Philemon was a poet, a writer of the middle comedy, and composed plays for the stage in competition with Menander and contested against him. He may not have been his equal, he was certainly his rival. Nay, on not a few occasions - I am almost ashamed to mention it - he actually defeated him. However this may be, you will certainly find his works full of humour: the plots are full of wittily contrived intrigue, the dénouements clear, the characters suited to the situations, the words true to life, the jests never unworthy of true comedy, the serious passages never quite on the level of tragedy. Seductions are rare in his plays; if he introduces love affairs, it is as a concession to human weakness. That does not, however, prevent the presence in his plays of the faithless pander, the passionate lover, the cunning slave, the coquetting mistress, the jealous wife whose word is law, the indulgent mother, the crusty uncle, the friend in need, the warlike soldier, aye and hungry parasites, skinflint parents, and saucy drabs. One day, long after these excellences had made him famous as a writer of comedy, he happened to give a recitation of a portion of a play which he had just written. He had reached the third act, and was beginning to arouse in his audience those pleasurable emotions so dear to comedy, when a sudden shower descended and forced him to put off the audience gathered to hear him and the recitation which he had just begun. A similar event befell me, you will remember, quite recently when I was addressing you. However, Philemon, at the demand of various persons, promised to finish his recitation the next day without further postponement. On the morrow, therefore, a vast crowd assembled to hear him with the utmost enthusiasm. Everybody who could do so took a seat facing the stage and as near to it as he could get. Late arrivals made signs to their friends to make room for them to sit: those who sat at the end of a row complained of being thrust off their seat into the gangway; the whole theatre was crammed with a vast audience. A hum of conversation arose. Those who had not been present the previous day began to ask what had been recited; those who had been present began to recall what they had heard, and finally when everybody had made themselves acquainted with what had preceded, all began to look forward to what was to come. Meanwhile the day wore on and Philemon failed to come at the appointed time. Some blamed the poet for the delay, more defended him. But when they had sat there for quite an unreasonable length of time and still Philemon did not make his appearance, some of the more active members of the audience were sent to fetch him. They found him lying in his bed - dead. He had just breathed his last, and lay there upon the couch stiff and stark in the attitude of one plunged in meditation. His fingers still were twined about his book, his mouth still pressed against the page he had been reading. But the life had left him; he had forgotten his book, and little recked he now of his audience. Those who had entered the room stood motionless for a space, struck dumb by the strange suddenness of the blow and the wondrous beauty of his death. Then they returned and reported to the people that the poet Philemon, for whom they were waiting that there in the theatre he might finish the drama of his imagination, had finished the one true play, the drama of life, in his own home. To this world he had said 'farewell' and 'applaud', but to his friends 'weep and make your moan'. 'The shower of yesterday,' they continued, 'was an omen of our tears; the comedy has ended in the torch of funeral or ever it could come to the torch of marriage. Nay, since so great a poet has laid aside the mask of this life, let us go straight from the theatre to perform his burial. 'Tis his bones we now must gather to our hearts; his verse must for awhile take second place.'

It was long ago that I first learned the story I have just told you, but the peril I have undergone during the last few days has brought it afresh to my mind. For when my recitation was - as I am sure you remember - interrupted by the rain, at your desire I put it off till the morrow, and in good truth it was nearly with me as it was with Philemon. For on that same day I twisted my ankle so violently at the wrestling school that I almost tore the joint from my leg. However, it returned to its socket, though my leg is still weak with the sprain. But there is more to tell you. My efforts to reduce the dislocation were so great that my body broke out into a profuse sweat and I caught a severe chill. This was followed by agonizing pain in my bowels, which only subsided when its violence was on the point of killing me. A moment more and like Philemon I should have gone to the grave, not to my recital, should have finished not my speech but my destiny, should have brought not my tale but my life to a close. Well then, as soon as the gentle temperature and still more the soothing medical properties of the Persian baths had restored to me the use of my foot - for though it gave naught save the most feeble support, it sufficed me in my eagerness to appear before you - I set forth to perform my pledge. And in the interval you have conferred such a boon upon me that you have not only removed my lameness but have made me positively nimble.

Was I not right to make all speed that I might express my boundless gratitude for the honour which you have conferred unasked. True, Carthage is so illustrious a city that it were an honour to her that a philosopher should beg to be thus rewarded, but I wished the boon you have bestowed on me to have its full value with no taint of detraction, to suffer no loss of grace by any petition on my part, in a word to be wholly disinterested. For he that begs pays so heavily, and so large is the price that he to whom the petition is addressed receives, that, where the necessaries of life are concerned, one had rather purchase them one and all than ask them as a gift. Above all, this principle applies to cases where honours are concerned. He to whom they come as the result of importunate petition owes no gratitude for his success to any save himself. On the other hand, he who receives honours without descending to vexatious canvassing is obliged to the givers for two reasons; he has not asked and yet he has received. The thanks, therefore, which I owe you are double or rather manifold, and my lips shall proclaim them at all times and places. But on the present occasion I will, as is my wont, make public protestation of my gratitude from a written address which I have specially composed in view of this distinction. For assuredly that is the method in which a philosopher should return thanks to a city that has decreed him a public statue. My discourse will, however, depart slightly from this method as a mark of respect to the exalted character and position of Aemilianus Strabo. I hope that I may be able to compose a suitable discourse if only you will permit me to submit it to your approbation to-day. For Strabo is so distinguished a scholar, that his own talents bring him even greater honour than his noble rank and his tenure of the consulate. In what terms, Aemilianus Strabo, who of all men that have been, are, or yet shall be, are most renowned among the virtuous, most virtuous among the renowned, most learned amongst either, in what terms can I hope to thank or commemorate the gracious thoughts you have entertained for me? How may I hope adequately to celebrate the honour to which your kindness has prompted you? How may my speech repay you worthily for the glory conferred by your action? It baffles my imagination. But I will seek earnestly and strive to find a way
  While breath still rules these limbs and memory
  Is conscious of its being.

For at the present moment, I will not deny it, the gladness of my heart is too loud for my eloquence, I cannot think for pleasure, delight is master of my soul and bids me rejoice rather than speak. What shall I do? I wish to show my gratitude, but my joy is such that I have not yet leisure to express my thanks. No one, however sour and stern he be, will blame me if the honour bestowed on me makes me no less nervous than appreciative, if the testimony to my merits, delivered by a man of such fame and learning, has transported me with exultation. For he delivered it in the senate of Carthage, a body whose kindness is only equalled by its distinction; and he that spoke was one who had held the consulship, one by whom it were an honour even to be known. Such was the man who appeared before the most illustrious citizens of the province of Africa to sing my praise!

I have been told that two days ago he sent a written request in which he demanded that my statue should be given a conspicuous place, and above all told of the bonds of friendship which began under such honourable circumstances, when we served together beneath the banner of literature and studied under the same masters; he then recorded all the good wishes for his success with which I had welcomed each successive step of his advance in his official career. He had already done me a compliment in remembering that I had once been his fellow student: it was a fresh compliment that so great a man should record my friendship for him as though I were his equal. But he went further. He stated that other peoples and cities had decreed not only statues, but other distinctions as well in my honour. Could anything be added to such a panegyric as this, delivered by the lips of an ex-consul? Yes: for he cited the priesthood I had undertaken, and showed that I had attained the highest honour that Carthage can bestow. But the greatest and most remarkable compliment paid me was this: after producing such a wealth of flattering testimonials he commended me to your notice by himself voting in my favour. Finally, he, a man in whose honour every province rejoices through all the world to erect four or six horse chariots, promised that he would erect my statue at Carthage at his own expense.

What lacks there to sanction and establish my glory and to set it on the topmost pinnacle of fame? I ask you, what is there lacking? Aemilianus Strabo, who has already held the consulship [ A.D. 156 ] and is destined, as we all hope and pray, soon to be a proconsul, proposed the resolution conferring these honours upon me in the senate-house of Carthage. You gave your unanimous assent to the proposal. Surely in your eyes this was more than a mere resolution, it was a solemn enactment of law. Nay more, all the Carthaginians gathered in this august assembly showed such readiness in granting a site for the statue that they might make it clear to you that, if they put off a resolution for the erection of a second statue, as I hope, to the next meeting of the senate, they were influenced by the desire to show the fullest reverence and respect to their honourable consular, and to avoid seeming to emulate rather than imitate his beneficence. That is to say, they wished to set apart a whole day for the business of conferring on me the public honour still in store. Moreover, these most excellent magistrates, these most gracious chiefs of your city, remembered that the charge with which you men of Carthage had entrusted them was in full harmony with their desires. Would you have me be ignorant, be silent, as to these details? It would be rank ingratitude. Far from that, I offer my very warmest thanks to the whole assembly for their most lavish favour. I could not be more grateful. For they have honoured me with the most flattering applause in that senate-house, where even to be named is the height of honour. And so I have in some sense achieved - pardon my vanity - that which was so hard to achieve, and seemed indeed not unnaturally to be beyond my powers. I have won the affections of the people, the favour of the senate, the approbation of the magistrates and the chief men of the city. What lacks there now to the honour of my statue, save the price of the bronze and the service of the artist? These have never been denied me even in small cities. Much less shall Carthage deny it, Carthage, whose senate, even where greater issues are at stake, decrees and counts not the cost. But I will speak of this more fully at a later date, when you have given fuller effect to your resolution. Moreover, when the time comes for the dedication of my statue, I will proclaim my gratitude to you yet more amply in another written discourse, will declare it to you, noble senators, to you, renowned citizens, to you, my worthy friends. Yes, I will commit my gratitude to the retentive pages of a book, that it may travel through every province and, worlds and ages hence, record my praises of your kindness to all peoples and all time.

6. P.Haun. 6 -   Brief Notes on the History of the Ptolemaic Dynasty

This curious document has been preserved on some scraps of papyrus, written in Egypt in the second century A.D., and now kept in Copenhagen (Papyri Haunienses).

F.W.Walbank described the contents as follows: "[it contains], it would appear (for the document is hard to decipher) six short résumés of incidents of Ptolemaic history during the period of the Third and Fourth Syrian Wars . . . This short document may be a scrap from a set of notes taken by someone reading a historical work. The divergent views about its contents reflect the dearth of reliable information available from this period of Ptolemaic history" (CAH, 7.1, p.17).

Lines 14-22 clearly refer to Ptolemaeus III Euergetes. Some helpful summaries of the discussions concerning two other men who are mentioned here, Ptolemaeus Andromachou and Magas, can be found on Chris Bennett's Ptolemaic Dynasty website.

In view of the uncertainty surrounding the meaning of much of the document, the English translation is shown interleaved with the Greek letters that can be read on the papyrus. It can be assumed that most of the lines in the Greek text have some letters missing at the beginning and the end; and some shorter fragments, which cannot be meaningfully translated, have been omitted. The Greek text is taken from A.Bulöw-Jacobsen, "P. Haun. 6 : An Inspection of the Original" (ZPE, 1979), but the translation includes some conjectures made by other scholars.



ικλησιν ἀνδρομαχου

called Andromachou {of Andromachus}


(?) 5

πτολεμαι(ος)   οὑτο
Ptolemaeus This
[5] ἐπικλησιν και
called and
ἀνδρομα (και) δι.....σασευρα
Androma- and
χου αἱρει (και) αἰνον (και) πολλα
chou he captures (?) both Aenus and many
επ?ει (και) ναυμαχησας ἀπελ
. . . and having fought a sea-battle
αυτον ἀνδρον
. . . (?) Andros
[10]   ων
. . .
καταστασιασθεις ὑπο των
overcome in a sedition by the
ἐν ἐφεσωι κατεσφαγη δα
he was slaughtered in Ephesus
ἐπιβουλην συσταμεν
hatching a plot


υφρατου .


[15]   ον και εἰ μη τοτε αἰγυπτιων ἀπος

and if a revolt of the Egyptians had not then

υπτον παλιν ἐπιστηι σελευκο

[? to] Egypt again set Seleucus

φρουραις καταλαβων ἐπανηλθεν εἰς ἀλεξα

after securing with garrisons, he returned to Alexandria

συνεμαχησεν αἰτολοις εἰς τον προς ἀντιγο

he fought as an ally of the Aetolians in the [war] against Antigonus

υἱον μεταποιησο(μενον) (των) (περι) την ἀσιαν πραγμ

his son having laid claim to the affairs of Asia

[20]   την γυναικα ἐζη οἱ ὑποκειμενοι π..ιδ..ς

his wife [he] was living, the underlying . . .

σος αὐτου ἐν τωι σαραπειωι ἐστηκεν σκευ

[a colossal statue] of him stood in the Sarapeium, [wonderfully] fashioned

αι δε ἰπι ἀρχοντος ἀθηνησιν εὐξεινου

[he died] when Euxeinus was archon at Athens


παμας..οι...αλειτο δε βερενικ

(?) of Apama . . . but (?) was called Berenice

φος πτολεμαιος γυναι(κα)

. . . Ptolemaeus     his wife

[25]   την ἐν συρια .

the [? woman] in Syria

ἠνμεθη μαχη

. . .   battle

ἐθηοι ἀγαθο

. . .   good




υτον ὁ πατηρ ζων ἐτι (μετα) το σελευκον ατι

his father, while he was still alive, after the [death] of Seleucus

[30]   ωδυν.... ἐπεμψεν εἰς ἀσιαν ἐπιθησαμ

sent this man to Asia attacking

ἐπρα..... ἀποθανοντος δε του πατ

. . . after the death of his father

λεν αὐτον .αἰτωλος θεοδοτος ἐν βαλαν

Theodotus the Aetolian [murdered] him in the bath

πτολεμαι. δεισας μη ὑπ' αὐτου κρατυνθ

Ptolemaeus, fearing that he might be overcome by him,

μετεποιειτο ἀνδραγαθημ

pretended a brave deed

[35]   . . .

7. ZENOBIUS, "Proverbs"

Zenobius, who lived in the 2nd century A.D., is the author of a collection of Greek proverbs. He sometimes included examples from history to illustrate the proverbs. The two extracts here refer to the murder of the mother and brother of Ptolemaeus IV Philopator, when he became king of Egypt (222/1 B.C.).

In the first example, Ptolemaeus seems to anticipating the behaviour of the emperor Nero towards his mother Agrippina ( Tac:Ann_14'3 ). The reference to Antigonus and Semele is puzzling; perhaps this is a very garbled reminiscence of how Antigonus I treated his rival Eumenes ( Plut:Eum_19 ). The context of the second example has been confirmed by the discovery of PHaun_6 ( lines 31-32, translated above ).

[3.94]   "The murderer is kind" ( εὔνους ὁ σφάκτης ) : this proverb is drawn from Orestes, as Homer ( Od_3'309 ) made clear; for after killing his mother, he held a funeral feast. It also applies to king Antigonus, who after killing Semele, very courteously sent her bones to her mother. It applies even more to Ptolemaeus Philopator: for he confined his mother Berenice in a chamber, and handed her over to Sosibius to guard. When she, not being able to endure the punishment, drank a deadly herb and died from drinking the poison, he was so troubled in his dreams by her death that in the middle of the city he built a memorial to her, which is now called the Tomb ( Sema ); and he placed the remains of her and all his ancestors in there, along with Alexander the Great; and on the sea-shore they constructed a shrine to her, which they called the shrine of Berenice who saves.

[4.92]   "May you bathe like Pelias" ( λούσαιο τὸν Πελίαν ) : this proverb is drawn from what happened to Pelias, who was put in a boiling cauldron by his daughters . . . Many other men have met misfortune while bathing. Theogus fatally scalded Magas, the brother of Philopator, in his bath, by pouring a cauldron of boiling water over him.

8. CASSIODORUS, "Chronica"

Cassiodorus wrote a brief chronicle of Roman history down to 519 A.D. These excerpts from it are sometimes included in the fragments of Livy. The numbers in red are dates AUC .

[515] L   C. Manlius { Mamilius } and Q.Valerius.   In the year of these consuls, a tragedy and comedy were first staged at the Ludi Romani by Lucius Livius.

[524] L   M. Aemilius and M. Junius.   In the year of these consuls, Hamilcar the father of Hannibal was killed in Spain while preparing for war with the Romans. He was accustomed to say that he was rearing his four sons like {lion} cubs against the Romans.

[534] L   L. Veturius and C. Lutatius.   In the year of these consuls, the Via Flaminia was paved and the so-called Circus Flaminius was constructed.

[596] L   M. Aemilius and C. Popillius.   In the year of these consuls, mines were established in Macedonia.

[601] L   Q. Fulvius and P. Annius.   These were the first consuls to enter office on the kalends of January, because of the sudden war in Celtiberia.

[619] L   Ser. Fulvius and Q. Calpurnius.   In the year of these consuls, Aemilianus Scipio was elected consul, although he was not a candidate, on account of the Numantine War.

[632] L   Cn. Domitius and C. Fannius.   In the year of these consuls, C. Sextius built a town, at the site of Aquae Sextiae, in Gaul.

[639] L   M. Metellus and M. Scaurus.   In the year of these consuls, the censors L. Metellus and Cn. Domitius removed all theatrical performances from the city {of Rome}, except for Latin flute-players accompanying a singer and Atellan plays.

[648] L   Q. Servilius and C. Atilius Serranus.   In the year of these consuls, at the instigation of the consul Servilius Caepio, juries were shared between the equites and the senators.

[658] L   Cn. Domitius and C. Cassius.   In the year of these consuls, Ptolemaeus the king of Egypt left the Roman people as his heir.

[670] L   L. Cinna (IV) and Cn. Papirius (II).   In the year of these consuls, Sulla organised Asia into 44 regions.

[671] L   L. Scipio and C. Norbanus.   In the year of these consuls, the Capitol was burnt down through the negligence of its guards.

[685] L   Q. Metellus and Q. Hortensius.   In the year of these consuls, the Capitol was restored and dedicated by Q. Catulus.

[693] L   M. Pupius and M. Valerius.   In the year of these consuls, Catilina was killed in a battle in the territory of Pistoria by C. Antonius.

[696] L   L. Piso and A. Gabinius.   In the year of these consuls, Cicero was forced into exile by a motion proposed by Clodius.

[697] L   P. Lentulus and Q. Metellus.   In the year of these consuls, on account of civil dissension, Cicero was recalled from exile by a resolution of the senate.

[705] L   L. Lentulus and C. Marcellus.   In the year of these consuls, dangerous disputes flared up in the senate-house between Pompeius and Caesar.

[707] L   Q. Fusius and P. Vaticanus.   In the year of these consuls, Caesar defeated Pompeius at the battle of Pharsalus. Pompeius fled to Egypt, where he was killed.

[709] L   C. Julius Caesar (IV) and Fabius Maximus.   In the year of these consuls, C. Julius Caesar celebrated a triumph throughout four days.

[710] L   C. Julius Caesar (V) and M. Antonius.   In the year of these consuls, M. Antonius placed a diadem on the head of Caesar, who was sitting on a golden throne at the Lupercalia, although Caesar refused it. On the Ides of March, Caesar was killed in the Curia Pompeia.

[711] L   C. Pansa and A. Hirtius.   In the year of these consuls, Caesar Octavianus, Antonius and Lepidus entered into a pact of alliance. M. Cicero was killed at Caieta by a soldier called Popilius, when he was 63 years old. Caesar Octavianus constructed the Forum of Augustus.

[717] L   M. Agrippa and L. Caninius.   In the year of these consuls, the Lucrine Lake was converted into a port.

[723] L   C. Caesar (II) and M. Messala.   In the year of these consuls, M. Antonius was defeated by Caesar at Actium.

[724] L   C. Caesar (III) and M. Crassus.   In the year of these consuls, Caesar constructed Nicopolis and established the Ludi Actiaci. Antonius was killed in battle at Alexandria by Caesar, and was buried in a mausoleum with Cleopatra.

[726] L   C. Caesar (V) and M. Agrippa (II.)   In the year of these consuls, the conflicts amongst the Parthians were settled by Caesar.

[727] L   C. Caesar (VI) and M. Agrippa (III).   Caesar published laws, appointed judges, organised the provinces, and therefore he was given the surname Augustus.

[729] L   C. Augustus Caesar (VIII) and M. Silanus.   In the year of these consuls, Caesar conquered the Cantabri, Germans, and Salassi.

[730] L   C. Augustus Caesar (IX) and C. Norbanus.   In the year of these consuls, the Astures and Cantabri were conquered by Lucius Lamia.

[734] L   M. Apuleius and P. Silius.   In the year of these consuls, Caesar recovered the eagles and standards of Crassus from the Parthians.

[735] L   C. Sentius and Q. Lucretius.   In the year of these consuls, a chariot with a crown of gold was decreed for Caesar on his return from the provinces; but he refused to ride on it.

[745] L   Drusus Nero and L. Quintius.   In the year of these consuls, Drusus consecrated a temple to Caesar in the territory of the tribe of Lingones.

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