back

Justinus: Epitome of Pompeius Trogus' Philippic Histories

    - books 37 to 39

Translated by Rev. J.S.Watson (1853). See key to translations for an explanation of the format.


← Previous books (31-36)

BOOK 37

[37.1]   L  After Aristonicus was taken prisoner, the people of Massilia sent ambassadors to Rome to intercede for the Phocaeans their friends, whose city and even name the senate had ordered to be destroyed, because, both at that time, and previously in the war against Antiochus, they had taken up arms against the Roman people. The embassy obtained from the senate a pardon for them. 2 Rewards were then bestowed on the princes who had given aid against Aristonicus; to Mithridates of Pontus was allotted Greater Phrygia; to the sons of Ariarathes, king of Cappadocia, who had fallen in that war, were assigned Lycaonia and Cilicia; 3 and the Roman people were more faithful to the sons of their ally, than their mother was to her children, since by the one the kingdom of the young princes was increased, by the other they were deprived of life. 4 For Laodice, out of six children, all boys, whom she had by king Ariarathes (fearing that, when some of them were grown up, she would not long enjoy the administration of the kingdom), killed five by poison; 5 but the care of their relatives rescued from the barbarous hands of their mother one infant, who, after the death of Laodice (for the people killed her for her cruelty), became sole king.

6 Mithridates also, being cut off by sudden death, left a son, who was likewise named Mithridates, 7 and whose greatness was afterwards such that he surpassed all kings, not only of his own but of preceding ages, in glory, and carried on war against the Romans, with various success, for forty-six years, 8 during which, though the most eminent generals, Sulla, Lucullus, and others, and at last, Cnaeus Pompeius, overcame him, yet it was only so that he rose greater and more glorious to renew the contest, and was rendered even more formidable by his defeats. 9 And he died at last, not from being overpowered by his enemies, but by a voluntary death, full of years and on the throne of his ancestors, and leaving his son his heir.

[37.2]   L  The future greatness of this prince even signs from heaven had foretold; 2 for in the year in which he was born, as well as in that in which he began to reign, a comet blazed forth with such splendour, for seventy successive days on each occasion, that the whole sky seemed to be on fire. 3 It covered a fourth part of the firmament with its train, and obscured the light of the sun with its effulgence; and in rising and setting it took up the space of four hours. 4 During his boyhood his life was attempted by plots on the part of his guardians, who, mounting him on a restive horse, forced him to ride and hurl the javelin; 5 but when these attempts failed, as his management of the horse was superior to his years, they tried to cut him off by poison. 6 He, however, being on his guard against such treachery, frequently took antidotes, and so fortified himself, by exquisite preventives, against their malice, that when he was an old man, and wished to die by poison, he was unable. 7 But dreading lest his enemies should effect that by the sword which they could not accomplish by drugs, he pretended a fancy for hunting, in the indulgence of which he never went under a roof, for seven years, either in the city or the country, 8 but rambled through the forests, and passed his nights in various places among the mountains, none knowing where he was. He accustomed himself to escape from the wild beasts, or pursue them, by speed of foot, 9 and by this means, while he avoided the plots laid for him, he inured himself to endure all manner of bodily exertion.

[37.3]   L  When he assumed the government of the kingdom, he turned his thoughts, not so much to the regulation of his dominions, as to the enlargement of them. 2 He in consequence subdued, with extraordinary success, the Scythians, who had previously been invincible, who had cut off Zopyrion, the general of Alexander the Great, with an army of thirty thousand men, who had massacred Cyrus, king of the Persians, with two hundred thousand, and who had routed Philippus, king of Macedonia. 3 Having thus increased his forces, he made himself master of Pontus, and afterwards of Cappadocia. 4 Fixing his thoughts on the conquest of Asia, he went privately, with some of his friends, out of his kingdom, and travelled through the whole of it without the knowledge of anyone, making himself acquainted with the situations of the towns and the nature of the country. 5 He next went into Bithynia, and, as if he were already master of Asia, took note of whatever might aid him in attempting the conquest of it. 6 He then returned into his country, when they had begun to suppose that he was dead, and found an infant son born to him, of whom his wife Laodice, who was also his sister, had been delivered in his absence. 7 But amidst the congratulations that he received on his arrival, and on the birth of his son, he was in danger of being poisoned; for his sister and wife Laodice, believing him dead, had yielded herself to the embraces of his friends, and, as if she could conceal the crime, of which she had been guilty, by a greater, prepared poison for him on his return. 8 Mithridates, however, having notice of her intention from a female servant, avenged the plot upon the heads of its contrivers.

[37.4]   L  When winter came on, he did not spend his time in feasts, but in the field, not in idleness, but in exercise, not among companions in licentiousness, but contending among his equals in age, either in riding, running, or trials of strength. 2 He inured his army also, by daily exercise, to endure fatigue equally with himself; and thus, while he was himself unconquerable, he rendered his army unconquerable likewise. 3 Entering then into an alliance with Nicomedes, he invaded Paphlagonia, and divided it, after it was conquered, among his allies. 4 But when information reached the senate that it was in possession of the two kings, they sent ambassadors to both, desiring that "the country should be restored to its former condition." 5 Mithridates, thinking himself now a match for the power of the Romans, haughtily replied, that "the kingdom had belonged to his father by inheritance, and that he wondered that a dispute, which had never been raised against his father, should be raised against himself;" 6 and, not at all alarmed by threats, he seized also on Galatia. 7 As for Nicomedes, he replied that "as he could not maintain that he had any right to the country, he would restore it to its legitimate sovereign;" 8 and, altering his son's name to Pylaemenes, the common name of the Paphlagonian kings, he assigned it to him; and thus, as if he had restored the throne to the royal line, he continued to occupy the country on this frivolous pretext. 9 The ambassadors, when they found themselves thus set at nought, returned to Rome.

BOOK 38

[38.1]   L  Mithridates having commenced his cruelties by killing his wife, resolved also on removing the sons of his other sister Laodice, (whose husband Ariarathes, king of Cappadocia, he had treacherously cut off by the agency of a certain Gordius,) thinking that nothing was gained by the death of the father, if the young princes should possess themselves of his throne, with a desire of which he himself was strongly inflamed. 2 As he was meditating on this scheme, Nicomedes, king of Bithynia, proceeded to occupy Cappadocia, while it was left defenceless by the death of its sovereign; 3 and Mithridates, on receiving intelligence of his movements, sent assistance to his sister, on pretence of affection for her, to enable her to drive Nicomedes out of Cappadocia. 4 But Laodice had already made a compact to marry Nicomedes; 5 and Mithridates, being indignant at this arrangement, expelled the garrisons of Nicomedes from Cappadocia, and restored the throne to his sister's son; an act of the highest merit, had no treachery followed it. 6 But some months after, he pretended that he wished to restore Gordius, whom he had used as his agent in the assassination of Ariarathes, to his country; hoping that, if the young man opposed his recall, he should have a pretext for war, or, that if he consented to it, the son might be taken off by the same instrument by which he had procured the death of the father. 7 When the young Ariarathes understood his intention, he expressed great indignation that the murderer of his father should be recalled from banishment, especially by his uncle, and assembled a great army. 8 Mithridates, after bringing into the field eighty thousand foot, ten thousand horse, and six hundred chariots armed with scythes, while Ariarathes, by the aid of the neighbouring princes, had no less a force), fearing the uncertain event of a battle, turned his thoughts to treachery, 9 and, inviting the young prince to a conference, and having, at the same time, a weapon concealed in his lower garments, he said to the searcher, who was sent by Ariarathes, after the manner of princes on such occasions, to examine his person, and who was feeling very carefully about his groin, that "he had better take care, lest he should find another sort of weapon than he was seeking." 10 Having thus covered his treachery with a joke, he killed his nephew, (after drawing him aside from his friends as if to confer with him secretly), in the sight of both armies, and bestowed the kingdom of Cappadocia on his own son, a child eight years old, giving him the name of Ariarathes, and appointing Gordius his guardian.

[38.2]   L  The Cappadocians, however, being harassed by the cruelty and licentiousness of their rulers, revolted from Mithridates, and sent for the brother of their king, who was also called Ariarathes, from Asia where he was being educated. 2 Upon this prince Mithridates again made war, defeated him, and drove him from Cappadocia; and not long after the young man died of a disease brought on by anxiety. 3 After his death, Nicomedes, fearing lest Mithridates, from having added Cappadocia to his dominions, should also seize upon Bithynia which was near it, instructed a youth, of extraordinary beauty, to apply for the throne of Bithynia from the senate, as having been his father's, pretending that Ariarathes had not had two sons only, but a third. 4 He sent his wife Laodice, also, to Rome, to testify that her husband had three children born to him. 5 Mithridates, when he heard of this contrivance, despatched Gordius, with equal effrontery, to Rome, to assure the senate that "the young prince, to whom he had assigned the throne of Cappadocia, was the son of that Ariarathes who had fallen in the war against Aristonicus when giving assistance to the Romans." 6 But the senate, perceiving the ambitious designs of the two kings, who were seizing the dominions of others on false pretences, took away Cappadocia from Mithridates, and, to console him, Paphlagonia from Nicomedes; 7 and that it might not prove an offence to the kings, that any thing should be taken from them and given to others, both people were offered their liberty. 8 But the Cappadocians declined the favour, saying that "their nation could not subsist without a king." Ariobarzanes was in consequence appointed their king by the senate.

[38.3]   L  The king of Armenia, at this time, was Tigranes, who had long before been committed as a hostage to the Parthians, but had subsequently been sent back to take possession of his father's throne. This prince Mithridates was extremely desirous to engage as an ally in the war, which he had long meditated, against the Romans. 2 By the agency of Gordius, accordingly, he prevailed upon him to make war, having not the least thought of offending the Romans by the act, on Ariobarzanes, a prince of inactive disposition; and, that no deceit might seem to be intended, gave him his daughter Cleopatra in marriage. 3 On the first approach of Tigranes, Ariobarzanes packed up his baggage and went off to Rome. Thus, through the instrumentality of Tigranes, Cappadocia was destined to fall again under the power of Mithridates. 4 Nicomedes, too, dying at the same time, his son, who was also named Nicomedes, was driven from his dominions by Mithridates, and, having gone as a suppliant to Rome, it was decreed by the senate that "both the kings should be restored to their thrones;" and Aquilius and Manlius Maltinus were commissioned to see the decree executed. 5 On being informed of this proceeding, Mithridates formed an alliance with Tigranes, with a resolution at once to go to war with the Romans; and they agreed that the cities and territory that should be taken from the enemy should be the share of Mithridates, and that the prisoners, and all booty that could be carried off, should belong to Tigranes. 6 In the next place, well understanding what a war be was provoking, he sent ambassadors to the Cimbri, the Gallograecians, the Sarmatians, and the Bastarnians, to request aid; 7 for all the time that he had been meditating war with the Romans, he had been gaining over all these nations by acts of kindness and liberality. He sent also for an army from Scythia, and armed the whole eastern world against the Romans. 8 Accordingly, without much difficulty, he defeated Aquilius and Maltinus, who had an army wholly composed of Asiatic troops, and having put them to flight, as well as Nicomedes, he was received with great joy by the various cities, 9 in which he found a great quantity of gold and silver, and vast warlike stores, laid up by the care of former princes. Taking possession of these, he remitted the cities all sorts of debts, public and private, and granted them an immunity from tribute for five years.

10 He then assembled his troops, and animated them, by various exhortations, to pursue the war with the Romans, or in Asia. 11 His speech, on this occasion, I have thought of such importance that I insert a copy of it in this brief work. Trogus Pompeius has given it in the oblique form, as he finds fault with Livius and Sallustius for having exceeded the proper limits of history, by inserting direct speeches in their works only to display their own eloquence.

[38.4]   L  "It were to be wished," he said, "that it were still in his power to deliberate whether he should choose peace or war with the Romans; 2 but that resistance should be offered against aggressors, not even those doubted who were without hope of victory; for all men draw the sword against robbers, if not to save their lives, at least to take revenge. 3 But since it was not now a question, when they had come to hostilities (not merely in intention but in the field of battle), they must consider in what manner, and with what hopes, they could continue the contest which they had commenced. 4 That he felt certain of victory, if they had but courage; and that the Romans might be conquered, was known, not more to himself than to his soldiers, who had routed both Aquilius in Bithynia and Maltinus in Cappadocia. 5 And if examples from other nations would weigh more with them than their own experience, he had heard that the Romans had been overthrown in three battles by Pyrrhus, when he had with him not more than five thousand Macedonians; 6 he had heard that Hannibal continued victorious in Italy for sixteen years, and that it was not the strength of the Romans, but the violence of his own countrymen's envy and jealousy, that prevented him from taking the city of Rome itself; 7 he had heard that the people of Transalpine Gaul had invaded Italy, and founded many great cities in it, and that the same Gauls had possessed themselves of a larger territory there than in Asia, though Asia was considered by no means a warlike country; 8 he had been informed that Rome was not only taken but conquered by the Gauls, the top of one hill only being left in possession of the inhabitants, and that the enemy was not made to retire by the sword, but by gold. 9 But that the power of the Gauls, which had always so much alarmed the Romans, he himself numbered among his own forces; for that these Gauls, who inhabited Asia, differed only in situation from the Gauls who had settled themselves in Italy; 10 that they had the same extraction, courage, and mode of fighting; and that, as to sagacity, the Asiatic Gauls must have more than the others, inasmuch as they had pursued a longer and more difficult march through Illyricum and Thrace, having traversed those territories with almost more labour than it had cost them to acquire those in which they settled. 11 That he had heard that Italy itself, since the time that Rome was built, had never been fairly brought under subjection to her, but that constantly, year after year, some of its people persisted in contending for liberty, and others for a share in the government; 12 and that, by many states of Italy, armies of the Romans had been cut off by the sword, and by others, with a new species of insult, sent under the yoke. 13 But that, not to dwell on past instances, all Italy, at the present time, was in arms in the Marsian war, demanding, not liberty, but a participation in the government and the rights of citizenship. 14 Nor was the city more grievously harassed by war from its neighbours in Italy, than by intestine broils among its leading men; and that a civil war, indeed, was much more dangerous to it than an Italian one. 15 At the same time, too, the Cimbri from Germany, many thousands of wild and savage people, had rushed upon Italy like a tempest; 16 and that in wars with such enemies, though the Romans might be able to resist them singly, yet by them all they must be overpowered; so that he thought they would even be too much occupied to make head against his attack.

[38.5]   L  "That they ought therefore to take advantage of the present circumstances, and seize the opportunity of increasing their power, lest, if they remained inactive while the Romans were occupied, they should hereafter find greater difficulty in contending with them, when they were quiet and unmolested. 2 For it was not a question whether they should take up arms or not, but whether they should do so at a time favourable to themselves or to their enemies. 3 That war, indeed, had been commenced against him by the Romans, when they took from him, in his minority, the Greater Phrygia, a country which they had granted his father as a recompence for the succours which he had afforded them in the war against Aristonicus, and which Seleucus Callinicus had given to his great-grandfather Mithridates, as a dowry with his daughter. 4 When they required him to quit Paphlagonia, too, was not that a renewal of hostility, a possession which had fallen to his father, not by conquest or force of arms, but by adoption in a will, and as an inheritance on the death of its own sovereigns. 5 That, under the severity of such decrees, he had not been able to soften them by compliance, or to prevent them from assuming harsher measures towards him every day. 6 For in what particular had he not submitted to their requisition? Had not Phrygia and Paphlagonia been given up? Had not his son been removed from Cappadocia, which he had gained, as a conqueror, by the common law of nations? 7 Yet his conquest had been forced from him by those who had nothing themselves but what they had got in war. 8 Was not Chrestus, king of Bithynia, on whom the senate had decreed that war should be made, killed by him for their gratification? Yet that whatever Gordius or Tigranes did, was imputed to him; 9 that liberty was readily granted by the senate to Cappadocia (liberty of which they deprived other nations), on purpose to affront him; and that when the people of Cappadocia, instead of the liberty offered them, begged to have Gordius for their king, they did not obtain their request merely because Gordius was his friend. 10 That Nicomedes had made war upon him by their direction; that when he was going to avenge himself, he was obstructed by them; and that their pretence for making war on him at present would be, that he had not given up his dominions to Nicomedes, the son of a public dancer, to be ravaged with impunity.

[38.6]   L  "That it was not the offences of kings, but their power and majesty, for which they attacked them and that they had not acted thus against himself alone, but against all other princes at all times. 2 That they had treated his grandfather Pharnaces in the same manner, who, by the arbitration of his relatives, was made successor to Eumenes king of Pergamum; 3 that Eumenes himself, again, in whose fleet they had for the first time been transported into Asia, and by whose army ,rather than their own, they had subdued both Antiochus the Great and the Gauls in Asia, and soon after king Perseus in Macedonia, 4 had been treated by them as an enemy, and had been forbidden to come into Italy, though they made war, which they thought it would be disgraceful to make upon himself, upon his son Aristonicus. No king's services were thought more important by them than those of Masinissa, king of Numidia; 5 to him it was ascribed that Hannibal was conquered; to him, that Syphax was made prisoner; to him, that Carthage was destroyed; he was ranked with the two Africani, as a third saviour of the city; 6 yet a war had lately been carried on with his grandson in Africa, so implacably, that they would not save the vanquished prince, for the sake of his grandfather's memory, from being cast into gaol, and led in triumph as a public spectacle. 7 That they had made it a law to themselves to hate all kings, because they themselves had had such kings at whose names they might well blush, being either shepherds of the Aborigines, or soothsayers of the Sabines; or exiles from the Corinthians, or servants and slaves of the Etruscans, or, what was the most honourable name amongst them, the proud; and as their founders, according to their report, were suckled by the teats of a wolf, 8 so the whole race had the disposition of wolves, being insatiable of blood and tyranny, and eager and hungry after riches.

[38.7]   L  "But as for himself, if he were compared with them as to respectability of descent, he was of more honourable origin than that mixed mass of settlers, counting his ancestors, on his father's side, from Cyrus and Darius, the founders of the Persian empire, and those on his mother's side from Alexander the Great and Seleucus Nicator, who established the Macedonian empire; or, if their people were compared with his own, he was at the head of nations, which were not merely a match for the power of Rome, but had withstood even that of Macedonia. 2 That none of the people under his command had ever endured a foreign yoke, or obeyed any rulers but their own native princes; for whether they looked on Cappadocia or Paphlagonia, Pontus or Bithynia, or the Greater and Lesser Armenia, they would find that neither Alexander, who subdued all Asia, nor any of his successors or posterity, had meddled with any one of those nations. 3 That as to Scythia, only two kings before him, Darius and Philippus, had ventured, not indeed to reduce it, but merely to enter it, and had with difficulty secured a retreat from it; yet that from that country he had procured a great part of his force to oppose the Romans. 4 That he had entered on the Pontic wars with much more timidity and diffidence, as he was then young and inexperienced. That the Scythians, in addition to their arms and courage, were defended by deserts and cold, by which was shown the great labour and danger of making war there, 5 while, amidst such hardships, there was not even hope of spoil from a wandering enemy, destitute, not only of money, but of settled habitations. 6 But that he was now entering upon a different sort of war; for there was no climate more temperate than that of Asia, nor any country more fertile or more attractive from the number of its cities; and that they would spend a great part of their time, not as in military service, but as at a festival, in a war of which it was hard to say whether it would be more easy or more gainful, as they themselves might feel assured, 7 if they had but heard of the late riches of the kingdom of Attalus, or the ancient opulence of Lydia and Ionia, which they were not going to acquire by conquest, but to take possession of; 8 while Asia so eagerly expected him, that it even invited him in words, so much had the rapacity of the proconsuls, the sales of the tax-gatherers, and the disgraceful mode of conducting law-suits, possessed the people with a hatred of the Romans. 9 That they had only to follow him bravely, and learn what so great an army might do under his conduct, whom they had seen seizing Cappadocia, after killing its king, not with the aid of any troops, but by his own personal effort, and who alone, of all mankind, had subdued all Pontus and Scythia, which no one before him could safely penetrate or approach. 10 As to his justice, and generosity, he was willing to take the soldiers themselves, who had experienced them, as witnesses to what they were; and he had those proofs to bring of the latter, that he alone, of all kings, possessed not only his father's dominions, but foreign kingdoms, acquired by inheritance through his liberality, namely, Colchis, Paphlagonia, and the Bosporus."

[38.8]   L  Having thus encouraged his troops, he entered upon the war with the Romans, twenty-three years after his accession to the throne.

2 In Egypt, meanwhile, on the death of Ptolemaeus, the throne, with the queen Cleopatra his sister in marriage, was offered by an embassy to the Ptolemaeus who was reigning at Cyrene. 3 Ptolemaeus, rejoiced at having recovered his brother's throne without a struggle (for which he knew that his brother's son was intended, both by his mother Cleopatra and the inclination of the nobles), but being incensed at all that had opposed his interests, ordered, as soon as he entered Alexandria, the partisans of the young prince to be put to death. 4 He also killed the youth himself on the day of his nuptials (when he took his mother to wife), amidst the splendour of feasts, the ceremonies of religion, and in the very embraces of his parent, and thus went to the couch of his sister stained with the blood of her child. 5 Nor was he afterwards more merciful to those of his subjects who had invited him to the throne, for license to use the sword being given to the foreign soldiers, all places daily ran with blood. He divorced his sister, too, offering violence to her daughter, a young maiden, and then taking her in marriage. 6 The people, terrified at these proceedings, fled to other countries, and became exiles from their native soil through fear of death. 7 Ptolemaeus, in consequence, being left alone with his soldiers in so large a city, and finding himself a king, not of men, but of empty houses, invited, by a proclamation, foreigners to become residents in it. 8 While people were flocking thither, he went out to meet some Roman commissioners, Scipio Africanus, Spurius Mummius, and Lucius Metellus, who had come to inspect the dominions of their allies. 9 But he appeared as ridiculous to the Romans as he was cruel to his own subjects; for he was disagreeable in countenance, short in stature, and, from his obesity, more like a beast than a man. 10 This deformity the extraordinary thinness of his apparel, which was even transparent, made more remarkable, just as if that was affectedly obtruded on the sight which by a modest man would have been most carefully concealed. 11 After the departure of the commissioners, (of whom Africanus, as he surveyed the city, was an object of interest to the Alexandrians), finding that he had become hateful even to the foreigners whom he had invited, he withdrew secretly, for fear of plots against his life, into voluntary exile, accompanied by a son that he had by his sister, and by his wife, her mother's rival, and, having collected an army of mercenaries, made war at once upon his sister and his country. 12 He next sent for his eldest son from Cyrene, and put him to death, when the people began to pull down his statues and images, 13 and he, imagining that this was done to please his sister, killed the son that he had by her, and contrived to have the body, divided into portions and arranged in a chest, presented to the mother at a feast on his birth-day. 14 This deed occasioned grief and sorrow, not only to the queen, but also to the whole city, and threw such a gloom over a banquet intended to be most joyous, that the whole palace was suddenly filled with mourning. 15 The attention of the nobility, in consequence, being turned from feasting to a funeral, they exhibited the mangled limbs to the people, and let them see, by the murder of his son, what they were to expect from their king.

[38.9]   L  Cleopatra, when the mourning for the loss of her son was over, finding herself pressed by war on the part of her brother, sent ambassadors to request aid from Demetrius king of Syria, a prince whose changes of fortune had been numerous and remarkable. 2 After making war, as has been said above, upon the Parthians, and gaining the victory in several battles, he was suddenly surprised by an ambuscade, and, having lost his army, was taken prisoner. 3 Arsacides, king of the Parthians, having sent him into Hyrcania, not only paid him, with royal magnanimity, the respect due to a prince, but gave him his daughter also in marriage, and promised to recover for him the throne of Syria, which Trypho had usurped in his absence. 4 After the death of this king, Demetrius, despairing of being allowed to return, being unable to endure captivity, and weary of a private, though splendid, life, secretly planned a mode of escaping to his own country. 5 His counsellor and companion in the scheme was his friend Callimander, who, after Demetrius was taken prisoner, had come in a Parthian dress from Syria, with some guides that he had hired, through the deserts of Arabia to Babylon. 6 But Phraates, who had succeeded Arsacides, brought him back, for he was overtaken in his flight by the speed of a party of horse sent after him by a shorter road. 7 When he was brought to the king, not only pardon, but a testimony of esteem for his fidelity, was given to Callimander, but as for Demetrius, he sent him back, after having severely reproached him, into Hyrcania to his wife, and directed that he should be kept in stricter confinement than before. 8 Some time after, when children that were born to him had caused him to be more trusted, he again attempted flight, with the same friend as his attendant, but was overtaken with equal ill-fortune, near the borders of his dominions, and being again brought to the king, was ordered out of his sight, as a person whom he could not endure to see. 9 But being then also spared, for the sake of his wife and children, he was remanded into Hyrcania, the country of his punishment, and presented with golden dice, as a reproach for his childish levity. 10 But it was not compassion, or respect for ties of blood, that was the cause of this extraordinary clemency of the Parthians toward Demetrius; the reason was, that they had some designs on the kingdom of Syria, and intended to make use of Demetrius against his brother Antiochus, as circumstances, the course of time, or the fortune of war, might require.

[38.10] Antiochus, having heard of their designs, and thinking it proper to be first in the field, led forth an army, which he had inured to service by many wars with his neighbours, against the Parthians. 2 But his preparations for luxury were not less than those for war, for three hundred thousand camp followers, of whom the greater number were cooks, bakers, and stage-players, attended on eighty thousand armed men. 3 Of silver and gold, it is certain, there was such an abundance, that the common soldiers fastened their buskins with gold, and trod upon the metal for the love of which nations contend with the sword. 4 Their cooking instruments, too, were of silver, as if they were going to a banquet, not to a field of battle. 5 Many kings of the east met Antiochus on his march, offering him themselves and their kingdoms, and expressing the greatest detestation of Parthian pride. Nor was there any delay in coming to an engagement. 6 Antiochus, being victorious in three battles, and having got possession of Babylon, began to be thought a great man. All the neighbouring people, in consequence, joining him, nothing was left to the Parthians but their own country. 7 It was then that Phraates sent Demetrius into Syria, with a body of Parthians, to seize the throne, so that Antiochus might be recalled from Parthia to secure his own dominions. In the meantime, since he could not overthrow Antiochus by open force, he made attempts upon him everywhere by stratagem. 8 On account of the number of his forces, Antiochus had distributed his army, in winter quarters, through several cities; and this dispersion was the cause of his ruin; for the cities, finding themselves harassed by having to furnish supplies, and by the depredations of the soldiers, revolted to the Parthians, and, on an appointed day, conspired to fall upon the army divided among them, so that the several divisions might not be able to assist each other. 9 News of the attack being brought to Antiochus, he hastened with that body of troops which he had in winter quarters with him, to succour the others that lay nearest. On his way he was met by the king of the Parthians, with whom he himself fought more bravely than his troops; 10 but at last, as the enemy had the superiority in valour, he was deserted, through fear on the part of his men, and killed. Phraates had funeral rites performed for him as a king, and married the daughter of Demetrius, whom Antiochus had brought with him, and of whom he had become enamoured. 11 He then began to regret having sent away Demetrius, and hastily despatched some troops of horse to fetch him back; but they found that prince, who had been in fear of pursuit, already seated on his throne, and, after doing all they could to no purpose, returned to their king.

BOOK 39

[39.1]   L  After Antiochus and his army were cut off in Persia, his brother Demetrius, being delivered from confinement among the Parthians, and restored to his throne, resolved, while all Syria was mourning for the loss of the army, to make war upon Egypt, 2 (just as if his and his brother's wars with the Parthians, in which one was taken prisoner and the other killed, had had a fortunate termination), Cleopatra his mother-in-law promising him the kingdom of Egypt, as a recompence for the assistance that he should afford her against her brother. 3 But, as is often the case, while he was grasping at what belonged to others, he lost his own by a rebellion in Syria; for the people of Antioch, in the first place, under the leadership of Trypho, and from detestation of the pride of their king (which, from his intercourse with the unfeeling Parthians, had become intolerable), and afterwards the Apamenians and other people, following their example, revolted from Demetrius in his absence. 4 Ptolemaeus, king of Egypt, too, who was threatened with a war by him, having learned that his sister Cleopatra had put much of the wealth of Egypt on ship-board, and fled into Syria to her daughter and son-in-law Demetrius, sent an Egyptian youth, the son of a merchant named Protarchus, to claim the throne of Syria by force of arms, 5 having forged a story, that he had been admitted into the family of King Antiochus by adoption, and the Syrians, at the same time, refusing no man for their king, if they might but be freed from the insolence of Demetrius. The name of Alexander was given to the youth, and great succours were sent him from Egypt. 6 Meanwhile the body of Antiochus, who had been killed by the king of the Parthians, arrived in Syria, being sent back in a silver coffin for burial, and was received with great respect by the different cities as well as by the new king, Alexander, in order to secure credit to the fiction. This show of affection procured him extraordinary regard from the people, every one supposing his tears not counterfeit but real. 7 Demetrius being defeated by Alexander and overwhelmed by misfortunes surrounding him on every side, was at last forsaken even by his wife and children. 8 Being left, accordingly, with only a few slaves, and setting sail for Tyre, to shelter himself in the sanctuary of a temple there, he was killed, as he was leaving the ship, by order of the governor of the city. 9 One of his sons, Seleucus, for having assumed the diadem without his mother's consent, was put to death by her; the other who, from the size of his nose was named Grypus, was made king by his mother so far at least that the regal name should belong to him, while all the power of sovereignty was to remain with herself.

[39.2]   L  But Alexander, having secured the throne of Syria and being puffed up with success, began, with insolent haughtiness to show disrespect even to Ptolemaeus himself, by whom he had been artfully advanced to royal dignity. 2 Ptolemaeus, in consequence, effecting a reconciliation with his sister, prepared, with his utmost effort to overthrow that power which, from hatred to Demetrius he had procured for Alexander by supplying him with troops. 3 He therefore sent a large force to the aid of Grypus and his daughter Tryphaena to marry him, that he might induce the people to support his nephew, not only by sharing in the war with him, but by contracting with him this affinity. 4 Nor were his endeavours without effect; for when the people saw Grypus upheld by the strength of Egypt, they began by degree to fall away from Alexander. 5 A battle then took place between the kings, in which Alexander was defeated, and fled to Antioch. Here, being without money, and pay being wanted for his soldiers, he ordered a statue of Victory of solid gold, which was in the temple of Jupiter, to be removed, palliating the sacrilege with jests, and saying that "Victory was lent him by Jupiter." 6 Some days after, having ordered a golden statue of Jupiter himself, of great weight, to be taken away secretly, and being caught in the sacrilegious act, he was forced to flee by a rising of the people, and being overtaken by a violent storm, and deserted by his men, he fell into the hands of robbers, and being brought before Grypus, was put to death.

7 Grypus, having thus recovered his father's throne, and being freed from foreign perils, found his life endangered by a plot of his own mother; who, after betraying, from desire of power, her husband Demetrius, and putting to death her other son, was discontented at her dignity being eclipsed by the victory of Grypus, and presented him with a cup of poison as he was returning home from taking exercise. 8 But Grypus, having received notice of her treacherous intention, desired her (as if to show as much respect for his mother as she showed for him) to drink herself first, and, when she refused, pressed her earnestly, and at last, producing his informant, charged her with the fact, telling her, "that the only way left to clear herself from guilt, was, that she should drink what she had offered to her son." The queen, being thus disconcerted, and her wickedness turned upon herself, was killed with the poison which she had prepared for another. 9 Grypus, accordingly, having securely established his throne, had peace himself, and secured it for his people, for eight years. 10 At the end of that time a rival for the throne arose, named Cyzicenus, a brother of his own by the same mother, and son of his uncle Antiochus. Grypus having tried to take him off by poison, provoked him the sooner to contend for the throne with him by force of arms.

[39.3]   L  During these unnatural contentions in the kingdom of Syria, Ptolemaeus, king of Egypt, died, leaving the kingdom of Egypt to his wife, and one of her two sons, whichsoever she herself should choose; as if the condition of Egypt would be more quiet than that of Syria had been, when the mother, by electing one of her sons, would make the other her enemy. 2 Though she was more inclined to fix on the younger of her sons, the people obliged her to nominate the elder, from whom, however, before she gave him the throne, she took away his wife, compelling him to divorce his sister Cleopatra, whom he very much loved, and requiring him to marry his younger sister Selene; a determination as to her daughters not at all becoming a mother, as she took a husband from one, and gave him to the other. 3 But Cleopatra being not so much divorced by her husband, as torn from her husband by her mother, married Cyzicenus in Syria, and that she might not bring him the mere name of a wife, carried over to him, as a dowry, the army of Grypus, which she had induced to desert. 4 Cyzicenus, thinking himself thus a match for the power of his brother, gave him battle, but was defeated and put to flight, and sought refuge in Antioch. 5 Grypus then proceeded to besiege Antioch, in which Cleopatra, the wife of Cyzicenus, was; and, when he had taken it, Tryphaena, the wife of Grypus, desired that nothing should be searched for before his sister Cleopatra, not that she might relieve her in her captivity, but that she might not escape the sufferings of captivity; since she had invaded the kingdom chiefly from envy towards her, and by marrying the enemy of her sister had made herself her enemy. 6 She also charged her with bringing a foreign army to decide the disputes between the brothers; and with having married out of Egypt, when she was divorced from her brother, contrary to the will of her mother. 7 Grypus, on the other hand, besought her, that "he might not be driven to commit so heinous a crime;" saying, that "by none of his forefathers, in the course of so many civil and foreign wars, had cruelties after victory been inflicted upon women, whom their sex itself protected from the perils of war and from ill-treatment on the part of the conquerors; 8 and that in her case, besides the common practice of people at war, there was added the closest tie of blood, for she was the full sister of her who would treat her so cruelly, his own cousin, and aunt to their children." 9 In addition to these obligations of relationship, he mentioned also the superstitious regard paid to the temple in which she had taken refuge, observing that "the gods were so much the more religiously to be revered by him, as he had been the better enabled to conquer by their favour and protection; and that neither by killing her would he diminish the strength of Cyzicenus, nor increase it by restoring her to him." 10 But the more Grypus held back, the more was Tryphaena excited with a womanish pertinacity, fancying that her husband's observations proceeded not from pity but from love. Summoning some soldiers herself, therefore, she despatched a party to kill her sister. 11 They, going into the temple, and not being able to drag her away, cut off her hands while she was embracing the statue of the goddess. Soon after Cleopatra expired, uttering imprecations on her unnatural murderers, and commending the avenging of her fate to the outraged deities. 12 And not long after, another battle being fought, Cyzicenus, being victorious, took Tryphaena, the wife of Grypus, who had just before killed her sister, prisoner, and by putting her to death made atonement to the manes of his wife.

[39.4]   L  In Egypt, Cleopatra, being dissatisfied at having her son Ptolemaeus to share her throne, excited the people against him, and taking from him his wife Selene (the more ignominiously, as he had now two children by her), obliged him to go into exile, sending, at the same time, for her younger son Alexander, and making him king in his brother's room. 2 Nor was she content with driving her son from the throne, but pursued him with her arms while he was living in exile in Cyprus. After forcing him from thence, she put to death the general of her troops, because he had let him escape from his hands alive; though Ptolemaeus, indeed, had left the island from being ashamed to maintain a war against his mother, and not as being inferior to her in forces.

3 Alexander, alarmed at such cruelty on the part of his mother, deserted her also himself, preferring a life of quiet and security to royal dignity surrounded with danger; 4 while Cleopatra, fearing lest her elder son Ptolemaeus should be assisted by Cyzicenus to re-establish himself in Egypt, sent powerful succours to Grypus, and with them Selene, Ptolemaeus' wife, to marry the enemy of her former husband. 5 To her son Alexander she sent messengers to recall him to his country; but while, by secret treachery, she was plotting his destruction, she was anticipated by him and put to death, perishing, not by the course of nature, but by the hand of her son, 6 and having, indeed, well deserved so infamous an end, since she had driven her mother from the bed of her father, had made her two daughters widows by alternate marriages with their brothers, had made war upon one of her sons after sending him into exile, and plotted against the life of the other after depriving him of his throne.

[39.5]   L  Neither did so unnatural a murder, on the part of Alexander, go unpunished; for as soon as it was known that the mother had been killed by the wickedness of her son, he was driven, by an insurrection of the people, into banishment, and the crown was restored to Ptolemaeus, who was recalled, because he had refused to make war against his mother, and to take from his brother by force of arms what he himself had previously possessed. 2 During the course of these proceedings, his natural brother, to whom his father had left the kingdom of Cyrene by will, died, appointing the Roman people his heir; 3 for the fortune of Rome, not content with the limits of Italy, had now begun to extend itself to the kingdoms of the east. Thus that part of Africa became a province of the Roman empire; and soon afterwards Crete and Cilicia, being subdued in the war against the pirates, were likewise made provinces. 4 In consequence, the kingdoms of Syria and Egypt, which had been accustomed to aggrandize themselves by wars with their neighbours, being now confined by the vicinity of the Romans, and deprived of all opportunity of extending their frontiers, employed their strength to the injury of one another, 5 so that, being exhausted by continual battles, they fell into contempt with their neighbours, and became a prey to the people of Arabia, a nation previously regarded as unwarlike. 6 Their king Erotimus, relying on his seven hundred sons, whom he had had by his concubines, and dividing his forces, infested at one time Egypt, and another Syria, and procured a great name for the Arabians, by exhausting the strength of their neighbours.

Following books (40-44) →




Attalus' home page   |   27.02.14   |   Any comments?