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Title: History of Egypt From 330 B.C. To the Present Time, Volume 10 (of 12)
Author: Rappoport, S.
Language: English
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*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "History of Egypt From 330 B.C. To the Present Time, Volume 10 (of 12)" ***

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From 330 B.C. to the Present Time

By S. RAPPOPORT, Doctor of Philosophy, Basel; Member of the Ecole
Langues Orientales, Paris; Russian, German, French Orientalist and


Containing over Twelve Hundred Colored Plates and Illustrations



[Illustration: Spines]

[Illustration: Cover]

[Illustration: Frontispiece]


[Illustration: Titlepage]


Professor Maspero closes his History of Egypt with the conquest of
Alexander the Great. There is a sense of dramatic fitness in this
selection, for, with the coming of the Macedonians, the sceptre of
authority passed for ever out of the hand of the Egyptian. For several
centuries the power of the race had been declining, and foreign nations
had contended for the vast treasure-house of Egypt. Alexander found the
Persians virtually rulers of the land. The ancient people whose fame
has come down to us through centuries untarnished had been forced to
bow beneath the yoke of foreign masters, and nations of alien blood were
henceforth to dominate its history.

The first Ptolemy founded a Macedonian or Greek dynasty that maintained
supremacy in Egypt until the year 30 B.C. His successors were his lineal
descendants, and to the very last they prided themselves on their
Greek origin; but the government which they established was essentially
Oriental in character. The names of Ptolemy and Cleopatra convey an
Egyptian rather than a Greek significance; and the later rulers of
the dynasty were true Egyptians, since their ancestors had lived in
Alexandria for three full centuries.

In the year 30 B.C. Augustus Cæsar conquered the last of the Ptolemies,
the famous Cleopatra. Augustus made Egypt virtually his private
province, and drew from it resources that were among the chief elements
of his power. After Augustus, the Romans continued in control until
the coming of the Saracens under Amr, in the seventh century. Various
dynasties of Mohammedans, covering a period of several centuries,
maintained control until the Mamluks, in 1250, overthrew the legitimate
rulers, to be themselves overthrown three centuries later by the Turks
under Selim I. Turkish rule was maintained until near the close of the
eighteenth century, when the French, under Napoleon Bonaparte, invaded
Egypt. In 1806, after the expulsion of the French by the English, the
famous Mehemet Ali destroyed the last vestiges of Mamluk power, and set
up a quasi-independent sovereignty which was not disturbed until toward
the close of the nineteenth century. The events of the last twenty-five
years, comprising a short period of joint control of Egypt by the French
and English, followed by the British occupation, are fresh in the mind
of the reader.

What may be termed the modern history of Egypt covers a period of more
than twenty-two centuries. During this time the native Egyptian can
scarcely be said to have a national history, but the land of Egypt, and
the races who have become acclimated there, have passed through many
interesting phases. Professor Maspero completes the history of antiquity
in that dramatic scene in which the ancient Egyptian makes his last
futile struggle for independence. But the Nile Valley has remained the
scene of the most important events where the strongest nations of the
earth contended for supremacy. It is most interesting to note that
the invaders of Egypt, while impressing their military stamp upon the
natives, have been mastered in a very real sense by the spell of
Egypt's greatness; but the language, the key to ancient learning and
civilisation, still remained a well-guarded secret. Here and there one
of the Ptolemies or Greeks thought it worth his while to master the
hieroglyphic writing. Occasionally a Roman of the later period may have
done the same, but such an accomplishment was no doubt very unusual from
the first. The subordinated Egyptians therefore had no resource but to
learn the language of their conquerors, and presently it came to pass
that not even the native Egyptian remembered the elusive secrets of
his own written language. Egyptian, as a spoken tongue, remained, in
a modified form, as Koptic, but at about the beginning of our era the
classical Egyptian had become a dead language. No one any longer wrote
in the hieroglyphic, hieratic, or demotic scripts; in a word, the
hieroglyphic writing was forgotten. The reader of Professor Maspero's
pages has had opportunity to learn how this secret was discovered in the
nineteenth century. This information is further amplified in the present
volumes, and we see how in our own time the native Egyptian has regained
something of his former grandeur through the careful and scientific
study of monuments, inscriptions, and works of art. Thus it will appear
in the curious rounding out of the enigmatic story that the most ancient
history of civilisation becomes also the newest and most modern human


It should be explained that Doctor Rappoport, in preparing these
volumes, has drawn very largely upon the authorities who have previously
laboured in the same field, and in particular upon the works of Creasy,
Duruy, Ebers, Lavisse, Marcel, Michaud, Neibuhr, Paton, Ram-baud, Sharp,
and Weil. The results of investigations by Professor W. M. Flinders
Petrie and other prominent Egyptologists have been fully set forth and
profusely illustrated.

[Illustration: 001.jpg PAGE IMAGE]

[Illustration: 002.jpg PAGE IMAGE]



_Alexander the Great in Egypt--Alexandria founded--The Greeks favour
the Jews--Ptolemy Soter establishes himself in Egypt and overcomes
Perdiccas--Struggles for Syria--Beginning of Egyptian coinage--Art and
Scholarship--Ptolemy resigns in favour of his son Philadelphus
--First treaty with Rome--Building of the Pharos--Growth of
Commerce--Encouragement of Learning--The library of Alexandria--Euclid
the geometer--Poets, astronomers, historians, and critics--The
Septuagint--Marriage of Philadelphus to his sister Arsinoë--Ptolemy
Euergetes plunders Asia--Egyptian temples enlarged--Religious
tolerance--Annual tribute of the Jews--Eratosthenes the
astronomer--Philosophy and Science--Culmination of Ptolemaic rule--The
dynasty declines under Philopator--Syrians invade Egypt; Philopator
retaliates; visits Jerusalem--The Jews persecuted--The king's
follies--Riots at Alexandria--Inglorious end of Philopator--The
young Ptolemy Epiphanes protected by Rome--Military revolt
suppressed--Coronation of Epiphanes--The Rosetta Stone--Marriage of
Epiphanes and Cleopatra, daughter of Antiochus the Cheat--A second
rebellion repressed--Accession of Ptolemy Philometer under
the guardianship of Cleopatra--Antiochus Epiphanes defeats
Philometer--Euergetes seizes the throne and appeals to Rome--Antiochus
supports Philometor against his brother Euergetes--The brothers combine
against Antiochus--Fraternal rivalry--Philometer appeals to the Romans
who adjust the quarrel--Philometer arbitrates in a dispute between
the Jews and the Samaritans--New temples built--Egyptian
asceticism--Philometer's death; Euergetes reigns alone, and divorces
his queen Cleopatra--Popular tumult in Alexandria--Euergetes
flees--Cleopatra in power--Euergetes regains the throne; conquers
Syria and makes peace with Cleopatra--The reign of Cleopatra Cocce with
Lathyrus (Ptolemy Soter II.)--Cleopatra in the ascendent--She helps
the Jews, while Lathyrus helps the Samaritans--Lathyrus flees to
Cyprus--Ptolemy Alexander I rules with Cleopatra--Death of Alexander
and restoration of Lathyrus--Accession of Cleopatra Berenicê--Ptolemy
Alexander II. bequeaths Egypt to Rome, murders Berenicê, and is slain
by his guards--Auletes succeeds--The Romans claim Egypt--Pompey assists
Auletes who is expelled by the Egyptians--Cleopatra Tryphama and
Berenicê placed on the throne--Grabinius and Mark Antony march
into Egypt and restore Auletes--The reign of Cleopatra--Pompey made
governor--The Egyptian fleet aids Pompey--Pompey is slain--Cæsar
besieged by the Alexandrians--He overcomes opposition, is captivated
by Cleopatra and establishes her authority--The Queen's
extravagance--Defeat of Antony--Death of Cleopatra--Octavianus annexes




When Alexander the Great bridged the gulf dividing Occident and Orient,
the Greeks had attained to a state of maturity in the development of
their national art and literature. Greek culture and civilisation,
passing beyond the boundaries of their national domain, crossed this
bridge and spread over the Asiatic world. To perpetuate his name, the
great Macedonian king founded a city, and selected for this purpose,
with extraordinary prescience, a spot on the banks of the Nile, which,
on account of its geographical position, was destined to become a
centre, not only of international commerce and an entrepôt between Asia
and Europe, but also a centre of intellectual culture. The policy of
Alexander to remove the barriers between the Greeks and the Asiatics,
and to pave the way for the union of the races of his vast empire, was
continued by the Lagidæ dynasty in Egypt. With her independence and
native dynasties, Egypt had also lost her political strength and unity;
she retained, however, her ancient institutions, her customs, and
religious system. The sway of Persian dominion had passed over her
without overthrowing this huge rock of sacerdotal power which, deeply
rooted with many ramifications, seemed to mock the wave of time. Out
of the ruins of political independence still towered the monuments
of civilisation of a mighty past which gave to this country moral
independence, and prevented the obliteration of nationality. It would
have mattered very little in the vast empire of Alexander if one
province had a special physiognomy. It was different, however, with the
Lagidæ: their power was concentrated in Egypt, and they were therefore
compelled to obliterate the separation existing between the conquering
and the conquered races, and fuse them, if possible, into one. A
great obstacle which confronted the Macedonian rulers in Egypt was
the religion of the country. The interest and the policy of the Lagidæ
demanded the removal of this obstacle, not by force but by diplomacy.
Greek gods were therefore identified with Egyptian; Phtah became
Hephæstos; Thot, Hermes; Ra, Helios; Amon, Zeus; and, in consequence of
a dream which commanded him to offer adoration to a foreign god, Ptolemy
Soter created a new Greek god who was of Egyptian origin. Osiris at that
period was the great god of Egypt; Memphis was the religious centre of
the cult of Apis, the representative of Osiris, and who, when living,
was called Apis-Osiris, and when dead Osiris-Apis. Cambyses had killed
the god or his representative: it was a bad move. Alexander made
sacrifices to him: Ptolemy Soter did more. He endeavoured to persuade
the Egyptians that Osirapi or Osiris-Apis was also sacred to the Greeks,
and to identify him with some Greek divinity. There was a Greek deity
known as Serapis, identified with Pluton, the god of Hades. Serapis,
by a clever manouvre, a _coup de religion_, was identified with
Osiris-Apis. The lingual similarity and the fact that Osirapi was the
god of the Egyptian Hades made the identification acceptable.

Like true Greek princes, the Ptolemies had broad views and were very
tolerant. Keeping the Greek religion themselves, they were favourably
disposed towards the creeds of other nationalities under their
dominion. Thanks to this broad-mindedness and tolerance which had
become traditional in the Lagidas family, and which has only rarely been
imitated--to the detriment of civilisation--in the history of European
dynasties, Oriental and Hellenic culture could flourish side by side.
This benign government attracted many scholars, scientists, poets,
and philosophers. Alexandria became the intellectual metropolis of the
world; and it might truly be said to have been the Paris of antiquity.
At the courts of the Ptolemies, the Medicis of Egypt, the greatest
men of the age lived and taught. Demetrius Phalerius, one of the most
learned and cultured men of an age of learning and knowledge, when
driven from his luxurious palace at Athens, found hospitality at the
court of Ptolemy Soter. The foundation of the famous Museion and
library of Alexandria was most probably due to his influence. He
advised the first Ptolemy to found a building where poets, scholars, and
philosophers would have facilities for study, research, and speculation.
The Museion was similar in some respects to the Academy of Plato. It
was an edifice where scholars lived and worked together. Mental
qualification was the only requirement for admission. Nationality and
creed were no obstacles to those whose learning rendered them worthy of
becoming members of this ideal academy and of being received among the
immortals of antiquity. The Museion was in no sense a university, but an
academy for the cultivation of the higher branches of learning. It might
be compared in some respects to the College de France, or regarded as
a development of the system under which scholars had already lived and
worked together in the Ramesseum under Ramses II. The generosity of the
Lagidas provided amply for this new centre of learning and study. Free
from worldly cares, the scholars could leisurely gather information and
hand down to posterity the fruits of their researches. From all parts
of the world men flocked to this centre of fashionable learning, the
birthplace of modern science. All that was brilliant and cultured,
all the coryphées in the domain of intellect, were attracted by that
splendid court.

In the shade of the Museion a brilliant assembly--Ptolemy, Euclid,
Hipparchus, Apollonius, and Eratosthenes--made great discoveries and
added materially to the sum of human knowledge. Here Euclid wrote
his immortal "Elements;" and Herophilos, the father of surgery, added
valuable information to the knowledge of anatomy. The art and process
of embalming, in such vogue among the Egyptians, naturally fostered the
advance of this science. Whilst Alexandria in abstract speculation could
not rival Greece, yet it became the home of the pioneers of positive
science, who left a great and priceless legacy to modern civilisation.
The importance of this event (the foundation of the Museion), says
Draper, in his _Intellectual Development of Europe_, though hitherto
little understood, admits of no exaggeration so far as the intellectual
progress of Europe is concerned. The Museum made an impression upon the
intellectual career of Europe so powerful and enduring that we still
enjoy its results. If the purely literary productions of that age have
sometimes been looked upon with contempt, European intellectual
culture is still greatly indebted to Alexandria, and especially for the
patronage she accorded to the works of Aristotle. Whilst the speculative
mind was in later centuries allured by the supernatural, and the
discussion of the criterion of truth and the principles of morality
ended in the mystic doctrines of Neo-Platonism, the practical
tendencies of the great Alexandrine scholars were instrumental in laying
the foundations of science. To the Museion were attached the libraries:
one in the Museion itself, and another in the quarter Rhacotis in the
temple of Serapis, which contained about 700,000 volumes. New books were
continually acquired. The librarians had orders to pay any sum for the
original of the works of great masters. The Ptolemies were not only
patrons of learning but were themselves highly educated. Ptolemy Soter
was an historian of no mean talent, and his son Philadelphus, as a pupil
of the poet Philetas and the philosopher Strabo, was a man of great
learning. Ptolemy III. was a mathematician, and Ptolemy Philopator,
who had erected and dedicated a temple to Homer, was the writer of a
tragedy. The efforts of the Ptolemies to bring the two nationalities,
Hellenic and Egyptian, nearer to each other, to mould and weld them
into one if possible, to mix and mingle the two civilisations and thus
strengthen their own power, was greatly aided by the national character
of the Greeks and the political position of the Egyptians.

The Greeks found in Egypt a national culture and especially a religious
system. The pliant Hellenic genius could not remain insensible to that
ancient and marvellous civilisation with its sphinxes and hieroglyphics,
its pyramids and temples, its learning and thought, so strangely
perplexing and interesting to the Greek mind. Not only the magnificence
of Egyptian art, the majesty of her temples and palaces, but the wisdom
of her social and political institutions impressed the conquerors. They
made themselves acquainted with the institutions of the country; they
studied its history and took an interest in its religion and mythology.
Similarly, the conquered Egyptians, who had preferred the Macedonian
ruler to their Persian oppressors, exhibited a natural desire to learn
the languages and habits of their rulers, to make themselves acquainted
with their knowledge and phases of thought, and art and science. The
interest of the Greeks was strengthened by this, and the Egyptians were
made to see their history in its proper light. To this endeavour we owe
the history of Manetho. But, in spite of the policy of the Ptolemies,
the impressionable nature of the Hellenic character and the interest of
the Egyptians,--in spite of all that tended to a fusion of Hellenism and
Orientalism, it never came to a proper amalgamation. The contradiction
between the free-thought philosophy of Greece, which was fast outgrowing
its polytheism and Olympian worship, and the deeply rooted sacerdotal
system of the Pharaonian institutions, was too great and too flagrant.
Thus there never was an Egypto-Hellenic phase of thought. But there was
another civilisation of great antiquity, possessing peculiar features,
not less interesting for the Greek mind than that of Egypt itself, with
which Hellenism found itself face to face in the ancient land of the
Pharaohs. It was the civilisation of Judæa, between which and Greek
thought a greater fusion was effected.


From time immemorial the Hebrew race, with all its conservative
tendencies in religious matters, has been amenable to the influence
of foreign culture and civilian. Egypt and Phoenicia, Babylonia and
Assyria, Hellas and Rome have exercised an immense influence over it.
It still is and always has been endeavouring to bring into harmony
the exclusiveness of its national religion, with a desire to adopt the
habits culture, language, and manners of its neighbours; an attempt in
which it may be apparently successful, for a certain period at least,
but which must always have a tragic end. It is impossible to be
conservative and progressive at the same time, to be both national and
cosmopolitan. The attempts to reconcile religious formalism and free
reasoning have never succeeded in the history of human thought. It soon
led to the conviction that one factor must be sacrificed, and, as soon
as this was perceived, the party of zealots was quickly at hand to
preach reaction. In the times of the successors of Alexander, the
Diadochæ and Epigones, the Seleucidæ and the Lagidæ, who had divided the
vast dominion among them, Greek influence had spread all over Palestine.
Greek towns were founded, theatres and gymnasia established; Greek
art was admired and her philosophy studied. The Hellenic movement was
paramount, and the aristocratic families did their best to further it.
Even the high priests, like Jason and Menelaos, who were supposed to be
the guardians of the national exclusive movement, favoured Greek culture
and institutions.

In the mother country, however, the germ of reaction was always very
strong. A constant opposition was directed against the influx of
foreign modes of life and thought, which effaced and obliterated the
intellectual movement. It was different, however, in the other countries
of Macedonian dominion, and especially in Egypt. Alexander the Great,
who seems to have been favourably inclined towards the Jews, settled a
number of them in Alexandria. His policy was kept up by the descendants
of Lagos, that great general of Alexander, who made himself king of the
province which was entrusted to the care of his administration. Egypt
became the resort of many refugees from Judæa, who gradually came under
the influence of the dazzling Greek thought and culture, so new and
therefore so attractive to the Semitic mind. Hellenism and Hebraism had
known each other for some time, for Phoenician merchants and seafarers
had carried the seed of Oriental wisdom to the distant west. The
acquaintance, however, was a slight one. At the court of the Ptolemies,
on the threshold of Europe and Asia, they met at last. On the shores
of the Mediterranean, on the soil where lay the traces of the ancient
Egyptian civilisation, in the silent avenues of mysterious sphinxes,
amongst hieroglyphic-covered obelisks, Greek and Hebrew thought stood
face to face. The two civilisations embodied the principles of the
Beautiful and the Sublime, of Morality and Æstheticism, of religious
and philosophic speculation. The result of this meeting marks a glorious
page in the annals of human thought. Among the monuments of a great
historic past, the speculative spirit of the East made love to the
plastic beauty of the West, until, at last, they were united in happy
union. Hellenic taste and sense of beauty and Semitic speculation not
only evolved side by side in Egypt but mixed and commingled; their
thoughts were intertwined and interwoven, giving rise to a new
intellectual movement, a new philosophy of thought: the Judæo-Hellenic.
Alexandrian culture, during the reign of the Ptolemies, is the offspring
of a mixed marriage between two parents belonging to two widely
different races, and, as a cross breed, is endowed with many qualities.
It had the seriousness of the one parent and the delicacy of the other.

The Ptolemies encouraged the movement towards fusion. The result was
that the Jews in Egypt, not being hampered by reactionary endeavours
from the side of conservative parties, and with an adaptability peculiar
to their race, soon acquired the language of the people in whose midst
they dwelt. They conversed and wrote in Greek; they moulded and shaped
their own thoughts into Greek form; they clothed the Semitic mode of
thinking in Hellenic garb. The immediate result was the translation of
the Pentateuch into Greek. Vanity, of which no individual or race is
free, had embellished this literary production, which has acquired a
high degree of importance alike among Jews and Christians, with many
legends. This translation, known as the Septuaginta (LXX), was followed
by independent histories relating to Biblical events. One of the best
known authors is the chronographer Demetrius, who lived in the second
half of the third century, and whose work Flavius Josephus is supposed
to have utilised. Not to speak of the Greek authors in Judæa and Syria,
we may mention Artapanos, who, following the fashion of the day, wrote
history in the form of a romance, and showed traces of an apologetic
character. He endeavoured to attribute all that was great in Egyptian
civilisation to Moses. This was due to the fact that Manetho, the
Egyptian historian, and others following his example, had spread fables
and venomous tales about the ancient sojourn and exodus of the Hebrews
and their leader. To counterbalance these accusations, fables had to
be interwoven into history, and history became romance. Moses was
thus identified with Hermes, and made out to be the father of Egyptian
wisdom. But, if the close acquaintanceship of Hebraism and Hellenism
began with a mere flirtation, encouraged by the rulers of the land and
kept up by the Jews, who wished to gain the favour of the conquering
race and to show themselves and their history in as favourable a light
as possible, it soon ended in a serious attachment. The Hebrews made
themselves acquainted with Hellenic life and thought. They studied Homer
and Hesiod, Empedocles and Parmenides, Plato and Aristotle, and they
were startled by the discovery that in Greek thought there were many
elements, moral and religious, familiar to them: this enhanced the
attraction. The narrowness and exclusiveness to which strict nationality
always gives rise, engendering contempt and hatred for everything
foreign--which made even the Greeks, with all their intellectual
culture, draw a line of demarcation between Greek and barbarian--gave
way to a spirit of cosmopolitan breadth of view which has only very
rarely been equalled in history. Hellenic and Hebrew forms of
thought were brought into friendly union, and gave birth to ideas
and aspirations of which humanity may always be proud. Greek æsthetic
judgment and Semitic mysticism, different phases of thought in
themselves, were welded into one. The religious conceptions of Moses
and the Prophets were expressed in the language of the philosophical
schools; an attempt was made to bring into harmony the dogmas of
supernatural revelation and the fruits of human speculative thought.
Such an attempt is a great undertaking, for, if sincerely and
relentlessly pursued, it must end in breaking down the barriers of
separation, in the establishment of a common truth, and in the sacrifice
of cherished ideals and convictions which prove to be wrong. If carried
to its logical conclusion, such a cosmopolitan broad-mindedness, such
a cross-fertilisation of intellectual products, must give rise to the
ennobling idea that there is only one truth, and that the external forms
are only fleeting waves upon the vast ocean of human ideals. The
attempt was made in Alexandria by the Judæo-Hellenic philosophers.
Unfortunately, however, the Hebrews, with all their adaptability, have
not yet carried this attempt to its logical conclusion. The spirit
of reaction has ever and anon been ready to crush in its infancy the
endeavour of truth and sincerity, of broad-mindedness and tolerance.
When placed before the question to be or not to be, to be logical or
illogical, it has chosen the latter, and striven after the impossible:
the reconciliation of what cannot be reconciled without alterations,
rejections, and selections. The happy marriage of Hellenism and Hebraism
in Egypt had a tragic end. The union was dissolved, not, however,
without having produced its issue: the Alexandrian culture, which was
carried to Rome by Philo Judæus, and thus influenced later European
thought and humanity at large.

[Illustration: 015.jpg PAGE IMAGE--Alexandria]


_Alexander the Great.--Cleomenes.--B.C. 332-323_

The way for the Grecian conquest of Egypt had been preparing for many
years. Ever since the memorable march of Xenophon, who led, in the face
of unknown difficulties, ten thousand Greeks across Asia Minor, the
Greek statesman had suspected that the Hellenic soldier was capable of
undreamed possibilities.

When the young Alexander, succeeding his father Philip on the throne
of Macedonia, got himself appointed general by the chief of the Greek
states, and marched against Darius Codomanus, King of Persia, at the
head of the allied armies, it was not difficult to foresee the result.
The Greeks had learned the weakness of the Persians by having been so
often hired to fight for them. For a century past, every Persian army
had had a body of ten or twenty thousand Greeks in the van, and
without this guard the Persians were like a flock of sheep without the
shepherd's dog. Those countries which had trusted to Greek mercenaries
to defend them could hardly help falling when the Greek states united
for their conquest.

Alexander defeated the Persians under Darius in a great and memorable
battle near the town of Issus at the foot of the Taurus, at the pass
which divides Syria from Asia Minor, and then, instead of marching upon
Persia, he turned aside to the easier conquest of Egypt. On his way
there he spent seven months in the siege of the wealthy city of Tyre,
and he there punished with death every man capable of carrying arms, and
made slaves of the rest. He was then stopped for some time before the
little town of Gaza, where Batis, the brave governor, had the courage to
close the gates against the Greek army. His angry fretfulness at being
checked by so small a force was only equalled by his cruelty when he had
overcome it; he tied Batis by the heels to his chariot, and dragged him
round the walls of the city, as Achilles had dragged the body of Hector.

On the seventh day after leaving Gaza he reached Pelusium, the most
easterly town in Egypt, after a march of one hundred and seventy miles
along the coast of the Mediterranean, through a parched, glaring desert
which forms the natural boundary of the country; while the fleet kept
close to the shore to carry the stores for the army, as no fresh water
is to be met with on the line of march. The Egyptians did not even try
to hide their joy at his approach; they were bending very unwillingly
under the heavy and hated yoke of Persia. The Persians had long been
looked upon as their natural enemies, and in the pride of their success
had added insults to the other evils of being governed by the satrap of
a conqueror. They had not even gained the respect of the conquered by
their warlike courage, for Egypt had in a great part been conquered and
held by Greek mercenaries.

The Persian forces had been mostly withdrawn from the country by
Sabaces, the satrap of Egypt, to be led against Alexander in Asia Minor,
and had formed part of the army of Darius when he was beaten near the
town of Issus on the coast of Cilicia. The garrisons were not strong
enough to guard the towns left in their charge; the Greek fleet easily
overpowered the Egyptian fleet in the harbour of Pelusium, and the town
opened its gates to Alexander. Here he left a garrison, and, ordering
his fleet to meet him at Memphis, he marched along the river's bank to
Heliopolis. All the towns, on his approach, opened their gates to him.
Mazakes, who had been left without an army, as satrap of Egypt, when
Sabaces led the troops into Asia Minor, and who had heard of the death
of Sabaces, and that Alexander was master of Phoenicia, Syria, and the
north of Arabia, had no choice but to yield. The Macedonian army crossed
the Nile near Heliopolis, and then entered Memphis.

[Illustration: 019.jpg TRANSPORTING GRAIN ON THE NILE]

Memphis had long been the chief city of all Egypt, even when not the
seat of government. In earlier ages, when the warlike virtues of the
Thebans had made Egypt the greatest kingdom in the world, Memphis and
the lowland corn-fields of the Delta paid tribute to Thebes; but,
with the improvements in navigation, the cities on the coast rose in
importance; the navigation of the Red Sea, though always dangerous,
became less dreaded, and Thebes lost the toll on the carrying trade of
the Nile. Wealth alone, however, would not have given the sovereignty
to Lower Egypt, had not the Greek mercenaries been at hand to fight for
those who would pay them. The kings of Saïs had guarded their thrones
with Greek shields; and it was on the rash but praiseworthy attempt
of Amasis to lessen the power of these mercenaries that they joined
Cambyses, and Egypt became a Persian province. In the struggles of the
Egyptians to throw off the Persian yoke, we see little more than the
Athenians and Spartans carrying on their old quarrels on the coasts
and plains of the Delta; and the Athenians, who counted their losses
by ships, not by men, said that in their victories and defeats together
Egypt had cost them two hundred triremes. Hence, when Alexander, by
his successes in Greece, had put a stop to the feuds at home, the
mercenaries of both parties flocked to his conquering standard, and
he found himself on the throne of Upper and Lower Egypt without any
struggle being made against him by the Egyptians. The Greek part of
the population, who had been living in Egypt as foreigners, now found
themselves masters. Egypt became at once a Greek kingdom, as though
the blood and language of the people were changed at the conqueror's

Alexander's character as a triumphant general gains little from this
easy conquest of an unwarlike country, and the overthrow of a crumbling
monarchy. But as the founder of a new Macedonian state, and for
reuniting the scattered elements of society in Lower Egypt after the
Persian conquest, in the only form in which a government could be
made to stand, he deserves to be placed among the least mischievous of
conquerors. We trace his march, not by the ruin, misery, and anarchy
which usually follow in the rear of an army, but by the building of
new cities, the more certain administration of justice, the revival of
trade, and the growth of learning. On reaching Memphis, his first care
was to prove to the Egyptians that he was come to re-establish their
ancient monarchy. He went in state to the temple of Apis, and sacrificed
to the sacred bull, as the native kings had done at their coronations;
and gamed the good-will of the crowd by games and music, Performed by
skilful Greeks for their amusement.

[Illustration: 021.jpg PHTAH the god of Memphis]

But though the temple of Phtah at Memphis, in which the state ceremonies
were performed, had risen in beauty and importance by the repeated
additions of the later kings, who had fixed the seat of government in
Lower Egypt, yet the Sun, or Amon-Ra, or Kneph-Ra, the god of Thebes, or
Jupiter-Amnion, as he was called by the Greeks, was the god under whose
spreading wings Egypt had seen its proudest days. Every Egyptian king
had called himself "the son of the Sun;" those who had reigned at Thebes
had boasted that they were "beloved by Amon-Ra;" and when Alexander
ordered the ancient titles to be used towards himself, he wished to lay
his offerings in the temple of this god, and to be acknowledged by the
priests as his son. As a reader of Homer, and the pupil of Aristotle,
he must have wished to see the wonders of "Egyptian Thebes," the proper
place for this ceremony; and it could only have been because, as a
general, he had not time for a march of five hundred miles, that he
chose the nearer and less known temple of Kneph-Ra, in the oasis of
Ammon, one hundred and eighty miles from the coast.

Accordingly, he floated down the river from Memphis to the sea,
taking with him the light-armed troops and the royal band of
knights-companions. When he reached Canopus, he sailed westward along
the coast, and landed at Rhacotis, a small village on the spot where
Alexandria now stands. Here he made no stay; but, as he passed through
it, he must have seen at a glance, for he was never there a second time,
that the place was formed by nature to be a great harbour, and that with
a little help from art it would be the port of all Egypt. The mouths of
the Nile were too shallow for the ever increasing size of the merchant
vessels which were then being built; and the engineers found the deeper
water which was wanted, between the village of Rhacotis and the little
island of pharos. It was all that he had seen and admired at Tyre, but
it was on a larger scale and with deeper water. It was the very spot
that he was in search of; in every way suitable for the Greek colony
which he proposed to found as the best means of keeping Egypt in
obedience. Even before the time of Homer, the island of Pharos had
given shelter to the Greek traders on that coast. He gave his orders
to Hinocrates the architect to improve the harbour, and to lay down
the plan of his new city; and the success of the undertaking proved
the wisdom both of the statesman and of the builder, for the city of
Alexandria subsequently became the most famous of all the commercial and
intellectual centres of antiquity. From Rhacotis Alexander marched along
the coast to Parastonium, a distance of about two hundred miles
through the desert; and there, or on his way there, he was met by the
ambassadors from Cyrene, who were sent with gifts to beg for peace,
and to ask him to honour their city with a visit. Alexander graciously
received the gifts of the Cyrenæans, and promised them his friendship,
but could not spare time to visit their city; and, without stopping, he
turned southward to the oasis.

At Memphis Alexander received the ambassadors that came from Greece to
wish him joy of his success; he reviewed his troops, and gave out his
plans for the government of the kingdom. He threw bridges of boats over
the Nile at the ford below Memphis, and also over the several branches
of the river. He divided the country into two nomarchies or judgeships,
and to fill these two offices of nomarchs or chief judges, the highest
civil offices in the kingdom, he chose Doloaspis and Petisis, two
Egyptians. Their duty was to watch over the due administration of
justice, one in Upper and the other in Lower Egypt, and perhaps to hear
appeals from the lower judges.

He left the garrisons in the command of his own Greek generals;
Pantaleon commanded the counts, or knights-companions, who garrisoned
Memphis, and Pole-mon was governor of Pelusium. These were the chief
fortresses in the kingdom: Memphis overlooked the Delta, the navigation
of the river, and the pass to Upper Egypt; Pelusium was the harbour for
the ships of war, and the frontier town on the only side on which Egypt
could be attacked. The other cities were given to other governors;
Licidas commanded the mercenaries, Peucestes and Balacrus the other
troops, Eugnostus was secretary, while Æschylus and Ephippus were left
as overlookers, or perhaps, in the language of modern governments, as
civil commissioners. Apollonius was made prefect of Libya, of which
district Parætonium was the capital, and Cleomenes prefect of Arabia at
Heroopolis, in guard of that frontier. Orders were given to all these
generals that justice was to be administered by the Egyptian nomarchs
according to the common law or ancient customs of the land. Petisis,
however, either never entered upon his office or soon quitted it, and
Doloaspis was left nomarch of all Egypt.

Alexander sent into the Thebaid a body of seven thousand Samaritans,
whose quarrels with the Jews made them wish to leave their own country.
He gave them lands to cultivate on the banks of the Nile which had
gone out of cultivation with the gradual decline of Upper Egypt; and he
employed them to guard the province against invasion or rebellion. He
did not stay in Egypt longer than was necessary to give these orders,
but hastened towards the Euphrates to meet Darius. In his absence Egypt
remained quiet and happy. Peucestes soon followed him to Babylon with
some of the troops that had been left in Egypt; and Cleomenes, the
governor of Heroopolis, was then made collector of the taxes and prefect
of Egypt. Cleomenes was a bad man; he disobeyed the orders sent from
Alexander on the Indus, and he seems to have forgotten the mild feelings
which guided his master; yet, upon the whole, after the galling yoke of
the Persians, the Egyptians must have felt grateful for the blessings of
justice and good government.

At one time, when passing through the Thebaid in his barge on the Nile,
Cleomenes was wrecked, and one of his children bitten by a crocodile. On
this plea, he called together the priests, probably of Crocodilopolis,
where this animal was held sacred, and told them that he intended
to revenge himself upon the crocodiles by having them all caught
and killed; and he was only bought off from carrying his threat into
execution by the priests giving him all the treasure that they could
get together. Alexander had left orders that the great market should be
moved from Canopus to his new city of Alexandria, as soon as it should
be ready to receive it. As the building went forward, the priests and
rich traders of Canopus, in alarm at losing the advantages of their
port, gave Cleomenes a large sum of money for leave to keep their
market open. This sum he took, and, when the building at Alexandria was
finished, he again came to Canopus, and because the traders would not or
could not raise a second and larger sum, he carried Alexander's orders
into execution, and closed the market of their city.

But instances such as these, of a public officer making use of dishonest
means to increase the amount of the revenue which it was his duty to
collect, might unfortunately be found even in countries which were for
the most part enjoying the blessings of wise laws and good government;
and it is not probable that, while Alexander was with the army in
Persia, the acts of fraud and wrong should have been fewer in his own
kingdom of Macedonia. The dishonesty of Cleomenes was indeed equally
shown toward the Macedonians, by his wish to cheat the troops out of
part of their pay. The pay of the soldiers was due on the first day of
each month, but on that day he took care to be out of the way, and
the soldiers were paid a few days later; and by doing the same on each
following month, he at length changed the pay-day to the last day of the
month, and cheated the army out of a whole month's pay.

Another act for which Cleomenes was blamed was not so certainly wrong.
One summer, when the harvest had been less plentiful than usual, he
forbade the export of grain, which was a large part of the trade of
Egypt, thereby lowering the price to the poor so far as they could
afford to purchase such costly food, but injuring the landowners. On
this, the heads of the provinces sent to him in alarm, to say that they
should not be able to get in the usual amount of tribute; he therefore
allowed the export as usual, but raised the duty; and he was reproached
for receiving a larger revenue while the landowners were suffering from
a smaller crop.

[Illustration: 027.jpg LIGHTHOUSE AT ALEXANDRIA]

At Ecbatana, the capital of Media, Alexander lost his friend Hephæstion,
and in grief for his death he sent to Egypt to enquire of the oracle at
the temple of Kneph in the oasis of Ammon, what honours he might pay
to the deceased. The messengers brought him an answer, that he might
declare Hephæstion a demigod, and order that he should be worshipped.
Accordingly, Alexander then sent an express command to Cleomenes that
he should build a temple to his lost favourite in his new city of
Alexandria, and that the lighthouse which was to be built on the island
of Pharos should be named after him; and as modern insurances against
risks by sea usually begin with the words "In the name of God; Amen;"
so all contracts between merchants in the port of Alexandria were to
be written solemnly "In the name of Hephæstion." Feeling diffident
of enforcing obedience at the mouth of the Nile, while he was himself
writing from the sources of the Indus, he added that if, when he came to
Egypt he found his wish carried into effect, he would pardon Cleomenes
for those acts of misgovernment of which he had been accused, and for
any others which might then come to his ears.

A somatophylax in the Macedonian army was no doubt at first, as the
word means, one of the officers who had to answer for the king's safety;
perhaps in modern language a colonel in the body-guards or household
troops; but as, in unmixed monarchies, the faithful officer who was
nearest the king's person, to whose watchfulness he trusted in the hour
of danger, often found himself the adviser in matters of state, so,
in the time of Alexander, the title of somatophylax was given to those
generals on whose wisdom the king chiefly leaned, and by whose advice
he was usually guided. Among these, and foremost in Alexander's love and
esteem, was Ptolemy, the son of Lagus. Philip, the father of Alexander,
had given Arsinoë, one of his relations, in marriage to Lagus; and her
eldest son Ptolemy, born soon after the marriage, was always thought to
be the king's son, though never so acknowledged. As he grew up, he was
put into the highest offices by Philip, without raising in the young
Alexander's mind the distrust which might have been felt if Ptolemy
could have boasted that he was the elder brother. He earned the good
opinion of Alexander by his military successes in Asia, and gained his
gratitude by saving his life when he was in danger among the Oxydracæ,
near the river Indus; and moreover, Alexander looked up to him as the
historian whose literary powers and knowledge of military tactics were
to hand down to the wonder of future ages those conquests which he

Alexander's victories over Darius, and march to the river Indus, are no
part of this history: it is enough to say that he died at Babylon eight
years after he had entered Egypt; and his half-brother Philip Arridæus,
a weak-minded, unambitious young man, was declared by the generals
assembled at Babylon to be his successor. His royal blood united more
voices in the army in his favour than the warlike and statesmanlike
character of any one of the rival generals. They were forced to be
content with sharing the provinces between them as his lieutenants;
some hoping to govern by their power over the weak mind of Arridæus, and
others secretly meaning to make themselves independent.

In this weighty matter, Ptolemy showed the wisdom and judgment which
had already gained him his high character. Though his military rank and
skill were equal to those of any one of Alexander's generals, and his
claim by birth perhaps equal to that of Arridæous, he was not one of
those who aimed at the throne; nor did he even aim at the second place,
but left to Perdiccas the regency, with the care of the king's person,
in whose name that ambitious general vainly hoped to govern the whole of
Alexander's conquests. But Ptolemy, more wisely measuring his strength
with the several tasks, chose the province of Egypt, the province which,
cut off as it was from the rest by sea and desert, was of all others
the easiest to be held as an independent kingdom against the power of
Perdiccas. When Egypt was given to Ptolemy by the council of generals,
Cleomenes was at the same time and by the same power made second in
command, and he governed Egypt for one year before Ptolemy's arrival,
that being in name the first year of the reign of Philip Arridæus, or,
according to the chronologer's mode of dating, the first year after
Alexander's death.

[Illustration: 031.jpg PAGE IMAGE]


_Ptolemy governs Egypt, overcomes Perdiccas, and founds a dynasty_.

Ptolemy Lagus was one of those who, at the death of Alexander, had
raised their voices against giving the whole of the conquered countries
to one king; he wished that they should have been shared equally among
the generals as independent kingdoms. In this he was overruled, and
he accepted his government as the lieutenant of the youthful Philip
Arridæus, though no doubt with the fixed purpose of making Egypt an
independent kingdom. On reaching Memphis, the seat of his government,
his whole thoughts were turned towards strengthening himself against
Perdiccas, who hoped to be obeyed, in the name of his young and
weak-minded king, by all his fellow generals.

The Greek and foreign mercenaries of which the army of Alexander was
made up, and who were faithful to his memory and to his family, had
little to guide them in the choice of which leader they should follow
to his distant province, beside the thought of where they should be
best treated; and Ptolemy's high character for wisdom, generosity, and
warlike skill had gained many friends for him among the officers; they
saw that the wealth of Egypt would put it in his power to reward those
whose services were valuable to him; and hence crowds flocked to his
standard. On reaching their provinces, the Greek soldiers, whether
Spartans or Athenians, forgetting the glories of Thermopylæ and
Marathon, and proud of their wider conquests under the late king, always
called themselves Macedonians. They pleased themselves with the thought
that the whole of the conquered countries were still governed by
the brother of Alexander; and no one of his generals, in his wildest
thoughts of ambition, whether aiming, like Ptolemy, at founding a
kingdom, or, like Perdiccas, at the government of the world, was unwise
enough to throw off the title of lieutenant to Philip Arridæus, and to
forfeit the love of the Macedonian soldiers and his surest hold on their

The first act of Ptolemy was to put to death Cleomenes, who had been
made sub-governor of Egypt by the same council of generals which
had made Ptolemy governor. This act may have been called for by the
dishonesty and crooked dealing which Cleomenes had been guilty of in
collecting taxes; but, though the whole tenor of Ptolemy's life would
seem to disprove the charge, we cannot but fear that he was in part
led to this deed because he looked upon Cleomenes as the friend of
Perdiccas, or because he could not trust him in his plans for making
himself king of Egypt.

From the very commencement of his government, Ptolemy prepared for the
war which he knew must follow a declaration of his designs. Perhaps
better than any other general of Alexander, he knew how to win the
favour of the people under his rule. The condition of the country
quickly improved under his mild administration. The growing seaport of
Alexandria was a good market for a country rich in natural produce, and,
above all, Egypt's marvellously good geographical position stood her
in good stead in time of war. Surrounded nearly on all sides by desert
land, the few inhabitants, roving Bedouins, offered no danger. The land
of the Nile was accessible to an enemy in one direction only, along the
coast of Syria. This even teemed with difficulties. Transports there
could only be managed with the greatest ingenuity, and, in case of
defeat, retreat was almost impossible. On the other hand, the Egyptian
army, helped by all the advantages of a land irrigated on the canal
system, and which could be flooded at will, had only to act on the
defensive to be certain of victory. The country is perhaps more open to
an attack from the sea, but, by a moderately well-conducted defensive
movement, the enemy could be kept to the coast. Even the landing there
is scarcely possible, on account of the natural difficulties at the
mouth of the Nile. The one easy spot--Alexandria--was so well fortified
that an invader had but little chance of success.

About the time of Alexander's death (and to some extent brought about by
this event), civil war broke out in Cyrenaica, in consequence of which
the followers of one party were forced out of the town of Cyrene. These
joined themselves with the exiles of the town of Barca, and together
sought help of foreigners. They placed themselves under the leadership
of the Spartan Thibron, formerly Alexander's chancellor of the
exchequer. Begged by the exiled Cyrenians to help them, he now directed
his forces against Libya, fought a fierce battle, and took possession
of the harbour of Apollonia, two miles distant from the town. He then
besieged the town of Cyrene, and forced the Cyrenians at last to sue for
peace. They were obliged to make a payment of five hundred talents and
to take back the exiles. Messengers were sent by Thibron to incite
the other towns in Cyrenaica to join him and to help him conquer their
neighbour, Libya. Thibron's followers were allowed to plunder, and this
led to quarrels, desertions, treacherous acts, and the recruiting of his
army from the Peloponnesus. After varying fortunes of war, in the
spring of 322 B. C., some of the Cyrenians fled to Egypt, and related to
Ptolemy what had occurred in Cyrenaica, begging him to help them back
to their homes. The suggestion was welcome to him, for victory would be
easy over these struggling factions. He sent a strong military and naval
force, under Ophelas, the Macedonian, to Cyrenaica in the summer. When
these were seen approaching, those exiles who had found refuge with
Thibron decided to join them. Their plan, however, was discovered, and
they were put to death. The leader of the rabble in Cyrene (fearful
for his own safety, now that the exiles who had fled to Egypt were
returning) made overtures of peace to Thibron, and joined with him to
repulse Ophelas. The latter worked with the utmost caution, sent an army
under Epicides of Olynth against Tancheira, whilst he himself marched
against Cyrene.

[Illustration: 036.jpg THE DÔM PALM.]

He met Thibron in a fierce fight. The latter was completely defeated and
fled towards Tancheira, where he hoped to find help, but instead fell
into Epicides' hands. Thibron was given over to the people of Tancheira
for punishment. He was cruelly scourged, and then dragged to Apollonia,
where he was crucified. Ophelas, however, was not able to conquer the
Cyrenians until Ptolemy himself arrived with fresh troops, overpowered
the town and joined the province to his own satrapy.

The conquest of this Greek province was a gain equally for himself and
for the Greeks. He put an end to the horrible anarchy that prevailed
there, and proved himself their saviour as well as their conqueror. His
name was now an honoured one among all the Greeks. When it was rumoured
that war was likely to break out between Ptolemy and the royal party,
the Macedonians flocked to Alexandria, "every man ready to give all and
to sacrifice himself in order to help his friend." A popular belief of
the day was that, although Ptolemy was known as the son of Lagos, he was
in reality the son of Philip, and indeed much in his manner resembled
the great founder of the Macedonian power. Amongst the successors of
Alexander, not one understood as well as he how to retain and increase
the power which he had won. He recognised, also, from the first, the
tendency of the age: the tendency to split up the kingdom into different
states; and he had made this the basis of his policy. It was under him
that the first state (in the new sense of the word) was founded. He was
the leader of the new movement that soon generated disunity, and to
this end he made a secret contract with Antipatros against the regent
Perdiccas. About this time also misunderstandings between the regent and
the rulers in the West began to take a serious aspect.

At a great meeting in Babylon in the summer of the year 323, it was
decided that the body of Alexander was to be taken with great solemnity
to the Temple of Amon, and that the equipping and guidance of the
funeral procession should be entrusted to Arridæus. At the end of the
year 323, the necessary preparations were finished. The gigantic
funeral car that was to carry the kingly bier had been decorated with
unparalleled magnificence. Without waiting for orders from the regent,
Arridæus started with the funeral procession from Babylon. Crowds from
far and near filled the streets, some curious to see the magnificent
sight, others eager to show this last token of respect to the dead king.
It was firmly believed amongst the Macedonians that the country in
which Alexander's body had its last resting-place would become happy and
powerful above all countries. This prophecy was uttered by the old seer
Telmissus soon after the king's death. Did Ptolemy have this belief, or
did he wish to make use of it? There were probably other reasons which
had caused him to enter into an understanding with Arridæus, and to
arrange with him that he was to start without orders from the regent.
He was afraid that Perdiccas, in order to add to the solemnity of the
procession, would himself accompany the body with the imperial army to
Egypt. Ptolemy felt that his position in the lands entrusted to his
care would be greatly weakened if a higher authority than himself could
appear there with a military force. Arridæus led the funeral train to
Damascus, as had been arranged before with Ptolemy. It was in vain that
Pole-mon (one of Perdiccas' generals), who was in the neighbourhood,
went to meet him. He was able to obtain no aspect for the express order
of the regent. The funeral procession passed Damascus on its way to
Egypt. Ptolemy accompanied the body with his army as far as Syria. It
was then taken on to Memphis to rest there until it could be sheltered
by that beautiful sepulchre of the kings at Alexandria.

Arridæus' action, in starting without permission, and the defiance of
Polemon's order, were acts of open revolt against the higher authority
of the kingdom. Perdiccas called all loyal followers to the council
of war. Ptolemy, he said, had defied the order of the kings in his
behaviour concerning the funeral procession; and he had also given
shelter to the exiled satraps of Phrygia. He was prepared for war, which
he hoped to bring about. It was for them (the loyal ones) to uphold
the dignity of the kingdom. They must try to take him unawares, and to
overcome them individually. The question was, if the Egyptians or the
Macedonians ought to be first attacked. In the end, plans were carefully
concerted for an attack on Egypt and the protection of Europe. In the
early spring of B.C. 321, Perdiccas and his colleagues set out for
Egypt with the imperial army, ordering the fleet to follow, and leaving
Eumenes with skilled officers and troops in general command of Asia
Minor for the purpose of guarding the Hellespont.

At the Egyptian frontier, Perdiccas summoned the army together, that the
men themselves should give judgment in the case of the satrap of Egypt,
in the same way as in the preceding autumn they had given judgment in
the case of Antigones. He expected a decision which would enable him
to finish what he had already begun. The accusations were that he had
refused obedience to the kings, that he had fought against and overcome
the Greeks of Cyrenaica (who had received freedom from Alexander),
and that he had taken possession of the king's body, and carried it to

According to the single account, which tells us of these proceedings,
Ptolemy himself appeared to conduct his own defence before the assembled
warriors. He had good reason for reckoning on the impression his
confidence in them would make upon them, and on the love that he knew
the Macedonians bore towards him. He knew, too, of the increasing
dislike of the imperial regent. His defence was heard with growing
approval, and the army's judgment was "freedom."

In spite of this the regent kept to the war. The decision of the troops
alienated him still more from them. The war with Egypt was contrary to
their wishes, and they murmured openly. Perdiccas sought to put down the
refractory spirit with a stern military hand, but the remonstrances
of his officers were in vain. He treated the first in the land in an
inconsiderate and despotic manner, removed the most deserving from their
command, and trusted himself alone. This same man, who had climbed the
path to greatness with so much foresight, self-command, energy, and
statesmanship, seemed now, the nearer he grew to the summit of his
ambition, to lose all clearness of sight and moderation, which traits
alone could help him to take this last and dangerous step. He had the
advantage of tried troops, the elephants of Alexander, and the fleet
under the command of his brother-in-law was near the mouth of the Nile;
but he had overstepped the mark.

Just at this time, the news reached him from Asia Minor that Eumenes had
conquered Neoptolemas, the governor of Armenia, who had taken the side
of Ptolemy.

With all the more hope, Perdiccas went to meet the enemy. He reached
Pelusium undisturbed. It was highly necessary that the army should
cross to the Pelusaic side of the Nile, for there were several secure
places there, which, if allowed to remain in the hands of the enemy,
would endanger the forward movement.

[Illustration: 040.jpg A SILHOUETTE ON THE NILE]

There were also plentiful supplies of provisions within the Delta,
whilst the way through the so-called Arabia was sparsely inhabited.

If he did not find the Egyptians there, Perdiccas would install himself
within one of the fortresses on that side, and thence conduct operations
against them, and, at the same time, remain in connection with his
fleet, on which he could fall back in case of need. To enable the
crossing to be accomplished as easily as possible, Perdiccas ordered the
cleaning out of an old and filled-in canal, that led up from the Nile.
The work was evidently begun without much thought, for the fact had not
been considered that, at the rising of the Nile, the canal would want
a much deeper bed than the present stream required. The canal had
only just been opened up, when the water rose with unusual force and
rapidity; the dam was completely destroyed, and many workers lost their
lives. During the disturbance, many officers and men left the camp and
hurried to Ptolemy. This was the beginning of the Egyptian war. The
desertion of so many important men made Perdiccas think seriously.
He summoned the officers of the army, spoke to them with much
condescension, gave presents to some, honoured others with promotion,
and begged them, for the sake of their honour and for the cause of their
kings, to fight their hardest against this rebel, and with the order to
hold their men in-readiness, he left them. The army was only told in the
evening, at the signal for starting, where they were to march. Perdiccas
feared, on account of the desertion that was taking place in his army,
that his march might be discovered by the enemy. They marched with great
speed through the night, and camped at last on the side of the river.
At daybreak, after the troops had rested, Perdiccas gave the order
to cross. First came the elephants, then the light infantry, next the
storming party with ladders, and lastly, the pick of the cavalry, who,
if the enemy should burst out during the storming, could easily drive
them back. Perdiccas hoped, if he could only get a firm footing on
that side of the river, to annihilate the Egyptian army easily with his
superior force. He was right in feeling that his Macedonian troops, when
face to face with the enemy, would forget their antipathy to him,
and think only of their military honour. When about half the army had
crossed, and just as the elephants were moving towards the fortress, the
enemy were seen hurrying thither with great speed; their trumpet-calls
and war-cries even were heard. They reached the fort before the
Macedonians, and withdrew into the shelter of its walls. Not discouraged
by this, the infantry stormed the fort. Ladders were placed against
the walls, the elephants driven forward, and palisades taken from their
backs to attack the ramparts.

Ptolemy, in the dress of a Macedonian soldier, stood on the wall
surrounded by a few selected men. He was first in the fight. From where
he stood he pierced with his lance the eyes of the leading elephant, and
stabbed the Indian on its back, and he wounded many and killed numbers
of the storming party. His officers and men fought with the greatest
spirit; the driver of the second elephant was killed and the infantry
were driven back.

Perdiccas led new troops to the attack, wishing to take the fortress at
all costs. By word and deed, Ptolemy urged on his men, who fought with
marvellous endurance. The dreadful battle waged the whole day; many were
killed and wounded; evening came on and nothing was decided. Perdiccas
ordered a retreat and returned to his camp.

In the middle of the night he again started with his army, hoping that
Ptolemy would stay in the fort with his troops, and that, after a trying
march of some miles up-stream, he (Perdiccas) would be able to cross the
river more easily. At daybreak he found himself opposite one of the many
islands of the Nile; it was large enough for the camp of a great army.
In spite of the difficulties of crossing, he decided to encamp his army
there. The water reached up to the soldiers' knees, and it was with the
greatest difficulty that they kept their footing against the force
of the current. In order to break this current, Perdiccas ordered the
elephants into the river to stand up-stream to the left of the fording
party; he ordered the horsemen to stand at the other end to help those
across that were driven down by the current. Some had, with great
difficulty, managed to get across; others were still in the stream when
it was noticed that the water was becoming deeper; the heavily armed men
sank, and the elephants and horses stood deeper and deeper in the water.
A fearful panic seized the army. They called out that the enemy had
closed in the canals up-stream, and that the gods had destined bad
weather in the upper provinces, on account of which the river was
swollen. Those who understood saw that the bed of the river had become
deepened by the crossing of so great a cavalcade. It was impossible for
the remainder to cross or for those on the island to return. They were
completely cut off and were at the mercy of the enemy, who were already
seen approaching. There was nothing left but to order them to get back
as well as they could; lucky indeed were those who could swim, and had
sufficient strength to bring them across the broad expanse of water.

[Illustration: 044.jpg CROCODILES BASKING IN THE SUN]

Many saved themselves in this way. They came without weapons, worn out
and desperate, to the shore; others were drowned or eaten by crocodiles.
Some were carried down-stream, and reached the shore where the enemy
stood. Two thousand men were missing, many officers among them. The camp
of the Egyptians was situated on the other side, and they could be seen
helping the men in the water and burning logs of wood to show honour
to the dead. On this side of the river there was sad silence; each man
sought his comrade, or officer, and sought in vain. Food was scarce, and
there was no means of overcoming this dreadful state of affairs; night
came on, and curses and complaints were heard on all sides. The lives of
so many brave men had been sacrificed for nothing; it was bad enough to
lose the "honour of their arms," but now, through the stupidity of their
leader, their lives had been lost, and to be swallowed by crocodiles was
now the distinguished death of Macedonian warriors. Many of the officers
went to the tent of the regent, and told him openly that he was the
cause of this calamity. Outside the tent the Macedonians yelled, beside
themselves with rage. About a hundred of the officers, headed by the
satrap Python, refused to share further responsibility, resigned their
commissions, and left the tent. The excitement grew intense. The troops,
in ungovernable rage, entered the regent's tent and threw themselves
upon him. Antigonus struck the first blow, others followed, and, after
a desperate but short struggle, Perdiccas fell to the ground covered
with wounds.

Thus died Perdiccas, in the third year of his regency. His great idea,
the unity of the kingdom entrusted to his care, should have made him
worthy of more success had he given himself up to this idea with more
conscientiousness. Unfortunately, with growing power, he became
despotic and unjust. He was not great enough to become the successor of
Alexander, to be another "ruler of the world." This last step, the one
which was to lead him to his long-coveted goal, led him instead to his

Ptolemy soon heard the news, and the next morning he crossed the river
and came to the camp. He asked to be taken to the kings, presented them
and some of the nobles with gifts; was kind and considerate to all, and
was greeted with great joy. Then he called the troops together and spoke
to them. He told the Macedonians that it was only stern necessity that
caused him to take up arms against his old comrades. No man regretted
more than he the untimely death of so many heroes. Perdiccas was the
cause of this calamity; he had but received his just punishment. Now all
enmity was to be ended. He had saved as many as he could from death in
the water, and the corpses which the river had brought to the shore he
had buried with all honour; and finally he told them that he had given
orders for the immediate alleviation of the want which he knew was being
felt in the camp. His speech was received with loud cheers. He stood
there unhurt and admired before the Macedonians, who but a few hours
earlier had been his bitterest foes. Now they looked upon him as their
saviour; they all acknowledged him as the conqueror, and for the moment
he stood in unequivocal possession of that power for which Perdiccas
had worked so hard, and which he had so much abused. Who was now to
be Perdiccas' successor, and to manage the kingdom in the name of the
kings? With one voice the people begged Ptolemy to undertake this task.
The foresight and presence of mind of the son of Lagus were not clouded
by the allurement of such an offer gained by his sudden change of
fortune. At this supreme moment he acted with consummate sagacity. He
divined that a refusal of the proffered honour would make him in reality
more powerful, although, at the moment, he would seem to be acting in an
unselfish manner. He recommended to the army, as a favour which he had
to bestow, those he thought worthy of his thanks; they were Python,
the Median strategist, who had taken the first decisive step against
Perdiccas; and Arridæus, who, in spite of Perdiccas' orders, had taken
the body of the king to Egypt. These two were nominated regents with
loud cheers.

The Macedonian army, accordingly, chose Python and Arridæus as
guardians, and as rulers with unlimited power over the whole of
Alexander's conquests; but, though none of the Greek generals who now
held Asia Minor, Syria, Babylonia, Thrace, or Egypt dared to acknowledge
it to the soldiers, yet in reality the power of the guardians was
limited to the little kingdom of Macedonia. With the death of Perdiccas,
and the withdrawal of his army, Phoenicia and Coele-Syria were left
unguarded, and almost without a master. In order that Egypt might take
an important part in the universal policy, Ptolemy felt he must possess
Syria, which would open up the way for him to the countries along the
Euphrates and the Tigris, and also the island of Cyprus, where he would
be near the coast of Asia Minor. He could not yet think of conquering
Cyprus, which had an important fleet. He felt that, if he annexed Syria,
either by diplomacy or by force, the organisation of the kingdom and the
territorial division of power would be changed in a tangible manner.
The Egyptian satraps already possessed some measure of authority, and he
could also depend upon the satrap of Syria joining him.

Perdiccas had bestowed this satrapy upon Laomedon, the Amphysolite,
who had taken no part in the great fight between Perdiccas and Ptolemy.
Ptolemy now informed him that he wished to possess his satrapy, but was
ready to compensate him with a sum of money. Laomedon refused this offer
with scorn. Thereupon, an army under Nicanor, one of the "friends" of
Ptolemy, marched into Palestine. Jerusalem was the only place that
held out against the Egyptian army; but Nicanor, says the historian
Agathareides, seeing that on every seventh day the garrison withdrew
from the walls, chose that day for the assault, and thus gained the
city. Without further opposition the Egyptians marched onwards. At
last he met Laomedon, took him prisoner, and brought him back to Egypt.
Egyptian sentries now guarded the strongholds of the country; Egyptian
ships took the towns along the coast. A great number of the Jews were
transported to Alexandria; they received the rights of citizenship

[Illustration: 049.jpg A THEBAN BELLE]

Without altering local conditions, Syria gradually came under the sway
of the Egyptian satraps. Laomedon found means of escaping from Egypt;
he fled to Alcetas in Caria, who had just withdrawn himself to the
mountainous regions of Pisida, thence to begin the decisive war against

[Illustration: 049b.jpg Prayer to Isis]

     Painted by Alexander Cabanel

In the earlier times of Egyptian history, when navigation was less easy,
and when seas separated kingdoms instead of joining them, the Thebaid
enjoyed, under the Koptic kings, the trading wealth which followed the
stream of its great river, the longest piece of inland navigation
then known; but, with the improvement in navigation and ship-building,
countries began to feel their strength in the timber of their forests
and the number of their harbours; and, as timber and sea-coast were
equally unknown in the Thebaid, that country fell as Lower Egypt rose;
the wealth which before centred in Thebes was then found in the ports
of the Delta, where the barges of the Nile met the ships of the
Mediterranean. What used to be Egypt was an inland kingdom, surrounded by
the desert; but Egypt under Ptolemy was country on the sea-coast; and,
on the conquest of Phoenicia and Coele-Syria, he was master of the
forests of Lebanon and Antilibanus, and stretched his coast from Cyrene
to Antioch, a distance of twelve hundred miles. The wise and mild plans
which were laid down by Alexander for the government of Egypt when a
province were easily followed by Ptolemy when it became his own kingdom.
The Greek soldiers lived in their garrisons or in Alexandria under the
Macedonian laws, while the Egyptian laws were administered by their own
priests, who were upheld in all the rights of their order and in their
freedom from land-tax. The temples of Phtah, of Amon-Ra, and the other
gods of the country were not only kept open, but were repaired and even
built at the cost of the king; the religion of the people, and not that
of their rulers, was made the established religion of the state. On
the death of the god Apis, the sacred bull of Memphis, the chief of the
animals which were kept and fed at the cost of the several cities, and
who had died of old age soon after Ptolemy came to Egypt, he spent the
sum of fifty talents, or $42,500, on its funeral; and the priests, who
had not forgotten that Cambyses, their former conqueror, had wounded the
Apis of his day with his own sword, must have been highly pleased with
this mark of his care for them. The burial-place for the bulls is an
arched gallery tunnelled into the hill behind Memphis for more than two
thousand feet, with a row of cells on each side of it. In every cell is
a huge granite sarcophagus, within which were placed the remains of a
bull that had once been the Apis of its day, which, after having for
perhaps twenty years received the honours of a god, was there buried
with more than kingly state. The cell was then walled up, and ornamented
on the outside with various tablets in honour of the deceased
animal, which were placed in these dark passages by the piety of his
worshippers. The priests of Thebes were now at liberty to cut out from
their monuments the names of usurping gods, and to restore those that
had been before cut out. They also rebuilt the inner room, or the holy
of holies, in the great temple of Karnak.

It had been overthrown by the Persians in wantonness, or in hatred
of the Egyptian religion; and the priests now put upon it the name of
Philip Arridæus, for whom Ptolemy was nominally governing Egypt.

[Illustration: 052.jpg TOMBS OF THE SACRED BULLS]

The Egyptians, who during the last two centuries had sometimes seen
their temples plundered and their trade crushed by the grasping tyranny
of the Persian satraps, and had at other times been almost as much hurt
by their own vain struggles for freedom, now found themselves in the
quiet enjoyment of good laws, with a prosperity which promised soon to
equal that of the reigns of Necho or Amasis. It is true that they had
not regained their independence and political liberty; that, as compared
with the Greeks, they felt themselves an inferior race, and that they
only enjoyed their civil rights during the pleasure of a Greek autocrat;
but then it is to be remembered that the native rulers with whom Ptolemy
was compared were the kings of Lower Egypt, who, like himself, were
surrounded by Greek mercenaries, and who never rested their power on the
broad base of national pride and love of country; and that nobody
could have hoped to see a Theban king arise to bring back the days
of Thûtmosis and Ramses. Thebes was every day sinking in wealth and
strength; and its race of hereditary soldiers, proud in the recollection
of former glory, who had, after centuries of struggles, been forced
to receive laws from Memphis, perhaps yielded obedience to a Greek
conqueror with less pain than they did formerly to their own vassals of
Lower Egypt.

Ptolemy's government was in form nearly the same in Alexandria as in the
rest of Egypt, but in reality it was wholly different. His sway over the
Egyptians was supported by Greek force, but over the Greeks it rested
on the broad base of public opinion. Every Greek had the privilege of
bearing arms, and of meeting in the gymnasium in public assembly, to
explain a grievance, and petition for its redress. The citizens and
the soldiers were the same body of men; they at the same time held the
force, and had the spirit to use it. But they had no senate, no body
of nobles, no political constitution which might save their freedom in
after generations from the ambitious grasp of the sovereign, or from
their own degeneracy. While claiming to be equal among themselves they
were making themselves slaves; and though at present the government so
entirely bore the stamp of their own will that they might fancy they
enjoyed a democracy, yet history teaches us that the simple paternal
form of government never fails to become sooner or later a cruel
tyranny. The building of Alexandria must be held the master-stroke of
policy by which Egypt was kept in obedience. Here, and afterwards in
a few other cities, such as Ptolemais in the Thebaid and Parembole in
Nubia, the Greeks lived without insulting or troubling the Egyptians,
and by their numbers held the country like so many troops in garrison.
It was a wise policy to make no greater change than necessary in
the kingdom, and to leave the Egyptians under their own laws and
magistrates, and in the enjoyment of their own religion; and yet it was
necessary to have the country garrisoned with Greeks, whose presence in
the old cities could not but be extremely galling to the Egyptians. This
was done by means of these new Greek cities, where the power by which
Egypt was governed was stronger by being united, and less hateful by
being out of sight. Seldom or never was so great a monarchy founded with
so little force and so little crime.

Ptolemy, however, did not attempt the difficult task of uniting the two
races, and of treating the conquered and the conquerors as entitled to
the same privileges. From the time of Necho and Psammetichus, many of
the Greeks who settled in Egypt intermarried with the natives, and very
much laid aside their own habits; and sometimes their offspring, after
a generation or two, became wholly Egyptian. By the Greek laws the
children of these mixed marriages were declared to be barbarians; not
Greeks but Egyptians, and were brought up accordingly. They left the
worship of Jupiter and Juno for that of Isis and Osiris, and perhaps the
more readily for the greater earnestness with which the Egyptian gods
were worshipped. We now trace their descendants by the form of their
skulls, even into the priestly families; and of one hundred mummies
covered with hieroglyphics, taken up from the catacombs near Thebes,
about twenty show a European origin, while of those from the tombs
near Memphis, seventy out of every hundred have lost their Koptic
peculiarities. It is easy to foresee that an important change would
have been wrought in the character of the people and in their political
institutions, if the Greek laws had been humane and wise enough to grant
to the children of mixed marriages the privileges, the education, and
thereby the moral feelings of the more favoured parent; and it is not
too much to suppose, if the Greek law of marriage had been altered by
Ptolemy, that within three centuries above half the nation would have
spoken the Greek language, and boasted of its Greek origin.

[Illustration: 055.jpg THE GOD SERAPIS]

The stimulus given by Ptolemy Soter to the culture of the age has been
already mentioned. The founding of the famous museum and library
of Alexandria may be, perhaps, regarded as the rounding-off of his
political plans for the consolidation of his kingdom. Alexandria became,
in fact, not only a centre of commerce and government, but also the
intellectual capital of the Greeks. But for this supreme importance of
the city, it is doubtful whether the descendants of Ptolemy Lagus could
have continued to rule the Valley of the Nile.

In return for the literature which Greece then gave to Egypt, she gained
the knowledge of papyrus, a tall rush which grows wild near the sources
of the Nile, and was then cultivated in the Egyptian marshes. Before
that time books had been written on linen, wax, bark, or the leaves of
trees; and public records on stone, brass, or lead: but the knowledge of
papyrus was felt by all men of letters like the invention of printing
in modern Europe. Books were then known by many for the first time,
and very little else was afterwards used in Greece or Rome; for, when
parchment was made about two centuries later, it was too costly to be
used as long as papyrus was within reach. Copies were multiplied on
frail strips of this plant, and it was found that mere thoughts, when
worth preserving, were less liable to be destroyed by time than temples
and palaces of the hardest stone.


While Egypt, under Ptolemy, was thus enjoying the advantages of its
insulated position, and cultivating the arts of peace, the other
provinces were being harassed by the unceasing wars of Alexander's
generals, who were aiming, like Ptolemy, at raising their own power.
Many changes had taken place among them in the short space of eight
years which had passed since the death of Alexander. Philip Arridæus,
in whose name the provinces had been governed, had been put to death;
Antigonus was master of Asia Minor, with a kingdom more powerful though
not so easily guarded as Egypt; Cassander held Macedonia, and had the
care of the young Alexander Ægus, who was then called the heir to the
whole of his father's wide conquests, and whose life, like that of
Arridæus, was soon to end with his minority; Lysimachus was trying
to form a kingdom in Thrace; and Seleucus had for a brief period held

Ptolemy bore no part in the wars which brought about these changes,
beyond being once or twice called upon to send troops to guard his
province of Cole-Syria.

[Illustration: 057.jpg Alexander adoring Horus]

But Antigonus, in his ambitious efforts to stretch his power over all
the provinces, had by force or by treachery driven Seleucus out of
Babylon, and forced him to seek Egypt for safety, where Ptolemy received
him with the kindness and good policy which had before gained so many
friends. No arguments of Seleucus were wanting to persuade Ptolemy that
Antigonus was dreaming of universal conquest, and that his next attack
would be upon Egypt. He therefore sent ambassadors to make treaties of
alliance with Cassander and Lysimachus, who readily joined him against
the common enemy.

The large fleet and army which Antigonus got together for the invasion
of Egypt proved his opinion of the strength and skill of Ptolemy. All
Syria, except one or two cities, laid down its arms before him on his
approach. But he found that the whole of the fleet had been already
removed to the ports of Egypt, and he ordered Phoenicia to furnish him
with eight thousand shipbuilders and carpenters, to build galleys from
the forests of Lebanon and Antilibanus, and ordered Syria to send four
hundred and fifty thousand medimni, or nearly three millions of bushels
of wheat, for the use of his army within the year. By these means he
raised his fleet to two hundred and forty-three long galleys or ships of

Ptolemy was for a short time called off from the war in Syria by a
rising in Cyrene. The Cyrenians, who clung to their Doric love of
freedom, and were latterly smarting at its loss, had taken arms and were
besieging the Egyptian, or, as they would have called themselves, the
Macedonian garrison, who had shut themselves up in the citadel. He at
first sent messengers to order the Cyrenians to return to their duty;
but his orders were not listened to; the rebels no doubt thought
themselves safe, as his armies seemed more wanted on the eastern
frontier; his messengers were put to death, and the siege of the citadel
pushed forward with all possible speed. On this he sent a large land
force, followed by a fleet, in order to crush the revolt at a single
blow; and the ringleaders were brought to Alexandria in chains. Magas, a
son of Queen Berenicê and stepson of Ptolemy, was then made governor of

When this trouble at home was put an end to, Ptolemy crossed over to
Cyprus to punish the kings of the little states on that island for
having joined Antigonus. For now that the fate of empires was to be
settled by naval battles the friendship of Cyprus became very important
to the neighbouring states. The large and safe harbours gave to this
island a great value in the naval warfare between Egypt, Phoenicia, and
Asia Minor. Alexander had given it as his opinion that the command
of the sea went with the island of Cyprus. When he held Asia Minor he
called Cyprus the key to Egypt; and with still greater reason might
Ptolemy, looking from Egypt, think that island the key to Phoenicia.
Accordingly he landed there with so large a force that he met with no
resistance. He added Cyprus to the rest of his dominions: he banished
the kings, and made Nicocreon governor of the whole island.

From Cyprus, Ptolemy landed with his army in Upper Syria, as the
northern part of that country was called, while the part nearer to
Palestine was called Coele-Syria. Here he took the towns of Posideion
and Potami-Caron, and then marching hastily into Asia Minor he took
Malms, a city of Cilicia. Having rewarded his soldiers with the booty
there seized, he again embarked and returned to Alexandria. This inroad
seems to have been meant to draw off the enemy from Coele-Syria; and it
had the wished-for effect, for Demetrius, who commanded the forces of
his father Antigonus in that quarter, marched northward to the relief
of Cilicia, but he did not arrive there till Ptolemy's fleet was already
under sail for its return journey to Egypt.

Ptolemy, on reaching Alexandria, set his army in motion towards
Pelusium, on its way to Palestine. His forces were eighteen thousand
foot and four thousand horse, part Macedonians, as the Greeks living in
Egypt were always called, and part mercenaries, followed by a crowd of
Egyptians, of whom some were armed for battle, and some were to take
care of the baggage. He had twenty-two thousand Greeks, and was met at
Gaza by the young Demetrius with an army of eleven thousand foot and
twenty-three hundred horse, followed by forty-three elephants and a
body of light-armed barbarians, who, like the Egyptians in the army of
Ptolemy, were not counted. But the youthful courage of Demetrius was no
match for the cool skill and larger army of Ptolemy; the elephants were
easily stopped by iron hurdles, and the Egyptian army, after gaining a
complete victory, entered Gaza, while Demetrius fled to Azotus. Ptolemy,
in his victory, showed a generosity unknown in modern warfare; he not
only gave leave to the conquered army to bury their dead, but sent back
the whole of the royal baggage which had fallen into his hands, and also
those personal friends of Demetrius who were found among the prisoners;
that is to say, all those who wished to depart, as the larger part of
these Greek armies were equally ready to fight on either side.

By this victory the whole of Phoenicia was again joined to Egypt, and
Seleucus regained Babylonia. There, by following the example of Ptolemy
in his good treatment of the people, and in leaving them their own laws
and religion, he founded a monarchy, and gave his name to a race of
kings which rivalled even the Lagidæ. He raised up again for a short
time the throne of Nebuchadnezzar. But it was only for a short time. The
Chal-dees and Assyrians now yielded the first rank to the Greeks who
had settled among them; and the Greeks were more numerous in the Syrian
portion of his empire. Accordingly Seleucus built a new capital on
the river Orontes, and named it Antioch after his father. Babylon then
yielded the same obedience to this new Greek city that Memphis paid
to Alexandria. Assyria and Babylonia became subject provinces; and
the successors of Seleucus, who came to be known as Selucids, styled
themselves not kings of Babylon but of Syria.

When Antigonus, who was in Phrygia on the other side of his kingdom,
heard that his son Demetrius had been beaten at Gaza, he marched with
all his forces to give battle to Ptolemy. He soon crossed Mount Taurus,
the lofty range which divides Asia Minor from Syria and Mesopotamia, and
joined his camp to that of his son in Upper Syria. But Ptolemy had gone
through life without ever making a hazardous move; not indeed without
ever suffering a loss, but without ever fighting a battle when its loss
would have ruined him, and he did not choose to risk his kingdom against
the far larger forces of Antigonus. Therefore, with the advice of his
council of generals, he levelled the fortifications of Acre, Joppa,
Samaria, and Gaza, and withdrew his forces and treasure into Egypt,
leaving the desert between himself and the army of Antigonus.

Antigonus could not safely attempt to march through the desert in the
face of Ptolemy's army. He had, therefore, first, either to conquer or
gain the friendship of the Nabatæans, a warlike race of Arabs, who held
the north of Arabia; and then he might march by Petra, Mount Sinai, and
the coast of the Red Sea, without being in want of water for his army.
The Nabatæans were the tribe at an earlier time called Edomites. But
they lost that name when they carried it to the southern portion of
Judæa, then called Idumæa; for when the Jews regained Idumæa, they
called these Edomites of the desert Nebaoth or Nabatæans. The Nabatæns
professed neutrality between Antigonus and Ptolemy, the two contending
powers; but the mild temper of Ptolemy had so far gained their
friendship that the haughty Antigonus, though he did not refuse their
pledges of peace, secretly made up his mind to conquer them. Petra, the
city of the Nabatæans, is in a narrow valley between steep overhanging
rocks, so difficult of approach that a handful of men could guard it
against the largest army. Not more than two horsemen can ride abreast
through the chasm in the rock by which it is entered from the east,
while the other entrance from the west is down a hillside too steep for
a loaded camel.

[Illustration: 062.jpg ON THE COAST OF THE RED SEA]

The Eastern proverb reminds us that "Water is the chief thing;" and
a large stream within the valley, in addition to the strength of the
fortress, made it a favourite resting-place for caravans, which, whether
they were coming from Tyre or Jerusalem, were forced to pass by this
city in their way to the Incense Country of Arabia Felix, or to the
Elanitic Gulf of the Red Sea, and for other caravans from Egypt to Dedam
on the Persian Gulf. These warlike Arabs seem to have received a toll
from the caravans, and they held their rocky fastness unconquered by
the great nations which surrounded them. Their temples and tombs were
cut out of the live rock, and hence the city was by the Jews named
Selah, (the rock), and by the Greeks named Petra, from which last the
country was sometimes called Arabia Petræa.

Antigonus heard that the Nabatæans had left Petra less guarded than
usual, and had gone to a neighbouring fair, probably to meet a caravan
from the south, and to receive spices in exchange for the woollen goods
from Tyre. He therefore sent forward four thousand light-armed foot and
six hundred horse, who overpowered the guard and seized the city. The
Arabs, when they heard of what had happened, returned in the night,
surrounded the place, came upon the Greeks from above, by paths known
only to themselves, and overcame them with such slaughter that, out of
the four thousand six hundred men, only fifty returned to Antigonus to
tell the tale.

The Nabatæans then sent to Antigonus to complain of this crafty attack
being made upon Petra after they had received from him a promise of
friendship. He endeavoured to put them off their guard by disowning the
acts of his general; he sent them home with promises of peace, but at
the same time sent forward his son Demetrius, with four thousand horse
and four thousand foot, to take revenge upon them, and again seize their
city. But the Arabs were this time upon their guard; the nature of
the place was as unfavourable to the Greek arms and warfare as it was
favourable to the Arabs; and these eight thousand men, the flower of the
army, under brave Demetrius, were unable to force their way through the
narrow pass into this remarkable city.

Had Antigonus been master of the sea, he might perhaps have marched
through the desert along the coast of the Mediterranean to Pelusium,
with his fleet to wait upon his army, as Perdiccas had done. But
without this, the only way that he could enter Egypt was through the
neighbourhood of Petra, and then along the same path which the Jews are
supposed to have followed; and the stop thus put upon the invasion of
Egypt by this little city shows us the strength of Ptolemy's eastern
frontier. Antigonus then led his army northward, leaving the kingdom of
Egypt unattacked.

This retreat was followed by a treaty of peace between these generals,
by which it was agreed that each should keep the country that he then
held; that Cassan-der should govern Macedonia until Alexander Ægus, the
son of Alexander the Great, should be of age; that Lysimachus should
keep Thrace, Ptolemy Egypt, and Antigonus Asia Minor and Palestine; and
each wishing to be looked upon as the friend of the soldiers by whom
his power was upheld, and the whole of these wide conquests kept in awe,
added the very unnecessary article, that the Greeks living in each of
these countries should be governed according to their own laws.

All the provinces held by these generals became more or less Greek
kingdoms, yet in no one did so many Greeks settle as in Lower Egypt.
Though the rest of Egypt was governed by Egyptian laws and judges, the
city of Alexandria was under Macedonian law. It did not form part of the
nome of Hermopolites in which it was built. It scarcely formed a part of
Egypt, but was a Greek state in its neighbourhood, holding the Egyptians
in a state of slavery. In that city no Egyptian could live without
feeling himself of a conquered race. He was not admitted to the
privileges of Macedonian citizenship, while they were at once granted to
every Greek, and soon to every Jew, who would settle there.

By the treaty just spoken of, Ptolemy, in the thirteenth year after the
death of Alexander, was left undisputed master of Egypt. During these
years he had not only gained the love of the Egyptians and Alexandrians
by his wise and just government, but had won their respect as a general
by the skill with which he had kept the war at a distance. He had lost
and won battles in Syria, in Asia Minor, in the island of Cyprus, and at
sea; but since Perdiccas marched against him, before he had a force to
defend himself with, no foreign army had drunk the sacred waters of the

It was under the government of Ptolemy that the wonders of Upper Egypt
were first seen by any Greeks who had leisure, a love of knowledge, and
enough of literature, to examine carefully and to describe what they
saw. Loose and highly coloured accounts of the wealth of Thebes
had reached Greece even before the time of Homer, and again through
Herodotus and other travellers in the Delta; but nothing was certainly
known of it till it was visited by Hecatæus of Abdera, who, among other
works, wrote a history of the Hyperborean or northern nations, and also
a history, or rather a description of Egypt, part of which we now read
in the pages of Dio-dorus Siculus. When he travelled in Upper Egypt,
Thebes, though still a populous city, was more thought of by the
antiquary than by the statesman. Its wealth, however, was still great;
and when, under the just government of Ptolemy, it was no longer
necessary for the priests to hide their treasures, it was found that the
temples still held the very large sum of three hundred talents of gold,
and two thousand three hundred talents of silver, or above five million
dollars, which had escaped the plundering hands of the Persian satraps.
Many of the Theban tombs, which are sets of rooms tunnelled into the
hills on the Libyan side of the Nile, had even then been opened to
gratify the curiosity of the learned or the greediness of the conqueror.
Forty-seven royal tombs were mentioned in the records of the priests,
of which the entrances had been covered up with earth, and hidden in
the sloping sides of the hills, in the hope that they might remain
undisturbed and unplundered, and might keep safe the embalmed bodies
of the kings till they should rise again at the end of the world; and
seventeen of these had already been found out and broken open. Hecatæus
was told that the other tombs had been before destroyed; and we owe it,
perhaps, to this mistake that they remained unopened for more than two
thousand years longer, to reward the searches of modern travellers, and
to unfold to us the history of their builders.

The Memnonium, the great palace of Ramses II., was then standing; and
though it had been plundered by the Persians, the building itself was
unhurt. Its massive walls had scarcely felt the wear of the centuries
which had rolled over them. Hecataaus measured its rooms, its
courtyards, and its avenue of sphinxes; and by his measurements we can
now distinguish its ruins from those of the other palaces of Thebes. One
of its rooms, perhaps after the days of its builder, had been fitted up
as a library, and held the histories and records of the priests; but the
golden zodiac, or circle, on which were engraved the days of the year,
with the celestial bodies seen to rise at sunrise and set at sunset,
by which each day was known, had been taken away by Cambyses. Hecataaus
also saw the three other palace-temples of Thebes, which we now call
by the names of the villages in which they stand, namely, of Luxor, of
Karnak, and of Medinet-Habu. But the Greeks, in their accounts of
Egypt, have sadly puzzled us by their careless alteration of names from
similarity of sound. To Miamun Ramses, they gave the common Greek name
Memnon; and the city of Hahiroth they called Heroopolis, as if it meant
the _city of heroes_. The capital of Upper Egypt, which was called The
City, as a capital is often called, or in Koptic, _Tape or Thabou_, they
named Thebes, and in their mythology they confounded it with Thebes in
Bootia. The city of the god Kneph they called Canopus, and said it
was so named after the pilot of Menelaus. The hill of Toorah opposite
Memphis they called the Trojan mountain. One of the oldest cities in
Egypt, This, or with the prefix for city, Abouthis, they called Abydos,
and then said that it was colonised by Milesians from Abydos in Asia.
In the same careless way have the Greeks given us an account of the
Egyptian gods. They thought them the same as their own, though with new
faces; and, instead of describing their qualities, they have in the main
contented themselves with translating their names.

If Ptolemy did not make his government as much feared by the half-armed
Ethiopians as it was by the well-disciplined Europeans, it must have
been because the Thebans wished to guard their own frontier rather than
because his troops were always wanted against a more powerful enemy; but
the inroads of the Ethiopians were so far from being checked that the
country to the south of Thebes was unsafe for travellers, and no Greek
was able to reach Syênê and the lower cataracts during his reign. The
trade through Ethiopia was wholly stopped, and the caravans went from
Thebes to Cosseir to meet the ships which brought the goods of Arabia
and India from the opposite coast of the Red Sea.

In the wars between Egypt and Asia Minor, in which Palestine had the
misfortune to be the prize struggled for and the debatable land on which
the battles were fought, the Jews were often made to smart under
the stern pride of Antigonus, and to rejoice at the milder temper
of Ptolemy. The Egyptians of the Delta and the Jews had always been
friends; and hence, when Ptolemy promised to treat the Jews with the
same kindness as the Greeks, and more than the Egyptians, and held out
all the rights of Macedonian citizenship to those who would settle in
his rising city of Alexandria, he was followed by crowds of industrious
traders, manufacturers, and men of letters. They chose to live in Egypt
in peace and wealth, rather than to stay in Palestine in the daily fear
of having their houses sacked and burnt at every fresh quarrel between
Ptolemy and Antigonus. In Alexandria, a suburb by the sea, on the east
side of the city, was allotted for their use, which was afterwards
included within the fortifications, and thus made a fifth ward of the
Lagid metropolis.

No sooner was the peace agreed upon between the four generals, who were
the most powerful kings in the known world, than Cassander, who held
Macedonia, put to death both the Queen Roxana and her son, the young
Alexander Ægus, then thirteen years old, in whose name these generals
had each governed his kingdom with unlimited sway, and who was then of
an age that the soldiers, the givers of all power, were already
planning to make him the real King of Macedonia and of his father's wide

The Macedonian phalanx, which formed the pride and sinews of every
army, were equally held by their deep-rooted loyalty to the memory of
Alexander, whether they were fighting for Ptolemy or for Antigonus, and
equally thought that they were guarding a province for his heir; and it
was through fear of loosening their hold upon the faithfulness of these
their best troops that Ptolemy and his rivals alike chose to govern
their kingdoms under the unpretending title of lieutenants of the King
of Macedonia. Hence, upon the death of Alexander Ægus, there was a
throne, or at least a state prison, left empty for a new claimant.
Polysperchon, an old general of Alexander's army, then thought that he
saw a way to turn Cassander out of Macedonia, by the help of Hercules,
the natural son of Alexander by Barce; and, having proclaimed him king,
he led him with a strong army against Cassander. But Polysperchon wanted
either courage or means for what he had undertaken, and he soon yielded
to the bribes of Cassander and put Hercules to death.

The cities on the southern coast of Asia Minor yielded to Antigonus
obedience as slight as the ties which held them to one another. The
cities of Pamphylia and Cilicia, in their habits as in their situation,
were nearer the Syrians, and famous for their shipping. They all enjoyed
a full share of the trade and piracy of those seas, and were a tempting
prize to Ptolemy. The treaty of peace between the generals never
lessened their jealousy nor wholly stopped the warfare, and the
next year Ptolemy, finding that his troops could hardly keep their
possessions in Cilicia, carried over an army in person to attack the
forces of Antigonus in Lycia. He landed at Phaselis, the frontier town
of Pamphylia, and, having carried that by storm, he moved westward along
the coast of Lycia. He made himself master of Xanthus, the capital,
which was garrisoned by the troops of Antigonus; and then of Caunus, a
strong place on the coast of Caria, with two citadels, one of which he
gained by force and the other by surrender. He then sailed to the island
of Cos, which he gained by the treachery of Ptolemy, the nephew of
Antigonus, who held it for his uncle, but who went over to the Egyptian
king with all his forces. By this success he gained the whole southern
coast of Asia Minor.

The brother and two children of Alexander having been in their turns,
as we have seen, murdered by their guardians, Cleopatra, his sister, and
Thessalonica, his niece, were alone left alive of the royal family
of Macedonia. Almost every one of the generals had already courted a
marriage with Cleopatra, which had either been refused by herself or
hindered by his rivals; and lastly Ptolemy, now that by the death of her
nephews she brought kingdoms, or the love of the Macedonian mercenaries,
which was worth more than kingdoms, as her dower, sent to ask her hand
in marriage. This offer was accepted by Cleopatra; but, on her journey
from Sardis, the capital of Lydia, to Egypt, on her way to join her
future husband, she was put to death by Antigonus. The niece was put
to death a few years later. Thus every one who was of the family of
Alexander paid the forfeit of life for that honour, and these two deaths
ended the Macedonian dynasty with a double tragedy.

While Ptolemy was busy in helping the Greek cities of Asia to gain their
liberty, Menelaus, his brother and admiral, was almost driven out of
Cyprus by Demetrius. On this Ptolemy got together his fleet, to the
number of one hundred and forty long galleys and two hundred transports,
manned with not less than ten thousand men, and sailed with them to the
help of his brother. This fleet, under the command of Menelaus, was met
by Demetrius with the fleet of Antigonus, consisting of one hundred and
twelve long galleys and a number of transports; and the Egyptian fleet,
which had hitherto been master of the sea, was beaten near the city
of Salamis in Cyprus by the smaller fleet of Demetrius. This was the
heaviest loss that had ever befallen Ptolemy. Eighty long galleys were
sunk, and forty long galleys, with one hundred transports and eight
thousand men, were taken prisoners. He could no longer hope to keep
Cyprus, and he sailed hastily back to Egypt, leaving to Demetrius the
garrisons of the island as his prisoners, all of whom were enrolled in
the army of Antigonus, to the number of sixteen thousand foot and six
hundred horse.

This naval victory gave Demetrius the means of unburdening his proud
mind of a debt of gratitude to his enemy; and accordingly, remembering
what Ptolemy had done after the battle of Gaza, he sent back to Egypt,
unasked for and unransomed, those prisoners who were of high rank, that
is to say, all those who had any choice about which side they fought
for; and among them were Leontiscus, the son, and Menelaus, the brother,
of Ptolemy.

Antigonus was overjoyed with the news of his son's victory. By lessening
the power of Ptolemy, it had done much to smooth his own path to the
sovereignty of Alexander's empire, which was then left without an heir;
and he immediately took the title of king, and gave the same title to
his son Demetrius. In this he was followed by Ptolemy and the other
generals, but with this difference, that while Antigonus called himself
king of all the provinces, Ptolemy called himself King of Egypt; and
while Antigonus gained Syria and Cyprus, Ptolemy gained the friendship
of every other kingdom and of every free city in Greece; they all looked
upon him as their best ally against Antigonus, the common enemy.

The next year Antigonus mustered his forces in Coele-Syria, and got
ready for a second attack upon Egypt. He had more than eighty thousand
foot, accompanied with what was then the usual proportion of cavalry,
namely, eight thousand horse and eighty-three elephants. Demetrius
brought with him from Cyprus the fleet of one hundred and fifty long
galleys, and one hundred transports laden with stores and engines of
war. With this fleet, to which Ptolemy, after his late loss, had no
ships that he could oppose, Antigonus had no need to ask leave of the
Arabs of the little city of Petra to march through their passes; but he
led his army straight through the desert to Pelusium, while the ships of
burden kept close to the shore with the stores. The pride of Antigonus
would not let him follow the advice of the sailors, and wait eight days
till the north winds of the spring equinox had passed; and by this haste
many of his ships were wrecked on the coast, while others were driven
into the Nile and fell into the hands of Ptolemy. Antigonus himself,
marching with the land forces, found all the strong places well guarded
by the Egyptian army; and, being driven back at every point, discouraged
by the loss of his ships and by seeing whole bodies of his troops go
over to Ptolemy, he at last took the advice of his officers and led back
his army to Syria, while Ptolemy returned to Alexandria, to employ those
powers of mind in the works of peace which he had so successfully used
in his various wars.

Antigonus then turned the weight of his mighty kingdom against the
little island of Rhodes, which, though in sight of the coast of Asia
Minor, held itself independent of him, and in close friendship with
Ptolemy. The Dorian island of Rhodes had from the earliest dawn of
history held a high place among the states of Greece; and in all the
arts of civilised life, in painting, sculpture, letters, and commerce,
it had been lately rising in rank while the other free states had been
falling. Its maritime laws were so highly thought of that they were
copied by most other states, and, being afterwards adopted into the
Pandects of Justinian, they have in part become the law of modern
Europe. It was the only state in which Greek liberty then kept its
ground against the great empires of Alexander's successors.

Against this little state Demetrius led two hundred long galleys and one
hundred and seventy transports, with more than forty thousand men. The
Greek world looked on with deep interest while the veterans of Antigonus
were again and again driven back from the walls of the blockaded city
by its brave and virtuous citizens; who, while their houses were burning
and their walls crumbling under the battering-ram, left the statues of
Antigonus and Demetrius standing unhurt in the market-place, saved by
their love of art and the remembrance of former kindness, which, with
a true greatness of mind, they would not let the cruelties of the siege
outweigh. The galleys of Ptolemy, though unable to keep at sea against
the larger fleet of Demetrius, often forced their way into the harbour
with the welcome supplies of grain. Month after month every stratagem
and machine which the ingenuity of Demetrius could invent were tried and
failed; and, after the siege had lasted more than a year, he was glad to
find an excuse for withdrawing his troops; and the Rhodians in their joy
hailed Ptolemy with the title of Soter or _saviour_. This name he ever
afterwards kept, though by the Greek writers he is more often called
Ptolemy the son of Lagus. If we search the history of the world for a
second instance of so small a state daring to withstand the armies of so
mighty an empire, we shall perhaps not find any one more remarkable than
that of the same island, when, seventeen hundred years afterwards, it
again drew upon itself the eyes of the world, while it beat off the
forces of the Ottoman empire under Mahomet II.; and, standing like a
rock in front of Christendom, it rolled back for years the tide of war,
till its walls were at last crumbled to a heap of ruins by Suleiman the
Great, after a siege of many months.

The next of Ptolemy's conquests was Coele-Syria; and soon after this
the wars between these successors of Alexander were put an end to by
the death of Antigonus, whose overtowering ambition was among the
chief causes of quarrel. This happened at the great battle of Ipsus in
Phrygia, where they all met, with more than eighty thousand men in
each army. Antigonus, King of Asia Minor, was accompanied by his son
Demetrius, and by Pyrrhus, King of Epirus; and he was defeated by
Ptolemy, King of Egypt, Seleucus, King of Babylon, Lysimachus, King of
Thrace, and Cassander, King of Macedonia; and the old man lost his life
fighting bravely. After the battle Demetrius fled to Cyprus, and yielded
to the terms of peace which were imposed on him by the four allied
sovereigns. He sent his friend Pyrrhus as a hostage to Alexandria; and
there this young King of Epirus soon gained the friendship of Ptolemy
and afterwards his stepdaughter in marriage. Ptolemy was thus left
master of the whole of the southern coast of Asia Minor and Syria,
indeed of the whole coast of the eastern end of the Mediterranean, from
the island of Cos on the north to Cyrene on the south.

During these formidable wars with Antigonus, Ptolemy had never been
troubled with any serious rising of the conquered Egyptians; and perhaps
the wars may not have been without their use in strengthening his
throne. The first danger to a successful conqueror is from the avarice
and disappointment of his followers, who usually claim the kingdom as
their booty, and who think themselves wronged and their past services
forgotten if any limit is placed to their tyranny over the conquered.
But these foreign wars may have taught the Alexandrians that Ptolemy was
not strong enough to ill-treat the Egyptians, and may thus have saved
him from the indiscretion of his friends and from their reproaches for

In the late war, the little Dorian island of Cos on the coast of Asia
Minor fell, as we have seen, under the power of Ptolemy. This island was
remarkable as being the first spot in Europe into which the manufacture
of silk was introduced, which it probably gained when under the power
of Persia before the overthrow of Darius. The luxury of the Egyptian
ladies, who affected to be overheated by any clothing that could conceal
their limbs, had long ago introduced a tight, thin dress which neither
our climate nor notions of modesty would allow, and for this dress,
silk, when it could be obtained, was much valued; and Pamphila of Cos
had the glory of having woven webs so transparent that the Egyptian
women were enabled to display their fair forms yet more openly by means
of this clothing.


Cos continued always in the power of the Ptolemies, who used it as a
royal fortress, occasionally sending their treasures and their children
there as to a place of safety from Alexandrian rebellion; and there the
silk manufacture flourished in secret for two or three centuries.
When it ceased is unknown, as it was part of the merchants' craft to
endeavour to keep each branch of trade to themselves, by concealing the
channel through which they obtained their supply of goods, and many of
the dresses which were sold in Rome under the emperors by the name of
Coan robes may have been brought from the East through Alexandria.

One of the most valuable gifts which Egypt owed to Ptolemy was its
coinage. Even Thebes, "where treasures were largest in the houses" never
was able to pass gold and silver from hand to hand without the trouble
of weighing, and the doubt as to the fineness of the metal. The Greek
merchants who crowded the markets of Canopus and Alexandria must have
filled Lower Egypt with the coins of the cities from whence they came,
all unlike one another in stamp and weight; but, while every little city
or even colony of Greece had its own coinage, Egypt had as yet very few
coins of its own. We are even doubtful whether we know by sight those
coined by the Persians In the early years of Ptolemy's government
Ptolemy had issued a very few coins bearing the names of the young kings
in whose name he held the country, but he seems not to have coined any
quantity of money till after he had himself taken the title of king. His
coins are of gold, silver, and bronze, and are in a fine style of Greek
workmanship. Those of gold and silver bear on one side the portrait of
the king, without a beard, having the head bound with the royal diadem,
which, unlike the high priestly crown of the native Egyptian kings, or
the modern crown of gold and precious stones, is a plain riband tied in
a bow behind. On the other side they have the name of Ptolemy Soter, or
King Ptolemy, with an eagle standing upon a thunderbolt, which was only
another way of drawing the eagle and sun, the hieroglyphical characters
for the title Pharaoh.

[Illustration: 082.jpg EGYPTIAN COINAGE]

The gold coins of Egypt were probably made in Alexandria. The coins
are not of the same weight as those of Greece; but Ptolemy followed the
Egyptian standard of weight, which was that to which the Jewish shekel
was adjusted, and which was in use in the wealthy cities of Tyre and
Sidon and Beryttus. The drachma weighs fifty-five grains, making the
talent of silver worth about seven hundred and fifty dollars. Ptolemy's
bronze coins have the head of Serapis or Jupiter in the place of that of
the king, as is also the case with those of his successors; but few of
these bronze pieces bear any marks from which we can learn the reign
in which they were coined. They are of better metal than those of other
countries, as the bronze is free from lead and has more tin in it. The
historian, in his very agreeable labours, should never lose sight of the
coins. They teach us by their workmanship the state of the arts, and by
their weight, number, and purity of metal, the wealth of the country.
They also teach dates, titles, and the places where they were struck;
and even in those cases where they seem to add little to what we learn
from other sources, they are still the living witnesses to which we
appeal, to prove the truth of the authors who have told us more.

[Illustration: 083.jpg COIN OF SOTER, WITH JUPITER]

The art of engraving coins did not flourish alone in Alexandria;
painters and sculptors flocked to Egypt to enjoy the favours of Ptolemy.
Apelles, indeed, whose paintings were thought by those who had seen
them to surpass any that had been before painted, or were likely to be
painted, had quarrelled with Ptolemy, who had known him well when he
was the friend and painter of Alexander. Once when he was at Alexandria,
somebody wickedly told him that he was invited to dine at the royal
table, and when Ptolemy asked who it was that had sent his unwelcome
guest, Apelles drew the face of the mischief-maker on the wall, and he
was known to all the court by the likeness. It was, perhaps, at one
of these dinners, at which Ptolemy enjoyed the society of the men of
letters, or perhaps when visiting the philosophers in their schools,
that he asked Euclid if he could not show him a shorter and easier way
to the higher truths of mathematics than that by which he led the pupils
in the Museum; and Euclid, as if to remind him of the royal roads of
Persia, which ran by the side of the highroads, but were kept clear and
free for the king's own use, made him the well-known answer, that there
was no royal road to geometry.

Ptolemy lived in easy familiarity with the learned men of Alexandria;
and at another of these literary dinners, when Diodorus, the
rhetorician, who was thought to have been the inventor of the Dilemma,
was puzzled by a question put to him by Stilpo, the king in joke said
that his name should be Cronus, a god who had been laughed at in the
comedies. Indeed, he was so teased by Ptolemy for not being able to
answer it, that he got up and left the room. He afterwards wrote a book
upon the subject; but the ridicule was said to have embittered the rest
of his life. This was the person against whom Callimachus, some years
later, wrote a bitter epigram, beginning "Cronus is a wise man."
Diodorus was of the sceptical school of philosophy, which, though not
far removed from the Cyrenaic school, was never popular in Alexandria.
Among other paradoxes he used to deny the existence of motion. He argued
that the motion was not in the place where the body moved from, nor in
the place that the body moved to, and that accordingly it did not exist
at all. Once he met with a violent fall which put his shoulder out of
joint, and he applied to Herophilus, the surgeon, to set it. Herophilus
began by asking him where the fall took place, whether in the place
where the shoulder was, or in the place where it fell to; but the
smarting philosopher begged him to begin by setting his limb, and they
would talk about the existence of motion after the operation.

Stilpo was at this time only on a visit to Ptolemy, for he had refused
his offer of money and a professorship in the Museum, and had chosen
to remain at Megara where he was the ornament of his birthplace. He
had been banished from Athens for speaking against their gods, and for
saying that the colossal Minerva was not the daughter of Jupiter, but of
Phidias, the sculptor. His name as a philosopher stood so high that when
Demetrius, in his late wars with Ptolemy, took the city of Megara by
storm, the conqueror bid spare the house of Stilpo, when temple and
tower went to the ground; and when Demetrius gave orders that Stilpo
should be repaid for what he had lost in the siege, the philosopher
proudly answered that he had lost nothing, and that he had no wealth but
his learning.

The historian Theopompus of Chios then came to Alexandria, and wrote an
account of the wars between the Egyptians and the Persians. It is now
lost, but it contained at least the events from the successful invasion
by Artaxerxes Longimanus till the unsuccessful invasion by Artaxerxes

No men of learning in Alexandria were more famous than the physicians.
Erasistratus of Cos had the credit of having once cured Antiochus,
afterwards King of Syria. He was the grandson of Aristotle, and may
be called the father of the science of anatomy: his writings are often
quoted by Dioscorides. Antiochus in his youth had fallen deeply in love
with his young stepmother, and was pining away in silence and despair.
Erasistratus found out the cause of his illness, which was straightway
cured by Seleucus giving up his wife to his own son. This act strongly
points out the changed opinions of the world as to the matrimonial
relation; for it was then thought the father's best title to the name
of Nicator; he had before conquered his enemies, but he then conquered

Erasistratus was the first who thought that a knowledge of anatomy
should be made a part of the healing art. Before his time surgery and
medicine had been deemed one and the same; they had both been studied by
the slow and uncertain steps of experience, unguided by theory. Many a
man who had been ill, whether through disease or wound, and had regained
his health, thought it his duty to Esculapius and to his neighbours to
write up in the temple of the god the nature of his ailings, and the
simples to which he fancied that he owed his cure. By copying these
loose but well-meant inscriptions of medical cases, Hippocrates had,
a century earlier, laid the foundations of the science; but nothing
further was added to it till Erasistratus, setting at nought the
prejudices in which he was born, began dissecting the human body in the
schools of Alexandria. There the mixing together of Greeks and Egyptians
had weakened those religious feelings of respect for the dead which are
usually shocked by anatomy; and this study flourished from the low
tone of the morality as much as from the encouragement which good sense
should grant to every search for knowledge.

Herophilus lived about the same time with Erasistratus, and was, like
him, famous for his knowledge of the anatomy of man. But so hateful was
this study in the eyes of many, that these anatomists were charged by
writers who ought to have known better, with the cruelty of cutting
men open when alive. They had few followers in the hated use of the
dissecting-knife. It was from their writings that Galen borrowed the
anatomical parts of his work; and thus it was to the dissections of
these two great men, helped indeed by opening the bodies of animals,
that the world owed almost the whole of its knowledge of the anatomy of
man, till the fifteenth century, when surgeons were again bold enough to
face the outcry of the mob, and to study the human body with the knife.

Hegesias of Cyrene was an early lecturer on philosophy at Alexandria.
His short and broken sentences are laughed at by Cicero, yet he was so
much listened to, when lecturing against the fear of death, and showing
that in quitting life we leave behind us more pains than pleasures, that
he was stopped by Ptolemy Soter through fear of his causing self-murder
among his hearers. He then wrote a book upon the same subject, for
though the state watched over the public teaching, it took no notice
of books; writing had not yet become the mightiest power on earth. The
miseries, however, of this world, which he so eloquently and feelingly
described in his lectures and writings, did not drive him to put an end
to his own life.

Philostephanus of Cyrene, the friend of Callimachus, was a naturalist
who wrote upon fishes, and is the first investigator that we hear of who
thought it desirable to limit his studies to one branch of the science
of natural history.

But Cyrene did not send all its great men to Alexandria. Plato had
studied mathematics there under Theodorus, and it had a school of its
own which gave its name to the Cyrenaic sect. The founder of this sect
was Aristippus, the pupil of Socrates who had missed the high honour of
being present at his death. He was the first philosopher who took money
from his pupils, and used to say that they valued their lessons more
for having to pay for them; but he was blamed by his brethren for
thus lowering the dignity of the teacher. He died several years before
Ptolemy Soter came into Egypt. The Cyrenaic sect thought happiness,
not goodness, was the end to be aimed at through life, and selfishness,
rather than kindness to others, the right spring of men's actions. It
would hardly be fair to take their opinions from the mouths of their
enemies; and the dialogues of Socrates, with their founder, as told to
us by Xeno-phon, would prove a lower tone of morality than he is likely
to have held. The wish for happiness and the philosophical love of self,
which should lead to goodness, though a far worse rule of life than the
love of goodness for its own sake, which is the groundwork of religion,
was certainly far better than unguided passion and the love of to-day's
pleasure. But often as this unsafe rule has been set up for our
guidance, there have always been found many to make use of it in a way
not meant by the teacher. The Cyrenaic sect soon fell into the disrepute
to which these principles were likely to lead it, and wholly ceased when
Epicurus taught the same opinions more philosophically, Anniceris of
Cyrene, though a follower of Aristippus, somewhat improved upon the
low-toned philosophy of his master. He granted that there were many
things worth our aim, which could not be brought within the narrow
bounds of what is useful. He did not overlook friendship, kindness,
honouring our parents, and serving our country; and he thought that a
wise man would undertake many labours which would bring him no return in
the things which were alone thought happiness.

The chair of philosophy at Cyrene was afterwards filled by Arete, the
daughter of Aristippus; for such were the hindrances in the way of
gaining knowledge, that few could be so well qualified to teach as the
philosopher's daughter. Books were costly, and reading by no means
a cheap amusement. She was followed, after her death, by her son
Aristippus, who, having been brought up in his mother's lecture-room,
was called, in order to distinguish him from his grandfather of the same
name, Metrodidactus, or _mother-taught_. History has not told us whether
he took the name himself in gratitude for the debt which he owed to this
learned lady, or whether it was given him by his pupils; but in either
case it was a sure way of giving to the mother the fame which was due to
her for the education of her son; for no one could fail to ask who was
the mother of Metrodidactus.

Theodorus, one of the pupils of Metrodidactus, though at one time
banished from Cyrene, rose to honour under Soter, and was sent by him as
ambassador to Lysimachus, He was called the Atheist by his enemies, and
the Divine by his friends, but we cannot now determine which title he
best deserved. It was then usual to call those atheists who questioned
the existence of the pagan gods; and we must not suppose that all who
suffered under that reproach denied that the world was governed by a
ruling providence. The disbeliever in the false religion of the many is
often the only real believer in a God. Theodorus was of the cold school
of philosophy, which was chiefly followed in Alexandria. It was earthly,
lifeless, and unpoetical, arising from the successful cultivation of
the physical sciences, not enough counteracted by the more ennobling
pursuits of poetry and the fine arts. Hence, while commerce and the arts
of production were carried to higher perfection than at any former
time, and science was made greatly to assist in the supply of our bodily
wants, the arts of civilisation, though by no means neglected, were
cultivated without any lofty aim, or any true knowledge of their

[Illustration: 092.jpg THE CHARIOT OF ANTIPHILUS]

Antiphilus, who was born in Egypt and had studied painting under
Ctesidemus, rose to high rank as a painter in Alexandria. Among his
best-known pictures were the bearded Bacchus, the young Alexander, and
Hip-polytus, or rather his chariot-horses, frightened by the bull. His
boy, blowing up a fire with his mouth, was much praised for the mouth
of the boy, and for the light and shade of the room. His Ptolemy
hunting was also highly thought of. Antiphilus showed a mean jealousy
of Apelles, and accused him of joining in a plot against the king, for
which the painter narrowly escaped punishment; but Ptolemy, finding that
the charge was not true, sent Apelles a gift of one hundred talents to
make amends. The angry feelings of Apelles were by no means cooled by
this gift, but they boiled over in his great picture of Calumny. On the
right of the picture sat Ptolemy, holding out his hand to Calumny, who
was coming up to him. On each side of the king stood a woman who seemed
meant for Ignorance and Suspicion. Calumny was a beautiful maiden, but
with angry and deep-rooted malice in her face: in her left hand was a
lighted torch, and with her right she was dragging along by the hair
a young man, who was stretching forth his hands to heaven, and calling
upon the gods to bear witness that he was guiltless. Before her walked
Envy, a pale, hollow-eyed, diseased man, perhaps a portrait of
the accuser; and behind were two women, Craft and Deceit, who were
encouraging and supporting her. At a distance stood Repentance, in the
ragged, black garb of mourning, who was turning away her face for shame
as Truth came up to her.

Ptolemy Soter was plain in his manners, and scarcely surpassed his own
generals in the costliness of his way of life. He often dined and slept
at the houses of his friends; and his own house had so little of the
palace, that he borrowed dishes and tables of his friends when he asked
any number of them to dine with him in return, saying that it was the
part of a king to enrich others rather than to be rich himself. Before
he took the title of king, he styled himself, and was styled by friendly
states, by the simple name of Ptolemy the Macedonian; and during the
whole of his reign he was as far from being overbearing in his behaviour
as from being kinglike in his dress and household. Once when he wished
to laugh at a boasting antiquary, he asked him, what he knew could not
be answered, who was the father of Peleus; and the other let his wit so
far get the better of his prudence as in return to ask the king, who had
perhaps never heard the name of his own grandfather, if he knew who was
the father of Lagus. But Ptolemy took no further notice of this than to
remark that if a king cannot bear rude answers he ought not to ask rude

An answer which Ptolemy once made to a soothsayer might almost be taken
as the proverb which had guided him through life. When his soldiers met
with an anchor in one of their marches, and were disheartened on being
told by the soothsayer that it was a proof that they ought to stop where
they then were, the king restored their courage by remarking, that an
anchor was an omen of safety, not of delay.

Ptolemy's first children were by Thais, the noted courtesan, but they
were not thought legitimate. Leontiscus, the eldest, we afterwards hear
of fighting bravely against Demetrius; of the second, named Lagus after
his grandfather, we hear nothing.

He then married Eurydice, the daughter of Antipater, by whom he had
several children. The eldest son, Ptolemy, was named Ceraunus, _the
Thunderer_, and was banished by his father from Alexandria. In his
distress he fled to Seleucus, by whom he was kindly received; but after
the death of Ptolemy Soter he basely plotted against Seleucus and
put him to death. He then defeated in battle Antigonus, the son of
Demetrius, and got possession of Macedonia for a short time. He married
his half-sister Arsinoë, and put her children to death; and was soon
afterwards put to death himself by the Gauls, who were either fighting
against him or were mercenaries in his own army. Another son of Ptolemy
and Eurydice was put to death by Ptolemy Philadelphus, for plotting
against his throne, to which, as the elder brother, he might have
thought himself the best entitled. Their daughter Lysander married
Agathocles, the son of Lysimachus; but when Agathocles was put to death
by his father, she fled to Egypt with her children, and put herself
under Ptolemy's care.

Ptolemy then, as we have seen, asked in marriage the hand of Cleopatra,
the sister of Alexander; but on her death he married Berenicê, a lady
who had come into Egypt with Eurydice, and had formed part of her
household. She was the widow of a man named Philip; and she had by her
first husband a son named Magas, whom Ptolemy made governor of Cyrene,
and a daughter, Antigone, whom Ptolemy gave in marriage to Pyrrhus when
that young king was living in Alexandria as hostage for Demetrius.

Berenicê's mildness and goodness of heart were useful in softening her
husband's severity. Once, when Ptolemy was unbending his mind at a game
of dice with her, one of his officers came up to his side, and began to
read over to him a list of criminals who had been condemned to death,
with their crimes, and to ask his pleasure on each.

[Illustration: 095.jpg BERENICE SOTER]

Ptolemy continued playing, and gave very little attention to the unhappy
tale; but Berenice's feelings overcame the softness of her character,
and she took the paper out of the officer's hand, and would not let him
finish reading it; saying it was very unbecoming in the king to treat
the matter so lightly, as if he thought no more of the loss of a life
than the loss of a throw.

With Berenicê Ptolemy spent the rest of his years without anything to
trouble the happiness of his family. He saw their elder son, Ptolemy,
whom we must call by the name which he took late in life, Philadelphus,
grow up everything that he could wish him to be; and, moved alike by his
love for the mother and by the good qualities of the son, he chose
him as his successor on the throne, instead of his eldest son, Ptolemy
Ceraunus, who had shown, by every act in his life, his unfitness for the
royal position.

His daughter Arsinoë married Lysimachus in his old age, and urged
him against his son, Agathocles, the husband of her own sister. She
afterwards married her half-brother, Ptolemy Ceraunus; and lastly became
the wife of her brother Philadelphus. Argzeus, the youngest son of
Ptolemy, was put to death by Philadelphus on a charge of treason. Of
his youngest daughter Philotera we know nothing, except that her brother
Philadelphus afterwards named a city on the coast of the Red Sea after

After the last battle with Demetrius, Ptolemy had regained the island of
Cyprus and Cole-Syria, including Judæa; and his throne became stronger
as his life drew to an end. With a wisdom rare in kings and conquerors,
he had never let his ambition pass his means; he never aimed at
universal power; and he was led, both by his kind feelings and
wise policy, to befriend all those states which, like his own, were
threatened by that mad ambition in others.

His history of Alexander's wars is lost, and we therefore cannot judge
of his merits as an author; but we may still point out with pleasure how
much his people gained from his love of letters; though indeed we do not
need the example of Ptolemy to show that learning and philosophy are as
much in place, and find as wide a field of usefulness, in governing
a kingdom as in the employments of the teacher, the lawyer, or the
physician, who so often claim them as their own.

His last public act, in the thirty-eighth year of his reign, was ordered
by the same forbearance which had governed every part of his life.
Feeling the weight of years press heavily upon him, that he was less
able than formerly to bear the duties of his office, and wishing to see
his son firmly seated on the throne, he laid aside his diadem and
his title, and, without consulting either the army or the capital,
proclaimed Ptolemy, his son by Berenicê, king, and contented himself
with the modest rank of somatophylax, or satrap, to his successor. He
had used his power so justly that he was not afraid to lay it down;
and he has taught us how little of true greatness there is in rank by
showing how much more there is in resigning it. This is perhaps the most
successful instance known of a king, who had been used to be obeyed by
armies and by nations, willingly giving up his power when he found his
bodily strength no longer equal to it. Ptolemy Soter had the happiness
of having a son willing to follow in the track which he had laid down
for him, and of living to see the wisdom of his own laws proved by the
well-being of the kingdom under his son and successor.

But while we are watching the success of Ptolemy's plans, and the rise
of this Greek monarchy at Alexandria, we cannot help being pained with
the thought that the Kopts of Upper Egypt are forgotten, and asking
whether it would not have been still better to have raised Thebes to
the place which it once held, and to have recalled the days of Ramses,
instead of trying what might seem the hopeless task of planting Greek
arts in Africa. But a review of this history will show that, as far as
human forethought can judge, this could not have been done. A people
whose religious opinions were fixed against all change, like the pillars
upon which they were carved, and whose philosophy had not noticed that
men's minds were made to move forward, had no choice but to be left
behind and trampled on, as their more active neighbours marched onwards
in the path of improvement. If Thebes had fallen only on the conquest by
Cambyses, if the rebellions against the Persians had been those of Kopts
throwing off their chains and struggling for freedom, we might have
hoped to have seen Egypt, on the fall of Darius, again rise under kings
of the blood and language of the people; and we should have thought the
gilded and half-hid chains of the Ptolemies were little better than the
heavy yoke of the Persians. This, however, is very far from having been
the case. We first see the kings of Lower Egypt guarding their thrones
at Saïs by Greek soldiers; and then, that every struggle of Inarus, of
Nectanebo, and of Tachos, against the Persians, was only made by the
courage and arms of Greeks hired in the Delta by Egyptian gold. During
the three hundred years before Alexander was hailed by Egypt as its
deliverer, scarcely once had the Kopts, trusting to their own courage,
stood up in arms against either Persians or Greeks; and the country was
only then con-quered without a battle because the power and arms were
already in the hands of the Greeks; because in the mixed races of
the Delta the Greeks were so far the strongest, though not the most
numerous, that a Greek kingdom rose there with the same ease, and for
the same reasons, that an Arab kingdom rose in the same place nine
centuries later.

[Illustration: 098.jpg NIT, GODDESS OF SAIS.]

[Illustration: 099.jpg A CAT MUMMY]

Moral worth, national pride, love of country, and the better feelings of
clanship are the chief grounds upon which a great people can be raised.
These feelings are closely allied to self-denial, or a willingness on
the part of each man to give up much for the good of the whole. By this,
chiefly, public monuments are built, and citizens stand by one another
in battle; and these feelings were certainly strong in Upper Egypt
in the days of its greatness. But, when the throne was moved to Lower
Egypt, when the kingdom was governed by the kings of Saïs, and even
afterwards, when it was struggling against the Persians, these virtues
were wanting, and they trusted to foreign hirelings in their struggle
for freedom. The Delta was peopled by three races of men, Kopts, Greeks,
and Phoenicians, or Arabs; and even before the sceptre was given to the
Greeks by Alexander's conquests, we have seen that the Kopts had lost
the virtues needed to hold it.

[Illustration: 100.jpg TAILPIECE]


We know of few princes who ever mounted a throne with such fair
prospects before them as the second Ptolemy. He was born in Cos, an
island on the coast of Caria, which the Ptolemies kept as a family
fortress, safe from Egyptian rebellion and Alexandrian rudeness, and,
while their fleets were masters of the sea, safe from foreign armies. He
had been brought up with great care, and, being a younger son, was not
spoilt by that flattery which in all courts is so freely offered to the
heir. He first studied letters and philosophy under Philetas of Cos,
an author of some elegies and epigrams now lost; and as he grew up, he
found himself surrounded by all the philosophers and writers with whom
his father mixed on the easiest terms of friendship. During the
long reign of Ptolemy Soter the people had been made happy by wise
regulations and good laws, trade had been flourishing, the cities had
greatly prospered, and the fortresses had been everywhere strengthened.

[Illustration: 102.jpg PHAROS IN OLD ALEXANDRIA]

The Grecian troops were well trained, their loyalty undoubted, and the
Egyptians were enrolled in a phalanx, armed and disciplined like
the Macedonians. The population of the country was counted at seven
millions. Alexandria, the capital of the kingdom, was not only the
largest trading city in the world, but was one of the most favoured
seats of learning. It surely must have been easy to foresee that the
prince, then mounting the throne, even if but slightly gifted with
virtues, would give his name to a reign which could not be otherwise
than remarkable in the history of Egypt. But Philadelphus, though like
his father he was not free from the vices of his times and of his rank,
had more of wisdom than is usually the lot of kings; and, though we
cannot but see that he was only watering the plants and gathering
the fruit where his father had planted, yet we must at the same time
acknowledge that Philadelphus was a successor worthy of Ptolemy Soter.
He may have been in the twenty-third year of his age when his father
gave up to him the cares and honours of royalty.

The first act of his reign, or rather the last of his father's reign,
was the proclamation, or the ceremony, of showing the new king to
the troops and people. All that was dazzling, all that was costly or
curious, all that the wealth of Egypt could buy or the gratitude of the
provinces could give, was brought forth to grace this religious show,
which, as we learn from the sculptures in the old tombs, was copied
rather from the triumphs of Ramses and Thûtmosis than from anything that
had been seen in Greece.

The procession began with the pomp of Osiris, at the head of which were
the Sileni in scarlet and purple cloaks, who opened the way through the
crowd. Twenty satyrs followed on each side of the road, bearing torches;
and then Victories with golden wings, clothed in skins, each with
a golden staff six cubits long, twined round with ivy. An altar was
carried next, covered with golden ivy-leaves, with a garland of golden
vine-leaves tied with white ribands; and this was followed by a hundred
and twenty boys in scarlet frocks, carrying bowls of crocus, myrrh,
and frankincense, which made the air fragrant with the scent. Then came
forty dancing satyrs crowned with golden ivy-leaves, with their naked
bodies stained with gay colours, each carrying a crown of vine leaves
and gold; then two Sileni in scarlet cloaks and white boots, one having
the hat and wand of Mercury and the other a trumpet; and between them
walked a man, six feet high, in tragic dress and mask, meant for the
Year, carrying a golden cornucopia. He was followed by a tall and
beautiful woman, meant for the Lustrum of five years, carrying in one
hand a crown and in the other a palm-branch. Then came an altar, and a
troop of satyrs in gold and scarlet, carrying golden drinking-cups.

Then came Philiscus the poet, the priest of Osiris, with all the
servants of the god; then the Delphic tripods, the prizes which were
to be given in the wrestling matches; that for the boys was nine cubits
high, and that for the men twelve cubits high. Next came a four-wheeled
car, fourteen cubits long and eight wide, drawn along by one hundred
and eighty men, on which was the statue of Osiris, fifteen feet high,
pouring wine out of a golden vase, and having a scarlet frock down to
his feet, with a yellow transparent robe over it, and over all a scarlet
cloak. Before the statue was a large golden bowl, and a tripod with
bowls of incense on it. Over the whole was an awning of ivy and vine
leaves; and in the same chariot were the priests and priestesses of the

This was followed by a smaller chariot drawn by sixty men, in which was
the statue of Isis in a robe of yellow and gold. Then came a chariot
full of grapes, and another with a large cask of wine, which was poured
out on the road, as the procession moved on, and at which the eager
crowd filled their jugs and drinking-cups. Then came another band of
satyrs and Sileni, and more chariots of wine; then eighty Delphic vases
of silver, and Panathenaic and other vases; and sixteen hundred dancing
boys in white frocks and golden crowns: then a number of beautiful
pictures; and a chariot carrying a grove of trees, out of which flew
pigeons and doves, so tied that they might be easily caught by the

On another chariot, drawn by an elephant, came Osiris, as he returned
from his Indian conquests. He was followed by twenty-four chariots drawn
by elephants, sixty drawn by goats, twelve by some kind of stags,
seven by gazelles, four by wild asses, fifteen by buffaloes, eight by
ostriches, and seven by stags of some other kind. Then came chariots
loaded with the tributes of the conquered nations; men of Ethiopia
carrying six hundred elephants' teeth; sixty huntsmen leading two
thousand four hundred dogs; and one hundred and fifty men carrying
trees, in the branches of which were tied parrots and other beautiful
birds. Next walked the foreign animals, Ethiopian and Arabian sheep,
Brahmin bulls, a white bear, leopards, panthers, bears, a camelopard,
and a rhinoceros; proving to the wondering crowd the variety and
strangeness of the countries that owned their monarch's sway.

In another chariot was seen Bacchus running away from Juno, and flying
to the altar of Rhea. After that came the statues of Alexander and
Ptolemy Soter crowned with gold and ivy: by the side of Ptolemy stood
the statues of Virtue, of the god Chem, and of the city of Corinth;
and he was followed by female statues of the conquered cities of Ionia,
Greece, Asia Minor, and Persia; and the statues of other gods. Then came
crowds of singers and cymbal-players, and two thousand bulls with gilt
horns, crowns, and breast-plates. Then came Amon-Ra and other gods;
and the statue of Alexander between Victory and the goddess Neith, in a
chariot drawn by elephants: then a number of thrones of ivory and gold;
on one was a golden crown, on another a golden cornucopia, and on the
throne of Ptolemy Soter was a crown worth ten thousand _aurei_, or
nearly thirty thousand dollars; then three thousand two hundred golden
crowns, twenty golden shields, sixty-four suits of golden armour; and
the whole was closed with forty waggons of silver vessels, twenty
of golden vessels, eighty of costly Eastern scents, and fifty-seven
thousand six hundred foot soldiers, and twenty-three thousand two
hundred horse. The procession began moving by torchlight before day
broke in the morning, and the sun set in the evening before it had all
passed on its way.

[Illustration: 106.jpg BRONZE COSMETIC HOLDER]

It went through the streets of Alexandria to the royal tents on the
outside of the city, where, as in the procession, everything that was
costly in art, or scarce in nature, was brought together in honour of
the day. At the public games, as a kind of tax or coronation money,
twenty golden crowns were given to Ptolemy Soter, twenty-three to
Berenice, and twenty to their son, the new king, beside other costly
gifts; and two thousand two hundred and thirty-nine talents, or one
million seven hundred and fifty thousand dollars, were spent on the
amusements of the day. For the account of this curious procession we are
indebted to Callixenes of Rhodes, who was then travelling in Egypt, and
who wrote a history of Alexandria.

Ptolemy Soter lived two years after he had withdrawn himself from the
cares of government; and the weight of his name was not without its
use in adding steadiness to the throne of his successor. Instead of
parcelling out his wide provinces among his sons as so many kingdoms, he
had given them all to one son, and that not the eldest; and on his death
the jealousy of those who had been disinherited and disappointed broke
out in rebellion.

It is with peculiar interest that we hear in this reign for the
first time that the bravery and rising power of the Romans had forced
themselves into the notice of Philadelphus. Pyrrhus, the King of Epirus,
had been beaten by the Romans, and driven out of Italy; and the King of
Egypt thought it not beneath him to send an ambassador to the senate, to
wish them joy of their success, and to make a treaty of peace with the
republic. The embassy, as we might suppose, was received in Rome with
great joy; and three ambassadors, two of the proud name of Fabius, with
Quintus Ogulnius, were sent back to seal the treaty. Philadelphus gave
them some costly gifts, probably those usually given to ambassadors;
but Rome was then young, her citizens had not yet made gold the end for
which they lived, and the ambassadors returned the gifts, for they could
receive nothing beyond the thanks of the senate for having done their
duty. This treaty was never broken; and in the war which broke out in
the middle of this reign between Rome and Carthage, usually called the
first Punic war, when the Carthaginians sent to Alexandria to beg for
a loan of two thousand talents, Philadelphus refused it, saying that he
would help them against his enemies, but not against his friends.

From that time forward we find Egypt in alliance with Rome. But we also
find that they were day by day changing place with one another: Egypt
soon began to sink, while Rome was rising in power; Egypt soon received
help from her stronger ally, and at last became a province of the Roman

At the time of this embassy, when Greek arts were nearly unknown to the
Romans, the ambassadors must have seen much that was new to them, and
much that was worth copying; and three years afterwards, when one of
them, Quintus Ogulnius, together with Caius Fabius Pictor, were chosen
consuls, they coined silver for the first time in Rome. With them begins
the series of consular denarii, which throws such light on Roman life
and history.

About the middle of this reign, Berenicê, the mother of the king, died,
and it was most likely then that Philadelphus began to date from the
beginning of his own reign: he had before gone on like his father,
dating from the beginning of his father's reign. In the year after her
death, the great feast of Osiris, in the month of Mesore, was celebrated
at Alexandria with more than usual pomp by the Queen Arsinoë. Venus, or
Isis, had just raised Berenice to heaven; and Arsinoë, in return, showed
her gratitude by the sums of money spent on the feast of Osiris, or
Adonis as he was sometimes called by the Greeks. Theocritus, who was
there, wrote a poem on the day, and tells us of the crowds in the
streets, of the queen's gifts to the temple, and of the beautiful
tapestries, on which were woven the figures of the god and goddess
breathing as if alive; and he has given a free translation of the
Maneros, the national poem in which the priests each year consoled the
goddess Isis for the death of Osiris, which was sung through the streets
of Alexandria by a Greek girl in the procession. One of the chief
troubles in the reign of Philadelphus was the revolt of Cyrene. The
government of that part of Africa had been entrusted to Magas, the
half-brother of the king, a son of Berenice by her former husband.
Berenice, who had been successful in setting aside Ceraunus to make room
for her son Philadelphus on the throne of Egypt, has even been said to
have favoured the rebellious and ungrateful efforts of her elder son
Magas to make himself King of Cyrene. Magas, without waiting till the
large armies of Egypt were drawn together to crush his little state,
marched hastily towards Alexandria, in the hopes of being joined by
some of the restless thousands of that crowded city. But he was quickly
recalled to Cyrene by the news of the rising of the Marmaridas, the race
of Libyan herdsmen that had been driven back from the coast by the Greek
settlers who founded Cyrene. Philadelphus then led his army along the
coast against the rebels; but he was, in the same way, stopped by the
fear of treachery among his own Gallic mercenaries. With a measured
cruelty which the use of foreign mercenaries could alone have taught
him, he led back his army to the marshes of the Delta, and, entrapping
the four thousand distrusted Gauls* on one of the small islands, he
hemmed them in between the water and the spears of the phalanx, and they
all died miserably, by famine, by drowning, or by the sword.

     * It is not known for certain from what part of the world
     these Gauls were recruited. The race known as Gallic was at
     one time spread over a wide district from Gallicia in the
     East to Gallia in the West.

Magas had married Apime, the daughter of Antiochus Soter, King of Syria;
and he sent to his father-in-law to beg him to march upon Coele-Syria
and Palestine, to call off the army of Philadelphus from Cyrene. But
Philadelphus did not wait for this attack: his armies moved before
Antiochus was ready, and, by a successful inroad upon Syria, he
prevented any relief being sent to Magas.

After the war between the brothers had lasted some years, Magas made
an offer of peace, which was to be sealed by betrothing his only
child, Berenicê, to the son of Philadelphus. To this offer Philadelphus
yielded; as by the death of Magas, who was already worn out by luxury
and disease, Cyrene would then fall to his own son. Magas, indeed, died
before the marriage took place; but, notwithstanding the efforts made
by his widow to break the agreement, the treaty was kept, and on this
marriage Cyrene again formed part of the Ptolemaic kingdom of Egypt.

The black spot upon the character of Philadelphus, which all the blaze
of science and letters by which he was surrounded can not make us
overlook, is the death of two of his brothers: a son of Eurydice, who
might, perhaps, have thought that he was robbed of the throne of Egypt
by his younger brother, and who was unsuccessful in raising the island
of Cyprus in rebellion; and a younger brother, Argasus, who was also
charged with joining in a plot; both lost their lives by his orders.

It was only in the beginning of this reign, after Egypt had been for
more than fifty years under the rule of the Macedonians, that the evils
which often follow conquest were brought to an end. Before this reign
no Greek was ever known to have reached Elephantine and Syênê or Aswan
since Herodotus made his hasty tour in the Thebaid; and during much of
the last reign no part of Upper Egypt was safe for a Greek traveller,
if he were alone, or if he quitted the highroad. The peasants, whose
feelings of hatred we can hardly wonder at, waylaid the stragglers, and
Egyptian-like as the Greeks said, or slave-like as it would be wiser to
say, often put them to death in cold blood. But a long course of good
government had at last quieted the whole country, and left room for
further improvements by Philadelphus.

Among other buildings, Philadelphus raised a temple in Alexandria to the
honour of his father and mother, and placed in it their statues, made of
ivory and gold, and ordered that they should be worshipped like the
gods and other kings of the country. He also built a temple to Ceres and
Proserpine, and then the Eleusinian mysteries were taught in Alexandria
to the few who were willing and worthy to be admitted. The southeast
quarter of the city in which this temple stood was called the Eleusinis;
and here the troop of maidens were to be seen carrying the sacred basket
through the streets, and singing hymns in honour of the goddess; while
they charged all profane persons, who met the procession, to keep
their eyes upon the ground, lest they should see the basket and the
priestesses, who were too pure for them to look upon.

In this reign was finished the lighthouse on the island of Pharos, as
a guide to ships when entering the harbour of Alexandria by night. The
navigation of the waters of the Red Sea, along which the wind blows hard
from the north for nine months in the year, was found so dangerous by
the little vessels from the south of Arabia, that they always chose the
most southerly port in which they could meet the Egyptian buyers. The
merchants with their bales of goods found a journey on camels through
the desert, where the path is marked only by the skeletons of the
animals that have died upon the route, less costly than a coasting
voyage. Hence, when Philadelphus had made the whole of Upper Egypt to
the cataracts at Aswan (Syênê) as quiet and safe as the Delta, he made a
new port on the rocky coast of the Red Sea, nearly two hundred miles to
the south of Cosseir, and named it Berenicê after his mother. He also
built four public inns, or watering-houses, where the caravans might
find water for the camels, and shelter from the noonday sun, on their
twelve days' journey through the desert from Koptos on the Nile to this
new port. He rebuilt, and at the same time renamed, the old port of
Cosseir, or Ænnum as it was before called, and named it Philotera after
his younger sister. The trade which thus passed down the Nile from
Syênê, from Berenicê, and from Philotera, paid a toll or duty at the
custom-house station of Phylake a little below Lycopolis on the west
bank of the river, where a guard of soldiers was encamped; and this
station gradually grew into a town.

[Illustration: 112.jpg ROSETTA BRANCH OF THE NILE]

Philadelphus also built a city on the sands at the head of the Red Sea,
near where Suez now stands, and named it Arsinoë, after his sister; and
he again opened the canal which Necho II. and Darius had begun, by which
ships were to pass from the Nile to this city on the Red Sea. This canal
began in the Pelusiac branch of the river, a little above Bubastis,
and was carried to the Lower Bitter Lakes in the reign of Darius. From
thence Philadelphus wished to carry it forward to the Red Sea, near
the town of Arsinoë, and moreover cleared it from the sands which
soon overwhelmed it and choked it up whenever it was neglected by the
government. But his undertaking was stopped by the engineers finding the
waters of the canal several feet lower than the level of the Red Sea;
and that, if finished, it would become a salt-water canal, which could
neither water the fields nor give drink to the cities in the valley. He
also built a second city of the name of Berenicê, called the Berenicê
Epidires, at the very mouth of the Red Sea on a point of land where
Abyssinia is hardly more than fifteen miles from the opposite coast of
Arabia. This naming of cities after his mother and sisters was no idle
compliment; they probably received the crown revenues of those cities
for their personal maintenance.

With a view further to increase the trade with the East, Philadelphus
sent Dionysius on an expedition overland to India, to gain a knowledge
of the country and of its means and wants. He went by the way of the
Caspian Sea through Bactria, in the line of Alexander's march. He
dwelt there, at the court of the sovereign, soon after the time that
Megasthenes was there; and he wrote a report of what he saw and learned.
But it is sad to find, in our search for what is valuable in the history
of past times, that the information gained on this interesting journey
of discovery is wholly lost.

In the number of ports which were then growing into the rank of cities,
we see full proof of the great trade of Egypt at that time; and we may
form some opinion of the profit which was gained from the trade of the
Red Sea from the report of Clitarchus to Alexander, that the people of
one of the islands would give a talent of gold for a horse, so plentiful
with them was gold, and so scarce the useful animals of Europe; and one
of the three towns named after the late queen, on that coast, was known
by the name of the Nubian or Golden Berenicê, from the large supply of
gold which was dug from the mines in the neighbourhood. In latitude 17°,
separated from the Golden Berenicê by one of the forests of Ethiopia,
was the new city of Ptolemais, which, however, was little more than a
post from which the hunting parties went out to catch elephants for
the armies of Egypt. Philadelphus tried to command, to persuade, and to
bribe the neighbouring tribes not to kill these elephants for food, but
they refused all treaty with him; these zealous huntsmen answered that,
if he offered them the kingdom of Egypt with all its wealth, they would
not give up the pleasure of catching and eating elephants. The Ethiopian
forests, however, were able to supply the Egyptian armies with about one
elephant for every thousand men, which was the number then thought best
in the Greek military tactics. Asia had been the only country from which
the armies had been supplied with elephants before Philadelphus brought
them from Ethiopia.

The temple of Isis among the palm groves in Philæ, a rocky island in the
Nile near the cataracts of Syênê, was begun in this reign, though not
finished till some reigns later. It is still the wonder of travellers,
and by its size and style proves the wealth and good taste of the
priests. But its ornaments are not so simple as those of the older
temples; and the capitals of its columns are varied by the full-blown
papyrus flower of several sizes, its half-opened buds, its closed buds,
and its leaves, and by palm-branches. It seems to have been built on the
site of an older temple which may have 'been overthrown by the Persians.
This island of Philo is the most beautiful spot in Egypt; where the bend
of the river just above the cataracts forms a quiet lake surrounded on
all sides by fantastic cliffs of red granite. Its name is a corruption
from Abu-lakh, the city of the frontier. This temple was one of the
places in which Osiris was said to be buried. None but priests ever set
foot on this sacred island, and no oath was so binding as that sworn in
the name of Him that lies buried in Philæ. The statues of the goddess
in the temple were all meant for portraits of the queen Arsinoë. The
priests who dwelt in the cells within the courtyards of the temples of
which we see the remains in this temple at Philæ, were there confined
for life to the service of the altar by the double force of religion and
the stone walls. They showed their zeal for their gods by the amount of
want which they were able to endure, and they thought that sitting upon
the ground in idleness, with the knees up to the chin, was one of the
first of religious duties.

[Illustration: 116.jpg TEMPLE OF PHILAE]

The Museum of Alexandria held at this time the highest rank among the
Greek schools, whether for poetry, mathematics, astronomy, or medicine,
the four branches into which it was divided. Its library soon held two
hundred thousand rolls of papyrus; which, however, could hardly have
been equal to ten thousand printed volumes. Many of these were bought by
Philadelphus in Athens and Rhodes; and his copy of Aristotle's works was
bought of the philosopher Nileus, who had been a hearer of that great
man, and afterwards inherited his books through Theophrastus, to whom
they had been left by Aristotle. The books in the museum were of course
all Greek; the Greeks did not study foreign languages, and thought the
Egyptian writings barbarous.

At the head of this library had been Demetrius Phalereus, who, after
ruling Athens with great praise, was banished from his country, and fled
to Ptolemy Soter, under whom he consoled himself for the loss of power
in the enjoyment of literary leisure. He was at the same time the most
learned and the most polished of orators. He brought learning from the
closet into the forum; and, by the soft turn which he gave to public
speaking, made that sweet and lovely which had before been grave and
severe. Cicero thought him the great master in the art of speaking, and
seems to have taken him as the model upon which he wished to form his
own style. He wrote upon philosophy, history, government, and poetry;
but the only one of his works which has reached our time is his treatise
on elocution; and the careful thought which he there gives to the
choice of words and to the form of a sentence, and even the parts of a
sentence, shows the value then set upon style. Indeed he seems rather
to have charmed his hearers by the softness of his words than to have
roused them to noble deeds by the strength of his thoughts. He not only
advised Ptolemy Soter what books he should buy, but which he should
read, and he chiefly recommended those on government and policy; and
it is alike to the credit of the king and of the librarian, that he
put before him books which, from their praise of freedom and hatred of
tyrants, few persons would even speak of in the presence of a king.
But Demetrius had also been consulted by Soter about the choice of a
successor, and had given his opinion that the crown ought to be left
to his eldest son, and that wars would arise between his children if
it were not so left; hence we can hardly wonder that, on the death of
Soter, Demetrius should have lost his place at the head of the museum,
and been ordered to leave Alexandria. He died, as courtiers say, in
disgrace; and he was buried near Diospolis in the Busirite nome of the
Delta. According to one account he was put to death by the bite of
an asp, in obedience to the new king's orders, but this story is not
generally credited; although this was not an uncommon way of inflicting

[Illustration: 118.jpg ANUBIS, GOD OF THE LOWER WORLD]

Soon after this we find Zenodotus of Ephesus filling the office of
librarian to the museum. He was a poet, who, with others, had been
employed by Soter in the education of his children. He is also known as
the first of those Alexandrian critics who turned their thoughts towards
mending the text of Homer, and to whom we are indebted for the tolerably
correct state of the great poet's works, which had become faulty through
the carelessness of the copiers. Zenodotus was soon followed by other
critics in this task of editing Homer. But their labours were not
approved of by all; and when Aratus asked Timon which he thought the
best edition of the poet, the philosopher shrewdly answered, "That which
has been least corrected."

At the head of the mathematical school was Euclid; who is, however,
less known to us by what his pupils have said of him than by his own
invaluable work on geometry. This is one of the few of the scientific
writings of the ancients that are still in use. The discoveries of the
man of science are made use of by his successor, and the discoverer
perhaps loses part of his reward when his writings are passed by, after
they have served us as a stepping-stone to mount by. If he wishes his
works to live with those of the poet and orator, he must, like them,
cultivate those beauties of style which are fitted to his matter. Euclid
did so; and his Elements have been for more than two thousand years the
model for all writers on geometry. He begins at the beginning, and
leads the learner, step by step, from the simplest propositions, called
axioms, which rest upon metaphysical rather than mathematical proof, to
high geometrical truths. The mind is indeed sometimes wearied by being
made to stop at every single step in the path, and wishes, with Ptolemy
Soter, for a shorter road; but, upon the whole, Euclid's clearness has
never been equalled.

Ctesibus wrote on the theory of hydrostatics, and was the inventor of
several water-engines; an application of mathematics which was much
called for by the artificial irrigation of Egypt. He also invented that
useful instrument, the water-clock, to tell the time after sunset.

[Illustration: 120.jpg AT THE HEAD OF THE RED SEA]

Among the best known of the men of letters who came to Alexandria to
enjoy the patronage of Philadelphus was Theocritus. Many of his poems
are lost; but his pastoral poems, though too rough for the polished
taste of Quintilian, and perhaps more like nature than we wish any works
of imitative art to be, have always been looked upon as the model of
that kind of poetry. If his shepherds do not speak the language of
courtiers, they have at least a rustic propriety which makes us admire
the manners and thoughts of the peasant. He repaid the bounty of the
king in the way most agreeable to him; he speaks of him as one

                              to freemen kind,
     Wise, fond of books and love, of generous mind;
     Knows well his friend, but better knows his foe;
     Scatters his wealth; when asked he ne'er says No,
     But gives as kings should give.
     Idyll, xiv. 60.

Theocritus boasted that he would in an undying poem place him in the
rank of the demigods; and, writing with the pyramids and the Memnonium
before his eyes, assured him that generosity towards the poets would
do more to make his name live for ever than any building that he could

In a back street of Alexandria, in the part of the city named Eleusinis,
near the temple of Ceres and Proserpine, lived the poet Callimachus,
earning his livelihood by teaching. But the writer of the Hymns could
not long dwell so near the court of Philadelphus unknown and unhonoured.
He was made professor of poetry in the museum, and even now repays
the king and patron for what he then received. He was a man of great
industry, and wrote in prose and in all kinds of verse; but of these
only a few hymns and epigrams have come down to our time. Egypt seems to
have been the birthplace of the mournful elegy, and Callimachus was the
chief of the elegiac poets. He was born at Cyrene; and though, from the
language in which he wrote, his thoughts are mostly Greek, yet he did
not forget the place of his birth. He calls upon Apollo by the name of
Carneus, because, after Sparta and Thera, Cyrene was his chosen seat.
He paints Latona, weary and in pain in the island of Delos, as leaning
against a palm-tree, by the side of the river Inopus, which, sinking
into the ground, was to rise again in Egypt, near the cataracts of
Syênê; and, prettily pointing to Philadelphus, he makes Apollo, yet
unborn, ask his mother not to give birth to him in the island of Cos,
because that island was already chosen as the birthplace of another god,
the child of the gods Soteres, who would be the copy of his father,
and under whose diadem both Egypt and the islands would be proud to be
governed by a Macedonian.

[Illustration: 123.jpg THE CARARACT ON THE ASWAN]

The poet Philastas, who had been the first tutor of Philadelphus, was
in elegy second only to Callimachus; but Quintilian (while advising us
about books, to read much but not many) does not rank him among the
few first-rate poets by whom the student should form his taste; and his
works are now lost. He was small and thin in person, and it was jokingly
said of him that he wore leaden soles to his shoes lest he should be
blown away by the wind. But in losing his poetry, we have perhaps lost
the point of the joke. While these three, Theocritus, Callimachus, and
Philastas, were writing in Alexandria, the museum was certainly the
chief seat of the muses. Athens itself could boast of no such poet
but Menander, with whom Attic literature ended; and him Philadelphus
earnestly invited to his court. He sent a ship to Greece on purpose to
fetch him; but neither this honour nor the promised salary could make
him quit his mother country and the schools of Athens; and, in the time
of Pausanias, his tomb was still visited by the scholar on the road to
the Pmeus, and his statue was still seen in the theatre.

Strato, the pupil of Theophrastus, though chiefly known for his writings
on physics, was also a writer on many branches of knowledge. He was
one of the men of learning who had taken part in the education of
Phil-adelphus; and the king showed his gratitude to his teacher by
making him a present of eighty talents, or sixty thousand dollars. He
was for eighteen years at the head of one of the Alexandrian schools.

Timocharis, the astronomer, made some of his observations at Alexandria
in the last reign, and continued them through half of this reign. He
began a catalogue of the fixed stars, with their latitudes and their
longitudes measured from the equinoctial point; by the help of which
Hipparchus, one hundred and fifty years afterwards, made the great
discovery that the equinoctial point had moved. He has left an
observation of the place of Venus, on the seventeenth day of the month
of Mesore, in the thirteenth year of this reign, which by the modern
tables of the planets is known to have been on the eighth day
of October, B.C. 272; from which we learn that the first year of
Philadelphus ended in October, B.C. 284, and the first year of Ptolemy
Soter ended in October, B.C. 322; thus fixing the chronology of
these reigns with a certainty which leaves nothing to be wished for.
Aris-tillus also made some observations of the same kind at Alexandria.
Few of them have been handed down to us, but they were made use of by

Aristarchus, the astronomer of Samos, most likely came to Alexandria
in the last reign, as some of his observations were made in the very
beginning of the reign of Philadelphus. He is the first astronomer who
is known to have taken the true view of the solar system. He said that
the sun was the centre round which the earth moved in a circle; and, as
if he had foreseen that even in after ages we should hardly be able to
measure the distance of the fixed stars, he said that the earth's yearly
path bore no greater proportion to the hollow globe of the heavens in
which the stars were set, than the point without size in the centre of a
circle does to its circumference. But the work in which he proved these
great truths, or perhaps threw out these happy guesses, is lost; and the
astronomers who followed him clung to the old belief that the earth was
the centre round which the sun moved. The only writings of Aristarchus
which now remain are his short work on the distances and magnitude of
the sun and moon, in which the error in his results arises from the want
of good observations, rather than from any mistake in his mathematical

Aratus, who was born in Cilicia, is sometimes counted among the
pléiades, or seven stars of Alexandria. His _Phenomena_ is a short
astronomical poem, without life or feeling, which scarcely aims at
any of the grace or flow of poetry. It describes the planets and the
constellations one by one, and tells us what stars are seen in the head,
feet, and other parts of each figure; and then the seasons, and the
stars seen at night at each time of the year. When maps were little
known, it must have been of great use, to learners; and its being in
verse made it the more easy to remember. The value which the
ancients set upon this poem is curiously shown by the number of Latin
translations which were made from it. Cicero in his early youth, before
he was known as an orator or philosopher, perhaps before he himself knew
in which path of letters he was soon to take the lead, translated this
poem. The next translation is by Germanicus Cæsar, whose early death
and many good qualities have thrown such a bright light upon his name.
He shone as a general, as an orator, and as an author; but his Greek
comedies, his Latin orations, and his poem on Augustus are lost, while
his translation of Aratus is all that is left to prove that this high
name in literature was not given to him for his political virtues alone.
Lastly Avienus, a writer in the reign of Diocletian, or perhaps
of Theodosius, has left a rugged, unpolished translation of this
much-valued poem. Aratus, the poet of the heavens, will be read, said
Ovid, as long as the sun and moon shall shine.

Sosibius was one of the rhetoricians of the museum who lived upon the
bounty of Philadelphus. The king, wishing to laugh at his habit of
verbal criticism, once told his treasurer to refuse his salary, and say
that it had been already paid. Sosibius complained to the king, and the
book of receipts was sent for, in which Philadelphus found the names of
Soter, Sosigines, Bion, and Apollonius, and showing to the critic one
syllable of his name in each of those words, said that putting them
together, they must be taken as the receipt for his salary. Other
authors wrote on lighter matters. Apollodorus Gelous, the physician,
addressed to Philadelphus a volume of advice as to which Greek wines
were best fitted for his royal palate. The Italian and Sicilian were
then unknown in Egypt, and those of the Thebaid were wholly beneath
his notice, while the vine had as yet hardly been planted in the
neighbourhood of Alexandria. He particularly praised the Naspercenite
wine from the southern banks of the Black Sea, the Oretic from the
island of Euboea; the OEneatic from Locris; the Leuca-dian from the
island of Leucas; and the Ambraciote from the kingdom of Epirus.


But above all these he placed the Peparethian wine from the island of
Peparethus, a wine which of course did not please the many, as this
experienced taster acknowledges that nobody is likely to have a true
relish for it till after six years' acquaintance. Such were the Greek
authors who basked in the sunshine of royal favour at Alexandria; who
could have told us, if they had thought it worth their while, all that
we now wish to know of the trade, religion, language, and early history
of Egypt. But they thought that the barbarians were not worth the
notice of men who called themselves Macedonians. Philadelphus, however,
thought otherwise; and by his command Manetho, an Egyptian, wrote in
Greek a history of Egypt, copied from the hieroglyphical writing on
the temples, and he dedicated it to the king. We know it only in the
quotations of Josephus and Julius Africanus, and what we have is little
more than a list of kings' names. He was a priest of Heliopolis, the
great seat of Egyptian learning. The general correctness of Manetho's
history, which runs back for nearly two thousand years, is shown by our
finding the kings' names agree with many Egyptian inscriptions. Manetho
owes his reputation to the merit of being the first who distinguished
himself as a writer and critic upon religion and philosophy, as well
as chronology and history, using the Greek language, but drawing his
materials from native sources, especially the Sacred Books. That he was
"skilled in Greek letters": we learn from Josephus, who also declares
that he contradicted many of Herodotus' erroneous statements. Manetho
was better suited for the task of writing a history of Egypt than any of
his contemporaries.

As an Egyptian he could search out and make use of all the native
Egyptian sources, and, thanks to his knowledge of Greek, he could
present them in a form intelligible to the Hellenes. It must be
confessed that he has occasionally fallen into the error of allowing
Greek thoughts and traditions to slip into his work. The great worth
in Manetho's work lies in the fact that he relates the history of Egypt
based on monumental sources and charters preserved in the temples.
Moreover, he treats quite impartially the times of the foreign rulers,
which the form of the Egyptian history employed by Diodorus does not
mention; but above all, Manetho gives us a list of Egyptian rulers
arranged according to a regular system. But however important in
this respect Manetho's work may be, it must not be forgotten what
difficulties he had to contend with in the writing of it, and what
unreliable sources lay in these difficulties. He could not use the
sources in the form in which he found them. He was obliged to re-write
them, and he added to them synchronisms and relations to other peoples
which necessarily exposed him to the dangers of colouring his report

But a much greater difficulty consisted in the fact that the
chronological reports of the earlier history were all arranged according
to the reigning years of the rulers, so that Manetho was obliged to
construct an era for his work. Boeckh was the first to discover
with certainty the existence and form of this era. According to his
researches, the whole work of Manetho is based upon Sothicycles of 1460
Julianic years. The Egyptian year was movable, and did not need the
extra day every few years, but the consequence was that every year
remained a quarter of a day behind the real year.

[Illustration: 131.jpg MODERN SPHINX-LIKE FACE]

When 1460-1 years had elapsed this chronological error had mounted to
a whole year, and so the movable year and the fixed year fell together
again. It is this Sothic period which Manetho has employed in his
account of Egyptian history. Besides his history, Manetho has left us a
work on astrology, called _Apotelesmatica_, or Events, a work of which
there seems no reason to doubt the genuineness.

It is a poem in hexameter verse, in good Greek, addressed to King
Ptolemy, in which he calls, not only upon Apollo and the Muse, but, like
a true Egyptian, upon Hermes, from whose darkly worded writings he had
gained his knowledge. He says that the king's greatness might have been
foretold from the places of Mars and the Sun at the time of his birth,
and that his marriage with his sister Arsinoë arose from the places of
Venus and Saturn at the same time. But while we smile at this being said
as the result of astronomical calculations, we must remember that for
centuries afterwards, almost in our own time, the science of judicial
astrology was made a branch of astronomy, and that the fault lay rather
in the age than in the man; and we have the pain of thinking that,
while many of the valuable writings by Manetho are lost, the copiers and
readers of manuscripts have carefully saved for us this nearly worthless
poem on astrology.

Petosiris was another writer on astrology and astronomy who was highly
praised by his friend Manetho; and his calculations on the distances
of the sun and planets are quoted by Pliny. His works are lost; but his
name calls for our notice, as he must have been a native Egyptian, and
a priest. Like Manetho, he also wrote on the calculation of nativities;
and the later Greek astrologers, when what they had foretold did not
come to pass, were wont to lay the blame on Petosiris. The priests were
believed to possess these and other supernatural powers; and to help
their claims to be believed many of them practised ventriloquism.

Timosthenes, the admiral under Philadelphus, must not be forgotten in
this list of authors; for though his verses to Apollo were little worth
notice, his voyages of discovery, and his work in ten books on harbours,
placed him in the first rank among geographers. Colotes, a pupil and
follower of Epicurus, dedicated to Philadelphus a work of which the very
title proves the nature of his philosophy, and how soon the rules of his
master had fitted themselves to the habits of the sensualist. Its
title was "That it is impossible even to support life according to the
philosophical rules of any but the Epicureans." It was a good deal read
and talked about; and three hundred years afterwards Plutarch thought it
not a waste of time to write against it at some length.

At a time when books were few, and far too dear to be within reach of
the many, and indeed when the number of those who could read must have
been small, other means were of course taken to meet the thirst after
knowledge; and the chief of these were the public readings in the
theatre. This was not overlooked by Phila-delphus, who employed
Hegesias to read Herodotus, and Hermophantus to read Homer, the earliest
historian and the earliest poet, the two authors who had taken deepest
root in the minds of the Greeks. These public readings, which were
common throughout Greece and its colonies, had not a little effect on
the authors. They then wrote for the ear rather than the eye, to be
listened to rather than to be read, which was one among the causes of
Greek elegance and simplicity of style.

Among others who were brought to Alexandria by the fame of Philadelphus'
bounty was Zoilus, the grammarian, whose ill-natured criticism on
Homer's poems had earned for him the name of Homeromastix, or the
scourge of Homer. He read his criticisms to Philadelphus, who was so
much displeased with his carping and unfair manner of finding fault,
that he even refused to relieve him when in distress. The king told him,
that while hundreds had earned a livelihood by pointing out the beauties
of the Iliad and Odyssey in their public readings, surely one person who
was so much wiser might be able to live by pointing out the faults.

Timon, a tragic poet, was also one of the visitors to this court; but,
as he was more fond of eating and drinking than of philosophy, we need
not wonder at our knowing nothing of his tragedies, or at his not
being made a professor by Philadelphus. But he took his revenge on the
better-fed philosophers of the court, in a poem in which he calls them
literary fighting-cocks, who were being fattened by the king, and were
always quarrelling in the coops of the museum.

The Alexandrian men of science and letters maintained themselves, some
few by fees received from their pupils, others as professors holding
salaries in the museum, and others by civil employments under the
government. There was little to encourage in them the feelings of noble
pride or independence. The first rank in Alexandria was held by the
civil and military servants of the crown, who enjoyed the lucrative
employments of receiving the taxes, hearing the lawsuits by appeal, and
repressing rebellions. With these men the philosophers mixed, not as
equals, but partaking of their wealth and luxuries, and paying their
score with wit and conversation. There were no landholders in the city,
as the soil of the country was owned by Egyptians; and the wealthy
trading classes, of all nations and languages, could bestow little
patronage on Greek learning, and therefore little independence on its

Philadelphus was not less fond of paintings and statues than of books;
and he seems to have joined the Achaian league as much for the sake of
the pictures which Aratus, its general, was in the habit of sending
to him, as for political reasons. Aratus, the chief of Sicyon, was an
acknowledged judge of paintings, and Sicyon was then the first school
of Greece. The pieces which he sent to Philadelphus were mostly those of
Pamphilus, the master, and of Melanthius, the fellow-pupil, of Apelles.
Pamphilus was famed for his perspective; and he is said to have received
from every pupil the large sum of ten talents, or seven thousand five
hundred dollars, a year. His best known pieces were, Ulysses in his
ship, and the victory of the Athenians near the town of Phlius. It was
through Pamphilus that, at first in Sicyon, and afterwards throughout
all Greece, drawing was taught to boys as part of a liberal education.
Neacles also painted for Aratus; and we might almost suppose that it was
as a gift to the King of Egypt that he painted his Sea-fight between the
Egyptians and the Persians, in which the painter shows us that it was
fought within the mouth of the Nile by making a crocodile bite at an ass
drinking on the shore.

Helena, the daughter of Timon, was a painter of some note at this time,
at Alexandria; but the only piece of hers known to us by name is the
Battle of Issus, which three hundred years afterwards was hung up by
Vespasian in the Temple of Peace at Rome. We must wonder at a woman
choosing to paint the horrors and pains of a battle-piece; but, as we
are not told what point of time was chosen, we may hope that it was
after the battle, when Alexander, in his tent, raised up from their
knees the wife and lovely daughter of Darius, who had been found among
the prisoners. As for the Egyptians, they showed no taste in painting.


Their method of drawing the human figure mathematically by means of
squares, which was not unsuitable in working a statue sixty feet high,
checked all flights of genius; and it afterwards destroyed Greek art,
when the Greek painters were idle enough to use it. We hear but little
of the statues and sculptures made for Philadelphus; but we cannot help
remarking that, while the public places of Athens were filled with
the statues of the great and good men who had deserved well of their
country, the statues which were most common in Alexandria were those of
Cline, a favourite damsel, who filled the office of cup-bearer to the
king of Egypt.

The favour shown to the Jews by Ptolemy Soter was not withdrawn by his
son. He even bought from his own soldiers and freed from slavery one
hundred and twenty thousand men of that nation, who were scattered over
Egypt. He paid for each, out of the royal treasury, one hundred and
twenty drachmas, or about fifteen dollars, to those of his subjects who
held them either by right of war or by purchase. In fixing the amount
of the ransom, the king would seem to have been guided by his Jewish
advisers, as this is exactly equal to thirty shekels, the sum fixed
by the Jewish law as the price of a slave. The Jews who lived in Lower
Egypt, in the enjoyment of civil and religious liberty, looked upon that
country as their home. They had already a Greek translation of either
the whole or some part of their sacred writings, which had been made for
those whose families had been for so many generations in Egypt that they
could not read the language of their forefathers. But they now hoped,
by means of the king's friendship and the weight which his wishes must
carry with them, to have a Greek translation of the Bible which should
bear the stamp of official authority.

Accordingly, to please them, Philadelphus sent Aris-taaus, a man whose
wisdom had gained his friendship, and Andrseus, a captain of the guard,
both of them Greek Jews, with costly gifts to Eleazer, the high priest
of Jerusalem; and asked him to employ learned and fit men to make a
Greek translation of the Bible for the library at Alexandria. Eleazer,
so runs the tradition, named seventy elders to undertake the task, who
held their first sitting on the business at the king's dinner-table;
when Menedemus, the Socratic philosopher, the pupil of Plato, was also
present, who had been sent to Philadelphus as ambassador from Eubcea.
The translators then divided the work among themselves; and when each
had finished his task it wras laid before a meeting of the seventy, and
then published by authority. Thus was said to have been made the
Greek translation of the Old Testament, which, from the number of the
translators, we now call the Septuagint; but a doubt is thrown upon
the whole story by the fables which have been mingled with it to give
authority to the translation. By this translation the Bible became known
for the first time to the Greek philosophers. We do not indeed hear that
they immediately read it or noticed it, we do not find it quoted till
after the spread of Christianity; but it had a silent effect on
their opinions, which we trace in the new school of Platonists soon
afterwards rising in Alexandria.

When Aratus of Sicyon first laid a plot to free his country from its
tyrant, who reigned by the help of the King of Macedonia, he sent to
Philadelphus to beg for money. He naturally looked to the King of Egypt
for help when entering upon a struggle against their common rival; but
the king seems to have thought the plans of this young man too wild to
be countenanced. Aratus, however, soon raised Sicyon to a level with the
first states of Greece, and made himself leader of the Achaian league,
under which band and name the Greeks were then struggling for freedom
against Macedonia; and when, by his courage and success, he had shown
himself worthy of the proud name which was afterwards given him, of the
"Last of the Greeks," Philadelphus, like other patrons, gave him
the help which he less needed. Aratus, as we have seen, bought his
friendship with pictures, the gifts of all others the most welcome;
and, when he went to Egypt, Philadelphus gave him one hundred and fifty
talents, or forty-five thousand dollars, and joined the Achaian league,
on the agreement that in carrying on the war by sea and land they should
obey the orders from Alexandria.

The friendship of Philadelphus, indeed, was courted by all the
neighbouring states; the little island of Delos set up its statue to
him; and the cities of Greece vied with one another in doing him honour.
The Athenians named one of the tribes of their city and also one
of their public lecture-rooms by his name; and two hundred years
afterwards, when Cicero and his friend Atticus were learning wisdom and
eloquence from the lips of Antiochus in Athens, it was in the gymnasium
of Ptolemy.

Philadelphus, when young, had married Arsinoë, the daughter of
Lysimachus of Thrace, by whom he had three children, Ptolemy, who
succeeded him, Lysimachus, and Berenicê; but, having found that his
wife was intriguing with Amyntas, and with his physician Chrysippus
of Rhodes, he put these two to death and banished the Queen Arsinoë to
Koptos in the Thebaid.

He then took Arsinoë, his own sister, as the partner of his throne. She
had married first the old Lysimachus, King of Thrace, and then Ceraunus,
her half-brother, when he was King of Macedonia. As they were not
children of the same mother, this second marriage was neither illegal
nor improper in Macedonia; but her third marriage with Philadelphus
could only be justified by the laws of Egypt, their adopted country.
They were both past the middle age, and whether Philadelphus looked
upon her as his wife or not, at any rate they had no children. Her
own children by Lysimachus had been put to death by Ceraunus, and she
readily adopted those of her brother with all the kindness of a mother.
She was a woman of an enlarged mind; her husband and her stepchildren
alike valued her; and Eratosthenes showed his opinion of her learning
and strong sense by giving the name of Arsinoë to one of his works,
which perhaps a modern writer would have named Table-talk.

[Illustration: 141.jpg Coin with the heads of Soter and Philadelphus and

This seeming marriage, however, between brother and sister did not
escape blame with the Greeks of Alexandria. The poet Sotades, whose
verses were as licentious as his life, wrote some coarse lines against
the queen, for which he was forced to fly from Egypt, and, being
overtaken at sea, he was wrapped up in lead and thrown overboard.

In the Egyptian inscriptions Ptolemy and Arsinoë are always called the
brother-gods; on the coins they are called Adelphi, the brothers; and
afterwards the king took the name of Philadelphus, or sister-loving,
by which he is now usually known. In the first half of his reign
Philadelphus dated his coins from the year that his father came to the
throne; and it was not till the nineteenth year of his reign, soon after
the death of his mother, that he made an era of his own, and dated his
coins by the year of his own reign. The wealth of the country is well
shown by the great size of those most in use, which were, in gold the
tetra-stater or piece of eight drachms, and in silver the tetra-drachma,
or piece of four drachms, while Greece had hardly seen a piece of gold
larger than the single stater. In Alexandrian accounts also the unit
of money was the silver didrachm, and thus double that in use among the
merchants of Greece.


Among the coins is one with the heads of Soter and Philadelphus on the
one side, and the head of Berenicê, the wife of the one and mother of
the other, on the other side. This we may suppose to have been struck
during the first two years of his reign, in the lifetime of his father.
Another bears on one side the heads of Ptolemy Soter and Berenicê, with
the title of "the gods," and on the other side the heads of Philadelphus
and his wife Arsinoë, with the title of "the brothers." This was struck
after the death of his parents. A third was struck by the king in honour
of his queen and sister. On the one side is the head of the queen, and
on the other is the name of "Arsinoë, the brother-loving," with the
cornucopia, or horn of Amalthea, an emblem borrowed by the queens of
Egypt from the goddess Amalthea, the wife of the Libyan Anion. This was
struck after his second marriage.

On the death of Arsinoë, Philadelphus built a tomb for her in
Alexandria, called the Arsinoëum, and set up in it an obelisk eighty
cubits high, which had been made by King Nectanebo, but had been left
plain, without carving.

[Illustration: 143.jpg COIN OF ARSINOË, SISTER OF PTOLEMY II.]

Satyrus, the architect, had the charge of moving it. He dug a canal to
it as it lay upon the ground, and moved two heavily laden barges under
it. The burdens were then taken out of the barges, and as they floated
higher they raised the obelisk off the ground. He then found it a task
as great or greater to set it up in its place; and this Greek engineer
must surely have looked back with wonder on the labour and knowledge of
mechanics which must have been used in setting up the obelisks, colossal
statues, and pyramids, which he saw scattered over the country. This
obelisk now ornaments the cathedral of the Popes on the Vatican hill at
Rome. Satyrus wrote a treatise on precious stones, and he also carved
on them with great skill; but his works are known only in the following
lines, which were written by Diodorus on his portrait of Arsinoë cut in

     E'en Zeuxis had been proud to trace
     The lines within this pebble seen;
     Satyrus here hath carved the face
     Of fair Arsinoë, Egypt's queen;
     But such her beauty, sweetness, grace,
     The copy falls far short, I ween.

Two beautiful cameos cut on sardonyx are extant, one with the heads of
Philadelphus and his first wife, Arsinoe, and the other with the heads
of the same king and his second wife, Arsinoë. It is not impossible that
one or both of them may be the work of Satyrus.

Philadelphus is also said to have listened to the whimsical proposal
of Dinochares, the architect, to build a room of loadstone in Arsinoë's
tomb, so that an iron statue of the queen should hang in the air between
the floor and the roof. But the death of the king and of the architect
took place before this was tried. He set up there, however, her statue
six feet high, carved out of a most remarkable block of topaz, which had
been presented to his mother by Philemon, the prefect of the Troglodytic
coast in the last reign.

Philadelphus lived in peace with Ergamenes, King of Meroë or Upper
Ethiopia, who, while seeking for a knowledge of philosophy and the arts
of life from his Greek neighbours, seems also to have gained a love
of despotism, and a dislike of that control with which the priests of
Ethiopia and Egypt had always limited the power of their kings. The King
of Meroë had hitherto reigned like Amenôthes or Thutmosis of old, as
the head of the priesthood, supported and controlled by the priestly
aristocracy by which he was surrounded. But he longed for the absolute
power of Philadelphus. Accordingly he surrounded the golden temple with
a chosen body of troops, and put the whole of the priests to death; and
from that time he governed Ethiopia as an autocrat. But, with the loss
of their liberties, the Ethiopians lost the wish to guard the throne; by
grasping at more power, their sovereign lost what he already possessed;
and in the next reign their country was conquered by Egypt.

The wars between Philadelphus and his great neighbour, Antiochus Theos,
seem not to have been carried on very actively, though they did not
wholly cease till Philadelphus offered as a bribe his daughter Berenicê,
with a large sum of money under the name of a dower. Antiochus was
already married to Laodice, whom he loved dearly, and by whom he had two
children, Seleucus and Antiochus; but political ambition had deadened
the feelings of his heart, and he agreed to declare this first marriage
void and his two sons illegitimate, and that his children, if any should
be born to him by Berenicê, should inherit the throne of Babylon and the
East. Philadelphus, with an equal want of feeling, and disregarding the
consequences of such a marriage, led his daughter to Pelusium on her
journey to her betrothed husband, and sent with her so large a sum of
gold and silver that he was nicknamed the "dower-giver."

The peace between the two countries lasted as long as Philadelphus
lived, and was strengthened by kindnesses which each did to the other.
Ptolemy, when in Syria, was much struck by the beauty of a statue of
Diana, and begged it of Antiochus as an ornament for Alexandria. But as
soon as the statue reached Egypt, Arsinoë fell dangerously ill, and she
dreamed that the goddess came by night, and told her that the illness
was sent to her for the wrong done to the statue by her husband; and
accordingly it was sent back with many gifts to the temple from which it
had been brought.

While Berenicê and her husband lived at Antioch, Philadelphus kindly
sent there from time to time water from the sacred Nile for her use, as
the Egyptians believed that none other was so wholesome. Antiochus,
when ill, sent to Alexandria for a physician; and Cleombrotus of Cos
accordingly went, by command of Ptolemy, to Syria. He was successful
in curing the king, and on his return he received from Philadelphus a
present of one hundred talents, or seventy-five thousand dollars, as a
fee for his journey.

Philadelphus was a weak frame of body, and had delicate health; and,
though a lover of learning beyond other kings of his time, he also
surpassed them in his unmeasured luxury and love of pleasure. He had
many mistresses, Egyptian as well as Greek, and the names of some of
them have been handed down to us. He often boasted that he had found out
the way to live for ever; but, like other free-livers, he was sometimes,
by the gout in his feet, made to acknowledge that he was only a man, and
indeed to wish that he could change places with the beggar whom he saw
from his palace windows, eating the garbage on the banks of the Nile
with an appetite which he had long wanted. It was during illness that
he found most time for reading, and his mind most open to the truths of
philosophy; and he chiefly wooed the Muses when ill health left him at
leisure from his other courtships. He had a fleet of eight hundred state
barges with gilt prows and poops and scarlet awnings upon the decks,
which were used in the royal processions and religious shows, and which
usually lay in dock at Schedia, on the Canopic River, five and twenty
miles from Alexandria. He was no doubt in part withheld from war by this
luxurious love of ease; but his reign taught the world the new lesson,
that an ambitious monarch may gratify his wish for praise and gain the
admiration of surrounding nations, as much by cultivating the blessed
arts of peace as by plunging his people into the miseries of war.

He reigned over Egypt, with the neighbouring parts of Arabia; also over
Libya, Phoenicia, Cole-Syria, part of Ethiopia, Pamphylia, Cilicia,
Lycia, Caria, Cyprus, and the isles of the Cyclades. The island of
Rhodes and many of the cities of Greece were bound to him by the closest
ties of friendship, for past help and for the hope of future. The
wealthy cities of Tyre and Sidon did homage to him, as before to his
father, by putting his crowned head upon their coins. The forces of
Egypt reached the very large number of two hundred thousand foot and
twenty thousand horse, two thousand chariots, four hundred Ethiopian
elephants, fifteen hundred ships of war and one thousand transports. Of
this large force, it is not likely that even one-fourth should have been
Greeks; the rest must have been Egyptians and Syrians, with some Gauls.
The body of chariots, though still forming part of the force furnished
for military service by the Theban tenants of the crown, was of no
use against modern science; and the other Egyptian troops, though now
chiefly armed and disciplined like Greeks, were very much below the
Macedonian phalanx in real strength. The galleys also, though no doubt
under the guidance and skill of Greeks and Phoenicians, were in part
manned by Egyptians, whose inland habits wholly unfitted them for the
sea, and whose religious prejudices made them feel the conscription for
the navy as a heavy grievance.

These large forces were maintained by a yearly income equally large, of
fourteen thousand eight hundred talents, or twelve million two hundred
and fifty thousand dollars, beside the tax on grain, which was taken
in kind, of a million and a half of artabas, or about five millions of
bushels. To this we may add a mass of gold, silver, and other valuable
stores in the treasury, which were boastfully reckoned at the unheard-of
sum of seven hundred and forty thousand talents, or above five hundred
million dollars.

[Illustration: 149.jpg A TYPICAL NILE PILOT]

The trade down the Nile was larger than it had ever been before; the
coasting trade on the Mediterranean was new; the people were rich and
happy; justice was administered to the Egyptians according to their own
laws, and to the Greeks of Alexandria according to the Macedonian laws:
the navy commanded the whole of the eastern half of the Mediterranean;
the schools and library had risen to a great height upon the wise plans
of Ptolemy Soter; in every point of view Alexandria was the chief city
in the world. Athens had no poets or other writers during this century
equal in merit to those who ennobled the museum. Philadelphus, by
joining to the greatness and good government of his father the costly
splendour and pomp of an eastern monarch, so drew the eyes of after ages
upon his reign that his name passed into a proverb: if any work of
art was remarkable for its good taste or costliness, it was called
Philadelphian; even history and chronology were set at nought, and we
sometimes find poets of a century later counted among the Pleiades of
Alexandria in the reign of Philadelphus. It is true that many of these
advantages were forced in the hotbed of royal patronage; that the navy
was built in the harbours of Phoenicia and Asia Minor; and that the men
of letters who then drew upon themselves the eyes of the world were
only Greek settlers, whose writings could have done little to raise
the character of the native Kopts. But the Ptolemies, in raising this
building of their own, were not at the same time crushing another. Their
splendid monarchy had not been built on the ruins of freedom; and even
if the Greek settlers in the Delta had formed themselves into a free
state, we can hardly believe that the Egyptians would have been so well
treated as they were by this military despotism. From the temples
which were built or enlarged in Upper Egypt, and from the beauty of the
hieroglyphical inscriptions, we find that even the native arts were
more flourishing than they had ever been since the fall of the kings of
Thebes; and we may almost look upon the Greek conquest as a blessing to
Upper Egypt.

Philadelphus, though weak in body, was well suited by his
keen-sightedness and intelligence for the tasks which the state of
affairs at that time demanded from an Egyptian king. He was a diplomat
rather than a warrior, and that was exactly what Egypt needed.

A curious anecdote about Ptolemy Philadelphus is related by Niebuhr. He
had reached the zenith of his glory, when suddenly he was attacked by
a species of insanity, consisting of an indescribable fear of death.
Chemical artifices were practised in Egypt from the earliest times; and
hence Ptolemy took every imaginable pains to find the elixir of life;
but it was all in vain, for his strength was rapidly decreasing. Once,
like Louis XI., he was looking from a window of his palace upon the
seacoast, and seriously meditated upon the subject of his longing; it
must have been in winter-time, when the sand, exposed to the rays of the
sun, becomes very warm. He saw some poor boys burying themselves in the
warm sand and screaming with delight, and the aged king began bitterly
to cry, seeing the ragged urchins enjoying their life without any
apprehension of losing it; for he felt that with all his riches he could
not purchase that happiness, and that his end was very near at hand. He
died in the thirty-eighth year of his reign, and perhaps the sixty-first
of his age. He left the kingdom as powerful and more wealthy than when
it came to him from his father; and he had the happiness of having a son
who would carry on, even for the third generation, the wise plans of the
first Ptolemy.

[Illustration: 153.jpg PAGE IMAGE]


_The struggle for Syria--Decline of the dynasty--Advent of Roman

Ptolemy, the eldest son of Philadelphus, succeeded his father on
the throne of Egypt, and after a short time was accorded the name of
Euergetes. The new reign was clouded by dark occurrences, which again
involved Egypt and Syria in war. It has been already related that when
peace was concluded between Antiochus and Philadelphus, the latter gave
to the former his daughter Berenicê in marriage, stipulating that the
offspring of that union should succeed to the Syrian throne, though
Antiochus had, by his wife Laodice, a son, already arrived at the age of
manhood. The repudiated queen murdered her husband, and placed Seleucus
on the vacant throne; who, in order to remove all competition on the
part of Berenicê and her child, made no scruple to deprive them both
of life. Euergetes could not behold such proceedings unmoved. Advancing
into Syria at the head of a powerful army, he took possession of the
greater part of the country, which seems not to have been defended,
the majority of the cities opening their gates at his approach. The
important town of Seleucia Pieria, the seaport of the capital, fell into
his hands, in the neighbourhood of which he was still further gratified
with the apprehension of the cruel Laodice, at whose instigation his
sister and nephew lost their lives. The punishment of this unprincipled
woman seems, however, to have completely satiated his resentment; for,
instead of securing his conquests in Syria, and achieving the entire
humiliation of Seleucus, he led his army on a plundering expedition into
the remote provinces of Asia, whence, on the news of domestic troubles,
he returned to the shores of Africa in triumph, laden with an immense
booty, comprising among other objects all the statues of the Egyptian
deities which had been carried off by Cambyses to Persia or Babylon.
These he restored to their respective temples, an act by which he earned
the greatest popularity among his native Egyptian subjects, who bestowed
upon him, in consequence, the title of Euergetes (Benefactor), by which
he is generally known. He brought back also from this expedition a vast
number of other works of art, for the museums were a passion with the
Ptolemies. The Asiatics might, indeed, have got over these things, but
he levied, in addition, immense contributions from the Asiatics, and is
said to have raised over forty thousand talents. On his march homeward,
he laid his gifts upon the altar in the Temple of Jerusalem, and there
returned thanks to Heaven for his victories. He had been taught to bow
the knee to the crowds of Greek and Egyptian gods; and, as Palestine was
part of his kingdom, it seemed quite natural to add the God of the Jews
to the list.

Of the insurrection in Egypt, which obliged him to return, we know no
particulars, but Euergetes seems to have become convinced that Egypt was
too small a basis for such an empire. "If he had wished to retain all
his conquests" relates the chronicler, "he would have been obliged to
make Antioch his residence, and this would weaken the ground of his
strength. He, moreover, appears to have been well aware that the
conquests had been made too quickly." He accordingly divided them,
retaining for himself Syria as far as Euphrates, and the coast districts
of Asia Minor and Thrace, so that he had a complete maritime empire. The
remaining territories he divided into two states: the country beyond the
Euphrates was given, according to St. Jerome, to one Xantippus, who
is otherwise unknown, and Western Asia was left to Antiochus Hierax. It
would seem that after this he never visited those countries again.

One of the notable incidents of the war against Syria was an offer
of help to Egypt from the Romans. From the middle of the reign of
Philadelphus till the fifth year of this reign, for twenty-two years,
the Romans had been struggling with the Carthaginians for their very
being, in the first Punic war, which they had just brought to a close,
and on hearing of Ptolemy's war in Syria, they sent to Egypt with
friendly offers of help. But their ambassadors did not reach Alexandria
before peace was made, and they were sent home with many thanks. The
event serves to show the trend of the aspirations of this now important
nation, which was afterwards destined to engulf the kingdoms of Egypt
and Syria alike.

After Euergetes had, as he thought, established his authority in Asia,
a party hostile to him came forward to oppose him. The Rhodians, with
their wise policy, who had hitherto given no decided support to either
empire, now stepped forward, setting to other maritime cities the
example of joining that hostile party. The confederates formed a fleet,
with the assistance of which, and supported by a general insurrection of
the Asiatics, who were exasperated against the Egyptians on account of
their rapacity, Seleucus Callinicus rallied again.

[Illustration: 157.jpg AN ABYSSINIAN SLAVE]

He recovered the whole of upper Asia, and for a time he was united with
his brother, Antiochus Hierax. The insurrection in Egypt must have
been of a very serious nature, and Ptolemy, being pressed on all
sides, concluded a truce of ten years with Seleucus on basis of _uti
possidetis_. Both parties seem to have retained the places which they
possessed at the time, so that all the disadvantage was on the side of
the Seleucidæ, for the fortified town of Seleucia, for example, remained
in the hands of the Egyptians, whereby the capital was placed in a
dangerous position. A part of Cilicia, the whole of Caria, the Ionian
cities, the Thracian Chersonesus, and several Macedonian towns likewise
continued to belong to Egypt. Soon after his re-appearance in Egypt,
Euergetes was solicited by Cleomenes, the King of Sparta, to grant the
assistance of his arms in the struggle which that republic was then
supporting with Antigonus, the ruler of Macedon, and with the members
of the Achaian league. But the battle of Sellasia proved that the aid
offered was inadequate. Cleomenes fled to the banks of the Nile, where
he found his august ally reposing under the successful banners of a
numerous army, which he had just led home from the savage mountains of
Ethiopia, whither his love of romantic conquest had conducted them. He
appears to have penetrated into the interior provinces of Abyssinia,
and to have subdued the rude tribes which dwelt on the shores of the
Red Sea, levying on the unfortunate natives the most oppressive
contributions in cattle, gold, perfumes, and other articles belonging
to that valuable merchandise which the Ethiopians and Arabs had long
carried on with their Egyptian neighbours. At Adule, the principal
seaport of Abyssinia, he collected his victorious troops, and made them
a speech on the wonderful exploits which they had achieved under his
auspices, and on the numerous benefits which they had thereby secured
to their native country. The throne on which he sat, composed of white
marble and supported by a slab of porphyry, was consecrated to the god
of war, whom he chose to claim for his father and patron, and that the
descendants of the vanquished Ethiopians might not be ignorant of their
obligations to Ptolemy Euergetes, King of Egypt, he gave orders that his
name and principal triumphs should be inscribed on the votive chair. But
not content with his real conquests, which reached from the Hellespont
to the Euphrates, he added, like Ramsesr that he had conquered
Thrace, Persia, Media, and Bactria. He thus teaches us that monumental
inscriptions, though read with difficulty, do not always tell the truth.
This was the most southerly spot to which the kings of Egypt ever sent
an army. But they kept no hold on the country. Distance had placed it
not only beyond their power, but almost beyond their knowledge; and
two hundred years afterwards, when the geographer Strabo was making
inquiries about that part of Arabia, as it was called, he was told of
this monument as set up by the hero Sesostris, to whom it was usual to
give the credit of so many wonderful works. These inscriptions, it
is worthy of remark, are still preserved, and constitute the only
historical account that has reached these times of the Ethiopian warfare
of this Egyptian monarch. About seven hundred years after the reign
of Euergetes, they were first published in the _Topography_ of Cosmas
Indicopleustes, a Grecian monk, by whom they were copied on the spot.
The traveller Bruce, moreover, informs us that the stone containing the
name of Ptolemy Euergetes serves as a footstool to the throne on which
the kings of Abyssinia are crowned to this day.


Amid the ruins of Ascum, also, the ancient capital of that country,
various fragments of marble have been found bearing the name and title
of the same Egyptian sovereign. This empty fame, however, is the only
return that ever recompensed the toils of Euergetes among the fierce
barbarians of the south.

Euergetes, as part of his general policy of conciliating the Egyptians,
enlarged the great temple at Thebes, which is now called the temple
of Karnak, on the walls of which we see him handing an offering to
his father and mother, the brother-gods. In one place he is in a Greek
dress, which is not common on the Ptolemaic buildings, as most of the
Greek kings are carved upon the walls in the dress of the country. The
early kings had often shown their piety to a temple by enlarging the
sacred area and adding a new wall and gateway in front of the former;
and this custom Euergetes followed at Karnak. As these grand stone
sculptured gateways belonged to a wall of unbaked bricks which has long
since crumbled to pieces, they now stand apart like so many triumphal
arches. He also added to the temple at Hibe in the Great Oasis, and
began a small temple at Esne, or Latopolis, where he is drawn upon the
walls in the act of striking down the chiefs of the conquered nations,
and is followed by a tame lion.

[Illustration: 161.jpg GATE AT KARNAK]

He built a temple to Osiris at Canopus, on the mouth of the Nile; for,
notwithstanding the large number of Greeks and strangers who had settled
there, the ancient religion was not yet driven out of the Delta; and he
dedicated it to the god in a Greek inscription on a plate of gold, in
the names of himself and Berenicê, whom he called his wife and sister.
She is also called the king's sister in many of the hieroglyphical
inscriptions, as are many of the other queens of the Ptolemies who were
not so related to their husbands. This custom, though it took its rise
in the Egyptian mythology, must have been strengthened by the marriages
of Philadelphus and some of his successors with their sisters. In the
hieroglyphical inscriptions he is usually called "beloved by Phtah,"
the god of Memphis, an addition to his name which was used by most of
his successors.

During this century the Greek artists in Egypt, as indeed elsewhere,
adopted in their style an affectation of antiquity, which, unless seen
through, would make us think their statues older than they really are.
They sometimes set a stiff beard upon a face without expression, or
arranged the hair of the head in an old-fashioned manner, and, while
making the drapery fly out in a direction opposed to that of the figure,
gave to it formal zigzag lines, which could only be proper if it were
hanging down in quiet. At other times, while they gave to the human
figure all the truth to which their art had then reached, they yet gave
to the drapery these stiff zigzag forms.

[Illustration: 163.jpg RUINS OF SAIS]

No habit of mind would have been more improving to the Alexandrian
character than a respect for antiquity; but this respect ought to be
shown in a noble rivalry, in trying to surpass those who have gone
before them, and not as in this manner by copying their faults.
Hieroglyphics seem to have flourished in their more ancient style and
forms under the generous patronage of the Ptolemies. In the time of the
Egyptian kings of Lower Egypt, we find new grammatical endings to the
nouns, and more letters used to spell each word than under the kings of
Thebes; but, on comparing the hieroglyphics of the Ptolemies with the
others, we find that in these and some other points they are more like
the older writings, under the kings of Thebes, than the newer, under the
kings of Saïs.

But, while the Egyptians were flattered, and no doubt raised in moral
worth, by their monarch's taking up the religious feelings of the
country, and throwing aside some of the Greek habits of his father and
grandfather, Euergetes was sowing the seeds of a greater change than he
could himself have been aware of. It was by Greek arms and arts of war
that Egypt then held its place among nations, and we shall see in
the coming reigns that, while the court became more Asiatic and
less European, the army and government did not retain their former

Since Coele-Syria and Judæa were by the first Ptolemy made a province of
Egypt, the Jews had lived in unbroken tranquillity, and with very
little loss of freedom. The kings of Egypt had allowed them to govern
themselves, to live under their own laws, and choose their own high
priest; but they required of them the payment to Alexandria of a yearly
tribute. Part of this was the sacred poll-tax of half a shekel, or
about sixteen cents for every male above the age of twenty, which by the
Mosaic law they had previously paid for the service of the Temple.
This is called in the Gospels the Didrachms; though the Alexandrian
translators of the Bible, altering the sum, either through mistake or on
purpose, have made it in the Greek Pentateuch only half a didrachm, or
about eight cents. This yearly tribute from the Temple the high priest
of Jerusalem had been usually allowed to collect and farm; but in the
latter end of this reign, the high priest Onias, a weak and covetous
old man, refused to send to Alexandria the twenty talents, or fifteen
thousand dollars, at which it was then valued. When Euergetes sent
Athenion as ambassador to claim it, and even threatened to send a body
of troops to fetch it, still the tribute was not paid; notwithstanding
the fright of the Jews, the priest would not part with his money. On
this, Joseph, the nephew of Onias, set out for Egypt, to try and turn
away the king's anger. He went to Memphis, and met Euergetes riding in
his chariot with the queen and Athenion, the ambassador. The king, when
he knew him, begged him to get into the chariot and sit with him; and
Joseph made himself so agreeable that he was lodged in the palace
at Memphis, and dined every day at the royal table. While he was at
Memphis, the revenues of the provinces for the coming year were put up
to auction; and the farmers bid eight thousand talents, or six million
dollars, for the taxes of Coele-Syria, Phoenicia, and Samaria. Joseph
then bid double that sum, and, when he was asked what security he could
give, he playfully said that he was sure that Euergetes and the queen
would willingly become bound for his honesty; and the king was so much
pleased with him that the office was at once given to him, and he held
it for twenty-two years.

Among the men of letters who at this time taught in the Alexandrian
schools was Aristophanes, the grammarian, who afterwards held the office
of head of the museum. At one of the public sittings at which the king
was to hear the poems and other writings of the pupils read, and, by
the help of seven men of letters who sat with him as judges, was to
give away honours and rewards to the best authors, one of the chairs was
empty, one of the judges happened not to be there. The king asked who
should be called up to fill his place; and, after thinking over the
matter, the six judges fixed upon Aristophanes, who had made himself
known to them by being seen daily studying in the public library. When
the reading was over, the king, the public, and the six other judges
were agreed upon which was the best piece of writing; but Aristophanes
was bold enough to think otherwise, and he was able, by means of his
great reading, to find the book in the library from which the pupil had
copied the greater part of his work. The king was much struck with
this proof of his learning, and soon afterwards made him keeper of
the library which he had already so well used. Aristophanes followed
Zenodotus in his critical efforts to mend the text of Homer's poems. He
also invented the several marks by which grammarians now distinguish the
length and tone of a syllable and the breathing of a vowel, that is, the
marks for long and short, and the accents and aspirate. The last two,
after his time, were always placed over Greek words, and are still used
in printed books.

Eratosthenes of Cyrene, the inventor of astronomical geography, was at
this time the head of the mathematical school. He has the credit for
being the first to calculate the circumference of the earth by means
of his Theory of Shadows. As a poet he wrote a description of the
constellations. He also wrote a history of Egypt, to correct the errors
of Manetho. What most strikes us with wonder and regret is, that of
these two writers, Manetho, an Egyptian priest who wrote in Greek,
Eratosthenes, a Greek who understood something of Egyptian, neither of
them took the trouble to lay open to their readers the peculiarities of
the hieroglyphics. Through all these reigns, the titles and praises of
the Ptolemies were carved upon the temples in the sacred characters.
These two histories were translated from the same inscriptions. We even
now read the names of the kings which they mention carved on the statues
and temples; and yet the language of the hieroglyphics still remained
unknown beyond the class of priests; such was the want of curiosity on
the part of the Greek grammarians of Alexandria. Such, we may add, was
their want of respect for the philosophy of the Egyptians; and we
need no stronger proof that the philosophers of the museum had hitherto
borrowed none of the doctrines of the priests.


Lycon of Troas was another settler in Alexandria. He followed Strato at
the head of one of the schools in the museum. He was very successful in
bringing up the young men, who needed, he used to say, modesty and the
love of praise, as a horse needs bridle and spur. His eloquence was so
pleasing that he was wittily called Glycon, or the sweet. Carneades of
Cyrene at the same time held a high place among philosophers; but as
he had removed to Athens, where he was at the head of a school, and was
even sent to Rome as the ambassador of the Athenians, we must not claim
the whole honour of him for the Ptolemies under whom he was born. It is
therefore enough to say of him that, though a follower of Plato, he made
such changes in the opinions of the Academy, by not wholly throwing off
the evidence of the senses, that his school was called the New Academy.

Apollonius, who was born at Alexandria, but is commonly called
Apollonius Rhodius because he passed many years of his life at Rhodes,
had been, like Eratosthenes, a hearer of Callimachus. His only work
which we now know is his _Argonautics_, a poem on the voyage of Jason
to Colchis in search of the golden fleece. It is a regular epic poem,
in imitation of Homer; and, like other imitations, it wants the interest
which hangs upon reality of manners and story in the Iliad.

Callimachus showed his dislike of his young rival by hurling against him
a reproachful poem, in which he speaks of him under the name of an Ibis.
This is now lost, but it was copied by Ovid in his poem of the same
name; and from the Roman we can gather something of the dark and learned
style in which Callimachus threw out his biting reproaches. We do not
know from what this quarrel arose, but it seems to have been the cause
of Apollonius leaving Alexandria. He removed to Rhodes, where he taught
in the schools during all the reign of Philopator, till he was recalled
by Epiphanes, and made librarian of the museum in his old age, on the
death of Eratosthenes.

Lycophron, the tragic writer, lived about this time at Alexandria, and
was one of the seven men of letters sometimes called the Alexandrian
Pleiades, though writers are not agreed upon the names which fill up the
list. His tragedies are all lost, and the only work of his which we now
have is the dark and muddy poem of Alcandra, or Cassandra, of which the
lines most striking to the historian are those in which the prophetess
foretells the coming greatness of Rome; that the children of Æneas will
raise the crown upon their spears, and seize the sceptres of sea and
land. Lycophron was the friend of Menedemus and Aratus; and it is not
easy to believe that these lines were written before the overthrow of
Hannibal in Italy, and of the Greek phalanx at Cynocéphale, or that
one who was a man in the reign of Philadelphus should have foreseen the
triumph of the Roman arms. These words must have been a later addition
to the poem, to improve the prophecy.

Conon, one of the greatest of the Alexandrian astronomers, has left no
writings for us to judge of his merits, though they were thought highly
of, and made great use of, by his successors. He worked both as an
observer and an inquirer, mapping out the heavens by his observations,
and collecting the accounts of the eclipses which had been before
observed in Egypt. He was the friend of Archimedes of Syracuse, to
whom he sent his problems, and from whom he received that great
geometrician's writings in return.

Apollonius of Perga came to Alexandria in this reign, to study
mathematics under the pupils of Euclid. He is well known for his work
on conic sections, and he may be called the founder of this study.
The Greek mathematicians sought after knowledge for its own sake, and
followed up those branches of their studies which led to no end that
could in the narrow sense be called useful, with the same zeal that they
did other branches out of which sprung the great practical truths of
mechanics, astronomy, and geography. They found reward enough in the
enlargement of their minds and in the beauty of the truth learnt.
Alexandrian science gained in loftiness of tone what its poetry and
philosophy wanted. Thus the properties of the ellipse, the hyperbola,
and the parabola, continued to be studied by after mathematicians; but
no use was made of this knowledge till nearly two thousand years later,
when Kepler crowned the labours of Apollonius with the great discovery
that the paths of the planets round the sun were conic sections.
The Egyptians, however, made great use of mathematical knowledge,
particularly in the irrigation of their fields; and Archimedes of
Syracuse, who came to Alexandria about this time to study under Conon,
did the country a real service by his invention of the cochlea, or
screw-pump. The more distant fields of the valley of the Nile, rising
above the level of the inundation, have to be watered artificially by
pumping out of the canals into ditches at a higher level. For this work
Archimedes proposed a spiral tube, twisting round an axis, which was to
be put in motion either by the hand or by the force of the stream out
of which it was to pump; and this was found so convenient that it soon
became the machine most in use throughout Egypt for irrigation.

But while we are dazzled by the brilliancy of these clusters of men of
letters and science who graced the court of Alexandria, we must not shut
our eyes to those faults which are always found in works called forth
rather by the fostering warmth of royal pensions than by a love of
knowledge in the people. The well-fed and well-paid philosophers of the
museum were not likely to overtake the mighty men of Athens in its
best days, who had studied and taught without any pension from the
government, without taking any fee from their pupils; who were urged
forward towards excellence by the love of knowledge and of honour; who
had no other aim than that of being useful to their hearers, and looked
for no reward beyond their love and esteem.

In oratory Alexandria made no attempts whatever; it is a branch of
literature not likely to flourish under a despotic monarchy. In Athens
it fell with the loss of liberty, and Demetrius Phalereus was the
last of the real Athenian orators. After his time the orations were
declamations written carefully in the study, and coldly spoken in the
school for the instruction of the pupils, and wholly wanting in fire and
genius; and the Alexandrian men of letters forbore to copy Greece in
its lifeless harangues. For the same reasons the Alexandrians were not
successful in history. A species of writing, which a despot requires
to be false and flattering, is little likely to flourish; and hence
the only historians of the museum were chronologists, antiquaries, and
writers of travels. The coins of Euergetes bear the name of "Ptolemy the
king," round the head on the one side, with no title by which they can
be known from the other kings of the same name.

[Illustration: 175.jpg COIN OF PTOLEMY III.]

But his portrait is known from his Phoenician coins. In the same way the
coins of his queen have only the name of "Berenicê the queen," but
they are known from those of the later queens by the beauty of the
workmanship, which soon fell far below that of the first Ptolemies.

Euergetes had married his cousin Berenicê, who like the other queens of
Egypt is sometimes called Cleopatra; by her he left two sons, Ptolemy
and Magas, to the eldest of whom he left his kingdom, after a reign of
twenty-five years of unclouded prosperity. Egypt was during this reign
at the very height of its power and wealth. It had seen three kings,
who, though not equally great men, not equally fit to found a monarchy
or to raise the literature of a people, were equally successful in the
parts which they had undertaken. Euergetes left to his son a kingdom
perhaps as large as the world had ever seen under one sceptre; and
though many of his boasted victories were like letters written in
the sand, of which the traces were soon lost, yet he was by far the
greatest, and possibly the wisest, monarch of his day.

We may be sure that in these prosperous reigns life and property were
safe, and justice was administered fairly by judges who were independent
of the crown; as even centuries afterwards we find that it was part of
a judge's oath on taking office, that, if he were ordered by the king to
do what was wrong, he would not obey him. But here the bright pages in
the history of the Ptolemies end.

[Illustration: 176.jpg COIN OF BERENICE, WIFE OF PTOLEMY III.]

Though trade and agriculture still enriched the country, though arts and
letters did not quit Alexandria, we have from this time forward to mark
the growth only of vice and luxury, and to measure the wisdom of Ptolemy
Soter by the length of time that his laws and institutions were able to
bear up against the misrule and folly of his descendants.

Ptolemy, the eldest son of Euergetes, inherited the crown of his
forefathers, but none of the great qualities by which they had won and
guarded it. He was then about thirty-four years old. His first act was
to call together his council, and to ask their advice about putting to
death his mother Berenicê and his brother Magas. Their crime was the
being too much liked by the army; and the council was called upon to say
whether it would be safe to have them killed. Cleomenes, the banished
King of Sparta, who was one of the council, alone raised his voice
against their murder, and wisely said that the throne would be still
safer if there were more brothers to stand between the king and the
daring hopes of a traitor. The minister Sosibius, on the other hand,
said that the mercenaries could not be trusted while Magas was alive;
but Cleomenes remarked to him, that more than three thousand of them
were Peloponnesians, and that they would follow him sooner than they
would follow Magas.

Berenicê and Magas were, however, put to death, but the speech of
Cleomenes was not forgotten. If his popularity with the mercenaries
could secure their allegiance, he could, when he chose, make them rebel;
from that time he was treated rather as a prisoner than as a friend,
and by his well-meaning but incautious observation he lost all chance
of being helped to regain his kingdom. Nothing is known of the death of
Euergetes, the late king, and there is no proof that it was by unfair
means. But when his son began a cruel and wicked reign by putting to
death his mother and brother, and by taking the name of Philopator, or
father-loving, the world seems to have thought that he was the murderer
of his father, and had taken this name to throw a cloak over the deed.
By this murder of his brother, and by the minority both of Antiochus,
King of Syria, and of Philip, King of Macedonia, Philopator found
himself safe from enemies either at home or abroad, and he gave himself
up to a life of thoughtlessness and pleasure. The army and fleet were
left to go to ruin, and the foreign provinces, which had hitherto been
looked upon as the bulwarks of Egypt, were only half-guarded; but the
throne rested on the virtues of his forefathers, and it was not till his
death that it was found to have been undermined by his own follies and

Egypt had been governed by kings of more than usual wisdom for above one
hundred years, and was at the very height of its power when Philopator
came to the throne. He found himself master of Ethiopia, Cy-rene,
Phoenicia, Coele-Syria, part of Upper Syria, Cyprus, Rhodes, the cities
along the coast of Asia Minor from Pamphilia to Lysimachia, and the
cities of Ænos and Maronea in Thrace. The unwilling obedience of
distant provinces usually costs more than it is worth; but many of these
possessions across the Mediterranean had put themselves willingly into
the power of his predecessors for the sake of their protection, and
they cost little more than a message to warn off invaders. Egypt was the
greatest naval power in the world, having the command of the sea and the
whole of the coast at the eastern end of the Mediterranean.

On the death of Euergetes, the happiness of the people came to an end.
The first trouble arose from the loose and vicious habits of the new
king, and was an attempt made upon his life by Cleomenes, who found the
palace in Alexandria had now become a prison. The Spartan took advantage
of the king's being at Canopus to escape from his guards, and to raise
a riot in Alexandria; but not being able to gain the citadel, and seeing
that disgrace and death must follow upon his failure, he stabbed himself
with his own dagger.

The kingdom of Syria, after being humbled by Ptolemy Euergetes,
had risen lately under the able rule of Antiochus, son of Seleucus
Callinicus. He was a man possessed of abilities of a high order. His
energy and courage soon recovered from Egypt the provinces that Syria
had before lost, and afterwards gained for him the name of Antiochus the
Great. He made himself master of the city of Damascus by a stratagem.
Soon after this, Seleucia, the capital, which had been taken by
Euergetes, was retaken by Antiochus, or rather given up to him by
treachery. Theodotus also, the Alexandrian governor of Coele-Syria,
delivered up to him that province; and Antiochus marched southward, and
had taken Tyre and Ptolemaïs before the Egyptian army could be brought
into the field. There he gained forty ships of war, of which twenty were
decked vessels with four banks of oars, and the others smaller. He
then marched towards Egypt, and on his way learned that Ptolemy was at
Memphis. On his arrival at Pelusium he found that the place was strongly
guarded, and that the garrison had opened the flood-gates from the
neighbouring lake, and thereby spoiled the fresh water of all the
neighbourhood; he therefore did not lay siege to that city, but seized
many of the open towns on the east side of the Nile.

On this, Philopator roused himself from his idleness, and got together
his forces against the coming danger. His troops consisted of Greeks,
Egyptians, and mercenaries to the total of seventy-three thousand men
and seventy-three elephants, or one elephant to every thousand men,
which was the number usually allowed to the armies about this time. But
before this army reached Pelusium, Antiochus had led back his forces
to winter in Seleucia. The next spring Antiochus again marched towards
Egypt with an army of seventy-two thousand foot, six thousand horse, and
one hundred and two elephants. Philopator led his whole forces to the
frontier to oppose his march, and met the Syrian army near the village
of Raphia, the border town between Egypt and Palestine. Arsinoë, his
queen and sister, rode with him on horseback through the ranks, and
called upon the soldiers to fight for their wives and children. At first
the Egyptians seemed in danger of being beaten. As the armies approached
one another, the Ethiopian elephants trembled at the very smell of the
Indian elephants, and shrunk from engaging with beasts so much larger
than themselves. On the charge, the left wing of each army was routed,
as was often the case among the Greeks, when, from too great a trust in
the shield, every soldier kept moving to the right, and thus left the
left wing uncovered. But before the end of the day the invading army was
defeated; and, though some of the Egyptian officers treacherously left
their posts, and carried their troops over to Antiochus, yet the Syrian
army was wholly routed, and Arsinoë enjoyed the knowledge and the praise
of having been the chief cause of her husband's success. The king in
gratitude sacrificed to the gods the unusual offering of four elephants.

By this victory Philopator regained Coele-Syria, and there he spent
three months; he then made a hasty, and, if we judge his reasons
rightly, we must add, a disgraceful treaty with the enemy, that he might
the sooner get back to his life of ease. Before going home he passed
through Jerusalem, where he gave thanks and sacrificed to the Hebrew
god in the temple of the Jews; and, being struck with the beauty of the
building, asked to be shown into the inner room, in which were kept
the ark of the covenant, Aaron's rod that budded, and the golden pot of
manna, with the tables of the covenant. The priests told him of their
law, by which every stranger, every Jew, and every priest but the high
priest, was forbidden to pass beyond the second veil; but Philopator
roughly answered that he was not bound by the Jewish laws, and ordered
them to lead him into the holy of holies.

The city was thrown into alarm by this unheard-of wickedness; the
streets were filled with men and women in despair; the air was rent
with shrieks and cries, and the priests prayed to Javeh to guard his own
temple from the stain. The king's mind, however, was not to be changed;
the refusal of the priests only strengthened his wish, and all struggle
was useless while the court of the temple was filled with Greek
soldiers. But, says the Jewish historian, the prayer of the priests was
heard; the king fell to the ground in a fit, like a reed broken by the
wind, and was carried out speechless by his friends and generals.

On his return to Egypt, he showed his hatred of the nation by his
treatment of the Jews in Alexandria. He made a law that they should lose
the rank of Macedonians, and be enrolled among the class of Egyptians.
He ordered them to have their bodies marked with pricks, in the form of
an ivy leaf, in honour of Bacchus; and those who refused to have this
done were outlawed, or forbidden to enter the courts of justice. The
king himself had an ivy leaf marked with pricks upon his forehead, from
which he received the nickname of Gallus. This custom of marking the
body had been forbidden in the Levitical law: it was not known among the
Kopts, but must always have been in use among the Lower Egyptians. It
was used by the Arab prisoners of Ramses, and is still practiced among
the Egyptian Arabs of the present day.

He also ordered the Jews to sacrifice on the pagan altars, and many of
them were sent up to Alexandria to be punished for rebelling against
his decree. Their resolution, however, or, as their historian asserts,
a miracle from heaven changed the king's mind. They expected to be
trampled to death in the hippodrome by furious elephants; but after some
delay they were released unhurt. The history of their escape, however,
is more melancholy than the history of their danger. No sooner did the
persecution cease than they turned with Pharisaical cruelty against
their weaker brethren who had yielded to the storm; and they put to
death three hundred of their countrymen, who in the hour of danger had
yielded to the threats of punishment, and complied with the ceremonies
required of them.

The Egyptians, who, when the Persians were conquered by Alexander, could
neither help nor hinder the Greek army, and who, when they formed part
of the troops under the first Ptolemy, were uncounted and unvalued, had
by this time been armed and disciplined like Greeks; and in the battle
of Raphia the Egyptian phalanx had shown itself not an unworthy rival
of the Macedonians. By this success in war, and by their hatred of
their vicious and cruel king, the Egyptians were now for the first
time encouraged to take arms against the Greek government. The Egyptian
phalanx murmured against their Greek officers, and claimed their right
to be under an Egyptian general. But history has told us nothing more
of the rebellion than that it was successfully put down. The Greeks
were still the better soldiers. The ships built by Philopator were
more remarkable for their unwieldy size, their luxurious and costly
furniture, than for their fitness for war. One was four hundred and
twenty feet long and fifty-seven feet wide, with forty banks of oars.
The longest oars were fifty-seven feet long, and weighted with lead at
the handles that they might be the more easily moved. This huge ship
was to be rowed by four thousand rowers, its sails were to be shifted by
four hundred sailors, and three thousand soldiers were to stand in ranks
upon deck. There were seven beaks in front, by which it was to strike
and sink the ships of the enemy. The royal barge, in which the king and
court moved on the quiet waters of the Nile, was nearly as large as this
ship of war. It was three hundred and thirty feet long, and forty-five
feet wide; it was fitted up with staterooms and private rooms, and was
nearly sixty feet high to the top of the royal awning. A third ship,
which even surpassed these in its fittings and ornaments, was given to
Philopator by Hiero, King of Syracuse. It was built under the care
of Archimedes, and its timbers would have made sixty triremes. Beside
baths, and rooms for pleasures of all kinds, it had a library, and
astronomical instruments, not only for navigation, as in modern ships,
but for study, as in an observatory. It was a ship of war, and had eight
towers, from each of which stone's were to be thrown at the enemy by
six men. Its machines, like modern cannons, could throw stones of three
hundred pounds weight, and arrows of eighteen feet in length. It had
four anchors of wood, and eight of iron. It was called the ship of
Syracuse, but after it had been given to Philopator it was known by the
name of the ship of Alexandria.

In the second year of Philopator's reign the Romans began that long
and doubtful war with Hannibal, called the second Punic war, and in the
twelfth year of this reign they sent ambassadors to renew their treaty
of peace with Egypt. They sent as their gifts robes of purple for
Philopator and Arsinoë, and for Philopator a chair of ivory and
gold, which was the usual gift of the republic to friendly kings.
The Alexandrians kept upon good terms both with the Romans and the
Carthaginians during the whole of the Punic wars.

When the city of Rhodes, which had long been joined in close friendship
with Egypt, was shaken by an earthquake, that threw down the colossal
statue of Apollo, together with a large part of the city walls and
docks, Philopator was not behind the other friendly kings and states in
his gifts and help. He sent to his brave allies a large sum of money,
with grain, timber, and hemp.

On the birth of his son and heir, in B.C. 209, ambassadors crowded to
Alexandria with gifts and messages of joy. But they were all thrown into
the shade by Hyrcanus, the son of Joseph, who was sent from Jerusalem by
his father, and who brought to the king one hundred boys and one hundred
girls, each carrying a talent of silver.

Philopator, soon after the birth of this his only child, employed
Philammon, at the bidding of his mistress, to put to death his queen and
sister Arsinoë, or Eurydice, as she is sometimes called. He had already
forgotten his rank, and his name ennobled by the virtues of three
generations, and had given up his days and nights to vice and riot.
He kept in his pay several fools, or laughing-stocks as they were then
called, who were the chosen companions of his meals; and he was the
first who brought eunuchs into the court of Alexandria. His mistress
Agathoclea, her brother Agathocles, and their mother OEnanthe, held him
bound by those chains which clever, worthless, and selfish favourites
throw around the mind of a weak and debauched king. Agathocles, who
never left his side, was his adviser in matters of business or pleasure,
and governed alike the army, the courts of justice, and the women. Thus
was spent a reign of seventeen years, during which the king had never
but once, when he met Antiochus in battle, roused himself from his life
of sloth.

The misconduct and vices of Agathocles raised such an outcry against
him, that Philopator, without giving up the pleasure of his favourite's
company, was forced to take away from him the charge of receiving the
taxes. That high post was then given to Tlepolemus, a young man, whose
strength of body and warlike courage had made him the darling of the
soldiers. Another charge given to Tlepolemus was that of watching over
the supply and price of corn in Alexandria. The wisest statesmen of old
thought it part of a king's duty to take care that the people were fed,
and seem never to have found out that it would be better done if the
people were left to take care of themselves. They thought it moreover a
piece of wise policy, or at any rate of clever kingcraft, to keep down
the price of food in the capital at the cost of the rest of the kingdom,
and even sometimes to give a monthly fixed measure of corn to each
citizen. By such means as these the crowd of poor and restless citizens,
who swell the mob of every capital, was larger in Alexandria than it
otherwise would have been; and the danger of riot, which it was meant to
lessen, was every year increased.

Sosibius had made himself more hated than Agathocles; he had been the
king's ready tool in all his murders. He had been stained, or at least
reproached, with the murder of Lysimachus, the son of Philadelphus; then
of Magas, the son of Euergetes, and Berenicê, the widow of Euergetes; of
Cleomenes, the Spartan; and lastly, of Arsinoë, the wife of Philopator.
For these crimes Sosibius was forced by the soldiers to give up to
Tlepolemus the king's ring, or what in modern language would be called
the great seal of the kingdom, the badge of office by which Egypt was
governed; but the world soon saw that a body of luxurious mercenaries
were as little able to choose a wise statesman as the king had been.

[Illustration: 187.jpg TEMPLE OF HATHOR.]

With all his vices, Philopator had yet inherited the love of letters
which has thrown so bright a light around the whole of the family; and
to his other luxuries he sometimes added that of the society of the
learned men of the museum. When one of the professorships was empty he
wrote to Athens, and invited to Alexandria, Sphærus, who had been the
pupil of Zeno. One day when Sphærus was dining with the king, he
said that a wise man should never guess, but only say what he knows.
Philopator, wishing to tease him, ordered some waxen pomegranates to be
handed to him, and when Sphærus bit one of them he laughed at him for
guessing that it was real fruit. But the stoic answered that there are
many cases in which our actions must be guided by what seems probable.
None of the works of Sphærus have come down to us. Eratosthenes, of
whom we have before spoken, was librarian of the museum during this
reign; and Ptolemy, the son of Agesarchus, then wrote his history of
Alexandria, a work now lost.

[Illustration: 188jpg COIN OF PTOLEMY PHILOPATER]

The want of moral feeling in Alexandria was poorly supplied by the
respect for talent. Philopator built there a shrine or temple to Homer,
in which he placed a sitting figure of the poet, and round it seven
worshippers, meant for the seven cities which claimed the honour of
giving him birth. Had Homer himself worshipped in such temples, and had
his thoughts been raised by no more lofty views, he would not have left
us an Iliad or an Odyssey. In Upper Egypt there was no such want of
religious earnestness; there the priests placed the name of Philopator
upon a small temple near Medinet-Habu, dedicated to Amon-Ra and the
goddess Hâthor; his name is also seen upon the temple at Karnak, and
on the additions to the sculptures on the temple of Thot at Pselcis in

Some of this king's coins bear the name of "Ptolemy Philopator," while
those of the queen have her name, "Arsinoë Philopator," around the head.
They are of a good style of art. He was also sometimes named Eupator;
and it was under that name that the people of Paphos set up a monument
to him in the temple of Venus.

The first three Ptolemies had been loved by their subjects and feared by
their enemies; but Philopator, though his power was still acknowledged
abroad, had by his vices and cruelty made himself hated at home, and had
undermined the foundations of the government. He began his reign like an
Eastern despot; instead of looking to his brother as a friend for help
and strength, he distrusted him as a rival, and had him put to death. He
employed the ministers of his vicious pleasures in the high offices of
government; and instead of philosophers and men of learning, he brought
eunuchs into the palace as the companions of his son. In B.C. 204 he
died, worn out with disease, in the seventeenth year of his reign and
about the fifty-first of his age; and very few lamented his decease.

On the death of Philopator his son was only five years old. The minister
Agathocles, who had ruled over the country with unbounded power,
endeavoured, by the help of his sister Agathoclea and the other
mistresses of the late king, to keep his death secret; so that while the
women seized the money and jewels of the palace, he might have time to
take such steps as would secure his own power over the kingdom.

[Illustration: 189.jpg COIN OF ARSINOE PHILOPATE]

But the secret could not be long kept, and Agathocles called together
the citizens of Alexandria to tell them of the death of Philopator, and
to show them their young king.

He went to the meeting, followed by his sister Agathoclea and the young
Ptolemy, afterwards called Epiphanes. He began his speech, "Ye men of
Macedonia," as this mixed body of Greeks and Jews was always called. He
wiped his eyes in well-feigned grief, and showed them the new king,
who had been trusted, he said, by his father, to the motherly care of
Agathoclea and to their loyalty. He then accused Tlepolemus of aiming at
the throne, and brought forward a creature of his own to prove the truth
of the charge. But his voice was soon drowned in the loud murmurs of the
citizens; they had smarted too long under his tyranny, and were too well
acquainted with his falsehoods, to listen to anything that he could
say against his rival. Besides, Tlepolemus had the charge of supplying
Alexandria with corn, a duty which was more likely to gain friends than
the pandering to the vices of their hated tyrant. Agathocles soon saw
that his life was in danger, and he left the meeting and returned to the
palace, in doubt whether he should seek for safety in flight, or boldly
seize the power which he was craftily aiming at, and rid himself of his
enemies by their murder.

While he was wasting these precious minutes in doubt, the streets were
filled with groups of men, and of boys, who always formed a part of the
mobs of Alexandria. They sullenly but loudly gave vent to their hatred
of the minister; and if they had but found a leader they would have been
in rebellion. In a little while the crowd moved off to the tents of
the Macedonians, to learn their feelings on the matter, and then to the
quarters of the mercenaries, both of which were close to the palace, and
the mixed mob of armed and unarmed men soon told the fatal news, that
the soldiers were as angry as the citizens. But they were still without
a leader; they sent messengers to Tlepolemus, who was not in Alexandria,
and he promised that he would soon be there; but perhaps he no more knew
what to do than his guilty rival.

Agathocles, in his doubt, did nothing; he sat down to supper with
his friends, perhaps hoping that the storm might blow over of itself,
perhaps trusting to chance and to the strong walls of the palace. His
mother, OEnanthe, ran to the temple of Ceres and Proserpine, and sat
down before the altar in tears, believing that the sanctuary of the
temple would be her best safeguard; as if the laws of heaven, which had
never bound her, would bind her enemies. It was a festal day, and the
women in the temple, who knew nothing of the storm which had risen in
the forum within these few hours, came forward to comfort her; but she
answered them with curses; she knew that she was hated and would soon be
despised, and she added the savage prayer, that they might have to eat
their own children. The riot did not lessen at sunset. Men, women, and
boys were moving through the streets all night with torches. The crowds
were greatest in the stadium and in the theatre of Bacchus, but most
noisy in front of the palace. Agathocles was awakened by the noise, and
in his fright ran to the bedroom of the young Ptolemy; and, distrusting
the palace walls, hid himself, with his own family, the king, and two
or three guards, in the underground passage which led from the palace to
the theatre.

The night, however, passed off without any violence; but at daybreak the
murmurs became louder, and the thousands in the palace yard called for
the young king. By that time the Greek soldiers joined the mob, and then
the guards within were no longer to be feared. The gates were soon burst
open, and the palace searched. The mob rushed through the halls
and lobbies, and, learning where the king had fled, hastened to the
underground passage. It was guarded by three doors of iron grating; but,
when the first was beaten in, Aristomenes was sent out to offer terms of
surrender. Agathocles was willing to give up the young king, his misused
power, his ill-gotten wealth and estates; he asked only for his life.
But this was sternly refused, and a shout was raised to kill the
messenger; and Aristomenes, the best of the ministers, whose only fault
was the being a friend of Agathocles, and the having named his little
daughter Agathoclea, would certainly have been killed upon the spot if
somebody had not reminded them that they wanted to send back an answer.

Agathocles, seeing that he could hold out no longer, then gave up the
little king, who was set upon a horse, and led away to the stadium amid
the shouts of the crowd. There they seated him on the throne, and,
while he was crying at being surrounded by strange faces, the mob loudly
called for revenge on the guilty ministers. Sosibius, the somatophylax,
the son of the former general of that name, seeing no other way of
stopping the fury of the mob and the child's sobs, asked him if the
enemies of his mother and of his throne should be given up to the
people. The child of course answered "yes," without understanding what
was meant; and on that they let Sosibius take him to his own house to be
out of the uproar. Agathocles was soon led out bound, and was stabbed by
those who two days before would have felt honoured by a look from him.
Agathoclea and her sister were then brought out, and lastly OEnanthe,
their mother was dragged away from the altar of Ceres and Proserpine.
Some bit them, some struck them with sticks, some tore their eyes out;
her body was torn to pieces, and her limbs scattered among the crowd;
to such lengths of madness and angry cruelty was the Alexandrian mob
sometimes driven.

In the meanwhile some of the women called to mind that Philammon, who
had been employed in the murder of Arsinoë, had within those three days
come to Alexandria, and they made a rush at his house. The doors quickly
gave way before their blows, and he was killed upon the spot by clubs
and stones; his little son was strangled by these raging mothers, and
his wife dragged naked into the street, and there torn to pieces. Thus
died Agathocles and all his family; and the care of the young king then
fell to Sosibius, and to Aristomenes, who had already gained a high
character for wisdom and firmness.

While Egypt was thus without a government, Philip of Macedonia and
Antiochus of Syria agreed to divide the foreign provinces between them;
and Antiochus marched against Coele-Syria and Phoenicia. The guardians
of the young Ptolemy sent against him an army under Scopas, the Ætolian,
who was at first successful, but was afterwards beaten by Antiochus at
Paneas in the valley of the Jordan, three and twenty miles above the
Lake of Tiberias, and driven back into Egypt. In these battles the Jews,
who had not forgotten the ill treatment that they had received from
Philopator, joined Antiochus, after having been under the government of
Egypt for exactly one hundred years; and in return Antiochus released
Jerusalem from all taxes for three years, and afterwards from one-third
of the taxes. He also sent a large sum of money for the service of the
temple, and released the elders, priests, scribes, and singing men from
all taxes for the future.

The Alexandrian statesmen had latterly shown themselves in their foreign
policy very unworthy pupils of Ptolemy Soter and Philadelphus, who had
both ably trimmed the balance of power between the several successors of
Alexander. But even had they been wiser, they could hardly, before the
end of the second Punic war, have foreseen that the Romans would soon be
their most dangerous enemies. The overthrow of Hannibal, however, might
perhaps have opened their eyes; but it was then too late; Egypt was too
weak to form an alliance with Macedonia or Syria against the Romans.
About this time, also, the Romans sent to Alexandria, to inform the
king that they had conquered Hannibal, and brought to a close the second
Punic war, and to thank him for the friendship of the Egyptians during
that long and doubtful struggle of eighteen years, when so many of their
nearer neighbours had joined the enemy. They begged that if the senate
felt called upon to undertake a war against Philip, who, though no
friend to the Egyptians, had not yet taken arms against them, it might
cause no breach in the friendship between the King of Egypt and the
Romans. In answer to this embassy, the Alexandrians, rushing to their
own destruction, sent to Rome a message, which was meant to place
the kingdom wholly in the hands of the senate. It was to beg them to
undertake the guardianship of the young Ptolemy, and the defence of the
kingdom against Philip and Antiochus during his childhood.

The Romans, in return, gave the wished-for answer; they sent ambassadors
to Antiochus and Philip, to order them to make no attack upon Egypt,
on pain of falling under the displeasure of the senate; and they sent
Marcus Lepidus to Alexandria, to accept the offered prize, and to govern
the foreign affairs of the kingdom, under the modest name of tutor to
the young king. This high honour was afterwards mentioned by Lepidus,
with pride, upon the coins struck when he was consul, in the eighteenth
year of this reign. They have the city of Alexandria on the one side,
and on the other the title of "Tutor to the king," with the figure
of the Roman in his toga, putting the diadem on the head of the young

The haughty orders of the senate at first had very little weight with
the two kings. Antiochus conquered Phoenicia and Coele-Syria; and he was
then met by a second message from the senate, who no longer spoke in the
name of their ward, the young King of Egypt, but ordered him to give up
to the Roman people the states which he had seized, and which belonged,
they said, to the Romans by the right of war.

[Illustration: 196.jpg ROMAN COIN, ISSUED UNDER PTOLEMY V.]

On this, Antiochus made peace with Egypt by a treaty, in which he
betrothed his daughter Cleopatra to the young Ptolemy, and added the
disputed provinces of Phoenicia and Ccele-Syria as a dower, which were
to be given up to Egypt when the king was old enough to be married.

Philip marched against Athens and the other states of Greece which had
heretofore held themselves independent and in alliance with Egypt; and,
when the Athenian embassy came to Alexandria to beg for the usual help,
Ptolemy's ministers felt themselves so much in the power of the senate
that they sent to Rome to ask whether they should help their old
friends, the Athenians, against Philip, the common enemy, or whether
they should leave it to the Romans to help them. And these haughty
republicans, who wished all their allies to forget the use of arms, who
valued their friends not for their strength but for their obedience,
sent them word that the senate did not wish them to help the Athenians,
and that the Roman people would take care of their own allies. The
Alexandrians looked upon the proud but unlettered Romans only as
friends, as allies, who asked for no pay, who took no reward, who fought
only for ambition and for the glory of their country.

Soon after this, the battle of Cynocephake in Thessaly was fought
between Philip and the Romans, in which the Romans lost only seven
hundred men, while as many as eight thousand Macedonians were left dead
upon the field. This battle, though only between Rome and Macedonia,
must not be passed unnoticed in the history of Egypt, where the troops
were armed and disciplined like Macedonians; as it was the first time
that the world had seen the Macedonian phalanx routed and in flight
before any troops not so armed.

The phalanx was a body of spearsmen, in such close array that each man
filled a space of only one square yard. The spear was seven yards long,
and, when held in both hands, its point was five yards in front of the
soldier's breast. There were sixteen ranks of these men, and, when the
first five ranks lowered their spears, the point of the fifth spear was
one yard in front of the foremost rank. The Romans, on the other hand,
fought in open ranks, with one yard between each, or each man filled
a space of four square yards, and in a charge would have to meet ten
Macedonian spears. But then the Roman soldiers went into battle with
much higher feelings than those of the Greeks. In Rome, arms were
trusted only to the citizens, to those who had a country to love, a
home to guard, and who had some share in making the laws which they were
called upon to obey. But the Greek armies of Macedonia, Egypt, and Syria
were made up either of natives who bowed their necks in slavery, or of
mercenaries who made war their trade and rioted in its lawlessness; both
of whom felt that they had little to gain from victory, and nothing to
lose by a change of masters. Moreover, the warlike skill of the Romans
was far greater than any that had yet been brought against the Greeks.
It had lately been improved in their wars with Hannibal, the great
master of that science. They saw that the phalanx could use its whole
strength only on a plain; that a wood, a bog, a hill, or a river were
difficulties which this close body of men could not always overcome. A
charge or a retreat equally lessened its force; the phalanx was meant to
stand the charge of others. The Romans, therefore, chose their own time
and their own ground; they loosened their ranks and widened their front,
avoided the charge, and attacked the Greeks at the side and in the rear;
and the fatal discovery was at last made that the Macedonian phalanx
was not unconquerable, and that closed ranks were only strong against
barbarians. This news must have been heard by every statesman of Egypt
and the East with alarm; the 'Romans were now their equals, and were
soon to be their masters.

But to return to Egypt. It was, as we have seen, a country governed by
men of a foreign race. Neither the poor who tilled the land, nor the
rich who owned the estates, had any share in the government. They had no
public duty except to pay taxes to their Greek masters, who walked among
them as superior beings, marked out for fitness to rule by greater skill
in the arts both of war and peace. The Greeks by their arms, or rather
by their military discipline, had enforced obedience for one hundred and
fifty years; and as they had at the same time checked lawless violence,
made life and property safe, and left industry to enjoy a large share of
its own earnings, this obedience had been for the most part granted to
them willingly. They had even trusted the Egyptians with arms. But none
are able to command unless they are at the same time able to obey. The
Alexandrians were now almost in rebellion against their young king
and his ministers; and the Greek government no longer gave the usual
advantages in return for the obedience which it tyrannically enforced.
Confusion increased each year during the childhood of the fifth Ptolemy,
to whom Alexandrian flattery gave the title of Epiphanes, or The
Illustrious. The Egyptian phalanx had in the last reign shown signs
of disobedience, and at length it broke out in open rebellion. The
discontented party strengthened themselves in the Busirite nome, in the
middle of the Delta, and fortified the city of Lycopolis against the
government; and a large supply of arms and warlike stores which
they there got together proved the length of time that they had been
preparing for resistance. The royal troops laid siege to the city in due
form; they surrounded it with mounds and ditches; they dammed up the
bed of the river on each side of it, and, being helped by a rise in the
Nile, which was that year greater than usual, they forced the rebels to
surrender, on the king's promise that they should be spared. But Ptolemy
was not bound by promises; he was as false and cruel as he was weak; the
rebels were punished; and many of the troubles in his reign arose from
his discontented subjects not being able to rely upon his word.

The rich island of Cyprus also, which had been left by Philopator under
the command of Polyerates, showed some signs of wishing to throw off
the Egyptian yoke. But Polyerates was true to his trust; and, though
the king's ministers were almost too weak either to help the faithful or
punish the treacherous, he not only saved the island for the minor, but,
when he gave up his government to Ptolemy of Megalopolis, he brought to
the royal treasury at Alexandria a large sum from the revenues of
his province. By this faithful conduct he gained great weight in the
Alexandrian councils, till, corrupted by the poisonous habits of the
place, he gave way to luxury and vice.

About the same time Scopas, who had lately led back to Alexandria his
Ætolian mercenaries, so far showed signs of discontent and disobedience
that the minister, Aristomenes, began to suspect him of planning
resistance to the government. Scopas was greedy of money; nothing would
satisfy his avarice.

[Illustration: 201.jpg THE ROSETTA STONE (BRITISH MUSEUM)]

The other Greek generals of his rank received while in the Egyptian
service a mina, or ten dollars a day, under the name of mess-money,
beyond the usual military pay; and Scopas claimed and received for his
services the large sum of ten minas, or one hundred and twenty-five
dollars, a day for mess-money. But even this did not content him.
Aristomenes observed that he was collecting his friends for some secret
purpose, and in frequent consultation with them. He therefore summoned
him to the king's presence, and, being prepared for his refusal, he sent
a large force to fetch him. Fearing that the mercenaries might support
their general, Aristomenes had even ordered out the elephants and
prepared for battle. But, as the blow came upon Scopas unexpectedly,
no resistance was made, and he was brought prisoner to the palace.
Aristomenes, however, did not immediately venture to punish him,
but wisely summoned the Ætolian ambassadors and the chiefs of the
mercenaries to his trial, and, as they made no objection, he then had
him poisoned in prison.

No sooner was this rebellion crushed than the council took into
consideration the propriety of declaring the king's minority at an
end, as the best means of re-establishing the royal authority; and they
thereupon determined shortly to celebrate his Anacleteria, or the grand
ceremony of exhibiting him to the people as their monarch, though he
wanted some years of the legal age; and accordingly, in the ninth year
of his reign, the young king was crowned with great pomp at Memphis, the
ancient capital of the kingdom.

On this occasion he came to Memphis by barge, in grand state, where
he was met by the priests of Upper and Lower Egypt, and crowned in the
temple of Phtah with the double crown, called Pschent, the crown of the
two provinces. After the ceremony, the priests made the Decree in honour
of the king, which is carved on the stone known by the name of the
Rosetta Stone, in the British Museum. Ptolemy is there styled King of
Upper and Lower Egypt, son of the gods Philopatores, approved by Phtah,
to whom Ra has given victory, a living image of Amon, son of Ra, Ptolemy
immortal, beloved by Phtah, god Epiphanes most gracious. In the date
of the decree we are told the names of the priests of Alexander, of the
gods Soteres, of the gods Adelphi, of the gods Euergetae, of the gods
Philopatores, of the god Epiphanes himself, of Berenicê Euergetis, of
Arsinoë Philadelphus, and of Arsinoë Philopator. The preamble mentions
with gratitude the services of the king, or rather of his wise minister,
Aristomenes; and the enactment orders that the statue of the king
shall be worshipped in every temple of Egypt, and be carried out in the
processions with those of the gods of the country; and lastly, that
the decree is to be carved at the foot of every statue of the king, in
sacred, in common, and in Greek writing. It is to this stone, with its
three kinds of letters, and to the skill and industry of Dr. Thomas
Young, and of the French scholar, Champollion, that we now owe our
knowledge of hieroglyphics. The Greeks of Alexandria, and after them the
Romans, who might have learned how to read this kind of writing if they
had wished, seem never to have taken the trouble: it fell into disuse on
the rise of Christianity in Egypt; and it was left for an Englishman
to unravel the hidden meaning after it had been forgotten for nearly
thirteen centuries.

The preamble of this decree tells us also that during the minority of
the king the taxes were lessened; the crown debtors were forgiven; those
who were found in prison charged with crimes against the state were
released; the allowance from government for upholding the splendour of
the temples was continued, as was the rent from land belonging to the
priests; the first-fruits, or rather the coronation money, a tax paid by
the priests to the king on the year of his coming to the throne, which
was by custom allowed to be less than what the law ordered, was not
increased; the priests were relieved from the heavy burden of making a
yearly voyage to do homage at Alexandria; there was a stop put to the
impressing men for the navy, which had been felt as a great cruelty by
an inland people, whose habits and religion alike made them hate the
sea, and this was a boon which was the more easily granted, as the
navy of Alexandria, which was built in foreign dockyards and steered by
foreign pilots, had very much fallen off in the reign of Philopator. The
duties on linen cloth, which was the chief manufacture of the kingdom,
and, after grain, the chief article exported, were lessened; the
priests, who manufactured linen for the king's own use, probably for the
clothing of the army, and the sails for the navy, were not called upon
for so large a part of what they made as before; and the royalties on
the other linen manufactories and the duties on the samples or patterns,
both of which seem to have been unpaid for the whole of the eight years
of the minority, were wisely forgiven. All the temples of Egypt, and
that of Apis at Memphis in particular, were enriched by his gifts; in
which pious actions, in grateful remembrance of their former benefactor,
and with a marked slight to Philopator, they said that he was following
the wishes of his grandfather, the god Euergetes. From this decree we
gain some little insight into the means by which the taxes were raised
under the Ptolemies; and we also learn that they were so new and foreign
that they had no Egyptian word by which they could speak of them, and
therefore borrowed the Greek word _syntaxes_.

History gives us many examples of kings who, like Epiphanes, gained
great praise for the mildness and weakness of the government during
their minorities. Aristomenes, the minister, who had governed Egypt for
Epiphanes, fully deserved that trust. While the young king looked up to
him as a father, the country was well governed, and his orders obeyed;
but, as he grew older, his good feelings were weakened by the pleasures
which usually beset youth and royalty. The companions of his vices
gained that power over his mind which Aristomenes lost, and it was not
long before this wise tutor and counsellor was got rid of. The king,
weary perhaps with last night's debauchery, had one day fallen
asleep when he should have been listening to the speech of a foreign
ambassador. Aristomenes gently shook him and awoke him. His flatterers,
when alone with him, urged him to take this as an affront. If, said
they, it was right to blame the king for falling asleep when worn
out with business and the cares of state, it should have been done in
private, and not in the face of the whole court. So Aristomenes was put
to death by being ordered to drink poison. Epiphanes then lost that love
of his people which the wisdom of the minister had gained for him; and
he governed the kingdom with the cruelty of a tyrant, rather than with
the legal power of a king.

[Illustration: 207.jpg OUTSIDE ROSETTA]

Even Aristonicus, his favourite eunuch, who was of the same age as
himself, and had been brought up as his playfellow, passed him in the
manly virtues of his age, and earned the praise of the country for
setting him a good example, and checking him in his career of vice.

In the thirteenth year of his reign (B.C. 192), when the young king
reached the age of eighteen, Antiochus the Great sent his daughter
Cleopatra into Egypt, and the marriage, which had been agreed upon
six years before, was then carried into effect; and the provinces of
Coele-Syria, Phoenicia, and Judæa, which had been promised as a dower,
were, in form at least, handed over to the generals of Epiphanes.
Cleopatra was a woman of strong mind and enlarged understanding; and
Antiochus hoped that, by means of the power which she would have over
the weaker mind of Epiphanes, he should gain more than he lost by giving
up Coele-Syria and Phoenicia. But she acted the part of a wife and
a queen, and, instead of betraying her husband into the hands of her
father, she was throughout the reign his wisest and best counsellor.

Antiochus seems never to have given up his hold upon the provinces which
had been promised as the dower; and the peace between the two countries,
which had been kept during the six years after Cleopatra had been
betrothed, was broken as soon as she was married. The war was still
going on between Antiochus and the Romans; and Epiphanes soon sent to
Rome a thousand pounds weight of gold and twenty thousand pounds of
silver, to help the republic against their common enemy. But the Romans
neither hired mercenaries nor fought as such, the thirst for gold had
not yet become the strongest feeling in the senate, and they sent back
the money to Alexandria with many thanks.

In the twentieth year of his reign Epiphanes was troubled by a second
serious rebellion of the Egyptians. Polycrates marched against them at
the head of the Greek troops; and, as he brought with him a superior
force, and the king's promise of a free pardon to all who should return
to their obedience, the rebels yielded to necessity and laid down their
arms. The leaders of the rebellion, Athinis, Pausiras, Chesuphus, and
Irobashtus, whose Koptic names prove that this was a struggle on the
part of the Egyptians to throw off the Greek yoke, were brought before
the king at Saïs. Epiphanes, in whose youthful heart were joined the
cruelty and cowardice of a tyrant, who had not even shown himself to the
army during the danger, was now eager to act the conqueror; and in spite
of the promises of safety on which these brave Kopts had laid down their
arms, he had them tied to his chariot wheels, and copying the vices
of men whose virtues he could not even understand, like Achilles and
Alexander, he dragged them living round the city walls, and then ordered
them to be put to death. He then led the army to Naucratis, which was
the port of Saïs, and there he embarked on the Nile for Alexandria, and
taking with him a further body of mercenaries, which Aristonicus had
just brought from Greece, he entered the city in triumph.

Ptolemy of Megalopolis, the new governor of Cyprus, copied his
predecessor, Polycrates, in his wise and careful management. His chief
aim was to keep the province quiet, and his next to collect the taxes.
He was at first distrusted by the Alexandrian council for the large sum
of money which he had got together and kept within his own power;
but when he sent it all home to the empty treasury, they were as much
pleased as they were surprised.

Apollonius, whom we have spoken of in the reign of Euergetes, and who
had been teaching at Rhodes during the reign of Philopator, was recalled
to Alexandria in the beginning of this reign, and made librarian of
the museum on the death of Eratosthenes. But he did not long enjoy that
honour. He was already old, and shortly afterwards died at the age of


The coins of this king are known by the glory or rays of sun which
surround his head, and which agrees with his name, Epiphanes,
illustrious, or as it is written in the hieroglyphics, "light bearing."
On the other side is the cornucopia between two stars, with the name of
"King Ptolemy." No temples, and few additions to temples, seem to have
been built in Upper Egypt during this reign, which began and ended in
rebellion. We find, however, a Greek inscription at Philas, of "King
Ptolemy and Queen Cleopatra, gods Epiphanes, and Ptolemy their son, to
Asclepius," a god whom the Egyptians called Imothph the son of Pthah.

Cyprus and Cyrene were nearly all that were left to Egypt of its
foreign provinces. The cities of Greece, which had of their own wish
put themselves under Egypt for help against their nearer neighbours, now
looked to Rome for that help; part of Asia Minor was under Seleu-cus,
the son of Antiochus the Great; Cole-Syria and Phoenicia, which had been
given up to Epiphanes, had been again soon lost; and the Jews, who in
all former wars had sided with the Kings of Egypt, as being not only the
stronger but the milder rulers, now joined Seleucus. The ease with which
the wide-spreading provinces of this once mighty empire fell off from
their allegiance, showed how the whole had been upheld by the warlike
skill of its kings, rather than by a deep-rooted hold in the habits
of the people. Instead of wondering that the handful of Greeks in
Alexandria, on whom the power rested, lost those wide provinces, we
should rather wonder that they were ever able to hold them.

After the death of Antiochus the Great, Ptolemy again proposed to
enforce his rights over Ccele-Syria, which he had given up only in the
weakness of his minority; and he is said to have been asked by one of
his generals, how he should be able to pay for the large forces which
he' was getting together for that purpose; and he playfully answered,
that his treasure was in the number of his friends. But his joke was
taken in earnest; they were afraid of new taxes and fresh levies on
their estates; and means were easily taken to poison him. He died in
the twenty-ninth year of his age, after a reign of twenty-four years;
leaving the navy unmanned, the army in disobedience, the treasury empty,
and the whole framework of government out of order.

Just before his death he had sent to the Achaians to offer to send ten
galleys to join their fleet; and Polybius, the historian, to whom we
owe so much of our knowledge of these reigns, although he had not yet
reached the age called for by the Greek law, was sent by the Achaians
as one of the ambassadors, with his father, to return thanks; but before
they had quitted their own country they were stopped by the news of the
death of Epiphanes.

Those who took away the life of the king seem to have had no thoughts of
mending the form of government, nor any plan by which they might lessen
the power of his successor. It was only one of those outbreaks of
private vengeance which have often happened in unmixed monarchies, where
men are taught that the only way to check the king's tyranny is by his
murder; and the little notice that was taken of it by the people proves
their want of public virtue as well as of political wisdom.

[Illustration: 212.jpg TAILPIECE]


_The Syrian Invasion: The Jews and the Bible: Relations with Rome:
Literature of the Age._

At the beginning of the last reign the Alexandrians had sadly felt the
want of a natural guardian to the young king, and they were now glad to
copy the customs of the conquered Egyptians. Epiphanes had left behind
him two sons, each named Ptolemy, and a daughter named Cleopatra; and
the elder son, though still a child, mounted the throne under the able
guardianship of his mother, Cleopatra, and took the very suitable name
of Philometor, or _mother-loving_. The mother governed the kingdom for
seven years as regent during the minority of her son. "When Philometor
reached his fourteenth year, the age at which his minority ceased, his
coronation was celebrated with great pomp. Ambassadors from several
foreign states were sent to Egypt to wish the king joy, to do honour to
the day, and to renew the treaties of peace with him: Caius Valerius and
four others were sent from Rome; Apollonius, the son of Mnestheus, was
sent from Judæa; and we may regret with Polybius that he himself was not
able to form part of the embassy then sent from the Achaians, that he
might have seen the costly and curious ceremony, and given us an account
of it.

While Cleopatra lived, she had been able to keep her son at peace with
her brother, Antiochus Epiphanes, but upon her death, Leneus and the
eunuch Eulaius, who then had the care of the young king, sought to
reconquer Coele-Syria; and they embroiled the country in a war, at a
time when weakness and decay might have been seen in every part of
the army and navy, and when there was the greatest need of peace.
Coele-Syria and Phoenicia had been given to Ptolemy Epiphanes as his
wife's dower; but, when Philometor seemed too weak to grasp them,
Antiochus denied that his father had ever made such a treaty, and got
ready to march against Egypt, as the easiest way to guard Coele-Syria.

By this time the statesmen of Egypt ought to have learned the mistake
in their foreign policy. By widening their frontier they always weakened
it. They should have fortified the passes between the Red Sea and the
Mediterranean, not cities in Asia. When Antiochus entered Egypt he was
met at Pelusium by the army of Philometor, which he at once routed in
a pitched battle. The whole of Egypt was then in his power; he marched
upon Memphis with a small force, and seized it without having to strike
a blow, helped perhaps by the plea that he was acting on behalf of his
nephew, Ptolemy Philometor, who then fell into his hands.

On this, the younger Ptolemy, the brother of Philometor, who was with
his sister Cleopatra in Alexandria, and was about fifteen years old,
declared himself king, and sent ambassadors to Rome to ask for help
against Antiochus; and taking the name of the most popular of his
forefathers, he called himself Euergetes. He is, however, better known
in history as Ptolemy Physcon, or _bloated_, a nickname which was
afterwards given to him when he had grown fat and unwieldy from the
diseases of luxury.

Comanus and Cineas were the chief advisers of the young Euergetes; and
in their alarm they proposed to send the foreign ambassadors to meet the
invader on his march from Memphis, and to plead for peace. This task
the ambassadors kindly undertook. There were then in Alexandria two
embassies from the Achaians, one to renew the treaty of peace, and one
to settle the terms of the coming wrestling match. There were there
three embassies from Athens, one with gifts from the city, one about the
Panathenaic games, and one about the celebration of the mysteries. There
was also an embassy from Miletus, and one from Clazomenæ. On the day of
their arrival at Memphis, Antiochus feasted these numerous ambassadors
in grand state, and on the next day gave them an audience. But their
arguments for peace carried no weight with him; and he denied that his
father, Antiochus the Great, had ever given Coele-Syria as a dower
with his daughter Cleopatra to Epiphanes. To gain time he promised
the ambassadors that he would give them an answer as soon as his own
ambassadors returned from Alexandria; and in the meanwhile he carried
his army down the Nile to Naucratis, and thence marched to the capital
to begin the siege.

Antiochus, however, was defeated in his first assault upon Alexandria,
and finding that he should not soon be able to bring the siege to an
end, he sent off an embassy to Rome with a hundred and fifty talents of
gold, fifty as a present to the senate, and the rest to be divided among
the states of Greece, whose help he might need. At the same time, also,
an embassy from the Rhodians arrived in the port of Alexandria, to
attempt to restore peace to the country of their old allies. Antiochus
received the Rhodian ambassadors in his tent, but would not listen to
the long speech with which they threatened him, and shortly told them
that he came as the friend of his elder nephew, the young Philometor,
and if the Alexandrians wished for peace they should open the gates
to their rightful king. Antiochus was, however, defeated in all his
assaults on the city, and he at last withdrew his army and returned
to Syria. He left Euergetes, King of the Greeks, at Alexandria, and
Philometor at Memphis, King of the rest of Egypt. But he kept Pelusium,
where he placed a strong garrison that he might be able easily to
re-enter Egypt whenever he chose.

Ptolemy Macron, the Alexandrian governor of Cyprus, added to the
troubles of the country by giving up his island to Antiochus. But he
met with the usual fate of traitors, he was badly rewarded; and when he
complained of his treatment, he was called a traitor by the very men who
had gained by his treachery, and he poisoned himself in the bitterness
of his grief. Antiochus, like most invaders, carried off whatever
treasure fell into his hands. Egypt was a sponge which had not lately
been squeezed, and his court and even his own dinner-table then shone
with a blaze of silver and gold unknown in Syria before this inroad into

By these acts, and by the garrison left in Pelusium, the eyes of
Philometor were opened, and he saw that his uncle had not entered Egypt
for his sake, but to make it a province of Syria, after it had been
weakened by civil war. He therefore wisely forgave his rebellious
brother and sister in Alexandria, and sent offers of peace to them; and
it was agreed that the two Ptolemies should reign together, and turn
their forces against the common enemy. It was most likely at this
time, and as a part of this treaty, that Philometor married his sister
Cleopatra. It was mainly by her advice and persuasion that the quarrel
between the two brothers was for the time healed. On this treaty between
the brothers the year was called the twelfth of Ptolemy Philometor and
the first of Ptolemy Euergetes, and the public deeds of the kingdom were
so dated.

The next year Antiochus Epiphanes again entered Egypt, claiming the
island of Cyprus and the country round Pelusium as the price of his
forbearance; and, on his marching forward, Memphis a second time opened
its gates to him without a battle. He came down by slow marches towards
Alexandria, and crossed the canal at Leucine, four miles from the city.
There he was met by the Roman ambassadors, who ordered him to quit the
country. On his hesitating, Popilius, who was one of them, drew a circle
round him on the sand with his stick, and told him that, if he crossed
that line without promising to leave Egypt at once, it should be taken
as a declaration of war against Rome. On this threat Antiochus again
quitted Egypt, and the brothers sent ambassadors to Rome to thank the
senate for their help, and to acknowledge that they owed more to the
Roman people than they did to the gods or to their forefathers.

The treaty made on this occasion between Philometor and Antiochus
was written by Heraclides Lembus, the son of Serapion, a native of
Oxyrynchus, who wrote on the succession of the philosophers in the
several Greek schools, and other works on philosophy, but whose chief
work was a history named the Lembeutic History.

Four years afterwards, in B. c. 164, Antiochus Epiphanes died; and the
Jews of Judæa, who had been for some time struggling for liberty, then
gained a short rest for their unhappy country. Judas Maccabæus had
raised his countrymen in rebellion against the foreigners; he had
defeated the Syrian forces in several battles; and was at last able
to purify the temple and re-establish the service there as of old. He
therefore sent to the Jews of Egypt to ask them to join their Hebrew
brethren in celebrating the feast of tabernacles on that great occasion.

[Illustration: 219.jpg TEMPLE OF HERMONTHIS.]

The unhappy quarrels between the Egyptian kings soon broke out again;
and, as the party of Euergetes was the stronger, Philometor was driven
from his kingdom, and he fled to Rome for safety and for help. He
entered the city privately, and took up his lodgings in the house of
one of his own subjects, a painter of Alexandria. His pride led him
to refuse the offers of better entertainment which were made to him by
Demetrius, the nephew of Antiochus, who, like himself, was hoping to
regain his kingdom by the help of the Romans. The Kings of Egypt and
Syria, the two greatest kingdoms in the world, were at the same time
asking to be heard at the bar of the Roman senate, and were claiming the
thrones of their fathers at the hands of men who could make and unmake
kings at their pleasure.

As soon as the senate heard that Philometor was in Rome, they lodged him
at the cost of the state in a manner becoming his high rank, and soon
sent him back to Egypt, with orders that Euergetes should reign in
Cyrene, and that the rest of the kingdom should belong to Philometor.
This happened in the seventeenth year of Philometor and the sixth of
Euergetes, which was the last year that was named after the two kings.
Cassius Longinus, who was next year consul at Rome, was most likely
among the ambassadors who replaced Philometor on the throne; for he put
the Ptolemaic eagle and thunderbolt on his coins, as though to claim the
sovereignty of Egypt for the senate.

To these orders Euergetes was forced to yield; but the next year he
went himself to Rome to complain to the senate that they had made a
very unfair division of the kingdom, and to beg that they would add
the island of Cyprus to his share. After hearing the ambassadors from
Philometor, who were sent to plead on the other side, the senate granted
the prayer of Euergetes, and sent ambassadors to Cyprus, with orders to
hand that island over to Euergetes, and to make use of the fleets and
armies of the republic if these orders were disobeyed.

Euergetes, during his stay in Rome, if we may believe Plutarch, made an
offer of marriage to Cornelia, the mother of the Gracchi; but this offer
of a throne could not make the high-minded matron quit her children and
her country. He left Italy with the Roman ambassadors, and, in passing
through Greece, he raised a large body of mercenaries to help him to
wrest Cyprus from his brother, as it would seem that the governor,
faithful to his charge, would not listen to the commands of Rome. But
the ambassadors had been told to conquer Cyprus, if necessary, with the
arms of the republic only, and they therefore made Euergetes disband
his levies. They sailed for Alexandria to enforce their orders upon
Philometor, and sent Euergetes home to Cyrene. Philometor received the
Roman ambassadors with all due honours; he sometimes gave them fair
promises, and sometimes put them off till another day; and tried to spin
out the time without saying either yes or no to the message from the
senate. Euergetes sent to Alexandria to ask if they had gained their
point; but though they threatened to return to Rome if they were not at
once obeyed, Philometor, by his kind treatment and still kinder words,
kept them more than forty days longer at Alexandria.

At last the Roman ambassadors left Egypt, and on their way home they
went to Cyrene, to let Euergetes know that his brother had disobeyed the
orders of the senate, and would not give up Cyprus; and Euergetes then
sent two ambassadors to Rome to beg them to revenge their affronted
dignity and to enforce their orders by arms. The senate of course
declared the peace with Egypt at an end, and ordered the ambassadors
from Philometor to quit Rome within five days, and sent their own
ambassadors to Cyrene to tell Euergetes of their decree.

But while this was going on, the state of Cyrene had risen in arms
against Euergetes; his vices and cruelty had made him hated, they had
gained for him the nicknames of Kakergetes, or _mischief-maker_, and
Physcon, or _bloated_; and while wishing to gain Cyprus he was in danger
of losing his own kingdom. When he marched against the rebels, he was
beaten and wounded, either in the battle or by an attack upon his life
afterwards, and his success was for some time doubtful. When he had at
last put down this rising, he sailed for Rome, to urge his complaints
against Philometor, upon whom he laid the blame of the late rebellion,
and to ask for help. The senate, after hearing both sides, sent a small
fleet with Euergetes, not large enough to put him on the throne of
Cyprus, but gave him, what they had before refused, leave to levy
an army of his own, and to enlist their allies in Greece and Asia as
mercenaries under his standard.

The Roman troops seem not to have helped Euergetes; but he landed in
Cyprus with his own mercenaries, and was there met by Philometor, who
had brought over the Egyptian army in person. Euergetes, however, was
beaten in several battles, he was soon forced to shut himself up in
the city of Lapitho, and at last to lay down his arms before his elder

If Philometor had upon this put his brother to death, the deed would
have seemed almost blameless after the family murders already related
in this history. But, with a goodness of heart, he a second time forgave
his brother all that had passed, replaced him on the throne of Cyrene,
and promised to give him his daughter in marriage.

[Illustration: 223.jpg GARDEN NEAR HELIOPOLIS]

We are not told whether the firmness and forgiving mildness of
Philometor had turned the Roman senate in his favour, but their troops
seemed wanted in other quarters; at any rate they left off trying to
enforce their decree; Philometor kept Cyprus, and sent Euergetes a
yearly gift of grain from Alexandria.

During the wars in Syria between Philometor and Antiochus Epiphanes, at
the beginning of this reign, the Jews were divided into two parties, one
favouring the Egyptians and one the Syrians. At last the Syrian party
drove their enemies out of Jerusalem; and Onias, the high priest, with
a large body of Jews, fled to Egypt. There they were well received
by Philometor, who allowed them to dwell in the neighbourhood of
Heliopolis; and he gave them leave to build a temple and ordain priests
for themselves. Onias built his temple at On or Onion, a city about
twenty-three miles from Memphis, once the capital of the district of
Heliopolis. It was on the site of an old Egyptian temple of the goddess
Pasht, which had fallen into disuse and decay, and was built after the
model of the temple of Jerusalem. Though by the Jewish law there was to
be no second temple, yet Onias defended himself by quoting, as if meant
for his own times, the words of Isaiah, who says that in that day there
shall be an altar to the Lord in the midst of the land of Egypt. The
building of this temple, and the celebrating the Jewish feasts there,
as in rivalry to the temple of Jerusalem, were a never-failing cause
of quarrel between the Hebrew and the Greek Jews. They each altered the
words of the Bible to make it speak their own opinions. The Hebrew Bible
now says that the new temple was in the City of Destruction, and the
Greek Bible says that it was in the City of Righteousness; whereas, from
the Arabic version and some early commentaries, it seems that Isaiah was
speaking of the city of Heliopolis, where there had been of old an altar
to the Lord. The leaders of the Greek party wished the Jews to throw
aside the character of strangers and foreign traders; to be at home and
to become owners of the soil. "Hate not laborious work," says the son of
Sirach; "neither husbandry, which the Most High hath ordained."

About the same time the Jews brought before Ptolemy, as a judge, their
quarrel with the Samaritans, as to whether, according to the law of
Moses, the temple ought to have been built at Jerusalem, or on the green
and fertile Mount Gerizim, where the Samaritans built their temple, or
on the barren white crags of Mount Ebal, where the Hebrew Bible says
that it should be built; and as to which nation had altered their copies
of the Bible in the twenty-seventh chapter of Deuteronomy and eighth
chapter of Joshua. This dispute had lately been the cause of riots and
rebellion. Ptolemy seems to have decided the question for political
reasons, and to please his own subjects, the Alexandrian Jews; and
without listening to the arguments as to what the law ordered, he was
content with the proof that the temple had stood at Jerusalem for about
eight hundred years, and he put to death the two Samaritan pleaders, who
had probably been guilty of some outrage against the Jews in zeal for
Mount Gerizim, and for which they might then have been on their trial.

Onias, the high priest, was much esteemed by Philometor, and bore high
offices in the government; as also did Dositheus, another Jew, who had
been very useful in helping the king to crush a rebellion. Dositheus
called himself a priest and a Levite, though his title to that honour
seems to have been doubted by his countrymen. He had brought with him
into Egypt the book of Esther, written in Greek, which he said had been
translated out of the Hebrew in Jerusalem by Lysimachus. It contained
some additions for which the Hebrew has never been brought forward, and
which are now placed among the uncanonical books in the Apocrypha.

Since the Ptolemies had found themselves too weak to hold Ethiopia, they
had placed a body of soldiers on the border of the two countries, to
guard Egypt from the inroads of the enemy. This station, twelve miles
to the south of Syênê, had by degrees grown into a city, and was called
Parembole, or _The Camp_; and, as most of the soldiers were Greek
mercenaries, it was natural that the temple which Philometor built there
should be dedicated in the Greek language. Of the temples hitherto built
by the Ptolemies, in the Egyptian cities, every one seems to have had
the king's name and titles, and its dedication to the gods, carved on
its massive portico in hieroglyphics; but this was in a Greek city, and
it was dedicated to Isis and Serapis, on behalf of Philometor and his
queen, in a Greek inscription.

[Illustration: 227.jpg TEMPLE OF APOLLONOPOLIS]

Philometor also built a temple at Antseopolis to Antaeus, a god of whom
we know little, but that he gave his name to the city; and another to
Aroëris at Ombos; and in the same way he carved the dedications on the
porticoes in the Greek language. This custom became common after that
time, and proves both the lessened weight which the native Egyptians
bore in the state, and that the kings had forgotten the wise rules of
Ptolemy Soter, in regard to the religious feelings of the people. They
must have been greatly shocked by this use of foreign writing in the
place of the old characters of the country, which, from having been used
in the temples, even for ages beyond the reach of history, had at last
been called sacred. In the temple at Antoopolis we note a marked change
in the style of building. The screen in front of the great portico is
almost removed by having a doorway made in it between every pair of

It is to this reign, also, that we seem to owe the great temple at
Apollinopolis Magna, although it was not finished till one or two
reigns later. It is one of the largest and least ruined of the Egyptian
temples. Its front is formed of two huge square towers, with sloping
sides, between which is the narrow doorway, the only opening in its
massive walls. Through this the worshipper entered a spacious courtyard
or cloister, where he found shade from the sun under a covered walk on
either side. In front is the lofty portico with six large columns, the
entrance to the body of the building. This last is flat-roofed, and far
lower than the grand portico which hid it from the eyes of the crowd in
the courtyard. The staircases in the towers are narrow. The sacred rooms
within were small and dark, with only a glimmering flame here and there
before an altar, except when lighted up with a blaze of lamps on a
feast-day. As a castle it must have had great strength; from the top
and loopholes of the two towers, stones and darts might be hurled at the
enemy; and as it was in the hands of the Egyptians, it is the strongest
proof that they were either not distrusted or not feared by their Greek
rulers. The city of Apollinopolis stands on a grand and lofty situation,
overlooking the river and the valley; and this proud temple, rising
over all, can only have been planned by military skill as a fortress to
command the whole.

At this time the Greeks in Egypt were beginning to follow the custom of
their Egyptian brethren, to take upon themselves monastic vows, and
to shut themselves up in the temples in religious idleness. But these
foreigners were looked upon with jealousy by the Egyptian monks as
intruders on their endowments, and we meet with a petition addressed
to Philometor by Ptolemy, the son of Glaucias, a monk in the temple of
Serapis at Memphis, who styles himself a Macedonian, complaining that
his cell had been violently entered and himself ill-treated because
he was a Greek; and reminding the king that last year, when the king
visited the Serapium, he had addressed the same petition to him through
the bars of his window. The priests in temples of Egypt were maintained,
partly by their own estates, and partly by the offerings of the pious;
and we still possess a deed of sale made in this reign by the Theban
priests, of one-half of a third of their collections for the dead who
had been buried in Thynabunum, the Libyan suburb of Thebes. This sixth
share of the collections consisted of seven or eight families of slaves;
the price of it was four hundred pieces of brass; the bargain was made
in the presence of sixteen witnesses, whose names are given; and the
deed was registered and signed by a public notary in the city of Thebes.
The custom of giving offerings to the priests for the good of the dead
would seem to have been a cause of some wealth to the temples. It was
one among the many Egyptian customs forbidden by the law of Moses.

From this deed of sale we also gain some knowledge of the state of
slavery in Egypt. The names of the slaves and of their fathers are
Koptic, and in some cases borrowed from the names of the gods; hence
the slaves were probably of the same religion, and spoke nearly the same
language as their masters. They sunk into that low state rather by their
own want of mind than by their masters' power. In each case the slave
was joined in the same lot with his children; and the low price of four
hundred pieces of brass, perhaps about thirty-eight dollars for eight
families, or even if it be meant for the half of eight families, proves
that they were of the nature of serfs, and that the master, either by
law or custom, could have had no power of cruelly overworking them. On
the other hand, in the reign of Philadelphus, the prisoners taken in
battle, who might be treated with greater severity, were ransomed at
fifteen dollars each. We see by the monuments that there were also a
few negroes in the same unhappy state of slavery. They were probably not
treated much worse than the lowest class of those born on the soil,
but they were much more valuable. Other slaves of the Berber race were
brought in coasting vessels from Opone on the incense coast, near to the
island of Dioscorides.

Aristarchus, who had been the tutor of Euergetes II., and of a son of
Philometor, was one of the ornaments of this reign. He had been a pupil
of Aristophanes, the grammarian, and had then studied under Crates at
Pergamus, the rival school to Alexandria. He died at Cyprus, whither he
probably withdrew on the death of Philometor. He was chiefly known for
his critical writings, in which his opinions of poetry were thought
so just that few dared to disagree with them; and his name soon became
proverbial for a critic. Aristarchus had also the good fortune to be
listened to in his lecture-room by one whose name is far more known than
those of his two royal pupils. Moschus of Syracuse, the pastoral poet,
was one of his hearers; but his fame must not be claimed for Alexandria;
he can hardly have learned from the critic that just taste by which he
joined softness and sweetness to the rude plainness of the Doric muse.
Indeed in this he only followed his young friend Bion, whose death he
so beautifully bewails, and from whose poems he generously owns that he
learned so much. It may be as well to add that the lines in which he
says that Theocritus, who had been dead above one hundred years, joined
with him in his sorrow for the death of Bion are later additions not
found in the early manuscripts of his poems.

From our slight acquaintance with Bion's life, we are left in doubt
whether he accompanied his friend Moschus to the court of Alexandria;
but it is probable that he did. In his beautiful lamentation for the
death of Adonis, we have an imitation of the melancholy chant of the
Egyptians, named _maneros_, which they sang through the streets in the
procession on the feast of Isis, when the crowd joined in the chorus,
"Ah, hapless Isis, Osiris is no more." The tale has been a good deal
changed by the Sicilian muse of Bion, but in the boar which killed
Adonis, we have the wicked Typhon as carved on the monuments; we have
also the wound in the thigh, and the consolations of the priests,
who every year ended their mournful song with advising the goddess to
reserve her sorrow for another year, when on the return of the festival
the same lament would be again celebrated. The whole poem has a depth
and earnestness of feeling which is truly Egyptian, but which was very
little known in Alexandria.

To the Alexandrian grammarians, and more particularly to Aristophanes,
Aristarchus, and their pupil, Ammonius, we are indebted for our
present copies of Homer. These critics acted like modern editors, each
publishing an edition, or rather writing out a copy, which was then
re-copied in the museum as often as called for by the demands of the
purchasers of books. Aristophanes left perhaps only one such copy or
edition, while Aristarchus, in his efforts to correct the text of the
great epic poet, made several such copies. These were in the hands of
the later scholiasts, who appealed to them as their authority, and
ventured to make no further alterations; we therefore now read the Iliad
and Odyssey nearly as left by these Alexandrian critics. They no doubt
took some liberties in altering the spelling and smoothing the lines;
and, though we should value most highly a copy in the rougher form in
which it came into their hands, yet, on the whole, we must be great
gainers by their labours. They divided the Iliad and Odyssey into
twenty-four books each, and corrected the faulty metres; but one of
their chief tasks was to set aside, or put a mark against, those more
modern lines which had crept into the ancient poems. It had been
usual to call every old verse Homer's or Homeric, and these it was the
business of the critic to mark as not genuine. Aristarchus was jocosely
said to have called every line spurious which he did not like; but
everything that we can learn of him leads us to believe that he executed
his task with judgment. From these men sprang the school of Alexandrian
grammarians, who for several centuries continued their minute and often
unprofitable studies in verbal criticism.

[Illustration: 234.jpg THE APOTHEOSIS OF HOMER]

These were the palmy days of criticism. Never before or since have
critics held so high a place in literature. The world was called upon to
worship and do honour to the poet, but chiefly that it might admire the
skill of the critic who could name the several sources of his beauties.
The critic now ranked higher than a priest at the foot of Mount
Parnassus. Homer was lifted to the skies that the critic might stand on
a raised pedestal among the Muses. Such seems to be the meaning of
the figures on the upper part of the well-known sculpture called the
Apotheosis of Homer. It was made in this reign; and at the foot Ptolemy
and his mother, in the characters of Time and the World, are crowning
the statue of the poet, in the presence of ten worshippers who represent
the literary excellences which shine forth in his poems. The figures
of the Iliad and Odyssey kneel beside his seat, and the Frogs and Mice
creep under his footstool, showing that the latter mock-heroic poem was
already written and called the work of Homer.

Other celebrities who flourished under the fifth Ptolemy were
Pamphilius, an Alexandrian physician who wrote on medical plants;
Meander, a poet and physician who studied poisons, and the great
Hipparchus, the founder of mathematical astronomy. Hero, also, in this
reign, invented a kind of primitive steam-engine.

[Illustration: 235.jpg HERO'S ROTATING STEAM ENGINE]

These men and their contemporaries were in the habit of writing their
scientific observations in the form of poetry, but it was verse without
earnestness and feeling, and such of it as survives is valued not for
its literary qualities or charms of diction, but for the side-lights it
throws upon the manners and education of the age.

The portrait of the king is known from those coins which bear the name
of "_King Ptolemy the mother-loving god_." The eagle on the other side
of the coins has a phoenix or palm-branch on its wing or by its side,
which may be supposed to mean that they were struck in Phoenicia.
We have not before met with the title of "god," on the coins of
the Ptolemies; but, as every one of them had been so named in the
hieroglyphical inscriptions, it can scarcely be called new.

When Philometor quitted the island of Cyprus after beating his brother
in battle, he left Archias as governor, who entered into a plot to give
it up to Demetrius, King of Syria, for the sum of five hundred talents.
But the plot was found out, and the traitor then put an end to his own
life, to escape from punishment and self-reproach. By this treachery of
Demetrius, Philometor was made his enemy, and he joined Attalus, King
of Pergamus, and Ariarathes, King of Cappadocia, in setting up Alexander
Balas as a pretender to the throne of Syria, who beat Demetrius in
battle, and put him to death. Philometor two years afterwards gave his
elder daughter, Cleopatra, in marriage to Alexander, and led her himself
to Ptolemaïs, or Acre, where the marriage was celebrated with great

But even in Ptolemaïs, the city in which Alexander had been so covered
with favours, Philometor was near falling under the treachery of his new
son-in-law. He learned that a plot had been formed against his life by
Ammonius, and he wrote to Alexander to beg that the traitor might be
given up to justice. But Alexander acknowledged the plot as his own,
and refused to give up his servant. On this, Philometor recalled his
daughter, and turned against Alexander the forces which he had led into
Syria to uphold him. He then sent to the young Demetrius, afterwards
called Nicator, the son of his late enemy, to offer him the throne and
wife which he had lately given to Alexander Balas. Demetrius was equally
pleased with the two offers. Philometor then entered Antioch at the head
of his army, and there he was proclaimed by the citizens King of Asia
and Egypt; but with a forbearance then very uncommon, he called together
the council of the people, and refused the crown, and persuaded them to
receive Demetrius as their king.

[Illustration: 237.jpg COIN OF PTOLEMY V.]

It is interesting to note that Alexander Balas and Demetrius Nicator
each in his turn acknowledged his debt to the King of Egypt by putting
the Ptolemaic eagle on his coins, and adjusting them to the Egyptian
standard of weight: and in this they were afterwards followed by
Antiochus, the son of Demetrius. The Romans, on the other hand,
sometimes used the same eagle in boast of their power over Egypt; but we
cannot be mistaken in what was meant by these Syrian kings, who none of
them, when their coins were struck, were seated safely on the throne.
With them, as with some of the Greek cities of Asia Minor, the use of
the Egyptian eagle on the coins was an act of homage.

Philometor and Demetrius, as soon as the latter was acknowledged king at
Antioch, then marched against Alexander, routed his army, and drove him
into Arabia. But in this battle Philometor's horse was frightened by the
braying of an elephant, and threw the king into the ranks of the enemy,
and he was taken up covered with wounds. He lay speechless for five
days, and the surgeons then endeavoured to cut out a piece of the broken
bone from his skull. He died under the operation: but not before the
head of Alexander had been brought to him as the proof of his victory.

Thus fell Ptolemy Philometor in the forty-second year of his age. His
reign began in trouble; before he reached the years of manhood the
country had been overrun by foreigners, and torn to pieces by civil war;
but he left the kingdom stronger than he found it, a praise which he
alone can share with Ptolemy Soter. He was alike brave and mild; he
was the only one of the race who fell in battle, and the only one whose
hands were unstained with civil blood. At an age and in a country when
poison and the dagger were too often the means by which the king's
authority was upheld, when goodness was little valued, and when
conquests were thought the only measure of greatness, he spared the life
of a brother taken in battle, he refused the crown of Syria when offered
to him; and not only no one of his friends or kinsmen, but no citizen
of Alexandria, was put to death during the whole of his reign. We find
grateful inscriptions to his honour at the city of Citium in Cyprus, in
the island of Therse, and at Methone in Argolis.

Philometor had reigned thirty-five years in all; eleven years alone,
partly while under age, then six years jointly with his brother,
Euergetes II., and eighteen more alone while his brother reigned in
Cyrene. He married his sister Cleopatra, and left her a widow, with two
daughters, each named Cleopatra. The elder daughter we have seen offered
to Euergetes, then married to Alexander Balas, and lastly to Demetrius.
The younger daughter, afterwards known by the name of Cleopatra Cocce,
was still in the care of her mother. He had most likely had three sons.
One perhaps had been the pupil of Aristarchus, and died before his
father; as the little elegy by Antipator of Sidon, which is addressed to
the dead child, on the grief of his father and mother, would seem to be
meant for a son of Philometor. A second son was murdered, and a third
lived in Syria.

On the death of Philometor, his widow, Cleopatra, and some of the chief
men of Alexandria proclaimed his young son king, most likely under the
name of Ptolemy Eupator; but Euergetes, whose claim was favoured by
the mob, marched from Cyrene to Alexandria to seize the crown of Egypt.
Onias the Jew defended the city for Cleopatra; but a peace was soon made
by the help of Thermus, the Roman ambassador, and on this the gates of
Alexandria were opened. It was agreed that Euergetes should be king, and
marry Cleopatra, his sister and his brother's widow. We may take it for
granted that one article of the treaty was that her son should reign on
the death of his uncle; but Euergetes, forgetting that he owed his own
life to Philometor, and also disregarding the Romans who were a party to
the treaty, had the boy put to death on the day of the marriage.

The Alexandrians, after the vices and murders of former kings, could not
have been much struck by the behaviour of Euergetes towards his family;
but he was not less cruel towards his people. Alexandria, which he
had entered peaceably, was handed over to the unbridled cruelty of the
mercenaries, and blood flowed in every street. The anger of Euergetes
fell more particularly on the Jews for the help which they had given to
Cleopatra, and he threatened them with utter destruction. The threat
was not carried into execution; but such was the Jews' alarm, that they
celebrated a yearly festival in Alexandria for several hundred years, in
thankfulness for their escape from it. The population of the city, who
looked upon it less as a home than as a place of trade in which they
could follow their callings with the greatest gain, seemed to quit
Alexandria as easily as they had come there under Ptolemy Soter; and
Euergetes, who was afraid that he should soon be left to reign over a
wilderness, made new laws in favour of trade and of strangers who would
settle there.

In the lifetime of Philometor he had never laid aside his claim to the
throne of Egypt, but had only yielded to the commands of Rome and to his
brother's forces, and he now numbered the years of his reign from his
former seizing of Alexandria. He had reigned six years with his brother,
and then eighteen years in Cyrene, and he therefore called the first
year of his real reign the twenty-fifth.

In the next year he went to Memphis to be crowned; and, while the pomps
and rites were there being performed, his queen and sister bore him a
son, whom, from the place and to please the people, he named Memphites.
But his queen was already in disgrace; and some of those very friends
who on his brother's death had marched with him against Alexandria were
publicly put to death for speaking ill of his mistress Irene. He soon
afterwards put away his wife and married her younger daughter, his
niece, Cleopatra Cocce. The divorced Cleopatra was allowed to keep her
title; and, as she was the widow of the late king, she held a rank in
the state before the wife of the reigning king. Thus, the small temple
of Hâthor in the island of Philæ was dedicated to the goddess in the
name of King Ptolemy and Queen Cleopatra his sister, and Queen Cleopatra
his wife, designated as the gods Euergetæ.

[Illustration: 241.jpg TEMPLE OF HATHOR AT PHILAE]

The Roman senate, however, felt its authority slighted by this murder
of the young Eupator, and divorce of Cleopatra, both of whom were living
under its protection. The late ambassador, Thermus, by whose treachery
or folly Euergetes had been enabled to crush his rivals and gain the
sovereign power, was on his return to Rome called to account for his
conduct. Cato the Censor, in one of his great speeches, accused him of
having been seduced from his duty by the love of Egyptian gold, and of
having betrayed the queen to the bribes of Euergetes. In the meanwhile
Scipio Africanus the younger and two other Roman ambassadors were
sent by the senate to see that the kingdom of their ally was peaceably
settled. Euergetes went to meet him with great pomp, and received him
with all the honours due to his rank; and the whole city followed him in
crowds through the streets, eager to catch a sight of the conqueror of
Carthage, of the greatest man who had been seen in Alexandria, of one
who by his virtues and his triumphs had added a new glory even to the
name of Scipio. He brought with him, as his friend and companion (in
the case of a modern ambassador we should say, as his chaplain), the
philosopher, Pansetius, the chief of the Stoics, who had gained a great
name for his three books on the "Duty of Man," which were afterwards
copied by Cicero.

[Illustration: 242b.jpg]

Euergetes showed them over the palace and the treasury; but, though the
Romans had already begun to run the down-hill race of luxury, in which
the Egyptians were so far ahead of them, yet Scipio, who held to the old
fashions and plain manners of the republic, was not dazzled by mere gold
and purple. But the trade of Alexandria, the natural harbour, the forest
of masts, and the lighthouse, the only one in the world, surpassed
anything that his well-stored mind had looked for. He went by boat to
Memphis, and saw the rich crops on either bank, and the easy navigation
of the Nile, in which the boats were sailing up the river by the force
of the wind and floating down by the force of the stream. The villages
on the river side were large and thickly set, each in the bosom of its
own grove of palm-trees; and the crowded population was well fed and
well clothed. The Roman statesman saw that nothing was wanting but a
good government to make Egypt what it used to be, the greatest kingdom
in the world.

Scipio went no higher than Memphis; the buildings of Upper Egypt, the
oldest and the largest in the world, could not draw him to Thebes, a
city whose trade had fallen off, where the deposits of bullion in the
temples had lessened, and whose linen manufacture had moved towards the
Delta. Had this great statesman been a Greek he would perhaps have gone
on to this city, famous alike in history and in poetry; but, as it was,
Scipio and his friends then sailed for Cyprus, Syria, and the other
provinces or kingdoms under the power of Rome, to finish this tour of

For some time past, the Jews, taking advantage of the weakness of Egypt
and Syria, had been struggling to make themselves free; and, at the
beginning of this reign Simon Maccabæus, the high priest, sent an
embassy to Rome, with a shield of gold weighing one thousand _minae_, as
a present, to get their independence acknowledged by the Romans. On this
the senate made a treaty of alliance with the family of the Maccabees,
and, using the high tone of command to which they had for some time past
been accustomed, they wrote to Euergetes and the King of Syria, ordering
them not to make war upon their friends, the Jews. But in an after
decree the Romans recognise the close friendship and the trading
intercourse between Egypt and Judæa; and when they declared that they
would protect the Jews in their right to levy custom-house duties, they
made an exception in favour of the Egyptian trade. The people of Judæa
in these struggles were glad to forget the jealousy which had separated
them from their brethren in Egypt, and the old quarrel between the
Hebrews and the Hellenists; the Sanhedrim of Jerusalem wrote to the
Sanhedrim of Alexandria, telling them that they were going to keep the
Feast of the Tabernacles in solemn thanksgiving to the Almighty for
their deliverance, and begging for the benefit of their prayers.

The Jews, however, of Judæa, on their gaining their former place as a
nation, did not, as before, carry forward the chain of history in their
sacred books. While they had been under the yoke of the Babylonians, the
Persians, and the Syrians, their language had undergone some changes;
and when the Hebrew of the Old Testament was no longer the spoken
language, they perhaps thought it unworthy of them to write in any
other. At any rate, it is to their Greek brethren in Egypt that we
are indebted for the history of the bravery of the Maccabees. Jason
of Cyrene wrote the history of the Maccabees, and of the Jewish wars
against Antiochus Epiphanes and his son, Antiochus Eupator. This work,
which was in five books, is lost, and we now read only the short history
which was drawn from it by some unknown Greek writer, which, with the
letter from the Jews of Judaaa to their brethren of Egypt, forms the
second book of Maccabees.

In the list of Alexandrian authors, we must not forget to mention Jesus,
the son of Sirach, who came into Egypt in this reign, and translated
into Greek the Hebrew work of his grandfather Jesus, which is named the
Book of Wisdom, or Ecclesiasticus. It is written in imitation of the
Proverbs of Solomon; and though its pithy sayings fall far short of the
deep wisdom and lofty thoughts which crowd every line of that wonderful
work, yet it will always be read with profit and pleasure. In this
book we see the earliest example that we now possess of a Jewish writer
borrowing from the Greek philosophers; though how far the Greek thoughts
were part of the original Hebrew may be doubted, because the work
was left unfinished by Jesus the grandfather, and completed by the
Alexandrian translator, his grandson. Hereafter we shall see the
Alexandrian Jews engrafting on the Jewish theology more and more of the
Platonic philosophy, which very well suited the serious earnestness of
their character, and which had a most remarkable effect in making their
writings and opinions more fitted to spread into the ancient schools.

This and other writings of the Alexandrian Jews were by them added to
the list of sacred books which together made their Greek Bible; but they
were never acknowledged at Jerusalem. The Hebrew books of the law and
the prophets were first gathered together by Nehemiah after the return
of the Hebrews from Babylon; but his library had been broken up during
the Syrian wars. These Hebrew books, with some few which had since been
written, were again got together by Judas Maccabaeus; and after his time
nothing more seems to have been added to them, though the Alexandrian
Jews continued to add new books to their Greek Bible, while cultivating
the Platonic philosophy with a success which made a change in their
religious opinions. It was in Alexandria, and very much by the help
of the Jews, that Eastern and Western opinions now met. Each made some
change in the other, and, on the union of the two, Alexandria gave to
the world a new form of philosophy. The vices and cruelty of Euergetes
called for more than usual skill in the minister to keep down the angry
feelings of the people. This skill was found in the general Hierax,
who was one of those men whose popular manners, habits of business,
and knowledge of war, make them rise over every difficulty in times
of trouble. On him rested the whole weight of the government; his wise
measures in part made up for the vices of his master; and, when the
treasure of the state had been turned to the king's pleasures, and the
soldiers were murmuring for want of pay, Hierax brought forward his own
money to quiet the rebellion. But at last the people could bear their
grievances no longer; the soldiers without pay, instead of guarding the
throne, were its greatest enemies, and the mob rose in Alexandria,
set fire to the palace, and Euergetes was forced to leave the city and
withdraw to Cyprus.

The Alexandrians, when free from their tyrant, sent for Cleopatra,
his sister and divorced queen, and set her upon the throne. Her son by
Philometor, in whose name she had before claimed the throne, had been
put to death by Euergetes; Memphites, one of her sons by Euergetes, was
with his father in the island of Cyprus; and Euergetes, fearing that his
first wife Cleopatra and her advisers might make use of his son's
name to strengthen her throne, had the child at once put to death.
The birthday of Cleopatra was at hand, and it was to be celebrated in
Alexandria with the usual pomp; and Euergetes, putting the head, hands,
and feet of his son Memphites into a box, sent it to Alexandria by a
messenger, who had orders to deliver it to Cleopatra in the midst of
the feast, when the nobles and ambassadors were making their accustomed
gifts. The grief of Cleopatra was only equalled by the anger of the
Alexandrians, who the more readily armed themselves under Marsyas to
defend the queen against the invasion for which Euergetes was then
making preparations.

The queen's forces shortly marched against the army of Euergetes that
was entering Egypt under the command of Hegelochus; but the Egyptian
army was beaten on the Syrian frontier. Marsyas was sent prisoner to
Euergetes; and the king then showed the only act of mercy which can
be mentioned to his praise, and spared the life of a prisoner whom
he thought he could make use of. Cleopatra then sent to Syria, to
her son-in-law Demetrius, to ask for help, which was at first readily
granted, but Demetrius was soon called home again by a rising in
Antioch. But great indeed must be the cruelty which a people will not
bear from their own king rather than call in a foreign master to relieve

[Illustration: 249.jpg OBELISK AT HELIOPOLIS]

The return of the hated and revengeful Euergetes was not dreaded so much
by the Alexandrians as the being made a province of Syria. Cleopatra
received no help from Demetrius, but she lost the love of her people by
asking for it, and she was soon forced to fly from Alexandria. She
put her treasures on board a ship, and joined her son Ptolemy and her
son-in-law Demetrius in Syria, while Euergetes regained his throne.
As soon as Euergetes was again master of Egypt, it was his turn to
be revenged upon Demetrius; and he brought forward Zabbineus, a young
Egyptian, the son of Protarchus, a merchant, and sent him into Syria
with an army to claim the throne under the name of Alexander, the
adopted son of Antiochus. Alexander easily conquered and then put to
death Demetrius, but, when he found that he really was King of Syria, he
would no longer receive orders from Egypt; and Euergetes found that the
same plots and forces were then wanted to put down this puppet, which he
had before used to set him up. He began by making peace with his sister
Cleopatra, who was again allowed to return to Egypt; and we find her
name joined with those of Euergetes and his second queen in one of
the public acts of the priests. He then sent an army and his daughter
Tryphaena in marriage to Antiochus Grypus, one of the sons of Demetrius,
who gladly received his help, and conquered Alexander and gained the
throne of his father.

We possess a curious inscription upon an obelisk that once stood in the
island of Philæ, recording, as one of the grievances that the villagers
smarted under, the necessity of finding supplies for the troops on their
marches, and also for all the government messengers and public servants,
or those who claimed to travel as such. The cost of this grievance was
probably greater at Philæ than in other places, because the traveller
was there stopped in his voyage by the cataracts on the Nile, and he had
to be supplied with labourers to carry his luggage where the navigation
was interrupted. Accordingly the priests at Philæ petitioned the king
that their temple might be relieved from this heavy and vexatious
charge, which they said lessened their power of rightly performing their
appointed sacrifices; and they further begged to be allowed to set up a
monument to record the grant which they hoped for. Euergetes granted the
priests' prayer, and accordingly they set up a small obelisk; and the
petition and the king's answer were carved on the base of this monument.

The gold mines near the Nubian or Golden Berenicê, though not so rich
as they used to be, were worked with full activity by the unhappy
prisoners, criminals, and slaves, who were there condemned to labour in
gangs under the lash of their taskmasters. Men and women alike, even old
men and children, each at such work as his overstretched strength was
equal to, were imprisoned in these caverns tunnelled under the sea or
into the side of the mountain; and there by torchlight they suffered
the cruel tortures of their overseers without having power to make their
groans heard above ground. No lot upon earth could be more wretched than
that of these unhappy men; to all of them death would have been thought
a boon.

The survey of the coast of the Red Sea, which was undertaken in this or
the last reign, did not reach beyond the northern half of that sea. It
was made by Agatharcides, who, when the philosopher Heracleides Lembus
filled the office of secretary to the government under Philometor, had
been his scribe and reader. Agatharcides gives a curious account of the
half-savage people on these coasts, and of the more remarkable animals
and products of the country. He was a most judicious historian, and gave
a better guess than many at the true cause of why there was most water
in the Nile in the dry est season of the year; which was a subject of
never-ceasing inquiry with the travellers and writers on physics. Thaïes
said that its waters were held back at its mouths by the Etesian winds,
which blow from the north during the summer months; and Democritus of
Abdera said that these winds carried heavy rain-clouds to Ethiopia;
whereas the north winds do not begin to blow till the Nile has risen,
and the river has returned to its usual size before the winds cease.
Anaxagoras, who was followed by Euripides, the poet, thought that the
large supply of water came from the melting of snow in Ethiopia. Ephorus
thought that there were deep springs in the river's bed, which gushed
forth with greater force in summer than in winter. Herodotus and
OEnopides both thought that the river was in its natural state when
the country was overflowed; and the former said that its waters were
lessened in winter by the attraction of the sun, then over Southern
Ethiopia; and the latter said that, as the earth grew cool, the waters
were sucked into its pores. The sources of the Nile were hidden by the
barbarism of the tribes on its banks; but by this time travellers had
reached the region of tropical rains; and Agatharcides said that the
overflow in Egypt arose from the rains in Upper Ethiopia. But the
Abyssinian rains begin to fall at midsummer, too late to cause the
inundation in Egypt; and therefore the truth seemed after all to lie
with the priests of Memphis, who said the Nile rises on the other side
of the equator, and the rain falling in what was winter on that side of
the globe made the Nile overflow in the Egyptian summer.

From the very earliest times, says Ebers, the Pharaohs had understood
the necessity of measuring exactly the amount or deficiency of the
inundations of the Nile, and Nilometers are preserved which were erected
high up the river in Nubia by kings of the Old Empire, by princes, that
is to say, who reigned before the invasion of the Hyksos. Herodotus
tells us that the river must rise sixteen ells for the inundation to be
considered a favourable one. If it remained below this mark, the higher
fields failed in obtaining a due supply of water, and a dearth was the
result. If it greatly exceeded it, it broke down the dykes, damaged the
villages, and had not retired into its bed by the time for sowing the
seed. Thus the peasant, who could expect no rain, and was threatened
neither by frosts nor storms, could have his prospects of a good or bad
harvest read off by the priests with perfect certainty by the scale of
the Nilometer, and not by the servants of the divinities only, but by
the officers of the realm, who calculated the amount of taxes to be paid
to them in proportion to the rising of the river.

[Illustration: 254.jpg NILOMETER AT RHODHA]

The standard was protected by the magic power of unapproachable
sanctity, and the husbandman has been strictly interdicted from the
earliest time to this very day from casting a glance at it during the
time when the river is rising; for what sovereign could bear to disclose
without reserve the decrees of Providence as to the most important of
his rights, that of estimating the amount of taxes to be imposed? In the
time of the Pharaohs it was the priesthood that declared to the king and
to the people their estimate of the inundations, and at the present day,
the sheik, who is sworn to secrecy, is under the control of the police
of Cairo, and has his own Nilometer, the zero point of which is said
to be somewhat below that of the ancient standard. The engineers of
the French expedition first detected the fraud, by means of which the
government endeavoured every year to secure the full amount of taxes.

When the Nile has reached a height of a little over fifteen old Arabic
ells, it exceeds its lowest level by more than eight ells, and has
reached the height requisite to enable it to irrigate the highest
fields. This happy event is announced to the people, who await it with
breathless anxiety, and the opening of the dykes may be proceeded with.
A festival to celebrate this occasion has been held from the remotest
times. At the present time customs prevail which can, it is alleged, be
traced by direct descent to the times of the Pharaohs, and yet during
the dominion of Christianity in Egypt, and later again under sovereigns
governing a nation wholly converted to Islam, the old worship of the
Nile, with all its splendour, its display, and its strange ceremonies,
was extirpated with the utmost rigour. But some portion of every
discarded religion becomes merged in the new one that has supplanted it
as a fresh form of superstition, and thus we discover from a Christian
document dating from the sixth century, that the rising of the Nile "in
its time" was no longer attributed to Osiris, but to a certain Saint
Orion, and, as the priest of antiquity taught that a tear of Isis led to
the overflowing of the Nile, so we hear the Egyptians of the present
day say that "a divine tear" has fallen into the stream and caused the

The trade of the Egyptians had given them very little knowledge of
geography. Indeed the whole trade of the ancients was carried on by
buying goods from their nearest neighbours on one side, and selling
them to those on the other side of them. Long voyages were unknown; and,
though the trading wealth of Egypt had mainly arisen from carrying the
merchandise of India and Arabia Felix from the ports on the Red Sea to
the ports on the Mediterranean, the Egyptians seem to have gained no
knowledge of the countries from which these goods came.

[Illustration: 256b.jpg SUK EL SALEH, CAIRO]

They bought them of the Arab traders, who came to Cosseir and the
Troglodytic Berenicê from the opposite coast; the Arabs had probably
bought them from the caravans that had carried them across the desert
from the Persian Gulf; and that these land journeys across the desert
were both easier and cheaper than a coasting voyage, we have before
learned, from Phila-delphus thinking it worth while to build watering
and resting-houses in the desert between Koptos and Berenicê, to save
the voyage between Berenicê and Cosseir. India seems to have been only
known to the Greeks as a country that by sea was to be reached by the
way of the Euphrates and the Persian Gulf; and though Scylax had, by
the orders of Darius, dropped down the river Indus, coasted Arabia,
and thence reached the Red Sea, this voyage was either forgotten or
disbelieved, and in the time of the Ptolemies it seems probable that
nobody thought that India could be reached by sea from Egypt. Arrian
indeed thought that the difficulty of carrying water in their small
ships, with large crews of rowers, was alone great enough to stop a
voyage of such a length along a desert coast that could not supply them
with fresh water.

The long voyages of Solomon and Necho had been limited to coasting
Africa; the voyage of Alexander the Great had been from the Indus to the
Persian Gulf; hence it was that the court of Euergetes was startled by
the strange news that the Arabian guards on the coast of the Red Sea had
found a man in a boat by himself, who could not speak Koptic, but who
they afterwards found was an Indian, who had sailed straight from India,
and had lost his shipmates. He was willing to show any one the route
by which he had sailed; and Eudoxus of Cyzicus in Asia Minor came to
Alexandria to persuade Euergetes to give him the command of a vessel for
this voyage of discovery. A vessel was given him; and, though he was but
badly fitted out, he reached a country, which he called India, by sea,
and brought back a cargo of spices and precious stones. He wrote an
account of the coasts which he visited, and it was made use of by Pliny.
But it is more than probable the unknown country called India, which
Eudoxus visited, was on the west coast of Africa. Abyssinia was often
called India by the ancients.

In these attempts at maritime discovery, and efforts after a cheaper
means of obtaining the Indian products, the Greek sailors of Euergetes
made a settlement in the island of Dioscorides, now called Socotara,
in the Indian Ocean, forty leagues eastward of the coast of Africa; and
there they met the trading vessels from India and Ceylon. This little
island continued a Greek colony for upwards of seven centuries, and
Greek was the only language spoken there till it fell under the Arabs
in the twilight of history, when all the European possessions in Africa
were overthrown. But the art of navigation was so far unknown that but
little use was made of this voyage; the goods of India, which were all
costly and of small weight, were still for the most part carried across
the desert on camels' backs, and we may remark that at a later period
hardly more than twenty small vessels ever went to India in one year
during the reigns of the Ptolemies, and that it was not till Egypt was a
province of Rome that the trade-winds across the Arabian Sea were found
out by Hippalus, a pilot in the Indian trade. The voyage was little
known in the time of Pliny; even the learned Propertius seems to have
thought that silk was a product of Arabia; and Palmyra and Petra, the
two chief cities in the desert, whose whole wealth rested and whose very
being hung upon their being watering-places for these caravans, were
still wealthy cities in the second century of our era, when the voyage
by the Arabian Sea became for the first time easier and cheaper than the
journeys across the desert.

Euergetes had been a pupil of Aristobolus, a learned Jew, a writer of
the peripatetic sect of philosophers, one who had made his learning
respected by the pagans from his success in cultivating their
philosophy; and also of Aristarchus, the grammarian, the editor
of Homer; and, though the king had given himself up to the lowest
pleasures, yet he held with his crown that love of letters and of
learning which had ennobled his forefathers. He was himself an author,
and wrote, like Ptolemy Soter, his Memorabilia, or an account of what
he had seen most remarkable in his lifetime. We may suppose that his
writings were not of a very high order; they were quoted by Athengeus,
who wrote in the reign of Marcus Aurelius; but we learn little else from
them than the names of the mistresses of Ptolemy Philadelphus, and that
a flock of pheasants was kept in the palace of Alexandria. He also
wrote a commentary on Homer, of which we know nothing. When busy
upon literature, he would allow his companions to argue with him till
midnight on a point of history or a verse of poetry; but not one of them
ever uttered a word against his tyranny, or argued in favour of a less
cruel treatment of his enemies.

In this reign the schools of Alexandria, though not holding the rank
which they had gained under Philadelphus, were still highly thought of.
The king still gave public salaries to the professors; and Panaretus,
who had been a pupil of the philosopher Arcesilaus, received the very
large sum of twelve talents, or ten thousand dollars a year. Sositheus
and his rival, the younger Homer, the tragic poets of this reign, have
even been called two of the Pleiades of Alexandria; but that was a
title given to many authors of very different times, and to some of
very little merit. Such indeed was the want of merit among the poets of
Alexandria that many of their names would have been unknown to posterity
had they not been saved in the pages of the critics and grammarians, and
pieced together by the skill of nineteenth century investigators.

[Illustration: 260.jpg TEMPLE OF KOM OMBO.]

But, unfortunately, the larger number of the men of letters had in the
late wars taken part with Philome-tor against the cruel and luxurious
Euergetes. Hence, when the streets of Alexandria were flowing with the
blood of those whom he called his enemies, crowds of learned men left
Egypt, and were driven to earn a livelihood by teaching in the cities
to which they then fled. They were all Greeks, and few of them had been
born in Alexandria. They had been brought there by the wealth of the
country and the favour of the sovereign; and they now withdrew when
these advantages were taken away from them. The isles and coasts of the
Mediterranean were so filled with grammarians, philosophers, geometers,
musicians, schoolmasters, painters, and physicians from Alexandria that
the cruelty of Euergetes II., like the taking of Constantinople by the
Turks, may be said to have spread learning by the ill-treatment of its

The city which was then rising highest in arts and letters was Pergamus
in Asia Minor, which, under Eumenes and Attalus, was almost taking the
place which Alexandria had before held. Its library already held
two hundred thousand volumes, and raised a jealousy in the mind of
Euergetes. Not content with buying books and adding to the size of
his own library, he wished to lessen the libraries of his rivals; and,
nettled at the number of volumes which Eumenes had got together at
Pergamus, he made a law, forbidding the export of the Egyptian papyrus
on which they were written. On this the copiers employed by Eumenes
wrote their books upon sheepskins, which were called _charta pergamena_,
or parchment, from the name of the city in which they were written. Thus
our own two words, parchment from _Pergamus_, and paper from _papyrus_,
remain as monuments of the rivalry in book-collecting between the two

Euergetes was so bloated with disease that his body was nearly six feet
round, and he was made weak and slothful by this weight of flesh.
He walked with a crutch, and wore a loose robe like a woman's, which
reached to his feet and hands. He gave himself up very much to eating
and drinking, and on the year that he was chosen priest of Apollo by
the Cyrenians, he showed his pleasure at the honour by a memorable feast
which he gave in a costly manner to all those who had before filled that
office. He had reigned six years with his brother, then eighteen years
in Cyrene, and lastly twenty-nine years after the death of his brother,
and he died in the fifty-fourth year of his reign, and perhaps the
sixty-ninth of his age. He left a widow, Cleopatra Cocce; two sons,
Ptolemy and Ptolemy Alexander; and three daughters, Cleopatra, married
to her elder brother; Tryphsena, married to Antiochus Grypus; and Selene
unmarried; and also a natural son, Ptolemy Apion, to whom by will he
left the kingdom of Cyrene; while he left the kingdom of Egypt to his
widow and one of his sons, giving her the power of choosing which should
be her colleague. The first Euergetes earned and deserved the name,
which was sadly disgraced by the second; but such was the fame of
Egypt's greatness that the titles of its kings were copied in nearly
every Greek kingdom. We meet with the flattering names of Soter,
Philadelphus, Euergetes, and the rest, on the coins of Syria, Parthia,
Cappadocia, Paphlagonia, Pon-tus, Bactria, and Bithynia; while that
of Euergetes, _the benefactor_, was at last used as another name for a


_The weakness of the Ptolemies: Egypt bequeathed to Rome: Pompey, Cæsar,
and Antony befriend Egypt._

On the death of Ptolemy Euergetes II., his widow, Cleopatra Cocce, would
have chosen her younger son, Ptolemy Alexander, then a child, for her
partner on the throne, most likely because it would have been longer in
the course of years before he would have claimed his share of power; but
she was forced, by a threatened rising of the Alexandrians, to make her
elder son king. Before, however, she would do this she made a treaty
with him, which would strongly prove, if anything were still wanting,
the vice and meanness of the Egyptian court. It was, that, although
married to his sister Cleopatra, of whom he was very fond, he should put
her away, and marry his younger sister Selene; because the mother hoped
that Selene would be false to her husband's cause, and weaken his party
in the state by her treachery.

Ptolemy took the name of Soter II., though he is more often called
Lathyrus, from a stain upon his face in the form of an ivy-leaf, pricked
into his skin in honour of Osiris. He was also called Philometor; and we
learn from an inscription on a temple at Apollinopolis Parva, that both
these names formed part of the style in which the public acts ran in
this reign; it is dedicated by "the Queen Cleopatra and King Ptolemy,
gods Philometores, Soteres, and his children," without mentioning his
wife. Here, as in Persia and Judaaa, the king's mother often held rank
above his wife. The name of Philometor was given to him by his mother,
because, though he had reached the years of manhood, she wished to
act as his guardian; but her unkindness to him was so remarkable that
historians have thought that it was a nickname. The mother and the son
were jointly styled sovereigns of Egypt; but they lived apart, and in
distrust of one another, each surrounded by personal friends; while
Cleopatra's stronger mind and greater skill in kingcraft gained for her
the larger share of power, and the effective control of Egypt.

Cleopatra, the daughter, put away by her husband at the command of her
mother, soon made a treaty of marriage with Antiochus Cyzicenus, the
friend of her late husband, who was struggling for the throne of Syria
with his brother, Antiochus Grypus, the husband of her sister Tryphaana;
and on her way to Syria she stopped at Cyprus, where she raised a large
army and took it with her as her dower, to help her new husband against
his brother and her sister.

With this addition to his army Cyzicenus thought his forces equal to
those of his brother; he marched against him and gave him battle. But
he was beaten, and he fled with his wife Cleopatra; and they shut
themselves up in the city of Antioch. Grypus and Tryphaana then laid
siege to the city, and the astute Tryphaana soon took her revenge on
her sister for coming into Syria to marry the brother and rival of her
husband. The city was taken; and Tryphaana ordered her sister to be torn
from the temple into which she had fled, and to be put to death. In vain
Grypus urged that he did not wish his victory to be stained by the death
of a sister; that Cleopatra was by marriage his sister as well as hers;
that she was the aunt of their children; and that the gods would punish
them if they dragged her from the altar. But Tryphaana was merciless
and unmoved; she gave her own orders to the soldiers, and Cleopatra was
killed as she clung with her arms to the statue of the goddess. This
cruelty, however, was soon overtaken by punishment: in the next battle
Cyzicenus was the conqueror, and he put Tryphaana to death, to quiet, as
was said, the ghost of her murdered sister.

In the third year of her reign Cleopatra Cocce gave the island of Cyprus
to her younger son, Alexander, as an independent kingdom, thinking that
he would be of more use to her there, in upholding her power against his
brother Lathyrus, than he could be at Alexandria.

In the last reign Eudoxus had been entrusted by Euergetes with a vessel
and a cargo for a trading voyage of discovery towards India; and in this
reign he was again sent by Cleopatra down the Red Sea to trade with the
unknown countries in the east. How far he went may be doubted, but
he brought back with him from the coast of Africa the prow of a ship
ornamented with a horse's head, the usual figurehead of the Carthaginian
ships. This he showed to the Alexandrian pilots, who knew it as
belonging to one of the Phoenician ships of Cadiz or Gibraltar. Eudoxus
justly argued that this prow proved that it was possible to sail round
Africa and to reach India by sea from Alexandria. The government,
however, would not fit him out for a third voyage; but his reasons were
strong enough to lead many to join him, and others to help him with
money, and he thereby fitted out three vessels on this attempt to sail
round Africa by the westward voyage. He passed the Pillars of Hercules,
or Straits of Gibraltar, and then turned southward. He even reached that
part of Africa where the coast turns eastward. Here he was stopped by
his ships wanting repair. The only knowledge that he brought back for us
is, that the natives of that western coast were of nearly the same race
as the Ethiopians on the eastern coast. He was able to sail only part
of the way back, and he reached Mauritania with difficulty by land. He
thence returned home, where he met with the fate not unusual to early
travellers. His whole story was doubted; and the geographers at home did
not believe that he had ever visited the countries that he attempted to

The people of Lower Egypt were, as we have seen, of several races; and,
as each of the surrounding nations was in its turn powerful, that race
of men was uppermost in Lower Egypt. Before the fall of Thebes the Kopts
ruled in the Delta; when the free states of Greece held the first rank
in the world, even before the time of Alexander's conquests, the Greeks
of Lower Egypt were masters of their fellow-countrymen; and now that
Judæa, under the bravery of the Maccabees, had gained among nations a
rank far higher than what its size entitled it to, the Egyptian Jews
found that they had in the same way gained weight in Alexandria.
Cleopatra had given the command of her army to two Jews, Chelcias and
Ananias, the sons of Onias, the priest of Heliopolis; and hence, when
the civil war broke out between the Jews and Samaritans, Cleopatra
helped the Jews, and perhaps for that reason Lathyrus helped the
Samaritans. He sent six thousand men to his friend, Antiochus Cyzicenus,
to be led against the Jews, but this force was beaten by the two sons of
Hyrcanus, the high priest.

By this act Lathyrus must have lost the good-will of the Jews of Lower
Egypt, and hence Cleopatra again ventured to choose her own partner on
the throne. She raised a riot in Alexandria against him, in the tenth
year of their reign, on his putting to death some of her friends, or
more likely, as Pausanias says, by showing to the people some of her
eunuchs covered with blood, who she said were wounded by him; and she
forced him to fly from Egypt. She took from him his wife, Selene, whom
she had before thrust upon him, and who had borne him two children; and
she allowed him to withdraw to the kingdom of Cyprus, from which place
she recalled her favourite son, Alexander, to reign with her in Egypt.


During these years the building was going forward of the beautiful
temple at the city, afterwards named by the Romans Contra-Latopolis, on
the other side of the Nile from Latopolis or Esne. Little now remains
of it but its massive portico, upheld by two rows of four columns each,
having the globe with outstretched wings carved on the overhanging
eaves. The earliest names found among the hieroglyphics with which its
walls are covered are those of Cleopatra Cocce and her son, Ptolemy
Soter, while the latest name is that of the Emperor Commodus. Even under
Cleopatra Cocce, who was nearly the worst of the family, the building of
these great temples did not cease.

The two sons were so far puppets in the hands of their clever mother,
that on the recall of Alexander no change was seen in the government
beyond that of the names which were placed at the head of the public
acts. The former year was called the tenth of Cleopatra and Ptolemy
Soter, and this year was called the eleventh of Cleopatra and eighth of
Ptolemy Alexander; as Alexander counted his years from the time when he
was sent with the title of king to Cyprus. As he was, like his brother,
under the guidance of his mother, he was like him in the hieroglyphical
inscriptions called _mother-loving_.

While the kingdoms of Egypt and Syria were alike weakened by civil wars
and by the vices of their kings, Judæa, as we have seen, had risen
under the wise government of the Maccabees to the rank of an independent
state; and latterly Aristobulus, the eldest son of Hyr-canus, and
afterwards Alexander Jannseus, his second son, had made themselves
kings. But Gaza, Ptolemaïs, and some other cities, bravely refused to
part with their liberty, and sent to Lathyrus, then King of Cyprus, for
help. This was not, however, done without many misgivings; for some were
wise enough to see that, if Lathyrus helped them, Cleopatra would, on
the other hand, help their king, Jannasus; and when Lathyrus landed at
Sicaminos with thirty thousand men, the citizens of Ptolemaïs refused
even to listen to a message from him.

The city of Gaza then eagerly sent for the help which the city of
Ptolemaïs refused. Lathyrus drove back Jannasus, and marched upon
Asochis, a city of Galilee, where he scaled the walls on the Sabbath
Day, and took ten thousand prisoners and a large booty. He then sat down
before the city of Saphoris, but left it on hearing that Jannasus was
marching against him on the other side of the Jordan, at the head of a
force larger than his own. He crossed the river in face of the Jewish
army, and routed it with great slaughter. The Jewish historian adds,
that between thirty and fifty thousand men were slain upon the field
of battle, and that the women and children of the neighbouring villages
were cruelly put to death.

Cleopatra now began to fear that her son Lathyrus would soon make
himself too powerful, if not checked in his career of success, and that
he might be able to march upon Egypt. She therefore mustered her forces,
and put them under the command of Chelcias and Ananias, her Jewish
generals. She sent her treasure, her will, and the children of
Alexander, to the island of Cos, as a place of safety, and then marched
with the army into Palestine, having sent forward her son Alexander with
the fleet. By this movement Lathyrus was unable to keep his ground in
Coele-Syria, and he took the bold step of marching towards Egypt. But
he was quickly followed by Chelcias, and his army was routed, though
Chelcias lost his life in the battle. Cleopatra, after taking Ptolemaïs,
sent part of her army to help that which had been led by Chelcias; and
Lathyrus was forced to shut himself up in Gaza. Soon after this the
campaign ended, by Lathyrus returning to Cyprus, and Cleopatra to Egypt.

On this success, Cleopatra was advised to seize upon the throne of
Jannseus, and again to add to Egypt the provinces of Palestine
and Coele-Syria, which had so long made part of the kingdom of her
forefathers. She yielded, however, to the reasons of her general
Ananias, for the Jews of Lower Egypt were too strong to be treated with
slight. It was by the help of the Jews that Cleopatra had driven her son
Lathyrus out of Egypt; they formed a large part of the Egyptian armies,
which were no longer even commanded by Greeks; and it must have been by
these clear and unanswerable reasons that Ananias was able to turn
the queen from the thoughts of this conquest, and to renew the league
between Egypt and Judæa.

Cleopatra, however, was still afraid that Lathyrus would be helped by
his friend Antiochus Cyzicenus to conquer Egypt, and she therefore kept
up the quarrel between the brothers by again sending troops to help
Antiochus Grypus; and lastly, she gave him in marriage her daughter
Selene, whom she had before forced upon Lathyrus. She then sent an
army against Cyprus; and Lathyrus was beaten and forced to fly from the

In the middle of this reign died Ptolemy Apion, King of Cyrene. He was
the half-brother of Lathyrus and Alexander, and, having been made King
of Cyrene by his father Euergetes II., he had there reigned quietly for
twenty years. Being between Egypt and Carthage, then called the Roman
province of Africa, and having no army which he could lead against the
Roman legions, he had placed himself under the guardianship of Rome; he
had bought a truce during his lifetime, by making the Roman people his
heirs in his will, so that on his death they were to have his kingdom.
Cyrene had been part of Egypt for above two hundred years, and was
usually governed by a younger son or brother of the king. But on the
death of Ptolemy Apion, the Roman senate, who had latterly been
grasping at everything within their reach, claimed his kingdom as their
inheritance, and in the flattering language of their decree by which the
country was enslaved, they declared Cyrene free. From that time forward
it was practically a province of Rome.

Ptolemy Alexander, who had been a mere tool in the hands of his mother,
was at last tired of his gilded chains; but he saw no means of throwing
them off, or of gaining that power in the state which his birth and
title, and the age which he had then reached, ought to have given him.
The army was in favour of his mother, and an unsuccessful effort would
certainly have been punished with death; so he took perhaps the only
path open to him: he left Egypt by stealth, and chose rather to quit his
throne and palace than to live surrounded by the creatures of his mother
and in daily fear for his life. Cleopatra might well doubt whether she
could keep her throne against both her sons, and she therefore sent
messengers with fair promises to Alexander, to ask him to return to
Egypt. But he knew his mother too well ever again to trust himself in
her hands; and while she was taking steps to have him put to death on
his return, he formed a plot against her life by letters. In this double
game Alexander had the advantage of his mother; her character was so
well known that he needed not to be told of what was going on; while she
perhaps thought that the son whom she had so long ruled as a child would
not dare to act as a man. Alexander's plot was of the two the best laid,
and on his reaching Egypt his mother was put to death.

But Alexander did not long enjoy the fruits of his murder. The next year
the Alexandrians rose against him in a fury. He was hated not so much
perhaps for the murder of his mother as for the cruelties which he had
been guilty of, or at least had to bear the blame of, while he reigned
with her. His own soldiers turned against him, and he was forced to seek
his safety by flying on board a vessel in the harbour, and he left Egypt
with his wife and daughter. He was followed by a fleet under the command
of Tyrrhus, but he reached Myrse, a city of Lycia, in safety; and
afterwards, in crossing over to Cyprus, he was met by an Egyptian fleet
under Chaereas, and killed in battle.

Though others may have been guilty of more crimes, Alexander had perhaps
the fewest good qualities of any of the family of the Lagidaa. During
his idle reign of twenty years, in which the crimes ought in fairness to
be laid chiefly to his mother, he was wholly given up to the lowest and
worst of pleasures, by which his mind and body were alike ruined. He was
so bloated with vice and disease that he seldom walked without crutches;
but at his feasts he could leap from his raised couch and dance with
naked feet upon the floor with the companions of his vices. He was
blinded by flattery, ruined by debauchery, and hated by the people.

His coins are not easily known from those of the other kings, which also
bore the name of "Ptolemy the king" round the eagle. Some of the coins
of his mother have the same words round the eagle on the one side,
while on the other is her head, with a helmet formed like the head of an
elephant, or her head with the name of "Queen Cleopatra" There are other
coins with the usual head of Jupiter, and with two eagles to point out
the joint sovereignty of herself and son.

Few buildings or parts of buildings mark the reign of Ptolemy Alexander;
but his name is not wholly unknown among the sculptures of Upper Egypt.
On the walls of the temple of Apollinopolis Magna he is represented
as making an offering to the god Horus. There the Egyptian artist has
carved a portrait of this Greek king, whom he perhaps had never seen,
clothed in a dress which he never wore, and worshipping a god whom he
may have hardly known by name.

History has not told us who was the first wife of Alexander, but he left
a son by her named after himself Ptolemy Alexander, whom we have seen
sent by his grandmother for safety to the island of Cos, the fortress
of the family, and a daughter whom he carried with him in his flight
to Lycia. His second wife was Cleopatra Berenicê, the daughter of his
brother Lathyrus, by whom he had no children, and who is called in the
hieroglyphics his queen and sister.


On the flight of Alexander, the Alexandrians sent an embassy to Cyprus
to bring back Soter II., or Lathyrus, as he is called; and he entered
Egypt without any opposition. He had reigned ten years with his mother,
and then eighteen years by himself in Cyprus; and during those years of
banishment had shown a wisdom and good behaviour which must have won
the esteem of the Alexandrians, when compared with his younger brother
Alexander. He had held his ground against the fleets and armies of his
mother, but either through weakness or good feeling had never invaded

His reign is remarkable for the rebellion and ruin of the once powerful
city of Thebes. It had long been falling in trade and in wealth, and had
lost its superiority in arms; but its temples, like so many citadels,
its obelisks, its colossal statues, and the tombs of its great kings
still remained, and with them the memory of its glory then gone by.


The hieroglyphics on the walls still recounted to its fallen priests
and nobles the provinces in Europe, Asia, and Africa which they once
governed, and the weight of gold, silver, and corn which these provinces
sent as a yearly tribute. The paintings and sculptures showed the men of
all nations and of all colours, from the Tatar of the north to the Negro
of the south, who had graced the triumphs of their kings: and with these
proud trophies before their eyes they had been bending under the yoke
of Euergetes II. and Cleopatra Cocce for about fifty years. So small a
measure of justice has usually been given to a conquered people by their
rulers, that their highest hopes have risen to nothing more than
an escape from excess of tyranny. If life, property, female honour,
national and religious feelings have not been constantly and wantonly
outraged, lesser evils have been patiently endured.

[Illustration: 276.jpg THE MEMNONIUM AT THEBES]

Political servitude, heavy taxes, daily ill-treatment, and occasional
cruelty the Thebans had borne for two centuries and a half under their
Greek masters, as no less the lot of humanity than poverty, disease, and
death. But under the government of Cleopatra Cocce the measure of
their injuries overflowed, and taking advantage of the revolutions in
Alexandria, a large part of Upper Egypt rose in rebellion.

We can therefore hardly wonder that when Lathyrus landed in Egypt, and
tried to recall the troubled cities to quiet government and good order,
Thebes should have refused to obey. The spirit of the warriors who
followed Ramses to the shores of the Black Sea was not quite dead. For
three years the brave Kopts, entrenched within their temples, every one
of which was a castle, withstood his armies; but the bows, the hatchets,
and the chariots could do little against Greek arms; while the overthrow
of the massive temple walls, and the utter ruin of the city, prove
how slowly they yielded to greater skill and numbers, and mark the
conqueror's distrust lest the temples should be again so made use of.
Perhaps the only time before when Thebes had been stormed after a long
siege was when it first fell under the Persians; and the ruin which
marked the footsteps of Cambyses had never been wholly repaired. But the
wanton cruelty of the foreigners did little mischief, when compared with
the unpitying and unforgiving distrust of the native conquerors. The
temples of Tentyra, Apollinopolis, Latopolis, and Philæ show that the
massive Egyptian buildings, when let alone, can withstand the wear
of time for thousands of years; but the harder hand of man works much
faster, and the wide acres of Theban ruins prove alike the greatness
of the city and the force with which it was overthrown; and this is the
last time that Egyptian Thebes is met with in the pages of history.

The traveller, whose means and leisure have allowed him to reach the
spot, now counts the Arab villages which have been built within the
city's bounds, and perhaps pitches his tent in the open space in the
middle of them. But the ruined temples still stand to call forth his
wonder. They have seen the whole portion of time of which history keeps
the reckoning roll before them; they have seen kingdoms and nations rise
and fall: Babylonians, Assyrians, Hebrews, Persians, Greeks, and Romans.
They have seen the childhood of all that we call ancient; and they still
seem likely to stand, to tell their tale to those who will hereafter
call us ancients. After this rebellion, Lathyrus reigned in quiet, and
was even able to be of use to his Greek allies; and the Athenians, in
gratitude, set up statues of bronze to him and Berenicê, his daughter.

During this reign, the Romans were carrying on a war with Mithridates,
King of Pontus, in Asia Minor; and Sulla, who was then at the head
of the republic, sent Lucullus, the soldier, the scholar, and the
philosopher, as ambassador to Alexandria, to ask for help against the
enemy. The Egyptian fleet moved out of harbour to meet him, a pomp
which the kings of Egypt had before kept for themselves alone. Lathyrus
received him on shore with the greatest respect, lodged him in the
palace, and invited him to his own table, an honour which no foreigner
had enjoyed since the kings of Egypt had thrown aside the plain manners
of the first Ptolemies. Lucullus had brought with him the philosopher
Antiochus of Athens, who had been the pupil of Philo, and they found
time to enjoy the society of Dion, the academic philosopher, who was
then teaching at Alexandria; and there they might have been seen with
Heraclitus of Tyre, talking together about the changes which were
creeping into the Platonic philosophy, and about the two newest works of
Philo, which had just come to Alexandria. Antiochus could not read them
without showing his anger: such sceptical opinions had never before been
heard of in the Academy; but they knew the handwriting of Philo, they
were certainly his. Selius and Tetrilius, who were there, had heard him
teach the same opinions at Rome, whither he had fled, and where he was
then teaching Cicero. The next day, the matter was again talked over
with Lucullus, Heraclitus, Aristus of Athens, Ariston, and Dion; and it
ended in Antiochus writing a book, which he named Sosus, against those
new opinions of his old master, against the new Academy, and in behalf
of the old Academy.

Lathyrus understood the principles of the balance of power and his own
interest too well to help the Romans to crush Mithridates, and he wisely
wished not to quarrel with either. He therefore at once made up his mind
not to grant the fleet which Lucullus had been sent to ask for. It
had been usual for the kings of Egypt to pay the expenses of the Roman
ambassadors while living in Alexandria; and Lathyrus offered four
times the usual allowance to Lucullus, beside eighty talents of silver.
Lucullus, however, would take nothing beyond his expenses, and returned
the gifts, which were meant as a civil refusal of the fleet; and, having
failed in his embassy, he sailed hastily for Cyprus, leaving the wonders
of Egypt unvisited. Lathyrus sent a fleet of honour to accompany him on
his voyage, and gave him his portrait cut in an emerald. Mithridates
was soon afterwards conquered by the Romans; and it was only by skilful
embassies and well-timed bribes that Lathyrus was able to keep off
the punishment which seemed to await him for having thus disobeyed the
orders of Sulla. Egypt was then the only kingdom, to the west of Persia,
that had not yet bowed its neck under the Roman yoke.

The coins of Lathyrus are not easily or certainly known from those of
the other Ptolemies; but those of his second wife bear her head on the
one side, with the name of "Queen Selene," and on the other side the
eagle, with the name of "King Ptolemy."

[Illustration: 280.jpg COIN OF Ptolemy Lathyrus AND SELENE.]

He had before reigned ten years with his mother, and after his brother's
death he reigned six years and a half more, but, as he counted the years
that he had reigned in Cyprus, he died in the thirty-seventh year of
his reign. He left a daughter named Berenicê, and two natural sons, each
named Ptolemy, one of whom reigned in Cyprus, and the other, nicknamed
Auletes, _the piper_, afterwards gained the throne of Egypt.

On the death of Lathyrus, or Ptolemy Soter II., his daughter Cleopatra
Berenicê, the widow of Ptolemy Alexander, mounted the throne of Egypt
in B.C. 80; but it was also claimed by her stepson, the young Alexander,
who was then living in Rome. Alexander had been sent to the island of
Cos, as a place of safety, when his grandmother Cleopatra Cocce followed
her army into Coele-Syria. But, as the Egyptians had lost the command of
the sea, the royal treasure in Cos was no longer out of danger, and the
island was soon afterwards taken by Mithridates, King of Pontus, who
had conquered Asia Minor. Among the treasures in that island the
Alexandrians lost one of the sacred relics of the kingdom, the chlamys
or war-cloak which had belonged to Alexander the Great, and which they
had kept with religious care as the safeguard of the empire. It then
fell into the hands of Mithridates, and on his overthrow it became
the prize of Pompey, who wore it in his triumph at the end of the
Mithridatic war. With this chlamys, as had always been foretold by the
believers in wonders, Egypt lost its rank among nations, and the command
of the world passed to the Romans, who now possessed this time-worn
symbol of sovereignty.

Alexander also at that time fell into the hands of Mithridates; but he
afterwards escaped, and reached the army of Sulla, under whose care he
lived for some time in Rome. The Alexandrian prince hoped to gain the
throne of his father by means of the friendship of one who could make
and unmake kings at his pleasure; and Sulla might have thought that the
wealth of Egypt would be at his command by means of his young friend. To
these reasons Alexander added the bribe which was then becoming common
with the princes who held their thrones by the help of Rome, he made a
will, in which he named the Roman people as his heirs; and the senate
then took care that the kingdom of Egypt should be a part of the wealth
which was afterwards to be theirs by inheritance. After Berenicê,
his stepmother, had been queen about six months, they sent him to
Alexandria, with orders that he should be received as king; and, to
soften the harshness of this command, he was told to marry Berenicê, and
reign jointly with her.

The orders of Sulla, the Roman dictator, were of course obeyed; and the
young Alexander landed at Alexandria, as King of Egypt and the friend of
Rome. He married Berenicê; and on the nineteenth day of his reign, with
a cruelty unfortunately too common in this history, he put her to death.
The marriage had been forced upon him by the Romans, who ordered all the
political affairs of the kingdom; but, as they took no part in the civil
or criminal affairs, he seems to have been at liberty to murder his
wife. But Alexander was hated by the people as a king thrust upon them
by foreign arms; and Berenicê, whatever they might have before thought
of her, was regretted as the queen of their choice. Hence his crime met
with its reward. His own guards immediately rose upon him; they dragged
him from the palace to the gymnasium, and there put him to death.

Though the Romans had already seized the smaller kingdom of Cyrene under
the will of Ptolemy Apion, they could not agree among themselves upon
the wholesale robbery of taking Egypt under the will which Alexander had
made in their favour. They seized, however, a paltry sum of money which
he had left at Tyre as a place of safety; and it was a matter of debate
for many years afterwards in Rome, whether they should not claim the
kingdom of Egypt. But the nobles of Rome, who sold their patronage to
kings for sums equal to the revenues of provinces, would have lost much
by handing the kingdom over to the senate. Hence the Egyptian monarchy
was left standing for two reigns longer.

On the death of Ptolemy Alexander, the Alexandrians might easily have
changed their weak and wicked rulers, and formed a government for
themselves, if they had known how. The legitimate male line of the
Ptolemies came to an end on the death of the young Alexander II. The
two natural sons of Soter II. were then the next in succession; and, as
there was no other claimant, the crown fell to the elder. He was young,
perhaps even a minor under the age of fourteen. His claims had been
wholly overlooked at the death of his father; for though by the Egyptian
law every son was held to be equally legitimate, it was not so by the
Macedonian law. He took the name of Neus Dionysus, or the young Osiris,
as we find it written in the hieroglyphics, though he is usually called
Auletes, _the piper_; a name afterwards given him because he was more
proud of his skill in playing on the flute than of his very slender
knowledge of the art of governing.

It was in this reign that the historian Diodorus Siculus travelled in
Egypt, and wrote his account of the manners and religion of the people.
What he tells us of the early Egyptian history is of little value when
compared with the history by Manetho, who was a native of the country
and could read the hieroglyphic records, or even with that by Herodotus;
but nevertheless he deserves great praise, and our warmest thanks, for
being nearly the first Greek writer when Egyptian learning could no
longer be thought valuable; when the religion, though looked down upon,
might at any rate be studied with ease--for being nearly the first
writer who thought the manners of this ancient people, after they
had almost passed off the page of history, worth the notice of a

Diodorus never quotes Manetho, but follows Herodotus in making one
great hero for the chief actions of antiquity, whom he calls Sesoosis or
Sesonchosis. To him he assigns every great work of which the author was
unknown, the canals in the Delta, the statue of Amenhôthes III., the
obelisks of Ramses II., the distant navigation under Necho, the mounds
and trenches dug against Assyrian and Persian invasion, and even the
great ship of Ptolemy Philopator; and not knowing that Southern Arabia
and even Ethiopia had by the Alexandrians been sometimes called India,
he says that this hero conquered even India beyond the Ganges. On the
other hand, the fabulous conquest of the great serpent, the enemy of the
human race, which we see sculptured on the sarcophagus of Oimenepthah,
he describes as an historic fact of the reign of Ptolemy Philadelphus.
He tells us how this huge beast, forty-five feet long, was beaten down
by troops of archers, slingers, and cavalry, and brought alive in a
net to Alexandria, where Eve's old enemy was shown in a cage for the
amusement of the curious citizens.

Memphis was then a great city; in its crowded streets, its palaces and
temples, it was second only to Alexandria. A little to the west stood
the pyramids, which were thought one of the seven wonders of the world.
Their broad bases, sloping sides, and solid masonry had withstood the
weather for ages; and their huge unwieldy stones were a less easy quarry
for after builders than the live rock when nearer to the river's side.
The priests of Memphis knew the names of the kings who, one after the
other, had built a new portico to their great temple of Phtah; but as to
when or by whom the pyramids were built, they had perhaps less knowledge
than the present day historian. The modern Egyptologist, with his
patient investigation, assigns the largest of these three pyramids to
Khûfûi or Kheops, a famous ruler of the fourth dynasty, and the others
were erected by his immediate successors. The temple of Phtah, and every
other building of Memphis, is now gone, and near the spot stands the
great city of Cairo, whose mosques and minarets have been quarried of
its ruins, but the pyramids still stand, after fifty-six centuries of
broken and changing history, unbroken and unchanged. They have outlived
any portion of time that their builders could have dreamed of, but their
worn surface no longer declares to us their builders' names and history.
Their sloping sides, formed to withstand attacks, have not saved the
inscriptions which they once held; and the builders, in thus overlooking
the reed which was growing in their marshes, the papyrus, to which the
great minds of Greece afterwards trusted their undying names, have only
taught us how much safer it would have been, in their wish to be
thought of and talked of in after ages, to have leaned upon the poet and

The beautiful temples of Dendera and Latopolis, which were raised by the
untiring industry of ages and finished, under the Roman emperors, were
begun about this reign. Though some of the temples of Lower Egypt had
fallen into decay; and though the throne was then tottering to its fall,
the priests in Upper Egypt were still building for immortality. The
religion of the Kopts was still flourishing.

The Egyptian's opinion of the creation was the growth of his own river's
bank. The thoughtful man, who saw the Nile every year lay a body of
solid manure upon his field, was able to measure against the walls of
the old temples that the ground was slowly but certainly rising. An
increase of the earth was being brought about by the river. Hence he
readily believed that the world itself had of old been formed out of
water, and by means of water. The philosophers were nearly of the same
opinion. They held that matter was itself eternal, like the other gods,
and that our world, in the beginning, before it took any shape upon
itself, was like thin mud, or a mass of water containing all things that
were afterwards to be brought forth out of it. When the water had by its
divine will separated itself from the earth, then the great Ra, the sun,
sent down his quickening heat, and plants and animals came forth out of
the wet-land, as the insects are spawned out of the fields, before
the eyes of the husbandman, every autumn after the Nile's overflow
has retreated. The crafty priests of the Nile declared that they had
themselves visited and dwelt in the caverns beneath the river, where
these treasures, while yet unshaped, were kept in store and waiting to
come into being.


And on the days sacred to the Nile, boys, the children of priestly
families, were every year dedicated to the blue river-god that they
might spend their youth in monastic retirement, and as it was said in
these caverns beneath his waves. These early Egyptian myths seem to have
influenced the compilers of the Hebrew Scriptures. The author of the
book of Genesis tells us that the Hebrew God formed the earth and its
inhabitants by dividing the land from the water, and then commanding
them both to bring forth living creatures; and again one of the
Psalmists says that his substance, while yet imperfect, was by the
Creator curiously wrought in the lowest depths of the earth. The Hebrew
writer, however, never thinks that any part of the creation was its own
creator. But in the Egyptian philosophy sunshine and the river Nile are
themselves the divine agents; and hence fire and water received divine
honours, as the two purest of the elements; and every day when the
temple of Serapis in Alexandria was opened, the singer standing on the
steps of the portico sprinkled water over the marble floor while he held
forth the fire to the people; and though he and most of his hearers were
Greeks, he called upon the god in the Egyptian language.

The inner walls of the temples glittered with gold and silver and amber,
and sparkled with gems from Ethiopia and India; and the recesses were
veiled with rich curtains. The costliness was often in striking contrast
with the chief inmate, much to the surprise of the Greek traveller,
who, having leave to examine a temple, had entered the sacred rooms, and
asked to be shown the image of the god for whose sake it was built. One
of the priests in waiting then approached with a solemn look, chanting
a hymn, and pulling aside the veil allowed him to peep in at a snake,
a crocodile, or a cat, or some other beast, fitter to inhabit a bog or
cavern than to lie on a purple cushion in a stately palace. The funerals
of the sacred animals were celebrated with great pomp, particularly that
of the bull Apis; and at a cost, in one case, of one hundred talents,
or eighty-five thousand dollars, which was double what Ptolemy Soter,
in his wish to please his new subjects, spent upon the Apis of his day.
After the funeral the priests looked for a calf with the right spots,
and when they had found one they fattened it for forty days, and brought
it to Memphis in a boat under a golden awning, and lodged it safely in
the temple.


The religious feelings of the Egyptians were much warmer and stronger
than those of the Greeks or Romans; they have often been accused of
eating one another, but never of eating a sacred animal. Once a year the
people of Memphis celebrated the birthday of Apis with great pomp
and expense, and one of the chief ceremonies on the occasion was
the throwing a golden dish into the Nile. During the week that these
rejoicings lasted, while the sacred river was appeased by gifts, the
crocodile was thought to lose its fierceness, its teeth were harmless,
and it never attempted to bite; and it was not till six o'clock on the
eighth day that this animal again became an object of fear to those
whose occupations brought them to the banks of the Nile. Once a year
also the statues of the gods were removed from their pedestals and
placed in barges, and thus carried in solemn procession along the Nile,
and only brought back to the temples after some days. It was supposed
that the gods were passing these days on a visit to the righteous

The cat was at all times one of the animals held most sacred by the
Egyptians. In the earliest and latest times we find the statues of their
goddesses with cats' heads. The cats of Alexandria were looked upon as
so many images of Neith or the Minerva of Saïs, a goddess worshipped
both by Greeks and Egyptians; and it passed into a proverb with the
Greeks, when they spoke of any two things being unlike, to say that
they were as much like one another as a cat was to Minerva. It is to
Alexandria also that we trace the story of a cat turned into a lady to
please a prince who had fallen in love with it. The lady, however, when
dressed in her bridal robes, could not help scampering about the room
after a mouse seen upon the floor; and when Plutarch was in Egypt it had
already become a proverb, that any one in too much finery was as awkward
as a cat in a crocus-coloured robe.

So deeply rooted in the minds of the Egyptians was the worship of these
animals that, when a Roman soldier had killed a cat unawares, though
the Romans were masters of the country, the people rose against him in a
fury. In vain the king sent a message to quiet the mob, to let them know
that the cat was killed by accident; and, though the fear of Rome would
most likely have saved a Roman soldier unharmed whatever other crime he
might have been guilty of, in this case nothing would quiet the people
but his death, and he was killed before the eyes of Diodorus, the
historian. One nation rises above another not so much from its greater
strength or skill in arms as from its higher aim and stronger wish for
power. The Egyptians, we see, had not lost their courage, and when the
occasion called them out they showed a fearlessness not unworthy of
their Theban forefathers; on seeing a dead cat in the streets they rose
against the king's orders and the power of Rome; had they thought their
own freedom or their country's greatness as much worth fighting for,
they could perhaps have gained them.


But the Egyptians had no civil laws or rights that they cared about;
they had nothing left that they valued but their religion, and this the
Romans took good care not to meddle with. Had the Romans made war upon
the priests and temples, as the Persians had done, they would perhaps in
the same way have been driven out of Egypt: but they never shocked the
religious feelings of the people, and even after Egypt had become a
Roman province, when the beautiful temples of Esne, Dendera, and other
cities, were dedicated in the names of the Roman emperors, they seldom
copied the example of Philometor, and put Greek, much less Roman,
writing on the portico, but continued to let the walls be covered with
hieroglyphical inscriptions.

The Egyptians, when rich enough to pay for it, still had the bodies of
their friends embalmed at their death, and made into mummies; though
the priests, to save part of the cost, often put the mummy of a man just
dead into a mummy-case which had been made and used in the reign of a
Thûtmosis or an Amenhôthes. They thought that every man at his death
took upon himself the character of Osiris, that the nurses who laid out
the dead body represented the goddesses Isis and Nepthys, while the man
who made the mummy was supposed to be the god Anubis. When the embalming
was finished, it was part of the funeral to bring the dead man to trial
for what he had done when living, and thus to determine whether he was
entitled to an honourable burial. The mummy was ferried across the lake
belonging to the temple, and taken before the judge Osiris. A pair of
scales was brought forth by the dog-headed Anubis and the hawk-headed
Horus; and with this they weighed the past life of the deceased. The
judge, with the advice of a jury of forty-two, then pronounced the
solemn verdict, which was written down by the ibis-headed Thot. But
human nature is the same in all ages and in all countries, and, whatever
might have been the past life of the dead, the judge, not to hurt the
feelings of the friends, always declared that he was "a righteous and
a good man:" and, notwithstanding the show of truth in the trial, it
passed into a proverb to say of a wicked man, that he was too bad to be
praised even at his funeral. This custom of embalming was thought right
by all; but from examining the mummies that have come down to us, it
would seem to have been very much confined to the priestly families, and
seldom used in the case of children. The mummies, however, were highly
valued by the survivors of the family, and when from poverty any man was
driven to borrow money, the mummies were thought good security by the
lender, and taken as such for the loan.

[Illustration: 293.jpg MUMMY, MUMMY-CASES, AND CASKET]

The mummy-cases indeed could be sold for a large sum, as when made of
wood they were covered with painting, and sometimes in part gilt, and
often three in number, one enclosing the other. The stone mummy-cases
were yet more valuable, as they were either of white alabaster or
hard black basalt, beautifully polished, in either case carved with
hieroglyphics, and modelled to the shape of the body like the inner
wooden cases.

It is interesting to note here that the pigment known to modern art
by the name of mummy is, in many cases, actually prepared from the
bituminous substances preserved within the wrappings of the ancient
mummies. The grinding up of mummies imported from Thebes or Memphis
for the purpose of enabling the twentieth century painter to paint the
golden tresses of contemporary belles is of course not very extensively
carried on, for one mummy will make several thousand tubes of paint,
but the practice exists, and of late has been protested against both in
England and France.

Though the old laws of Egypt must very much have fallen into disuse
during the reigns of the latter Ptolemies, they had at least been left
unchanged; and they teach us that the shadow of freedom may be seen, as
in Rome under the Cæsars, and in Florence under the Medici, long after
the substance has been lost. In quarrels between man and man, the thirty
judges, from the cities of Thebes, Memphis, and Heliopolis, were still
guided by the eight books of the law. The king, the priests, and the
soldiers were the only landholders in the country, while the herdsmen,
husbandmen, and handicraftsmen were thought of lower caste. Though the
armies of Egypt were for the most part filled with Greek mercenaries,
and the landholders of the order of soldiers could then have had as
little to do with arms as knights and esquires have in our days, yet
they still boasted of the wisdom of their laws, by which arms were only
to be trusted to men who had a stake in the country worth fighting for.
The old manners had long since passed away. The priests alone obeyed the
old marriage law, that a man should have only one wife. Other men, when
rich enough, married several. All children were held equally legitimate,
whatever woman was the mother.


It is to these latter reigns of the Ptolemies, when high feeling was
sadly wanting in all classes of society, when literature and art were
alike in a very low state, that we may place the rise of caricature in
Egypt. We find drawings made on papyrus to scoff at what the nation used
to hold sacred. The sculptures on the walls of the temples are copied in
little; and cats, dogs, and monkeys are there placed in the attitudes of
the gods and kings of old. In one picture we have the mice attacking a
castle defended by the cats, copied from a battle-scene of Ramses II.
fighting against the Ethiopians. In another the king on his throne as
a dog, with a second dog behind him as a fan-bearer, is receiving the
sacred offerings from a cat. In a third the king and queen are seen
playing at chess or checkers in the form of a lion playing with a
unicorn or horned ass.

We may form some opinion of the wealth of Egypt in its more prosperous
times when we learn from Cicero that in this reign, when the Romans had
good means of knowing, the revenues of the country amounted to twelve
thousand five hundred talents, or ten million dollars; just one-half of
which wras paid by the port of Alexandria. This was at a time when the
foreign trade had, through the faults of the government, sunk down to
its lowest ebb; when not more than twenty ships sailed each year from
the Red Sea to India; when the free population of the kingdom had so far
fallen off that it was not more than three millions, which was only half
of what it had been in the reign of Ptolemy Soter, though Alexandria
alone still held three hundred thousand persons.

But, though much of the trade of the country was lost, though many of
the royal works had ceased, though the manufacture of the finer linen
had left the country, the digging in the gold mines, the favourite
source of wealth to a despot, never ceased. Night and day in the mines
near the Golden Berenicê did slaves, criminals, and prisoners of war
work without pause, chained together in gangs, and guarded by soldiers,
who were carefully chosen for their not being able to speak the language
of these unhappy workmen.

[Illustration: 297.jpg THE MINES OF MAGHARA]

The rock which held the gold was broken up into small pieces; when hard
it was first made brittle in the fire; the broken stone was then washed
to separate the waste from the heavier grains which held the gold; and,
lastly, the valuable parts when separated were kept heated in a furnace
for five days, at the end of which time the pure gold was found melted
into a button at the bottom. But the mines were nearly worn out; and
the value of the gold was a very small part of the thirty-five million
dollars which they are said to have yielded every year in the reign of
Ramses II.

As Auletes felt himself hardly safe upon the throne, his first wish was
to get himself acknowledged as king by the Roman senate. For this end he
sent to Rome a large sum of money to buy the votes of the senators,
and he borrowed a further sum of Rabirius Posthumus, one of the richest
farmers of the Roman taxes, which he spent on the same object. But
though the Romans never tried to turn him out of his kingdom, he did not
get the wished-for decree before he went to Rome in the twenty-fourth
year of his reign. But we know nothing of the first years of his reign.
A nation must be in a very demoralised state when its history disproves
the saying, that the people are happy while their annals are short.
There was more virtue and happiness, and perhaps even less bloodshed,
with the stir of mind while Ptolemy Soter was at war with Antigonus than
during this dull, un-warlike, and vicious time. The king gave himself up
to his natural bent for pleasure and debauchery. At times when virtue is
uncopied and unrewarded it is usually praised and let alone; but in this
reign sobriety was a crime in the eyes of the king, a quiet behaviour
was thought a reproach against his irregularities. The Platonic
philosopher Demetrius was in danger of being put to death because it
was told to the king that he never drank wine, and had been seen at the
feast of Bacchus in his usual dress, while every other man was in the
dress of a woman. But the philosopher was allowed to disprove the charge
of sobriety, or at least to make amends for his fault; and, on the king
sending for him the next day, he made himself drunk publicly in the
sight of all the court, and danced with cymbals in a loose dress of
Tarentine gauze. But so few are the deeds worth mentioning in the
falling state that we are pleased even to be told that, in the one
hundred and seventy-eighth Olympiad, Strato of Alexandria conquered in
the Olympic games and was crowned in the same day for wrestling, and
for _pancratium_, or wrestling and boxing joined, these sports being
considered among the most honourable in which athletes could contend.

In the thirteenth year of this reign (B.C. 68), when the war against the
pirates called for the whole naval force of Rome, Pompey sent a fleet
under Lentulus Marcellinus to clear the coast and creeks of Egypt from
these robbers. The Egyptian government was too weak to guard its own
trade; and Lentulus in his consulship put the Ptolemaic eagle and
thunderbolt on his coins, to show that he had exercised an act of
sovereignty. Three years later, we again meet with the eagle and
thunderbolt on the consular coins of Aurelius Cotta; and we learn from
Cicero that in that year it was found necessary to send a fleet to
Alexandria to enforce the orders of the senate.

We next find the Roman senate debating whether they should not seize the
kingdom as their inheritance under the wall of Ptolemy Alexander II.,
but, moved by the bribes of Auletes, and perhaps by other reasons which
we are not told, they forbore to grasp the prize. In this difficulty
Auletes was helped by the great Pompey, to whom he had sent an embassy
with a golden crown wrorth four thousand pieces of gold, which met him
at Damascus on his Syrian campaign. He then formed a secret treaty with
Mithridates, King of Pontus, who was engaged in warfare with the Romans,
their common enemy. Auletes was now a widower with six young children,
and Mithridates had two daughters; and accordingly it was agreed that
one daughter should be married to Auletes, and the other to his brother,
the King of Cyprus. But the ruin and death of Mithridates broke off the
marriages; and Auletes was able to conceal from the Romans that he had
ever formed an alliance with their enemy.

In the year which was made famous by the consulship of Cicero, Jerusalem
was taken by the Roman army under Pompey; and Judæa, which had enjoyed
a shortlived freedom of less than one hundred years under the Maccabees,
was then put under a Roman governor. The fortifications of the temple
were destroyed. This was felt by the Jews of Lower Egypt as a heavy
blow, and from this time their sufferings in that country began. While
their brethren had been lords of Judæa, they had held up their heads
with the Greeks in Alexandria, but upon the fall of Jerusalem they sunk
down to the rank of the Egyptians. They thought worse of themselves,
and they were thought worse of by others. The Egyptian Jews were very
closely allied to the people of the Delta. Though they had been again
and again warned by their prophets not to mix with the Egyptians, they
seem not to have listened to the warning. They were in many religious
points less strict than their brethren in Judæa. The living in Egypt,
the building a second temple, and the using a Greek Bible, were all
breaches, if not of the law, at least of the tradition. They surrounded
their synagogues with sacred groves, which were clearly forbidden by
Moses. Though they were not guilty of worshipping images, yet they did
not think it wrong to have portraits and statues of themselves. In their
dislike of pork, in their washings, and in other Eastern customs, they
were like the Egyptians; and hence the Greeks, who thought them both
barbarians, very grudgingly yielded to them the privileges of choosing
their own magistrates, of having their own courts of justice, and
the other rights of citizenship which the policy of the Ptolemies
had granted. The Jews, on the other hand, in whose eyes religion was
everything, saw the Greeks and Egyptians worshipping the same gods and
the same sacred animals, and felt themselves as far above the Greeks in
those branches of philosophy which arise out of religion as they were
below them in that rank which is gained by success in war. Hence it was
with many heartburnings, and not without struggles which shed blood
in the streets of Alexandria, that they found themselves, in the years
which ushered in the Christian era, sinking down to the level of the
Egyptians, and losing one by one the rights of Macedonian citizenship.

During these years Auletes had been losing his friends and weakening
his government, and, at last, when he refused to quarrel with the senate
about the island of Cyprus, the Egyptians rose against him in arms, and
he was forced to fly from Alexandria. He took ship for Rome, and in his
way there he met Cato, who was at Rhodes on his voyage to Cyprus. He
sent to Cato to let him know that he was in the city, and that he wished
to see him. But the Roman sent word back that he was unwell, and that
if the king wanted to speak to him he must come himself. This was not
a time for Auletes to quarrel with a senator, when he was on his way
to Rome to beg for help against his subjects; so he was forced to go
to Cato's lodgings, who did not even rise from his seat when the king
entered the room. But this treatment was not quite new to Auletes; in
his flight from Alexandria, in disguise and without a servant, he had
had to eat brown bread in the cottage of a peasant; and he now learned
how much more irksome it was to wait upon the pleasure of a Roman
senator. Cato gave him the best advice; that, instead of going to Rome,
where he would find that all the wealth of Egypt would be thought
a bribe too small for the greediness of the senators whose votes he
wanted, he would do better to return to Alexandria, and make peace with
his rebellious subjects. Auletes, however, went on to Italy, and he
arrived at Rome in the twenty-fourth year of his reign; and in the
three years that he spent there in courting and bribing the senators, he
learned the truth of Cato's statements, and the value of his advice.

His brother Ptolemy, who was reigning in Cyprus, was not even so well
treated. The Romans passed a law making that wealthy island a Roman
province, no doubt upon the plea of the will of Alexander II. and the
king's illegitimacy; and they sent Cato, rather against his will, to
turn Ptolemy out of his kingdom. Ptolemy gave up the island without Cato
being called upon to use force, and in return the Romans made him high
priest in the temple of the Paphian Venus; but he soon put himself to
death by poison. Canidius Crassus, who had been employed by Cato in
this affair, may have had some fighting at sea with the Egyptians, as
on one of his coins we see on one side a crocodile, and on the other the
prow of a ship, as if he had beaten the Egyptian fleet in the mouth of
the Nile.

On the flight of their king, the rebellious Alexandrians set on
the throne the two eldest of his daughters, Cleopatra Tryphaena and
Berenicê, and sent an embassy, at the head of which was Dion, the
academic philosopher, to plead their cause at Rome against the king. But
the gold of Auletes had already gained the senate; and Cicero spoke, on
his behalf, one of his great speeches, now unfortunately lost, in which
he rebutted the charge that Auletes was at all to be blamed for the
death of Alexander, whom he thought justly killed by his guards for the
murder of his queen and kinswoman. Cæsar, whose year of consulship was
then drawing to an end, took his part warmly; and Auletes became in debt
to him in the sum of seventeen million drachmas, or nearly two and a
half million dollars, either for money lent to bribe the senators, or
for bonds then given to Cæsar instead of money. By these means Auletes
got his title acknowledged; the door of the senate was shut against
the Alexandrian ambassadors; and the philosopher Dion, the head of the
embassy, was poisoned in Rome by the slaves of his friend Lucceius, in
whose house he was dwelling. But nevertheless, Auletes was not able to
get an army sent to help him against his rebellious subjects and his
daughters; nor was Cæsar able to get from the senate, for the employment
of his proconsular year, the task of replacing Auletes on the throne.

This high employment was then sought for both by Lentulus and by Pompey.
The senate at first leaned in favour of the former; and he would perhaps
have gained it if the Roman creditors of Auletes, who were already
trembling for their money, had not bribed openly in favour of Pompey,
as the more powerful of the two. On Pompey, therefore, the choice of
the senate at last fell. Pompey then took Auletes into his house, as his
friend and guest, and would have got orders to lead him back into his
kingdom at the head of a Roman army had not the tribunes of the people,
fearing any addition to Pompey's great power, had recourse to their
usual state-engine, the Sibylline books; and the pontifex, at their
bidding, publicly declared that it was written in those sacred pages
that the King of Egypt should have the friendship of Rome, but should
not be helped with an army.

But though Lentulus and Pompey were each strong enough to stop the other
from having this high command, Auletes was not without hopes that some
Roman general would be led, by the promise of money, and by the honour,
to undertake his cause, though it would be against the laws of Rome to
do so without orders from the senate. Cicero then took him under his
protection, and carried him in a litter of state to his villa at Baiæ,
and wrote to Lentulus, the proconsul of Cilicia and Cyprus, strongly
urging him to snatch the glory of replacing Auletes on the throne, and
of being the patron of the King of Egypt. But Lentulus seems not to have
chosen to run the risk of so far breaking the laws of his country.

Auletes then went, with pressing letters from Pompey, to Gabinius, the
proconsul of Syria, and offered him the large bribe of ten thousand
talents, or seven and a half million dollars, if he would lead the Roman
army into Egypt, and replace him on the throne. Most of the officers
were against this undertaking; but the letters of Pompey, the advice of
Mark Antony, the master of the horse, and perhaps the greatness of the
bribe, outweighed those cautious opinions.

While Auletes had been thus pleading his cause at Rome and with the
army, Cleopatra Tryphæna, the elder of the two queens, had died; and, as
no one of the other children of Auletes was old enough to be joined with
Berenicê on the throne, the Alexandrians sent to Syria for Seleucus, the
son of Antiochus Grypus and of Selene, the sister of Lathyrus, to come
to Egypt and marry Berenicê. He was low-minded in all his pleasures and
tastes, and got the nickname of _Cybiosactes_, the scullion. He was
even said to have stolen the golden sarcophagus in which the body of
Alexander was buried; and was so much disliked by his young wife that
she had him strangled on the fifth day after their marriage. Berenicê
then married Archelaus, a son of Mithridates Eupator, King of Pontus;
and she had reigned one year with her sister and two years with her
husbands when the Roman army brought back her father, Ptolemy Auletes,
into Egypt.

Gabinius, on marching, gave out as an excuse for quitting the province
entrusted to him by the senate, that it was in self-defence; and that
Syria was in danger from the Egyptian fleet commanded by Archelaus. He
was accompanied by a Jewish army under the command of Antipator, sent by
Hyrcanus, whom the Romans had just made governor of Judæa. Mark Antony
was sent forward with the horse, and routed the Egyptian army near
Pelusium, and then entered the city with Auletes. The king, in the
cruelty of his revenge, wished to put the citizens to the sword, and was
only stopped by Antony's forbidding it. The Egyptian army was at this
time in the lowest state of discipline; it was the only place where the
sovereign was not despotic. The soldiers, who prized the lawlessness of
their trade even more than its pay, were a cause of fear only to their
fellow-citizens. When Archelaus led them out against the Romans, and
ordered them to throw up a trench around their camp, they refused to
obey; they said that ditch-making was not work for soldiers, but that
it ought to be done at the cost of the state. Hence, when on this first
success Gabinius followed with the body of the army, he easily conquered
the rest of the country and put to death Berenicê and Archelaus. He then
led back the army into his province of Syria, but left behind him a body
of troops under Lucius Septimius to guard the throne of Auletes and to
check the risings of the Alexandrians.

Gabinius had refused to undertake this affair, which was the more
dangerous because against the laws of Rome, unless the large bribe were
first paid down in money. He would take no promises; and Auletes, who in
his banishment had no money at his command, had to borrow it of some one
who would listen to his large promises of after payment. He found this
person in Rabirius Posthumus, who had before lent him money, and who saw
that it would be all lost unless Auletes regained the throne. Rabirius
therefore lent him all he was worth, and borrowed the rest from his
friends; and as soon as Auletes was on the throne, he went to Alexandria
to claim his money and his reward.

[Illustration: 309.jpg VOCAL STATUE OF MEMNON]

While Auletes still stood in need of Roman help, and saw the advantage
of keeping faith with his foreign creditors, Rabirius was allowed to
hold the office of royal _dioecetes_, or paymaster-general, which was
one of great state and profit, and one by which he could in time have
repaid himself his loan. He wore a royal robe; the taxes of Alexandria
went through his hands; he was indeed master of the city. But when the
king felt safe on his throne, he sent away his troublesome creditor,
who returned to Rome with the loss of his money, to stand his trial as
a state criminal for having lent it. Rabirius had been for a time
mortgagee in possession of the revenues of Egypt; and Auletes had felt
more indebted for his crown to a Roman citizen than to the senate. But
in the dealings of Rome with foreign kings, these evils had often before
arisen, and at last been made criminal; and while Gabinius was tried
for treason, _de majestate_, for leading his army out of his province,
Rabirius was tried, under the _Lex Julia de pecuniis repetundis_, for
lending money and taking office under Auletes.

One of the last acts of Gabinius in Syria was to change the form of
the Jewish government into an aristocracy, leaving Hyrcanus as the high
priest. The Jews thereon began to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem, that
had been thrown down by Pompey. Among the prisoners sent to Rome by
Gabinius was Timagenes, the son of the king's banker, who probably lost
his liberty as a hostage on Ptolemy's failure to repay the loan. But he
was afterwards ransomed from slavery by a son of Sulla, and he remained
at Rome teaching Greek eloquence in the schools, and writing his
numerous works.

The climate of Egypt is hardly suited to Europeans, and perhaps at no
time did the births in the Greek families equal the deaths. That part
of the population was kept up by newcomers; and latterly the Romans had
been coming over to share in the plunder that was there scattered among
the ruling class. For some time past Alexandria had been a favourite
place of settlement for such Romans as either through their fault or
their misfortune were forced to leave their homes.

[Illustration: 312.jpg THE SPHINX]

All who were banished for their crimes or who went away to escape from
trial, all runaway slaves, all ruined debtors, found a place of safety
in Alexandria; and by enrolling themselves in the Egyptian army they
joined in bonds of fellowship with thousands like themselves, who made
it a point of honour to screen one another from being overtaken by
justice or reclaimed by their masters. With such men as these, together
with some bands of robbers from Syria and Cilicia, had the ranks of the
Egyptian army latterly been recruited. These were now joined by a
number of soldiers and officers from the army of Gabinius, who liked the
Egyptian high pay and lawlessness better than the strict discipline of
the Romans. As, in this mixed body of men, the more regular courage
and greater skill in war was found among the Romans, they were chiefly
chosen as officers, and the whole had something of the form of a Roman
army. These soldiers in Alexandria were above all law and discipline.

The laws were everywhere badly enforced, crimes passed unpunished, and
property became unsafe. Robberies were carried on openly, and the only
hope of recovering what was stolen was by buying it back from the thief.
In many cases, whole villages lived upon plunder, and for that purpose
formed themselves into a society, and put themselves under the orders of
a chief; and, when any merchant or husbandman was robbed, he applied to
this chief, who usually restored to him the stolen property on payment
of one-fourth of its value.

As the country fell off in wealth, power, and population, the schools
of Alexandria fell off in learning, and we meet with few authors whose
names can brighten the pages of this reign. Apollonius of Citium,
indeed, who had studied surgery and anatomy at Alexandria under Zopyrus,
when he returned to Cyprus, wrote a treatise on the joints of the body,
and dedicated his work to Ptolemy, king of that island. The work is
still remaining in manuscript.

[Illustration: 314.jpg]

[Illustration: 314b.jpg BEARERS OF EVIL TIDINGS]

Beside his name of Neus Dionysus, the king is in the hieroglyphics
sometimes called Philopator and Philadelphus; and in a Greek inscription
on a statue at Philae he is called by the three names, Neus Dionysus,
Philopator, Philadelphus. The coins which are usually thought to be his
are in a worse style of art than those of the kings before him. He
died in B.C. 51, in the twenty-ninth year of his reign, leaving four
children, namely, Cleopatra, Arsinoë, and two Ptolemies.

[Illustration: 315.jpg PAGE IMAGE]


_Pompey, Cæsar, and Antony in Egypt--Cleopatra's extravagance and
intrigues--Octavianus annexes Egypt--Retrospect._

Ptolemy Neus Dionysus had by his will left his kingdom to Cleopatra and
Ptolemy, his elder daughter and elder son, who, agreeably to the custom
of the country, were to marry one another and reign with equal power.
He had sent one copy of his will to Rome, to be lodged in the public
treasury, and in it he called upon the Roman people, by all the gods and
by the treaties by which they were bound, to see that it was obeyed.
He had also begged them to undertake the guardianship of his son. The
senate voted Pompey tutor to the young king, or governor of Egypt; and
the Alexandrians in the third year of his reign sent sixty ships of war
to help the great Pompey in his struggle against Julius Cæsar for the
chief power in Rome. But Pompey's power was by that time drawing to an
end, and the votes of the senate could give no strength to the weak:
hence the eunuch Pothinus, who had the care of the elder Ptolemy, was
governor of Egypt, and his first act was to declare his young pupil
king, and to set at nought the will of Auletes, by which Cleopatra was
joined with him on the throne.

Cleopatra fled into Syria, and, with a manly spirit which showed what
she was afterwards to be, raised an army and marched back to the borders
of Egypt, to claim her rights by force of arms. It was in the fourth
year of her reign, when the Egyptian troops were moved to Pelusium to
meet her, and the two armies were within a few leagues of one another,
that Pompey, who had been the friend of Auletes when the king wanted a
friend, landed on the shores of Egypt in distress, and almost alone. His
army had just been beaten at Pharsalia, and he was flying from Cæsar,
and he hoped to receive from the son the kindness which he had shown
to the father. But gratitude is a virtue little known in palaces, and
Ptolemy had been cradled in princely selfishness. In this civil war
between Pompey and Cæsar, the Alexandrians would have been glad to be
the friends of both, but that was now out of the question; Pompey's
coming made it necessary for them to choose which they should join, and
Ptolemy's council, like cowards, only wished to side with the strong.

[Illustration: 317.jpg PILLAR OF POMPEY AT ALEXANDRIA]

Pothinus the eunuch, Achilles the general, who was a native Egyptian,
and Theodotus of Chios, who was the prince's tutor in rhetoric, were the
men by whom the fate of this great Roman was decided. "By putting him to
death," said Theodotus, "you will oblige Cæsar, and have nothing to
fear from Pompey;" and he added with a smile, "Dead men do not bite."
So Achilles and Lucius Septimius, the head of the Roman troops in the
Egyptian army, were sent down to the seaside to welcome him, to receive
him as a friend, and to murder him. They handed him out of his galley
into their boat, and put him to death on his landing. They then cut off
from his lifeless trunk the head which had been three times crowned with
laurels in the capitol; and in that disfigured state the young Ptolemy
saw for the first time, and without regret, the face of his father's
best friend.

When Cæsar, following the track of Pompey, arrived in the roadstead of
Alexandria, all was already over. With deep agitation he turned away
when the murderer brought to his ship the head of the man who had been
his son-in-law and for long years his colleague in rule, and to get
whom alive into his power he had come to Egypt. The dagger of the rash
assassin precluded an answer to the question, how Cæsar would have dealt
with the captive Pompey; but, while the human sympathy which still found
a place in the great soul of Cæsar, side by side with ambition, enjoined
that he should spare his former friend, his interest also required that
he should annihilate Pompey otherwise than by the executioner. Pompey
had been for twenty years the acknowledged ruler of Rome; a dominion so
deeply rooted does not end with the ruler's death. The death of Pompey
did not break up the Pompeians, but gave to them instead of an aged,
incapable, and worn-out chief, in his sons Gnacus and Sextus, two
leaders, both of whom were young and active, and the second of them of
decided capacity. To the newly founded hereditary monarchy, hereditary
pretendership attached itself at once like a parasite, and it was very
doubtful whether by this change of persons Cæsar did not lose more than
he gained.

Meanwhile in Egypt Cæsar had now nothing further to do, and the Romans
and Egyptians expected that he would immediately set sail and
apply himself to the subjugation of Africa, and to the huge task of
organisation which awaited him after the victory. But Cæsar, faithful
to his custom--wherever he found himself in the wide Empire--of finally
regulating matters at once and in person, and firmly convinced that no
resistance was to be expected either from the Roman garrison or from
the court; being, moreover, in urgent pecuniary embarrassment, landed
in Alexandria with the two amalgamated legions accompanying him to the
number of thirty-two hundred men and eight hundred Celtic and German
cavalry, took up his quarters in the royal palace, and proceeded
to collect the necessary sums of money and to regulate the Egyptian
succession, without allowing himself to be disturbed by the saucy remark
of Pothinus that Cæsar should not for such petty matters neglect his own
so important affairs. In his dealings with the Egyptians he was just
and even indulgent. Although the aid which they had given to Pompey
justified the imposing of a war contribution, the exhausted land was
spared from this; and, while the arrears of the sums stipulated for in
B.C. 59, and since then only about half paid, were remitted, there was
required merely a final payment of ten million denarii (two million
dollars). The belligerent brother and sister were enjoined immediately
to suspend hostilities, and were invited to have their dispute
investigated and decided before the arbiter. They submitted; the royal
boy was already in the palace and Cleopatra also presented herself
there. Cæsar adjudged the kingdom of Egypt, agreeably to the testament
of Auletes, to the intermarried brother and sister Cleopatra and
Ptolomoreus Dionysus, and further gave unasked the kingdom of
Cyprus--cancelling the earlier act of annexation--as the appanage of
the second-born of Egypt to the younger children of Auletes, Arsinoë and
Ptolemy the younger. But a storm was secretly preparing. Alexandria
was a cosmopolitan city as well as Rome, hardly inferior to the Italian
capital in the number of its inhabitants, far superior to it in stirring
commercial spirit, in skill of handicraft, in taste for science and
art: in the citizens there was a lively sense of their own national
importance, and, if there was no political sentiment, there was at any
rate a turbulent spirit, which induced them to indulge in their street
riots regularly and heartily. We may conceive their feeling when they
saw the Roman general ruling in the palace of the Lagids, and their
kings accepting the award of his tribunal. Pothinus and the boy-king,
both, as may be conceived, very dissatisfied at once with the peremptory
requisition of all debts and with the intervention in the throne-dispute
which could only issue, as it did, in the favour of Cleopatra, sent--in
order to pacify the Roman demands--the treasures of the temple and the
gold plate of the king with intentional ostentation to be melted at the
mint; with increasing indignation the Egyptians--who were pious even
to superstition, and who rejoiced in the world-renowned magnificence
of their court as if it were a possession of their own--beheld the bare
walls of their temples and the wooden cups on the table of their
king. The Roman army of occupation also, which had been essentially
denationalised by its long abode in Egypt and the many intermarriages
between the soldiers and Egyptian women, and which moreover numbered a
multitude of the old soldiers of Pompey and runaway Italian criminals
and slaves in its ranks, was indignant at Cæsar, by whose orders it had
been obliged to suspend its action on the Syrian frontier, and at his
handful of haughty legionaries. The tumult even at the landing, when
the multitude saw the Roman axes carried into the old palace, and the
numerous instances in which his soldiers were assassinated in the city,
had taught Cæsar the immense danger in which he was placed with his
small force in presence of the exasperated multitude. But it was
difficult to return on account of the northwest winds prevailing at this
season of#the year, and the attempt of embarkation might easily become
a signal for the outbreak of the insurrection; besides, it was not the
nature of Cæsar to take his departure without having accomplished his
work. He accordingly ordered up at once reinforcements from Asia,
and meanwhile, till these arrived, made a show of the utmost
self-possession. Never was there greater gaiety in his camp than during
this rest at Alexandria, and while the beautiful and clever Cleopatra
was not sparing of her charms in general and least of all towards her
judge, Cæsar also appeared among all his victories to value most those
won over beautiful women. It was a merry prelude to graver scenes. Under
the leadership of Achilles and, as was afterwards proved, by the secret
orders of the king and his guardian, the Roman army of occupation
stationed in Egypt appeared unexpectedly in Alexandria, and, as soon
as the citizens saw that it had come to attack Cæsar, they made common
cause with the soldiers.

With a presence of mind, which in some measure justifies his
foolhardiness, Cæsar hastily collected his scattered men; seized the
persons of the king and his ministers; entrenched himself in the royal
residence and adjoining theatre; and gave orders, as there was no time
to place in safety the war-fleet stationed in the principal harbour
immediately in front of the theatre, that it should be set on fire and
that Pharos, the island with the light-tower commanding the harbour,
should be occupied by means of boats. Thus at least a restricted
position for defence was secured, and the way was kept open to procure
supplies and reinforcements. At the same time orders were issued to the
commandant of Asia Minor as well as to the nearest subject countries,
the Syrians and the Nabatæans, the Cretans and the Rhodians, to send
men and ships in all haste to Egypt. The insurrection, at the head of
which the Princess Arsinoë and her confidant, the eunuch Ganymedes, had
placed themselves, meanwhile had free course in all Egypt and in the
greater part of the capital. In the streets of the latter there was
daily fighting, but without success either on the part of Cæsar in
gaining freer scope and breaking through to the fresh water lake of
Mariut which lay behind the town, where he could have provided himself
with water and forage; or on the part of the Alexandrians in acquiring
superiority in besieging and depriving them of all drinking water; for,
when the Nile canals in Cæsar's part of the town had been spoiled by the
introduction of salt water, drinkable water was unexpectedly found in
wells dug on the beach.

As Cæsar was not to be overcome from the landward side, the exertions
of the besiegers were directed to destroy his fleet and cut him off from
the sea, by which supplies reached him. The island with the lighthouse
and the mole by which this was connected with the mainland divided the
harbour into a western and an eastern half, which were in communication
with each other through two arch-openings in the mole. Cæsar commanded
the island and the east harbour, while the mole and the west harbour
were in possession of the citizens; and, as the Alexandrian fleet
was burnt, his vessels sailed in and out without hindrance. The
Alexandrians, after having vainly attempted to introduce fire-ships from
the western into the eastern harbour, equipped with the remnant of their
arsenal a small squadron, and with this blocked up the way of Cæsar's
vessels, when these were towing in a fleet of transports with a legion
that had arrived from Asia Minor; but the excellent Rhodian mariners
of Cæsar mastered the enemy. Not long afterwards, however, the citizens
captured the lighthouse-island, and from that point totally closed the
narrow and rocky mouth of the east harbour for larger ships; so that
Cæsar's fleet was compelled to take its station in the open roads before
the east harbour, and his communication with the sea hung only on a
weak thread. Cæsar's fleet, attacked in that roadstead repeatedly by
the superior naval force of the enemy, could neither shun the unequal
strife, since the loss of the lighthouse-island closed the inner harbour
against it, nor yet withdraw, for the loss of the roadstead would
have debarred Cæsar wholly from the sea. Though the brave legionaries,
supported by the dexterity of the Rhodian sailors, had always hitherto
decided these conflicts in favour of the Romans, the Alexandrians
renewed and augmented their naval armaments with unwearied perseverance;
the besieged had to fight as often as it pleased the besiegers, and,
if the former should be on a signal occasion vanquished, Cæsar would be
totally hemmed in and probably lost.

It was absolutely necessary to make an attempt to recover the
lighthouse-island. The double attack, which was made by boats from the
side of the harbour and by the war-vessels from the seaboard, in reality
brought not only the island but also the lower part of the mole into
his power; it was only at the second arch-opening of the mole that
Cæsar ordered the attack to be stopped, and the mole to be there closed
towards the city by a transverse wall. But while a violent conflict
arose here round the entrenchers, the Roman troops left the lower
part of the mole adjoining the island bare of defenders; a division
of Egyptians landed there unexpectedly, attacked in the rear the Roman
soldiers and sailors crowded together on the mole of the transverse
wall, and drove the whole mass in wild confusion into the sea. A part
were taken on board by the Roman ships; but more were drowned. Some
four hundred soldiers and a still greater number of men belonging to the
fleet were sacrificed on this day; the general himself, who had shared
the fate of his men, had been obliged to seek refuge in his ship, and,
when this sank from having been overloaded with men, he had to save
himself by swimming to another. But, severe as was the loss suffered,
it was amply compensated by the recovery of the lighthouse-island, which
along with the mole as far as the first arch-opening remained in the
hands of Cæsar.

At length the longed-for relief arrived, Mithridates of Pergamus, an
able warrior of the school of Mithridates Eupator, whose natural son
he claimed to be, brought up by land from Syria a motley army,--the
Ituræans of the prince of the Libanus, the Bedouins of Jamblichus,
son of Sampsiceramus, the Jews under the minister Antipater, and the
contingents generally of the petty chiefs and communities of Cilicia and
Syria. From Pelusium, which Mithridates had the fortune to occupy on
the day of his arrival, he took the great road towards Memphis, with the
view of avoiding the intersected ground of the Delta and crossing the
Nile before its division; during which movement his troops received
manifold support from the Jewish peasants who were settled in this part
of Egypt. The Egyptians, with the young king Ptolemy now at their head,
whom Cæsar had released to his people in the vain hope of allaying the
insurrection by his means, despatched an army to the Nile, to detain
Mithridates on its farther bank. The army fell in with the enemy
even beyond Memphis at the so-called Jews' camp, between Onion and
Heliopolis; nevertheless Mithridates, trained in the Roman fashion
of manoeuvring and encamping, amidst successful conflicts gained the
opposite bank at Memphis. Cæsar, on the other hand, as soon as he
obtained news of the arrival of the relieving army, conveyed a part
of his troops in ships to the end of the lake of Morea to the west
of Alexandria, and marched round this lake and down the Nile to meet
Mithridates advancing up the river.

The junction took place without the enemy attempting to hinder it. Cæsar
then marched into the Delta, whither the king had retreated, overthrew,
notwithstanding the deeply cut canal in their front, the Egyptian
vanguard at the first onset, and immediately stormed the Egyptian camp
itself. It lay at the foot of a rising ground between the Nile--from
which only a narrow path separated it--and marshes difficult of access.
Cæsar caused the camp to be assailed simultaneously from the front
and from the flank on the path along the Nile; and during this assault
ordered a third detachment to ascend unseen the heights of the camp. The
victory was complete; the camp was taken, and those of the Egyptians who
did not fall beneath the sword of the enemy were drowned in the attempt
to escape to the fleet on the Nile. With one of the boats, which sank
overladen with men, the young king also disappeared in the waters of his
native stream. Immediately after the battle Cæsar advanced at the head
of his cavalry from the land side straight into the portion of the
capital occupied by the Egyptians. In mourning attire, with the images
of their gods in their hands, the enemy received him and sued for
peace; and his troops, when they saw him return as victor from the side
opposite to that by which he had set forth, welcomed him with boundless
joy. The fate of the town, which had ventured to thwart the plans of
the master of the world and had brought him within a hair's-breadth of
destruction, lay in Cæsar's hands; but he was too much of a ruler to
be sensitive, and dealt with the Alexandrians as with the Massiliots.
Cæsar--pointing to their city severely devastated and deprived of its
granaries, of its world-renowned library, and of other important public
buildings on the occasion of the burning of the fleet--exhorted the
inhabitants in future earnestly to cultivate the arts of peace alone,
and to heal the wounds inflicted on themselves; for the rest, he
contented himself with granting to the Jews settled in Alexandria the
same rights which the Greek population of the city enjoyed, and
with placing in Alexandria instead of the previous Roman army of
occupation--which nominally at least obeyed the kings of Egypt, a
Roman garrison--two of the legions besieged there, and a third which
afterwards arrived from Syria--under a commander nominated by himself.
For this position of trust a man was purposely selected whose birth made
it impossible for him to abuse it--Rufio, an able soldier, but the son
of a freed man. Cleopatra and her younger brother Ptolemy obtained the
sovereignty of Egypt under the supremacy of Rome; the Princess Arsinoë
was carried off to Italy, that she might not serve once more as a
pretext for insurrections to the Egyptians, who were after the Oriental
fashion quite as much devoted to their dynasty as they were indifferent
towards the individual dynasts; and Cyprus became again a part of the
Roman province of Cilicia. Cæsar's love for Cleopatra, who had just
borne him a son named Cæsarion, was not so strong as his ambition;
and after having been above a year in Egypt he left her to govern the
kingdom in her own name, but on his behalf; and sailed for Italy, taking
with him the sixth legion. While engaged in this warfare in Alexandria,
Cæsar had been appointed dictator in Rome, where his power was exercised
by Mark Antony, his master of the horse; and for above six months he
had not written one letter home, as though ashamed to write about the
foolish difficulty he had entangled himself in, until he had got out of

On reaching Rome Cæsar amused the people and himself with a grand
triumphal show, in which, among the other prisoners of war, the Princess
Arsinoë followed his car in chains; and, among the works of art
and nature which were got together to prove to the gazing crowd the
greatness of his conquests, was that remarkable African animal the
camelopard, then for the first time seen in Rome. In one chariot was a
statue of the Nile god; and in another the Pharos lighthouse on fire,
with painted flames. Nor was this the last of Cæsar's triumphs, for soon
afterwards Cleopatra, and her brother Ptolemy, then twelve years old,
who was called her husband, came to Rome as his guests, and dwelt for
some time with him in his house.

The history of Egypt, at this time, is almost lost in that of Rome.
Within five years of Cæsar's landing in Alexandria, and finding that by
the death of Pompey he was master of the world, he paid his own life as
the forfeit for crushing his country's liberty. The Queen of Egypt, with
her infant son Cæsarion about four years old, was then in Rome, living
with Cæsar in his villa on the farther side of the Tiber. On Cæsar's
death her first wish was to get the child acknowledged by the Roman
senate as her colleague on the throne of Egypt, and as a friend of the
Roman people. With this view she applied to Cicero for help, making
him an offer of some books or works of art; but he was offended at
her haughtiness and refused her gifts. Besides, she was more likely
to thwart than to help the cause for which he was struggling. He was
alarmed at hearing that she was soon to give birth to another child. He
did not want any more Cæsars. He hoped she would miscarry, as he wished
she had before miscarried. So he bluntly refused to undertake her cause.
On this she thought herself unsafe in Rome, she fled privately, and
reached Egypt in safety with Cæsarion; but we hear of no second child
by Julius. The Romans were now the masters of Egypt, and Cleopatra could
hardly hope to reign but by the help of one of the great generals who
were struggling for the sovereignty of the republic. Among these was the
young Sextus Pompeius, whose large fleet made him for a time master
of Sicily and of the sea; and he was said to have been admitted by the
Queen of Egypt as a lover. But he was able to be of but little use
to her in return for her favours, as his fleet was soon defeated by

Cæsar had left behind him, in the neighbourhood of Alexandria, a large
body of Roman troops, in the pay and nominally under the orders of
Cleopatra, but in reality to keep Egypt in obedience. There they lived
as if above all Egyptian law or Roman discipline, indulging in the vices
of that luxurious capital. When some of them in a riot, in the year 45
B.C., killed two sons of Bibulus the consul, Cleopatra was either afraid
or unable to punish the murderers; the most she could do was to get
them sent in chains into Syria to the grieving father, who with true
greatness of mind sent them back to the Egyptian legions, saying that it
was for the senate to punish them, not for him.

While Ptolemy her second husband was a boy and could claim no share
of the government, he was allowed to live with all the outward show of
royalty, but as soon as he reached the age of fifteen, in B.C. 44, at
which he might call himself her equal and would soon be her master,
Cleopatra had him put to death. She had then reigned four years with
her elder brother and four years with her younger brother, and from that
time forward she reigned alone, calling her child by Cæsar her colleague
on the throne.

At a time when vice and luxury claimed the thoughts of all who were not
busy in the civil wars, we cannot hope to find the fruits of genius in
Alexandria; but the mathematics are plants of a hardy growth, and are
not choked so easily as poetry and history. Sosigenes was then the
first astronomer in Egypt, and Julius Cæsar was guided by his advice
in setting right the Roman Calendar. He was a careful and painstaking
mathematician, and, after fixing the length of the year at three hundred
and sixty-five days and a quarter, he three times changed the beginning
of the year, in his doubts as to the day on which the equinox fell; for
the astronomer could then only make two observations in a year with a
view to learn the time of the equinox, by seeing when the sun shone
in the plane of the equator. Photinus the mathematician wrote both
on arithmetic and geometry, and was usually thought the author of a
mathematical work published in the name of the queen, called the Canon
of Cleopatra.

Didymus was another of the writers that we hear of at that time. He was
a man of great industry, both in reading and writing; but when we are
told that he wrote three thousand five hundred volumes, or rolls, it
rather teaches us that a great many rolls of papyrus would be wanted to
make a modern book, than what number of books he wrote. These writings
were mostly on verbal criticism, and all have long since perished except
some notes or scholia on the Hiad and Odyssey which bear his name, and
are still printed in some editions of Homer.

Dioscorides, the physician of Cleopatra, has left a work on herbs and
minerals, and on their uses in medicine; also on poisons and poisonous
bites. To these he has added a list of prescriptions. His works
have been much read in all ages, and have only been set aside by the
discoveries of the last few centuries. Serapion, another physician, was
perhaps of this reign.

[Illustration: 333.jpg RUINS OF HERMONTHIS]

He followed medicine rather than surgery; and, while trusting chiefly to
his experience gained in clinical or bedside practice, was laughed at by
the surgeons as an empiric.

The small temple at Hermonthis, near Thebes, seems to have been built
in this reign, and it is dedicated to Mandoo, or the sun, in the name
of Cleopatra and Cassation. It is unlike the older Egyptian temples in
being much less of a fortress; for what in them is a strongly walled
courtyard, with towers to guard the narrow doorway, is here a small
space between two double rows of columns, wholly open, without walls,
while the roofed building is the same as in the older temples. Near it
is a small pool, seventy feet square, with stone sides, which was used
in the funerals and other religious rites.

The murder of Cæsar did not raise the character of the Romans, or make
them more fit for self-government. It was followed by the well-known
civil war; and when, by the battle of Philippi and the death of Brutus
and Cassius, his party was again uppermost, the Romans willingly bowed
their necks to his adopted son Octavianus, and his friend Mark Antony.

It is not easy to determine which side Cleopatra meant to take in
the war between Antony and the murderers of Cæsar; she did not openly
declare herself, and she probably waited to join that which fortune
favoured. Allienus had been sent to her by Dolobella to ask for such
troops as she could spare to help Antony, and he led a little army of
four Roman legions out of Egypt into Syria; but when there he added
them to the force which Cassius had assembled against Antony. Whether he
acted through treachery to the queen or by her orders is doubtful, for
Cassius felt more gratitude to Allienus than to Cleopatra. Serapion
also, the Egyptian governor of Cyprus, joined what was then the stronger
side, and sent all the ships that he had in his ports to the assistance
of Cassius. Cleopatra herself was getting ready another large fleet, but
since the war was over, and Brutus and Cassius dead before it sailed,
she said it was meant to help Octavianus and Antony. Thus, by the acts
of her generals and her own hesitation, Cleopatra fairly laid herself
open to the reproach of ingratitude to her late friend Cæsar, or at
least of thinking that the interests of his son Cæsarion were opposed to
those of his nephew Octavianus; and accordingly, as Antony was passing
through Cilicia with his army, he sent orders to her to come from Egypt
and meet him at Tarsus, to answer the charge of having helped Brutus and
Cassius in the late military campaign.

Dellius, the bearer of the message, showed that he understood the
meaning of it, by beginning himself to pay court to her as his queen. He
advised her to go, like Juno in the Iliad, "tricked in her best attire,"
and told her that she had nothing to fear from the kind and gallant
Antony. On this she sailed for Cilicia laden with money and treasures
for presents, full of trust in her beauty and power of pleasing. She had
won the heart of Cæsar when, though younger, she was less skilled in
the arts of love, and she was still only twenty-five years old; and,
carrying with her such gifts and treasures as became her rank, she
entered the river Cydnus with the Egyptian fleet in a magnificent
galley. The stern was covered with gold; the sails were of scarlet
cloth: and the silver oars beat time to the music of flutes and harps.
The queen, dressed like Venus, lay under an awning embroidered with
gold, while pretty dimpled boys, like Cupids, stood on each side of
the sofa fanning her. Her maidens, dressed like sea-nymphs and graces,
handled the silken tackle and steered the vessel. As she approached
the town of Tarsus the winds wafted the perfumes and the scent of the
burning incense to the shores, which were lined with crowds who had come
out to see her land; and Antony, who was seated on the tribunal waiting
to receive her, found himself left alone.

Tarsus on the river Cydnus was situated at the foot of the wooded slopes
of Mount Taurus, and it guarded the great pass in that range between the
Phrygian tribes and the Phoenician tribes. It was a city half-Greek
and half-Asiatic, and had from the earliest days been famed for
ship-building and commerce. Mount Taurus supplied it with timber, and
around the mouth of its river, as it widens into a quiet lake, were the
ancient dockyards which had made the ships of Tarshish proverbial with
the Hebrew writers. Its merchants, enriched by industry and enlightened
by foreign trade, had ornamented their city with public buildings, and
established a school of Greek learning. Its philosophers, however, were
more known as travelling teachers than as scholars. No learned men came
to Tarsus; but it sent forth its rhetoricians in its own ships, who
spread themselves as teachers over the neighbouring coasts. In Rome
there were more professors of rhetoric, oratory, and poetry from Tarsus
than from Alexandria or Athens. Athenodorus Cordylion, the stoic, taught
Cato; Athenodorus, the son of Sandon, taught Cæsar; Nestor a little
later taught the young Marcellus; while Demetrius was one of the first
men of learning who sailed to the distant island of Britain. This
school, in the next generation, sent forth the apostle Paul, who taught
Christianity throughout the same coasts.

Tarsus was now to be amused by the costly follies and extravagances of
Cleopatra. As an initial display, soon after landing, she invited Antony
and his generals to a dinner, at which the whole of the dishes placed
before them were of gold, set with precious stones, and the room and the
twelve couches were ornamented with purple and gold. On his praising the
splendour of the sight, as passing anything he had before seen, she said
it was a trifle, and begged that he would take the whole of it as a gift
from her. The next day he again dined with her, and brought a larger
number of his friends and generals, and was of course startled to see a
costliness which made that of the day before seem nothing; and she again
gave him the whole of the gold upon the table, and gave to each of his
friends the couch upon which he sat.

These costly and delicate dinners were continued every day; and one
evening, when Antony playfully blamed her wastefulness, and said that it
was not possible to fare in a more costly manner, she told him that the
dinner of the next day should cost ten thousand ses-tertia, or three
hundred thousand dollars. This he would not believe, and laid her a
wager that she would fail in her promise. When the day came the dinner
was as grand and dainty as those of the former days; but when Antony
called upon her to count up the cost of the meats and wines, she said
that she did not reckon them, but that she should herself soon eat and
drink the ten thousand sestertia. She wore in her ears two pearls, the
largest known in the world, which, like the diamonds of European kings,
had come to her with her crown and kingdom, and were together valued at
that large sum.


On the servants removing the meats, they set before her a glass of
vinegar, and she took one of these earrings from her ear and dropped
it into the glass, and when dissolved drank it off. Plancus, one of the
guests, who had been made judge of the wager, snatched the other from
the queen's ear, and saved it from being drunk up like the first, and
then declared that Antony had lost his bet. The pearl which was saved
was afterwards cut in two and made into a pair of earrings for the
statue of Venus in the Pantheon at Rome; and the fame of the wager may
be said to have made the two half pearls at least as valuable as the two
whole ones.

The beauty, sweetness, and gaiety of this young queen, joined to her
great powers of mind, which were all turned to the art of pleasing, had
quite overcome Antony; he had sent for her as her master, but he was
now her slave. Her playful wit was delightful; her voice was as an
instrument of many strings; she spoke readily to every ambassador in his
own language; and was said to be the only sovereign of Egypt who could
understand the languages of all her subjects: Greek, Egyptian, Ethiopie,
Troglodytic, Hebrew, Arabic, and Syriac. With these charms, at the age
of five-and-twenty, the luxurious Antony could deny her nothing. The
first favour which she asked of her lover equals any cruelty that we
have met with in this history: it was, that he would have her sister
Arsinoë put to death. Cæsar had spared her life, after his triumph,
through love of Cleopatra; but he was mistaken in the heart of his
mistress; she would have been then better pleased at Arsinoe's death;
and Antony, at her bidding, had her murdered in the temple of Diana, at

Though Fulvia, the faithful wife of Antony, could scarcely keep together
his party at Rome against the power of Octavianus, his colleague in the
triumvirate, and though Labienus, with the Parthian legions, was ready
to march into Syria against him, yet he was so entangled in the artful
nets of Cleopatra, that she led him captive to Alexandria; and there the
old warrior fell into every idle amusement, and offered up at the shrine
of pleasure one of the greatest of sacrifices, the sacrifice of his
time. The lovers visited each other every day, and the waste of their
entertainments passed belief. Philotas, a physician who was following
his studies at Alexandria, told Plutarch's grandfather that he was once
invited to see Antony's dinner cooked, and among other meats were eight
wild boars roasting whole; and the cook explained to him that, though
there were only twelve guests, yet as each dish had to be roasted to a
single turn of the spit, and Antony did not know at what hour he should
dine, it was necessary to cook at least eight dinners. But the most
costly of the luxuries then used in Egypt were the scents and the
ointments. Gold, silver, and jewels, as Pliny remarks, will pass to a
man's heirs, even clothes will last a few months or weeks, but scents
fly off and are lost at the first moment that they are admired; and
yet ointments, like the attar of roses, which melted and gave out their
scent, and passed into air when placed upon the back of the hand, as the
coolest part of the body, were sold for four hundred denarii the pound.
But the ointment was not meant to be used quite so wastefully. It was
usually sealed up in small alabaster jars, which were made in the town
of Alabastron, on the east of the Nile, and thence received their name.
These were long in shape, without a foot, and had a narrow mouth. They
were meant never to be opened, but to let the scent escape slowly and
sparingly through the porous stone. In these Egyptian jars scented
ointment was carried by trade to the banks of the Tigris and to the
shores of the Mediterranean.

The tenth and eleventh years of the queen's reign were marked by
a famine through the land, caused by the Nile's not rising to the
wished-for height and by the want of the usual overflow; and an
inscription which was written both in the Greek and Egyptian languages
declares the gratitude of the Theban priests and elders and citizens to
Callimachus, the prefect of the Theban taxes, who did what he could to
lessen the sufferings in that city. The citizens of Alexandria on those
years received from the government a smaller gift of corn than usual,
and the Jews then felt their altered rank in the state. They were
told that they were not citizens, and accordingly received no portion
whatever out of the public granaries, but were left like the Egyptians
to take care of themselves. From this time forward there was an
unceasing quarrel between Greeks and Jews in the city of Alexandria.

Cleopatra, who held her power at the pleasure of the Roman legions,
spared no pains to please Antony. She had borne him first a son named
Ptolemy, and then a son and daughter, twins, Alexander Helius and
Cleopatra Selene, or _Sun_ and _Moon_. She gamed, she drank, she hunted,
she reviewed the troops with him, and, to humour his coarser tastes, she
followed him, in his midnight rambles through the city, in the dress of
a servant; and nothing that youth, beauty, wealth, and elegance could do
to throw a cloak over the grossness of vice and crime was forgotten by
her. The biographer thought it waste of time to mention all Cleopatra's
arts and Antony's follies, but the story of his fishing was not to be
forgotten. One day, when sitting in the boat with her, he caught but
little, and was vexed at her seeing his want of success. So he ordered
one of his men to dive into the water and put upon his hook a fish which
had been before taken. Cleopatra, however, saw what was being done, and
quietly took the hint for a joke of her own. The next day she brought a
larger number of friends to see the fishing, and, when Antony let down
his line, she ordered one of her divers to put on the hook a salted
fish. The line was then drawn up and the fish landed amid no little
mirth of their friends; and Cleopatra playfully consoled him, saying:
"Well, general, you may leave fishing to us petty princes of Pharos and
Canopus; your game is cities, provinces, and kingdoms."

Antony's eldest son by Fulvia came to Alexandria at this time, and lived
in the same princely style with his father. Philotas the physician lived
in his service, and one day at supper when Philotas silenced a tiresome
talker with a foolish sophism the young Antony gave him as a reward the
whole sideboard of plate. But in the middle of this gaiety and feasting
Antony was recalled to Europe by letters which told him that his wife
and brother had been driven out of Rome by Octavianus. Before, however,
he reached Rome his wife Fulvia was dead; and, wishing to strengthen his
party, he at once married Octavia, the sister of Octavianus and widow of

In that year Herod passed through Egypt on his way to Rome to claim
Judæa as his kingdom. He came through Arabia to Pelusium, and thence
he sailed to Alexandria. Cleopatra, who wanted his services, gave him
honourable entertainment in her capital, and made him great offers in
order to persuade him to take the command of her army. But the Jewish
prince saw that a kingdom was to be gained by offering his services
to Antony and Octavianus; and he went on to Rome. There through the
friendship of Antony he was declared King of Judæa by the senate. He
then returned to Syria to collect an army and to win the kingdom which
had been granted to him; and by the help of Sosius, Antony's lieutenant,
he had conquered Jerusalem when the war broke out between Antony and

In the next year (B.C. 38) Antony was himself in Syria, carrying on the
war which ended with the battle of Actium; and he sent to Alexandria to
beg Cleopatra to join him there. On her coming, he made her perhaps the
largest gift which lover ever gave to his mistress: he gave her the wide
provinces of Phoenicia, Coele-Syria, Cyprus, part of Cilicia, part of
Judæa, and part of Arabia Nabataea. These large gifts only made her ask
for more, and she begged him to put to death Herod, King of Judæa, and
Malichus, King of Arabia Nabataea, the former of whom had advised Antony
to break through the disgraceful ties which bound him to Cleopatra, as
the only means of saving himself from being crushed by the rising power
of Octavianus. She asked to have the whole of Arabia and Judæa given to
her. But Antony had not so far forgotten himself as to yield to these
commands; and he only gave her the balsam country around Jericho, and
a rent-charge of two hundred talents, or one hundred and fifty thousand
dollars, a year, on the revenues of Judæa. On receiving this large
addition to her kingdom, and perhaps in honour of Antony, who had then
lost all power in Italy but was the real king of Egypt and its Greek
provinces, Cleopatra began to count the years of her reign afresh: what
was really the sixteenth of her reign, and had been called the sixteenth
of Ptolemy, her elder brother, she called the first of her own reign,
and she reckoned them in the same way till her death. Cleopatra had
accompanied Antony on his expedition against Armenia, as far as the
river Euphrates, and returned through Damascus to Judæa. There she was
politely received by her enemy Herod, who was too much in fear of Antony
to take his revenge on her. She farmed out to him the revenues of her
parts of Arabia and Judæa, and was accompanied by him on her way towards
Egypt. But after wondering at the wasteful feasts and gifts, in which
pearls and provinces were alike trifled with, we are reminded that even
Cleopatra was of the family of the Lagido, and that she was well aware
how much the library of the museum had added to the glory of Alexandria.
It had been burnt by the Roman troops under Cæsar, and, to make amends
for this, Antony gave her the large library of the city of Pergamus, by
which Eumenes and Attalus had hoped to raise a school that should equal
the museum of Alexandria. Cleopatra placed these two hundred thousand
volumes in the temple of Serapis; and Alexandria again held the largest
library in the world; while Pergamus ceased to be a place of learning.
By the help of this new library, the city still kept its trade in books
and its high rank as a school of letters; and, when the once proud
kingdom of Egypt was a province of Rome, and when almost every trace of
the monarchy was lost, and half a century afterwards Philo, the Jewish
philosopher of Alexandria, asked, "Where are now the Ptolemies?" the
historian could have found an answer by pointing to the mathematical
schools and the library of the Serapeum.

But to return to our history. When Antony left Cleopatra, he marched
against the Parthians, and on his return he again entered Alexandria in
triumph, leading Artavasdes, King of Armenia, chained behind his chariot
as he rode in procession through the city. He soon afterwards made
known his plans for the government of Egypt and the provinces. He called
together the Alexandrians in the Gymnasium, and, seating himself and
Cleopatra on two golden thrones, he declared her son Cæsarion her
colleague, and that they should hold Egypt, Cyprus, Africa, and
Coele-Syria. To her sons by himself he gave the title of kings the
children of kings; and to Alexander, though still a child, he gave
Armenia and Media, with Parthia when it should be conquered; and to
Ptolemy he gave Phoenicia, Syria, and Cilicia. Cleopatra wore the
sacred robe of Isis, and took the title of the New Isis, while the young
Alexander wore a Median dress with turban and tiara, and the little
Ptolemy a long cloak and slippers, with a bonnet encircled by a diadem,
like the successors of Alexander. Antony himself wore an Eastern
scimetar by his side, and a royal diadem round Ins head, as being not
less a sovereign than Cleopatra. To Cleopatra he then gave the whole of
his Parthian booty, and his prisoner Tigranes.

[Illustration: 346.jpg COIN OF CLEOPATRA AND ANTHONY]

But notwithstanding Antony's love for Cleopatra, her falsehood and
cruelty were such that when his power in Rome fell he could no longer
trust her. He even feared that she might have him poisoned, and would
not eat or drink in her palace without having the food first tasted
herself. But she had no such thoughts, and only laughed at him for his
distrust. One day to prove her power, and at the same time her good
faith, she had the flowers with which he was to be crowned, as he
reclined at her dinner-table, dipped in deadly poison. Antony dined with
these round his head, while she wore a crown of fresh flowers. During
the dinner Cleopatra playfully took off her garland and dipped it in
her cup to flavour the wine, and Antony did the same with his poisoned
flowers, steeping them in his own cup of wine. He even raised it to his
lips to drink, when she hastily caught hold of his hand. "Now," said
she, "I am the enemy against whom you have latterly been so careful. If
I could have endured to live without you, that draught would have given
me the opportunity." She then ordered the wine to be taken to one of
the condemned criminals, and sent Antony out to see that the man died on
drinking it.

On the early coins of Cleopatra we see her head on the one side and
the eagle or the cornucopia on the other side, with the name of "_Queen
Cleopatra_." After she had borne Antony children, we find the words
round their heads, "_Of Antony, on the conquest of Armenia;" "Of
Cleopatra the queen, and of the kings the children of kings_." On the
later coins we find the head of Antony joined with hers, as king and
queen, and he is styled "_the emperor_" and she "_the young goddess_."
Cleopatra was perhaps the last Greek sovereign that bore the title of
god. Nor did it seem unsuitable to her, so common had the Greeks of Asia
and Egypt made that epithet, by giving it to their kings, and even to
their kings' families and favourites. But the use of the word made no
change in their religious opinions; they never for a moment supposed
that the persons whom they so styled had any share in the creation and
government of the world.


The death of Julius Cæsar and afterwards of Brutus and Cassius had left
Antony with the chief sway in the Roman world; but his life of pleasure
in Egypt had done much to forfeit it; and Octavianus, afterwards called
Augustus, had been for some time rising in power against him. His party,
however, was still strong enough in Rome to choose for consul his friend
Soslus, who put the head of Antony on one side of his coins, and the
Egyptian eagle and thunderbolt on the other. Soon afterwards Antony was
himself chosen as consul elect for the coming year, and he then struck
his last coins in Egypt. The rude copper coins have on one side the name
of "_The queen, the young goddess_," and on the other side of "_Antony,
Consul a third time_." But he never was consul for the third time;
before the day of entering on the office he was made an enemy of Rome by
the senate. Octavianus, however, would not declare war against him, but
declared war against Cleopatra, or rather, as he said, against Mardion
her slave, Iris her waiting-woman, and Charmion, another favourite
woman; for these had the chief management of Antony's affairs.

At the beginning of the year B.C. 31, which was to end with the battle
of Actium, Octavianus held Italy, Gaul, Spain, and Carthage, with an
army of eighty thousand foot, twelve thousand horse, and a fleet of two
hundred and fifty ships: Antony held Egypt, Ethiopia, and Cyrene, with
one hundred thousand foot, twelve thousand horse, and five hundred
ships; he was followed by the kings of Africa, Upper Cilicia,
Cappadocia, Paphlagonia, Commagene, and Thrace; and he received help
from the kings of Pontus, Arabia, Judæa, Lycaonia, Galatia, and Media.
Thus Octavianus held Rome, with its western provinces and hardy legions,
while Antony held the Greek kingdom of Ptolemy Phila-delphus. Cleopatra
was confident of success and as boastful as she was confident. Her most
solemn manner of promising was: "As surely as I shall issue my decrees
from the Roman Capitol." But the mind of Antony was ruined by his life
of pleasure. He carried her with him into battle, at once his strength
and his weakness, and he was beaten at sea by Octavianus, on the coast
of Epirus, near Actium. This battle, which sealed the fate of Antony, of
Egypt, and of Rome, would never have been spoken of in history if he had
then had the courage to join his land forces; but he sailed away in a
fright with Cleopatra, leaving an army larger than that of Octavianus,
which would not believe that he was gone. They landed at Parastonium in
Libya, where he remained in the desert with Aristocrates the rhetorician
and one or two other friends, and sent Cleopatra forward to Alexandria.
There she talked of carrying her ships across the isthmus to the head
of the Red Sea, along the canal from Bubastis to the Bitter Lakes, and
thence flying to some unknown land from the power of the conqueror.
Antony soon however followed her, but not to join in society. He
locked himself up in his despair in a small fortress by the side of
the harbour, which he named his Timonium, after Timon, the Athenian
philosopher who forsook the society of men. When the news, however,
arrived that his land forces had joined Octavianus, and his allies had
deserted him, he came out of his Timonium and joined the queen.

In Alexandria, Antony and Cleopatra only so far regained their courage
as to forget their losses, and to plunge into the same round of costly
feasts and shows that they had amused themselves with before their fall;
but, while they were wasting these few weeks in pleasure, Octavianus was
moving his fleet and army upon Egypt.

When he landed on the coast, Egypt held three millions of people; he
might have been met by three hundred thousand men able to bear arms.
As for money, which has sometimes been called the sinews of war, though
there might have been none in the treasury, yet it could not have been
wanting in Alexandria. But the Egyptians, like the ass in the fable, had
nothing to fear from a change of masters; they could hardly be kicked
and cuffed worse than they had been; and, though they themselves
were the prize struggled for, they looked on with the idle stare of a
bystander. Some few of the garrisons made a show of holding out; but, as
Antony had left the whole of his army in Greece when he fled away after
the battle of Actium, he had lost all chance of safety.

When Pelusium was taken, it was said by some that Seleucus the commander
had given it up by Cleopatra's orders; but the queen, to justify
herself, put the wife and children of Seleucus into the hands of Antony
to be punished if he thought fit. When Octavianus arrived in front of
Alexandria he encamped not far from the hippodrome, a few miles from the
Canopic or eastern gate. On this Antony made a brisk sally, and, routing
the Roman cavalry, returned to the city in triumph. On his way to
the palace he met Cleopatra, whom he kissed, armed as he was, and
recommended to her favour a brave soldier who had done good service in
the battle. She gave the man a cuirass and helmet of gold; but he
saw that Antony's cause was ruined; his new-gotten treasure made him
selfish, and he went over to the enemy's camp that very night. The next
morning Antony ordered out his forces, both on land and sea, to engage
with those of Octavianus; but he was betrayed by his generals: his fleet
and cavalry deserted him without a blow being struck; and his infantry,
easily routed, retreated into the city.

[Illustration: 351.jpg GREEK PICTURE OF CLEOPATRA]

Cleopatra had never acted justly towards her Jewish subjects; and,
during a late famine, had denied to them their share of the wheat
distributed out of the public granaries to the citizens of Alexandria.
The Jews in return showed no loyalty to Cleopatra, nor regret at her
enemy's success; and on this defeat of her troops her rage fell upon
them. She made a boast of her cruelty towards them, and thought if she
could have killed all the Jews with her own hand she should have been
repaid for the loss of the city. On the other hand, Antony thought that
he had been betrayed by Cleopatra, as she had received many messengers
from Octavianus. To avoid his anger, therefore, she fled to a monument
which she had built near the temple of Isis, and in which she had before
placed her treasure, her gold, silver, emeralds, pearls, ebony, ivory,
and cinnamon, together with a large quantity of flax and a number of
torches, as though to burn herself and her wealth in one flame. Here she
retired with two of her women, and secured herself with bars and bolts,
and sent word to Antony that she was dead. Antony, when he heard it,
believing that she had killed herself, and wishing not to be outdone in
courage by a woman, plunged his sword into his breast. But the wound was
not fatal, and when Cleopatra heard of it she sent to beg that he would
come to her. Accordingly his servants carried him to the door of her
monument. But the queen, in fear of treachery, would not suffer the door
to be opened; but she let a cord down from the window, and she with her
two women drew him up. Nothing could be more affecting than the sight to
all who were near; Antony covered with blood, in the agonies of death,
stretching out his hands to Cleopatra, and she straining every nerve and
every feature of her face with the effort she was making. He was at last
lifted in at the window, but died soon afterwards. By this time the city
was in the power of Octavianus; he had not found it necessary to storm
the walls, for Antony's troops had all joined him, and he sent in Gallus
to endeavour to take Cleopatra alive. This he succeeded in doing by
drawing her into conversation at the door of her monument, while three
men scaled the window and snatched out of her hand the dagger with which
she would have stabbed herself.

Octavianus, henceforth called Augustus, began by promising his soldiers
two hundred and fifty drachmas each as prize money, for not being
allowed to plunder Alexandria. He soon afterwards entered the city, not
on horseback armed at the head of his victorious legions, but on foot,
leaning on the arm of the philosopher Arius; and, as he wished to be
thought as great a lover of learning as of mercy, he gave out that he
spared the place to the prayers of his Alexandrian friend. He called the
Greek citizens together in the gymnasium, and, mounting the tribunal,
promised that they should not be hurt. Cleopatra's three children by
Antony, who had not the misfortune to be of the same blood with the
conqueror, were kindly treated and taken care of; while Cæsarion, her
son by Julius Cæsar, who was betrayed by his tutor Rhodon while flying
towards Ethiopia, was put to death as a rival. The flatterers of the
conqueror would of course say that Cæsarion was not the son of
Julius, but of Ptolemy, the elder of the two boys who had been called
Cleopatra's husbands. The feelings of humanity might have answered
that, if he was not the only son of the uncle to whom Octavianus owed
everything, he was at least helpless and friendless, and that he never
could trouble the undisputed master of the world; but Augustus, with
the heartless cruelty which murdered Cicero, and the cold caution which
marked his character through life, listening to the remark of Arius,
that there ought not to be two Cæsars, had him at once put to death.

Augustus gave orders that Cleopatra should be carefully guarded lest she
should put an end to her own life; he wished to carry her with him to
Rome as the ornament of his triumph. He paid her a visit of condolence
and consolation. He promised her she should receive honourable
treatment. He allowed her to bury Antony. He threatened that her
children should be punished if she hurt herself; but she deceived her
guards and put herself to death, either by poison, or, as was more
commonly thought, by the bite of an asp brought to her in a basket
of fruit. She was thirty-nine years of age, having reigned twenty-two
years, of which the last seven were in conjunction with Antony; and she
was buried in his tomb with all regal splendour.

The death of Cleopatra was hailed at Rome as a relief from a sad
disgrace by others besides the flatterers of the conqueror. When
governed by Julius Cæsar, and afterwards by Antony, the Romans sometimes
fancied they were receiving orders from the barbarian queen to
whom their master was a slave. When Antony was in arms against his
countrymen, they were not without alarm at Cleopatra's boast that she
would yet make her power felt in the Capitol; and many feared that even
when Antony was overthrown the conqueror might himself be willing to
wear her chains. But the prudent Augustus was in no danger of being
dazzled by beauty. He saw clearly all that was within his reach; he did
not want her help to the sovereignty of Egypt; and from the day that he
entered the empty palace in Alexandria, his reign began as sole master
of Rome and its dependent provinces.

While we have in this history been looking at the Romans from afar, and
only seen their dealings with foreign kings, we have been able to note
some of the changes in their manners nearly as well as if we had stood
in the Forum. When Epiphanes, Philometor, and Euergetes II. owed their
crowns to Roman help, Rome gained nothing but thanks, and that weight in
their councils which is fairly due to usefulness: the senate asked for
no tribute, and the citizens took no bribes. But with the growth
of power came the love of conquest and of its spoils. Macedonia
was conquered in what might be called self-defence; in the reign of
Cleopatra Cocce, Cyrene was won by fraud, and Cyprus was then seized
without a plea. The senators were even more eager for bribes than the
senate for provinces. The nobles who governed these wide provinces
grew too powerful for the senate, and found that they could heap up
ill-gotten wealth faster by patronising kings than by conquering them;
and the Egyptian monarchy was left to stand in the reigns of Auletes
and Cleopatra, because the Romans were still more greedy than when they
seized Cyrene and Cyprus. And, lastly, when the Romans were worn out by
quarrels and the want of a steady government, and were ready to obey
any master who could put a stop to civil bloodshed, they made Octavianus
autocrat of Rome; he then gained for himself whatever he seized in
the name of the republic, and he at once put an end to the Egyptian

Thus fell the family of the Ptolemies, a family that had perhaps done
more for arts and letters than any that can be pointed out in history.
Like other kings who have bought the praises of poets, orators, and
historians, they may have misled the talents which they wished to
guide, and have smothered the fire which they seemed to foster; but,
in rewarding the industry of the mathematicians and anatomists, of the
critics, commentators, and compilers, they seem to have been highly
successful. It is true that Alexandria never sent forth works with the
high tone of philosophy, the lofty moral aim and the pure taste which
mark the writings of Greece in its best ages, and which ennoble the mind
and mend the heart; but it was the school to which the world long looked
for knowledge in all those sciences which help the body and improve the
arts of life, and which are sometimes called useful knowledge. Though
great and good actions may not have been unknown in Alexandria, so few
valued them that none took the trouble to record them. The well-paid
writers never wrote the lives of the Ptolemies. The muse of history
had no seat in the museum, but it was almost the birthplace of anatomy,
geometry, conic sections, geography, astronomy, and hydrostatics.

[Illustration: 357.jpg GRAND COLUMN AT KARNAK]

If we retrace the steps by which this Græco-Egyptian monarchy rose and
fell, we shall see that virtue and vice, wisdom and folly, care and
thoughtlessness, were for the most part followed by the rewards which to
us seem natural. The Egyptian gold which first tempted the Greeks into
the country, and then helped their energies to raise the monarchy,
afterwards undermined those same energies, and became one of the
principal causes of its final overthrow.

In Ptolemy Soter we see plain manners, careful plans, untiring activity,
and a wise choice of friends. By him talents were highly paid wherever
they were found; no service left unrewarded; the people trusted and
taught the use of arms; their love gained by wise laws and even-handed
justice; docks, harbours, and fortresses built, schools opened; and
by these means a great monarchy founded. Ptolemy was eager to fill
the ranks of his armies with soldiers, and his new city with traders.
Instead of trying to govern against the will of the people, to thwart
or overlook their wishes and feelings, his utmost aim was to guide them,
and to make Alexandria a more agreeable place of settlement than the
cities of Asia Minor and Syria, for the thousands who were then
pouring out of Greece on the check given to its trading industry by the
overthrow of its freedom. Though every thinking man might have seen
that the new government, when it gained shape and strength, would be a
military despotism; yet his Greek subjects must have felt, while it was
weak and resting on their good-will rather than on their habits, that
they were enjoying many of the blessings of freedom. Had they then
claimed a share in the government, they would most likely have gained
it, and thereby they would have handed down those blessings to their

Before the death of Ptolemy Soter, the habits of the people had so
closely entwined themselves round the throne, that Philadelphus was able
to take the kingdom and the whole of its wide provinces at the hands of
his father as a family estate. He did nothing to mar his father's wise
plans, which then ripened into fruit-bearing. Trade crowded the harbours
and markets, learning filled the schools, conquests rewarded the
discipline of the fleets and armies; power, wealth, and splendour
followed in due order. The blaze thus cast around the throne would by
many kings have been made to stand in the place of justice and mildness,
but under Philadelphus it only threw a light upon his good government.
He was acknowledged both at home and abroad to be the first king of
his age; Greece and its philosophers looked up to him as a friend and
patron; and though as a man he must take rank far below his father, by
whose wisdom the eminence on which he stood was raised, yet in all the
gold and glitter of a king Philadelphus was the greatest of his family.

The Egyptians had been treated with kindness by both of these Greek
kings. As far as they had been able or willing to copy the arts of
Greece they had been raised to a level with the Macedonians. The
Egyptian worship and temples had been upheld, as if in obedience to
the oft-repeated answer of the Delphic oracle, that the gods should
everywhere be worshipped according to the laws of the country. But
Euergetes was much more of an Egyptian, and while he was bringing back
the ancient splendour to the temples, the priests must have regained
something of their former rank. But they had no hold on the minds of the
soldiers. Had the mercenaries, upon whom the power of the king rested,
been worshippers in the Egyptian temples, the priests might, as in the
earlier times, like a body of nobles, have checked his power when too
great, and at other times upheld it. But it was not so; and upon the
whole, little seems to have been gained by the court becoming more
Egyptian, while the army must have lost something of its Greek
discipline and plainness of manners.

But in the next reign the fruits of this change were seen to be most
unfortunate. Philopator was an Eastern despot, surrounded by eunuchs,
and drowned in pleasures. The country was governed by his women and
vicious favourites. The army, which at the beginning of his reign
amounted to seventy-three thousand men, beside the garrisons, was at
first weakened by rebellion, and before the end of his reign it fell to
pieces. Nothing, however, happened to prove his weakness to surrounding
nations; Egypt was still the greatest of kingdoms, though Rome on the
conquest of Carthage, and Syria under Antiochus the Great, were fast
gaining ground upon it; but he left to his infant son a throne shaken to
the very foundations.

The ministers of Epiphanes, the infant autocrat, found the government
without a head and without an army, the treasury without money, and the
people without virtue or courage; and they placed the kingdom under the
hands of the Romans to save it from being shared between the kings of
Syria and Macedonia. Thus passed the first five reigns, the first one
hundred and fifty years, the first half of the three centuries that the
kingdom of the Ptolemies lasted. It was then rotten at the core with
vice and luxury. Its population was lessening, its trade falling off,
its treasury empty, its revenue too small for the wasteful expenses of
the government; but, nevertheless, in the eyes of surrounding nations,
its trade and wealth seemed boundless.

[Illustration: 362.jpg Cleopatra's needle.]

Taste, genius, and poetry had passed away; but mathematics, surgery, and
grammar still graced the museum. The decline of art is shown upon the
coins, and even in the shape of the letters upon the coins. On those
of Cleopatra the engraver followed the fashion of the penman; the S is
written like our C, the E has a round back, and the long O is formed
like an M reversed.

During the reigns of the later Ptolemies the kingdom was under the
shield, but also under the sceptre of Rome. Its kings sent to Rome
for help, sometimes against their enemies, and sometimes against their
subjects; sometimes they humbly asked the senate for advice, and at
other times were able respectfully to disobey the Roman orders. One
by one the senate seized the provinces; Coele-Syria, the coast of
Asia Minor, Cyrene, and the island of Cyprus; and lastly, though the
Ptolemies still reigned, they were counted among the clients of the
Roman patrician, to whom they looked up for patronage. From this low
state Egypt could scarcely be said to fall when it became a part of the
great empire of Augustus.

During the reigns of the Ptolemies, the sculpture, the style of
building, the religion, the writing, and the language of the Kopts in
the Thebaid were nearly the same as when their own kings were reigning
in Thebes, with even fewer changes than usually creep in through time.
They had all become less simple; and though it would be difficult, and
would want a volume by itself to trace these changes, and to show when
they came into use, yet a few of them may be pointed out. The change of
fashion must needs be slower in buildings which are only raised by the
untiring labour of years, and which when built stand for ages; but in
the later temples we find less strength as fortresses, few obelisks or
sphinxes, and no colossal statues; we no longer meet with vast caves
or pyramids. The columns in a temple have several new patterns. The
capitals which used to be copied from the papyrus plant are now formed
of lotus flowers, or palm branches. In some cases, with a sad want of
taste, the weight of the roof rests on the weak head of a woman.
The buildings, however, of the Ptolemies are such that, before the
hieroglyphics on them had been read by Doctor Young, nobody had ever
guessed that they were later than the time of Cambyses, while three or
four pillars at Alexandria were almost the only proof that the country
had ever been held by Greeks.

In the religion we find many new gods or old gods in new dresses.
Hapimou, the Nile, now pours water out of a jar like a Greek river god.
The moon, which before ornamented the heads of gods, is now a goddess
under the name of Ioh. The favourite Isis had appeared in so many
characters that she is called the goddess with ten thousand names.

[Illustration: 364.jpg GRAECO-EGYPTIAN COLUMN]

The gods had also changed their rank; Phtah and Serapis now held the
chief place. Strange change had also taken place in the names of men
and cities. In the place of Petisis, Petamun, Psammo, and Serapion,
we find men named Eudoxus, Hermophantus, and Poly crates; while of the
cities, Oshmoonayn is called Hermopolis; Esne, Latopolis; Chemmis,
Panopolis; and Thebes, Diospolis; and Ptolemais, Phylace, Parembole,
and others had sprung into being. Many new characters crept into the
hieroglyphics, as the camelopard, the mummy lying on a couch, the ships
with sails, and the chariot with horses; there were more words spelled
with letters, the groups were more crowded, and the titles of the kings
within the ovals became much longer.

With the papyrus, which was becoming common about the time of the
Persian invasion, we find the running hand, the enchorial or common
writing, as it was called, coming into use, in which there were few
symbols, and most of the words were spelt with letters. Each letter was
of the easy sloping form, which came from its being made with a reed or
pen, instead of the stiff form of the hieroglyphics, which were mostly
cut in stone. But there is a want of neatness, which has thrown a
difficulty over them, and has made these writings less easy to read than
the hieroglyphics.

When the country fell into the hands of Augustus, the Kopts were in
a much lower state than when conquered by Alexander. Of the old moral
worth and purity of manners very little remained. All respect for women
was lost; and, when men degrade those who should be their helps towards
excellence, they degrade themselves also. Not a small part of the
nation was sunk in vice. They had been slaves for three hundred years,
sometimes trusted and well-treated, but more often trampled on and
ground down with taxes and cruelty. They had never held up their heads
as freemen, or felt themselves lords of their own soil; they had fallen
off in numbers, in wealth, and in knowledge; nothing was left to them
but their religion, their temples, their hieroglyphics, and the painful
remembrance of their faded glories.


*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "History of Egypt From 330 B.C. To the Present Time, Volume 10 (of 12)" ***

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