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affront to his face, of having the senate's decree revoked, by which he was appointed to reinstate Ptolemy, set out immediately for his province, in quality of proconsul.
He was not deceived. Some days after, one of the new consuls, named Marcellinus, the declared enemy of Pompey, having proposed the oracle to the senate, it was decreed, that regard should be had to it, and that it appeared dangerous for the commonwealth to re-establish the king of Egypt by force.
We must not believe there was any person in the senate so simple, or rather so stupid, as to have any faith in such an oracle. Nobody doubted but that it had been expressly contrived for the present conjuncture, and was the work of some political intrigue.. But it had been published and approved in the assembly of the people, credulous and superstitious to excess, and the senate could pass no other judgment upon it.
This new incident obliged Ptolemy to change his measures. Seeing that Lentulus had too many enemies at Rome, he abandoned the decree by which he had been commissioned with his re-establishment, and demanded by Ammonius, his ambassador, whom he had left at Rome, that Pompey should be appointed to execute the same commission; because, it not being possible to execute it with open force, upon account of the oracle, he judged, with reason, that it was necessary to substitute, in the room of force, a person of great authority; and Pompey was at that time at the highest pitch of his glory, occasioned by his success in having destroyed Mithridates, the greatest and most powerful king Asia had seen since Alexander.
The affair was discussed in the senate, and debated with great vivacity by the different parties that rose up in it. The difference of opinions caused several sittings to be spent without any deier.. mination.* Cicero never quitted the interest of Lentulus, his intimate friend, who, during his sulship, had infinitely contributed to his recall from banishment. But what means were there to render him any service, in the condition in which things stood? And what could that proconsul do against a great kingdom, without using force of arms, which was expressly forbidden by the oracle? In this manner, people of little wit and subtlety, that were not used to consider things in different lights, would have thought. The oracle only prohibited giving the king any troops for his re-establishment. Could not Lentulus have left him in some place near the frontiers, and still go with a good army to besiege Alexandria? Af: ter he had taken it, he might have returned, leaving a strong garrison in the place, and then sent the king thither, who would have found all things disposed for his reception without violence or troops. This was Cicero's advice; to confirm which, I shall repeat his own words, taken from a letter written by him at that
. Cic. ad. Famil. I. 1. epist. 7
time to Lentulus : “ You are the best judge," says he," as you are master of Cilicia and Cyprus, of what you can undertake and effect. If it seems practicable for you to take Alexandria, and possess yourself of the rest of Egypt, it is, without doubt, both for your own honour, and that of the commonwealth, that you should
go thither with your fleet and army, leaving the king at Ptolemais, or in some other neighbouring place; in order that, after you have appeased the revolt, and left strong garrisons where necessa. ry, that prince may safely return thither. In* this manner, you will reinstate him, according to the senate's first decree; and he will be restored without troops, which our zealots assure us is the direction of the Sibyl.” Would one believe that a grave magistrate, in an affair so important as that at present in question, should be capable of an evasion, which appears so little consistent with the integrity and probity upon which Cicero valued himself? It was because he reckoned the pretended oracle of the Sibyl to be 'what indeed it was, that is to say, a mere contrivance and imposture.
Lentulus, stopped by the difficulties of that enterprise, which were great and real, was afraid to engage in it, and took the advice Cicero gave him in the conclusion of his leiter, where he represented, “ That all the world would judge of his conduct from the event;t that therefore he had only to take his measures so well as to assure his success; and that otherwise, he would do better not to undertake it."
Gabinius, who commanded in Syria in the quality of proconsul, was less apprehensive and less cautious. Though every proconsul was prohibited by a positive law to quit his province, or declare any war whatsoever, even upon the nearest borderer, without an express order of the senate, he had marched to the aid of Mithridates, prince of Parthia, who had been expelled by the king, his
brother, from Media, which kingdom had fallen
to his share. He had already passed the Euphrates with his army for that purpose, when Ptolemy joined him with letters from Pompey, their common friend and patron, who had very lately been declared consul for the year ensuing. By those letters he conjured Gabinius to do his utmost in favour of the proposals that prince should make him, with regard to his re-establishment in his kingdom. However dangerous that conduct might be, the authority of Pompey, and, still more, the hope of considerable gain, made Gabinius begin to waver. The pressing remonstrances of Antony, who sought occasions to signalize himself
, and was besides inclined to please Ptolemy, whose entreaties flattered his ambition, fully determined him. This was the famous Mark
. Ita fore ut per te restituatur, quemadmodum initio senatus censuit; et sine multiLudine reducatur, quemadmodum homines religiosi Sibyllæ placere dixerunt.
A. M. 3949. Ant. J. C. 55.
| Ex eventu honines de tuo consilio esse judicaturos, videmus-Nos quidem boc sente mus; si exploratum tibi sit, posse te illius regni potiri, non esse cunctandum ; sin dubi
t'Appian. in Syr. p. 120, & in Parth. p. 134. Plut. ia Anton. p. 916, 917.
un, non esse conandum.
Antony, who afterwards formed the second triumvirate with Octavius and Lepidus. Gabinius had engaged him to follow him into Syria, by giving him the command of his cavalry. The more dangerous the enterprise, the more Gabinius thought he had a right to make Ptolemy pay dear for it. The latter, who found no difficulty in agreeing to any terms, offered him for himself and the army 10,000 talents, or 1,500,0001. the greatest part to be advanced immediately in ready money, and the rest as soon as he should be reinstated. Gabinius accepted the offer without hesitation.
Egypt* had continued under the government of queen Berenice. As soon as she ascended the throne, the Egyptians had sent to of. fer the crown, and Berenice, to Antiochus Asiaticus, in Syria, who, by his mother Selene's side, was the nearest heir malę. "Thé ambassadors found him dead, and returned; they brought an account that his brother Seleucus, surnamed Cybiosactes, was still alive. The same offers were made to him, which he accepted. He was a prince of mean and sordid inclinations, and had no thoughts but of amassing money. His first care was to cause the body of Alexander the Great to be put into a coffin of glass, in order to seize that of massy gold, in which it had lain untouched till then. This action, and many others of a like nature, having rendered him equally odious to his queen and subjects, she caused him to be strangled soon after. He was the last prince of the race of the Selucidæ. She afterwards espoused Archelaus, high-priest of Comana, in Pontus, who called himself the son of the great Mithri. dates, though in fact he was only the son of that prince's chief general.
Gabinius, after having passed the Euphrates, and crossed Palestine, marched directly into Egypt. What was most to be feared in this war, was the way by which they must necessarily march to arrive at Pelusium ; for they could not avoid passing plains, covered with sands of such a depth as was terrible to think on, and $0 parched, that there was not a single drop of water the whole length of the fens of Serbonis. Antony, who was sent before with the horse, not only seized the passes, but having taken Pelusium, the key of Egypt on that side, with the whole garrison, he made the way secure for the rest of the army,
his general great hopes of success in the expedition.
The enemy derived considerable advantage from the desire of glory which influenced Antony. For Ptolemy had no sooner en. tered Pelusium, than, urged by the violence of his hate and resentment, he would have put all the Egyptians in it to the sword. But Antony, who rightly judged that that act of cruelty would disgrace himself, opposed it, and prevented Ptolemy from executing his design. In 1!! the battles and encounters which immediately fol.
* Strab. I. xil. p. 538. Cic. in Pison. n. 49, 50.
Id. l. xvii. p. 794—796. Dion. Cass. I. xxxix. p. 115. 117. . Plut. in Anton, p. 916, 917.
lowed one another, he not only gave proofs of his great valour, but distinguished himself by all the conduct of a great general.
As soon as Gabinius received advice of Antony's good success, ne entered the heart of Egypt. It was in winter, wlien the waters of the Nile are very low, and consequently the properest time for the conquest of it. Archelaus, who was brave, able, and experienced, did all that could be done in his defence, and disputed his ground very well with the enemy. After le quitted the city, in order to march against the Romans, when it was necessary to encamp and break ground for the intrenchments, the Egyptians, accustomed to live an idle and voluptuous life, raised an outery, that Archelaus should employ the mercenaries in such work at the expense of the public. What could be expected from such troops in a battle? They were, in fact, soon put to the rout. Archelaus was killed, fighting valiantly. Antony, who had been his particular friend and guest, having found his body upon the field of battle, adorned it in a royal manner, and solemnized his obsequies with great magnificence. By this action he left behind him a great name in Alexandria, and acquired amongst the Romans who served with him in this war the reputation of a man of singular valour and exceeding generosity.
Egypt was soon reduced, and obliged to receive Auletes, who look entire possession of his dominions. In order to strengthen him in it, Gabinius left him some Roman troops for the guard of his person. Those troops contracted at Alexandria the manners and customs of the country, and abandoned themselves to the luxury and effeminacy which reigned there more than in any other city. Acletes put his daughter Berenice to death, for having worn the crown during his exile; and afterwards got rid, in the same manner, of all the rich persons who had been of the adverse party. He had occasion for the confiscation of their éstates, to make up the sum he had promised to Gabinius, to whose aid he was indebted for his re-establishment.
The Egyptians suffered all these violences without murmuring.* But, some days after, a Roman soldier having accidentally killed a cat, neither the fear of Gabinius nor the authority of Ptolemy could prevent the people from tearing him to pieces upon the spot, to avenge the insult done to the gods of the country; for cats were of that number.
Nothing further is known with respect to the life of Ptolemy Auletes, except that C. Rabirius Posthumus, who had either lent him, or caused to be lent him, the greatest part of the sums he had borrowed at Rome, having gone to him, in order to procure payment when he was entirely reinstated, that prince gave him to understand that he despaired of satisfying him, unless he would consent lo take upon him the care of nis revenues, by which means
he might reimburse himself by little and little with his own hands. The unfortunate creditor having accepted that offer out of fear of losing his debt if he refused it, the king soon found a pretence for causing him to be imprisoned, though one of the oldest and dear. est of Cæsar's friends, and though Pompey was in some measure security for the debt, as the money was lent, and the obligations executed, in his presence, and by his procurement, in a country. house of his near Alba.
Rabirius thought himself too happy in being able to escape from prison and Egypt more miserable than he had gone thither. To complete his disgrace, he was prosecuted in form as soon as he returned to Rome, for having aided Ptolemy in corrupting the senate, by the sums he had lent him for that purpose; of having dishonoured his quality of Roman knight, by the employment he had accepted in Egypt'; and lastly, of having shared in the money which 'Gabinius brought from thence, with whom, it was alleged, he had connived. Cicero's oration in his defence, which we still have, is an eternal monument of the ingratitude and perfidy of this unworthy king.
Ptolemy Auletes died in the peaceable posses.
sion of the kingdom of Egypt, about four years after his re-establishment.* He left two sons and two daughters. He bequeathed his crown to the eldest son and daughter, and ordered by his will that they should marry together, according to the custom of that house, and govern jointly. And because they were both very young, (for the daughter, who was the eldest, was only seventeen years of age, he left them under the guardianship of the Roman senate. This was the famous Cleopatra, whose history it remains for us to relate. We find the people appointed Pompey the young king's guardian, who some years after so basely ordered him to be put to death.t
A M. 3953. Ant. J. C. 51.
Pothinus and Achillas, ministers of the young king, expol Cleopatra. She raises troops to re-esiablish herself. Pompey, after having been overthrown at Pharsalia, rem tires into Egypt. He is assassinated there. Cæsar, who pursued him, arrives at Alexandria, where he is informed of his death, which he seems to lament. He endeavours to reconcile the brother and sister, and for that purpose sends for Cleopatra, of whom he soon becomes enamoured. Great commotions arise at Alexandria, and Beveral battles are fought between the Egyptians and Cæsar's 1100pis, wherein the laiter have almost always the advantage. The king having been drowned in Aying after a sea-fight, all Egypt submits to Cæsar. He sets Cleopatra, with her younger brother, upon the throne, and returns to Rome.
A. M. 3956, Ant J. C. 48.
Little is known of the beginning of the reign of Cleopatra, and her brother. That prince was ;
• Cesar de Bello Civ. I. v. | Eutrop. I. vl. 1 Plut. in Pomp. 659—662. Id. in Cæs. p. 730, 731. Appian. de Bcl. Civ. p. 480-484. Ces. de Bel. Civ. I. iii. Diodh