Sivut kuvina
PDF
ePub

1

of a common soldier, and his troops went over to Pyrrhus, whom they proclaimed king of Macedonia.

The different characters of these two princes greatly contributed to this sudden revolution. Demetrius, who considered vain pomp, and superb magnificence, as true grandeur, rendered himself contemptible to the Macedonians, in the very circumstance by which he thought to obtain their esteem. He ambitiously loaded his head with a double diadem, like a theatrical monarch, and wore purple robes enriched with a profusion of gold. The ornaments of his feet were altogether extraordinary; and he had long employed artists to make him a mantle, on which the system of the world, with all the stars visible in the firmament, were to be embroidered in gold. The change of his fortune prevented the finishing of this work, and no future king would presume to wear it.

But that which rendered him still more odious, was his being so difficult of approach. He was either so imperious and disdainful, as not to allow those who had any affairs to transact with him the liberty of speech, or else he treated them with so much rudeness, as obliged them to quit his presence with disgust. One day when he came out of his palace, and walked through the streets with a mien of more affability than it was usual for him to assume, some persons were encouraged

present a few petitions to him. He received them with a gracious air, and placed them in one of the folds of his robe; but as he was passing over a bridge on the river Axius, he threw all those petitions into the stream. A prince must certainly know yery little of

W

A river of Upper Macedonia

mankind, not to be sensible that such a contemptuous behaviour is sufficient to provoke his subjects to revolt from his authority. On this occasion, an action of the great Philip was recollected, and which has been related among the events of his reign. That prince had several times refused audience to a poor woman, under pretext that he wanted leisure to hear her. "Be no longer king then," replied she with some emotion; and Philip, from thenceforth, made it a maxim with himself to grant his subjects long and frequent audiences. For, as Plutarch observes on that occasion, "The most indispensable duty of a king, is to exert himself in the administration of justice."

The Macedonians had formed a very different idea of Pyrrhus. They had heard it reported, and were sensible by their own experience, that affability was natural to him, and that he was always mild and acces sible; they were convinced of his promptitude to recompense the services rendered him, and that he was slow to anger and severity. Some young officers over their liquor had vented several offensive pleasantries against him. The particulars of their conversation were related to Pyrrhus himself, who ordered them to be brought into his presence, and then asked them, if they had expressed themselves in the manner he had heard? “Yes, my lord," replied one of the company, "and we should have added a great deal more, if we had had more wine." Pyrrhus could not forbear laughing at this facetious and sprightly turn, and dismissed them from his presence without further notice.

The Macedonians thought him much superior to Demetrius, even in military merit. He had beat them

on several occasions, but their admiration of his bravery was greater than their resentment for their defeat. It was a common expression with them, that other princes imitated Alexander in nothing but their purple robes, the number of their guards, the affectation of inclining their heads like his, and their imperious manner of speaking; but that Pyrrhus himself was the only one who represented that monarch in his great and laudable qualities. Pyrrhus himself was not altogether free from vanity, with respect to the resemblance of his own features to those of Alexander, but a good matron of Larissa, in whose house he once lodged, had undeceived him in that particular, by an answer perhaps not at all agreeable to him. The Macedonians, however, thought they discovered in him, the aspect of that prince; with all the fire of his eyes, and the vivacity, promptitude, and impetuosity with which he charged his enemies, and bore down all who presumed to oppose him. But with respect to the military art, and ability in drawing up an army in battle, they thought none comparable to Pyrrhus.

X

It cannot therefore be thought surprising, that the Macedonians, who entertained such prejudices in his favour, and so disadvantageous to the other, should easily quit the party of Demetrius, to espouse that of Pyrrhus and one may see by this instance, and a

* A set of flatterers had really persuaded Pyrrhus that he resembled Alexander in the features of his face. With this belief, he sent for the pictures of Philip, Perdiccas, Alexander, Cassander, and some other princes, and then desired a woman of Larissa, with whom he then lodged, to tell him which of those princes he most resembled She refus to answer him for a considerable time, till at last he pressed her very earnestly to satisfy his curiosity: upon which she replied, that she thought him very like Batrachion, who was a noted cook in that city. Lucian. advers. indoct. p 552, 553.

thousand others, how necessary it is for princes to attach their people to their interests by the gentle ties of affection, and gratitude; and by entertaining a real love for them, which is the only means of acquiring their love, that is the most solid glory, their most essential obligation, and at the same time their greatest security.

D

As Lysimachus happened to arrive immediately after Pyrrhus had been declared king of Macedonia, he pretended that he had contributed as much as that prince, to the flight of Demetrius, and that he consequently ought to have a share in that kingdom. Pyrrhus, who, in this conjuncture, was not entirely certain of the fidelity of the Macedonians, readily acquiesced in the pretensions of Lysimachus, and the cities and provinces were accordingly shared between them: but this agreement was so far from uniting them with each other, that it rather led them into a constant train of animosities and divisions: for, as Plutarch observes, when neither seas nor mountains, nor uninhabitable deserts, could suffice as barriers to the avarice and ambition of these princes; and when their desires were not to be bounded by those limits which separate Europe from Asia, how could they possibly continue in a state of tranquillity, and refrain from the injustice of invading domains so near, and which might prove so commodious to them? this was a moderation not to be expected; and a perpetual war between them became inevitable from the malignant seeds of envy and usurpation that had taken root in their minds. The names of peace and war were considered by them as Plut. in Pyrrh. p. 389, 390.

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

two species of coin; to which they themselves had given currency, merely for their own interest, and without the least regard to justice. Again, continues the same author, do they act more laudably, when they engage in an open war, than when they use the sacred names of justice, friendship, and peace, for what, in reality, is no more than a truce or a transient suspension of their unjust views?

The whole history of Alexander's successors justifies these reflections of Plutarch. Never were more treaties and alliances made, and never were they violated with less disguise, and more impunity. May heaven grant that those complaints be never applicable to any princes or times, but those we are treating of at present!

Pyrrhus, finding the Macedonians more tractable and submissive, when he led them to war, than they were when he permitted them to enjoy a state of repose; and being himself not much addicted to tranquillity, nor capable of satisfaction in the calm of a long peace, was daily forming new enterprises, without much regard to sparing either his subjects or allies. Lysimachus took advantage of the army's disgust of Pyrrhus, and inflamed them still more by his emissaries, who artfully insinuated that they had acted most shamefully in choosing a stranger for their master, whom interest, and not affection, had attached to Macedonia. These reproaches drew in the greatest part of the soldiers; upon which Pyrrhus, who feared the consequences of this alienation, retired with his epirots, and the troops of his allies, and lost Macedonia in the same manner he had gained it.

« EdellinenJatka »