« EdellinenJatka »
PTOLEMY PHILADELPHUS,e after the death of his father, became sole master of all his dominions, which were composed of Egypt, and many provinces dependent on it, that is to say, Phenicia, Celosyria, Arabia, Lybia, Ethiopia, the island of Cyprus, Pamphylia, Cilicia, Lycia, Caria, and the isles called the Cyclades.
During the life of Ptolemy Soter, Philadelphus had concealed his resentment against Demetrius Phalereus, for the advice he gave that prince, when he was deliberating on the choice of a successor.
But when the soyereign power entirely devolved upon bim, he caused that philosopher to be seized, and sent with a strong guard to a remote fortress, where he ordered him to be confined, till he should determine in what manner to treat him, But at last the bite of an aspic put a period to the life of that great man, who merited a better fate.
The testimonies in his favour of Cicero, Strabo, Plu. tarch, Diodorus Siculus, and many others, leave no room to doubt of the probity and wisdom of his gov. ernment ; we therefore shall only consider what has been observed with respect to his eloquence.
The characters of his writings, as Cicero observes in several places, were sweetness, elegance, beauty, num. bers, and ornament, so that it was easy to distinguish in them the disciple of Theophrastus. He excelled in
· A. M. 5721. Ant. J. C. 283. Theocrit. Idyll. xvii. Diog. Laert. in Demetr. Cic. in orat. pro Rabir. Post. n. 23.
& Offic. 1. i. n. 3. De clar. Orat. n. 37, 38.
that species of eloquence, which is called the temperate and florid. His style, in other respects gentle and calm, was adorned and enobled with bold and shining metaphors that exalted and enlivened his discourse ; otherwise not dignified to any great degree with rich sentiments, and those beauties that constitute the great and sublime. He was rather to be considered as a wrestler, formed in the shade and tranquillity, for public games and spectacles, than as a soldier, inured to arms by exercise, and quitting his tent to attack an enemy. His discourse had, indeed, the faculty of affecting his hearers with something grateful and tender, but it wanted energy to inspire the force and ardour that inflame the mind, and only left in it, at most, an agreeable remembrance of some transient sweetness and graces, not unlike that we retain after hearing the most harmo. nious concerts.
It must be confessed, this species of eloquence has its merit, when limited to just bounds; but as it is very difficult and unusual to preserve the due mediocrity in this particular, and to suppress the sallies of a rich and lively imagination, not always guided by the judgment; this kind of eloquence is apt, therefore, to degenerate, and become, even from its own beauties, a pernicious delicacy, which at length vitiates and depraves the taste. This was the effect, according to Cicero and Quintilian, who were good judges in this point, of the florid and studied graces peculiar to the style of Deme. trius. Athens, till his time, h had been accustomed to a noble and majestic eloquence, whose character was a natural beauty, without paint and glitter. Demetrius
b De clar. Orat. n. 36-38.
was the first that revolted againt this manly and solid eloquence, to which he substituted a soft and languishing species, that abated the vigor of the mind, and at length rendered false taste predominant.
Two of Alexander's captains survived Ptolemy, Lysimachus and Seleucus, who, till then, had always been united by interest and friendship, and were engag. ed to each other by treaties and confederations; and as they were now advancing to the period of their days, for each of them had exceeded eighty years of
age, one would have thought they would have been desirous of ending their lives in the union which had so long subsisted between them ; instead of which, their mutual destruction by war, became the whole object of their thoughts, on the following occasion.
Lysimachus, after the marriage of his son Agathocles with Lysandra, one of the daughters of Ptolemy, espoused another bimself, whose name was Arsinoe, and had several children by her. The different interests of these two sisters led them into all sorts of intrigues, to form a powerful party in their favour, upon the death of Lysimachus. What are ambitious wives and mothers not capable of attempting ! Their
OPp0sition to each other was not the mere effect of personal interest, but was chiefly fomented by the differences of their mothers. Lysandra was the daughter of Eurydice, and Arsinoe of Berenice. The arrival of Ptolemy Ceraunus, the brother of Philadelphus, at this court, made Arsinoe apprehensive that his interest would strengthen too much the party of Lysandra, who was his sister by the same mother ; and that they
Justin. I. xvii. c. 1. Appian. in Syriac. Pausan. in Attic. p. 18.
would accomplish the destruction of herself, and her own children, at the death of Lysimachus. This calamity she was determined to prevent, by sacrificing Agathocles to her suspicions; and she succeeded in her design, by representing him to her husband, as one who had formed a conspiracy against his life and crown, by which she so much incensed him against his own son, that he caused him to be imprisoned and put to death. Lysandra and her children, with her brother Ceraunus, and Alexander, another son of Lysimachus, took sanctuary in the court of Seleucus, and prevailed upon him to declare war against Lysimachus. Several of the principal officers of this prince, and even those who had been most devoted to his interest, were struck with so much horror at the murder of his son, that they entirely abandoned him, and retired to the court of Seleucus, where they strengthened the remonstrances of Lysandra by their own complaints. Seleucus was easily induced to undertake this war, for which he was already sufficiently disposed, by views of interest.
*Before he engaged in this enterprise, he resigned his queen Stratonice to his son Antiochus, for a reason I shall soon relate ; and consigned to him, at the same time, a considerable part of his empire, reserving to himself no other territories but the provinces between the Euphrates and the sea.
Antiochus was seized with a lingering distemper, of which the physicians were incapable of discovering the eause; for which reason his condition was thought en
* Plut. in Demetr. p. 906, 907. Appian. in Syr. p. 126-128. VOL. 6.
tirely desperate. It is easy to conceive the inquietude of a father who beheld himself on the point of losing his son in the flower of his age,whom he had intended for his successor in his vast dominions, and in whom all the happiness of his life consisted. Erasistratus, the most attentive and skilful of all the physicians, having carefully considered every symptom with which the indisposition of the young prince was attended, believed at last that he had discovered its true cause, and that it proceeded from a passion he had entertained for some lady ; in which conjecture he was not deceived. It, however, was more difficult to discover the object of a passion, the more violent from the secrecy in which it remained. The physician, therefore, to assure bimself fully of what he surmised, passed whole days in the apartment of his patient, and when he saw any lady enter, he carefully observed the countenance of the prince, and never discovered the least emotion in him, except when Stratonice came into the chamber, either alone, or with her consort ; at which times the young prince was, as Plutarch observes, always affected with the symptoms described by Sappho, as so many indications of a violent passion. Such, for instance, as a suppression of voice ; burning blushes; suffusion of sight ; cold sweat ; a sensible inequality and disorder of pulse ; with a variety of the like symptoms. When the physician was afterwards alone with his patient, he managed his inquiries with so much dexterity, as at last drew the secret from him. Antiochus confessed his passion for queen Stratonice his mother in law, and declared that he had in vain employed all his efforts to vanquish it ; he added, that he had a thousand times