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Chapter XI
This webpage reproduces part of
The House of Ptolemy

by E. R. Bevan

published by Methuen Publishing, London,
1927

The text is in the public domain.

This page has been carefully proofread
and I believe it to be free of errors.
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Chapter XIII

p342 Chapter XII

Berenice III, Ptolemy X Alexander II, Ptolemy XI (Auletes)
(80‑51 B.C.)

Queen Berenice was left by her father's death sole sovereign in Egypt, a woman now well on in life. Cicero, a contemporary, says that she was much beloved by the Alexandrines. So far as the Alexandrines and Egyptians were concerned, there would probably have been no objection to her continuing to rule as queen, without any associated king, though even Cleopatra III had been compelled to associate one or other of her sons with herself on the throne. The only legitimate male representative of the royal house was, as we have seen, the young Ptolemy Alexander. He was now no longer in the hands of Mithridates. After a residence at the Pontic court, where the king, his cousin, had given him an education fitting a Hellenistic prince, he had escaped to the camp of Sulla, and gone with Sulla to Rome. When Soter II died (80) Sulla was Dictator and master of the Roman world. Sulla, thinking it no doubt good policy to establish a protégé of his own upon the Egyptian throne, dispatched Ptolemy Alexander, with the authority of Rome to back him, to Alexandria. It was arranged that Ptolemy X (Alexander II) should marry his elderly widowed cousin, queen Berenice. She was not likely, as the wife of a boy, to give up the power to which she had become accustomed after twenty years. Within three weeks the young man found his situation intolerable and took the course, obvious to any young king who understood his business, of having Berenice assassinated. But he had miscalculated. The Alexandrines were exceedingly angry at having their queen taken in this way from them. So angry were they that they dragged the young Ptolemy then and there to the great Gymnasium and killed him. But then they were faced by an awkward situation. There were no legitimate descendants of Ptolemy, son of Lagus, except Selene and the Seleucid princes who had Ptolemaic blood. p344In this emergency the Alexandrines bethought them of two young men, the sons of their late king, Soter II, by a concubine. It was important to fill the throne before Rome intervened. One of them they made king of Egypt, and the other, king of Cyprus. Thus it came to pass that a Ptolemy ruled in the palace of Alexandria, who was known as "the Bastard" (Nothos), although the official style of Ptolemy XI was "the Father-loving Brother-(or Sister)-loving God" (Theos Philopator Philadelphus). Later on there was added to his official style the surname, "the young Dionysos." The earliest instance of this surname is in 64‑63 B.C.º1 His most common popular nickname came to be "the Flute-Player" (Auletes). Who his mother was we do not know. As the mistress of a king, she was in all probability an accomplished and beautiful woman from some city of the Greek world. It is unlikely that she had any native Egyptian blood. Mahaffy conjectured (though without any evidence) that "the Cyrenaean Eirene,"2 the mistress of Euergetes II, was "a grandee of the old Greek aristocracy in that most aristocratic of Hellenic colonies." We do not know anything about the mistress of Soter II. She may quite well have been a dancing girl of plebeian origin, though the fact that the Alexandrines chose her son to fill the vacant throne would be more explicable if, although not legally married to the king, she was a woman of good Greek family.

Cicero says that Ptolemy XI was "a boy in Syria"3 when he was suddenly summoned to mount the Egyptian throne. What could have brought the son, or sons, of Soter II to Syria, now mostly occupied by Tigranes, king of Armenia? Tigranes was an ally of Mithridates, and it may be that not only had Ptolemy Alexander been sent in his boyhood for safety to Cos, but the illegitimate children of Soter II also, and that they too were captured there by Mithridates in 88.4 p345Supposing the two sons of Soter were brought up, like Alexander, between 88 and 80 B.C. at the Pontic court, that might explain the difficult statement of Appian,5 that the two daughters of Mithridates — Mithridatis and Nyssa — had been betrothed to the kings of Egypt and Cyprus. It is notoriously hard to find any moment at which this could have happened. Bouché-Leclercq supposed that it took place between the time when Ptolemy the Bastard was put upon the Egyptian throne in 80, and his marriage with Cleopatra Tryphaena. When Bouché-Leclercq wrote his history of the Ptolemies, the first mention known of Cleopatra Tryphaena was in a demotic papyrus of May 78,6 and it was therefore then possible to suppose an interval of about two years, during which Mithridates might have made to the Alexandrine court his overtures for a dynastic alliance. Now, however, Ptolemy XI is shown to have been already married to Cleopatra Tryphaena in January 79, and it seems probable that his marriage took place immediately after he was put upon the throne. No room is left for the discussion of a Pontic marriage. But if Ptolemy XI and his brother had been brought up at the Pontic court with the royal children, it would be intelligible that Mithridates, when Soter II died, rather than see Alexander II, Rome's nominee, installed as king, should have seized the opportunity to dispatch the young men to Egypt to become kings in opposition to Rome. And he might very well have sought to bind them to his interests, before he let them go, by arranging a marriage between the two young Ptolemies and two of his daughters.7 If the young men proceeded from Pontus to Egypt by way of Syria, that would account for Cicero's statement, that Ptolemy XI was in Syria at the moment when Alexander II was assassinated.

p346 A demotic papyrus of January 79 shows the king of Egypt in his second regnal year already provided with a wife. She is called "queen Cleopatra, surnamed Tryphaena," and the royal pair are together Theoi Philopatores Philadelphoi.8 Who this Cleopatra Tryphaena (Cleopatra V) was, we are not told. The likeliest hypothesis is that she was Ptolemy's sister9 — the new illegitimate branch of the house of Ptolemy leading off with a brother-and‑sister marriage, according to the practice of the extinct legitimate branch. Or she might have been a daughter of Ptolemy Alexander I. If illegitimate, like Ptolemy X, she would in any case be presumably the daughter of a Greek mother.

The Egyptian coronation of Ptolemy X did not take place, for some reason, till March 76, and then, strangely enough, not at Memphis, but in Alexandria. But the Egyptian priest Pshereni-ptah, who crowned him, was High Priest of the great temple at Memphis, the chief dignitary of the Egyptian priesthood, representative of that family of princes of the church, whose history, as we have seen,10 can be traced right through the Ptolemaic period. The dignity being hereditary, Pshereni-ptah had succeeded to the great office, although in 76 only a boy of fourteen. When he died, in the eleventh year of Cleopatra (42‑41 B.C.), the sepulchral stele, by which he still speaks to the world from the British Museum, recorded the great moment of his boyhood. Owing to anomalies, such as in the Ptolemaic period are apt to mark attempts of Egyptian priests to write the old sacred tongue in the hieroglyphic script, the interpretation of the stele is in some points doubtful. Brugsch published two translations of it — one in French in the Dictionnaire de Géographie Egyptienneº (1879), and one in German in the Thesaurus Inscriptionum Aegyptiacarum p347(1883‑1891). The two translations in many significant points disagree. Mr. S. R. K. Glanville, of the Egyptian Department in the British Museum, has been good enough to re-examine the original Egyptian for me, and the translation which follows (based on Brugsch) is given according to what, in Mr. Glanville's judgment, the hieroglyphics require.

"In the year 25, on the 21st of Phaophi, in the reign of the king, the lord of the land, Ptolemy, the Saviour God, the Conqueror, was the day whereon I was born. I lived thirteen years in the presence of my father. There went forth a command from the king, the lord of the land, the Father-loving Sister-loving God, the New Osiris, son of the Sun, Lord of Diadems, Ptolemy, that the high office of you Priest of Memphis should be conferred upon me, I being then fourteen years old. I set the adornment of the serpent-crown upon the head of the king11 on the day that he took possession of Upper Egypt and Lower Egypt, and performed all the customary rites in the chambers which are appointed for the Thirty Years' Festivals. I was leader in all the secret offices. I gave instruction for the consecration of the Horus [the king as divine] at the time of the birth of the [Sun-]god [i.e. the spring equinox] in the Golden House. I betook me to the residence of the kings of the Ionians [the Greek kings] which is on the shore of the Great Sea to the west of Rakoti. The king of Upper and Lower Egypt, the Master of two worlds, the Father-loving Sister-loving God, the New Osiris, was crowned in his royal palace. He proceeded to the temple of Isis, the Lady of Yat-udjat. He offered unto her sacrifices many and costly. Riding in his chariot forth from the temple of Isis, the king himself caused his chariot to stand still. He wreathed my head with a beautiful wreath of gold and all manner of gems, except only the royal pectoral which was on his own breast. I was nominated Prophet, and he sent out a royal rescript to the capitals of all the nomes, saying: p348'I have appointed the High Priest of Memphis, Pshereni-ptah, to be my Prophet.' And there was delivered to me from the temples of Upper Egypt and Lower Egypt a yearly revenue for my maintenance.

"The king came to Memphis on a feast-day. He passed up and down in his ship that he might behold both sides of the place. So soon as he landed at the quarter of the city called Onkhtawy, he went into the temple escorted by his magnates and his wives and his royal children, with all the things prepared for the feast; sitting in the ship, he sailed up, in order to celebrate the feast in honour of all the gods who dwell in Memphis, according to the greatness of the goodwill in the heart of the lord of the land, and the white crown was upon his brow.

"I was a great man, rich in all riches, whereby I possessed a goodly harem. I lived forty-three years without any man-child being born to me. In which matter the majesty of this glorious god, Imhotep, the son of Ptah, was gracious unto me. A man-child was bestowed upon me, who was called Imhotep, and was surnamed Petubast. Ta‑imhotepe, the daughter of the father of the god, the Prophet of Horus, the lord of Letopolis, Kha-hapi, was his mother.

"Under the majesty of the princess, the lady of the land, Cleopatra and her son Caesar, in the year 11, the 15th of Phamenoth was the day on which I was carried into the haven. I was brought to the necropolis, and there was performed upon me every rite customary for a well-prepared mummy. The laying in the grave took place in the year 12 on the 30th of Thoth. The years of my life in all were forty and nine."

Various points in this inscription are curious, besides the performance of the Egyptian ceremony of crowning in the palace at Alexandria. It has been noted elsewhere that the assigning of revenues to the high priest of Memphis from the temples of Upper, as well as Lower Egypt, seems to imply that at this time, at any rate, the high priest of Memphis had a primacy over the whole Egyptian priesthood, of which, as far as I know, there is no other evidence. Auletes is said to have entered the temple at Memphis "with his wives." A Ptolemy had only one legal wife at a time, and Mahaffy argued from the plural that concubines only were meant, and that Auletes had therefore probably still no legal wife in 76 B.C. We know now that Auletes married Cleopatra Tryphaena immediately after he ascended the throne. The p349plural must, therefore, be merely conforming to the traditional Pharaonic phraseology, which might seem all the more appropriate in that Auletes would very probably be accompanied by ladies of the court, whom an Egyptian would not easily distinguish from the official "wife." It is odd that Auletes is described as wearing the white crown at Memphis. The white crown was the crown of Upper Egypt; at the capital of Lower Egypt one would have expected him to wear the red crown, if he wished to habit himself as a Pharaoh. But the tall white crown is unmistakably depicted in the hieroglyphic ideogram.

In Pshereni-ptah the worldliness which had marked this great family of pontiffs seems to have reached its culmination. Although, according to the law of the Egyptian priesthood, priests should be strictly monogamous, Pshereni-ptah boasts of his "goodly harem." No parallel to this has been found among the records of the Egyptian priesthood, and it throws light upon what the primate of the Egyptian Church had become in the days of Ptolemy Auletes. The young man must have been a worthy boon-companion to his sovereign. In the sepulchral inscription put up over his wife, composed, it seems likely, by Pshereni-ptah himself, the dead woman speaks from the tomb to bid him follow pleasure still, before there is an end of it all in the dusty darkness.

"O brother, husband, uncle, priest of Ptah, cease not to drink, to eat, to be drunken, to take carnal pleasure, to make the day joyful, to follow thy heart day and night; suffer not grief to enter thy heart. What are the years, how many soever they be, which a man liveth upon the earth? The West Land is a land of sleep and of deep darkness, a place whose inhabitants lie still. Sleeping in their form of mummies, they awake not up to see their brothers; they perceive not their father nor their mother; their heart forgetteth their wives and their little ones. The earth giveth fresh water to them that are upon it, but for me the water is foul. The water runneth to every man who is upon the earth, and to me it is foul, even the water close at hand. I know not any more where I am, since I came into this great darkness. Give me running water to drink, saying unto me, 'Take not thy libation vessel away from the water.' Set me with my face to the north wind by the side of the water, and let the coolness therefore ease my heart of its pain."12

p350 The accession of Ptolemy the Bastard meant a delicate situation between Alexandria and Rome. Rome refused to recognize the new king. A document was produced in Rome purporting to be the last will and testament of the murdered Alexander, in which, like Attalus III of Pergamon and Ptolemy Apion of Cyrene, he bequeathed his kingdom to the Roman People.13 In 75 other claimants to the Egyptian throne appeared in Rome. These were the two young sons of Cleopatra Selene, Antiochus XIII (Asiaticus) and his brother, who had taken refuge from Tigranes in Cilicia. Old queen Selene was indeed the only legitimate member of the house of Ptolemy left alive, and her sons might hope that Rome would enforce her claim. That, however, Rome would not do. It was better to have at Alexandria a discreditable king whom Rome did not recognize, and whom Rome had always a good pretext for replacing, whenever it might be convenient to do so, than a king who might claim to unite the Seleucid and Ptolemaic realms under one sceptre. The boys effected nothing in Rome, in spite of the magnificent candelabrum they presented to Jupiter of the Capitol, and they were robbed by Verres in Sicily on their way home. The situation was nevertheless a very uneasy one for the Flute-player.

In the present phase of things at Rome, almost anything might be effected by bribery. It meant that if Ptolemy Auletes was to be left in possession, a considerable proportion of the revenues of Egypt must find their way into the pockets of this and the other Roman noble and politician. Rome, even if its pressure did not issue in Egypt becoming definitely a province of the Republic, kept it in a state of dishonour and weakness. And Ptolemy Auletes had none of the personal qualities which might have enabled some one, even in such a precarious position, to maintain a moral dignity. His surname of Neos Dionysos indicates that like his contemptible ancestor Ptolemy IV, whose surname of Philopator he bore, Ptolemy XI was devoted to sensuality under the forms of p351religion. Proficiency in flute-playing may go with serious interests, as it did in the case of Frederick the Great, but in Ptolemy XI the serious interests seem to have been lacking, and the regular accompaniments of flute-playing in ancient days were justly held discreditable in a king. The great Romans, who took this creature's bribes, despised him, as Europeans to‑day despise a dissolute and spendthrift Oriental potentate, whose money they may be glad enough to enjoy.

At Rome the annexation of Egypt was an idea which hovered before the mind of the democratic party — the proposal of Crassus as Censor in 65 B.C., the agrarian law brought in by the tribune Rullus in December 64, against which Cicero as Consul in 63 made the speech which we still have. The party of the nobles resisted any measure which would make the riches of Egypt a prize of the opposite faction — not from any tenderness to the freedom of Egypt. It was in these years that Pompey was finally crushing Mithridates and Tigranes — conquering for Rome the Pontic dominions in Asia Minor and the former dominions of the house of Seleucus in Syria, which for a few years Tigranes had made, in large part, a province of Armenia. In 64 B.C., Pompey made Syria a province of Rome. Queen Selene was then no longer alive. In 69 Tigranes, into whose hands she had fallen, had put her to death at Seleucia on the Euphrates — the end of the house of Ptolemy in the legitimate line, unless one counts it continued in the Seleucid princes, sons and grandsons of Selene and Tryphaena.

Ptolemy Auletes sent a corps of eight thousand cavalry to help Pompey to subjugate Palestine for Rome.a The Alexandrines, who remembered the time when Palestine had been a possession of the house of Ptolemy, showed signs of displeasure dangerous to their unworthy king. It was probably only the fear of provoking annexation by Rome which prevented revolt breaking out, there and then. Diodorus Siculus, who visited Egypt about 60 B.C., observes that persons coming from Italy were received with effusive attentions because of the abiding fear that any "incident" (in our modern phrase) might bring on a war with Rome.14 Yet, in spite of that fear, Diodorus witnessed an incident. He saw a Roman who had killed a cat lynched by the crowd — the religious passion of the native Egyptians overbearing every other consideration.

p352 Diodorus tells us that at the time of his visit the population of Alexandria, according to the official census, included more than 300,000 free citizens and that the king's annual revenue from Egypt was more than 6000 talents.15

It is difficult to say how far Diodorus pushed any inquiries of his own. He professes to repeat what he himself learnt from the priests about the old royalty and old religion of Egypt. And a few things which he notes do seem to have been drawn from what he heard and saw — that in his own day, for instance, the keepers of sacred animals had been known to spend 100 talents upon their obsequies, that quails were caught in nets raised along the coast, into which they flew by night on their passage, that in high summer the inundations made the country look like the Archipelago with the cities and villages standing up like islands, that the Egyptians used the sakya wheel (as the modern Egyptians do) for irrigating their fields — an invention, Diodorus says, of the Greek Archimedes.16 But most of what he says is copied from earlier books — his description of the horrors of the Nubian gold mines from Agatharchides, the rest mainly from Hecataeus of Abdera. "Even as regards the pyramids, his statements are open to the same suspicion. He speaks of inscriptions on them, and of other details which cannot be verified, and so he gives us but one more example of the very reprehensible habit of Greek historians, who ordinarily passed off second-hand information as if it were observation of their own" (M.). Sir F. Petrie points out that the account of the Egyptian monarchy given us by Diodorus (following Hecataeus) probably represents the historic system as it had remained to the later native dynasties, Ptolemaic rule being looked upon as a temporary usurpation.

In 59 B.C. Julius Caesar, the leader of the democratic party, was one of the consuls. It was believed that the annexation of Egypt was part of his own political programme. Yet p353Ptolemy contrived, by an enormous payment of 6000 talents,17 to buy Caesar's support. Caesar carried a law, in spite of the opposition of the nobles, by which Ptolemy Auletes was recognized at last as king of Egypt, and, by a new treaty, "ally and friend of the Roman People."18 But the treaty said nothing about Cyprus, where the other Ptolemy, the brother of Auletes, had been reigning since 80 B.C. as king. In 58 B.C. the tribune Clodius, a partisan of Caesar's, carried a law by which Cyprus was constituted a Roman province, and Marcus Cato was commissioned to go to Cyprus and induce the king to make over his island kingdom to Rome. The only accusation against the king of Cyprus which Rome could find to justify this act of high-handed spoliation was that he was very rich and had not been sufficiently free-handed with his riches. Cato offered the king, in exchange for his kingdom, to have him installed by the authority of Rome, as high priest in the temple of Aphrodite at Paphos. But Ptolemy of Cyprus preferred to commit suicide. His treasures — plate, furniture, gems, fabrics — were transported with scrupulous honesty by the Roman Stoic to Rome. Cyrene gone, Cyprus gone, only Egypt itself was now left to the bastard Ptolemy.

The loss of Cyprus exasperated the rage of the Alexandrines against Auletes, who had not lifted a finger to save his brother. The sums he had to spend on bribes meant financial oppression at home and renewed debasement of the coinage. Auletes went in 58 to Rome to complain that the Alexandrines were practically in revolt and to beg that his position there might be secured by Roman military power. That was the historic occasion when Cato, combining the grossness of a Cynic with the brutality of a Roman, deliberately received the king of Egypt whilst sitting on the stool and evacuating his bowels. Upon a Levantine monarch of the type of Auletes a Roman commander in those days could put any affront with impunity.

Curiously enough Auletes had left his family behind in p354Egypt.19 Whether his wife, Cleopatra Tryphaena, was still alive is a doubtful point, and also whether the Cleopatra Tryphaena, whom the Alexandrines, according to Porphyry, recognized as sovereign in conjunction with Berenice (IV), Auletes' daughter, when they found Auletes gone, was the wife of Auletes or, as Porphyry asserts, his eldest daughter, called by the same name as her mother. In any case the Cleopatra Tryphaena associated with Berenice died after a year and left the young Berenice sole queen in Alexandria.20 An inscription at Edfu tells us that the work done by so many kings of the house of Ptolemy since 237 B.C. upon the great temple was finally completed in the twenty-fifth year of Ptolemy XI, when the doors of cedar-wood, covered with bronze, were put up in the entrance pylon on Choiach 1 (December 5, 57 B.C.). The names are written up on the pylon — "Ptolemy, Young Osiris, with his Sister, queen Cleopatra, surnamed Tryphaena." The king, at that moment, as we have seen, had fled the country, but the priestly builders of Edfu might easily still regard him as the legitimate sovereign and attribute the work to him. The inscription never suggests that the king was present in person at the dedication of the doors, and we cannot therefore infer from the mention of him in this connexion that the inscription has no relation to fact, and argue that its reference to queen Cleopatra Tryphaena as still alive is worthless as evidence. Her name, it is true, disappears from the papyri so far discovered after August 7, 69 B.C. But if she died then, as German scholars seem now generally to take as established, it is hard to understand how the priests of Edfu, eleven and a half years later, p355had not yet discovered the fact! We have also to suppose that all the children of Auletes born after 69 B.C. were illegitimate, or the children of a wife who never appears on the monuments. If, on the other hand, Cleopatra Tryphaena lived till 57 B.C. it is a mystery why her name disappears from the papyri after 69 B.C. One can imagine other reasons besides her death. She might, for instance, have quarrelled with the king, taking the view of the Alexandrines, and perhaps of her other brother in Cyprus, that Auletes was frivolously throwing away the great Ptolemaic heritage, and the king's adherents might have been given to understand his pleasure that the queen's name should no more figure in official acts. If that was the case, it would explain why Tryphaena remained in Alexandria when Auletes fled to Rome, and why the Alexandrines recognized her as their sovereign, as soon as he was gone — on the supposition that she is the Cleopatra Tryphaena whom Porphyry meant.

From 58 till the end of 57 Ptolemy Auletes resided in Rome or at Pompey's villa in the Alban hills, busily working upon the senators by bribes or promises, and procuring the assassination of envoys sent from Alexandria to Rome. Cut off from the revenues of his kingdom, Ptolemy had to borrow largely by giving drafts upon the future, and he thus became indebted for large sums to the Roman financier Rabirius Postumus. It was decided in the course of 57 that the king of Egypt should be restored by Rome, but the question who should be given the command became an issue mixed up with the complicated struggle of parties in that moment in the Republic. Towards the end of 57 Ptolemy thought it prudent to leave Italy, and presently took up his abode at Ephesus, in the sacred precinct of Artemis. His hopes came to be fixed upon the proconsul of Syria, Aulus Gabinius, to whom he promised 10,000 talents, if Gabinius restored him with the forces at his disposal. Gabinius was an adherent of Pompey, and Pompey had, at one time, desired to restore the king of Egypt himself.

Meantime the Alexandrines had been trying to block the return of Auletes by finding a king-consort for their young queen. They first tried two Seleucid princes — a son of Selene's, and then a grandson of Antiochus Grypus and Tryphaena, called Philip. But the former, probably identical with the younger of the two boys who in 75 had gone to Rome to claim the Ptolemaic inheritance, died whilst negotiations p356were in process, and the second was forbidden by Gabinius to accept the invitation. The Alexandrines then, thirdly, procured a man called Seleucus, who claimed to be connected somehow with the royal house, possibly the illegitimate issue of some Seleucid king. When he came, he turned out to be a person of such vulgar appearance and manners, that the Alexandrines nicknamed him Kybiosaktes, "Salt-fish-monger," and Berenice, after a few days' experience of such a husband, decided that there was nothing for it but to have him strangled. At last, a fit person was found in a Greek called Archelaus. His father, called also Archelaus, had been one of the chief marshals of Mithridates and had gone over to the Romans before the last Mithridatic war. The younger Archelaus claimed to be in reality a son of Mithridates himself (and, if so, to be distantly related in blood to the Ptolemies). Pompey had given him a dignified position as prince-pontiff at the temple of the Great Mother at Comana in Pontus. In the winter 56‑55 Archelaus came to Egypt, married Berenice, and sat as king on the Ptolemaic throne.

In the spring of 55 Gabinius invaded Egypt, bringing Ptolemy Auletes with him. His cavalry was commanded by the young Marcus Antonius. Archelaus tried to put up a fight, but his Alexandrine troops proved mutinous, and he fell on the field. Ptolemy Auletes was installed once more as king in Alexandria by a Roman army, acting in the end with royal household troops, who had been called out to oppose it.21

One of Ptolemy's first acts after his restoration was to kill his daughter Berenice, who had usurped his throne. He had four children left: the eldest a girl of fourteen, Cleopatra; another daughter, Arsinoe, from a year to four years younger; and two sons whom we know only by the dynastic name of Ptolemy, then children of about six and four respectively. People afterwards said that the girl Cleopatra, already on this first occasion of their meeting, made an impression upon the young Roman cavalry commander, Mark Antony.

The proconsul of Syria's military intervention in Egypt, outside his province, became in its turn a cardinal question of the political struggle in Rome. Gabinius in the end was condemned to pay a fine of 10,000 talents and went into exile as insolvent (54 B.C.). He had left in Egypt a considerable Roman force to secure Auletes on his throne. It was now p357that all the Romans, from whom Auletes had borrowed money during his residence abroad, began to dun the wretched king for repayment. The principal creditor was Rabirius Postumus, and, as a way of repaying him, Auletes saw himself constrained to make him dioiketes, head of the whole financial administration of the kingdom. Rabirius, in view of the immense opportunities such a post gave him for squeezing money out of the unhappy inhabitants of the country of the Nile, was fain to accept the office, although it meant his exchanging the Roman toga for the himation of the Greek official — an indignity in the eyes of his countrymen. With a Roman army of occupation and a Roman dioiketes laying his hands upon the wealth of the country, Egypt would have been in no worse position, had there been outright annexation. Before a year was out, Rabirius was driven by a popular rising from Alexandria, though not before he had extracted substantial sums and placed them securely abroad. He was put on his trial the Rome by the opposite faction and defended by Cicero in a still extant speech. The verdict is not recorded.

Auletes did not live long after his restoration. He died in the spring or early summer of 51 B.C., aged only forty-four or forty-five, to be remembered by Greeks and Romans with contempt. We see in their descriptions a degenerate, masquerading as the young Dionysos, covering his debauches with an aesthetic pageantry borrowed from Greek poetry and Greek art, flitting about overseas, a parasite of the hard Roman masters of the world. But if we drew our knowledge of this man from the Egyptian monuments, we should see some one portrayed like the great kings of old. On the walls of Philae we may find both the shameless inscription of one of his Greek votaries, who carves his record as "Tryphon, catamite of the Young Dionysos,"22 and not far off, the colossal figure of the king himself, in the guise of a Pharaoh, still plain there in the Egyptian sunlight, smiting his enemies to the ground — the old motive which goes back to the very earliest royal monuments in the country of the Nile.

"The crypts of the great temple at Denderah, which Lathyrus [Soter II] and Alexander had not finished, were completed by Auletes; he set up an altar at Coptos to Khem, Isis, and Heh; put his name more than once on the temples at Karnak (Thebes); set up bronze-bound gates at the great p358pylon of Edfu; enlarged Philometor's temple at Kom‑Ombo; and set his name on older work both at Philae and Biggeh; indeed, the greater part of his activity at these temples was confined to surface work, adorning older structures. It would seem that he desired the credit of being a temple-builder without incurring any considerable expense" (M.).

There is a naos made for Auletes in the temple at Debôd in the Dodekaschoinos.


The Author's Notes:

1 Oxyrhynchus, II No. 236b. In his note on Prinz Joachim Ostraka, No. 1, Preisigke says — apparently by a curious inadvertence — that this document has proved the surname Neos Dionysos to go back to the very beginning of the reign. There is no trace of the surname in this document.

2 None of our authorities sayº that she was a Cyrenaean.

3 Fragment: De Rege Alexandrino. It is odd that he should have been living in Syria. One would have expected Cyprus rather, but there is no MS. authority for altering "Syria" in Cicero's text into "Cypro."

4 If the illegitimate children of Soter were amongst the "grandchildren" whom Cleopatra III sent to Cos in 102 B.C., Ptolemy Auletes must have been more than a puer in 80 B.C. Supposing, (p345)therefore, Mithridates did capture Auletes and his brother at Cos, either (1) they must have been sent there to join Ptolemy Alexander at a later date, or (2) Cicero must have used the word "puer" rhetorically of a young man of over twenty-two.

5 Mithr. 111.

6 Pap. dem. Leid. 374, 374b; Revue Egypt. II.90.

7 The passage in Appian, or in his source, perhaps meant "two daughters who had been betrothed to the kings of Egypt and Cyprus when they were still being brought up together as boys and girls." The word συντρεφόμενοι, although grammatically in our present text it goes with αὐτῷ (i.e. Mithridates himself), is rather an odd one to use of father and children. It is ordinarily, as we have seen, used of the noble children brought up at the Hellenistic courts with the children of the king.

8 Preisigke-Spiegelberg, Prinz Joachim Ostraka, No. 1.

9 She is called "sister" in the demotic papyrus just alluded to, but that proves little.

10 See pp183, 188.

11 In both the translations by Brugsch the Egyptian is here taken to mean "the future king," and Otto (II p302, note) builds upon this a theory that it was the son of Ptolemy Auletes who was crowned by Pshereni-Ptah, not Auletes himself. But there seems to be nothing about "future" at all. The sign which Brugsch took to mean that, means by itself "to bring," and has the phonetic value iu. Here it is simply the phonetic complement to the word for "king," which follows — uisw — the first syllable being metathetized. This solution, Mr. Glanville tells me, was pointed out to him by Dr. Alan Gardiner.

12 Maspéro, Journal Asiatique, VIIme sér. tom. XV (1880) p413.

13 As Bouché-Leclercq remarks, it seems improbable that the boy in his agitated nineteen days' reign should have set about making a will. Bouché-Leclercq suggests that if the will was genuine (which was questioned even at the time) it must have been extorted from Alexander by Sulla in Rome, before the young Ptolemy was sent to Egypt.

14 I.83.

15 These kindsº of statements are almost worthless, because we do not know (1) the numerical relation of the citizen body to the rest of the population, (2) whether the 300,000 includes women. In the case of the 6000 talents, we do not know (1) what their worth was in the terms of our own money, or (2) whether they include the revenue in kind (corn,º etc.) as well as the revenue in money, or only the revenue in money. Cicero, as quoted by Strabo (XVII p797), says that the annual revenue of Auletes amounted to 12,500 talents.

16 Probably true, for the old Egyptians used only the shadûf(M.).

17 Probably silver talents, equivalent to nearly half a year's revenue, if Cicero's statement (p352, note 1) is right, and the talents in both cases are identical.

18 Wilcken conjectures that an Act of Indulgence in favour of cavalry soldier-colonists in the Fayûm, of which we have a mutilated copy, was issued by Ptolemy Auletes at this moment (Archiv, VI p405).

19 Bouché-Leclercq supposes that when Ptolemy left Egypt, he had not yet formed the intention of asking to be restored by Roman arms, and only did so when he learnt that things in his absence had grown so menacing at Alexandria that it would not be safe for him to return without such support.

20 In the tangle of difficulties regarding the family of Auletes, no theory can claim more than a slight balance of probability. On the whole, Bouché-Leclercq's view, as stated in his note (II p145), seems to me the most probable — that the Cleopatra Tryphaena associated with Berenice was her mother, not her elder sister. Stähelin, in his article in Pauly-Wissowa ("Kleopatra V. Tryphaina," p749), says magisterially that Bouché-Leclercq is wrong, without attempting to meet his arguments. That the name of Cleopatra Tryphaena disappears from the papyri from 69 B.C. onwards, Bouché-Leclercq had recognized in his note. If you accept the view of Bouché-Leclercq, Stähelin says, you must suppose that Porphyry's statement is erroneous. Of course.

21 See Bouché-Leclercq, II p179 note. "Ptolemaeum patrem in regnum reduxerant" (Caes. B. C. III.110.6).

22 CIG 4926.


Thayer's Note:

a Not really my note at all: a careful reader points out a bit of loose writing here on Bevan's part. The unsourced statement appears to derive from Plin. H.N. XXXIII.136, a somewhat ambiguous passage that strictly interpreted merely states that Ptolemy "maintained 8000 horse at his own charges" (Rackham's translation nicely ambiguous here as well); Appian (Mith. 114) is explicit that Ptolemy sent money, not his own troops.

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