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Bill Thayer

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Book XXV

This webpage reproduces a Book of
The Histories


published in Vol. V
of the Loeb Classical Library edition,

The text is in the public domain.

This page has been carefully proofread
and I believe it to be free of errors.
If you find a mistake though,
please let me know!


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(Vol. V) Polybius
The Histories

 p481  Fragments of Book XXVI

I. Affairs of Antiochus Epiphanes

(From Athen. X.439A; cp. Livy XLI.20)

1a Polybius in his 26th Book calls him Epimanes (the Madman) instead of Epiphanes owing to his conduct. For not only did he condescend to converse with common people, but even with the meanest of the foreigners who visited Antioch. 2 And whenever he heard that any of the younger men were at an entertainment, no matter where, he would come in with a fife and other music so that most of the guests got up and ran off in astonishment. He would often, moreover, doff his royal robe and pick up a toga and so make the circuit of the market-place.

(Ibid. V.193D)

1 1 Antiochus surnamed Epiphanes gained the name of Epimanes by his conduct. Polybius tells us of him that, escaping from his attendants at court, he would often be seen wandering about in all parts of the city with one or two companions. 2 He was chiefly found at the silversmiths' and goldsmiths' workshops, holding forth at length and discussing technical matters with the moulders and other craftsmen. 3 He used also to condescend to converse with any common  p483 people he met, and used to drink in the company of the meanest foreign visitors to Antioch. 4 Whenever he heard that any of the young men were at an entertainment, he would come in quite unceremoniously with a fife and a procession of musicians, so that most of the guests got up and left in astonishment. 5 He would frequently put off his royal robes, and, assuming a white toga, go round the market-place like a candidate, and, taking some by the hand and embra­cing others, would beg them to give him their vote, sometimes for the office of aedile and sometimes for that of tribune. 6 Upon being elected, he would sit upon the ivory curule chair, as the Roman custom is, listening to the lawsuits tried there, and pronouncing judgement with great pains and display of interest. 7 In consequence all respectable men were entirely puzzled about him, some looking upon him as a plain simple man and others as a madman. His conduct too was very similar as regards the presents he made. 8 To some people he used to give gazelles' knucklebones, to others dates, and to others money. 9 Occasionally he used to address people he had never seen before when he met them, and make them the most unexpected kind of presents. 10 But in the sacrifices he furnished to cities and in the honours he paid to the gods he far surpassed all his predecessors, 11 as we can tell from the temple of Olympian Zeus at Athens and the statues round the altar at Delos. 12 He also used to bathe in the public baths, when they were full of common people, having jars of the most precious ointments brought in for him; 13 and on one occasion when some one said to him, "How lucky you are, you kings, to use such  p485 scents and smell so sweet!" he answered nothing at the time, but next day, when the man was having his bath, he came in after him and had a huge jar of most precious ointment called stacte poured over his head, 14 so that all the bathers jumped up and rolled themselves in it, and by slipping in it created great amusement, as did the king himself.

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Page updated: 29 Mar 22