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Chapter VI
This webpage reproduces part of
The House of Ptolemy

by E. R. Bevan

published by Methuen Publishing, London,

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,
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Chapter VIII


Ptolemy IV, Philopator
(221‑203 B.C.)

Within a short time of each other the three great Macedonian kingdoms came all into the hands of young men. Antiochus III succeeded to the Seleucid realm in 223, aged eighteen; Ptolemy IV succeeded to the Egyptian throne in 221, aged about twenty-three;​1 Philip V succeeded to the kingdom of Macedonia in 220, aged seventeen. From the various characters and ambitions of these three young men, a new distribution of power in the Mediterranean world could not fail to result. Their reigns mark an epoch in another way.  p218 The world in which their reigns began was the Graeco-Macedonian world as it had been contracted by the conquests of Alexander the Great; the world in which they ended was a new world over which was flung the shadow of Rome.

Antiochus III inherited his paternal realm in a state of ruin and disintegration; Ptolemy IV received from his father the Ptolemaic realm strongly knit and power­ful — Coele-Syria, Cyrene, and Cyprus firmly attached to it; its navy still giving it the command of many islands in the Aegean, of Gallipoli, and the parts of Thrace round Aenus and Maronea; its prestige still high among the states of Greece. Yet, owing to the different character of the two young men, in twenty years' time the relative standing of the two houses had been reversed. Antiochus III, if he hardly deserved the surname of "the Great" which came to be attached to him in popular  p220 parlance,​2 had, at any rate, the adventurous fighting vein of his race, and by a somewhat happy-go‑lucky campaigning energy in the first twenty years of his reign he had restored the authority of his house over most of its old territories from the Aegean to the Hindu-kush; Ptolemy IV brought down Egypt, before he died, to a condition of feebleness and humiliation from which it never again rose to the proud position it had held under the first three Macedonian kings. From his reign onward, the history of Ptolemaic Egypt is marked by the growing power of the native element within, and the diminishing power of Egypt, as a factor in international politics, without.

There have been princes whose nature was corrupted by the enjoyment of despotic power, but Ptolemy IV came to the throne already corrupted. He cast back to his grandfather, the dilettante and voluptuary, but he reproduced his grandfather's vices in a more extravagant form, without the serious intellectual interests which gave a touch of greatness to the second Ptolemy. The grandson not only followed ease and pleasure, but he was indifferent to the character of the people whom he allowed to direct the affairs of the kingdom, so long as they provided him the means for a life of literary and aesthetic sensuality and saved him the trouble of governing. The man who really governed the Ptolemaic realm during the reign of Ptolemy Philopator was an Alexandrine, Sosibius, son of Dioscurides.​3 In the year 235‑234 he had held one of the posts of highest dignity in the kingdom, the priesthood of Alexander, of the Brother-and‑Sister Gods, and of the Benefactor Gods at Alexandria,​4 so that his name had been used in that year for the dating of documents all over the realm. Polybius admits that he had ability of a kind — a "cunning and world-practised old scoundrel" (σκεῦος ἀγχίνουν  p221 καὶ πολυχρόνιον), he calls him. If Sosibius wanted power, he had it, when the young Ptolemy became king. His sinister ambition would encounter no obstacles from a creature of this mould. But there were other members of the royal family! There was the king's uncle Lysimachus; there was the old queen Berenice, not, as we know from her record in girlhood, a woman to be trifled with; and there was the king's more manly younger brother, Magas, the idol of the soldiers. All these must be put out of the way. A mere Alexandrine, however high placed in the civil service, could not, of course, touch a hair of the head of a member of the royal house, unless the king could be got to give the order. But with such a minister as Sosibius, and such a king as Ptolemy Philopator, even this could be done. Love of ease, wine, lasciviousness, literary dilettantism, had so swallowed up in this young degenerate every natural affection that he did, at the suggestion of Sosibius, in order to remove uncomfortable agitations from his life, have his uncle, his brother, and his mother killed. It was arranged that when young Magas was having a bath, scalding water should be poured over him;​5 the old queen, Berenice of Cyrene, whose hair was among the stars, was poisoned.

Another person whom Sosibius thought it well to remove was the Spartan king, Cleomenes, a refugee, as we have seen, at Alexandria. Although Ptolemy Euergetes had paid him every honour — as one soldier to another — and had put up a statue of him at Olympia, the basis of which has been discovered,​6 Cleomenes had become impatient, when he found that promises to send him back to Greece with a Ptolemaic force were always made, but never carried out. When the new king came to the throne, and Cleomenes found it impossible to make him take the faintest interest in foreign affairs, he grew desperate. Sosibius feared his influence with the mercenary soldiers, thousands of whom were regularly stationed at Alexandria. Many of them were Peloponnesians and Cretans, and the prestige of the Spartan king was very high amongst them. Cleomenes having spoken unadvisedly  p222 with his lips, Sosibius had him and thirteen other Spartans, who were with him, interned. At a time when the court was temporarily at Canopus, Cleomenes and others effected their escape from confinement, and rushing through the streets of Alexandria, with daggers in their hands, called upon the people to rise, like true Greeks, in the name of liberty and establish a free state in place of the Ptolemaic despotism. The Alexandrines looked strangely upon the group of excited, vociferous men, as curious eccentrics. When the Spartans saw that they could not escape recapture, except by death, they gave an exhibition of the Spartan way, and turned their daggers upon each other or themselves. The wife and children of Cleomenes, who were left in the hands of Ptolemy, Sosibius caused to be put to death (January or February, 219).

Side by side with Sosibius was a trio of very unsavoury character, who, in collusion with the astute old Alexandrine, ruled the voluptuary upon the throne — the handsome and vicious young man, Agathocles, his handsome sister Agathoclea, and their horrible mother Oenanthe. With people of this kind supreme in the kingdom, the prestige of Egypt in the Levant quickly sank to nothing. Already in 220 we find the inhabitants of the Cyclades, when harassed by Illyrian pirates, turning for help, not to their old protector, the king of Egypt, but to Rhodes.7

About the same time in Crete, where the Ptolemaic influence had been so strong, we find the cities in conflict looking elsewhere for allies. Yet Egypt continued to hold Itanus,​8 and Ptolemy Philopator supplied means to Gortyna for beginning new fortifications.​9 Ptolemaic garrisons continued all through the reign of Ptolemy IV to hold certain regions in and round the Aegean; Ptolemaic officials gathered tribute from them for Alexandria — coast districts of Lycia, Caria, Thrace, the great port of Ephesus, the islands of Thera, Samos, and Lesbos,​10 Even Seleucia, at the mouth of the Orontes, was still occupied by a Ptolemaic garrison in the spring of 219. It must have been rather the want of the will to act, than the want of power, which men took for granted in the Egyptian court under its present régime.

 p223  Even before he took up the inheritance of his father, it seems to have been generally known in the Greek world what kind of man the young Ptolemy was. For it must have been in the very same year in which Ptolemy Euergetes died (221) that the young Antiochus came hammering at the fortresses in the Lebanon which guarded the entrance into Coele-Syria from the north; and Polybius tells us that he was persuaded by his chief minister Hermias to attempt, before anything else, the conquest of Coele-Syria — the country to which for eighty years the house of Seleucus had asserted its claim in vain — on the very ground of the known slackness (ῥαθυμία) of the new king of Egypt.​11 The Ptolemaic army, however, was still commanded by efficient officers. An Aetolian, Theodotus, who held the supreme command in Coele-Syria, had put the Lebanon fortresses in a proper state of defence, and the first assaults upon them by the Seleucid army failed. Before Antiochus could push the attack home, he was obliged to give up the expedition and hasten with his army eastwards to engage the rebel satrap of Media, Timarchus, in Babylonia. A respite was granted to Egypt.

The respite lasted nearly two years, during which time Antiochus was busy re-establishing the authority of his house in Media. Meantime, after the attack on Coele-Syria, there must have been a state of enmity, if not of active war, between Syria and Egypt. It was during this interval that a complication took place in the Seleucid realm, in which the Alexandrine court could not help being interested. Achaeus, who governed Asia Minor for the house of Seleucus, and who was both first cousin and brother-in‑law to the king, renounced his allegiance and declared himself an independent sovereign. Egypt might have been expected to support him after his revolt, as the enemy of its enemy; Achaeus had, even before his revolt, been accused (Polybius holds falsely accused) of secret correspondence with Alexandria. There was a further reason which led to correspondence between Achaeus and the Alexandrine court. At some moment in the course of his war with the Seleucid Power, we do not know when, Ptolemy Euergetes had taken prisoner a person of very high standing indeed, Andromachus, the father of Achaeus. Andromachus' sister, Laodice, was the queen of Seleucus II and mother of Antiochus III. When Ptolemy Euergetes died, Andromachus was still a prisoner in Egypt. Since  p224 Achaeus had long shown great anxiety to secure his father's release, Sosibius naturally regarded the captive Macedonian grandee as a very valuable piece to play in the political game. He had, perhaps, before the revolt of Achaeus, tried to strike a bargain with him — the release of Andromachus as the price of Achaeus deserting the Seleucid cause. When Achaeus had once revolted, pushed by other circumstances, and without having made any compact with Egypt, there was the less reason to let Andromachus go. Sosibius was, indeed, very unwilling to part with such a valuable asset. However, the Rhodians now exerted themselves zealously as intercessors on behalf of Achaeus, and when Rhodes desired anything strongly, Alexandria was likely to be accommodating. Andromachus was delivered over to the Rhodians, who escorted him back to Asia Minor. But the Alexandrine court did not make any alliance with Achaeus. It preferred to wait and see the issue of the conflict between the two cousins in the Seleucid realm.

When Antiochus came back victorious from the East, it was not against Achaeus, it was against Egypt that he first turned. In the spring of 219 he renewed the attack he had abandoned in 221. A force was sent under Theodotus "One-and‑a‑half,"​12 the namesake of the Aetolian who commanded in Coele-Syria for Ptolemy, to clear the passes through the Lebanon, whilst Antiochus himself moved to the walls of his ancestral cities, Seleucia-in‑Pieria, to recover it from Ptolemaic occupation and remove the shame of twenty years. When Antiochus began assaulting its strong fortifications, there were so many in the city ready to co-operate with the Seleucid king, that Leontius, who commanded the garrison for Ptolemy, did not dare to prolong resistance and surrendered.

Antiochus was still in Seleucia when he received a letter from the other Theodotus, the Aetolian governor of Coele-Syria, who had barred the passes against him two years before. Theodotus had found, soon after, that the Alexandrine court regarded him as a person to be got rid of. In a narrow escape he had from death, Theodotus had suspected the hand of Sosibius. The court had already sent to Greece for another Aetolian condottiere, Nicolaus, to supersede him. The difficulty of the Alexandrine court was that, while it desired  p225 to get efficient military men for its money, it was immediately afraid of any commander who gained credit and influence at Alexandria by his services. The only expedient seemed to be to hire efficient officers, but change them rapidly, before they had time to assert dangerous ambitions. After his success in Coele-Syria, Theodotus must go. Theodotus forestalled the court by occupying Ptolemais and Tyre with men he could trust, and writing to Antiochus, offering to put the two cities in his hands. It was not long before the Seleucid army was in Palestine. Antiochus marched along the coast and took possession of Tyre and Ptolemais. Nicolaus, who had arrived and taken over the command in Coele-Syria for Ptolemy, still held the interior and some cities on the coast, such as Sidon, Arados, and Dora.

These events in Syria took the court by surprise. Sosibius and the palace cabal saw that unless they now took drastic action the Seleucid king might come so near as to blast their voluptuous paradise for good. Self-interest quickened their wits and energies. The defection of Theodotus made them feverishly suspicious. A distinguished Greek painter of the day, employed in Alexandria, narrowly escaped having his head cut off, as a supposed accomplice of the traitor's.13

They saw that they must create an Egyptian army capable of meeting the practised troops of Antiochus. That in itself was not a difficult thing to do for any Power as rich as Egypt. The court could hire the best military experts of the day and commission them to put the disorganized forces of the realm through a thorough training and take command of them in the field.​14 It could increase the size of the army by fresh recruitment on a large scale. Only all this required time, and Antiochus was at the doors. The problem for the Alexandrine  p226 court was, therefore, to keep Antiochus in play by negotiations till the Egyptian army was ready. The first thing was to prevent his invading Egypt straight away in 219. The available forces were concentrated at Pelusium under the ostensible command of the young king present in person,​15 and the canals connected up with the river in a way to make them serve as lines of defence.

Antiochus did not yet advance on Egypt. When the winter 219‑218 approached, he was still master of little in Coele-Syria, except the coast, and, even there, he had not succeeded in dislodging Nicolaus from Dora. The Alexandrine court now opened negotiations and led Antiochus to believe that it was almost ready to accept such terms as Antiochus might wish to impose. Antiochus agreed to an armistice of four months, and returned for the winter to Seleucia-in‑Pieria. During the winter, negotiations between the two courts continued, and to make them still more complicated, the Alexandrine court induced a number of Greek states to intervene as mediators. Sosibius was even clever enough to turn to account Ptolemy's notorious inertia; he used it as a means for creating in Antiochus a false confidence. At Alexandria the winter was one of unparalleled activity — camps of soldiers being drilled by Greek officers who had had experience of real war under the last two kings of Macedonia, material of war being manufactured and prepared, fresh mercenaries pouring in from overseas. The foreign envoys who came to Egypt were not allowed to come as far as Alexandria, to see what was going on there; the court took up its residence for the winter at Memphis — through which, as Mahaffy was fond of pointing out, the regular road from Syria to Alexandria ran — and it was there that foreign ambassadors were entertained. In that ancient inland town, amongst its groves of palms, there were no signs of anything like war.

Polybius gives us to understand that the Ptolemaic army  p227 was reorganized from top to bottom. The old cadres were broken up, and the men redistributed, according as they were specially adapted by their race or their age to the use of some particular arm — the sarissa of the phalangite, the light shield of the peltast, the bow, the javelin, the sling.

The emergency led to one momentous innovation. The court decided to form a phalanx of natives, beside the ordinary phalanx of Greek and Macedonian soldiers; 20,000 strong-bodied and docile, if unwarlike, fellahîn were armed like Macedonians, taught to wield the long Macedonian pike (the sarissa), and move in a solid mass, as Macedonians did, at the words of command. Some hundreds of native Egyptians were also enrolled in the cavalry and trained by Polycrates of Argos, whose family had been honourable in the great days of Greek freedom. Beside the natives of Egypt, some thousands of Libyans, the fair-skinned natives of the Cyrenaica, were enrolled in the new army — some of them in the cavalry under Polycrates, 3000 of them armed like Macedonians under a commander, who belonged himself to the Cyrenaica, a Greek, no doubt, Ammonius of Barca.

Amongst those called up from the soldier-colonists in Egypt, in the Fayûm and elsewhere, were 4000 Gauls and Thracians; and another 2000 arrived by ship from Thrace under a Thracian captain, Dionysius. But the bulk of the army remained Greek and Macedonian. The phalanx of Macedonians and Greeks, commanded by Andromachus of Aspendus, numbered 25,000, as against the native phalanx of 20,000; there were, besides, all the Greek light-armed troops and the Greek and Macedonian cavalry.

In the spring of 218, the negotiations between Memphis and Seleucia having led to no agreement, as Sosibius never intended that they should, Antiochus continued the conquest of Coele-Syria. Philotera, Scythopolis (Beth-shan), the cities of the Decapolis, Philadelphia (Rabbath-Ammon), fell into his possession. His forces stormed the fortress on Mount Tabor. By the end of the campaign the Ptolemaic forces had been driven out of most of Palestine. He took up his winter quarters in Ptolemais, considering that his enterprise against the house of Ptolemy would need but little further effort to bring it to a final and triumphant conclusion. Either in the campaign of 218, or during the winter, the cities of Philistia, including Gaza, came under his control.

 p228  The Egyptian court had evidently detached only weak forces to oppose Antiochus in Palestine during 218. Their great army, being prepared at Alexandria, was not yet ready, and they were not going to bring it into the field prematurely. (The Frankfurt papyrus refers to a movement of forces under the king's command to the Bubastite nome in this year, about which we otherwise know nothing.) In the spring of 217 they felt that the time was come. On June 13, the army, 70,000 foot and 5000 horse, with 73 African elephants, moved out across the desert to Palestine. Ptolemy himself, doing, no doubt, what Sosibius and Agathocles told him to do, came with it,​16 and not only Ptolemy, but his sister Arsinoe, still probably little more than a child. Her mother, Berenice, had been only about fifteen when she arranged the assassination of Demetrius, and Arsinoe was old enough to show herself to the soldiers and work up their enthusiasm for the house of Ptolemy and for herself, the young princess whose fair eyes would be upon them, to see them fight for her.17

On the news of the Egyptian army's approach, Antiochus concentrated his own army at Gaza and went to meet Ptolemy. The two armies met near the town of Raphia on the edge of the desert, where a king of Assyria had defeated an Egyptian army just five centuries before. Antiochus had a slight inferiority in numbers; beside his Greek and Macedonian troops, he had a large proportion of Asiatics, recruited from all over his vast realm, from Syria and Persia and Central Asia, many of them trained and armed in the Macedonian manner. He had also 102 Indian elephants.

From the account of Polybius it would appear that Antiochus would have won the battle, but for his characteristic impetuosity — brave and happy-go‑lucky, as has been said. The day began badly for Ptolemy. The African elephants, procured with such vast pains and expense from far-off Somaliland, proved worse than useless against the Indian elephants of the Seleucid.

The cavalry charge led by Antiochus on his own right  p229 broke and routed the cavalry on the Ptolemaic left, where Ptolemy himself had his place in the battle, so that the king of Egypt was soon swept along in a wild flight to the rear. But Antiochus, in the exhilaration of the pursuit, failed to keep in touch with the rest of the field, and on the other wing the Ptolemaic horse drove in the Seleucid. In the shock between these two solid bodies of men, the systematic drilling and training of the last year and a half at Alexandria proved its virtue. Even the fellahîn, wielding their Macedonian pikes for the first time in real war, must have given a good account of themselves. The Seleucid phalanx, Macedonians, Greeks, Asiatics, gave way. When the day ended, the whole Seleucid army was in flight, back to Gaza and beyond. That was the battle of Raphia, June 22,​18 217 B.C. The news of it set the world wondering and laughing. The old fox of Alexandria had sprung his surprise with dramatic success. Coele-Syria came back again to the house of Ptolemy, for Antiochus had, of course, to evacuate the whole country up to the Lebanon. The Alexandrine court, having recovered Palestine and secured the safety of its paradise, had all it wanted. Further conquests and military triumphs were remote from its desires. It let off Antiochus easily, not even demanding an indemnity.

An inscription found in the island of Siphnos tells how the ambassadors, sent out from Egypt to announce the great victory to the island-cities within the sphere of Ptolemy's sea-power, came to Siphnos, and how at the same time the chief admiral in the Aegean, Perigenes, visited the island and expressed his satisfaction at the little state's display of loyalty to the house of Ptolemy.19

The 3rd Book of Maccabees gives a picture of Ptolemy, after the battle of Raphia, going on royal progress through the cities of the recovered province, coming to Jerusalem amongst the rest. He was curious, the story says, to go into the Holy of holies, and bore a bitter grudge against the Jews, because they prevented him from doing so. Mahaffy believed that the story in its outlines was true. A religious romance like the 3rd Book of Maccabees is very poor historical evidence, yet Polybius says that the king did spend three months in Syria and Phoenicia after the battle, personally  p230 superintending the restoration of the Ptolemaic ascendancy in the various cities and communities of the country, and, if so, one might certainly expect him to visit Jerusalem and the Jewish priestly state, which was noted amongst the Greeks as an odd and interesting community. And if he went to Jerusalem, it would be quite natural, one might argue, that he should want to go into the Temple and be incensed at any opposition — he who, himself a divinity, was associated with the gods worshipped in every temple of Egypt. While, therefore, the story in 3 Maccabees is not attested by any other source, it might be thought to have, so far, probability on its side. But the continuation of the story — how Ptolemy, after his return to Egypt, tried to force the Egyptian Jews to worship Dionysos, the account of the great persecution from which they were saved by a miracle — is almost certainly fiction which throws back into the days of Ptolemy IV a kind of persecution which the Jews first experienced under Antiochus Epiphanes fifty years later in Palestine.

And I believe, against the view of Mahaffy, that the story of Ptolemy's attempt to enter the Temple is pure fiction. The proof of this seems to me to be the silence of Daniel xi., written quite possibly by some one who himself remembered the events of 217, written in any case by some one who must have known scores of old people in Jerusalem who did. It is surely incredible that an event of the kind narrated in 3 Maccabees, bearing as it would have done in the most direct way upon the Jewish writer's theme, should not have been referred to in his survey of the doings of the kings of the north and the kings of the south in Palestine, had it ever really occurred.

On October 12, Ptolemy Philopator returned as victor to Egypt. Soon after his return he married his sister Arsinoe. He followed the precedent set by his grandfather in adopting this bit of Pharaonic practice.​20 Mahaffy put forward an adventurous suggestion that the marriage had been deferred so long, because the court cabal had hoped that Agathoclea would produce an heir to the Ptolemaic throne, and only arranged the marriage of Ptolemy and his sister, when this hope failed. There is not a word in any ancient author to  p231 support this theory,​21 and its seems much more likely that the marriage was deferred, only because Arsinoe had not been of marriageable age at her brother's accession. Ptolemy and Arsinoe were now associated as "the Father-loving Gods," Theoi Philopatores, with Alexander, their grandparents and their parents, in the Alexandrine state-cult. Why the particular surname of "Father-loving" was adopted by Ptolemy IV we do not know. Possibly Ptolemy Euergetes had been particularly popular in Egypt, and it was considered desirable that the reigning king and queen should gain popularity for themselves by associating themselves with the general sentiment in regard to the great king who was gone. About the same time the gap in the chief state-cult, created by the omission of the first Ptolemy and Berenice I, the "Saviour Gods," which had become noticeable, now that the practice had established itself of associating each reigning pair in turn with their predecessors and with Alexander in this cult, was filled in. Hitherto, as we have seen, the "Saviour Gods" had had a separate cult of their own, whose priest was not mentioned in the dating of documents. The earliest papyrus, which shows the new system, is of the eighth year of Ptolemy IV (215‑214).​22 The eponymous priest is now described as "the priest of Alexander and the Saviour Gods and the Brother-and‑Sister Gods and the Benefactor Gods and the Father-loving Gods." In the twelfth year of Ptolemy IV the papyri show another accession; a special annual priestess has been established for the king's mother, Berenice of Cyrene, analogous to the Kanephoros of Arsinoe Philadelphus. The new priestess has the title of Athlophoros, and henceforth is mentioned, together with the priest of Alexander and the Kanephoros, in the official dating. Since Ptolemy Philopator had had his mother poisoned, his establishing a special cult in her honour must not be regarded as the sign of exceptional filial affection. One would like to think it was remorse, but perhaps it was only policy. Berenice, too, we may believe, had been popular, and the manner of her death was already beginning to be whispered about in Alexandria.

 p232  Another stele has recently been discovered at Pithom recording, in hieroglyphics, in demotic, and in Greek, a resolution passed by a synod of Egyptian priests at Memphis in November 217, in view of the recent victory in Syria. From the description given of it by Henri Gauthier​23 one does not gather that it tells us much of value about the Syrian campaign. It repeats the conventional phrases — the Pharaoh, like Horus, had massacred his enemies, had captured immense quantities of prisoners and gold and silver and precious things, had restored to the temples [in Syria?] the images which Antiochus had cast out of them, had repaired at immense expense those which were mutilated, had heaped gifts upon the temples of the realm, and brought back to Egypt and replaced the images which the Persians had carried away. That is all common form, but the inscription does give us a few dates which were not known before. And the inscription is interesting as showing the encroachment of Egyptian forms in the Ptolemaic kingdom. For the first time, so far as we know, the fulsome formulas of Pharaonic royalty, which are absent in the Canopus Decree, begin to appear in a Greek translation. The inscription further tells us something about the new forms of worship instituted in the Egyptian temples in honour of the reigning house — images of Philopator and Arsinoe, carved pictures with the old motive of Pharaoh transpiercing his fallen enemy in battle, the celebration of the anniversary of the battle of Raphia and the five following days as a festival of rejoicing, a feast on the 20th of every month in honour of Ptolemy I and Berenice I.

We have other instances of the use of the Pharaonic formulas in the case of Philopator — a papyrus which seems to contain a royal rescript (addressed, no doubt, to the Egyptians), and which, therefore, shows the formulas to have been actually used by the court;​24 a trilingual inscription in the Cairo Museum.​25 The titles heaped upon Ptolemy Philopator — "Lord of Crowns, the Greatly Glorious, the One Pious towards the Gods, the Saviour of men," etc. — correspond closely with those given to Ptolemy Epiphanes on the Rosetta Stone.

The king's marriage with his sister did not mean any change  p233 of régime in the capital. The unhappy girl had been made her brother's wife, simply in order that an heir to the throne of the requisite royal blood might be bred from her. Agathocles and Agathoclea still, as before, ruled the king's corrupt affections.​26 The palace swarmed with literary pretenders, poets, grammarians, whores, buffoons, philosophers. Amongst the philosophers who resided for a time at the court of Ptolemy Philopator was the eminent Stoic Sphaerus.​27 One of the anecdotes preserved concerns a practical joke which Ptolemy played upon him. The Stoics taught that the wise man would never yield to a false appearance, and Ptolemy at table had a sham fruit, made of wax, presented to Sphaerus, and, when the philosopher's teeth were stuck fast in it, asked him whether in this case a wise man had not yielded to a false appearance. Ptolemy had an ambition to figure as a poet himself, and wrote a play called Adonis, as its name indicates, of an idyllic erotic character. Agathocles followed suit by writing a commentary to it.

Apart from the Egyptian temples which he caused to be built, we know of three works of construction carried out by Ptolemy IV's command. One — characteristically enough — was a temple of Homer. The other two were ships of an unprecedented size — one a sea-going vessel whose banks of oars reached the astounding number of forty, and which measured 129 metres from stem to stern, not a vessel of much use, but one which enabled Ptolemy to say with pride that he possessed the largest ship in the world; the other a gigantic pleasure-boat for the court to use in excursions up the Nile, with saloons and bed-chambers and colonnades, all carried out in precious woods and ivory and gilt bronze, and decorated by Greek artists with carpets and embroideries.

To one form of emotional exaltation the king was especially addicted — the orgiastic worship of Dionysos. From this god the house of Ptolemy claimed to be descended, and Ptolemy IV desired apparently to reproduce in some way in his own person his divine ancestor. If he did not yet, like one of his descendants, adopt Neos Dionysos as an official  p234 surname, he was apparently often called "Dionysos" by the multitude or by the court. We are told that to mark his devotion to Dionysos he had the figure of the ivy-leaf tattooed upon his body.​28 "Gallus" — the name given to the devotees of Great Mother who emasculated themselves in the state of frenzy — was, we are told, one of the nicknames given to Ptolemy IV in Alexandria.

A Berlin papyrus​29 throws a vivid light upon the king's zeal for the worship of his special god:

"By the Order of the King. Those in the country districts who impart initiation into the mysteries of Dionysos are to come down by river to Alexandria, those residing not farther than Naucratis within 10 days after the promulgation of this decree, those beyond Naucratis within 20 days, and register themselves before Aristobulus at the registry office (katalogeion) within 3 days of the day of their arrival, and they shall immediately declare from whom they have received the rites for three generations back and give in the Sacred Discourse (Logos) sealed, each man writing upon his copy his own name."

There is some uncertainty in the interpretation of this document. The words τελοῦντας τῷ Διονύσῳ may mean (as Wilcken takes them), "who perform mystic rites to Dionysus," or (as Schubart takes them), "who impart initiation into the mystic rites of Dionysus." The latter translation seems to me more likely, since the ordinary members of the thiasos30 would hardly have to show that they have received the rites for three generations and have to submit the sacred Logos which the officiant had to pronounce. It is further uncertain for what purpose the telountes are summoned to Alexandria, whether, as Schubart thinks, for a synod, or, as Wilcken thinks, simply for the purpose of registration, so that the government may have the celebration of mysteries in each locality under its control. In any case the document seems to show a special interest on the part of the king in the worship of Dionysos.

 p236  On October 9 (Mesori 30), 209 B.C. — the date is fixed by the Rosetta Stone — Arsinoe fulfilled the purpose for which she had been made queen, and gave birth to a son. Within a few weeks of his birth apparently he was proclaimed joint-king with his father.​31 Arsinoe's life, immured in the palace of Ptolemy Philopator was one of continuous humiliation and misery. She may have had the same high spirit as the other Macedonian princesses who figure in this story, but the unfriendly forces all round her, shutting her in, were too great for one lonely girl to combat. We get a chance glimpse of her — an authentic one. The great Eratosthenes lived on at Alexandria to look with sadness of heart at the outcome of all the teaching he had bestowed upon the son of Ptolemy Euergetes. When Ptolemy IV was dead, the old man published a book called Arsinoe in memory of the young queen. In this book he described how he had once been with her, when she and certain of her retinue were passing through some place, in or near the palace, and how they had met a man carrying green boughs, as for a festival. The queen wondered what festival day it could be — these things were obviously arranged by Ptolemy and his associates without any reference to her — and she inquired of the man. The man said it was the Feast of Flagons (λαγυνοφορία), and that it ended up with every one, court and people, getting gloriously drunk in a revel out of doors. Then, Eratosthenes wrote, Arsinoe "turned her eyes upon us" (ἐμβλέψασα πρὸς ἡμᾶς) and broke out in bitter words at the shame of her father's house and the abasement of the royal dignity.​32 For that one moment Arsinoe Philopator flashes into vivid light out of the darkness of the palace, to vanish again into darkness.

In Egypt itself, the reign of Ptolemy IV, after he returned, as a victor, from Palestine, was not without ominous troubles. After the battle of Raphia, the native question had become much more difficult to handle. It made an immense difference to the national self-consciousness of the Egyptians that 20,000 Egyptians had faced and put to flight Macedonian troops, or troops, at any rate, trained and armed as Macedonians. It was natural that a wild hope should run through parts of the country, that in Egypt, too, the old people of the land might successfully stand up to the ruling Greek and  p238 Macedonian race, might do to them as their fathers had done to the Hyksos. The Hyksos had ruled Egypt for four hundred years, and Egypt had been recovered in the end for the Egyptians under Pharaohs of their blood. Why should not the same thing happen again? The foreign king continued, according to the policy of his predecessors, to try to attach the natives to his rule by building, restoring, or beautifying Egyptian temples. Work proceeded under Ptolemy Philopator upon the great temple of Horus at Edfu. "At Luxor his cartouche is found on various buildings, showing that if he did not there erect buildings, he, at least, decorated them, and desired his name to be identified with them. On the opposite side of the river he certainly founded the beauti­ful little temple of Dêr-el‑Medineh, which was completed by his successors. Moreover, at Aswan he attempted the completion (which seems not to have been accomplished) of the small temple begun by his father" (M.).

But there were now many Egyptians whom the building of temples by royal order no longer availed to persuade that  p239 the Macedonian king was as good as a native Pharaoh. The army which fought at Raphia was hardly back in Egypt when native risings began. The story of this struggle was told by Polybius in a part of his great work now lost. But from what he says about it in a fragment preserved we gather that it was a long-drawn‑out, confused affair — no great signal events, like pitched battles between large armies, no sea-battles or sieges, as in regular war — a mass of local encounters between bodies of rebels and government forces, one supposes, guerilla warfare creating misery over this or that district — only marked, Polybius says, by exceptional frightfulness, ferocity, and treachery.​33 Egyptians, usually a gentle and long-suffering race, are capable, when excited, of abnormal atrocities.​34 As Mahaffy justly pointed out, the fact that building continued on the temple at Edfu till the sixteenth year of the king (207‑206) (so the hieroglyphic inscription tells us) proves that the native troubles did not, at any rate, cut communications before that year between the court and Upper Egypt. Mahaffy's view is probably right that the districts affected at first by the rebellion were in Lower Egypt — the papyrus-swamps of the Delta had given refuge to Egyptian chiefs who rebelled against the Persians in former days — and that the rebellion did not break out in Upper Egypt (causing building operations at Edfu to be suspended) till the last years of Ptolemy IV's reign. Mahaffy was, however, mistaken in putting under Ptolemy IV the victory of Polycrates of Argos over the rebels. That belongs to the next reign. Whether the rebels in Lower Egypt had been rounded up before the rebellion broke out in Upper Egypt, or whether they were still at large, we do not know. On the wall of the temple at Edfu may still be read in the sacred Egyptian script:

"So was the temple built, the inner sanctuary being completed for the golden Horus, up to the year 10, Epiph the  p240 7th, in the time of king Ptolemy Philopator. The wall in it was adorned with fair writing, with the great name of his Majesty and with pictures of the gods and goddesses of Edfu, and its great gateway completed, and the double doors of its broad chamber, up to the year 16 of his Majesty. Then there broke out a rebellion, and it came to pass that bands of insurgents hid themselves in the interior of the temple. . . ."

Not till nearly twenty years later was building resumed. The rebels in this region were apparently still holding the field when Ptolemy Philopator died.

A curious document illustrating the hopes which at this time lived in the hearts of the native population is a demotic papyrus giving what purports to be an oracle delivered in the days of king Tachōs (366 to 360 B.C.), though really of quite recent composition, accompanied by an explanation. Unfortunately for us, the explanation is very nearly as dark as the oracle itself. But so much can be discerned: the oracle gives a sketch of what has happened to Egypt since the days of Tachōs in the form of a prophecy (very much as Daniel sketches the history from Alexander to Antiochus Epiphanes as a prophecy supposed to be given in the days of Cyrus). And the prophecy is carried on to foreshadow the liberation of Egypt still to come, the native deliverer who will be king when the foreigners have been driven out. "A man of Chnês [Heracleopolis] is it, who after the Aliens [the Persians] and the Ionian [the Greeks] will bear rule." "Exult in joy, Prophet of Harsaphes!" And the commentary explains: "That means: the Prophet of Harsaphes rejoices after the Uinn; he is become a ruler in Chnês." The oracle then goes on to indicate the gathering of his army, his battles, his crowning, and the joy of Isis of Aphroditopolis. And the commentary ends up: "Rejoice over the Ruler, which is to be, for he will not forsake the Law."35

Possibly another little literary piece — the "Potter's Prophecy" — of which we have fragments in some tattered papyri of the 2nd and 3rd centuries A.D., may be taken as showing the hopes of Egyptian nationalism under the later Ptolemaic kings. The papyri which preserve it are in Greek, but the work professes to be, and probably is, in part at any rate, the translation of an Egyptian document. It purports to give the prophecy uttered by an inspired potter before a king Amenophis in ancient days. The papyri are too fragmentary  p241 to yield a connected story, but one can make out that days of oppression and misery are prophesied for Egypt under foreign enemies who are called "girdle-wearers" (zōnophoroi), probably the Persians; then the Saviour-king arises by whom the city of the girdle-wearers shall be laid waste and the holy things brought back to Egypt. Then comes a passage which can refer to nothing but a looked-for destruction of Alexandria: "And the City beside the sea shall become a place where fishers dry their nets, because the Good Daimon and Knephis shall have departed to Memphis, so that certain who go by shall say: 'This City was a universal nurse (pantotrophos), every race of men did settle in her.' And then Egypt shall be [blessed?], when the king who for fifty-five years shall be benevolent shall come from the Sun-god, a giver of good things, established by the greatest goddess Isis, so that they who are alive and remain shall pray that they who have died may rise again to share in the good things."36

A few Greek inscriptions which chance has here and there brought to light show us members of the ruling race as well as natives active under Ptolemy Philopator. At Alexandria, Apollonius, son of Ammonius, with his wife Timocion and his children, dedicate an image on behalf of king Ptolemy and queen Arsinoe, Father-loving Gods, to Demeter and Kore and Justice.​37 Another Alexandrine, Diodōtus, son of Myrtaeus, makes a dedication on behalf of the king and queen to Sarapis and Isis.​38 The foundations of an ancient building uncovered at Alexandria about thirty years ago proved to have between the stones four plaques, one of gold, with a hieroglyphic and a Greek inscription. The Greek inscription indicates that the building was a temple of Sarapis and Isis, Saviour Gods, and of king Ptolemy and queen Arsinoe, Father-loving Gods.​39 We do not know by whom the temple was erected; from the fact that there is a hieroglyphic, as well as a Greek inscription, one would suppose the dedicator or the dedicators to have been Egyptian. At Thebes, a Hellenized Egyptian, Teos, son of Horus, policeman (φυλακίτης) in a  p242 quarter of Thebes called Ammoniēum, from the great temple of Amen situate there, makes a dedication on behalf of the king and queen, to what deity is not stated. Another Greek inscription from Thebes runs: "On behalf of Ptolemy the great Father-loving God, Saviour and Victorious, and of Ptolemy the son, Comon, son of Asclepiades, oikonomos of the [dues and customs?] in the district of Naucratis  p243 (οἰκόνομος τῶν κατὰ Ναύκρατιν), to Isis, Sarapis, Apollo."​40 A Greek official, posted at present to the district of Naucratis, comes to visit the famous city of Thebes on his holiday tour, or for some private business, and takes occasion to make an offering on behalf of the king and his son in the celebrated temple, displaying his loyalty by adding extra surnames of his own choice to the royal name. That the queen is not mentioned does not prove anything; in a private dedication the dedicator might choose which members of the royal family to pray for. It is possible that the palace cabal did keep Arsinoe as much as possible in the background, and that an official anxious to gain favour in high quarters would know that his omitting the queen's name would by no means go against him.

In spite of the unfortunate experience at Raphia, the Egyptian government continued to organize elephant-hunting in the regions of the south. A Greek inscription on a black marble pedestal from Edfu records a dedication made there to the Father-loving Gods, to Sarapis and Isis, by the man sent to take command of the forces operating in the elephant-country, Lichas, son of Pyrrhus, an Acarnanian.​41 This command has been given to Lichas, the inscription says, for the second time. Since Ptolemy and Arsinoe appear in it as king and queen, it must be later than the battle of Raphia. As we have seen, the name of Lichas remained attached to a strip of the Somaliland coast.42

Another of the Ptolemaic commanders of the elephant-country mentioned by Strabo — Charimortus — appears in an inscription in the British Museum.​43 From what place in Egypt it comes is not known. Charimortus must have held the command at a later date than Lichas. The inscription is a dedication on behalf of Ptolemy, Arsinoe, and their little son, put up by the man who is going as second-in‑command (διάδοχος) to Charimortus in the elephant-country, and by the subordinate officer and soldiers with him. Both the two officers are Pisidians. The dedication is made to Ares Nikephoros Euagros — the War God who gives victory and good hunting. Since the little son is mentioned, the inscription must be later than October 8, 209.

The Ethiopian dynasty of Napata came to an end when the king of Meroe, Arqamani, whom the Greeks called  p244 Ergamenes, reunited all Ethiopia under his rule. Reisner calculates that this happened about 225 B.C., though it might possibly, he thinks, have been as early as 240. Diodorus says that the coup d'état of Ergamenes took place "in the time of Ptolemy II." This statement has long been questioned on the ground that Ergamenes appears in the monuments as a contemporary of Ptolemy IV; but this would not by itself rule out the possibility of his coup d'état having taken place as early as 250, still in the reign of Ptolemy II, as F. Ll. Griffith supposes.​44 Since the later archaeological researches at Meroe, however, it appears hard to reconcile such an early date with the other reigns which have to be got in between 308 and Ergamenes.​45 The passage of Diodorus about Ergamenes is as follows:

"In former times [in Ethiopia] the kings were subject to the priests, not through any material force, but because their reason was crushed by superstition; but in the time of Ptolemy II the king of the Ethiopians, Ergamenes, who had some tincture of Hellenic education and had studied philosophy, first had the courage to make light of the command. For, acting with a spirit conformable to his royal standing, he went with a party of soldiers into the holy place, where was the golden shrine of the Ethiopians, and put all the priests to the sword. Having so broken down the old custom, he governed thenceforth according to his judgment."​46

Diodorus does not say that "Ergamenes was educated at the court of Ptolemy II," as Reisner inadvertently supposes, taking a little bit of romancing on Mahaffy's part for a statement by an ancient author. Diodorus does not even say that Ergamenes had ever visited Egypt, though, of course, he may have done so. Many Greek teachers, no doubt, could have been induced to go up the Nile as far as Meroe to instruct a king, or a king's son. We do actually hear of a Greek man of letters, Simonides, who lived for five years in Meroe, and wrote a book about Ethiopia.​47 We know that  p245 even an Indian king at this time asked to have a Greek sophist sent him. It is interesting that a desire should have arisen at the Pharaonic court of Ethiopia to learn the wisdom of the Greeks, but it is what we should expect. This new culture which had recently come to rule over the Mediterranean lands and the area of the old Persian Empire had acquired a prestige in the world which inevitably made the kings and peoples around its sphere eager to know what it meant. A splendid court like that of the second Ptolemy set a standard, just as the court of Louis XIV did for contemporary Europe, and it would hardly been possible for Ptolemy's neighbour, whose frontier marched with his own higher up the Nile, to remain unaffected by it. Hellenic rationalism found its way to Meroe and changed the Pharaoh who had been a puppet, dominated by the ecclesiastical tradition, into an emancipated worldly wise autocrat like a Hellenistic king.

Yet, if Ergamenes himself took to Greek philosophy, the court and kingdom, to judge by the monumental remains, continued in externals to be Pharaonic. There is no trace, so far as I know, of Hellenistic influence in the temples and pyramids of Meroe or the remains of its art.​48 The temple built by Ergamenes at Dakkeh is on purely Egyptian lines. And when he died, his mummy was laid to rest in a pyramid near Meroe, decorated with copies of scenes from the Book of the Dead according to the correct Egyptian tradition. It has even been observed that the hieroglyphics inscribed for Ergamenes are of such a good Pharaonic type as to make it likely that he procured priestly craftsmen from Egypt. This would not invalidate the story of his having had personally Greek ideas, since we can see, in the case of the Ptolemies, that no inference can be made from the style of the Egyptian temples built at the king's command to the king's own culture.

Another Ethiopian king, Azechramon (Ezekher-Amun), seemingly the immediate successor, and possibly the son (or nephew if the succession went in Ethiopia by mother-right) of Ergamenes, built a chapel which may still be seen at the modern Debôd (about 9½ miles above Philae). He appears in the hieroglyphics as a perfect Egyptian Pharaoh, with no sign of Nubian or negro blood, and makes the traditional  p246 claim of a Pharaoh to be "King of the Two Countries" — an astounding claim for any one who was an ally (if indeed he was) of the actual king of Egypt.49

Yet about 200 B.C. Ethiopia was so far abandoning the Pharaonic tradition that the Egyptian language began to give place in inscriptions to the language of the country, for which a new script, "Meroïtic," had been invented, whilst a new system of hieroglyphics came in (ruder in execution) to replace the traditional Egyptian system.

Ptolemy IV would appear to have maintained close relations of some kind with the Ethiopian Pharaoh Ergamenes. Above the First Cataract the desert hills close in upon the Nile, only leaving here and there a very narrow fringe of cultivation beside the river. Through this sterile passage is the way to the wide open regions of Ethiopia on the Upper Nile. The reach from Philae to Tachompso (modern Derâr) was called by the Egyptians the "Land of the Twelve Ar" (an Ar being equivalent to about 7½ miles), and this the Greeks translated as Dodekaschoinos.​50 The priesthood of Philae claimed that this stretch of land had been given to Isis. Possibly its sacred character has something to do with the fact that the Ptolemaic rule and Ethiopian rule seem here to overlap in a strange way under Ptolemy IV. The temple at Pselcis (modern Dakkeh) is stated by its hieroglyphic inscriptions to have been built by Ergamenes, yet on the same temple we find reliefs added by Ptolemy IV. On the side of one doorway one may see Ergamenes making offering to Isis, and on the side of another, Ptolemy Philopator worshipping Anukis, Satis, Isis, and Hathor. On the lintel Philopator has inscribed his own cartouche, together with those of Arsinoe, his Sister-Wife, of his father and mother, and of the "Daughter of Amen Arsinoe."​51 The theory that the Dodekaschoinos  p247 was neutral territory, in which both kings might honour the goddess, is hard to reconcile with the hieroglyphic statement of Ergamenes that Isis had given to him the Land of the Twelve Ar, "from Syene to Tachompso." And, indeed, in Philae itself Ergamenes had himself represented on the walls as Pharaoh, yet in close neighbourhood to representations of Ptolemy IV, in the same character. This curious overlapping of Ptolemaic and Ethiopian kingship seems, however, more easy to account for by some sort of friendly arrangement at this time between the two courts than by the hypothesis of an alternating dominion between two hostile Powers; for, on the latter supposition, one would have expected the king in possession to have effaced his rival's monuments, as Ptolemy V did some of those of Ergamenes at Philae later on.

 p248  Greece, during the later years of Ptolemy Philopator, was torn by the quarrel between Philip, king of Macedonia, and the Aetolian League. Egypt took no active part in it. But it obviously acted in various ways diplomatically; there was constant intercourse between the Alexandrine court and the states of Greece; it was convenient to many, all over the Greek world, to gain favour with the powers ruling in Alexandria. The gifts which the rich king of Egypt could make to any city whom he wished to benefit were not to be despised.​52 A dedication in honour of Ptolemy Philopator has been found in Rhodes;​53 dedications in honour of Ptolemy and Arsinoe at Oropus and Thespiae in Boeotia.​54 Honours are voted to Sosibius by Tanagra and Orchomenus.​55 Polybius mentions with disgust the fulsome honours poured by Athens upon Ptolemy under the guidance of the popular leaders Euryclides and Micion.56

Beside these traces of Ptolemaic influence in the independent states of Greece, we find naturally honour paid to the house of Ptolemy and its chief minister in states which were still directly under Egyptian control. Thera,​57 Sestos,​58 Methymnas in Lesbos,​59 Cnidos (a statue of Sosibius),​60 Halicarnassus,​61 Cyprus.62

In the fight between Antiochus III and his cousin Achaeus, in Asia Minor, which followed the peace between Egypt and Syria, Ptolemy stood aloof. We only find that when Achaeus was being besieged in Sardis, the Alexandrine court made an attempt to contrive his escape by sending a secret agent, a Cretan named Bolis. The man proved treacherous, and, instead of rescuing Achaeus, delivered him up to Antiochus, who put him to death.

But much more momentous for the destinies of the Mediterranean world than any events happening in Greece or Asia were the events happening, during the reign of Ptolemy Philopator, in Italy and the West — the "Second Punic War," the decisive struggle between Hannibal and Rome. Already clear-sighted statesmen saw what was coming upon the world. At the Conference of Naupactus in 217 — a conference at  p249 which envoys from Ptolemy were present — the Aetolian Agelaus put plainly before the representatives of the Macedonian Powers and the Greek states that the dominion of the world was being decided in Italy. Unless they composed their quarrels and stood together, they would soon all be under the rule of either Carthage or Rome. His warning made an impression, but was of no avail.

Later on, the king of Macedonia allied himself with Hannibal, and the Aetolians with Rome. The Egyptian court observed a careful neutrality. When in 216 a Carthaginian ship, carrying to Carthage as prisoner a pro-Roman Italian, Decius Magius, was compelled by bad weather to run into the harbour of Cyrene, Magius escaped to shore and took refuge at the king's statue. He was brought to Alexandria, but was set free, only when the court had ascertained that Hannibal had made him prisoner in violation of a treaty. The following year a Sicilian, Zoippus, came to Alexandria, as the envoy of the young king of Syracuse, Hieronymus, to persuade Ptolemy to throw in his lot with the Carthaginians, but was, of course, unsuccess­ful. Between 215 and 210 Roman ambassadors appeared in Alexandria. There may have been occasions before this when the Alexandrines had seen pass through their streets envoys from the strong people of the West, figures stiff and self-contained in their voluminous white togas, looking with a settled conviction of superiority at the crowd of Greeks and Egyptians in the great Levantine city — but this embassy is the first of which we have trustworthy record. It came to procure cornº from Egypt, the one country in those days not at war; famine conditions prevailed in Italy, where the fields had been laid waste by moving armies.​63 We are not told what answer was given it by the Ptolemaic court; probably Ptolemy did not think it inconsistent with his neutrality to supply the Romans with corn. When Rome, after the battle on the Metaurus in 207, made it plain that it did not desire to see the Aetolians make peace with Philip, the Alexandrine court, which had been sending envoys, together with other states of the Greek world, to mediate between the fighting Powers in Greece,  p250 seems to have drawn back and shrunk from offending Rome.64

The end of Ptolemy Philopator is wrapped in some mystery. Justin says that his death was kept a secret for some time by the court cabal. Ptolemy and Arsinoe perhaps appeared very little in public in the latter end of the reign. Ptolemy may have become altogether besotted with his wine and other excesses, and Arsinoe may have been kept more or less a prisoner in the palace.

It now seems made out that Philopator died and Epiphanes succeeded to the throne on November 28, 203 B.C.65

Mahaffy argued that the picture of Ptolemy Philopator drawn by Polybius, and indeed all our ancient authorities, was unfair. He was not such a hopeless sot as he is represented. It is true that a collection of scandalous stories about Ptolemy Philopator was published by Ptolemy, son of Agesarchos (Ptolemy of Megalopolis), who had been employed in his diplomatic service, and who wrote a history of the reign,​66 but it does not prove the account given by Polybius and others of Philopator to be untrue, that they may have drawn from this work.

It appears to me that, whilst it is always possible that an account given of a person in history by contemporary writers is biased, one way or the other, and whilst it is a pleasure to many people to see an established estimate upset, there is no real evidence in this case to invalidate the testimony of Polybius and other writers about the character of Ptolemy Philopator. One of Mahaffy's arguments was that if we knew of Ptolemy IV from the inscriptions only, we should think much better of him. We should really know nothing about him; for inscriptions expressing official loyalty by men in government service, or honours paid to the king of  p251 Egypt as a matter of policy by Greek city-states, are even more worthless as evidence regarding the king's character than epitaphs are regarding the character of the person buried below. A more substantial argument was that Antiochus and Philip, after the battle of Raphia, deferred their attack on Egypt till after Ptolemy IV was dead. They therefore obviously considered that, so long as he lived, Egypt was stronger than under his infant son. Mahaffy admitted that this argument would not hold on the supposition that Antiochus and Philip were afraid, not of Philopator personally, but of a government directed by Sosibius. Mahaffy, however, held that Sosibius died before the end of Philopator's reign. Yet the evidence is in favour of Sosibius having been still active at the proclamation of the infant Ptolemy as king.

The Author's Notes:

1 "His parents were married in 246 B.C., immediately upon his father's accession; but his sudden departure for Syria makes it likely that he did not beget a son till his return, probably in his third year. Had he left his young wife enceinte, and had this son been born in his absence, I think it very probable the poem of Callimachus (the Coma Berenices) would have contained some allusion to it. I suppose, then, that Philopator was twenty-two, not twenty-four, as the historians assume" (M.). Yet this reasoning would not hold, if Berenice paid visits to her husband when he was at the front, as the interpretation of the Gurob papyrus, for which I argue above, supposes.

2 Officially, "the Great" was not a surname attached to him, like the surnames, Nicator, Soter, Theos, Kallinikos attached to his predecessors; it was a modification of his title, "Great King," instead of "King," after his reconquest of Babylonia and the East.

3 One would naturally suppose that Sosibius was dioiketes, were it not that (if Edgar is right) another man, Theogenes, is found as dioiketes in the fifth year and following years of Philopator (Annales, XX p198). It is possible that the power of Sosibius was not based on his official position but on his personal ascendancy over the king; in that case the official dioiketes would have been his creature.

4 Rev. Egypt. I p134. It seems very unlikely that the Sosibius, son of Dioscurides, named as priest of that year, was a different person from the notorious Sosibius.

5 The person employed to do this is called Theogos in our texts of Pseudo-Plutarch (De prov. Alex. libell., ed. O. Crusius, No. 13). Edgar suggests that he is identical with a Theogenes whom he thinks to have been dioiketes in the early years of Philopator (Bull. Alex. No. 19, p117).

6 Strack, No. 42.

7 Polyb. IV.19.8.

8 A. J. Reinach, Rev. Et. Gr., 1911, p400, inscr. of 217 B.C.

9 Strabo, X p478.

10 Chrest., No. 3.

11 Polyb. V.42.4.

12 We are not told the meaning of the nickname. Conjectures are to be found in Bouché-Leclercq, I.295, note 2.

13 Lucian (Calumn. 2‑4) calls the painter Apelles. Whether this was his real name, or whether Lucian confuses him with the famous Apelles of the time of Alexander the Great, is doubtful.

14 Mahaffy thought it incredible that three years after the death of Euergetes the Egyptian army can have been in such a helpless condition, unless Euergetes himself in his old age had let it down. But Egypt seems to have still kept a considerable army in its service during the early years of Ptolemy IV; and it was not so much that the men were wanting as that discipline and training had been allowed to slide; three years would have been enough in these circumstances to reduce the army to a state of inefficiency and disorganization. It is quite understandable that the Alexandrine court should at the crisis have increased the numbers of the army by fresh recruitment, as well as taken in hand the training of the existing forces.

15 This detail is given us by a Frankfurt papyrus — the enteuxis sent in later to the king by a soldier who says, "I went with you, O king, on active service in the 3rd year to Pelusium, in the 4th year to the Bubastite nome, and in the 5th year to Syria." (The man against whom the soldier appeals was also a soldier who in 217 had got himself appointed to a post in the army at home in order not to have to go on active service to Syria, an embusqué — perhaps an indication of that decay of morale in the army which had taken place since the accession of Philopator.) Lewald, Sitzungsb. d. Heidelberger Akad. d. Wiss., 1920, Abhandl. 14.

16 Probably the inscription found at Alexandria, "King Ptolemy, son of king Ptolemy and queen Berenice, Benefactor Gods, to Euhodia (the Goddess of Good Journeying)," was put up by the king before starting (OGI No. 77).

17 The author of 3 Maccabees works up the motive of Arsinoe's appeal to the soldiers in his romance, but Polybius (V.83.3) shows that it was based on fact.

18 According to the new Pithom stele the date was Pachon 10.

19 OGI II No. 730.

20 Marriage between brother and sister was also in accordance with Persian morality, and Laodice, the wife of Antiochus II (who was a quarter Persian in blood), may have been his full sister.

21 Against Mahaffy's theory is the fact that Agathoclea must, later on, at any rate, have borne a child herself, since she claimed to have acted as the little prince's wet-nurse (Polyb. XV.31.13).

22 It is not found in a papyrus of the preceding year (Gradenwitz., No. 171; see Lewald in the Zeitsch. d. Savigny-Stiftung, vol. XLII (Rom. Abt.), p119).

23 Comptes Rendus de l'Acad. des Inscr., 1923, pp376 ff.

24 Chrest., No. 109.

25 Spiegelberg, Cat. Général d. Musée du Caire, Die demot. Inschrift., 1904, No. 31088.

26 Wilcken thinks it likely that the "Agathocles, son of Agathocles," who holds the eponymous state priesthood in 216‑215, was Philopator's minion (Archiv, VII p74).

27 Possibly the name of Philopator is wrongly given by Diogenes Laertius; it was apparently Ptolemy II or Ptolemy III who invited Sphaerus to Egypt. See Susemihl, Gesch. d. griech. Lit. I p73, note 296.

28 Etym. Magnum, s.v. Γαλλος.

29 No. 11774, verso, included in Papyri und Ostraka d. Ptolemäerzeit, by Schubart and Kuhn (1922). See Wilcken's comments, ArchivVI p413.

30 Possibly the inscription (Bull. Alex., No. 19, p126), in which a (sacred) banqueting hall (hestiatorion) is put up to Philopator, Arsinoe, and their infant son, by Posidonius and the other thiasitai, relates to the same thiasos as the Berlin papyrus.

31 Before Pharmuthi 25 in the thirteenth year (= June 6, 208). Smyly, Gurob, 12 (cf. ArchivVII p71). Ernst Meyer, Untersuch. z. Chron. p43.

32 Athen. VII.276A.

33 Polyb. XIV.12. A papyrus recently published, belonging to the 3rd century (B. G. U. 1215), speaks of fighting between phylakes (guardians of fields, vineyards, etc.) and natives.

34 δεινὴ γάρ τις ἡ περὶ τοὺς θυμοὺς ὡμότης γίνεται τῶν κατὰ τὴν Αἴγυπτον ανθρώπων (Polyb. XV.33.10). The remark in this case applies to the Greek or half-caste Alexandria populace; but Polybius had certainly both Egyptian Greeks and natives in his mind. Juvenal describes how in the fights between one nome of Egypt and another neighbouring nome in his own time, the fighters would tear with their teeth and devour the flesh of the fallen.

35 Eduard Meyer, Sitzungsberichte (Berlin) for 1915, pp287 ff.

36 Wilcken, in Hermes, XL (1905), pp544 ff.

37 OGI No. 83. "Justice" is found in some other inscriptions as a name of Isis, and Isis is possibly meant here. The worship of Demeter and Kore at Alexandria had been established as we have seen, at the Alexandrine Eleusis.

38 Strack, No. 55.

39 Mahaffy, Empire, p73; Strack, No. 66.

40 OGI No. 89.

41 OGI No. 82.

42 Strabo, XVI p773.

43 OGI No. 6 (Fig. 43).

44 Meroitic Inscriptions, Part II, p24.

45 See G. A. Reisner, "The Meroitic Kingdom of Ethiopia," J. E. A., vol. IX (1923), pp34 ff.

46 Diod. III.6. Strabo (XVII 823) tells the same story, without mentioning the king's name. He adds the detail that "sometimes," when the priests had wanted to replace the reigning king, they would order him to commit suicide.

47 Plin. VI § 183.

48 Griffith speaks of a "semi-classical" kiosque at Naga, south of Meroe, but he holds that it belongs to Roman times (Meroitic Inscriptions, Part I p61).

49 Roeder, Les Temples Immergés de la Nubie, vol. I p5.

50 A hieroglyphic inscription in the island of Seheyl (near Aswan) purports to record a gift of the Dodekaschoinos by King Zeser of the IIIrd dynasty to the god Khnumu of Elephantine (see p185). The view that the Dodekaschoinos was simply the reach from Aswan to Philae, which Sethe once maintained, and which is found in his article, "Dodekaschoinos," in Pauly-Wissowa, he has since abandoned.

51 Weigall, Report on the Antiquities of Lower Nubia (1907), p87. The last Arsinoe Weigall describes as that of "Arsinoe IV, his daughter," but such a person, so far as we know, never existed. Can it be the great Arsinoe Philadelphus, Philopator's step-grandmother?

52 O. Kern, Magnesia-on‑Meander, No. 23.

53 OGI, No. 77.

54 OGI, No. 81.

55 OGI, No. 80.

56 V.106.6‑8.

57 Strack, No. 60.

58 Strack, No. 59.

59 OGI, No. 78.

60 OGI, No. 79.

61 Strack, No. 61.

62 OGI, Nos. 75 and 84; Strack, Nos. 65 and 67.

63 Polyb. IX.11a.1. It is a question whether this embassy is to be identified with the embassy of Marcus Atilius and Manius Acilius given by Livy (XXVII.4.10) for the year 210 B.C. Livy makes one definite blunder in calling the queen at that date Cleopatra. See Holleaux, Rome, la Grèce et les Monarchies Hellénistiques, pp64 ff.

64 Individual Romans might take service under Ptolemy IV, as they had done under Ptolemy II. The commander of the Ptolemaic garrison in the Cretan city of Itanus who puts up an inscription is a Roman, "Lucius, son of Gaius" (A. J. Reinach, Rev. des Et. Gr., 1911, p400; cf. Holleaux, Archiv, VI (1920), p14).

65 Ernst Meyer, Untersuch. z. Chron. pp39 ff. The statement of the Canon that the first year of Epiphanes was 205‑204 thus appears erroneous. The theory, favoured by Bouché-Leclercq, that Philopator really died in 204, but that his death was kept secret for a year or more, seems ruled out by the recent calculation of Ernst Meyer.

66 Αἱ περὶ τὸν Φιλοπάτορα ἱστορίαι in three or more books; see Susemihl, Gesch. d. gr. Lit. d. Alexandriener. Zeit. I p905.

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