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Chapter VII
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.
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Chapter IX

 p252  Chapter VIII

Ptolemy V, Epiphanes
(203‑181 B.C.)

The natural person to be guardian of the infant-king and regent of the kingdom was his mother, Arsinoe. So long as Philopator lived, Arsinoe could do nothing against Agathocles. As soon as Philopator was dead, with the favour of the people to support her, Arsinoe became dangerous. Before, therefore, the king's death was divulged, before Arsinoe could make a public appearance, Agathocles and Sosibius resolved to have her murdered in the secrecy of the palace. Even so, it was no easy matter to arrange the murder in such a way that it should not get bruited abroad and draw the wrath of the people upon their heads. If the queen suddenly died or disappeared, many people in the palace were bound to know it — the queen's women, we learn afterwards, were devoted to her — and the murder must therefore be contrived in some way which would not excite the suspicion of those outside the plot. It required evidently a good deal of managing, since a number of agents were employed under the direction of a certain Philammon, a friend of Agathocles, and correspondence in writing took place between the conspirators. One letter fell into the hands of an outsider, who might have exposed the plot and saved the queen, had he been loyal. Unhappily he was not, and the murder was successfully accomplished.

It may have been towards the end of 203 B.C. when Agathocles and Sosibius thought the time come to announce to the world that Ptolemy and Arsinoe, the Father-loving Gods, had departed to heaven.

By the curious chance which has reigned in the preservation of particular bits of ancient historical literature, there is no part of the history of Ptolemaic Egypt — not the great events of the reign of the second Ptolemy —, not the campaigns of Ptolemy Euergetes beyond the Euphrates — which comes into clearer illumination, showing scenes and events in their  p253 manifold details, than the events in Alexandria, when Agathocles and Sosibius made their announcement to the people. You have to wait till the reign of the last great Cleopatra, before scenes in Alexandria are put before us with the same fullness of detail as the scene in Alexandria when the announcement was made in 203, and the scenes which followed it, described for us by Polybius, as they might be by a modern newspaper reporter. A full translation of those chapters of the ancient historian may be read in Mahaffy's Empire of the Ptolemies.​a There you see Agathocles and Sosibius, the two villains, on the wooden platform built in the great pillared court of the palace; the diadem bound round the head of the six-year‑old child, the little heir to the great Ptolemaic heritage; the will, or supposed will, of the dead king read aloud, constituting Agathocles and Sosibius his guardians; the speech of Agathocles to the soldiers, drawn up alongside in their Macedonian armour; and then the production of the two silver urns, which Agathocles declares to contain the ashes of the late king and queen, and which, he says, are to be given ceremonious funeral — no doubt in the Sema, where the bodies of the kings were put near the body of Alexander. And then you are made to hear the murmurs spreading through  p254 the crowd, through the great city, the mystery of Arsinoe's death, the pathos of her story, exciting popular emotion and unrest.

For the moment Agathocles and Sosibius retained their position of power in Alexandria. But they were conscious of dangers all round. There was the danger from other personalities at court, who might cherish ambitions of their own, some of them, like Philammon, privy to the queen's murder. There was the danger from the mercenary troops, who might be infected with the popular feeling against the young king's unworthy guardians. And lastly there was the foreign danger, from Antiochus and Philip. Antiochus might renew his attack on Coele-Syria; Philip might attack the Ptolemaic possessions in the Aegean, to say nothing of the native rebellion in Upper Egypt, still unsubdued.

Agathocles and Sosibius took what measures they could. Prominent personalities at court were got out of Egypt. Philammon was made Libyarch, that is, governor of the Cyrenaica. Ptolemy, son of Agesarchus, was sent as ambassador to Rome. Scopas, the Aetolian condottiere, was sent to Greece to recruit a new body of mercenaries, who would occupy the camps in Alexandria and furnish the palace guards, whilst the old mercenaries were removed to a distance from Alexandria, sent in scattered detachments to do garrison duty in Upper Egypt or in the outlying dependencies. A son of old Sosibius called Ptolemy was sent as ambassador to Macedonia to prevent Philip, if possible, joining with Antiochus in an attack on the Ptolemaic possessions,​1 and Pelops, son of Pelops, was sent as ambassador to Antiochus. Even before Philopator's death, Antiochus had already begun to seize the Ptolemaic possessions in Asia Minor. Pelops had to entreat him to abide by his treaty with Philopator. A letter from Antiochus to Amyzon, near Tralles, promising them the privileges which they had enjoyed under Ptolemy, is dated May or June, 203.2

Agathocles, however, was not prudent in his way of life.  p255 The parvenu put no restraint upon his pride or his lusts. Popular feeling against him waited only for a suitable leader in order to explode. As for old Sosibius, he is no more heard of and must have died soon after the institution of the new régime. A leader was found in 202 in the person of Tlepolemus, whom Agathocles had appointed to command as strategos at Pelusium and organize the defence of the frontier, in case Antiochus reconquered Palestine. Pelusium was soon a centre of revolt against Agathocles. When the Macedonian troops in Alexandria​3 went over to the side of Tlepolemus, the fate of Agathocles and his associates was sealed. The incidents which led up to the explosion in Alexandria, and the scenes which followed it, are again described for us in vivid detail by Polybius, but cannot be told at length here — the storming of the palace, the piti­ful attempts of Agathocles to compromise, to gain mercy; at last the surrender of the boy-king to the Macedonian troops. We see the bewildered child of seven set on a horse amongst shouting crowds, brought to the Stadium, set upon a throne in the sight of the people. Then a young Sosibius, a son of the old intriguer — a young man who is an officer of the Bodyguard and is sagaciously on the popular side — slips up to the small figure on the throne, bends to his ear, asks whether he delivers over the murderers of his mother to popular vengeance. It is easy to make the boy, dazed and frightened, give a sign of assent, and immediately the cry goes out, through the soldiery, over the city, "It is the king's will!" Alexandria gives itself up to an orgy of lynching: Agathocles dragged out from his house and killed; Agathoclea, the wretched old mother Oenanthe, the wife of Philammon, all carried through the streets naked, torn literally piecemeal; Philammon himself, who happened to have just come to Alexandria from Cyrene, beaten to death, his little son throttled. It is with regard to these scenes that Polybius remarks that the inhabitants of Egypt (the remark applies evidently not only to the natives, but to the Greeks, who in this case were mainly, if not exclusively, concerned, and who must be supposed to have taken on, by their residence, some quality of the environment) have an abnormal tendency to commit atrocities, when their angry passions are roused.

 p256  Tlepolemus stepped, as regent,​4 into the place of Agathocles. It was better to have a soldier than a king's catamite as ruler of the kingdom. But Tlepolemus was not a success; he was vain and boisterous, and neglected affairs of state for conviviality and games of ball. Antiochus and Philip made a compact to fall upon the Ptolemaic possessions — Antiochus again invading Coele-Syria, as he had done seventeen years before, and Philip driving the Ptolemaic garrisons out of the places they held in and round the Aegean. In 202, within a few months of the announcement of Philopator's death in Alexandria, Philip began expelling the Ptolemaic garrisons from Thrace and Gallipoli and establishing his own supremacy in their stead. In 201 his fleet took Samos and invaded Caria. By the end of the year Ephesus was almost the only place on the eastern shores of the Aegean still remaining to the house of Ptolemy. Meanwhile, in 202 probably, Antiochus invaded Coele-Syria and pushed back the Ptolemaic forces up to the desert between Palestine and Egypt. The city of Gaza did not fall till after a famous siege (autumn of 201).5

About this time ambassadors from Rome appeared again at Alexandria — Marcus Aemilius Lepidus and two others. When Roman ambassadors had come nine years before, Rome had been hard pressed by Hannibal; now the ambassadors came from a victorious Rome, officially in order to announce the victory of Rome over Carthage to the friendly Ptolemaic court, really, no doubt, in order to get more information about the situation in the Levant, in view of their impending war with Philip. A curious point about this embassy is the statement which we find in later authors​6 that Marcus Lepidus was made the young king's guardian, with power to administer the realm in his name. The statement, as it stands, is unquestionably false. To say nothing of the absence of any such idea in our better authorities (Polybius and Livy), it would be impossible to fit in such an office for Marcus Lepidus with the other things we know about his activities and about the history of the time. Yet we  p257 have a coin struck in Rome by a later member of the family of Lepidi, probably in 54 B.C., in which his ancestor, Marcus Lepidus, is represented crowning the boy-king, with the inscription TVTOR REGIS. Now, whilst we can easily understand the family giving currencyº to a legend in their ancestor's honour, it does not seem likely that the legend arose without any basis at all. A relation of some particular kind must, one would think, have been formed between the Roman noble and the boy-king of Egypt. Mahaffy ingeniously suggested that Lepidus might have undertaken to act at Rome as the formal protector of Egypt's interests, as the king's patronus.​7 Whether the further statement in Justin is true — that at the same time that Lepidus was sent to Egypt, ambassadors from Rome were also sent to Antiochus warning him not to attack Egypt — we do not know. Certainly Rome can have done nothing at this moment to make an enemy of Antiochus as well as of Philip. Justin says also in this passage that the boy-king had been placed "by his father's last prayers" under the guardian­ship of Rome, as the ward (pupillus) of the Republic. This does not seem necessarily to imply a formal will and testament of Philopator's making Rome his son's guardian. If Ptolemy Philopator had done no more than express to Rome, in the course of his diplomatic correspondence, his hope that his son after his death might continue to have the friendly support of the Roman People, that would be enough to give a text to Roman statesmen and start a literary tradition which might appear in later rhetorical writers like Justin in the form of the statement we have before us. It seems likely, indeed, that letters written from the Alexandrine court to Rome, when Philopator's end drew near, would contain expressions of this kind. That is all we can say.

The ease with which the foreign enemies had despoiled the house of Ptolemy showed up the incapacity of Tlepolemus as regent. We find him in about a year replaced by another regent, Aristomenes, an Acarnanian officer of the Bodyguard, who had been, to his discredit, a friend and flatterer of Agathocles, but who showed himself, Polybius says, an admirable and virtuous administrator when he came himself into power.​8 With the Acarnanian regent was closely  p258 associated the Aetolian Scopas, whom we have already heard of, as employed by Agathocles. To Scopas, who had a high reputation as a soldier, although he had a freebooter's passion for gain, was no doubt entrusted the supreme direction of the military affairs of the realm. During the winter, 201‑202, Scopas was success­ful in recapturing a number of places in Southern Palestine from the forces of Antiochus — Jerusalem among them. He threw a garrison into Jerusalem, and returned to Egypt, taking with him the leaders of the Jewish aristocracy who had supported the Ptolemaic cause. Then, apparently in the spring of 200, he returned to Palestine to open a new campaign, and was again success­ful in pushing back the Seleucid forces as far as the Lebanon.

But any glory Scopas won by these successes proved elusive. Antiochus came south to conquer Coele-Syria for the third time. Where the road through the Lebanon enters Palestine, at the place called by the Greeks Panion — from the sanctuary of some Semitic god near the source of the river Jordan, whom the Greeks identified with Pan — the Ptolemaic army under Scopas met the Seleucid army under Antiochus. It was a complete victory for the Seleucid. The battle of Panion ended finally, after the strife of a century, the rule of the house of Ptolemy in Palestine. Antiochus repossessed himself, this time for good, of the coveted province. Scopas himself, after undergoing a siege in Sidon, was allowed to return to Egypt.9

At Alexandria, with the large body of mercenaries attached to him, Scopas was still power­ful. Using, as his principal agent, Charimortus, whom we have heard of as a governor of the elephant-country, he amassed riches to a degree which Polybius describes as "burgling the kingdom." He conceived the design of a coup d'état which would place him in supreme power. Aristomenes forestalled him, had him arrested in his house, and tried by the Council. Distinguished representatives of the Greek states, who happened to be in Alexandria — Aetolian ambassadors amongst them — were invited to be present at the trial as assessors, so that all the Greek world might have proof that Scopas was rightfully condemned. Scopas, together with a number of his associates, was executed by poison.

It was apparently soon after this that Aristomenes thought  p260 the time come for the young king to celebrate his coming of age. He was (in October 197) only twelve years of age, but it was no doubt thought desirable that a point should be stretched in order to have as soon as possible a king in Egypt with personal authority. The ceremonies of a king's majority, called in Greek anaklētēria, were celebrated at Alexandria with becoming splendour. The surname chosen for the fifth Ptolemy was that of Theos Epiphanes, the God Manifest, to which a second surname, Eucharistos, "Gracious," was sometimes officially added. The Greek anaklētēria were followed by another ceremony which, so far as we know, was an innovation in the house of Ptolemy.​10 The little king was consecrated by Egyptian priests at the old capital, Memphis, with the coronation ceremony proper for a native Pharaoh. It was a new bid, of a dramatic kind, to secure the loyalty of the Egyptians to the foreign rule. Something of the sort seemed imperatively demanded. During all these years the native revolts, which had begun under Philopator, had been going miserably on.

The hostile bands were led by two men whose names are read (by Revillout) as Anmachis and Hermachis. They may be Egyptians who aspire to Pharaonic dignity, or Ethiopian chiefs who have taken the opportunity to raid Upper Egypt.

In any case, the friendly relation which seems to have subsisted under Philopator between the courts of Alexandria and Meroë gave place under Epiphanes to hostility. The later cartouches of Ergamenes in Philae have been defaced.​11 Amongst the fragments of Agatharchides is one which says that "Ptolemy formed a corps of 500 horsemen from Greece for his war against the Ethiopians."​12 We are not told which Ptolemy is meant, but in other fragments we seem to be given bits of a discourse supposed to be addressed to a young king by his guardian (epitropos), giving him advice with regard to a war against the Ethiopians. This would fit in with the hypothesis that the Ptolemy meant is the young Epiphanes.13

When we inquire into the factors which brought about  p261 the spirit of nationalist revolt under the later Ptolemies, especially in Upper Egypt, an important one was probably the continued maintenance of the Pharaonic tradition in the Nile country to the south of Egypt. The Greek conquerors had subjugated Egypt, but they had not subjected the whole realm of the ancient Pharaohs, the whole area of Egyptian culture; and so long as the Egyptian nationalists saw their old tradition still ruling, there just beyond the southern frontier, they might well refuse to believe that it had been crushed for good. After all, the old legends told of Egyptian kings in former days, when Egypt was overrun by strangers, taking refuge in Ethiopia on the Upper Nile and issuing thence again to recover the land down to the sea.

In the year 200‑199 we hear incidentally that Abydos was being besieged.​14 Then, in 197, it is in the Delta that we find the rebels dangerous. They are in possession of the town of Lycopolis in the Busirite nome. The rebel bands have taken refuge behind its walls, and are besieged there by government troops, the young king, it would seem, being present with his soldiers. The summer of 197 saw an abnormally high rise of Nile, which threatened, by submerging the siege-works constructed round the town, to compel the king's troops to relax their pressure. To obviate this, the king's troops blocked the canals which fed the neighbourhood of Lycopolis and diverted the water elsewhere. The rebel chiefs saw that their position was hopeless, and capitulated.​15 The king, says Polybius, "treated them cruelly, and fell into many dangers." The vague phrase, due perhaps to the abbreviator of Polybius, probably means that the cruelty of the king's reprisals provoked more furious revolts later on. Another set of rebels — the chiefs who had headed the nationalist revolt under Ptolemy Philopator — were apparently brought to Memphis, and their execution combined with the ceremonies of the king's enthronement as a Pharaoh on Phaophi 17 (= November 26), 197. One can hardly make the boy of twelve responsible for what was done; even if he was officially of age, his public actions must have been still those of his Greek ministers.

We do not know how large a section of the Egyptian people was infected with the spirit of nationalist revolt. The bulk  p262 probably remained quiet and acquiescent.​16 The court, at any rate, had thought it prudent in the years since the young king's accession to perform a number of acts of grace. Certain taxes were abolished; others were lightened. Debts, to a large amount, owing to the royal treasury were remitted. Prisoners, including many who had been a long time in confinement, awaiting trial, were set free. Members of the caste of machimoi and others who had taken part in the revolt, but had returned home, were granted an amnesty. Possibly Egyptians began to be given higher posts in the bureaucratic system. In a papyrus which seems to belong to the latter part of the 3rd century we find an Imonthes who is (provincial) dioiketes.​17 The court especially directed its care to conciliating the Egyptian priesthood by new graces and concessions, and by new honours paid to the national religion. These are enumerated on the famous Rosetta Stone, to which we now come.

This stone, of black basalt, now to be seen in the British Museum, was discovered at Rosetta by the French in 1799, when Napoleon was occupying Egypt, and was left for the English to take possession of in 1801. On it is inscribed in hieroglyphic script, in Greek, and in demotic (the stone is broken and a good part of the hieroglyphics is gone) a decree passed on Mechir 18 (= March 27,) 196, by the general synod of Egyptian priests from the whole kingdom assembled at Memphis. It was this stone which first gave the key of the ancient language of Egypt to the younger Champollion in 1824, and is thus the foundation stone upon which the whole of modern Egyptology has been built up. The occasion for which the synod was assembled was what was called in Egyptian a sed festival. The rites of a king's institution having been originally conceived to impart a supernatural power and virtue to the new king, there had been a custom in ancient Egypt of renewing the rites at irregular intervals during a king's reign — as if to recharge him with the divine electricity. The intervals, originally, it seems, of thirty years, are not found in Pharaonic Egypt shorter than two years.  p263 There is, therefore, something strange in a sed festival for the young Ptolemy taking place only four months after his enthronement. Possibly, as Bouché-Leclercq suggests, the original ceremony of enthronement the previous November had been "somewhat scamped owing to the circumstances of the moment," and it was thought well to make sure that the young king was charged with power. A stone discovered in 1884 at Damanhûr shows that another synod of similar character took place at Memphis in 182. Since this second synod takes place in Pharmuthi (= June in this particular year), it is obvious that there was no necessity for the date of a sed festival to be the anniversary of the enthronement. The decree on the Rosetta Stone is as follows:

"In the reign of the young one — who has received the royalty from his father — lord of crowns, glorious, who has established Egypt, and is pious towards the gods, superior to his foes, who has restored the civilized life of men, lord of the Thirty Years' Feasts,​18 even as Hephaistos the Great;​19 a king, like the Sun,​20 the great king of the upper and lower regions; offspring of the Gods Philopatores, one whom Hephaistos has approved,​21 to whom the Sun has given the victory, the living image of Zeus,​22 son of the Sun, Ptolemy living-for‑ever beloved of Ptah,23 in the 9th year, when Aetus, son of Aetus, was priest of Alexander, and the Gods Soteres, and the Gods Adelphoi, and the Gods Euergetai, and the Gods Philopatores, and the God Epiphanes Eucharistos; Pyrra daughter of Philinus being Athlophoros of Berenice Euergetis, Areia daughter of Diogenes being Kanephoros of Arsinoe Philadelphus, Irene daughter of Ptolemy being Priestess of Arsinoe Philopator, the 4th of the month Xandikos, according to the Egyptians the 18th of Mechir. Decree. The chief priests and prophets and those that enter the inner shrine for the robing of the gods, and the feather-bearers and the sacred scribes, and all the other priests who have come together to the king from the temples throughout the land to Memphis, for the feast of his reception of the  p264 sovereignty, even that of Ptolemy, the everliving, the beloved of Ptah, the God Epiphanes Eucharistos,24 which he received from his father, being assembled in the temple in Memphis on this day, declared: Since king Ptolemy, the everliving, the beloved of Ptah, the God Epiphanes Eucharistos, the son of king Ptolemy and queen Arsinoe, Gods Philopatores, has much benefited both the temples and those that dwell in them, as well as all those that are his subjects, being a god sprung from a god and goddess (like Horus, the son of Isis and Osiris, who avenged his father Osiris), <and> being benevolently disposed towards the gods, has dedicated to the temples revenues in money and corn,º and has undertaken much outlay to bring Egypt into prosperity, and to establish the temples, and has been generous with all his own means, and of the revenues and taxes which he receives from Egypt some has wholly remitted and others has lightened,​25 in order that the people and all the rest​26 might be in prosperity during his reign; and has remitted the debts to the crown, which they in Egypt and in the rest of his realm owed, being many in number; and those who were in prison, and under accusation for a long time back, has freed of the charges against them; and has directed that the revenues of the temples and the yearly allowances given to them, both of corn and money, likewise the proper moiety to the gods from vine land, and from gardens,​27 and the other property of the gods, as they were in his father's time, so shall remain; and directed also, with regard to the priests, that they should pay no more as the tax on consecration (τελεστικόν) than what was appointed them in the time of his father and up to the first year <of the present reign>; and has relieved the members of the sacred tribes from the yearly descent of the river to Alexandria; and has directed that the pressgang for the  p265 navy shall no longer exist;​28 and of the tax of byssus cloth paid by the temples to the crown​29 has remitted two-thirds; and whatever things were neglected in former times has restored to their normal condition, having a care how the traditional duties shall be duly paid to the gods; and likewise has apportioned justice to all, like Hermes the great and great,​30 and has ordained that those who come back​31 of the warrior caste, and of the rest who went astray in their allegiance in the days of the disturbances, should, on their return, be allowed to occupy their old possessions; and provided that cavalry and infantry forces should be sent out, and ships, against those who were attacking Egypt by sea and by land, submitting to great outlay in money and corn, in order that the temples, and all that are in the land, might be in safety;​32 and having gone to Lycopolis, in the Busirite nome, which had been occupied and fortified against a siege with an abundant magazine of weapons and all other supplies (seeing that disloyalty was now of long standing among the impious men gathered into it, who had done great harm to the temples and all the dwellers in Egypt), and having encamped against it, surrounded it with mounds and trenches and elaborate fortifications; but the Nile making a great rise in the 8th year <of his reign>, and being wont to inundate the plains, did prevent it, having dammed at many points the outlets of the streams, spending upon this no small amount of money — and having set cavalry and infantry to guard them,​33 presently took the town by storm, and destroyed all the impious men in it, even as Hermes and Horus, the son of Isis  p266 and Osiris, formerly subdued the rebels in the same district; and the misleaders of the rebels in his father's day, who had disturbed the land, and done wrong to the temples, these when he came to Memphis, avenging his father and his own royalty, did punish as they deserved at the time that he came there to perform the proper ceremonies for his reception of the crown; and did remit what was due to the crown in the temples up to his 8th year, being no small amount of corn and money; so also the fines for the byssus cloth not delivered to the crown, and of those delivered the cost of having them verified,​34 for the same period; and did also free the temples of <the tax of> the artabe for every arura of sacred land, and the jar of wine for each arura of vine land; and to Apis and Mnevis did give many gifts, and to the other sacred animals in Egypt, much more than the kings before him, considering what belonged to them <the gods> in every respect; and for their burials did give what was suitable lavishly and splendidly, and what was regularly paid to their special shrines, with sacrifices and festivals and the other customary observances; and did maintain the honours of the temples and of Egypt according to the laws; and did adorn the temple of Apis with rich work, spending upon it gold and silver and precious stones,​35 no small amount; and has founded​36 temples and shrines and altars, and has repaired those requiring it, having the spirit of a beneficent god in matters pertaining to religion, and finding out the most honourable of the temples <or sites>, did renew them during his sovereignty, as was becoming; in requital for all of which things the gods have given him health, victory, power, and all other good things, his sovereignty remaining to him and his children for all time:

"With propitious fortune: It seemed good to the priests of all the temples in the land to increase greatly the existing honours of king Ptolemy, the everliving, the beloved of Ptah, the God Epiphanes Eucharistos, likewise those of his parents, the Gods Philopatores, and of his ancestors,  p267 the Gods Euergetai and the Gods Adelphoi and the Gods Soteres, and to set up the everliving king Ptolemy, the beloved of Ptah, the God Epiphanes Eucharistos, an image in the most prominent place of every temple, which shall be called that of 'Ptolemy, the avenger of Egypt,' beside which shall stand the principal god of the temple, handing him the emblem of victory, which shall be fashioned <in the Egyptian> fashion;​37 and that the priests shall pay homage owing to the images three times a day, and put upon them the sacred adornment (dress), and perform the other usual honours such as are given to the other gods in the Egyptian festivals; and to establish for king Ptolemy, the God Epiphanes Eucharistus, sprung of king Ptolemy and queen Arsinoe, the Gods Philopatores, a statue and a golden shrine in each of the temples, and to set it up in the inner chamber with the other shrines; and in the great festivals, in which the shrines are carried in procession, the shrine of the God Epiphanes Eucharistos shall be carried in procession with them. And in order that it may be easily distinguishable now and for all time, there shall be set upon the shrine the ten golden crowns of the king, to which shall be applied an asp, as in the case of the asp-formed crowns, which are upon other shrines, but in the centre of them shall be the crown called Pshent, which he assumed when he went into the temple at Memphis to perform therein the ceremonies for assuming the royalty; and there shall be placed on the square surface round the crowns, beside the aforementioned crown, golden amulets <on which shall be inscribed> that it is <the shrine> of the king, who makes manifest <or illustrious> (ἐπιφανῆ) the Upper and the Lower Country. And since the 30th of Mesore, on which the birthday of the king is celebrated, and likewise [the 17th of Paophi]​38 in which he received the royalty from his father, they have considered name-days in the temples, since they were the occasions of great blessings, a feast shall be kept in  p268 the temples throughout Egypt on these days in every month, on which there shall be sacrifices and libations, and all the ceremonies customary at the other festivals [some words lost]. And a feast shall be kept for king Ptolemy, the everliving, the beloved of Ptah, the God Epiphanes Eucharistos, yearly (also) in all the temples of the land from the first of Thoth for 5 days; in which they shall wear garlands, and perform sacrifices, and the other usual honours; and the priests <of the other gods> shall be called priests of the God Epiphanes Eucharistos in addition to the names of the other gods whom they serve; and his priesthood shall be entered upon all formal documents <and engraved on the rings which they wear> and private individuals shall also be allowed to keep the feast and set up the aforementioned shrine, and have it in their houses, performing the customary honours at the feasts, both monthly and yearly, in order that it may be known to all that the men of Egypt magnify and honour the God Epiphanes Eucharistos the king, according to the law. This decree shall be set up on a stele of hard stone, in sacred and native and Greek letters, and set up in each of the first, second, and third (rank) temples at the image of the ever-living king."

When the decree on the Rosetta Stone is compared with the decree passed at Canopus forty-three years before, the increasing self-assertion of the native element in Egypt is evident. In the first place, the synod now meets, not at Canopus, but at Memphis. In the second place, the mass of sacred formulas attached by tradition to a Pharaoh, which were absent in the Canopic Decree, are luxuriant in the decree of 196.

Whilst the young king was with his army fighting his native subjects at Lycopolis, the regent Aristomenes was unable to arrest the further crumbling away of the Ptolemaic power abroad. Antiochus after conquering Coele-Syria had not made any attempt to invade Egypt itself. Our data do not allow us to say when the state of war between the two kingdoms was brought to an end. We know that either as part of the treaty of peace, or some time after the conclusion of the treaty, the daughter of Antiochus, Cleopatra, was betrothed to the young Ptolemy — who had no sister for him to marry! We know that in the conversations between Antiochus and the Roman ambassadors at Lysimachia in the summer of 196 Antiochus declared that Ptolemy was already  p269 his friend, and that a marriage alliance between the two houses was in prospect.​39 On the other hand, Antiochus had been busy the previous year occupying the coast towns of Cilicia and Lycia, which had been subject to Ptolemy,​40 and had taken over Ephesus, where he passed the winter. In the spring of 196 he had annexed to his own realm the regions of Thrace and the Gallipoli peninsula, which had been Ptolemaic (though a Ptolemaic garrison continued to hold Thera), and even after he had made the declaration just specified to the Romans, within a few weeks he formed a plan (which fell through) to seize Cyprus by a coup de main. This does not look like a state of amity. Bouché-Leclercq supposes that the declaration made by Antiochus at Lysimachia was only a declaration of his intention to make peace with Egypt and give Ptolemy his daughter in marriage. It is, perhaps, more likely that peace had already formally been made between the two houses, and the marriage agreed to on both sides,​41 but that Antiochus considered Egypt to be so feeble under its present régime that he might seize the Ptolemaic oversea possessions which he coveted, without the court of Alexandria daring to break off relations. The prospective marriage between the young Ptolemy and a Seleucid princess might seem something so desirable in these days at Alexandria that the court would be willing, for the sake of that, to put up with the Seleucid king's high-handed proceedings.

Rome was now, after its signal victory over Philip at Cynoscephalae (in 197), in a position to adopt a stronger tone towards the Powers of the Eastern Mediterranean. Yet, although the Roman ambassadors had warned Antiochus that Rome considered the young Ptolemy to be under its  p270 protection, Rome was not able, or not willing, to call upon Antiochus to give back the Ptolemaic possessions which he had seized. Not a word apparently was said on the subject. And in the following years it became evident that Antiochus, who had given a welcome to Hannibal, was prepared to break with Rome and fight for supremacy in the Eastern Mediterranean.

During the winter 193‑192 the marriage between Ptolemy Epiphanes (aged sixteen) and one of the daughters of Antiochus was celebrated at Raphia on what was now the frontier of the Seleucid realm. This princess was called Cleopatra. The most usual name for queens and princesses in the house of Seleucus was Laodice, but that name had already been given to Antiochus' elder daughter, who had been married to her brother, the heir to the Seleucid throne. In view of the famous association which history was going to establish between the name Cleopatra and Egypt, it is an inquiry of some interest how this daughter of Antiochus III, who first brought the name into the house of Ptolemy, herself came by it. Cleopatra ("having a glorious father") is a good Greek name, borne by some of the heroines in Greek mythology. It has not before now been met with in the house of Seleucus. But there had been, a hundred years before, a Cleopatra of great note in the Greek world, the sister of Alexander the Great, whose hand was sought by more than one of the great Macedonian marshals who contended for Alexander's heritage — perhaps at one time by Ptolemy Soter himself. In all probability it was the association of the name with the family of the great Alexander which led the Macedonian king who had inherited the greater part of Alexander's Asiatic empire to give the name to one of his daughters.

Although by language, education, and manners, Cleopatra was, of course, Macedonian and Greek, she was not of pure Macedonian blood. Her mother was the daughter of king Mithridates of Pontus, come, that is to say, of one of those Persian noble houses which had been established as great lords in Asia Minor under the old Persian Empire, like the Norman barons in England, and which, in the days of confusion after Alexander, had carved out kingdoms for themselves in that country. Cleopatra had thus a considerable strain of Persian blood from her mother, whilst on her father's side her great-great-great‑grandmother had been the Persian princess Apama. The house of Ptolemy, whose blood had  p271 hitherto been pure Macedonian, has, after this generation, a proportion of Persian blood in it veins — a proportion which does not diminish as rapidly as it ordinarily would, through the practice of brother-and‑sister marriage.

In the agreement between Antiochus and Ptolemy sealed by the marriage a great deal had obviously turned on the question what dowry Cleopatra was to bring to Egypt. It is impossible for us to‑day to know what was stipulated on this point. In the next generation it was a matter of controversy between the two houses, and if it was debatable to people who had all the documents before them, it is not much use for modern scholars, without the documents, to make guesses in the dark. We may say with fair certainty that Coele-Syria came into the negotiations somehow, because we have the authority of Polybius for the fact that the Alexandrine court in the next generation maintained that Antiochus agreed to retrocede Coele-Syria as part of the dowry.​42 Antiochus IV denied that any such agreement had been made, and it would indeed be incredible that Antiochus III, after all his trouble in securing at last a possession which had been coveted by his house for a century, should agree six years later to give it back! It is also fairly certain that Ptolemy never did, after the marriage, exercise any kind of authority in Coele-Syria; Seleucid rule continued there undisturbed. Yet the Alexandrine court must have had something to go upon when they made the allegation. It may well be that Antiochus agreed to assign to his daughter, when she was queen of Egypt, the revenues collected by his government from Coele-Syria, or from certain districts in Coele-Syria, and something of the kind may be behind the statement of Josephus that the revenues from Coele-Syria were "divided between the two sovereigns." But it is not certain whether by "the two sovereigns" Josephus meant Ptolemy and Antiochus or Ptolemy and Cleopatra, and the whole of this section of Josephus (Arch. XII §§ 160 ff.) is so mixed up with impossible legend that not much value can be attached to his phrase about the revenues of the province.

Of the history of Egypt during the remainder of the reign of Ptolemy Epiphanes hardly anything is known. The great question in foreign policy before the Alexandrine court during the years which followed the marriage was the attitude to be  p272 taken in the struggle between Antiochus and Rome. Apparently Aristomenes, who remained the young king's chief councillor, even after he had ceased to be regent, wished to draw the house of Ptolemy to the side of the Seleucid. Had the great Macedonian houses not an interest in standing together against the new Western Power, which was seeking to thrust itself into the world which they had dominated between them, for well over a hundred years? There seemed something unworthy in the successor of the great kings who had ruled in Egypt cringing to a foreign republic — not even a Greek one. On the other hand, there were men of influence at the Alexandrine court, who were so convinced that Rome was going to prove the strongest Power in the world that they were for friendship with Rome at any price. Besides, if Rome defeated Antiochus, might not Ptolemy perhaps get back Coele-Syria? It might seem like treachery, so soon after the alliance with Antiochus had been concluded, for the young Ptolemy to throw his weight against his father-in‑law, when Antiochus was engaged in the supreme struggle of his life. But self-interest must come before everything. One can imagine the kind of arguments with which the great question of the hour was debated backwards and forwards at Alexandria.

Ptolemy, having now reached manhood, had come to feel Aristomenes irksome. In the time of his boyhood, the regent had been in the position to direct his conduct and keep him in the right way, and perhaps the old man did not change his conduct rapidly enough when the boy had turned into a rather harsh-tempered and imperious young man. The story told us is that one day when the king went to sleep in his chair during an audience with foreign ambassadors, Aristomenes took the freedom of touching him on the arm. That gave the enemies of the old councillor their opportunity. They buzzed in the king's ears that Aristomenes had perpetrated a gross and public act of disrespect to the royal person. Perhaps Ptolemy listened to them the more willingly that he himself felt that it was time he got rid of his perpetual monitor. Aristomenes was compelled by royal command to drink hemlock.

His place was taken by his rival, Polycrates of Argos, who prided himself, as we have seen, on belonging to an ancient family in one of the most ancient cities of Greece. Since he had trained the native recruits who fought in the battle of  p273 Raphia twenty-six years before, Polycrates must now himself have grown old. He had won great credit as governor of Cyprus during the minority of the king, by his loyal and efficient administration of the island.​43 But in his old age, Polybius says, he had become rich, ostentatious, self-indulgent, and sensual. With Polycrates as his minister, there was no fear of Ptolemy's being bored by moral sermons; Polycrates was all smooth things and ingratiating flatteries. His foreign policy, the opposite of that of Aristomenes, was one of extreme subservience to Rome and hostility to the house of Seleucus. In the spring of 191, when Antiochus had invaded Greece, an embassy was sent from Egypt to Rome, bringing supplies of corn and money, which Rome refused to accept. Rome did not wish to be under any obligation to Ptolemy when the settlement came after the war. Again the following year (190), when the Romans had driven Antiochus out of Greece, Ptolemy sent an embassy urging them to strike at Antiochus in Asia and placing the resources of Egypt at their disposal. And again Rome declined the offer. When the battle of Magnesia (190 B.C.) had finally broken Antiochus before Rome, the Romans took away from the Seleucid all his territories in Asia Minor north of Pergamon, but they gave nothing to Egypt — not even Coele-Syria. The subservience prescribed by Polycrates had brought Ptolemy some shame and little profit.

Possibly after this, Polycrates conceived the idea of Egypt taking a more active line of its own and attempting, when preparations were complete, to recover Coele-Syria by its own military strength from the now enfeebled Seleucid. In 186 old Antiochus, the "Great King," died or was killed somewhere beyond the Tigris, and his son, Seleucus IV (Philopator), did not seem able or disposed to make any effort. In the following year (185) we find the court of Alexandria trying, not very successfully, to form closer relations with the Achaean League as part, no doubt, of a plan of renewed activity in the Eastern Mediterranean. About the same time a eunuch of the Egyptian court, Aristonicus, goes to Greece to recruit new mercenary forces there. History knows of some persons of this unfortunate class, whose spirit triumphed over their physical disabilities.  p274 Aristonicus is one. He was a man, Polybius tells us, of energy and aptitude for military affairs. But it is ominous that now for the first time we hear of a eunuch as a person of influence at the Ptolemaic court. Hitherto the prominent personalities we have met with there, or in Ptolemy's service, have been, whether they were good or bad, free citizens of some Greek city-state. A eunuch must necessarily have been a slave. The influence of palace eunuchs has been a common feature of Oriental monarchies, and their prominence from now onwards in Ptolemaic history is a sign that this Graeco-Macedonian court is becoming assimilated in some respects to the Oriental type. Aristonicus is said to have been a syntrophos of the young king​44 — that is, the left king had been brought up with eunuchs, as little princes often are, in the harems of Oriental palaces. Eunuchs must have been not only slaves, but barbarians; a Greek boy would never have been subjected to this mutilation — nor probably a native Egyptian.​45 In modern Egypt the palace eunuchs have been negroes, but this cannot have been the case with the eunuchs of the Ptolemaic court, or the conspicuous fact would have been noted in our authorities. They were probably brought by the slave-trade, they or their parents, from some region of Asia, or some barbarian tribe near the Danube. In any case the eunuchs who became power­ful at the Ptolemaic court must have received a Greek education. They are mostly called by Greek names (Aristonicus, Pothinus, Ganymedes).

The vengeance taken upon the rebels in 197 had not put an end to the nationalist revolt. In the Thebaïd it was not till 187‑186 that the Ptolemaic government got rid of the native (or Egyptian) chiefs established there. Yet since work on the temple at Edfu was resumed in 187‑186, the government must have brought that district securely again under its authority by that date. Some hieroglyphic and demotic inscriptions on the temple walls at Philae apparently refer to a suppression of Ethiopian rebels in the twenty-first year of Epiphanes (185‑184 B.C.).​46 Probably in this same year the king and queen Cleopatra, together with their little son, the future Ptolemy Philometor, make a dedication  p275 at Philae to Asklepios — that is, the Egyptian Imhotep. It would seem likely that the royal family had themselves gone to Upper Egypt after the pacification of the country.

In the next year (184‑183) apparently (Polybius says the king was twenty-five) Polycrates succeeded in finally crushing the rebellion in Lower Egypt. The native leaders, Athinis, Pausiras, Chesūphos, and Trobastus — men, it may be, who claimed descent from some of the Pharaohs of old, and had aspired to establish a new Egyptian dynasty, when the strangers had been driven out — saw that their cause was lost, and came to Saïs to surrender their persons to the king on terms to which Ptolemy had pledged his word. Treacherous and vindictive, Ptolemy Epiphanes, when he had them in his power, broke faith. The Egyptian leaders were tied behind his chariot, dragged naked, misused, and put to death. In the military operations which were crowned by this triumph the young king had no personal part. Not that he was  p276 a soft voluptuary, like his father; he was a young man whose leading passion was open-air sports, hunting, and athletic exercises — on one occasion he had ridden down a bull and killed it with a blow of his javelin — a genuine Macedonian, but whose physical energy and courage was marked by a certain hard brutality and cruelty. It was not indolence or cowardice which kept him from any experience of war; it was the policy of Polycrates, who preferred to retain the supreme control in military affairs and leave the king to his athletic amusements. Perhaps if Ptolemy Epiphanes had lived longer he would have led an army to recover Coele-Syria from the Seleucid. Immediately after the vengeance taken on the nationalist princes at Saïs, Ptolemy was at Naucratis inspecting the new body of mercenaries brought from Greece by Aristonicus.

A papyrus dated Choiach 26, Year 22 (i.e. Jan. 31, 184) contains fragments of an order sent to the chiefs of the police (epistatai tōn phylakitōn) by the king regarding the arrest and trial of persons suspected.​47 The object of the order seems to be to check the abuse of the moment for the gratification of private quarrels and for blackmail (διαφορᾶς ἢ σεισμοῦ χάριν). The suppression of the rebels throughout the country would no doubt create a state of things in which such abuses might be rife.

In one of the latter years of the reign we find the federal state of Lycia honouring one of the dignitaries of the Ptolemaic court, a certain Ptolemy, son of Ptolemy, who holds the office of Chief Huntsman (ἀρχικύνηγος).​48 This may indicate that the Ptolemaic court was backing up the Lycians at this moment in their opposition to the Rhodians, under whom they had been put by Rome in the new settlement of Asia Minor after the battle of Magnesia. It may have some connexion with plans at Alexandria for a reassertion of Ptolemaic influence in the Levant, including a new war with the Seleucid power. Or it may simply show a continuance of old friendly relations between the Lycians and the house of Ptolemy. We find, a few years earlier (after Ptolemy's marriage in 193, before the birth of his eldest son), a dedication made in the Lycian city of Xanthus on behalf of Ptolemy and Cleopatra by some one who is probably (for the stone is broken) Lycian on his mother's side​49 — the side by which descent was reckoned in Lycia.

 p277  If the raising of new mercenaries in Greece seemed to portend a war coming, the renewed attempt on the part of the Ptolemaic court in 183 to form an entente with the Achaean League also probably meant some large plan developing. The attempt this time seemed success­ful. It was the anti-Roman party in the Achaean League who welcomed Ptolemy's advances. It looks as if in Egypt, too, Polycrates had changed his policy of unqualified subservience to Rome or was losing the direction of affairs. The Achaean League appointed ambassadors to go to Egypt, one of whom was the historian Polybius, then a young man. But the embassy never left Greece. Suddenly Ptolemy Epiphanes died, aged only twenty-eight (end of 181).

The fifth Ptolemy might, of course, have shown energy and capacity in other directions than as a sportsman, had he lived. It is interesting to note that he was the first king of the dynasty in whom we see the issue of a brother-and‑sister marriage; he was certainly more vigorous than his father. For the next generation Cleopatra of Syria introduced fresh blood. Three children were left of the marriage — two sons, and a daughter who was given her mother's name, to bear witness to the world, by the name Cleopatra, that the kings of the house of Ptolemy had henceforth also in their veins the blood of Seleucus.

There are three noticeable innovations in the system of the kingdom connected with the reign of Ptolemy Epiphanes. One was the institution of another eponymous priesthood — the "Priestess of Arsinoe Philopator," the king's unhappy mother, henceforth to appear in documents together with the Kanephoros of Arsinoe Philadelphus and the Athlophoros of Berenice Euergetis. The new priestess first appears in the year 199‑198, before the boy-king celebrates his anaklētēria.50

The second innovation is a development of the court hierarchy. Under the earlier kings we find persons attached to the court commonly described as "Friends," and we find persons with the military office of "Member of the Bodyguard" (Sōmatophylax).​51 But from the reign of Ptolemy Epiphanes onwards we find a titular member­ship in one or  p278 other of a series of classes or orders conferred as a personal dignity upon officials throughout the kingdom or upon other persons whom the king wished to honour. The highest order is that of "Kinsmen" (συγγενεῖς), whom the king addresses as "Father" or "Brother," just as in a modern state the sovereign addresses his peers as "Cousin." The second order is that of "Commanders of the Bodyguard" (ἀρχισωματοφύλακες);​b the third order that of "First Friends" (πρῶτοι φίλοι). Then, fourthly, come the plain "Friends" (φίλοι). The fifth and lowest order is that of "Successors" (διάδοχοι) — a title which probably meant at the outset that the persons in question were designated to "succeed" to a place in the order of "Friends," as soon as there was a vacancy. Later on (from the reign of Euergetes II) we find the number of orders raised to seven by the insertion of two extra ones — between "Kinsmen" and "Commanders of the Bodyguard" the order of those "Honourably associated with the Kinsmen" (ὁμότιμοι τοῖς συγγενέσιν), and a similar one between "First Friends" and "Friends."​52 The thing most analogous to these dignities in a modern state is not peerages — since the Ptolemaic dignities were purely personal decorations, not hereditary — but honorary orders — the Order of the Garter, the Order of the Bath, etc. A "Commander of the Bath" does not exercise any real command in connexion with the care of the sovereign's ablutions any more than a Ptolemaic "Commander of the Bodyguard" exercised any real command in connexion with the care of the sovereign's person. The Ptolemaic dignities were conferred upon numerous people who held various offices in the state to which real duties were attached — governors of nomes, revenue overseers, etc. — but the dignities did not in themselves carry any duties with them. It is probable that, like modern orders, each Ptolemaic order had a distinctive dress belonging to it. This is not definitely stated in regard to the Ptolemaic kingdom, but we find a somewhat analogous system of orders in the Seleucid kingdom, and in this case one can gather that those admitted to the order of "First Friends" wore a gown of purple (that is, red or crimson, not violet),​53 and that the "Kinsmen" were distinguished by a golden brooch, the gift of the king.​54 If an attempt were ever made to represent the court of the great Cleopatra in pictures,  p279 or on the stage, in accordance with real history, it is the courtiers in their Greek robes and wreaths, the officers in their Macedonian mantles and high-boots, who would give colour to the background, not the old Egyptian dresses which had marked the court of a Pharaoh centuries before.

There are many questions connected with this Ptolemaic system of dignities to which we cannot find any certain answer. It appears in documents, as has been said, from the time of Ptolemy V onwards, but we do not know to what extent it was really new. It may be more the custom of parading dignities in official correspondence which is new, than the dignities themselves. Or again, the dignities may have existed at court as grades amongst people who did actually have the function of councillors and commanders of the Bodyguard before the time of Epiphanes, and the new thing may be the extension of member­ship in the different orders, as a purely formal and fictitious dignity to people all over the kingdom.

Another obscure question regarding the Ptolemaic system of dignities is its origin. Was it a development of the institutions of the old Macedonian kingdom, where the kings had their "Friends" and their "Companions"? Or was it a borrowing from the native tradition of Egypt, preserved in the memory of priests and scribes, since the title of "Friend" (smīru) or "Royal Kinsman" (sūtenrekh) had been given long ago to the persons high in the service of Pharaoh?​55 Or was it, as Strack thought, derived from the Seleucid court, when Cleopatra of Syria came to be queen of Egypt, and derived by the Seleucids from the old Persian Empire?​56 In general, I think one cannot build much upon resemblances of office and title in the different monarchic courts, for the character of a monarchy in itself gives rise to certain kinds of offices, most naturally described everywhere by similar names. Every king has to have his bodyguard and his councillors, and those associated personally with him, in whom he has confidence, are naturally called his "friends." From such features one cannot argue that this court has borrowed from that other one. The theory that the Ptolemaic system was borrowed from the Seleucids has not much in its favour. We know hardly anything about the  p280 Seleucid court, and though we do hear of orders there, as has been said, which seem analogous to the Ptolemaic ones, this is not till after the time of Antiochus III; it seems more likely that the two great Macedonian courts of Syria and Egypt should show analogous developments, as the conditions of the world changed, than that one copied the other.

A third question is why this development took place in the reign of Epiphanes. Wilcken supposes that it was "in order to bind loyal people more firmly to the king after the period of revolution."​57 Mahaffy advanced the theory that it was in order to raise money; the titles, he conjectured, were sold by the court. He built upon a story told of Epiphanes by Porphyry (cited by St. Jerome) that when Ptolemy was discussing plans for opening the new war on Seleucus IV, one of his magnates asked him where he was going to find the money for it, and Ptolemy replied — the saying is also ascribed to Alexander the Great — that his wealth consisted in his friends. In the story, as Porphyry gave it, this certainly did not mean that Ptolemy had raised money by the sale of titles, for the story went on that the magnate understood the king's answer to mean that he contemplated exacting heavy contributions to the war from the rich men attached to the court, and that in consequence, when the saying got abroad, there was a conspiracy against the king's life amongst the magnates, which succeeded in killing him by poison. There is no real evidence to support Mahaffy's conjecture.

It is probably true that the Egyptian court and government at the end of the reign of Epiphanes suffered from a shortage of money. Egypt still had immense riches, as compared with other countries, and the commerce between the Mediterranean and the Indian Ocean, which passed through Alexandria, must have continued to bring large sums into the royal coffers. But the house of Ptolemy had just suffered a serious diminution in its revenues from the loss of Coele-Syria and its possessions in Asia Minor and Thrace, and its scale of expenditure, including the building of temples and other contributions to the native religion, had, no doubt, been adjusted to its previous revenues. Financial readjustment to the new state of things might well mean some temporary embarrassment, especially if, at the same time, preparations had to be made for a new war.

The third innovation of the reign of Epiphanes, connected,  p281 no doubt, with the spirit of nationalist revolt in Upper Egypt, is that the governor (strategos) of the Theban nome has from henceforth the position of a viceroy, his authority extending over all Upper Egypt. In this capacity he usually has the title of epistrategos, a title of which the first known use is in an inscription belonging to the later years of Epiphanes,​58 but not in every case: Paōs and Lochus, under Euergetes II, though they exercise apparently authority of the same kind and extent as those called epistrategos, are always described in our documents simply as "strategos of the Thebaïd." In one case we find some one described, apparently under Euergetes II, as strategos autokratōr of the Thebaïd."​59 Phommūs, in the reign of Soter II, although obviously by his name of Egyptian race, is epistrategos, with the rank of Kinsman.

The Author's Notes:

1 A mysterious phrase in Polybius (XV.25.13) seems to indicate that there was also some question of a marriage alliance between the houses of Ptolemy and Antigonus which this embassy was commissioned to arrange. If so, the project must have come to nothing. We know no details.

2 OGI No. 217. But see further emendations of the inscription and a discussion of the historical circumstances by Wilhelm in the Anzeiger of the Vienna Akademie d. Wissensch. for 1920.

3 The "Macedonians" are probably the troops recruited from the soldier-colonists (κληροῦχοι) in Egypt, in distinction from the mercenaries whose homes were overseas.

4 There seems to be no documentary evidence to support Mahaffy's view that the young Sosibius and Aristomenes were associated in the supreme power, with Tlepolemus as minister for war.

5 Joppa seems to have still struck money with the head of Ptolemy in 200.

6 Justin, XXX.3‑5; Valer. Max. VI.6.1; Tacitus, Ann. II.67.

7 Empire of the Ptolemies, p298, note.

8 γενόμενος κύριος τῶν ὄλων πραγμάτων, κάλλιστα καὶ σεμνότατα δοκεῖ προστῆναι τοῦ τε βασιλέως καὶ τῆς βασιλείας (XV.31.7).

9 For the date of Panion, see Holleaux in Klio, VIII (1908), pp267 ff.

10 Wilcken thinks that Ptolemy IV had already begun the practice (Grundzüge, p21).

11 Weigall, Antiquities of Lower Nubia, p42.

12 Geog. Graec. Min. I p119.

13 Pap. Tor. (I.5, l. 27) mentions a movement of the Ptolemaic troops under Epiphanes from Thebes towards the Upper Nile.

14 Perdrizet and Lefebvre, Les graffites grecs du Memnonion d'Abydos, No. 32, 32 bis.

15 ἔδωκαν σφᾶς αὐτοὺς εἰς τὴν τοῦ βασίλεως πίστιν (Polyb. XXII.7.1).

16 Loyal dedications on behalf of the king made by Egyptians (more or less Hellenized Egyptians, since the inscriptions are in Greek): by Achōris son of Erieus to Isis Mōchias at Tehneh (OGI 94); by Semenūphis son of Phaneus to the god Semenūphis (OGI 95); but officers of the native bodyguard, the "epilektoi machimoi about the Court" (OGI II No. 731).

17 E. v. Druffel, Archiv, VI (1920), pp30‑33.

18 I.e. the sed festivals.

19 That is the god Ptah, the special god of Memphis, whom the Greeks, curiously, identified with their Hephaistos.

20 The Egyptian Ra.

21 "This refers to the solemn and private visit paid by the king to the inner shrine of Ptah for his coronation" (M.).

22 The Egyptian Amen.

23 This is the rendering of his cartouche-name.

24 The recurring cartouche-name.

25 This lightening is said to be expressed in the demotic version by "gave them the control of," viz. gave back the collection of them to the priests.

26 "The people" (ὁ λαός) must mean the native Egyptians; "all the rest," the Macedonians, Greeks, Asiatics, etc., domiciled in the country.

27 "The priests, whether truly or falsely, imply that the ἀπόμοιρα had been restored to the temples. A Petrie papyrus (II.XLVI), dated the second and fourth year of Epiphanes, speaks of this tax as paid to Arsinoe and the Gods Philopatores, so that the statement of the priests is probably false; but see Revenue Papyrus, p121, and Mr. Grenfell's note" (M.).

28 συλληψιν των εις την ναυτειανº may also mean the right of seizing whatever is wanted for the navy. But the word ναυτεια is not known in this sense, and the demotic version, which is said to indicate some compulsory service, has no equivalent for it" (M.). The priests can hardly have been themselves liable to be impressed for the navy, but it would no doubt inconvenience them to have the temple-servants, the labourers on the temple-lands, etc., carried off.

29 "We know from the Revenue Papyrus (cols. 98, 99) that there was a tax on the sale of this cloth" (M.).

30 "I have not altered this truly great Egyptian phrase, which often occurs in the form great great(M.).

31 "It might be inferred from the D. V., which makes the word future (according to Revillout), that we should read καταπορευσομενους(M.).

32 The external enemies attacking Egypt by sea could hardly be any others than the forces of Antiochus.

33 "I.e. the dams; or it may be, owing to the inundation being kept off, that he set his army to invest the rebels, who had hoped the rising Nile would raise the siege" (M.).

34 "This clause is quite obscure to us, as we do not know what δειγματισμος means. The demotic version is said to be, 'the complement for pieces of cloth kept back,' which implies a different reading, but Hess (Budge, II.86) denies this" (M.).

35 "Both the hieroglyphic and the demotic versions give for this corn, a curious variant, if Revillout be credible in his rendering" (M.).

36 "In the demotic 'amplified' " (M.). The temple of Aroeris-Apollo at Ombi was begun under Epiphanes (Letronne, Recueil, I p46).

37 "From the fortieth line onward the fracture at the right side becomes more serious, and invades the text, so that words, not always certain, have to be supplied to fill up the construction. But there can be no doubt regarding the general sense. I have therefore not thought it worth while to indicate each of the gaps at the close of the lines. All the English reader requires is to be assured of the substance and of the sense, and that no modern idea has been imported into the text" (M.).

38 This date is recovered from the duplicate of the hieroglyphic text from Damanhur.

39 Liv. XXXIII.40.

40 Tribute from Lycia collected by Ptolemaic officials in 201 B.C. (Tebtunis, I No. 8; Chrest., No. 2).

41 According to St. Jerome the marriage was arranged in the seventh year of Ptolemy Epiphanes, i.e. 196‑195, four or five years after the battle of Panion. Jerome seems to have some substantial source behind him, since he states that the Seleucid envoy was a certain Eucles of Rhodes. The Chronicon Pascale puts the betrothal in the consul­ship of Purpureus and Marcellus, i.e. 196; the Chronicon also says it was in the seventh year of Ptolemy, i.e. reckons the years of Ptolemy from 203‑202. Bouché-Leclercq rejects Jerome's statement on the ground that the proceedings of Antiochus are incompatible with the existence of a formal state of peace, but are they incompatible with a merely formal state of peace, which Antiochus knew he might violate in practice without causing a rupture?

42 Polyb. XXVIII.20.9; Appian, Syr. 5 (Appian, the Egyptian Greek, takes naturally the view of the Alexandrine court).

43 Statue of Ptolemy Epiphanes put up in Cyprus by Polycrates (OGI No. 93).

44 See p123.

45 Slaves in Ptolemaic Egypt seem usually to have been foreigners imported, not natives. See Bouché-Leclercq, IV pp118 ff. But Egyptian slaves are found in Alexandria (Schubart, Archiv, V p118).

46 Weigall, Antiquities of Lower Nubia, p48.

47 Preisigke, Sammelbuch, No. 5675.

48 OGI No. 99.

49 OGI No. 91.

50 For changes of state-cult at Ptolemais, see p107.

51 In year 8 of Philopator (Edgar, Bull., No. 19 (1923), p116). An archisomatophylax in the middle of the 3rd century, B.C. (Grenfell (II), 14‑16; Petrie, III pp151 f.).

52 οἱ ἰσότιμοι τοῖς πρῶτοις φίλοις (Wilcken, Archiv, VI p372).

53 1 Macc. x.62‑65.

54 1 Macc. x.89.

55 Very full details regarding the dignitaries in Pharaonic Egypt will be found in Sir F. Petrie's articles in Ancient Egypt (1924, pt. IV p109 ff.).

56 Spiegel, Eranische Altertumsurkunde, III p622 ff.

57 Grundzüge, p7.

58 "Hippalus, of the First Friends, Epistrategos and Priest [in Ptolemais] of Ptolemy Soter and of Ptolemy Epiphanes and Eucharistos" (OGI No. 103).

59 OGI No. 147.

Thayer's Notes:

a Or of course in Polybius himself, XV.25 ff.

b Here for example is one of the earlier witnesses to the rank:

[image ALT: An eight-line Greek monumental inscription, very neatly carved.]

The monumental dedicatory inscription, currently in the Louvre, reads:









On behalf of King Ptolemy and Queen Cleopatra the Sister, Mother-Loving Gods, and their children, Areios, commander of the archisomatophylakes, [hereby dedicates] the Ptolemaion and the throne of the Pharbaithic nome to Hermes and Heracles.

(My translation)

© Holly Hayes (Sacred Destinations) 2004, by kind permission.

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Page updated: 15 Apr 20