This circumstance produced, of course, a great excitement within the palace, for Pothinus had been for many years the great ruling minister of state,—the king, in fact, in all but in name. His execution alarmed a great many others, who, though in Caesar’s power, were secretly wishing that Achillas might prevail. Among those most disturbed by these fears was a man named Ganymede. He was the officer who had charge of Arsinoe, Cleopatra’s sister. The arrangement which Caesar had proposed for establishing her in conjunction with her brother Ptolemy over the island of Cyprus had not gone into effect; for, immediately after the decision of Caesar, the attention of all concerned had been wholly engrossed by the tidings of the advance of the army, and by the busy preparations which were required on all hands for the impending contest. Arsinoe, therefore, with her governor Ganymede, remained in the palace. Ganymede had joined Pothinus in his plots; and when Pothinus was beheaded, he concluded that it would be safest for him to fly.
He accordingly resolved to make his escape from the city, taking Arsinoe with him. It was a very hazardous attempt but he succeeded in accomplishing it. Arsinoe was very willing to go, for she was now beginning to be old enough to feel the impulse of that insatiable and reckless ambition which seemed to form such an essential element in the character of every son and daughter in the whole Ptolemaic line. She was insignificant and powerless where she was, but at the head of the army she might become immediately a queen.
It resulted, in the first instance, as she had anticipated. Achillas and his army received her with acclamations. Under Ganymede’s influence they decided that, as all the other members of the royal family were in durance, being held captive by a foreign general, who had by chance obtained possession of the capital, and were thus incapacitated for exercising the royal power, the crown devolved upon Arsinoe; and they accordingly proclaimed her queen.
Every thing was now prepared for a desperate and determined contest for the crown between Cleopatra, with Caesar for her minister and general, on the one side, and Arsinoe, with Ganymede and Achillas for her chief officers on the other. The young Ptolemy in the mean time, remained Caesar’s prisoner, confused with the intricacies in which the quarrel had become involved, and scarcely knowing now what to wish in respect to the issue of the contest. It was very difficult to foresee whether it would be best for him that Cleopatra or that Arsinoe should succeed.
THE ALEXANDRINE WAR.