Those who took away the life of the king seem to have had no thoughts of mending the form of government, nor any plan by which they might lessen the power of his successor. It was only one of those outbreaks of private vengeance which have often happened in unmixed monarchies, where men are taught that the only way to check the king’s tyranny is by his murder; and the little notice that was taken of it by the people proves their want of public virtue as well as of political wisdom.
[Illustration: 212.jpg TAILPIECE]
CHAPTER V—PTOLEMY PHILOMETOR AND PTOLEMY EUERGETES II.
The Syrian Invasion: The Jews and the Bible: Relations with Rome: Literature of the Age.
At the beginning of the last reign the Alexandrians had sadly felt the want of a natural guardian to the young king, and they were now glad to copy the customs of the conquered Egyptians. Epiphanes had left behind him two sons, each named Ptolemy, and a daughter named Cleopatra; and the elder son, though still a child, mounted the throne under the able guardianship of his mother, Cleopatra, and took the very suitable name of Philometor, or mother-loving. The mother governed the kingdom for seven years as regent during the minority of her son. “When Philometor reached his fourteenth year, the age at which his minority ceased, his coronation was celebrated with great pomp. Ambassadors from several foreign states were sent to Egypt to wish the king joy, to do honour to the day, and to renew the treaties of peace with him: Caius Valerius and four others were sent from Rome; Apollonius, the son of Mnestheus, was sent from Judaea; and we may regret with Polybius that he himself was not able to form part of the embassy then sent from the Achaians, that he might have seen the costly and curious ceremony, and given us an account of it.
While Cleopatra lived, she had been able to keep her son at peace with her brother, Antiochus Epiphanes, but upon her death, Leneus and the eunuch Eulaius, who then had the care of the young king, sought to reconquer Coele-Syria; and they embroiled the country in a war, at a time when weakness and decay might have been seen in every part of the army and navy, and when there was the greatest need of peace. Coele-Syria and Phoenicia had been given to Ptolemy Epiphanes as his wife’s dower; but, when Philometor seemed too weak to grasp them, Antiochus denied that his father had ever made such a treaty, and got ready to march against Egypt, as the easiest way to guard Coele-Syria.
By this time the statesmen of Egypt ought to have learned the mistake in their foreign policy. By widening their frontier they always weakened it. They should have fortified the passes between the Red Sea and the Mediterranean, not cities in Asia. When Antiochus entered Egypt he was met at Pelusium by the army of Philometor, which he at once routed in a pitched battle. The whole of Egypt was then in his power; he marched upon Memphis with a small force, and seized it without having to strike a blow, helped perhaps by the plea that he was acting on behalf of his nephew, Ptolemy Philometor, who then fell into his hands.