The Ancient Library

Scanned text contains errors.

On this page: Ptolemaeus Xi


island of Cos, probably as early as b. c. 102 (see Joseph. Ant. xiii. 13. § 1), where he remained till the year b. c. 88, when that island was taken by Mithridates the Great. On this occasion Alex­ander fell into the hands of the conqueror, who treated him with the utmost distinction, and re­tained him at his own court. But the young prince soon after found an opportunity to escape, and took refuge with Sulla, whom he accompanied on his return to Rome. Here he remained till b. c. 81, when the death of Ptolemy Lathyrus without male issue having left the throne of Egypt vacant, Sulla, who was then dictator, nominated the young Alexander (who had obtained a high place in his favour) king of Egypt, and sent him to take pos­session of the crown. It was, however, agreed, in deference to the claims of Cleopatra Berenice, the daughter of Lathyrus, whom the Alexandrians had already placed on the throne, that Alexander should marry her, and admit her to share the sovereign power. He complied with the letter of this treaty by marrying Cleopatra immediately on his arrival in Egypt, but only nineteen days after­wards caused her to be assassinated: an act of cruelty which aroused the indignation of the Alex­andrians, who in consequence rose against their new monarch, dragged him to the gymnasium, and there put him to death, B. c. 80. (Porphyr. ap. Euseb. Arm. p. 117 ; Appian. Mithr.23, B.C.i.l02 ; Cic. Frag. Or. de rege Alexandr. p. 352, ed. Orell.; Trog. Pomp. Prolog, xxxix.)

Much difficulty and perplexity have arisen in regard to an Alexander king of Egypt, who is alluded to in more than one passage by Cicero, as having bequeathed his dominions by will to the Roman people (Cic. de Leg. agrar. i. 1, ii. 16, 17 ; Fr. de reg. Alexandrine, p. 350). It appears that the fact of this bequest was by no means very certain, and that it never was acted upon by the Roman senate. But authors are not at all agreed which of the two Alexanders is here meant; and some writers have even deemed it necessary to admit the existence of a third king of the name of Alexander, who died about b.c. 65. The silence of the chronographers seems, however, conclusive against this hypothesis. Niebuhr, on the contrary, conceives Ptolemy Alexander I. to have lived on in exile till the year 65, and to have been the author of this testament: but this is opposed to the direct testimony of Porphyry as to his death. Other writers suppose Alexander II. to be the person designed, and adopt the statement of Trogus Pompeius that he was only expelled by the Alex­andrians, in opposition to the authority of Por­phyry and Appian, confirmed as they are by a passage in Cicero, in regard to his death. (See on this subject Clinton, F. H. vol. iii. p. 392 ; Cham-pollion-Figeac, Annales des Lagides, vol. ii. p. 247; Visconti, Iconoyrapliie Grecque, vol. iii. p. 251 ; Niebuhr, KL Schriften, p. 302 ; Orelli, Onomast. Tullian. p. 30.) The fragmentary and imperfect nature of our authorities for this period of Egyptian history renders it scarcely possible to arrive at a satisfactory solution of this question. [E. H. B.]

PTOLEMAEUS XI. (HroAeyuaTos), king of egypt, assumed the surnames or titles of neus dionysus (Neos Ato*/u<ros), but is more commonly known by the appellation of auletes (the flute-player). He was an illegitimate son of Ptolemy Lathyrus, and, on account of his spurious birth, his pretensions to the throne appear to have been



altogether passed over at his father's death: but when the assassination of Berenice and the death of Alexander II. had completed the extinction of the legitimate race of the Lagidae (b. c. 80), Pto­lemy was proclaimed king by the Alexandrians (Porphyr. ap. Euseb. Arm. p. 117). So imperfect is our history of this period that we know nothing concerning the first twenty years of his reign. But of his character in general we are told that he was given up to every kind of vice and debaucher}r, and his name is associated with those of Philopator and Physcon, as one of the worst rulers of the whole race of the Ptolemies (Strab. xvii. p. 796). He appears to have assumed the name of Dionysus as a sort of authority for his orgies, and is said to have been on the point of putting to death the Platonic philosopher Demetrius, for refusing to join in his drunken revels (Lucian, de Column. 16). His passion for playing on the flute, to which he owed his popular appellation, led him to institute musical contests, in which he himself condescended to ap­pear as a competitor. (Strab. I, c.; Plut. de Adul. et Amic. 12.)

But it was not his vices alone which served to disgust and alienate the minds of his subjects. It had been a natural object of his desire to obtain the countenance and protection of the Roman senate ; but, for some reason or other, it was long before he could obtain their ratification of his title to the crown, and it was not till the consulship of Caesar that he was able to purchase by vast bribes the desired privileges (Suet. Caes. 54). But he had expended immense sums in the pursuit of this object, which he was compelled to raise by the im­position of fresh taxes, and the discontent thus ex­cited combining with the contempt entertained for his character, led to his expulsion by the Alexan­drians, in b.c. 58. On this he determined to pro­ceed in person to Rome to procure from the senate his restoration. On his way thither he had an in­terview at Rhodes with Cato, who endeavoured, but in vain, to dissuade him from his purpose (PItit. Cat. Min. 35). His first reception was promising, and by a lavish distribution of bribes, combined with the influential support of Cicero, who pro­nounced an oration in his favour (Pro Rege Alex-andrino), he procured a decree from the senate, commanding his restoration, and entrusting the charge of effecting it to P. Lentulus Spinther, then proconsul of Cilicia. Meanwhile, the Alexandrians sent an embassy of a hundred of their leading citizens to plead their cause with the Roman senate: but Ptolemy had the audacity to cause the deputies, on their arrival in Italy, to be waylaid, and the greater part of them murdered, while the rest were prevented, either by threats or bribes, from coming forward against him. The indignation excited at Rome by this proceeding, however, produced a re­action: the tribunes took up the matter against the nobility, while a party in the senate strove to get the commission transferred from Lentulus to Pompey, and an oracle was produced from the Sibylline books, forbidding the restoration of the king by an armed force. The intrigues and disputes thus raised were protracted throughout the year 56, and at length Ptolemy, despairing of a favourable result, quitted Rome in disgust, and withdrew to Ephesus. (Dion Cass. xxxix, 12—16 ; Cic. ad Fam. \. 1—7, ad Q. Fr. ii. 2, 3, pro Rabir. 2, 3, pro Gael. 10; Porphyr. ap. Euseb. Arm. pp. 117, 118} Plut. Pomp. 49.)

Q Q. 3

About | First



page #  
Search this site
All non-public domain material, including introductions, markup, and OCR © 2005 Tim Spalding.
Ancient Library was developed and hosted by Tim Spalding of