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Formerly the Cyprian cities were governed by tyrants, but from the time that the Ptolemaic kings were masters of Egypt, Cyprus also came into their power, the Romans frequently affording them assistance. But when the last Ptolemy that was king, brother of the father of Cleopatra, the queen of Egypt in our time, had conducted himself in a disorderly manner, and was ungrateful to his benefactors, he was deposed, and the Romans took possession of the island, which became a Prætorian province by itself.

The chief author of the deposition of the king was Pub. Claudius Pulcher, who having fallen into the hands of the Cilician pirates, at that time at the height of their power, and a ransom being demanded of him, despatched a message to the king, entreating him to send it for his release. The king sent a ransom, but of so small an amount, that the pirates disdained to accept it, and returned it, but they dismissed Pulcher without any payment. After his escape, he remembered what he owed to both parties; and when he became tribune of the people, he had sufficient influence to have Mar- cus Cato sent to deprive the king of the possession of Cyprus. The latter put himself to death before the arrival of Cato, who, coming soon afterwards, took possession of Cyprus, sold the king's property, and conveyed the money to the public treasury of the Romans.

From this time the island became, as it is at present, a Prætorian province. During a short intervening period Antony had given it to Cleopatra and her sister Arsinoë, but upon his death all his arrangements were annulled.

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