Next day, Perseus, as soon as an opportunity of seeing his father was afforded him, entered the palace, and with looks expressive of disquietude stood silent in the presence of his sire, but at some distance.
Of whom when his father inquired “if all was well, and what was the cause of that sadness?” he answers, “Know that it is by the sufferance of another that your son survives. We are now attacked by my brother with no secret treachery; he came by night to my house, with armed men to take away my life, and it was by shut doors, and the protection afforded by the walls, that I was saved from his fury.”
When he had inspired into his father a horror mixed with wonder, he adds, “If you can listen to me, I shall cause you to understand the affair as an evident truth.”
But Philip replied that he would hear him, and ordered Demetrius to be instantly summoned. He then sent for two friends of advanced age, Lysimachus and Onomastus, (who never interfered in the juvenile disputes of the brothers, and were of late rare visitors in the palace,) that he might have their assistance in counsel.
While his friends are coming he walked about by himself, secretly revolving many things in his mind; his son still standing at a distance.
On being told that they had arrived, he retired with his two friends, and the same number of his life-guards, into an inner apartment; he permitted each of his sons to bring in three persons unarmed.
Here, having taken his seat, he says, “I, the most unhappy of fathers, sit here as judge between my two sons, the accuser and the accused of the crime of fratricide; about to find, in my nearest of relations, the foul stain either of falsehood or a commission of crime.
For a long time, indeed, I have apprehended an impending storm, after I perceived your mutual looks, which showed no sign of brotherly affection, and after I had overheard some expressions.
But I sometimes cherished the hope that your passions would subside, and that your suspicions could be removed; that even enemies lay down their arms and form a treaty, and that [p. 1862]
the private disputes of many have been ended;
and I trusted that the remembrance of your fraternal relationship would at some time or other occur to you, and of the simplicity and intimacy that subsisted between you in your boyish days; and finally, of my instructions, which, I fear, I have fruitlessly poured into deaf ears.
How often have I, in your hearing, mentioned, with abhorrence, examples of the disagreements of brothers, and recounted the dreadful consequences of them, by which themselves, their offspring, their houses, and their kingdoms, have been utterly ruined.
I have represented, on the other hand, more laudable examples; also the social intercourse between the two kings of the Lacedaemonians, beneficial to themselves and to their country for many ages;
and that this same state, after the custom of each one arbitrarily seizing on absolute power prevailed, was quite overturned.
Then, that these brothers, Eumenes and Attalus, raised their dominions (from so small circumstances, that they were almost ashamed of the title of king) to an equality with mine, or with those of Antiochus, or indeed of any monarch of this age, and by nothing else than by brotherly concord.
Nor did I decline showing you examples even from among the Romans that I had either seen or heard; as of Titus and Lucius Quintius, who carried on the war against me; the two Scipios, Publius and Lucius, who vanquished Antiochus; and their father and uncle, the lasting harmony of whose life even death could not dissolve.
But neither could the wickedness of the former, attended by an issue suitable to their crimes, deter you from your foolish quarrels; nor could the sound judgment and good fortune of the latter bend you to wisdom. While I am alive and in health, you have both in your hopes and wicked desires laid hold on my inheritance.
You wish me to live just so long as that, surviving one, I should, by my death, make the other king without a competitor.
You cannot endure to have either brother or father. You have no sense of affection, no religion, your insatiable passion for regal sway alone has supplied the place of all other feelings. Come, then, pollute your father's ears, contend with mutual accusations, as you soon will with the sword; speak openly either whatever truth you can, or are pleased to invent.
My ears are now opened, which henceforward will be shut against [p. 1863]
all secret charges of one against the other.”
When with fu- rious passion he had uttered these words, tears gushed from the whole assembly and a sorrowful silence long prevailed.