Accordingly, the place was always an object of great contention among kings and dynasts, but the eagerness of Antigonus to secure it fell nothing short of the most frenzied passion, and he was wholly absorbed in schemes to take it by stratagem from its possessors, since an open attempt upon it was hopeless.
For when Alexander,1
in whose hands the place was, had died of poison given him (it is said) in obedience to Antigonus, and his wife Nicaea had succeeded to his power and was guarding the citadel, Antigonus at once sent his son Demetrius to her in furtherance of his schemes, and by inspiring her with pleasant hopes of a royal marriage and of wedded life with a young man who would be no disagreeable company for an elderly woman,
he captured her, using his son for all the world like a bait for her. The citadel, however, she did not give up, but kept it under strong guard. Pretending, therefore, indifference to this, Antigonus celebrated the nuptials of the pair in Corinth, exhibiting spectacles and giving banquets every day, as one whom pleasure and kindliness led to think chiefly of mirth and ease.
But when the crucial moment came, and as Amoebeus was about to sing in the theatre, he escorted Nicaea in person to the spectacle. She was borne in a litter which had royal trappings, plumed herself on her new honour, and had not the remotest suspicion of what was to happen. Then, arrived at the diverging street that led up to the citadel, Antigonus gave orders that Nicaea should be borne on into the theatre, while he himself, bidding adieu to Amoebeus, and adieu to the nuptials, went up to Acrocorinthus with a speed that belied his years; and, finding the gate locked, he beat upon it with his staff and ordered it to be opened.
And the guards within, stupefied, opened it. Thus master of the place, he could not contain himself for joy, but drank and disported himself in the streets, and with music-girls in his train and garlands on his head, old man that he was and acquainted with so great vicissitudes of fortune, revelled through the market-place, greeting and clasping hands with all who met him. Thus we see that neither grief nor fear transports and agitates the soul as much as joy that comes unexpectedly.