Ptolemy Epiphanes Succeeds To the Crown
Sosibius, the unfaithful guardian of Ptolemy Epiphanes,
The previous career of Sosibius.
was a creature of extraordinary cunning, who
long retained his power, and was the instrument
of many crimes at court: he contrived first the
murder of Lysimachus, son of Arsinoe, daughter of Ptolemy
and Berenice; secondly, that of Maga, son of Ptolemy and
Berenice the daughter of Maga; thirdly, that of Berenice the
mother of Ptolemy Philopator; fourthly, that of Cleomenes of
Sparta; and fifthly, that of Arsinoe the daughter of Berenice. . . .
Three or four days after the death of Ptolemy Philopator,
B. C. 205. The death of Ptolemy Philopator announced, and Epiphanes crowned.
having caused a platform to be erected in the
largest court of the palace Agathocles and
Sosibius summoned a meeting of the footguards and the household, as well as the
officers of the infantry and cavalry. The
assembly being formed, they mounted the platform, and first of all announced the deaths of the king and
queen, and proclaimed the customary period of mourning for
the people. After that they placed a diadem upon the head
of the child, Ptolemy Epiphanes, proclaimed him king,
and read a forged will, in which the late king nominated
Agathocles and Sosibius guardians of his son. They ended by
an exhortation to the officers to be loyal to the boy and maintain
his sovereignty. They next brought in two silver urns, one of
which they declared contained the ashes of the king, the other
those of Arsinoe. And in fact one of them did really contain
the king's ashes, the other was filled with spices. Having done
this they proceeded to complete the funeral ceremonies. It
was then that all the world at last learnt the truth about the
death of Arsinoe. For now that her death was clearly
established, the manner of it began to be a matter of speculation. Though rumours which turned out to be true had
found their way among the people, they had up to this time
been disputed; now there was no possibility of hiding the
truth, and it became deeply impressed in the minds of all.
Indeed there was great excitement among the populace: no one
thought about the king; it was the fate of Arsinoe that
moved them. Some recalled her orphanhood; others the
tyranny and insult she had endured from her earliest days;
and when her miserable death was added to these misfortunes,
it excited such a passion of pity and sorrow that the city was
filled with sighs, tears, and irrepressible lamentation. Yet it was
clear to the thoughtful observer that these were not so much
signs of affection for Arsinoe as of hatred towards Agathocles.
The first measure of this minister, after depositing the urns
Agathocles propitiates the army and gets rid of rivals.
in the royal mortuary, and giving orders for the
laying aside of mourning, was to gratify the
army with two months' pay; for he was convinced that the way to deaden the resentment
of the common soldiers was to appeal to their interests. He
then caused them to take the oath customary at the proclamation of a new king; and next took measures to get all
who were likely to be formidable out of the country.
Philammon, who had been employed in the murder of Arsinoe,
he sent out as governor of Cyrene, while he committed the
young king to the charge of Oenanthe and Agathocleia.
Next, Pelops the son of Pelops he despatched to the court of
Antiochus in Asia, to urge him to maintain his friendly
relations with the court of Alexandria, and not to violate the
treaty he had made with the young king's father. Ptolemy,
son of Sosibius, he sent to Philip to arrange for a treaty of
intermarriage between the two countries, and to ask for assistance in case Antiochus should make a serious attempt to play
them false in any matter of importance.
He also selected Ptolemy, son of Agesarchus, as ambassador to Rome: not with a view of his seriously prosecuting
the embassy, but because he thought that, if he once entered
Greece, he would find himself among friends and kinsfolk,
and would stay there; which would suit his policy of getting
rid of eminent men. Scopas the Aetolian also he sent to
Greece to recruit foreign mercenaries, giving him a large
sum in gold for bounties. He had two objects in view
in this measure: one was to use the soldiers so recruited
in the war with Antiochus; another was to get rid of the
mercenary troops already existing, by sending them on garrison
duty in the various forts and settlements about the country;
while he used the new recruits to fill up the numbers of the
household regiments with new men, as well as the pickets
immediately round the palace, and in other parts of the city.
For he believed that men who had been hired by himself, and
were taking his pay, would have no feelings in common with
the old soldiers, with whom they would be totally unacquainted;
but that, having all their hopes of safety and profit in him, he
would find them ready to co-operate with him and carry out
Now all this took place before the intrigue of Philip, though
it was necessary for the sake of clearness to speak of that first,
and to describe the transactions which took place, both at the
audience and the dispatch of the ambassadors.
To return to Agathocles: when he had thus got rid of the
The debauchery of Agathocles.
most eminent men, and had to a great degree
quieted the wrath of the common soldiers by his
present of pay, he returned quickly to his old
way of life. Drawing round him a body of friends, whom he
selected from the most frivolous and shameless of his personal
attendants or servants, he devoted the chief part of the day
and night to drunkenness and all the excesses which accompany
drunkenness, sparing neither matron, nor bride, nor virgin, and
doing all this with the most offensive ostentation. The result
was a widespread outburst of discontent; and when there
appeared no prospect of reforming this state of things, or of
obtaining protection against the violence, insolence and
debauchery of the court, which on the contrary grew daily
more outrageous, their old hatred blazed up once more in the
hearts of the common people, and all began again to recall the
misfortunes which the kingdom already owed to these very
men. But the absence of any one fit to take the lead, and
by whose means they could vent their wrath upon Agathocles
and Agathocleia, kept them quiet. Their one remaining hope
rested upon Tlepolemus, and on this they fixed their confidence.
As long as the late king was alive Tlepolemus remained in
Tlepolemus, governor of Pelusium, determines to depose Agathocles, B. C. 205-204.
retirement; but upon his death he quickly propitiated the common soldiers, and became once
more governor of Pelusium. At first he directed
all his actions with a view to the interest of the
king, believing that there would be some
council of regency to take charge of the boy and administer
the government. But when he saw that all those who were
fit for this charge were got out of the way, and that Agathocles
was boldly monopolising the supreme power, he quickly
changed his purpose; because he suspected the danger that
threatened him from the hatred which they mutually entertained. He therefore began to draw his troops together, and
bestir himself to collect money, that he might not be an easy
prey to any one of his enemies. At the same time he was not
without hope that the guardianship of the young king, and
the chief power in the state might devolve upon him; both
because, in his own private opinion, he was much more fit for
it in every respect than Agathocles, and because he was
informed that his own troops and those in Alexandria were
looking to him to put an end to the minister's outrageous
conduct. When such ideas were entertained by Tlepolemus,
it did not take long to make the quarrel grow, especially as the
partisans of both helped to inflame it. Being eager to secure
the adhesion of the generals of divisions and the captains of
companies, he frequently invited them to banquets; and at
these assemblies, instigated partly by the flattery of his guests
and partly by his own impulse (for he was a young man
and the conversation was over the wine), he used to throw
out sarcastic remarks against the family of Agathocles. At
first they were covert and enigmatic, then merely ambiguous,
and finally undisguised, and containing the bitterest reflections.
He proposed the health of the scribbler of pasquinades, the
sackbut-girl and waiting-woman; and spoke of his shameful
boyhood, when as cupbearer of the king he had submitted
to the foulest treatment. His guests were always ready to
laugh at his words and add their quota to the sum of vituperation.
Agathocles will anticipate him.
It was not long before this reached the ears of
Agathocles: and the breach between the two
thus becoming an open one, Agathocles immediately began bringing charges against
Tlepolemus, declaring that he was a traitor to the king, and
was inviting Antiochus to come and seize the government.
And he brought many plausible proofs of this forward, some of
which he got by distorting facts that actually occurred, while
others were pure invention. His object in so doing was to
excite the wrath of the common people against Tlepolemus.
But the result was the reverse; for the populace had long fixed
their hopes on Tlepolemus, and were only too delighted to see
the quarrel growing hot between them. The actual popular
outbreak which did occur began from the following circumstances. Nicon, a relation of Agathocles, was in the lifetime of
the late king commander of the navy. . . .