The Murder of Octavius
After the Ptolemies had made their partition of the
B. C. 162. Euergetes II. (Ptolemy Physcon), who had Cyrene as his share, asks for Cyprus.
kingdom, the younger brother arrived in Rome
desiring to set aside the division made between
himself and his brother, on the ground that he had
not acceded to the arrangement voluntarily, but
under compulsion, and yielding to the force of
circumstances. He therefore begged the Senate
to assign Cyprus to his portion; for, even if that were done, he
should still have a much poorer share than his
The members of the Commission
Canuleius and Quintus supported
Menyllus, the ambassador of the elder Ptolemy,
by protesting that "the younger Ptolemy owed
his possession of Cyrene and his very life to
them, so deep was the anger and hatred of the common
people to him1
; and that, accordingly, he had been only too
glad to receive the government of Cyrene, which he had
not hoped for or expected; and had exchanged oaths with
his brother with the customary sacrifices."
who had been in Egypt support the elder brother.
To this Ptolemy
gave a positive denial: and the Senate, seeing that the division
was clearly an unequal one, and at the same time wishing
that, as the brothers themselves were the authors of the
division being made at all, it should be effected in a manner
advantageous to Rome, granted the petition of
the younger Ptolemy with a view to their own
The Senate decide in favour of Physcon.
Measures of this class are very frequent
among the Romans, by which they avail themselves with profound policy of the mistakes of others to augment and
strengthen their own empire, under the guise of granting
favours and benefiting those who commit the errors. On this
principle they acted now.
The object of the Senate is to divide and weaken Egypt.
They saw how great
the power of the Egyptian kingdom was; and
fearing lest, if it ever chanced to obtain a competent head, he would grow too proud, they appointed Titus Torquatus and Gnaeus Merula to establish
Ptolemy Physcon in Cyprus, and thus to carry out their own
policy while satisfying his. These commissioners were accordingly at once despatched with instructions to reconcile the
brothers to each other, and to secure Cyprus to the younger. . . .
When the Roman commissioners (see ch. 12) arrived in
Syria, and began carrying out their orders, by burning the ships
and killing the elephants, the popular fury could not be restrained;
and Gnaeus Octavius was assassinated in the gymnasium at
Laodicea by a man named Leptines. Lysias did his best to
appease the anger of the Romans, by giving Octavius honourable
burial, and by sending an embassy to Rome to protest his
innocence. Appian, Syr. 46.