1. King of Cyrene, was a step-son of Ptolemy Soter, being the offspring of the accomplished Berenice by a former marriage. His father's name was Philip: he is termed by Pausanias (1.7.1
) a Macedonian of obscure and ignoble birth, but Droysen regards him as the same with the Philip, son of Amyntas, who is frequently mentioned as commanding one division of the phalanx in the wars of Alexander
. Magas seems to have accompanied his mother to Egypt, where he soon rose to a high place in the favour of Ptolemy, so that in B. C. 308 he was appointed by that monarch to the command of the expedition destined for the recovery of Cyrene after the death of Ophellas. [OPHELLAS.] The enterprise was completely successful, and Magas obtained from his step-father the government of the province thus re-united to Egypt, which he continued to hold without interruption from thenceforth till the day of his death, an interval of not less than fifty years. (Paus. 1.6.8
; Agatharchides, apud Athen.
xii. p. 550 b.) Of the transactions of this long period we know almost nothing: it is certain that Magas at first ruled over the province of Cyrenaica only as a dependency of Egypt, and there is no reason to suppose that he threw off his allegiance to Ptolemy Soter so long as the latter lived, though it appears probable that he early obtained the honorary title of king.
But after the accession of Ptolemy Philadelphus this friendly union no longer subsisted, and Magas not only assumed the character of an independent monarch, but even made war on the king of Egypt.
He had advanced as far as the frontier of the two kingdoms, when he was recalled by the news of a revolt of the Marmaridae, which threatened his communications with Cyrene, and thus compelled him to retreat. (Paus. 1.7
. §§ 1, 2.) Soon after this he married Apama, daughter of Antiochus Soter, and concluded a league with that monarch against Ptolemy; in pursuance of which he undertook a second expedition against Egypt, took the frontier fortress of Paraetonium, and advanced so far as to threaten Alexandria itself.
The war appears to have been terminated by a treaty, by which Berenice, the infant daughter of Magas, was betrothed to Ptolemy Euergetes, the son of Philadelphus. (Paus. 1.7.3
; Polyaen. 2.28
; Just. 26.3
The chronology of these events is very uncertain; but it seems clear that a considerable interval of peace followed, during which Magas abandoned himself, as he had previously done, to indolence and luxury, and grew in consequence so enormously fat as to cause his death by suffocation, B. C. 258. (Agatharch. apud Atlhen. l.c.
) From a passage in the comic writer Philemon cited by Plutarch (De Ira cohib.
9), it appears that Magas had the character of being very illiterate; but the anecdote there related confirms the impression of his being a man of a mild and gentle character, which the tranquillity of his long reign is calculated to convey.
The few particulars known concerning him will be found collected and discussed by the Abbé Belley in the Hist. de l'Acad. des Inscr.
vol. xxxvi. p. 19, also by Thrige, Res Cyrenensium,
and more fully and critically by Droysen, Hellenismus,
vol. i. p. 417, vol. ii. pp. 242-248.
It is worthy of notice that the name of Magas is found in an Indian inscription on a rock near Peshawer. (Droysen, vol. ii. p. 321.)
The chronology of the reign of Magas is very uncertain: in the dates above given, the authority of Droysen has been followed. Niebuhr, on the contrary (Kl. Schrrift.
p. 236), places the commencement of his reign after the battle of Ipsus.
He left only one daughter, Berenice, afterwards the wife of Ptolemy Euergetes. Besides the Syrian Apama already mentioned, he had a second wife, Arsinoe, who survived him. (Just. 26.3
; and see Niebuhr, Kl. Schrift.
p. 230, note.)