While Demetrius was enjoying a good fortune so illustrious as this, he had tidings concerning his children and his mother, namely, that they had been set free, and that Ptolemy had given them gifts and honours besides; he had tidings also concerning his daughter who was wedded to Seleucus, namely, that she was now the wife of Antiochus the son of Seleucus, and had the title of Queen of Upper Asia.
For it came to pass, as it would seem, that Antiochus fell in love with Stratonicé, who was young, and was already mother of a little boy by Seleucus. Antiochus was distressed, and resorted to many means of fighting down his passion, but at last, condemning himself for his inordinate desires, for his incurable malady, and for the subjugation of his reason, he determined to seek a way of escape from life, and to destroy himself gradually by neglecting his person and abstaining from food, under pretence of having some disease.
But Erasistratus, his physician, perceived quite easily that he was in love, and wishing to discover who was the object of his passion (a matter not so easy to decide), he would spend day after day in the young man's chamber, and if any of the beauties of the court came in, male or female, he would study the countenance of Antiochus, and watch those parts and movements of his person which nature has made to sympathize most with the inclinations of the soul.
Accordingly, when any one else came in, Antiochus showed no change; but whenever Stratonicé came to see him, as she often did, either alone, or with Seleucus, lo, those tell-tale signs of which Sappho sings1
were all there in him,—stammering speech, fiery flushes, darkened vision, sudden sweats, irregular palpitations of the heart, and finally, as his soul was taken by storm, helplessness, stupor, and pallor.
And besides all this, Erasistratus reasoned further that in all probability the king's son, had he loved any other woman, would not have persisted to the death in refusing to speak about it. He thought it a difficult matter to explain the case fully to Seleucus, but nevertheless, relying on the father's kindly feelings towards his son, he took the risk one day, and told him that love was the young man's trouble, a love that could neither be satisfied nor cured.
The king was amazed, and asked why his son's love could not be satisfied.
‘Because, indeed,’ said Erasistratus,
‘he is in love with my wife.’
‘Then canst thou not, O Erasistratus,’ said Seleucus,
‘since thou art my son's friend, give him thy wife in addition to thy friendship, especially when thou seest that he is the only anchor of our storm-tossed house?’
‘Thou art his father,’ said Erasistratus,
‘and yet thou wouldst not have done so if Antiochus had set his affections on Stratonicé.’
‘My friend,’ said Seleucus,
‘would that someone in heaven or on earth might speedily convert and turn his passion in this direction; since I would gladly let my kingdom also go, if I might keep Antiochus.’ So spake Seleucus with deep emotion and many tears, whereupon Erasistratus clasped him by the hand and told him he had no need of Erasistratus; for as father, husband, and king, he was himself at the same time the best physician also for his household.
Consequently Seleucus called an assembly of the entire people and declared it to be his wish and purpose to make Antiochus king of all Upper Asia, and Stratonicé his queen, the two being husband and wife; he also declared it to be his opinion that his son, accustomed as he was to be submissive and obedient in all things, would not oppose his father in this marriage;
and that if his wife were reluctant to take this extraordinary step, he called upon his friends to teach and persuade her to regard as just and honourable whatever seemed good to the king and conducive to the general welfare. On this wise, then, we are told, Antiochus and Stratonicé became husband and wife.