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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 brother.
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 interest.
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.

1 The anger of the Alexandrians had been excited against Ptolemy Physcon by his having, for some unknown reason, caused the death of Timotheus, who had been Ptolemy Philometor's legate at Rome. See 28, 1. Diodor. Sic. fr. xi.

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