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death by Ptolemy Philadelphus, for plotting against his Pausanias, throne, to which, as the elder brother, he might lib. i. 7. have thought himself the best entitled.
(75) Their daughter Lysandra married Agathocles, the son of Lysimachus; but when Agathocles was put to Lib. i. 9, 10. death by his father, she fled to Egypt with her children, and put herself under Ptolemy's care.
(76) Ptolemy then, as we have seen, asked in marriage the hand of Cleopatra, the sister of Alexander; but Lib. i. 6. on her death he married Berenice, a lady who had come into Egypt with Eurydice, and had formed part of her
Fig. 219.-Berenice Soter.
household. She was the widow of a man named Philip; and she had by her first husband a son named Magas, Vit. Pyrrhi, Whom Ptolemy made governor of Cyrene, and a daughter, Antigone, whom Ptolemy gave in marriage to Pyrrhus, when that young king was living in Alexandria as hostage for Demetrius.
(77) Berenice's mildness and goodness of heart were useful in softening her husband's severity. Once when Var. Hist. Ptolemy was unbending his mind at a game of dice xiv. 43. with her, one of his officers came up to his side, and began to read over to him a list of criminals who had been
condemned to death, with their crimes, and to ask his pleasure on each. Ptolemy continued playing, and gave very little attention to the unhappy tale; but Berenice's feelings overcame the softness of her character, and she took the paper out of the officer's hand, and would not let him finish reading it, saying it was very unbecoming in the king to treat the matter so lightly, as if he thought no more of the loss of a life than the loss of a throw.
(78) With Berenice Ptolemy spent the rest of his years without anything to trouble the happiness of his family. He saw their elder son Ptolemy, whom we must call by the name which he took late in life, Philadelphus, grow up everything that he could wish him to be; and, moved alike by his love for the mother and by the good qualities of the son, he chose him as his successor on the throne, instead of his eldest son Ptolemy Ceraunus, who had shown, by every act in his life, his unfitness for the trust.
(79) His daughter Arsinoë married Lysimachus in his old age, and urged him against his son Agathocles, the husband of her own sister. She afterwards married her half-brother Ptolemy Ceraunus; and lastly we shall see her the wife of her brother Philadelphus.
lib. i. 10. Justinus,
lib. xvii. 2.
(80) Argæus, the youngest son of Ptolemy, was put to death by Philadelphus, on a charge of Pausanias,
lib. i. 7.
(81) Of his youngest daughter Philotera we know nothing, except that her brother Philadelphus afterwards named a city on the coast of the Red Sea after her.
(82) After the last battle with Demetrius, Ptolemy had regained the island of Cyprus and Cole-Syria, including Judæa; and his throne became stronger as his life drew to an end. With a wisdom rare in kings and conquerors, he had never let his ambition pass his means ; he never aimed at universal power; and he was led, both by his kind feelings and wise policy, to befriend all those states which like his own were threatened by that mad ambition in others.
(83) His history of Alexander's wars is lost, and we therefore cannot judge of his merits as an author; but we may still point out with pleasure how much his people gained
from his love of letters; though indeed we do not need the example of Ptolemy to show that learning and philosophy are as much in place, and find as wide a field of usefulness, in governing a kingdom as in the employments of the teacher, the lawyer, or the physician, who so often claim them as their own.
(84) His last public act, in the thirty-eighth year of his reign, was ordered by the same forbearance which lib. xvi. 2. had governed every part of his life. Feeling the weight of years press heavily upon him, that he was less able than formerly to bear the duties of his office, and wishing to see his son firmly seated on the throne, he laid aside his diadem and his title, and, without consulting either the army or the capital, proclaimed Ptolemy, his son by Berenice, king, and contented himself with the modest rank of somatophylax, or satrap, to his successor. He had used his power so justly that he was not afraid to lay it down; and he has taught us how little of true greatness there is in rank, by showing how much more there is in resigning it. This is perhaps the most successful instance known of a king, who had been used to be obeyed by armies and by nations, willingly giving up his power when he found his bodily strength no longer equal to it. Charles V. gave up the empire in disappointment, and hid himself in a monastery to avoid the sight of anything which could remind him of his former greatness. Diocletian, who, more like a philosopher, did not refuse to hear news from the world of politics which he had left, had his last days embittered and his life shortened by witnessing the misconduct of his successors. But Ptolemy Soter had the happiness of having a son willing to follow in the track which he had laid down for him, and of living to see the wisdom of his own laws proved by the well-being of the kingdom under his successor.
(85) But while we are watching the success of Ptolemy's plans, and the rise of this Greek monarchy at Alexandria, we cannot help being pained with the thought that the Copts of Upper Egypt are forgotten, and asking whether it would not have been still better to have raised Thebes to the place which it once held, and to have recalled the days of Rameses, instead of trying what might seem the hopeless task, to plant Greek arts in Africa. But a review of this history
will show that, as far as human forethought can judge, this could not have been done. A people whose religious opinions were fixed against all change, like the pillars upon which they were carved, and whose philosophy had not noticed that men's minds were made to move forward, had no choice but to be left behind and trampled on, as their more active neighbours marched onwards in the path of improvement. If Thebes had fallen only on the conquest by Cambyses, if the rebellions against the Persians had been those of Copts throwing off their chains and struggling for freedom, we might have hoped to have seen Egypt, on the fall of Darius, again rise under kings of the blood and language of the people; and we should have thought the gilded and half-hid chains of the Ptolemies were little better than the heavy yoke of the Persians. This, however, is very far from having been the case. We first see the kings of Lower Egypt guarding their thrones at Sais by Greek soldiers; and then, that every struggle of Inarus, of Nectanebo, and of Tachos, against the Persians, was only made by the courage and arms of Greeks hired in the Delta by Egyptian gold. During the three hundred years before Alexander was hailed by Egypt as its deliverer, scarcely once had the Copts, trusting to their own courage, stood up in arms against either Persians or Greeks; and the country was only then conquered without a battle, because the power and arms were already in the hands of the Greeks; because in the mixed races of the Delta the Greeks were so far the strongest, though not the most numerous, that a Greek kingdom rose there with the same ease, and for the same reasons, that an Arab kingdom rose in the same place nine centuries later. Moral worth, national pride, love of country, and the better feelings of clanship, are the chief grounds upon which a great people can be raised. These feelings are closely allied to self-denial, or a willingness on the part of each man to give up much for the good of the whole. By this, chiefly, public monuments are built, and citizens stand by one another in battle; and these feelings were certainly strong in Upper Egypt in the days of its greatness. But, when the throne was moved to Lower Egypt, when the kingdom was governed by the kings of Sais, and even afterwards, when it was struggling against the Persians, these
virtues were wanting, and they trusted to foreign hirelings in their struggle for freedom. The Delta was peopled by three races of men, Copts, Greeks, and Phenicians, or Arabs; and even before the sceptre was given to the Greeks by Alexander's conquests we have seen that the Copts had lost the virtues needed to hold it.