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(1) FEw princes ever mounted a throne with such fair prospects before them as the second PTOLEMY (see Fig. 221). He was born in Cos, an island on the coast of Caria, which the Ptolemies kept as a family fortress, safe from Egyptian rebellion and Alexandrian rudeness, and, while their fleets were masters of the sea, safe from foreign armies. He had been brought up with great care, and being a younger son was not spoilt by that flattery which in all courts is so freely offered to the heir. He first studied letters and philosophy under Philetas of Cos, an author of some elegies and epigrams now lost; and as he grew up he found himself surrounded by the philosophers and writers
with whom his father mixed on the easiest terms of friendship. During the long reign of Ptolemy Soter the people had been made happy by wise and good laws, trade had flourished, the cities had grown rich, and the fortresses had been strengthened. The troops were well trained, their loyalty undoubted, and the Egyptians, instead of being distrusted as slaves, were enrolled in a phalanx, armed and disciplined like the Macedonians. The population of the country was counted at seven millions. Alexandria, the capital of the kingdom, was not only the largest trading city in the world, but was one of the most favoured seats of learning. It surely must have been easy to foresee that the prince then mounting the throne, even if but slightly gifted with virtues, would give his name to a reign which could not be otherwise than remarkable in the history of Egypt. But Philadelphus, though like his father. he was not free from the vices of his times and of his rank, had more of wisdom than is usually the lot of kings; and though we cannot but see that he was only watering the plants and gathering the fruit where his father had planted, and that like Lorenzo de' Medici he has received the praise for reaping the harvest which is due to his father for his wisdom in sowing the seed, yet we must at the same time acknowledge that Philadelphus was a successor worthy of Ptolemy Soter. He may have been in the twenty-third year of his age when his father gave up to him the cares and honours of royalty.
Diod. Sic. lib. i. 31.
(2) The first act of his reign, or rather the last of his father's reign, was the proclamation, or the ceremony of showing the new king to the troops and people. All that was dazzling, all that was costly or curious, all that the wealth of Egypt could buy or the gratitude of the provinces could give, was brought forth to grace this religious show, which, as we learn from the sculptures in the old tombs, was copied rather from the triumphs of Rameses and Thothmosis than from anything that had been seen in Greece. (3) The procession began with the pomp of Osiris, at the head of which were the Sileni, in scarlet and purple lib. v. cloaks, who opened the way through the crowd. Twenty satyrs followed on each side of the road, bearing torches; and then Victories with golden wings,
clothed in skins, each with a golden staff six cubits long, twined round with ivy. An altar was carried next, covered with golden ivy-leaves, with a garland of golden vine-leaves tied with white ribands; and this was followed by a hundred and twenty boys in scarlet frocks, carrying bowls of crocus, myrrh, and frankincense, which made the air fragrant with the scent. Then came forty dancing satyrs crowned with golden ivy-leaves, with their naked bodies stained with gay colours, each carrying a crown of vine-leaves and gold; then two Sileni in scarlet cloaks and white boots, one having the hat and wand of Mercury and the other a trumpet; and between them walked a man, six feet high, in tragic dress and mask, meant for the year, carrying a golden cornucopia. He was followed by a tall and beautiful woman, meant for the Lustrum of five years, carrying in one hand a crown and in the other a palm-branch. Then came an altar, and a troop of satyrs in gold and scarlet, carrying golden wine-vases and drinking-cups.
(4) Then came Philiscus, the poet, the priest of Osiris, with all the servants of the god; then the Delphic tripods, the prizes which were to be given in the wrestling matches; that for the boys was nine cubits high, and that for the men twelve cubits high. Next came a four-wheeled car, fourteen cubits long and eight wide, drawn along by one hundred and eighty men, on which was the statue of Osiris, fifteen feet high, pouring wine out of a golden vase, and having a scarlet frock down to his feet, with a yellow transparent robe over it, and over all a scarlet cloak. Before the statue was a large golden bowl, and a tripod with bowls of incense on it. Over the whole was an awning of ivy and vine-leaves; and in the same chariot were the priests and priestesses of the god.
(5) This was followed by a smaller chariot drawn by sixty men, in which was the statue of Isis in a robe of yellow and gold. Then came a chariot full of grapes, and another with a large cask of wine, which was poured out on the road as the procession moved on, and at which the eager crowd filled their jugs and drinking-cups. Then came another band of satyrs and Sileni, and more chariots of wine; then eighty Dolphic vases of silver, and Panathenaic and other vases; and sixteen hundred dancing boys in white frocks and
golden crowns; then a number of beautiful pictures; and a chariot carrying a grove of trees, out of which flew pigeons and doves, so tied that they might be easily caught by the crowd. (6) On another chariot, drawn by an elephant, came Osiris, as he returned from his Indian conquests. lib. v. was followed by twenty-four chariots drawn by elephants, sixty drawn by goats, twelve by some kind of stags, seven by gazelles, four by wild asses, fifteen by buffaloes, eight by ostriches, and seven by stags of some other kind. Then came chariots loaded with the tributes of the conquered nations; men of Ethiopia carrying six hundred elephants' teeth; sixty huntsmen leading two thousand four hundred dogs; and one hundred and fifty men carrying trees, in the branches of which were tied parrots and other beautiful birds. Next walked the foreign animals, Ethiopian and Arabian sheep, Brahmin bulls, a white bear, leopards, panthers, bears, a camelopard, and a rhinoceros; proving to the wondering crowd the variety and strangeness of the countries that owned their monarch's sway.
(7) In another chariot was seen Bacchus running away from Juno, and flying to the altar of Rhea. After that came the statues of Alexander and Ptolemy Soter crowned with gold and ivy; by the side of Ptolemy stood the statues of Virtue, of the god Chem, and of the city of Corinth; and he was followed by female statues of the conquered cities of Ionia, Greece, Asia Minor, and Persia, and the statues of other gods. Then came crowds of singers and cymbalplayers, and two thousand bulls with gilt horns, crowns, and breastplates.
(8) Then came Amun-Ra and other gods; and the statue of Alexander between Victory and the goddess Neith, in a chariot drawn by elephants; then a number of thrones of ivory and gold; on one was a golden crown, on another a golden cornucopia, and on the throne of Ptolemy Soter was a crown worth ten thousand aurei, or nearly six thousand pounds sterling; then three thousand two hundred golden crowns, twenty golden shields, sixty-four suits of golden armour; and the whole was closed with forty waggons of silver vessels, twenty of golden vessels, eighty of costly Eastern scents, and fifty-seven thousand six hundred foot soldiers, and twenty-three thousand two hundred horse. The
procession began moving by torchlight before day broke in the morning, and the sun set in the evening before it had all passed.
(9) It went through the streets of Alexandria to the royal tents on the outside of the city, where, as in the procession, everything that was costly in art, or scarce in nature, was brought together in honour of the day. At the public games, as a kind of tax or coronation money, twenty golden crowns were given to Ptolemy Soter, twenty-three to Berenice, and twenty to their son the new king, beside other costly gifts; and two thousand two hundred and thirty-nine talents, or three hundred and fifty thousand pounds, were spent on the amusements of the day. For the account of this curious procession we are indebted to Callixenes of Rhodes, who was then travelling in Egypt, and who wrote a history of Alexandria.
(10) Ptolemy Soter lived two years after he had withdrawn himself from the cares of government; and the weight of his name was not without its use in Porphyrius, ap. Scalig. adding steadiness to the throne of his successor. Instead of parcelling out his wide provinces among his sons as so many kingdoms, he had given them all to one son, and that not the eldest; and on his death the jealousy of those who had been disinherited and disappointed broke out in rebellion.
(11) In reviewing the history of past ages, we place ourselves in thought, at each century, on that spot of the earth on which the historians of the time lived; and from that spot, as from a height, we look over the other kingdoms of the world as far countries, about which we know nothing but what is known at the place where we then stand. Thus, in the time of Moses, we live in Egypt and in the desert; in the reign of Solomon at Jerusalem; in the time of Pericles at Athens; and in the reigns of Ptolemy Soter and Philadelphus at Alexandria. But knowing, as we must know, of the after greatness of Rome, and that in a few ages we shall have to stand on the capitol, and hear news from the distant province of Egypt, it is with peculiar interest that we hear for the first time that the bravery and rising power of the Romans had forced themselves into the notice of Phila
delphus. Pyrrhus, the king of Epirus, had been Livy, beaten by the Romans and driven out of Italy; and Epit. xiv. the king of Egypt thought it not beneath him to send an ambassador to the senate, to wish them joy