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followed up those branches of their studies which, like conic sections, led to no end that could in the narrow sense be called useful, with the same zeal that they did other branches out of which sprung the great practical truths of mechanics, astronomy, and geography. They found reward enough in the enlargement of their minds and in the beauty of the truth learnt. Alexandrian science gained in loftiness of tone what its poetry and philosophy wanted. Thus the properties of the ellipse, the hyperbola, and the parabola, continued to be studied by after mathematicians; but no use was made of this knowledge till nearly two thousand years later, when Kepler crowned the labours of Apollonius with the great discovery that the paths of the planets round the sun were conic sections. The Egyptians, however, made great use of mathematical knowledge, particularly in the irrigation of their fields; and Archimedes of Syracuse, who came to des. Quadr. Alexandria about this time to study under Conon, Parab. did the country a real service by his invention of the cochlea, or screw-pump. The more distant fields of the valley of the Nile, rising above the level of the inundation, have to be watered artificially by pumping out of the canals into ditches at a higher level. For this work lib. v. 37, Archimedes proposed a spiral tube, twisting round and i. 34. an axis, which was to be put in motion either by the hand or by the force of the stream out of which it was to pump; and this was found so convenient that it soon became the machine most in use throughout Egypt for irrigation.
(26) But while we are dazzled by the brilliancy of these clusters of men of letters and science who graced the court of Alexandria, we must not shut our eyes to those faults which are always found in works called forth rather by the fostering warmth of royal pensions than by a love of knowledge in the people. The well-fed and well-paid philosophers of the Museum were not likely to overtake the mighty men of Athens in its best days, who had studied and taught without any pension from the government, without taking any fee from their pupils; who were urged forward towards excellence by the love of knowledge and of honour; who had no other aim than that of being useful to their hearers, and looked for no reward beyond their love and esteem.
(27) Books may, if we please, be divided into works of
industry and works of taste. Among the first we may place mathematics, criticism, and compilations; among the second we ought to find poetry and oratory. Works of industry and care may be found in many ages and in many countries; they may even be written at the command of a sovereign; but those which have gained the praise of all mankind for their pure taste and richness of thought seem to have ripened only on those spots and in those times at which the mind of man, from causes perhaps too deep for our search, has been able to burst forth with more than usual strength. When we review the writings of the Alexandrian authors we are forced to acknowledge that they are most of them of the former class; we may say of them all, what Ovid said of Callimachus, that they are more to be admired for their industry and art than for their taste and genius; most of the poets are forgotten, while we even now look back to Alexandria as the cradle of geometry, geography, astronomy, anatomy, and criticism.
Amor. i. xv.
(28) In oratory Alexandria made no attempts whatever; it is a branch of literature not likely to flourish under a despotic monarchy. In Athens it fell with the loss of liberty, and Demetrius Phalereus was the last of the real Athenian orators. After his time the orations were declamations written carefully in the study, and coldly spoken in the school for the instruction of the pupils, and wholly wanting in fire and genius; and the Alexandrian men of letters forbore to copy Greece in its lifeless harangues. For the same reasons the Alexandrians were not successful in history. A species of writing, which a despot requires to be false and flattering, is little likely to flourish; and hence the only historians of the Museum were chronologists, antiquaries, and writers of travels. Those sciences which give to man a command over matter have usually flourished when called for by the wants of trade, wealth, or luxury; but writings of which the aim is to lead men to what is good by showing them that it is within their reach, to keep them from what is low by making them think highly of what they might be, writings which enchain the reader and give one man a power over the minds of others, can have no place among those who feel themselves already crushed beneath the more real chains of military power.
(29) The coins of Euergetes bear the name of "Ptolemy the king," round the head on the one side, with no title Visconti, by which they can be known from the other kings of Grec. the same name (see Fig. 240). But his portrait is known from his Phenician coins. In the same way the
coins of his queen have only the name of " Berenice the queen' (see Fig. 241), but they are known from those of the later queens by the beauty of the workmanship, which soon fell far below that of the first Ptolemies.
(30) Euergetes had married his cousin Berenice, who, like the other queens of Egypt, is sometimes called Cleopatra; by her he left two sons, Ptolemy and Magas, to the Porphyrius, eldest of whom he left his kingdom, after a reign ap. Scalig. of twenty-five years of unclouded prosperity. Egypt was during this reign at the very height of its power and wealth. It had seen three kings, who, though not equally great men, not equally fit to found a monarchy or to raise the literature of a people, were equally successful in the parts which they had undertaken. Euergetes left to his son a
CHAP. IX.] PTOLEMY PHILOPATOR-B.C. 221-204.
kingdom perhaps as large as the world had ever seen under one sceptre; and though many of his boasted victories were like letters written in the sand, of which the traces were soon lost, yet he was by far the greatest monarch of his day. We may be sure that in these prosperous reigns life and property were safe, and justice was administered fairly by judges who were independent of the crown; as even Apophthegcenturies afterwards we find that it was part of a judge's oath on taking office, that, if he were ordered by the king to do what was wrong, he would not obey him. But hero the bright pages in the history of the Ptolemies end. Though trade and agriculture still enriched the country, though arts and letters did not quit Alexandria, we have from this time forward to mark the growth of only vice and luxury, and to measure the wisdom of Ptolemy Soter by the length of time that his laws and institutions were able to bear up against the misrule and folly of his descendants.
(31) PTOLEMY (see Fig. 242), the eldest son of Euergetes, inherited the crown of his fore- Plutarch.
Cleomenes. Polybius, lib. v.
fathers, but none of the great qualities by which they had won and guarded it. He was then about thirty-four years old. His first act was to call together his council, and to ask their advice about putting to death his mother Berenice and his brother Magas. Their crime was the being too much liked by the army; and the council was called upon to say whether it would be safe to have them killed. Cleomenes, the banished king of Sparta, who was one of the council, alone raised his voice against their murder, and wisely said that the throne would be still safer if there were more brothers to stand between the king and the daring hopes of a traitor. The minister Sosibius, on the other hand, said that the mercenaries could not be trusted while Magas was alive; but Cleomenes remarked to him, that more than three thousand of them were Peloponnesians, and that they would follow him sooner than they would Magas. Berenice and Magas were, however, put to death; but the speech of Cleomenes was not forgotten. If his popularity with tho
mercenaries could secure their allegiance, he could, when he chose, make them rebel; from that time he was treated rather as a prisoner than as a friend, and he lost all chance of being helped to regain his kingdom.
(32) Nothing is known of the death of Euergetes, the late king, and there is no proof that it was by unfair means. But when his son began a cruel and wicked reign by putting to death his mother and brother, and by taking the name of Philopator, or father-loving, the world seems to have thought that he was the murderer of his father, and had taken this name to throw a cloak over the deed.
(33) The task of the historian would be more agreeable if he always had to point out how crime and goodness were followed by their just rewards; but unfortunately history is not free from acts of successful wickedness. By this murder of his brother, and by the minority both of Antiochus, king of Syria, and of Philip, king of Macedonia, Philopator found himself safe from enemies either at home or abroad, and he gave himself up to a life of thoughtlessness and pleasure. The army and fleet were left to go to ruin, and the foreign provinces, which had hitherto been looked upon as the bulwarks of Egypt, were only half guarded; but the throne rested on the virtues of his forefathers, and it was not till his death that it was found to have been undermined by his own vices.
(34) Egypt had been governed by kings of more than usual wisdom for above one hundred years, and was at the very height of its power when Philopator came to Polybius, the throne. He found himself master of Ethiopia. Cyrene, Phenicia, Cole-Syria, part of Upper Syria. Cyprus, Rhodes, the cities along the coast of Asia Minor from Pamphylia to Lysimachia, and the cities of Enos and Maronea in Thrace. The unwilling obedience of distant provinces usually costs more than it is worth; but many of these possessions across the Mediterranean had put themselves willingly into the power of his predecessors for the sake of their protection, and they cost little more than a message to warn off invaders. Egypt was the greatest naval power in the world, having the command of the sea and the whole of the coast at the eastern end of the Mediterranean. But on the death of Euergetes the happiness of the people came to an