« PreviousContinue »
were again bold enough to face the outcry of the mob, and to study the human body with the knife.
(63) Hegesias of Cyrene was an early lecturer on philosophy at Alexandria. His short and broken sentences are laughed at by Cicero, yet he was so much listened to, when lecturing against the fear of death, and showing that in quitting life we leave behind us more pains than pleasures, that he was stopped by Ptolemy Soter, through fear of his causing self-murder among his hearers. He then wrote a book upon the same subject; for though the state watched over the public teaching, it took no notice of books; writing had not yet become the mightiest power on earth. The miseries, however, of this world, which he so eloquently and feelingly described in his lectures and writings, did not drive him to put an end to his own life.
(64) Philostephanus of Cyrene, the friend of Callimachus, was a naturalist who wrote upon fishes, and is the first we hear of who limited his studies to one branch Athenæus, of natural history.
(65) But Cyrene did not send all its great men to Alexandria. Plato had studied mathematics there under Theodorus, and it had a school of its own which gave its name to the Cyrenaic sect. The founder of this sect was Aristippus, the pupil of Socrates, who had missed the high honour of being present at his death. He was the first philosopher who took money from Laertius. his pupils, and used to say that they valued their lessons more for having to pay for them; but he was blamed by his brethren for thus lowering the dignity of the teacher. He died several years before Ptolemy Soter came into Egypt. The Cyrenaic sect thought happiness, not goodness, was the end to be aimed at through life, and selfishness, rather than kindness to others, the right spring of men's actions. It would hardly be fair to take their opinions from the mouths of their enemies; and the dialogues of Socrates with their founder, as told to us by Xenophon, would prove a lower tone of morality than he is likely to have held. The wish for happiness and the philosophical love of self, which should lead to goodness, though a far worse rule of life than the love of goodness for its own sake, which is the groundwork of religion, was certainly far
Strabo, lib. xvii.
better than unguided passion and the love of to-day's pleasure. But often as this unsafe rule has been set up for our guidance, there have always been found many to make use of it in a way not meant by the teacher. The Cyrenaic sect soon fell into the disrepute to which these principles were likely to lead it, and wholly ceased when Epicurus taught the same opinions more philosophically.
lib. ii. 96.
(66) Anniceris of Cyrene, though a follower of Aristippus, somewhat improved upon the low-toned philosophy Laertius, of his master. He granted that there were many things worth our aim, which could not be brought within the narrow bounds of what is useful. He did not overlook friendship, kindness, honouring our parents, and serving our country; and he thought that a wise man would undertake many labours which would bring him no return in those pleasures which were alone thought happiness by Aristippus.
(67) The chair of philosophy at Cyrene was afterwards filled by Arete, the daughter of Aristippus; for books were costly, and reading by no means a cheap amusement, and such were the hindrances in the way of gaining knowledge, that few could be so well qualified to teach as the philosopher's daughter. She was followed after her death by her son Aristippus, who, having been brought up in his mother's lecture-room, was called, in order to distinguish him from his grandfather of the same name, Metrodidactus, or mother-taught. History has not told us whether he took the name himself in gratitude for the debt which he owed to this learned lady, or whether it was given him by his pupils; but in either case it was a sure way of giving to the mother the fame which was due to her for the education of her son; for no one could fail to ask who was the mother of Metrodidactus.
(68) Theodorus, one of the pupils of Metrodidactus, though at one time banished from Cyrene, rose to honour under Soter, and was sent by him as ambassador to Lysimachus. He was called the Atheist by his enemies, and the Divine by his friends, but we cannot now determine which title he best deserved. It was then usual to call those atheists who questioned the existence of the pagan gods; and we must not suppose that all who suffered under that reproach denied that the world was governed by a ruling providence. The dis
believer in the false religion of the million is often the only real believer in a God. Theodorus was of the cold school of philosophy which was chiefly followed in Alexandria. It was earthly, lifeless, and unpoetical, arising from the successful cultivation of the physical sciences, not enough counteracted by the more ennobling pursuits of poetry and the fine arts. Hence, while commerce and the arts of production were carried to higher perfection than at any former time, and science was made greatly to assist in the supply of our bodily wants, the arts of civilisation, though by no means neglected, were cultivated without any lofty aim, or true knowledge of their dignity.
(69) Antiphilus, who was born in Egypt, and had studied painting under Ctesidemus, rose to high rank as a painter in Alexandria. Among his best-known pictures were the bearded Bacchus, the young Alexander, and Hippolytus, or rather his chariot-horses, frightened by the bull (see Fig. 218). His boy, blowing up a fire with his mouth, was much praised for the mouth of the boy, and for the light and shade of the room. His Ptolemy hunting was also highly thought of. Antiphilus showed a mean jealousy of Apelles, and accused him of joining in a plot against the king, for which De CalumApelles narrowly escaped punishment; but when Ptolemy found that the charge was untrue, he sent the latter a gift of one hundred talents to make amends. The angry feelings of Apelles were by no means cooled by this gift, but they boiled over in his great picture of Calumny. On the right of the picture sat Ptolemy, holding out his hand to Calumny, who was coming up to him. On each side of the king stood a woman, who seemed meant for Ignorance and Suspicion. Calumny was a beautiful maiden, but with anger and deep-rooted malice in her face; in her left hand was a lighted torch, and with her right she was dragging along by the hair a young man, who was stretching forth his hands to heaven and calling upon the gods to bear witness that he was guiltless. Before her walked Envy, a pale, hollow-eyed diseased man, perhaps a portrait of the accuser; and behind were two women, Craft and Deceit, who were encouraging and supporting her. At a distance stood Repentance, in the ragged black garb of mourning, who was turning away her face for shame as Truth came up to her.
Pliny, XXXV. 37.
(70) Ptolemy Soter was plain in his manners, and scarcely surpassed his own generals in the costliness of his Apophtheg- way of life. He often dined and slept at the houses
mata. of his friends; and his own house had so little of the palace, that he borrowed dishes and tables of his friends when
he asked any number of them to dine with him in return, saying that it was the part of a king to enrich others rather than to be rich himself. Before he took the title of king,
he styled himself, and was styled by friendly states, by the simple name of Ptolemy the Macedonian; and during the whole of his reign he was as far from being overbearing in his behaviour as from being king-like in his dress and household. Once when he wished to laugh at a boasting antiquary, he asked him, what he knew could not be answered, who was the father of Peleus; and the other let his wit so far get the better of his prudence as in return to ask the king, who had perhaps never heard the name of his own grandfather, if he knew who was the father of Lagus. But Ptolemy took no further notice of this than to remark that if a king cannot bear rude answers he ought not to ask rude questions.
(71) An answer which Ptolemy once made to a soothsayer might almost be taken as the proverb which had Appian. guided him through life. When his soldiers met Syriac. 56. with an anchor in one of their marches, and were disheartened on being told by the soothsayer that it was a proof that they ought to stop where they then were, the king restored their courage by remarking, that an anchor was an omen of safety, not of delay.
(72) Ptolemy's first children were by Thais, the noted courtezan, but they were not thought legitimate. Athenæus, Leontiscus, the eldest, we hear of, fighting bravely lib. xiii. 5. against Demetrius; of the second, named Lagus, after his grandfather, we hear nothing.
Justinus, lib. xv. 2.
lib. vi. 3;
lib. x. 7.
Plutarch. De irâ cohibend.
lib. i. 16.
(73) He then married Eurydice, the daughter of Antipater, by whom he had several children. The eldest son, Pausanias, Ptolemy, was named Ceraunus, the Thunderer, and lib. i. 6; was banished by his father from Alexandria. In his distress he fled to Seleucus, by whom he was kindly received; but after the death of Ptolemy Soter he basely plotted against Seleucus and put him to death. He then defeated in battle Antigonus, the son of Deme- ap. Photrius, and got possession of Macedonia for a short time. He married his half-sister Arsinoë, and put her children to death; and was soon afterwards put to death himself by the Gauls, who were either fighting against him or were mercenaries in his own army.
(74) Another son of Ptolemy and Eurydice was put to