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Marcus Junianus Justinus
Epitome of the Philippic History of Pompeius Trogus.
translated, with notes, by the Rev. John Selby Watson.
London: Henry G. Bohn, York Street, Convent Garden (1853).


Table of contents



Feelings of the Macedonians on the death of Alexander, I.—Opinions of the generals about a successor, II.—Mutiny among the infantry, III.—Aridaeus chosen king; the generals divide the provinces among them, IV.—The Aetolians and Athenians fight for the liberty of Greece; the services of Demosthenes, V.—Perdiccas defeats the Cappadocians; goes to war with Antigonus; conduct of Ptolemy, VI.—Account of Cyrene, VII.—Ptolemy goes to war with Perdiccas; acts of Eumenes, VIII.

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8

1 WHEN Alexander was thus cut off in the flower of his age, and at the height of his successes, a mournful silence prevailed among all people throughout Babylon. But the conquered nations could not give credit to the report of his death, because, as they had believed him to be invincible, they had also conceived that he was immortal, reflecting how frequently he had been snatched from imminent destruction, and how often, when he was given up for lost, he had suddenly presented himself to his soldiers, not only safe, but victorious. As soon, however, as the report of his death was confirmed, all the barbarous nations, whom he had shortly before subdued, lamented for him, not as an enemy, but as a father. The mother, too, of King Darius, who, though she had been reduced, after the death of her son, from the summit of royal dignity to the state of a captive, had, till that day, through the kindness of the conqueror, never felt weary of life, committed suicide when she heard of the death of Alexander; not that she felt more for an enemy1 than she had felt for her son, but because she had experienced the attention of a son from him whom she had feared as an enemy. The Macedonians, on the other hand, did not mourn for him as a countryman, and a prince of such eminence, but rejoiced at his death as at that of an enemy, execrating his excessive severity and the perpetual hardships of war to which he exposed them. The chiefs, moreover, were looking to sovereignty and offices of command; the common soldiers to the treasury and heaps of gold, as a prize unexpectedly presented to their grasp; the one meditating on the possibility of seizing the throne, the other on the means of securing wealth and plenty; for there were in the treasury fifty thousand talents, while the annual tribute produced thirty thousand. Nor did the friends of Alexander look to the throne without reason; for they were men of such ability and authority, that each of them might have been taken for a king. Such was the personal gracefulness, the commanding stature, and the eminent powers of body and mind, apparent in all of them, that whoever did not know them, would have thought that they had been selected, not from one nation, but from the whole earth. Never before, indeed, did Macedonia, or any other country, abound with such a multitude of distinguished men; whom Philip first, and afterwards Alexander, had selected with such skill, that they seemed to have been chosen, not so much to attend them to war, as to succeed them on the throne. Who then can wonder, that the world was conquered by such officers, when the army of the Macedonians appeared to be commanded, not by generals, but by princes?—men who would never have found antagonists to cope with them, if they had not quarrelled with one another; while Macedonia would have had many Alexanders instead of one, had not Fortune inspired them with mutual emulation for their mutual destruction.

2 But, when Alexander was taken off, their feelings of security were not in proportion to their exultation; for they were all competitors for the same dignity; nor did they fear one another2 more than the soldiery, whose licence was less controllable, and whose favour was more uncertain. Their very equality inflamed their discord, no one being so far superior to the rest, that any other would submit to him. They therefore met in the palace under arms to settle the present state of affairs. Perdiccas gave his opinion that “they ought to wait till Roxane was delivered, who was now eight months gone with child by Alexander; and that, if she brought forth a boy, he should be appointed his father’s successor.” Meleager argued that “their proceedings should not be suspended for the result of an uncertain birth; nor ought they to wait till kings were born, when they might choose from such as were already born; for if they wished for a boy, there was at Pergamus a son of Alexander by Barsine, named Hercules; or, if they would rather have a man, there was then in the camp Aridaeus, a brother of Alexander, a person of courteous manners, and acceptable to every body, not only on his own account, but on that of his father Philip. But that Roxane was of Persian origin, and that it was unlawful that kings should be chosen for the Macedonians from the blood of those whose kingdoms they had overthrown; a choice to which Alexander himself would not have consented, who, indeed, when he was dying, made no mention of Roxane’s issue.” Ptolemy objected to Aridaeus as king, “not only on account of the meanness of his mother (he being the son of a courtezan of Larissa), but because of the extraordinary weakness with which he was affected, lest, while he had the name of king, another should exercise the authority;” and said that “it would be better for them to choose from those who were next in merit to the king, and who could govern the provinces and be entrusted with the conduct of wars, than to be subjected to the tyranny of unworthy men under the authority of a king.” The opinion of Perdiccas was adopted with the consent of all; and it was resolved to wait for the delivery of Roxane; and, if a boy should be born, they appointed Leonatus, Perdiccas, Craterus, and Antipater, his guardians, to whom they at once took an oath of obedience.

3 When the cavalry had also taken the oath, the infantry, indignant that no share in the deliberation had been granted to them, proclaimed Aridaeus, the brother of Alexander, king, chose him guards from their own body, and appointed that he should be called Philip, after the name of his father. These proceedings being reported to the cavalry, they despatched two of their officers, Attalus and Meleager, to quell the excitement; but they, hoping for power for themselves by flattering the multitude, neglected their commission and took part with the soldiers. The insurrection soon gathered strength, when it once began to have a head and regular management. The infantry rushed in a body, under arms, to the palace, with a resolution to cut the cavalry to pieces; but the cavalry, hearing of their approach, retreated in haste from the city, and after pitching their camp, began to threaten the infantry in return. Nor did the animosity of the chiefs, meanwhile, abate. Attalus despatched some of his men to assassinate Perdiccas, the leader of the opposite party, but, as he was armed, the assassins durst not go near him, though he freely invited them to approach; and such was the resolution of Perdiccas, that he went of his own accord to the infantry, and, summoning them to an assembly, represented to them the atrocity of their conduct; admonishing them “to consider against whom they had taken arms; that they were not Persians, but Macedonians; not enemies, but their own countrymen; most of them their kinsmen, but certainly all of them their fellow soldiers, sharers of the same camp and of the same dangers; that they would present a striking spectacle to their enemies, who would rejoice at the mutual slaughter of those by whose arms they grieved at having been conquered; and that they would atone with their own blood to the manes of their slaughtered adversaries.”

4 Perdiccas having enforced these arguments with eloquence peculiar to himself, produced such an effect upon the infantry, that his admonitions were obeyed, and he was unanimously chosen general. The cavalry, soon after, being reconciled with the infantry, agreed to have Aridaeus for their king. A portion of the empire was reserved for Alexander’s son, if a son should be born. These proceedings they conducted with the body of Alexander placed in the midst of them, that his majesty might be witness to their resolutions. Such an arrangement being made, Antipater was appointed governor of Macedonia and Greece; the charge of the royal treasure was given to Craterus; the management of the camp, the army, and the war, to Meleager and Perdiccas; and king Aridaeus was commissioned to convey the body of Alexander to the temple of Jupiter Ammon. Perdiccas, who was still enraged at the authors of the late disturbance, suddenly gave notice, without the knowledge of his colleague, that there would be a lustration of the camp on the following day on account of the king’s death. Having drawn up the troops under arms in the field, he, with the general consent, gave orders, as he passed along, that the offenders, selected from each company, should be secretly given up to punishment. On his return, he divided the provinces among the chief men, in order both to remove his rivals out of the way, and to make the gift of a prefectship appear a favour from himself. In the first place Egypt, with part of Africa and Arabia, fell by lot to Ptolemy, whom Alexander, for his merit, had raised from the condition of a common soldier; and Cleomenes, who had built Alexandria,3 was directed to put the province into his hands. Laomedon of Mitylene was allotted Syria, which bordered on Ptolemy’s province; Philotas, Cilicia; and Philo, Illyria. Atropatus was set over the Greater Media; the father-in-law of Perdiccas over the Less. Susiana was assigned to Scynus, and the Greater Phrygia to Antigonus, the son of Philip. Nearchus received Lycia and Pamphylia; Cassander, Caria; and Menander, Lydia. The Lesser Phrygia fell to Leonatus; Thrace, and the coasts of the Pontic sea, to Lysimachus; Cappadocia and Paphlagonia were given to Eumenes. The chief command of the camp fell to Seleucus the son of Antiochus. Cassander, the son of Antipater, was made commander of the king’s guards and attendants. In Ulterior Bactriana, and the countries of India, the present governors were allowed to retain their office. The region between the rivers Hydaspes and Indus, Taxiles received. To the colonies settled in India, Python, the son of Agenor, was sent. Of Paropamisia, and the borders of mount Caucasus, Extarches had the command. The Arachosians and Gedrosians were assigned to Sibyrtius; the Drancae and Arci to Stasanor. Amyntas was allotted the Bactrians, Scythaeus the Sogdians, Nicanor the Parthians, Philippus the Hyrcanians, Phrataphernes the Armenians, Tleptolemus the Persians, Peucestes the Babylonians, Archon the Pelasgians, Arcesilaus, Mesopotamia.

When this allotment, like a gift from the fates, was made to each, it was to many of them a great occasion for improving their fortunes; for not long after, as if they had divided kingdoms, not governments, among themselves, they became princes instead of prefects, and not only secured great power to themselves, but bequeathed it to their descendants.

5 While these transactions were passing in the east, the Athenians and Aetolians proceeded with all their might to prosecute the war which they had begun in the life of Alexander. The cause of the war was, that Alexander, on his return from India, had written certain letters to Greece, according to which the exiles from all the states, except such as had been convicted of murder, were to be recalled. These letters, being read before all Greece, assembled at the Olympic games,4 had excited a great commotion; because many had been banished, not by legal authority, but by a faction of the leading men, who were afraid that, if they were recalled, they would become more powerful in their states than themselves. Many states therefore at once expressed open discontent, and said that their liberty must be secured by force of arms. The leaders among them all, however, were the Athenians and Aetolians.

This being reported to Alexander, he gave orders that a thousand ships of war should be raised among his allies, with which he might carry on war in the west; and he intended to make an expedition, with a powerful force, to level Athens with the ground. The Athenians, in consequence, collecting an army of thirty thousand men and two hundred ships, went to war with Antipater, to whom the government of Greece had been assigned; and when he declined to come to battle, and sheltered himself within the walls of Heraclea, they besieged him there. At that time Demosthenes, the Athenian orator, who had been banished from his country on the charge of taking gold from Harpalus (a man who had fled from Alexander’s severity), bribing him to prevail on the city5 to go to war with Alexander, happened then to be living in exile at Megara, and learning that Hyperides was sent as an ambassador by the Athenians to persuade the Peloponnesians to join in the war, followed him, and, by his eloquence, brought over Sicyon, Argos, Corinth, and other states, to the Athenian interest. For this service a ship was sent for him by the Athenians, and he was recalled from banishment. Meanwhile Leosthenes, the general of the Athenians, was killed, while he was besieging Antipater, by a dart hurled at him from the wall as he was passing by. This occurrence gave so much encouragement to Antipater, that he ventured to break down the Athenian rampart. He then sought assistance from Leonatus, who was soon reported to be approaching with his army; but the Athenians met him in battle array, and he was severely wounded in an action of the cavalry, and died. Antipater, though he saw his auxiliaries defeated, was yet rejoiced at the death of Leonatus, congratulating himself that his rival was taken off, and his force added to his own. Taking Leonatus’s army under his command, therefore, and thinking himself a match for the enemy, even in a regular battle, he immediately released himself from the siege, and marched away to Macedonia. The forces of the Greeks, too, having driven the enemy6 from the territory of Greece, went off to their several cities.

6 Perdiccas, in the meantime, making war upon Ariarathes, king of the Cappadocians, defeated him in a pitched battle, but got no other reward for his efforts but wounds and perils; for the enemy, retreating from the field into the city, killed each his own wife and children, and set fire to his house and all that he possessed; throwing their slaves too into the flames, and afterwards themselves, that the victorious enemy might enjoy nothing belonging to them but the sight of the conflagration that they had kindled. Soon after, that he might secure royal support to his present power, he turned his thoughts to a marriage with Cleopatra, sister of Alexander the Great, and formerly wife of the other Alexander,7 her mother Olympias showing no dislike to the match. But he wished first to outwit Antipater, by pretending a desire for an alliance with him, and therefore made a feint of asking his daughter in marriage, the more easily to procure from him young recruits from Macedonia. Antipater, however, seeing through his deceit, he courted two wives at once, but obtained neither.

Afterwards a war arose between Antigonus and Perdiccas; Craterus and Antipater (who, having made peace with the Athenians, had appointed Polysperchon to govern Greece and Macedonia) lent their aid to Antigonus. Perdiccas, as the aspect of affairs was unfavourable, called Aridaeus, and Alexander the Great’s son,8 then in Cappadocia (the charge of both of whom had been committed to him), to a consultation concerning the management of the war. Some were of opinion that it should be transferred to Macedonia, to the very head and metropolis of the kingdom, where Olympias, the mother of Alexander, was, who would be no small support to their party, while the good will of their countrymen would be with them, from respect to the names of Alexander and Philip; but it seemed more to the purpose to begin with Egypt, lest, while they were gone into Macedonia, Asia should be seized by Ptolemy. Paphlagonia, Caria, Lycia, and Phrygia were assigned to Eumenes, in addition to the provinces which he had already received; and he was directed to wait in those parts for Craterus and Antipater, Alcetas, the brother of Perdiccas, and Neoptolemus being appointed to support him with their forces. The command of the fleet was given to Clitus. Cilicia, being taken from Philotas, was given to Philoxenus. Perdiccas himself set out for Egypt with a large army. Thus Macedonia, while its commanders separated into two parties, was armed against its own vitals, and turned the sword from warring against the enemy to the effusion of civil blood, being ready, like people in a fit of madness, to hack her own hands and limbs. But Ptolemy, by his wise exertions in Egypt, was acquiring great power; he had secured the favour of the Egyptians by his extraordinary prudence; he had attached the neighbouring princes by acts of kindness and courtesy; he had extended the boundaries of his kingdom by getting possession of the city Cyrene, and was grown so great that he did not fear his enemies so much as he was feared by them.

7 Cyrene was founded by Aristaeus, who, from being tongue-tied, was also called Battus. His father Grinus, king of the isle of Thera, having gone to the oracle at Delphi, to implore the god to remove the ignominy of his son, who was grown up but could not speak, received an answer by which his son Battus was directed “to go to Africa, and found the city of Cyrene, where he would gain the use of his tongue.” This response appearing but a jest, by reason of the paucity of inhabitants in the island of Thera, from which a colony was desired to go to build a city in a country of such vast extent as Africa, the matter was neglected. Some time after, the Therans, as being guilty of disobedience, were forced by a pestilence to comply with the god’s directions. But the number of the colonists was so extremely small that they scarcely filled one ship. Arriving in Africa, they dislodged the inhabitants from a hill named Cyras, and took possession of it for themselves, on account both of the pleasantness of the situation and the abundance of springs in it. Here Battus, their leader, the strings of his tongue being loosed, began to speak; which circumstance, as one part of the god’s promises was fulfilled, gave them encouragement to entertain the further hope of building a city. Pitching their camp, accordingly, they received information of an old tradition, that Cyrene, a maiden of extraordinary beauty, was carried off by Apollo from Pelion, a mountain in Thessaly, and brought to that very mountain on which they had seized a hill, where, becoming pregnant by the god, she brought forth four sons, Nomius, Aristaeus, Authocus, and Argaeus; and that a party being sent by her father Hypsaeus, king of Thessaly, to seek for the damsel, were so attracted by the charms of the place, that they settled there with her. Of her four sons, it was said that three, when they grew up, returned to Thessaly, and inherited their grandfather’s kingdom; and that the fourth, Aristaeus, reigned over a great part of Arcadia, and taught mankind the management of bees and honey, and the art of making cheese, and was the first that observed the solstitial risings of Sirius.9 On hearing this account, Battus built the city in obedience to the oracle, calling it Cyrene,10 from the name of the maiden.

8 Ptolemy, having increased his strength from the forces of this city, made preparations for war against the coming of Perdiccas. But the hatred which Perdiccas had incurred by his arrogance did him more injury than the power of the enemy; for his allies, detesting his overbearingness went over in troops to Antipater. Neoptolemus, too, who had been left to support Eumenes, intended not only to desert himself, but also to betray the force of his party; when Eumenes, understanding his design, thought it a matter of necessity to engage the traitor in the field. Neoptolemus, being worsted, fled to Antipater and Polysperchon, and persuaded them to surprise Eumenes, by marching without intermission, while he was full of joy for his victory, and freed from apprehension by his own flight. But this project did not escape Eumenes; the plot was in consequence turned upon the contrivers of it; and they who expected to attack him unguarded, were attacked themselves when they were on their march, and wearied with watching through the previous night. In this battle, Polysperchon was killed.11 Neoptolemus, too, engaging hand to hand with Eumenes, and maintaining a long struggle with him, in which both were wounded more than once, was at last overpowered and fell. Eumenes, therefore, being victorious in two successive battles, supported in some degree the spirits of his party, which had been cast down by the desertion of their allies. At last, however, Perdiccas being killed,12 Eumenes was declared an enemy by the army, together with Pitho, Illyrius, and Alcetas, the brother of Perdiccas; and the conduct of the war against them was committed to Antigonus.


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1 She survived the death of Darius, and killed herself on that of Alexander.

2 The text stands thus in Wetzel’s and Gronovius’s editions: nec minus milites invicem se timebant. Vorstius and Scheffer advocate the other reading, quam invicem se, which, as giving much better sense, I have followed.

3 Cleomenes had indeed authority in Africa and Europe, but it was only over the revenues; and it was not he that built Alexandria, but Dinocrates. Hence I conjecture that there is some deficiency in the text.—Scheffer. See Val. Max. i. 5; Q. Curt. iv. 8, 9; Plin. H. N. vii 38.

4 In mercatu Olympiaco.] “For at those games,” says Pythagoras in Cicero, Tusc. Quaest. v. 3, “alii corporibus exercitatis gloriam et nobilitatem coronae petunt; alii emendi aut vendendi quaestu et lucro ducuntur.”—Wetzel.

5 We must read quo civitatem impelleret, with Freinshemius, Vorstius, and Lemaire.

6 Pulso hoste.] The word pulso is inconsistent with what is said just above, that the enemy “marched away,” concessit, of their own accord.

7 Alexander of Epirus. See
ix. 6.

8 His posthumous son by Roxane, called Alexander Aegus. See
xii. 15, xiii. 2.

9 Solstitiales ortus sideris.] Aristaeus first observed the risings of Sirius or the dog-star, and taught the Ceans to watch them and sacrifice to it. This is the general account, and that Justin may agree with it, I think that we should read solstitialis ortus sideris. By solstitiale sidus, I think that Sirius is meant, because it rises soon after the solstice.—Salmasius.

10 The word agnito, which Faber, Scheffer, and Lemaire unite in condemning, I have not translated.

11 This is a mistake, for Justin,
xiv. 5, speaks of him as being alive. Bongarsius and others have supposed that Justin wrote Craterus instead of Polysperchon, but it seems to be otherwise, for Orosius (iii. 23), who follows Justin, has the same account of Polysperchon’s death. That it was Craterus who was killed, and not Polysperchon. appears from Corn. Nep. Eum. c. 4. See also Pluto Eum. c. 9; Diod. Sic. xviii. 38.

12 By his own cavalry, when he wanted to cross the Nile; Diod. Sic. xviii. 33-37.—Wetzel.


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The English translation of Justin's Epitome was entered by David Camden (2003) from Watson's 1853 edition. This text is in the public domain and may be copied and distributed for private and educational use, provided this original notice is kept intact. Any commercial use of this text, including print-publication and inclusion in subscription-based archives, is prohibited.

The Latin text and French translation, along with the secondary material written in French, are copyright © Marie-Pierre Arnaud-Lindet 2003, and are NOT in the public domain.

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