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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).

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Book XVII

Fall of Lysimachia; Lysimachus kills his son; Seleucus declares war against him, I.—Death of Lysimachus; Seleucus killed by Ptolemy Ceraunus; Pyrrhus prepares to invade Italy, II.—History of Epirus, III.


1 2 3

1 ABOUT the same time there was an earthquake in the regions round the Hellespont and the Chersonese;1 but the chief effect of it was, that the city of Lysimachia, founded two and twenty years before by king Lysimachus, was sunk in ruins; a prodigy which portended disasters to Lysimachus and his family, destruction to his kingdom, and calamity to the disturbed provinces. Nor was fulfilment wanting to these omens: for, in a short time after, conceiving towards his son Agathocles (whom he had appointed to succeed him on the throne, and through whose exertions he had managed several wars with success), a hatred unnatural in him not only as a father but as a man, he took him off by poison, using as his agent in the affair his step-mother Arsinoe. This was the first commencement of his calamities, the prelude to approaching ruin; for executions of several great men were added to the murder of his son, who were put to death for expressing concern at the young prince’s fate; and, in consequence, both those about the court who escaped this cruelty, and those who were in command of the troops, began at once to desert to Seleucus and incite him to make war upon Lysimachus; an enterprise to which he was already inclined from a desire to emulate his glory. This was the last contest between the fellow soldiers of Alexander; and the two combatants were reserved, as it were, for an example of the influence of fortune. Lysimachus was seventy-four years old; Seleucus seventy-seven. But at this age they both had the fire of youth, and an insatiable desire of power; for though they alone possessed the whole world,2 they yet thought themselves confined within narrow limits, and measured their course of life, not by their length of years, but by the extent to which they carried their dominion.

2 In this war, Lysimachus (who had previously lost, by various chances of fortune, fifteen children) died, with no small bravery, and crowned the ruin of his family. Seleucus, overjoyed at such a triumph, and what he thought greater than the triumph, that he alone survived of all Alexander’s staff,3 the conqueror of conquerors, boasted that “this was not the work of man, but a favour from the gods,” little thinking that he himself was shortly after to be an instance of human instability; for in the course of about seven months, he was treacherously surprised by Ptolemy,4 whose sister Lysimachus had married, and put to death, losing the kingdom of Macedonia, which he had taken from Lysimachus, together with his life.

Ptolemy, being ambitious to please his subjects, both for the honour of the memory of the great Ptolemy his father, and for the sake of palliating the revenge which he had taken on behalf of Lysimachus, resolved, in the first place, to conciliate the sons of Lysimachus, and sought a marriage with their mother Arsinoe, his sister,5 promising to adopt the young men, so that, when he should succeed to the throne of their father, they might not venture, through respect for their mother, or the influence of the name of father, to attempt anything against him. He solicited, too, by letter, the friendship of his brother the king of Egypt, professing that “he laid aside all feelings of resentment at being deprived of his father’s kingdom, and that he would no longer ask that from a brother which he had more honourably obtained from his father’s enemy.”6 He also in every way flattered Nicomedes,7 that as he was about to have a war with Antigonus, the son of Demetrius, and Antiochus the son of Seleucus, he might not come upon him as a third enemy. Nor was Pyrrhus of Epirus, neglected by him, a king who would be of great assistance to whichsoever side he attached himself, and who, while he desired to spoil them one by one, sought the favour of all. On going to assist the Tarentines, therefore, against the Romans, he desired of Antigonus the loan of vessels to transport his army into Italy; of Antiochus, who was better provided with wealth than with men, a sum of money; and of Ptolemy, some troops of Macedonian soldiers. Ptolemy, who had no excuse for holding back for want of forces, supplied him with five thousand infantry, four thousand cavalry, and fifty elephants, but for not more than two years’ service. In return for this favour, Pyrrhus, after marrying the daughter of Ptolemy, appointed him guardian of his kingdom in his absence; lest, on carrying the flower of his army into Italy, he should leave his dominions a prey to his enemies.

3 But since I have come to speak of Epirus,8 a few particulars should be premised concerning the rise of that kingdom. The first regal power in this country was that of the Molossi. Afterwards Pyrrhus, the son of Achilles, having been deprived of his father’s dominions9 during his absence in the Trojan war, settled in these parts; the inhabitants of which were first called Pyrrhidae, and afterwards Epirots. This Pyrrhus, going to the temple of Jupiter at Dodona to consult the oracle, seized there by force Lanassa, the granddaughter of Hercules, and by a marriage with her had eight children. Of his daughters he gave some in marriage to the neighbouring princes, and by means of these alliances acquired great power. He gave to Helenus,10 the son of King Priam, for his eminent services, the kingdom of the Chaonians, and Andromache the widow of Hector in marriage, after she had been his own wife, he having received her at the division of the Trojan spoil. Shortly after he was slain at Delphi, at the very altar of Apollo, by the treachery of Orestes the son of Agamemnon. His successor was his son Pielus. The throne afterwards passed in regular descent to Arrybas, over whom, as he was an orphan, and the only survivor of a noble family, guardians were publicly appointed, the concern of all being so much the greater to preserve and educate him. He was also sent to Athens for the sake of instruction; and, as he was more learned than his predecessors, so he became more popular with his subjects. He was the first, accordingly, that established laws, a senate, annual magistrates, and a regular form of government; and as a settlement was found for the people by Pyrrhus, so a more civilized way of life was introduced by Arrybas. A son of this king was Neoptolemus, the father of Olympias (mother of Alexander the great), and of Alexander, who occupied the throne of Epirus after him, and died in Italy in a war with the Bruttii. On the death of Alexander his brother Aeacides became king, who, by wearying his people with constant wars against the Macedonians, incurred their dislike, and was in consequence driven into exile, leaving his little son Pyrrhus, about two years old, in the kingdom. The child, too, being sought for by the populace to be put to death, through their hatred to the father, was concealed and carried off into Illyricum, and delivered to Beroe, who was the wife of king Glaucias, and of the family of the Aeacidae, to be brought up. This king, moved either by pity for the boy’s misfortunes, or by his infantine caresses, protected him for a long time against Cassander, king of Macedonia, (who demanded him with menaces of war,) having the kindness also to adopt him for his better security. The Epirots, being moved by these acts, and turning their hatred into pity, brought him back, when he was eleven years old, into the kingdom, appointing him guardians to keep the throne for him till he became of age. When he grew up he engaged in many wars, and, by a train of success, attained such eminence as a leader, that he was the only man who was thought capable of defending the Tarentines against the Romans.

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1 The Chersonesus Taurica; now the Crimea.

2 Orbem terrarum duo soli tenerent.] A great exaggeration. Seleucus had Upper Asia and Syria; Lysimachus Thrace, Greece, Macedonia, and several provinces of Asia Minor. The dominions of Ptolemy Philadelphus were therefore much more extensive.—Wetzel.

3 De cohorte Alexandri.

4 Ptolemy Ceraunus, the eldest son of Ptolemy Lagus, and brother of Ptolemy Philadelphus;
xvi. 2. His mother’s name was Eurydice; that of Philadelphus’s mother Berenice, Pausan. i, 6, 8.—Wetzel.

5 The sister of Ptolemy. See the Index.

6 Seleucus, the enemy of Ptolemy Lagus,
xv. 4.

7 Wetzel retains Eumeni in his text, though Gronovius had seen that the passage must be thus read: Omnique arte adulatur Nicomedi, ne cum Antigono Demetrii, Antiocho Seleuci filiis bellum habituro, tertius sibi hostis accederet. This emendation is approved by Graevius, Vorstius, Scheffer, and Faber. The Antigonus here mentioned is Antigonus Gonnatas, and the Antiochus Antiochus Soter, the successor of Seleucus.

8 He had, however, mentioned it before, as Wetzel observes,
xvi. 2

9 Phthia in Thessaly.

10 The words atque ita, which precede Heleno in the text, are not expressed in the translation; for the giving of the kingdom and the wife to Helenus could hardly have been consequent on the marriages of Pyrrhus’s daughters by Lanassa; or Andromache must have been very old when Helenus took her. On this subject, see Virg. Aen. iii. 294.


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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.

This material may only be used for private and educational use and provided that its copyright status is properly cited. Any modification, remote loading, publication, reproduction on another site, diffusion on the internet, or commercial use of these texts is strictly prohibited without the prior agreement of the author.

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