1 ON the death of Antiochus, king of Syria, his son Seleucus, succeeding in his stead, commenced his reign with murder in his own family, his mother Laodice, who ought to have restrained him, encouraging him to it. He put to death his step-mother Berenice, the sister of Ptolemy, king of Egypt, together with his little brother, her son. By perpetrating this cruelty, he both incurred the stain of infamy, and involved himself in a war with Ptolemy. As for Berenice, when she heard that assassins were sent to despatch her, she shut herself up in Daphne; and it being reported throughout the cities of Asia, that she and her little son were besieged there, they all, commiserating her undeserved misfortunes from their recollection of the high character of her father and her ancestors, sent her assistance. Her brother Ptolemy, too, alarmed at the danger of his sister, left his kingdom, and hastened to her support with all his forces. But Berenice, before succour could arrive, was surprised by treachery, as she could not be taken by force, and killed. The deed was regarded by every one as an atrocity; and all the cities, in consequence, which had revolted (after having equipped a vast fleet), being suddenly alarmed at this instance of cruelty, and wishing to take revenge for her whom they had meant to defend, gave themselves up to Ptolemy, who, if he had not been recalled to Egypt by disturbances at home, would have made himself master of all Seleucusís dominions. Such hatred did an unnatural crime bring upon Seleucus; or so much good feeling did the death of a sister, dishonourably killed, excite in behalf of Ptolemy!
2 After the departure of Ptolemy, Seleucus, having prepared a great fleet against the cities that had revolted, lost it in a storm that suddenly arose, as if the gods themselves had taken vengeance on him for his murder; nor did fortune leave him anything, of all his mighty armament, except his body and life, and a few companions amid the wreck. It was indeed a lamentable occurrence, and yet such as Seleucus might have desired; for the cities, which from hatred to him had gone over to Ptolemy, being moved, by a sudden change in their feelings, to compassionate his loss at sea (as if, in the judgment of the gods, satisfaction had been made them), put themselves again under his government. Rejoiced at his misfortune, therefore, and enriched by his loss, he made war upon Ptolemy, as being now a match for him in strength; but as though he had been born only for a sport to fortune, and had received the power of a king only to lose it, he was. defeated in a battle, and fled in trepidation to Antioch, not much better attended than after his shipwreck. From this place he despatched a letter to his brother Antiochus, in which he implored his aid, and offered him that part of Asia within Mount Taurus, as a recompense for his services. But Antiochus, though he was but fourteen years old, yet, being greedy of dominion beyond his years, caught at the opportunity, not with the kindly feeling with which it was offered, but, like a robber, desiring to take the whole kingdom from his brother, assumed, boy as he was, a manly and unprincipled audacity. Hence he was called Hierax,1 because, in taking away the possessions of others, he conducted himself, not like a man, but like a bird of prey.
Ptolemy Euergetes, in the meantime, learning that Antiochus was coming to the aid of Seleucus, and not wishing to have to contend with two enemies at once, made peace with Seleucus for ten years. But the peace that was granted Seleucus by his enemy, was broken by his own brother, who, having hired an army of Gauls, brought hostilities instead of succour, and showed himself, though he had been implored for aid, an enemy instead of a brother. In the battle that followed Antiochus was victor, indeed, through the prowess of the Gauls; but they, thinking that Seleucus had fallen on the field, began to turn their arms against Antiochus himself, in the: hope of ravaging Asia with greater freedom, if they destroyed the whole royal family. Antiochus, seeing their design, purchased peace from them, as from robbers, with a sum of money, and formed an alliance with his own mercenaries.
3 Meanwhile Eumenes, king of Bithynia, when the brothers were divided and exhausted by civil war, attacked both the victorious Antiochus and the Gauls, as if he intended to take possession of Asia while it was left without a master. Nor did he find any difficulty in overthrowing them, as they were weakened by their previous conflicts, and he himself was fresh and vigorous. At that period, indeed, every war was intended for the reduction of Asia; whoever was stronger than his neighbours was ready to seize on Asia for his prey. The brothers, Seleucus and Antiochus, went to war for the sovereignty of Asia; Ptolemy, king of Egypt, under pretext of avenging his sister, was eager to secure Asia. On the one side Eumenes of Bithynia, on the other the Gauls (an army of mercenaries always ready to support the weaker), laid waste Asia, while no one, among so many robbers, was found to be its protector.
When Antiochus was overthrown, and Eumenes had possessed himself of the greater part of the country, the two brothers, though the prize for which they had fought was lost, could not even then come to an agreement, but, leaving their foreign enemies unmolested, continued the war for the destruction of each other. Antiochus, being again defeated, and exhausted with a flight of many daysí continuance, arrived at last at the palace of Artamenes, his father-in-law, king of Cappadocia. Being kindly received by him at first, but learning, after some days, that treacherous designs were forming against him, he sought safety by again taking to flight. When he was thus a fugitive, and found nowhere a place of security, he betook himself to his enemy Ptolemy, whose faith he thought more to be trusted than that of his brother, whether he reflected on what he would have done to his brother, or what he had deserved from him. But Ptolemy, not more friendly to him when he came to surrender, than when he had been an open foe, ordered that he should be kept in the closest confinement. From hence however he escaped, eluding his keepers by the aid of a courtesan, with whom he had been familiar, and was slain in his flight by some robbers. Seleucus too, about the same time, lost his kingdom, and was killed by a fall from his horse. Thus these two brothers, as if brothers also in fate, both became exiles; and both, after losing their dominions, died a death merited by their crimes.
1 (Ie/rac, a hawk or falcon.