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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


Book XXX

War between Antiochus III. and Ptolemy Philopator; treaty of peace; licentiousness of Ptolemy, I.—His bad government; at his death his son is placed under the guardianship of the Romans, II.—Rupture between Philip and the Romans, III.—Philip is defeated by Flamininus, and makes peace on humiliating terms; the Aetolians stimulate Antiochus to make war on the Romans, IV.

1 2 3 4

1 WHILE Philip was intent on great exploits in Macedonia, the conduct of Ptolemy in Egypt was of an opposite character; for having got the throne by parricide, and added the murder of his brother to that of both his parents, he resigned himself, as if all had gone happily with him, to the attractions of luxury; and the whole court had followed the manners of their king. Not only his personal friends, and chief officers, but the whole of the army had laid aside military exercises, and grown corrupt and enervated in idleness.

Antiochus, king of Syria, when he heard of this state of things, and while the old animosity between the two kingdoms incited him, captured many cities belonging to Ptolemy by a sudden attack, and carried his arms into Egypt itself. Ptolemy was accordingly in consternation, and endeavoured to retard Antiochus, by sending embassies, until he could get troops in readiness. Having then hired a large army in Greece, he fought a battle with good success, and would have driven Antiochus from his throne, if he had supported his fortune with suitable spirit. But, content with recovering the cities that he had lost, and making peace, he eagerly seized the opportunity of sinking again into sloth, and, returning to his former licentious habits, he put to death his wife Eurydice, who was also his sister, and gave himself up to the caresses of a mistress named Agathoclia; and thus, forgetful of all the greatness of his name and dignity, he passed his nights in wantonness, and his days in the pleasures of the table. As ministrations to his luxury, timbrels and tabors1 were introduced; and the king, no longer a mere spectator, but a leader of the revels, produced music from stringed instruments himself. Such were at first the secret and latent pests of a tottering court.

2 Licentiousness subsequently increasing, the audacity of his mistress could no longer be confined within the walls of the palace; for the daily debaucheries of the king, which he shared with her brother Agathocles, a corrupt youth of captivating beauty, rendered her still more shameless. To all, this was added, too, the influence of their mother Oenanthe, who, by the charms of her two children, kept the monarch quite enthralled. Not content with enslaving the king, they made themselves rulers of the kingdom; they showed themselves in public places, received salutations, and were followed by a train of attendants. Agathocles, attaching himself closely to the king’s side, assumed the administration of the state; women disposed of offices, governments, and commissions; nor had any one less power in the kingdom than the king himself. In the midst of this state of things the king died, leaving a son, five years old, by his sister Eurydice; but his death, while the women were seizing on the royal treasures, and endeavouring, by forming a confederacy with some desperate characters, to get the government into their own hands, was for a long time kept, secret. But the truth becoming known, Agathocles was killed by a rising of the people, and the women nailed on crosses to avenge the death of Eurydice.

After the king’s decease, and when the infamy of the kingdom was expiated, as it were, by the punishment of the courtezans, the people of Alexandria sent ambassadors to the Romans, requesting them “to take on themselves the guardianship of the orphan, and to defend the kingdom of Egypt, which, they said, Philip and Antiochus had already portioned out between them by a treaty made for the purpose.”

3 This embassy was acceptable to the Romans, who were seeking a pretence for making war upon Philip, for having formed designs against them in the time of the Punic war. To this feeling was added the circumstance, that, since the Carthaginians and Hannibal were conquered, there was no one of whose arms they had a greater dread, considering what a commotion Pyrrhus, with but a small force, had excited in Italy, and what exploits the Macedonians had achieved in the east. Ambassadors were accordingly despatched to warn Philip and Antiochus “to make no attempt upon Egypt.” Marcus Lepidus was also sent into Egypt, to govern the orphan’s kingdom in the character of guardian. During the course of these proceedings, embassies from king Attalus, and from the Rhodians, arrived at Rome, to complain of injuries that they had suffered from Philip. These representations removed from the minds of the senate all hesitation about going to war with Macedonia; and forthwith, under pretence of taking the part of their allies, war was declared against Philip, and some legions, with one of the consuls, were sent off to Macedonia. Not long after, too, the whole of Greece, stimulated by confidence in the Romans, and the hope of recovering their ancient liberty, to rise against Philip, made war upon him; and thus, being assailed on every side, he was compelled to beg for peace. But when the terms of it were set forth by the Romans, both Attalus and the Rhodians, as well as the Achaeans and Aetolians, began to demand that the places belonging to them should be restored. Philip, on the other hand, allowed that “he might be induced to submit to the Romans, but that it was intolerable that the Greeks, who had been subdued by his ancestors Philip and Alexander, and brought under the yoke of the Macedonian empire, should dictate articles of peace to him, as if they were conquerors; and that they ought to give an account of their conduct in their state of slavery, before they sought to recover their liberty.” At last, on his request, a truce was allowed for two months, that the peace, on which they could not come to terms in Macedonia, might be obtained from the senate at Rome.

4 In the same year4 a concussion of the earth happened between the islands Thera3 and Therasia, in the midst of the sea at an equal distance from either shore, where, to the astonishment of those that were sailing past, an island rose suddenly from the deep, the water being at the same time hot. In Asia too, on the same day, the same earthquake shattered Rhodes,4 and many other cities, with a terrible ruin; some it swallowed up entire. As all men were alarmed at this prodigy, the soothsayers predicted that “the rising power of the Romans would swallow up the ancient empire of the Greeks and Macedonians.”

In the meantime, Philip, as his terms of peace were rejected by the senate, prevailed on the tyrant Nabis5 to join him in prosecuting the war. Having then led out his army into the field, he began to encourage his men, while the enemy stood in array on the opposite side, by saying that “the Persians, Bactrians, and Indians, and all Asia to the utmost boundaries of the east, had been subdued by the Macedonians; and that this war was more bravely to be maintained than those which had preceded it, in proportion as liberty was more precious than empire.” Flamininus, too, the Roman consul, animated his men to battle by representing what had lately been achieved by the Romans, observing that “Carthage and Sicily on one side, and Italy and Spain on the other, had been thoroughly reduced by Roman valour; and that Hannibal, by whose expulsion from Italy they had become masters of Africa, a third part of the world, was not to be thought inferior to Alexander the Great. Nor were the Macedonians to be estimated by their ancient reputation, but by their present power; for that the Romans were not waging war with Alexander the Great, whom they had heard called invincible, or with his army, which had conquered all the east, but with Philip, a youth of immature years,6 who could scarcely defend the frontiers of his dominions against his neighbours, and with those Macedonians who were not long ago a prey to the Dardanians. That they might recount the achievements of their forefathers, but that he could relate those of his own soldiers; since Hannibal and the Carthaginians, and almost all the west, had not been conquered by any other army, but by those very troops which he had with him in the field.” The soldiers on both sides, roused by these exhortations, rushed to the encounter, the one army exulting in their conquest of the east, the other in that of the west; the one carrying to the battle the ancient and fading glory of their ancestors, the other the flower of valour fresh from recent exertions. But the fortune of Rome was superior to that of the Macedonians; and Philip, exhausted by his efforts in war, and suing for peace from Flamininus, the consul, was allowed to retain indeed the name of king; but, being deprived of all the cities of Greece, as being parts of his dominion beyond the bounds of its ancient territory, he preserved only Macedonia. The Aetolians, however, were displeased, because Macedonia was not taken from the king at their suggestion, and given to themselves as a reward for their service in the war, and sent ambassadors to Antiochus, to induce him, by flattering his greatness, to engage in a war with the Romans, in the hope of securing the alliance of all Greece.


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1 Tympana et crepundia.] It is impossible to ascertain exactly what musical instruments are meant by crepundia. Lemaire supposes them to be something like the Egyptian sistra, used in the ceremonies of Isis.

2 No; for it was several years before that this commotion of the earth took place, namely, in the first year of the 139th Olympiad, as is apparent from Polybius, v. 88, and the Chronicon of Eusebius. But Pliny, H. N. ii. 87, says that Automata or Hiera, the island here signified, arose between Thera and Therasia in the second year of the 156th Olympiad; how this can be correct, I do not understand.—Is. Vossius. Vossius, however, is not quite right in his computation. Pliny says that Thera and Therasia sprung from the sea in the fourth year of the 135th Olympiad, and that Automata or Hiera arose one hundred and thirty years afterwards; this would be in the third year of the 167th Olympiad. Concerning the rise of this island from the deep, see Strabo, i. 3; Sen. Nat. Quaest. vi. 21; ii. 26; it is also noticed by Livy, xxxix. 56, and Amm. Marcell. xvii. 6. Other islands have since risen in these parts. See Virlet, Bull. de la Soc. Geol. de France, tom. iii.

3 The largest of the Sporades in the Aegean Sea, now called Santorin. Therasia lies near it. Hiera is not exactly between the two islands, as Justin represents.

4 Diodorus, xviii. 8, assigns this island to Europe. The epitome of the 78th book of Livy, however, gives it to Asia.—Berneccerus.

5 Tyrant of Sparta. He began to reign B.C. 206.

6 Puero immaturae aetatis.] Why does he call him puero, a youth, when, in the year B.C. 220, in which he succeeded Antigonus, he had completed his fourteenth year? See
xxviii. 4. In this year, therefore, B.C. 198, he was in his thirty-sixth year.—Wetzel. So that Philip had now attained a greater age than Alexander the Great lived to attain. Scheffer would strike out puero, asking whether there are also pueri maturae aetatis?


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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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