4 During the same period, in which the government of Syria was passing from hand to hand among its new sovereigns, King Attalus in Asia polluted a most flourishing kingdom, which he inherited from his uncle Eumenes, by murders of his friends and executions of his relatives, pretending sometimes that his old mother, and sometimes his wife Berenice, had been destroyed by their wicked contrivances. After this atrocious outburst of rage, he assumed a mean dress, let his beard and hair grow like those of persons under legal prosecution, never went abroad or showed himself to the people, held no feasts in his palace, and behaved in no respect, indeed, like a man in his senses; so that he seemed to be paying penalty for his crimes to the manes of those whom he had murdered. Abandoning the government of his kingdom, too, he employed himself in digging and sowing in his garden, mixing noxious herbs with harmless ones, and sending them all indiscriminately, moistened with poisonous juices, as special presents to his friends. From this employment he turned to that of working in brass, and amused himself with modelling in wax, and casting and hammering out brazen figures. He then proceeded to make a monument for his mother, but while he was busy about the work, he contracted a disorder from the heat of the sun, and died on the seventh day afterwards. By his will the Roman people was appointed his heir.12
There was however a son of Eumenes, named Aristonicus, not born in wedlock, but of an Ephesian mistress, the daughter of a player on the harp; and this young man, after the death of Attalus, laid claim to the throne of Asia as having been his father’s. When he had fought several successful battles against the provinces, which, from fear of the Romans, refused to submit to him, and seemed to be established as king. Asia was assigned by the senate to the command of Licinius Crassus, who, being more eager to plunder the treasures of Attalus than to distinguish himself in the field, and fighting a battle, at the end of the year, with his army in disorder, was defeated, and paid the penalty for his blind avarice by the loss of his life. The consul Perperna being sent in his place, reduced Aristonicus, who was defeated in the first engagement, under his power, and carried off the treasures of Attalus, bequeathed to the Roman people, on ship-board to Rome. Marcus Aquilius, Perperna’s successor, envying his good fortune, hastened, with the utmost expedition, to snatch Aristonicus from Perperna’s hands, as if he ought rather to grace his own triumph. But the death of Perperna put an end to the rivalry between the consuls. Asia, thus becoming a province of the Romans, brought to Rome its vices together with its wealth.
1 He that Justin calls Arsacides was the sixth of the Arsacidae, or Mithridates I., who reigned from B.C. 173 to 136.Wetzel. Arsacidae was the common name of the descendants of Arsaces, the founder of the Parthian power.
2 Per ora civitatum.
3 Vitio.] Some editions have initio.
4 The confused account which our author, as well as Tacitus, v. 2-14, gives concerning the Jews, and the false statements contained in it, must be corrected from the books of the Old Testament and from Josephus.Wetzel.
5 Wetzel’s text has ex regina Semiramide, but I have thought proper to follow the reading of the Juntine edition, et reginae Semiramidi, which is found in two manuscripts, and which Wetzel himself prefers.
6 A corruption of Aaron.
7 Opobalsami.] In Gen. xxxvii. 25; xliii. 11, we find that Canaan produced balm; it is now found only in Arabia Petraea. “The balm-tree (balsami arbor) grew,” says Origen, “in Judaea, only within a space of about twenty acres, but after the Romans became masters of the country it was propagated over extensive hills. Its stem is similar to that of the vine, and its leaves to those of rue, but whiter and always remaining on the tree.” The word balsamum properly signifies the tree, and opobalsamum (that is, o)po\s tou= balsa/mou, as o)popa/nac is o)po\s tou= pa/nakos, juice of all-heal, Diosc. iii. 48) the juice; xylobalsamum means the wood of the tree. Justin, however, contrary to the practice of other writers, uses opobalsamum for the tree, and balsamum for the juice.Lemaire.
8 That is, Jericho, which is the reading of the Cologne edition.Wetzel.
9 Tepidi aëris naturalis quaedam et perpetua apricitas inest.] Such is the reading of Gronovius and Wetzel, who interpret apricitas to signify a moderate warmth or tepidity. Some of the older editions have opacitas, which Tauchnitz and Dübner have adopted. “Salmasius, on Solinus, p. 990, says that not every place exposed to the sun is properly called apricus, but one which lies open to a gentle and moderate influence of his beams. Hence aprici colles, Virg Ecl. ix. 49, are hills turned towards the rising sun, which, not being excessively hot, is well suited for ripening grapes.”Berneccerus.
10 Primum Xerxesdomuit.] This is an error. The kingdom of Israel was overthrown by Shalmaneser, B.C. 722, and that of Judah by Nebuchadnezzar, B.C. 588. The return from captivity, under Cyrus, was B.C. 536. The Jews continued subject to the Persians till the time of Alexander, after whom they were under the rule, sometimes of the Ptolemies, and sometimes of the Seleucidae, till B.C. 167.Dübner.
11 Amicitia Romanorum petita.] Judas Maccabaeus, B.C. 166, formed an alliance with the Romans; Joseph. Ant. xii. 10.
12 See Liv. Epit. lviii.; Vell. Pat. ii. 4; August. Civ. D. xiii. 2 Orosius, v. 8; Florus, ii. 20; Sallust’s Hist. Fragm. lib. iv.; Bohn’s Cl. Library, p. 242.