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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



Demetrius dethroned by a pretender named Zabinas; his death; state of his family, I.—Zabinas killed by Antiochus Grypus; a new pretender, Antiochus of Cyzicus, II.—Death of Ptolemy Physcon; state of Egypt and Syria; Antiochus of Cyzicus dethrones his brother Grypus, III.— Cleopatra drives Ptolemy Lathyrus from Egypt, and places on the throne Ptolemy Alexander, by whom she is killed, IV.—Ptolemy Alexander driven from Egypt; Lathyrus recalled; Ptolemy Apion, king of Cyrene, bequeaths his dominions to the Romans; desolation of Egypt and Syria, V.

1 2 3 4 5

1 AFTER Antiochus and his army were cut off in Persia, his brother Demetrius, being delivered from confinement1 among the Parthians, and restored to his throne, resolved, while all Syria was mourning for the loss of the army, to make war upon Egypt, (just as if his and his brother’s wars with the Parthians, in which one was taken prisoner and the other killed, had had a fortunate termination), Cleopatra his mother-in-law promising him the kingdom of Egypt, as a recompence for the assistance that he should afford her against her brother. But, as is often the case, while he was grasping at what belonged to others, he lost his own by a rebellion in Syria; for the people of Antioch, in the first place, under the leadership of Trypho, and from detestation of the pride of their king (which, from his intercourse with the unfeeling Parthians, had become intolerable), and afterwards the Apamenians2 and other people, following their example, revolted from Demetrius in his absence Ptolemy, king of Egypt, too, who was threatened with a war by him, having learned that his sister Cleopatra had put much of the wealth of Egypt on ship-board, and fled into Syria to her daughter and son-in-law Demetrius, sent an Egyptian youth,3 the son of a merchant named Protarchus, to claim the throne of Syria by force of arms, having forged a story, that he had been admitted into the family of King Antiochus by adoption, and the Syrians, at the same time, refusing no man for their king, if they might but be freed from the insolence of Demetrius. The name of Alexander was given to the youth, and great succours were sent him from Egypt. Meanwhile the body of Antiochus, who had been killed by the king of the Parthians, arrived in Syria, being sent back in a silver coffin for burial, and was received with great respect by the different cities, as well as by the new king, Alexander, in order to secure credit to the fiction. This show of affection procured him extraordinary regard from the people, every one supposing his tears not counterfeit but real. Demetrius, being defeated by Alexander, and overwhelmed by misfortunes surrounding him on every side, was at last forsaken even by his wife and children. Being left, accordingly, with only a few slaves, and setting sail for Tyre, to shelter himself in the sanctuary of a temple there, he was killed, as he was leaving the ship, by order of the governor of the city. One of his sons, Seleucus, for having assumed the diadem without his mother’s consent, was put to death by her; the other, who, from the size of his nose was named Grypus,4 was made king by his mother, so far at least that the regal name should belong to him, while all the power of sovereignty was to remain with herself.

2 But Alexander, having secured the throne of Syria, and being puffed up with success, began, with insolent haughtiness, to show disrespect even to Ptolemy himself, by whom he had been artfully advanced to royal dignity. Ptolemy, in consequence, effecting a reconciliation with his sister, prepared, with his utmost efforts, to overthrow that power, which, . from hatred to Demetrius, he had procured for Alexander by supplying him with troops. He therefore sent a large force to the aid of Grypus, and his daughter Tryphaena to marry him, that he might induce the people to support his nephew, not only by sharing in the war with him, but by contracting with him this affinity. Nor were his endeavours without effect; for when the people saw Grypus upheld by the strength of Egypt, they began by degrees to fall away from Alexander. A battle then took place between the kings, in which Alexander was defeated, and fled to Antioch, Here, being without money, and pay being wanted for his soldiers, he ordered a statue of Victory of solid gold, which was in the temple of Jupiter, to be removed, palliating the sacrilege with jests, and saying that “Victory was lent him by Jupiter.” Some days after, having ordered a golden statue of Jupiter himself, of great weight, to be taken away secretly, and being caught in the sacrilegious act, he was forced to flee by a rising of the people, and being overtaken by a violent storm, and deserted by his men, he fell into the hands of robbers, and being brought before Grypus, was put to death.

Grypus, having thus recovered his father’s throne, and being freed from foreign perils, found his life endangered by a plot of his own mother; who, after betraying, from desire of power, her husband Demetrius, and putting to death her other son, was discontented at her dignity being eclipsed by the victory of Grypus, and presented him with a cup of poison as he was returning home from taking exercise. But Grypus, having received notice of her treacherous intention, desired her (as if to show as much respect for his mother as she showed for him) to drink herself first, and, when she refused, pressed her earnestly, and at last, producing his informant, charged her with the fact, telling her, “that the only way left to clear herself from guilt, was, that she should drink what she had offered to her son.” The queen, being thus disconcerted, and her wickedness turned upon herself, was killed with the poison which she had prepared for another. Grypus, accordingly, having securely established his throne, had peace himself, and secured it for his people, for eight years. At the end of that time a rival for the throne arose, named Cyzicenus, a brother of his own by the same mother, and son of his uncle Antiochus. Grypus having tried to take him off by poison, provoked him the sooner to contend for the throne with him by force of arms.

3 During these unnatural contentions in the kingdom of Syria, Ptolemy,5 king of Egypt, died, leaving the kingdom of Egypt to his wife, and one of her two sons, whichsoever she herself should choose; as if the condition of Egypt would be more quiet than that of Syria had been, when the mother, by electing one of her sons, would make the other her enemy. Though she was more inclined to fix on the younger of her sons, the people obliged her to nominate the elder, from whom, however, before she gave him the throne, she took away his wife, compelling him to divorce his sister Cleopatra, whom he very much loved, and requiring him to marry his younger sister Selene; a determination as to her daughters not at all becoming a mother, as she took a husband from one, and gave him to the other. But Cleopatra being not so much divorced by her husband, as torn from her husband by her mother, married Cyzicenus in Syria, and that she might not bring him the mere name of a wife, carried over to him, as a dowry, the army of Grypus, which she had induced to desert. Cyzicenus, thinking himself thus a match for the power of his brother, gave him battle, but was defeated and put to flight, and sought refuge in Antioch. Grypus then proceeded to besiege Antioch, in which Cleopatra, the wife of Cyzicenus, was; and, when he had taken it, Tryphaena, the wife of Grypus, desired that nothing should be searched for before his sister Cleopatra, not that she might relieve her in her captivity, but that she might not escape the sufferings of captivity; since she had invaded the kingdom chiefly from envy towards her, and by marrying the enemy of her sister had made herself her enemy.6 She also charged her with bringing a foreign army to decide the disputes between the brothers, and with having married out of Egypt, when she was divorced from her brother, contrary to the will of her mother. Grypus, on the other hand, besought her, that “he might not be driven to commit so heinous a crime;” saying, that “by none of his forefathers, in the course of so many civil and foreign wars, had cruelties after victory been inflicted upon women, whom their sex itself protected from the perils of war and from ill-treatment on the part of the conquerors; and that in her Case, besides the common practice of people at war, there was added the closest tie of blood, for she was the full sister of her who would treat her so cruelly, his own cousin, and aunt to their children.” In addition to these obligations of relationship, he mentioned also the superstitious regard paid to the temple in which she had taken refuge, observing that “the gods were so much the more religiously to be revered by him, as he had been the better enabled to conquer by their favour and protection; and that neither by killing her would he diminish the strength of Cyzicenus, nor increase it by restoring her to him.” But the more Grypus held back, the more was Tryphaena excited with a womanish pertinacity, fancying that her husband’s observations proceeded not from pity but from love. Summoning some soldiers herself, therefore, she despatched a party to kill her sister. They, going into the temple, and not being able to drag her away, cut off her hands while she was embracing the statue of the goddess. Soon after Cleopatra expired, uttering imprecations on her unnatural murderers, and commending the avenging of her fate to the outraged deities. And not long after, another battle being fought, Cyzicenus, being victorious, took Tryphaena, the wife of Grypus, who had just before killed her sister, prisoner, and by putting her to death made atonement to the manes of his wife.

4 In Egypt, Cleopatra, being dissatisfied at having her son Ptolemy to share her throne, excited the people against him, and taking from him his wife Selene (the more ignominiously, as he had now two children by her), obliged him to go into exile, sending, at the same time, for her younger son Alexander, and making him king in his brother’s room. Nor was she content with driving her son from the throne, but pursued him with her arms while he was living in exile in Cyprus. After forcing him from thence, she put to death the general of her troops, because he had let him escape from his hands alive; though Ptolemy, indeed, had left the island from being ashamed to maintain a war against his mother, and not as being inferior to her in forces.

Alexander, alarmed at such cruelty on the part of his mother, deserted her also himself, preferring a life of quiet and security to royal dignity surrounded with danger: while Cleopatra, fearing lest her elder son Ptolemy should be assisted by Cyzicenus to re-establish himself in Egypt, sent powerful succours to Grypus, and with them Selene, Ptolemy’s wife, to marry the enemy of her former husband. To her son Alexander she sent messengers to recall him to his country; but while, by secret treachery, she was plotting his destruction, she was anticipated by him and put to death, perishing, not by the course of nature, but by the hand of her son, and having, indeed, well deserved so infamous an end, since she had driven her mother7 from the bed of her father, had made her two daughters8 widows by alternate marriages with their brothers, had made war upon one of her sons after sending him into exile,9 and plotted against the life of the other10 after depriving him of his throne.

5 Neither did so unnatural a murder, on the part of Alexander, go unpunished; for as soon as it was known that the mother had been killed by the wickedness of her son, he was driven, by an insurrection of the people, into banishment, and the crown was restored to Ptolemy, who was recalled, because he had refused to make war against his mother, and to take from his brother by force of arms what he himself had previously possessed. During the course of these proceedings, his natural brother,11 to whom his father had left the kingdom of Cyrene by will, died, appointing the Roman people his heir; for the fortune of Rome, not content with the limits of Italy, had now begun to extend itself to the kingdoms of the east. Thus that part of Africa became a province of the Roman empire; and soon afterwards Crete and Cilicia, being subdued in the war against the pirates, were likewise made provinces. In consequence, the kingdoms of Syria and Egypt, which had been accustomed to aggrandize themselves by wars with their neighbours, being now confined by the vicinity of the Romans, and deprived of all opportunity of extending their frontiers, employed their strength to the injury of one another, so that, being exhausted by continual battles, they fell into contempt with their neighbours, and became a prey to the people of Arabia, a nation previously regarded as unwarlike. Their king Erotimus, relying on his seven hundred sons, whom he had had by his concubines, and dividing his forces, infested at one time Egypt, and another Syria, and procured a great name for the Arabians, by exhausting the strength of their neighbours.


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1 Obsidione.] Obsidio for captivitas.—Vorstius. An odd word. But the sense is evident. See
xxxvi. 1; xxxviii. 10.

2 Apamene was a district of Syria, in which stood the city of Apamia.

3 Ptolemy spread a report that this youth, to whom he gave the name of Alexander, and who is called Zebennas by Josephus, xiii. 17, and Zabinas by Diod. Sic. xxxiv. fragm. 20, 22, was the son of the Antiochus killed by the Parthians,
xxxviii. 8, or rather of Alexander Bala. See xxxv. 1, 2.—Wetzel.

4 Propter nasi magnitudinem cognomen Grypo fuit.] But the adjective grupo/s, as Faber observes, means hooked, aquiline; and he therefore proposes to read propter nasi altitudinem, &c.

5 Ptolemy Physcon. See
xxxviii. 8.

6 Cleopatra, by marrying Cyzicenus the enemy of Tryphaena, became herself Tryphaena’s enemy.

7 Her mother Cleopatra. See
xxxviii. 8, supra med.

8 Cleopatra and Selene. See
c. 3, init. and the beginning of this chapter.

9 As is told in this chapter.

10 As is told in this chapter.

11 Apion, the son of Ptolemy Philometor, or, as Justin will have it, of Physcon.—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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