Episodes In Roman-Ptolemaic Relations

Sep 2019
187
Vergina
Episodes In Roman-Ptolemaic Relations

Thread for the discussion of Roman-Ptolemaic relations. Below are several excerpts that I found particularly interesting. Feel free to comment, ask questions and post your own passages. I hope you enjoy!

"Both Romans and Carthaginians were destitute of money; and the Romans could no longer build ships, being exhausted by taxes, yet they levied foot soldiers and sent them to Africa and Sicily from year to year, while the Carthaginians sent an embassy to Ptolemy, the son of Ptolemy the son of Lagus, king of Egypt, seeking to borrow 2000 talents. He was on terms of friendship with both Romans and Carthaginians, and he sought to bring about peace between them. As he was not able to accomplish this, he said: "It behooves one to assist friends against enemies, but not against friends."
(Appian, Sic.1)
During 1st Punic War, Ptolemy II took a neutral stance between Rome and Carthage. Carthage unsuccessfully attempted to get a loan of 2,000 talents.

"Ptolemy came then to Antioch, and was made King by its inhabitants, and by the army. So that he was forced to put on two diadems; the one of Asia, the other of Egypt. But being naturally a good and a righteous man, and not desirous of what belonged to others; and besides these dispositions, being also a wise man in reasoning about futurities, he determined to avoid the envy of the Romans."
(Josephus, Antiquities of Jews. 13.4.7.
Ptolemy VI Philometor, having captured Antioch, refused rule over Asia out of fear of Roman intervention.

"Cornelia took charge of the children and of the estate, and showed herself so discreet, so good a mother, and so magnanimous, that Tiberius was thought to have been made no bad decision when he elected to die instead of such a woman. For when Ptolemy the king offered to share his crown with her and sought her hand in marriage, she refused him, and remained a widow."
(Plutarch, Life of Tiberius Gracchus, 1.4.)
Ptolemy VIII Physcon's marriage proposal to the widowed Cornelia Africana the daughter of Scipio Africanus and mother of Gracchi Brothers. Some doubt this events authenticity.

The entire Egyptian fleet came to meet him, as it was wont to do when a king put into port, in resplendent array, and the youthful Ptolemy, besides showing him other astonishing marks of kindness, gave him lodging and sustenance in the royal palace, whither no foreign commander had ever been brought before..... Ptolemy abandoned his alliance with Rome, out of fear for the outcome of the war, but furnished Lucullus with ships to convoy him as far as Cyprus, embraced him graciously at parting"
(Plutarch, Life of Lucullus, 2.5.)
Lucullus' entrance into Alexandria's harbor and his meeting of Ptolemy IX Soter II. His failure to get Ptolemy's aid against Pontus.

Crassus embarked upon the dangerous and violent policy of making Egypt tributary to Rome, Catulus opposed him vigorously, whereupon, being at variance, both voluntarily laid down their office.
(Plutarch, Life of Crassus, 13.1.)
Caesar made an attempt through some of the tribunes to have the charge of Egypt given him by a decree of the commons, seizing the opportunity to ask for so irregular an appointment because the citizens of Alexandria had deposed their king, who had been named by the senate an ally and friend of the Roman people, and their action was generally condemned. He failed however because of the opposition of the aristocratic party.
(Suetonius, Life of Caesar, 11.1)
In 65 B.C. Crassus tried to make Egypt a tributary state and in 58 B.C., Caesar made a similar proposal to take command of Egypt after the overthrow of Ptolemy XII Auletes.
 
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Oct 2015
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Virginia
About this time (55BC) Ptolemy (XII Theos, Philopater, Philadelphus, Neos Dionysios (aka Auletes)), although the Romans had voted not to assist him and were even now highly indignant at the bribery he had employed, was nevertheless restored and got back his kingdom. 2 Pompey and Gabinius accomplished this. So much power had official authority and abundant wealth as against the decrees of both the people and the senate, 3 that when Pompey sent orders to Gabinius, then governor of Syria, and the latter made a campaign, the one acting out of kindness and the other as the result of a bribe, they restored the king contrary to the wish of the state, paying no heed either to it or to the oracles of the Sibyl

(Cassius Dio LV.1-3)
 
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Sep 2019
187
Vergina
Excellent passage! I recall Mark Antony's role in spurring the expedition and that he also likely met Cleopatra VII for the first time during it. On an unrelated note the important historian Timagenes was taken captive by Gabinius in Alexandria and brought to Rome.
After this, Ptolemy tried to persuade Gabinius by a bribe of ten thousand talents to join him in an invasion of Egypt and recover the kingdom for him. But the greater part of the officers were opposed to the plan, and Gabinius himself felt a certain dread of the war, although he was completely captivated by the ten thousand talents. Antony, however, who was ambitious of great exploits and eager to gratify the request of Ptolemy, joined the king in persuading and inciting Gabinius to the expedition.
(Plutarch, Life of Antony, 3.2.)
 
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Oct 2015
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Auletes had helped Pompey in Syria and stayed at Pompey's villa while in exile in Italy (with his daughter Cleopatra); so in spite of the senate's advice (and the Sibyl), Pompey probably felt obliged to help Auletes as a patron-client.
 
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In 168 BC Antiochus IV Epiphanes, king of Syria, defeated Ptolemy VI Philometor (his nephew), invaded and conquered most of Egypt. But when approaching Alexandria, Antiochus was met by a Roman embassy led by C Popilias Laenas (cos 172):

After receiving the submission of the inhabitants of Memphis and of the rest of the Egyptian people, some submitting voluntarily, others under threats, he marched by easy stages towards Alexandria. After crossing the river at Eleusis, about four miles from Alexandria, he was met by the Roman commissioners, to whom he gave a friendly greeting and held out his hand to Popilius. Popilius, however, placed in his hand the tablets on which was written the decree of the senate and told him first of all to read that. After reading it through he said he would call his friends into council and consider what he ought to do. Popilius, stern and imperious as ever, drew a circle round the king with the stick he was carrying and said, "Before you step out of that circle give me a reply to lay before the senate." For a few moments he hesitated, astounded at such a peremptory order, and at last replied, "I will do what the senate thinks right." Not till then did Popilius extend his hand to the king as to a friend and ally. Antiochus evacuated Egypt at the appointed date, and the commissioners exerted their authority to establish a lasting concord between the brothers, as they had as yet hardly made peace with each other.

(Livy XLV.12.3-8)
 
Oct 2018
2,092
Sydney
In 168 BC Antiochus IV Epiphanes, king of Syria, defeated Ptolemy VI Philometor (his nephew), invaded and conquered most of Egypt. But when approaching Alexandria, Antiochus was met by a Roman embassy led by C Popilias Laenas (cos 172):

After receiving the submission of the inhabitants of Memphis and of the rest of the Egyptian people, some submitting voluntarily, others under threats, he marched by easy stages towards Alexandria. After crossing the river at Eleusis, about four miles from Alexandria, he was met by the Roman commissioners, to whom he gave a friendly greeting and held out his hand to Popilius. Popilius, however, placed in his hand the tablets on which was written the decree of the senate and told him first of all to read that. After reading it through he said he would call his friends into council and consider what he ought to do. Popilius, stern and imperious as ever, drew a circle round the king with the stick he was carrying and said, "Before you step out of that circle give me a reply to lay before the senate." For a few moments he hesitated, astounded at such a peremptory order, and at last replied, "I will do what the senate thinks right." Not till then did Popilius extend his hand to the king as to a friend and ally. Antiochus evacuated Egypt at the appointed date, and the commissioners exerted their authority to establish a lasting concord between the brothers, as they had as yet hardly made peace with each other.

(Livy XLV.12.3-8)
Classic.
 
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Sep 2019
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Vergina
In 168 BC Antiochus IV Epiphanes, king of Syria, defeated Ptolemy VI Philometor (his nephew), invaded and conquered most of Egypt. But when approaching Alexandria, Antiochus was met by a Roman embassy led by C Popilias Laenas
With hindsight should Antiochus have withdrawn? Do we know if the Romans were prepared for another war? 168 is the same year as Pydna.
 

Maki

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Jan 2017
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With hindsight should Antiochus have withdrawn? Do we know if the Romans were prepared for another war? 168 is the same year as Pydna.
I would say no to the question about Roman readiness for another war. In fact, it can be concluded that Laenas forcing Antiochos to choose at the spot was connected to that. Had Laenas given him time to think about it, Antiochos might not have accepted the terms.
 
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Oct 2018
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Rome may not have been ready for war in 168, just as they weren't ready for Hannibal in 220 when he told their envoys he'd attack Saguntum and cross the Ebro (or in 219 when he besieged Saguntum for eight months and received no military opposition from Rome), just as they weren't ready for Philip V when he sided with Hannibal in 215, but attacking Rome's friends necessitated war, whether it happened sooner or later. And to judge from other Hellenistic-Roman wars it would probably have ended after one or two Roman victories and a treaty that favoured Rome. The Hellenistic kings do not appear to have shared that intense Roman drive for victory at all costs.
 
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