Ptolemy IV Philopator
gigatos | November 27, 2021
Ptolemy IV Philopator is the king of Egypt, ruled from 222221 to 205204203 B.C. From the Ptolemaic dynasty. Son of Ptolemy III and Berenice of Cyrene. During his reign he brought Egypt to the state of helplessness and humiliation from which the state has never risen to the proud height, which it occupied during the first three kings of the Ptolemaic dynasty.
Some historians believe that Ptolemy was born in 245 BC, But given his father”s sudden departure for war in Syria, it seems more likely that he was conceived after his return, most likely in the third year of Ptolemy III, and thus his approximate year of birth is 242 B.C. If his father had left his young wife pregnant, Callimachus” poem “The Hair of Berenice” should have at least hinted at this. Ptolemy was educated by the great scholar Eratosthenes.
Ptolemy IV received from his father a tightly knit and powerful state – together with the securely annexed Kelesiria, Cyrene and Cyprus. His naval fleet still enabled him to dominate the various islands of the Aegean Sea, the Gallipoli Peninsula and parts of Thrace near Enos and Maronia. It still enjoyed prestige among the states of Greece. As Polybius notes:
“His predecessors threatened the kings of Syria from land and sea, for they possessed Kelecyria and Cyprus. They kept a watchful eye on the rulers of Asia, and also on the islands, for they ruled over the most important cities, regions, and harbors on the whole sea coast from Pamphylia to Hellespont and to the region of Lysimachus. They also supervised the affairs of Thrace and Macedonia, for Enos, Maronia, and the cities further on were in their power. Thus Ptolemy”s predecessors stretched out their arms far and fenced themselves from afar over these possessions, so they had nothing to fear for power over Egypt.”
Sosibius and the murder of royal relatives
In Ptolemy IV his grandfather Ptolemy II Philadelphus, a lover of arts and pleasures, was repeated, but he reproduced his grandfather”s vices in a more extravagant form and lacked the serious intellectual demands that gave the second Ptolemy a touch of grandeur. Ptolemy IV not only sought carelessness and pleasure, he was indifferent to the kind of people with his connivance running the affairs of the state, provided they gave him the means to live among literature and aesthetic pleasures and relieved him of the burdens of power. The actual ruler of the kingdom under Ptolemy IV was the Alexandrian Sosibius, son of Dioscurides. Even during the lifetime of his father Ptolemy III Everget in 235234 BC this Sosibius held one of the highest posts in Egypt – the priestess of Alexander, the Gods Adelphus (Brother and Sister) and the Gods of the Benefactors in Alexandria and his name was dated in the documents of that year. Polybius admits that he had some ability – he calls him “a cunning and experienced old rascal. But other members of the royal family stood in Sosibius” way to power. Among them were the king”s uncle Lysimachus, the king”s mother Berenice, and the king”s younger brother Magus. Ptolemy IV, in whom love of idleness, drunkenness, depravity, and superficial interest in literature had consumed all natural inclination, on the advice of Sosibius, murdered his uncle, brother, and mother. The affair was set up so that when the young Magus was taking a bath, a certain man (Pseudo-Plutarch calls him Theogos) scalded him with boiling water, and Berenice of Cyrene died of poison.
The Death of Cleomenes
Another man Sosibius saw fit to eliminate was the Spartan king Cleomenes III, who had fled to Alexandria after the battle of Sellasia. Cleomenes became impatient, realizing that promises to send him back to Greece with the Egyptian army were willingly made but not kept. When a new king ascended the throne and Cleomenes saw that he could not be induced to take the slightest interest in international affairs, he became desperate. Sosibius feared his influence on the mercenary warriors, thousands of whom were stationed in Alexandria. Many of them were Peloponnesians and Cretans, and the king of Sparta had extremely high authority among them. After the reckless words of Cleomenes (Cleomenes, when his question was answered that horses had been brought, said: “How good it would have been if instead of horses you had brought your lovers and harpists with you; the present king is fully occupied with this”) Sosibius ordered him and thirteen other Spartites, his friends, to be taken into custody. While the court was temporarily in Canope, Cleomenes and his companions managed to escape from detention and ran through the streets of Alexandria with swords in their hands, calling on the inhabitants for freedom. But the enterprise was totally unexpected, and therefore no one listened to them and joined the revolt. Thereafter, with courage worthy of the Spartans, they laid down their arms. Sosibius had Cleomenes” mother and children and the women of the other rebellious Spartans who remained in Egypt put to death as well (in January or February 219 B.C.).
Agathocles, Agathoklea, and their mother Enantha
Next to Sosibius acted a trio of very unsightly characters who colluded with the treacherous Alexandrian to rule over the crowned voluptuary: the beautiful and vicious young man Agathocles, his beautiful sister Agathokleia and their mother Enantha. Justin conveys it this way:
“Ptolemy indulged in all kinds of excesses, and his whole court began to imitate the king”s manners. And not only the king”s friends and superiors, but even the entire army, having abandoned their military pursuits, became corrupt and exhausted from idleness and idleness… He was captivated by the charms of the hetaera Agathokleia. Forgetting completely about the greatness of his rank and position, he spent his nights in debauchery, and his days – in feasts. The amusements were accompanied by voluptuous music on instruments such as tympani and rattles, and the king was not only a spectator, but also the organizer of these outrages and himself played pleasurable melodies on the strings. At first, however, these were the secret sores and hidden woes of the decaying royal court. But as time passed, promiscuity grew more and more, and the audacity of the hetaera could no longer remain within the palace walls. The king”s daily lecherous intercourse with her brother Agathocles, a profligate and flirtatious beauty, made her even more insolent. Agathocles and Agathocles were joined by their mother Ananthas, who took hold of the king, who was utterly seduced by the charms of her two children. Not content with power over the king, she seized power over the state as well: they had already begun to show themselves in public places, they were greeted, they were accompanied by . Agathocles, who was constantly at the king”s side, ruled the state, while the two women ordered the distribution of the offices of tribunes, prefects, and military commanders. And there was not a man in the whole kingdom who had less power than the king himself.
Athenaeus echoes him:
“King Ptolemy Philopator was held in his hands by the hetaera Agathokleia, who overturned his entire kingdom.”
When these kinds of personalities assumed the position of the first men of the state, the prestige of Egypt in the eastern Mediterranean rapidly and noticeably declined. We know that as early as 220 B.C. the inhabitants of the Cyclades, when they began to be pillaged by the Illyrian pirates, turned not to their old protector, the king of Egypt, but to the Rhodesians for help. About the same time in Crete, where the Ptolemies once had great influence, the warring cities began to seek allies elsewhere. However, Egypt was still in possession of Ithanus, and Ptolemy Philopator provided funds for the construction of new fortifications at Gortyna. Egyptian garrisons throughout the reign of Ptolemy IV continued to hold certain areas on the coast and islands of the Aegean, and officials collected tribute from the coastal territories of Lycia, Caria, Thrace, the major port of Ephesus, the islands of Thera, Samos and Lesbos. Even at Seleucia at the mouth of the Orontes an Egyptian garrison was still present in the spring of 219 BC.
Trial of strength
Even before the young Ptolemy accepted his paternal succession, the Greek world was well aware of what kind of man he was. For it seems that it was in the year of the death of Ptolemy III Evergetus that young Antiochus III the Great came to the gates of the fortress in Lebanon, which guarded the northern entrance to Keleucyria; Polybius reports that Hermius, Antiochus” chief minister, convinced him to try first to conquer Keleucyria, a country which the Seleucid dynasty had claimed in vain for eighty years, “considering war with the careless king to be unthreatening.” But the Egyptian army was still commanded by experienced commanders. The Aetolian Theodotus, commander-in-chief of the army in Caesarea, had set up the defense of the Lebanese fortresses properly, and the first attacks of the Seleucid army had failed. Before Antiochus could succeed in his offensive, he had to break off the campaign and hurry with his army to the east to deal in Babylonia with the rebellious satraps of Midia and Persia, the brothers Molon and Alexander. Egypt received a respite for nearly two years.
Antiochus” diversion to the east
Meanwhile, after the attack on Keleucia, Egypt and the Seleucid kingdom must have been in a state of enmity, if not open warfare. It was during this interval that the situation in the Seleucid kingdom became more complicated, and the Alexandrian court could not help but be interested in it. Achaeus, who ruled in Asia Minor on behalf of the Seleucids, who was both cousin and son-in-law to the king, refused to take the oath of allegiance and proclaimed himself an independent ruler. It might have been expected that Egypt would support Achaeus as the enemy of his enemy after this rebellion; for even before his rebellion Achaeus had been accused (falsely, according to Polybius) of secretly corresponding with the Alexandrian court. There was another reason for the communication between Achaeus and Egypt. At some point in his war with the Seleucid state, Ptolemy Evergett took captive the father of Achaeus, Andromachus, a man of very high position. Andromach”s sister Laodicea was the wife of Seleucus II and the mother of Antiochus III. When Ptolemy Evergett died, Andromacheus was still in Egypt as a prisoner. Since Achaeus had long expressed a great desire to obtain freedom for his father, Sosibius naturally considered the captive aristocrat a very valuable figure in the political game and did not want to let him go.
The Capture of Seleucia by Antiochus
After his return with victory from the east, Antiochus first turned not against Achaeus, but against Egypt. In the spring of 219 BC, an army under Theodotus Hemiolius (perhaps because of his height), the namesake of the Aetolian who commanded Ptolemy”s forces in Caesarea, set out to clear the passages through Lebanon, while Antiochus himself moved to the walls of the ancestral city of Seleucia of Pieria, which had been under Egyptian rule for a quarter of a century. Seleucia had very strong defensive fortifications, and it was not easy to take it. Though Antiochus had failed to bribe the commandant of the city, Leontius himself, many junior commanders of the Egyptian garrison had defected to his side. After capturing the suburbs, Leontius, seeing the widespread treachery, preferred to surrender on the condition that all who were in the city were untouched.
Antiochus” invasion of Kalesiria
Antiochus was still in Seleucia when a letter was delivered to him from another Theodotus, an Aetolian and ruler of Caesarea, who two years earlier had blocked his way. Shortly thereafter Theodotus learned that the Alexandrian court considered him a man to be rid of. He had barely escaped death, and he suspected that Sosibius had a hand in it. From Alexandria they had already sent to Greece for another Aetolian mercenary, Nicolas, who was to succeed Theodotus. But Theodotus was ahead of the Alexandrian authorities. He and his trusted men occupied Ptolemais and Tyre and wrote to Antiochus offering to surrender both cities to him. Soon the Seleucid army was already in Palestine. Antiochus marched along the coast and took Tyre and Ptolemaida. Nicholas, who had arrived in Kelecyria and taken command of the Egyptian troops stationed there, still held the interior and some cities on the coast, such as Sidon, Arwad and Dor.
Egyptian Army Training
These events in Syria took the Alexandrian court by surprise. Sosibius, Agathocles and the palace clique saw that if they did not act now, Antiochus might put an end to their power. Their self-interest spurred their strength and enterprise. A prominent Greek painter of the day, working in Alexandria, was nearly beheaded as an alleged accomplice to treason.
It became clear that it was necessary to create an Egyptian army capable of standing up to the experienced armies of Antiochus. This in itself was not a difficult task for any power with such wealth as Egypt. The court could hire the best military specialists of its time and have them properly prepare a disorganized army and assume combat command. The army could be replenished by a new large-scale recruitment. But all this required time, and Antiochus was already on the borders of Egypt proper. So the task for the Alexandrian court was to negotiate with Antiochus until the Egyptian army was ready. The first thing to do was to prevent his invasion of Egypt immediately in 219 B.C. The available forces were concentrated in Pelusia, from ancient times considered the key to Egyptian possessions. There they opened canals and filled wells with drinkable water.
By the end of the fall of that year Antiochus had taken possession of another small portion of Kelesiria, not counting the coast, but even there he had failed to drive Nicolas out of Dorus. Then the Alexandrian court began negotiations and gave Antiochus the confidence that he was almost ready to accept any conditions. He agreed to a truce of four months and returned to Seleucia for the winter. During the winter the negotiations between the two governments continued, and, to further confuse them, the Alexandrian court compelled several Greek states to intervene as mediators. Sosibius even had the good sense to profit from Ptolemy”s notorious inaction; he used it as a means of creating a sense of false confidence in Antiochus. The winter in Alexandria passed more vigorously than ever before: Greek commanders were training soldiers in camps, recruits were being recruited and trained, fresh mercenaries flocked to the army from across the sea. Foreign ambassadors visiting Egypt were not allowed to go as far as Alexandria, lest they should see what was going on; for the winter the court settled in Memphis – through which the usual route from Syria to Alexandria went – and there they received foreign ambassadors.
In his narrative, Polybius lets us know that the Egyptian army was completely reorganized. The old cadres were disbanded, the troops regrouped according to what kind of weapons they possessed, based on their nationality and age. The emergency led to one epochal innovation. The royal court decided to create a phalanx of ethnic Egyptians, in addition to the usual phalanx of Greek and Macedonian warriors; twenty thousand stout and if not warlike, obedient peasants were armed according to the Macedonian model, trained to wield the long Macedonian pike (sarissa) and to move in single formation as Macedonians on command.
In the spring of 218 BC, since Egypt and Syria did not agree in negotiations, since Sosibius was not going to agree to anything, Antiochus continued the conquest of Kelesiria. The inhabitants of Arwad submitted to him and formed an alliance with him. Then, having occupied Botrys along the way, having burned Trieres and Calamus, he came to Beritus. Antiochus continued on his march to the place where the spurs of Lebanon flank the sea coast, leaving only a narrow, difficult passage by the sea. Here the Egyptian commander Nicholas established himself. He managed to occupy some places with the main part of his army, reinforced others with artificial structures, and was confident that it would be easy for him to prevent the invasion of Antiochus. Immediately at sea took up defenses and the Egyptian fleet under the command of Perigenes, ready to meet the fleet of Antiochus, accompanying the land army of the latter. When all the troops had converged the battle began. The naval battle was fought on both sides with equal success, for both the numbers and armament of the ships of both adversaries were equal. As for the land battle, in the beginning the troops of Nicolas prevailed, helped by the fortified location; but soon the troops of the Seleucid king repulsed the Egyptians, who stood on the mountain slope, and struck the enemy from the mountain heights; then the soldiers of Nicolas defended the rear and all fled swiftly. Of their number as many as two thousand men were killed while fleeing, not less than that were taken prisoner; the rest retreated to Sidon. Perigenes had counted on an advantage in the sea battle, but at the sight of the defeat of the land army he retreated unhindered into the same area.
Not daring to storm Sidon, a heavily fortified and crowded city, Antiochus bypassed it. The cities of Philothera and Scythopolis surrendered without a fight. To guard the cities he posted garrisons and he himself went over the mountain range and appeared before Atabiria, situated on a round hill; the ascent to it was over fifteen stadia (almost 2.7 km). Having taken advantage of a favorable moment, he has arranged an ambush and has taken city by means of military cunning, namely: inhabitants of city he has caused on easy fight and the forward ranks have dragged behind itself far down; then, when escaped have turned back, and were in an ambush have risen on the enemy, he has put many on place; finally, pursuing others and distributing horror before itself, he has taken this city with attack also. At this time Keraya, one of Ptolemy”s minor chiefs, went over to the king”s side. The king received him with honor, and thereby inspired hesitation in many of the rulers on the enemy”s side. So, at least, the Thessalian Hippolochus soon afterwards appeared to Antiochus with four hundred mounted soldiers of Ptolemy. Having also garrisoned Atabiri, Antiochus went further and acquired Pellae, Kamun, Hephrun, Gadara, and other cities of Decapolis. The inhabitants of the neighboring regions of Arabia voluntarily joined Antiochus. Antiochus was then notified that a considerable enemy force had assembled at Philadelphia (Rabbath-Ammon) and was making devastating raids from here on the lands of the Arabs who had joined him. The city was besieged and subjected to continuous assaults, but this did not bring victory, for the army there defended was numerous. Finally, one of the prisoners discovered an underground passage that the besiegers used to come down and get water, and the besiegers destroyed it and covered it with wood, rubble, and the like. After this, the lack of water forced the besieged to surrender. He sent Hippolochus and Cereus, who had come over to him from Ptolemy, with five thousand infantry into the region of Samaria, with orders to guard it and to grant inviolability to all who would submit to the king. Then at the head of the army he marched to Ptolemais for the winter camp.
Apparently by this time or winter Antiochus had also taken possession of the cities of Philistia, including Gaza, which is not reflected in Polybius” work. Apparently in 218 BC the Egyptian court sent insufficient forces to Palestine against Antiochus, which explains Antiochus” widespread victory. The powerful army that was being formed in Alexandria was not yet ready and was not going to be brought to the battlefield before it was time.
The Battle of Raphia
In the spring of 217 BC, the Egyptian authorities decided that the time was right and they were ready to fight a general battle. On June 13, an army of 70,000 infantry, 5,000 cavalry and 73 African elephants moved across the desert into Palestine. Ptolemy himself, his sister Arsinoe and Sosibius went with the army. On receiving news of the approach of the Egyptian army, Antiochus concentrated his forces (62 thousand infantry, 6 thousand cavalry and 102 Indian elephants) in Gaza and came out to meet Ptolemy. The two armies converged near the city of Raphia. According to the Pythian stele, the battle took place on 10 pahon (June 22), 217 B.C. From Polybius” account it appears that Antiochus might have won the battle had it not been for his characteristic impetuosity. The day began badly for Ptolemy. The African elephants, brought with such enormous labor and expense from the distant country of Somalia, proved not only useless against the Seleucid king”s Indian elephants, but even harmful. In disarray, the beasts began to crowd the ranks of their own warriors. The mounted attack on the right flank, led by Antiochus, broke and routed the cavalry on the left flank of the Egyptian forces, where Ptolemy himself was during the battle, so that the king of Egypt was soon swept away in a panicked flight to the rear ranks of the warriors. But Antiochus lost touch with the rest of the battlefield in the glee of the chase, and on the other flank the Egyptian cavalry crashed into the Seleucid ranks. In the turmoil that arose between the two armies, the Egyptian warriors proved that they had not spent a year and a half of systematic training and training in Alexandria in vain. Even the peasants, wielding their Macedonian pikes for the first time in actual combat, must have shown themselves well. The Seleucid army had fallen back, and by the end of the day had fled to Gaza and beyond. The number of the fallen soldiers of Antiochus was a little less than ten thousand infantry and more than three hundred cavalry; more than four thousand men were taken prisoner. Of the elephants, three remained on the battlefield, while the other two fell from their wounds. On the side of Ptolemy there were about one thousand five hundred men of infantry and up to seven hundred of cavalry killed; sixteen elephants fell, and most of them were captured by the enemy.
After Antiochus” victory and retreat to his own country, Ptolemy was satisfied with the return of the conquered cities to his rule. Further conquests and military triumphs were of no concern to him. Egypt easily let Antiochus go, without even demanding a contribution.
“He could have taken his kingdom from Antiochus if his valor had come to the aid of his happiness. But Ptolemy was content to regain the cities he had lost, made peace, and greedily seized the opportunity to return to a peaceful life.”
“Thus ended the battle of the kings at Raphia for the possession of Kelessiria. After the burial of the fallen soldiers Antiochus and his army retreated home, and Ptolemy took Raphia and the other cities without any resistance, for all the city communities hurried one before the other to leave the enemy and return under Ptolemy. Of course, in such times all people try to adapt to the existing circumstances somehow, and the peoples of that region have a natural inclination and willingness to give in to the requirements of the time more than others. This was all the more inevitable in those days, because the very disposition drew them to the kings of Alexandria, for the people of Caesarea had long had a deep attachment to that house. This is why there was then no lack of the most inordinate expression of flattery, and the people honored Ptolemy with wreaths, sacrifices, altars, and all sorts of other ways. On his arrival in the city which bore his name, Antiochus, for fear of an enemy invasion, immediately sent ambassadors to Ptolemy, his nephew Antipater and Theodotus Gemiolus, to end the war and make peace. After the defeat he had suffered, he no longer trusted the population and feared that Achaeus might not take advantage of the circumstances to attack. But Ptolemy took nothing of this into consideration; he rejoiced at the victory which he had not expected, and generally at the unexpected conquest of Kelessiria; the king did not shy away from peace, on the contrary, he longed for it more than he ought, owing to his habit of careless and vicious life. So when Antipater and his companion appeared, Ptolemy contented himself with slight threats and reproaches on account of what Antiochus had done, and then agreed to conclude a truce for one year. With Antiochus”s ambassadors he sent Sosibius to confirm the treaty, and he himself, after staying three months in Syria and Phoenicia and having restored the former order in the cities, left Andromach of Aspendus as governor of all these countries and went with his sister and friends to Alexandria. This end of the war was a surprise to his subjects, who knew his usual way of life. After approving the treaty with Sosibius, Antiochus, according to the original plan, began to prepare for war with Achaeus.”
An inscription found on the island of Sithnos describes how ambassadors sent from Egypt to announce a great victory to the island towns that were within the sphere of influence of the Ptolemaic navy arrived on the island. At the same time, Siphnos was visited by the chief Egyptian naval commander Perigenes and expressed amazement at the loyalty to the Ptolemaic dynasty shown by the inhabitants of this small island.
In the Third Book of Maccabees (which has no relation to the Maccabees themselves) there is a description of how King Ptolemy, after the battle of Raphia, traveled through the cities of the returned province and, among others, arrived in Jerusalem. Out of curiosity, the source says, he wanted to enter the holy of holies and was very offended at the Jews who would not let him do so. characterizes this book as a religious novel, which is a very scant historical account, but according to Polybius, after the battle the king still spent three months in Caesarea and Phoenicia and personally supervised the restoration of his power in the various towns and villages of the country, and if this was so, Biven admits that Ptolemy visited Jerusalem and there wanted to enter the sanctuary. And when he was forbidden to do so, he felt insulted. So the beginning of the story in the Third Book of Maccabees looks plausible, although it is not confirmed by any other source. Mahaffey leans toward the veracity of the story, but Biven, confident that the Book of Daniel was written post factum, does not. However, Biven sees the historical basis in the narrative of the battle of Raphia, particularly the participation of Arsinoe. But the continuation of the story – how Ptolemy, enraged by the failure at the temple, planned, on his return to Alexandria, to pour his revenge on the Egyptian Jews, ordered to gather them from all cities and villages to Alexandria and here to trample them with elephants, and how they were miraculously saved – clearly looks fictional. It is quite possible that Ptolemy IV was credited with the persecution to which the Jews were first subjected under Antiochus Epiphanes in Judea fifty years later…
П. The main one is the patronage of the Ptolemies of different branches of philosophy and religions, including the Jewish one, in particular the Septuagint was created with their assistance, so the hostility of the Philopator seems strange. It is not clear why it was necessary to take all the Jews from all the cities and villages to Alexandria, and not to execute them there? Very strange impression is made by the description in the book of some miracles. For example, “by an act of divine providence,” the Egyptian scribes did not have enough charters and writing sticks to take a census of all the Jews. And what was the point of taking a census when they wanted to exterminate them all? They couldn”t take a census in 40 days and nights, but they tied them all up in one night? In general, there are a lot of signs of unhistoricism in the book. Many apparent contradictions by the author to his own narrative. At the end it states that when the king forgave them at God”s command, the Egyptian Jews established a special feast “and erected a monument to commemorate this event permanently. But the Jews have no record of either the feast or the monument. There are also more cautious assessments of the historicity of the book, for example, Metropolitan Philaret (Drozdov) admits that with all its excessive embellishments it is based on historical events, and identifies the described persecution with that which Josephus Flavius attributed to the rule of Ptolemy of Phizo.
On October 12, 217 B.C., Ptolemy IV returned to Egypt with victory. Soon after his return he married his sister Arsinoe, following in this matter the footsteps of his grandfather and adopting as he did the custom of the pharaohs. From this time the cult of Ptolemy and Arsinoe, who were worshipped under the name of the Philopator Gods, began to recover. It is not known why Ptolemy IV adopted the nickname Philopator (“Loving Father”). Perhaps Ptolemy Everget was especially popular in Egypt, and the reigning king and queen sought to increase their popularity by associating themselves in the popular mind with the late great king.
The tsar”s marriage to his sister did not cause any changes in the life of the capital. The unfortunate girl was given in marriage to her brother only so that an heir to the throne of royal blood could be born from her. Agathocles and Agathoklea, as before, ruled over the king”s debauched confines. The palace swarmed with self-appointed literati, poets, grammarians, prostitutes, musicians, jesters, and philosophers. Among the philosophers who lived at that time at the court of Ptolemy Philopator was the eminent stoic Sphere. There is a historical anecdote told by Diogenes of Laertes:
“The attendant of Cleanthos after the death of Zeno was said to have been Spherus of Bosporus, who afterwards, having attained great success in the sciences, went to Alexandria to Ptolemy Philopator. Here once a dispute arose as to whether the sage was subject to false opinions, and Spheres claimed that he was not. The king wanted to disprove him and ordered him to be served with pomegranate apples of wax; Sphere mistook them for real ones, and the king cried out that here Sphere had taken a false view.”
Ptolemy Philopator claimed to be a poet and composed a play called Adonis, judging by its erotic title. Agathocles followed his example by writing a commentary on it.
A stele was found at Pythom where the decree adopted by an assembly of Egyptian priests at Memphis in November 217 BC in view of the recent victory in Syria is recorded in hieroglyphics, demotic signs, and Greek. This decree is now known as the Memphis Decree. It contains little information about the Syrian campaign; the usual phrases are repeated – Pharaoh, like Horus, defeated the enemy, captured an immense number of prisoners, gold, silver and jewels, returned to the temples (probably Kelesiria) the images that Antioch had thrown out of them, restored with great expense those that had been destroyed, showered a shower of gifts on the temples of the kingdom, brought to Egypt the idols taken away by the Persians and returned them to their place. These are all general phrases, but the inscription still contains several hitherto unknown dates, particularly the date of the battle of Raphia. It is also interesting because it reflects some Egyptianization of the Ptolemaic state. Here for the first time, as far as we know, the full wording used to describe the Pharaoh is found in the Greek translation, which is not found in the Canopus Decree from the previous reign. In addition, the inscription contains information about the new features of the royal cult in Egyptian temples: the manufacture of images of Philopator and Arsinoe, carved according to the ancient model, where the pharaoh pierces the enemy defeated in battle, and the establishment of a festival in honor of the anniversary of the battle of Raphia and five subsequent days as a holiday of joy, and the 20th of each month – a celebration in honor of Ptolemy I and Berenice I.
Under Ptolemy Philopator work continued on the great temple of Horus at Edfu. At Luxor his cartouche is found on various buildings, that is, if he did not erect these structures, he was at any rate engaged in decorating them and wanted his name to be associated with them. On the other side of the river, at Deir el-Medina, he laid the beautiful little temple of Hathor, which his successors completed. In addition, at Aswan he attempted to complete (he built the pronaos for the temple of Minah at Panopolis; he reconstructed the temple of Montu at El Toda;
In addition to the Egyptian temples erected by order of Ptolemy, we know of three other structures that he ordered to be built. One of them is the temple of Homer.
“Ptolemy Philopator erected a temple to Homer; inside this temple he magnificently placed a magnificent statue of the seated poet and surrounded it with cities contending with each other for the honor of being called his homeland.”
The other two are vessels of unprecedented size. The first is a seagoing ship with an inconceivable number of rows of oars, namely forty rows. Athenaeus, referring to Callixen of Rhodes, describes it this way:
“Philopator built a tessaracontera which was two hundred and eighty cubits in length (but forty-eight cubits (almost 22 m) in height to the top of the board, and fifty-three cubits from the top of the stern to the waterline (the oars of the upper row – the largest ones – were thirty-eight cubits long (as there was lead in their handles, they were very heavy in the interior of the ship, which gave them balance and made them convenient for rowing. The ship had two bows and two sterns (catamaran) and seven tusks, of which one was forward and others of gradually decreasing length, some on the cheekbones of the ship. It had twelve bindings, each six hundred cubits (270 m) long. The ship had unusually beautiful proportions. The rigging was also very beautiful: the stern and bow had figures no less than twelve cubits high (5.5 m.), and everywhere she was painted with wax colors, and part of the side with the holes for the oars up to the keel was decorated with carving – ivy leaves and yews. The tackle was also very beautiful; it filled all the parts of the ship allotted to them. At the trial the ship had more than four thousand rowers and four hundred men of the service crew; on deck there was room for infantry of three thousand without one hundred and fifty; and besides, under the rowers” benches, many more men and a good deal of provisions. It was lowered from a platform, which they say took as much wood as fifty penters.”
However, Plutarch supplements:
“But this vessel was suitable only for display, not for business, and was almost no different from fixed structures, for it was both unsafe and extremely difficult to move it from its place.”
The second was a gigantic pleasure craft on which the court traveled on the Nile, with salons, bedrooms, and columns made of precious wood, ivory, and gilded bronze, and decorated with carpets and embroidery by Greek craftsmen.
“Philopator also built a river vessel, the so-called “barque with cabins”, whose length reached one and a half stadia (277.5 m), and width thirty cubits (13.5 m), the height together with the deck superstructures – almost forty cubits (18 m). The design of the barque, being adapted for river navigation, differed both from long military ships and from round merchant ships. Namely, in order to give her a low draft the bottom below the waterline was made flat and wide, while the hull was high and wide, especially in the bow, which gave the silhouette of the barque an elegant curve. The barque had two bows and two sterns (catamaran), while the sides were made high due to the fact that there were often big waves on the river. Inside the hull were dining rooms, bedrooms, and everything else necessary for living. Around the ship on three sides was a two-story gallery no less than five pletres long (the upper one was on a closed peristyle surrounded by a wall with windows”.
The king was particularly addicted to one form of frenzy, the Dionysian orgies. The Ptolemies claimed to be descended from Dionysus, and apparently Ptolemy IV sought in some way to become an embodiment of this divine ancestor. Although he did not adopt the name Neos Dionysus (New Dionysus) as his official nickname, as one of his descendants did, he was nevertheless often called Dionysus by the people. He is known to have had an ivy leaf tattooed on his body to show his devotion to Dionysus. From the account of Athenaeus, where it is said that his huge ships were decorated with carvings in the form of ivy leaves and yews, we can conclude that they were also dedicated to Dionysus. The Berlin papyrus sheds light on how zealously the king worshipped his favorite god:
“By order of the king, all those in the districts of the country who initiate the Dionysus Mysteries must report by river to Alexandria. Those who live no further than Navkratis, within 10 days of the announcement of this decree, and those who live beyond Navkratis, within 20 days, register with Aristobulus in the office of records (katalogion) within 3 days of arrival and immediately declare who has initiated them in the rites for three generations, and each must present a sealed sacred Speech (Logos), writing his own name on his copy.”
It is said that one of the nicknames of Ptolemy IV in Alexandria was Gaul, a name given to adherents of the Great Mother who in a state of frenzy had scalded themselves.
In Egypt itself, the reign of Ptolemy Philopator after his victorious return from Palestine was not without ominous unrest. After the battle of Raphia it became much more difficult to regulate the native question. It was important to Egyptian popular consciousness that twenty thousand Egyptians met and fought with Macedonian troops, or at least troops trained and armed according to the Macedonian model. Naturally, there was a frantic hope in parts of the country that in Egypt itself its ancient people could successfully confront the dominant Greeks and Macedonians, managing to do to them what their ancestors had done to the Hyksos. The army had scarcely had time to return to Egypt after the battle of Raphia when the revolts immediately began. The history of this struggle is told by Polybius in his important but lost work. From what he writes in the surviving fragment, however, it is clear that it was a protracted and confusing affair.
“Following the events described above, Ptolemy began a war with the Egyptians. The fact is that when he armed the Egyptians for the war against Antiochus, the king had made excellent arrangements for the present, but was mistaken about the future. The Egyptians were proud of their victory at Raphia, and had no desire at all to obey the authorities. Considering themselves strong enough to fight, they looked only for a man fit to lead them, and a little while later they found one.
“…It may be asked why, in setting forth all the events year by year, we only review the events of Egyptian history in this place for a period of time longer. But we had the following reasons: the king Ptolemy Philopator, of whom we now speak, at the end of the war in Kelesiria rejected everything good and began a dissolute life, as we have just described. Subsequently, circumstances drew him into the war now described, in which, apart from the cruelties and meanness on both sides, nothing remarkable happened: neither a battle on land or sea, nor a siege, nor anything else of the kind. That”s why I decided that the story will be easier to write and easier to read, if unimportant and unworthy of attention incidents are not set out exactly by year, but will make a general whole characteristic of the king.
That is to say, the Egyptian quest for independence did not lead to momentous events such as decisive battles between large armies, naval battles or sieges, as in conventional warfare. Their struggle was a succession of small skirmishes between rebel units and government forces, a guerrilla war, one might say, that broke out in one area or another and produced unprecedented terror, rage, and treachery.
The fact that the construction of the temple at Edfu continued until the 16th year of the king”s reign (207206 B.C.) – as the hieroglyphic inscription says – proves that the disturbance did not cut off communication between the court and Upper Egypt, at least not until that year. It is probable that the revolt primarily covered the areas in Lower Egypt. In the old days it was the thickets of reeds in the Delta that gave shelter to Egyptian leaders who rebelled against the Persians. The revolt affected Upper Egypt, forcing the cessation of construction work at Edfu only in the last years of the reign of Ptolemy IV. The hieroglyphic inscription on the wall of the temple at Edfu can still be read:
“Thus was the temple built, the inner sanctuary for the golden Horus finished, before the 10th year, 7 epiphyses, in the time of King Ptolemy Philopator. The wall in it is decorated with a beautiful inscription with the great name of his majesty and images of the gods and goddesses of Edfu, and its great gate and the double doors of its spacious hall are finished before the 16th year of his majesty. Then rebellion broke out, and it so happened that gangs of rebels were hiding in the inner rooms of the temple …”
One curious source mentions the hopes of the Egyptians at that time, a Demotic papyrus which contains a prediction of an oracle supposedly received in the days of King Tachos, though in fact composed in the days of the Ptolemies, and its interpretation. Unfortunately for us, the interpretation is almost as obscure as the prediction itself. However, as far as we can understand, the oracle paints a picture of what has happened in Egypt since the time of Tachos, in the form of a prophecy that foreshadows the future liberation of Egypt, mentions the people”s liberator who will become king after the expulsion of the foreigners. “This is the man from Chnes (Heracleopolis), who after the foreigners (Persians) and the Ionians (Greeks) will rule. Rejoice for joy, prophet of Harsathanes!” And the commentary explains, “This means: the prophet of Harsathes rejoices after Wynn; he becomes ruler in Chnese.” Then the oracle says that he will raise an army, that there will be battles, a coronation, and the joy of Isis of Aphroditopolis. And the commentary ends with, “Rejoice over the Ruler who shall be, for he has not turned away from the Law.”
Greece in the last years of Ptolemy Philopator”s reign was torn apart by the enmity between Philip, king of Macedonia, and the Aetolian alliance. Egypt did not take an active part in it. But it evidently took various diplomatic steps; there were constant communications between the Alexandrian court and the Greek states; many in the Greek world would have gladly won the favor of the power that ruled in Alexandria. The gifts which the wealthy king of Egypt might have made to any city by deciding to favor it should not have been neglected. A dedication in honor of Ptolemy Philopator is found at Rhodes; a dedication in honor of Ptolemy and Arsinoe at the Boeotian Oropus and Thespians. Tanagra and Orchomenus rendered honors to Sosibius. Polybius mentions with disgust the excessive honors with which Ptolemy was showered by Athens:
“The Athenians were relieved of their fear of the Macedonians, and from that time imagined that their independence was firmly secured. Led by Euricles and Mycion, they took no part in any of the movements of the other Hellenes. Sharing the mood and desire of their leaders, they prostrated themselves in the dust before all kings, especially before Ptolemy, allowed all kinds of decrees and public praise, and by the levity of their leaders cared little for dignity.
In addition to these traces of Egyptian influence on the independent states of Greece, there are signs of reverence paid to representatives of the Ptolemaic dynasty and their cronies in states that were still in direct subordination to Egypt. These are Tyre, Sestus, Mephamna on Lesbos, Cnidus, Halicarnassus, Cyprus.
In the war between Antiochus III and his cousin Achaeus in Asia Minor, which occurred after the peace between Egypt and Syria, Ptolemy did not interfere. We only see that when Achaeus was under siege in Sardis, the Alexandrian court made an attempt to fake his escape and sent a secret agent, a certain Cretan named Bolides. The Cretan turned out to be a traitor and, instead of rescuing Achaeus, delivered him to Antiochus, who had him executed.
But far more important to the fate of the Mediterranean states than anything that happened in Greece and Asia under Ptolemy Philopator were events in Italy and the West: the Second Punic War, the decisive battle between Hannibal and Rome. Far-sighted politicians had already seen the clouds gathering over the world. At the convention at Navpacta in 217 BC, where the ambassadors from Ptolemy were present, the Aetolian Agelius made it clear to the representatives of the Macedonian and Greek states that it is in Italy that decides who will rule the world. If they did not settle their quarrels and unite, they would soon find themselves under the power of either Carthage or Rome. His warning did not go unnoticed, but it went nowhere.
Subsequently the king of Macedonia allied himself with Hannibal and the Aetolians with Rome. The Egyptian court maintained a strict neutrality. When in 216 BC Carthage ship, going to Carthage with a prisoner on board – pro-Roman Italian Decius Magius – because of a storm was forced to enter Cyrena harbor, Magius escaped to shore and sought refuge at the statue of the king. He was taken to Alexandria, but was released only after the court ascertained that Hannibal had taken him prisoner in violation of the treaty. The following year the Sicilian Zoippus arrived in Alexandria as an ambassador from the young Syracuse king Hieronymus (Hieronymus) to persuade Ptolemy to join the Carthaginians, but of course he was not successful. Between 215 and 210 BC, Roman ambassadors came to Alexandria to buy grain from Egypt, at the time the only Mediterranean country not involved in the war, because Italy, where the fields were ruined by the movements of the army, was threatened by famine. When after the battle of Metaurus in 207 BC it became clear that Rome did not want peace between the Aetolians and Philip, the Alexandrian court, which had previously sent out ambassadors wishing to mediate between the opposing forces in Greece, seems to have retreated and decided not to offend Rome.
The death of Ptolemy Philopator is shrouded in darkness. According to Justin, the palace clique kept his death a secret for some time:
“But now Ptolemy died, leaving behind a five-year-old son; his death was long concealed, and meanwhile the women (that is, Agathokleia and her mother) plundered the royal treasury and, in league with the scum of society, tried to seize power.”
Perhaps Ptolemy and Arsinoe made very few public appearances during the second half of his reign. Probably Ptolemy”s mind was finally dulled by drunkenness and other excesses, and Arsinoe lived in the palace as a prisoner.
It is believed that Ptolemy IV Philopator died and Ptolemy V Epiphanes inherited his throne on November 28, 203 BC.
The queen had a negative attitude toward the dissolute lifestyle of her brother and husband, but apparently she had no influence in the palace. The great Eratosthenes, the teacher of Ptolemy IV Philopator, who remained in Alexandria, lived to see with sorrow in his heart the outcome of his efforts to educate his son Ptolemy Evergetus. When Ptolemy IV died, the old man wrote a work entitled Arsinoe in memory of the young queen. The work itself has not survived, but a reference to it has survived in a statement by Athenaeus:
“In Alexandria there was once a celebration of the Laginophoria; Eratosthenes describes it in his work “Arsinoe”. He writes thus: “Ptolemy instituted many different festivals and sacrifices, especially in honor of Dionysus, and here Arsinoe asked a passerby, who was walking with olive branches, what day and what festival was being celebrated today, and he answered: “The festival is called Laginophoria (the participants lie on straw, and everyone eats what they have brought with them and drinks from their own jug”. As he went on, the queen turned to us and remarked, “What a filthy rabble they will have! A crowd of all ranks and stale, badly cooked food.
The world in which the reign of Ptolemy IV Philopator began was a Greco-Macedonian one, put together by the conquests of Alexander the Great; but the world in which his reign came to an end had already changed, and the shadow of Rome loomed over it. From the reign of Ptolemy IV the history of Egypt was marked by the growing strength of the native element in domestic affairs and by the declining role of Egypt as a factor in international politics.
Eusebius of Caesarea, from the words of Porphyry of Tyre, says in one place in his Chronicle that Ptolemy Evertes reigned for 17 years, and in another for 21 years.