« PreviousContinue »
i Much about this time Seleucus built the city of Seleucia on the banks of the Tygris, and at the distance of forty miles from Babylon. It became very populous in a short time, and Pliny tells us it was inhabited by six hundred thousand persons. The dykes of the Euphrates being broken down, spread such an inundation over the country, and the branch of that river, which passed through. Babylon, was sunk so low by this evacuation, as to be rendered unnavigable, by which means that city became so incommodious, that as soon as Seleucia was built, all its inhabitants withdrew thither. This circumstance prepared the way for the accomplishment of that celebrated prophecy of Isaiah, who at a time, when this city was in the most flourishing condition, had foretold, that it should one day, become entirely desert and uninhabited. I have observed elsewhere by what manner and degrees this predic tion was fully accomplished.
3712. As he Ant. J. C.
1 Simon, surnamed the Just, and high-priest of the A. M. Jews, died at the close of the ninth year of his pontificate, and left a young son, named Onias. As he was of too tender an age to take upon himself the exercise of that dignity, it was consigned to Eleazar the brother of Simon, who discharged the function of it for the space of fifteen years.
m I here pass over some events of small importance, and proceed to Demetrius, who believing himself sufficiently settled in Greece and Macedonia, began to make great preparations for regaining the empire of his father in Asia. With this view he raised an army of, above an hundred thousand men, and fitted out a fleet of five hundred sail; in a word, so great an armament had never been seen since the time of Alexander the Great. Demetrius animated the workmen by his presence and instructions, visited
Ant. J. C. 293.
* In a preJofeph.
Strab. 1. xvi p. 738.& 743. Plin. 1. vi. c. 26. ceding volume. At the taking of Babylon by Cyrus. Antiq. 1. xii. c. 2. m Plut. in Demetr. p. 999. & in Pyrrh. p. 386. Justin. 1. xvi. c. 2.
3716. Ant, J. C. 288.
them in person, directed them how to act, and even assisted them in their labours. The number of his gallies, and their extraordinary dimensions, created an universal astonishment; for ships of six, and even five benches of oars, had never been seen till then; and Ptolemy Philopater did not build one of forty benches till many years after this period;* but then it was only for pomp and ostentation, whereas those which Demetrius built were extremely useful in battle, and more admirable for their lightness and agility than their grandeur and magnificence.
Ptolemy, Lysimachus, and Seleucus, receiving in3717 telligence of these formidable preparations of DemeAnt. J. C. 287. trius, immediately caught the alarm; and in order to frustrate their effect, renewed their alliance, in which they likewise engaged Pyrrhus, King of Epirus; in consequence of which, when Lysimachus began to invade Macedonia on one side, Pyrrhus was carrying on the same operations on the other. Demetrius, who was then making preparations in Greece for his intended expedition into Asia; advanced with all speed to defend his own dominions, but before he was able to arrive there, Pyrrhus had taken Beræa, one of the most considerable cities in Macedonia, where he found the wives, children, and effects of a great number of soldiers belonging to Demetrius." This news caused so great a disorder in the army of that prince, that a considerable part of his troops absolutely refused to follow him, and declared with an air of mutiny and sedition, that they would return to defend their families and effects. In a word, things were carried to such an extremity, that Demetrius, perceiving he no longer had any influence
This galley was two hundred and eighty cubits (about four hundred and twenty feet) in length, and twenty-eight cubits (seventy-two feet) from the keel to the top of the poop. I carried four hundred sailors, besides four thousand rowers, and near three thousand soldiers, who were disposed in the spaces between the rowers, and on the lower deck, PLUT. in the life of Demetrius.
over them, fled to Greece in the disguise of a com inon soldier, and his troops went over to Pyrrhus, whom they proclaimed King of Macedonia.
The different characters of these two princes greatly contributed to this sudden revolution. Demetrius, who considered vain pomp, and superb magnificence, as true grandeur, rendered himself contemptible to the Macedonians, in the very circumstance by which he thought to obtain their esteem. He ambitiously loaded his head with a double diadem, like a theatrical monarch, and wore purple robes, enriched with a profusion of gold. The ornaments of his feet were altogether extraordinary; and he had long employed artists to make him a mantle, on which the system of the world, with all the stars visible in the firmament, were to be embroidered in gold. The change of his fortune prevented the finishing of this work, and no future King would presume to wear it.
But that which rendered him still more odious, was his being so difficult of approach. He was either so imperious and disdainful, as not to allow those who had any affairs to transact with him the liberty of speech, or else he treated them with so much. rudeness, as obliged them to quit his presence with disgust. One day, when he came out of his palace, and walked through the streets with a mien of more affability than it was usual for him to assume, some persons were encouraged to present a few petitions to him. He received them with a gracious air, and placed them in one of the folds of his robe; but as he was passing over a bridge on the river Axius*, he threw all those petitions into the stream. A prince must certainly know very little of mankind, not to be sensible that such a contemptuous behaviour is sufficient to provoke his subjects to revolt from his authority. On this occasion, an action of the great Philip was recollected, and which has been related
among the events of his reign. That prince had several times refused audience to a poor woman, under pretence that he wanted leisure to hear her. "Be no longer King then," replied she with some emotion; and Philip, from thenceforth, made it a maxim with himself to grant his subjects long and frequent audiences. For, as Plutarch observes on that occasion, THE MOST INDISPENSABLE DUTY OF A KING, IS TO EXERT HIMSELF IN THE ADMINISTRATION OF JUSTICE*.
The Macedonians had formed a very different idea of Pyrrhus. They had heard it reported, and were sensible by their own experience, that affability was natural to him, and that he was always mild and accessible; they were convinced of his prompitude to recompense the services rendered him, and that he was slow to anger and severity. Some young officers, over their liquor, had vented several offensive pleasantries against him. The particulars of their conversation were related to Pyrrhus himself, who ordered them to be brought into his presence, and then asked them, if they had expressed them. selves in the manner he had heard?" Yes, my lord," replied one of the company, "and we should have added a great deal more, if we had had more wine." Pyrrhus could not forbear laughing at this facetious and sprightly turn, and dismissed them from his presence without further notice.
The Macedonians thought him much superior to Demetrius, even in military merit. He had beat them on several occasions, but their admiration of his bravery was greater than their resentment for their defeat. It was a common expression with them, that other princes imitated Alexander in nothing but their purple robes, the number of their guards, the affectation of inclining their heads like his, and their imperious manner of speaking; but that Pyrrhus was the only one who represented that
γαρ ετως τῷ βασιλεί προσηνούς ως το της δίκης Egyo9
monarch in his great and laudable qualities. Pyrrhus himself was not altogether free from vanity, with respect to the resemblance of his own features to those of Alexander, but a good matron of Larissa, in whose house he once lodged, had undeceived him in that particular, by an answer, perhaps, not at all agreeable to him. The Macedonians, however, thought they discovered in him the aspect of that prince; with all the fire of his eyes, and the vivacity, promptitude, and impetuosity with which he charged his enemies, and bore down all who presumed to oppose him: but with respect to the military art, and ability in drawing up an army in battle, they thought none comparable to Pyrrhus.
It cannot, therefore, be thought surprising, that the Macedonians, who entertained such prejudices in his favour, and so disadvantageous to the other, should easily quit the party of Demetrius, to espouse that of Pyrrhus: and one may see by this instance, and a thousand others, how necessary it is for princes to attach their people to their interests by the gentle ties of affection and gratitude; and by entertaining a real love for them, which is the only means of acquiring their love, that is the most solid glory, their most essential obligation, and at the same time their greatest security.
As Lysimachus happened to arrive immediately after Pyrrhus had been declared King of Macedonia, he pretended that he had contributed as much as that prince to the flight of Demetrius, and that he
n Plut. in Pyrrh. p. 389, 390.
* A fet of flatterers had really persuaded Pyrrhus, that he resembled Alexander in the features of his face. With this belief he sent for the pictures of Philip, Perdiccas, Alexander, Cassander, and some other princes, and then desired a woman of Larissa, with whom he then lodged, to tell him which of those princes he most resembled. She refused to answer him for a considerable time, till at last he pressed her very earnestly to satisfy his curiosity; upon which she replied, that she thought him very like Batrachion, who was a noted cook in that city. LUCIAN. advers, indoct. p. 552, 553.