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This history, which seems likely to prove very disagreeable, from the reasons I have just mentioned, will become more so from the obscurity and confusion in which the several transactions will be involved, and which it will be difficult, if not impossible, to remedy. Ten or twelve of Alexander's captains were engaged in a course of hostilities against each other, for the partition of his empire after his death; and to secure themselves some portion, greater or less, of that vast body. Sometimes feigned friends, sometimes declared enemies, they are continually forming different parties and leagues, which are to subsist no longer than is consistent with the interest of each particular. Mace. donia changed its masters five or six times in a very
By what means then can order and perspicuity be preserved, in a prodigious variety of events that are perpetually crossing and breaking in upon each other?
Besides this, I am no longer supported by any ancient authors capable of conducting me through this darkness and confusion. Diodorus will entirely abandon me, after having been my guide for some time; and no other historian will appear to take his place. No proper series of affairs will remain ; the several events are not to be disposed into any regular connection with each other; nor will it be possible to point out, either the motives to the resolutions formed, or the proper character of the principal actors in the scene of obscurity. I think myself happy when Polybius, or Plutarch, lend me their assistance. In my account of Alexander's successors, whose transactions are, perhaps, the most complicated and perplexed part
of ancient history, Usher, Prideaux, and Vaillant, will be my usual guides; and on many occasions I shall only transcribe from Prideaux; but, with all these aids, I shall not promise to throw so much light into this history as I could desire.
After a war of twenty years, the number of the principal competitors were reduced to four; Ptolemy, Cassander, Seleucus, and Lysimachus: the empire of Alexander was divided into four fixed kingdoms, agreeably to the prediction of Daniel, by a solemn treaty concluded between the parties. Three of these kingdoms, Egypt, Macedonia, Syria, or Asia, will have a regular succession of monarchs sufficiently clear and distinct ; but the fourth, which comprehended Thrace, with part of Lesser Asia, and some neighbouring provinces, will suffer a number of variations.
As the kingdom of Egypt was subject to the fewest changes, because Ptolemy, who was established there as a governor, at the death of Alexander, retained the possession of it ever after, and left it to his posterity; we shall therefore consider this prince as the basis of our chronology, and our several epochas shall be fixed from him.
The fifth and sixth volumes will contain the events for the space of one hundred and twenty years, under the four first kings of Egypt, viz. Ptolemy, the son of Lagus, who reigned thirty eight years; Ptolemy Philadelphus, who reigned forty; Ptolemy Evergetes, who reigned twenty five; and Ptolemy Philopater, whose reign continued seventeen.
In order to throw some light into the history CORtained therein, I shall, in the first place, give the principal events of it in a chronological abridgment.
Introductory to this, I must desire the reader to accompany me in some reflections, which have not es. caped Monsieur Bossuet, with relation to Alexander. This prince, who was the most renowned and illustrious conqueror in all history, was the last monarch of his race. Macedonia, his ancient kingdom, which his ancestors had governed for so many ages, was invaded from all quarters as a vacant succession; and after it had been a prey to the strongest, it was at last transferred to another family. If Alexander had continued pacific in Macedonia, the grandeur of his empire would not have excited the ambition of his captains ; and he might have transmitted the sceptre of his progenitors to his own descendants : but, as he had not prescribed any bounds to his power, he was instrumental in the destruction of his house, and we shall behold the extermination of his family, without the least remaining traces of them in history. His conquests occasioned a vast effusion of blood, and furnished his captains with a pretext for murdering one another. These were the effects that flowed from the boasted bravery of Alexander, or rather from that brutality, which, under the glittering names of ambition and glory, spread the desolations of fire and sword through whole provinces, without the least provocation, and shed the blood of multitudes who had never injured him.
We are not to imagine, however, that Providence abandoned these events to chance; but, as it was then preparing all things for the approaching appearance
the Messiah, it was vigilant to unite all the nations that were to be first enlightened with the gospel, by the use of one and the same language, which was that of Greece: and the same Providence made it necessary for them to learn this foreign tongue, by subjecting them to such masters as spoke no other. The Deity, therefore, by the agency of this language, which became more common and universal than any other, facilitated the preaching of the apostles, and rendered it more uniform.
The partition of the empire of Alexander the Great among the generals of that prince immediately after his death, did not subsist for any length of time, and hardly took place, if we except Egypt, where Ptolemy had first established himself, and on the throne of which he always maintained himself without acknowledging any superior.
This partition was not fully regulated and fixed till after the battle of Ipsus in Phrygia, wherein Antigonus and his son Demetrius, surnamed Poliorcetes, were defeated, and the former lost his life. The empire of Alexander was then divided into four kingdoms, by a solemn treaty, as had been foretold by Daniel. Ptolemy had Egypt, Lybia, Arabia, Celosyria, and Palestine. Cassander, the son of Antipater, obtained Macedonia and Greece. Lysimachus acquired Thrace, Bithynia, and some other provinces on the other side of the Hellespont and the Bosphorus. And Seleucus had Syria, and all that part of Asia Major which extended to the other side of the Euphrates, and as far as the river Indus.
” A. M 3704, Ant. J. C. 300.
Of these four kingdoms, those of Egypt and Syria subsisted almost without any interruption, in the same families, and through a long succession of princes. The kingdom of Macedonia had several masters of different families successively. That of Thrace was at last divided into several branches, and no longer constituted one entire body, by which means all traces of regular succession ceased to subsist.
I. THE KINGDOM OF EGYPT.
The kingdom of Egypt had fourteen monarchs, including Cleopatra, after whose death, those dominions became a province of the Roman empire. All these princes had the common name of Ptolemy, but each of them was likewise distinguished by a peculiar surname. They had also the appellation of Lagides, from Lagus, the father of that Ptolemy who reigned the first in Egypt. The sixth volume contains the histories of six of these kings, and I shall give their names a place here, with the duration of their reigns, the first of which commenced immediately upon the death of Alexander the Great. Ptolemy Soter.
He reigned thirty eight years and some months.?
Ptolemy Philadelphus. He reigned forty years, including the two years of his reign in the lifetime of his father,"
Ptolemy Evergetes reigned twenty five years.'
9 A. M. 380.