Imágenes de página

the sources of the Jordan, and besieged the remnant of their forces in the fortified city of Sidon. Repeated and desperate efforts were made to raise the siege ; for that purpose “ three of the best generals at the head of the choicest troops” were sent from Alexandria. But all their attempts were ineffectual : the armies of the Egyptians were subdued; Sidon was taken; and the whole of Syria was again in the possession of the descendant and successor of Seleucus. He did according to his will ; and none stood before him ; he stood in the glorious land, in Judea, which by his hand was perfected, or did prosper under him.

Ver. 17–19. He shall also set his face to enter with the strength of his whole kingdom, and upright ones with him, or (as rendered in the Septuagint and Vulgate,) he shall make all things right, or make an agreement with him ; and thus shall he do : and he shall give him the daughter of women, corrupting her : but she shall not stand on his side, neither be for him. -Urged on by Hannibal, who had fled to him for protection from the Romans, and provoked at the aid they had given to the young king of Egypt, which had frustrated his great scheme of dismembering that kingdom, Antigonus had resolved on a war with Rome; and, as if unmindful of the disastrous consequences of the former connubial alliance between his family and that of the king of Egypt, he gave his daughter Cleopatra in marriage to Ptolemy Epiphanes. By her, a woman of exquisite beauty, and hence called the daughter of women, he thought to maintain his influence over the young Egyptian king; and his policy being changed, and his hopes of higher conquests having been excited by Hannibal, after he had set his face to enter with the strength of his whole kingdom into Egypt, he turned his arms against the allies of the Romans. Vain was his trust in the affections of his daughter, for it soon became

against ole kingdomis face to been excited and his hopan

manifest how she greatly preferred the interests of her husband to those of her father; she did not stand on his side, for, together with her husband, she unnaturally congratulated the Roman senate on his defeat by the armies of Rome.

After this he shall turn his face unto the isles, and shall take many, ver. 18. With a fleet of three hundred vessels, enough, as he boasted, to fill the largest harbour in Greece, and a vast army, commanded by his sons, which formed the whole strength of his kingdom, he coasted westward to the isles of Europe, traversed Asia Minor, passed the Hellespont; and, he who before had triumphed on the borders of India, and threatened Egypt with destruction, and after that turned his face unto the isles, ceased not in his progress, till hearing of the advance of the Romans, he seized the straits of Thermopylæ. The lesser isles of the Egean had no defence against so formidable an enemy; and the whole of the large and important island of Eubæà, now called Negropont, after a brief resistance, yielded, together with all its cities, to the arms of Antiochus. · Such at that period was the majesty of the Roman name, that it was held as a reproach that any king, however great, should set a hostile: foot within the dominion of their allies. Yet, in open assembly, and in presence of the ambassadors of Rome, Antiochus had passionately and indignantly challenged their title, and disowned their right, to control his will, or intermeddle with the affairs of Asia. And the Romans could not but be jealous, if not fearful, of the rapid advance within the bounds of Greece, of so mighty an armament by sea and land, which they believed to be directed by the counsel of Hannibal, after that conqueror of Italy had become a refugee from Carthage, and was seeking again to wreak his vengeance upon Rome. To vindicate their honour, and perhaps, to avert war from their shores, the Roman Senate, in answer to the petitions of republics and kings, declared war against Antiochus. Processions for the space of two days, invoked the aid of the gods on the arms of the Romans, and the forces of the commonwealth embarked at Brundusium to avenge the wrongs of Greece and the insults against Rome. At the straits of Thermopylæ, Cato having gained the mountain-pass, put to rout the troops of Antiochus. Twice was his fleet defeated by the Romans. And Greece was again rid of the invader. But the vengeance of the Romans was not satiated. Lucius Cornelius Scipio, the consul, passed from Europe to Asia, utterly discomfited the combined army of Antiochus, of whom fifty thousand were slain in a single but decisive battle ; compelled the great king to submit to the most humiliating conditions of peace,—to evacuate all Asia, westward of Mount Taurus, to defray the whole expenses of the war, which he had provoked, to surrender twenty hostages, one of his sons* among the number, and even still more ignominiously, (but happily frustrated by his timely Hight) to deliver up Hannibal into the hands of the Romans. Scipio, before conquering Antiochus, disdained to listen to any terms of peace, which were insufficient to vindicate the honour of Rome, even on the promise of the ransom of his son, a prisoner in the hands of his enemy. And, not less nobly, he dictated to the vanquished monarch the same terms of peace, without adding to their severity, after victory, as he had demanded before encountering a host twice as numerous as his own. Thus, under their consul, was the Roman power introduced into Asia ; and thus were the words of the prophecy fulfilled.

• Who afterwards reigned under the name of Antiochus Epi. phanes.

But a prince for his own behalf shall cause the reproach offered by him to cease ; without his own reproach he shall cause it to turn upon him. Ver. 18.

Then shall he turn his face toward the fort of his own land : but he shall stumble and fall, and not be found. Ver. 1.9. The great king, shorn of his riches, power, and splendour, returned to Antioch, the capital of his kingdom, and the strongest of his fortresses. Antiochus the Great, burdened by the tribute imposed on him by the Romans, or impelled by the want of money, if not by avarice, basely plundered by night the temple of Elymais ; and was slain by the indignant inhabitants. Some doubt, however, is thrown on the exact manner of his death, by the narrative of one historian, who states, that having, while intoxicated, struck some of his revelling associates, he was slain by their hands. This doubt only renders the prediction the more striking and appropriate. He stumbled and fell, and was not to be found.

Then shall stand upin his estate a raiser of taxes in the glory of the kingdom, (or more literally, as in the margin, one that causeth an exactor to pass over the glory of the kingdom ;) but within few days shall he be destroyed, neither in anger nor in battle. Ver. 20. Then, immediately after, and in the estate, stead, or office, of Antiochus the Great, Seleucus Philopater, his son, succeeded to his throne. The length of his father's reign was more than three times that of his. He scarcely lived to liquidate the debt due to the Romans; and Seleucus Philopater had a better plea than despots can often urge for the severe and rigid taxation of their subjects. The strength of his kingdom had been broken, and the royal treasury exhausted in the war with the invincible Romans. To pay them the annual tribute of a thousand talents, and to recreate an army, made the son of Antiochus little more than a raiser of taxes all his life. No other feature distinguished his ignoble reign. He even sent Heliodorus, his treasurer, to rifle the temple of Jerusalem, thus causing an exactor to go over the glory of his kingdom. But having returned from the execution of that charge, the same agent of his rapine and sacrilege became, in a few days, or soon after, the 66 instrument of his death ;” in the absence of his son Demetrius and of his brother Antiochus, Heliodorus, not in anger, but for the sole purpose of usurping his throne, nor in battle, but secretly and by snare, cut him off by poison.

And in his estate shall stand up a vile person, to whom they shall not give the honour of the kingdom : but he shall come in peaceably and obtain the kingdom by flatteries. Ver. 21. The history of kings, like that of other men, is scarcely, in general, a catalogue of virtues; but of all who ever disgraced a throne more than a crown could ennoble them, none is more worthy of the epithet of vile than Antiochus Epiphanes, the brother and successor of Seleucus Philopater. He transferred the lowest and meanest vices of the streets and purlieus of Rome to the throne of Syria ; and the monarch did not abandon the vices of the hostage. He degraded his rank, made a mockery of his prerogative, played the buffoon, instead of acting like a sovereign, outraged all decency, and, though a king, was a vile person. The most despicable of the people were his choice and meet associates; and a cotemporary historian designates him, on account of his actions, Epimanes, or the madman. He succeeded not to the throne by the right of inheritance, nor by the wishes of the people, nor yet by conquest. Demetrius, his nephew, the son of the former king, was the rightful heir. Heliodorus attempted to usurp the throne ; some purposed to offer it to the king of Egypt, but none gave the honour of the kingdom to

« AnteriorContinuar »