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his character and his story were known among the surrounding nations, he
was the object of universal obloquy, both on account of his previous
career of degrading vice, and now, still more, for this ignoble flight
from the difficulties in which his vices and crimes had involved him.
He stopped, on the way, at the island of Rhodes. It happened that Cato,
the great Roman philosopher and general, was at Rhodes at this time.
Cato was a man of stern, unbending virtue, and of great influence at
that period in public affairs. Ptolemy sent a messenger to inform Cato
of his arrival, supposing, of course, that the Roman general would
hasten, on hearing of the fact, to pay his respects to so great a
personage as he, a king of Egypt--a Ptolemy--though suffering under a
temporary reverse of fortune. Cato directed the messenger to reply that,
so far as he was aware, he had no particular business with Ptolemy.
"Say, however, to the king," he added, "that, if he has any business
with me, he may call and see me, if he pleases."
Ptolemy was obliged to suppress his resentment and submit. He thought it
very essential to the success of his plans that he should see Cato, and
secure, if possible, his interest and co-operation; and he consequently
made preparations for paying, instead of receiving, the visit, intending
to go in the greatest royal state that he could command. He accordingly
appeared at Cato's lodgings on the following day, magnificently dressed,
and accompanied by many attendants. Cato, who was dressed in the
plainest and most simple manner, and whose apartment was furnished in a
style corresponding with the severity of his character, did not even
rise when the king entered the room. He simply pointed with his hand,
and bade the visitor take a seat.
Ptolemy began to make a statement of his case, with a view to obtaining
Cato's influence with the Roman people to induce them to interpose in
his behalf. Cato, however, far from evincing any disposition to espouse
his visitor's cause, censured him, in the plainest terms, for having
abandoned his proper position in his own kingdom, to go and make himself
a victim and a prey for the insatiable avarice of the Roman leaders.
"You can do nothing at Rome," he said, "but by the influence of bribes;
and all the resources of Egypt will not be enough to satisfy the Roman
greediness for money." He concluded by recommending him to go back to
Alexandria, and rely for his hopes of extrication from the difficulties
which surrounded him on the exercise of his own energy and resolution
Ptolemy was greatly abashed at this rebuff, but, on consultation with
his attendants and followers, it was decided to be too late now to
return. The whole party accordingly re-embarked on board their galleys,
and pursued their way to Rome.
Ptolemy found, on his arrival at the city, that Caesar was absent in
Gaul, while Pompey, on the other hand, who had returned victorious from
his campaigns against Mithradates, was now the great leader of influence
and power at the Capitol. This change of circumstances was not, however,
particularly unfavorable; for Ptolemy was on friendly terms with Pompey,
as he had been with Caesar. He had assisted him in his wars with
Mithradates by sending him a squadron of horse, in pursuance of his
policy of cultivating friendly relations with the Roman people by every
means in his power. Besides, Pompey had received a part of the money
which Ptolemy had paid to Caesar as the price of the Roman alliance, and
was to receive his share of the rest in case Ptolemy should ever be
restored. Pompey was accordingly interested in favoring the royal
fugitive's cause. He received him in his palace, entertained him in
magnificent style, and took immediate measures for bringing his cause
before the Roman Senate, urging upon that body the adoption of immediate
and vigorous measures for effecting his restoration, as an ally whom
they were bound to protect against his rebellious subjects. There was at
first some opposition in the Roman Senate against espousing the cause of
such a man, but it was soon put down, being overpowered in part by
Pompey's authority, and in part silenced by Ptolemy's promises and
bribes. The Senate determined to restore the king to his throne, and
began to make arrangements for carrying the measure into effect.
The Roman provinces nearest to Egypt were Cilicia and Syria, countries
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