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Caesar's real design was to make Cleopatra queen alone, and to depose 

Ptolemy, and urged them to combine with him to resist a policy which 

would end in bringing Egypt under the dominion of a woman. He also 

formed a plan, in connection with Achillas, for ordering the army back 

from Pelusium. The army consisted of thirty thousand men. If that army 

could be brought to Alexandria and kept under Pothinus's orders, Caesar 

and his three thousand Roman soldiers would be, they thought, wholly at 

their mercy. 


There was, however, one danger to be guarded against in ordering the 

army to march toward the capital, and that was, that Ptolemy, while 

under Caesar's influence, might open communication with the officers, and 

so obtain command of its movements, and thwart all the conspirators' 

designs. To prevent this, it was arranged between Pothinus and Achillas 

that the latter should make his escape from Alexandria, proceed 

immediately to the camp at Pelusium, resume the command of the troops 

there, and conduct them himself to the capital; and that in all these 

operations, and also subsequently on his arrival, he should obey no 

orders unless they came to him through Pothinus himself. 


Although sentinels and guards were probably stationed at the gates and 

avenues leading from the city Achillas contrived to effect his escape 

and to join the army. He placed himself at the head of the forces, and 

commenced his march toward the capital. Pothinus remained all the time 

within the city as a spy, pretending to acquiesce in Caesar's decision, 

and to be on friendly terms with him, but really plotting for his 

overthrow, and obtaining all the information which his position enabled 

him to command, in order that he might co-operate with the army and 

Achillas when they should arrive. 


All these things were done with the utmost secrecy, and so cunning and 

adroit were the conspirators in forming and executing their plots, that 

Caesar seems to have had no knowledge of the measures which his enemies 

were taking, until he suddenly heard that the main body of Ptolemy's 

army was approaching the city, at least twenty thousand strong. In the 

mean time, however, the forces which he had sent for from Syria had not 

arrived, and no alternative was left but to defend the capital and 

himself as well as he could with the very small force which he had at 

his disposal. 


He determined, however, first, to try the effect of orders sent out in 

Ptolemy's name to forbid the approach of the army to the city. Two 

officers were accordingly intrusted with these orders, and sent out to 

communicate them to Achillas. The names of these officers were 

Dioscorides and Serapion. 


It shows in a very striking point of view to what an incredible 

exaltation the authority and consequence of a sovereign king rose in 

those ancient days, in the minds of men, that Achillas, at the moment 

when these men made their appearance in the camp, bearing evidently some 

command from Ptolemy in the city, considered it more prudent to kill 

them at once, without hearing their message, rather than to allow the 

orders to be delivered and then take the responsibility of disobeying 

them. If he could succeed in marching to Alexandria and in taking 

possession of the city, and then in expelling Caesar and Cleopatra and 

restoring Ptolemy to the exclusive possession of the throne, he knew 

very well that the king would rejoice in the result, and would overlook 

all irregularities on his part in the means by which he had accomplished 

it, short of absolute disobedience of a known command. Whatever might be 

the commands that these messengers were bringing him, he supposed that 

they doubtless originated, not in Ptolemy's own free will, but that they 

were dictated by the authority of Caesar. Still, they would be commands 

coming in Ptolemy's name, and the universal experience of officers 

serving under the military despots of those ancient days showed that, 

rather than to take the responsibility of directly disobeying a royal 

order once received, it was safer to avoid receiving it by murdering the 



Achillas therefore directed the officers to be seized and slain. They 

were accordingly taken off and speared by the soldiers, and then the 

bodies were borne away. The soldiers, however, it was found, had not 

done their work effectually. There was no interest for them in such a 

cold-blooded assassination, and perhaps something like a sentiment of 

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