Life of Antony, 3

Plutarch  translated by Bernadotte Perrin

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3When Gabinius, a man of consular dignity, was sailing for Syria, he tried to persuade Antony to join the expedition. Antony refused to go out with him in a private capacity, but on being appointed commander of the horse, accompanied him on the campaign.[4] And first, having been sent against Aristobulus, who was bringing the Jews to a revolt,[5] he was himself the first man to mount the highest of the fortifications, and drove Aristobulus from all of them; then he joined battle with him, routed his many times more numerous forces with his own small band, and slew all but a few of them. Aristobulus himself was captured, together with his son.

2After this, Ptolemy tried to persuade Gabinius by a bribe of ten thousand talents to join him in an invasion of Egypt and recover the kingdom for him.[6] But the greater part of the officers were opposed to the plan, and Gabinius himself felt a certain dread of the war, although he was completely captivated by the ten thousand talents. Antony, however, who was ambitious of great exploits and eager to gratify the request of Ptolemy, joined the king in persuading and inciting Gabinius to the expedition. 3But more than the war the march to Pelusium was feared, since their route lay through deep sand, where there was no water, as far as the Ecregma and the Serbonian marshes. These the Egyptians call the blasts of Typhon,[7] although they appear to be a residual arm of the Red Sea, helped by infiltration, where the isthmus between them and the Mediterranean is at its narrowest. 4Antony was therefore sent with the cavalry, and he not only occupied the narrow pass, but actually took Pelusium, a large city, and got its garrison into his power, thus rendering its march safer for the main army and giving its general assured hope of victory. And even the enemy reaped advantage from Antony’s love of distinction. For Ptolemy, as soon as he entered Pelusium, was led by wrath and hatred to institute a massacre of the Egyptians; but Antony intervened and prevented him. 5Moreover, in the ensuing battles and contests, which were many and great, he displayed many deeds of daring and sagacious leadership, the most conspicuous of which was his rendering the van of the army victorious by outflanking the enemy and enveloping them from the rear. For all this he received rewards of valour and fitting honours. Nor did the multitude fail to observe his humane treatment of the dead Archelaüs,[8] 6for after waging war upon him of necessity while he was living, although he had been a comrade and friend, when he had fallen, Antony found his body and gave it royal adornment and burial. Thus he left among the people of Alexandria a very high reputation, and was thought by the Romans on the expedition to be a most illustrious man.

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  • [4] In 58 B.C.

  • [5] Cf. the Pompey, xxxix. 2.

  • [6] Cf. the Cato Minor, xxxv.; the Pompey, xlix. 5 ff.

  • [7] The evil deity of the Egyptians, buried under the Serbonian marshes (Herodotus, iii. 5).

  • [8] The pretended son of Mithridates, who had married Berenicé, daughter of Ptolemy Auletes, and queen of Egypt after the expulsion of her father. His death occurred in 55 B.C.

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