AFTER the death of Pyrrhus, there were great warlike commotions, not only in Macedonia, but in Asia and Greece; for the Peloponnesians were betrayed into the power of Antigonus; and while partly concern, partly exultation, prevailed variously among the inhabitants, as any city had either expected aid from Pyrrhus or conceived apprehensions of him, they either entered into alliance with Antigonus, or, impelled by mutual animosity, plunged into hostilities with one another Amidst these tumults in the disturbed provinces, the sovereignty over the city of the Epeans1 was usurped by an eminent man named Aristotimus; and when many of the leading persons had been slain by him, and more driven into banishment, and the Aetolians sent ambassadors to ask him “to give up the wives and children of the exiles,” he at first refused, but afterwards, as if relenting, he gave all the married women leave to go to their husbands, and fixed a day for their departure. They, as being about to spend their lives in banishment with their husbands, were going to carry all their most valuable property with them; but, when they assembled at one of the gates of the city, intending to go forth in a body, they were despoiled of all that they had, and confined in the public prison, the infants having been first killed in the arms of their mothers, and the young women carried off for violation. The people being all amazed at such cruel tyranny, Hellanicus, the chief of them, an old man and without children, and consequently having no fear either for life or offspring, assembled the most faithful of his friends in his house, and encouraged them to attempt the delivery of their country. But as they hesitated to remove a public evil at their own private risk, and demanded time for deliberation, Hellanicus, calling for his attendants, ordered the doors to be locked, and a message to be carried to the tyrant, requesting him “to send officers to seize a band of conspirators in Hellanicus’s house;” and he told all of them, with reproaches, that “since he could not be the deliverer of his country, he would at least take revenge for the abandonment of its cause.” Being thus placed between two perils, they chose the more honourable course, and conspired to kill the tyrant; and thus Aristotimus was cut off in the fifth month after he had usurped the government.
In the meantime Antigonus, being harassed with wars, of varied aspect, from the Spartans and King Ptolemy, and perceiving that a new enemy, an army from Gallograecia, was coming upon him, left a few troops as a semblance of a camp, to amuse his other assailants, and proceeded with all the rest of his force against the Gauls; who, becoming aware of his approach, as they were preparing for battle, sacrificed victims to take presages for the event; and as, from the entrails, great slaughter and destruction of them all was portended, they were moved, not to fear, but to fury, and thinking that the anger of the gods might be appeased by the slaughter of their kindred, butchered their wives and children, commencing hostilities with the murder of their own people; for such rage had possessed their savage breasts, that they did not spare even that tender age which an enemy would have spared, but made deadly war on their own children and their children’s mothers, in defence of whom wars are wont to be undertaken. As if, therefore, they had purchased life and victory by their barbarity, they rushed, stained as they were with the fresh blood of their relatives, into the field of battle, but with success no better than their auspices: for, as they were fighting, the furies, the avengers of murder, overwhelmed them sooner than the enemy, and the ghosts of the slain rising up before their eyes, they were all cut off with utter destruction. Such was the havoc among them, that the gods seemed to have conspired with men to annihilate an army of murderers.
In consequence of the result of this battle, Ptolemy and the Spartans, avoiding the victorious army of the enemy, retreated to safer ground; and Antigonus, when he heard of their departure, turned his arms against the Athenians, while the ardour of his men was yet fresh from their recent victory. But during the time that he was thus engaged, Alexander, king of Epirus, longing to avenge the death of his father Pyrrhus, laid waste the frontiers of Macedonia. Antigonus returned from Greece to give him battle, but being deserted by his men, who went over to the enemy, he lost both the throne of Macedonia and his army. His son Demetrius, however, though but a boy, collecting an army in the absence of his father, not only recovered Macedonia, which had been lost, but drove Alexander from the throne of Epirus, Such was the fickleness of the soldiers, or the mutability of fortune, that kings were seen one day in the character of sovereigns, and the next in that of exiles.
Alexander, after fleeing, on his expulsion, to the Acarnanians, was restored to his throne, with not less eagerness on the part of the Epirots than exertion on the part of his allies. About the same time died Magas,2 king of Cyrene, who, before he fell sick, had betrothed his only daughter Berenice to his brother Ptolemy’s son, in order to end all disputes with him. But after the death of the king, Arsinoë, the mother of the girl, resolving to break off a marriage which had been contracted against her will, sent for Demetrius, the brother of King Antigonus, from Macedonia, to marry the damsel, and occupy the throne of Cyrene. Nor did Demetrius delay to comply with her wishes. But having speedily arrived, by the aid of a favourable wind, at Cyrene, he began, from the very first, through presuming on his handsome person (with which he had already made too much impression on his mother-in-law3), to conduct himself haughtily and overbearingly both to the royal family and the army. He also transferred his desire to please from the daughter to the mother; a fact which was first suspected by the damsel, and at last drew odium upon him from the people and the army. The affections of all, therefore, being set on the son of Ptolemy, a conspiracy was formed against Demetrius, and assassins were sent to kill him, when he was gone to bed with his mother-in-law. Arsinoë, hearing the voice of her daughter, standing at the door, and desiring them “to spare her mother,” covered her paramour a while with her own person. He was however slain, and Berenice, by his death, both took revenge for the licentiousness of her mother, without violation of her duty to her, and, in choosing a husband, followed the judgment of her father.