Seleucus, Antiochus, and Stratonice -- Seleucus divides his Kingdom -- Death of Seleucus -- Death of Lysimachus
Seleucus, while still living, appointed his son, Antiochus, 563 king of upper Asia in place of himself. If this seems noble and kingly on his part, even nobler and wiser was his behavior in reference to his son's falling in love, and his self-restraint in suffering; for Antiochus was in love with Stratonice, the wife of Seleucus, his own stepmother, who had already borne a child to Seleucus. Recognizing the wickedness of this passion, Antiochus did nothing wrong, nor did he show his feelings, but he fell sick, took to his bed, and longed for death. Nor could the celebrated physician, Erasistratus, who was serving Seleucus at a very high salary, form any diagnosis of his malady. At length, observing that his body was free from all the symptoms of disease, he conjectured that this was some condition of the mind, through which the body is often strengthened or weakened by sympathy. Grief, anger, and other passions disclose themselves; love only is concealed by the modest. As Antiochus would confess nothing when the physician asked him in confidence, he took a seat by his side and watched the changes of his body to see how he was affected by each person who entered his room. He found that when others came the patient was all the time weakening and wasting away at a uniform pace, but when Stratonice came to visit him his mind was greatly agitated by the struggles of modesty and conscience, and he remained silent. But his body in spite of himself became more vigorous and lively, and when she went away he became weaker again. So the physician told Seleucus that his son had an incurable disease. The king was overwhelmed with grief and cried aloud. Then the physician added, "His disease is love, love for a woman, but a hopeless love."
Seleucus was astonished that there could be any woman whom he, king of Asia, could not prevail upon to marry such a son as his, by entreaties, by gold, by gifts, by the whole of this great kingdom, the eventual inheritance of the sick prince, which the father would give to him even now, if he wished it, in order to save him. Desiring to learn only one thing more, he asked, "Who is this woman?" Erasistratus replied, "He is in love with my wife." "Well then, my good fellow," rejoined Seleucus, "since you are so bound to us by friendship and favors, and are a model of goodness and wisdom in matters of small moment, will you not save this princely young man for me, the son of your friend and king, unfortunate in love but virtuous, who has concealed his sinful passion and prefers to die rather than confess it? Do you so despise Antiochus? Do you despise his father also?" Then Erasistratus changed his tactics, and, as though he were giving him a knock-down argument, said, "You would not give Antiochus your wife if he were in love with her, although you are his father." Seleucus swore by all the gods of his royal house that he would willingly and cheerfully give her, and make himself an illustrious example of a kind and good father to a chaste son who controlled his passion and did not deserve such suffering. Much more he added of the same sort, and, finally, began to lament that he could not himself be the physician to his unhappy boy, but must needs depend on Erasistratus in this matter also.
When Erasistratus saw that the king was in earnest and not hypocritical, he told the whole truth. He related how he had discovered the nature of the malady, and how he had detected the secret passion. Seleucus was overjoyed, but it was a difficult matter to persuade his son and not less so to persuade his wife; but he succeeded finally. Then he assembled his army, which was perhaps expecting something of the kind, and told them of his exploits and of the extent of his empire, showing that it surpassed that of any of the other successors of Alexander, and saying that as he was now growing old it was hard for him to govern it on account of its size. "I wish," he said, "to divide it, and so at the same time to provide for your safety in the future and give a part of it now to those who are dearest to me. It is fitting that all of you, who had advanced to such greatness of dominion and power under me since the time of Alexander, should coperate with me in everything. The dearest to me, and well worthy to reign, are my grownup son and my wife. As they are young, I pray they may soon have children to be an ample guarantee to you of the permanency of the dynasty. I will join them in marriage in your presence and will send them to be sovereigns of the upper provinces now. And I charge you that none of the customs of the Persians and other nations is more worthy of observance than this one law, which is common to all of them, 'That what the king ordains is always right.'" When he had thus spoken the army shouted that he was the greatest king of all the successors of Alexander and the best father. Seleucus laid the same injunctions on Stratonice and his son, then joined them in marriage, and sent them to their kingdom, showing himself even stronger in this famous act than in his deeds of arms.
Seleucus had seventy-two satraps under him, so extensive was the territory over which he ruled. The greater part he had transferred to his son, but he continued to reign over the country which lies between the Euphrates and the sea. The last war that he waged was with Lysimachus, for the possession of Phrygia on the Hellespont. Lysimachus 564 was defeated and slain in battle. Then Seleucus crossed 565 the Hellespont in order to possess himself of Lysimacheia, but he was killed by Ptolemy Ceraunus who accompanied him. This Ceraunus was the son of Ptolemy Soter and Euridice, the daughter of Antipater. He had left Egypt from fear, because his father had decided to leave the kingdom to his youngest son. Seleucus had received him as the unfortunate son of his friend, and thus he supported, and took around with himself everywhere, his own murderer.
Thus Seleucus died at the age of seventy-three,
567 having reigned forty-two years. It seems to me that the oracle hit the mark in his case when it said to him, "Do not hurry back to Europe; Asia will be much better for you," for Lysimacheia is in Europe, and he then crossed over to Europe for the first time after leaving it with the army of Alexander. It is said also that once when he consulted an oracle in reference to his own death he received this answer:--
"If you keep away from Argos you will reach your allotted year, but if you approach that place you will die before your time."
There is an Argos in Peloponnesus, another in Amphilochia, another in Orestea (whence come the Macedonian Argead), and the one on the Ionian sea, said to have been built by Diomedes during his wanderings, -- all these, and every place named Argos in every other country, Seleucus inquired about and avoided. While he was advancing from the Hellespont to Lysimacheia a splendid great altar presented itself to his view, which he was told had been built either by the Argonauts on their way to Colchis, or by the Achans who besieged Troy, for which reason the people in the neighborhood still called it Argos, either by a corruption of the name of the ship Argo, or from the native place of the sons of Atreus. While he was learning these things he was killed by Ptolemy, who stabbed him in the back. Philetzerus, the prince of Pergamus, bought the body of Seleucus from Ceraunus for a large sum of money, burned it, and sent the ashes to his son Antiochus. The latter deposited them at Seleucia-by-the-Sea, where he erected a temple to his father on consecrated ground, to which ground he gave the name of Nicatoreum.
I have heard that Lysimachus, who was one of the armor-bearers of Alexander, was once running by his side for a long distance, and, being fatigued, took hold of the tail of the king's horse and continued to run; that he was struck in the forehead by the point of the king's spear, which opened one of his veins from which the blood flowed profusely; that Alexander, for want of a bandage, bound up the wound with his own diadem which was thus saturated with blood; and that Aristandrus, Alexander's soothsayer, when he saw Lysimachus carried away wounded in this manner, said, "That man will be a king, but he will reign with toil and trouble." He reigned nearly forty years, counting those in which he was satrap, and he did reign with toil and trouble. He fell in battle, while still commanding his army, at the age of seventy. Seleucus did not long survive him. Lysimachus' dog watched his body lying on the ground for a long time, and kept it unharmed by birds or beasts until Thorax of Pharsalia found and buried it. Some say that he was buried by his own son, Alexander, who fled to Seleucus from fear when Lysimachus put to death his other son, Agathocles; that he searched for the body a long time and found it at last by means of the dog, and that it was already partly decomposed. The Lysimacheians deposited the bones in their temple and named the temple itself the Lysimacheum. Thus did these two kings, the bravest and most renowned for bodily size, come to their end at nearly the same time, one of them at the age of seventy, the other three years older, and both fighting with their own hands until the day of their death.