The Roman government was a sort of republic, and the two most powerful
men in the state at this time were Pompey and Caesar. Caesar was in the
ascendency at Rome at the time that Ptolemy made his application for an
alliance. Pompey was absent in Asia Minor, being engaged in prosecuting
a war with Mithradates, a very powerful monarch, who was at that time
resisting the Roman power. Caesar was very deeply involved in debt, and
was, moreover, very much in need of money, not only for relief from
existing embarrassments, but as a means of subsequent expenditure, to
enable him to accomplish certain great political schemes which he was
entertaining. After many negotiations and delays, it was agreed that
Caesar would exert his influence to secure an alliance between the Roman
people and Ptolemy, on condition that Ptolemy paid him the sum of six
thousand talents, equal to about six millions of dollars. A part of the
money, Caesar said, was for Pompey.

The title of ally was conferred, and Ptolemy undertook to raise the
money which he had promised by increasing the taxes of his kingdom. The
measures, however, which he thus adopted for the purpose of making
himself the more secure in his possession of the throne, proved to be
the means of overthrowing him. The discontent and disaffection of his
people, which had been strong and universal before, though suppressed
and concealed, broke out now into open violence. That there should be
laid upon them, in addition to all their other burdens, these new
oppressions, heavier than those which they had endured before, and
exacted for such a purpose too, was not to be endured. To be compelled
to see their country sold on any terms to the Roman people was
sufficiently hard to bear; but to be forced to raise, themselves, and
pay the price of the transfer, was absolutely intolerable. Alexandria
commenced a revolt. Ptolemy was not a man to act decidedly against such
a demonstration, or, in fact, to evince either calmness or courage in
any emergency whatever. His first thought was to escape from Alexandria
to save his life. His second, to make the best of his way to Rome, to
call upon the Roman people to come to the succor of their ally!

[...]
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