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
messengers.

[...]
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