Cleopatra and the Syrian sons

Disclaimer: this is help with homework, but I think it’s acceptable, inasmuch as I’m looking for pointers to a classical text that I’ve so far been unable to find.

I’m writing an undergrad research paper on CLeopatra, trying to make the case (in part) that she’s a pretty savvy politician, and I’ve come across an undocumented reference to an event in which a Roman governer in Syria sent his sons to Alexandria to call up some Roman legions who have settled there. The soldiers, not keen on returning to war, murder the sons; Cleopatra responds by arresting the soldiers and sending them to the deprived father for punishment. I’ve so far failed to find either a primary source or a scholarly secondary source to document this; does anyone know details of this event, and better yet know an online scholarly source that describes it? I’ve skimmed Plutarch, Appian, and what little I can find of Cicero and Lucan, but so far haven’t had any luck.


I know that the story is recounted in Colleen McCullough’s Masters of Rome series of historical fiction about Julius Caesar and the century of civil war that turned Rome from a republic to a monarchy. She also states that she will supply a bibliography if you send her a stamped self-addressed envelope…but since she lives on an island in the South Pacific, this may not help you very soon.

Here’s a link claiming to list 580 resources regarding Cleopatra. Maybe you can find something.

As footnoted by Peter Green in Alexander to Actium:* The Historical Evolution of the Hellenistic Age* ( 1990, University of California Press ) it’s cited by:

  • Valerius Maximus in 4.1.15 of his Factovrum Dictorvm Memorabilivm Libri Novem.

  • Julius Caesar himself in his Comentarii de Bello Civili, 3.110.

  • And secopndarily cited to a German work, I. Becher’s Das Bild der Kleopatra in der griechischen und lateinischen Literature ( 1966, Berlin ).

Green himself mentions the incident on page 664 of the aforementioned volume.

  • Tamerlane

Awesome–thanks much! I’ll see if I can find these.