Apollodorus the Sicilian

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Apollodorus (Greek: Ἀπολλόδωρος) was a loyal follower of the Egyptian Queen Cleopatra VII. In 48 BC he is supposed to have enabled Cleopatra to get in the palace of Alexandria to Julius Caesar and in this way to strengthen decisively her position in the power struggle with her brother Ptolemy XIII.

When Caesar came to Alexandria in the summer of 48 BC he summoned the estranged Ptolemaic brother and sister to submit to his decision. Ptolemy XIII was at this time with his army at the Egyptian border near Pelusium opposite the troops of Cleopatra. He was first to go to Caesar.

Cleopatra first sent negotiators to explain her point of view but, according to the historian Cassius Dio, she soon became convinced that if she came personally she could more easily win the Roman ruler over by her charm and beauty. Caesar promised her a confidential conversation.[1]

Apparently Ptolemy XIII tried to block his sister the access to Alexandria. Plutarch gives an account of her adventurous journey to the Egyptian capital. According to this report she chose from her retinue only one follower, Apollodorus the Sicilian,[2] and travelled with him to Alexandria. The Roman poet Lucan claims, that when Cleopatra arrived near the city she bribed a guardian to remove the defensive chains in the harbour of Pharus[3] In any case she entered the harbour of Alexandria by sea, because both Plutarch and Lucan say that she landed unobserved with her barque near the royal palace.[4] According to Plutarch this happened in the twilight, and the Greek biographer adds that Cleopatra thought that her only chance to get to Caesar was to stretch herself at full length inside a bed-sack or carpet while Apollodorus tied it up with a cord and carried it past the guardians into the palace. The Egyptian Queen allegedly succeeded in that way in reaching the Roman general and in winning him over with this bold action.[5] The credibility of this episode is disputed among scholars. But it is certain that Cleopatra gained Caesar’s support by her personal appearance.

Nothing else is known about Apollodorus.

The role of Apollodorus is played by Cesare Danova in the 1963 epic, Cleopatra. In the 1945 film Caesar and Cleopatra, based on the play by George Bernard Shaw, he is played by Stewart Granger, and is depicted as being somewhat in love with Cleopatra. He was played in the first television adaptation of the play by Farley Granger (no relation), and in the second TV adaptation by Clive Francis.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Cassius Dio, Roman History 42.34.3-6
  2. ^ Plutarch, Caesar 49.1
  3. ^ Lucan, Pharsalia 10.56-57 (Livy is probably the source of Lucan).
  4. ^ Plutarch, Caesar 49.1; Lucan, Pharsalia 10.57-58
  5. ^ Plutarch, Caesar 49.2-3; compare Cassius Dio, Roman History 42.34.6–35.1

References[edit]