Cleomenes of Naucratis was the man that Alexander put in charge of building out the city of Alexandria. His methods may have been questionable, but there could be no doubt that he was getting the job done. He was raising a ton of money, and increasing the population of the city. From the outside he seemed to be doing a great job.
On the inside, the story was a little bit different. Let’s dive deeper into how he raised funds. In one case, he threatened to attack some sacred crocodiles unless the priests paid him some money. To be fair, the crocodile ate his friend, but that’s still extortion.
There was a nearby market town called Canopus and Alexander wanted that market in Alexandria instead. So Cleomenes paid them a visit to let them know they had to move to Alexandria now. These people didn’t want to leave their homes, so they offered to pay him some money instead. He thought that was a great idea, so he took the money and left.
A short while later, he came back and let them know they had to move to Alexandria now, unless they gave him an even larger sum of money. They couldn’t afford it, and so they were moved to Alexandria.
Like I said, the man’s methods were questionable at best, but he got the job done, and established some solid foundations for the city of Alexandria.
Ptolemy had some issues with Cleomenes though. Besides being morally corrupt and hated by a lot of the Egyptians, he was also friends with Perdiccas. Perdiccas was one of Alexander’s old bodyguards who Ptolemy knew he would have to fight sooner or later.
Now that the city had solid foundations, money, and people, Cleomenes was becoming a bit redundant. Given that everyone hated him, it wasn’t that hard for Ptolemy to get rid of him. He was charged with embezzling the extremely large sum of 8000 talents, which might have been an exaggeration, but the guy was definitely corrupt.
Cleomenes was found guilty and executed, and the people of Egypt were happy with Ptolemy for finally bringing this man to justice. Now what did Ptolemy do with all of this money gained through bribery and extortion? Return it to the people? Of course not.
Ptolemy had the beginnings of a great new city with a solid foundation, a decent population, and a ton of money in the bank. It was a strong starting point for the city that Greek historian Diodorus Siculus would later call “the first city of the civilized world”.