Ptolemaic dynasty

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Ptolemies
Πτολεμαῖοι
Royal house
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Ptolemy I Soter, founder of the Ptolemaic dynasty, depicted as Pharaoh, British Museum
CountryAncient Egypt, Ancient Macedonia, Ancient Rome
Founded305 BC
FounderPtolemy I Soter
Final rulerCleopatra VII and Ptolemy XV
(Egypt)
Ptolemy XVI
(Syria)
Ptolemy of Mauretania
(Mauretania Caesariensis)
Final headDrusilla
TitlesPharaoh
Basileus of Egypt
King of Macedonia
King of Mauretania Caesariensis
King of Syria
King of Cyrene
DissolutionAD 79
Deposition279 BC (Macedon)
30 BC (Egypt)
AD 40 (Mauretania)

The Ptolemaic dynasty (/ˌtɒlɪˈm.ɪk/; Ancient Greek: Πτολεμαῖοι, Ptolemaioi), also known as the Lagid dynasty (Λαγίδαι, Lagidae; after Ptolemy I's father, Lagus), was a Macedonian Greek[1][2][3][4][5] royal house which ruled the Ptolemaic Kingdom in Ancient Egypt during the Hellenistic period. Reigning for 275 years, the Ptolemaic was the longest and last dynasty of ancient Egypt from 305 until its incorporation into the Roman Republic in 30 BC.[6][7]

Ptolemy, one of the seven somatophylakes (bodyguard companions), a general and possible half-brother of Alexander the Great, was appointed satrap of Egypt after Alexander's death in 323 BC. In 305 BC he declared himself Pharaoh Ptolemy I, later known as Sōter "Saviour". The Egyptians soon accepted the Ptolemies as the successors to the pharaohs of independent Egypt. The new dynasty adopted the Egyptian titles and iconography, while also preserving their own Greek language and culture.[6] The Ptolemaic period was marked by its distinct religious syncretism, which gave rise to the Hellenistic religion, as well as the intense interactions and blending of the Greco-Egyptian cultures.[8] During the Hellenistic period, the city of Alexandria founded by Alexander the Great would gradually surpass Athens taking its place as the intellectual centre of the Mediterranean world.[9]

Following the earlier dynasties of Egypt, the Ptolemaic dynasty adopted the practice of inbreeding including sibling marriage,[5] but this did not start in earnest until nearly a century into the dynasty's history.[10] All the male rulers of the dynasty took the name Ptolemy, while queens regnant were all called Cleopatra, Arsinoe or Berenice. The most famous member of the line was the last queen, Cleopatra VII, known for her role in the Roman political battles between Julius Caesar and Pompey, and later between Octavian and Mark Antony. Her apparent suicide after the Roman conquest of Egypt marked the end of Ptolemaic rule in Egypt.

Rulers and consorts[edit]

Family tree[edit]

Family of Ptolemaic dynasty
Lagus of Eordea, MacedonArsinoe of Macedon
Ptolemy I
Soter

(Kg 303–282 BC)
Berenice IPhilip
Arsinoe IIPtolemy II
Philadelphus

(Kg. 285–246 BC)
Arsinoe IMagas
of Cyrene
Apama II
Ptolemy III
Euergetes

(Kg. 246–221 BC)
Berenice II
Ptolemy IV
Philopator

(Kg. 221–203 BC)
Arsinoe III
Ptolemy V
Epiphanes

(Kg. 203–181 BC)
Cleopatra I
Syra
Ptolemy VI
Philometor

(Kg. 181–164 BC,
163–145 BC)
Cleopatra II
(Qn. 131–127 BC)
Ptolemy VIII
Physcon

(Kg. 170–163 BC,
145–116 BC)
Eirene
Ptolemy VII
Neos Philopator
Cleopatra III
(Qn, 116–101 BC)
Ptolemy
Memphites
Ptolemy Apion
Cleopatra IVPtolemy IX
Lathyros

(Kg. 116–107 BC,
as Soter II 88–81 BC)
Cleopatra
Selene
Ptolemy X
Alexander I

(Kg. 107–88 BC)
Ptolemy XII
Auletes

(Kg. 80–58 BC,
55–51 BC)
Berenice III
(Qn. 81–80 BC)
Ptolemy XI
Alexander II

(Kg. 80 BC,
for 19 days)
Cleopatra V
(Qn. 58–55 BC)
Cleopatra VI
(Qn. 58 BC)
Berenice IV
(Qn. 58–55 BC)
Ptolemy XIII
Theos Philopator

(Kg. 51–47 BC)
Cleopatra VII
Thea Philopator

(Qn. 51–30 BC)
Ptolemy XIV
(Kg. 47–44 BC)
Arsinoe IV
(Qn. 48–47 BC)
Julius
Caesar
Mark
Antony
Ptolemy XV
Caesarion

(Kg. 44–30 BC)
Alexander
Helios
Ptolemy
Philadelphus
Cleopatra
Selene II
Ptolemy of
Mauretania
Detailed Ptolemaic family tree
AntipaterLagusArsinoe of Macedon
Eurydice
Ptolemy I
Soter

(Kg 303–282 BC)
Berenice I
(∞ Philip

Magas
of Cyrene

Apama II

See below: Berenice II)
Lysimachus
LysandraPtolemaisPtolemy CeraunusArsinoe II
Ptolemy II
Philadelphus

(Kg. 285–246 BC)
Arsinoe I
Berenice II of Egypt
(daughter of
Magas of Cyrene,
see above: Berenice I
)

Ptolemy III
Euergetes

(Kg. 246–221 BC)
Berenice Syra
Antiochus III the GreatArsinoe III
Ptolemy IV
Philopator

(Kg. 221–203 BC)
Cleopatra I
Syra

Ptolemy V
Epiphanes

(Kg. 203–181 BC)

Ptolemy VI
Philometor

(Kg. 181–164 BC,
163-145 BC)
Cleopatra II
(Qn. 131–127 BC)

Ptolemy VIII
Physcon

(Kg. 170–163 BC,
145–116 BC)
Eirene ?
Ptolemy EupatorCleopatra Thea
Ptolemy VII
Neos Philopator
Cleopatra III
(Qn, 116–101 BC)
Ptolemy
Memphites
Ptolemy Apion
Cleopatra TryphaenaCleopatra IV
Ptolemy IX
Lathyros

(Kg. 116–107 BC,
as Soter II 88–81 BC)
Cleopatra V
Selene
?
Ptolemy X
Alexander I

(Kg. 107–88 BC)
?Berenice III
(Qn. 81–80 BC)

Ptolemy XI
Alexander II

(Kg. 80 BC,
for 19 days)
Ptolemy of Cyprus
Ptolemy XII
Auletes

(Kg. 80–58 BC,
55–51 BC)
Cleopatra VI
(Qn. 58 BC)

Berenice IV
(Qn. 58–55 BC)

Ptolemy XIII
Theos Philopator

(Kg. 51–47 BC)

Cleopatra VII
Thea Philopator

(Qn. 51–30 BC)

Ptolemy XIV
(Kg. 47–44 BC)
Arsinoe IV
(Qn. 48–47 BC)
Julius
Caesar
Mark
Antony

Ptolemy XV
Caesarion

(Kg. 44–30 BC)
Alexander
Helios
Cleopatra
Selene II
Juba II
of Mauretania
Ptolemy Philadelphus
Ptolemy of
Mauretania

Other notable members of the Ptolemaic dynasty[edit]

A seated woman in a fresco from the Roman Villa Boscoreale, dated mid-1st century BC. It likely represents Berenice II of Ptolemaic Egypt wearing a stephane (i.e. royal diadem) on her head.[14]

Health[edit]

Cameo of Ptolemaic rulers (Kunsthistorisches Museum)

Continuing the tradition established by previous Egyptian dynasties, the Ptolemies engaged in inbreeding including sibling marriage, with many of the pharaohs being married to their siblings and often co-ruling with them.[15] Ptolemy I and other early rulers of the dynasty were not married to their relatives, the childless marriage of siblings Ptolemy II and Arsinoe II[16] being an exception. The first child-producing incestuous marriage in the Ptolemaic dynasty was that of Ptolemy IV and Arsinoe III, who were succeeded as co-pharaohs by their son Ptolemy V, born 210 BC. The best-known Ptolemaic pharaoh, Cleopatra VII, was at different times married to and ruled with two of her brothers (Ptolemy XIII until 47 BC and then Ptolemy XIV until 44 BC), and their parents were also likely to have been siblings or possibly cousins.[10]

The Gonzaga Cameo of Ptolemy II Philadelphus and Arsinoe II from Alexandria (Hermitage Museum)

Contemporaries describe a number of the Ptolemaic dynasty members as extremely obese,[17] while sculptures and coins reveal prominent eyes and swollen necks. Familial Graves' disease could explain the swollen necks and eye prominence (exophthalmos), although this is unlikely to occur in the presence of morbid obesity. This is all likely due to inbreeding depression. In view of the familial nature of these findings, members of the Ptolemaic dynasty are likely to have suffered from a multi-organ fibrotic condition such as Erdheim–Chester disease, or a familial multifocal fibrosclerosis where thyroiditis, obesity and ocular proptosis may have all occurred concurrently.[18]

Dates in brackets on the Cup of the Ptolemies represent the regnal dates of the Ptolemaic pharaohs. They frequently ruled jointly with their wives, who were often also their sisters, aunts or cousins. Several queens exercised regal authority. Of these, one of the last and most famous was Cleopatra ("Cleopatra VII Philopator", 51–30 BC), with her two brothers and her son serving as successive nominal co-rulers. Several systems exist for numbering the later rulers; the one used here is the one most widely employed by modern scholars.

Gallery[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Jones 2006, p. xiii: "They were members of the Ptolemaic dynasty of Macedonian Greeks, who ruled Egypt after the death of its conqueror, Alexander the Great".
  2. ^ Pomeroy 1990, p. xvi: "while Ptolemaic Egypt was a monarchy with a Greek ruling class".
  3. ^ Jeffreys 1999, p. 588: "Ptolemaic kings were still crowned at Memphis and the city was popularly regarded as the Egyptian rival to Alexandria, founded by the Macedonian Greeks".
  4. ^ Depuydt 1999, p. 838: "During the Ptolemaic period, when Egypt was governed by rulers of Greek descent...".
  5. ^ a b Robins 2001, p. 108: "...Cleopatra VII, the last member of the Greek Ptolemaic dynasty to govern Egypt. Although the Ptolemies were not only Greek by origin but also by culture, they adopted from the Egyptians the custom of royal brother-sister marriage"
  6. ^ a b Jones 2006, p. 3.
  7. ^ Epiphanius of Salamis, however, puts the total number of years of the Ptolemaic dynasty at 306, presumably calculated from 306/5 BC to 1 AD. See: Epiphanius' Treatise on Weights and Measures – The Syriac Version (ed. James Elmer Dean), University of Chicago Press 1935, p. 28 (note 104). Compare On Weights and Measures.
  8. ^ Rutherford 2016, p. 4: "The second (phase of relationship between Greek and Egyptian culture) begins when Egypt is taken over by a Greek-speaking elite in the last decades of the fourth century. From then on, the two cultures coexisted, which inevitably resulted in interactions and mutual influence between them".
  9. ^ Jones 2006, p. 10.
  10. ^ a b Move over, Lannisters: No one did incest and murder like the last pharaohs on The A.V. Club
  11. ^ Wasson, Donald (February 3, 2012). "Ptolemy I". World History Encyclopedia. Retrieved October 1, 2016.
  12. ^ Tunny, Jennifer(2001)The Health of Ptolemy II Philadelphus. The Bulletin of the American Society of Papyrologists/ Vol.38(1/4), pp.119-134
  13. ^ W. Huß, Ägypten in hellenistischer Zeit (Egypt in Hellenistic times). C. H. Beck, Munich 2001, p. 679
  14. ^ Pfrommer, Michael; Towne-Markus, Elana (2001). Greek Gold from Hellenistic Egypt. Los Angeles: Getty Publications (J. Paul Getty Trust). ISBN 0-89236-633-8, pp. 22–23.
  15. ^ Walter Scheidel (September 1996). "Brother-sister and parent-child marriage outside royal families in ancient Egypt and Iran: A challenge to the sociobiological view of incest avoidance?". Ethology and Sociobiology. 17 (5): 321. doi:10.1016/S0162-3095(96)00074-X.
  16. ^ Ptolemy II "Philadelphus" on Encyclopædia Britannica
  17. ^ Michalopoulos, A.; Tzelepis, G.; Geroulanos, S. (2003). ""Morbid obesity and hypersomnolence in several members of an ancient royal family"". Thorax. 58 (3): 281–282. doi:10.1136/thorax.58.3.281-b. PMC 1746609. PMID 12612315.
  18. ^ Ashrafian, Hutan (2005). "Familial proptosis and obesity in the Ptolemies". J. R. Soc. Med. 98 (2): 85–86. doi:10.1177/014107680509800224. PMC 1079400. PMID 15684370.
  19. ^ Walker, Susan; Higgs, Peter (2001), "Painting with a portrait of a woman in profile", in Walker, Susan; Higgs, Peter (eds.), Cleopatra of Egypt: from History to Myth, Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press (British Museum Press), pp. 314–315, ISBN 9780691088358.
  20. ^ Fletcher, Joann (2008). Cleopatra the Great: The Woman Behind the Legend. New York: Harper. ISBN 978-0-06-058558-7, image plates and captions between pp. 246-247.

Sources[edit]

  • Jones, Prudence (2006). Cleopatra: A Sourcebook. University of Oklahoma Press. ISBN 9780806137414.
  • Pomeroy, Sarah (1990). Women in Hellenistic Egypt, From Alexander to Cleopatra. Wayne State University Press. ISBN 9780814322307.
  • Redford, Donald, ed. (2000). The Oxford Encyclopedia of Ancient Egypt. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0195102347.
  • Jeffreys, David (1999). "Memphis". In Bard, Kathryn (ed.). Encyclopedia of the Archaeology of Ancient Egypt. Routledge. ISBN 9780415185899.
  • Depuydt, Leo (1999). "Rosseta Stone". In Bard, Kathryn (ed.). Encyclopedia of the Archaeology of Ancient Egypt. Routledge. ISBN 9780415185899.
  • Robins, Gay (2001). "Queens". In Redford, Donald (ed.). Oxford Encyclopedia of Ancient Egypt. Vol. 3. Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780415185899.
  • Rutherford, Ian (2016). Greco-Egyptian Interactions: Literature, Translation, and Culture, 500 BCE-300 CE. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0199656126.

Further reading[edit]

  • Bingen, Jean. Hellenistic Egypt. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2007 (hardcover, ISBN 0-7486-1578-4; paperback, ISBN 0-7486-1579-2).
  • Roberta Casagrande-Kim, ed. (2014). When the Greeks Ruled Egypt: From Alexander the Great to Cleopatra. Princeton University Press. ISBN 978-0691165547.
  • A. Lampela, Rome and the Ptolemies of Egypt: The development of their political relations 273–80 B.C. (Helsinki, 1998).
  • J. G. Manning, The Last Pharaohs: Egypt Under the Ptolemies, 305–30 BC (Princeton, 2009).
  • Susan Stephens, Seeing Double: Intercultural Poetics in Ptolemaic Alexandria (Berkeley, 2002).

External links[edit]