PTOLEMAIC DYNASTY

Ptolemaic Dynasty - Ptolemy I - XV - Cleopatra


This period is confusing due to all of the co-regencies. Scholars are not always in agreement on the order of reigns and, in some case, the reigns themselves, from Ptolemy VI through Ptolemy XI. In any event, Egypt's authority and wealth was intact until the death of Cleopatra, at which time, Egypt was overpowered by Rome.


Ptolemy I Soter I 323-285

Upon the death of Alexander the Great in 323 BC, the throne of Egypt fell to Ptolemy I, the son of Lagus. He was a veteran soldier and trusted commander who had served Alexander. He started the Ptolemaic Dynasty, which lasted about 300 years. He ran Egypt like a business, strictly for profit. One of the few surviving works of Ptolemy I Soter is the temple of Kom Abu Billo, which was dedicated to Hathor "Mistress of Mefket".


Ptolemy II Philadelphus 282-246

Ptolemy II Philadelphus, which means 'Brother/Sister-loving', was the second ruler of the Ptolemaic Dynasty. His construction efforts included that of building the canal that linked the Nile to the Gulf of Suez. He was married to his full sister Arsinoe II. He also began a tradition of a four-yearly celebration to honor his father. It was intended to have a status equal to the Olympic games. According to the "Letter of Aristeas", Ptolemy II requested 70 Jewish scholars come from Jerusalem to translate the Pentateuch into a Greek version to be placed into the Great Library collection. He died on January 29, 246 BC.


Ptolemy III Euergeter I 246-222

Ptolemy III Euergeter I was the third ruler of the Ptolemaic Dynasty. He was the son of Ptolemy II Philadelphus and Arsinoe II and was married to Berenike, his sister. During the Third Syrian War of Ptolemy III, he discovered the main port in the Axumite kingdom, which was very important to the trade of ivory. He died in 222 BC.


Ptolemy IV Philopator 222-205

Ptolemy IV Philopator was the fourth ruler of the Ptolemaic Dynasty. Philopator means 'Father-loving'. He married his sister Arsinoe and the two received a cult as the Father-loving Gods (Theoi Philopatores). He died in the summer of 204. After his death, two of his most powerful ministers had his wife, Arsinoe III, killed.


Ptolemy V Epiphanes 205-180

Ptolemy V Epiphanes was the fifth ruler of the Ptolemaic Dynasty. He was the son of Ptolemy IV Philopator and Arsinoe III. He became king after his father's death, when he was only five years old. After his father's death, his mother was eager to become the next regent. Ptolemy IV Philopator's two most powerful ministers, Sosibius and Agathocles had Arsinoe murdered. He was passed from the control of one adviser to another. The Rosetta Stone gives the trilingual inscription of the ceremonies attending the coronation of Ptolemy V Epiphanes. He was married to Cleopatra I. He died at the age of twenty-eight while putting down the last of the insurgents in the Delta. There were rumors that he had been poisoned. He left his wife, who was the daughter of Antiochus, as regent for their young son Ptolemy VI Philomentor.


Ptolemy VI Philometor 180-164 & 163-145

Ptolemy VI Philometor was the sixth ruler of the Ptolemaic Dynasty. He was the son and successor of Ptolemy V Epiphanes, who died when Philometor was a very young boy. His mother died at approximately four years after Philometor took the throne and he was under the control of his guardians, Eulaeus and Lenaeus. His wife-sister was Cleopatra II and his younger brother was Ptolemy VII Euergetes II Physcon. In 164 BC, Philometor left Alexandria and went to Rome where he pretended to be working-class. He waited here until the authorities came to him. Physcon ruled in his absence and it was becoming intolerable. The Alexandrians soon were begging for Philometor to return to Alexandria. In May of 163, the two brothers agreed to split up the rule of Egypt. Physcon would rule the western province of Cyrenaica and Philometor was ruler of Egypt. This lasted until Philometor's death in 145 BC.


Ptolemy VII Neos Philopator 145

Ptolemy VII Neos Philopator was the seventh ruler of the Ptolemaic Dynasty. He was the son of Ptolemy VI Philometor and Cleopatra II. Upon Philometor's death, Cleopatra's son, who was about 16 years old and had been appointed co-ruler by his father earlier that year, became king under his mother's regency. Philopator's uncle Physcon (Ptolemy VIII Euergetes II) wanted to rule and a large number of supporters. He could not get Cleopatra out of the way, so he did the next best thing, he married her. Philopator was killed during the wedding feast.


Ptolemy VIII Euergetes II 170-163 &145-116

Ptolemy VIII Euergetes II (Physcon) was the eighth ruler of the Ptolemaic Dynasty. He was the younger brother of Ptolemy VI Philometor and the uncle of Ptolemy VII Neos Philopator. He ruled Egypt when Philometor fled Alexandria for Rome. His rule proved to be intolerable and the Alexandrians were begging for Philometor to return. When he did, the two brothers split up rule; Physcon ruling the western province of Cyrenaica and Philometor ruled Egypt. Upon Philometor's death, his son, Philopator, took over the throne with his mother as co-regent. Physcon married Philopator's mother, Cleopatra II, and had Philopator killed at the wedding feast. He returned to Memphis as Pharaoh and expulsed many of the Alexandrians who had sided against him. He also married Cleopatra II's daughter, Cleopatra III. He died on June 26, 116 BC and left his power to Cleopatra III and whichever of her sons she might prefer.


Cleopatra III & Ptolemy IX Soter II 116-107 & 88-80

Cleopatra III & Ptolemy IX Soter II (Lathyros) were co-regents during the Ptolemaic Dynasty. Cleopatra III was the niece of Physcon (Ptolemy VIII Euergetes II) and was married to him while her mother was still his official wife. She bore Physcon two sons - Ptolemy IX Philometor Soter II (Lathyros) and Ptolemy X Alexander I as well as three daughters, Cleopatra IV, Cleopatra Tryphaena, and Cleopatra Selene.

In Physcon's will he left the succession to Cleopatra and to whichever son she preferred. She hated Lathyros, but doted on the younger son Alexander. The Alexandrians wanted Lathyros to be co-regent. He was then governor of Cyprus. Lathyros was brought back to Alexandria to co-rule and Alexander was sent to Cyprus to replace Lathyros.

Lathyros was married to Cleopatra IV, his sister, but his mother repudiated the marriage and replaced her with Cleopatra Selene, who was Cleopatra IV's sister. Cleopatra IV went to Cyprus where she tried to raise an army and to marry Ptolemy Alexander. She failed to marry him and moved on to Syria where she used her army as a dowry and married Antiochus IX Cyzicenus who was son of Antiochus Sidetes and Cleopatra Thea.

Cleopatra III finally succeeded in driving out Lathyros in 107 BC when she accused him of trying to murder her. He left behind his wife and his two sons. His brother returned from Cyprus and assumed the throne. Lathyros was in Cyprus during this time.

After the death of Alexander in a naval battle, Lathyros, who was now in his mid-fifties, was brought back to Alexandria to try to put back together the Ptolemaic empire. He died at the age of 62 and left no legitimate heir to the throne, both of his sons by Cleopatra Selene appear to have died at a young age. His daughter Cleopatra Berenice ruled alone for a while after his death.


Cleopatra III & Ptolemy X Alexander I 107-88

Cleopatra III & Alexander I were co-rulers of the Ptolemaic Dynasty after Cleopatra had driven out her older son, Ptolemy IX Soter II (Lathyros), after accusing him of trying to kill her. Alexander had been the governor of Cyprus, but after Lathyros had been ousted, he returned to Alexandria to rule with his mother. Not long after he came to rule, his mother soon grew tired of him as well and forced him to flee from Alexandria. In 101, he returned under the pretense of a reconciliation with his mother. He came back and had her assassinated. Alexander was finally driven out of Egypt after selling off Alexander the Great's gold coffin to raise money. He willed his kingdom to Rome however, they could not claim their inheritance while he was still alive. It did allow him to gain favor with moneylenders in Rome. This did allow him to finance a fleet. He was killed in a naval battle off Cyprus.


Cleopatra Berenice 81-80

Cleopatra Berenice was the daughter of Lathyros (Ptolemy IX Soter II) and was married to Ptolemy X Alexander I. After the death of Alexander, she ruled for about one year alone. She was forced to marry her much younger stepson (or possible son). Nineteen days after the marriage took place, Ptolemy XI murdered his new bride.


Ptolemy XI Alexander II 80

Ptolemy XI Alexander II was the son of Ptolemy X Alexander. After the death of his uncle Ptolemy IX Soter II (Lathyros), his step-mother (or possibly mother) Cleopatra Berenice ruled for about one year alone. Ptolemy XI was required to marry his step-mother, who was much older than he. The marriage took place and nineteen days later, Ptolemy XI killed his new bride. He was then lynched by the Alexandrian mob, with whom his wife had been very popular


Ptolemy XII Neos Dionysos 80-58 & 55-51

Ptolemy XII Neos Dionysos was the illegitimate son of Lathyros (Ptolemy IX Soter II). His younger brother became governor of Cyprus and Ptolemy XII came to Alexandria to rule after the death of Ptolemy XI Alexander II. He was often referred to by his subjects as the Bastard or the Flute Player (Auletes). He referred to himself as 'Theos Philopator Philadelphos Neos Dionysos'. It is only in the history books that he is referred to as Ptolemy XII. He was married to his sister-wife, Cleopatra V Tryphaena and was the father of the famous Cleopatra VII, who grew up to be the last of the Ptolemies.

In 59 BC, he raised enough money to bribe Caesar, who was now consul for Rome. However, he was driven out of Alexandria in 58 BC. This occurred partly because of his tameness when Rome absorbed Cyprus. In his absence, he left as co-regents his wife-sister Cleopatra V Tryphaena and their eldest daughter, Berenice IV. Cleopatra Tryphaena died about a year later and Berenice IV ruled as sole regent. She was made to marry Seleucus Kybiosaktes but after a short time, she had him strangled. Auletes returned to the throne in 55 BC and ruled until his death in 51 BC. On his death, he left his regency to his daughter Cleopatra VII.


Berenice IV 58-55

Berenice IV was the oldest daughter of Auletes (Ptolemy XII Neos Dionysos) and ruled for three years during his exile. At the beginning of his exile, she co-ruled with her mother Cleopatra V Tryphaena until the mother's death about a year later. Berenice ruled as sole regent and was expected to marry. The one selected was Seleucus Kybiosaktes. After a few days, she had her husband strangled. The second man she chose was Archelaus. Her father finally paid out enough money and was brought back to Egypt. Archelaus' army was defeated and Pompey suggested that Auletes be returned to the throne. One of his first acts was to have his daughter, Berenice, executed.



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