Ptolemaic Dynasty
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Ptolemaic Dynasty
Ptolemaic Dynasty
British Museum Egypt - Tolomeo I.png
Parent familyArgead
CountryAncient Egypt, Ancient Macedonia
Founded305 BC
FounderPtolemy I Soter
Final rulerPtolemy XV (Egypt),
Cleopatra VII (Egypt)
TitlesPharaoh, King of Macedonia, King of Mauretania
Estate(s)Egypt, Cyrenaica, Cyprus, Canaan
Dissolution30 BC

The Ptolemaic dynasty (; Ancient Greek: ?, Ptolemaioi), the Thirty-third dynasty of Egypt,[1] sometimes referred to as the Lagid dynasty (?, Lagidae; after Ptolemy I's father, Lagus), was a Macedonian Greek[2][3][4][5][6] royal dynasty which ruled the Ptolemaic Kingdom in Ancient Egypt during the Hellenistic period. Their rule lasted for 275 years, from 305 to 30 BC.[7] The Ptolemaic was the last dynasty of ancient Egypt.

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 S?ter "Saviour". The Egyptians soon accepted the Ptolemies as the successors to the pharaohs of independent Egypt. Ptolemy's family ruled Egypt until the Roman conquest of 30 BC.

Like the earlier dynasties of ancient Egypt, the Ptolemaic dynasty practiced inbreeding including sibling marriage, but this did not start in earnest until nearly a century into the dynasty's history.[8] 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 at the conquest by Rome marked the end of Ptolemaic rule in Egypt.

Ptolemaic rulers and consorts

Ptolemy I Soter was the founder of the Ptolemaic dynasty, and the first ruler of the Ptolemaic Kingdom.
Posthumous portrait of Cleopatra VII, from Roman Herculaneum, mid-1st century AD.[9][10]
Cameo of Ptolemaic rulers (Kunsthistorisches Museum)
The Cup of the Ptolemies: front (top) and back (bottom) of the cup (Cabinet des Médailles)

Dates in brackets 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.

Ptolemaic family tree

Lagus of Eordea, MacedonArsinoe of Macedon
Ptolemy I

(Kg 303-282 BC)
Berenice IPhilip
Arsinoe IIPtolemy II

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

(Kg. 246-221 BC)
Berenice II
Ptolemy IV

(Kg. 221-203 BC)
Arsinoe III
Ptolemy V

(Kg. 203-181 BC)
Cleopatra I
Ptolemy VI

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

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

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

(Kg. 107-88 BC)
Ptolemy XII

(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)
Ptolemy XV

(Kg. 44-30 BC)
Selene II
Ptolemy of

Other notable members of the Ptolemaic dynasty

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]


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. 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[15] 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 most well-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 likely siblings or possibly cousins as well.[8]

Contemporaries describe a number of the Ptolemaic dynasty members as extremely obese,[16] whilst 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 likely 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.[17]

Gallery of images

See also


  1. ^ "(PDF) Politics of the Ptolemaic dynasty". ResearchGate. Retrieved .
  2. ^ Jones, Prudence J. (2006). Cleopatra: A Sourcebook. University of Oklahoma Press. p. 14. ISBN 9780806137414. They were members of the Ptolemaic dynasty of Macedonians, who ruled Egypt after the death of its conqueror, Alexander the Great.
  3. ^ Pomeroy, Sarah B. (1990). Women in Hellenistic Egypt. Wayne State University Press. p. 16. while Ptolemaic Egypt was a monarchy with a Greek ruling class.
  4. ^ Redford, Donald B., ed. (2000). The Oxford Encyclopedia of Ancient Egypt. Oxford University Press. Cleopatra VII was born to Ptolemy XII Auletes (80-57 BC, ruled 55-51 BC) and Cleopatra, both parents being Macedonian Greeks.
  5. ^ Bard, Kathryn A., ed. (1999). Encyclopedia of the Archaeology of Ancient Egypt. Routledge. p. 488. ISBN 9780415185899. Ptolemaic kings were still crowned at Memphis and the city was popularly regarded as the Egyptian rival to Alexandria, founded by the Macedonians.
  6. ^ Bard, Kathryn A., ed. (1999). Encyclopedia of the Archaeology of Ancient Egypt. Routledge. p. 687. ISBN 9780415185899. During the Ptolemaic period, when Egypt was governed by rulers of Greek descent...
  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. ^ a b Move over, Lannisters: No one did incest and murder like the last pharaohs on The A.V. Club
  9. ^ 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.
  10. ^ 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.
  11. ^ Wasson, Donald (February 3, 2012). "Ptolemy I". World History Encyclopedia. Retrieved 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. ^ Ptolemy II "Philadelphus" on Encyclopædia Britannica
  16. ^ "Morbid obesity and hypersomnolence in several members of an ancient royal family"
  17. ^ Ashrafian, Hutan (2005). "Familial proptosis and obesity in the Ptolemies". J. R. Soc. Med. 98 (2): 85-86. doi:10.1258/jrsm.98.2.85-a. PMC 1079400. PMID 15684370.

Further reading

  • 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

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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