The Ptolemaic dynasty (Ancient Greek: Πτολεμαῖοι, Ptolemaioi), sometimes also known as the Lagids or Lagidae (Ancient Greek: Λαγίδαι, Lagidai, after Lagus, Ptolemy I's father), was a Macedonian Greek royal family which ruled the Ptolemaic Empire in Egypt during the Hellenistic period. Their rule lasted for 275 years, from 305 BC to 30 BC. They were the last dynasty of ancient Egypt.
Ptolemy, one of the six somatophylakes (bodyguards) who served as Alexander the Great's generals and deputies, was appointed satrap of Egypt after Alexander's death in 323 BC. In 305 BC, he declared himself King Ptolemy I, later known as "Soter" (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.
All the male rulers of the dynasty took the name Ptolemy. Ptolemaic queens, some of whom were the sisters of their husbands, were usually 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
Dates in brackets represent the regnal dates of the Ptolemaic pharaohs. They frequently ruled jointly with their wives, who were often also their sisters. Several queens exercised regal authority, but the most famous and successful was Cleopatra VII (51–30 BC), with her two brothers and her son as successive nominal co-rulers. Several systems exist for numbering the later rulers; the one used here is the one most widely used by modern scholars. Dates are years of reign.
- Ptolemy I Soter (303–285 BC) married first (probably) Thaïs, secondly Artakama, thirdly Eurydice and finally Berenice I
- Ptolemy II Philadelphus (285–246 BC) married Arsinoe I, then Arsinoe II Philadelphus; ruled jointly with Ptolemy I Epigone (267–259 BC)
- Ptolemy III Euergetes (246–221 BC) married Berenice II
- Ptolemy IV Philopator (221–203 BC) married Arsinoe III
- Ptolemy V Epiphanes (203–181 BC) married Cleopatra I
- Ptolemy VI Philometor (181–164 BC, 163–145 BC) married Cleopatra II, briefly ruled jointly with Ptolemy Eupator in 152 BC
- Ptolemy VII Neos Philopator (never reigned)
- Ptolemy VIII Euergetes II (Physcon) (170–163 BC, 145–116 BC) married Cleopatra II then Cleopatra III; temporarily expelled from Alexandria by Cleopatra II between 131 BC and 127 BC, reconciled with her in 124 BC.
- Cleopatra II Philometora Soteira (131–127 BC), in opposition to Ptolemy VIII
- Cleopatra III Philometor Soteira Dikaiosyne Nikephoros (Kokke) (116–101 BC) ruled jointly with Ptolemy IX (116–107 BC) and Ptolemy X (107–101 BC)
- Ptolemy IX Soter II (Lathyros) (116–107 BC, 88–81 BC as Soter II) married Cleopatra IV then Cleopatra Selene; ruled jointly with Cleopatra III in his first reign
- Ptolemy X Alexander I (107–88 BC) married Cleopatra Selene then Berenice III; ruled jointly with Cleopatra III till 101 BC
- Berenice III Philopator (81–80 BC)
- Ptolemy XI Alexander II (80 BC) married and ruled jointly with Berenice III before murdering her; ruled alone for 19 days after that.
- Ptolemy XII Neos Dionysos (Auletes) (80–58 BC, 55–51 BC) married Cleopatra V Tryphaena
- Cleopatra V Tryphaena (58–57 BC) ruled jointly with Berenice IV Epiphaneia (58–55 BC) and Cleopatra VI Tryphaena (58 BC)
- Cleopatra VII Philopator (51–30 BC) ruled jointly with Ptolemy XIII Theos Philopator (51–47 BC), Ptolemy XIV (47–44 BC) and Ptolemy XV Caesarion (44–30 BC).
- Arsinoe IV (48–47 BC) in opposition to Cleopatra VII
Ptolemaic family tree
Other members of the Ptolemaic dynasty
- Ptolemy Keraunos (died 279 BC) - eldest son of Ptolemy I Soter. Eventually became king of Macedon.
- Ptolemy Apion (died 96 BC) - son of Ptolemy VIII Physcon. Made king of Cyrenaica. Bequeathed Cyrenaica to Rome.
- Ptolemy Philadelphus (born 36 BC) - son of Mark Antony and Cleopatra VII.
- Ptolemy of Mauretania (died AD 40) - son of Juba II of Mauretania and Cleopatra Selene II, daughter of Cleopatra VII and Mark Antony. King of Mauretania.
Contemporaries describe a number of the Ptolemaic dynasty as extremely obese, 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.
In view of the familial nature of these findings, members of this 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.
Gallery of images
Ptolemy of Macedon founded the Ptolemaic Dynasty.
Cleopatra II (right)
Ptolemy XIII and Isis
Ptolemy XV, commonly called Caesarion.
- List of Seleucid rulers
- Hellenistic period
- History of ancient Egypt
- Donations of Alexandria
- Ptolemaic Decrees
Jones, Prudence J. (2006). Cleopatra: A Sourcebook. University of Oklahoma Press. p. 14.
They were members of the Ptolemaic dynasty of Macedonian Greeks, who ruled Egypt after the death of its conqueror, Alexander the Great.
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.
Redford, Donald B., ed. (2000). The Oxford Encyclopedia of Ancient Egypt. Oxford University Press.
Cleopatra VII was born to Ptolemy XII Auletes (80–57 BCE, ruled 55–51 BCE) and Cleopatra, both parents being Macedonian Greeks.
Bard, Kathryn A., ed. (1999). Encyclopedia of the Archaeology of Ancient Egypt. Routledge. p. 488.
Ptolemaic kings were still crowned at Memphis and the city was popularly regarded as the Egyptian rival to Alexandria, founded by the Macedonian Greeks.
Bard, Kathryn A., ed. (1999). Encyclopedia of the Archaeology of Ancient Egypt. Routledge. p. 687.
During the Ptolemaic period, when Egypt was governed by rulers of Greek descent...
- Ashrafian, Hutan (2005). "Familial proptosis and obesity in the Ptolemies". J. R. Soc. Med. 98 (2): 85–86.
- Susan Stephens, Seeing Double. Intercultural Poetics in Ptolemaic Alexandria (Berkeley, 2002).
- 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).
- Livius, Ptolemies by Jona Lendering