Ptolemaic dynasty

Ptolemaic Dynasty

CountryAncient Egypt, Macedonia, Mauretania
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

The Ptolemaic dynasty (/ˌtɒlɪˈmɪk/; Ancient Greek: Πτολεμαῖοι, Ptolemaioi), sometimes also known as the Lagids (/ˈlæɪdz/) or Lagidae (/ˈlæɪdi/; Λαγίδαι, Lagidai, after Lagus, Ptolemy I's father), was a Macedonian Greek[1][2][3][4][5] royal family, which ruled the Ptolemaic Kingdom in Egypt during the Hellenistic period. Their rule lasted for 275 years, from 305 to 30 BC.[6] They were the last dynasty of ancient Egypt.

Ptolemy, one of the seven somatophylakes (bodyguards) of Macedon 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 Ptolemy I, later known as Sōter "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.[7] 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

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. 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

Inbreeding and health

In continuation of 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[13] 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 famous Ptolemaic pharaoh, Cleopatra VII, was at different times married to and reigning 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.[7]

Contemporaries describe a number of the Ptolemaic dynasty members as extremely obese,[14] 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 within the Ptolemaic dynasty. 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.[15]

Gallery of images

See also


  1. ^ Jones, Prudence J. (2006). Cleopatra: A Sourcebook . University of Oklahoma Press. p. 14 . They were members of the Ptolemaic dynasty of Macedonians, who ruled Egypt after the death of its conqueror, Alexander the Great.
  2. ^ 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.
  3. ^ 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.
  4. ^ 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 Macedonians.
  5. ^ 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...
  6. ^ Epiphanius of Salamis, however, puts the total number of years of the Ptolemy dynasty at 306. See: Epiphanius' Treatise on Weights and Measures - The Syriac Version (ed. James Elmer Dean), University of Chicago Press 1935, p. 28 (note 104), or what was from 306/5 BCE to 1 CE.
  7. ^ a b Move over, Lannisters: No one did incest and murder like the last pharaohs on The A.V. Club
  8. ^ 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.
  9. ^ 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.
  10. ^ Wasson, Donald (February 3, 2012). "Ptolemy I" . Ancient History Encyclopedia. Retrieved October 1, 2016.
  11. ^ Tunny, Jennifer(2001)The Health of Ptolemy II Philadelphus. The Bulletin of the American Society of Papyrologists/ Vol.38(1/4), pp.119-134
  12. ^ 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.
  13. ^ Ptolemy II Philadelphus on Encyclopædia Britannica
  14. ^ "Morbid obesity and hypersomnolence in several members of an ancient royal family"
  15. ^ 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

External links

Categories: Ptolemaic dynasty | States and territories established in the 4th century BC | States and territories disestablished in the 1st century BC | Dynasties of ancient Egypt | Hellenistic dynasties | African dynasties | African royal families | Ancient Egyptian family trees | Ancient Greek dynasties | Ancient royal families | 4th century BC in Egypt | 3rd century BC in Egypt | 2nd century BC in Egypt | 1st century BC in Egypt | 4th-century BC establishments in Egypt | 1st-millennium BC disestablishments in Egypt | 305 BC | 300s BC establishments | 30 BC | 4th-century BC establishments in Greece | 1st-century BC disestablishments in Greece

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