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Dynasties of Ancient Egypt
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Hellenistic Period
Argead Dynasty
Ptolemaic Dynasty

The Ptolemaic Dynasty was a Hellenistic royal family which ruled over Egypt for nearly 300 years, from 305 BCE to 30 BCE.

Ptolemy, a Macedonian and one of Alexander the Great's generals, was appointed satrap of Egypt after Alexander's death in 323 BCE. In 305 BCE, 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 BCE.

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 suicide at the conquest by Rome marked the end of Ptolemaic rule in Egypt.

Ptolemaic rulers and consorts

The dates in brackets are regnal dates for the kings. 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 BCE-30 BCE), 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.

Argead Dynasty
Name Dates Comments
Ptolemy I Soter 305-282 BC
Ptolemy II Philadelphos 284-246 BC
Arsinoe II Philadelphos 277-270 BC Wife of Ptolemy II
Ptolemy III Euergetes 246-222 BC
Berenice II Euergetes 244/243-222 BC
Ptolemy IV Philopator 222-204 BC
Arsinoe III Philopator 220–204 BC Wife of Ptolemy IV. Murdered.
Ptolemy V Epiphanes Eucharistos 204-180 BC
Cleopatra I Syra 193-176 BC Wife of Ptolemy V, co-regent with Ptolemy VI during his minority
Ptolemy VI Philometor 180-164 BC and 163-145 BC Lived under the control of Ptolemy VIII 164 BC–163 BC; restored 163 BC Died 145 BC
Cleopatra II Philometora Soteira 175-164 BC, 163–127 BC and 124–116 BC Wife of Ptolemy VI. Married Ptolemy VIII around 145 BC; led revolt against him in 131 BC and became sole ruler of Egypt. Later reconciled with Ptolemy VIII; co-ruled with Cleopatra III and Ptolemy VIII until 116 BC.
Ptolemy VIII Euergetes Tryphon 171–163 BC, 144–131 BC and 127–116 BC Proclaimed king by Alexandrians in 170 BC; ruled jointly with Ptolemy VI Philometor and Cleopatra II from 169 to 164 BC. Restored 145–131 BC and again in 127 BC. Died 116 BC
Ptolemy VII Neos Philopator 145–144 BC Proclaimed co-ruler by his father; later ruled under regency of his mother Cleopatra II
Cleopatra III Euergetes 142–131 BC and 127–107 BC Second wife of Ptolemy VIII. Restored with Ptolemy VIII in 127 BC; later co-regent with Ptolemy IX and X. Murdered by her own son Ptolemy X.
Ptolemy Memphites 131 BC Proclaimed King by Cleopatra II; soon killed by Ptolemy VIII
Ptolemy IX Soter 116-110 BC Died 80 BC
Cleopatra IV 116-115 BC Briefly married to Ptolemy IX, but was pushed out by Cleopatra III. Later murdered.
Ptolemy X Alexander 110-109 BC Died 88 BC
Berenice III Cleopatra 81-80 BC Forced to marry Ptolemy XI; murdered on his orders 19 days later
Ptolemy XI Alexander 80 BC Young son of Ptolemy X Alexander; installed by Sulla; ruled for 80 days before being lynched by citizens for killing Berenice III
Ptolemy XII Auletes 80-58 BC and 55–51 BC Son of Ptolemy IX; deposed in 58 BC Reigned briefly with his daughter Cleopatra VII before his death in 51 BC
Cleopatra V Tryphaena 79–68 BC Wife of Ptolemy XII, mother of Berenice IV
Cleopatra VI Tryphaena 58–57 BC Daughter of Ptolemy XII, but theorised by some Egyptologists to actually be the same person as Cleopatra V.
Berenice IV Epiphaneia 58–55 BC Daughter of Ptolemy XII; forced to marry Seleucus Kybiosaktes, but had him strangled. Joint rule with Cleopatra VI until 57 BC.
Cleopatra VII Philopator 52-30 BC Ruled jointly with her father Ptolemy XII, her brother Ptolemy XIII, her brother-husband Ptolemy XIV, and her son Ptolemy XV. In modern usage, the stand-alone use of "Cleopatra" with no ordinal number usually refers to Cleopatra VII. Committed suicide.
Ptolemy XIII Theos Philopator 51-47 BC Brother of Cleopatra VII
Arsinoe IV 48-47 BC In opposition to Cleopatra VII
Ptolemy XIV Philopator 47–44 BC Younger brother of Cleopatra VII and Ptolemy XIII
Ptolemy XV Caesarion 44-30 BC Infant son of Cleopatra VII; aged 3 when proclaimed co-ruler with Cleopatra. Last known ruler of ancient Egypt when Rome took over.
Native Rebel Kings
Name Dates Comments
Horwennefer 205–199 BC Rebel king of Upper Egypt.
Ankhwennefer 199–185 BC Rebel king of Upper Egypt.
Horsaiset-Sausir 131–130 BC Rebel king of Upper Egypt.

Other members of the Ptolemaic dynasty

  • Ptolemy Keraunos (died 279 BCE) - eldest son of Ptolemy I Soter. Eventually became king of Macedon.
  • Ptolemy Apion (died 96 BCE) - 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 ACE 40) - son of Juba II of Mauretania and Cleopatra Selene (II), daughter of Cleopatra VII and Mark Antony. King of Mauretania.

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