Ptolemy XIII Theos Philopator (Greek: Πτολεμαίος Θεός Φιλοπάτωρ, lived 62 BCE/61 BCE – January 13, 47 BCE, reigned from 51 BCE) was one of the last members of the Ptolemaic dynasty (305–30 BC) of Egypt.
Co-ruler of Egypt, inner turmoil
Son of Pharaoh Ptolemy XII (80–58 BCE and 55–51 BCE), he succeeded his father in the spring of 51 BC as co-ruler of Egypt by his marriage and consummation of the marriage to his older sister Cleopatra VII (51–30 BC). In October of 50 BCE, Ptolemy XIII was promoted to senior ruler along with her, although Pothinus acted as regent for him.
In the spring of 48 BCE, Ptolemy XIII and Pothinus attempted to depose Cleopatra VII due to her increasing status as Queen. Her face appeared on minted coins, for example, while Ptolemy XIII's name was omitted on official documents. Ptolemy intended to become sole ruler, with Pothinus acting as the power behind the throne.
They managed to force her to flee to Alexandria, but she soon organized her own army and a civil war began in Egypt. Soon their other sister started to claim the throne as Arsinoe IV (48–47 BC), further complicating the situation.
At this point defeated Roman general Pompey came to Egypt seeking refuge from his pursuing rival Julius Caesar. Initially, Ptolemy XIII and Pothinus pretended to have accepted his request, but on September 29, 48 BC, Pothinus himself murdered the general, in hopes of winning favor with Caesar when the victorious general arrived. When Caesar did arrive he was presented with the head of his deceased rival and former ally, but reportedly, instead of being pleased, reacted with disgust and ordered that Pompey's body be located and given a proper Roman funeral. Cleopatra VII proved more successful in winning Caesar's favor and became his lover. Caesar arranged the execution of Pothinus and the official return to the throne of Cleopatra VII, though she had never officially abdicated her marriage to Ptolemy XIII.
Still determined to depose Cleopatra VII, Ptolemy XIII allied himself with Arsinoe IV. Jointly, they organized the factions of the army loyal to them against those loyal to Cleopatra VII and the relatively small part of his army that had accompanied Caesar to Egypt. The battle between the warring factions occurred in mid-December of 48 BC inside Alexandria itself, which suffered serious damage, including (according to some sources) the burning of some of the buildings which comprised the Library of Alexandria.
The arrival of Roman reinforcements from Pergamum gave the victory to Caesar and Cleopatra VII, forcing Ptolemy XIII and Arsinoe IV to flee the city. Ptolemy XIII reportedly drowned on January 13, 47 BC while attempting to cross the Nile. Whether he was attempting to flee or was seeking negotiations remains uncertain from sources of the time. Cleopatra VII remained the unchallenged ruler of Egypt, although she named their younger brother Ptolemy XIV (47–44 BC) her new co-ruler.
| Preceded by:|
Ptolemy XII Auletes and Cleopatra VII
| Ptolemaic King of Egypt|
with Cleopatra VII
| Succeeded by:|
Ptolemy XIV and Cleopatra VII