The Bullet Point Alexander: Ptolemy I Soter’s Family

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Ptolemy I Soter

  • Ptolemy Lagides was born in the Macedonian province of Eordaea
  • His father was named Lagus and his mother Arsinoë
  • Ptolemy had one known sibling – Menelaus
  • The date of Ptolemy’s birthdate is not known with certainly. Pseudo-Lucian places it c. 367/6 BC but this is disputed by scholars who believe Ptolemy to be Alexander the Great’s (b. 356 BC) contemporary
  • During the Wars of the Successors that followed Alexander’s death in 323 BC it was rumoured that Ptolemy was Alexander’s half-brother. This was probably no more than propaganda
  • In 305/4 BC, Ptolemy helped the island of Rhodes in its fight against Demetrios Poliorcetes. The Rhodians won the day. To thank Ptolemy for his help, they gave him the title of Soter (Saviour)
  • Ptolemy died in 283 BC

Ptolemy’s Women

  • Ptolemy married either three or four times and had eleven children (six sons and five daughters)
  • The uncertainty in the above figure is caused by the fact that we don’t know if he married Thaïs or not

I. THAÏS OF ATHENS

  • Date of birth and death are both unknown
  • Thaïs was an Athenian hetaera (courtesan)
  • Nota Bene Today, courtesans are commonly regarded as escorts or high-class prostitutes. This understanding does no justice to the hetaera of ancient Greece. Hetaerae were highly educated and cultured women whose company was sought for their intellect and artistic skills. They may also have been hired for sexual services but, unlike prostitutes (pornai), not for this purpose – or for this purpose – alone
  • We do not know when Ptolemy met Thaïs but it may have been through Alexander as Athenaeus (fl. late AD C2nd – early C3rd) states Alexander “liked to keep Thaïs with him”
  • Thaïs is most (in)famous for inciting Alexander to burn the Royal Palace in Persepolis down
  • This story appears in Diodorus’ history, which is based on Cleitarchus’ account of Alexander’s expedition (which draws from the memories of eye witnesses)
  • Unlike Ptolemy, Cleitarchus did not take part on the expedition
  • For his part, Ptolemy mentions what happened at Persepolis only briefly
  • Was he protecting Thaïs’ reputation? Possibly – but be warned, although Cleitarchus spoke to soldiers in the Macedonian army for his history his is not a wholly reliable account. As Livius notes, Cleitarchus ‘delights in fantastic tales and he sometimes sacrificed historical reliability to keep the story entertaining and to stress the psychological development. Therefore, Cleitarchus’ History of Alexander contains many errors (some serious)
  • Thaïs gave birth to three children. Two sons and a daughter: Lagus, Leontiscus and Eirene

Ptolemy’s Children by Thaïs

Lagus

  • Date of birth/death unknown
  • Won a chariot race at the Arcadian Festival in 308/07

Leontiscus

  • Date of birth/death unknown
  • Taken prisoner in Cyprus by Demetrios Poliorcetes in 307/6 (and sent home to Egypt)

Eirene

  • Date of birth/death unknown
  • Married Eunostus, king of Soli (in Cyprus)

II. ARTAKAMA (aka Apame)

  • Born c. 355-345
  • Daughter of Artabazus (Satrap of Hellespontine Phrygia under Artaxerxes II and Bactria under Alexander)
  • Sister of Alexander’s mistress, Barsine
  • Married Ptolemy in Susa, 324 BC
  • No further mention is made of her in the histories. Possible/likely that Ptolemy divorced her after Alexander’s death
  • No known issue

III. EURIDIKE

  • Date of birth and death are both unknown
  • Daughter of Antipater
  • Sister of the diadoch Cassander
  • Married Ptolemy in 321/0 as part of an alliance between Ptolemy and Antipater
  • Gave birth to (at least) one son: Ptolemy ‘Keraunos’ and two daughters: Ptolemais and Lysandra
  • Divorced/became estranged from Ptolemy at an unknown date
  • In 280 BC, Keraunos took his mother to live in Cassandreia in Macedon
  • Appears to have had a festival (the Euridikeia) created in her honour by someone named Apollodorus
  • Aunt of Euridike, daughter of Lysimachus (b. ?362/1 – 282/1 BC) and Nicaea (b. ? – ?)

Ptolemy’s Children by Euridike

Ptolemy Keraunos

  • Born c. 319 BC
  • Keraunos means ‘Thunderbolt’ not because of ‘…”his unpredictable and sinister character,” as hostile propaganda claimed, but for the power he wielded‘ (Waterfield, p. 194)
  • In c. 287 BC Ptolemy I named Ptolemy II Philadelphus as his successor
  • In response to this and on an unknown date Keraunos left Egypt
  • He made his way to Lysimachus’ court in Thrace, perhaps because his half-sister, Arsinoë II, was at that time married to Lysimachus there
  • On an unknown date Keraunos left Thrace after Arsinoë II had Lysimachus’ son, Agathocles (who was married to Arsinoë’s sister, Lysandra), killed
  • They went to the Seleucid court
  • In 281 BC, Seleucus defeated Lysimachus in the Battle of Corupedium. Keraunos took part in the battle on the side of Seleucus
  • In 281/0 BC Seleucus crossed into Thrace to take the Macedonian throne. Wanting it for himself, Keraunos killed the last surviving diadoch
  • Keraunos became king of Macedon. He married his step-sister, Arsinoë II
  • Not long after the marriage, Keraunos murdered three of Arsinoë II’s sons by Lysimachus (a fourth, the eldest, survived)
  • She fled to Egypt where she would marry her brother, Ptolemy II
  • In 279 BC, Keraunos died fighting Celtic invaders

Ptolemais

  • Date of birth and death unknown
  • In c. 298 BC, she was betrothed to Demetrios Poliorcetes as part of a friendship pact between Ptolemy and Seleucus
  • Ptolemais finally married Demetrios in 286 BC at the behest of her mother, Euridike, who was now estranged from Ptolemy

Lysandra

  • Date of birth and death unknown
  • Married to Alexander V in c. 298/7 BC. He was murdered by Demetrios Poliorcetes in 294 BC 
  • Married to Agathocles son of Lysimachus in c. 293 BC as part of an alliance between Ptolemy and Lysimachus
  • Fled to the Seleucid court after Arsinoë II had Agathocles killed

Meleager

  • Date of birth and death unknown
  • Succeeded Ptolemy Keraunos as king of Macedon for two months in 279 BC before being forced to abdicate by his army

Argaeus

  • No details of Argaeus’ life are known to me

IV. BERENIKE

  • Born c.340s BC
  • Daughter of Magas and Antigone
  • Granddaughter of Cassander who was Antipater’s brother (uncle of the diadoch with that name)
  • Married a man named Philip on an unknown date and gave him a son and daughter – Antigone and Magas
  • The father of a third child, Theoxene, is not known with certainty
  • Philip appears to have died by 320/19 when Berenike travelled to Egypt with her cousin Euridike who was on her way to marry Ptolemy
  • Not long after their arrival, Berenike became Ptolemy’s mistress
  • Married Ptolemy in 317 BC
  • Gave birth to three children – one son – Ptolemy II Philadelphus and two daughters: Arsinoë II and Philotera

Ptolemy’s Children by Berenike

Ptolemy II Philadelphus

  • Born 309 BC on Cos
  • Ruled Egypt as Joint-King with Ptolemy I between 285-283 BC
  • Married i. Arsinoë I, daughter of Lysimachus ii. his own sister, Arsinoë II
  • Continued the building of the Lighthouse of Pharos
  • Continued the translation of the Septuagint Bible
  • Continued the building of the Museum of Alexandria (incl. temple and library)
  • Deified his mother and father as ‘Saviour Gods’
  • Ptolemy II and Arsinoë II were worshipped as the Theos Adelphoi (‘Sibling Gods’)
  • Died in 246 BC
  • Succeeded by Ptolemy III Euergetes (son of Arsinoë I)

Arsinoë II

  • Born c. 317/15
  • Married Lysimachus in 300 BC
  • Married her half-brother Ptolemy Keraunos c. 280 BC
  • Fled to Egypt c 280/79 BC after Keraunos murdered three of her sons by Lysimachus
  • In Egypt, she was reunited with her eldest son
  • Married her brother, Ptolemy II Philadelphus c. 276 BC
  • Date of death unknown
  • Callimachus wrote a poem in her honour after her death

Philotera

  • Lived c. 315/09 – c. 282/68 BC
  • Not known if she married or had children
  • After her death, Ptolemy II had Philotera deified, and a temple built in her honour in Alexandria. He also built a new town and named it after her. This town is modern day Safaga

Sources
Dividing the Spoils 
by Robin Waterfield (OUP, 2011)
Ptolemy of Egypt by Walter M. Ellis (Routledge, 1994)
Who’s Who in the Age of Alexander the Great by Waldemar Heckel (Wiley-Blackwell, 2009)
Livius
Wikipedia
.
When I say that something is ‘unknown’, I mean principally that it unknown to me. Therefore, if you know any information regarding Ptolemy’s family (or anything else you read on this blog) do feel free to let me know!

Categories: The Bullet Point Alexander, The Ptolemaic Dynasty | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

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4 thoughts on “The Bullet Point Alexander: Ptolemy I Soter’s Family

  1. It’s a great summary. Thanks for the effort.

    Like

  2. Hi Delos,

    Thank you. By the way, I just saw the Conca painting over at Alexander’s Army. One or two aspects of it have intrigued me so I am going to make some enquiries in the library tomorrow or Friday. If I can find any information I will try and write a blog post this weekend.

    AOS

    Like

  3. gabrielalf

    Thank you very much!

    Like

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