Incestuous Marriages and Offspring in the Ptolemaic Dynasty

Towards the end of November last year, I wrote a couple of posts on Ptolemy I Soter’s family (you can read them here and here). In writing them, I made two discoveries. Firstly, that contrary to what I had believed, not every Ptolemy took his sister for his wife. Secondly, that it took a hundred years after Ptolemy I’s arrival in Egypt as satrap following Alexander’s death for the first child born of an incestuous union to be born.
As a result of these discoveries, I thought I would compile a list of who the Ptolemaic kings married and which ones fathered children with their sisters (or, as in one or two cases, another close relative).
The first draft of this post was written using Wikipedia. To make sure it was as accurate as possible, I checked Wikipedia against The Ptolemies of Egypt by Lieut.-Colonel P. G. Elwood (Arrowsmith, 1938). Where they were in disagreement, I went with Elgood. Information derived from other sources is credited where applicable. I am aware that Elwood’s book is now 76 years old so the information therein may have been superseded. If you know of any modern treatments of the Ptolemaic dynasty, do let me know.
Marriages to Unrelated Women
i. Ptolemy I Soter m. Artacama (daughter of Artabazus), Euridike (daughter of Antipater), and Berenike I (daughter of Magas*)
ii. Ptolemy II Philadelphus m. Arsinoë I (daughter of Lysimachus of Thrace)
iii. Ptolemy III Euergetes I m. Berenike II (daughter of Magas of Cyrene)
iv. Ptolemy V Epiphanes m. Cleopatra I (daughter of Antiochus III of Syra)

* Who’s Who in the Age of Alexander the Great by W Heckel  (Wiley-Blackwell, 2009)
Brother-Sister Marriages
i. Ptolemy II Philadelphus m. Arsinoë II
ii. Ptolemy IV Philopator m. Arsinoë III
iii. Ptolemy VI Philometor m. Cleopatra II
iv. Ptolemy VIII Euergetes II m. Cleopatra II
v. Ptolemy IX Soter II (Lathyrosm. his sisters, Cleopatra IV and Cleopatra V Selene
vii. Ptolemy XII Neos Dionysos (Auletesm. Cleopatra VI Tryphaena
viii. Ptolemy XIII m. Cleopatra VII
Marriages to Other Close Relatives
i. Ptolemy VIII Euergetes II m. his niece Cleopatra III
ii. Ptolemy X Alexander I m. his niece Cleopatra Berenike III
iii. Ptolemy XI Alexander II m. his cousin Cleopatra Berenike III
Other Marriages
i. Ptolemy X Alexander I m. [an unknown woman]
Ptolemies Who Didn’t Marry
i. Ptolemy XIV
ii. Ptolemy XV Caesarion
iii. Ptolemy XVI Philadelphus II
Offspring of Incestuous Affairs

i. Ptolemy V Epiphanes son of Ptolemy IV Philopator and Arsinoë III
ii. Cleopatra III, Cleopatra Thea, Ptolemy Eupator, Ptolemy VII Neos Philopator children of Ptolemy VI Philometor and Cleopatra II
iii. Memphites son of Ptolemy VIII Euergetes II and Cleopatra II
iv. Cleopatra IV, Cleopatra V Selene, Ptolemy IX Soter II, Ptolemy X Alexander I and Tryphaena – children of Ptolemy VIII Euergetes II and Cleopatra III
v. Cleopatra Berenike III – daughter of Ptolemy IX and either Cleopatra IV or Cleopatra V Selene
Marriage Status Unknown
i. Ptolemy VII Neos Philopator

Categories: The Ptolemaic Dynasty | Tags: | 5 Comments

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5 thoughts on “Incestuous Marriages and Offspring in the Ptolemaic Dynasty

  1. Ptolemy III and Berenike II were step first cousins, not unrelated. Ptolemy II and Magas and Cyrene were stepbrothers and both the sons of Berenike I from different fathers.


  2. Took a while to get going but once they discovered incest they didn’t look back did they!


  3. Pingback: Kruté boje v rodine, incest a vraždy: Kleopatra II. sa vydala za svojho brata, ktorý jej na svadobnej hostine zabil syna |

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