ptolemy ii


Tetradrachm of Ptolemy II, from Alexandria, Egypt, C. 285-246 BC

Obverse: Diademed head of  Ptolemy I to right, wearing aegis around his neck; behind head, Β. Reverse: ΠΤΟΛΕΜΑΙΟΥ ΣΩΤΗΡΟΣ Eagle, with closed wings, standing left on thunderbolt; between legs, X.

The importance of  this coin stems not from its elegant portrait on the obverse, but from the special legend on the reverse. Instead of  the usual Basileos Ptolemaiou, which was the official regnal name of  all the Ptolemaic kings of  Egypt, this one has Basileos Soteros, which solely refers to the deified founder of  the dynasty, Ptolemy I. The aegis that the king wears makes the connection with the divine quite clear: it was not worn by mere mortals but by the gods, as Athena, or other deified heroes, such as Alexander the Great himself.

Ptolemy II Philadelphus, (309–246 BC) was the king of Ptolemaic Egypt from 283 to 246 BC. He was the son of the founder of the Ptolemaic kingdom Ptolemy I Soter and Berenice, and was educated by Philitas of Cos. He had two half-brothers, Ptolemy Keraunos and Meleager, who both became kings of Macedonia (in 281 BC and 279 BC respectively), and who both died in the Gallic invasion of 280–279 BC. Ptolemy was first married to Arsinoë I, daughter of Lysimachus, who was the mother of his legitimate children; after her repudiation he married his full sister Arsinoë II, the widow of Lysimachus.

During Ptolemy’s reign, the material and literary splendor of the Alexandrian court was at its height. He promoted the Museum and Library of Alexandria, and he erected a commemorative stele, the Great Mendes Stela.

Philadelphus, born in 309BC, in Greek “Brother-Loving” king of Egypt (285–246 bce), second king [Ptolemy II] of the Ptolemaic dynasty, It was under his reign that the Great Library of Alexandria was opened in the third century BCE. This vast depository is believed to have held almost a million books and was part of a larger complex of academies and schools. Due to the Library’s fame and unprecedented royal support, the medical school at Alexandria grew quickly to become the medical centre of the Hellenic Age.

Crown suggests Queen Arsinoë II ruled ancient Egypt as female pharaoh
Date: November 29, 2010 Source: University of Gothenburg

Queen Arsinoë II in the Philae temple, Aswan, Egypt.

Researchers are largely agreed on Queen Arsinoë II’s importance from the day that she was deified. She was put on a level with the ancient goddesses Isis and Hathor, and was still respected and honoured 200 years after her death when her better-known descendant Cleopatra wore the same crown. But the reasons behind Arsinoë’s huge influence have been interpreted in many different ways.

Maria Nilsson has studied her historical importance by interpreting her personal crown and its ancient symbols.“My conclusion instead is that Arsinoë was a female pharaoh and high priestess who was equal to and ruled jointly with her brother and husband, and that she was deified during her actual lifetime,” says Nilsson. “It was this combination of religion and politics that was behind her long-lived influence.”

The thesis is clearly structured around the crown and includes its wider context in the reliefs. Nilsson paints an all-round picture of the queen, how she dressed, the gods she was depicted with, the titles she was given, and so on.

Source: University of Gothenburg. “Crown suggests Queen Arsinoë II ruled ancient Egypt as female pharaoh.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 29 November 2010. <>.

World History: Arsinoë II 

Arsinoë II (316 BC–unknown date from July 270 BC until 260 BC) was a Ptolemaic Greek Princess of Ancient Egypt and through marriage was Queen of Thrace, Asia Minor and Macedonia as wife of King Lysimachus and later co-ruler of Egypt with her brother-husband Ptolemy II Philadelphus. Arsinoe II shared all of her brother’s titles and apparently was quite influential, having towns dedicated to her, her own cult (as was Egyptian custom), and appearing on coinage. Apparently, she contributed greatly to foreign policy, including Ptolemy II’s victory in the First Syrian War (274-271 BC) between Egypt and the Seleucid Empire in the Middle East. According to Posidippus, she won three chariot races at the Olympic Games, probably in 272 BC. [x]

Temple of the God Horus at Behdet (Edfu),
facade of the Outer Hypostyle Hall, west side, second intercolumnar wall:
King Ptolemy VIII Euergetes II (wearing a composite ‘Atef’-Crown with ram’s horns, two high feathers, the winged scarab, two Lion-headed Uraei, the two volutes of the naos’ sistrum, and with five Solar orbs on its top) presenting the Wreath of Gold to the Goddess Hathor
(the images have been impiously hammered by the christians…)

Ptolemaic Rhodolite Garnet bust, late 3rd century BC

Carved as a miniature relief bust of the head of a woman, her hair rolled and bound in a fillet, drawn back to a bun, and largely covered by a veil. The subject is probably Berenike II of Egypt (ruled 246-221 BC), wife of Ptolemy III (ruled 246-221 BC).

skywalkeranakinn  asked:

Hii :) Do you have any recs for books on the Seleucid empire or the Diadochi and Epigoni in general? I'm a history student, and I studied Ancient Greek history for 2 semesters last year, but my course profs gave us only one good book for the whole post-Alexander epoch. Thanks in advance :)

hullo! okay so conveniently i spent a semester doing a course called after alexander which was literally just diadochi all day every day and i can still get at the course materials, so i’m just going to throw a bunch of titles harvested from the course bibliography at you to see what sticks - it’s been a while since i read literally any of these, though, so if anyone who’s actually looked at this stuff recently has recs plz chip in. it was mostly primary-source-based, which was super fun and involved heavy use of the hellenistic world: from alexander to the roman conquest - a selection of ancient sources in translation by michael austin, which is basically every primary source on the post-alexandrian empire you could ever want. the other textbooks we were assigned (one totally-coincidentally edited by my lecturer lmao erskine u transparent fuck) were a companion to the hellenistic world and shipley’s the greek world after alexander 323-30bc, which is down in the handbook as “the best single author synthesis of scholarship on the Hellenistic World”, so 

some other general stuff which i remember looking at:

seleucus & other diadochi

that’s a few titles from the bibliography - it’s broken down by topic so if there’s anything aside from seleucus that interests you i can look for more, but that’s what looks like it might be the most helpful to you for now!


The Ptolemaic Dynasty, as with many Royal Houses, had a tendency to re-use names over the generations. The women of the dynasty were either named Cleopatra, Berenice, Arsinoe, or some combination of those names, often with other epithets added to them.

These are the four Queens who had the name of Arsinoe (The accompanying pictures are said to be them, but I can’t absolutely guarantee that as it can be difficult to determine who is being portrayed in Ptolemaic imagery. Arsinoe IV is represented by Kassandra Voyagis, who played her in the 1999 Cleopatra miniseries, since it was difficult to even find an image claiming to be her):

Arsinoe I: A Macedonian Greek Princess, she was married to her distant cousin, Ptolemy II. They had three children together, two sons (Ptolemy and  Lysimachus) and a daughter (Berenice). She was repudiated when her husband’s sister, also called Arsinoe, arrived in Egypt and likely convinced her brother his wife was trying to assassinate him. Ptolemy divorced her and she was sent into exile, marrying his half sister afterwards. Arsinoe I lived very comfortably as a former wife of the Pharaoh and her son, Ptolemy III, would succeed her former husband on the throne when he died.

Arsinoe II: The daughter of Ptolemy I by his second wife, Berenice I. She married King Lysimachus when she was 15, and had 3 sons with him (Ptolemy,  Lysimachus, and Philip). Trying to ensure her eldest son would inherit the throne, she had her husband’s eldest son poisoned. When her husband died she fled the country and married her half brother, Ptolemy Keraunos, in a political union to claim her former husband’s throne. The relationship soon soured, and she conspired with her sons to kill him. Ptolemy Keraunos killed the two younger ones; Ptolemy having managed to flee the country. Arsinoe herself fled to Egypt, seeking the protection of her full brother, the Pharaoh Ptolemy II. Convincing him his wife was trying to assassinate him, she had him divorce her and married him herself. Arsinoe became a very influential Queen, and according to legend even won chariot races at the Olympic Games. After she died, her brother/husband continued to refer to her on official documents and supported her cult, where she was worshipped as a goddess.

Arsinoe III: Daughter of Ptolemy III and Berenice II, she married her brother, Ptolemy IV. They had one known child, a son named Ptolemy V. She was active in government, even accompanying her brother/husband on campaign. When one battle went badly, she appeared in front of the troops and encouraged them to fight harder to defend their families, promising them gold if they won the battle, which they did. Arsinoe was murdered in a coup, shortly after her husband’s death, by men who wanted to secure the regency of her then 5 year old son for themselves.

Arsinoe IV: She was the daughter of Ptolemy XII by an unknown woman. This Arsinoe had two full younger brothers, Ptolemy XIII and Ptolemy XIV, along with three elder half sisters from her father’s first wife: Cleopatra VI, Berenice IV, and Cleopatra VII. When her father died, he left the throne to his eldest surviving children, Cleopatra VII and Ptolemy XIII. The young Ptolemy forced his co-ruler to flee the country, but when Caesar arrived in Egypt he sided with Cleopatra. Arsinoe herself fled the city with her tutor Ganymedes, and joined the army besieging it under General Achillas. The men fought and she had the general executed, placing her tutor in charge. Eventually they negotiated to exchange Arsinoe for Ptolemy, but Ptolemy was later released and is said to have drowned in the Nile, weighed down by his armour. After receiving reinforcements, Caesar’s men won the war and Arsinoe was taken to Rome where she was forced to appear in his Triumph Parade. It was customary to have prominent captives murdered after the parade was over, but Caesar was persuaded to spare Arsinoe and she was given sanctuary at the temple of Artemis in Ephesus. She lived there until 41 B.C. when her sister Cleopatra, who had always been convinced Arsinoe was a threat to her power, convinced Marc Antony to have her murdered on the steps of the temple, violating sanctuary and horrifying the Roman people.

Temple of the Goddess Isis at Philae,
scene from one of the columns of the Hypostyle Hall (east side):
the King, Ptolemy VIII Euergetes II (wearing the Double Crown), offering a statuette of Maat (that is the offering of Righteousness and Truth) to the God Thoth-Ra (ibis-headed, wearing the ‘Atef’-Crown with ram’s horns and uraei, holding the 'Ankh’ and the 'Uas’-scepter)

Temple of the God Horus at Behdet (Edfu),
detail from one of the columns of the facade of the Outer Hypostyle, east side:
in the middle, the royal cartouche with the name of King Ptolemy VIII Euergetes II as “King of Upper and Lower Egypt” represented upon the hieroglyph for “gold” on the top of lilies;
at left, Horus of Behdet in His form of hieracosphinx (falcon- headed lion) with the Double Crown and the ‘Uas’-scepter; at right, Nekhbet in Her form of vulture wearing the White Crown with the two feathers and holding the 'Uas’-scepter; Horus and Nekhbet are both represented upon the 'neb’-basket on the top of lilies

Double Temple of Haroeris and Sobek at Ombos,
detail from the north-west wall of the Inner Hypostyle (from the west side dedicated to Haroeris):
the God Haroeris Khenty-Jrty (falcon-headed, wearing the White Crown) holding three ‘Year’-rods with the 'Heb-Sed’ sign (the symbol of the Royal Jubilee) and giving the falcon-headed 'khepesh’-blade to King Ptolemy VIII Euergetes II (wearing the 'Atef’-Crown with ram’s horns and holding the 'Uas’-scepter)

Eight-drachma coin (octodrachm)

Unknown artist, Greek

Eight-drachma coin (octodrachm), 261-252 BCE


Weight: 27.8 g

This coin is unusual not only because it is gold, but also because it portrays a woman, Arsinoe II, who ruled Egypt alongside her husband Ptolemy II. Although her reign was short, she was an exceedingly popular ruler, and was deified by her people almost immediately upon her death. She is shown here wearing a diadem and veil, both symbols of ancient religion. To the left of her head are the horns of Zeus Ammon, the Libyan god Alexander claimed as a father. Arsinoe’s depiction with such important religious symbols attests to the power she held in her community.

RISD Museum

“…… his court, magnificent and dissolute, intellectual and artificial, has been compared with the Versailles of Louis XIV…….The material and literary splendour of the Alexandrian court was at its height under Ptolemy II. Pomp and splendour flourished. He had exotic animals of far off lands sent to Alexandria, and staged a procession in Alexandria in honour of Dionysus led by 24 chariots drawn by elephants and a procession of lions, leopards, panthers, camels, antelopes, wild asses, ostriches, a bear, a giraffe and a rhinoceros. According to scholars, most of the animals were in pairs - as many as eight pairs of ostriches - and although the ordinary chariots were likely led by a single elephant, others which carried a 7-foot-tall (2.1 m) golden statue may have been led by four.”