On Alexander the Great's death in 323 BC, Ptolemy I was appointed satrap of Egypt, and eventually declared himself king in 304 BC.
In order to make themselves acceptable to the Egyptians, the
Ptolemies took on Egyptian traditions such as marrying their siblings, portraying themselves on public monuments in Egyptian style and dress,
and participating in Egyptian religious life. The Egyptians
accepted the Ptolmies as succussors to the pharoahs. The Ptolemies ruled for the next three centuries, turning Egypt into a
Hellenistic kingdom and Alexandria into a center of Greek culture. The Greek influence on the culture
continued to thrive in Egypt throughout the Roman and Byzantine periods until the Muslim conquest.
After replacing the Pharoahs, the Ptolemies reigned as the rulers of Egypt
until the Roman conquest of Egypt in 30 A.D. All the male rulers of this dynasty were all named Ptolemy; most married their sisters, who then co-reigned with them.
The most famous of these sister/wives was Cleopatra VII, who had an affair with the great Julius Caesar, then married first one of her brothers,
then the other, and finally had an affair with Marc Antony.
The Ptolemiaic Dynasty
I. Ptolemy I Soter ("Savior") 306–282 BC; governor from 323. Married Bernice I; their children were Arsinoe II,
Philotera, and Ptolemy II- his co-regent and successor. He also sired children with his other wife, Eurydice. They were Ptolemy Keraunos,
Meleager, Argaeus,Lysandra, and Ptolemais. And with his mistress, Thais, he fathered Lagus, Leontiscus, and Eiren.
Ptolemy I built many great museums and libraries, including the great library at Alexandria, whose chief librarian also served as the tutor of the
crown prince. For a hundred and fifty years this library attracted the greatest Greek scholars,
and the Hellenistic influence could be seen in the fine arts and refined culture the of the early Ptolemies.
However, from the fourth generation to the fourteenth, which fell to the Roman Empire, this dynasty was characterized not by refinement and culture, but by
brutality, vicious murder, and violence .
II. Ptolemy II Philadelphos ("Sister-friend") 284–246 BC. This Ptolemy was a peaceful and cultured king, and no great warrior.
III. Ptolemy III Euergetes ("Benefactor") 246–222
IV. Ptolemy IV Philopator ("Father-friend") 222–204 BC. Murdered his mother (who had killed her husband, who was having a love affair with her mother), married his sister Arsinoe III (who was murdered immediately after Ptolemy IV’s death).
V. Ptolemy V Epiphanes ("[God] Manifest") 210–180 BC. Ptolemy V had his mother’s murderer ripped apart by a mob.
VI. Cleopatra I 180–177 BC
VI. Ptolemy VI Philometor ("Mother-friend") 180–164, 163–145 BC. Ptolemy VI fought his own brother for the throne and married his sister Cleopatra II.
VIII. Cleopatra II 170–115 BC
IX. Ptolemy VII Neos Philopator (with Ptolemy VI and briefly after the latter's death) 145–144 BC. Ptolemy VII was murdered by his uncle the next Ptolemy (VIII) at a wedding feast or he may have been murdered by his own father (Ptolemy VI); scholars disagree.
X. Ptolemy VIII Euergetes II Physkon ("Potbelly") First reign 170–163; then 145–116 BC . Ptolemy VIII was the great
enemy of Ptolemy VI and probable murderer of Ptolemy VII. He also married Cleopatra II, then began an affair with Cleopatra’s daughter Cleopatra III.
He had his own son dismembered and the pieces sent to the mother, Cleopatra II. His daughter Tryphaena had her own sister Cleopatra IV
murdered, for which she was in turn killed by Cleopatra’s husband.
XI. Ptolemy IX Soter II Lathyros ("the Bean") 116–107, 88–81 BC. Ptolemy IX apparently tried to kill his mother,
Cleopatra III (or so she claimed), married first one and then another sister, both called Cleopatra. He fought his brother Ptolemy X for the throne,
with their mother Cleopatra changing sides frequently.
Cleopatra III 140–101 BC
Ptolemy X / Alexander I . 107–88 BC. Ptolemy X killed his mother Cleopatra III and fought his
brother Ptolemy IX for the throne. He married the daughter of Ptolemy IX, Berenice III.
Berenice III 100–80 BC
Ptolemy XI / Alexander II 80 BC. Ptolemy XI also married Berenice III, who was either his sister or mother, but had her
killed after nineteen days: He in turn was lynched by a crowd of angry Greeks.
Ptolemy XII Neos Dionysos Auletes ("the Piper") 80–58, 55–51 BC. Ptolemy XII annoyed his children so much,
particularly his daughter, Berenice IV, that they rebelled against him and drove him from Egypt.
Cleopatra V 80–69 BC
Berenice IV / Cleopatra V I58–55 BC. Berenice IV ruled briefly. She probably had her sister killed. She certainly
had her husband - who oddly enough, was not related to her except by marriage - strangled.
She herself was beheaded at the order of her father, Ptolemy XII.
Ptolemy XIII 51–47 BC. Ptolemy XIII was married to his sister Cleopatra VII, who he fought. He, then, drowned
while trying to escape his wife/sister’s wrath. He was married to Cleopatra VII, who first had an affair with Julius Caesar.
She later married this Ptolemy, who was her brother, and when he died, she married yet another brother, Ptolemy XIV.
Cleopatra VII 51–30 BC. Cleopatra VII, daughter of Ptolemy XII, had an affair with the great Julius Caesar,
then married first one of her brothers, then the other, and finally had an affair with
Marc Antony of Rome in an attempt to maintain her position as ruler. She died after being bitten by an asp when the Romans succeeded in
overthrowing the Ptolemy government. Her death was believed to have been a suicide.
Her son by Julius Caesar, Caesarian, or Ptolemy XV, reigned briefly after her death.
She may have had one brother killed; she certainly fought another brother, and allowed Caesar to victoriously parade her sister,
Arsinoe, in chains through Rome. She was later responsuble for having Arsinoe gutted in a temple sanctuary.
Ptolemy XIV 47–44 BC. Ptolemy XIV was the younger brother of Cleopatra VII, who died from poisoning, probably at her hand, or at least at her command.
Caesarion (Ptolemy XV) 44–30 BC, Son of Cleopatra VII and Julius Caesar of Rome.