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 The Daughters

Identity, Parentage and Marriages

The following table summarises the information known for all royal daughters. Daughters who became ruling queens of Egypt are named in small capitals. Daughters who became ruling queens of Syria are underlined.

Parents

Daughter

Husband(s)

Literary Source

Documentary Source

Ptolemy I +

Thaïs

Eirene

Eunostos

Athenaeus 13.576e

None

Eurydice

Ptolemaïs

Demetrius I

Plutarch, Demetrius 32.3

None

Eurydice

Lysandra

Alexander V

Porphyry, FGrH 695

None

Agathocles

Pausanias 1.9.6

None

Berenice I

Arsinoe II

Lysimachus

Pausanias 1.10.3

None

Ptolemy Ceraunus

Justin 24.3

None

Ptolemy II

Pausanias 1.7.1

CCG 22183

Berenice I

Philotera

[None]

Strabo 16.4.5

pBerol 13417A

Philip +

Berenice I

Antigone

Pyrrhus

Plutarch Pyrrhus 4.4

None

Berenice I?

Theoxena

Agathocles

Justin 23.2

None

        

Ptolemy II +

Arsinoe I

Berenice

Antigonus II

Schol. Theocritus 17.128

pCairZen. 2.59251

        

Ptolemy III +

Berenice II

Arsinoe III

Ptolemy IV

Polybius 15.25.2

IG IX I I2 56d

Berenice II

Berenice

[None]

None

OGIS 56

        

Ptolemy V +

Cleopatra I

CLEOPATRA II

Ptolemy VI

Justin 38.8

pdem BM 10589

Ptolemy VIII

Justin 38.8

pGen. 2.87

Ptolemy VI +

Cleopatra II

Cleopatra Thea

Alexander I

Josephus, AJ 13.4.1

ANS 0000.999.46369

Demetrius II

Josephus, AJ 13.4.8

None

Antiochus VII

Josephus, AJ 13.4.8

None

Cleopatra II

CLEOPATRA III

Ptolemy VIII

Justin 38.8

pdem Amherst II 51

?Cleopatra II?

??Berenice

Attalus III (engaged)

Justin 36.4

None

Ptolemy VIII +

Cleopatra III

Tryphaena

Antiochus VIII

Justin 39.3

None

Cleopatra III

Cleopatra IV

Ptolemy IX

Justin 39.3

None

Antiochus IX

Justin 39.3

None

Cleopatra III

Cleopatra Selene

Ptolemy IX

Justin 39.3

SEG IX.5

Ptolemy X?

Justin 39.4?

None

Antiochus VIII

Appian, Syriaca 11.69

None

Antiochus IX

Appian, Syriaca 11.69

None

Antiochus X

Appian, Syriaca 11.69

ANSMN 5 (1952) pl. XII.4

[Unknown]

Berenice?

Psherenptah II

None

Stele Vienna 82

        

Ptolemy IX +

Cleopatra Selene?

BERENICE III

Ptolemy X

Eusebius, Chron. I 165

pAdler 12

Ptolemy XI

Eusebius, Chron. I 165

SEG XLI 1608??

Ptolemy X +

Berenice III

[?CLEOPATRA V]

Ptolemy XII?

Eusebius, Chron. I 165

None

        

Ptolemy XII +

Cleopatra V

BERENICE IV

Kybiosaktes

Dio Cassius, 39.57

None

Archelaus

Strabo 12.3.34

None

Cleopatra V?

CLEOPATRA VII

Caesar

Suetonius, Caesar 52

None

Ptolemy XIII?

Caesar, BCiv. 3.108

None

Ptolemy XIV?

ps-Caesar, BAlex. 33

pOxy 14.1629

Antony

Plutarch, Antony 25

ANS 1977.158.621

Cleopatra V?

ARSINOE IV

[None]

ps-Caesar, BAlex. 4

None

             

Cleopatra VII +

Antony

Cleopatra Selene

Juba II

Plutarch, Antony 36.3

Mazard 357

Analysis

Almost all the Ptolemaic women are known to us for only one reason: their marriages to foreign or to Ptolemaic kings. While the marriages to Ptolemaic kings are well-documented in Egyptian sources, virtually all the foreign marriages are only known through literary sources -- the marriage of Berenice Phernophoros to Antiochus II being the major exception. The three daughters of Ptolemy XII, in exceptional historical circumstances, are known as queens or antiqueens of Egypt in their own right without having first been married to Ptolemaic kings. Other Egyptian queens who became senior rulers are only known as such from the contemporary sources. The literary sources present a strictly patriarchal succession which is a great simplification of the truth. Two Ptolemaic princesses known through the classical sources as queens consort in Seleucid Syria also became queens regnant there, but in both cases the fact is only known through coinage.

Only one unmarried Ptolemaic princess -- Philotera, younger daughter of Ptolemy I and Berenice I -- is known to us from literary sources, and that is because she was deified on her death. Berenice, a daughter of Ptolemy III who died as an infant, is known to us from the Canopus Decree (OGIS 52) for the same reason, although in this case we also have a reference to her on the exedra of Thermos (IG IX I I2 56d). A passing reference by Appian to "the royal women" at the time of Berenice III is our only literary evidence of others in later times. Our only inscriptional evidence is a reference to the "children" of Ptolemy X on OGIS 180. Both of these sources are open to interpretations that allow them to be identified with known individuals. Even so, it is hard to believe that such daughters did not exist. But they appear, like their younger brothers, to have had no standing outside the court: they owned no estates, and held no priestly offices in the dynastic cult.

It appears that only the king was normally permitted to marry. There is no evidence of marriages for younger sons, nor even (with the exception of Ptolemy IX) for heirs to the throne before their accession. If this was a matter of policy, and if a similar policy was adopted for royal daughters, it would mean that royal princesses were only used for royal marriages. In particular, they were not used to create marriage alliances with the great families of the court. The only traceable case of an alliance between the royal family and a leading family in the kingdom, known only from contemporary sources (stele Vienna 82), is not to an Alexandrian family but to a leading Egyptian one: the marriage of Berenice, almost certainly a daughter of Ptolemy VIII, to the Memphite High Priest Psherenptah II.

At first sight this is somewhat surprising. While we know very little about most of these families, some of them -- the families of Agathocles, Tlepolemus and Sosibius -- can be traced to many offices in government over at least 2-3 generations. If the arguments of Carney, Ogden and other scholars concerning the origins and purpose of Ptolemaic incest, as an instrument to eliminate amphimetric succession disputes, are correct, it may be that such marriages were prohibited to prevent one of the great families from establishing a distaff claim to the throne. But the long term effect of such a policy must have been to create an aristocratic network of interrelated famliies that was totally divorced from the royal family.

It is perhaps relevant that the only evidence for such a marriage is between a daughter of Ptolemy VIII and the leading Egyptian family. Ptolemy VIII had an evil reputation for massacring the elite of Alexandria and for promoting Egyptians to positions of authority. Both phenomena may perhaps be explained by a need to break the opposition of an entrenched elite none of whom had any ties of either personal or family loyalty to him.

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