Berenice1, supposed daughter of Ptolemy VIII2, mother unknown3; if a daughter of Ptolemy VIII, likely born between 140 and 1364. She married Psherenptah II, High Priest of Ptah in Memphis5 in or before year 49 = 122/16, by whom she had a son, Pedubast III High Priest of Ptah in Memphis7, through whom she had further descendants8, and possibly Horemhotep, priest of Ptah9, who had descendants10; her date of death is unknown.

[1] Not in PP. Gr: Berenikh. Named on stele Vienna 82, the funerary stele of her son Pedubast III. Ý

[2] Stele Vienna 82, the funerary stele of her son Pedubast III. E. A. E. Reymond, From the Records of a Priestly Family of Memphis 132 and 127(9) read this as stating that "the name of his mother is Berenice <the younger sister> of king Ptolemy whom men call Alexander, the mother-loving god. He went to Alexandria (where) he drank before the king.... ". This book has been subject to some devastating criticism, see e.g. the review of R. Jasnow, JAOS 105 (1985) 339, who critiques her reading of this stele in great detail, but did not object to this particular reconstruction.

On this basis I have previously accepted Reymond's reading, as follows:

J. Quaegebeur (in D. J. Crawford et al., Studies on Ptolemaic Memphis 69 (24)) objected that the text in question is illegible in the published photograph of the stele at the point where Reymond argues that the relationship is given. However, he wrote after the initial announcement of Reymond's proposal (E.A.E. Reymond, Or 46 (1977) 1) but before the publication of her monograph, and may therefore have been unaware that she based her reading on a comparison of the surviving traces to the undoubted occurrence of snt in another line. In any case, given the overall genealogical context, it is difficult to imagine what else it could possibly be but a genealogical statement, and I think at least the reconstruction "sister" must be allowed to stand; so also W. Huss, Aegyptus 70 (1990) 191, 200.

That being said, it is possible that the term may not be literally true, which appears to be the position of G. Hölbl, A History of the Ptolemaic Empire 198. A possible argument against literal sisterhood is that Berenice is not called a king's daughter. But such relationships are rarely expressed consistently by context, and the emphasis on Ptolemy X in Vienna 82 clearly reflects the fact that Berenice's son, Pedubast III, became High Priest of Memphis in his reign. Another consideration in favour of literal sisterhood is the fact that Vienna 82 gives the ancestry of Pedubast III for 8 generations. Most of the funerary stelae of the HPMs gives only the parents and, on occasion, grandparents of the deceased. The reason for the long genealogy is clear if Berenice was in fact a Ptolemaic princess: it demonstrates that the Memphite family is at least as old as the royal family itself.

Finally, there is nothing inherently implausible in the idea that Ptolemy VIII should marry his daughter to the leading Egyptian hierophant. After all, he owed his success in the civil war against Cleopatra II in great part to his policy of promoting Egyptians, and very probably had a son by one, Ptolemy Apion. For these reasons, I believe that Reymond's proposal should be accepted unless it can be positively disproved.

However, something close to positive disproof has now been supplied. W. Cheshire, Enchoria 32 (2010/1) 122, has carefully reexamined the text in question. While noting that Berenice's name is identified with the determinative of a foreigner, she also noted that the surviving traces of the critical phrase include a tall vertical stroke which is consistent with an abbreviated writing of HA.t-sp followed by an ordinal number. Accordingly, she translates as follows: "...the name of his mother is Berenice. <In year X> of king Ptolemy whom men call Alexander, the mother-loving god, he went to Alexandria (where) he drank before the king.... ". This seems entirely reasonable, not least because it is much more banal.

Although her name is marked with a "foreign" determinative, this does not necessarily mean that she was Greek, only that she bore a Greek name. "Berenice" and "Arsinoe" are well documented names among Egyptians of this period.

Accordingly, there is no longer any evidence to connect her to the Ptolemaic dynasty. Ý

[3] If Reymond is correct to restore Vienna 82 as calling her the "younger" sister of Ptolemy X, this could indicate that she was a full sibling, i.e. a daughter of Cleopatra III. The rather imprecise constraints that we have for the dates of birth of Cleopatra III's known children appear to allow the possibility of one more child in the years 142-136. Alternately, given the likelihood that Ptolemy VIII had an Egyptian partner, and the fact that Berenice married an Egyptian, she might be a daughter of this woman and a full sister of Ptolemy Apion. Ý

[4] Pedubast III was born on 1 Hathyr year 50 = 21 November 121 (stele Vienna 82). This gives a minimum birth date for Berenice of c. year 34 = 137/6. If E. A. E. Reymond, From the Records of a Priestly Family of Memphis 132, has correctly restored her relationship to Ptolemy X as younger sister, then she must have been born after late 140, at the earliest. If we further suppose that her mother was Cleopatra III, then we can go further. We can estimate Ptolemy IX as being born in c. 143/2, Ptolemy X in 140/39, Tryphaena probably in c. 141/0, and Cleopatra Selene to be born in the late 130s. Given these estimates, the birth date of Cleopatra IV is in the period 138/5. Since Cleopatra IV was the first wife of Ptolemy IX, she was, on the conjecture that Berenice was a full sister, almost certainly the older of the two, hence most likely born in c. 138. Berenice would then be born the following year, c. 137/6. Ý

[5] Stele Vienna 82. Ý

[6] From the birthdate of Pedubast III on stele Vienna 82, no later than February 121. Under the conjecture that she was a daughter of Cleopatra III, the analysis of her age give above would suggest that the marriage was not much earlier than this. Ý

[7] PP III 5371. Stele Vienna 82. He is numbered as "Pedubast II" by Reymond. Pedubast III was born on 1 Hathyr year 50 = 21 November 121, installed as High Priest of Memphis at the age of 17 = 104/3 and died 7 Mecheir year 5 of Ptolemy XII = 14 February 76. (However, he is also said to have died at the age of 43 years 3 months and 1 day, which does not completely square with these dates of birth and death.) E.A.E. Reymond, Or 46 (1977) 1, 19, makes the completely extraordinary proposal that Ptolemy X gave Pedubast III sovereign status equal to the king himself, and that his son was "sovereign by birth" and "the king's double". She suggests on this basis, without any other apparent foundation, that Pedubast III acted as kingmaker for the installation of Ptolemy XII. J. Quaegebeur (in D. J. Crawford et al., Studies on Ptolemaic Memphis 48) asserts, surely correctly, that such statements must be understood in a religious context, not a political one, and that such far-reaching historical inferences cannot legitimately be drawn. Reymond's published translation of Vienna 82 appears to back down from this suggestion, and seems to describe merely Pedubast III's installation as High Priest of Memphis at the hands of the king, something which is much more believable. Ý

[8] See the genealogy of the Ptolemaic High Priests of Memphis. Ý

[9] Not in PP. BM 392, translated in E. A. E. Reymond, From the Records of a Priestly Family From Memphis 194ff., with additional commentary by D. Devauchelle, CdE 58 (1983) 135.). He is given in BM 392 as part of the ancestry of Pedubast, the husband of Berenice's namesake, her great-granddaughter Berenice. Pedubast's great-grandfather is named as Horemhotep, son of the High Priest of Memphis Psherenptah son of the High Priest of Memphis [....]. Reymond restores the missing name as Harmachis without indication of a lacuna. If this is correct, then Horemhotep is not descended from Psherenptah II but his grandfather Psherenptah I, in which case Horemhotep cannot be a descendent of Ptolemy VIII. However, Devauchelle, noting the existence of the lacuna, argues (against both Quaegebeur and Reymond) that Psherenptah I is never actually documented as High Priest of Memphis, but is only ever called divine father etc. If Devauchelle is correct, then Reymond's restoration is impossible. The solution proposed by Devauchelle is to restore the missing name as Pedubast, i.e. Pedubast II. That makes Psherenptah II, husband of Berenice, the father of Horemhotep. Given Devauchelle's premise, which seems to me to accord with the evidence, the conclusion seems sound, in which case Horemhotep may well be a son of Berenice. Ý

[10] See the genealogy of the Ptolemaic High Priests of Memphis. Ý

Update Notes:

10 Feb 2002: Added individual trees
22 Feb 2002: Split into separate entry
6 April 2002: Updated to link to HPM section
11 April 2002: Added discussion of the significance of the length of the genealogy of Vienna 82.
19 May 2002: Corrected Egyptian date equations as necessary
16 March 2003: Removed discussions of descendants made redundant by the HPM genealogy.
11 Mar 2005: Added Greek transcription
7 August 2012: Note Cheshire's refutation of Reymond's claimed proof that she was a Ptolemaic princess -- thanks to Maxim Panov

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