Argaeus1, generally agreed to be a son of Ptolemy I2, probably by Eurydice3, executed by Ptolemy II for plotting rebellion4, probably in year 1/4 (Mac.) = 282/15.
 PP VI 14489. Gr: ArgaioV Ý
 Pausanias 1.7.1 names him as a brother of Ptolemy II. He is therefore generally agreed to be a son of Ptolemy I. However, immediately after the statement that Ptolemy II killed his brother Argaeus, and immediately before the statement that Ptolemy II killed another brother, son of Eurydice, is the statement that "he" brought the corpse of Alexander from Memphis to Alexandria. Every other statement in the passage, up to his description of the revolt of Magas of Cyrene, lists a crime of Ptolemy II. In this case it is not obvious what crime was being committed by such an action; one can only imagine some kid of impiety. But the movement of Alexander's body to its final resting place and the home of the cult established for him was surely a great state and religious occasion. Moreover, if, as is argued by R. A. Hazzard (Phoenix 41 (1987) 140), Ptolemy II's sins are ordered by degree of iniquity, why should a sin of impiety (or whatever else it may be) be placed between two fraternal murders?
Perhaps the difficulty lies in the pronoun "he". W. S. Greenwalt (AHB 2 (1988) 39) suggested the subject of the phrase in question referred to Argaeus. Against this, C. Habicht (AHB 2 (1988) 88) argues that it grammatically refers to Ptolemy II, not Argaeus, and correctly states that it has been so understood by most, though not all, scholars. If, however, we interpret the "he" as having originally come from a marginal gloss later incorporated in the text that referred to Argaeus, then the comment can still refer to Argaeus, not to Ptolemy. Now, Alexander's body had been hijacked by Ptolemy I in 321/20 (Parian Marble (archonship of Archippus) (FGrH 239 B.23, M. M. Austin, The Hellenistic World from Alexander to the Roman Conquest 39 (21.11)) and was only temporarily interred in Memphis. Most sources (e.g. Strabo 17.1.8 -- see the discussion in P. M. Fraser, Ptolemaic Alexandria II 31ff. n. 79) state that it was moved to Alexandria by Ptolemy I, as we would expect; only this passage in Pausanias appears to suggest that Ptolemy II was involved. Further, Curtius 10.10.20 specifies that the body only remained in Memphis for a few years, i.e. not more than a decade (and probably half of that), which is also what we would expect since this is the period in which the great public edifices of Alexandria were under construction. It seems unlikely that Pausanias simply made a mistake for such an event.
But, if Argaeus was old enough to have been in charge of the transfer no later than 310, then he must have been born no latrer than c330, and probably earlier. On this chronology, his mother was certainly not Eurydice and is unlikely to have been any of Ptolemy I's known partners. He may still have been his son by an early, unknown, partner. But such a date raises another possibility: that the Argaeus involved in the reburial of Alexander was not actually a son of Ptolemy I at all, but the well-known "king's friend" (FiloV) Argaeus, who besieged the palace of Nicocreon king of Salamis in 310 (Diodorus 20.21). Since Menelaus, who was involved in the same events, is explicitly called the king's brother, it is unlikely that this Argaeus is actually the king's son. The description of Argaeus as a brother of Ptolemy II who transferred Alexander's corpse to Alexandria may then be a simple error by Pausanias or his source, confusing two men of that name.
However, it may also have a more complex explanation, reflecting the court title of SuggenoV ("relative") or AdelfoV ("brother"), rather than a genealogical brotherhood. The direct evidence for this court title is all much later. This would appear to make such a use of the term an anachronism. However, that is not necessarily an objection to the conjecture, since Pausanias was writing much later still, so could himself be responsible for the anachronistic use of the title.
There is some arguable evidence for an earlier use of the title. Amunpayum (Amphiomis) (PP VIII 210a), general of the army in Mendes, is recorded as having the title sn nsw ("king's brother"), which appears to be the Egyptian equivalent of the court title AdelfoV (brother) or SuggenhV (relative). The statue of this general (Cleveland 48141 -- L. M. Berman, Catalogue of Egyptian Art: The Cleveland Museum of Art no 355 at 460) was originally dated to the late Ptolemaic dynasty for exactly this reason (H. Ranke, JAOS 73 (1953) 193), but was later redated on stylistic, paleographical and linguistic grounds to the beginning of the dynasty, most likely the reign of Ptolemy II (B. Bothmer et al., Egyptian Sculpture of the Late Period 122ff.). H. de Meulenaere (RSO 34 (1959) 1, 22 n. 2) noted that the title sn nsw was already attested on a statue of the 30th dynasty general and vizier Cha-hapimu (MMA 08.205.1 = W. M. F. Petrie, Memphis I 13, pl. XXXI-XXXII), which might suggest that it was available for use by Ptolemy II for Greek members of the court such as his father's FiloV Argaeus.
Against this, the statue of Cha-hapimu is not a clear use of sn nsw as a court title in the 30th dynasty, since it is also associated with the title "king's father". Petrie understood the combination genealogically, naming Cha-hapimu as the uncle of Nectanebo I, and de Meulenaere himself (ZÄS 90 (1963) 90) interpreted it to name Cha-hapimu as literally the brother of a king (Teos) and the father of another (Nectanebo II). Since the title is not attested as a court title at this time, this example raises the possibility that Amunpayum is not of Ptolemaic date at all, but a member of the 29th or 30th dynasty royal family.
On the other hand, more recent analysis suggests that Ranke's original dating was in fact correct. J. Yoyotte, CRAIBL 1989, 73, at 82 (3), notes that a very comparable statue, apparently from the same workshop, was made for the senti Harkhebi, known as Archibios (H. de Meulenaere & P. Mackay, Mendes II 199, no 62). Yoyotte shows that the title "senti" is a very senior position in the late Saite, Persian and Ptolemaic bureacracy, and convincingly argues that it corresponds to the Greek title of dioketes. On this basis, he identifies the senti Harkhebi with the dioketes Archibios (PP I 20) named in pTebt 1.61b, in connection with years 48 and 49 of Ptolemy VIII = 123/2 and 122/1, and possibly with the hypodioketes Archibios (PP I 905) named in pTebt 3.738 in Choiak year 36 = December/January 135/4. Hence Yoyotte argues that Amunpayum should also be dated late in the reign of Ptolemy VIII, as Ranke had sugested.
Since this passage of Pausanias is the only evidence we have for the existence of Argaeus, all these possibilities must be regarded as conjectural only. Absent contemporary evidence for use of the title AdelfoV by Greek members of Ptolemy II's court, this explanation, which to my mind is otherwise very satisfactory, must be regarded as speculative. The traditional explanation of Pausanias, that Argaeus is a brother of Ptolemy II because he is a son of Ptolemy I, remains the most likely for the moment. Ý
 Pausanias 1.7.1 identifies him, along with an unnamed son who is explicitly named as a son of Eurydice, as a victim of Ptolemy II. He is usually supposed to have been another son of Eurydice. However, Argaeus is distinguished from the other victim by being simply introduced first, as merely a brother of Ptolemy II, so it may well be that he was not a son of Eurydice. The passage is sometimes translated in such a way that the maternity of the unnamed son is clearly distinguished from that of Argaeus ("He put to death another brother also, son of Eurydice" vs "He put to death another brother, also son of Eurydice"). A. Bouché-Leclercq (Histoire des Lagides I 166 n. 1) comments that if Pausanias' general style wasn't so loose one would conclude that Argaeus was actually a full elder brother of Ptolemy II, who was Ptolemy I's youngest son (Justin 16.2), which would make Argaeus also a son of Berenice I. Alternately, they could even be uterine half-brothers, if Argaeus was a son of Berenice's first husband Philip, though the same passage discusses the parentage of Magas of Cyrene at the end, in a way that makes it difficult to sustain this possibility.
R. A. Hazzard (Phoenix 41 (1987) 140) has suggested that the events listed here by Pausanias were ordered according to the degree of iniquity of Ptolemy II's crimes. He supposes that the deaths of Argaeus and his brother occurred in the interval between the death of Ptolemy I and the rapprochement initiated by Ptolemy Ceraunus at the time of his accession to the Macedonian throne (Justin 17.2), and therefore represent a purge of Ceraunus' actual or likely supporters. He concludes that Argaeus' death is due to his being in fact a son of Eurydice. But even if Hazzard is correct about the motivation for the murders, it is unclear that it proves that Argaeus was a son of Eurydice. The decision of Magas of Cyrene to revolt against Ptolemy II, if it dates to this time, suggests that all of the heirs of Ptolemy I felt threatened by him.
Moreover, if, as suggested above, Argaeus can be identified with the "king's friend" Argaeus who fought in Cyprus in c. 310 then he must have been born no later than c. 330. That is, he cannot chronologically have been a son of any of Ptolemy I's known partners except perhaps Thais, and the three children of Thais are explicitly listed by Athenaeus. On this scenario, if Argaeus is to be a son of Ptolemy I at all, he must be a son by a mother who is otherwise unknown. Ý
8-9 Feb 2002: Added individual trees
16 Feb 2002: Split out into separate entry
29 April 2003: Removed links to the online AHB, since this has unfortunately been removed from the web
29 April 2003: Extended discussion of Amunpayum to show that his title of sn nsw could be literally true, if his parents predeceased his brother's ascent
23 Aug 2003: Added Xrefs to online Justin
6 April 2004: Added links to online Parian Marble, Strabo, Curtius
26 May 2004: Update discussion on the controversy over the date of Amunpayum
12 Jan 2005: Added Xref to online copy of Petrie, Memphis I
11 Mar 2005: Added Greek transcription
27 June 2007: Adjust discussion of death date
7 Nov 2010: Adjust discussion of Argaeus' maternity in light of points raised in discussion by Branko van Oppen (for which many thanks)
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