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The Consorts

Identity

The identities of the consorts of the ruling kings (and occasionally queens) are mostly given by classical sources. Many queens are also known from contemporary documents, and it is only through these documents that it is clear that some queens also became senior ruler. Only one queen consort -- Cleopatra V Tryphaena -- is only known from contemporary sources.

The wives of Ptolemy I, both before and after his assumption of the attributes of royalty, are more Greek wives than Egyptian queens. The transformation of the queen consort from being merely a king's wife and possibly the mother of his heir to being an essential partner in the monarchy, at times even replacing the king, is one of the most striking processes of Ptolemaic history and is much discussed in the literature.

Ruler

Consort

Literary Source

Documentary Source

Ptolemy I

Thaïs

Athenaeus 13.576e

None

Artakama

Arrian, Anabasis 7.4.6

None

Eurydice

Pausanias 1.6.8

None

Berenice I

Pausanias 1.6.8

None

Ptolemy II

Arsinoe I

Pausanias 1.7.3

KAI 43?

Arsinoe II

Pausanias 1.7.1

CCG 22183

Ptolemy III

Berenice II

Justin 26.3

OGIS 56

Ptolemy IV

Arsinoe III

Polybius 15.25

pdem. Vatic. 2037B

Ptolemy V

Cleopatra I

Livy 35.13

OGIS 773

Ptolemy VI

Cleopatra II

Justin 38.8

pRylands 4.583

Ptolemy VIII

Cleopatra II

Justin 38.8

pdem Berlin 3090+3091

Cleopatra III

Justin 38.8

pdem Amherst II 51

Ptolemy IX

Cleopatra IV

Justin 39.3

None

Cleopatra Selene

Justin 39.3

SEG IX.5

Ptolemy X

Cleopatra Selene?

Justin 39.4?

None

Berenice III

Eusebius, Chron. I 165

pAdler 12

Berenice III

Ptolemy XI

Eusebius, Chron. I 165

SEG XLI 1608??

Ptolemy XI

none

Eusebius, Chron. I 165

None

Ptolemy XII

Cleopatra V

None

oPr. Joachim 1

Berenice IV

Seleucus Kybiosaktes

Strabo 17.1.11

None

Archelaus

Strabo 17.1.11

None

Cleopatra VII

Ptolemy XIII?

Dio Cassius 42.35

None

Ptolemy XIV?

Dio Cassius 42.44

None

Antony?

Suetonius, Augustus 69

None

In the above table, consorts marked with a query are uncertain marriages. Sources marked with a single query are uncertain references, but I believe can reasonably be interpreted as referring to the named consort. Sources marked with a double query are argued by others to refer to the named spouse, but I do not accept the argument.

Parentage

The following chart gives sources for the paternity ("F:") and maternity ("M:") of the various royal spouses as known to me. Virtually all parentage is known only from the classical sources, with the exception of the paternities of Berenice II and Arsinoe III, which are also known from the exedra of Thermos. We are generally much better informed of the paternity than the maternity of a royal spouse. Even for queens as prominent as Cleopatra I and Cleopatra II, whose maternities are not actually doubted, we do not have an explicit statement confirming them.

In contemporary records from Egypt, both in Greek or Egyptian, an official relationship is frequently given between a (female) consort of a (male) ruler. With the exception of Cleopatra III, who is called the "daughter" of Ptolemy VIII before their marriage, this relationship is invariably that of "sister". Official relationships which do not correspond to the classical sources are given in quotation marks; those which match are not. In the case of Cleopatra V, no classical statement exists, so it is not certain whether the quotation marks are warranted or not. Nevertheless, it is clear that the official statements of spousal relationship have essentially no evidentiary value.

Consort

Parentage

Literary Source

Doc. Source

Officially

Thaïs

F:

Unknown

None

None

M:

Unknown

None

None

Artakama

F:

Artabazus

Arrian, Anabasis 7.4.6

None

M:

sister of Memnon?

None

None

Eurydice

F:

Antipater

Pausanias 1.6.8

None

M:

Unknown

None

None

Berenice I

F:

Magas

Scol. Theocritus 17.34

None

M:

Antigone

Scol. Theocritus 17.61

None

Arsinoe I

F:

Lysimachus

Pausanias 1.7.3

None

M:

Nicaea? Amestris?

None

None

Arsinoe II

F:

Ptolemy I

Pausanias 1.7.1

None

Sister

M:

Berenice I

Pausanias 1.7.1

None

Berenice II

F:

Magas of Cyrene

Justin 26.3

IG IX I2 56b

"Sister"

M:

Apama/Arsinoe

Justin 26.3

None

Arsinoe III

F:

Ptolemy III

Polybius 15.25

IG IX I2 56d

Sister

M:

Berenice II

Polybius 15.25

IG IX I2 56d?

Cleopatra I

F:

Antiochus III

Appian, Syriaca 1.5

None

"Sister"

M:

Laodice III?

None

None

Cleopatra II

F:

Ptolemy V

Justin 38.8

None

Sister

M:

Cleopatra I?

None

None

Cleopatra III

F:

Ptolemy VI

Justin 38.8

None

"Daughter"

M:

Cleopatra II

Justin 38.8

None

Cleopatra IV

F:

Ptolemy VIII

Justin 39.3

None

M:

Cleopatra III

Justin 39.3

None

Cleopatra Selene

F:

Ptolemy VIII

Justin 39.3

None

Sister (P IX)

M:

Cleopatra III

Justin 39.3

None

Berenice III

F:

Ptolemy IX

Pausanias 1.9.3

None

"Sister"

M:

Cleopatra Selene?

Pausanias 1.9.3?

None

Ptolemy XI

F:

Ptolemy X

Eusebius, Chron. I 165

None

M:

Cleopatra Selene?

Cicero, De reg. Alex. F10?

None

Cleopatra V

F:

Ptolemy X?

Eusebius, Chron. I 166?

None

(")Sister(")

M:

Berenice III?

None

None

 Kybiosaktes

F:

Antiochus X?

None

None

M:

Cleopatra Selene?

None

None

Archelaus

F:

Archelaus

Strabo 17.1.11

None

M:

D. of Mithridates VI?

Strabo 17.1.11?

None

Ptolemy XIII

F:

Ptolemy XII

Dio Cassius 42.35

None

M:

Cleopatra V?

None

None

Ptolemy XIV

F:

Ptolemy XII

Dio Cassius 42.44

None

M:

Cleopatra V?

None

None

Antony

F:

M. Antonius Creticus

Plutarch, Antony 1

None

M:

Julia

Plutarch, Antony 1

None

The Liaisons

In addition to the consorts, there are a number of less formal liaisons that can be traced in the classical literature. Most of these are attributed to Ptolemy II, but mistresses are also known for Ptolemy I, Ptolemy IV and Ptolemy VIII, and Cleopatra VII took Julius Caesar as her lover. Some of the women associated with these kings by modern scholars may not actually have been their mistress, and Cleopatra VII is associated with other lovers in what is clearly hostile propaganda.

Some of these liaisons, most notably, the relationship of Ptolemy IV with Agathoclea and Cleopatra VII with Julius Caesar, had important consequences for the history of the dynasty.

Only one of them -- the affair of Ptolemy II with Bilistiche -- is arguably traceable in contemporary Egyptian sources, and even that is only traceable by consequence of the context established from the classical references.

Ruler

Partner

Literary Source

Ptolemy I

Thaïs

Athenaeus 13.576e

Lamia?

Plutarch, Demetrius 16

Ptolemy II

Agathoclea?

Athenaeus 13.576e-f

Aglais?

Athenaeus 10.415a-b

Bilistiche

Athenaeus 13.576e-f

Cleino

Athenaeus 13.576e-f

Didyme

Athenaeus 13.576e-f

Glauce?

Aelian, De Naturae Animalium 8.11

Mnesis

Athenaeus 13.576e-f

Myrtion

Athenaeus 13.576e-f

Potheine

Athenaeus 13.576e-f

Stratonice

Athenaeus 13.576e-f

Ptolemy IV

Agathoclea

Polybius 14.11

Hippe?

Athenaeus 13.583a-b

Ptolemy VIII

Eirene

Diodorus 33.13

Ithake (= Eirene??)

Josephus, Contra Apionem 2.5

Cleopatra VII

Julius Caesar

Plutarch, Caesar 49.3

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