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The Sons

Identity and Parentage

There are several royal sons who did not themselves become kings of Egypt, and who are known from the classical or contemporary sources.

Ruler

Son

Mother

Literary Source

Documentary Source

[Lagus]

Menelaus

Arsinoe?

Plutarch, Demetrius 15.2

pHibeh 1.84a

Ptolemy I

Lagus

Thaïs

Athenaeus 13.576e

SIG3 314

Leontiscus

Thaïs

Athenaeus 13.576e

None

Ptolemy Ceraunus

Eurydice

Pausanias 1.6.8

None

Meleager

Eurydice?

Porphyry, FGrH 260 F 3 10

None

Argaeus

Eurydice?

Pausanias 1.7.1

None

[Unknown]

Eurydice

Pausanias 1.7.1

None

Magas

Berenice I + Philip

Pausanias 1.7.1

None

Ptolemy II

Ptolemy "the Son"

Arsinoe II? + Lysimachus?

Prol. Trogus 26

pRev

Lysimachus

Arsinoe I

Schol. Theocritus 17.128

CCG 31137??

Ptolemy Andromachou

Bilistiche?

pHaun 6

 iLabraunda 3

Ptolemy III

[?Lysimachus]

Berenice II?

None

IG IX I I2 56f

Alexander

Berenice II?

None

IG IX I I2 56g

Magas

Berenice II

Polybius 15.25.2

IG IX I I2 56h

Ptolemy IV

[Unknown]?

Agathoclea

Polybius 15.31.13?

None

Ptolemy VI

Ptolemy Eupator

Cleopatra II

Anth. Pal. 7.241?

OGIS 126

Ptolemy

Cleopatra II

Justin 38.8

pKöln 8.350

Ptolemy VIII

Ptolemy Memphites

Cleopatra II

Diodorus 33.13

Naos of Edfu?

Ptolemy Apion

[Unknown]

Livy, Periochae 70

OGIS 144?

Ptolemy IX

Ptolemy of Cyprus

Cleopatra IV?

Cicero, De Domo Sua 20

None

Cleopatra VII

Alexander Helios

Antony

Plutarch, Antony 36.3

None

Ptolemy Philadelphus

Antony

Dio Cassius 49.32.4

None

Wives and Concubines

Of the sons listed above only four are known to have had wives or concubines:

Of sons who were, at points in their lives, kings of Egypt, only two are known to have had wives or concubines at a time they were not king of Egypt:

Most significantly, there is no indication that either Ptolemy Apion or Ptolemy of Cyprus, nor Ptolemy VIII, Ptolemy IX or Ptolemy X, had a wife while they were only kings of non-Egyptian domains.

While it is perhaps anachronistic to talk of a Ptolemaic house law, it would seem that there was, at least after the accession of Ptolemy II, a dynastic prohibition on "royal" marriages for anyone other than a king of Egypt, a prohibition that was flouted only by Ptolemy IX. It is surely likely that royal princes were permitted relations with women of non-royal status. But very few of these women are known to us, and none of their children. Only bastard sons of Ptolemy I, born before he assumed the throne of Egypt, and of Ptolemy II and Ptolemy VIII are known to us. (The case of Ptolemy XII appears to different: his bastardy probably arises from the dynastically prohibited circumstances of the marriage of his parents.) Evidently they were generally regarded as dynastically unimportant.

Analysis

It is of interest to analyse why sons who were not kings are known to us.

The reasons may be summarised as follows:

Only four (possibly five) sons of concubines are known to us. Only two sons ([?Lysimachus] and Alexander, sons of Ptolemy III) known to us from documentary evidence are completely unknown from the classical sources, and both of these are only known in their capacity of royal sons. Thus, while the Ptolemies very probably had other sons unknown to us, it would appear that we have at least a fairly good coverage of those sons who entered public life.

After the reign of Ptolemy I, who made his brother Menelaus governor of Cyprus and his stepson Magas governor of Cyrene, there is no certain example of the use of a royal son in an administrative capacity until the sons of Ptolemy VIII became each in turn the strategos of Cyprus. Archagathus, epistates of Libya under Ptolemy II, was very probably his nephew. The proposal that Lysimachus son of Ptolemy II was a strategos in Upper Egypt seems to be very unlikely. Only Ptolemy Andromachou brother of Ptolemy III, and Magas his son -- both of whom were unlikely ever to be in line for the throne -- are known to have served the state in a military capacity. Thus, unless it was necessary to subdivide the kingdom for political reason, it appears that the younger sons were forbidden access to any opportunities to exercise political power. The absence of any reference to the estates of royal sons in the extensive archives of papyri appears to show that younger sons generally existed as pensioners of the court.

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