Berenice Phernophorus


Berenice Phernophorus1, daughter of Ptolemy II by Arsinoe I2, date of birth unknown, here suggested as c. 2752.1, victor in the Isthmean and Nemean Games and in the quadriga in the Olympic Games, probably those of the 131st Olympiad in 2562.2, married summer 252 to Antiochus II king of Syria3 as his second wife4, by whom she had one son Antiochus5, murdered with her son at Daphne near Antioch by agents of Seleucus II and Laodice6 in c. September/October 2467.

[1] PP VI 14498. Gr: Berenikh FernoforoV. The epithet Phernophorus ("dowry bearer") is given in Jerome (Commentary on Daniel 11.6). Ý

[2] Schol. Theocritus 17.128. Ý

[2.1] Since Arsinoe I was exiled no later than 274/3, Berenice must have been born in or before this date, which makes her at least in early 20s at the time of her marriage. However D. J. Thompson in K. Gutzwiller (ed.), The New Posidippus: A Hellenistic Poetry Book [forthcoming] points out that she is described as a child [paiV] at the time of her Nemean and Isthmian victories. (Posidippos, Hippika AB 80 (Nemean victory) and AB 82 (Isthmian victory)), i.e. between about 7 and 14 years old. Since the children of Arsinoe I were only posthumously adopted by Arsinoe II, and since the leading woman at court in the years imediately following her death was Bilistiche, who celebrated her own Olympic victories, it seems unlikely -- though certainly not impossible -- that these victories occurred between 274/3 and c. 260. Taken together, these considerations suggest that Berenice was born in c. 275. Ý

[2.2] Posidippos, Hippika. Isthmian Games: AB 82; Nemean Games: AB 79, 80, 81; Olympic Games: AB 78, 87. L. Criscuolo, Chiron 33 (2003) 311 at 312 suggests that AB 81, which is very fragmentary, indicates victories in two Nemean Games; it seems to me that the text could equally well indicate two victories in one Games.

The original editors of the new Posidippus epigrams proposed that the victor was Berenice II, an understandable confusion since both were granddaughters of Berenice I and of Ptolemy I (at least, in courtesy), matching the genealogy of AB 78, and Berenice II is known as an Olympic victor. However, since this Berenice is consistently described as a parqenioV ("maiden") and since AB 78 says her father and grandfather had the same name and AB 82 names her father as "Ptolemy" it seems clear she was Berenice Phernophorus. As noted by E. Kosmetatou, AfP 50 (2004) 18 at 22 n. 18, while Berenice II is sometimes called a daughter of Ptolemy II, she is more usually described as a daughter of Magas of Cyrene. D. J. Thompson in K. Gutzwiller (ed.), The New Posidippus: A Hellenistic Poetry Book, 269, notes that the adoption of Berenice II into the Ptolemaic family would have taken place as a result of her marriage to Ptolemy III, but that in Posidippos, Hippika AB 80 (Nemean victory) and AB 82 (Isthmian victory) the Berenice of the poems is described as a child [paiV], and even accompanied by her father at her Isthmian victory, which shows that she was a member of the royal family well before the age at which Berenice II was married.

As to the date of these victories: since Bilistiche won a victory at the 129th Olympics in 264, and since Berenice was married just before the 132nd Olympics, the Olympic victory can almost certainly be restricted to one of the intervening two Games, i.e. 260 or 256. Since she was a child when she won at the Isthmian and Nemean Games, while a maiden at the Olympics, we may tentatively suggest victories at the Nemean and Isthmian games of 261 and the Olympics of 256. 256 seems more likely -- by this time she was a grown woman, and her presence would advertise her availablility for an exogamous marriage.

See also discussion of Berenice's date of birth. Ý

[3] pCairZen 2.59242, 2.59251 (translated here); the latter describes her being escorted to the Seleucid border in April 252, and the marriage presumably took place a few weeks later. By this time she was certainly in her 20s. G. M. Macurdy, Hellenistic Queens 87, makes the interesting but currently unverifiable suggestion that she had previously been betrothed to Ptolemy "the Son". Ý

[4] His first wife was Laodice, mother of Seleucus II. Ý

[5] Named as Seleucid king in SEG 42.994, a letter from the Ptolemaic commander Tlepolemos to the people of Kildara: W. Blümel, EA 20 (1992) 127. It is tempting to identify this Tlepolemus with Tlepolemus son of Artapates, the eponymous priest for year 39 of Ptolemy II and year 2 of Ptolemy III, and to propose him as the grandfather of Tlepolemus, strategus of Pelusium and regent for Ptolemy V after the fall of Agathocles. Ý

[6] Justin 27.1, Polyaenus 8.50. Ý

[7] S. West, CQ N.S. 35 (1985) 61, argued that date of the events described in Callimachus' poem Coma Berenice is determined by the heliacal rising of the constellation Coma Berenices, which took place around 3 September 246, meaning that Ptolemy III set off on campaign to support his sister and her son in the Third Syrian War at about this time. H. Hauben, AfP 36 (1990) 29, further notes that Antiochus II had died in c. July 246 [reported in Babylon in year 66 month 5 (Abu) = August 246 according to BM 35603, a Babylonian chronicle published in A. J. Sachs & D. J. Wiseman, Iraq 16 (1954) 202], and that the proposed date gives Ptolemy III time to prepare the expedition. It is generally agreed that Berenice and Antiochus were killed very shortly before Ptolemy III reached Antioch; hence their deaths should have occurred in late September/October of 246. Ý

Update Notes:

10 Feb 2002: Added individual trees
18 Feb 2002: Split into separate entry
23 Aug 2003: Added Xrefs to online Justin
24 Feb 2004: Added Xref to online translation of pCairZen 2.59251
27 Nov 2004: Added Posidippos epigram mentioning her Olympic victory
15 Feb 2005: Refined victory dates and estimated date of birth in light of Thompson paper -- thanks to Dorothy Thompson for an advance copy
11 Mar 2005: Added Greek transcription
17 Sep 2006: Added link to online Polyaenus
1 Feb 2009: Added discussion of Huss' argument to identify the Olympic victor of Hippika AB78 as Berenice II rather than Berenice Phernophorus
21 Nov 2010: Fix broken Hippika, DDbDP links

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