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.
 PP VI 14498. Gr: Berenikh FernoforoV. The epithet Phernophorus ("dowry bearer") is given in Jerome (Commentary on Daniel 11.6). Ý
 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.
This summary only addresses the arguments I have found compelling; Criscuolo and Thompson noted several other points. W. Huß, ZPE 155 (2008) 55, argues against Berenice Phernophorus and in favour of Berenice II. On these particular points he notes:
He agrees that the term parqenoV does normally indicate an unmarried young woman, and considers this the strongest objection to identifying this Berenice as Berenice II. However, he argues that other interpretations are possible. Catullus' version of Callimachus' lost poem Coma Berenice calls parqenioV a "parva virgo", evidently a Latin translation of parqenoV. Yet the event that "won her a throne" is usually supposed to be her role in the murder of Demetrius the Fair. Huß concludes that in this case the description was stressing her youth rather than her virginal unmarried state; and, in essence, if Callimachus could call Berenice II a parqenioV when she had been married then so could Posidippus.
Huß is fond of opposing arguments in favour of Berenice Phernophorus by raising questions of the form "How do we know this?" "Who says this?", often with good cause; but what's sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. We don't actually know that the event that "won [Berenice II] a throne" was in fact her role in the murder of Demetrius the Fair: no ancient source says so. The only statement we have on the subject, Hyginus De Astronomia 2.24, actually says that her reputation was based on facing down a mutiny against her father; this may well be a euphemism for a plan by Demetrius to separate Cyrene from Ptolemaic suzereinty, but that is unproven. Moreover, we don't actually know that she married Demetrius the Fair: the evidence is contradictory.
Further, the contexts of the two characterizations as parqenoV are completely different. Callimachus and Hyginus are describing her state when she was still in Cyrene, but the Berenice of AB 78 is clearly a member of the Ptolemaic court and of the immediate royal family. Certainly, it is theoretically possible that Berenice II was adopted into the family before her marriage to Ptolemy III, but, as Thompson correctly notes, is it likely?
The court poets Callimachus (Coma Berenice, known from the translation by Catullus) and Hyginus (De Astronomia 2.24) certainly describe Ptolemy III as the brother and Ptolemy II as the father of Berenice II. Therefore this "official" relationship is not known just from official documents.
But these are poems from the reign of Ptolemy III, and that of Hyginus explicitly cites Callimachus as a source. The absence of any mention of Ptolemy III, the dedication to the qeoi Adelfoi in Hippika AB 74, the victory of Ptolemy II in AB 88, and the specific mention in AB 82 that he accompanied his daughter Berenice to the Isthmian games as a child, makes it virtually certain that these poems all date from the reign of Ptolemy II. All mentions of Ptolemy III and Berenice II as children of Ptolemy II and Arsinoe II come from his time or later. While Ptolemy II certainly caused Ptolemy III to be posthumously adopted by Arsinoe II, the evidence on this point only refers to the children of Arsinoe I; there is no evidence that he similarly adopted Berenice II.
The assumption, that the statement in AB 82 that Ptolemy II accompanied the child Berenice to the Isthmian games implies biological parenthood, is imposing modern preconceptions of parentage on a very different mentality, and underestimates the importance that he placed on the relationship.
But, as noted above, there is no independent evidence that Ptolemy II placed any importance at all on the idea that Berenice II was his daughter, nor even that he held that idea. Indeed, if he did regard it as important, one has to ask why he did not marry Ptolemy III to his biological sister.
Huß' appeal against modern prejudice might be more compelling if he had cited any ancient evidence outside the case in dispute to support it.
On the age implications of the statements that Berenice was a child [paiV] at the time of her Nemean and Isthmian victories, Huß has nothing directly to say. However, in response to my published discussion of the topic (C. J. Bennett, ZPE 154, 91), he objects that Berenice Phernophorus would have been no longer a child, but 26 years old at the Olympics of 256!
I don't quite know what to make of this extraordinary statement; the word "gobsmacked" comes to mind. I can only conclude that Huß was unable to answer my chronological analysis directly. Of course, I never claimed she was a child at the time of her Olympic victory!
In making her 26 in 256, he refers to W. Huß, Ägypten in hellenisticher Zeit, 307 n. 19, for support. But this only says that he thinks the children of Arsinoe I were born between 281 and 279. In n. 22 he states that he thinks the marriage of Ptolemy II and Arsinoe II happened in 278, but on the same page he admits that it could have been as late as 274 (he completely ignores my argument, based on KAI 63, that it must have happened in about that year). Hence, he must agree that while Berenice Phernophorus could indeed have been as old as 26 in 256, she could also have been as young as 18 -- a parqenioV if ever there was one.
He supposes that Berenice II, as a "child", won her Nemean victory in 249, before the episode with Demetrius the Fair, and the Isthmia (now as both a child and "daughter" of Ptolemy II) in 248. This would imply that Magas of Cyrene died in c. 249/8, which is perhaps possible, though a little tight, but that she was at most about 13 at the time. While such a chronology is perhaps barely possible, it seem unlikely in view of her role in the events that then occurred.
To be fair, Huß does refer to the bounds of childhood (7 to 14) as being those selected by me, even though I had cited ancient evidence supporting them. This implies -- though he does not say so -- that he thinks these bounds are too rigid. Perhaps so; but it would be nice if he had explicitly made the point and shown how it affects the case.
Finally, he draws attention to the description of Berenice as basileuousa -- ruling queen -- in the last line of AB78, and states that it is impossible that such a title could be applied to a mere princess of the house. It must therefore refer to Berenice II. He considers this to be the coup de grâce.
Despite his appeal to poetic licence when discussing the meaning of parqenioV, he is apparently unfamiliar with the concept of hyperbole. This line is the climax of the poem, stressing and celebrating the magnitude of her Olympic victory. Moreover, Ptolemy II was certainly an unmarried widower after the death of Arsinoe II, so there is no question of upsetting his wife.
Following his logic, moreover, it would follow that the poem must date from the reign of Ptolemy III, and specifically the period when Berenice II acted as regent during his Asian campaign in late 246/5. But, as noted above, there is no other indication of such a date, and a couple that argue against it; moreover it was not an Olympic year.
In short, Huß' argument for Berenice II is unconvincing, and the case for identifying the Berenice of AB78 with Berenice Phernophorus remains the stronger.
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
 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
 His first wife was Laodice, mother of Seleucus II. Ý
 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
 Justin 27.1, Polyaenus 8.50. Ý
 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
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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