Ptolemy of Cyprus


Ptolemy of Cyprus1, king of Cyprus, son of Ptolemy IX2 by an unknown mother, possibly a concubine, but here identified as Cleopatra IV3, probably born late 116, or possibly c. 964, here supposed to have been sent to Cos in 103, whence he was captured by Mithridates VI of Pontus in spring 885, engaged to his daughter, either Mithridatis or Nyssa6, returned to Egypt with Ptolemy XII in 80 and was made king of Cyprus7, committed suicide by poison8 in 589; no marriages or children are known.

[1] PP VI 14559. Gr: PtolemaioV [unattested]. Cicero, De Domo Sua 20, calls him "Ptolemy, king of Cyprus, brother of the king of Alexandria". Ý

[2] Prol. Trogus 40. Ý

[3] By inference. Since Ptolemy XII is here identified with one of the two "children of Selene" mentioned by Justin 39.4, Ptolemy of Cyprus is here assumed to be the other. Since Selene implicitly denied the legitimacy of both sons in 75 when she sought the throne of Egypt for her sons by Antiochus X (Cicero, In C. Verrem 2.4.61), Ptolemy of Cyprus also cannot have been her biological son, but an adoptive son. His evident high status when a child indicates that he shared the same mother as his brother, i.e. that they were both sons of Cleopatra IV on the scenario favoured here. See C. J. Bennett, Anc. Soc. 28 (1997) 39.

Even if it is not accepted that these are the "children of Selene", the close association of these two princes, their engagement to two daughters of Mithridates apparently before their accession, and the division of the kingdom between them at the time of Ptolemy XII's accession, all strongly suggest that they were sons of the same mother, whatever her identity. Ý

[4] Since Ptolemy of Cyprus and Ptolemy XII were almost certainly the sons of the same mother, and since Ptolemy of Cyprus, not being selected as king of Egypt, was the younger of the two, he was most likely born a year or two after his brother. If Ptolemy XII was born in late 117, and was therefore most likely the son of Cleopatra IV, the assumptions that they were not twins and that and the divorce date of Cleopatra IV from Ptolemy IX in late 116 or early 115 leave late 116 as the only possible birthdate. See C. J. Bennett, Anc. Soc. 28 (1997) 39.

If Ptolemy XII was born c. 98, it is not possible to constrain the birthdate of Ptolemy of Cyprus so tightly, but a date of c. 96, making him about 16 when he assumed the throne of Cyprus, seems the best estimate. Ý

[5] Inferred from Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews 13.13.1, which describes how Cleopatra III sent her grandchildren to Cos at the start of her war against the threatened invasion of Egypt by Ptolemy IX; Appian, Mith. 4.23, which describes the capture of Cos by Mithridates; and Appian, Mith. 16.111, which mentions that the two daughters of Mithridates had been engaged to the kings of Egypt and Cyprus, ie. to Ptolemy XII and Ptolemy of Cyprus. A. Bouché-Leclercq, Histoire des Lagides II 124, suggested that these engagements took place after the accession of Ptolemy XII, but this is not possible since Ptolemy XII married Cleopatra V almost immediately after he acceded. Therefore they can only have taken place earlier, i.e. while the two princes were hostages at Mithridates' court, possibly immediately prior to their release. See more detailed discussion under Ptolemy XII. Ý

[6] Appian, Mith. 16.111, which mentions that the two daughters of Mithridates had been engaged to the kings of Egypt and Cyprus, ie. to Ptolemy XII and Ptolemy of Cyprus. It is not specified which daughter was engaged to which brother. See more detailed discussion under Ptolemy XII. Ý

[7] Prol. Trogus 40. It is universally and reasonably inferred that Ptolemy was given Cyprus at the same time that Ptolemy XII was made king of Egypt, although the text does not actually say so. To my knowledge he is not yet attested by contemporary coins or inscriptions from Cyprus. Ý

[8] Plutarch, Cato the Younger 36. Ý

[9] Livy, Periochae 104.6. Ý

Update Notes:

11 Feb 2002: Added individual trees
24 Feb 2002: Split into separate entry
1 July 2003: Added Xref to Plutarch in Lacus Curtius
23 Aug 2003: Added Xref to online Justin
23 Oct 2003: Added Xref to online Appian
24 Feb 2004: Added Xref to online Prol Trogus.
19 Oct 2004: Changed Periochae Xref to Lendering translation
26 Oct 2004: Added note that he and Ptolemy XII probably shared the same mother, whoever she was.
11 Mar 2005: Added Greek transcription; noted lack of contemporary evidence from Cyprus
26 Nov 2006: Note alternate date of birth and maternity implied by the possible DoB of c. 98 for Ptolemy XII.
5 Dec 2010: Fix broken Perseus links

Website © Chris Bennett, 2001-2011 -- All rights reserved