Cleopatra Selene


Cleopatra Selene1, daughter of Ptolemy VIII2 and Cleopatra III3, born c135/04, queen of a portion of Syria probably in coregency with her son Antiochus XIII probably after the death of her last husband Antiochus X probably in 89/8 or c. 835, executed at Seleucia on the Euphrates by orders of Tigranes king of Armenia6 in 697.

Cleopatra Selene first married, as his second wife, her brother Ptolemy IX king of Egypt8, in 1159, presumably divorced by their mother on his expulsion in 10710, here identified as the mother at least11 of Berenice III12.

Cleopatra Selene is here identified as Unknown13, the first wife of her brother Ptolemy X, king of Egypt14, presumably married in c. 10715, presumably divorced by their mother Cleopatra III16 in c. 10317, by whom she presumably had at least one child18, Ptolemy XI19.

Cleopatra Selene third married, as his second wife, Antiochus VIII Grypus, king of Syria20, in c. 103/221, by whom she had no children; the marriage was terminated by his death in Ol. 170,4 = 97/622.

Cleopatra Selene fourth married, as his second known wife, Antiochus IX Cyzicenus, king of Syria23, in 9624, by whom she had no children; the marriage was terminated by his death in Ol. 171,1 = 96/525.

Cleopatra Selene fifth married Antiochus X Eusebes, king of Syria26, in 9527, by whom she had two sons, Antiochus XIII Asiaticus28, and a second son, possibly Seleucus VII Philometor29 probably to be identified with Seleucus Kybiosaktes30; the marriage was terminated by his defeat, either by Laodice queen of the ARabs in c. 89/8 or by Tigranes, king of Armenia c. 8331.

[1] PP VI 14520. Gr: Kleopatra Selhnh. She is called simply "Selene" in Justin 39.3, Cicero (In C. Verrem 2.4.61), Appian (Syriaca 11.69), but is also called Cleopatra in Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews 13.16.4. The name "Queen Cleopatra [Sel]ene" occurs on a coin of uncertain origin (A. R. Bellinger, ANSMN 5 (1952) 53). She is certainly the Cleopatra named as sister and wife of Ptolemy IX in his letter to the people of Cyrene, SEG IX.5. G. H. Macurdy, Hellenistic Queens 170ff., numbers her as "Cleopatra V", a convention followed by some other more recent authors. Ý

[2] Inferred from Justin 39.3, where she is stated to be a daughter of Cleopatra III and sister of Ptolemy IX. Ý

[3] Justin 39.3. Ý

[4] The date is inferred from the likely birthdates of her (probable) children, ranging from c. 115 (Berenice III) to c. 90 (her sons by Antiochus X, who were still boys in c. 75), and the desire to minimise the age difference between her and Antiochus X (born c. 113 if he was the son of Cleopatra IV). E. R. Bevan, The House of Seleucus 304 and The House of Ptolemy 334f. n. 4, found this chronology hard to accept and supposed that there might have been two Selenes. G. H. Macurdy, Hellenistic Queens 172 pointed out that Justin 39.4 explicitly names her as the wife of both Ptolemy IX and Antiochus VIII, while Appian, Syriaca 11.69 is equally explicit that Selene had married Antiochus VIII and Antiochus IX before marrying Antiochus X. She also noted that there is nothing inherently unlikely about women over 40 having children. We can also point to the example of Cleopatra II, who had two sons (Ptolemy Eupator and Ptolemy Memphites) born at least 22 years apart and was at least 40 at the birth of the latter. Ý

[5] The evidence for this is a coin ANS 1948.100.2, published by A. R. Bellinger, ANSMN 5 (1952) 53, showing "Queen Cleopatra [Sel]ene and King....." with a double portrait showing Selene in front of a child; the reading "Antiochus" has been confirmed (O. Hoover, pers. comm), and a second instance is now known. Evidently she is acting as regent for the child. Bellinger proposed that the child is Antiochus XIII, and no other identification seems possible. However, he suggests that the coin was struck in Antioch c. 92. The record at the ANS website dates the coin between 87 and 84, on no clear grounds. Both dates seem unlikely for reasons discussed below; rather, a date after 83 seems to be a better match. We have no direct statement of the position of Selene and her sons at this time. But Cicero, In C. Verrem 2.4.61, identifies an Antiochus as a king of Syria and one of two sons of Selene by a king Antiochus; he describes a mission to the senate in which Selene asks for recognition for her sons as kings of Egypt. This would appear to match the situation apparently revealed by the coin. Ý

[6] Strabo 16.2.3. Ý

[7] The date is inferred indirectly from Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews 13.16.4, which reports that Tigranes besieged Selene in Ptolemais, but as soon as he had taken it was forced to return to Armenia since Lucullus was laying waste to Armenia. From the sequence of events in the description of Lucullus' campaigns by Plutarch, his Armenian campaign (Plutarch, Lucullus 25ff.) was launched in 69, with the power of Tigranes being broken at the battle of Tigranocerta on prid. Non. Oct. (Plutarch, Lucullus 27). Hence Tigranes had captured Ptolemais (with Selene) most likely in spring 69 and had lost control of Seleucia no later than October. Selene must therefore have been executed in later summer 69. Ý

[8] Justin 39.3 Ý

[9] The date assumes his divorce from Cleopatra IV occurred in late 116 or early 115. The earliest of the (rather rare) attestations of Ptolemy IX with his sister and wife queen Cleopatra is in l. 23 of OGIS 168 = A. Bernand, De Thèbes à Syène 194ff. No. 244 = F. Piejko, BASP 29 (1992) 5, dated Mesore year 2 = August/September 115. Bernand assigns this to Cleopatra IV, but since it records a decision to dedicate a stele for Ptolemy IX, his sister and his mother in the sanctuary of Chnum at Elephantine, it is evident that the sister is in favour, so Selene seems much the more likely candidate to me. E. R. Bevan, The House of Ptolemy, 327 n. 3 and M. Chauveau, L'Égypte au temps de Cléopâtre (Paris, 1997) 58 n. 17, propose that the reference is actually to Cleopatra II (as "the sister" of Ptolemy VIII), and Chauveau even proposes that it shows that Cleopatra II was still alive on that date. However, since the decrees on OGIS 168 are issued in the names of Cleopatra III and Ptolemy IX alone, and given the clear animosity between Cleopatra II and Cleopatra III, there seems no reason to doubt that the reference is actually to a sister of Ptolemy IX. Ý

[10] Justin 39.4. Ý

[11] Justin 39.4 asserts that Ptolemy IX had two children by Cleopatra Selene. The phrase could refer to a son and a daughter. It is more usually interpreted as meaning two sons, who are here assigned to Cleopatra IV, with Selene being their mother ex officio while she was queen of Egypt; see discussions under Ptolemy XII and Ptolemy of Cyprus. However, should this prove not to be the case, the son involved is then most likely to be Ptolemy the "meirakion" named in Plutarch, Lucullus 2.5, who qould then truly be a son of Selene. Ý

[12] See discussion under Berenice III. Ý

[13] Proposed in C. J. Bennett, Anc. Soc. 28 (1997) 39, 55, so far as I know (and rather to my surprise) for the first time. The arguments are as follows:

i) Circumstantial. Ptolemy XI was evidently of legitimate status, and was born before 103. Therefore we are probably looking for a senior Ptolemaic princess who was available and in her child-bearing years between 107 and 103. Selene fits the bill perfectly, and is the only known princess who does.

ii) Cicero, De rege Alexandrino F10, describes Ptolemy XI as the sister of Berenice III. The statement is often mentioned, but its genealogical significance ignored. A. Bouché-Leclercq, Histoire des Lagides II 119 n.2, suggests that Cicero called her sister in reflection of the standard Ptolemaic protocol, but I see no reason why we should automatically assume that Cicero, who was certainly well-informed, was following what was, to him, a foreign custom. There is only one possible way for the statement to be literally true: through a common mother, i.e. either Cleopatra IV or Selene. A. Bouché-Leclercq Histoire des Lagides II 93 n. 1 considered Cleopatra IV as a possibility, but it seems very unlikely. That leaves Selene.

iii) Justin 39.4, in his obituary for Cleopatra III, says that she had "made two daughters husbandless by marrying them to their brothers in turn" ("duas filias viduas alterno fratrum matrimonio fecit"). This passage does not seem to have been noticed (I overlooked it in my article). It appears to mean that she forced each of her sons to divorce the sister he was married to. We know that Ptolemy IX was forced to divorce Cleopatra IV. Since Cleopatra IV was never in a position where Cleopatra III could force her to be divorced from Ptolemy X, the only possibility remaining is that she forced a divorce between Ptolemy X and Selene. This would be in 103, at the time Justin says that Cleopatra III sent Selene to be the wife of Antiochus VIII. Ý

[14] The existence of a first wife for Ptolemy X is inferred from the description of Ptolemy XI as stepson of Berenice III: Porphyry in Eusebius, Chronicorum I (ed. Schoene) 165. Ý

[15] On the assumption that he married immediately after his accession. If the wife was Selene, then she was not previously available, being married to Ptolemy IX. Ý

[16] Who then married her to Antiochus VIII (Justin 39.4). See discussion of the identity of this first wife above. Ý

[17] She was presumably divorced very shortly before she was married to Antiochus VIII. Ý

[18] On the possibility that the known daughter of Ptolemy X was born of this marriage, see discussion under Cleopatra V. Ý

[19] Porphyry in Eusebius, Chronicorum I (ed. Schoene) 165. Ý

[20] Justin 39.4; Appian, Syriaca 11.69. Ý

[21] Justin 39.4 dates the marriage to the occasion of Ptolemy IX's threatened invasion from Syria. Mobilisation orders exist dated 15 Payni year 14 = 11 = 29 June 103, (pAmh. 2.39 + pGrenf 1.30 -- see E. Van't Dack et al, The Judean-Syrian War of 103-101 B.C. 39ff.) Ý

[22] Appian, Syriaca 11.69. The date is given by Porphyry in Eusebius, Chronicorum I (ed. Schoene) 259. Ý

[23] Appian, Syriaca 11.69. No wife is certainly known for him between the death of Cleopatra IV in 112 and this marriage. Malalas (p208) gives him as wife a certain Brittane, daughter of Arsaces the Parthian, who is otherwise unknown. Despite Malalas' very low degree of reliability, this statement may be correct -- D. Ogden (Polygamy, Prostitutes and Death 156) justly remarks that it is unthinkable Cyzicenus had no wife for 16 or 17 years. If the statement is correct, her father was Mithridates II, who was the only Arsacid king in these years. Ý

[24] She is presumed to have married him immediately after his defeat of Antiochus VIII. Ý

[25] Appian, Syriaca 11.69. The date is given by Porphyry in Eusebius, Chronicorum I (ed. Schoene) 259. Ý

[26] Appian, Syriaca 11.69. Ý

[27] She is presumed to have married him immediately after his defeat of Antiochus IX. Ý

[28] Cicero, In C. Verrem 2.4.61, identifies an Antiochus as a king of Syria and one of two sons of Selene by a king Antiochus. Appian, Syriaca 8.49, Syriaca 11.70 also specifies that Antiochus X was his father and names the son as Asiaticus. Justin 40.2.2 calls the same man a son of Antiochus IX. For reasons discussed in the next paragraph, this is chronologically implausible, and is presumably a confusion with his true father Antiochus X, since coinage evidence indicates they both used the title Eusebes (A. Bouché-Leclercq, Histoire des Séleucides 607).

Cicero, In C. Verrem 2.4.61, records that Antiochus and his brother were in Rome attempting to claim the throne of Egypt by right of their mother, and returned to Syria because they could not get the Senate's attention due to "the critical state of the republic at that time", which is normally understood to be a reference to the revolt of Spartacus in late 73 and 72. On his way back, Antiochus was robbed by Verres, praetor of Sicily 73-70. Hence the visit is usually dated to 75-73, though it could have been a little later. In order to be old enough to travel on such a mission at this time, both princes must have been at least young teenagers; since Selene was evidently ruling their Syrian possessions in their absence and continued to control Ptolemais till 69 it is unlikely they were much older. Hence it would appear that the two princes were born in the late 90s or early 80s. In view of Selene's own date of birth, a date in the late 90s rather than the early 80s is more likely.

Justin and Appian both state that he was made king by Lucullus after Tigranes was forced to evacuate Antioch in 69. Appian also states that he ruled for one year after the withdrawal of Tigranes from Syria, before being deposed by Pompey, after the final overthrow of Mithridates. This dates his reign to 65-4, but suggests that the reign (i.e. the independent reign, after the death of Selene) had started in 69 but had been interrupted. O. D. Hoover, Historia 56 (2007), 280 at 299, 301 suggests that he was temporarliy deposed by Philip II between 67/6 and 66/5. He was put to death shortly after his second deposition by the Emesan prince Sampsigeramus I (Diodorus 40.1(b)), though Philip II, who was supposed to have been assassinated at the same time by Azizus, managed to escape. Ý

[29] Cicero, In C. Verrem 2.4.61, is the only literary source for his existence, and he is not named there. B. Kritt, Celator 16:4 (2002) 25 has published a coin which he interpreted as having been minted in the name of "queen Cleopatra Selen[e] and king Seleu[cus] Philometor". If this identification is correct, then the name of the son, though not necessarily his identity with Seleucus Kybiosaktes, would be established as Seleucus, a name that is in any case not unexpected. However, O. D. Hoover, ZPE 151 (2005) 95, has strongly challenged Kritt's reading of the coin, interpeting it instead as "queen Cleopatra Selen[e] and king [A]n[tiochus] Philometor", i.e. as another coin of Antiochus XIII.

For his likely date of birth, see discussion above. Ý

[30] See discussion under Berenice IV. Ý

[31] Appian, Syriaca 8.48 says that Antiochus X was defeated by Tigranes at the start of the 14 year rule of the latter. Justin 40.1 gives Tigranes 18 years. The extra 4 years is presumably the period between Tigranes' withdrawal from Syria and the final defeat of Mithridates. On this chronology, the defeat of Antiochus X by Tigranes would be in c. 83. Whether Appian meant us to understand that he died at this time is unclear. Appian, Syriaca 11.69 again says Tigranesexpelled him, while Porphyry in Eusebius, Chronicorum I (ed. Schoene) 261 says he was beaten by Philip I, fled to the Parthians and returned to beg for his kingdom from Pompey.

Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews 13.13.4, states that Antiochus X died fighting with "Laodice, queen of the Gileadites" against the Parthians while Philip I and Demetrius III still ruled in Syria. This would place his death in the years 92-88, since Demetrius III was apparently finally defeated in the latter year (Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews 13.14.3). This is irreconcilable with the accounts of Appian and Porphyry in Eusebius, Chronicorum I (ed. Schoene) 261. A. R. Bellinger, The End of the Seleucids 75 n. 73, held that their accounts, particularly that of Eusebius, was a confusion with events in the life of his son Antiochus XIII, and certainly it is hard to interpret the appearance of Pompey in any other way. Bellinger held that Josephus' account was to be accepted, and dated the death of Antiochus X to c. 92.

The most recent treatment of this issue, O. D. Hoover, Historia 56 (2007), 280 at 289-296, 300-1, takes the same approach but notes that the numismatic evidence for this king falls into two clear groups, suggesting two reigns. The first, with an estimated 8-14 obverse dies, would be quite brief, but the second has a large number (estimated 30-39) obverse dies. He holds that this is not consistent with a brief reign ending in c. 92, but one that lasted several more years, involving continuing wars with Philip I and Demetrius III. He supposes a brief first reign immediately after the death of Seleucus VI in c. 94/3, and a second reign 93/2 to 89/8, dating his death to 89/8. He dates Philip I to 88/7-c. 75, though we have no literary evidence for him after his attempt to take Damascus in 84/3 (Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews 13.13.4). This is largely on the basis of the large number of obverse dies estimated for this king, c. 228-387. A reign of this length is necessary to reduce the average usage rate to 8-10 per annum, a level comparable with those estimated for other late Seleucid kings.

While these statistical arguments are plausible, one item that speaks against a date in these years, it seems to me, is the coin published by A. R. Bellinger, ANSMN 5 (1952) 53, showing Selene acting as regent for a child. Since Selene appears still to have acted on behalf of Antiochus XIII as a regent in Syria at least as late as 73, the latter can have been at most a toddler in the period 92/88. Bellinger, supposing the coin to have been minted at Antioch, dates it immediately after the death of Antiochus X c. 92 and before its occupation by Demetrius III in 92/1. He suggests that the son is not shown as an infant for propaganda reasons. While Hoover's chronology allows a little more latitude, the child would still have been very young in this year. But there is no proof that the coin was minted at Antioch, nor that Antiochus X ruled Antioch when he died. He may well have been forced to retreat to Ptolemais-Ake, which was certainly Selene's later base. A date of c. 83 or shortly after is arguably more consistent with the age of the child as portrayed on the coin.

In any case Antiochus X was certainly out of the picture by the time Selene sent her sons to Rome to plead for the throne of Egypt (Cicero, In C. Verrem 2.4.61) since they were acknowledged by Cicero as undisputed kings of Syria at that time. Ý

Update Notes:

8 Feb 2002: Corrected death-site of Cleopatra Selene from Seleucia-on-Tigris to Seleucus-on-Euphrates opposite Samocerta (Brian Kritt)
11 Feb 2002: Added individual trees
24 Feb 2002: Split into separate entry
12 April 2002: Added numismatic evidence & reference that the younger son of Selene was Seleucus VII -- thanks to Brian Kritt
13 April 2003: Expanded discussion of Cicero's evidence for the dates of Antiochus XIII and Seleucus VII -- thanks to Mark Passehl
18 May 2003: Changed Plutarch Xrefs to the Lacus Curtius edition; corrected date format for battle of Tigranocerta
23 Aug 2003: Added Xrefs to online Justin
23 Oct 2003: Added Xrefs to online Appian and (partial) Porphyry
24 Feb 2004: Added Xref to online Strabo
25 August 2004: Added Xref to online Kritt article
13 Sep 2004: Add Xref to online Eusebius
11 Mar 2005: Added Greek transcription
19 Mar 2005: Added discussion of Hoover objection to the Kritt coin (thanks to Oliver Hoover for a copy of his article)
5 Aug 2006: Note that Selene's "duos filios" reported by Justin could be a son and a daughter -- thanks to Mark Passehl.
16 Sep 2006: Add link to Packard Humanities DB
26 Nov 2006: Note that she could be the mother of Ptolemy "the meirakion" if the "duos filios" are not Ptolemy XII and Ptolemy of Cyprus
28 May 2007: Added Xref to BASP paper
7 June 2008: Note Hoover's chronology for Antiochus X (thanks to Oliver Hoover for a copy of his article)
28 Nov 2008: Fix broken Perseus & DDbDP links

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