Unknown daughter of Ptolemy Ceraunus
Name unknown1, said to be a daughter of Ptolemy Ceraunus by an unknown wife2, said to have been married to Pyrrhus I king of Epirus as his fifth wife3 in 281/2804. Nothing else is known about her.
 Not in PP. Ý
 Justin 17.2, 24.1 states that on his accession to the throne of Macedon Ptolemy Ceraunus gave a daughter in marriage to Pyrrhus king of Epirus, along with arms and men to support his Italian campaign, and that Pyrrhus appointed Ptolemy guardian of his kingdom. However, the existence of this marriage, and hence of the daughter of Ptolemy Ceraunus, has been questioned by modern scholars (see e.g. P. Garoufalias, Pyrrhus King of Epirus 320 n. 50). The marriage is not amongst the four listed for Pyrrhus by Plutarch (Pyrrhus 4), who also describes the support Ceraunus gave to Pyrrhus, though with different number of troops than Justin. Plutarch is widely considered the more reliable source. Further, Justin 18.1 also states that Pyrrhus left his son Ptolemy, aged 15, as guardian of his kingdom, which would appear to contradict his similar statement for Ptolemy Ceraunus. For these reasons it is argued that Justin's report is a confused reflection of Pyrrhus' first marriage to Antigone.
N. G. L. Hammond, Historia 37 (1988) 405, suggested that the guardian of Pyrrhus' kingdom was actually Ptolemy II, Antigone's half brother and Ceraunus' former rival for the throne of Egypt, who is mentioned at Justin 17.2.10. Justin notes that "Ptolemy" could lend troops to Pyrrhus because he was militarily strong. Hammond argues that Ceraunus' hold on Macedon relied on a small portion of the army with which Seleucus I had intended to conquer Lysimachus, and was sufficiently tenuous that he could ill afford to loan out troops to Pyrrhus. Ptolemy II, on the other hand, was perfectly capable of supplying trrops to Pyrrhus at the levels described by Justin; moreover, that Ptolemy Ceraunus was so clearly ruthless and untrustworthy, as was shortly to be proved by his marrying Arsinoe II so that he could slaughter her sons, that Pyrrhus would have have known he would have lost both his son and his kingdom if he had made Ceraunus its protector. He suggests that Ptolemy II's protection of Epirus lies behind the embassy that, according to Dio Cassius 10.41, he sent to Rome when Pyrrhus' campaigns in Italy fared badly, an embassy which has otherwise been unexplained. On Hammond's theory, Justin's mention of a marriage to a daughter of "Ptolemy" must be understood as a marriage to a (step)-daughter of Ptolemy I, i.e. a reference to Antigone.
The immediate problem with this conclusion is that, if Hammond's analysis were correct, one would expect Justin (or his source, Pompeius Trogus), to describe Pyrrhus' wife as "Ptolemy's sister", since Ptolemy I is otherwise irrelevant to the passage. Indeed, the same difficulty arises if the protector was Ptolemy Ceraunus, since Antigone was also his step-sister. One might suppose that Trogus originally described a marriage between Pyrrhus and a daughter of Ptolemy II, but his only known daughter, Berenice Phernophorus, had almost certainly not even been born at this time, and any other daughter would certainly have been at most a toddler.
F. W. Walbank, in N. G. L. Hammond and F. W. Walbank, A History of Macedonia III 246 n. 6 correctly notes that it is not necessary to assume that Ptolemy Ceraunus was the protector of the kingdom in order to accept that Pyrrhus married his daugher. Without taking a position on Hammond's main conjecture, there does not seem to me to be any objection to supposing that Pyrrhus could have sought an agreement with both Ptolemies, accepting the troops of Ptolemy II (as protector of the kingdom) while marrying the daughter of Ptolemy Ceraunus. Justin clearly describes Ptolemy Ceraunus as having embarked on a policy of rapprochement with all of his neighbours at this time, implying that his near-term ambitions may not have extended beyond Macedon, and that his actions against Arsinoe II can be understood in that context. Against Hammond's logistical arguments, one might argue that we do not know the size of Ptolemy Ceraunus' forces, that he certainly inherited those of Lysimachus as well as some portion of Seleucus' army, and that his generosity to Pyrrhus could well have been a significant factor in his inability to defend Macedon against the Gallic invasion the following year.
Confusion about troop numbers is endemic in ancient historians, and given the age of Pyrrhus' son it is only plausible that Pyrrhus should have taken extra steps to safeguard the security of his kingdom while he was in Italy, such as a strong treaty with Ptolemy Ceraunus bound through the alleged marriage. It does seem to me, however, that Pyrrhus did make either Ptolemy Ceraunus or Ptolemy II the protector of his kingdom while he was in Italy. F. W. Walbank, in N. G. L. Hammond and F. W. Walbank, A History of Macedonia III 246, accepted Justin 18.1 and supposed that the protector was Pyrrhus' own son Ptolemy, but this seems to me unlikely in light of his age and the loan of troops. H. Heinen, Untersuchungen zur hellenistchen Geschichte des 3. Jahrhunderts v. Chr., 71 n. 273, suggested that Justin (or Trogus) was referring to an internal administrative role when he described him as guardian of the kingdom (custode regni) in Justin 18.1, whereas the "vindex regni" of Justin 17.2 refers to an external role. This seems very reasonable to me.
In the end, it makes little difference to the genealogical question whether Pyrrhus obtained his troops from Ptolemy II or Ptolemy Ceraunus, nor which of them was the protector of the kingdom. The critical items are (a) that Pyrrhus' wife is referred to as a "daughter of Ptolemy" in a context where Ptolemy I is not relevant, and (b) Justin 24.1 clearly states that she was a daughter of Ptolemy Ceraunus. While there are certainly grounds for scepticism, particularly Plutarch's failure to mention her, it seems to me that there is nothing inherently impossible or even implausible in Justin's report, and nor did either Walbank or Heinen. Ý
8-9 Feb 2002: Added individual trees
17 Feb 2002: Split out into separate entry
18 May 2003: Changed Plutarch Xrefs to the Lacus Curtius edition
23 Aug 2003: Added Xrefs to online Justin
21 Sep 2006: Added discussion of Hammond's theory that Ptolemy II was Epirus' protector while Pyrrhus was in Italy
Website © Chris Bennett, 2001-2011 -- All rights reserved