CLA219H1 Lecture Notes - Lecture 10: Berenice Troglodytica, Ptolemy Iii Euergetes, Sibling Relationship
Exam: Essay Topic (3) Broad questions that you should leave about an hour for
Dialogue: Imagine a dialogue between certain ancient people about a certain topic
Know mixture of Greek and Egyptian marriages
Antiquity Lecture 10
Greek Egyptian Queens
Moving between the 3/4th C BC to the 1st
Hellenistic age: 323 BC, Alexander the Great at the Battle of Issus (333BC). He dies at a
young age without having a male heir. He has a half brother who is disabled so he wouldn’t
be fit to rule, so there is no direct family member that could be his successor. This led to a
decade where the empire is divided: “Division of Alexander’s Empire among the
Diadochs of Alexander’s successors”
Eventually 3 Hellenistic dynasties are established, and in the year 306BC, they start
thinking of themselves as kings:
o EGYPT = PTOLEMIES
o NEAR EAST = SELEUCIDES
o MACEDON = ANTIGONIDS
The tree diagram (on power point):
Ptolmey I Soter (323-283BC) “The Savior”
Ptolmey II Philadelphus “Sibling Loving”
Ptolmey III Euergetes “Guy who does Good Deeds”
In Alexandria 3rd C BC: *Museion Library (place of the muses) was established, but it was
a place that held books instead of artwork. And in this museion there were many scholars
that started collecting literatures – THE BEGINNING OF LITERARY SCHOLARSHIP
1) Doter: Founder of the Ptolemaic dynasty (ruled from 323-283 BC). He was deified
together with his wife Berenike (defined as Gods). They were Greeks who take over
the role of pharaohs, and this pair was venerated as the savior gods. He had 2
children with the Berenike, and a son from his first marriage before he met
Berenike, named Ptolemaios Keraunos. Ptolemy and Bernike were portrayed as a
devoted loving couple (the woman he left his wife for because they fell in love)
*Basileus: means King
Theocritus: bucolic or pastirao poet, his collection of poems also contained poems
without a bucolic theme.
*PANEGAYRIC: A song of praise
Berenike poem on power point: she is associated with Aphrodite, and the quality
singled out as a divine quality is that she was a faithful wife.
Berenike and Ptolemy had a son together, Ptolemy II, who ruled from 283-246
The plot gets complicated! He is married to Arsinoe, and has a son name Ptolemy III.
Through some complicated events, Arsinoe II (Ptolmey II’s sister) gets married to her full
brother, Ptolmey II… IT’S A SIBLING-LOVING MARRIAGE (they were worshiped as Theoi.)
This incest isn’t allowed in Greek culture; half siblings could marry as long as they didn’t
share the same mother. In Egypt, sibling marriage is accepted. Arsinoe I is deified after her
death in 270 BC; she is also associated with Aphrodite and she becomes a companion of all
We have a pattern of deification of Hellenistic Queens after their death, and even looked
at as gods during their lifetime
Ptolmey III takes over from his father and rules 246-222BC, and marries Berenike II. He
passes her off as a sister, but she’s only his cousin, related through their grandmother.
LOCH OF BERENIKE POEM:
Historical background: Ptolmey III goes to the 3rd Syrian war in order to help his sister who
was married to a king there who died. She needed help because the king’s ex wife was
trying to make her own children the successors. Berenike II promises to dedicate a loch of
her hair if her husband returns safe from the war, and he does. She cuts off a loch of her hair
but it disappears, and then was discovered as a new constellation in the sky by an
astronomer who said that it was the loch *CATASTERISM (turning of a person/object
into a star.)
Callimachus: very important Hellenistic poet who wrote a work called *AITIA: a book
about origins the origins of things. Problem is the Aitia was only preserved in fragments.
The Loch of Berenike text was translated by Catulus (we’ve seen him in the poem of suffer).
For a very long time, it was very important for scholars to reconstruct Greek original into
The loch has been dedicated because Ptolmey III came back safely from a war, and it
is turned into a constellation. The loch becomes mad because it doesn’t want to live
with the stars. In this case, we have an offering that’s complaining about how it was
dedicated (this is unusual, they’re usually grateful).
The speaker is the loch, it begins by talking about Conan (astronomer) and she looks
back at how she became to be in the heavens, always lamenting
It witnesses the missing of Ptolmey III, but doesn’t know if Berenike misses him as a
husband or as a brother. Then she recalls that Berenike, who was the daughter of
Magas, was promised to Ptolmey III but when father died her mother wanted her to
marry a man named Demetrius. Demetrius comes to the court and has an affair with
her mother, so Berenike has him assassinated and is then able to marry Ptolmey III.
Background story: committed suicide at the age of 39 and she was the daughter of Auletes.
Cleopatra becomes queen with her brother, Ptolemy 1, after her father’s death. Ptolemy 13
becomes the sole ruler and Cleopatra has to go into exile. Cleopatra becomes the lover of
Julius Caesar and give birth to Caesarion, he dies and she then becomes the lover of Marc
Antony and has 3 children. This ends in another civil war between Octavion and Mark
Antony. Mark Antony is defeated, and Cleopatra kills herself because she doesn’t want to be
brought into Rome after the victory of Octavion.
Her life is defined because of the erotic entanglement of 2 of the most prominent men in
the world. This aspect is the most emphasized when you think of her: seductive,
attractive, cunning. Her life is perceived in erotic terms, which wouldn’t be done if it
were a man in her position. She is perceived as being evil and erotically dangerous in
poetic texts (doesn’t mean that she was like this, it’s just how she comes across)
Julius Caesar: 100-44 BC
A dictator of Rome, if you remember in one of the lectures that dealt with the rape of
Lucretia, it showed that the romans didn’t like being under solidary rule so rulers changed
every year. He comes in conflict with Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus 106-48 BC.
Background story: Caesar crosses the Rubicon river, which marked the boundary of not
being allowed to have an army, and since he crossed it he initiated the war. Pompey’s son
asks Ptolemy 13 for help against Caesar, and then Pompey and senate members flee to
Greece. Pompey then flees to Egypt and asks Ptolemy for help… they decapitate him because
they want to become friends with Caesar.
SUMMARY: Caesar goes to Egypt, Pompey is dead, Ptolmey 13 is present, and
now Caesar wants to reconcile Ptolmey 13 and Cleopatra.
PLUTARCH, LIFE OF CAESAR 49 BC
Caesar becomes involved with Cleopatra who secretly meets up with her.
Cleopatra becomes a lover of Caesar and they fight others during the Alexandrian War
- Caesar’s water was cut off from damns being blocked, a great library was destroyed
by a fire, and when a battle arose at Pharos and went to help his men by sailing in
them, and was attacked and escaped by jumping into the water.
He was married to a woman, and Cleopatra gave birth to Caesar’s son, after Caesar died his
wife wanted to make Octavian his son but couldn’t because he wasn’t acknowledged as it
before Caesar died.
Octavian and Mark Anthony work together and win Philippi war, and split the roman
Know timeline of important events and how Cleopatra fits in
Mark Antony aka LOVER #2:
Cleopatra plays a big part in Antony’s downfall by opposing Antony over Octavia (he
makes him chose between her and Octavia, and he chooses her)
He fights along with Octavian against the assassins of Caesar and becomes responsible for
the East Empire. He meets with Cleopatra, and she gives birth to twins. He’s married t
Octavia (Octavian’s sister), and reunites with Cleopatra and she becomes pregnant with
another one of his sons, and then he and Cleopatra get married Egyptian style. He is now
seen as bad, not Roman anymore because he hooked up with an ancient Egyptian queen.
It isn’t possible for Romans to be married two more than one person at the same time, so he
was going to divorce Octavia later. Octavian used the entanglement with Cleopatra, the
betrayal of his sister, and the fact that he gave Cleopatra some of the Roman Empire as
reason of conflict, and this happens as the Battle of Actium. Antony is defeated, and
Cleopatra flees to Egypt.
SUMMARY: Octavian isn’t in Alexandria, Mark is dead, Cleopatra is alive, and Octavian
wants to show her off in Rome. Cleopatra commits suicide using a poisonous snake
because she doesn’t want that.
BATTLE OF ACTIUM:
TURNING PT: The end of the Hellenistic Period, Octavian rises to power (Sept 2, 31 BC)