PTOLEMY (PTOLEMAIOS, PTOLEMÆUS): The dynastic name of the kings of Macedonian origin who ruled Egypt from the death of Alexander till the Romans incorporated the country in their empire c. 43 B.C. The name means "warlike." The subject has interest for the religious reader not only because of the relation to the Jews held by members of the dynasty, but also because of the fostering of learned and literary interests in the capital which directly affected in the first three Christian centuries the development of Christian apologetics and learning. The earlier members of the dynasty figure in the apocryphal books of Maccabees and in the narrative of Josephus, while allusions to them are thought to be found in the book of Daniel.
Ptolemy I. Soter, also known as Ptolemy Lagus (whence comes the name, Lagidæ for the dynasty), was the son of Lagos and Arsinoe, was born about 367, and was in his youth a playfellow of Alexander. Banished from the court of Philip of Macedon in one of the court quarrels, he was recalled on the accession of Alexander and worked his way up to high rank and popularity with his fellows by the rare qualities of diligence and avoidance of intrigue. On the death of Alexander he received the province of Egypt as satrap in 323, probably fully determined to establish himself as sovereign. In 321 his opposition to the plans of Perdiccas, who was practically regent after Alexander's death, by having the body of the conqueror brought to Egypt, caused Ptolemy to break with Perdiccas, who invaded Egypt and was assassinated after an unsuccessful attack upon Ptolemy. The latter then maintained himself in Egypt against Antigonus, after vainly attempting to hold Syria, but ruled as satrap until 305 in the name of the youthful successor of Alexander. With the partition of Alexander's empire the strife between the powers of the Nile and the Euphrates for the possession of Palestine was renewed. About 320 Ptolemy assailed Syria, and Jerusalem was taken on a Sabbath when the Jews refused to fight. The resistance by Jews and Samaritans was made the pretext for the deportation of large numbers of both peoples from town and country in order to settle the new city of Alexandria and other parts of Egypt, while to voluntary immigrants Ptolemy offered attractive inducements. Throughout their history the Jews had always manifested a fondness for Egypt, and generous treatment by Ptolemy rendered that region once more attractive to them. Their commercial aptitude, industry, higher morality, and preference for the Greeks as against the native Egyptians gained for them the confidence of the rulers, although it aroused the hatred of the native population. Meanwhile the possession of Palestine was hotly disputed between Ptolemy and Antigonus while the latter lived, and by the latter's son Demetrius. Decisive battles, in which alternately Ptolemy and his opponent were victorious, were fought in 315, 312, 301, 297, and later. Meanwhile Ptolemy carried on the construction of the city of Alexandria, founding there the museum and the famous library. He assigned the northeastern portion of the city to the Jews, settling there the prisoners of war taken in his Syrian campaigns and those whom his policy induced to settle voluntarily. Thenceforth Alexandrian Jews had an honorable position in the entire history of their race. This is of course natural when it is recalled that Philo estimated the number of Jews present in Egypt in his day at a million, most of whom were in Alexandria. While in the city most of the Jews lived in the quarter stated, they before long came to have residences throughout the capital. Ptolemy's disposition, shown both to those of Hebrew race and to the Egyptians, was gentle and kind, his government was firm and tactful, while his aim was the welfare of the people in material, artistic, scientific, and literary directions. With his reign at Alexandria are associated such celebrities as Demetrius the Phalerean, Zenodotus, Hecatæus, Euclid, and Hierophilus the anatomist (who may have initiated vivisection); Alexandria became the most attractive city in the world for the learned, artistic, and scientists; literature flourished, the people exercised their choice in matters of religion, and the king was popular with all classes. He died in 283 B.C.
Ptolemy II. Philadelphus (285-247) was associated in the government by his father two years before the latter's death--a policy that became habitual with this dynasty. He was the youngest son of his father, though what caused the supersession of his older brothers does not appear. That he at first felt his position to be precarious is shown by his having one brother, perhaps two, executed for conspiracy and by banishing the counselor of his father, who had advised against elevating the youngest son. He followed his father's policy of promoting the arts and sciences, continued the construction and equipment of the museum and library, placed Zenodotus and then Callimachus in charge of the latter, erected the Pharos, built temples, founded cities, cleared canals, reclaimed waste lands, and developed trade. He is made by Jewish tradition the especial patron of the nation, its temple and Scriptures, the translation of the Hebrew Old Testament into Greek being accredited to his initiative (see BIBLE VERSIONS, A, I.; ARISTEAS). His treatment of the province of Syria and Palestine seems to have been generous, the taxes were light, and when they were paid, practical autonomy was accorded the inhabitants-as is shown by the fact that feuds between Samaritans and Jews were frequent and that the latter were also embroiled with the holders of Philistine territory. Diplomatically Ptolemy's shrewdest stroke was his embassy to Rome and his generous treatment of the ambassadors sent by the senate, which he followed up by refusing a loan to Carthage. About 280 he made Palestine, Cle-Syria, and Phenicia an integral part of his kingdom, and they remained attached to Egypt till about 198 B.C., when Antiochus the Great (see SELEUCIDÆ) won them for Syria. A consequence of Ptolemy's conquest was the Hellenization of Philadelphia, the old Rabbath Ammon, Ptolemais (Acre), and Philoteria on the Sea of Galilee. This Ptolemy began the Egyptian practise so common with the later Ptolemies and married his sister Arsinoe, though this marriage took place comparatively late in life (probably in 278-277), and in the inscriptions Arsinoe figures repeatedly and prominently.
Ptolemy III. Euergetes (247-222), the oldest son of Philadelphus, seems to have been associated with his father for several years in joint administration. He began his reign with a campaign in Syria, partly to retain it as a constituent of the empire and partly to save the life and then to avenge the murder of his sister Berenice by her rival Laodice, wife of Antiochus II. Theos. In connection with this campaign there formerly existed an inscription claiming for Ptolemy conquest of the East as far as Media; Susiana, and Bactriana. But the expedition must have been a mere raid so far as the Euphratean regions were concerned, though it recovered images carried away long before by Cambyses (see MEDO-PERSIA), and so was popular with the Egyptians. It confirmed, however, the rule of Egypt over the regions east of the Mediterranean. On his return, so Jewish tradition reports, the king offered large sacrifices at the temple in Jerusalem. A memorial of the entire affair and of activities at home is found in the stele of Canopus, a trilingual inscription of the year 238 B.C., which is of value in several directions (see INSCRIPTIONS, I., § 3). After this war, ending in 245, Euergetes devoted himself to developing the resources of the country, employing much time and money also in building sanctuaries and temples at Esneh, Edfu, Karnak, and Philæ, or in repairing or adorning them. Evidences abound to show that this Ptolemy was tender in his regard for the religious feelings of the native Egyptians and that the priests were his constant advisers. His external policy was one of assistance to the states opposed to Macedon. Among benefactions the most noted is that to the Rhodians alter the great earthquake of 224 which wrecked the famous Colossus and ruined the walls and docks and thus menaced the future of the place. Great largess of money, corn, timber, and of workmen and their wages attested Ptolemy's sympathy with the sufferers as well as his generosity. Thus under the first three Ptolemies the welfare of Egypt was carefully protected and fostered. These reigns mark the most prosperous and perhaps the happiest years Egypt has ever known till the rule of the British in the last quarter century.
With Ptolemy IV. Philopator (222-205) begins the decline of the dynasty. There is some reason to doubt whether Polybius, the chief authority for this reign, has correctly painted the character of this king in making him a murderer, a drunkard, and debauchee, indifferent to the cares of government at home and to the needs of the provinces external to Egypt. This Ptolemy, who appears to have been under the complete control of the astute Sosibius, his unscrupulous adviser and chancellor, is charged with the murder of his brother Magas, his uncle Lysimachus, his mother Berenice, and his sister-wife Arsinoe. According to the historians, insurrection at home was the natural consequence of failure to conduct properly the affairs of government, and led to the death of the celebrated Cleomenes, whose story is told in Plutarch's "Lives." The opportunity thus presented was seized by Antiochus III. the Great of Syria, to attack the Asian dominions of a king too indolent or too much engaged in seeking pleasure to govern at home or defend his sway abroad. Encouraged by Theodotus, the Egyptian governor of Cle-Syria (q.v.), whose deserts had not been recognized by Ptolemy, Antiochus began, in 220, the series of attacks which led to the detachment of its Asian possessions from the Egyptian crown and their assumption by the Syrian government. By 218 these regions seemed completely lost to Egypt. But Sosibius and his clique were aroused by the danger, used the diplomacy of delay until their preparations were completed, and in 217 won a decisive victory near Raphia. Ptolemy even then did not fully gage the danger, or was too confident or too indolent to press his advantage, and struck a treaty with Antiochus. There are indications that after Ptolemy's return to Egypt there was either a series of local insurrections or a wide-spread disaffection which required considerable time to overcome by mercenaries. It appears to have been in large part a peasants' war, put down by force, treachery, and cruelty. In spite of the generally bad repute in which literary reports have left this Ptolemy, there are not wanting indications that he was less evil than the records assume. He was not averse to literature and is even credited with the composition of a drama, and continued the policy of his predecessors with regard to the library of Alexandria. Detached inscriptions and records show that Egyptian sway continued over distant lands, that the Romans sent an embassy in his tenth regnal year and recalled the understanding with Ptolemy II. Philadelphus, and that the Greeks paid him reverence. Evidence of his regard for Egypt appears in the temples he completed, built, repaired, or adorned. Yet color is given also to the historians' reports that at least the later years of his reign were inglorious. He and the kingdom alike seem to have been ruled by his mistress Agathocleia, her brother Agathocles, and the wily Sosibius. Not improbably to the first two was due the murder of his sister-wife Arsinoe. Jews appear to have been in less favor at the court than under the previous reigns.
An interesting but unreliable Jewish apocryphon supporting this assumption, III Maccabees (text in most editions of the Septuagint; German translation in Kautzsch, Apokryphen und Pseudepigraphen, Tübingen, 1900; cf. H. Cotton, The Five Books of Maccabees in English, Oxford, 1832), deals with Ptolemy IV. It relates that after the battle of Raphia Ptolemy visited Jerusalem and purposed to enter the sanctuary in spite of all prayers and dissuasion; that when he was about to carry out his design Simon the high priest knelt before the Temple and prayed God to smite the king with paralysis; that his prayer was heard, and that the king was carried away helpless; that Ptolemy returned to Egypt vowing vengeance upon the Jews, which he attempted to carry out by removing the civil equality with Greeks which the Jews had hitherto enjoyed in Egypt unless they embraced the worship of Dionysos, while those who refused were branded with the Dionysiac ivy leaf; that a great multitude of the Jews, refusing to surrender their religion, were brought in chains to Alexandria, where the populace favored them because of their uprightness; that the king directed that 500 elephants be made mad with wine and incense and driven so as to trample to death the captives on the race-course; but that when the order was to be carried out two angels appeared and threw the army into consternation while the elephants turned about and crushed the royal forces beneath them; that thereupon the king ordered the Jews released, feasted them for seven days, and then commended them to the rulers of the provinces where they resided; while to the Jews was given permission to execute 300 apostates. After this, the standing of the nation with the people was higher than ever. A part of the same tradition appears in Josephus (Apion, ii. 5) in simpler form, but in connection with Ptolemy IX. Physcon. The basis of the story in the war between Ptolemy IV. and Antiochus is fairly in accord with the facts, as is the description of Ptolemy's character. But the narrative is turgid, and impossible both historically and psychologically, stresses unduly the miraculous, and in at least one respect follows Esther in that it attempts to validate a new feast, which did not, however, receive recognition. The real fact which the document seems to register is a change in the condition of the Jews in Egypt, subjection to higher taxation, or the like. The willingness of the Jews in Palestine to receive the rule of Antiochus reveals some basis for the story in the change of their feelings toward Egypt, toward which they had had so good reasons to be friendly.
Ptolemy V. Epiphanes Eucharistus (205-182) was a child of five when he came to the throne, and had already for three years been nominally associated with his father in the government. The regency during his infancy was begun by Agathocles and Sosibius, whose first care was to send into distant regions or on diplomatic or other missions those of eminent position who might endanger their control. The young king was placed in the care of the infamous Agathocleia; new mercenaries were recruited from abroad, so that the soldiery might be at the call of the new masters and furnish a dependable force. This done, Agathocles gave himself up to a riot of debauchery which soon aroused indignation, resentment, and insurrection. Tlepolemos, a shrewd Greek and a rival of Agathocles, collected forces and took measures by well-timed denunciation of Agathocles to put the latter on the defensive. In a riot Agathocles and his entire family were slain, Tlepolemos became prime minister, while another Greek of excellent character became the guardian of the king and the virtual ruler. External events were no less stormy. Antiochus seized the time as propitious to gain control of Cle-Syria and Palestine, and entered Jerusalem in 198, thus definitely ending Egyptian possession after defeating the Egyptian forces under Scopas. Philip V. of Macedon also took under his rule some of the Grecian islands which had been Egyptian possessions, only Cyprus and Cyrene remaining of the foreign territory ruled by the Ptolemies. Antiochus was intent upon pressing his advantage, but appeal was made to Rome and the Syrian was forbidden to take further steps hostile to Egypt. Meanwhile a treaty had been made by which Ptolemy was to marry Cleopatra, daughter of Antiochus, and thus this celebrated name was introduced into Egypt. She was to receive as her dowry the revenues from the former possessions of Egypt on the Asian continent, though these regions were garrisoned by Syrian troops, and ruled by Syrian officials. The guardianship of Aristomenes continued with a return of prosperity, until the greedy general Scopas attempted an insurrection and was convicted and executed. There are clear indications that the native insurrections which began in the preceding reign continued in Upper Egypt, and that not till near the end of the reign was that region recovered completely from the Nubians who had pressed in. In 196 Ptolemy took the power into his own hands, and the record of this is on the Rosetta Stone (see INSCRIPTIONS, I., § 3). In 193 the king went to Raphia to meet and marry Cleopatra, who proved an able woman, loyal to the interests of her husband. Ptolemy attempted to maintain foreign affairs in a favorable condition, and an embassy went to Rome with gifts (which were declined) and to the Achæan League, this too being fruitless of results. In his later years Ptolemy seems to have degenerated and to have aroused the resentment of his subjects by the imposition of new taxes and by encroaching upon the temple privileges. An insurrection which then broke out was suppressed with difficulty, and the close was marked with exhibitions of faithlessness and treachery on the part of the king. He poisoned his able minister Aristomenes and estranged his supporters among the nobility, probably by proposing to make them bear the expense of an invasion of Syria which he was contemplating. At this time he was poisoned, not improbably by the old nobility whom he had so recently offended. He did little in the way of building, and that little in the region of Philæ.
Ptolemy VI. Eupator (182), the eldest son of the preceding can have reigned but a very short time. He is practically a new discovery, since the ancient historians unanimously made Ptolemy Philometor immediately succeed Epiphanes. But papyri and other documents assure his existence and reign, though nothing is known of him except that, following the custom of the dynasty, he as the eldest son was associated with his father in the government.
Ptolemy VII. Philometor (182-146?), son of Ptolemy V., was only seven years old when he succeeded; but the queen mother ruled ably during his minority, having him crowned in 173. Cleopatra died the same year, and her death was the occasion for the outbreak of hostilities between Ptolemy and Antiochus Epiphanes, the former claiming the continuance of the revenues from the Asiatic possessions, the latter insisting on their return to the Syrian exchequer. Epiphanes was the readier for war, defeated the Egyptians at Pelusium, captured Ptolemy at Memphis, proclaimed himself king of Egypt, and made Ptolemy his viceroy at Memphis. A younger brother of the Egyptian, later known as Ptolemy IX. Euergetes II. Physcon, successfully defended Alexandria against Antiochus, and the latter retired. The two brothers agreed to reign jointly, whereupon Epiphanes decided to make a new attack upon Egypt, but was dramatically ordered to withdraw by the Roman legate Marcus Popillius Lænas. It was in part his anger at this which caused the terrible persecution of the Jews which has made the name of Antiochus Epiphanes execrated ever since (for the results see HASMONEANS; ISRAEL, HISTORY OF, I., §§ 11-12). This event once more brought out the advantage of Egypt as a place of refuge for the Jews and the fact of the favor which they usually received there. For the Onias temple of this period see LEONTOPOLIS. In 163 the brothers Ptolemy quarreled, and the younger drove the other out. The latter appealed to Rome and was by the senate reinstated, while to the younger was given the kingdom of Cyrene. But Euergetes also appealed to Rome, asking for control of Cyprus also, which was granted upon condition that his brother consent. On a second visit to Rome, after suppressing an insurrection in Cyrene, he was again promised the kingdom of Cyprus, but his brother was already strongly intrenched there with forces, captured him and sent him back to his Cyrenean rule with instructions to be content (153 B.C.). War broke out between Philometer and Syria, and after changing sides from Alexander Balas to Demetrius, Ptolemy captured Antioch, was hailed there as king of Syria, but instead established Demetrius upon the throne. In a battle in 146 when he was fighting with Demetrius against Alexander, Ptolemy fell from his horse and died a few days later. During his reign he continued the traditions of his family in constructing, repairing, or adorning temples, leaving records at Karnak, Edfu, Kom Ombo, Der al-Medineh, Dabud, and Philæ.
Ptolemy VIII. Eupator II. (Neos Philopator), son of Ptolemy VII. and Cleopatra, was a mere infant when his father died. His mother proclaimed him, and Ptolemy IX. immediately marched on the capital; but the Romans intervened, adjudged the throne to Ptolemy IX. and directed that he marry Cleopatra. Reports are that on the day of the marriage Ptolemy VIII. was murdered, so that his reign was merely nominal.
Ptolemy IX. Euergetes II. Physcon (146-117) showed himself after his accession what previous events had indicated-the worst of the Ptolemies. The rebellion in Syene already mentioned was probably caused by oppression and misrule; he showed the traits of cruelty and vindictiveness, and was devoted to the pleasures of the senses. On becoming king he proceeded to take vengeance upon those who had opposed him, the wealthy were seized and executed and their property confiscated, while Alexandria was in effect given to the mercenaries to plunder. This appears to have been his course until, in 130, the city rose in revolt, burned his palace, and compelled him to flee. His sister Cleopatra was made queen. But by 128 he was able to return and his sister took refuge in Antioch, while Demetrius II. attempted unsuccessfully to restore her. This action was accepted by Ptolemy as sufficient reason for interference in Syrian affairs, and for a time lent his support to the Syrian pretender Alexander Zabinas, who was successful until Ptolemy transferred his favor to Antiochus Grypus, who married Tryphæna, Ptolemy's daughter, and assumed the Syrian crown. Here once more the Ptolemies come into relations with the Jews, and this member of the family showed such hostility that a literary battle ensued between the Jews and their opponents, and a part of the Jewish defense appears in the interpolated Sibylline Oracles (q.v.). Egypt seems to have been the scene of local revolts during the remaining years of Ptolemy's rule. Yet, like his predecessors, he was much engaged in the repair or construction of parts of temples, and seems in his feelings to have been the most Egyptian of his dynasty. He was a patron of literature, and wrote a work in twenty-four books.
Ptolemy X. Soter II. Lathyrus (117-81) was the son of Ptolemy IX. by his niece and wife Cleopatra, who is reported to have tried to seize the government and to associate her youngest son (Ptolemy XI. Alexander) with her; but the Alexandrians forced her to abandon this design and choose Ptolemy X. But she had him put away his sister-wife Cleopatra and marry his youngest sister Selene, and sent Ptolemy Alexander to reign in Cyprus. Josephus (Ant., XII., x. 2-4) asserts that after some years of peaceful joint rule Ptolemy and Cleopatra disagreed respecting the treatment of the Jews, the latter being favorably disposed to them and having as two of her advisers and generals descendants of Onias. Cleopatra pretended that her life was in danger from Lathyrus, who had to leave Egypt, while Alexander was recalled from Cyprus to the co-regency (106). Lathyrus then seized Cyprus, and in 103 interfered in Palestine against Jannæus, whom he defeated. An incredible act of savagery is by Josephus (Ant. XIII., xii. 6) charged against Lathyrus in connection with his Palestinian campaign; it is said that he overran the country, ordered his soldiers to strangle women and children, cut them into pieces and boil and devour the limbs as sacrifices. The alleged purpose was to secure for his army a reputation for severity that should overawe the foe. It is not impossible that the Egyptian's purpose was to carve out a kingdom in Palestine and hold it as a point of departure from which to regain entrance into Egypt. But he was eventually driven out of Palestine by a joint land and sea attack under Cleopatra and Ptolemy Alexander. About 101 Cleopatra was murdered by Ptolemy XI., who was then obliged to flee, and perished either in battle or at sea c. 88 B.C. Lathyrus was recalled by the Egyptians and reigned in comparative quiet. The one inauspicious event was in the south, where Thebes was the center of a rebellion, apparently fostered by the Nubians. Two years were required to reduce the city, after which it was practically destroyed. Ptolemy was asked (c. 87) to lend his fleet to the Romans in the Mithridatic war, but diplomatically evaded the request. With the Athenians he was in high favor. Like the other Ptolemies, he left traces of his handiwork in the temples.
Ptolemy XII. Alexander II. (81) was the son of Ptolemy XI. by an unknown mother. His grandmother Cleopatra III. sent him with her possessions to Cos, where c. 88 he was taken prisoner by Mithridates the Great, but was treated kindly. He escaped to Sulla and lived with him at Rome till the death of Ptolemy X.; then, when the latter's daughter, Cleopatra-Berenice III., attempted to seize the sovereignty, the Alexandrians sent to Rome for him. A nominal marriage was arranged between him and his stepmother, but after nineteen days he murdered her, whereupon the soldiers revolted and killed him. With him the legitimate male succession came to an end.
There is little interest in the rest of the dynasty. The kingdom was ready to drop into the hands of the Romans when their engagement elsewhere permitted-such as the Spanish war, the war with the pirates and with Mithridates. Ptolemy XIII. Philopator Philadelphus Neos Dionysos (80-51), nicknamed by the Alexandrians Auletes, "the piper," married his half-sister Cleopatra Tryphæna, who became the mother of the Cleopatra so famous in history, and also an unknown lady who was the mother of Ptolemy XIV. and XV., whose reigns were only nominal. His reign was turbulent, full of vicissitudes, and toward the end of his reign he was maintained on his throne against the Egyptians' desires only by Roman troops. After his death came Cleopatra, with intervals of stormy rule or joint rule by the other Ptolemies, and then the rule of the Romans.
GEO. W. GILMORE.