Ptolemy III Euergetes  [ca. 280 - 221 BCE]

Macedonian king of Egypt who brought the Ptolemaic dynasty to the height of its power.  Though nothing is known about the eldest son of Ptolemy II before he succeeded his father (246 BCE), he wasted little time in extending Alexandria's influence throughout the Near East. His marriage to the daughter of the king of Cyrene [Berenice II] insured Egyptian dominance in eastern north Africa. Then he launched a major assault on Seleucid holdings in Asia Minor, Syria & Mesopotamia to avenge his sister [also named Berenice], who had been repudiated by her husband [Antiochus II] & murdered by his sister [Laodice]. Though a coalition of rivals & troubles at home forced Ptolemy to abandon most of his conquests, he retained control of major centers in Asia Minor [Ephesus], Syria [Antioch] & Europe. After 240 BCE he avoided entanglement in the dynastic & territorial disputes that plagued other Macedonian kingdoms & instead focused his resources on developing Hellenistic cities & shrines in his own territories.  The prosperity he fostered for Egypt earned him & his wife the honorific title "the Beneficent."  Both were worshipped as living gods.

References: Josephus, Antiquities 12.158. 
                   ______, Apion
2.48.
                   Appian, Roman History: Syrian Wars 11.65.
                   Polybius, Roman History 2.71; 15.25.
                   Justin, Epitome 26.3; 27.1-3; 28.4.

Other resources on line:

Gold octadrachma issued by Ptolemy IV to honor his deified father.  Ptolemy III issued coins bearing a profile of Zeus-Amun rather than his own image. The symbols that adorn Ptolemy's bust on this commemorative coin (radiant diadem, trident & aegis) identify him as the incarnation of the gods of air, sun & sea.  The other side portrays a cornucopia indicating abundance with the inscription Ptolemiou Basileos ["of King Ptolemy"]. For high resolution images of this & other coins of the Ptolemaic Kingdom see Sandy Brenner's vivid numismatic guide: Jerusalem Through Coins

For a catalogue of coins minted by Ptolemy III see:

Perspective on the World of Jesus

Copyright 1999-2008 by Mahlon H. Smith
All rights reserved.

an American Theological Library Association Selected Religion Website
OCLC catalog no.: 62046512

Reader  since May 1999 on Web Counter.