[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
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
______, Apion 2.48.
History: Syrian Wars
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
For a catalogue of coins minted by Ptolemy
Perspective on the
World of Jesus
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