Contentious youngest son of Ptolemy
V & Cleopatra I
whose feuds with his brother [Ptolemy VI
Philometor] & sister [Cleopatra
II] divided the Ptolemaic empire & invited Roman intervention.
An unpopular ruler, he was often referred to as Physcon ["pot-bellied"]
rather than his official honorific byname, Euergetes ["Beneficent"].
Ptolemy VIII became co-ruler of Egypt at
age 12 in 170
BCE, but six years later tried to claim sole rule for
himself by expelling his older brother & sister. His victory was
short-lived, however. For, within a year, he himself was driven from
Alexandria by an Egyptian mob. In an effort to restore peace, Rome
returned Philometer & Cleopatra II to the throne of Egypt but granted
Cyrene [Libya] to Physcon (164
BCE). For the next decade Physcon tried to
take control of Cyprus, but was decisively defeated by Philometer (154
BCE). The older sibling's death
BCE), however, revived the ambitions
of the younger.
Recalled to Egypt, Physcon married his
brother's widow &
eliminated his young nephew [Ptolemy
VII]. This marriage of royal siblings, however, was merely a political
move. After years of quarreling with his sister, Physcon was
again expelled from Alexandria in 130
BCE along with his
III], whom he had elevated to the position of consort, -- this time by a jealous Cleopatra II,
who claimed sole rule for
herself. Physcon returned the next year, however, driving his
sister-wife into exile in Syria (127
BCE). A truce between the
aging rivals was finally negotiated in 124
BCE, restoring Cleopatra II as
dowager queen of Egypt. After 40 years of civil war, however, the Ptolemaic
dynasty was left with only a shadow of its former power. Physcon's will
weakened it further by partitioning Egyptian territory among his widow
& his sons.
243; 13.267-268; 14.250.
_____, Apion 2.51-54.
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