…& then there was ptolemaic egypt

ptolemy i soter
pentadrachm (coin) portraying ptolemy i soter
ptolemaic period
285–247 B.C.
issued by ptolemy ii philadelphos
diam. 2.4 cm; 17.82 g


…when Alexander the Great took Egypt, he founded Alexandria, a new gateway from Egypt to the Mediterranean. Following this, Alexander traveled with Ptolemy I Soter to the Oracle of Amun at Siwa, who officially deified Alexander as Zeus-Amun. Shortly afterwards, Alexander died in Babylon. Without a succession plan, the Diodochi were left to decide how the vast Macedonian empire would be divided, leaving Ptolemy I Soter with the satrapy of Egypt. Ptolemy stole Alexander’s embalmed body to inter it in Memphis, thereby establishing a firm connection to Alexander’s legacy. It was during Ptolemy’s reign where the 1st portraits of Alexander were minted onto coins. Also during Ptolemy’s reign the Library of Alexandria was established, to compete with Athens for intellectual prestige. During the Ptolmaic dynasty, the male heirs took the name Ptolemy, whereas the females were Cleopatras, Arsinoes or Berenices. The Ptolemaic dynasty was known for its syncretic assimilation of the Egyptian religion, which won them good favor with Egyptian people for the 275 years of their rule. The Ptolemy’s were also known to have picked up other traditions of the Egyptian pharaohs, including frequent incest…for instance, Ptolemy I’s son, Ptolemy II Philadelphus, married his full sister Arsinoe II. The dynasty was said to decline after Ptolemy IV and the Rosetta Stone was inscribed during Ptolemy V’s reign. Most of this later period was embroiled in dynastic intrigue, leading to the last pharaoh, Cleopatra VII. Although she was officially married to her brother, she courted Julius Caesar, and after Caesar was assassinated, she fell in love with Mark Antony who was on the opposing side of Octavian’s army, during the Roman civil war that erupted after Caesar’s death. Octavian won the Battle of Actium, defeating Mark Antony, who then committed suicide. Thus, Egypt fell under the newly established Roman empire, marking the end of Ptolemaic Egypt.


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