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Female Ptolemies

Female Pharaohs - The Pharaohs - The People

This was the Dynasty who became the rulers of Egypt after the death of Alexander the Great. They ruled Egypt from 305BC to 30BC, consistently following the pattern of older Dynasties by having the Pharaohs marry their own siblings which did little for the physical and mental health of the rulers. For more details on the men who ruled Egypt during this time, please look at “The Ptolemies”.

Queen Berenice I
Daughter of Princess Antidone of Macedon and Green Macedonian Nobleman Magas. She first married Philip and they had a child who became King Magas of Cyrene. When Philip died, she travelled to Egypt to become Lady in Waiting to the then Queen. She then became Pharaoh Ptolemy I’s mistress and they then married. Together they had the children who went on to become Queen Arsinoe II and Pharaoh Ptolemy II.

Queen Arsinoe I
Daughter of King Lysimachus and Nicaea of Macedon. She married Pharaoh Ptolemy II as part of an alliance between her father and the Pharaoh. Together they had 3 children including Pharaoh Ptolemy III.

Her sister-in-law returned to Egypt and persuaded Pharaoh that his wife was trying to assassinate him. Pharaoh exiled her to Upper Egypt and married his sister who became Queen Arsinoe II. She lived in exile for around 20 years.

Queen Arsinoe II
Daughter of Pharaoh Ptolemy I and Queen Bernice I, she was married King Lysimachus at 15 when he was in his 60s. Through this marriage she became the Queen of Thrace, Anatolia and Macedonia. She had 3 sons, 2 of whom were killed by her half-brother.

She fled to Egypt after their murder and there managed to convince her Pharaoh brother that his wife was trying to kill him and so he exiled her. Queen Arsinoe II then married Pharaoh and she was known to have ruled jointly with her brother, and was a keen patron of literary and religion, as well as a serious sportswoman.

Queen Berenice II
Daughter of King Magas of Cyrene, she inherited the reign from him after his death. She married into Egypt via her cousin Pharaoh Ptolemy III. She was active in the Governing of Egypt and was worshipped as a Goddess. When her husband died, their son Pharaoh Ptolemy IV succeeded to the Throne, but Queen Bernice II was still murdered by the Regent Sosibius as part of a purge on the Monarchy.

Queen Arsinoe III
Daughter of Pharaoh Ptolemy III and Queen Berenice II, she married her brother Pharaoh Ptolemy IV and she bore his children, including the future Pharaoh Ptolemy V. She ruled with her husband in governing the country and also seems to have commanded troops at the Battle of Raphia. When her husband died the information was kept from her and again Regent Sosibius killed the Queen in a Palace Coup for power.

Queen Cleopatra I
Daughter of King Antiochus III and Queen Laodice III, King and Queen of the Seleucid Empire. She was married to a 16-year-old Pharaoh Ptolemy V as part of a truce when Cleopatra was approx. 1- years old. Approx. 8 years after their marriage, Queen Cleopatra I was named Vizier of Egypt. Her husband died roughly 7 years later, and she assumed rule as Regent for her young son, Pharaoh Ptolemy VI and ruled as Regent for 4 years.

Queen Cleopatra II
Daughter of Queen Cleopatra I and Pharaoh Ptolemy V. She was co-ruler with her first husband who was also her older brother, Pharaoh Ptolemy VI. They were deposed as Rulers by Pharaoh Ptolemy VIII but regained power a year later.

When her first husband died their son Pharaoh Ptolemy VII took the Throne with his mother’s assistance as Regent. They ruled jointly for approx. 18 years before Pharaoh was killed by his Uncle.

Queen Cleopatra II agreed to marry her younger brother, Pharaoh Ptolemy VIII, to bring stability, an extraordinary commitment as he had murdered her son, Pharaoh Ptolemy VII. Pharaoh then married his niece and his wife’s own daughter, Queen Cleopatra III.

Our Queen Cleopatra, the second, led the rebellion against her husband and rid Egypt of its Pharaoh and his wife, her own daughter. As revenge the banished Pharaoh, Ptolemy VIII had the head, hands and feet of his own son with Queen Cleopatra II cut off and sent to her as a birthday present!

Queen Cleopatra II ruled Egypt alone for 4 years before she was forced to flee to Syria to join her daughter and son-in-law there.

But she was not finished! She publicly reconciled with her second husband and her daughter and joined them on the Throne as co-rulers. She died approx. 1 year after her brother.

Queen Cleopatra III
Daughter of Queen Cleopatra II and Pharaoh Ptolemy VI. As confirmed in the details about Queen Cleopatra II she married, Pharaoh Ptolemy VIII, her Uncle who was also married to her mother at the same time. Her mother rebelled and ousted Cleopatra III and her husband to Cyprus but 4 years later they returned to rule Egypt and banished her mother, who later returned, and they all ruled together.

When her husband died her son became Pharaoh Ptolemy IX and she ruled with him and her mother for roughly a year before her mother also died.

She then expelled her son and the Pharaoh from Egypt and replaced him with her younger son who became Pharaoh X. They ruled jointly for 6 years before he murdered her!

Queen Cleopatra IV
Daughter of Queen Cleopatra III and Pharaoh Ptolemy VII. She ruled Egypt with her brother husband, Pharaoh Ptolemy IX, for about a year before her mother forced her to divorce her husband and remarried him to another of his sisters, Cleopatra Selene.

Queen Cleopatra IV fled from Egypt, presumably fearing her own death later, and stayed in Cyprus where she married Antiochus IX, who later became King of Syria. Her sister brought about her death and she was murdered by soldiers in the Sanctuary of Daphne in Antioch.

Queen Berenice III
Daughter to Pharaoh Ptolemy IX and his second Queen, Cleopatra Selene. When her father fled to Cyrus, Queen Berenice III was left in Alexandria with her brothers and her Uncle, Ptolemy X became Pharaoh and married Queen Berenice III’s mother, Cleopatra Selene.

Pharaoh Ptolemy X had his mother, Queen Cleopatra III, murdered and married 13-year-old Queen Berenice III. After a rebellion in Alexandria, Pharaoh and Queen Berenice III were forced to flee. They subsequently raised an army and tried to retake their Throne but were defeated

Her father now ruled again as Pharaoh and after her husband’s death, her father invited her back to Egypt and made her co-Regent with him. He died roughly a year later, and Queen Berenice III was left to rule alone. She did so for a few months and then at the request of her allies in Rome she invited her younger half-brother and former stepson, Ptolemy XI to become Pharaoh. He had been living in Rome and the assumption is that the Romans believed that they could control Egypt through him. This backfired spectacularly!

4 or so days after Pharaoh was crowned, he killed Queen Berenice III. The Alexandrian’s revolted against him within a matter of days. They rooted him out of the Palace, and he was cornered and killed.

Queen Cleopatra V
Probable Daughter of Pharaoh Ptolemy IX by a mistress or the Daughter of Pharaoh Ptolemy X making her mother Queen Berenice III, but this cannot be confirmed. She married Pharaoh Ptolemy XII and was the mother of Queen Berenice IV, Queen Cleopatra VI and Queen Cleopatra VII. It is thought that she died shortly after the birth of Queen Cleopatra VII.

Queen Cleopatra VI
Her birth, life and death are murky from a historical point of view. It appears that she was the daughter of Queen Cleopatra V and Pharaoh Ptolemy XII. She may have been married to Pharaoh Ptolemy XII who could have been her father. But, again, this cannot be taken at face value. We do know that she grew enough in power to rival the Pharaoh and he fled with one of his daughter’s to Rome to seek their aid against her. This daughter would become the infamous Pharaoh Cleopatra VII. Queen Cleopatra VI may have been poisoned by her successor for the Throne, Queen Berenice IV.

Queen Berenice IV
Daughter of Queen Cleopatra V and Pharaoh Ptolemy XII, alongside her siblings:

  • Future Pharaoh Cleopatra VII
  • Future Queen Arsinoe IV
  • Future Pharaoh XIII
  • Future Pharaoh XIV

 

Her father and sister, future Pharaoh Cleopatra VII, went to Rome to garner Aid against Queen Cleopatra VI and it seems that during this time, Queen Berenice IV had her relative poisoned. Queen Berenice IV now ruled Egypt alone and became as big a threat to her father and sister as Queen Cleopatra VI had been.

Her Royal Court did not wish her to rule alone and forced her to marry Prince Seleucus VII. She strangled him and continued her sole rule.

She did marry, a man named Archelaus, but he was not allowed to rule because of his unnoble past. She ruled alone until her father, Pharaoh Ptolemy XII regained the Throne with the assistance of his Roman allies and beheaded his daughter. Her husband was killed in the Battles.

Queen Arsinoe IV
Daughter of Pharaoh Ptolemy XII and an unknown wife. When Pharaoh died, he appointed his son and daughter to rule jointly: Pharaoh Ptolemy XIII and Queen Cleopatra VII. But Pharaoh dethroned Cleopatra VII and she fled. The Roman Julius Caesar ended up involved in the story as he was chasing the fugitive Pompey in Egypt. on arrival in Alexandria he discovered that Pompey had been caught by Pharaoh but instead of returning Pompey to the Romans, Pharaoh had taken it on himself to execute him. This went badly for Pharaoh as Pompey was a close friend of Julius Caesar and in retaliation Caesar now sided against Pharaoh with Queen Cleopatra VII.

The Romans returned Cyprus to Egypt but insisted that it was ruled by Queen Arsinoe IV and her younger brother, future Pharaoh Ptolemy XIV, thinking to keep them as vassals to Rome. But Queen Arsinoe IV had different ideas. She took command of the Egyptian Army and proclaimed herself as Queen. They had some successes against the Romans and even managed to entrap Caesar in a small section of streets in Alexandria. They followed this up by:-

  • The Egyptians poured seawater into the freshwater canals that supplied drinking water to the Romans
  • The Romans panicked but Caesar controlled the situation by digging new Wells and sending ships to find more freshwater, but he realised that he would need to break free of the Egyptians and the city
  • Caesar attacked the Lighthouse to try and regain the harbour, but the Egyptians beat him back
  • Realising his situation Caesar fled
  • Not realising they had nearly won; the Egyptians were frustrated with their leaders so negotiated with Caesar to exchange Queen Arsinoe IV for Pharaoh Ptolemy XIII
  • Pharaoh continued the war until he was overwhelmed by the Romans

Queen Arsinoe IV was taken to Rome and paraded as a captive although she was allowed to live in sanctuary at the Temple of Artemis in Ephesus. She was murdered here on the orders of her sister, Pharaoh Cleopatra VII, via Mark Antony which caused uproar as it violated the sanctity of the Temple.