Ptolemaic Empire      
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(Text by Duane R. Hurst © 2013)

Click on a link to view its information and pictures.
Significant Event:
    Library of Alexandria
    Lighthouse at Alexandria

Main Cities: Alexandria; Memphis
Time: 323-30 BC
Language: Egyptian; Greek
Personage: Cleopatra; Ptolemy
Religion: Egyptian Gods; Greek Gods
Related Country: Egypt

Map of Mari Empire
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Brief History:
      I have included only a few items concerning the history of this empire. A good source for more details can be found on Wikipedia or in history books.

      After the death in 323 BC of Alexander, general Ptolemy I founded a kingdom in Egypt and ruled from 323 to 283 BC. The "Partition of Babylon" divided Alexander's empire among his generals, but Meleager lobbied for general Perdiccas to serve as regent until Alexander's son came of age to rule. Perdiccas later rewarded Meleager and 300 followers with death. Ptolemy moved Alexander's body to Memphis to prevent completion of Perdiccas' plan. He also seized Cyrenaica (aka Pentapolis) in modern Libya. A later king, Ptolemy III Euergetes, founded its major city at Ptolemais.

      During an invasion of Egypt against Ptolemy I, subordinates murdered Perdiccas and offered the regency to Ptolemy, who declined the throne in favor of ruling his satrapy in Egypt. In 312 BC, Ptolemy allied with Seleucus to defeat the army of Demetrius I in the Battle of Gaza. He waged war against various enemies, kept his empire intact and built the famous Library of Alexandria. [Theodosius I ordered the library burned in 391 AD.]

      Following the Wars of the Diadochi (322-275 BC), Ptolemy left a prosperous and stable empire to his son, Ptolemy II Philadelphus. He lost some territory during the Second Syrian War (260-253 BC). Ptolemy III pursued a policy of intervention with other successor kingdoms. In 246 BC, mercenary general Xanthippus of Sparta invaded Seleucid territory--even reaching Babylon. However, he lost the Cyclades after the Battle of Andros in the same year. Ptolmaic territory reached its peak when Ptolemy III seized land in Thrace.

      A succession of weaker kings followed, although the Ptolmaic army won the Battle of Raphia in 217 BC. The empire made an alliance with Rome after losing the Battle of Panium in 198 BC. Years of royal intrigue and murder left the region vulnerable.

      In 51 BC, Ptolemy XIII (10 years old) married and co-reigned with his 17-year-old sister, Cleopatra VII. At age 22 Cleopatra sought help from Julius Caesar against her brother. A joint Egyptian-Roman army crushed Ptolemy's force at the Battle of the Nile in 47 BC, and Ptolemy suspiciously drowned in the river. Cleopatra ascended to the throne and became a manipulative concubine to Caesar, bearing his son.

      Following the assassination of Caesar, Mark Antony became Cleopatra's lover. He foolishly risked and lost a sea battle at Actium in 31 BC and followed Cleopatra back to Egypt. Both committed suicide and Rome assumed control of Ptolmaic Egypt.

© Page Publisher: Duane R. Hurst