Ptolemaeus or Ptolemaeus Ceraunus
), surnamed CERAUNUS, king of Macedonia, was the son of Ptolemy I. king of Egypt, by his second wife Eurvdice.
The period of his birth is not mentioned ; but if Droysen is right in assigning the marriage of Eurydice with Ptolemy to the year B. C. 321 (see Hellenism.
vol. i. p. 154), their son cannot have been born till B. C. 320.
He must, at all events, have been above thirty years old in B. C. 285, when the aged king of Egypt cane to the resolution of setting aside his claim to the throne, and appointing his younger son, Ptolemy Philadelphus, his successor. (Appian. Syr.
62 ; Julstin. 16.2.) To this step we are told that the old king was led not only by his warm attachment to his wife Berenice and her son Philadelphus, but by apprehensions of the violent and passionate character of his eldest son, which subsequent events proved to be but too well founded. Ptolemy Ceraunus quitted the court of Egypt in disgust, and repaired to that of Lysimachus, where his sister Lysandra was married to Agathocles. the heir to the Thracian crown. On the other hand, Arsinoe, the sister of Ptolemy Philadelphus, was the wife of Lvsimachus himself, and exercised great influence over the mind of the old king.
But instead of this being employed against her halfbrother Ceraunus, she appears soon to have made common cause with him; and he not only assisted her in her intrigues against Agathocles, but is even said to have assassinated that unhappy prince with his own hand. (Memnon. 100.8; Justin. xvii. l.)
The conduct of Ptolemy in the war that followed between Lysimachus and Seleucus is differently reported : Pausanias (1.16.2
) represents him as quitting the court of Lysimachus, and taking refuge with his rival, while Memnon (100.12) states, with more probability, that he adhered to Lysimachus to the last, but after his death made his peace with Seleucus.
It is certain, however, that he was received by the latter in the most friendly manner, and treated with all the distinction due to his royal birth. Seleucus, we are told, even held out hopes to him of establishing him on the throne of Egypt, when Ptolemy, probably deeming the crown of Macedonia to be more easily within his grasp, basely assassinated his new patron at Lysimachia, B. C. 280, and immediately assumed the diadem himself. (Appian. Syr.
62; Memnon. 100.12; Just. 17.2
; Paus. 1.16.2
; Euseb. Arm. p. 157.)
His authority appears to have been acknowledged without opposition by the army, and this enabled him to make himself master, with little difficulty, of the European dominions of Lysimachus. Antiochus, the son of Seleucus, was sufficiently occupied with maintaining his Asiatic and hereditary possessions, and Ptolemy Philadelphus was well contented to see his half-brother established on another throne, which led him to abandon all projects concerning that of Egypt.
The usurper had the address to gain over Pyrrhus king of Epeirus, who might have proved his most dangerous rival, by a promise of assisting him with an auxiliary force in his expedition to Italy. Thus his only remaining opponent was Antigonus, the son of Demetrius, who now attempted to recover the throne of his father, and for him Ptolemy was more than a match. His fleet, supported by an auxiliary squadron of the Heracleans. totally defeated that of Antigonus, and compelled the latter to withdraw into Boeotia, while Ptolemy established himself, without farther opposition, on the throne of Macedonia. (Memnon. 100.13; Just. 17.2
He was now able to fortify himself in his new position by a treaty with Antiochus, who acknowledged him as sovereign of Macedonia.
But his jealousy and apprehensions were still excited by Arsinoe, the widow of Lysimachus, who had taken refuge at Cassandreia with her two sons, Lysimachus and Philip; and he endeavoured to decoy them into his power by offering to marry Arsinoe, and share the kingdom with her children.
The queen, notwithstanding her previous experience of his character, gave credit to his oaths and protestations and received him at Cassandreia, but Ptolemy took the opportunity, during the nuptial festivities, to seize on the fortress, and immediately caused the two young princes to be assassinated. (Just. 24.1
.) Their elder brother Ptolemy had, it appears, made his escape, and taken refuge with Monunius, king of the Dardanians, who for a time espoused his cause, and waged war, though without effect, against the Macedonian king. (Trog. Pomp. Prol. xxiv.)
Ptolemy, however, was not destined long to enjoy the throne which he had obtained by so manyt crimes.
Before the close of the year which had witnessed the death of Seleucus, he was alarmed by the approach of a new and formidable enemy, the Gauls, who now, for the first time, appeared on the frontiers of Macedonia. Their chief, Belgius, sent overtures for a treaty to Ptolemy, but the Macedonian king haughtily refused them, and rejecting the proffered assistance of Monunius, hastened to meet and give battle to the barbarian host.
The result was most disastrous; the Macedonian army was totally routed, and the king, having been thrown from the elephant on which he was riding, fell alive into the hands of the enemy, by whom he was put to death in the most barbarous manner, and his head carried about on the point of a spear, in token of victory. (Just. 24.3
; Paus. 10.19.7
; Memnon. 100.14 ; Diod. xxii. Exc. Hoeschel. p. 495, Exc. Vales. p. 592; Dexippus apud Syncell.
p. 266; Plb. 9.35.4
Concerning the chronology of these events, sec Clinton (F. H.
vol. ii. pp. 237, 238).
It seems certain that the death of Ptolemy must have taken place before the end of B. C. 280. and that the period of seventeen months assigned to his reign by Dexippus (I. c.
) must be reckoned from the death of Lysimachus, and not from that of Seleucus.