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Ptolemaeus Vi. or Ptolemaeus Philometor

*Ptolemai=os), king of EGYPT, surnamed PHILOMETOR, was the eldest son and successor of Ptolemy.V. He was a mere child at the death of his father in B. C. 181, and the regency was assumed during his minority by his mother Cleopatra, who, by her able administration, maintained the kingdom in a state of tranquillity, and preserved the peace with Anltiochus. But after her death, in B. C. 173, the chief power fell into the hands of Eulaeus and Lenaetus, ministers as corrupt as they were incapable; who had the rashness to engage in war with Antiochus Epiphanes, king of Syria, in the vain hope of recovering the provinces of Coele-Syria and Phoenicia, which had been wrested by his father from the Egyptian monarchy. But their presumption met with a speedy punishment; their army was totally defeated by Antiochus, near Pelusium, and this victory laid open to him the whole of Lower Egypt, so that he was able to advance without opposition as far as Memphis, B. C. 170. The young king himself fell into his hands, but was treated with kindness and distinction, as Antiochus hoped by his means to make himself master of Egypt. To this design Philometor appears to have lent himself a willing instrument; but on learning the captivity of his brother, the younger Ptoleny, who was then at Alexandria with his sister Cleopatra, immediately assumed the title of king, tinder the name of Euergetes II., and prepared to defend the capital to the utmost. Antiochus hereupon advanced to Alexandria, to which He laid vigorous siege; but was unable to make much progress, and the intervention of deputies from the Roman senate soon after induced him to retire from before the walls. He established the young Philometor as king at Memphis, while he himself withdrew into Syria, retaining, hos'ever, in his hands the frontier fortress of Pelutsium. This last circumstance, together with the ravages committed by the Syrian troops, awakened Philometor, who had hitherto been a mere puppet in the hands of the Syrian king, to a sense of his true position, ani he hastened to make overtures of peace to his brother and sister at Alexandria. It was agreed that the two brothers should reign together, and that Philometor should marry his sister Cleopatra. But this arrangement did not suit the views of Antiochus, who immediately renewed hostilities, and while he sent a large fleet to reduce Cyprus, advanced in person against Egypt. The two brothers were unable to offer any effectual opposition, and He had advanced a second time to the walls of Alexandria, when he was met by a Roman embassy, headed by M. Popillius Laenas, who haughtily commanded him instantly to desist from hostilities. The arrogance of the Roman deputy produced its effect; the capital of Egypt was saved, and Antiochus withdrew to his own dominions, B. C. 168. (Porphyr. apud Euseb. Arm. p. 114; Hieronym. ad Daniel. 11.21-30; Plb. 27.17, 28.1, 16, 17, 19, 29.8, 11; Diod. Exc. Vales. p. 579, 580, Exc. Legat. p. 624, Exc. Vat. pp. 75, 76; Liv. 42.29, 44.19, 45.11-13 ; Just. 34.2, 3; Appian. Syr. 66; Clinton, F. H. vol. iii. p. 318-320, 386.)

Shortly after these events we find the two brothers sending a joint embassy to Rome to express their gratitude to the senate for their deliverance (Liv. 45.13; Plb. 30.11). But this concord did not last long: dissensions broke out between them, and Euergetes, who at first obtained the advantage, expelled his brother from Alexandria. Hereupon Philometor repaired in person to Rome, B. C. 164, where He was received by the senate with the utmost honour, and deputies were appointed to accompany him to Egypt, and reinstate him in the sovereign power. This they appear to have effected with little opposition; and ELergetes, whose tyrannical government had alreadv alienated the miniids of the Alexandrians, was dethroned, and fell to the power of his elder brother. Philuomett however, had the magnanimity to pardon him, and it was arranged by the Roman deputies that the two brothers should divide the monarchy; Euergetes obtaining Cyrene as a separate kingdom, wh le Philometor retained Egypt itself. The former, however, could not long remain contented with the portion allotted him: he repaired to Rome in person, and succeeded in persuading the senate, in contravention of their own arrangement, to add Cyprus to his share. Three Roman ambassadors accompanied Euergetes to enforce these new terms, but they prevented that monarch from asserting his claim to Cyprus by arms, and sent him to Cyrene to await the result of their negotiations with Philometor. The latter, however, contrived to amuse the deputies with fair words, and detained them at Alexandria a considerable time without making any concessions. Euergetes meanwhile had assembled an army, and advanced to the confines of Egypt, but an insurrection at Cyrene itself, which nearly cost him both his throne and his life, prevented him from prosecuting his cause by arms. The next year both brothers again sent ambassadors to Rome, but those of Philometor were unfavourably received and ordered to quit the city without delay. Still no effectual support was given to Euergetes, and his own efforts having failed to put him in possession of Cyprus, he again repaired to Rome in a 100.154, to invoke the assistance of the senate. They now proceeded to send with him five legates charged to establish him in Cyprus, but without supporting him with any Roman force. Philometor meanwhile anticipated him, and occupied Cyprus in person with a powerful fleet and army, so that when his brother at length landed in the island at the head of a mercenary force, he was quickly defeated and shut up in the city of Lapethus, where he was soon compelled to surrender. Philometor not only a second time spared his life, but treated him with the utmost kindness, and sent him back to Cyrene on condition that he should thenceforth content himself with that kingdom. Nor did the Romans again interfere to disturb the arrangement thus concluded. (Plb. 31.18, 25-27, 32.1, 33.5, 10.112; Diod. Exc. Vales. pp. 584. 588, Exc. Vat. p. 84, Exc. Legat. p. 626; Liv. Epit. xlvi. xlvii.; Porphyrius, up. Euseb. Arsm. pp. 114, 115)

The attention of Philometor appears to have been, from this time, principally directed to the side of Syria. Demetrius Soter, who was then established on the throne of that country, had sought during the dissensions between the two brothers to make himself master of Cyprus; and in return for this act of hostility Ptolemy now lent his support to the pretensions of Alexander Balas, and when the latter had established himself on the throne of Syria, bestowed on him his daughter Cleopatra in marriage, B. C. 150. But the usurper repaid this favour with the blackest ingratitude. For Demetrius, the son of the dethroned monarch, having landed in Syria to assert his claim to the crown, Ptolemy immediately assembled a large fleet and army, with which he advanced to the support of his son-in-law; but on arriving at Ptolenmas, he was near falling a victim to an attempt on his life, made by Ammonius, the favourite and minister of Alexander, and there is little doubt teat the king himself was a partner in the design. At all events, by protecting his favourite, and refusing to punish him, he justly alienated the mind of Ptolemy, who hastened to conclude a peace with Demetrius, and give him the support of the very forces which he had brought to oppose him. Having taken away his daughter Cleopatra from her faithless husband, he now bestowed her hand on his new ally Delnetrius. The disaffection of the Syrians towards Alexander quickly enabled Ptolemy to subdue the whole country, and he entered Antioch without opposition; where he was himself declared, by the acclamations of the people, king of Syria as well as Egypt. But his natural moderation concurred with policy in leading him to decline the proffered honour, and establish Demetrius on the throne. Meanwhile Alexander, having assembled an army in Cilicia, again invaded Syria. He was met by the combined forces of Demetrius and Ptolemy, and totally defeated; but Philometor himself was thrown from his horse during the battle, and fractured his skull so severely, that he died a few days after, B. C. 146. (Plb. 40.12; Just. 35.1, 2; Joseph. 13.4; Liv. Epit. lii; Appian. Syr. 67; Euseb. Arm. p. 166.) He had reigned 35 years from the period of his first accession, and 18 from his restoration by the Romans. (Porphyr. apud Euscb. Arm. p. 115.)

During the reign of Philometor the number of Jews in Egypt received a large augmentation by the emigration of a numerous body who were driven out of Judaea by the opposite faction, and established themselves at Heliopolis with the permission and under the protection of the Egyptian king. (J. AJ 13.3, B. J. 1.1.1.) We learn also that Philometor followed the example of his predecessors in dedicating new temples, or repairing and augmenting the old ones to the Egyptian divinities. (Letronne, Rec. des Inscr. pp. 10, 24 ; Wilkinson's Thebes, p. 82.)

Philometor is praised for the mildness and humanity of his disposition,qualities which distinguish him not only by comparison with his brother, but even beyond most of his predecessors. Polybius even tells us that not a single citizen of Alexandria was put to death by him for any political or private. offence. In the earlier years of his reign he allowed himself to fall into weakness and indolence, but his subsequent conduct in the wars of Cyprus and Syria shows that he was by no means deficient in. occasional energy. On the whole, if not one of the greatest, he was at least one of the best of the race of the Ptolemies. (Plb. 40.12; Diod. Exc. Vales. p. 594.)

He left three children:

1. A son, Ptolemy, who was proclaimed king after his father's death, under the name of Ptolemy Eupator, but was put to death almost immediately after by his uncle Euergetes.

2. A daughter, Cleopatra, married first to Alexander Bala, then to Demetrius II. king of Syria; and

3. Another daughter, also named Cleopatra, who was afterwards married to her uncle Ptolemy Euergetes.


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hide References (18 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (18):
    • Flavius Josephus, Jewish Antiquities, 13.3
    • Polybius, Histories, 28.1
    • Polybius, Histories, 28.16
    • Polybius, Histories, 28.17
    • Polybius, Histories, 28.19
    • Polybius, Histories, 29.11
    • Polybius, Histories, 29.8
    • Polybius, Histories, 30.11
    • Polybius, Histories, 31.18
    • Polybius, Histories, 31.27
    • Polybius, Histories, 32.1
    • Polybius, Histories, 27.17
    • Polybius, Histories, 31.25
    • Polybius, Histories, 33.5
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 45, 11
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 45, 13
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 42, 29
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 44, 19
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