Ptolemy IV Philopator

Ptolemy IV Philopator[note 1] (Greek: Πτολεμαῖος Φιλοπάτωρ, Ptolemaĩos Philopátōr "Ptolemy, lover of his Father"; May/June 244 – July/August 204 BC), son of Ptolemy III and Berenice II, was the fourth Pharaoh of Ptolemaic Egypt from 221 to 204 BC.

Ptolemy's succession to the throne was accompanied by a wide-ranging purge of the Ptolemaic royal family, which left control of the realm's government largely in the hands of his courtiers Sosibius and Agathocles. His reign was marked by the Fourth Syrian War (219-217 BC) with the Seleucid empire, which culminated in a decisive Ptolemaic victory at the Battle of Raphia, one of the largest battles of the whole Hellenistic Age. In the final years of his rule, control over the southern portion of the country was lost to the rebel Pharaoh Hugronaphor. Ptolemy IV died in mysterious circumstances in 204 BC and was succeeded by his young son Ptolemy V Epiphanes under the regency of Sosibius and Agathocles.

In ancient sources, Ptolemy was criticised for being more interested in luxury and court ceremony than government, politics, and foreign relations. The decline of the Ptolemaic dynasty is usually traced to his reign.

Background and early life

Ptolemy IV was the second child and eldest son of Ptolemy III and his wife Berenice II, born about two years after his father's accession to the throne of Egypt. Ptolemy IV had an older sister, Arsinoe III, and three younger brothers, Lysimachus (name uncertain), Alexander and Magas, all born in the 240s BC. The whole family is commemorated by a statuary groups set up at Thermos and Delphi by the Aetolian League.[3][4] Under Ptolemy III, the Ptolemaic kingdom had reached its height, decisively defeating the rival Seleucid kingdom in the Third Syrian War (246-241 BC), financing mainland Greek opposition to Antigonid Macedonia, and maintaining control of nearly the entire eastern Mediterranean seaboard. However the reign was also marked by the first native Egyptian revolt against Ptolemaic rule, in 245 BC. In the final years of Ptolemy III's reign, the Cleomenean War (229-222 BC) broke out in Greece and, despite receiving substantial Ptolemaic support, Cleomenes III of Sparta had been completely defeated by an Antigonid-led coalition and forced to flee to Egypt.[5][6]

Reign

Sometime between October and December 222 BC, Ptolemy III died and Ptolemy IV was crowned king. The new king was about twenty years old and was under the strong influence of two prominent aristocrats: Sosibius and Agathocles, the brother of Ptolemy's mistress Agathoclea. On Ptolemy's accession, Sosibius engineered a large-scale purge of the royal family in order to eliminate anyone who might be able to oppose him. Ptolemy IV's uncle Lysimachus was probably murdered at this time.[7][8] Ptolemy's mother Berenice II was believed to support his younger brother Magas who had held substantial military commands and was popular with the army, so Magas was scalded to death in the bath.[9][4] Berenice died shortly afterwards and is said to have been poisoned.[10][11] By contrast, Ptolemy's sister Arsinoe III was brought into close association with the king. By late 220 BC, Ptolemy had married her, reviving the tradition of sibling-marriage that had been begun by Ptolemy's grandfather Ptolemy II Philadelphus and would remain the norm for the rest of the dynasty.[12]

Fourth Syrian War (219-217)

In 222 BC Antiochus III had assumed the Seleucid throne and he instantly proved a dynamic leader, determined to restore Seleucid power and to reverse the losses that the Seleucids had suffed in the Third Syrian War. In 221 BC, one year after his accession, Antiochus III invaded the Ptolemaic territories in Coele-Syria. He was rebuffed by the Ptolemaic governor of the region, Theodotus, and forced to turn east as a result of the revolt of his satrap of Media, Molon.[13][14]

In spring 219 BC, Antiochus III tried again, attacking and capturing the key port city and 'hearth of the Seleucid dynasty' Seleucia Pieria, which had been under Ptolemaic control since 246 BC. Immediately after this, Theodotus, who had become unpopular at the Ptolemaic court, switched to the Seleucid side, bringing Coele Syria and a large portion of the Ptolemaic fleet with him.[15] Antiochus received the surrender of Tyre and Ptolemais Ake, but he became bogged down in protracted sieges of Sidon and Dora.[16][14]

In the midst of this, there was a revolt in Alexandria, led by Cleomenes III of Sparta, which Polybius presents as having been a serious threat to Ptolemy IV's regime. Ptolemy III had promised to restore Cleomenes, now living in Alexandria with a force of 3,000 mercenaries, to the Spartan throne, but his death had put an end to these plans. Initially, Ptolemy IV and Sosibius had indulged Cleomenes, seeing him as a counter to Magas. But after Magas' death, Ptolemy's interest waned and Sosibius had had the Spartan placed under house arrest. In 219 BC, while Ptolemy IV was at Canopus, Cleomenes broke free and attempted to lead an armed uprising against Sosibius. He and his followers launched an attack on the main citadel in Alexandria, hoping to liberate the men imprisoned within, but this attack was unsuccessful and the people of Alexandria did not respond to their call to rise up. Cleomenes and his followers then committed suicide.[17][18]

Antiochus' efforts to consolidate his control over Coele Syria lasted for the rest of 219 BC. At the beginning of winter, he had to negotiate a ceasefire with Ptolemy IV. Formal peace negotiations followed at Seleucia Pieria, but they do not seem to have been undertaken in good faith on either side. Antiochus refused to consider returning Seleucia Pieria to the Ptolemies, while Ptolemy demanded that Antiochus recognise Achaeus, the defacto ruler of Asia Minor, who was considered a rebel by the Seleucid court, as a party to the piece.[19][14]

Sosibius and Agathocles used the cease fire to whip the Ptolemaic army into shape, while Antiochus III used it to prepare for a new offensive. In early 218 BC, Antiochus obliterated the Ptolemaic forces at Berytus on land and at sea, opening the way for the invasion of Coele Syria. There he captured Philadelphia, but was unable to gain the southern Beqa'a valley, Damascus, or Sidon.[20][14]

In 217 BC, Ptolemy IV and Arsinoe III led the Egyptian army into the Levant, where it met Antiochus army in battle at Raphia on 22 June 217 BC. This was one of the largest battles of the Hellenistic Age with over 150,000 soldiers participating in the melee. At the start of the battle, the Ptolemaic elephant forces were routed and Antiochus followed that up by charging in on horseback and breaking the Ptolemaic left wing. Polybius (generally hostile to Ptolemy) represents Ptolemy's sudden appearance on the front lines as the decisive turning point in the battle, inspiring his troops to fight on and defeat the rest of the Seleucid army which turned and fled while Antiochus was still chasing the fleeing Ptolemaic soldiers on the left wing. When he discovered what had happened, Antiochus had no choice but to retreat to Antioch.[21][14]

After the battle, Ptolemy set to work reorganising the situation in Coele Syria and sent Sosibius to negotiate with Antiochus. At the end of summer, he invaded Seleucid Syria, forcing Antiochus to accept a peace treaty. Ptolemy IV retained the territories that the had held at the start of the war, except, apparently, Seleucia Pieria, and he received an enormous sum of gold. By 12 October, Ptolemy had returned to Egypt, where the victory was celebrated by a priestly synod at Memphis which issued the Raphia decree. The relatively mild terms of the peace and Ptolemy's failure to capitalise on his victory by going on the offensive have caused some surprise among modern scholars; the Raphia decree refers rather unclearly to "the treachery which the commanders of the troops perpetrated" which may be relevant to Ptolemy's decision to make peace.[22][14]

Foreign affairs in the later reign (217-205 BC)

After the Third Syrian War, Antiochus III quickly recovered his strength and led successful expeditions against other enemies. Probably as a result, Ptolemy's interactions with other states all focussed on maintaining peaceful relations and preventing warfare.

In mainland Greece, Ptolemy IV attempted to rebuild the Ptolemaic influence that had suffered a serious setback under Ptolemy III as a result of the Cleomenean War. In 217 BC, Ptolemy's diplomats helped to broker the Peace of Naupactus which brought an end to the Social War between Antigonid Macedonia and the Aetolian League.[23] He had much less success in his attempts to negotiate a peace between the Macedonia and the Roman Republic in the First Macedonian War (215-205 BC).[24] Ptolemy made large financial contributions to a number of Greek cities in order to gain their favour. He was responsible for the city walls at Gortyn in Crete[25] Ptolemy was honoured for his benefactions with monuments and cults in his honour at various cities, including Rhodes and Oropus[26][27]

In the west, Ptolemy maintained friendly neutrality with the Roman Republic and Carthage, which were fighting against one another in the Second Punic War (218-201 BC). He received a friendly embassy from the Romans in 210 BC, requesting a gift of grain to help feed the starving populus. It is unknown how Ptolemy responded to this request.[28] Like his predecessors, Ptolemy maintained particularly close relations with the kingdom of Syracuse under King Hiero II, but the accession of his grandson Hieronymus in 215 BC threatened to upset the careful balance that Ptolemy had maintained, since he repeatedly tried to bring the Ptolemies into the Second Punic War on the Carthaginian side.[29] The situation was resolved with his assassination in 214 BC.[30]

Egyptian Revolt and death (206-204 BC)

Sometime after the end of the Fourth Syrian War, revolts broke out in Egypt itself. Fighting took place in the north of the country in the Delta and separately in Upper Egypt, where fighting led to the interruption of building work on the Temple of Horus at Edfu in 207/206 BC.[31] The reasons for these revolts are unclear. The Hellenistic historian Polybius argued that they were a natural result of Ptolemy's decision to arm the Egyptians during the Fourth Syrian War.[32] Günther Hölbl argues that the fact that the rebels attacked Egyptian temples suggests that it was "a rebellion of the lower classes inspired by social injustice," that had been exacerbated by the heavy taxation necessary to fund that war.[33] In October or November 205 BC, the leader of the southern revolt captured the city of Thebes and had himself crowned Pharaoh, taking the name Horwennefer, rendered in Greek sources as Hugronaphor. Despite Ptolemaic efforts to suppress his regime, Horwennefer would retain his independence for nearly twenty years, until finally captured in August 186 BC.[34][35]

The revolt meant that Ptolemaic forces were unable to defend southern Egypt from Nubian incursions. Probably in 207/06 BC, King Arqamani of Meroe seized control of the Dodecaschoenus. A number of the temple building projects that had been undertaken in this region were completed by Arqameni or his successor Adikhalamani. In many cases, the work of Ptolemy IV was simply appropriated by erasing his name from inscriptions and replacing it with that of Arqameni.[36]

In the midst of this conflict, in July or August 204 BC, Ptolemy IV died in unclear circumstances. A late source, John of Antioch mentions a fire in the palace. Arsinoe III also died at this time. According to Justin, he had been divorced and murdered by Ptolemy IV under the influence of his mistress Agathoclea, shortly before his own death. According to Polybius, she was murdered by Sosibius. After a few daysduring which Ptolemy IV's death was kept secret, his six-year-old son, Ptolemy V Epiphanes, who had been co-regent since 210 BC, was formally proclaimed king, with Sosibius and Agathoclea's brother Agathocles as his regents.[37][2][30]

Regime

Ptolemaic dynastic cult

Like early Ptolemaic monarchs, Ptolemy IV was proclaimed to be a deity on his accession to the throne, as the Theos Philopator (Father-loving God). Particularly after the Fourth Syrian War, Ptolemy IV systematised the dynastic cult, reinforcing the links between the worship of the reigning king and the cults of Alexander the Great and Dionysus.[38]

In 216/215 BC, after the victory celebrations for the Fourth Syrian War, Ptolemy IV and his wife as the Theoi Philopatores (Father-loving gods) were formally incorporated into the dynastic cult. This meant that they were added to the title of the Priest of Alexander the Great in Alexandria, who led the Ptolemaia festival and whose name and titulary was used to name the year in all official and private documents. This followed the pattern that had been laid down by Ptolemy's predecessors, particularly Ptolemy III, whose incorporation into the dynastic cult seems to have formed part of the victory celebrations for the Third Syrian War.[2]

In order to assert the unity of this dynastic cult, Ptolemy had the existing tomb of Alexander the Great and the tombs of the individual Ptolemaic kings in Alexandria demolished. A new, pyramidal structure was built within the palace district of Alexandria to house the bodies of Alexander and the Ptolemies together. This structure seems to have been consecrated at the Ptolemaia festival of 215/14 BC.[39][38] At the same time, Ptolemy IV incorporated the cult of the dynastic founders Ptolemy I and Berenice I as the Theoi Soteres (Saviour gods) into the main dynastic cult overseen by the priest of Alexandria. Probably also in 215/4 BC, Ptolemy IV instituted a new cult in the Greek city of Ptolemais in southern Egypt, dedicated to Ptolemy I and the reigning monarch.[38]

In 211 BC, Ptolemy IV seems to have begun propagating another cult for his deceased mother Berenice II, on the model of the earlier cult for Ptolemy's grandmother, Arsinoe II. A temple for Berenice sozousa (Berenice who saves) was established in Alexandria, by the shore, and seems to have been associated with protection of sailors, closely paralleling the cult of Arsinoe II. Berenice also received a special priestess, the athlophorus (prize-bearer), who marched in the Ptolemaia procession and appeared in official records of the date ahead of the canephorus (basket-bearer) of Arsinoe II. Similar priestesses would be established for later queens in the following reigns.[38]

Ptolemy also strongly emphasised the cult of Dionysus and linked him closely to the dynastic cult. Dionysus was the Greek god of wine and was closely associated with the royal ideal of opulence and luxury, known in Greek as tryphe, which Ptolemy wished to cultivate. Several new festivals of Dionysus were inaugurated, in which Ptolemy himself led the processions, beating on a tympanon.[40] He renamed several areas of Alexandria in honour of the god and his attributes. Sometime before 217 BC, Ptolemy ordered all priests of Dionysus to come to Alexandria to be registered and to submit their holy books and mystery rites to government inspection. This demonstrates a desire to assert his total control of Dionysus worship within his realm. Ptolemy himself was referred to as the Neos Dionysos (New Dionysus) and depicted with attributes of the god in images.[38] Equations with other deities were also made in royal imagery: one notable set of gold octodrachms depicts him with the rayed crown of Apollo or Helios, the trident of Poseidon, and the aegis of Athena, Zeus, and Alexander the Great.

Many Greek cities that were under Ptolemy's control or aligned with him also established official cults in his honour during his reign. Greek cities in this period regularly granted such cults to monarchs and other powerful individuals, usually in thanks for a specific benefaction. Notable examples are found in Jaffa and other cities of the Levant after the victory at Raphia.[38]

Pharaonic ideology and Egyptian religion

Like his predecessors, Ptolemy IV presented himself as a typical Egyptian Pharaoh and actively supported the Egyptian priestly elite through donations and temple construction. Ptolemy III had introduced an important innovation in 238 BC by holding a synod of all the priests of Egypt at Canopus. Ptolemy IV continued this tradition by holding his own synod at Memphis in 217 BC, after the victory celebrations of the Fourth Syrian War. The result of this synod was the Raphia Decree, issued on 15 November 217 BC and preserved in three copies. Like other Ptolemaic decrees, the decree was inscribed in hieroglyphs, Demotic, and Koine Greek. The decree records the military success of Ptolemy IV and Arsinoe III and their benefactions to the Egyptian priestly elite. Throughout, Ptolemy IV is presented as taking on the role of Horus who avenges his father by defeating the forces of disorder led by the god Set. In return, the priests undertook to erect a statue group in each of their temples, depicting the god of the temple presenting a sword of victory to Ptolemy IV and Arsinoe III. A five-day festival was inaugurated in honour of the Theoi Philopatores and their victory. The decree thus seems to represent a successful marriage of Egyptian Pharaonic ideology and religion with the Hellenistic Greek ideology of the victorious king and his ruler cult.[41]

Ptolemy IV also maintained a close and friendly relationship with the priestly elite by supporting and funding construction work at sanctuaries throughout Egypt, mostly continuing projects begun earlier in the dynasty. The most notable example of this is the Temple of Horus at Edfu, where construction had begun in 237 BC under Ptolemy III, but carried on through most of Ptolemy IV's reign until Hugronaphor's revolt forced the end of works in 207/06 BC. By that time most of the structure had been built and most of the interior decoration had been carved. These inscriptions present Ptolemy IV as an ideal Pharaoh, emphasising his military victories in Syria and his pious attitude towards the gods. Annual coronation rituals took place in the sanctuary, in which the god Horus symbolically received kingship from Ra and Osiris and the reigning Pharaoh received his kingship from Ra and Horus. Ptolemy never participated in this ritual personally; his role was played by a priest. Support for the sanctuary thus represented the Ptolemaic commitment to a traditional Egyptian theology of kingship.[42]

Other construction work carried out under Ptolemy IV's auspices included (from north to south):

Literature

Philopator was devoted to orgiastic forms of religion and literary dilettantism.[47] He built a temple to Homer in Alexandria[48] and financed festivals for the Muses, both in Alexandria and in the valley of the Muses in Thespiae in Boeotia. He also composed a tragedy on Adonis, on which his courtier Agathocles wrote a commentary.[49]

Luxury

Ptolemy is said to have built a giant ship known as the tessarakonteres ("forty"), a huge galley and possibly the largest human-powered vessel ever built. This showpiece galley was described by Callixenus of Rhodes, writing in the 3rd century BC, and quoted by Athenaeus in the 2nd century AD.[50] Plutarch also mentions that Ptolemy Philopator owned this immense vessel in his Life of Demetrios.[51] According to these sources, the ship was 128 m long and required 4,000 oarsmen. The appearance and structure of this ship have been much discussed in modern scholarship. Lionel Casson proposes that it was a catamaran. It is generally agreed that the tessarakonteres served as a pleasure boat, not a military vessel.[52][30]

Legacy and reception

The main surviving account of Ptolemy IV's life and character is provided by the historian Polybius. He presents Ptolemy as the archetypal bad king, entirely focused on luxury and court ceremony and completely neglecting of politics, foreign affairs, and military pursuits, which he left entirely to Sosibius. According to Polybius, this neglect was the cause of the disasters of his reign, including his death.[53] Polybius was not a contemporary of Ptolemy; he probably drew his account from two earlier works which are now lost: the Histories of Phylarchus and The Stories about Philopator by Ptolemy of Megalopolis. Both of these also seem to have criticised Ptolemy for his luxuriousness. However, for contemporaries, luxury (tryphe) was often presented as a virtue, which demonstrated a king's ability and willingness to make benefactions. It is possible that the surviving source tradition has taken efforts to advertise this virtue and twisted them into a negative account.[30]

Ptolemy IV is a major character in the deuterocanonical biblical book 3 Maccabees, which was probably written in the first century AD. In this work, set after the Battle of Raphia, Ptolemy is presented as an oppressive tyrant who transgresses divine law by trying to enter the temple at Jerusalem and then launches an attempt to wipe out the Jews by gathering them all in the hippodrome at Alexandria and having them trampled by drunken elephants. These plans are repeatedly thwarted by the divine intervention of Yahweh. In the end, Ptolemy recants and grants extensive privileges to the Jews. It is not clear that this work indicates the existence of a negative Jewish tradition about Ptolemy. It may simply be using him to make a general moral point about the relative strength of secular and divine authorities. Some scholars argue that Ptolemy's character in this work was actually based on the Roman Emperor Caligula and his violations of Jewish sensibilities.[54]

Marriage and issue

Ptolemy IV Philopator married his sister Arsinoe III of Egypt. Their only son was Ptolemy V Epiphanes. Ptolemy IV may also have had a son by his mistress Agathoclea in late c. 210 BC. This child may have died shortly after his birth. However, it has been suggested that this child may actually have been Ptolemy V, on the basis of a passage in the geographer Strabo.[55][2]

Ancestry

Notes

  1. Numbering the Ptolemies is a modern convention. Older sources may give a number one higher or lower. The most reliable way of determining which Ptolemy is being referred to in any given case is by epithet (e.g. "Philopator").

References

  1. Clayton (2006) p. 208.
  2. Bennett, Chris. "Ptolemy IV". Egyptian Royal Genealogy. Retrieved 29 October 2019.
  3. IG IX.1² 1:56; R. Flacelière, Fouilles de Delphes III:4:2 no 233, pp 275ff
  4. Bennett, Chris. "Magas". Egyptian Royal Genealogy. Retrieved 30 October 2019.
  5. Plutarch Life of CLeomenes 32
  6. Hölbl 2001, pp. 43–54
  7. Polybius 15.25.2
  8. Bennett, Chris. "Lysimachus". Egyptian Royal Genealogy. Retrieved 30 October 2019.
  9. Polybius 15.25.2; Plutarch, Life of Cleomenes 33; Pseudo-Plutarch Proverb. Alexandr. 13
  10. Polybius, 15.25.2. Cf. Zenobius, 5.94.
  11. Hölbl 2001, pp. 127–128
  12. Bennett, Chris. "Arsinoe III". Egyptian Royal Genealogy. Retrieved 30 October 2019.
  13. Polybius 5.45-46
  14. Hölbl 2001, pp. 128–132
  15. Polybius 5.40.
  16. Polybius 5.61-63, 66
  17. Polybius 5.38-39; Plutarch Life of Cleomenes 33-37
  18. Hölbl 2001, p. 128
  19. Polybius 5.67
  20. Polybius 5.68-71
  21. Polybius 5.79-87; Justin, Epitome of Pompeius Trogus 30.1
  22. Raphia Decree (link to text); Polybius 5.87
  23. Polybius 5.100.
  24. Polybius 11.4.1; Livy, Ab Urbe Condita 27.30 & 28.7.
  25. Strabo, Geography 10.4.11
  26. IG XII.1 37; IG VII 298.
  27. Hölbl 2001, p. 132
  28. Polybius 9.11a; Livy Ab Urbe Condita 27.4.10
  29. Polybius 7.2.2; Livy Ab Urbe Condita 24.26.
  30. Hölbl 2001, p. 133
  31. Edfu IV.8.1-7, VII.7.5-7.
  32. Polybius 5.107.1-3
  33. Hölbl 2001, pp. 153–154
  34. Hölbl 2001, pp. 154–155
  35. Bennett, Chris. "Horwennefer / Ankhwennefer". Egyptian Royal Genealogy. Retrieved 29 October 2019.
  36. Hölbl 2001, pp. 161–162
  37. Polybius 15.25-26a; Justin, Epitome of Pompeius Trogus 30.2; John of Antioch FGrH 558 F54
  38. Hölbl 2001, pp. 161–162
  39. Strabo Geography 17.1.8; Zenobius 3.94
  40. Eratosthenes FGrH 241 F16
  41. Hölbl 2001, p. 162-4
  42. Hölbl 2001, pp. 160–161
  43. Wilkinson, Richard H. (2000). The Complete Temples of Ancient Egypt. London: Thames & Hudson. p. 113. ISBN 9780500283967.
  44. Wilkinson, Richard H. (2000). The Complete Temples of Ancient Egypt. London: Thames & Hudson. p. 142. ISBN 9780500283967.
  45. Hölbl 2001, p. 86-87
  46. Wilkinson, Richard H. (2000). The Complete Temples of Ancient Egypt. London: Thames & Hudson. p. 151-152. ISBN 9780500283967.
  47. Bevan, Edwyn (1927). The House of Ptolemy: a History of Egypt under the Ptolemaic Dynasty. London: Methuen. p. 233.
  48. Aelian Variae Historiae 13.22
  49. Scholia to Aristophanes Thesmophoriazusae 1059
  50. Callixenus FGrH 627 F1 = Athenaeus Deipnosophistae V 37.
  51. Demetrius 43.4-5.
  52. Lionel Casson (1995). Ships and Seamanship in the Ancient World. Johns Hopkins University Press. pp. 108–109. ISBN 0801851300.
  53. Polybius 5.34 & 14.12
  54. Clayton Croy, N. (2006). 3 Maccabees: Septuagint Commentary Series. Leiden: Brill. pp. xii–xiii.
  55. Strabo Geography 17.1.11.

Bibliography

  • Clayton, Peter A. (2006). Chronicles of the Pharaohs: the reign-by-reign record of the rulers and dynasties of ancient Egypt. Thames & Hudson. ISBN 0-500-28628-0.
  • Hölbl, Günther (2001). A History of the Ptolemaic Empire. London & New York: Routledge. pp. 143–152 & 181–194. ISBN 0415201454.
  •  This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Ptolemies". Encyclopædia Britannica. 22 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 617.
Ptolemy IV Philopator
Born: Unknown Died: 204 BC
Preceded by
Ptolemy III Euergetes
Pharaoh of Egypt
221204 BC
Succeeded by
Ptolemy V Epiphanes
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