People - Ancient Egypt: Ptolemy VIII Euergetes II
GRECO-ROMAN PERIOD Ptolemaic Dynasty (170-163 & 145-116) This period is confusing due to all of the co-regencies. Scholars are not
always in agreement on the order of reigns and, in some case, the reigns themselves, from Ptolemy VI through Ptolemy XI. In any
event, Egypt's authority and wealth was intact until the death of Cleopatra, at which time, Egypt was overpowered by Rome.
Ptolemy VIII Euergetes II in Tour Egypt
PTOLEMY VIII EUERGETES II (PHYSCON)
170-163 & 145-116B.C.
Ptolemy VIII Euergetes II (Physcon) was the eighth ruler of the Ptolemaic Dynasty. He was the younger brother of Ptolemy
VI Philometor and the uncle of Ptolemy VII Neos Philopator. He ruled Egypt when Philometor fled Alexandria for Rome. His
rule proved to be intolerable and the Alexandrians were begging for Philometor to return.
When he did, the two brothers split up rule; Physcon ruling the western province of Cyrenaica and Philometor ruled Egypt.
Upon Philometor's death, his son, Philopator, took over the throne with his mother as co-regent. Physcon married
Philopator's mother, Cleopatra II, and had Philopator killed at the wedding feast. He returned to Memphis as Pharaoh and
expulsed many of the Alexandrians who had sided against him. He also married Cleopatra II's daughter, Cleopatra III. He
died on June 26, 116 BC and left his power to Cleopatra III and whichever of her sons she might prefer.
Ptolemy VIII Physcon in Wikipedia
Ptolemy VIII Euergetes II (Greek: Πτολεμαῖος Εὐεργέτης, Ptolemaĩos Euergétēs) (c. 182 BC – June 26, 116 BC), nicknamed Φύσκων, Phúskōn,
Physcon ("Sausage", "Potbelly" or "Bladder") for his obesity, was a king of the Ptolemaic dynasty in Egypt. His complicated career started
in 170 BC, when Antiochus IV Epiphanes invaded Egypt, captured his brother Ptolemy VI Philometor and let him continue as a puppet monarch.
Then Alexandria chose Ptolemy Euergetes as king.
After Antiochus left (169 BC), Euergetes agreed to joint rule with his older brother Ptolemy VI Philometor and Cleopatra II. This
arrangement led to continuous intrigues, lasting until October 164 BC, when Philometor went to Rome to gain support from the Senate, who
were a little helpful, but Physcon's sole rule was not popular, and in May 163 BC the two brothers agreed to a partition that left Physcon
in charge of Cyrenaica.
Although the arrangement lasted until Philometor's death in 145 BC, it did not end the sparring. Physcon convinced the Senate to back his
claim on Cyprus, but Philometor ignored this, and after Physcon's attempt to conquer the island failed, in 161 BC] the Senate sent
Philometor's ambassadors home. Sometime around 156 BC/155 BC Philometor tried to have Physcon assassinated, but this failed, and Physcon
went to Rome, displayed the scars of wounds he received in the attempt, and despite the opposition of Cato the Elder, received the
Senate's support and some resources for another attempt on Cyprus. (An inscription records that Physcon had bequeathed Cyrenaica to Rome
if he died childless, an act not mentioned by any literary source.)
The second attempt on Cyprus also failed, and Philometor captured Physcon, but spared him, offering him the hand of his daughter Cleopatra
Thea, and sent him back to Cyrenaica.
When Philometor died on campaign in 145 BC, Cleopatra II had her son proclaimed Ptolemy VII, but Physcon returned, proposed joint rule and
marriage to Cleopatra II, his sister. He then had the unlucky youth assassinated during the wedding feast. He then took the throne as
"Ptolemy VIII Euergetes II", the name deliberately recalling his ancestor Ptolemy III Euergetes, and had himself proclaimed as pharaoh in
Physcon took his revenge on the intellectuals of Alexandria who had opposed him, engaging in mass purges and expulsions that included
Aristarchus of Samothrace and Apollodorus, leaving Alexandria a changed city. In 145 BC, "he expelled all intellectuals: philologists,
philosophers, professors of geometry, musicians, painters, schoolteachers, physicians and others, with the result that these brought
'education to Greeks and barbarians elsewhere,' as mentioned by an author who may have been one of the king's victims" (Menecles of Barca,
FGrHist 270 F 9).
He then seduced and married Cleopatra III (who was his wife's daughter) without divorcing Cleopatra II, who was infuriated, and by 132 BC
or 131 BC, the people of Alexandria rioted and set fire to the royal palace. Physcon, Cleopatra III, and their children escaped to Cyprus,
while Cleopatra II had their twelve-year-old son Ptolemy Memphitis acclaimed as king. Physcon was however able to get hold of the boy and
killed him, sending the dismembered pieces to Cleopatra.
The ensuing civil war pitted Cleopatra's Alexandria against the countryside, who supported Physcon. Cleopatra offered the throne of Egypt
to Demetrius II Nicator, but he got no further than Pelusium, and by 127 BC Cleopatra left for Syria, leaving Alexandria to hold out for
After further intrigues, Cleopatra II ended up back in Egypt in 124 BC, and about this time Physcon sent his second daughter by Cleopatra
III, Cleopatra Tryphaena, to marry Antiochus VIII Philometor. A formal amnesty decree followed in 118 BC, but it was insufficient to
improve government, and the Romans would soon be forced to intervene after his death in 116 BC.
When he died, he left the throne to Cleopatra III and one of her sons, whichever she preferred. She would have chosen her younger son
Alexander to have reigned with her. However, the Alexandrians wanted her older son Philometer Soter, governor of Cyprus, to co-reign. She
reluctantly complied, with Philometer taking the name Ptolemy IX, though her younger son would also rule at one point.
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