Ptolemaic Egypt, Ptolemy VIII Euergetes. 145-116 BC

Ptolemaic Egypt, Ptolemy VIII Euergetes. 145-116 BC

4,000.00

AR Tetradrachm, 14.02g (26mm, 12h). Diademed bust of Ptolemy right / ΠΤΟΛEMAIOY- ΒΑΣΙΛΕΩΣ Eagle to l. on a lightning bolt. To l., LΛA (year 31). to r., ΠA.

Pedigree: Purchased from Jean Elsen, January 1980

References: Svoronos 1445. SNG Cop - (cf. 327, year 32). Nicolaou-Morkholm 18

Grade: Ancient flan indentation at edge at 11h on obverse. Dark cabinet toning with sharp strike. EF

(gk1316)

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Ptolemy VIII, was known as “Euergetes” or the “benefactor”. He was also known as “Physcon” which loosely translates into “the fat” obviously alluding to his large size. When his brother Ptolemy VI, the ruler at the time, was captured by the Seleucid ruler Antiochus IV, he took all of Egypt with the exception of Alexandria. There he allowed Ptolemy VI to continue to rule as a puppet leader. 

When Antiochus finally withdrew from Egypt after threats from the growing Roman Republic, Ptolemy VI, his sister/wife Cleopatra II and Ptolemy VIII ruled in a triumvirate fashion. There were still periods of discontent and turmoil but Ptolemy VI died a natural death leaving a familial rush for the throne. Cleopatra II quickly had her son Ptolemy VII proclaimed King. This angered Ptolemy VIII. He proposed marriage to his sister as a result and schemed to have the boy killed, which he ultimately did during the wedding festivities. 

Only five years later Ptolemy VIII ruthlessly took Cleopatra III, his niece, in marriage, who was also the daughter of Cleopatra II. He never bothered to divorce Cleopatra II which cause yet another family drama. Cleopatra II reacted to this by making their son Ptolemy Memphites ruler. Ptolemy VIII somehow got hold of his son, killed and dismembered him and sent the body parts to his sister/wife Cleopatra II.

Ptolemy VIII was unpopular in Alexandria due to the harsh treatment he waged on them in 145 BC, therefore, Cleopatra II found refuge there while Ptolemy VIII tended to have the support of the rest of Egypt. There was a civil war within Egypt and the Seleucids were asked to assist by Cleopatra II. Finally everything came to a head and the Romans intervened in 116 BC.

Ptolemy VIII even gave his daughter with Cleopatra III to Antiochus VIII of Syria in marriage. When Ptolemy died in 116 BC he left rule to his wife Cleopatra III and one of their sons. 

The rule of the Ptolemaic kings and queens were legendary in intrigue, incest and murder.