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Encyclopedia > Ptolemy II of Egypt
Head of Ptolemy II Philadelphus (-), with .
Head of Ptolemy II Philadelphus (309-246 BC), with ArsinoŽ II.

Ptolemy II Philadelphus (309-246 BC), was of a delicate constitution, no Macedonian warrior-chief of the old style. E.J.Bickermann (Chronology of the Ancient World, 2nd ed. 1980) gives the date of his death as January 29.

His brother Ptolemy Ceraunus found compensation by becoming king in Macedonia in 281 BCE, and perished in the Gallic invasion of 280-79 (see Brennus).

Ptolemy II maintained a splendid court in Alexandria. Not that Egypt held aloof from wars. Magas of Cyrene opened war on his half-brother (274 BCE), and Antiochus I Soter, the son of Seleucus, desiring Palestine, attacked soon after. Two or three years of war left Egypt the dominant naval power of the eastern Mediterranean; the Ptolemaic sphere of power extended over the Cyclades to Samothrace, and the harbours and coast towns of Cilicia Trachea ("Rough Cilicia"), Pamphylia, Lycia and Caria were largely in Ptolemy's hands.

The victory won by Antigonus, king of Macedonia, over his fleet at Cos (between 258 and 256) did not long interrupt his command of the Aegean. In a second war with the Seleucid kingdom, under Antiochus II Theos (after 260), Ptolemy sustained losses on the seaboard of Asia Minor and agreed to a peace by which Antiochus married his daughter Berenice (ca. 250).

Ptolemy's first wife, ArsinoŽ I, daughter of Lysimachus, was the mother of his legitimate children. After her repudiation he married, probably for political reasons, his full-sister ArsinoŽ II, the widow of Lysimachus, by an Egyptian custom abhorrent to Greek morality.

The material and literary splendour of the Alexandrian court was at its height under Ptolemy II. Pomps and gay religions flourished. Ptolemy deified his parents and his sister-wife, after her death (270), as Philadelphus. This surname was used in later generations to distinguish Ptolemy II. himself, but properly if belongs to ArsinoŽ only, not to the king.

Callimachus, made keeper of the library, Theocritus, and a host of lesser poets, glorified the Ptolemaic family. Ptolemy himself was eager to increase the library and to patronize scientific research. He had the strange beasts of far off lands sent to Alexandria. But, an enthusiast for Hellenic culture, he seems to have shown but little interest in the native religion.

The tradition preserved in the pseudepigraphical Letter of Aristeas which connects the Septuagint translation of the Old Testament into Greek with his patronage is probably not historical. Ptolemy had many brilliant mistresses, and his court, magnificent and dissolute, intellectual and artificial, has been justly compared with the Versailles of Louis XIV.

This article incorporates text from the public domain 1911 Encyclopśdia Britannica.

Preceded by:
Ptolemy I
Ptolemaic King of Egypt Succeeded by:
Ptolemy III

  Results from FactBites:
Ptolemy II Philadelphus, The Second King of Egypt's Greek Period (1956 words)
Indeed, the Ptolemies were known for their seemingly natural ability to live in greed, luxury and intrigue while other members of the diadochi (the followers) of Alexander the Great, who split his empire amongst themselves, suffered from these follies.
The dynastic cult of the Ptolemies was a Greek cult with a Greek hierarchy, and with worshippers drawn from the Greek speaking population of the country.
Ptolemy II ended up repudiating his existing wife, after some rumors of treason associated with her arose and she was banished to Coptos in Southern Egypt.
Ptolemy II was the son of Ptolemy I and heir to the Greek rule of Egypt.
In 305 BC he declared himself King Ptolemy I, known as "Soter" (saviour) and made the city of Alexandria Egypt's capital, bringing Alexander's body with him to be buried in the city, reuniting the famed conqueror with the city that bore his name.
Ptolemy decided from the beginning of his reign that Alexandria would not just be another port capital, but the home of a new age in Greek science and art.
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