Here's the Scoop on this Dysfunctional Dynasty in History
Here’s the Scoop on this Dysfunctional Dynasty in History

Here’s the Scoop on this Dysfunctional Dynasty in History

Khalid Elhassan - May 23, 2019

Here’s the Scoop on this Dysfunctional Dynasty in History
Julius Caesar, Mark Antony, and Cleopatra. YouTube

1. The Dramatic Ptolemies Went Out in Dramatic Fashion

All of the Ptolemies’ vices, intrigues, betrayals, and perversions, were present in the reign of Cleopatra VII, the Ptolemaic Dynasty’s most famous ruler, and the last one who wielded actual power. Carrying on the family’s tradition of incest, she married her younger brother, Ptolemy XIII, before falling out with him and plunging the country into a civil war that ended with the death of her brother/ husband, after Julius Caesar intervened and took her side in the conflict. She then married another brother, Ptolemy XIV, while carrying on an affair with Caesar. She bore the Roman dictator a son, Caesarion, the future Ptolemy XV – the dynasty’s last nominal ruler.

After Caesar’s assassination, Cleopatra took up with his chief lieutenant, Mark Antony, with whom she had one of history’s most famous love affairs. The couple were eventually defeated by Antony’s rival, Gaius Octavius, the future emperor Augustus. Antony fell on his sword, and Cleopatra famously committed suicide via snakebite in 30 BC. She was nominally succeeded by Ptolemy XV Caesarion, but Augustus had him killed when he was captured a few weeks later. The deaths of Cleopatra and Caesarion brought the Ptolemaic Dynasty to an end, and Egypt was made into a Roman province.

Here’s the Scoop on this Dysfunctional Dynasty in History
The Ptolemaic Kingdom (in blue), circa 300 BC. Wikimedia

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Where Did We Find This Stuff? Some Sources and Further Reading

Bingen, Jean – Hellenistic Egypt: Monarchy, Society, Economy, Culture (2007)

Biography – Cleopatra VII

Bowman, Alan – Egypt After the Pharaohs: 332 BC – AD 64, From Alexander to the Arab Conquest (1996)

Encyclopedia Britannica – Gaius Popillius Laenas

Encyclopedia Britannica – Ptolemy I Soter

Ere Now – The Ptolemaic Royal Family: From Alexander the Great to Ptolemy of Mauretania

History of Macedonia – History of the Egyptian Kingdom of the Ptolemies (BC 323 to 30)

History Undressed – Keeping it in the (Ptolemaic) Family: When Incest is Best

io9 – The Great Library at Alexandria Was Destroyed by Budget Cuts, Not Fire

Livius – Ptolemy VIII Physcon

Strange History Net – The Most Dysfunctional Family in History: The Ptolemies

ThoughtCo – Rulers of the Ptolemies: Ancient Egypt From Alexander to Cleopatra

Wikipedia – Ptolemaic Kingdom

Wikipedia – Cleopatra III of Egypt

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