Ptolemy IV Philopator
|Ptolemy IV Philopator|
|Born||May or June 244 BC|
|Died||July or August 204 BC (aged 40)|
Ptolemy IV Philopator
Ptolemy IV was the son of
In ancient sources, Ptolemy IV 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
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:
Fourth Syrian War (219–217 BC)
In 222 BC
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. Antiochus III received the surrender of Tyre and Ptolemais Ake, but he became bogged down in protracted sieges of Sidon and Dora.
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 III, 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 III, seeing him as a counter to Ptolemy IV's brother Magas. But after Magas' death, Ptolemy IV's interest waned and Sosibius had had the Spartan placed under house arrest. In 219 BC, while Ptolemy IV was at Canopus, Cleomenes III 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 III and his followers then committed suicide.
Antiochus III's 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 IV demanded that Antiochus III recognise Achaeus, the de facto ruler of Asia Minor, who was considered a rebel by the Seleucid court, as a party to the piece.
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, the Seleucid king 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.
In 217 BC, Ptolemy IV and Arsinoe III led the Egyptian army into the Levant, where it met Antiochus III's army in battle at
After the battle, Ptolemy IV set to work reorganising the situation in Coele Syria and sent Sosibius to negotiate with Antiochus III. At the end of summer, he invaded Seleucid Syria, forcing Antiochus III to accept a peace treaty. Ptolemy IV retained the territories that he had held at the start of the war except, apparently, Seleucia Pieria, and he received an enormous sum of gold. By 12 October, Ptolemy IV had returned to Egypt, where the victory was celebrated by a priestly synod at
Foreign affairs in the later reign (217–205 BC)
After the Fourth Syrian War, Antiochus III quickly recovered his strength and led successful expeditions against other enemies. Probably as a result, Ptolemy IV's interactions with other states all focused 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
In the west, Ptolemy maintained friendly neutrality with the Roman Republic and
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
The revolt meant that Ptolemaic forces were unable to defend southern Egypt from
In the midst of this conflict, in July or August 204 BC, Ptolemy IV died in unclear circumstances. A late source,
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
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
In order to assert the unity of this dynastic cult, Ptolemy IV had the existing
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 IV'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.
Ptolemy IV also strongly emphasised the cult of
Many Greek cities that were under Ptolemy IV'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.
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
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 IV 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.
Other construction work carried out under Ptolemy IV's auspices included (from north to south):
- A shrine of Harpocrates in the Serapeum of Alexandria
- Reconstruction of the Naos of the Temple of Mut, Khonsu, and Astarte at Tanis
- The east gate of the Temple of Ptah at Memphis
- A new temple for Hathor at Cusae
- A new temple of Tjebu
- Extensions to the Temple of Min and Isis at Koptos
- Decorative work on the great gateway of the Precinct of Montu and a chapel of Khonsu-Neferhotep at Karnak, Thebes
- Shrine for Hathor and Maat at Deir el-Medina, west of Thebes
- Decorative work on the temple of the Theban triad at the Kharga Oasis
- Completion of the Temple of Montu at Medamud
- Decorative work and a sanctuary of Philae
- Completion of the temple of Isis on Sehel Island, Aswan
- Reconstruction of the temple of Thoth at Dakka
Ptolemy IV was devoted to orgiastic forms of religion and literary dilettantism. He built a temple to Homer in Alexandria 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.
Ptolemy IV is said to have built a giant ship known as the tessarakonteres ("forty-rowed"), 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. Plutarch also mentions that Ptolemy Philopator owned this immense vessel in his Life of Demetrios. 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.
Legacy and reception
The main surviving account of Ptolemy IV's life and character is provided by the historian Polybius. He presents Ptolemy IV 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. Polybius was not a contemporary of Ptolemy IV; 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 IV 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.
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, the king 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 IV 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.
Marriage and issue
Ptolemy IV married his sister Arsinoe III. Their only son, Ptolemy V, was born in 210 BC. Ptolemy IV may also have had a short-lived illegitimate son by his mistress Agathoclea in late c. 210 BC. However, it has been suggested that this child may actually have been Ptolemy V, on the basis of a passage written by the geographer Strabo.
- ^ 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").
- ^ Clayton (2006) p. 208.
- ^ a b c d e Bennett, Chris. "Ptolemy IV". Egyptian Royal Genealogy. Retrieved 29 October 2019.
- ^ IG IX.1² 1:56; R. Flacelière, Fouilles de Delphes III:4:2 no 233, pp 275ff
- ^ a b Bennett, Chris. "Magas". Egyptian Royal Genealogy. Retrieved 30 October 2019.
- ^ Plutarch Life of CLeomenes 32
- ^ Hölbl 2001, pp. 43–54
- ^ Polybius 15.25.2
- ^ Bennett, Chris. "Lysimachus". Egyptian Royal Genealogy. Retrieved 30 October 2019.
- ^ Polybius 15.25.2; Plutarch, Life of Cleomenes 33; Pseudo-Plutarch Proverb. Alexandr. 13
- ^ Polybius, 15.25.2. Cf. Zenobius, 5.94.
- ^ Hölbl 2001, pp. 127–128
- ^ Bennett, Chris. "Arsinoe III". Egyptian Royal Genealogy. Retrieved 30 October 2019.
- ^ Polybius 5.45-46
- ^ a b c d e f Hölbl 2001, pp. 128–132
- ^ Polybius 5.40.
- ^ Polybius 5.61-63, 66
- ^ Polybius 5.38-39; Plutarch Life of Cleomenes 33-37
- ^ Hölbl 2001, p. 128
- ^ Polybius 5.67
- ^ Polybius 5.68-71
- ^ Polybius 5.79-87; Justin, Epitome of Pompeius Trogus 30.1
- ^ Raphia Decree (link to text); Polybius 5.87
- ^ Polybius 5.100.
- ^ Polybius 11.4.1; Livy, Ab Urbe Condita 27.30 & 28.7.
- ^ Strabo, Geography 10.4.11
- ^ IG XII.1 37; IG VII 298.
- ^ Hölbl 2001, p. 132
- ^ Polybius 9.11a; Livy Ab Urbe Condita 27.4.10
- ^ Polybius 7.2.2; Livy Ab Urbe Condita 24.26.
- ^ a b c d Hölbl 2001, p. 133
- ^ Edfu IV.8.1-7, VII.7.5-7.
- ^ Polybius 5.107.1-3
- ^ Hölbl 2001, pp. 153–154
- ^ Hölbl 2001, pp. 154–155
- ^ Bennett, Chris. "Horwennefer / Ankhwennefer". Egyptian Royal Genealogy. Retrieved 29 October 2019.
- ^ a b c d e f g h Hölbl 2001, pp. 161–162
- FGrH558 F54
- ^ Strabo Geography 17.1.8; Zenobius 3.94
- FGrH241 F16
- ^ Hölbl 2001, pp. 162–4
- ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Hölbl 2001, pp. 160–161
- ^ Hölbl 2001, pp. 86–87
- ^ Bevan, Edwyn (1927). The House of Ptolemy: a History of Egypt under the Ptolemaic Dynasty. London: Methuen. p. 233.
- ^ Aelian Variae Historiae 13.22
- ^ Scholia to Aristophanes Thesmophoriazusae 1059
- FGrH 627 F1 = Athenaeus Deipnosophistae V 37.
- ^ Demetrius 43.4-5.
- ISBN 0801851300.
- ^ Polybius 5.34 & 14.12
- ^ Clayton Croy, N. (2006). 3 Maccabees: Septuagint Commentary Series. Leiden: Brill. pp. xii–xiii.
- ^ Strabo Geography 17.1.11.
- 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.
- Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). Encyclopædia Britannica. Vol. 22 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 617. .
- Ptolemy Philopator I at LacusCurtius — (Chapter VII of E. R. Bevan's House of Ptolemy, 1923)
- Ptolemy IV — (Egyptian Royal Genealogy)
- Ptolemaic Genealogy: Possible child of Ptolemy IV
- The great revolt of the Egyptians:205–186 BC (2004)
- Ptolemy IV Philopator entry in historical sourcebook by Mahlon H. Smith