Arsinoë II Philadelphus

(c. 316—270 bc)

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Lysimachus (c. 355—281 bc)

Callimachus (fl. c. 280—245 bc)

Ptolemy (fl. 146—170) Greek astronomer and geographer

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daughter of Ptolemy I and his mistress Berenice, was married first (300/299) to Lysimachus whom she aided in his bid for the Macedonian throne. Following Lysimachus' death at Corupedium, she next married (281/280) her half-brother Ptolemy Ceraunus; he murdered her younger sons. Arsinoë fled to Samothrace and then to Egypt where (mid-270s) she finally married her full brother Ptolemy II. This royal couple set a precedent for later Ptolemaic brother—sister marriages; the dynastic cult they instituted strengthened the monarchy. In her lifetime Arsinoë was granted a priestess (‘basketbearer’, kanēphoros) in the Alexandrian dynastic cult; the couple were later incorporated as Theoi Adelphoi (‘Sibling Gods’). In 270 Arsinoë became the first Ptolemaic ruler to enter the Egyptian temples as ‘temple-sharing goddess’. Whatever its nature, Arsinoë's influence on her brother was internationally recognized (Syll.3 434–5. 15). In her honour, the Fayūm was renamed the Arsinoite nome and Philadelphia so named. Her career was marked by ambition and political deftness, her death memorialized by Callimachus (fr. 228 Pf.) and the festival of the Arsinoeia. A recent attempt to redate her death to 268 (Grzybek, Calendrier macédonien (1990) 103–20) has not met universal acceptance.

Dorothy J. Thompson

Subjects: Classical Studies.

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