Arsinoë II.

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Name of Arsinoë II.
Arsinoe II Isis-Selene Louvre Ma4891.jpg
Bust of Arsinoë II, represented as Isis-Selene (Paris, Louvre)
Proper name
Hiero Ca1.svg
M17 E23
X1 G1 H8
Hiero Ca2.svg
Arsin [o] at
Greek Basilissa Arsinoë Thea Philadelphos

Arsinoë II. Philadelphos ( ancient Greek Ἀρσινόη B 'ἡ Φιλάδελφος; * around 316 BC ; † 270 BC ) is considered the first significant female personality of the Ptolemaic dynasty ruling Egypt . She was a daughter of the diadochi and dynasty founder Ptolemaios I and his second wife Berenike I. Arsinoë II was best known for her third marriage to her full brother Ptolemaios II ( sibling marriage ), before that she was with her half-brother Ptolemaios Keraunos and the diadochus Lysimachus married.


Marriage to Lysimachus

Arsinoë was founded in 300/299 BC. Married under an alliance between her father and King Lysimachus of Thrace , to whom she gave birth to three sons, Ptolemy, Philip and Lysimachus. Her much older husband, over whom she was a dominant influence, was 287 BC. BC also became king of Macedonia . So he had one of his courtiers, Telesphorus, thrown the lion for food because he had dared to express himself disparagingly about one of their musical performances. After Lysimachus 284 BC. BC Herakleia had conquered Pontike , Arsinoe knew how to manipulate him to the point that he transferred this city to her. Secretly, Arsinoë had passionate feelings for her stepson, Prince Agathocles , who as the husband of her sister Lysandra was also her brother-in-law. But because he did not respond, her feelings turned into hatred, which led her to an elimination of the prince, through which she also wanted to pave the way for her own children to the line of succession. In addition, she accused Agathocles of high treason and a planned poisoning of the father, whereupon the latter had willingly consented to the execution of his son.

Lysandra then fled to Syria to Seleucus , who declared himself the avenger of the prince and declared war on Lysimachus. In the battle of Kurupedion near Sardis Lysimachus was 281 BC. Killed. During this time Arsinoë had stayed in Ephesus , which had been renamed "Arsinoeia" in her honor. When the advancing Seleucid troops had penetrated the city, she had disguised herself as a simple woman without being recognized to the port in order to be able to reach a rescue ship. On the other hand, a slave she had draped in her place was killed by the Soldateska believing that she had picked up the enemy's wife.

Marriage to Ptolemy Keraunus

Arsinoë had managed to escape by sea to Kassandreia , where she holed up. Seleucus had also made his way there in order to be able to take over rule in Macedonia, but already at Lysimacheia he was murdered by Ptolemy Keraunos , who was one of her half-brothers. He now intended to take control of Macedonia himself and tried to legitimize this by marrying his half-sister. In order to obtain their consent, he promised to protect them and their sons and to recognize their right to the throne as soon as they reached the age of majority. He confirmed these promises with an oath to the gods, with which he won the trust of Arsinoe. But when she opened the gates of Kassandreia for him, Keraunos immediately occupied the citadel and murdered her two younger sons; the older one had escaped the assassination attempt. She herself was spared and expelled from the city with only two servants, whereupon she took refuge in Samothrace . There she had between the years 287 and 281 BC. Founded the temple named after her Arsinoeion , which with a diameter of 17 m was the largest column-free rotunda in ancient Greece.

Marriage to Ptolemy II.

Coin portrait of Ptolemy II and Arsinoë II.

After the death of Keraunos in 279 BC In the fight against the Celts , Arsinoe was invited by her full brother, King Ptolemy II, to return to Egypt after almost twenty years. Here she was probably for the prosecution and exile of Arsinoë I in the year 278 BC. Responsible, the first wife of her brother, whom she then married in sibling marriage, to the horror of the exogamic Greeks, the two also gave themselves the nickname Philadelphoi (old Greek Φιλαδέλφοι = (the) "brother-lovers"). Arsinoë II got all of her brother's titles and was probably also very influential at court. She was the first Egyptian queen to be deified during her lifetime when her brother equated her with the ancient Egyptian goddess Isis , as evidenced by the inscriptions in the temple complex of Philae . She was not only to remain the first, but also the only Ptolemaic woman to be recognized as a deity by both Greeks and Egyptians, which was demonstrated, among other things, by her frequent representations with double horns of plenty. Brother and sister continued to be called brother and sister gods (old Greek grεοὶ Ἀδελφοί - Theoi Adelphoi ) and coins were minted with their image. Several cities such as the former capital of Fayyum in Egypt were named after Arsinoë .

Arsinoë II and Ptolemy II next to the goddess Isis in the temple of Philae

Her brother husband also had a temple dedicated to her ( Arsinoeion ) built in the port area of ​​Alexandria. A statue of Arsinoë was placed in it, made from a large gem from the Red Sea . The original plan by the architect Timochares, however, provided for an iron statue that was to be erected in a freely floating position by means of a curved magnetic stone attached to the ceiling . The premature death of the architect prevented this construction from being carried out. In 2000, Franck Goddio recovered a headless statue made of black granite in the harbor basin of Alexandria, the former palace district, the creation of which dates back to the 3rd century BC and is ascribed to Arsinoë II. She is shown as an Isis-Aphrodite rising from the water, only dressed in a transparent robe.

Arsinoë II contributed much to the politics of her brother husband, including his victory in the First Syrian War (274-271 BC) between Egypt and the Seleucids . After her death, Ptolemy continued to mention her on official documents, minted coins with her image and her veneration continued.


  • Sabine Müller: The Hellenistic royal couple in media representation. Ptolemy II. And Arsinoë II. De Gruyter, Berlin / New York 2009, ISBN 978-3-11-020917-4 .
  • Gabriella Longega: Arsinoë II. Bretschneider, Rome 1968.
  • Hermann Bengtson : rulers of the Hellenism. Beck, Munich 1975, ISBN 3-406-00733-3 , pp. 111-138.
  • K. Bringmann, H. von Steuben, W. Ameling, B. Schmidt-Dounas: Donations from Hellenistic rulers to Greek cities and shrines. Part I, Part II (2 volumes), Akademie, Berlin 1995.
  • Georges Roux : The History of the Rotunda of Arsinoe. In: Samothrace. Vol. VII, 1992, pp. 231-239.
  • Werner Huss: Ptolemy the son. In: Journal of Papyrology and Epigraphy. Vol. 121, 1998, pp. 229-250.
  • Sviatoslav Dmitriev: The Last Marriage and the Death of Lysimachus. In: Greek, Roman, and Byzantine Studies. (GRBS) Vol. 47, 2007, pp. 135-149.
  • Ulrich Wilcken : Arsinoë 26 . In: Paulys Realencyclopadie der classischen Antiquity Science (RE). Volume II, 1, Stuttgart 1895, Sp. 1282-1287.

Web links

Commons : Arsinoë II.  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Porphyry of Tire In: The fragments of the Greek historians . (FrGrHist) 260 F3, 11; Diodor : Bibliothéke historiké .. 22, 4.
  2. Memnon of Herakleia : Perì ʰērakleias. In: FrGrHist 434 F4, 9 ; Plutarch : Demetrius 31, 3.
  3. Athenaios : Deipnosophistai. 14, 616; Plutarch : Moralia. 606. The sacrifice was possibly identical to Telesphorus (Antigonide) .
  4. Memnon of Herakleia: Perì ʰērakleias. In: FrGrHist 434 F5, 4-5 .
  5. Memnon of Herakleia: Perì ʰērakleias. In: FrGrHist 434 F5, 6 ; Pausanias : Helládos Periēgēsis 1, 10, 3.
  6. Memnon of Herakleia: Perì ʰērakleias. In: FrGrHist 434 F5, 7.
  7. ^ Strabo : Geographika 14, 1, 21.
  8. ^ Polyainus : Stratagem. 8, 57.
  9. ^ Justin : Historiarum Philippicarum libri XLIV. 17, 2.
  10. ^ Justin: Historiarum Philippicarum libri XLIV. 24, 2-3; Memnon of Herakleia: Perì ʰērakleias. In: FrGrHist 434 F8, 7.
  11. ^ Wilhelm Dittenberger in: Orientis Graeci inscriptiones selectae. (OGIS) No. 15; Inscriptiones Graecae XII. 8, 227.
  12. Pliny : Naturalis historia 37.108-109; Pliny thought this gem was a topaz
  13. Pliny: Naturalis historia 34.148
  14. Franck Goddio: Sunken Treasures. Archaeological discoveries under water. Theiss, Stuttgart 2005, ISBN 3-8062-1931-1 .