Ptolemy I.

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Name of Ptolemy I.
Ptolemy I Soter Louvre Ma849.jpg
Portrait of Ptolemy, only the face and part of the hairline are antique; Louvre , Paris
Horus name
sw A46 N29 W24
Wer-pechti nesu-qeni
Wr-pḥtj nsw qnj
Great in strength, the brave of Upper Egypt
(from the rush)
Ba15 D40 Ba15a
U31 sxm U31 q HqA d
Ba15 D40 Ba15a
...-...- mighty-ruler -...
Throne name
Hiero Ca1.svg
C2a / C12a stp
Hiero Ca2.svg
Setep-en-Re meri-Amun
Stp-n-Rˁ mrj-Jmn
Chosen by Re, loved by Amun
Proper name
Hiero Ca1.svg
wA rw
i i s
Hiero Ca2.svg

Ptolemy I Soter ( ancient Greek Πτολεμαῖος Αʹ ὁ Σωτήρ , Latin Ptolemaeus ; * 367/66 BC in Macedonia ; † 283/82 BC in Alexandria ) was one of the generals of Alexander the Great and his friend and later one of the Diadochi and founder of the Hellenistic Ptolemaic dynasty in Egypt.


Early years

Origin and youth

Ptolemy son was probably a side line of the Macedonian royal family of Argead Dynasty entstamme ends Arsinoe and probably of Lagos , arguably belonged to the Macedonian gentry. According to Arrian , Ptolemy, who was a few years older than Alexander the Great, came from the Upper Macedonian region of Eordaia . The rumor that he was actually the illegitimate son of King Philip II and that of Arsinoë, thus a half-brother of Alexander, probably went back to later Ptolemaic propaganda. About his maternal descent from a branch of the Argead family, he declared Heracles and ultimately Zeus to be his mythical ancestors. With these constructed relationships, the claims of the rival dynasties of the Antigonids and Seleucids , who also regarded themselves as descendants of the Argeads or Heraclids , were to be countered. One of Ptolemy's brothers was called Menelaus .

At the royal court in Pella , the youthful Ptolemy was probably a page and one of the companions ( syntrophoi ) of Crown Prince Alexander. In connection with the " Pixodaros Affair " or on the occasion of the dispute between Alexander and his father Philip II when he married Cleopatra in 337/336 BC. Ptolemy, together with other friends of Alexander - Nearchus , Laomedon , Erigyios and Harpalus - probably had to go into exile to Epeiros and only returned after the murder of Philip II and the assumption of power by Alexander in the summer of 336 BC. Back to the court.

Participants in the Alexanderzug

In a not outstanding military position Ptolemy assumed already 335 BC. In Alexander's Balkan campaign and capture of Thebes , which he would then have reported as an eyewitness. Nothing is known about Ptolemy from the early phase of the Asian campaign , although he may have participated in it from the beginning. During this time it only appears once in writing, when it was apparently 334 BC. Chr. With two other people in Miletus dedicated a statue to Apollo . Only in November 333 BC He is mentioned when he was his king after the battle of Issus in the pursuit of the defeated Persian king Dareios III. was helpful. In January 330 BC He was first mentioned in an independent military command in the battle for the "Persian gates" , whereby this information is based on Ptolemy 'own tradition, the truth of which is therefore difficult to verify. According to Clitarchus ' report, which is often fabulously decorated and reproduced by later authors , Ptolemy' later hetaerae Thaïs was responsible for the pillage of the Persian capital Persepolis .

Ptolemy did not move into the immediate vicinity of Alexander until the summer of 330 BC. . For the acceptance of the Persian Hofzeremonielles, where he for AD taster ( edeatros was appointed the king). In connection with the conspiracy of Dimnos and the following trial against Philotas in the autumn of 330 BC. He was appointed one of the royal bodyguards ( somatophylax ) as a replacement for the suspected bodyguard Demetrios , and was included in the group of the Hetairoi . Again following its own tradition it was born in the spring of 329 BC. Sent out with a corps to take over the regicide Bessos, who was captured by Spitamenes . He is said to have set it up naked and in chains on the edge of a street so that Alexander and the whole army could march past him. According to a different tradition, however, Spitamenes personally brought the prisoner to Alexander.

Early 328 BC Ptolemy commanded one of the five independently operating armies that invaded Sogdia and met again in Marakanda . During one in Marakanda in the winter of 328/327 BC. During the feast he tried in vain to calm the quarrel between Alexander and the general Kleitos by leading the latter away; the king finally stabbed Clitus. In Bactria , as a bodyguard, he checked the entry into Alexander's tent at night, heard about the page conspiracy and reported it to the king. According to him, the involved Callisthenes was tortured and hanged. He was also involved in the conquest of the rock castle of Sisimithres (or Chorienes), where he was responsible for overseeing the fortification work.

In the fight against the Aspasians in India in the second half of 327 BC Ptolemy was injured. Not much later he recognized the fleeing prince there, pursued him with a few hypaspists , survived a thrust of this prince during close combat thanks to his armor and killed him, with which the Macedonians won the battle. Behind the city of Arigaion, Ptolemy investigated the number of enemy troops and then commanded one of three army columns with which he climbed a mountain during a frontal attack by Alexander on the enemy, on which other enemy soldiers were encamped, whom he could drive away. He also managed to take various festivals in the region there. He also distinguished himself in the conquest of the impregnable mountain fortress Aornos (located in the Swat Valley ). With a detachment of troops he climbed a point of the massif suitable for attack, but after an attack by Alexander on the Indians from the valley had failed, he had to laboriously defend his position against an enemy onslaught. At the next attack by Alexander he fell in the back of the Indians and was able to unite his army with that of his king in the ensuing battle. The Aornos was then captured by the Macedonians filling a ravine from their current position by building a dam and then being able to bombard the fortress from there.

Around the middle of 326 BC Ptolemy took part in Alexander's crossing of the Hydaspes before the battle against Porus . During the war against the Kathaier people , their wagon castle, located in front of their larger city Sangala (perhaps today's Sialkot ), was stormed and Sangala surrounded, with Ptolemy fending off an anticipated failure of the besieged. Soon after, the city fell. In the autumn of 326 BC Ptolemy received the office of Trierarch of the Hydaspes fleet under construction. When Alexander moved against the Maller , he stayed back with an army unit on the Akesines in order to intercept any enemies fleeing to this river. Meanwhile, Alexander was seriously injured by an arrow shot in an attack on a Maller town and rescued by Peukestas and other bodyguards. In this critical situation Ptolemy was not present, as he stated in his history. Nevertheless, Clitarchus and Timagenes claimed that Ptolemy was among the king's saviors and was therefore given the nickname Soter (= savior).

Another injury to Ptolemy is likely to be 325 BC. Before Harmatelia , one of the city of the Brahmins , to have suffered by a poison arrow; he was said to have stayed alive through a medicinal herb given to him by Alexander himself. When the Macedonians moved through the Oreit area after their retreat from India , Ptolemy commanded one of three contingents of troops and made considerable booty.

Ptolemy was born in Susa in 324 BC. Next to other comrades in arms of Alexander with a golden wreath. At the mass wedding that followed, he was married to Artakama , a daughter of Artabazos and great-granddaughter of the Persian great king Artaxerxes II . Like almost all Macedonian-Persian marriage alliances, this one did not survive the death of the king. When Alexander in the winter of 324/323 BC BC successfully fought the mountain people of the Kossaier , Ptolemy commanded one of the independently advancing army groups. He was at the end of May 323 BC. One of the guests at Alexander's last drinking bout in Babylon , organized by Medios .


After the death of the king, Ptolemy, like almost all generals of the aristocracy, spoke out in favor of Alexander's unborn child, if it was a son, as the new king. He also advocated the formation of a Regency Council, which should consist of the generals and lead the government. But after the Chiliarch Perdickas was able to assert himself as sole ruler in the confused circumstances of these days, Ptolemy successfully made his appointment as satrap of the rich province of Egypt in the Babylonian Empire . The regent determined that power should be shared in this important province. Ptolemy should only lead the civil administration, while the control of the finances should remain with the previous administrator ( hyparchos ) Kleomenes . Ptolemy, however, took advantage of the already existing resentment of the Egyptian population, which had been sparked by the rigid tax policy of his rival, to eliminate him. Thereby he united the government of Egypt in his person and appropriated the treasure of 8,000 talents built up by Cleomenes . Immediately thereafter, Ptolemy expanded his sphere of influence by letting his friend Ophellas occupy the previously autonomous Cyrene . In 321 BC He managed the diversion of Alexander's funeral procession to Memphis .

Ptolemy acted against the regent Perdiccas several times and positioned himself against him. Although he was able to successfully defend himself against any allegation of treason in a trial, Perdiccas identified him as the main enemy alongside Antipater . In the first war of the Diadochs, Ptolemy was militarily inferior to the regent who went against him personally and therefore holed up behind the left bank of the Nile at Pelusium . Here he succeeded several times in preventing Perdiccas from crossing the Nile, until Perdiccas fell victim to an outrage of his own people. Ptolemy won the favor of the imperial army through his gold and the guarantee of the supply of food, but refused the promotion to imperial regent, forcing Arrhidaios and Peithon to be appointed . He then led the army to Syria to unite with Antipater, annexing Koilesyria and taking Jerusalem on a Sabbath without bloodshed . At the conference of Triparadeisos his measures were reversed, but he received the satrapy of Egypt from the new regent Antipater, not because Antipater trusted him, but because Ptolemy's disempowerment now seemed impossible. To protect each other, Ptolemy married a daughter of Antipater, Eurydice .

During the Second Diadoch War (319–316 BC) Ptolemy was allied with Cassander and Antigonus Monophthalmos against the regent Polyperchon , but was hardly involved in the fighting. He dealt mainly with the organization of an efficient administration and the construction of a fleet. Only in 318 BC Its strategically important sea ports in Phenicia were occupied by Eumenes , who was pushed to the east by Antigonus Monophthalmos. Antigonus Monophthalmos emerged from the war as the great victor, who now ruled the entire Asian region of the Alexander empire, made a claim to the entire empire and thus triggered the third war of the Diadochs. Ptolemy allied himself with Cassander and Lysimachus , but had to be until 314 BC. Accept the loss of Phoinikiens and Koilesyriens to Antigonus. He therefore focused on naval warfare and supported Kassander in the Aegean . In 314 BC After a naval operation, Cyprus was conquered, which should guarantee it its dominance in the eastern Mediterranean. After Antigonus turned to the theater of war in Asia Minor, Ptolemy went in 312 BC. On the offensive in Syria and won the battle of Gaza against the young Demetrios Poliorketes . This victory brought him briefly back into possession of Syria, which he lost again in the following year after a defeat against Demetrios at Myus. In return, Ptolemy was able to help his ally Seleucus to capture Babylon and thus open a front in the rear of the enemy.

In 311 BC BC the forces of the war opponents had exhausted themselves and they agreed on a general peace ( Diadoch peace ). The Alexander empire was actually divided into it. The principle of imperial unity was only taken into account with the renewed recognition of Alexander IV Aigos as the rightful king. To this end, it was decided that the twelve-year-old king should be given full power of government when he soon came of age. In later historical research, this addition was viewed as a covert invitation from the contracting parties to Kassander to take care of this matter. A little later, Kassander had the king and his mother murdered without any reaction from the Diadochi.

Elevation to King

Tetradrachm Ptolemy I, around 305 BC Chr.

In the following years of peace Ptolemy tried to consolidate his rule. He brought Cyrene back under his rule after Ophellas had made himself independent there, but was soon murdered. On the coast of Asia Minor he established himself in Phaselis and Xanthos and established a base on Kos . There joined him in 309 BC BC the Antigonid general Ptolemaios , whom he murdered, but whose army and fleet added to his strength. A subsequent attempt to conquer Halicarnassus failed after a relief from Demetrios Poliorketes. In return, the Princess Kratesipolis bequeathed the cities of Corinth and Sikyon to him at the same time , which also gave him influence in Greece . He consolidated his rule in Cyprus with the removal of the city king Nicocles of Paphos .

In 307 BC The fourth diadoch war broke out with the same constellations of the third. In the following year Demetrios Poliorketes landed in Cyprus and besieged Ptolemy 's brother, Menelaus, in Salamis . Ptolemy brought up his fleet for relief, but was defeated in a sea ​​battle . As a result, he lost Cyprus and the supremacy at sea. Because of this victory, Antigonus Monophthalmos was proclaimed king, with the claim to rule in the entire Alexander Empire. The situation became increasingly threatening for Ptolemy when his superior opponents marched in a combined land-sea operation against Egypt. Once again, however, the Nile proved to be a reliable ally, which Antigonus was unable to cross. Demetrios' fleet also failed to land on the coast, as it was pushed to the coast of Palestine by a storm. Antigonus gave up the attack because he did not want to experience a fate like Perdiccas, Ptolemy was saved.

Encouraged by this defensive success, Ptolemy and his allies also accepted the title of king in order to reject Antigonus' claim to sole rule. However, they failed to raise one for their part, whereby they defined their royal dignity on the territories they held. In 305 BC BC Ptolemy successfully supported the independent Rhodes in the defense against Demetrios Poliorketes. In honor of him, the Rhodians gave him the honorary name "Savior" ( Soter ). In the next few years he had to give up his positions in Greece against Demetrios. 302 BC He occupied several cities in Koilesyria and marched towards Asia Minor to unite with his allies for the decisive battle against Antigonus. However, he turned back and withdrew to Egypt, presumably because he was caught up in false reports about the victory of Antigonus over Lysimachus. Antigonus was defeated and killed in the Battle of Ipsos , and the Alexander Empire finally ceased to exist.

Last years

Ptolemy's absence from Ipsos sparked a conflict with his former ally Seleucus. He claimed the province of Koilesyria, which was still held by Ptolemy, with the right of the victor; Ptolemy, due to his indifference to Ipsos, had no claim to be involved in the division of the territory. For Ptolemy, however, Koile Syria had a high strategic value as a protective forefront of Egypt in Asia. He tried to avoid this new threat from Seleucus by means of a comprehensive family policy. He married his daughters to Lysimachus of Thrace and Alexander V of Macedon , a stepdaughter to Pyrrhus of Epirus . Seleucus, in turn, allied himself with the sea king Demetrios Poliorketes, who died in a sea attack in 298 BC. BC Gaza and Samaria conquered. Ptolemy had to make a peace with both opponents that created a balance of power in the region for the years to come, which prevented a major war from breaking out. However, the conflict over Koilesyria continued and led to the Syrian wars against the Seleucids under Ptolemy's descendants .

The return of Demetrios Poliorketes to Greece was used by Ptolemy in 295 BC. For the reconquest of Cyprus, which was now permanently won for the Ptolemies. Relief for the besieged Athens failed because of Demetrios' superior naval power. 287 BC Ptolemy and Seleucus found themselves again in an alliance of convenience against Demetrius (fifth diadoch war), whose attack on Asia Minor was not as difficult as expected and ended with his captivity. Ptolemy was able to benefit from this by taking over the protection of the Nesiotenbund and thus renewing the supremacy of the Ptolemies in the Aegean region.

285 BC In BC Ptolemy appointed his younger son Ptolemy II as co-regent; he had excluded the older sons from his first marriage from the inheritance after he had rejected Eurydice. Around the year 283/282 BC He died of natural causes at the age of 84 BC as one of the few Diadochi. He was buried in a heroon near the Tomb of Alexander in Memphis. His son donated the Penteterian Festival ( Ptolemaieia ) in his honor and officially elevated him to the status of "saving god" ( Theos Soter ).

Modern evaluation

Ptolemy is one of the outstanding personalities of the Diadoch period. Compared to his competitors, he created the economically richest and best-ordered empire, which led his two eponymous successors to the dominant power in the eastern Mediterranean. He consolidated the rule of the dynasty he founded in Egypt through administrative and religious ties to ancient Egyptian models. For example, he prevented the founding of autonomous Greek poles (with the exception of Ptolemais Hermeiou ), which is common for Hellenistic states, in order to prevent power sharing. Alexandria as the capital of the empire generally had no autonomy. He organized the economic system in a mercantile manner with the most important branches of production in state ownership, which enabled a constantly recovering budget situation . For the purpose of a balancing policy between Macedonians / Greeks and Egyptians, he also founded an imperial cult in the form of the veneration of Serapis , which combined Egyptian and Greek motifs. He linked his own family to an Alexander cult (deification in 285 BC), which remained unique in the Hellenistic world and which always preserved the Macedonian identity of the dynasty.

During the reign of Ptolemy, Alexandria became the cultural, scientific and economic center of the Hellenistic world. 299 BC The construction of the famous lighthouse of Alexandria , one of the " Seven Wonders of the World ", was started by the architect Sostratos of Knidos. In 284 BC Ptolemy founded the famous library of Alexandria in collaboration with Demetrios von Phaleron . He himself left a historical work about Alexander, which has only been preserved in fragments ( FrGrHist 138), but Arrian served as a source.

Marriages and families

324 BC At Alexander's instigation, Ptolemy married the Persian princess Artakama, whose further fate is unknown.

From his relationship with Thaïs he had three known children:

  • Leontiscos
  • Lagos
  • Eirene , ∞ with the Cypriot city king Eunostus of Soloi

Between 322 BC BC and 319 BC He married Eurydice , daughter of Antipater . With her he had u. a. the following children:

317 BC BC Ptolemy married a third time, his wife was Berenike I , who belonged to the entourage of Eurydice . With her he had the children:

He also apparently had a stepdaughter, Theoxene, who was probably a daughter of Berenike and whom he married to Agathocles of Syracuse .

See also


  • Ernst Kornemann : The Alexander story of King Ptolemy I of Egypt. Attempt at a reconstruction. Teubner, Leipzig et al. 1935 (reprint: Bouma, Groningen 1969).
  • Hans Volkmann : Ptolemy 18). In: Paulys Realencyclopadie der classischen Antiquity Science (RE). Volume XXIII, 2, Stuttgart 1959, Sp. 1603-1645.
  • Gerhard Wirth : Ptolemaios I. In: Paulys Realencyclopädie der classischen Antiquity Science (RE). Volume XXIII, 2, Stuttgart 1959, Sp. 2467-2484 (on the history).
  • Jakob Seibert : Studies on the history of Ptolemy I (= Munich contributions to papyrus research and ancient legal history. Volume 56). Beck, Munich 1969 (also: habilitation paper, University of Munich 1968/1969).
  • Hermann Bengtson : rulers of the Hellenism. Beck, Munich 1975, ISBN 3-406-00733-3 , pp. 9-35.
  • Vilmos Wessetzky: Reliefs from the temple of Ptolemy I in Kom el Ahmar-Sharuna in the Budapest and Vienna Egyptian collection. In: Communications from the German Archaeological Institute, Cairo Department. (MDAIK). Number 33, 1977, pp. 133-141 and plates 44-47.
  • Gregor Weber: Poetry and court society. The reception of contemporary history at the court of the first three Ptolemies (= Hermes individual writings. Issue 62). Steiner, Stuttgart 1993, ISBN 3-515-06297-1 .
  • Thomas Schneider : Lexicon of the Pharaohs. Albatros, Düsseldorf 2002, ISBN 3-491-96053-3 , pp. 205-207.
  • Christian A. Caroli: Ptolemy I. Soter. Ruler of two cultures (= Historia Orientis & Africae. Volume 1). Badawi Artes Afro Arabica, Konstanz 2007, ISBN 978-3-938828-05-2 (also: dissertation, University of Konstanz 2007).
  • Ian Worthington : Ptolemy I. King and Pharaoh of Egypt. Oxford University Press, New York 2016, ISBN 978-0-190-20233-0 .

Web links

Commons : Ptolemy I.  - Collection of images, videos and audio files


  1. ↑ In addition to the frond, the seated king also carries a crook
  2. The signs in positions three and five must be read vertically.
  3. The first and second characters are not in the regular Gardiner list, but in the Extende Library , which is why they cannot be displayed here. Here both gods look at each other. See Jürgen von Beckerath: Handbuch der Ägyptischen Könignames p. 235.
  4. Satyros von Kallatis , The Fragments of the Greek Historians (FrGrHist) 631 F 2; Porphyrios , FrGrHist 260 F 2 §2; among others
  5. Arrian , Anabasis 6,28,4 and Indike 18,5; according to Stephanos of Byzantium (sv Ὀρεστία) on the other hand from Orestis .
  6. Pausanias , Helládos Periēgēsis 1,6,2 (doubtful); Curtius Rufus , Historiae Alexandri Magni Macedonis 9,8,22 et al
  7. Hans Volkmann : Ptolemaios 18). In: Paulys Realencyclopadie der classischen Antiquity Science (RE). Volume XXIII, 2, Stuttgart 1959, Sp. 1603 f.
  8. Plutarch , Alexander 10.1-4.
  9. Arrian, Anabasis 3,6,5.
  10. This is the oldest written evidence of his person outside of the narrative chronicles. On the preserved epigram he called himself "Ptolemaios Lagou Macedon" ( Πτολεμαῖος Λαάγου Μακεδὼν ). See Albert Rehm , Peter Hermann: Inscriptions from Milet / Part 1. A. Inscriptions n.187 - 406 (1997), No. 244, p. 53. ( online IMilet 244 )
  11. Arrian, Anabasis 2,11,8.
  12. Arrian, Anabasis 3, 18, 9.
  13. Kleitarchos , FrGrHist 137 quoted by Diodor , Bibliothéke historiké 17.72 and Plutarch, Alexander 38.1–7.
  14. Athenaios 4,171b – c = Chares , FrGrHist 125 F 1. See also Andrew W. Collins: Alexander the Great and the Office of Edeatros. In: Historia , Vol. 61 (2012), pp. 414-420.
  15. ^ Aristobulus , FrGrHist 139, F 50.
  16. Ptolemaios, FrGrHist 138 F 14 = Arrian, Anabasis 3,29,7 ff.
  17. ^ Aristobulus, FrGrHist 139, F 24.
  18. Arrian, Anabasis 4,16,2.
  19. Arrian, Anabasis 4,8,9 (after Aristobulus); Curtius Rufus, Historiae Alexandri Magni Macedonis 8,1,45-52 (slightly different). - Ptolemy ignored the Kleitos episode in his own work.
  20. Arrian, Anabasis 4,13,7; Curtius Rufus, Historiae Alexandri Magni Macedonis 8,6,22.
  21. Ptolemaios, FrGrHist 138, F 17 in Arrian, Anabasis 4,14,3.
  22. Arrian, Anabasis 4,21,4.
  23. Arrian, Anabasis 4,23,3.
  24. Arrian, Anabasis 4,24,3 f.
  25. Arrian, Anabasis 4,24,8 ff.
  26. ^ Curtius Rufus, Historiae Alexandri Magni Macedonis 8,10,21.
  27. Arrian, Anabasis 4, 29, 1-6.
  28. Arrian, Anabasis 5,13,1.
  29. Arrian, Anabasis 5.23.7-24.3.
  30. Arrian, Indike 18.5.
  31. Arrian, Anabasis 6,5,6.
  32. Ptolemaios, FrGrHist 138, F 26 in Arrian, Anabasis 6,11,7 f.
  33. Kleitarchos, FrGrHist 137 F 24 and Timagenes, FrGrHist 88 F 3 in Curtius Rufus, Historiae Alexandri Magni Macedonis 9,5,21.
  34. Diodor, Bibliothéke historiké 17,103,6 ff .; Curtius Rufus, Historiae Alexandri Magni Macedonis 9,8,22-27 et al
  35. Diodor, Bibliothéke historiké 17,104,5 f .; Curtius Rufus, Historiae Alexandri Magni Macedonis 9,10,6 f.
  36. Arrian, Anabasis 7,5,6.
  37. Arrian, Anabasis 7,4,6; according to Plutarch, Eumenes 1,7, however, Ptolemy’s wife was called Apame.
  38. Arrian, Anabasis 7,15,3.
  39. ^ Metzer Epitome 111; Pseudo- Callisthenes 3,31,7 ff.
  40. Pausanias, Helládos Periēgēsis 1,6,3.
  41. Diodor, Bibliothéke historiké 18,14.
  42. Arrian, Tà metà Aléxandron 1,28 = FrGrHist 156 F9 - Arrian probably quoted Hieronymos von Kardia .
  43. Jump up ↑ Josephus , Jüdische Antiquities XII, 3 f.
  44. Diodor, Bibliothéke historiké 18.39.
  45. Alexander's tomb was only moved to Alexandria under Ptolemy II.
  46. ^ Strabon , Geôgraphiká 17,18.
predecessor Office successor
Alexander IV Aigos (nominal) King of Egypt
306–285 BC Chr.
Ptolemy II