Ptolemy I

Ptolemy I : King and Pharaoh of Egypt

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Cleopatra of Egypt is one of history's most famous rulers, but who was responsible for founding the Ptolemaic dynasty from which she came, how, and when? For the answers we go back 300 years before Cleopatra's time, to Ptolemy of Macedonia. He was a friend of Alexander the Great, fighting with him in the epic battles and sieges, which toppled the Persian Empire, and after Alexander's death taking over Egypt after the dead king's commanders carved up his vast empire
among themselves. They were soon at war with each other, the co-called Wars of the Successors, as each man fought to increase his share of the spoils. They made and broke alliances with each other cynically and effortlessly, with Ptolemy showing himself no different from the others.

But unlike them he had patience and cunning that arguably made him the greatest of the Successors. He built up his power base in Egypt, introduced administrative and economic reforms that made him fabulously wealthy, and as a conscious imperialist he boldly attempted to seize Greece and Macedonia and be a second Alexander. As well as his undoubted military prowess, Ptolemy was an intellectual. He founded the great Library and Museum at Alexandria, making that city the intellectual center of the
entire Hellenistic age, and even patronized the mathematician Euclid.
Ptolemy ruled Egypt first as satrap and then as its king and Pharaoh for forty years, until he died of natural causes in his early eighties. On his death, his son, Ptolemy II, succeeded him, and the Ptolemaic dynasty was thus established. It was the longest-lived of all the Hellenistic dynasties, falling with Cleopatra three centuries later. As a king, soldier, statesman, and intellectual, Ptolemy was one of a kind, but, unlike Alexander, he never forgot his Macedonian roots.

Against all odds, Ptolemy fought off invasions, invaded opponents' territories, and established an Egyptian empire, making his adopted country a power with which to be reckoned. His achievements shaped both Egypt's history and that of the early Hellenistic world.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 280 pages
  • 165 x 242 x 23mm | 556g
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 16 black and white halftones; 6 black and white line drawing
  • 0190202335
  • 9780190202330
  • 523,578

Table of contents


List of Maps and Figures

Ancient Works and Abbreviations

Map 1. Alexander's Empire Map 2. Greece and Macedonia Map 3. The Hellenistic World Map 4. Egypt and Syria

Introduction: From Cleopatra to Ptolemy

1. The Young Ptolemy

2. Invading Persia with Alexander

3. The Campaign in Afghanistan

4. To India and Back

5. Ptolemy and the Rise of the Successors

6. From Babylon to Egypt

7. Ptolemy under Attack

8. Alexander's Corpse

9. From Satrap to King

10. First Among Equals

11. Ptolemy and Egypt

12. The End - and Beyond

Appendix 1: Ptolemy's History of Alexander Appendix 2: The Sources of Information Timeline


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Review quote

This book [] can be read as an introduction to the narrative history of the period, from the rise of Philip of Macedonia to the solidification of the Hellenistic kingdoms, in which the main features and developments of the period are presented. * Charlotte Van Regenmortel, Bryn Mawr Classical Review *
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About Ian Worthington

Ian Worthington is Curators' Professor of History at the University of Missouri and author of Demosthenes of Athens (OUP, 2013) and By the Spear (OUP, 2014)
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