Get to Know the Ptolemaic Kingdom of Ancient Greece
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At the height of its power during the reign of Alexander the Great, Ancient Greece controlled large swaths of territory around the world, its influence being felt as far away as the Indian subcontinent. After Alexander’s death in 323 B.C., his massive Greek empire splintered into several kingdoms ruled by his top generals, who were known as the Diadochi.
By far the most prominent kingdom of the Diadochi was the Ptolemaic Kingdom, which ruled over large parts of Egypt, the Middle East, and North Africa for nearly three centuries. In this article, we’ll examine the Ptolemaic Kingdom from its founding to its decline and fall. Here’s more information about this:
Establishing the Ptolemaic Kingdom
Upon Alexander’s death in 323 B.C., Ptolemy I was appointed satrap of Egypt by Perdiccas, Alexander’s regent. Ptolemy I and other Diadochi soon rebelled against Perdiccas’ rule, declaring themselves the rulers of their own lands. In what became known as the Wars of the Diadochi, Ptolemy I defended his claim to the throne of Egypt against Perdiccas and other Diadochi while simultaneously expanding his rule into Libya and Cyprus. Near the end of his life, Ptolemy I shared the throne with his son, Ptolemy II, having established a large and prosperous kingdom for his descendants.
In shaping his rule, Ptolemy I adopted the traditional trappings of Egyptian royalty. In addition to calling himself pharaoh, Ptolemy I built many temples to Egyptian deities and allowed his subjects to practice their religious rites. Later generations also adopted the traditional Egyptian royal practice of marrying their siblings.
Ptolemy II and the Flourishing of Ptolemaic Culture
When Ptolemy I died in 283 B.C., Ptolemy II became the new pharaoh of Egypt. Unlike his father, Ptolemy II was less interested in war and keener on intellectual pursuits. As such, historians recognize Ptolemy II’s reign as a magnificent era of scholarship and culture. Under Ptolemy II’s rule, Alexandria became the center of the Hellenistic world. The idealistic king funded scientific research, spearheaded the expansion of the Great Library of Alexandria, and patronized many of the city’s greatest poets.
Despite being an avowed scholar, Ptolemy II nevertheless expanded the Ptolemaic Kingdom as far south as Sudan, gaining valuable hunting stations and new ports on the Red Sea. Ptolemy III continued his father’s interest in the arts and sciences but was far more militaristic, declaring war against the Syrian Seleucid Kingdom and advancing as far as Babylonia.
Decline of Ptolemaic Egypt and the Kingdom’s Last Days Under Cleopatra
After the reign of Ptolemy III, the Ptolemaic Kingdom fell into decline. Historians see several reasons for the decline of the dynasty, including intrigue within the royal family, weak rulers, internal rebellions, and foreign influence. The nation with the most influence over Ptolemaic Egypt was the Roman Republic, who saw itself as the protector of the Ptolemies. The last pharaoh of the Ptolemaic Kingdom was Cleopatra VII, who used her romantic relationships with Julius Caesar and later Mark Antony to support her rule.
Antony’s relationship with Cleopatra VII was seen as an affront to Rome and Emperor Caesar Augustus led a military campaign against the two. When Antony was defeated outside Alexandria, Cleopatra VII committed suicide, effectively ending the Ptolemaic Kingdom. Shortly thereafter, in 30 B.C., the Ptolemaic Kingdom became a Roman province.
Categorized in: Ancient Greek History
This post was written by Greek Boston