Arsinoe II and her intrigues

Written by Felgr Pavel on .

Arsinoe II. was the daughter of Ptolemy I Soter and Berenice I. We don’t know the exact date of her birth, but she was surely born after 316 BC. She was married to the King of Thrace Lysimachus in 300 BC, who was much older then her (he was about sixty at the time of the marriage). The old King was willing to do anything for his beautiful wife – he gave her the cities of Heraclea, Theos, Amastris and Cassandreia. On the top of that, the wonderful city of Ephesus was temporarily named Arsinoea.

Ptolemy I. Soter Berenike I.
Ptolemy I. Soter
Berenike I.

Arsinoe bore three sons to the King of Thrace: Ptolemy, Lysimachus and Philip and it was at that time, when she started with intrigues. The main Arsinoe’s aim was to get the throne for one of her sons. But Lysimachus already had a successor – his son Agathocles from the first marriage. So Arsinoe made the King believe that his son plotted against him. Lysimachus came to believe it and let Agathocles executed in 284 BC. Thracian army suffered a crushing defeat from Syrian ruler Seleucus I Nicator three years later. Arsinoe rescued herself, when she fled to Cassandreia and married her half‑brother Ptolemy Keraunos, who promised to adopt her three sons.

The murder of her sons

The Ptolemy dynasty was a bloodthirsty dynasty and Ptolemy Keraunos wasn’t an exception. The moment he came to Cassandreia he let murder the sixteen-years-old Lysimachus and three years younger Philip. Ptolemy rescued himself, because he fled to Dardania in northern Greece. Also Arsinoe had to flee again – to the island Samothrace in Aegean Sea this time.

Arsinoe couldn’t come back to native Egypt until 279 BC, when her brother Ptolemy II Philadelphus came to the throne. His wife was Arsinoe I – the sister of deceased Lysimachus. Arsinoe II started to intrigue on the Pharaoh court immediately. She accused Arsinoe I of King’s murder preparation and so her sister-of-law was forced to leave to Coptos in 278 BC and Arsinoe II herself win favour with Ptolemy. He married her in 277 or 274 BC and because of this marriage he got the Philadelphus (loving sister).

Arsinoe II accomplish her goal

The Queen Arsinoe II didn’t stay in her husband’s shadow. She actively took part in most political decisions. She especially supported the hostility to Macedonia. She was deified even before her death and her cult merged with the one of Aphrodite. The date of her death was discovered on one stele – the month Pachon (March/April); the fifteenth year of Ptolemy II Philadelphus’ rule (so the year 271 or 270 BC).

Message from the Nile

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