People > Berenice II

Berenice II

Background

Berenice II (267 - 221 BCE) was the daughter of Magas of Cyrene and Queen Apama II. She was the wife of Ptolemy III Euergetes who was the third ruler of the Ptolemaic Kingdom. Not much is known about her early life but in 249 BCE she married Demetrius the Fair who was a prince from Macedon soon after her father died. However, upon coming to Cyrene he would fall in love with her mother Apama. Following this betrayal Berenice II would kill him in Apama's bedroom.

After the scandalous betrayal she would eventually marry Ptolemy III and they would have several children together including Ptolemy IV Philopater, Magas, Lysimachus, Alexander, Arsinoe III and Berenice. At some point between 245 BCE and 241 BCE Berenice is believed to have competed in the Nemean Games and later at the Olympic Games. Soon after the death of Ptolemy III in 221 BCE she would be murdered by Ptolemy IV in a coup.

Legacy

Following her death a decree was issued that called for a creation of the cult of Berenice II and specificed that men and woman singers were to sing all day in front of her statue. One of settlements in Libya named Euesperides would be reestablished by her and also receive her name. Presently, the asteroid 653 Bernike which was discovered in 1907 was named after her.

Berenice II is also the subject of ancient myth which states that while her husband Ptolemy III was campaigning in Coele-Syria she dedicated her hair to Aphrodite at the temple in Zephyrium for his safe return him. Her hair would mysteriously disappear and some such as Conon of Samos suggest it was taken to the heavens and placed among the stars. Following this the name Coma Berenices or Berenice's hair would be applied to the name of a constellation in the sky. Callimachus would discuss the incident in a poem of which only a few lines remained that was translated by Catullus.

Ptolemaic Dynasty of Egypt

KingTitleMeaningReignWife/Co-RulerReign
Ptolemy ISoterSavior305-285 BCEBerenice IReign
Ptolemy IIPhiladelphusSister-loving285-246 BCEArsinoe IReign
Ptolemy IIIEuergetes IThe Benefactor246-221 BCEBerenice IIReign
Ptolemy IVPhilopaterFather-loving221-204 BCEArsinoe IIIReign
Ptolemy VEpiphanesThe Illustrious204-180 BCEReign
Ptolemy VIPhilometorMother-loving180-145 BCECleopatra I
Cleopatra II & Ptolemy VIII
Ptolemy Eupator
180–176 BCE
170–163 BCE
153–150 BCE
Ptolemy VIINeos PhilopatorFather-loving145 BCECleopatra IIReign
Ptolemy VIIIEuergetes IIThe Benefactor170–116 BCECleopatra II145–131/130 BCE
Cleopatra II124–116 BCE
Ptolemy VIIIEuergetes IIThe Benefactor170–116 BCECleopatra II124–116 BCE
Ptolemy IXSoter IIThe Savior116-107 BCECleopatra III107–101 BCE
Ptolemy XAlexander I107-88 BCECleopatra III107–101 BCE
Ptolemy IXSoter IIThe Savior88-80 BCE
Ptolemy XIAlexander II80 BCEBerenice III80 BCE
Ptolemy XIIINeos Dionysos/AuletesNew Dionysus/Flute Player80–51 BCEBerenice IV58–55 BCE
Cleopatra VII51-30 BCEReign
Ptolemy XIII PhysconDionysos51-47 BCEReign
Ptolemy XIVPhilopatorFather-loving47-44 BCEReign
Ptolemy XVCaesarionLittle Caesar44-30 BCEReign

Sources

Primary Sources

Secondary Sources

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