People > Cleopatra V

Cleopatra V


Cleopatra V Tryphaena was a member of the Ptolemaic dynasty of Egypt, a lineage known for its complex and often contentious political and familial relationships. Her life and reign are somewhat obscure due to the limited and sometimes conflicting historical records. Here is an overview of what is known about Cleopatra V:

Early Life and Background

  1. Family Lineage:

    • Cleopatra V was likely a daughter of Ptolemy IX Lathyros or Ptolemy X Alexander I, making her part of the turbulent Ptolemaic family that ruled Egypt during the Hellenistic period.
    • The exact details of her birth and early life remain uncertain, as historical records from this period are fragmented.
  2. Marriage to Ptolemy XII:

    • Cleopatra V Tryphaena is believed to have been married to her brother or half-brother Ptolemy XII Auletes (the "Flute Player"), who ruled Egypt from 80 to 58 BCE and then again from 55 to 51 BCE after being temporarily ousted.
    • Their marriage was in line with the Ptolemaic tradition of sibling marriages, which were intended to consolidate power and maintain dynastic purity.

Role and Reign

  1. Co-Ruler and Queen:

    • Cleopatra V is thought to have co-ruled with Ptolemy XII for a period, although the extent of her influence and involvement in governance is unclear.
    • She bore the title "Tryphaena," a common epithet for Ptolemaic queens that means "luxurious" or "dainty."
  2. Possible Issue:

    • Cleopatra V is generally considered to be the mother of several of Ptolemy XII's children, including Cleopatra VII, Arsinoe IV, Ptolemy XIII, and Ptolemy XIV. However, the exact maternal relationships are debated among historians.
    • If Cleopatra V was indeed the mother of Cleopatra VII, her legacy would be particularly significant due to Cleopatra VII's prominent role in history.

Disappearance and Death

  1. Disappearance from Records:

    • Cleopatra V's name disappears from historical records around 69 BCE, leading to speculation about her fate. Some theories suggest she may have died, been deposed, or withdrawn from public life.
    • Her absence from records coincides with a period of political instability in Egypt, which saw Ptolemy XII's authority challenged and his eventual temporary expulsion from Egypt.
  2. Legacy:

    • Due to the scarcity of concrete information, Cleopatra V's legacy is somewhat overshadowed by that of her more famous descendants, particularly Cleopatra VII.
    • Her marriage to Ptolemy XII and her potential role as the mother of key Ptolemaic figures underscore her importance within the dynasty, even if the details of her life remain elusive.


Cleopatra V Tryphaena remains an enigmatic figure in the history of the Ptolemaic dynasty due to the limited and sometimes contradictory historical evidence. Her role as a queen and possible mother to some of the dynasty's most notable figures highlights the complexities and intrigues of Ptolemaic politics. Despite the uncertainties surrounding her life, Cleopatra V's position within the royal family underscores the intricate web of relationships that characterized the last centuries of Pharaonic Egypt.


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