Two Ptolemaic queens
Arsinoe II was born around 316 BC, daughter of Ptolemy I and Berenike. At the age of 16 she married king Lysimachos of Thrace. In recognition of her influencel, the king gave her large estates in the Aegean, including the city of Ephesos. She accused Agathokles, who was the son of the king and husband of her half-sister Lysandra of trying to seduce her, and as a result the king had him executed. After the death of Lysimachos she married Ptolemy Keraunos, but he killed two of her sons and tried to capture her; she took refuge in Alexandria at the court of her brother Ptolemy II.
She soon became very influential: Ptolemy II exiled his first wife Arsinoe I, married Arsinoe II and adopted her surviving son. Five years after the marriage she died. She was praised by poets, and temples were erected in her honour. After her death a festival 'Arsinoeia' was installed, which took place in the summer shortly before the Nile flood. For this occasion special faience vessels (oinochoai) showing the queen were used.
(click on the pictures to see a larger image)
Arsinoe II (name in cartouche)
Arsinoe II or Berenice II
She was the daughter of Magas, king of Cyrene (modern north-eastern Libya). She inherited the kingdom of her father while she was still very young. Her mother Apama, tried to marry Berenike to Demetrios, the Fair, who was a grandson of Ptolemy I. However Apama herself then fell in love with the young man. Berenike discovered the love affair, while she was sixteen and put Demetrios to death, sparing her mother. She married Ptolemy III on his accession to the throne, when she was about 26 years old. She is known to have made an exceptional dedication of a lock of her hair to the temple of Arsinoe II.
Copyright © 2002 University College London. All rights reserved.