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Ptolemy Neos Dionysos Theos Philopator Theos Philadelphos (117–51 BC) ( , Ptolemaios Néos Diónusos Theós Philopátōr Theós Philádelphos), New Dionysus, God Beloved of his Father, God Beloved of his Brother) was more commonly known as "Auletes" (The Flutist) ( , Aulētḗs), or "Nothos" (The Bastard) ( , Nóthos). Auletes means pipes-player, and refers to his chubby cheeks, like the inflated cheeks of a pipe-player.

Ptolemy XII was a Hellenistic ruler of Macedonian descent. He is assumed to be an illegitimate son of Ptolemy IX Soter since it can not be confirmed if he is the son of Cleopatra IV of Egypt. Ptolemy had two wives, the first bore him Cleopatra VI, Berenice IV, and Cleopatra VII. The second wife (whose name remains unknown) bore him Arsinoe IV, Ptolemy XIII, and Ptolemy XIV. His reign as king was interrupted by a general rebellion that resulted in his exile from 58-55 BC. Thus, Ptolemy XII ruled Egyptmarker from 80 to 58 BC and from 55 BC until his death in 51 BC. Ptolemy XII was generally described as a weak, self-indulgent man, a drunkard, and a music lover.

His first reign (80–58 BC)

In 80 BC, Ptolemy XII's predecessor Ptolemy XI was removed by the Egyptian population from the throne of Egypt after the king had killed his coregent and step mother Berenice III. When Ptolemy XI died without a male heir, the only available male descendents of the Ptolemy I lineage were the illegitimate sons of Ptolemy IX by an unknown Greek concubine . The boys were living in exile in Sinopemarker, at the court of Mithridates VI, King of Pontus. As the eldest of the boys Ptolemy XII was proclaimed king as Ptolemy XII Neos Dionysos and married his sister, Tryphaena. Ptolemy XII was coregent with his daughter Cleopatra VI Tryphaena and his wife Cleopatra V Tryphaena.

However, Ptolemy XI had left the throne to Rome in his will therefore Ptolemy XII was not the legitimate successor. Nevertheless, Rome did not challenge Ptolemy XII's succession because the Senate was unwilling to acquire an Egyptian expansion.

Ptolemy XII's personal cult name (Neos Dionysos) earned him the ridiculing sobriquet Auletes (flute player) — as we learn from Strabo's writing (Strabo XVII, 1, 11):
Now all at kings after the third Ptolemy, being corrupted by luxurious living, have administered the affairs of government badly, but worst of all the fourth, seventh, and the last, Auletes, who, apart from his general licentiousness, practised the accompaniment of choruses with the flute, and upon this he prided himself so much that he would not hesitate to celebrate contests in the royal palace, and at these contests would come forward to vie with the opposing contestants.


Before Ptolemy XII's reign, the geographical distance between Rome and Egypt resulted in an indifferent attitude towards each other. Nevertheless, Egyptians asked the Romans to settle dynastic conflicts During his reign, Ptolemy XII attempted to secure his own fate and the fate of his dynasty by means of a pro-Roman policy. In 63 BC, it appeared that Pompey would emerge as the leader of a Roman struggle thus Ptolemy sought to form a patron-client relationship with the Roman by sending him riches and extending an invitation to Alexandria. Pompey accepted the riches but refused the invitation. Nevertheless, a patron relationship with a leader in Rome did not guarantee his permanence on the throne, thus Ptolemy XII soon afterwards travelled to Rome to negotiate a bribe for an official recognition of his kingship. After paying a bribe of six thousand talents to Julius Caesar and Pompey, a formal alliance was formed (a foedera) and his name was inscribed into the list of friends and allies of the people of Rome (amici et socii populi Romani).

Exile in Rome (58–55 BC)

In 58 BC, Ptolemy XII failed to comment on the Roman conquest of Cyprusmarker, a territory ruled by his brother, thereby upsetting the Egyptian population to start a rebellion. Egyptians were already aggravated by heavy taxes (to pay for the Roman bribes) and a substantial increase in the cost of living. Ptolemy XII fled to Rome, possibly with his daughter Cleopatra VII, in search of safety. His daughter Berenice IV became his successor. She ruled as coregent with her sister Cleopatra VI Tryphaena. A year after Ptolemy XII's exile, Cleopatra VI Tryphaena died and Berenice ruled alone over Alexandria from 57 to 56BC.

From Rome, Ptolemy XII prosecuted his restitution but met opposition with certain members of the Senate. Ptolemy XII's old ally Pompey housed the exiled king and his daughter and argued on behalf of Ptolemy's restoration in the Senate. During this time, Roman creditors realized that they would not get the return on their loans to the Egyptian king without his restoration. Thus in 57 BC, pressure from the Roman public forced the Senate's decision to restore Ptolemy. However, Rome did not wish to invade Egypt to restore the king since the Sybylline books stated that if an Egyptian king asked for help and Rome proceeded with military intervention, great dangers and difficulties would occur.

Egyptians heard rumors of Rome's possible intervention and disliked the idea of their exiled king's return. Cassius Dio reported that a group of one hundred men were sent as envoys from Egypt to make their case to the Romans against Ptolemy XII's restoration, but Ptolemy had their leader (a philosopher named Dion) poisoned and most of the other protesters killed before they reached Rome to plead their desires.

Restoration (55–51 BC)

Ptolemy XII finally recovered his throne by paying Aulus Gabinius 10,000 talents to invade Egypt in 55 BC. After defeating the frontier forces of the Egyptian kingdom, Aulus Gabinius's army proceeded to attack the palace guards but the guards surrendered before a battle commenced.

The exact date of Ptolemy XII's restoration is unknown; the earliest possible date of restoration is 4 January 55 BC and the latest possible date was 24 June the same year. Nevertheless, upon entering the palace, Ptolemy had Berenice and her supporters executed. From then on, he reigned until he fell ill in 51 BC. Around two thousand Roman soldiers and mercenaries, the so-called Gabiniani, were stationed in Alexandria to ensure Ptolemy XII's authority on the throne. In exchange, Rome was able to exert its power over the restored king. His daughter, Cleopatra VII became his coregent.

The moment of Ptolemy XII's restoration, Roman creditors demanded the return on their investments but the Alexandrian treasury could not repay the king's debt. Learning from previous mistakes, Ptolemy XII shifted popular resentment of tax increases from the king to a Roman that Ptolemy XII had placed in charge of debt repayment. Ptolemy, also, permitted a debasing of the coinage as an attempt to repay the loans. Near the end of Ptolemy's reign, the value of Egyptian coins dropped to about fifty percent of its value at the beginning of his reign.

Before his death, Ptolemy XII chose his daughter Cleopatra VII as his coregent. In his will, he declared that she and her brother Ptolemy XIII should rule the kingdom together. To safeguard his interests, he made the people of Rome executors of his will. Since the Senate was busy with its own affairs, Pompey (as Ptolemy XII's ally) approved the will.

“Throughout his long-lasting reign the principal aim of Ptolemy was to secure his hold on the Egyptian throne so as to eventually pass it to his heirs.
To achieve this goal he was prepared to sacrifice much: the loss of rich Ptolemaic lands, most of his wealth and even, according to Cicero, the very dignity on which the mystique of kingship rested when he appeared before the Roman people as a mere supplicant.”


Notes



References

  • Strabo 12.3.34 and 17.1.11
  • Dio Cassius 39.12 - 39.14, 39.55 - 39.58


External links



Preceded by:
Ptolemy XI
Ptolemaic King of Egypt
First Reign
with Cleopatra V and Cleopatra VI

Succeeded by:
Cleopatra V and Berenice IV
Berenice IV Ptolemaic King of Egypt
Second Reign
with Cleopatra VII

Ptolemy XIII and Cleopatra VII



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