Caesarion

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Caesarion
Caesarion.jpg
Caesarion, from the "Unravel the Mystery" Cleopatra exhibit
Pharaoh of Egypt
Reign2 September 44 BC – 12 August 30 BC
alongside Cleopatra VII Philopator
Predecessor Cleopatra VII Philopator
Successor Caesar Augustus (as Roman Emperor)
Born23 June 47 BC
Egypt
Died23 August 30 BC (aged 17)
Alexandria, Egypt
Greek Πτολεμαῖος Φιλοπάτωρ Φιλομήτωρ Καῖσαρ, Καισαρίων
TransliterationPtolemaĩos Philopátōr Philomḗtōr Kaĩsar, Kaisaríōn
House Julio-Claudian
Dynasty Ptolemaic
Father Julius Caesar
Mother Cleopatra VII Philopator

Ptolemy XV Philopator Philometor Caesar [note 1] [note 2] (23 June 47 BC – 23 August 30 BC), better known by the nicknames Caesarion [note 3] and Ptolemy Caesar, [note 4] was the last Pharaoh of Egypt, reigning with his mother Cleopatra VII from 2 September 44 BC until her death by 12 August 30 BC and as sole ruler until his death was ordered by Octavian, the later Roman emperor Augustus. Caesarion was the eldest son of Cleopatra and possibly the only biological son of Julius Caesar, after whom he was named. He was the last sovereign member of the Ptolemaic dynasty of Egypt. In addition to being co-ruler of Egypt as Pharaoh with his mother, he was expected to be his father's successor as the leader of the Romans.

Pharaoh Title of Ancient Egyptian rulers

Pharaoh is the common title of the monarchs of ancient Egypt from the First Dynasty until the annexation of Egypt by the Roman Empire in 30 BCE, although the actual term "Pharaoh" was not used contemporaneously for a ruler until Merneptah, c. 1200 BCE. In the early dynasty, ancient Egyptian kings used to have up to three titles, the Horus, the Sedge and Bee (nswt-bjtj) name, and the Two Ladies (nbtj) name. The Golden Horus and nomen and prenomen titles were later added.

Augustus first emperor of the Roman Empire

Augustus was a Roman statesman and military leader who was the first emperor of the Roman Empire, reigning from 27 BC until his death in AD 14. His status as the founder of the Roman Principate has consolidated an enduring legacy as one of the most effective and controversial leaders in human history. The reign of Augustus initiated an era of relative peace known as the Pax Romana. The Roman world was largely free from large-scale conflict for more than two centuries, despite continuous wars of imperial expansion on the Empire's frontiers and the year-long civil war known as the "Year of the Four Emperors" over the imperial succession.

Julius Caesar 1st-century BC Roman politician and general

Gaius Julius Caesar, known by his nomen and cognomen Julius Caesar, was a populist Roman dictator, politician, and military general who played a critical role in the events that led to the demise of the Roman Republic and the rise of the Roman Empire. He was also a historian and wrote Latin prose.

Contents

Early life

Dendera Cesarion.jpg
Limestone stela of a high priest of god Ptah. It bears the cartouches of Cleopatra and Caesarion. From Egypt. Ptolemaic Period. The Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology, London.jpg
Left: reliefs of Cleopatra and Caesarion at the Temple of Dendera
Right: a limestone stela of the High Priest of Ptah bearing the cartouches of Cleopatra and Caesarion, Egypt, Ptolemaic Period, the Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology, London

Caesarion was born in Egypt on 23 June 47 BC. His mother Cleopatra insisted that he was the son of Roman politician and dictator Julius Caesar, and while he was said to have inherited Caesar's looks and manner, Caesar did not officially acknowledge him. One of Caesar's supporters, Gaius Oppius, even wrote a pamphlet which attempted to prove that Caesar could not have fathered Caesarion. Nevertheless, Caesar may have allowed Caesarion to use his name. [1] The matter became contentious when Caesar's adopted son, Octavian, came into conflict with Cleopatra.

Political institutions of ancient Rome

Various lists regarding the political institutions of ancient Rome are presented. Each entry in a list is a link to a separate article. Categories included are: constitutions (5), laws (5), and legislatures (7); state offices (28) and office holders ; political factions (3) and social ranks (8). A political glossary (35) of similar construction follows.

Roman dictator An emergency magistrate of the Roman Republic, whose actions are not subject to a veto

A dictator was a magistrate of the Roman Republic, entrusted with the full authority of the state to deal with a military emergency or to undertake a specific duty. All other magistrates were subordinate to his imperium, and the right of the plebeian tribunes to veto his actions or of the people to appeal from them was extremely limited. However, in order to prevent the dictatorship from threatening the state itself, severe limitations were placed upon its powers: a dictator could only act within his intended sphere of authority; and he was obliged to resign his office once his appointed task had been accomplished, or at the expiration of six months. Dictators were frequently appointed from the earliest period of the Republic down to the Second Punic War, but the magistracy then went into abeyance for over a century, until it was revived in a significantly modified form, first by Sulla between 82 and 79 BC, and then by Julius Caesar between 49 and 44 BC. The office was formally abolished after the death of Caesar, and not revived under the Empire.

Gaius Oppius was an intimate friend of Julius Caesar. He managed the dictator's private affairs during his absence from Rome, and, together with Lucius Cornelius Balbus, exercised considerable influence in the city. It was reported that Oppius dined with Caesar, Sallust, Hirtius, Balbus and Sulpicus Rufus on the night after his famous crossing over the Rubicon river into Italy January 10, 49 BC.

In some medical literature, Caesarion is said to have suffered from epilepsy, a neurological condition apparently inherited from his father. [2] This thesis has been disputed by paleopathologist Francesco M. Galassi and surgeon Hutan Ashrafian, who have argued that the first mention of potential epileptic attacks can only be found in 20th-century novels, instead of ancient primary sources. Additionally, they claimed that this controversial assumption had been mistakenly used in the historico-medical debate on Julius Caesar's alleged epilepsy to strengthen the notion that the dictator really suffered from that disease. [3]

Epilepsy human neurological disease causing seizures

Epilepsy is a group of neurological disorders characterized by recurrent epileptic seizures. Epileptic seizures are episodes that can vary from brief and nearly undetectable periods to long periods of vigorous shaking. These episodes can result in physical injuries, including occasionally broken bones. In epilepsy, seizures have a tendency to recur and, as a rule, have no immediate underlying cause. Isolated seizures that are provoked by a specific cause such as poisoning are not deemed to represent epilepsy. People with epilepsy may be treated differently in various areas of the world and experience varying degrees of social stigma due to their condition.

Caesarion spent two of his infant years, from 46 to 44 BC, in Rome, where he and his mother were Caesar's guests at his villa, Horti Caesaris. Cleopatra hoped that her son would eventually succeed his father as the head of the Roman Republic, as well as of Egypt. After Caesar's assassination on 15 March 44 BC, Cleopatra and Caesarion returned to Egypt. Caesarion was named co-ruler by his mother on 2 September 44 BC at the age of three, although he was pharaoh in name only, with Cleopatra keeping actual authority. Cleopatra compared her relationship to her son with that of the Egyptian goddess Isis and her divine child Horus. [1]

The Horti Caesaris was the name of two parks belonging to Julius Caesar in Rome.

Roman Republic Period of ancient Roman civilization (509–27 BC)

The Roman Republic was the era of classical Roman civilization beginning with the overthrow of the Roman Kingdom, traditionally dated to 509 BC, and ending in 27 BC with the establishment of the Roman Empire. It was during this period that Rome's control expanded from the city's immediate surroundings to hegemony over the entire Mediterranean world.

Assassination of Julius Caesar Stabbing attack that caused the death of Julius Caesar

The assassination of Julius Caesar was a conspiracy of several Roman senators, notably led by Marcus Junius Brutus, Cassius Longinus, and Decimus Brutus, at the end of the Roman Republic. They stabbed Caesar to death in the Theatre of Pompey on the Ides of March 44 BC.

There is no historical record of Caesarion between 44 BC until the Donations of Antioch in 36 BC. Two years later he also appears at the Donations of Alexandria. Cleopatra and Antony staged both "Donations" to donate lands dominated by Rome and Parthia to Cleopatra's children: Caesarion, the twins Alexander Helios and Cleopatra Selene II, and Ptolemy Philadelphus (the latter were his three maternal half-siblings fathered by Mark Antony). Octavian gave public approval to the Donations of Antioch in 36 BC, which have been described as an Antonian strategy to rule the East making use of Cleopatra's unique royal Seleucid lineage in the regions donated. [4]

Donations of Alexandria

The Donations of Alexandria were a political act by Cleopatra VII and Mark Antony in which they distributed lands held by Rome and Parthia amongst Cleopatra's children, and granted them many titles, especially for Caesarion, son of Julius Caesar. These were the second of two such donations; a similar donations ceremony was held 2 years earlier in Antioch in 36 BC, at which time the donations enjoyed Octavian's full approval of the Antonian strategy to rule the East making use of Cleopatra's unique royal Seleucid lineage in the regions donated. Ultimately, the Donations caused a fatal breach in Antony's relations with Rome and were amongst the causes of the Final War of the Roman Republic.

Rome Capital of Italy

Rome is the capital city and a special comune of Italy. Rome also serves as the capital of the Lazio region. With 2,872,800 residents in 1,285 km2 (496.1 sq mi), it is also the country's most populated comune. It is the fourth most populous city in the European Union by population within city limits. It is the centre of the Metropolitan City of Rome, which has a population of 4,355,725 residents, thus making it the most populous metropolitan city in Italy. Rome is located in the central-western portion of the Italian Peninsula, within Lazio (Latium), along the shores of the Tiber. The Vatican City is an independent country inside the city boundaries of Rome, the only existing example of a country within a city: for this reason Rome has been often defined as capital of two states.

Parthia region of north-eastern Iran

Parthia is a historical region located in north-eastern Iran. It was conquered and subjugated by the empire of the Medes during the 7th century BC, was incorporated into the subsequent Achaemenid Empire under Cyrus the Great in the 6th century BC, and formed part of the Hellenistic Seleucid Empire following the 4th-century-BC conquests of Alexander the Great. The region later served as the political and cultural base of the Eastern-Iranian Parni people and Arsacid dynasty, rulers of the Parthian Empire. The Sasanian Empire, the last state of pre-Islamic Iran, also held the region and maintained the Seven Parthian clans as part of their feudal aristocracy.

Pharaoh

In 34 BC, Antony granted further eastern lands and titles to Caesarion and his own three children with Cleopatra in the Donations of Alexandria. Caesarion was proclaimed to be a god, a son of [a] god, and "King of Kings". This grandiose title was "unprecedented in the management of Roman client-king relationships" and could be seen as "threatening the 'greatness' of the Roman people". [5] Antony also declared Caesarion to be Caesar's true son and heir. This declaration was a direct threat to Octavian (whose claim to power was based on his status as Julius Caesar's grandnephew and adopted son). These proclamations partly caused the fatal breach in Antony's relations with Octavian, who used Roman resentment over the Donations to gain support for war against Antony and Cleopatra. [6]

Divi filius is a Latin phrase meaning "divine son", and was a title much used by the Emperor Augustus, the grand-nephew and adopted son of Julius Caesar.

King of Kings title

King of Kings was a ruling title employed primarily by monarchs based in the Middle East. Though most commonly associated with Iran, especially the Achaemenid and Sasanian Empires, the title was originally introduced during the Middle Assyrian Empire by king Tukulti-Ninurta I and was subsequently used in a number of different kingdoms and empires, including the aforementioned Persia, various Hellenic kingdoms, Armenia, Georgia and Ethiopia.

Death

Roman painting from Pompeii, early 1st century AD, most likely depicting Cleopatra VII, wearing her royal diadem, consuming poison in an act of suicide, while Caesarion, also wearing a royal diadem, stands behind her Roman Wall painting from the House of Giuseppe II, Pompeii, 1st century AD, death of Sophonisba, but more likely Cleopatra VII of Egypt consuming poison.jpg
Roman painting from Pompeii, early 1st century AD, most likely depicting Cleopatra VII, wearing her royal diadem, consuming poison in an act of suicide, while Caesarion, also wearing a royal diadem, stands behind her

After the defeat of Antony and Cleopatra at the Battle of Actium in 31 BC, Cleopatra seems to have groomed Caesarion to take over as "sole ruler without his mother". [1] She may have intended to go into exile, perhaps with Antony, who may have hoped that he would be allowed to retire as Lepidus had. Caesarion reappears in the historical record in 30 BC, when Octavian invaded Egypt and searched for him. Cleopatra may have sent Caesarion, 17 years old at the time, to the Red Sea port of Berenice for safety, possibly as part of plans for an escape to India; he may have been sent years earlier, but the sources are unclear. Plutarch does say that Caesarion was sent to India, but also that he was lured back by false promises of the kingdom of Egypt:

Caesarion, who was said to be Cleopatra's son by Julius Caesar, was sent by his mother, with much treasure, into India, by way of Ethiopia. There Rhodon, another tutor like Theodorus, persuaded him to go back, on the ground that [Octavian] Caesar invited him to take the kingdom. [8]

Octavian captured the city of Alexandria on 1 August 30 BC, the date that marks the official annexation of Egypt to the Roman Republic. Around this time Mark Antony and Cleopatra died, traditionally said to be by suicide, though murder has been suggested. [9] Details of the narratives in Plutarch are generally challenged and not taken literally. [10] Caesarion's guardians, including his tutor, were themselves either lured by false promises of mercy into returning him to Alexandria or simply betrayed him; the records are unclear.

Octavian is supposed to have had Pharaoh Caesarion executed in Alexandria, following the advice of Arius Didymus, who said "Too many Caesars is not good" (a pun on a line in Homer). [11] It is popularly thought that he was strangled, but the exact circumstances of his death have not been documented.[ citation needed ] Octavian then assumed absolute control of Egypt. The year 30 BC was considered the first year of the new ruler's reign according to the traditional chronological system of Egypt.

Depictions

Few images of Caesarion survive. He is thought to be depicted in a partial statue found in the harbor of Alexandria in 1997 and is also portrayed twice in relief, as an adult pharaoh, with his mother on the Temple of Hathor at Dendera. His infant image appears on some bronze coins of Cleopatra. [16]

Egyptian names

In addition to his Greek name and nicknames, Caesarion also had a full set of royal names in the Egyptian language:

Caesarion as fictional character

See also

Notes

  1. Numbering the Ptolemies is a modern convention. Older sources may give a number one higher or lower. The most reliable way of determining which Ptolemy is being referred to in any given case is by epithet (e.g. "Philopator").
  2. Hellenistic Greek : Πτολεμαῖος Φιλοπάτωρ Φιλομήτωρ Καῖσαρ, romanized: Ptolemaĩos Philopátōr Philomḗtōr Kaĩsar, lit.  'Ptolemy, Beloved of his Father, Beloved of his Mother, Caesar'.
  3. /sɪˈzɛəriən/ ; Hellenistic Greek : leΚαισαρίων, romanized: Kaisaríōn, lit.  'Little Caesar' Latin : Caesariō.
  4. /ˈtɒlɪmiˈszər/ ; Hellenistic Greek: Πτολεμαῖος Καῖσαρ, romanized: Ptolemaios Kaisar; Latin: Ptolemaeus Caesar.

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References

  1. 1 2 3 Duane W. Roller, Cleopatra: A Biography, Oxford University Press US, 2010, pp. 70-3
  2. Hughes J.R. (October 2004). "Dictator Perpetuus. Julius Caesar – Did he have seizures? If so, what was the etiology?". Epilepsy Behav. 5 (5): 765–764.
  3. Francesco M. Galassi; Hutan Ashrafian (2016). Julius Caesar's Disease. A New Diagnosis. Pen and Sword Books. pp. 45–46.
  4. Rolf Strootman (2010). "Queen of Kings: Cleopatra VII and the Donations of Alexandria". In M. Facella; T. Kaizer (eds.). Kingdoms and Principalities in the Roman Near East. Occidens et Oriens. 19. Stuttgart, DE: Franz Steiner Verlag. pp. 139–158.
  5. Meyer Reinhold (2002). Studies in Classical History and Society. US: Oxford University Press. p. 58.
  6. Burstein, Stanley Mayer (2007). The Reign of Cleopatra. University of Oklahoma Press. p. 29.
  7. Roller, Duane W. (2010). Cleopatra: A Biography. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press. pp. 178–179. ISBN   9780195365535.
  8. Plutarch, Life of Antony. As found in the Loeb Classical Library, Plutarch's Lives: With an English Translation by Bernadotte Perrin. Volume 9. p. 321.
  9. Pat Brown (19 February 2013). The Murder of Cleopatra: History's Greatest Cold Case. Prometheus Books.
  10. The Victorian scholar Arthur Hugh Clough, who updated the poet John Dryden's superb translation of Plutarch to give us the best available version in English, remarked in an introduction: It cannot be denied that [Plutarch] is careless about numbers, and occasionally contradicts his own statements. A greater fault, perhaps, is his passion for anecdote; he cannot forbear from repeating stories, the improbability of which he is the first to recognise.Morrow, Lance (July 2004). "Plutarch's Exemplary Lives". Smithsonian Magazine. Retrieved 26 February 2015.
  11. David Braund et al, Myth, History and Culture in Republican Rome: Studies in Honour of T.P. Wiseman, University of Exeter Press, 2003, p. 305. The original line was "ουκ αγαθόν πολυκοιρανίη" ("ouk agathon polukoiranie"): "too many leaders are not good", or "the rule of many is a bad thing". (Homer's Iliad, Book II. vers 204–205) In Greek "ουκ αγαθόν πολυκαισαρίη" ("ouk agathon polukaisarie") is a variation on "ουκ αγαθόν πολυκοιρανίη" ("ouk agathon polukoiranie"). "Καισαρ" (Caesar) replacing "κοίρανος", meaning leader.
  12. The wall-painting of Venus Genetrix is similar in appearance to the now-lost statue of Cleopatra erected by Julius Caesar in the Temple of Venus Genetrix, within the Forum of Caesar. The owner of the House at Pompeii of Marcus Fabius Rufus, walled off the room with this painting, most likely in immediate reaction to the execution of Caesarion on orders of Augustus in 30 BC, when artistic depictions of Caesarion would have been considered a sensitive issue for the ruling regime.
  13. Roller, Duane W. (2010). Cleopatra: A Biography. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press. p. 175. ISBN   9780195365535.
  14. Walker, Susan (2008). "Cleopatra in Pompeii?". Papers of the British School at Rome. 76: 35–46, 345–348.
  15. Fletcher, Joann (2008), Cleopatra the Great: The Woman Behind the Legend, New York: Harper, pp. 219, image plates and caption between 246–247, ISBN   978-0-06-058558-7
  16. Sear. Greek Coins and Their Values. II.
  17. Chronicle of the Pharaohs, by Peter Clayton (1994), ISBN   0-500-05074-0
  18. "The Shards of Heaven by Michael Livingston". Publishers Weekly . Retrieved 29 January 2016.
  19. "Review: The Shards of Heaven by Michael Livingston". Kirkus Reviews . 3 September 2015. Retrieved 29 January 2016.
Caesarion
Born: 47 BC Died: 30 BC
Preceded by
Cleopatra VII Philopator
Pharaoh of Egypt
4430 BCE
with Cleopatra VII
Egypt annexed by Rome