Pothinus or Potheinos (Greek : Ποθεινὸς; early 1st century BC – 48 or 47 BC), a eunuch, was regent for Pharaoh Ptolemy XIII Theos Philopator of the Ptolemaic Kingdom. He is most remembered for turning Ptolemy against his sister and co-ruler Cleopatra, thus starting a civil war, and for having Pompey decapitated and presenting the severed head to Julius Caesar.
When Ptolemy XII died in 51 BC, his will stated that Ptolemy XIII and Cleopatra VII were to become co-rulers of Egypt, with the Roman Republic as their guardians. Ptolemy XIII was underage and Pothinus was appointed as his regent. The general Achillas and the rhetorician Theodotus of Chios were also guardians of the Egyptian king. When Ptolemy and Cleopatra were elevated to the status of senior rulers, Pothinus was maintained as the former's regent. Most Egyptologists believed that Pothinus used his influence to turn Ptolemy against Cleopatra. In the spring of 48 BC, Ptolemy, under Pothinus' guidance, attempted to depose Cleopatra in order to become sole ruler while Pothinus planned to act as the power behind the throne. They gained control of Alexandria, then the capital of Egypt, and forced Cleopatra out of the city. She soon organized her own army and a civil war began in Egypt, while Arsinoe IV also began to claim the throne for herself.
Rome was also enveloped in civil war, and after his defeat in the Battle of Pharsalus Pompey sought asylum in Egypt. Initially, Pothinus pretended to have accepted his request, but on September 29, 48 BC, Pothinus had the general murdered, hoping to win favor with Julius Caesar, who had defeated Pompey. When Caesar arrived, he was presented with the head of Pompey, but he responded with grief and disgust and ordered that Pompey's body be located and given a proper Roman funeral. Pothinus had neglected to note that Caesar had been granting clemency to his enemies, including Cassius, Cicero, and Brutus. Cleopatra used Pothinus's mistake to gain favor with Caesar and eventually became his lover.
Caesar then arranged for the execution of Pothinus and the marriage of Cleopatra to Ptolemy. In the last chapter of Commentarii de Bello Civili , however, it is described that Pothinus arranged for Achillas to attack Alexandria and upon sending a message not to hesitate but to fulfill the plan, the messengers were exposed, whereupon Caesar had Pothinus imprisoned and killed, probably with a knife. His death was shortly followed by the ten-month siege of Alexandria.
Unfortunately, only Roman and Greek sources have mentioned Pothinus.[ citation needed ] He is thus criticized for his murder of Pompey and his insidious behavior with regard to Caesar, while both measures are generally believed to have served to keep Egypt out of Caesar's Civil War. As it happened, however, Caesar came to emerge as the sole credible contender for his position of power, with Pompey dead and a Roman protectorate installed in Egypt.
Pothinus's brief role and death have been depicted more fancifully in dramatic literature.
This article concerns the period 49 BC – 40 BC.
Ptolemy XIII Theos Philopator was Pharaoh of Egypt from 51 to 47 BC, and one of the last members of the Ptolemaic dynasty. He was the son of Ptolemy XII and the brother of and co-ruler with Cleopatra VII. Cleopatra's exit from Egypt caused a civil war to break out between the pharaohs. Ptolemy later ruled jointly with his other sister, Arsinoe IV.
Ptolemy XII Neos Dionysos Philopator Philadelphos was a king of the Ptolemaic dynasty of Ancient Egypt. He was commonly known as Auletes, referring to the king's love of playing the flute in Dionysian festivals. As a member of the Ptolemaic dynasty, he was a descendant of its founder, Ptolemy I.
Arsinoë IV was the fourth of six children and the youngest daughter of Ptolemy XII Auletes. Queen and co-ruler of Ptolemaic Egypt with her brother Ptolemy XIII from 48 BC – 47 BC, she was one of the last members of the Ptolemaic dynasty of ancient Egypt. Arsinoë IV was also the half sister of Cleopatra VII. For her role in conducting the Siege of Alexandria against her sister Cleopatra, Arsinoë was taken as a prisoner of war to Rome by the Roman triumvir Julius Caesar following the defeat of Ptolemy XIII in the Battle of the Nile. Arsinoë was then exiled to the Temple of Artemis at Ephesus in Roman Anatolia, but she was executed there by orders of triumvir Marc Antony in 41 BC at the behest of his lover Cleopatra.
Caesar's Civil War was one of the last politico-military conflicts in the Roman Republic before the establishment of the Roman Empire. It began as a series of political and military confrontations, between Julius Caesar, his political supporters, and his legions, against the Optimates, the politically conservative and socially traditionalist faction of the Roman Senate, who were supported by Pompey and his legions.
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The Cleopatras is a 1983 BBC Television eight-part historical drama serial. Written by Philip Mackie, it is set in Ancient Egypt during the latter part of the Ptolemaic Dynasty with an emphasis on the Cleopatras. Intended to be the I, Claudius of the 1980s, The Cleopatras met with a decidedly mixed critical reaction. It was regarded and portrayed as a gaudy farce.
The Battle of the Nile in 47 BC saw the combined Roman–Egyptian armies of Julius Caesar and Cleopatra VII defeat those of the rival Queen Arsinoe IV and King Ptolemy XIII and secure the throne of Egypt.
Ganymedes was a eunuch in the court of Cleopatra VII who proved an able adversary of Julius Caesar.
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Achillas was one of the guardians of the Egyptian king Ptolemy XIII Theos Philopator, and commander of the king's troops, when Pompey fled to Egypt in 48 BC. He was called by Julius Caesar a man of extraordinary daring, and it was he and Lucius Septimius who killed Pompey at the suggestion of the eunuch Pothinus and Theodotus of Chios.
Lucius Septimius was a Roman soldier and mercenary who is principally remembered as one of the assassins of the triumvir Pompey the Great. At the time of the assassination Septimius was serving the Ptolemies of Egypt as a mercenary. He was dispatched with orders to murder Pompey by Ptolemy XIII's advisors who wanted to win the favour of Julius Caesar for their king.
Theodotus of Chios was the rhetoric tutor of the young Egyptian king Ptolemy XIII.
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The Gabiniani were 2000 Roman legionaries and 500 cavalrymen stationed in Egypt by the Roman general Aulus Gabinius after he had reinstated the Pharaoh Ptolemy XII Auletes on the Egyptian throne in 55 BC. The soldiers were left to protect the King, but they soon adopted the manners of their new country and became completely alienated from the Roman Republic. After the death of Auletes in 51 BC, they helped his son Ptolemy XIII in his power struggle against his sister Cleopatra and even involved Julius Caesar, the supporter of Cleopatra, during Caesar's Civil War up to the siege of Alexandria in violent battles.
Serapion was strategos of Cyprus and admiral of the Ptolemaic navy during the reign of Cleopatra VII in 43 BC. Against the intention of the Egyptian queen he supported in the Roman civil war Gaius Cassius Longinus, but had to take refuge in Tyre and was finally handed over to Cleopatra in 41 BC. Perhaps he is identical with that Serapion, who was instructed by Julius Caesar to negotiate in 48 BC with the Egyptian commander Achillas.
The military campaigns of Julius Caesar constituted both the Gallic War and Caesar's civil war. The Gallic War mainly took place in what is now France. In 55 and 54 BC, he invaded Britain, although he made little headway. The Gallic War ended with complete Roman victory at the Battle of Alesia. This was followed by the civil war, during which time Caesar chased his rivals to Greece, decisively defeating them there. He then went to Egypt, where he defeated the Egyptian pharaoh and put Cleopatra on the throne. He then finished off his Roman opponents in Africa and Hispania. Once his campaigns were over, he served as Roman dictator until his assassination on March 15, 44 BC. These wars were critically important in the transition of the Roman Republic into the Roman Empire.
Apollodorus was a loyal follower of the Egyptian Queen Cleopatra VII. In 48 BC he is supposed to have enabled Cleopatra to get in the palace of Alexandria to Julius Caesar and in this way to strengthen decisively her position in the power struggle with her brother Ptolemy XIII.
The reign of Cleopatra VII of the Ptolemaic Kingdom of Egypt began with the death of her father, the ruling pharaoh Ptolemy XII Auletes, by March 51 BC. It ended with her death on 10 or 12 August 30 BC. Following the reign of Cleopatra, the country of Egypt was transformed into a province of the Roman Empire and the Hellenistic period came to an end. During her reign she ruled Egypt and other territories as an absolute monarch, in the tradition of the Ptolemaic dynasty's founder Ptolemy I Soter as well as Alexander the Great of Macedon, who captured Egypt from the Achaemenid Persian Empire.