Ptolemy XIII Theos Philopator

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Ptolemy XIII Theos Philopator
Portrait of Ptolemy XIII Theos Philopator.jpg
An engraving depicting Ptolemy XIII Theos Philopator by French artist Élisabeth Sophie Chéron (1648–1711), published c. 1736; the portrait is based on a medallion dated to the 1st c. BC.
Pharaoh of Egypt
Reign51 - c. 47 BC
Predecessor Ptolemy XII Auletes and
Cleopatra VII
Successor Cleopatra VII and
Ptolemy XIV of Egypt
Born62/61 BC
Died13 January 47 BC
Spouse Cleopatra VII
GreekΠτολεμαίος ΙΓ΄ Θεός Φιλοπάτωρ
House Ptolemaic dynasty
Father Ptolemy XII Auletes

Ptolemy XIII Theos Philopator [note 1] (Greek : Πτολεμαῖος Θεός Φιλοπάτωρ, Ptolemaĩos Theós Philopátōr "Ptolemy, God Beloved of his Father"; 62 BC/61 BC – prob. January 13, 47 BC, reigned from 51 BC) was one of the last members of the Ptolemaic dynasty (305–30 BC) of Egypt. 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.

Greek language Language spoken in Greece, Cyprus and Southern Albania

Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages, native to Greece, Cyprus and other parts of the Eastern Mediterranean and the Black Sea. It has the longest documented history of any living Indo-European language, spanning at least 3500 years of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the major part of its history; other systems, such as Linear B and the Cypriot syllabary, were used previously. The alphabet arose from the Phoenician script and was in turn the basis of the Latin, Cyrillic, Armenian, Coptic, Gothic, and many other writing systems.

The Ptolemaic dynasty, sometimes also known as the Lagids or Lagidae, was a Macedonian Greek royal family, which ruled the Ptolemaic Kingdom in Egypt during the Hellenistic period. Their rule lasted for 275 years, from 305 to 30 BC. They were the last dynasty of ancient Egypt.

Egypt Country spanning North Africa and Southwest Asia

Egypt, officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, is a country in the northeast corner of Africa, whose territory in the Sinai Peninsula extends beyond the continental boundary with Asia, as traditionally defined. Egypt is bordered by the Gaza Strip and Israel to the northeast, the Gulf of Aqaba and the Red Sea to the east, Sudan to the south, Libya to the west, and the Mediterranean Sea to the north. Across the Gulf of Aqaba lies Jordan, across the Red Sea lies Saudi Arabia, and across the Mediterranean lie Greece, Turkey and Cyprus, although none share a land border with Egypt.


Co-ruler of Egypt, inner turmoil

Hellenistic bust of Ptolemy XII, father of Ptolemy XIII; Louvre, Paris Ptolemy XII Auletes Louvre Ma3449.jpg
Hellenistic bust of Ptolemy XII, father of Ptolemy XIII; Louvre, Paris
Roman bust of Cleopatra VII, sister-wife of Ptolemy XIII; Altes Museum, Antikensammlung Berlin Cleopatra VII, dalla via appia tra ariccia e genzano, 40-30 ac ca. 02.JPG
Roman bust of Cleopatra VII, sister-wife of Ptolemy XIII; Altes Museum, Antikensammlung Berlin

Son of Ptolemy XII (r. 80–58 BC and 55–51 BC), he succeeded his father as pharaoh in the spring of 51 BC as co-ruler of the Ptolemaic Kingdom by his marriage to his older sister Cleopatra (r. 51–30 BC). In October 50 BC, Ptolemy XIII was promoted to senior ruler along with her, although the eunuch Pothinus acted as regent for him.

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.

Ptolemaic Kingdom Hellenistic kingdom in ancient Egypt from 305 to 30 BC

The Ptolemaic Kingdom was a Hellenistic kingdom based in ancient Egypt. It was ruled by the Ptolemaic dynasty, which started with Ptolemy I Soter's accession after the death of Alexander the Great in 323 BC and which ended with the death of Cleopatra and the Roman conquest in 30 BC.

Cleopatra Last active pharaoh of Ptolemaic Egypt

Cleopatra VII Philopator was the last active ruler of the Ptolemaic Kingdom of Egypt, nominally survived as pharaoh by her son Caesarion. As a member of the Ptolemaic dynasty, she was a descendant of its founder Ptolemy I Soter, a Macedonian Greek general and companion of Alexander the Great. After the death of Cleopatra, Egypt became a province of the Roman Empire, marking the end of the Hellenistic period that had lasted since the reign of Alexander. Her native language was Koine Greek and she was the first Ptolemaic ruler to learn the Egyptian language.

In the spring of 48 BC, Ptolemy XIII and Pothinus attempted to depose Cleopatra due to her increasing status as queen. Her face appeared on minted coins, for example, while Ptolemy XIII's name was omitted on official documents. Ptolemy intended to become main ruler, with Pothinus acting as the power behind the throne.

A queen regnant is a female monarch, equivalent in rank to a king, who reigns in her own right, as opposed to a queen consort, who is the wife of a reigning king, or a queen regent, who is the guardian of a child monarch and reigns temporarily in the child's stead. An empress regnant is a female monarch who reigns in her own right over an empire.

Civil war

Ptolemy XIII and Pothinus managed to force Cleopatra to flee to Syria, but she soon organized her own army and a civil war began in Egypt. Soon their other sister started to claim the throne as Arsinoe IV of Egypt (r. 48–47 BC), further complicating the situation.

Syria Country in Western Asia

Syria, officially the Syrian Arab Republic, is a country in Western Asia, bordering Lebanon to the southwest, the Mediterranean Sea to the west, Turkey to the north, Iraq to the east, Jordan to the south, and Israel to the southwest. A country of fertile plains, high mountains, and deserts, Syria is home to diverse ethnic and religious groups, including Syrian Arabs, Greeks, Armenians, Assyrians, Kurds, Circassians, Mandeans and Turkemens. Religious groups include Sunnis, Christians, Alawites, Druze, Isma'ilis, Mandeans, Shiites, Salafis, Yazidis, and Jews. Sunnis make up the largest religious group in Syria.

Arsinoe IV of Egypt Queen of Egypt

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, Arsinoe 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. Arsinoe was then exiled to the Temple of Artemis at Ephesus in Roman Anatolia, but she was executed there by orders of triumvir Mark Antony in 41 BC at the behest of his lover Cleopatra.

At this point, defeated Roman general Pompey the Great came to Egypt seeking refuge from his pursuing rival Julius Caesar. Initially, Ptolemy XIII pretended to have accepted his request, but on September 29, 48 BC, he had the general murdered by Achillas and Lucius Septimius in hopes of winning favor with Caesar when the victorious general arrived.

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.

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.

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.

When Caesar arrived he was presented with the head of his deceased rival and former ally, but reportedly, instead of being pleased, Caesar reacted with disgust and ordered that Pompey's body be located and given a proper Roman funeral. Cleopatra VII proved more successful in winning Caesar's favor and became his lover. Caesar arranged the execution of Pothinus and the official return to the throne of Cleopatra VII, though she had never officially abdicated her marriage to Ptolemy XIII.

Abdication voluntary or forced renunciation of sovereign power

Abdication is the act of formally relinquishing monarchical authority. Abdications have played various roles in the succession procedures of monarchies. While some cultures have viewed abdication as an extreme abandonment of duty, in other societies, abdication was a regular event, and helped maintain stability during political succession.

Still determined to depose Cleopatra VII, Ptolemy XIII allied himself with Arsinoe IV. Jointly, they organized the factions of the army loyal to them against those loyal to Cleopatra VII and the relatively small part of his army that had accompanied Caesar to Egypt. The battle between the warring factions occurred in mid-December 48 BC inside Alexandria itself (Siege of Alexandria (47 BC)), which suffered serious damage. [1] Around this time, the burning of the Library of Alexandria occurred. [2]

Upon the arrival of Roman reinforcements, the Battle of the Nile (47 BC) ensued and resulted in a victory for Caesar and Cleopatra, forcing Ptolemy XIII to flee the city. He reportedly drowned on January 13, 47 BC while attempting to cross the Nile. Whether he was attempting to flee or was seeking negotiations remains uncertain from sources of the time. Cleopatra VII remained the unchallenged ruler of Egypt, although she named their younger brother Ptolemy XIV of Egypt (r. 47–44 BC) her new co-ruler.


Ptolemy appears in George Frideric Handel's 1724 opera Giulio Cesare in Egitto ("Julius Caesar in Egypt"). In the motion picture Cleopatra (1963), Ptolemy was played by Richard O'Sullivan. Ptolemy XIII Theos Philopator and his fight with Caesar and Cleopatra for the control of Egypt is featured in the HBO TV series Rome episode "Caesarion" and is also depicted in the second season of the Netflix series Roman Empire . He was one of fifteen Ptolemies featured in the BBC series The Cleopatras and played by Daniel Beales. He will be featured in the Channel 5 series "Eight Days that made Rome".

He appears as a non-playable character in the 2017 video game Assassin's Creed Origins , set in the final days of his rule. He is the main character in Emily Holleman's 2017 novel The Drowning King, the second novel in The Fall of Egypt series. He also features as a character in Cleopatra's Shadow, the first novel in the series.



  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").

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Ptolemy XII Auletes Ptolemaic King of Egypt

Ptolemy XII Neos Dionysos Theos Philopator Theos Philadelphos was a pharaoh 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. He was the ostensibly illegitimate son of Ptolemy IX, possibly by Cleopatra IV. His grandmother, Cleopatra III, sent Ptolemy XII and her other grandchildren to Kos in 103 BC. Thus, he spent much of his obscure early life outside of Egypt.

Ptolemy XIV of Egypt Pharaoh of Egypt

Ptolemy XIV, was a son of Ptolemy XII of Egypt and one of the last members of the Ptolemaic dynasty of Egypt. Following the death of his older brother Ptolemy XIII of Egypt on January 13, 47 BC, and according to his will, he was proclaimed Pharaoh and co-ruler by their older sister and remaining Pharaoh, Cleopatra VII of Egypt. He was about 12 years old when he acceded to the throne. He and Cleopatra were married, but Cleopatra continued to act as lover of Roman dictator Julius Caesar. Ptolemy is considered to have reigned in name only, as a concession to Egyptian tradition, with Cleopatra keeping actual authority.

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The Gabiniani were 2000 legionaries and 500 cavalry auxilia left in the Ptolemaic Kingdom by the general Aulus Gabinius after his military restoration of Pharaoh Ptolemy XII Auletes on the Egyptian throne in 55 BCE. 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 Ptolemy XII in 51 BC, they helped his son Ptolemy XIII Theos Philopator in his power struggle against his sister Cleopatra and even involved Julius Caesar, the powerful 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.

Early life of Cleopatra

The early life of Cleopatra VII of Ptolemaic Egypt began with her birth in early 69 BC to reigning pharaoh Ptolemy XII Auletes and an unknown mother, and lasted until her accession to the throne by March 51 BC. During her early childhood, Cleopatra was brought up in the palace of Alexandria in Egypt and received a primarily-Hellenistic Greek education from her tutor, Philostratos. By adulthood she was well-versed in many languages, including Egyptian, Ethiopian, Trogodyte, Hebrew, Arabic, Syrian, Median, Parthian, Latin, and her native Koine Greek.


  1. Plutarch, Life of Julius Caesar, 49:3.
  2. Aulus Gellius. Attic Nights book 7 chapter 17.
Ptolemy XIII Theos Philopator
Born: ca. 62 BC Died: ca. 47 BC
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Ptolemy XII and Cleopatra VII
Pharaoh of Egypt
51–ca. 47 BC
with Cleopatra VII
Succeeded by
Cleopatra and Ptolemy XIV