Thirty-Third Dynasty

   Posted by: Keith Payne   in

Thirty-Third Dynasty

The Ptolemaic Dynasty

305 to 30 BC

Period Seat of Power Factions Dating System
Ptolemaic Period Alexandria Egypt, Macedonia, Rome Shaw and Nicholson


The Ptolemaic Dynasty lasted just short of 300 years, but was one of Egypt’s most complex historical periods due in no small part to the growing influence of foreign powers.  The Macedonian and Roman empires were larger and more cosmopolitan than any previous hegemony, and as a result Egypt experienced unprecedented cultural intersections.  Greek and Roman values, religions, and traditions came together into the Egyptian melting pot, sometimes with remarkable philosophical, scientific, and architectural results.

Ptolemaic pharaohs all took the name Ptolemy, and their queens took the names Cleopatra, Arsinoe, or Berenice.  The timeline of the Ptolemaic Dynasty is as difficult to follow as the Intermediate Periods because there are frequent co-regencies, kings and queens sometimes fall out of power only to regain it, and several kings come to violent ends very early in their reign.  But it is also a period of cultural growth and some of Egypt’s most beautiful temples and monuments are either constructed or restored during this time.

Women wielded a great deal of power in the Ptolemaic Period, with queens ruling as both co-regent and independently.  The most well-known is Cleopatra VII, who became politically and romantically embroiled with the two most powerful men in Rome, Julius Caesar and Mark Antony.  Things did not end well for any of those involved.

The Ptolemaic Dynasty ended with the suicide of Cleopatra VII.  Around 30 BC, Emperor Octavian makes Egypt a Roman province, and for the next 400 years Egypt is ruled from Rome.  In the year AD 395 the Roman Empire is divided and Egypt falls under the control of the Byzantine Empire, ruled from Constan-tinople.  In AD 640 the armies of Amr ibn al-‘As invade Egypt, heralding in the Islamic Age. 

Name of Ruler Years of Reign Capitol
Ptolemy I  (Soter) 305 to 285 BC Alexandria
Ptolemy II  (Philadelphus) 285 to 246 BC Alexandria
Ptolemy III  (Euergetes I) 246 to 221 BC Alexandria
Ptolemy IV  (Philopater) 221 to 205 BC Alexandria
Ptolemy V  (Epiphanes) 205 to 180 BC Alexandria
Ptolemy  (Eupator) 152 BC Alexandria
Ptolemy VI  (Philometor) 180 to 145 BC Alexandria
Ptolemy VII  (Neos Philopator) 145 BC Alexandria
Ptolemy VIII  (Euergetes II) 170 to 116 BC Alexandria
Ptolemy IX (Soter II)  & Cleopatra III 116 to 107 BC Alexandria
Ptolemy X  (Alexander I)  & Cleopatra III 107 to 88 BC Alexandria
Ptolemy IX (Soter II)—Restored 88 to 80 BC Alexandria
Ptolemy XI  (Alexander II) 80 BC Alexandria
Ptolemy XII  (Neo Dionysus) 80 to 51 BC Alexandria
Ptolemy XIII & Cleopatra VII 51 to 47 BC Alexandria
Ptolemy XIV & Cleopatra VII 47 to 44 BC Alexandria
Ptolemy XV  (Cesarion)  &  Cleopatra VII 44 to 30 BC Alexandria