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Ptolemy I: King and Pharaoh of Egypt



By: Ian Worthington(Author)

Language: English

Genre: Society, Politics & Philosophy

Publisher: OUP USA; 1 edition (15 Dec. 2016)

Format: pdf doc docx mobi djvu epub ibooks (*An electronic version of a printed book that can be read on a computer or handheld device designed specifically for this purpose.)

The original title of the book: Ptolemy I: King and Pharaoh of Egypt

Cleopatra of Egypt is one of history's most famous rulers, but who was responsible for founding the Ptolemaic dynasty from which she came, how, and when? For the answers we go back 300 years before Cleopatra's time, to Ptolemy of Macedonia. He was a friend of Alexander the Great, fighting with him in the epic battles and sieges, which toppled the Persian Empire, and after Alexander's death taking over Egypt after the dead king's commanders carved up his vast empire among themselves. They were soon at war with each other, the co-called Wars of the Successors, as each man fought to increase his share of the spoils. They made and broke alliances with each other cynically and effortlessly, with Ptolemy showing himself no different from the others.

But unlike them he had patience and cunning that arguably made him the greatest of the Successors. He built up his power base in Egypt, introduced administrative and economic reforms that made him fabulously wealthy, and as a conscious imperialist he boldly attempted to seize Greece and Macedonia and be a second Alexander. As well as his undoubted military prowess, Ptolemy was an intellectual. He founded the great Library and Museum at Alexandria, making that city the intellectual center of the entire Hellenistic age, and even patronized the mathematician Euclid.
Ptolemy ruled Egypt first as satrap and then as its king and Pharaoh for forty years, until he died of natural causes in his early eighties. On his death, his son, Ptolemy II, succeeded him, and the Ptolemaic dynasty was thus established. It was the longest-lived of all the Hellenistic dynasties, falling with Cleopatra three centuries later. As a king, soldier, statesman, and intellectual, Ptolemy was one of a kind, but, unlike Alexander, he never forgot his Macedonian roots.

Against all odds, Ptolemy fought off invasions, invaded opponents' territories, and established an Egyptian empire, making his adopted country a power with which to be reckoned. His achievements shaped both Egypt's history and that of the early Hellenistic world.

"Ptolemy I: King and Pharaoh of Egypt is a welcome addition to Ian Worthington's many distinguished contributions to the history of late fourth century BC Greece. Ptolemy I was the most successful of Alexander the Great's Successors, the founder of the longest lived Egyptian dynasty and the author of a history that is the ultimate source of most of our knowledge of Alexander's reign. Now, finally, readers have a vividly written biography of the king that is firmly based on current scholarship." -Stanley M. Burstein, author of The Reign of Cleopatra

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  • By Ancient Egypt Magazine on 15 June 2017

    When Ptolemy son of Lagus arrived in Egypt as satrap c. 322 BC, he was 44 years old and already a veteran of the campaigns of his childhood friend Alexander the Great. From relatively humble beginnings, he rose to become the founder of Egypt’s longest surviving dynasty and as Ian Worthington sets out to show, deserves far greater credit for shaping not only Egypt’s history but also for his significant influence on the development of the early Hellenistic world.An expert on Macedonian and Greek history, Worthington approaches his biography of Ptolemy I with a Classicist’s eye, showing how Ptolemy’s autocratic rule of Egypt stemmed from the influence of the Macedon courts of Philip II and Alexander III and his experiences fighting in Persia, Afghanistan and India. Egypt’s new Pharaoh ruled as a Macedon king; his right to rule “spear won”, supported by his own Greek elite “friends”; he encouraged Greek settlers, made Greek the language of his administration and introduced a monetary-based economy into Egypt for the first time.With few ancient sources to draw on for Ptolemy’s domestic rule, Worthington concentrates on the king’s imperial pretensions. He strongly disagrees with the prevailing idea of Ptolemy as a “defensive imperialist”, content to rule Egypt, drawn into war only when Egypt was threatened.Ptolemy was as ambitious and ruthless as any of Alexander’s Successors.Unlike most of them, he was also shrewd and patient. Egypt was a clever strategic choice of territory: rich, easy to defend and far away from the immediate struggles for the supremacy of Macedonia. While his rivals fought, Ptolemy built up his wealth and forces before picking his time to act. Stealing the body of Alexander (on route to the burial grounds at Macedon) was “one of the most audacious events of this period”, giving Ptolemy legitimacy, proving him more than equal to the other Successors. After eighteen years as satrap he, like the other successors, declared himself king (c. 305/4 BC), backdating his reign to the death of Alexander. In Rhodes he was declared a god (and given his epithet Soter or “Saviour”) after relieving a siege by Demetrius of Macedon (it was to celebrate this victory that the Colossus of Rhodes was erected – one of the Seven Wonders of the ancient world).Ptolemy died in his 80s of natural causes (other Successors each came to a violent end), the “ultimate survivor in a dangerous world”. He may have failed in his ambition to control Greece and Macedon and become the new Alexander, but he succeeded in creating a Mediterranean empire, making his new capital Alexandria (with its famous library and museum) an intellectual centre to rival Athens. Egypt became a major player in Mediterranean politics, ruled by his dynasty for nearly 300 years, until his descendent Cleopatra VII fell to the irresistible rise of Rome.Reviewed by ancientegyptmagazine dot com

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