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The Various Fathers of Ptolemy I

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Reports from antiquity — two factual and another based on myth — claim that Ptolemy I was a son of the Macedonian king Philip II. If so, Ptolemy was a half-brother of Alexander the Great. Scholars suppose that this rumour was promoted by Ptolemy I. But this cannot be confirmed. It seems rather that Arsinoë, the mother of Ptolemy I, was a concubine at the court of Philip II and that a rumour existed that Ptolemy I was illegitimately born. This rumour developed in two separate ways. In Macedon, probably in the late 280's BCE, it was claimed that the father of Ptolemy was Philip II. The story may have been inspired by Ptolemy Keraunos in the course of his quest for the Macedonian throne. In Egypt, however, in spite of an apparent reluctance of Ptolemy I to link Lagos with his name, it was officially proclaimed in the reign of his son (Ptolemy II) that Lagos was the father of Ptolemy I. It is possible thereby that Ptolemy II removed the stigma of bastardy from the first Ptolemaic king.

Affiliations: 1: Leeds LS2 9JT, University of Leeds, Department of Theology & Religious Studies

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