Cleopatra II of Egypt

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Cleopatra II (Greek: Κλεοπάτρα; c. 185 BC – 116 BC) was a queen of Ptolemaic Egypt who ruled from 175 to 116 BC with her brother-husbands and her daughter—often in rivalry with her brother Ptolemy VIII. She co-ruled during her first reign, until 164 BC, with Ptolemy VI Philometor, her first husband and the older of her brothers, and Ptolemy VIII Euergetes II, her younger brother who was also known as Physcon, during her second reign she co-ruled again with Ptolemy VI from 163 BC and after his death in 145 BC, with Ptolemy VIII, whom she then married, and her daughter Cleopatra III. She was sole ruler of Egypt from 131 BC to 127 BC, her final reign from 124 BC to 116 BC was also spent in co-regency with Ptolemy VIII and Cleopatra III.


Early life (before 175 BC)[edit]

This head of an Egyptian Ptolemaic queen likely depicts Cleopatra II. Walters Art Museum, Baltimore.

Cleopatra II was the daughter of Ptolemy V and likely Cleopatra I, she was the sister of Ptolemy VI and Ptolemy VIII Euergetes II Tryphon. She would eventually marry both of her brothers.[1][2]

First reign (175–164 BC) and second reign (163–127 BC)[edit]

First co-regency (175–145 BC)[edit]

Following the death of her mother in 176 BC, she was married to her brother Ptolemy VI Philometor in c. 175 BC. Cleopatra II, Ptolemy VI and their brother, Ptolemy VIII, were co-rulers of Egypt from c. 171 BC to 164 BC.[1]

In c. 169 BC, Antiochus IV of Syria invaded Egypt. Ptolemy VI Philometor joined Antiochus IV outside Alexandria. Ptolemy VI was crowned in Memphis and ruled with Cleopatra II; in 164 BC Cleopatra II and her husband were temporarily deposed by Ptolemy VIII, but were restored to power in 163 BC.[3]

With Ptolemy VI she had at least four children:[1][2]

Second co-regency (145–131 BC)[edit]

Ptolemy VI died in 145 BC. Cleopatra II agreed to marry her brother, Ptolemy VIII Euergetes II. Ptolemy VIII murdered Ptolemy VI and Cleopatra II's son and heir, Ptolemy VII Neos Philopator, and took the throne himself. Ptolemy VIII and Cleopatra II are thought to have had at least one son,[1][2] Ptolemy Memphites, born between 144 and 142 BC. Ptolemy Memphites may actually be identical to Ptolemy VII Neos Philopator, but this identification is not universally accepted.

In 142 BC Ptolemy VIII married Cleopatra's younger daughter, his niece Cleopatra III.

Sole regency (131–127 BC)[edit]

Cleopatra II led a rebellion against Ptolemy VIII in 131 BC, and drove him and Cleopatra III out of Egypt,[1] at this time Ptolemy VIII is said to have had Ptolemy Memphites, his son by Cleopatra II, dismembered and his head, hands and feet sent to Cleopatra II in Alexandria as a birthday present.[4]

Cleopatra II ruled Egypt as sole ruler until 127 BC when she was forced to flee to Syria, where she joined her daughter Cleopatra Thea and her son-in-law Demetrius II Nicator.

Wall relief of Cleopatra III, Cleopatra II and Ptolemy VIII before Horus

Third reign (124–116 BC)[edit]

A public reconciliation of Cleopatra and Ptolemy VIII was declared in 124 BC, after this she ruled jointly with her brother and daughter until 116 BC when Ptolemy died, leaving the kingdom to Cleopatra III and one of her sons, either Ptolemy Lathyros or Alexander. At the wishes of the Alexandrians Cleopatra III chose Lathyros, her elder son, as her co-ruler. Cleopatra II herself died shortly after.[1]



  1. ^ a b c d e f Cleopatra II Archived May 23, 2011, at the Wayback Machine. by Chris Bennett
  2. ^ a b c Aidan Dodson, Dyan Hilton, The Complete Royal Families of Ancient Egypt, 2004
  3. ^ Ptolemy VI by Chris Bennett
  4. ^ Ptolemy Memphites by Chris Bennett
Cleopatra II of Egypt
Born: ca. 185 BC Died: 116 BC
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Ptolemy VI
Queen of Egypt
175 BC-164 BC
with Ptolemy VI and Ptolemy VIII
Succeeded by
Ptolemy VIII
Preceded by
Ptolemy VIII
Queen of Egypt
163 BC-127 BC
with Ptolemy VI, Ptolemy VII, Ptolemy VIII and Cleopatra III
Succeeded by
Ptolemy VIII and Cleopatra III
Queen of Egypt
124 BC-116 BC
with Ptolemy VIII and Cleopatra III
Succeeded by
Ptolemy IX and Cleopatra III