Ptolemy VIII Euergetes II, nicknamed Physcon, was a king of the Ptolemaic dynasty in Egypt. Ptolemy VIIIs complicated political career started in 170 BC and this is when Antiochus IV Epiphanes of the Seleucid Empire invaded and captured King Ptolemy VI Philometor and all of Egypt, with the exception of the city of Alexandria. Antiochus allowed Ptolemy VI to continue as a puppet monarch, meanwhile, the people of Alexandria chose Ptolemy Euergetes, his younger brother, as king. Euergetes was popularly known as Physkōn, Latinized as Physcon, meaning sausage, potbelly or bladder, instead of taking up arms against one another, the brothers decided to co-rule Egypt. After Antiochus withdrew from the area in 168 BC due to threats from Rome, Physcon agreed to jointly rule Egypt in a triumvirate with Philometor and Cleopatra II. This arrangement led to continuous intrigues, lasting until October 164 BC, when Philometor traveled to Rome to appear before the Senate, who were somewhat agreeable with the arrangement. However, areas under Physcons sole rule were not satisfied with the arrangement and this left Physcon in charge of Cyrenaica. Although the arrangement lasted until Philometors death in 145 BC, it did not end the power struggles, Physcon convinced the Roman Senate to back his claims on Cyprus, but Philometor opposed this. Physcons attempt to conquer the island failed and the Senate sent Philometors ambassadors home, in 156 or 155 BC, Philometor tried to have Physcon assassinated but failed. Physcon went to Rome, displaying the scars he had received in the attempt, despite opposition from Cato the Elder, he received the Senates support and further resources for another attempt on Cyprus. During his time in Rome he met Cornelia Africana, and asked for her hand in marriage, the second attempt on Cyprus also failed. Philometor captured and held Physcon prisoner, but spared him, offering him instead the hand of his daughter, Cleopatra Thea, when Philometor died on a campaign in 145 BC, Cleopatra II quickly had her son proclaimed King Ptolemy VII. Physcon, however, returned from battle and proposed joint rule and marriage with Cleopatra II and he had the younger Ptolemy assassinated during the wedding feast and claimed the throne himself, as Ptolemy VIII Euergetes II, and had himself proclaimed pharaoh in 144 BC. In 145 BC, Physcon took his revenge on the intellectuals of Alexandria who had opposed him, including Aristarchus of Samothrace and he engaged in mass purges and expulsions, leaving Alexandria a changed city. Physcon seduced and married Cleopatra III without divorcing Cleopatra II, who became infuriated, many speculate that Physcon only married Cleopatra II because he was plotting to marry Cleopatra III when she became of marrying age. By 132 or 131 BC, the people of Alexandria had rioted, Physcon, Cleopatra III, and their children escaped to Cyprus, while Cleopatra II had their twelve-year-old son, Ptolemy Memphitis, acclaimed as king. Physcon was able to get hold of the boy, killed him, the ensuing civil war pitted Cleopatras city of Alexandria against the rest of the country, who supported Physcon. Growing desperate, Cleopatra offered the throne of Egypt to the Seleucid king Demetrius II Nicator, by 127 BC, Cleopatra fled to Syria
Image: Tetradrachm of Ptolemy VIII Physcon, Alexandria 138 137 BC
Stele (monument) attributed to Ptolemy VIII, glorifying his rule and describing his support of Egyptian gods. The stele was written in Egyptian hieroglyphs as well as Greek.