Ptolemy VI Philometor

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Ptolemy VI Philometor
Coin of Ptolemy VI
Born c. 185
Died 145 BC
Spouse Cleopatra II of Egypt
Issue With Cleopatra II:
Ptolemy Eupator
Cleopatra Thea
Cleopatra III of Egypt
Dynasty Ptolemaic
Father Ptolemy V Epiphanes
Mother Cleopatra I of Egypt

Ptolemy VI Philometor[note 1] (Greek: Πτολεμαῖος Φιλομήτωρ, Ptolemaĩos Philomḗtōr "Ptolemy Beloved of his Mother"); c. 186–145 BC) was a king of Egypt from the Ptolemaic period. He reigned from 180 to 164 BC and from 163 to 145 BC.[1]

Early life and first reign[edit]

Ring of Ptolemy VI Philometor as Egyptian pharaoh (Louvre)

Ptolemy succeeded in 180 BC at the age of about 6, upon the death of his father Ptolemy V. He ruled jointly with his mother Cleopatra I until her death in 176 BC, which is what his epithet 'Philometor' implies: "he who loves his mother" (φίλος (beloved,friend) + μήτηρ (mother)).

In 173 BC Ptolemy VI married his sister Cleopatra II as was customary for Pharaohs, for the Ptolemaic Greek kings had adopted many customs of the Pharaohs.[2] He had at least four children with her: Ptolemy Eupator, Ptolemy Neos, Cleopatra Thea and Cleopatra III, and possibly Berenice.[1]

The outbreak of the Sixth Syrian War in 170 BC saw Ptolemy VIII and Cleopatra II becoming co-rulers. The Seleucid king Antiochus IV Epiphanes, who vied with Ptolemy VI over the control of Syria, invaded Egypt in 169, leading to unrest and subsequent calls for Ptolemy VIII and Cleopatra II to ascend to the throne. A period of reconciliation followed, but the second invasion of Egypt in 168 created further unrest.[3] Ptolemy VI was driven out by his brother Ptolemy VIII in 164 BC.

Return to the throne[edit]

Ptolemy VI went to Rome to seek support. The Romans partitioned the Ptolemaic land, granting Ptolemy VI Cyprus and Egypt, and Ptolemy VIII Cyrenaica.[4]

Around 150 BC he recognized Alexander Balas as the Seleucid king by marrying his daughter Cleopatra Thea to him in a ceremony at Ptolemais Akko.[5] In 145 BC, however, while Alexander was putting down a rebellion in Cilicia, Ptolemy VI invaded Syria, securing safe passage through Judaea from Alexander's vassal Jonathan Maccabee, and capturing the city of Seleucia. He remarried his daughter to Alexander's rival Demetrius II and went to Antioch, where he crowned himself King of Asia. Alexander was defeated by Ptolemy when he returned from Cilicia with his army. Alexander then fled to Arabia, where he was killed. For the first time since the death of Alexander the Great, Egypt and Syria were united. However, Ptolemy died three days later, in unknown circumstances.[6]



  1. ^ Numbering the Ptolemies is a modern invention; the Greeks distinguished them by epithet (e.g. "Philopator") or nickname (e.g. "Auletes"). The number given here is the present consensus, but there has been some disagreement in the 19th century about which of the later Ptolemies should be counted as reigning. Since older sources may give a number one higher or lower, epithets are the most reliable way of determining which Ptolemy is being referred to in any given case.


  1. ^ a b Chris Bennett. "Ptolemy VI". Tyndale House. Retrieved May 22, 2013. 
  2. ^ "Pharaohs of Ancient Egypt". Ancient Egypt Online. Retrieved May 22, 2013. 
  3. ^ Lendering, Jona. "Ptolemy VI Philometor". Livius. Retrieved 18 January 2017. 
  4. ^ "Ptolemy VI Philometor: Macedonian King of Egypt". Encyclopædia Britannica. 
  5. ^ I Maccabees 10.48-58
  6. ^ I Maccabees 11.1-11.19

External links[edit]

Ptolemy VI Philometor
Born: c. 185 BC Died: 145 BC
Preceded by
Ptolemy V Epiphanes
Cleopatra I
Ptolemaic King of Egypt
with Cleopatra I
Cleopatra II
Ptolemy VIII Physcon

181–164 BC
Succeeded by
Ptolemy VIII Physcon
Preceded by
Ptolemy VIII Physcon
Ptolemaic King of Egypt
with Cleopatra II
Ptolemy VIII Physcon
Ptolemy VII Neos Philopator

163–145 BC
Succeeded by
Cleopatra II
Ptolemy VII Neos Philopator