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Ptolemy IX Lathyros

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Ptolemy IX Lathyros
Pharaoh from the Ptolemaic dynasty of Egypt
Fragment of a stella of Ptolemy IX 115 BCE Aswan.jpg
Fragment of a stela of Ptolemy IX, 115 BC, Aswan
Ptolemaic King of Egypt
PredecessorPtolemy VIII and Cleopatra III of Egypt
SuccessorBerenice III of Egypt
Bornc. 143 – 142 BC
Died81 BC (aged 60–62)
IssueTwo legitimate sons and Berenice III (by Cleopatra Selene I)
Ptolemy XII, Ptolemy of Cyprus, and perhaps Cleopatra V (by unknown consorts)
Full name
Ptolemy IX Soter II
FatherPtolemy VIII
MotherCleopatra III

Ptolemy IX Soter II[note 1][note 2] (Greek: Πτολεμαῖος Σωτήρ, Ptolemaĩos Sōtḗr "Ptolemy the Saviour"), commonly nicknamed Lathyros (Λάθυρος, Láthuros "chickpea"),[1] reigned twice as king of Ptolemaic Egypt. He took the throne after the death of his father Ptolemy VIII in 116 BC, in joint rule with his mother Cleopatra III.

He was deposed in 107 BC by his mother and brother, Ptolemy X. He ruled Egypt once more from his brother's death in 88 BC to his own death in 81 BC. The legitimate Ptolemaic line in Egypt ended shortly after the death of Ptolemy IX with the death of his nephew Ptolemy XI. Ptolemy IX's illegitimate son Ptolemy XII then took the throne of Egypt.


Wall relief of Cleopatra III, her mother Cleopatra II and Ptolemy VIII before Horus at Kom Ombo
Coronation of Ptolemy IX depicted at Kom Ombo

Early life[edit]

Ptolemy IX was the elder son of Ptolemy VIII and Cleopatra III of Egypt.[2] He married his sister Cleopatra IV sometime prior to his accession.[3] Ptolemy VIII died in 116 BC, leaving the throne to Cleopatra III and one of her sons.[2]

Rule over Egypt[edit]

Cleopatra III initially chose Ptolemy IX to be her co-regent, though it seems that she was forced to choose him by the Alexandrians. Cleopatra III pushed out Cleopatra IV and replaced her with their sister Cleopatra Selene I as the wife of Ptolemy IX.[1][2] It is possible that construction of certain buildings such as temples occurred during the first reign of Ptolemy IX. This would have included work on the Dendera Temple complex and on the temple in Edfu.[1]

Cleopatra III claimed that Ptolemy IX had tried to kill her and successfully deposed him in 107 BC, putting her favourite son Alexander on the throne as co-regent with her.[1] At this time Ptolemy IX went to the isle of Cyprus.[2] He may have served at some point as its governor.[3] His brother Alexander, who reigned as Ptolemy X, is stated to have had Cleopatra III murdered in 101 BC.[1]

Ptolemy X was killed in battle in 88 BC, and Ptolemy IX reigned once again until his death in 81 BC. He may have reigned jointly with his daughter Berenice III, who was the widow of her uncle Ptolemy X.[1]

Issue and successors[edit]

Rare drachms of Ptolemy XII minted at Paphos, Cyprus in 53 BC[4]

Ptolemy IX's legitimate daughter Berenice III reigned for about a year after her father's death. She was forced to marry her cousin, Ptolemy X's son Alexander, who reigned under the name Ptolemy XI and had her killed nineteen days later. Shortly afterwards Ptolemy XI was lynched by an enraged Alexandrian mob.[5]

To stave off invasion or annexation by other powers, those with influence ensured the throne passed to Ptolemy IX's remaining children, even though they were illegitimate. Ptolemy XII of Egypt and his younger brother or half-brother, also named Ptolemy, were recalled from the Kingdom of Pontus. Ptolemy XII was placed on the throne and given a queen, Cleopatra V—who was likely his sister and another illegitimate child of Ptolemy IX.[5][6] The younger Ptolemy was given the rule of Cyprus, the last external territory Egypt possessed.[5]

Ptolemy IX had two sons by Cleopatra Selene I. Both of these sons probably died young.[2]



  1. ^ Numbering the Ptolemies is a modern convention. Older sources may give a number one higher or lower. The most reliable way of determining which Ptolemy is being referred to in any given case is by epithet (e.g. "Philopator").
  2. ^ All male Ptolemaic rulers were titled Ptolemy in honor of their great Macedonian ancestor, Ptolemy I Soter, with Ptolemy IX also taking the same title Soter as the original Ptolemy. In older references and in more recent references by the German historian Huss, Ptolemy IX Soter II may be numbered VIII.


  1. ^ a b c d e f Ptolemy Soter II and Ptolemy Alexander I at LacusCurtius — (Chapter XI of E. R Bevan's House of Ptolemy, 1923)
  2. ^ a b c d e Cleopatra III & Ptolemy IX Soter II (Lathyros) by Tour Egypt.
  3. ^ a b Ptolemy IX Soter II (Lathyros) by Livius.org.
  4. ^ Ioannis Svoronos, Ta nomismata tou kratous ton Ptolemaion, Athens, 1904, vol. I-II, p. 302 (n°1838), & vol. III-IV, plate LXI, n°22, 23.
  5. ^ a b c Berenice III, Ptolemy XI, Ptolemy XII at LacusCurtius — (Chapter XII of E. R Bevan's House of Ptolemy, 1923)
  6. ^ Werner Huß, Ägypten in hellenistischer Zeit (Egypt in Hellenistic times). C. H. Beck, Munich 2001, p. 674-675

External links[edit]

Ptolemy IX Lathyros
Born: c. 143 – 142 BC Died: 81 BC
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Ptolemy VIII
Pharaoh of Egypt
116 BC–107 BC
with Cleopatra III and Cleopatra IV
Succeeded by
Cleopatra III
Ptolemy X
Preceded by
Berenice III
Ptolemy X
Pharaoh of Egypt
88 BC–81 BC
Succeeded by
Berenice III