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 stele 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)
IssueBy Cleopatra Selene:
Two legitimate sons
Berenice III
By unknown consorts:
Ptolemy XII
Ptolemy of Cyprus
perhaps Cleopatra V
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 son of Ptolemy VIII and Cleopatra III of Egypt. He married his sister Cleopatra IV sometime prior to his accession.[2] Ptolemy VIII died in 116 BC, leaving the throne to Cleopatra III.[3]

First reign (116–107 BC)[edit]

Cleopatra III wanted Ptolemy's younger brother Alexander to be her co-regent, but the Alexandrians forced her to choose Ptolemy IX. Because Cleopatra IV was strong-willed,[4] Cleopatra III pushed out Cleopatra IV and replaced her with their sister Cleopatra Selene I as the wife of Ptolemy IX. It is possible that construction of certain buildings occurred during the first reign of Ptolemy IX. This would have included work on the Dendera Temple complex and on the temple in Edfu. Cleopatra III claimed that Ptolemy IX had tried to kill her and successfully deposed him in 107 BC, putting Alexander on the throne as co-regent with her as Ptolemy X.[1]

Hiatus (107–88 BC)[edit]

Ptolemy IX went to the isle of Cyprus. He may have served at some point as its governor.[2] In the Seleucid civil war between Ptolemy IX's cousins Antiochus VIII Gryphus (r. 125–96 BC) and Antiochus IX Cyzicenus (r. 115–95 BC), whose mother Cleopatra Thea[5] was Cleopatra III's sister,[6] Ptolemy IX allied himself with Antiochus IX against Antiochus X, who was supported by Ptolemy X. Ptolemy IX and Antiochus IX supported Samaria in its war against John Hyrcanus, a king of Judaea from the Hasmonean dynasty.[5] Ptolemy Apion, a son of Ptolemy VIII, left the Egyptian territory Cyrenaica to Rome in his will, and it passed to Rome upon his death in 96 BC.[7]

Second reign (88–81 BC)[edit]

Ptolemy X was killed in battle in 88 BC. Ptolemy IX then reigned once again, perhaps jointly with his daughter Berenice III. Ptolemy IX died in 81 BC.[1]

Issue and succession[edit]

Rare drachms of Ptolemy XII minted at Paphos, Cyprus in 53 BC[8]

Besides Berenice III, Ptolemy IX had at least four other children: two sons by Cleopatra Selene I, both of whom probably died young;[2] two illegitimate sons, Ptolemy XII of Egypt and Ptolemy of Cyprus; and perhaps an illegitimate daughter Cleopatra V, the wife of Ptolemy XII.[9][10] 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.[9]

To stave off invasion or annexation by other powers, those with influence ensured the throne passed to Ptolemy IX's remaining, illegitimate children. Ptolemy XII and his younger brother were recalled from the Kingdom of Pontus. Ptolemy XII was placed on the throne and given Cleopatra V as queen.[9][10] The younger Ptolemy was given the rule of Cyprus, the last external territory Egypt possessed.[9]



  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 Ptolemy Soter II and Ptolemy Alexander I at LacusCurtius — (Chapter XI of E. R Bevan's House of Ptolemy, 1923)
  2. ^ a b c Ptolemy IX Soter II (Lathyros) by
  3. ^ Bevan, Edwyn (1914). A History Of Egypt Under The Ptolemaic Dynasty, p. 345.
  4. ^ Ptolemy IX Soter II at Enyclopædia Britannica
  5. ^ a b Antiochus IX at
  6. ^ Ptolemy VI Philometor and Cleopatra II at
  7. ^ Chauveau, Michel. Egypt in the age of Cleopatra: History and Society under the Ptolemies. p. 18.
  8. ^ 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.
  9. ^ a b c d Berenice III, Ptolemy XI, Ptolemy XII at LacusCurtius — (Chapter XII of E. R Bevan's House of Ptolemy, 1923)
  10. ^ a b 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