Ptolemy IX Lathyros

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Ptolemy IX Lathyros
Pharaoh from the Ptolemaic dynasty of Egypt
PtolemyIX-StatueHead MuseumOfFineArtsBoston.png
Ptolemaic King of Egypt
Predecessor Ptolemy VIII Physcon and Cleopatra III of Egypt
Successor Berenice III of Egypt
Born c. 143 – 142 BC
Died 81 BC
Issue Ptolemy XII (by Cleopatra IV)
Berenice III (by Cleopatra Selene I)
Ptolemy of Cyprus
Full name
Ptolemy IX Soter II
Dynasty Ptolemaic
Father Ptolemy VIII Physcon
Mother Cleopatra III of Egypt

Ptolemy IX Soter II[note 1] (Greek: Πτολεμαῖος Σωτήρ, Ptolemaĩos Sōtḗr "Ptolemy the Saviour"), commonly nicknamed Lathyros (Λάθυρος, Láthuros "grass pea") was king of Egypt three times, from 116 BC to 110 BC, 109 BC to 107 BC and 88 BC to 81 BC. During the intervening periods, Egypt was ruled by his brother, Ptolemy X Alexander I.


Ptolemy IX was initially chosen by his mother Cleopatra III to be her co-regent (his father Ptolemy VIII wished that she would rule with one of her sons), though it seems that she was eventually forced to choose him by the Alexandrians. He married his sister Cleopatra IV, but his mother pushed her out and replaced her with his younger sister Cleopatra Selene. Later, Cleopatra III claimed that Ptolemy IX had tried to kill her and successfully deposed him, putting her favourite son Alexander on the throne as co-regent with her. However, she later grew tired of the now Ptolemy X and deposed him, putting Ptolemy IX back on the throne. She was soon murdered by Ptolemy X, who took the throne again. Ptolemy X was then killed in battle, and Ptolemy IX reigned once again until his death.

Silver tetradrachm of Egyptian pharaoh Ptolemy IX Soter II, 109 BC
Fragment of a stela of Ptolemy IX, 115 BC, from Aswan

His daughter Berenice III took the throne after his death, and reigned for about a year. She was forced to marry her stepson Alexander, who reigned under the name Ptolemy XI Alexander II and had her killed nineteen days later.

Shortly afterwards Ptolemy XI was lynched by an enraged Alexandrian mob. To stave off invasion and/or annexation by other powers, those with influence ensured the throne passed to Lathyros' remaining children, even though they were illegitimate. Ptolemy XII Auletes and his brother or half-brother (also named Ptolemy) were recalled from the Kingdom of Pontus; the elder was placed on the throne and given a queen—in the form of his sister/ half-sister, Cleopatra V—and the younger Ptolemy was given rule of the last external territory Egypt possessed, the isle of Cyprus.

Ptolemy IX's name recalls that of his great Macedonian ancestor, Ptolemy I Soter; in older references and in more recent references by the German historian Huss, he may be numbered VIII.



  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.

External links

  • Ptolemy Soter II at LacusCurtius — (Chapter XI of E. R Bevan's House of Ptolemy, 1923)
  • Ptolemy IX Lathyrus entry in historical sourcebook by Mahlon H. Smith
  • Ptolemy IX (Soter) at Thebes by Robert Ritner
Ptolemy IX Lathyros
Born: c. 143 – 142 BC Died: 81 BC
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Ptolemy VIII
Pharaoh of Egypt
116 BC–110 BC
with Cleopatra III and Cleopatra IV
Succeeded by
Cleopatra III and Ptolemy X
Preceded by
Cleopatra III and Ptolemy X
Pharaoh of Egypt
110 BC–109 BC
with Cleopatra III
Succeeded by
Cleopatra III and Ptolemy X
Preceded by
Berenice III and Ptolemy X
Pharaoh of Egypt
88 BC–81 BC
Succeeded by
Berenice III

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