I have included only a few items concerning the history of this empire. A good source for more details can be
found on Wikipedia or in history books.
After the death in 323 BC of Alexander,
general Ptolemy I founded a kingdom in
Egypt and ruled from 323 to 283 BC. The "Partition of Babylon"
divided Alexander's empire among his generals, but Meleager
lobbied for general Perdiccas to serve as regent until Alexander's son came of age to rule. Perdiccas
later rewarded Meleager and 300 followers with death. Ptolemy moved Alexander's body to
Memphis to prevent completion of
Perdiccas' plan. He also seized Cyrenaica (aka Pentapolis) in
modern Libya. A later king,
Ptolemy III Euergetes, founded its major city at
During an invasion of Egypt against Ptolemy I, subordinates murdered Perdiccas and offered the regency to
Ptolemy, who declined the throne in favor of ruling his satrapy in Egypt. In 312 BC, Ptolemy allied with
Seleucus to defeat the army of
Demetrius I in the Battle of Gaza. He waged war against various
enemies, kept his empire intact and built the famous Library of Alexandria.
[Theodosius I ordered the library burned in 391 AD.]
Following the Wars of the Diadochi (322-275 BC), Ptolemy left a prosperous and stable empire to his son,
Ptolemy II Philadelphus. He lost some territory during
the Second Syrian War (260-253 BC). Ptolemy III pursued a policy of intervention with other successor kingdoms.
In 246 BC, mercenary general Xanthippus of Sparta invaded
Seleucid territory--even reaching
Babylon. However, he lost the
Cyclades after the Battle of Andros
in the same year. Ptolmaic territory reached its peak when Ptolemy III seized land in
A succession of weaker kings followed, although the Ptolmaic army won the
Battle of Raphia in 217 BC. The empire
made an alliance with Rome after losing the Battle of Panium
in 198 BC. Years of royal intrigue and murder left the region vulnerable.
CLEOPATRA AND ROME:
In 51 BC, Ptolemy XIII (10 years old) married and co-reigned with his 17-year-old sister,
Cleopatra VII. At age 22 Cleopatra sought help from
Julius Caesar against her brother. A joint
Egyptian-Roman army crushed Ptolemy's force at the Battle of the Nile in 47 BC, and Ptolemy suspiciously
drowned in the river. Cleopatra ascended to the throne and became a manipulative concubine to
Caesar, bearing his son.
Following the assassination of Caesar,
Mark Antony became Cleopatra's lover. He foolishly
risked and lost a sea battle at Actium
in 31 BC and followed Cleopatra back to Egypt. Both committed
suicide and Rome assumed control of Ptolmaic Egypt.