Cleopatra Selene I

Cleopatra Selene I
Queen of Egypt, Queen of Syria
Born c. 135 - 130 BC
Died 69 BC
Consort Ptolemy IX
Ptolemy X
Antiochus VIII Grypus, king of Syria
Antiochus IX Cyzicenus, king of Syria
Antiochus X Eusebes, king of Syria
Offspring With Ptolemy IX:
Berenice III of Egypt
With Ptolemy X:
possibly Ptolemy XI Alexander II
With Antiochus X Eusebes, king of Syria:
Antiochus XIII Asiaticus
Seleucus VII Kybiosaktes
Dynasty Ptolemaic
Father Ptolemy VIII Physcon
Mother Cleopatra III of Egypt

Cleopatra Selene I (Greek:η Κλεοπάτρα Σελήνη) was the daughter of Ptolemy VIII Physcon by his niece Cleopatra III of Egypt. She was the wife of three different kings; including queen consort to Ptolemy IX Lathyros of Egypt, and later queen of Syria.

Originally she was named Selene, only adding the Ptolemaic throne name Cleopatra after her marriage with Lathyros.[1] whom she married after his wife, her sister Cleopatra IV, was forced out by her mother. (115 BC).[2] Selene was not, however, made co-ruler, unlike many of the sister-wives of Ptolemaic kings.

She bore Lathyros at least one daughter, Berenice III and two sons,[3] invluding Ptolemy XII and possibly another son, also named Ptolemy.

In 107 BC, as relations deteriorated between Lathyros and his mother and co-ruler, Cleopatra III, he was forced to leave Egypt and his wife, first to Cyprus to raise an army, and then to south Syria from whence he tried, in 103 BC, to invade Egypt.

In the meantime, Cleopatra III established an alliance with one of the warring Syrian kings, Antiochus VIII Grypus, giving him Cleopatra Selene I as his wife.[4] (His previous wife, (Cleopatra?) Tryphaena, Cleopatra Selene's I older sister, had been killed in 111 BC by his stepbrother Antiochus IX Cyzicenus).

In Syria, the civil war between Grypus and Cyzicenus over the throne in Antioch lasted until 96 BC, when Grypus was assassinated in Antioch. Cyzicenus, after capturing the capital, married Cleopatra Selene I. (Cyzicenus had been married to Cleopatra Selene's I older sister, Cleopatra IV, who had been killed by Grypus in 112 BC)

Cyzicenus, however, was not to live much longer. Grypus had five sons with Cleopatra Tryphaena; all of them competing for the throne of Antioch. In 95 BC, Cyzicenus was killed during a battle with Seleucus VI Epiphanes, the eldest son of Grypus.

After Cyzicenus' death, his son with Cleopatra IV, Antiochus X Eusebes, married his stepmother, Cleopatra Selene I, and regained Antioch again, with the death of Seleucus VI. Cleopatra Selene I bore him two sons, one of them being Antiochus XIII Asiaticus.

Antiochus X was killed either in 92 BC in a battle with the Parthians, or in 83 BC. After his death Cleopatra Selene I fearing for her safety, left Syria and for the relative safety of Cilicia.

Following the assassination of her nephew Ptolemy XI Alexander II (80 BC), Cleopatra Selene I remained the only legitimate surviving member of the Ptolemaic dynasty. She claimed the throne of Egypt for her sons from her fourth marriage, but the people of Alexandria chose the illegitimate Ptolemy XII Auletes as new king. Cleopatra Selene I sent her sons to Rome to present their claims before the senate, but they were unsuccessful, returning home two years later.[5]

Finally, in 69 BC the Armenian king Tigranes the Great besieged Cleopatra Selene I in Ptolemais, seizing and brutally killing her in Seleucia.[6]

One year later, the Romans disrupted the Armenian state, and Cleopatra Selene I's son, Antiochus XIII, the last king of the Seleucid dynasty, tried unsuccessfully to unify the state. Finally, in 63 BC, the Romans captured Syria and the Hellenistic state that Seleucus I Nicator (Greek :Σέλευκος Νικάτωρ) created 240 years before, became part of Rome.


  1. ^ Strabo, Geographica 16, p. 749; Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews 13.420.
  2. ^ Justin 39.3.2
  3. ^ Justin 39.4.1
  4. ^ Justin 39.4.4
  5. ^ Cicero, In Verrem actio 4.61-68
  6. ^ Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews 13.420; Strabo, Geographica 16, p. 749


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