Because he had recognized the many conflicts between areas in Egypt and the complexity of governing such a large country, he left the governorship in the hands of many of his followers rather than in the power of any one person. However, after he left one of his appointees became Ptolemy I Soter I, the first Ptolemaic Pharaoh, in 323 BC. This dynastic line continued until Cleopatra VII was defeated by Octavian of Rome in 30 BC. There were a total of 18 Ptolemaic Pharaohs in this ethnic Greek dynasty.
The Ptolemaic Kings Period (323-30 BC)
Though Alexander lived in Egypt only six months, the dynasty established by one of his seven deputies ruled Egypt for 275 years. This dynasty is numbered 32 and is the last one of all. The males of this lineage all took the name Ptolemy with additional names added to distinguish them from their forebears and heirs. For instance, the first Ptolemy was dubbed Soter (meaning savior) since the Egyptians accepted him as the new Pharaoh, successor to the earlier Pharaohs from earlier independent times. Later Ptolemies used names such as Philadelphus, or Philopator, or even Alexander. The female rulers who were often wives and sisters of the males from whom they inherited the throne usually designated themselves by numbers; i.e., we have Berenice IV, Cleopatra III, and our most known personage from this period, Cleopatra VII. However, this last Egyptian Pharaoh also added “Philopater” (one who loves his country), to her title. We know this Ptolemaic ruler best for many reasons: First, she was involved heavily in Roman politics as the Romans fought among themselves for leadership of the Roman Empire. Particularly, she was a player in the struggle between Julius Caesar and Pompey and then again between Octavian and Mark Antony. Second, she has been extensively written about, not least by Shakespeare himself in the 15 th century and then by George Bernard Shaw in the 20 th . Many other authors, historians, Egyptologists, archeologists, novelists and poets have also written of her life and influences. Even this year (2011) a new biography of this Queen has appeared on our bookshelves. Third, many movies have been made of her life and times, making her very familiar, in myth if not in fact, to moviegoers all over the world. And Fourth, she has been painted and sculpted through the centuries as well.
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