Ptolemy IV Philopator

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Ptolemy IV Philopator
King of Egypt
Octadrachm Ptolemy IV BM CMBMC33.jpg
Gold octadrachm issued by Ptolemy IV Philopator, British Museum
Reign 221–204 BCE
Predecessor Ptolemy III
Successor Ptolemy V
Consort Arsinoe III
Issue Ptolemy V
Greek Πτολεμαῖος Φιλοπάτωρ
Ancient Egyptian Iwaennetjerwymenkhwy Setepptah Userkare Sekhemankhamun[1]
Dynasty Ptolemaic
Father Ptolemy III
Mother Berenice II

Ptolemy IV Philopator (Greek: Πτολεμαῖος Φιλοπάτωρ Ptolemaĩos Philopátōr; reigned 221–204 BCE), son of Ptolemy III and Berenice II of Egypt, was the fourth Pharaoh of Ptolemaic Egypt. Under the reign of Ptolemy IV, the decline of the Ptolemaic kingdom began.


Mediterranean at 218 BCE.

His reign was inaugurated by the murder of his mother,[2] and he was always under the dominion of favourites, male and female, who indulged his vices and conducted the government as they pleased. Self-interest led his ministers to make serious preparations to meet the attacks of Antiochus III the Great on Coele-Syria including Judea, and the great Egyptian victory of Raphia (217 BC), where Ptolemy himself was present, secured the northern borders of the kingdom for the remainder of his reign.

The arming of Egyptians in this campaign had a disturbing effect upon the native population of Egypt, leading to the secession of Upper Egypt under pharaohs Harmachis (also known as Hugronaphor) and Ankmachis (also known as Chaonnophris), thus creating a kingdom that occupied much of the country and lasted nearly twenty years.

Philopator was devoted to orgiastic forms of religion and literary dilettantism. He built a temple to Homer and composed a tragedy, to which his favourite Agathocles added a commentary. He married (about 220 BC) his sister Arsinoë III, but continued to be ruled by his mistress Agathoclea, sister of Agathocles. In late c. 210 BC, Agathoclea may have given birth to a son from her affair with Ptolemy IV, who may have died shortly after his birth.

Ptolemy is said to have built a giant ship known as the tessarakonteres ("forty"), a huge type of galley. The forty of its name may refer to its number of banks of oars. The only recorded instance of this type of vessel, in fact, is this showpiece galley built for Ptolemy IV, described by Callixenus of Rhodes, writing in the 3rd century BCE, and quoted by Athenaeus in the 2nd century AD.[3] Plutarch also mentions that Ptolemy Philopater owned this immense vessel in his Life of Demetrios.[4] The current theory is that Ptolemy's ship was an oversize catamaran galley, measuring 128 m 420 ft.

Ptolemy IV is a major antagonist of the apocryphal 3 Maccabees, which describes purported events following the Battle of Raphia, in both Jerusalem and Alexandria.


Among the children of Ptolemy IV Philopator and Arsinoe III of Egypt was Ptolemy V Epiphanes who married Cleopatra I Syra daughter of Antiochus III The Great and Laodice III.




  • Clayton, Peter A. (2006). Chronicles of the Pharaohs: the reign-by-reign record of the rulers and dynasties of ancient Egypt. Thames & Hudson. ISBN 0-500-28628-0. 
  • Public Domain This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. 

External links[edit]

Ptolemy IV Philopator
Born: Unknown Died: 204 BC
Preceded by
Ptolemy III Euergetes
Pharaoh of Egypt
221–204 BC
Succeeded by
Ptolemy V Epiphanes