Arsinoe I

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For other Arsinoes, see Arsinoe.

Arsinoe I (Greek: Αρσινόη Α’, 305 BC[1]-after c.248 BC[2]) was a Greek Princess who was of Macedonian and Thessalian descent. She was the second daughter and youngest child born to King Lysimachus from his first wife, Nicaea of Macedon.[3][4] Arsinoe I had two older siblings: a brother called Agathocles and a sister called Eurydice.[5][6]

Her paternal grandfather was Agathocles of Pella[7] a nobleman who was a contemporary to King Philip II of Macedon who reigned 359 BC-336 BC, while her maternal grandfather was the powerful Regent Antipater.[8] Arsinoe I was named in honor of an unnamed grandmother,[9] who may have been the mother of Lysimachus or the mother of Nicaea whose both names of these women are unknown.[10] Little is known of her life prior to her marriage.

Between 289/28[11] and 281 BC,[12] Arsinoe became the first wife of Ptolemaic Greek Egyptian Pharaoh Ptolemy II Philadelphus, who was also her distant maternal cousin. Arsinoe I married Ptolemy II as part of an alliance between her father and Ptolemy II, against Seleucus I Nicator.[13]

Arsinoe I was, by marriage, Queen of the Ptolemaic Kingdom. Arsinoe I bore Ptolemy II three children; two sons: Ptolemy III Euergetes, Lysimachus of Egypt and a daughter called Berenice.[14] At an unknown date between after 279 BC-274/3 BC, a sister of Ptolemy II called Arsinoe II arrived in Egypt, who was the last wife of Lysimachus and had fled from her half-brother-husband Ptolemy Keraunos. Probably at the instigation of Arsinoe II, charges of conspiring to assassinate Ptolemy II were soon brought against Arsinoe I.[15]

Ptolemy II had convicted Arsinoe I of plotting against him. He ended his marriage to Arsinoe I and divorced her. Ptolemy II had exiled Arsinoe I to Coptos in southern Egypt.[16] It is chronologically plausible that these events were also connected to the banishment of Ptolemy II’s niece, Theoxena of Egypt as Theoxena was sent to the Thebaid,[17] perhaps to Coptos. Afterwards Ptolemy II married his sister Arsinoe II and after the death of Arsinoe II, Ptolemy II’s children with Arsinoe I were officially regarded as the children of Arsinoe II.

Arsinoe I lived in exile for twenty years. During her exile, Arsinoe I lived in great splendour and exercised considerable power, since she was a wife of a former pharaoh. Her first son with Ptolemy II succeeded his father after his death.[18]

A surviving Stele has been found at Coptos which refers to Arsinoe I.[19] The Stele is of Senu-sher, a steward of Arsinoe I and the Stele is assigned to Arsinoe I’s exile.[20] The stele calls Arsinoe I the ‘king’s wife’, but her name is not enclosed in the royal Cartouche, as it is customary for an Egyptian Queen.[21] Another piece of surviving evidence connected to Arsinoe I, is a Phoenician inscription found at Lapithos, Cyprus,[22] which is dated in the 11th or 12th year in the reign of Ptolemy II. The inscription refers to a sacrifice instituted by Yatonba’al on behalf of ‘the legitimate scion and his wife’,[23] hence refers to Arsinoe I. As Arsinoe I was disgraced as a traitor, the fact the person who did the sacrifice on her behalf strongly suggests that the news of her disgrace had not yet reached him.[24]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Ptolemaic Genealogy: Arsinoe I, Footnote 4
  2. ^ Ptolemaic Genealogy: Arsinoe I, Footnote 10
  3. ^ Bengtson, Griechische Geschichte von den Anfängen bis in die römische Kaiserzeit, p.569
  4. ^ Heckel, Who’s who in the age of Alexander the Great: prosopography of Alexander’s empire, p.175
  5. ^ Bengtson, Griechische Geschichte von den Anfängen bis in die römische Kaiserzeit, p.569
  6. ^ Heckel, Who’s who in the age of Alexander the Great: prosopography of Alexander’s empire, p.175
  7. ^ Lysimachus’ article at Livius.org
  8. ^ Lightman, A to Z of ancient Greek and Roman women, p.233
  9. ^ Ptolemaic Genealogy: Arsinoe I, Footnote 3
  10. ^ Ptolemaic Genealogy: Arsinoe I, Footnote 10
  11. ^ Lightman, A to Z of ancient Greek and Roman women, p.43
  12. ^ Ptolemaic Genealogy: Arsinoe I
  13. ^ Britannica Online Encyclopedia – Arsinoe I
  14. ^ Ptolemaic Genealogy: Arsinoe I, Footnote 7
  15. ^ Britannica Online Encyclopedia – Arsinoe I
  16. ^ Britannica Online Encyclopedia – Arsinoe I
  17. ^ Ptolemaic Genealogy: Theoxena, Footnote 6
  18. ^ Lightman, A to Z of ancient Greek and Roman women, p.43
  19. ^ Britannica Online Encyclopedia – Arsinoe I
  20. ^ Ptolemaic Genealogy: Arsinoe I, Footnote 8
  21. ^ Britannica Online Encyclopedia – Arsinoe I
  22. ^ Ptolemaic Genealogy: Arsinoe I, Footnote 9
  23. ^ Ptolemaic Genealogy: Arsinoe I, Footnote 9
  24. ^ Ptolemaic Genealogy: Arsinoe I, Footnote 9

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