Ptolemy (name)

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The name Ptolemy or Ptolemaeus may refer to:

  • Ptolemy (Claudius Ptolemaeus) (c. 100 AD – c. 170), a Greek polymath, astronomer, geographer, historian, mathematician, and astrologer
  • Ptolemy I Soter (c. 367 BC – 283/2 BC), a Macedonian Greek general of Alexander the Great who founded and ruled the Ptolemaic Kingdom in Egypt

Ptolemy, or Ptolemaeus, or Tolomeo (Italian spelling) may also refer to:


Ptolemy is the English form of the Ancient Greek name Πτολεμαῖος (Ptolemaios), a derivative of πτόλεμος, an Epic form of πόλεμος 'war'.[1][2] A nephew of Antigonus I Monophthalmus was called Polemaeus,[3] the normal form of the adjective. Ptolemaios is first attested in Homer's Iliad and is the name of an Achaean warrior, son of Piraeus, father of Eurymedon.[4]

The name Ptolemaios varied over the years from its roots in ancient Greece, appearing in different languages in various forms and spellings. The original form, and some of the variants, are listed here in the languages relevant to the history of the name.

Ancient Greek: Πτολεμαῖος Ptolemaîos

The name Ptolemy spread from its Greek origins to enter other languages in Western Asia during the Hellenisation that followed the conquest of the known world by Alexander the Great.

The Aramaic name Bar Talmai (Greek Bartolomaios and English Bartholomew) may be related.[5]

Ptolemais is formed from this name by the Greek feminine adjectival ending -i(d)s.


Early Greek rulers and generals named Ptolemy[edit]

Egyptian Ptolemaic dynasty (rulers)[edit]

in hieroglyphs

The Ptolemaic dynasty, of Macedonian origin, ruled Hellenistic Egypt for nearly 300 years, from 305 BC to 30 BC. The kings of this dynasty were all named Ptolemy.[6] See Ptolemaic dynasty for details of their reigns and other ruling members of the dynasty. See also: Legacy of Ptolemy I Soter.

Legacy of Ptolemy I Soter[edit]

Egyptian Ptolemaic dynasty (descendants)[edit]

There were several members of the Ptolemaic dynasty that did not become senior rulers of Egypt. Some of them became rulers of other kingdoms. Many of the dates and other details about these Ptolemies are uncertain.

Other people named Ptolemy or Tolomeo[edit]

  • Ptolemy (ca. 90 AD–ca. 168 AD), known in antiquity as Claudius Ptolemaeus; a writer, geographer, mathematician, astronomer and astrologer who lived in the Alexandrine Greek culture of Roman Egypt. See also: Legacy of Claudius Ptolemaeus

(and, in approx. chronological order)

  • Ptolemy Macron (ca. 170 BC), governor of Coele-Syria and Phoenicia.
  • Ptolemy (son of Dorymenes) (ca. 166 BC), a soldier in the Seleucid Empire under Lysias.
  • Ptolemaeus of Commagene (d. ca. 130 BC), satrap and then first King of Commagene
  • Ptolemy (son of Abubus), governor of Jericho (ca. 130 BC) in the First Book of the Maccabees; instigated the death of Simon Maccabees; and for whom Dante named the section of Hell reserved for traitors to guests ('Ptolemaea')
  • Ptolemy (son of Mennaeus) (rule ended ca. 40 BC), governor of biblical Abilene, a district of the disputed region of Coele-Syria
  • Ptolemy (Acts of Peter), a character in the Acts of Peter, who was a rich man trying to marry the daughter of Saint Peter (d. ca. 68 AD)
  • Ptolemaeus Chennus (2nd century AD), a grammarian who lived in the Alexandrine Greek culture of Roman Egypt
  • Ptolemaeus and Lucius (d. ca. 165 AD), Christian martyrs
  • Ptolemy (gnostic) (ca. 180 AD), a religious philosopher who was active in Roman Italy and Gaul.
  • Ptolemy-el-Garib (ca. 300 AD), a Peripatetic pinacographer whose Life of Aristotle survives in Arabic translation
  • Ptolemaeus Secundus, a Latin nickname for the Arab polymath Ibn al-Haytham (ca. 965–ca. 1040)
  • Ptolemy I of Tusculum (d.1126), a count of Tusculum who asserted his family's descent from the Roman Julii.
  • Ptolemy II of Tusculum (d.1153), a count of Tusculum who married Bertha, daughter of Henry V, Holy Roman Emperor
  • Tolomeo da Lucca (Italian spelling of Ptolemy) (ca. 1227 – ca. 1327), also known as Bartholomew of Lucca, a historian and Dominican
  • Bernard Tolomeo (Italian spelling of Ptolemy) (1272–1348), founder of the Olivetan Roman
  • Franciscus Ptolemaeus or Francesco Tolomei, 17th. century Italian erudite, author of Vetustalia seu Vetustatis admiranda, (1664). Rome: Ignatius de Lazaris (Catholic religious order)
  • Francesco Tolomei (Italian variant of Ptolemy) (1762 – 1831), Italian writer, author of a Guide to Pistoia (1821)
  • John Baptist Tolomei (Italian variant of Ptolemy) (1653–1726), Jesuit theologian and cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church
  • Ptolemy Tompkins (born 1962) – American author
  • Ptolemy Dean (born 1968) – British architect, author, and television consultant
  • Ptolemy Slocum (born 1975) – American actor
  • Barry Ptolemy (born 1969) – American film director and producer

Legacy of Claudius Ptolemaeus (Ptolemy)[edit]



Arts and Music[edit]

  • The Ptolemy (1934) – a large reed organ built by the American composer Harry Partch. This may have been named in tribute to Claudius Ptolemaeus, who summarized the musical work of philosophers like Pythagoras
  • Tolomeo (the Italian spelling of Ptolemy) – an opera by Handel, composed in 1728, set in Egypt C108 BC, when Ptolemy IX Lathyros deposed his mother and joint ruler of Egypt, Cleopatra III, for his younger brother who reigned as Ptolemy X Alexander I
  • Tolomeo desk lamp (the Italian spelling of Ptolemy) – an iconic desk lamp design produced for the Italian company Artemide in 1986



  1. ^ πόλεμος, Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon, on Perseus
  2. ^ The change from polemos to ptolemos is an example of a type of linguistic compounding called terpsimbrotos. The pt- in ptolemos (vs. earlier polemos) "war" is thought to arise from a re-analysis of the compound word *phere-t-polemos, metathesised to phere-ptolemos. George Dunkel, "Two old problems in Greek: πτόλεμος and τερψίμβροτος", Glotta 70:3/4:197-225 (1992) JSTOR 40266932.
  3. ^ Who's Who in the Age of Alexander the Great [1] by Waldemar Heckel
  4. ^ Homer, Iliad, 4.228, on Perseus
  5. ^ Bartholomew the Apostle is thus thought to have been the son of a Ptolemy.
  6. ^ Numbering the Ptolemies is a modern invention; the Greeks distinguished them by nickname. The number given here is the present consensus; but there has been some disagreement about which Ptolemies should be counted as reigning. Older sources may give a number one higher or lower, but the same epithet.
  7. ^ Billows, Kings and colonists: aspects of Macedonian imperialism, p.110
  8. ^ Bengtson, Griechische Geschichte von den Anfängen bis in die römische Kaiserzeit, p.569
  9. ^ Ptolemaic Genealogy: Ptolemy ‘the Son’
  10. ^ He is also identified as Ptolemy ‘the Son’ or Ptolemy Nios, Ptolemy son of Lysimachus, Ptolemy of Telmessos and Ptolemy ‘the Brother’