Ptolemy (name)

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Ptolemy is a name derived from Ancient Greek. Common variants include Ptolemaeus (Latin), Tolomeo (Italian) and Talmai (Hebrew).


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:

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.

Claudius Ptolemaeus[edit]

Ptolemy commonly refers to Claudius Ptolemaeus (ca. 90 AD–ca. 168 AD), a writer, geographer, mathematician, astronomer and astrologer who lived in the Alexandrine Greek culture of Roman Egypt.

Early Greek rulers and generals named Ptolemy[edit]

Egyptian Ptolemaic dynasty[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, the first of which was Ptolemy I Soter (303–282 BC), were all named Ptolemy, as were several other members of the dynasty.

Other people named Ptolemy or Ptolemaeus[edit]

Born before 20th century[edit]

Born in 20th century or later[edit]

People named Tolomeo or Tolomei[edit]

Uses in arts and entertainment[edit]

See also[edit]


  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.