Biographies KYRINAIKI (Ancient country) LIBYA - GTP - Greek Travel Pages

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Historic figures

Berenice

EVESPERIDES (Ancient city) KYRINAIKI
Berenice, daughter of Magas, who was first governor and then king of Cyrene. Athenaeus (xv. p. 689, a.) calls her, if we follow the common reading, "Berenice the Great", but perhaps he Maga should be substituted for he megale. She was betrothed by her father to Ptolemy Euergetes, as one of the terms of the peace between himself and his half-brother Ptolemy II. (Philadelphus), the father of Euergetes. Magas died, however, before the treaty was exe-cuted, and his wife Arsinoe (Just. xxvi. 3), to prevent the marriage of Berenice with Ptolemy, offered her, together with the kingdom, to De-metrius, brother of Antigonus Gonatas. On his arrival, however, at Cyrene, Arsinoe fell in love with him herself, and Berenice accordingly, whom he had slighted, caused him to be murdered in the very arms of her mother; she then went to Egypt, and became the wife of Ptolemy. When her son, Ptolemy IV. (Philopator), came to the throne, B. C. 221, he put her and his brother Magas to death, at the instigation of his prime minister Sosibius, and against the remonstrances of Cleomenes III. of Sparta. The famous hair of Berenice, which she dedicated for her husband's safe return from his Syrian expedition in the temple of Arsinoe at Zephyrium (Aphrodite Zephuritis), and which was said by the courtly Conon of Samos to have become a constellation, was celebrated by Callimachus in a poem, which, with the exception of a few lines, is lost. There is, however, a translation of it by Catullus, which has been re-translated into indifferent Greek verse by Salvini the Florentine (Polyb. v. 36, xv. 25; Just. xxvi. 3, xxx. 1; Plut. Demetr. ad fin., Cleom. 33; Catull. lxvii.; Muret. ad loc.; Hygin. Poet. Astron. ii. 24; Thrige, Res Cyren.59-61). Hyginus speaks of Berenice as the daughter of Ptolemy II. and Arsinoe; but the account above given rests on far better authority. And though Catullus, translating Callimachus, calls her the sister of her husband Euergetes, yet this may merely mean that she was his cousin, or may also be explained from the custom of the queens of the Ptolemies being called their sisters as a title of honour; and thus in either way may we reconcile Callimachus with Polybius and Justin (See Thrige, Res Cyren.61; Droysen, Gesch. der Nachfolger Alexanders, Tabb. xiv. xv.)

This text is from: A dictionary of Greek and Roman biography and mythology, 1873 (ed. William Smith). Cited Nov 2005 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks


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