Last update 26-Oct-2009
... for Selene the queen, the same that was also called Cleopatra, ruled then over Syria, who had persuaded the inhabitants to exclude Tigranes.
Here is now the Zeugma, or bridge, of the Euphrates, and near it is situated Seleuceia, a fortress of Mesopotamia, assigned by Pompey to the Commageneans. Here Tigranes confined in prison for some time and put to death Selene, surnamed Cleopatra, after she was dispossessed of Syria.
|Ruler:||Kleopatra Selene1 (“Kleopatra the Moon” or “Kleopatra the Moon Goddess”2), Queen of a portion of Seleukid Syria, born c. 135/130 BC,3 reign in coregency with her son Antiochos XIII c. 83/2 - 69 BC,4 died 69 BC (executed by Tigranes II the Great, King of Armenia)5|
|Father:||Ptolemy VIII Euergetes II Tryphon, King of Egypt, born c. 184/3 (son of Ptolemy V Epiphanes Eucharistos, King of Egypt, and Kleopatra I Syra, Queen of Egypt), reigned October 170 - June 116 BC (his reign was not continuous and there were co-rulers in some periods), died June 116 BC6|
|Mother:||Kleopatra III Euergetis Philometor Soteira, Queen of Egypt, born c. 160/155 BC (daughter of Ptolemy VI Philometor, King of Egypt, and Kleopatra II, Queen of Egypt), died c. September 101 BC (killed by her son Ptolemy X Alexander I Philometor)7|
|Siblings: 8||(1)||Ptolemy IX Soter II, King of Egypt, born c. 143/2 BC, junior coruler with Kleopatra II and Kleopatra III 116 - 115 BC, junior coruler with Kleopatra III 115 - 107 BC, sole reign 88 - 81 BC, died c. December 81 BC|
|(2)||Ptolemy X Alexander I Philometor, King of Egypt, born c. 140/39 BC, junior coruler with Kleopatra III 107 - 101 BC, senior coruler with Berenike III 101 - 88 BC, died 88/7 BC (in exile while attempting to invade Cyprus)|
|(3)||Tryphaina (alternative spelling Tryphaena),9 Queen of the Seleukid Empire, born c. 141/0 BC, married Antiochos VIII in 124 BC (as his first wife), died 112/1 or 110/9 BC (executed by Antiochos IX)|
|(4)||Kleopatra IV, Queen of the Seleukid Empire, born c. 138/135 BC, first married to her brother Ptolemy IX in c. 119/8 BC (marriage dissolved by her mother Kleopatra III in c. 115 BC before Ptolemy IX became King of Egypt), second married to Antiochos IX in c. 114 BC (as his first known wife), died 112 BC (brutally killed by orders of her sister Tryphaina, the first wife of Antiochos VIII)|
|Husbands: 10||(1)||Ptolemy IX Soter II, King of Egypt, marriage 115 - 107 BC (as his second wife; marriage presumably dissolved by their mother)|
|(2)||probably Ptolemy X Alexander I Philometor,11 King of Egypt, marriage c. 107 - c. 103 BC (as his first wife; marriage presumably dissolved by their mother)|
|(3)||Antiochos VIII, Seleukid King, marriage c. 103/2 - 97/6 BC (as his second wife; marriage terminated by his death)|
|(4)||Antiochos IX, Seleukid King, marriage 96 - 96/5 BC (as his second wife; marriage terminated by his death)|
|(5)||Antiochos X, Seleukid King, marriage 95 - c. 89/8 BC or c. 83 BC (as his only wife, marriage terminated by his defeat and death, either by Laodike queen of the Arabs in c. 89/8 BC or by Tigranes II, king of Armenia c. 83 BC)12|
|Children: 13||By Ptolemy IX: 14|
|(1)||probably Berenike III Kleopatra Philopator, Queen of Egypt, born 115/4 BC, junior coregent with her husband and uncle Ptolemy X 101 - 88 BC, possibly coregent with her father Ptolemy IX 81 BC, sole ruler 81/0 BC, coregent with Ptolemy XI 80 BC, died 80 BC (killed by Ptolemy XI)|
|(2)||perhaps a son|
|By Ptolemy X (provided that she was his wife):15|
|(3)||Ptolemy XI Alexander II, King of Egypt, born c. 105/4 BC, coregent with Berenike III 80 BC, sole ruler 80 BC (a reign of 18 or 19 days), died 80 BC (killed by the Alexandrian mob for murdering Berenike III)|
|By Antiochos VIII:|
|By Antiochos IX:|
|By Antiochos X:|
|(4)||Antiochos XIII Philadelphos Philometor, Seleukid King, born probably in the late 90s BC, coregency with his mother c. 83/2 - 69 BC, 1st sole reign sometime between 69/8 BC and 67/6 BC, 2nd sole reign 65 - 64 BC, died 64 BC or shortly thereafter (killed by Sampsiceramus, a sheik of Emesa)16|
|(5)||a second son, possibly Seleukos Kybiosaktes17|
1 She is called just Selene in Appian (Roman History, 11.69), Cicero (The first oration against Verres, 4.27.61) and Justin (Epitome of the Philippic History of Pompeius Trogus, 39.3 and 39.4). The name Kleopatra is recorded in Josephus (Antiquities of the Jews, 13.419-421) and Strabo (Geography, 16.2.3), and also on bronze coins struck during her coregency with her son Antiochos XIII (“ΒΑΣΙΛΙΣΣΗΣ ΚΛΕΟΠΑΤΡΑΣ ΣΕΛΗΝΗΣ ΚΑΙ ΒΑΣΙΛΕΩΣ ΑΝΤΙΟΧΟΥ ΦΙΛΟΜΗΤΟΡΟΣ”; see Houghton, Lorber and Hoover, SC II, 2484-6).
Appian, Roman History, 11.69: Antiochus (Antiochos X), the son of Cyzicenus (Antiochos IX), succeeded him (Seleukos VI). The Syrians thought that he escaped a plot of his cousin Seleucus (Seleukos VI) on account of his piety, for which reason they gave him the name of Antiochus Pius. He was really saved by a handsome prostitute with whom he was in love. I think that the Syrians must have given him this title by way of joke, for this Pius married Selene (Kleopatra Selene), who had been the wife of his father, Cyzicenus, and of his uncle, Grypus (Antiochos VIII). For this reason the divine vengeance pursued him and he was expelled the kingdom by Tigranes (Tigranes II the Great).
Cicero, The first oration against Verres, 4.27.61: For you know that the kings of Syria, the boyish sons (Antiochos XIII and his brother, possibly Seleukos Kybiosaktes) of King Antiochus (Antiochos X), have lately been at Rome. And they came not on account of the kingdom of Syria; for that they had obtained possession of without dispute, as they had received it from their father and their ancestors; but they thought that the kingdom of Egypt belonged to them and to Selene their mother (Kleopatra Selene). When they, being hindered by the critical state of the republic at that time, were not able to obtain the discussion of the subject as they wished before the senate, they departed for Syria, their paternal kingdom. One of them – the one whose name is Antiochus (Antiochos XIII) – wished to make his journey through Sicily. And so, while Verres was praetor, he came to Syracuse.
Justin, Epitome of the Philippic History of Pompeius Trogus, 39.3: During these unnatural contentions in the kingdom of Syria, Ptolemy (Ptolemy VIII), king of Egypt, died, leaving the kingdom of Egypt to his wife (Kleopatra III), and one of her two sons (Ptolemy IX and Ptolemy X Alexander), whichsoever she herself should choose; as if the condition of Egypt would be more quiet than that of Syria had been, when the mother, by electing one of her sons, would make the other her enemy. Though she was more inclined to fix on the younger of her sons, the people obliged her to nominate the elder (Ptolemy IX), from whom, however, before she gave him the throne, she took away his wife, compelling him to divorce his sister Cleopatra (Kleopatra IV), whom he very much loved, and requiring him to marry his younger sister Selene (Kleopatra Selene); a determination as to her daughters not at all becoming a mother, as she took a husband from one, and gave him to the other.
Justin, Epitome of the Philippic History of Pompeius Trogus, 39.4: In Egypt, Cleopatra (Kleopatra III), being dissatisfied at having her son Ptolemy (Ptolemy IX) to share her throne, excited the people against him, and taking from him his wife Selene (Kleopatra Selene) (the more ignominiously, as he had now two children by her), obliged him to go into exile, sending, at the same time, for her younger son Alexander (Ptolemy X Alexander), and making him king in his brother’s room. Nor was she content with driving her son from the throne, but pursued him with her arms while he was living in exile in Cyprus. After forcing him from thence, she put to death the general of her troops, because he had let him escape from his hands alive; though Ptolemy, indeed, had left the island from being ashamed to maintain a war against his mother, and not as being inferior to her in forces. Alexander, alarmed at such cruelty on the part of his mother, deserted her also himself, preferring a life of quiet and security to royal dignity surrounded with danger: while Cleopatra, fearing lest her elder son Ptolemy should be assisted by Cyzicenus (Antiochos IX) to re-establish himself in Egypt, sent powerful succours to Grypus (Antiochos XIII), and with them Selene (Kleopatra Selene), Ptolemy’s wife, to marry the enemy of her former husband.
Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, 13.419-421: About this time news was brought that Tigranes, the king of Armenia (Tigranes II the Great), had made an irruption into Syria with five hundred thousand soldiers, and was coming against Judea. This news, as may well be supposed, terrified the queen (Salome Alexandra, Queen of Judea) and the nation. Accordingly, they sent him many and very valuable presents, as also ambassadors, and that as he was besieging Ptolemais (Ake-Ptolemais); for Selene the queen, the same that was also called Cleopatra, ruled then over Syria, who had persuaded the inhabitants to exclude Tigranes. So the Jewish ambassadors interceded with him, and entreated him that he would determine nothing that was severe about their queen or nation. He commended them for the respects they paid him at so great a distance, and gave them good hopes of his favor. But as soon as Ptolemais was taken, news came to Tigranes, that Lucullus (Lucius Licinius Lucullus, Roman general and politician), in his pursuit of Mithridates (Mithridates VI the Great, King of Pontos), could not light upon him, who was fled into Iberia, but was laying waste Armenia, and besieging its cities. Now when Tigranes knew this, he returned home.
Strabo, Geography, 16.2.3 (trans. by H. C. Hamilton and W. Falconer): This is the general description [of Syria]. In describing it in detail, we say that Commagene is rather a small district. It contains a strong city, Samosata, in which was the seat of the kings. At present it is a (Roman) province. A very fertile but small territory lies around it. Here is now the Zeugma, or bridge, of the Euphrates, and near it is situated Seleuceia, a fortress of Mesopotamia, assigned by Pompey to the Commageneans. Here Tigranes (Tigranes II the Great) confined in prison for some time and put to death Selene, surnamed Cleopatra, after she was dispossessed of Syria.
Strabo, Geography, 16.2.3 (trans. by H. L. Jones): So much for Syria in general. But in detail: Commagenê is rather a small country; and it has a city fortified by nature, Samosata, where the royal residence used to be; but it has now become a province; and the city is surrounded by an exceedingly fertile, though small, territory. Here is now the bridge of the Euphrates; and near the bridge is situated Seleuceia, a fortress of Mesopotamia, which was included within the boundaries of Commagenê by Pompey; and it was here that Tigranes (Tigranes II the Great) slew Selenê, surnamed Cleopatra, after imprisoning her for a time, when she had been banished from Syria.
2 According to Burgess, The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress - The Rise and Fall of Cleopatra II Selene, p. 19, the name Selene in Greek refers both to the moon and to the Moon Goddess, who was said in Greek mythology variously to have been the daughter of Helios (the sun), or of Hyperion or of Pallas. For detailed information about the Greek goddess Selene, see Atsma, Theoi Greek Mythology: Selene.
3 Bennett, Egyptian Royal Genealogy: Kleopatra Selene, footnote 4: The date is inferred from the likely birthdates of her (probable) children, ranging from c. 115 (Berenice III) to c. 90 (her sons by Antiochus X, who were still boys in c. 75), and the desire to minimise the age difference between her and Antiochus X (born c. 113 if he was the son of Cleopatra IV). E. R. Bevan, The House of Seleucus 304 and The House of Ptolemy 334f. n. 4, found this chronology hard to accept and supposed that there might have been two Selenes. G. H. Macurdy, Hellenistic Queens 172 pointed out that Justin 39.4 explicitly names her as the wife of both Ptolemy IX and Antiochus VIII, while Appian, Syriaca 11.69 is equally explicit that Selene had married Antiochus VIII and Antiochus IX before marrying Antiochus X. She also noted that there is nothing inherently unlikely about women over 40 having children. We can also point to the example of Cleopatra II, who had two sons (Ptolemy Eupator and Ptolemy Memphites) born at least 22 years apart and was at least 40 at the birth of the latter.
4 The dating of the beginning of Kleopatra Selene’s coregency is taken from Houghton, Lorber and Hoover, SC II, Vol. I, pp. 613-616. In brief, Kleopatra Selene’s coregency with her son Antiochos is attested by coins. Features of this rare coinage strongly suggest that Damaskos was the issuing mint. It means that Kleopatra may have claimed the city only after the death of Antiochos XII in 83/2 BC.
According to Houghton, Lorber and Hoover, SC II, Vol. I, p. 613, Selene was replaced by Aretas III at Damaskos well before 73/2 BC. As follows from Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, 13.419-421, and Strabo, Geography, 16.2.3, she was besieged and captured at Ake-Ptolemais and, subsequently, executed at Seleukeia-on-the-Euphrates (Seleukeia-Zeugma) by Tigranes II. According to Bennett, Egyptian Royal Genealogy: Cleopatra Selene, footnote 7, both the capture and the execution occured in 69 BC: The date is inferred indirectly from Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews 13.16.4, which reports that Tigranes besieged Selene in Ptolemais, but as soon as he had taken it was forced to return to Armenia since Lucullus was laying waste to Armenia. From the sequence of events in the description of Lucullus’ campaigns by Plutarch, his Armenian campaign (Plutarch, Lucullus 25ff.) was launched in 69, with the power of Tigranes being broken at the battle of Tigranocerta on prid. Non. Oct. (Plutarch, Lucullus 27). Hence Tigranes had captured Ptolemais (with Selene) most likely in spring 69 and had lost control of Seleucia no later than October. Selene must therefore have been executed in later summer 69.
For a tentative chronology of Kleopatra Selene’s reign and of the late Syrian empire, see also Burgess, The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress - The Rise and Fall of Cleopatra II Selene, pp. 22-24.
5 Her execution is recorded by Strabo, Geography, 16.2.3 (see footnote 1 for the quotation). The year 69 BC is identified by Bennett, Egyptian Royal Genealogy: Cleopatra Selene (see the second paragraph of footnote 4).
Grainger, A Seleukid Prosopography and Gazetteer, p. 45, notes that her murder in prison was presumably to prevent her from being acquired by anyone else because she was regarded as politically important by Tigranes.
6 Information about Ptolemy VIII is taken from Bennett, Egyptian Royal Genealogy: Ptolemy VIII.
7 Information about Kleopatra III is taken from Bennett, Egyptian Royal Genealogy: Kleopatra III.
8 Information about siblings of Kleopatra Selene is taken from Bennett, Egyptian Royal Genealogy: Ptolemy IX, Ptolemy X, Tryphaena and Kleopatra IV.
9 Greek: Τρυφαινα. Bennett, Egyptian Royal Genealogy: Tryphaena, notes that she is “usually called Cleopatra Tryphaena in modern sources, although there is no ancient justification for this”.
10 Information about husbands of Kleopatra Selene is taken from Bennett, Egyptian Royal Genealogy: Kleopatra Selene.
11 Grainger, A Seleukid Prosopography and Gazetteer, p. 45, does not mention Ptolemy X as her husband.
12 Hoover, Revised Chronology for the Late Seleucids at Antioch (121/0-64 BC), pp. 289-296, dates his death to 89/8 BC. Bennett, Egyptian Royal Genealogy: Kleopatra Selene, prefers a date of c. 83 BC.
13 Information about children of Kleopatra Selene from her Egyptian marriages is taken from Bennett, Egyptian Royal Genealogy: Kleopatra Selene.
14 It cannot be completely excluded that Berenike III was a daugther of Ptolemy IX and his first wife Kleopatra IV. According to Justin, Epitome of the Philippic History of Pompeius Trogus, 39.4 (see footnote 1 for the quotation), Ptolemy IX had two children by Kleopatra Selene. These two children might have been, in fact, from his first marriage, with Selene being their mother ex officio while she was queen of Egypt. On the other hand, it is possible that Ptolemy IX and Selene really had two children, Berenike III and a son, Ptolemy the “meirakion” named in Plutarch, Lucullus 2.5. See Bennett, Egyptian Royal Genealogy: Kleopatra Selene and Berenice III, for detailed discussion.
15 There is a possibility that Ptolemy X and Kleopatra Selene had also a daughter, Kleopatra V Tryphaina. Nevertheless, it is more likely that Kleopatra V was daughter of Ptolemy X’s second wife, Berenike III. See Bennett, Egyptian Royal Genealogy: Cleopatra V.
- Appian:Roman History, Book XI - The Syrian Wars. Translated by Horace White. Macmillan and Co., New York, 1899. (The Perseus Digital Library, http://www.perseus.org/cgi-bin/ptext?lookup=App.+Syr.+1.1; Livius.org, http://www.livius.org/ap-ark/appian/appian_syriaca_00.html)
- Atsma, Aaron J.:Theoi Greek Mythology. Website, http://www.theoi.com/
- Bennett, Christopher J.:Egyptian Royal Genealogy. Website, http://www.tyndalehouse.com/Egypt/
- Burgess, Michael:The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress - The Rise and Fall of Cleopatra II Selene. The Celator, Vol. 18, No. 3 (March 2004), pp. 18-25.
- Cicero:The first oration against Verres. Translated by C. D. Yonge. George Bell & Sons, London, 1903. (The Perseus Digital Library, http://old.perseus.tufts.edu/cgi-bin/ptext?doc=Perseus:text:1999.02.0018;layout=;loc=Quinct.%201;query=toc)
- Grainger, John D.:A Seleukid Prosopography and Gazetteer. Brill, Leiden - New York - Köln, 1997.
- Hoover, Oliver D.:Revised Chronology for the Late Seleucids at Antioch (121/0-64 BC). Historia, 56/3 (2007), pp. 280-301.
- Houghton, Arthur; Lorber, Catharine; Hoover, Oliver:Seleucid Coins, A Comprehensive Catalogue. Part II, Volumes 1 and 2. The American Numismatic Society, New York, in association with Classical Numismatic Group, Inc., Lancaster/London, 2008. (abbr. SC II)
- Josephus, Flavius:Antiquities of the Jews. Translated by William Whiston. John E. Beardsley, Auburn - Buffalo, 1895. (The Perseus Digital Library, http://www.perseus.org/cgi-bin/ptext?lookup=J.+AJ+toc)
- Justin (Marcus Junianus Justinus):Epitome of the Philippic History of Pompeius Trogus. Translated by Rev. John Selby Watson, M.A. George Bell and Sons, London, 1897. (See Forum Romanum website, http://www.forumromanum.org/literature/justin/english/index.html - 1853 Edition)
- Strabo:Geography. Translated and ed. by H. C. Hamilton and W. Falconer. Henry G. Bohn, London, 1854 - 1857.
- Strabo:Geography. Translated by Horace Leonard Jones. The Loeb Classical Library, Harvard University Press, Cambridge / Massachusetts - London / England, 1917 - 1932. (William P. Thayer’s Web Site LacusCurtius, http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/Roman/Texts/Strabo/home.html)