Ptolemy I

(Ptolemy I Soter)

d. 283 BC

Ptolemy Soter was a lifelong friend of Alexander the Great and one of his most trusted Generals. He accompanied Alexander on all his campaigns and was one of his seven bodyguards. After the death of Alexander, he became Satrap of Egypt, and eventually founded the long lasting Ptolemy dynasty in Egypt. He was a major figure in all the , and he was the only one who kept his originally assigned territory intact.

Ptolemy was one of the major architects of the division of Alexander's empire. He chose Egypt for himself, and appeared to submit to Perdiccas, but at the same time, made a plan to steal Alexander's body so that he could have the honor of burying it himself. This provoked a war with Perdiccas, that ended when Perdiccas was assassinated upon his invasion of Egypt. For several years the Empire continued to hold together with Antipater as a regent, but on his death another great struggle for power broke out. In this war Ptolemy allied himself with Cassander, but most of the fighting was done in Asia Minor, and the net result was that Antigonus took control of most of Syria and Asia, which Ptolemy found to be threatening. For the next several decades, Ptolemy was allied with Seleucus, former Satrap of Babylon, and Lysimachus, Satrap of Thrace, against Antigonus. Most of the battles centered on the region which is now Lebanon, Israel, and Cyprus. Finally, at the battle of Ipsus in 302, Antigonus was crushed and his empire divided. The main beneficiary was Selecus, but Ptolemy gained much of the Palestine region in the Middle East.

After the battle of Issus Ptolemy made no further expeditions into Asia Minor, and eventually lost his possessions in Greece. He did however, reconquer Cyprus in 295 B.C. He spent most of the rest of his reign organizing and building up a well-ordered administration. He was a patron of the arts and letters, and founder of the famous library of Alexandria, and made Alexander a center of learning unparalleled in the Hellenic World. He himself wrote a history of Alexander's campaigns. In 285 B.C. he abdicated in favour of Ptolemy II., one of his sons by Berenice, his second wife. His older son, Ptolemy Ceranus, whose mother had been repudiated, fled to the court of Lysimachus after being bypassed for the throne. Ptolemy I. Soter died in 283 B.C. at the age of 84.

Key events during the life of Ptolemy I:

  Raised in Macedonia at the court of Alexander the Great.
334 BC
Accompanied Alexander on invasion of Persia, as private bodyguard.
326 BC
Campaigned with Alexander in India.
323 BC
At death of Alexander, was made Satrap of Egypt.
321 BC
Perdiccas invades Egypt, but is killed by his own attendants.
318 BC
Occupied Syria and Cyprus.
315 BC
In union with Lysimachus, Cassander and Seleucus, declares war on Antigonus.
312 BC
Victory of Antigonus at Battle of Gaza.
310 BC
Last Heirs of Alexander are murdered. Remaining Diodochi declare themselves kings.
302 BC
Final defeat of Antigonus at the battle of Ipsus.
  Establishes library at Alexandria.
285 BC
Abdicates thrown in favor of Ptolemy II.—son of his second wife.
283 BC
Dies at age 81.

Other Resources

Story Links
Book Links
Deterioration of Character  in  Alexander the Great  by  Jacob Abbott
Ptolemies  in  Cleopatra  by  Jacob Abbott
Ptolemy  in  Famous Men of Greece  by  John H. Haaren and A. B. Poland
Alexander the Great  in  The Story of the Greek People  by  Eva March Tappan

Image Links

Ptolemy Philadelphus give Liberty to the Jews, Coypel
 in Famous Men of Greece

Short Biography
Alexander the Great Greatest general of ancient times. Conquered Persian Empire with 40,000 soldiers.
Antipater One of Philip's most trusted generals. Left in charge of Macedonia during Alexander's conquests.
Perdiccas Took over the empire of Alexander at his death, but couldn't keep it.
Antigonus I Allied with Antipater and Ptolemy I in early Diadochi Wars. Won control of Asia Minor and Syria.
Seleucus Son of a general of Alexander. Founded Seleucid Dynasty, in Syria and Central Asia.
Berenice Second wife of Ptolemy I. He married her after repudiating his first wife, Euridyce.
Ptolemy II Philadelphus Second son of Ptolemy I. Ruled Egypt 281-246 B.C.
Ptolemy Ceranus Eldest son of Ptolemy, by Euridyce. Passed over for the Egyptian throne.