Berenice II

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Berenice II (267 or 266 BC - 221 BC), was the daughter of Magas of Cyrene and Queen Apama II, and the wife of Ptolemy III Euergetes, the third ruler of the Ptolemaic dynasty of Egypt.

In about 249 BC, she was married to Demetrius the Fair, a Macedonian prince, soon after her father died. However after coming to Cyrene he became the lover of her mother Apama. In a dramatic event, she had him killed in Apama's bedroom, but Apama lived on afterwards. She had no children with Demetrius.[1]

Afterwards she married Ptolemy III. Their children were: Ptolemy IV Philopator, Magas of Cyrene, Lysimachus, Alexander, Arsinoe III and Berenice.[2]

Berenice is said to have participated in the Nemean Games (between 245 and 241 BC) and to have competed in Olympic games at some unknown date. Soon after her husband's death (221 BC) she was murdered at the instigation of her son Ptolemy IV, with whom she was probably associated in the government.[1]


During her husband's absence on an expedition to Syria, she dedicated her hair to Aphrodite for his safe return, and placed it in the temple of the goddess at Zephyrium. The hair having by some unknown means disappeared, Conon of Samos, explained the phenomenon in courtly phrase, by saying that it had been carried to the heavens and placed among the stars. This story is parodied in Alexander Pope's The Rape of the Lock. The name Coma Berenices or Berenice's hair, applied to a constellation, commemorates this incident. Callimachus celebrated the transformation in a poem, of which only a few lines remain, but there is a fine translation of it by Catullus.[3]

The predecessor of the modern city Benghazi was refounded by her and received her name: Berenice. The asteroid 653 Berenike, discovered in 1907, is also named after Queen Berenice.[4]


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