Cleopatra I of Egypt

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Cleopatra I Syra (in Greek, Κλεοπάτρα Σύρα), c. 204–176 BC was a queen of Ptolemaic Egypt



Cleopatra I was the daughter of Antiochus III and Laodice III. She married Ptolemy V in 193 BC. They had at least three children [3] [4]:


In 197 BC Antiochus III had captured some Ptolemaic cities in Asia Minor. The Romans supported the Egyptian interests, when they negotiated with the Seleucid king in Lysimachia in 196 BC. But Antiochus III answered, that he wanted to make peace with Ptolemy V and to marry his daughter Cleopatra I to him. They were really betrothed in 195 BC and their marriage was celebrated in the beginning of 193 BC in Raphia.[5] At that time Ptolemy V was about 16 years and Cleopatra I about 10 years old. Later Ptolemaic propaganda claimed that Cleopatra I had received Coele-Syria as dowry and this land therefore again belonged to Egypt. It is not clear if this promise was really made, but in any case Coilesyria remained since the Battle of Panium in 198 BC always in the possession of the Seleucid kingdom.[6]

In Alexandria, Cleopatra I was called the Syrian.[7] In the Ptolemaic cult she was honoured with her husband as Theoi Epiphaneis. In old Egyptian manner she was also named adelphe (= sister) of Ptolemy V. A priest synod held at Memphis in 185 BC transferred all honours that Ptolemy V had received in 196 BC (written on the Rosetta stone) to his wife.

The royal couple had two boys (Ptolemy VI and VIII) and a daughter (Cleopatra II). Her older son Ptolemy VI was born in about 186 BC; the dates of the birth of her younger children are unknown.

In 187 BC, Cleopatra I was appointed vizier and upon her husband's death in 180 BC, she ruled on behalf of her minor son Ptolemy VI. She was the first Ptolemaic queen to exercise all the power alone. This can be concluded from date formulas of Papyri written in the years from 179 BC to 176 BC, where Cleopatra I is called Thea Epiphanes and her name is written before that of her son. She also minted her own coins, which also bear her name before that of her son. On June 22, 2010, archaeologists uncovered a gold coin bearing her image at Tel Kedesh in Israel near the Lebanon border. It was reported to be the heaviest and most valuable gold coin ever found in Israel.[8]

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