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Author Topic: Appendix 1 (Chronology of the Ptolemaic Period)  (Read 2797 times)
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« on: January 10, 2016, 01:25:36 PM »

Appendix 1-Heroes of the Hellensitic Age (2016) Charles N. Pope

Chronological Considerations

Heracles/Ochus/Antiochus was born in 337 BC, which would make him 76 or 77 years old in 261 BC (at the end of his reign).   After abdicating the Seleucid throne to Antiochus II (Ptolemy II), he appears to have spent a number of years helping to expand the Empire in the East.  It seems likely then that at least ten years should be removed from the period between 337 BC and 261 BC.  If Antiochus was 64 years old in 261 BC (as is currently held), then 11 years need to be trimmed from the chronology.  If Antiochus was also Magus of Cyrene, then additional years may need to be trimmed of the period corresponding to his lifespan.

Antigonus Gonatas (Alexander IV/Pyrrhus) was said to have been 25 years old in 294 BC when his father Demetrius left him in charge of Greece and headed north to claim the throne of Macedon.  That would have made Gonatas 18 years at the Battle of Ipsus, which is the same age given for Pyrrhus at Ipsus.  However, Ipsus is dated to 301 BC and the birth of Alexander IV to 323 BC.  There is then a mismatch of four years in the dating.  Either Alexander IV/Pyrrhus/Gonatas was 22 years old at Ipsus, or Ipsus actually occurred in 305 BC instead of 301 BC.  Ptolemy II is believed to have been born around 309 BC, which cannot be correct (as he would have only been 8 years old at Ipsus).  His birthdate should therefore be adjusted to match that of his alter egos Pyrrhus and Gonatas.  The death of Ptolemy II is set at 246 BC whereas the death of Gonatas is thought to have been 239 BC.  It was certainly vogue for a king to continue orchestrating his succession from behind the scenes, so 239 BC could be the correct date for Ptolemy’s actual death.

It was noted above that the birth date of Ptolemy III in Egypt is uncertain.  Similar confusion is attached to the succession of Antigonus Gonatas (Ptolemy II) and birth of his heir in Greece.  The only known wife of Gonatas, called Phila, was not recognized as such until 276 BC.   In Egypt Arsinoe took the epithet Phila-delphos, which is obviously a fuller form of Phila.  The birth of Gonatas’ son and ultimate successor Demetrius Aetolicus is also generally dated to 276 BC, that is, after the chaos following the “attack” on Arsinoe by Ceraunus.  However, Gonatas dated the start of his own reign to 283 BC, the year his predecessor in kingship, Demetrius Poliorcetes, passed away.  Nevertheless, the birth of Demetrius Aetolicus (Ptolemy III/Hierax) pre-dated the kingship of Gonatas in Greece (if not also in Egypt).
Furthermore, the gap between the capture of Lysimachus in 293 BC and the birth of an heir for Pyrrhus/Gonatas around 285-283 BC is excessively long, and appears to be the source of additional chronological error.  A reasonable conclusion is that Demetrius Aetolicus (Ptolemy III) was born by or before 290 BC.  This reduces the chronology of the period by at least another five years and allows for realistic life-spans of the leading figures of that period.  The death of Antigonus Gonatas should also match that of Ptolemy II.  There is presently a 7-year difference (239 BC vs. 246 BC).  The date of 246 BC appears to be the correct one and would render an age at death of 68 years if nine years are removed from the period between 323 BC (birth of Alexander IV) and 246 BC (death of Ptolemy II).  Alternatively, Ptolemy II may have lived an additional seven years after passing the throne of Egypt on to his son Ptolemy III.

Peter Green writes in Alexander to Actium (p145):  

“The reign of Ptolemy II Philadelphos (283-246) almost exactly coincided with that of Antigonus Gonatas (276-239) … The period possesses a certain unity, underlined by the consistency throughout it of Ptolemaic policy.”  

The reason for the “certain unity” of the period is that Ptolemy II and Antigonus Gonatas were one and the same person, as were Ptolemy I and Demetrius Poliorcetes.  With this in mind it is possible to adjust the chronology such that the various magnates of this period had careers spanning the more typical 70.  

1) Ochus/Antiochus/Magus of Cyrene/Scipio Scapula: 337 – 250 (87 years)

2) Alexander IV/Ptolemy II/Antigonus Gonatas/Scipio Asina/Bindusara Hasena:  323 – 239 BC (84 years)
    (Antigonus Gonatas is thought to have been born in 319 BC and lived 80 years.)

3) Arsinoe/Antigone/Cadmeia:  319 – 235 BC (84 years)

4) Ptolemy Epigone/Seleucus II/Appius Claudius Pulcher/Onias II/Achaeus/Susima:  299 – 213 BC (86 years)

5) Ptolemy III/Antiochus Hierax/Eumenes/Flaminius/Ashoka:  291 -210 BC (81 years)

6) Lysimachus/Antiochus III/Fabius Maximus/Simon II:  267 -187 BC (80 years)

7) Alexander A/Onias III/Aemilus Paullus/Eleazar:  247 – 160 BC (87 years)

Cool Ptolemy IV/Seleucus IV/Scipio Africanus/John Gaddi:  243 – 160 BC (83 years)

9) Philip V/Antiochus IV/Titus Flamininius/Jason:  241 – 164 BC (77 years)

The table above indicates how many years need to be eliminated and during what timeframes in order to allow for a typical 70 years lifespan for each king.  

-Up to five years need to be removed between 323 BC and 301 BC
   (Pyrrhus/Ptolemy II was 18 years old at the Battle of Ipsus, not 22 years old.)

-Up to seven years need to be removed between 292 BC and 284 BC
   (the birth of Ptolemy III should coincide with the birth of Demetrius II (Aetolicus) and the victory of Pyrrhus/Antigonus Gonatas over the Aetolians.

-Up to five years need to be removed between 246 BC and 221 BC
(there may have been small co-regencies between Ptolemy II and III and/or Ptolemy III and IV)

-Five or six years need to be removed between 210 BC and 204 BC
   (Ptolemy V was recognized as a king from his birth, and had a nominal co-regency with Ptolemy IV between 210 BC and 204 BC)

-Five to ten years need to be removed between 181 BC and 170 BC
   (Josephus gives a reign length of only seven years for Seleucus IV, not 12, which means Antiochus IV was crowned in 180 BC not 175 BC or 170  BC.)

Note:  Polybius places the deaths of Seleucus, Lysimachus and Ptolemy in the 24th Olympiad and Seleucus III, Antigonus Doson and Ptolemy III in the 37th Olympiad, that is, about 60-63 years apart.  This provides a fairly good measure between the years 283 BC and 221 BC.  However, we don’t have anything similar to guide us for the periods before and after this interval.

Note:  It will be necessary to remove additional years from the 1st and 2nd Century BC (by about 7-10 years in each century), which will drop down the dating of the 3rd Century BC along with it.  This will result in the major catastrophe (impact event) of 207 BC falling during the reign of Seleucus II, the Noah-figure of his dynasty.

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