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Author Topic: Chapter 3: Antigonus and Epigonus - Alexander's Dynasty within a Dynasty  (Read 3028 times)
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« on: January 10, 2016, 02:14:10 PM »

Chap. 3-Heroes of the Hellensitic Age (2016) Charles N. Pope

The sequence of births during the reign of Ptolemy II (283 – 246 BC) can be reconstructed as follows:

1) Berenice (II) was born by 280 BC (and was one of the younger children along with Ptolemy III threatened by Ptolemy Ceraunus in his “fit of madness”).   Arsinoe or her daughter Apama II was the mother and Ptolemy II the father.

2) Lysimachus (the future Antiochus III) was born about 167 BC to Apama II and Ptolemy Epigone.  (He may also be the prince referred to as Andromachou in Egypt.)

3) Prince Alexander was born to Berenice II and Ptolemy II shortly before the end of his reign in 246 BC.

The royal family remained perilously small during this time period, but still managed to create considerable confusion for those reconstructing the history today!  In 266 BC, Ptolemy Epigone (a.k.a. Epigonus) was removed as the Crown Prince under King Antiochus in Seleucia and replaced by Ptolemy II.  Five years later (261 BC), Ptolemy II/Antigonus Gonatas duly succeeded Antiochus as Antiochus II “Theos.”  Ptolemy Epigone initially remained the designated successor of Ptolemy II in Egypt.  He was also reinstated (“resurrected,” if you will) as Crown Prince of the Seleucid Kingdom under his former alias of Prince Seleucus.  He had been accused of insubordination by Antiochus I, and this had been the justification for his removal (“execution”) and replacement with Ptolemy II five years earlier.  However, by 259 BC Ptolemy Epigone was stripped of his status as co-regent in Egypt due to his role in the so-called rebellion of Timarchus of Miletus (Greece) that same year.  Epigone had been sent to Miletus as an inspector and informant, but ended up encouraging the revolt of Timarchus, or so we are told.  Tellingly, Epigone was not suppressed as Crown Prince of the Seleucid Kingdom, and was even awarded with a separate independent kingdom in Telmessos of Asia Minor.  He was thereafter referred to as Ptolemy of Telmessos and was allowed to designate his own son as successor there.

Epigone had similarly been blamed for causing a rebellion in India, not directly, but allegedly from a dereliction of duty after being sent to Taxila as governor (under his Indian name of Susima).  He also earned a poor reputation in Rome (as Appius Claudius Pulcher), and was credited there for one of Rome’s greatest naval disasters (that led to renewed troubles with Carthage).  Finally, from Josephus we know that the attitude of Epigone nearly led to a crisis in Jerusalem (Thebes of Egypt), as well, where he went by the name of Onias (II).  It is difficult to say whether or not Epigone was truly incompetent, a useful provocateur, or just didn’t care.  He was more physically attractive than his older half-brother Ptolemy II and could also boast a superior pedigree within the royal family.  His mother was the daughter of a Great King (Seleucus/Lysimachus) whereas the mother of Ptolemy II was only the daughter of a prince, and a formerly disgraced one at that.  He had also been repeatedly snubbed by Ptolemy II. After the birth of his heir Lysimachus (the future Antiochus III), Epigone may have just been biding his time until the death of Ptolemy II.  In the interim, it was not in the best interest of his royal peers to make Epigone look good.  Nor was there any motivation to glorify him after his own dynasty eventually failed.

It fell to Queen Arsinoe to be a “Team Mom” among the various princes of her generation, and her image was tarnished on account of it.  She produced a daughter through Antiochus, but ended up having to persuade Antiochus to yield (perhaps in exchange for a comfortable retirement in Cyrene) the Seleucid throne in favor of her brother-husband Ptolemy II.  She then had to go along with a mock attack by Ptolemy Ceraunus upon her father, then upon her daughter and two sons.  This was considered necessary for Ceraunus to fulfill his typecasting as Hercules (and particularly to act out the “madness of Hercules”), which had been his birth name in Persia (as the son of Roxane).  Upon the actual passing of her father, she sacrificed her own true identity as “Arsinoe daughter of Lysimachus” in order to further advance the career of her brother Ptolemy II.  Upon becoming Queen of Egypt as “Arsinoe daughter of Ptolemy” she insisted (very unpopularly, no doubt) that King Ptolemy II acknowledge her oldest son, Ptolemy Epigone, as heir in Egypt.
A decade later, “Arsinoe daughter of Ptolemy” then removed herself as Queen of Egypt (again!) to better allow Ptolemy II to establish her younger son Ptolemy III (whose mother was considered to be “Arsinoe daughter of Lysimachus”) as Crown Prince.  Arsinoe was much later acknowledged as the mother of Ptolemy III, which of course she had been all along!  Queen Arsinoe made the difficult decision to support her younger son (Ptolemy III) as successor in Egypt in place of her older son (Ptolemy Epigone).  However, Epigone was far from being ostracized.  Arsinoe ensured that he remained heir apparent in the greater Seleucid throne.  Arsinoe also secured for him the powerful and lucrative position of High Priest in Upper Egypt.  (“Ptolemy son of Lysimachus” named as Priest in 251/250.)  He was even assisted in founding new dynasties in Carthage (the Barcid) and Persia (the Arcid/Parthian).  The little kingdom of Telmessos was not at all indicative of his continued status and eventual rise as Great King upon the death of Ptolemy II.

It is not certain whether Ptolemy II/Antigonus Gonatas literally died in 246 BC or 239 BC.  Either way, he did not live to see the birth of a royal grandson! His son Ptolemy III was over 40 years of age and had not produced a son of his own.  Ptolemy II became a father again shortly before the end of his reign in 247 BC, however the ability of this child (Alexander “A”) to perpetuate the dynasty was unknown at that time.  Therefore, the much maligned Ptolemy Epigone became head of the royal family due to being the oldest surviving royal male and with support of Arsinoe.  Arsinoe was several years younger than Ptolemy II and would have lived (under her Seleucid alias Laodice, if not as Arsinoe) at least several years beyond his death.  And even as Laodice, she humbled herself by permitting Antiochus II to amicably divorce her and marry her niece/granddaughter Berenice Syra in 253 BC!  She must have been completely secure (or extremely paranoid) in her status as Great Queen (de facto “God’s Wife”) to orchestrate so many assassinations to her own character and historical memory.

Shortly after the end of Ptolemy II’s reign, Lysimachus the son of Epigone sired a son of his own, called Seleucus, which secured a dynasty of three generations for Epigone.  By 241 BC, Epigone also produced a second son as a spare to Lysimachus.  This prince was called Antiochus in Seleucia and Magas in Egypt.  Historians have mistakenly assigned the births of Seleucus III and Antiochus III to the five years following the end of Antiochus II/Ptolemy II’s reign in 246 BC.  It was instead the future kings Seleucus IV and Antiochus IV that were born during those years.

The handsome but perennially rejected Prince Seleucus ascended the Great Throne as Seleucus II, and chose to celebrate his long-awaited election by assuming the vainglorious title, Callinicus/Callinikos, meaning, “Beautiful/Glorious Victory” or “The Beautiful and Victorious One.”  Arsinoe did not block her younger son Ptolemy III from succeeding his father Ptolemy II.  However, Ptolemy III had to eventually accept that his older half-brother/uncle was now his family/political superior.  Ptolemy III remained without a son and was therefore also obliged to recognize the oldest grandson of Epigone, the new Prince Seleucus, as his own heir under the name of Ptolemy IV.  Revealingly, Polybius (Book 2-Chapt 71; Book 4-Chapt 2) marks the death of Ptolemy III as being the end of one age and the beginning of another.  The line of Alexander the Great through his oldest son Alexander IV (Ptolemy II) was eclipsed, at least temporarily, by a new dynasty descending from Alexander’s youngest son Epigone.

After claiming the Great Throne, Epigone (now Seleucus II) suffered yet one more perceived indignity (and loss of divine favor).  A comet or meteorite impact event occurred during the reign of Seleucus II, which led to a veritable Exodus of Gaulic peoples who tried to force their way into Italy and Greece, and were finally allowed to settle in what became Galatia of Asia Minor.  The epicenter of this 3rd Century impact event has been located in the easternmost territory of the Gauls in Europe, and only served to intensify unrest in Gaul.  Ceraunus/Hercules was said to have been killed by marauding Gauls in Greece around 279 BC.   The massive natural catastrophe inspired the “Grabber/Agriever” Seleucus II to add a wise Noah (Solomon) typecasting, whose own reign had been interrupted by an environmentally induced crisis.  Seleucus II shrewdly ended his reign as Callinikos only to renew it (after a brief period of anarchy) as Seleucus III Ceraunus (“Thunderbolt”).  This clever slight of hand allowed him not only to remove the stigma of the event, but also come to embody the awesomeness of the impact event itself.  The epithet of Ceraunus was also closely related in meaning to another of Epigone’s existing aliases, that being Hamilcar Barca (“Lightning”).  Thunder follows lightning, and  Seleucus III Ceraunus (“Thunder”) succeeded Seleucus II/Barca (“Lightning”).  It made for a very logical and ingenious progression!

The account of Josephus confirms the association by calling Seleucus II/III by the nickname of Solymius, an obvious adaptation of the Biblical name Solomon (and the given name of Seleucus, that being Lysimachus).  The deliberate response of Seleucus (by rebooting his kingship) is very strong evidence that the cataclysm occurred in the final year or years of his tenure.  Seleucus II/III, the former Ptolemy Epigonus had been born as the 2nd prince of the Realm (after Alexander IV/Pyrrhus/Gonatas) in the Post-Conquest/Hellenistic Era.  Upon his rebirth as Seleucus III, he became the 4th Great King of Alexander’s dynasty, i.e., a militant Judah!  (Ptolemy III was evidently allowed a brief/honorary stint as 3rd Great King between Ptolemy II’s official end date and that of Antiochus II later in the same year.)

Note: Solym- is also a transposition of Lysim-(achus), the given name of Epigone.

Note:  Recall that the Persian king and Noah/Solomon figure Xerxes demanded to be recognized as his own son (Arta-Xerxes).  This appears to be the precedent that Seleucus II was following.  Therefore, the true son of Seleucus II that became Antiochus III may have officially been designated as the king’s brother rather than son!  The previous king (before Xerxes) to execute the “Noah Maneuver” was pharaoh Amenhotep III, who renewed his kingship under his given name Aye and ruled for about four additional years.  Amenhotep III was himself emulating Amenemhet III/Ay of the Middle Kingdom.  The short reign of Seleucus III would have matched that of the Judah-figure Aye very closely.

Xerxes Compared with Noah/Solomon:

The historian Polybius was emphatic about Antiochus III being the “brother” of his predecessor Seleucus III (and perhaps too emphatic on this point).  Moreover, Josephus repeats the same misleading association by making “Solymius” (Lysimachus/Ptolemy Epigone) the “brother of Joseph” when he was in actuality the biological father of “Joseph” (Lysimachus/Antiochus III).  However, the assertion that the death of Ptolemy III (and Seleucus III) represented a New Age does not make as much sense if Seleucus III was only the brother of Antiochus III.  The “End of the Age” referred to by Polybius did not involve the transfer of the Great Throne from Seleucus III to Antiochus III, but from the line of Ptolemy II and Ptolemy III to that of Epigone/Seleucus III and his son Lysimachus/Antiochus III the Great.  A new royal dynasty had effectively sprung forth from a collateral line descending from Alexander the Great.

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