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Ptolemy I Soter
Macedonian King of Egypt


Ptolemy (c. 360-284 B.C.) was son of the Macedonian nobleman Lagus and one of the inner circle of Alexander's commanders and advisers. He fought with distinction in India and wrote a history of Alexander's campaigns which was an important source for Arrian's Anabasis. After Alexander's death he was appointed governor of Egypt and determined to maintain his independence of the central authority of Perdiccas. One of his first actions to this end was to divert to Egypt the cortege bearing the body of Alexander, which the army had intended to be buried in Macedonia. Ptolemy justified his acquisition of this precious relic, which was first interred with great magnificence at Memphis and subsequently at Alexandria, on the grounds that Alexander had wished to be buried at the oracle of Ammon. In 322 he allied himself with Antipater against Perdiccas and the pact was consolidated by his marriage to Antipater's daughter Eurydice. In 316 he joined forces with Cassander, Seleucus, and Lysimachus to resist Antigonus' ambition to reconstitute the whole of the Macedonia empire under his rule. But in 306 Ptolemy's fleet was almost wiped out at the battle of Salamis in Cyprus, by Antigonus' son Demetrius. Yet Antigonus' and Demetrius' subsequent attempt to invade Egypt was foiled by bad weather. Ptolemy took no part in the battle of Ipsus, and hence received little in the subsequent division of the spoils, but he arranged dynastic alliances by marrying his daughters, Arsinoe to Lysimachus and Lysandra to Cassander's son Alexander, and his step-daughter Antigone to Pyrrhus of Epirus. More successful as a statesman than as a soldier, he left behind him a kingdom which was to prove the most enduring of the Macedonian monarchies after Alexander the Great. He founded the library of Alexandria and was one of the few Macedonian generals of his generation to patronize literature and arts. Ptolemy I is the founder of the Macedonian Ptolemic dynasty which ruled Egypt for over 3 centuries, until the death of the last descendent Cleopatra in 30 B.C.


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