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Ptolemy I Soter
I Soter (367-282): friend and biographer of the Macedonian
the Great, after his death king of Egypt, founder of the the Ptolemaic
dynasty, one of the Diadochi.
Alexander's campaigns. It is possible that he started to write them to prove that he was worthy of the royal title he had assumed. For example, he wrote that he had killed an Indian king and had stripped him of his armor, an incident that must have reminded his readers of the behavior of the heroes of Homer, who had been kings.
Ptolemy's Histories are almost entirely known from Arrian's Anabasis, but this is sufficient to come to some conclusions about their nature.
Rise to power
King of Egypt
Bust of Alexander the Great, from Delos, now in the Louvre.
|At one place, Ptolemy corrects Cleitarchus' account of Alexander's
campaigns, and this proves that Ptolemy's history was published after the
of Alexander, which can be dated between 310 and 301. However, we can
perhaps be a little bit more precise. There are indications that Ptolemy's
memoirs were published before 301, because in that year, Antigonus was
killed, which made Ptolemy's bias against his rival rather pointless. This
argument, however, is not conclusive; after all, Ptolemy's Histories
were also hostile towards Perdiccas, who was already dead for at least
It is interesting to note that the statement that Ptolemy, as a king,
could not have lied as a historian, which can be found in the introduction
of Arrian's Anabasis, is repeated in Synesius
of Cyrene, In
Praise of Baldness, 15,
introducing an anecdote not found in Arrian. This suggests that Synesius,
who lived in Alexandria,
found the claim in Ptolemy's own work.