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Ptolemy VI Philometor

Bust of Ptolemy VI Philometor, from Aegina. Now in the National Archaeological Museum, Athens (Greece). Photo Jona Lendering.
Bust of Ptolemy VI Philometor, from Aegina (National Archaeological Museum, Athens)
Ptolemy VI Philometor: king of the Ptolemaic Empire, ruled from 181 to 145.


Main deeds:

  • 186: Birth
  • 180: After the assassination of his father, Ptolemy VI becomes king. His mother Cleopatra I Syra acts as regent (therefore, he accepts the surname Philometor, 'the man who loves his mother')
  • 176, spring: death of Cleopatra I Syra
  • c.175: he marries his sister Cleopatra II
  • 170: Outbreak of the Sixth Syrian War. In Egypt, Cleopatra II and Ptolemy VIII are made co-rulers.
  • 169: The Seleucid king Antiochus IV Epiphanes invades Egypt and demands that Ptolemy VI receives other advisers (Comanus and Cineas). In Alexandria, people demand that Cleopatra II and Ptolemy VIII become king.
  • 169/168: Reconciliation between the Ptolemaic rulers.
  • 168: Second invasion of Egypt. Antiochus besieges Alexandria, but a Roman embassy, led by Gaius Popilius Laenas orders the Seleucid king to return.
  • 165: Native rebellion; birth of Ptolemy Eupator
  • 164: Fighting in the Fayum and Thebaid
  • 164, October: Ptolemy VI has to flee from Egypt, where Ptolemy VIII becomes more powerful; Ptolemy VI seeks Roman support.
  • 163, July: Ptolemy VI returns and declares amnesty for rebels; he offers asylum to Jews who are fleeing from the war between Antiochus IV Epiphanes and the Maccabaeans. Ptolemy VIII is made ruler of Cyrenaica. He attempts to obtain Cyprus, but in vain.
  • 162: Ptolemy VI supports Demetrius I Soter, who becomes master of the Seleucid Empire.
  • 160: Birth of Cleopatra III.
  • 155/154: Ptolemy VIII claims that his brother has tried to assassinate him
  • 154: A  military attempt of Ptolemy VIII to become master of Cyprus also fails. Ptolemy VI tries to appease his brother by offering him an engagement to his daughter Cleopatra Thea.
  • 152, spring: a son of Ptolemy VI, Ptolemy Eupator, is sent to Cyprus, but is dead before the end of the year.
  • 150: Intervention in the Seleucid Empire. Although Ptolemy VI had supported the coup d'état of Demetrius I Soter, he now backs Alexander I Balas, who marries Cleopatra Thea in Ptolemais.
  • 147: Ptolemy VI moves to Syria to support Alexander Balas against Demetrius II Nicator, but soon decides to switch sides. Cleopatra Thea remarries. He enters Antioch.
  • 145, July: Ptolemy defeats Alexander Balas, but is killed in action. Demetrius immediately attacks the Ptolemaic Empire and may even have reached Egypt (Astronomical Diaries, -144, obv.35-37)
  • 145: Ptolemy VII Neos Philopator, son of Ptolemy VI, is assassinated by Ptolemy VIII, who now becomes king of the Ptolemaic Empire. Queen Cleopatra II marries the new king, who also marries her daughter Cleopatra III.
Egyptian titles: Iwaennetjerwyper Setepenptahkhepri Irmaatenamunra ('Son of two divine houses, Chosen by Ptah-Khepri, Dispenser of the justice of Amun-Ra'; the two houses are the House of Ptolemy and the House of Seleucus)

Succeeded by: his brother Ptolemy VIII Euergetes

Information on the web:, the online home of Ancient Warfare magazine

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© Jona Lendering for
Livius.Org, 2006
Revision: 6 October 2006
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