Berenice I of Egypt

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Berenice I
Queen of Egypt
Berenice I.jpg
Berenice I from "Promptuarii Iconum Insigniorum"
Born c. 340 BC
Died between 279 and 268 BC
Spouse Philip, a Macedonian nobleman
Ptolemy I Soter
Issue With Philip:
Magas King of Cyrene
Antigone (later queen of Epirus)
With Ptolemy I Soter: Arsinoe II
Ptolemy II Philadelphus
Dynasty Ptolemaic
Father Magas
Mother Antigone

Berenice I (Greek: Βερενίκη; c. 340 BC – between 279 and 268 BC) was a Greek Macedonian noblewoman and through her marriage to Ptolemy I Soter, became the second queen, after Eurydice, of the Ptolemaic dynasty of Egypt.


Berenice was originally from Eordeaea. She was the daughter of obscure local noblemen called Magas and Antigone.[1] Her maternal grandfather was a nobleman called Cassander who was the brother of Antipater, the regent for Alexander's empire,[1] and through her mother was a relation to his family.

First marriage

In 325 BC, Berenice married an obscure local nobleman and military officer called Philip.[1] Philip was previously married and had other children. Through her first marriage, she bore Philip's son, King Magas of Cyrene; his daughter Antigone, who married King Pyrrhus of Epirus; and a daughter called Theoxena.[1]

Magas dedicated an inscription to himself and his father, when he served as a priest of Apollo.[2] Pyrrhus gave her name to a new city called Berenicis.

Philip died around 318 BC.

Marriage to Ptolemy

Head of Ptolemy II and his mother Berenice I

After the death of her first husband, Berenice travelled to Egypt with her children as a lady-in-waiting for her mother’s first cousin Eurydice who was the wife of Ptolemy I. Ptolemy I was one of the generals of King Alexander the Great and founder of the Ptolemaic dynasty of Ancient Egypt. Berenice caught the eye of Ptolemy I who married her in 317 BC. Berenice bore Ptolemy I: two daughters Arsinoe II, Philotera and a son Ptolemy II Philadelphus.[2]

In an unknown Olympiad, she was a victor in the chariot races. Ptolemy II was recognized as his father's heir in preference to Eurydice's children to Ptolemy I. During his reign, Ptolemy II built a port on the Red Sea and named it Berenice after his mother. After she died, Ptolemy II and later Ptolemy IV Philopator decreed divine honors to her (Theocritus, Idylls xv. and xvii.).[2]


Further reading

  • Waterfield, Robin (2011). Dividing the Spoils: The War for Alexander the Great’s Empire (hardback). New York: Oxford University Press. pp. 273 pages. ISBN 978-0-19-957392-9.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>