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Segestan

"Cleopatra": Title or Name?

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My apologies, I meant only within the Ptolemy dynasty.

 

Ah, apologies are mine -- I should have realized you were talking strictly about the Ptolemy dynasty. I guess I was so enamoured of Hatshepsut that I had to get in a plug for her. :D

 

But here's my question: Does history tell us whether the ruling, Ptolemaic Cleopatras were named "Cleopatra" from birth, or did they acquire the name of "Cleopatra" upon succession to the throne?

 

-- Nephele

 

There certainly are an inordinate number of Cleopatras out there. Additionally, I appear to be wrong in my earlier assessment. There was a queen Berenice II for a short time in 81 BC. However, she also appears to be known as Cleopatra Berenice which would lend credence to the notion of Cleopatra as a title. However, this not being an area of great personal knowledge or typical area of interest, I'm having difficulty tracking down appropriate sources in verification. There seems to be some contention that Cleopatra itself was a dynastic name. Perhaps we can liken it to Caesar. Once a name that evolved into a title by its association with the ruling family.

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My apologies, I meant only within the Ptolemy dynasty.

 

Ah, apologies are mine -- I should have realized you were talking strictly about the Ptolemy dynasty. I guess I was so enamoured of Hatshepsut that I had to get in a plug for her. :D

 

But here's my question: Does history tell us whether the ruling, Ptolemaic Cleopatras were named "Cleopatra" from birth, or did they acquire the name of "Cleopatra" upon succession to the throne?

 

-- Nephele

 

After further study , I digress on the name being a title. It would appear that ' Cleopatra' was just a very common name within the Ptolmatic line. To associated the child to Royalty. The sister of Cleopatra VII,... Berenice was also a ruler, she organized a resistence took the throne from her father Ptolomy , and it was this event which brought the Roman Army to Egypt to reinstall Ptolomy. In this way Cleopatra VII became Ruler.

What can you tell us about the children of Cleopatra VII ..interesting pedigree... to my knowledge she had two sons, one from Caesar the other of Antony? My source material on this is incomplete.

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After further study , I digress on the name being a title.

 

And, after further study on my own part :lol: I've come to the conclusion that perhaps the term we want to use here in regard to "Cleopatra" (and the example of Cleopatra Berenice that PP gave), rather than "title" or merely "name," is "dynastic name."

 

I believe that a dynastic name such as "Cleopatra" or "Ptolemy" differs from the Roman imperial use of the title "Caesar." For one thing, and despite the fact that "Caesar" started out as a name, the various Caesars (at least, after the Julio-Claudian line) were not always related to each other. Perhaps because of that reason the title of "Caesar" passed easily into other languages (kaiser, tsar) with essentially the same meaning (Docoflove?), whereas names such as "Cleopatra" or "Ptolemy" (or even "Windsor" of England for a modern-day example of a dynastic name) had royal significance only within the ruling families using those names. Another difference in title vs. dynastic name is that a title describes the function of the individual, whereas a name identifies the individual.

 

-- Nephele

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And, after further study on my own part :lol: I've come to the conclusion that perhaps the term we want to use here in regard to "Cleopatra" (and the example of Cleopatra Berenice that PP gave), rather than "title" or merely "name," is "dynastic name."

 

I believe that a dynastic name such as "Cleopatra" or "Ptolemy" differs from the Roman imperial use of the title "Caesar." For one thing, and despite the fact that "Caesar" started out as a name, the various Caesars (at least, after the Julio-Claudian line) were not always related to each other. Perhaps because of that reason the title of "Caesar" passed easily into other languages (kaiser, tsar) with essentially the same meaning (Docoflove?), whereas names such as "Cleopatra" or "Ptolemy" (or even "Windsor" of England for a modern-day example of a dynastic name) had royal significance only within the ruling families using those names. Another difference in title vs. dynastic name is that a title describes the function of the individual, whereas a name identifies the individual.

 

-- Nephele

 

I pretty much agree with you, Neph and others. 'Caesar' started out as a family name, but due to the rule of JC and the other members of his clan, the name came to signify the head of the Roman Empire. One could argue that it semantically generalized or broadened into 'the head of an empire' which is how 'Kaisar' and 'Tsar' were entered into the lexicon of the Germanic and Russian peoples as a title meaning 'head of empire'.

 

The thing with 'Ptolemy' and 'Cleopatra' that makes them different for me is the lack of diffusion among other ruling clans. Granted, the Egyptian empire pretty much died with Cleopatra VII, so one never really knows what would have happened. But I would argue that 'Ptolemy' and 'Cleopatra' were probably closer to the original use of 'Caesar' for the Julio-Claudians, as well as the 'House of X' in the British monarchy: a way of categorizing which ruling clan the people belonged to. So it's still not so much a title as it is a clan name or, as you put it Nephele, a dynastic name.

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I pretty much agree with you, Neph and others. 'Caesar' started out as a family name, but due to the rule of JC and the other members of his clan, the name came to signify the head of the Roman Empire. One could argue that it semantically generalized or broadened into 'the head of an empire' which is how 'Kaisar' and 'Tsar' were entered into the lexicon of the Germanic and Russian peoples as a title meaning 'head of empire'.

 

The thing with 'Ptolemy' and 'Cleopatra' that makes them different for me is the lack of diffusion among other ruling clans. Granted, the Egyptian empire pretty much died with Cleopatra VII, so one never really knows what would have happened. But I would argue that 'Ptolemy' and 'Cleopatra' were probably closer to the original use of 'Caesar' for the Julio-Claudians, as well as the 'House of X' in the British monarchy: a way of categorizing which ruling clan the people belonged to. So it's still not so much a title as it is a clan name or, as you put it Nephele, a dynastic name.

 

And I agree wholeheartedly too. The Ptolemaic dynasty, which included the name Cleopatra for some of its important females was handed down by Ptolemy as the 'successor' to Alexander in that region of his empire. The names thus stressed the link back to Alexander of Macedon.

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to my knowledge she had two sons, one from Caesar the other of Antony? My source material on this is incomplete.

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She had Caesarion from Gaius Caesar who was murdered by Octavius. I wasn't aware she had offspring by Mark Antony.

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She had Caesarion from Gaius Caesar who was murdered by Octavius. I wasn't aware she had offspring by Mark Antony.

 

Cleopatra had three children by Mark Antony: the twins Alexander and Cleopatra (surnamed Helios and Selene respectively -- "Sun" and "Moon"), and a younger son named Ptolemy (surnamed Philadelphus). These children were spared by Octavius, and given to his sister (the wife of Mark Antony) to rear.

 

In later years, Octavius (now Augustus) had Cleopatra Selene married to King Juba of Mauritania (of whom Augustus was quite fond), and they had a son named Ptolemy who was later ordered killed by the emperor Caligula. A daughter of Juba and Cleopatra Selene, named Drusilla, married Marcus Antonius Felix, a freedman of Antonia the Younger (who was the daughter of Mark Antony, niece of Augustus, and the mother of the emperor Claudius). This Felix became procurator of Judaea, and was the judge at the trial of the apostle Paul. By some accounts, this Felix was a freedman of the emperor Claudius instead of Claudius' mother, Antonia the Younger -- or that it was Antonia who manumitted Claudius' slave, whereupon he took the name of Marcus Antonius with his slave name of "Felix" added as a cognomen, as was customary for freedmen.

 

-- Nephele

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Cleopatra had three children by Mark Antony: the twins Alexander and Cleopatra (surnamed Helios and Selene respectively -- "Sun" and "Moon"), and a younger son named Ptolemy (surnamed Philadelphus). These children were spared by Octavius, and given to his sister (the wife of Mark Antony) to rear.

Thanks for that info Nephele. It seems odd that Octavius murdered her son by Caesar and spared her offspring by his arch-rival Mark Antony. Do our sources tell us the reason for this odd anomaly?

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Cleopatra had three children by Mark Antony: the twins Alexander and Cleopatra (surnamed Helios and Selene respectively -- "Sun" and "Moon"), and a younger son named Ptolemy (surnamed Philadelphus). These children were spared by Octavius, and given to his sister (the wife of Mark Antony) to rear.

Thanks for that info Nephele. It seems odd that Octavius murdered her son by Caesar and spared her offspring by his arch-rival Mark Antony. Do our sources tell us the reason for this odd anomaly?

 

Names and family lines are my main interest, so perhaps someone else here may care to explain Octavius' reasoning for having Caesar's son killed, but sparing Antony's children?

 

I presume it was because Cleopatra had proclaimed Caesarion an heir to Cleopatra's empire, thus (in addition to being Caesar's heir as well) making Caesarion a political threat to Octavius (who had to uphold his position as Caesar's primary living heir).

 

-- Nephele

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Cleopatra was a fairly common name of Hellenistic royalty. We find it not just in the Ptolomaic dynasty but also among the Seleucids. For another example, the wife of Tigranes the Great of Armenia was another Cleopatra. Apollodorus mentions two mythological Cleopatras, and the name was certainly common in Macedonia before it came to Egypt.

 

Though there were seven Egyptian Cleopatras there is no suggestion that this was any more a title than that of the eight royal English Henrys. It is more that royal families tend to be very conservative in their choice of names, and chose ones which have positive connotations from previous generations. The analogy with Caesar in Rome does not really work, as Caesar was a family cognomen, and the Caesars of the first century used the name in the pretense that they were in some way the heirs of Julius. (As in fact the first five emperors were, by adoption).

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Hah. I was blathering on about cleopatras so much I forgot that I originally intended to answer the previous question. Octavian was a distant relative of Julius Caesar, but owed his entire position to being adopted by him in Caesar's will. As Mark Antony told him 'You, boy, owe everything to a name'. Therefore Octavian could not help but be made uneasy by the existence of a true son of Caesar, even one born out of wedlock. If papers could be 'found' showing that Caesar had recognized the child as his, Octavian's position would be severely compromised. Remember, Caesarion combined not only the line of the ancient Julii but also that of the Ptolomies, making his a line of great significance in the east of the empire.

 

Antony's children were a different matter. Remember Antony also had a child (Antonia) by Octavian's own sister, so indiscriminate murder of Antony's offspring was out of the question, even if Romans of this period went in for such stuff (such barbarity was still half a century away). Antony himself was thoroughly discredited and his offspring no threat to Augustus, and were in fact useful, both as signs of how merciful he was, and as a way of binding the offspring of various client kings to the Roman house through later marriages (because of the Ptolomaic connection rather than the Antonine.)

 

(As a matter of interest, because of Antonia, both Gaius Caligula and Nero were as closely related to Mark Antony as they were to Augustus.)

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