The rising power of women Essay

The rising power of women Essay

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The queens in the Ptolemaic period of Egypt, demonstrate a level of power and influence in royal women that has not been seen before the Hellenistic Age (323 BCE – 30 BCE). The power of Ptolemaic queens reached level of reverence on par with the pharaoh of Egypt, and the queens not only maintained the direction of the Hellenistic Period, but set the fashion for upper-class Alexandrian women (Pomeroy, 1984, 40). The cult worship of these queens begins with Arsinoe II, and is continued with later queens that adopt the trappings of pharaonic power until the death of Cleopatra VII (30 BCE); these ruler-cults are direct results of the influence of women in this age, and the dynasties need to use royal ideology to legitimize their rule as foreign conquerors. In this paper I will analyze primary and secondary evidence relating to the rise of power of these queens and its use of royal ideology legitimize their reign.
The rise of power in the women of the Ptolemaic dynasty is first seen with the marriage of Arsinoe II to her full brother Ptolemy II. These sibling-rulers began a tradition of monogamous endogamy that would secure succession in the dynasty, and ward consolidate the power of the bloodline. The worship of Ptolemaic queens was not simply a by-product of divine worship of the king, but of an establishment of worship separate from the king himself.

As conquering rulers in the Hellenistic Age, an assimilation of Greco-Macedonian kingship and the ritual practice Egyptian Pharaohs legitimized the rule of the Ptolemies. The incestuous nature of the marriages between the Ptolemies has been directly linked in poetry to the divine marriages of Zeus and Hera (Theoc. XVII, 128-130), as well as Isis and Osiris. J. Andrew Foster discus...


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Carney, Elizabeth D. Arsinoe of Egypt and Macedon: A Royal Life. New York: Oxford University Press, 2013. Web. 18 Mar. 2014.
Foster, Andrew J. "Arsinoe II as Epic Queen: Encomiastic Allusion in Theocritus, Idyll 15." Transactions of the American Philological Association (1974-) 136.1 (2006): 133-48. JSTOR. Web. 18 Mar. 2014.
Homer, Odyssey, 10.221-3
Plutarch, Antony
Pomeroy, Sarah B. Women in Hellenistic Egypt: from Alexander to Cleopatra. New York: Schocken Books, 1984. Web. 18 Mar. 2014.
Smith, Bonnie G., ed. "Cleopatra VII." Oxford Encyclopedia of Women in World History. N.p.: Oxford University Press, 2008. Web. 18 Mar. 2014.
Theocritus, Id VII 128, 130; Id XV;
van Oppen de Ruiter, Branko Fredde. The Religious Identification of Ptolemaic Queens with Aphrodite, Demeter, Hathor and Isis. New York: UMI Dissertations Publishing, 2007. Web. 18 Mar. 2014.

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