Ptolemy (name)

Ptolemy (name)

The name Ptolemy or Ptolemaeus comes from the Greek "Ptolemaios", which means warlike. There have been many people named Ptolemy or Ptolemaeus, the most famous of which are the Greek-Egyptian astronomer Claudius Ptolemaeus and the Macedonian founder and ruler of the Ptolemaic Kingdom in Egypt, Ptolemy I Soter. The following sections summarise the history of the name, some of the people named Ptolemy, and some of the other uses of this name.

Etymology and history

The English name Ptolemy has its roots in the Ancient Greek name Ptolemaios (warlike), which is an adjectival form of the word "ptolemos", which is itself an 'epic' (Homeric) form of the word (LSJ: " [ polemos] " war). [The change from "polemos" to "ptolemos" is an example of a type of linguistic compounding called terpsimbrotos. The "pt-" in "ptolemos" (vs. earlier "polemos") "war" is thought to arise from a re-analysis of the compound word "*phere-t-polemos", metathesised to "phere-ptolemos". George Dunkel, "Two old problems in Greek: ptolemos and terpsimbrotos", "Glotta" 70 (1992).] It is interesting that a nephew of Antigonus I was called "Polemaeus" [Who's Who in the Age of Alexander the Great [] by Waldemar Heckel] .

The name Ptolemaios varied over the years from its roots in Ancient Greece, appearing in different languages in various forms and spellings. The original form, and some of the variants, are listed here in the languages relevant to the history of the name.

*Arabic: Batlemos
*German:Ptolemäus or Ptolemaios
*Greek (Greek alphabet): polytonic|Πτολεμαῖος
*Greek (Latin alphabet): Ptolemaios
*Latin: Ptolemaeus
*Egyptian: ptwȝlmys


*Italian: Tolomeo
*Spanish: Ptolomeo or Tolomeo
*English: Ptolemy
*Aramaic: Talmai
*Hebrew: Talmai (תלמי) Related is the Aramaic name "Bar Talmai" (Son of Ptolemy), which led to the names Bartolomeo (Italian) and Bartholomew (English) among others. [The disciple Nathaniel Bar-Talmai (Bartholomew) is thus thought to have been the son of a Ptolemy.] Thus the name Ptolemy spread from its Greek origins to enter other languages in the Middle and Near East during the Hellenisation that followed the conquest of the known world by Alexander the Great.

The feminine name Ptolemais is constructed from similar roots.

Early Greek rulers and generals named Ptolemy

*Ptolemy (mythological) (12th century BC) - mythical ruler of the ancient Greek city of Thebes.
*Ptolemy of Aloros (ruled 368 to 365 BC) - Regent of Macedon.
*Ptolemy (son of Seleucus) (died 333 BC) - Macedonian bodyguard and general of Alexander the Great.
*Ptolemy (general) (died 309 BC) - Macedonian general and nephew of Antigonus I Monophthalmus.
*Ptolemy of Epirus (died 235 BC) - King of the Greek frontier kingdom of Epirus.

Egyptian Ptolemaic dynasty (rulers)

The Ptolemaic dynasty, of Macedonian origin, ruled Hellenistic Egypt for nearly 300 years, from 305 BC to 30 BC. The kings of this dynasty were all named Ptolemy. [Numbering the Ptolemies is a modern invention; the Greeks distinguished them by nickname. The number given here is the present consensus; but there has been some disagreement about which Ptolemies should be counted as reigning. Older sources may give a number one higher or lower, but the same epithet.] See Ptolemaic dynasty for details of their reigns and other ruling members of the dynasty. See also: Legacy of Ptolemy I Soter.
* Ptolemy I Soter (367 BC-283 BC) - Macedonian general of Alexander the Great
* Ptolemy II Philadelphus
* Ptolemy III Euergetes
* Ptolemy IV Philopator
* Ptolemy V Epiphanes
* Ptolemy VI Philometor
* Ptolemy VII Neos Philopator
* Ptolemy VIII Physcon
* Ptolemy IX Lathyros
* Ptolemy X Alexander I
* Ptolemy XI Alexander II
* Ptolemy XII Auletes
* Ptolemy XIII Theos Philopator
* Ptolemy XIV
* Ptolemy XV Caesarion (47 BC-30 BC) - last Ptolemaic ruler of Egypt

Egyptian Ptolemaic dynasty (descendants)

There were several members of the Ptolemaic dynasty that did not become senior rulers of Egypt. Some of them became rulers of other kingdoms. Many of the dates and other details about these Ptolemies are uncertain.

*Ptolemy Keraunos (died 279 BC) - eldest son of Ptolemy I Soter. Eventually became king of Macedon.
*Ptolemy Andromachou (3rd century BC) - probable illegitimate son of Ptolemy II Philadelphus.
*Ptolemy the Son co-ruler with Ptolemy Philadelphus, deposed; possibly his son; if so, possibly the same as Ptolemy Euergetes.
*Ptolemy Eupator. Coruler with Ptolemy VI Philometor; probably his son. Probably died within months.
*Ptolemy (grandson) (3rd or 2nd century BC) - grandson of Ptolemy the Son.
*Ptolemy Apion (died 96 BC) - son of Ptolemy VIII Physcon. Made king of Cyrenaica. Bequeathed Cyrenaica to Rome.
*Ptolemy of Cyprus (died 58 BC) - son of Ptolemy IX Lathyros. Probable king of Cyprus.
*Ptolemy Philadelphus (Cleopatra) (born 36 BC) - son of the Roman general Mark Antony and the Egyptian Ptolemaic queen Cleopatra VII.
*Ptolemy of Mauretania (reigned 21-40 AD) - grandson of Cleopatra VII. King of Mauretania and an ally of Rome.

Other Ptolemies

*Ptolemy son of Abubus, murderer of Simon Maccabaeus and his sons
*Ptolemy-el-Garib, a Peripatetic pinacographer whose "Life of Aristotle" survives in Arabic translation
*Ptolemy (son of Dorymenes) (circa 66 BC) - soldier in the Seleucid Empire under Lysias.
*Ptolemy (son of Mennaeus) (rule ended circa 40 BC) - governor of Abilene, a district of the disputed region of Coele-Syria.
*Ptolemy (Acts of Peter) - a character in the Acts of Peter, who was a rich man trying to marry the daughter of Peter
*Claudius Ptolemaeus (circa 90-circa 168) - also known as Ptolemy, he was an author, geographer, mathematician, astronomer and astrologer who lived in the Greek culture of Roman Egypt. See also: Legacy of Claudius Ptolemaeus.
*Ptolemaeus Chennus (2nd century AD) - grammarian who lived in the Greek culture of Roman Egypt.
*Ptolemy (gnostic) (circa 180 AD) - a religious philosopher who was active in Roman Italy and Gaul.
*Ptolemaeus and Lucius, Christian martyrs
*Ptolemaeus Secundus, a Latin nickname for the Arab polymath Ibn al-Haytham.
*Ptolemy I of Tusculum (d.1126) - count of Tusculum who asserted his family's descent from the Roman Julii.
*Ptolemy II of Tusculum (d.1153) - count of Tusculum who married Bertha, daughter of Henry V, Holy Roman Emperor.
*Bernard Tolomeo (Italian spelling of Ptolemy) (1272-1348) - founder of the Olivetan Roman Catholic religious order.
*Tolomeo da Lucca (ca. 1227-ca. 1327), also known as Bartholomew of Lucca, historian and Dominican.
*John Baptist Tolomei (Italian variant of Ptolemy) (1653-1726) - Jesuit theologian and cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church.

Variant epithets

Several Ptolemies, particularly those from the Ptolemaic period, were recorded by a variety of epithets, not all of which can be assigned with certainty to any one Ptolemy. Some of these variant epithets are listed here, along with some of the identifications suggested by scholars. Some of these identifications remain a matter of controversy.

*Ptolemy the Son
*Ptolemy son of Lysimachus
*Ptolemy of Telmessos
*Ptolemy "the Brother"

Legacy of Claudius Ptolemaeus

*Ptolemaic system - astronomical worldview as described by Claudius Ptolemaeus.
*Ptolemy world map - map of the ancient world as described by Claudius Ptolemaeus.
*Ptolemy's theorem - mathematical theorem described by Claudius Ptolemaeus.
*Ptolemy Cluster - star cluster described by Claudius Ptolemaeus.

Legacy of Ptolemy I Soter

*Ptolemaic period - period of Egyptian history during the Ptolemaic dynasty.
*Ptolemaic dynasty - Egyptian ruling dynasty founded by Ptolemy I Soter.
*Ptolemaic Kingdom - the kingdom founded by Ptolemy I Soter.
*Ptolemais - towns and cities named after members of the Ptolemaic dynasty.


A non-exhaustive list of other, generally later, uses of the name Ptolemy includes:
*Ptolemaeus crater on the Moon - named for Claudius Ptolemaeus.
*Ptolemaeus crater [] on Mars - named for Claudius Ptolemaeus.
*4001 Ptolemaeus - an asteroid named for Claudius Ptolemaeus.
*"Ptolemy Project" - a computing project based at the University of California, Berkeley, USA. The project started in the 1980s and is named for Claudius Ptolemaeus.
*" [ Ptolemy Project] " - a project to allow surgeons in Africa to access medical texts in the online library of the University of Toronto, Canada. It started in 2001, and was inspired by the medical library of Alexandria, founded by Ptolemy I Soter.
*"Tolomeo" (the Italian spelling of Ptolemy) - an iconic desk lamp design produced for the Italian company Artemide in 1986.
*"Alderman Ptolemy Tortoise", a character in "The Tale of Mr. Jeremy Fisher" by Beatrix Potter
*"Ptolemaic Terrascope" - magazine (founded 1989). The name was inspired by "Ptolemy the turtle, who lives at Terrascope Towers". Various artworks and logos feature an astronomer peering through a 'terrascope', so Ptolemaic may here refer to Claudius Ptolemaeus.
*"Ptolemy's Gate" (published 2005) - the third book in "The Bartimaeus Trilogy", a fantasy series by the English author Jonathan Stroud. The series includes a character called Ptolemy, from 2nd century BC Ptolemaic Egypt, who is nephew to Ptolemy VIII and cousin to Ptolemy IX.
*Claudius Ptolemaeus is featured as a wizard called Ptolemy, on a magical collectible card in the fictional Harry Potter universe.
*"The Ptolemy" (1934) - a large reed organ built by the American composer Harry Partch. This may have been named in tribute to Claudius Ptolemaeus, who summarized the musical work of philosophers like Pythagorus.
*Tolomeo (the Italian spelling of Ptolemy) - an opera by Handel, composed in 1728. It is set in Egypt around 108 BC, when Ptolemy IX Lathyros deposed his mother and joint ruler of Egypt, Cleopatra III, for his younger brother, who reigned as Ptolemy X Alexander I.
*Ptolemy Dean (20th and 21st century) - British architect, author, and television consultant.
*Ptolemy Tompkins (20th and 21st century) - American author.


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