Silver gelatin on glass
23.5 x 29.5 cm
Epigraphic Survey, Oriental Institute, University of Chicago
Ptolemy VIII at Kom Ombo.
Horus presents an ornate scimitar of victory and palm staffs of long life
to Ptolemy VIII Euergetes II and two queens named Cleopatra. This serene
religious genre scene belies the often turbulent events of the king's
life. Ptolemy VIII was called, among other things, Physkon, "pot-belly,"
and classical authors described him as physically and morally disgusting.
He was apparently corpulent and fond of gauzy garments that openly displayed
his bloated and degenerate physique. He reigned initially with his brother
Ptolemy VI and Cleopatra II, but he soon chased his brother out of Egypt.
Ptolemy VI eventually returned from Rome, and Ptolemy VIII retreated and
ruled as king in the Libyan coastal city of Cyrene. On the death of his
brother, Ptolemy VIII married Cleopatra II, had his nephew Ptolemy VII
killed, and resumed ruling as king in Egypt. This time he was crowned
in the traditional pharaonic manner, and married his niece and stepdaughter,
Cleopatra III. As a result of this, Cleopatra II chased both Ptolemy VIII
and Cleopatra III out of Egypt, and the pair ruled for a while in Cyprus.
Ptolemy VIII finally won back the throne and achieved a reconciliation
between himself and his queens.