Cleopatra II Philometor Soteira (Greek: Κλεοπάτρα Φιλομήτωρ Σωτείρα, Kleopatra Philomētōr Sōteira; c. 185 BC – 116/115 BC) was a queen of Ptolemaic Egypt who ruled from 175 to 115 BC with two successive brother-husbands and her daughter—often in rivalry with her brother Ptolemy VIII.

She co-ruled during her first reign, until 164 BC, with Ptolemy VI Philometor, her first husband and the older of her brothers, and Ptolemy VIII Euergetes II, her younger brother. During her second reign she co-ruled again with Ptolemy VI from 163 BC until his death in 145 BC. She then ruled with her younger brother, Ptolemy VIII, whom she married, and her daughter Cleopatra III. She was sole ruler of Egypt from 131 BC to 127 BC. Her final reign from 124 BC to 116/5 BC was also spent in coregency with Ptolemy VIII and Cleopatra III.


Early life (before 175 BC)

These busts of a Ptolemaic Egyptian queen likely depict Cleopatra II or her daughter Cleopatra III. (Left image from Walters Art Museum, Baltimore; Right image from the Louvre Museum, Paris)

Cleopatra II was the daughter of Ptolemy V and likely Cleopatra I. If she was the daughter of Cleopatra I, she was a full sister of Ptolemy VI Philometor and Ptolemy VIII Euergetes II Tryphon; otherwise she was their half-sister. She would eventually marry both of her brothers, in turn.[1][2]

First co-regency (175–131 BC)

Following the death of their mother, Cleopatra I, in 177/6 BC, Cleopatra II was married to her brother Ptolemy VI Philometor in c. 175 BC. Cleopatra II, Ptolemy VI and their younger brother, Ptolemy VIII Euergetes Physcon, were co-rulers of Egypt from 170 BC to 164 BC.[1][3]

In 169–168 BC, the siblings' maternal uncle Antiochus IV of Syria invaded Egypt. Ptolemy VI Philometor briefly joined Antiochus IV outside Alexandria in 169 BC, then turned against him in alliance with his siblings. Antiochus IV was finally induced to give up his attempt to take over Egypt by Roman intervention.[4] In 164 BC Cleopatra II and her husband were temporarily deposed by Ptolemy VIII, but were restored to power in 163 BC. After this, Ptolemy VIII was removed from the co-regency in Egypt and made king of Cyrene.[5][6]

Ptolemy VI died on campaign in Syria in 145 BC. Cleopatra II agreed to marry her younger brother, Ptolemy VIII Euergetes II Physcon, who ascended the throne.[1][7] According to Justin, Ptolemy VIII murdered Ptolemy, the surviving son of Ptolemy VI and Cleopatra II,[8] on his marriage to Cleopatra II, but new evidence shows he survived as a potential heir and served as eponymous priest of Alexander the Great in c. 143 BC; he was eliminated by his uncle sometime later.[9] Cleopatra II bore Ptolemy VIII a new heir, Ptolemy Memphites, in c. 143 BC.[10][11]

Between 142 BC and 139 BC Ptolemy VIII married Cleopatra's younger daughter, his niece Cleopatra III.[7][12] She quickly produced two sons, the future kings Ptolemy IX Soter and Ptolemy XI Alexander, and three daughters.[13] These developments are assumed to have increased the pre-existing rivalry between Cleopatra II and Ptolemy VIII.[14]

Sole reign (132/1–127 BC)

Cleopatra II led a rebellion against Ptolemy VIII in 132/1 BC, and drove him and Cleopatra III out of Alexandria at the end of 131 BC.[1] At this time Ptolemy VIII is said to have had Ptolemy Memphites, his son by his older sister, Cleopatra II, dismembered and his head, hands and feet sent to Cleopatra II in Alexandria as a birthday present.[15][16]

Cleopatra II ruled in Alexandria as sole ruler until 127 BC. Ptolemy VIII had retained the allegiance of parts of Egypt and gradually expanded his control from there. In 127 BC, he took over Alexandria, Cleopatra II being forced to flee to Syria, where she joined her daughter Cleopatra Thea and her son-in-law Demetrius II Nicator. The latter was unable to offer effective support to his mother-in-law, as Ptolemy VIII pitted against him a rival for the Seleucid throne.[17]

Second co-regency (124–116/5 BC)

Wall relief of Cleopatra III, Cleopatra II and Ptolemy VIII before Horus

A public reconciliation of Cleopatra II and Ptolemy VIII was declared in 124 BC. After this she ruled jointly with her brother and daughter until June 116 BC when Ptolemy died. Among amnesty decrees seeking to heal the conflicts stirred by the recent civil war, Cleopatra II's murdered son Ptolemy Memphites was deified as the God Neos Philopator in 118 BC.[7][18]

Ptolemy VIII left the kingdom to be ruled by Cleopatra III and one of their sons. At the wishes of the Alexandrians, Cleopatra III chose Ptolemy Lathyros, her elder son, as her co-ruler.[1] However, Cleopatra II retained seniority in the ruling triumvirate.[19]

Cleopatra II disappeared from historical records sometime around October 116 BC.[7] She is believed to have died in about 116 or 115 BC.[1][7]


With Ptolemy VI she had at least four children,[2][7][20] and possibly an additional daughter Berenice:[1]

Ptolemy VIII and his older sister, Cleopatra II, are thought to have had at least one son,[1][2]



  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Cleopatra II Archived 23 May 2011 at the Wayback Machine by Chris Bennett
  2. ^ a b c Aidan Dodson, Dyan Hilton, The Complete Royal Families of Ancient Egypt, 2004
  3. ^ Green 1990: 425, 429-430; Hölbl 2001: 143-146; Errington 2008: 258.
  4. ^ Green 1990: 430-431; Hölbl 146-148, 181-183; Errington 2008: 258-259.
  5. ^ Ptolemy VI by Chris Bennett
  6. ^ Green 1990: 442-447; Hölbl 2001: 183-194; Errington 2008: 292-295.
  7. ^ a b c d e f Cleopatra II by Livius
  8. ^ Ptolemy VII Neos Philopator by Encyclopaedia Britannica
  9. ^ Chauveau 2000: 257-258; Bielman 2017: 86. 95-98; Justin's story was still accepted by Green 1990: 537 and Hölbl 2001: 194.
  10. ^ Ptolemy Memphites by Chris Bennett
  11. ^ Chauveau 2000: 259-261; Hölbl 2001: 195; Errington 2008: 295-296.
  12. ^ Ptolemy VIII by Chris Bennett
  13. ^ Hölbl 2001: 203.
  14. ^ Green 1990: 538; Hölbl 2001: 195; Errington 2008: 296-297.
  15. ^ Ptolemy Memphites by Chris Bennett
  16. ^ Green 1990: 540; Hölbl 2001: 197-199; Errington 2008: 297-298.
  17. ^ Green 1990: 540; Hölbl 2001: 200; Errington 2008: 298.
  18. ^ Hölbl 2001: 201-203; Errington 2008: 298-299; Green 1990: 541-542 still follows the earlier identification with Ptolemy, the son of Ptolemy VI and Cleopatra II.
  19. ^ Errington 2008: 299-300.
  20. ^ Ptolemy VI by Livius
  21. ^ Chauveau 2000.


Cleopatra II Ptolemaic dynastyBorn: ca. 185 BC Died: 115 BC Regnal titles Preceded byPtolemy VI Queen of Egypt 175 BC-164 BCwith Ptolemy VI and Ptolemy VIII Succeeded byPtolemy VIII Preceded byPtolemy VIII Queen of Egypt 163 BC-127 BCwith Ptolemy VI, Ptolemy VIII and Cleopatra III Succeeded byPtolemy VIII and Cleopatra III Preceded byPtolemy VIII and Cleopatra III Queen of Egypt 127 BC-116/5 BCwith Ptolemy VIII and Cleopatra III Succeeded byPtolemy IX and Cleopatra III