Cleopatra I Syra
Queen of Egypt
Horus name
Hunu Zatheqa Iretenheqa Mereneterubaqet Kheqerenshenemu Tatetzat Huti Werpehti Sehertawi Redinesnebetirekhitenneferu Qenisinetnebzau Tenisiathoremmeruts
The young girl, daughter of the ruler, created by the ruler, beloved of the Gods of Egypt, adorned by Khnum, the regent of Thoth whose might is great,
who pleases the two Lands, who gives the people in perfection to the Two Ladies, who Neith, the Lady of Sais, makes strong, who Hathor praises for her popularity
W nw
Depiction based on a relief of Cleopatra I
Queen of Egypt
Reign193 - 176 BC
(also regent for her co-monarch Ptolemy VI between 180 and 176 BC)
Coronation192 BC
PredecessorPtolemy V of Egypt
SuccessorPtolemy VI of Egypt
Co-regentPtolemy V of Egypt and Ptolemy VI of Egypt
Bornc. 204 BC
Died176 BC[2] or 178/177 BC[3]
SpousePtolemy V of Egypt
IssuePtolemy VI of Egypt
Ptolemy VIII Physcon
Cleopatra II of Egypt
FatherAntiochus III the Great
MotherLaodice III

Cleopatra I Syra (Greek: Κλεοπάτρα ἡ Σύρα; c. 204 – 176 BC) was a princess of the Seleucid Empire, Queen of Ptolemaic Egypt by marriage to Ptolemy V of Egypt, and regent of Egypt during the minority of their son, Ptolemy VI, from her husband's death in 180 BC until her own death in 176 BC.


Cleopatra I was the daughter of Antiochus III the Great, King of the Seleucid Empire, and Queen Laodice III.


In 197 BC, Antiochus III had captured a number of cities in Asia Minor previously under the control of the Ptolemaic Kingdom of Egypt. The Romans supported the Egyptian interests, when they negotiated with the Seleucid king in Lysimachia in 196 BC. In response, Antiochus III indicated his willingness to make peace with Ptolemy V and to have his daughter Cleopatra I marry Ptolemy V. They were betrothed in 195 BC and their marriage took place in 193 BC in Raphia.[4] At that time Ptolemy V was about 16 years and Cleopatra I about 10 years old. Later on, Egypt's Ptolemaic kings were to argue that Cleopatra I had received Coele-Syria as her dowry and, therefore, this territory again belonged to Egypt. It is not clear if this was the case. However, in practice, Coele-Syria remained a Seleucid possession after the Battle of Panium in 198 BC.[5]

In Alexandria, Cleopatra I was referred to as the Syrian.[6] As part of the Ptolemaic cult she was honoured with her husband as Theoi Epiphaneis. In line with ancient Egyptian tradition of sibling marriage, she was also named sister (Ancient Greek: ἀδελφή, adelphḗ) of Ptolemy V. A synod of priests held at Memphis in 185 BC granted Cleopatra all the honours that had been given to Ptolemy V in 196 BC (inscribed on the bilingual Greek-Egyptian Rosetta Stone).

Queen Regent

Ptolemy V died unexpectedly in September 180 BC, at the age of only 30. Cleopatra I's son, Ptolemy VI, who was only six years old, was immediately crowned king, with Cleopatra as co-regent. She was the first Ptolemaic queen to rule without her husband. In documents from this period, Cleopatra is named Thea Epiphanes and her name appears before Ptolemy. Coins were minted under the joint authority of her and her son.[7]

Just before his death, Ptolemy V had been planning a new war against the Seleucid kingdom, but Cleopatra immediately ended the war preparations and pursued a peaceful policy, because of her own Seleucid roots and because a war would have threatened her hold on power.[8][9] Cleopatra probably died in late 178 or early 177 BC, though some scholars place her death in late 176 BC.[10]

On her deathbed, Cleopatra appointed Eulaeus and Lenaeus, two of her close associates as regents. Eulaeus, a eunuch, who had been the Ptolemy's tutor. Lenaeus was a Syrian slave who had probably come to Egypt as part of Cleopatra's retinue when she got married.[11] The pair were unable or unwilling to prevent the deterioration of relations with the Seleucid kingdom which culminated in the disastrous Sixth Syrian War.


Cleopatra and Ptolemy V had three children:[12][10]

Name Image Birth Death Notes
Ptolemy VI Philometor May/June 186 BC 145 BC Succeeded as King under the regency of his mother in 180 BC, co-regent and spouse of Cleopatra II from 170 to 164 BC and again 163-145 BC.
Cleopatra II 186-184 BC 6 April 115 BC Co-regent and wife of Ptolemy VI from 170 to 145 BC, co-regent and spouse of Ptolemy VIII from 145 to 132 BC, claimed sole rule 132-127 BC, co-regent and spouse of Ptolemy VIII again from 124 to 115 BC, co-regent with Cleopatra III and Ptolemy IX from 116 to 115 BC.
Ptolemy VIII c. 184 BC 26 June 116 BC Co-regent with Ptolemy VI and Cleopatra II from 169 to 164 BC, expelled Ptolemy VI in 164, expelled in turn 163 BC, King of Cyrenaica from 163 to 145 BC, co-regent with Cleopatra II and Cleopatra III from 145 to 132 BC and again from 124 to 116 BC.


  1. ^ Beckerath, J. Handbuch der Ägyptischen Königsnamen, MÄS 49 (1999): 289
  2. ^ Werner Huß, Ägypten in hellenistischer Zeit (Egypt in Hellenistic times). Munich 2001, p. 540
  3. ^ Cleopatra I by Chris Bennett
  4. ^ Polybius 18.51.10 and 28.20.9; Livy 33.40.3 and 35.13.4; Appian, Syriaca 3.13 and 5.18
  5. ^ Polybius 28.1.2-3 and 28.20.6-10; Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews 12.154-155; Appian, Syriaca 5.18
  6. ^ Appian, Syriaca 5.18
  7. ^ Chris Bennett. "Ptolemy VI". Tyndale House. Retrieved May 22, 2013.
  8. ^ Hölbl 2001, p. 143
  9. ^ Grainger 2010, pp. 281–2
  10. ^ a b Chris Bennett. "Cleopatra I". Tyndale House. Retrieved September 28, 2019.
  11. ^ Morkholm 1961, pp. 32–43
  12. ^ Aidan Dodson, Dyan Hilton, The Complete Royal Families of Ancient Egypt, 2004

Works cited


Cleopatra I Syra Ptolemaic dynastyBorn: 204 BC Died: 176 BC Preceded byPtolemy V Ptolemaic dynasty 193 BC–176 BCwith Ptolemy V and Ptolemy VI Succeeded byPtolemy VI Philometor