Alexander and Ptolomy brothers?

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topperalex
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Alexander and Ptolomy brothers?

Post by topperalex » Sun Dec 30, 2018 6:20 pm

It has been claimed by some sources that Alexander and Ptolemy were half brothers. They both had Philip II as father, and Ptolemy, being the elder brother, was son of the beautiful Arsinoe, Philips mistress. Philip had arranged that she was married to a Macedonian noble man, Lagos, while still carrying Ptolemy.
Could this be true?
I think not - and for one reason:
if Ptolemy was Philips son and it was common knowledge in Macedonia when Philip was murdered, Alexander would have had him killed the moment he himself was hailed as a King by the army. We know that Alexander had competitors killed, amongst them a cousin - so why would he not kill off a highly competent and able man and soldier as Ptolomy? This sound cruel and coldhaerted, but in fact that was buisnes as usual in those days in Macedonia - and in other royal dynasties both in the fourth Century - and in the centuries to come!
Last edited by topperalex on Fri Jan 04, 2019 9:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Alexander and Ptolomy brothers?

Post by Alexias » Sun Dec 30, 2018 7:28 pm

I think most people feel that the claim that Ptolemy was Alexander's half-brother originated later as the Ptolemies justified their royal pretensions. It is unlikely that Philip fathered Ptolemy. He was about 13 at the time Ptolemy would have been conceived, and around that time he was a hostage in Illyrian for several months.

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Re: Alexander and Ptolomy brothers?

Post by derek » Mon Dec 31, 2018 3:56 pm

I agree with both points. If Ptolemy had even been suspected to be a son of Philip in Alexander's lifetime. Alexander would have had him killed once he consolidated power. Ptolemy promoted the story later to reinforce his claim to kingship in Egypt.

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Re: Alexander and Ptolomy brothers?

Post by DarenTy » Mon Mar 18, 2019 4:48 pm

Why are you so sure Alexander would have him killed in that case, by the way?

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Re: Alexander and Ptolomy brothers?

Post by Alexias » Tue Mar 19, 2019 8:29 am

Because Alexander killed his cousin Amyntas (whom Philip had deposed while he was a child) and his rival half-brothers, including Caranus. Alexander would also have been very aware that Philips' three half-brothers had rebelled against him. He would have been old enough to remember that Olynthus, a city near enough to Pella to have once occupied it, had given Philip's brothers refuge. Rivals spelt danger.

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Re: Alexander and Ptolomy brothers?

Post by Jeanne Reames » Thu Mar 21, 2019 11:21 pm

I agree that I the story of Ptolemy's bastard status was almost certainly made up later, probably by Ptolemy Keranos.

That said, Alexander only killed Amyntas and the two younger Lynkestian princes--the dangerous ones (e.g., the possible rivals). Arrhidaios wasn't a threat, but Alexander almost certainly took him with him to Asia, to avoid having anybody try to use him as a figurehead to take over at home. Nor did Alexander kill Karanos, because he almost certainly didn't exist. He's mentioned in Justin, and Justin is a problematic source. Neither Diodoros nor Justin have Kleopatra Eurydike having more than one child. In Diodoros, it's a girl named Europe (for victory in Europe, which would match his naming of Thessalonike, for victory in Thessaly). Plutarch also mentions a girl.

But Justin makes the baby a boy with the name "Karanos," the mythical founder of the dynasty, although exactly when that name took over as the founder's is hard to say. Originally, the mythical founder (so Herodotos) was Perdikkas. Under Arkhelaos, the name may have been altered to Arkhelaos (if we can trust Euripides's play title "Arkhelaos," but as we don't have the play, hard to know). When did Karanos replace Perdikkas/Arkhelaos? Possibly when Amyntas III took over, but maybe not until Kassandros buried the last of the Argead clan, to detatch Macedonia from the Argeads (I'm inclined to think the latter).

In any case, remember that Justin is late and almost certainly confused about the child's gender. Olympias did do away with Europe, but Alexander wasn't happy about it. Infants wouldn't have been much of a threat.

Amyntas Perdikka, however, was a *threat* because he was older than Alexander and the son of the former king. He not only had a legit claim but also military experience. Ergo, Alexander had to do away with him.

(I'll also confess that I'm not convinced Amyntas wasn't involved in Philip's murder. The timing would have been good for him, bad for the younger Alexander, who'd just returned from exile not that long before. But he was on the way back up, and Amyntas may have decided he had to make a bid to be king now, or be eclipsed once the army reached Asia. Alexander's claim on the throne *was* weak and he almost lost it. Tim Howe has an interesting article on ATG's weakness in his first years [although he doesn't theorize on Amyntas and the murder], and I'm inclined to agree with Tim that Alexander's hold was tenuous initially.)
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Re: Alexander and Ptolomy brothers?

Post by Alexias » Fri Mar 22, 2019 9:27 pm

But Justin makes the baby a boy with the name "Karanos," the mythical founder of the dynasty, although exactly when that name took over as the founder's is hard to say. Originally, the mythical founder (so Herodotos) was Perdikkas. Under Arkhelaos, the name may have been altered to Arkhelaos (if we can trust Euripides's play title "Arkhelaos," but as we don't have the play, hard to know). When did Karanos replace Perdikkas/Arkhelaos? Possibly when Amyntas III took over, but maybe not until Kassandros buried the last of the Argead clan, to detatch Macedonia from the Argeads (I'm inclined to think the latter).
Does Justin actually say that Karanos was a baby? We had a discussion about this a few years ago and I seem to recall that Justin only says that Alexander feared Karanos. Agesilaos was of the opinion that Alexander would not have feared an infant but would have feared an adolescent, perhaps a son of Philinna. I think it is Justin who also says that in later years Alexander 'regretted killing his brothers'. The plural may be wrong but who would object too much about the murder of a 12 or 13 year rival, not yet proven to be a threat but potentially one?
(I'll also confess that I'm not convinced Amyntas wasn't involved in Philip's murder. The timing would have been good for him, bad for the younger Alexander, who'd just returned from exile not that long before. But he was on the way back up, and Amyntas may have decided he had to make a bid to be king now, or be eclipsed once the army reached Asia. Alexander's claim on the throne *was* weak and he almost lost it. Tim Howe has an interesting article on ATG's weakness in his first years [although he doesn't theorize on Amyntas and the murder], and I'm inclined to agree with Tim that Alexander's hold was tenuous initially.)
Do you know if this article is available online?

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Re: Alexander and Ptolomy brothers?

Post by Jeanne Reames » Sat Mar 23, 2019 6:15 am

I've never read an argument that Justin's Karanos was other than Kleopatra's son: I'm at home, so can't run to John Yardley's translation to check, but I NEVER had the impression Karanos was a boy or teen. Also Justin's "brothers" is certainly wrong, as even if he killed Karanos (assuming there WAS a Karanos), he didn't kill Arrhidaios. Neither Karanos nor any other brother (other than Arrhidaios) is mentioned in other (more reliable) sources, nor are they among the offspring listed in the Satyrus fragment from Athenaeus (13.557b-e). So as the only evidence for any Karanos (or other brothers besides Arrhidaios) comes from Justin, I'm not putting much stock in it. And the very NAME is, itself, hugely suspicious. We have to remember Justin's reputation, as well as that of Pompeius Trogus, who he epigomizes. In short, I'm FAR more inclined to think Justin got the sex wrong (accidentally OR deliberately) than that there was a brother Karanos that nobody else mentions. Alexander had enough enemies that I'd expect such a story to have got out before Justin's mangling. So color me HUGELY doubtful.

This isn't to say there may not have been other royal children who died in infancy or as young children/toddlers who aren't mentioned. The historical record famously ignores such unless there's a specific reason to record it. Given the incidences of malaria in Macedonia, I would fully expect there to have been other children of Philip who just didn't survive past their time in the women's quarters. Phila, in particular, disappears without comment, but as a royal Elimeian who's apparent relatives rose high (Harpalos and Derdas), that's odd. I wouldn't be surprised if she'd died in childbirth.

Tim's article:
https://www.academia.edu/12086150/Cleop ... _Alexander

Again, he's not talking about Karanos or Amyntas, but he has some interesting things to say about Alexander's possible plans for Kleopatra Eurydike, and his struggle to stay on the throne after Philip's murder.
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Re: Alexander and Ptolomy brothers?

Post by Alexias » Sun Mar 24, 2019 11:26 pm

Justin 2.2 Yardley and Heckel translation
(1)His primary concern was for his father's funeral, at which his first instruction was that all involved in the assassination be put to death at the tomb of his father. (2) The only person he spared was Alexander of Lyncestis, the brother (of the assassins), for he wished to preserve in that man's person the good omen for his reign, since it was the Lyncestian who had first saluted him as king. (3) He also arranged the murder of his half-brother, Caranus, son of his stepmother, who was his rival for the throne.
There is nothing in the above to link Caranus to Cleopatra/Eurydike or Attalus. There may be an assumption that because Justin at 9.7.12 says that Philip divorced Olympias for Cleopatra, the step-mother referred to here is Cleopatra. However Philip did not divorce his other wives and the notion of him divorcing Olympias so that he could marry Cleopatra may be Roman reinterpretation of Macedonian customs.

There also seems to be an assumption that the stepmother must be Cleopatra because of at 9.7, Justin states
(3)As for Alexander, it was believed that he feared a brother born to his stepmother as a rival for the throne, and that this had occasioned him quarrelling at a banquet, first with Attalus and then with Philip himself, (4) so acrimoniously that Philip lunged at him with sword drawn and was only just prevailed upon not to kill his son by the entries of his friends.


If this banquet is the wedding of Philip and Cleopatra and Alexander feared a future son born from this marriage it does not follow that Justin means Caranus is this son and Cleopatra is his mother, particularly as he states at 9.7.12
After this she forced Cleopatra, for whom Philip had divorced her, to hang herself, having first murdered her daughter in the mother's arms


Justin here is clearly not confusing Europa, Cleopatra's daughter, with Caranus.

The commentary by Heckel says
Some scholars have seen in Caranus a half-brother of Alexander by a wife other than Olympias (for the view that he was a son of Phila see Wilcken SB Berlin (1892) 508; Berve ii. 199-200, no.411)

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Re: Alexander and Ptolomy brothers?

Post by Jeanne Reames » Thu Mar 28, 2019 5:01 am

Ack, thanks, Alexias. I've been covered up lately. I will try to get back to this.

My chief concern is that Karanos is in *no* other historical text, plus "Karanos" is a weird name for a royal. Justin does sometimes have info other texts don't (especially for Philip's time in Thrace), but he's such an unreliable source that when he's contradicted by other sources, I tend to take the other sources, and I try to stay highly skeptical of what he reports about Philip in Thrace, too, although without addition texts, it's sorta all we got.

But it boils down to this: we have a list of wives and (surviving to matter) offspring from that Satyrus fragment in Athenaeus. It contains names not otherwise retained in either Diodorus or Justin. If Karanos lived long enough and mattered enough for Alexander to kill him...why isn't he on that list?

And again, the name "Karanos" is highly suspicious in itself, as it means "ruler," and is otherwise unattested in Macedonia, especially in the royal line.

So those are the chief reasons I consider him invented.
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