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Cleopatra V of Egypt

Ptolemaic Queen of Egypt
The basics
Date of birth
Date of death 57
Children: Arsinoe IV of Egypt Cleopatra VI of Egypt Cleopatra Berenice IV of Egypt Ptolemy XIII Theos Philopator Ptolemy XIV of Egypt
Spouse: Ptolemy XII Auletes
Mother: Berenice III of Egypt
Brother(s): Ptolemy XI Alexander II
Father: Ptolemy X Alexander I
The details

Cleopatra V Tryphaena of Egypt (Greek: Κλεοπάτρα Τρύφαινα, born c. 95 BC, died c. 69/68 BC or c. 57 BC) was a Ptolemaic Queen of Egypt. She is the only surely attested wife of Ptolemy XII.

Descent and marriage

Cleopatra may have been an illegitimate daughter of Ptolemy IX or the daughter of Ptolemy X Alexander I by his wives - Cleopatra Selene I or Berenice III. In some sources Cleopatra Tryphaena, wife of Ptolemy XII, is referred to as Cleopatra VI.

She is first mentioned in 79 BC in two papyri. In that year she married Ptolemy XII, king of Egypt. Ptolemy XII was an illegitimate child of Ptolemy IX, but it is unclear if he and Cleopatra Tryphaena were full siblings or not. They received divine worship as theoí Philopátores kai Philádelphoi (father-, brother- and sister-loving gods).

Death and identity

It is unclear how long Cleopatra V lived, and with which mentions of Cleopatra Tryphaena in the historical record she should be identified, as the numbering used to distinguish the Ptolemies is a modern invention. Cleopatra Tryphaena V vanished around the time Cleopatra VII was born (69 BC): her name begins to disappear from monuments and papyri, and there is an inscription of Ptolemy XII from 68 BC that does not mention her but would be expected to do so had she still been alive. There is some indication that she may have died in 69 or 68 BC — she may have died in childbirth or was murdered. Should she really have died that early, then the Cleopatra Tryphaena who is mentioned — after the expulsion of Ptolemy XII — as co-ruler of Egypt (together with Berenice IV) in 58 and 57 BC, and died around 57 BC, must be her daughter, numbered by some historians as Cleopatra VI Tryphaena. This is also supported by Porphyry.

On the other hand, there is a dedication on the Temple of Edfu from 57 BC that inscribes Cleopatra Tryphaena's name alongside Ptolemy XII's, which would have meant the king's wife rather than daughter and would be unlikely had Ptolemy XII's wife really died already twelve years earlier. Thus most modern historians consider Cleopatra V to be identical with the purported Cleopatra VI Tryphaena, and have her living to c. 57 BC. This would comport with the account by Strabo, who reports Ptolemy XII to have had only three daughters; we can reliably identify Berenice IV, Cleopatra VII, and Arsinoe IV as the king's daughters, so that there would not be left any room for a Cleopatra VI.

The historian Werner Huß believes that Ptolemy XII repudiated his wife Cleopatra V in 69 BC and married a noble Egyptian woman from the high priest family of Memphis. This presumed second wife of the Egyptian king could have been the mother of Cleopatra VII and this daughter's younger siblings, while Berenice IV was the daughter of Cleopatra V because Strabo only calls the oldest daughter of Ptolemy XII a legitimate child. If this theory is true then Cleopatra V assumed power together with her daughter Berenice IV after the expulsion of Ptolemy XII (58 BC) and died before the end of the next year, as her name again disappears from the documents after 57 BC.


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