C L E O P A T R A  V  -  Q U E E N  OF  E G Y P T



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Cleopatra V was a member of the Ptolemaic dynasty that ruled Egypt after Alexander the Great,and the only truly attested wife of Ptolemy XII Auletes.






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.


It is a confusing situation. We have taken it to be that Cleopatra V and Cleopatra VI are one and the same.

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).


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.


Cleopatra VI Tryphaena (Greek: Κλεοπάτρα Τρύφαινα) was an Egyptian Ptolemaic queen. She may be identical with Cleopatra V, as we have taken it to be.

There were at least two, perhaps three Ptolemaic women called Cleopatra Tryphaena.

Tryphaena, daughter of Ptolemy VIII Physcon and Cleopatra III

Tryphaena was a sister of Ptolemy IX Lathyros, Ptolemy X Alexander I, Cleopatra IV and Cleopatra Selene I. If this Tryphaena also bore the name Cleopatra, has not been attested. This Tryphaena may have been born in early 140 or 141 BC. She married Antiochus VIII Grypus, king of Syria, in 124 BC, and bore him five sons: Seleucus VI Epiphanes, the twin Antiochus XI Epiphanes and Philip I Philadelphus, Demetrius III Eucaerus, and Antiochus XII Dionysus. The couple also had a daughter called Laodice. Tryphaena was killed in Antioch (Greek: Αντιόχεια), capital of Syria, by Antiochus IX Cyzicenus, as a revenge for his own wife's (Cleopatra IV) death by the orders of her sister Tryphaena (in 111 BC).

Cleopatra V Tryphaena, wife of Ptolemy XII Auletes

Cleopatra V Tryphaena was a Queen of Egypt until her mysterious disappearance from the records in 69 BC. If, as some scholars believe, her disappearance is attributable to her death, then it must be assumed that she had a daughter also called Cleopatra Tryphaena.

Cleopatra Tryphaena, daughter of Cleopatra V and Ptolemy XII Auletes

She is called Cleopatra VI Tryphaena by some modern historians and she would have been an older sister of the famous Cleopatra VII. If so, her birth year would correctly be c. 75 BC. Some sources say she died as a child. Others say that when Ptolemy XII fled to Rome to avoid an uprising in Alexandria against him (in 58 BC), she and her sister Berenice IV took control of Ptolemaic Egypt.


Strabo, however, states that Ptolemy had three daughters, of whom only the eldest (Berenice) was legitimate. This suggests that the Cleopatra Tryphaena referred to by Porphyry may have been Ptolemy's wife, not his daughter. Many experts now identify Cleopatra VI with Cleopatra V of Egypt, Ptolemy's wife. We share this view.












Cleopatra V (or VI) is thought to be mother to Cleopatra VII Philopator. The most famous of Egyptian Pharaoh queens, whose tomb remained undiscovered (in fiction) until Safiya Sabuka guessed correctly where her final resting place was; underwater, the result of an earthquake and tsunami in 365AD.





Cleopatra VII in popular culture - a Scooby-Doo animated feature film











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