Ptolemy I of Egypt
Historical Figure
Nationality: Egypt (born in Macedon)
Date of Birth: c. 367 BC
Date of Death: 282 BC
Cause of Death: Natural causes
Religion: Greek and Egyptian pantheons
Occupation: General, Author of Non-Fiction
Spouse: Artakama (consort ?)
Thaïs (consort ?)
Eurydice (consort)
Berenice I of Egypt (consort)
Children: Ptolemy II of Egypt;
Arsinoe II; Philotera;
several others
Relatives: Ptolemy III of Egypt (grandson)
House: Ptolemaic
Political Office(s): Pharaoh of Egypt
Fictional Appearances:
Hellenic Traders
Set in OTL
Appearance(s): The Gryphon's Skull, Salamis
Type of Appearance: Direct, with contemporary references throughout series

Ptolemy I Soter I (Ancient Greek: Πτολεμαῖος Σωτήρ, Ptolemaĩos Sōtḗr, i.e. Ptolemy the Savior), also known as Ptolemy Lagides, c. 367 BC – January 282 BC, was a Macedonian general under Alexander the Great, who became ruler of Egypt (323–283 BC) and founder of the Ptolemaic Kingdom and dynasty during the course of the Wars of the Diadochi. In 305-304 BC he demanded the title of pharaoh.

His mother was Arsinoe of Macedon, and, while his father is unknown, ancient sources variously describe him either as the son of Lagus, a Macedonian nobleman, or as an illegitimate son of Philip II of Macedon (which, if true, would have made Ptolemy the half-brother of Alexander), but it is possible that this is a later myth fabricated to glorify the Ptolemaic dynasty. Ptolemy was one of Alexander's most trusted generals, and was among the seven somatophylakes (bodyguards) attached to his person. He was a few years older than Alexander, and had been his intimate friend since childhood.

He was succeeded by his son Ptolemy II Philadelphus.

Ptolemy I in Hellenic Traders[]

Over the Wine Dark Sea[]

In 312 BC, Ptolemaios was locked in a struggle with Antigonos. Antigonos commissioned the polis of Rhodes to build ships for his fleet. Two years later, Sostratos suggested that, as Rhodes had economic ties to Egypt, supplying Antigonos had been a bad idea. His cousin, Menedemos, retorted that Rhodes had no reason to antagonize Antigonos.[1]

The Gryphon's Skull[]

The Sacred Land[]

Owls to Athens[]


When Menedemos and Sostratos sailed to Alexandria in the spring of 306 BC, they were charged by the Rhodian political leader Komanos with delivering a message to Ptolemaios on the polis's behalf, informing the Macedonian that Demetrios, son of his rival Antigonos, had attempted to intimidate a Rhodian citizens' assembly into openly allying with Antigonos, and had been refused. [2]. By the time the Aphrodite set sail, it was also necessary to inform Ptolemaios that Demetrios had attacked Ptolemaios's brother Menelaos's holdings on Cyprus. [3]

On arriving in Alexandria harbor, Menedemos informed the captain of one of Ptolemaios's warships that he had urgent news for the ruler of Egypt, and he and Sostratos were taken directly to the warlord's palace, where they delivered the message, including their best intelligence of the size of the force attacking Cyprus. Ptolemaios remembered the two cousins from their earlier meeting three years prior but could not remember which cousin was which. The Rhodians were nonetheless impressed by his recall. Ptolemaios accepted their message with thanks and invited them to stay in a guest room of the palace for the duration of their stay in Alexandria. [4]

Several days later, Ptolemaios summoned them for another audience. He informed them that he had had their news of the attack on Cyprus corroborated and that his brother would require reinforcements from Egypt to hold out. He announced that, while it would take him awhile to raise a relief force, once he did he would strike with numbers on his side. Sostratos privately wondered whether Ptolemaios had learned any lessons from his time with Alexander the Great; Alexander had valued speed above most other concerns in many of his most successful campaigns.

Ptolemaios asked Sostratos whether he'd begun work on his history. Sostratos responded that, regrettably, more urgent concerns kept getting in the way. Ptolemaios dismissed this excuse with contempt, and advised the Rhodian merchant to carve out time for his top priority in life and force everything else to fall into place around that. [5]

While Sostratos was in Memphis, Ptolemaios summoned Menedemos and had the Rhodian captain recount his report in front of Generals Argaios and Kallikrates. He then informed Menedemos that Demetrios had taken control of most of the east coast of Cyprus and was blockading Menelaos inside the southeastern port city of Salamis. Ptolemaios was sending a force to offer Demetrios battle outside Salamis and required ships to carry supplies for his relief force. Since the fleet would be sailing into a headwind for most of the journey, only ships with large complements of rowers would be able to keep up. Ptolemaios was interested in hiring the Aphrodite and would pay double whatever price Menedemos hoped to get for the remainder of his cargo (including the smuggled amber which the Rhodians had failed to declare to Egyptian customs officials). Argaios taunted Ptolemaios by urging Menedemos to name a high price.

Menedemos attempted to decline the warlord's offer. Ptolemaios reminded Menedemos that the Rhodian would be unable to stop the Macedonian from simply seizing the Aphrodite. However, Ptolemaios admitted he was reluctant to violate Rhodian neutrality so flagrantly and risk pushing the independent polis into an alliance with Antigonos. Menedemos explained that it was that same neutrality which compelled him to demur, as Antigonos and Demetrios would likely punish his home city if they discovered a Rhodian ship among Ptolemaios's fleet. Ptolemaios became genuinely angry at this suggestion and informed Menedemos that, if he refused to take part in this action, the Aphrodite would be detained in Alexandria harbor for months, possibly for an entire year, with the firm of Philodemos and Lysistratos being forced to pay her crew's salaries without earning any profit. This prompted Menedemos to accept the warlord's commission, but not before beginning to express his resentment that the Macedonian was forcing him to go into danger. Menedemos stopped speaking before he said that Ptolemaios would not share the danger, but not before Ptolemaios--who intended to risk his life in the coming battle--realized what the younger man was thinking. The resulting display of fury left Menedemos terrified.

Their business concluded, Ptolemaios asked Menedemos if there were any reason that the ship would not be ready to sail in a few days. Menedemos explained that Sostratos had led five of her sailors to Memphis to sell oil. Ptolemaios replied that he would not delay his departure to avoid stranding five sailors, but that he valued Sostratos' intelligence and would send word to Memphis to have the other Rhodian brought back to Alexandria as quickly as possible (earning him mockery from Argaios for saying he would send word "up to Memphis," using the Egyptian convention rather than the Greek). Menedemos reflected that, coming from Ptolemaios, this was high praise for his cousin indeed. Menedemos then asked Ptolemaios for permission to store the Aphrodite in a shipshed to dry out her waterlogged timbers. As Ptolemaios would rely on the Aphrodite's speed to keep up with his warships, he consented. [6]

When Ptolemaios's fleet reached Cyprus, it put in at the western port of Paphos, Ptolemaios summoned all the fleet's captains, including Menedemos, to a meeting aboard his flagship the morning after the fleet made anchor. He personally requested that Sostratos attend as well. Ptolemaios informed the captains that he'd sent couriers to Menelaos in Salamis informing him that help was on the way and that the intended to spend several days resting, refitting, and gathering reinforcements from Cypriot poleis loyal to him before the fleet sailed east to offer battle to Demetrios's force. He then asked if anyone had questions. Only Sostratos dared speak up, asking if it was wise to delay when doing so also gave Demetrios time to prepare. Though Ptolemaios was annoyed at being second-guessed, he explained that the element of surprise was already lost thanks to enemy scout ships too fast for his own warships to run down. He also admitted that his best intelligence suggested he was outnumbered, and the reinforcements that he hoped would join him in Paphos would be sorely needed.[7]

Ptolemaios may have done better to give more thought to Sostratos' reservations; the few reinforcements that joined his fleet in Paphos were not enough to even the Egyptians' numerical disadvantage, and the ruler of Egypt was defeated. [8]. The Aphrodite was forced to flee for its life to escape a pursuing galley from Demetrios' fleet. Menedemos and Sostratos carried news of Ptolemaios' defeat to their home city, but were unable to say what had happened to the warlord personally. The Macedonian's fate remained unknown in Rhodes till an Egyptian akation, the Tykhe, arrived in the main Rhodian harbor. Its captain, Areton, had been dispatched by Ptolemaios to inform the leading citizens of Rhodes that he had survived the battle and returned safely to Alexandria, but would not be able to assist the free and independent polis should Antigonos and Demetrios set their sites on it. Ptolemaios had also ordered Areton to learn what he could about the fate of the Aphrodite and her officers. [9]

When Antigonos learned of his son's conquest of Cyprus, he proclaimed himself a king, and proclaimed Demetrios a king as well. Alexander's other surviving marshals could not allow this proclamation to go unanswered without appearing to concede pride of place to Antigonos. Therefore, despite having lost at Salamis as decisively as Demetrios won, Ptolemaios declared himself Pharaoh. [10] He would immediately have to defend his crown, as Antigonos and Demetrios followed up on their victory in Cyprus with an attack on Egypt comprised of eighty thousand soldiers and a hundred fifty warships.[11]

As fall turned to winter, the Pharaoh was able to defend his domain against invasion. He heavily fortified all the northern approaches to the Nile River Delta, and further weakened Antigonos's army by offering generous bonuses to entice defections. Though Antigonos discouraged defection by having captured deserters tortured in full view of their comrades, he was unable to breach Ptolemaios's defenses. Demetrios's warships were meanwhile unable to support their comrades due to winter storms, and thus, Ptolemaios saw off his rival kings.[12]

This article or subsection is a stub because the work is part of a larger, as-of-yet incomplete series.


  1. Over the Wine-Dark Sea, Ch 1. e-book.
  2. Salamis, Ch 2 e-book
  3. ibid
  4. ibid Ch 4
  5. ibid Ch 5
  6. ibid Ch 9
  7. ibid Ch 11
  8. ibid Ch 12
  9. ibid Ch 15
  10. ibid Ch 17
  11. ibid
  12. ibid Ch 18
Royal offices
Preceded by
Alexander IV
Pharaoh of Egypt
305-283 BC
Succeeded by
Ptolemy II