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The Ptolemies, Rise of a Dynasty (Hardback)

Ptolemaic Egypt 330–246 BC

Ancient History Alexander the Great P&S History

By John D Grainger
Imprint: Pen & Sword History
Pages: 320
Illustrations: 16 Colour
ISBN: 9781399090223
Published: 30th August 2022

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In this first volume of his trilogy on the Ptolemies, John Grainger explains how Ptolemy I established the dynasty's power in Egypt in the wake of Alexander the Great's death. Egypt had been independent for most of the fourth century BC, but was reconquered by the Persian Empire in the 340s. This is essential background for Ptolemaic history since it meant that Alexander was welcomed as a liberator and, after the tyranny of Kleomenes, so was Ptolemy. This was the essential basis of Ptolemy’s power. He conciliated the Egyptians, but reinforced his military strength with Greek settlers, mainly retired or available soldiers. He built the city of Alexandria, but to his own requirements, not those planned by Alexander.

The empire outside Egypt was acquired, perhaps for defence, perhaps by sheer greed. Ptolemy took over Cyrenaica (with difficulty), Cyprus and Syria/Palestine. These had to be defended against his rivals, hence the development of his navy, and the Syrian Wars.

The succession was carefully managed, but was not directly hereditary (Ptolemy II was not the eldest son), and the new king was very different. He fought repeated wars in Syria, and in the Aegean, built up his navy to the greatest seen in the ancient world, and extended his empire into the lands of the Red Sea, Sudan and Ethiopia. He taxed the Egyptians mercilessly to fund all these activities. Yet few of his wars were successful, and he stored up trouble for his successors.

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About John D Grainger

JOHN D GRAINGER is a former teacher and historian of great experience with a particular interest in Classical and Hellenistic Greek history. His many previous works include the following for Pen & Sword: Hellenistic and Roman Naval Wars (2011); The Wars of the Maccabees (2012); Roman Conquests: Egypt and Judaea (2013); a three-part history of the Seleukid Empire (2014-16), King’s and Kingship in the Hellenistic World 350-30 BC (2017), Antipater’s Dynasty (2018), Ancient Dynasties (2019, The Roman Imperial Succession (March 2020), The Straits from Troy to Constantinople (2021) and The Forty Sieges of Constantinople (2022). He lives in Evesham, Worcestershire.

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Ancient Dynasties is a unique study of the ruling families of the ancient world known to the Greeks and Romans. The book is in two parts. The first offers analysis and discussion of various features of the ruling dynasties (including the leading families of republican Rome). It examines patterns, similarities and contrasts, categorizes types of dynasty and explores common themes such as how they were founded and maintained, the role of women and the various reasons for their decline. The second part is a catalogue of all the dynasties (over 150 of them) known to have existed between approximately…

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