The name Ptolemy or Ptolemaeus comes from the Greek Ptolemaios, which means warlike. There have been many people named Ptolemy or Ptolemaeus, the most famous of which are the Greek-Egyptian astronomer Claudius Ptolemaeus and the Macedonian founder and ruler of the Ptolemaic Kingdom in Egypt, Ptolemy I Soter. The following sections summarise the history of the name, some of the people named Ptolemy, and some of the other uses of this name.
Etymology and history
The English name Ptolemy has its roots in the Ancient Greek name Ptolemaios (warlike), which is an adjectival form of the word ptolemos
, which is itself an 'epic' (Homeric) form of the word (LSJ
war).It is interesting that a nephew of Antigonus I
was called Polemaeus
The name Ptolemaios varied over the years from its roots in Ancient Greece, appearing in different languages in various forms and spellings. The original form, and some of the variants, are listed here in the languages relevant to the history of the name.
Related is the Aramaic name Bar Talmai (Son of Ptolemy), which led to the names Bartolomeo (Italian) and Bartholomew (English) among others. Thus the name Ptolemy spread from its Greek origins to enter other languages in the Middle and Near East during the Hellenisation that followed the conquest of the known world by Alexander the Great.
The feminine name Ptolemais is constructed from similar roots.
Early Greek rulers and generals named Ptolemy
Egyptian Ptolemaic dynasty (rulers)
The Ptolemaic dynasty, of Macedonian origin, ruled Hellenistic Egypt for nearly 300 years, from 305 BC to 30 BC. The kings of this dynasty were all named Ptolemy. See Ptolemaic dynasty for details of their reigns and other ruling members of the dynasty. See also: Legacy of Ptolemy I Soter.
Egyptian Ptolemaic dynasty (descendants)
There were several members of the Ptolemaic dynasty
that did not become senior rulers of Egypt. Some of them became rulers of other kingdoms. Many of the dates and other details about these Ptolemies are uncertain.
- Ptolemy son of Abubus, murderer of Simon Maccabaeus and his sons
- Ptolemy-el-Garib, a Peripatetic pinacographer whose Life of Aristotle survives in Arabic translation
- Ptolemy (son of Dorymenes) (circa 66 BC) - soldier in the Seleucid Empire under Lysias.
- Ptolemy (son of Mennaeus) (rule ended circa 40 BC) - governor of Abilene, a district of the disputed region of Coele-Syria.
- Ptolemy (Acts of Peter) - a character in the Acts of Peter, who was a rich man trying to marry the daughter of Peter
- Claudius Ptolemaeus (circa 90-circa 168) - also known as Ptolemy, he was an author, geographer, mathematician, astronomer and astrologer who lived in the Greek culture of Roman Egypt. See also: Legacy of Claudius Ptolemaeus.
- Ptolemaeus Chennus (2nd century AD) - grammarian who lived in the Greek culture of Roman Egypt.
- Ptolemy (gnostic) (circa 180 AD) - a religious philosopher who was active in Roman Italy and Gaul.
- Ptolemaeus and Lucius, Christian martyrs
- Ptolemaeus Secundus, a Latin nickname for the Arab polymath Ibn al-Haytham.
- Ptolemy I of Tusculum (d.1126) - count of Tusculum who asserted his family's descent from the Roman Julii.
- Ptolemy II of Tusculum (d.1153) - count of Tusculum who married Bertha, daughter of Henry V, Holy Roman Emperor.
- Bernard Tolomeo (Italian spelling of Ptolemy) (1272-1348) - founder of the Olivetan Roman Catholic religious order.
- Tolomeo da Lucca (ca. 1227-ca. 1327), also known as Bartholomew of Lucca, historian and Dominican.
- John Baptist Tolomei (Italian variant of Ptolemy) (1653-1726) - Jesuit theologian and cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church.
Several Ptolemies, particularly those from the Ptolemaic period
, were recorded by a variety of epithets, not all of which can be assigned with certainty to any one Ptolemy. Some of these variant epithets are listed here, along with some of the identifications suggested by scholars. Some of these identifications remain a matter of controversy.
- Ptolemy the Son
- Ptolemy son of Lysimachus
- Ptolemy of Telmessos
- Ptolemy "the Brother"
Legacy of Claudius Ptolemaeus
Legacy of Ptolemy I Soter
A non-exhaustive list of other, generally later, uses of the name Ptolemy includes:
- Ptolemaeus crater on the Moon - named for Claudius Ptolemaeus.
- Ptolemaeus crater on Mars - named for Claudius Ptolemaeus.
- 4001 Ptolemaeus - an asteroid named for Claudius Ptolemaeus.
- Ptolemy Project - a computing project based at the University of California, Berkeley, USA. The project started in the 1980s and is named for Claudius Ptolemaeus.
- Ptolemy Project - a project to allow surgeons in Africa to access medical texts in the online library of the University of Toronto, Canada. It started in 2001, and was inspired by the medical library of Alexandria, founded by Ptolemy I Soter.
- Tolomeo (the Italian spelling of Ptolemy) - an iconic desk lamp design produced for the Italian company Artemide in 1986.
- Alderman Ptolemy Tortoise, a character in The Tale of Mr. Jeremy Fisher by Beatrix Potter
- Ptolemaic Terrascope - magazine (founded 1989). The name was inspired by "Ptolemy the turtle, who lives at Terrascope Towers". Various artworks and logos feature an astronomer peering through a 'terrascope', so Ptolemaic may here refer to Claudius Ptolemaeus.
- Ptolemy's Gate (published 2005) - the third book in The Bartimaeus Trilogy, a fantasy series by the English author Jonathan Stroud. The series includes a character called Ptolemy, from 2nd century BC Ptolemaic Egypt, who is nephew to Ptolemy VIII and cousin to Ptolemy IX.
- Claudius Ptolemaeus is featured as a wizard called Ptolemy, on a magical collectible card in the fictional Harry Potter universe.
- The Ptolemy (1934) - a large reed organ built by the American composer Harry Partch. This may have been named in tribute to Claudius Ptolemaeus, who summarized the musical work of philosophers like Pythagorus.
- Tolomeo (the Italian spelling of Ptolemy) - an opera by Handel, composed in 1728. It is set in Egypt around 108 BC, when Ptolemy IX Lathyros deposed his mother and joint ruler of Egypt, Cleopatra III, for his younger brother, who reigned as Ptolemy X Alexander I.
- Ptolemy Dean (20th and 21st century) - British architect, author, and television consultant.
- Ptolemy Tompkins (20th and 21st century) - American author.