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Berenice

Berenice has been the name of several Ptolemaic queens in Cyrenaica and Egypt and several Herodian Jewish princesses in Judea. Berenike is the Macedonian form of the Greek name Pherenike.

Table of contents
1 Ptolemaic Berenices
2 Judean Berenices
3 Berenice the seaport
4 See also

Ptolemaic Berenices

Berenice I, wife of an obscure Macedonian soldier, came to Egypt as a lady-in-waiting to Eurydice, bride of Ptolemy Soter, Alexander's general and founder of the Ptolemaic dynasty Before long, Berenice caught the eye of the king. Her son, Ptolemy Philadelphus, was recognized as heir in preference to Eurydice's children. Ptolemy named for her the new port he built on the Red Sea (see below). So great was her ability and her influence that King Pyrrhus of Epirus also gave the name Berenicis to a new city. Her son Philadelphus decreed divine honours to her on her death. (See Theocritus, Idylls xv. and xvii.)

Berenice was the daughter of Ptolemy Philadelphus, wife of the Seleucid monarch Antiochus II Theos in modern-day Syria, who, following an agreement with Ptolemy (249 BC), had divorced his wife Laodice and transferred the succession to Berenice's children.

On Ptolemy's death, Antiochus repudiated Berenice and took back Laodice, who, however, at once poisoned him and murdered Berenice and her son. Believers in prophecies associate the prophecy recorded in Daniel xi. 6 seq. with these these events. Conversely, those historians who accept such a connection use it to date the composition of Daniel xi.

Berenice, the daughter of Magas, king of Cyrene, and the wife of Ptolemy III Euergetes. During her husband's absence on an expedition to Syria, she dedicated her hair to Venus for his safe return, and placed it in the temple of the goddess at Zephyrium. The hair having by some unknown means disappeared, Conon of Samos, the mathematician and astronomer, explained the phenomenon in courtly phrase, by saying that it had been carried to the heavens and placed among the stars. The name of the constellation Coma Berenices commemorates this incident. Callimachus celebrated the transformation in a poem, of which only a few lines remain, but there is a fine translation of it by Catullus. Soon after her husband's death (221 B.C.) she was murdered at the instigation of her son Ptolemy IV, with whom she was probably associated in the government.

Berenice Cleopatra, daughter of Ptolemy X, married as her second husband Alexander II., grandson of Ptolemy VII. He murdered her three weeks afterwards.

Berenice, daughter of Ptolemy Auletes, eldest sister of the great Cleopatra. The Alexandrines placed her on the throne in succession to her father (58 B.C.). She married Seleucus Cybiosactes, but soon caused him to be slain, and married Archelaus, who had been made king of Comana in Pontus (or in Cappadocia) by Pompey. Auletes was restored and put both Berenice and Archelaus to death in 55 B.C.

Judean Berenices

Berenice, daughter of Salome, sister of Herod I, and uneasy wife of her cousin Aristobulus, who was assassinated in 6 BCE; she was accused of complicity in his murder. By Aristobulus she was the mother of Herod Agrippa I. Her second husband, Theudion, uncle on the mother's side of Antipater, son of Herod I, having been put to death for conspiring against Herod, she married Archelaus. Subsequently she went to Rome and enjoyed the favour of the imperial household.

Berenice, daughter of Agrippa I, king of Judaea, and born probably about 28. She was first married to Marcus, son of the Alabarch Alexander of Alexandria. On his early death she was married to her father's brother, Herod of Chalcis, after whose death in 48 she lived for some years with her brother, Agrippa II. Her third husband was Polemon, king of Cilicia, but she soon deserted him, and returned to Agrippa, with whom she was living in 60 when Paul appeared before him at Caesarea (Acts xxvi.). During the devastation of Judaea by the Romans after Great Jewish Revolt, she fascinated Titus Flavius, whom along with Agrippa she followed to Rome as his promised wife in 75. However, when Titus became emperor in 79, he dismissed her finally, though reluctantly, to her own country. Her influence had been exercised vainly on behalf of the Jews in 66, but the burning of her palace alienated her sympathies. For her influence see Juvenal, Satires, vi., and Tacitus, Historia ii. 2. This was the Berenice who was made the subject of Berenice, a tragedy by the French dramatist Jean Racine (1679), based on the story of her affair with the Roman emperor, Titus Flavius.

Berenice the seaport

Berenice, an ancient seaport of Egypt, founded by Ptolemy II. (285247 BCE) on the west coast of the Red Sea. Built at the head of a gulf, the Sinus Immundus, or Foul Bay, of Strabo, it was sheltered on the north by Ras Benas (Lepte Extrema). The port is now nearly filled up, has a sand-bar at its entrance and can be reached only by small craft. Most important of the ruins is a temple; the remnants of its sculptures and inscriptions preserve the name of Tiberius and the figures of many deities, including a (goddess?) Alabarch or Arabarch, also the name of the head magistrate of the Jews in Alexandria under Ptolemaic and Roman rule.

For four or five centuries Berenice was the trans-shipping point of trade between India, Arabia and Upper Egypt. From it a road, provided with watering stations (Greek hydreumata, see Hadhramaut) leads north-west across the desert to the Nile at Coptos. In the neighbourhood of Berenice were the emerald mines of Zabara and Saket.

See also