19. The Dynasty’s Founder Might Have Been Alexander the Great’s Bastard Half Brother
Ptolemy I Soter, Greek for “Ptolemy the Savior” (367 – 282 BC), was a Macedonian general and close companion of Alexander the Great. After Alexander’s death, Ptolemy was one of the three Diadochi, or successors, who carved up Alexander’s empire amongst themselves. Ptolemy ended up taking Egypt as his share. There, he founded the Ptolemaic Dynasty, which ruled Egypt for three centuries, until Queen Cleopatra VII’s suicide and the annexation of Egypt to the Roman Empire in 30 BC.
Ptolemy was born out of wedlock to a concubine presented by a nobleman to king Phillip II of Macedon, the father of Alexander the Great. Ptolemy’s father is unknown, and some ancient sources claim that his mother was already pregnant when she was gifted to Phillip II. Others assert that it was Phillip who impregnated her – which would make Ptolemy the biological half-brother of Alexander the Great. Whatever his parentage, Ptolemy was born in Phillip’s household, and was educated as a royal page in the Macedonian court. There, he befriended the crown prince, Alexander, and the duo remained close companions until the latter’s death.