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Alexander Helios (Greek: ο Αλέξανδρος Ήλιος, 25 December 40 BC - possibly between 29 BC - 25 BC) was a Ptolemaic prince and was the eldest son of Greek Ptolemaic queen Cleopatra VII of Egypt and Roman triumvir Mark Antony. His twin was Cleopatra Selene II. He was of Greek and Roman heritage. Cleopatra named him Alexander in honour of her Macedonian heritage, and after her maternal grandfather. His second name in Ancient Greek means "Sun"; this was the counterpart of his twin sister’s second name Selene, meaning "Moon".[1]

Contents

Life

Alexander Helios was born and educated in Alexandria. In late 34 BC, at the Donations of Alexandria, he was given the title of "Helios", and "King of Kings." His parents also made him ruler of Armenia, Media, Parthia and any countries yet to be discovered between the Euphrates and Indus Rivers, despite the fact that most of this territory stood outside of their control at that time. These areas were, in fact, already ruled by Artaxias II of Armenia (who had been elected King that same year after Anthony captured his father, Artavasdes II), Artavasdes I of Media Atropatene and Phraates IV of Parthia. In 33 BC, Alexander was engaged to Iotapa, (sometimes spelled Jotape) a Princess of Media and daughter of Artavasdes I of Media Atropatene. However, Mark Antony and Cleopatra were defeated by Octavian at the Battle of Actium in 31 BC. The next year, they committed suicide as Octavian and his army invaded Egypt. Iotapa left Egypt to return to her father and later married King Mithridates III of Commagene, who was of Armenian and Greek descent.

When Octavian conquered Egypt, he spared Alexander, but took him, his sister and his brother Ptolemy Philadelphus from Egypt to Rome. Octavian celebrated his military triumph in Rome by parading the children in heavy golden chains in the streets behind an effigy of their mother clutching an asp to her arm. It is unclear whether Ptolemy Philadelphus survived the journey to Rome, as Cassius Dio History of Rome only mentions the twins.[2] The children were given to Octavia Minor to be raised in her house in Rome under her guardianship. They were generously received by Octavia, who educated them with her own children; Octavia Minor was Octavian's second elder sister and was Mark Antony's former wife. Mark Antony left Octavia to marry Cleopatra.

The ultimate fate of Alexander Helios is unknown. Plutarch states that Octavian killed Antony’s son Marcus Antonius Antyllus and Cleopatra's son with Julius Caesar, Caesarion. The only further mention of Alexander and Ptolemy Philadelphus comes from Cassius Dio, who states that when their sister Cleopatra Selene married King Juba II, Octavian (then named Augustus) spared the lives of Alexander Helios and Ptolemy Philadelphus as a favor to the couple.[3] The ancient sources do not mention any military service, political career, involvement in scandals, marriage plans or descendants; if he had survived to adulthood, it is thought at least one of these would probably have been noted. The sources disagree on when Alexander Helios and Ptolemy Philadelphus died. If Octavian spared their lives when he conquered Egypt to seem generous, he could have had them killed later. Both boys would have been a threat to Octavian's rule when they grew older. It is highly likely that both Alexander Helios and Ptolemy Philadelphus died from illness, although it is unknown whether they died before their sister married or after.[2][4][5]

In fiction

Alexander Helios is a main character in the book Cleopatra's Daughter, by Michelle Moran, which is about his twin sister Cleopatra Selene.

Ancestry

References

  1. ^ Mason, Charles Peter (1867). "Alexander". in William Smith. Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology. 1. Boston: Little, Brown and Company. pp. 112. http://www.ancientlibrary.com/smith-bio/0121.html.  
  2. ^ a b Cassius Dio, xlix. 32, 40, 41, 44, l. 25, li. 21
  3. ^ Cassius Dio, li. 15
  4. ^ Plutarch, Anton. 36, 54, 87
  5. ^ Livy, Epit. 131,132

Other sources

External links

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