The Ptolemies made up the final dynasty to rule over ancient Egypt. They were Greek, Macedonian, and Syrian in origin, not native Egyptians & so how did they come to rule the Two Lands for three hundred years - from 323 to 30 B.C.?Ptalk Ptolemy to MeThe large empire Alexander the Great of Macedonia had conquered was too big for one successor. After his death in 323 B.C., one of his generals was entrusted with Macedonia, another Thrace, and a third Syria. These men, originally from Greece, each founded influential dynasties and became known as the "Diadochi," the successors.Perhaps the most important of all was that of one of Alexander's favorite generals, Ptolemy, who was made governor of Egypt. The esteem was mutual; Ptolemy brought Alexander's body for burial to Alexandria in Egypt, where it was permanently interred at the city Alexander had founded and named after himself. It is possible to view this gesture more cynically, as a way for Ptolemy to grab and maintain his power, though.Ptolemy became the first pharaoh of the Ptolemaic dynasty. Each of his successors portrayed themselves in the Egyptian fashion, depicting themselves on monuments with the traditional Egyptian gods and wearing the millennia-old pharaonic regalia. Ptolemy I eventually earned the moniker of "Soter, or savior.A Game of Thrones Ptolemy's descendants warred over the Egyptian throne for centuries. The kings, all of whom were named Ptolemy, even adopted the ancient Egyptian royal practice of marrying their sisters. Naturally, this didn't always produce harmonious family reunions. For example, Ptolemy V Epiphanes was killed in 180 B.C., while Ptolemies IX and X played musical chairs with the throne. The wife and queen of Ptolemy IV Philopator, Arsinoe III, was assassinated by the king's ministers. Amidst all of this, wars with the Seleucid Empire and other territories peppered Ptolemaic history.Perhaps the most significant contributions the Ptolemies made to Mediterranean culture were their cultural ones. An early Ptolemaic pharaoh constructed the Musaeum, a temple to the Muses, while Ptolemy I constructed the Great Library of Alexandria. Ptolemy Philadelphus had the Jewish Bible translated into Greek for his library. He is also known for re-opening a canal between the Red Sea and the Nile providing access between the Atlantic and the Indian Ocean. This was important for the wheat trade that enabled Alexandria to become the richest city in the world.

Perhaps the most famous Ptolemy was Queen Cleopatra VII, the lover of Julius Caesar and Mark Antony and the final monarch of Ptolemaic Egypt. With the death of Cleopatra and her defeat by Octavian, a.k.a. Augustus, the dynasty of the Ptolemies came to an end and Egypt became part of the Roman Empire. -Edited by Carly Silver