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Area/Ruler: Egypt: Ptolemy V Epiphanes
Reigned: 205 BC - 180 BC
Denomination: AR Tetradrachm
Mint: Alexandria c. 204 BC
Obverse: Diademed head of Ptolemy I right, wearing aegis.
Reverse: Eagle standing left on thunderbolt; wings closed. "ΠΤΟΛEΜΑΙΟϒ ΒΑΣΙΛΙΩΣ"
Reference: Svoronos 1231 and 1489; SNG Copenhagen 244-5 and 262-8
Weight: 13.4 gms
Diameter: 27.4 mm

Ptolemy V Epiphanes

Ptolemy V Epiphanes ("Ptolemy the Illustrious"); reigned 204-181 BC, and was the son of Ptolemy IV Philopator and Arsinoe III of Egypt, was the fifth ruler of the Ptolemaic dynasty. He inherited the throne at the age of five, and under a series of regents, the kingdom was paralyzed.

Ptolemy Epiphanes was only a small boy when his father, Ptolemy Philopator, died. Philopator's two leading favourites, Agathocles and Sosibius, fearing that Arsinoe would secure the regency, had her murdered before she heard of her husband's death, thereby securing the regency for themselves. However, in 202 BC, Tlepolemus, the general in charge of Pelusium, put himself at the head of a revolt. Once Epiphanes was in the hands of Tlepolemus he was persuaded to give a sign that his mother's killers should be killed.

Antiochus III the Great, the Seleucid king, and Philip V of Macedon made a pact to divide the Ptolemaic overseas possessions. Philip seized several islands and populated places in Caria and Thrace, whilst the Battle of Panium (198 BC) resulted in the transference of Coele-Syria, including Judea, from the Ptolemies to the Seleucids.

Antiochus then concluded peace, giving his own daughter Cleopatra I to Epiphanes in marriage (193-192 BC). Nevertheless, when war broke out between Antiochus and Rome, Egypt allied itself with Rome. Epiphanes came of age in approximately 196 or 197 BC.

In 197 BC, Lycopolis was held by the forces of Ankhmakis (also known as Chaonnophris), the secessionist pharaoh of Upper Egypt, but he was forced to withdraw to Thebes. The war between Upper and Lower Egypt continued until 185 BC with the arrest of Ankhmakis by Ptolemaic general Conanus. This victory re-established Ptolemaic rule in Upper Egypt, as well as the Triakontaschoinos.

In 183 BC/184 BC, the rebels in Lower Egypt surrendered on the basis of terms that Epiphanes had personally promised to honour. However, showing himself treacherous and vindictive, he had them put to death in a cruel manner.

The Memphis Decree, published in three languages on the Rosetta Stone and other stelae, announced the rule and ascension to godhood of Ptolemy V, and contained concessions to the priesthood.

The elder of Ptolemy V's two sons, Ptolemy VI Philometor (181-145 BC), succeeded as an infant under the regency of his mother Cleopatra the Syrian. Her death was followed by a rupture between the Ptolemaic and Seleucid courts, on the old question of Coele-Syria.

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