Berenice - Encyclopedia

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BERENICE, or Bernice, the Macedonian forms of the Greek Pherenice, the name of (A) five Egyptian and (B) two Jewish princesses.

(A) 1. Berenice, daughter of Lagus, wife of an obscure Macedonian soldier and subsequently of Ptolemy Soter, with whose bride Eurydice she came to Egypt as a lady-in-waiting. Her son, Ptolemy Philadelphus, was recognized as heir over the heads of Eurydice's children. So great was her ability and her influence that Pyrrhus of Epirus 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.) 2. Berenice, daughter of Ptolemy Philadelphus, wife of Antiochus Theos of Syria, who, according to agreement with Ptolemy (249), 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. The prophecy in Daniel xi. 6 seq. refers to these events.

3. 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 Coma Berenices, applied to a constellation, 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.

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

5. 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.

(B) 1. Berenice, daughter of Salome, sister of Herod I., and wife of her cousin Aristobulus, who was assassinated in 6 B.C. Their relations had been unhappy and 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.

2. Berenice, daughter of Agrippa I., king of Judaea, and born probably about A.D. 28. She was first married to Marcus, son of the alabarch 1 Alexander of Alexandria. On his early death she was married to her father's brother, Herod of Chalcis, after whose death (A.D. 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, she fascinated Titus, whom along with Agrippa she followed to Rome as his promised wife (A.D. 75). When he became emperor (A.D. 79) he dismissed her finally, though reluctantly, to her own country. Her influence had been exercised vainly on behalf of the Jews in A.D. 66, but the burning of her palace alienated her sympathies. For her influence see Juvenal, Satires, vi., and Tacitus, Hist. ii. 2.

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