BMCR 2010.01.12

Kleopatra-Studien: Gesammelte Schriften zur ausgehenden Ptolemäerzeit. Xenia Bd. 49

, Kleopatra-Studien: Gesammelte Schriften zur ausgehenden Ptolemäerzeit. Xenia Bd. 49. Konstanz: UVK, Univ.-Verlag Konstanz, 2009. 364. ISBN 9783879408184. €39.00.

[The exact titles of the studies and their original places of publication are listed at the end of the review.]

Kleopatra-Studien contains nine studies by Heinz Heinen primarily on the late Ptolemaic period published between 1966 and 2009. One of Heinen’s main research areas is the Hellenistic world with a special focus on Egypt. Only the last paper is published here for the first time. All contributions were newly typeset and are presented in chronological order starting with the oldest. Three essays that recently have been republished in another volume of 29 selected writings by Heinen are marked with an asterisk.1

Nearly half of the book consists of Heinen’s well-received Ph.D. dissertation on Rome and Egypt between 51 and 47 B.C., which was first published in 1966. Though long out of print, it has been a standard work on this subject ever since and is reprinted here in a far more appealing format (pp. 13-153). While it is not the aim of the present author to review Heinen’s dissertation again after 43 years, it might be useful to summarize its contents. The study is in two parts: I. The relationship between Pompey and Egypt from 51-48 B.C., and II. Caesar and the Alexandrian War. Part I (in eight chapters) has chapters on the younger Cn. Pompeius’ delegation to Egypt, the testament of Ptolemy XII, Pompey’s tutelage of Ptolemy XIII, the crisis at the Ptolemaic court, the powers behind the throne (Pothinus, Achillas, Theodotos) and their takeover, the Alexandrian support for Cn. Pompeius, the acknowledgement of Ptolemy XIII by the counter senate of Thessalonica, and the escape and death of Pompey. Part II on Caesar’s involvement in Egypt in twelve chapters covers the chase of Pompey and Caesar’s arrival in Alexandria, the first riots, Caesar’s behavior in Alexandria before Cleopatra’s return, Caesar’s mediation in the inner dynastic struggles, the coup d’état of Pothinus, Caesar’s delegation to Achillas, Arsinoe’s flight, the fight over the control of the Ptolemaic army, the release of Ptolemy XIII, and Caesar’s victory and reorganization of Egypt. Three appendices deal with the question of whether Pompey visited Egypt in 67 B.C. (which Heinen denies), the cult names of Cleopatra VII and her two brothers, and a timetable of dates for the year 3 (50/49 B.C.) in papyrus documents. A brief addendum (pp. 152-153) contains some additional literature Heinen did not have access to at the time of the original publication as well as some further commentary.

Heinen’s dissertation is followed by a paper on Caesar and Caesarion from 1969, which primarily is a response to a study by J. Carcopino and the subsequent scholarship. In the end, Heinen seriously questions that Marc Antony might have been Caesarion’s father; the evidence for Caesar’s paternity faces far fewer obstacles, but still lacks final proof. The next contribution is a short onomasticon on Cleopatra’s chambermaid Eiras and her possible Jewish origins.

The only review in this book deals with Holger Sonnabend’s Ph.D. dissertation from 1986 on the perception of Egyptians and Parthians in the Roman Republic and early Principate. It is followed by the lengthy chapter from ANRW on the precursors and beginnings of the ruler cult in Roman Egypt (pp. 191-243). Next comes an essay ( Festschrift Karl Christ) on a late Ptolemaic stele ( SB I 1570 = IG Fay. I 14) from Arsinoe by Cleopatra and Caesarion depicting in the upper frame the head of a pharaoh in nemes-headdress. Although this relief-sculpture has in the past been interpreted as the divine Iulius Caesar, Heinen argues that it shows a personification of the god Suchos instead (pp. 244-257).

The last three papers are Heinen’s most recent works here. The first of these (pp. 258-287) contains some remarks about the ruling class in Ptolemaic Egypt under the heading “Hunger, Misery and Power.” Heinen compares the relevant text from two honorary decrees by the Egyptian priesthood: the Kanopus Decree on behalf of Ptolemy III Euergetes and his wife Berenice II (238 B.C.) and the decree for the strategos of a part of the Thebaid, Callimachus (39 B.C.). Heinen provides the Greek text and a German translation and thorough commentary for each. Both documents outline how the authorities dealt with food shortages. Heinen then examines the impact of the Egyptian priesthood on society and the real status of Callimachus. The next essay, “Cleopatra regina amica populi Romani et Caesaris,” is a chapter from an exhibition catalogue for a recent exhibition on Cleopatra in Hamburg (pp. 288-298). Here Heinen sketches the Roman-Ptolemaic relationship from 69 B.C., focusing on the period from Caesar’s arrival in Egypt until Octavian’s conquest of Egypt. Heinen agrees with E.S. Gruen2 that Cleopatra did not stay uninterrupted in Rome from 46 until after Caesar’s murder, but rather made two short visits in the years 46 and 44 (p. 292-293).

The last paper (pp. 299-333) is entitled “Dangerous friendships. Treason and inversion of the clientele relationship in late Ptolemaic Egypt.” As the only new study in this book it is intended to take the place of an afterword containing a summary and a review of recent scholarship, especially in light of renewed attention on Cleopatra. Heinen’s perspective is inspired by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft Sonderforschungsbereich 600 “Fremdheit und Armut. Wandel von Inklusions- und Exklusionsformeln von der Antike bis zur Gegenwart” at Trier University. He concentrates on the dangers to which the amicitia between Rome and Egypt could lead. Those dangers were indeed real for both sides. Heinen discusses in detail Pompey’s death, the Alexandrian War, and the inversion of the clientele relationship through the bond between Cleopatra and Marc Antony. A time chart from 80 to 30 B.C., a general index, a source index (authors, inscriptions, papyri, coins) and two maps of Alexandria and the eastern Mediterranean conclude the book.

The compilation of these studies on Cleopatra is very well done, and Heinen can be congratulated for his effort, especially in making his important dissertation more accessible. Considering the new typesetting of all these studies, one might have wished that Heinen had added some comment, revision and perhaps an occasional note, either within the existing footnotes or on separate pages. A reprint is usually a welcome opportunity to express some further thoughts. Heinen does not intend to discuss or compile the scholarly literature on Cleopatra of the past decades (299), so his references to this are rather selective. These criticisms notwithstanding, Heine’s Kleopatra-Studien is an extremely useful as well as authoritative contribution, which can be read with great benefit.

Table of Contents (with the original place of publication):

Rom und Ägypten von 51 bis 47 v. Chr. Untersuchungen zur Regierungszeit der 7. Kleopatra und des 13. Ptolemäers (Ph.D. Dissertation Tübingen 1966).

“Cäsar und Kaisarion,” Historia 18, 1969, 181-203.*

“Onomastisches zu Eiras, Kammerzofe Kleopatras VII.” ZPE 79, 1989, 243-247.*

Review: Holger Sonnabend, Fremdenbild und Politik. Vorstellungen der Römer von Ägypten und dem Partherreich in der späten Republik und frühen Kaiserzeit, Frankfurt am Main et al. 1986, in: Bibliotheca Orientalis 47, 1990, 658-665.

“Vorstufen und Anfänge des Herrscherkultes im römischen Ägypten,” Aufstieg und Niedergang der römischen Welt, Vol. II 18,5, Berlin, New York 1995, 3144-3180.*

“Eine Darstellung des vergöttlichten Iulius Caesar auf einer ägyptischen Stele? Beobachtungen zu einem missverstandenen Denkmal ( SB I 1570 = IG Fay. I 14),” in: P. Kneissl, V. Losemann (edd.), Imperium Romanum. Studien zur Geschichte und Rezeption. Festschrift für Karl Christ zum 75. Geburtstag, Stuttgart 1998, 334-345.

“Hunger, Not und Macht. Bemerkungen zur herrschenden Gesellschaft im ptolemäischen Ägypten,” Ancient Society 36, 2006, 13-44.

Cleopatra regina amica populi Romani et Caesaris. Die Rom- und Caesarfreundschaft der Kleopatra: Gebrauch und Missbrauch eines politischen Instruments Kleopatra und die Caesaren,” in: B. Andreae und K. Rhein (edd.). Eine Ausstellung des Bucerius Kunst Forums, 28. Oktober 2006 bis 4. Februar 2007, 152-157.

“Gefährliche Freundschaften: Verrat und Inversion des Klientelverhältnisses im spätptolemäischen Ägypten.”


1. H. Heinen, Vom hellenistischen Osten zum römischen Westen. Ausgewählte Schriften zur Alten Geschichte, A. Binsfeld – S. Pfeiffer, unter Mitwirkung von A. Coskun, M. Ghetta, J. Hupe, M. Tröster, Stuttgart 2006.

2. E.S. Gruen, “Cleopatra and Rome. Facts and Fantasies,” in: D. Braund and C. Gill (edd.): Myth, History and Culture in Republican Rome. Studies in Honor of T.P. Wiseman, Exeter 2003, 257-274.