Queen Arsinoë II, the maritime Aphrodite and early Ptolemaic ruler cult
Queen Arsinoë II, the Maritime Aphrodite and Early Ptolemaic Ruler Cult By the early Hellenistic period a trend was emerging in which royal women were deified as Aphrodite. In a unique innovation, Queen Arsinoë II of Egypt (c. 316 -270 BC) was deified as the maritime Aphrodite, and was associated with the cult titles Euploia, Akraia, and Galenaië. It was the important study of Robert (1966) which identified that the poets Posidippus and Callimachus were honouring Arsinoë II as the maritime
... dite. This thesis examines how this new third-century BC cult of 'Arsinoë Aphrodite' adopted aspects of Greek cults of the maritime Aphrodite, creating a new derivative cult. The main historical sources for this cult are the epigrams of Posidippus and Callimachus, including a relatively new epigram (Posidippus AB 39) published in 2001. This thesis demonstrates that the new cult of Arsinoë Aphrodite utilised existing traditions, such as: Aphrodite's role as patron of fleets, the practice of dedications to Aphrodite by admirals, the use of invocations before sailing, and the practice of marine dedications such as shells. In this way the Ptolemies incorporated existing religious traditions into a new form of ruler cult. This study is the first attempt to trace the direct relationship between Ptolemaic ruler cult and existing traditions of the maritime Aphrodite, and deepens our understanding of the strategies of ruler cult adopted in the early Hellenistic period. In establishing the context for the creation of this cult, this thesis also examines the naval policies of Ptolemy I and II, to show that the new cult was likely created to assist in presenting the Ptolemaic dynasty as a dominant naval power in the Eastern Mediterranean. The origins of Hellenistic ruler cult are also examined, and this thesis argues that existing Classical Greek hero and heroine cults influenced the development of divine honours for mortal rulers.