About Ptolemy XV 'Caesarion' Philopator, Philometer, Pharaoh of Egypt
Ptolemy XV Philopator, Philometer Caesar, Caesarion, King of Egypt, King of Kings, Iwapanetjer entynehem (Heir of the god who saves), Setepenptah (Chosen of Ptah), Irmaatenre (Carrying out the rule of Ra), Sekhemankhamun (Living image of Amun), was born June 23, 47 BC, Egypt; died (by strangulation) August 30, BC, Alexandria, Egypt.
Born June 23, 47 BC
Died August 23, 30 BC (aged 17)
Predecessor Cleopatra VII Philopator
Successor Caesar Augustus (as Roman Emperor)
Royal House Julio-Claudian
Father Julius Caesar
Mother Cleopatra VII Philopator
Ptolemy XV Philopator Philometor Caesar (June 23, 47 BC – August 23, 30 BC), nicknamed Caesarion (little Caesar) Greek: Πτολεμαῖος ΙΕʹ Φιλοπάτωρ Φιλομήτωρ Καῖσαρ, Καισαρίων, Ptolemaĩos Philopátōr Philomḗtōr Kaĩsar, Kaisaríōn was the last king of the Ptolemaic dynasty of Egypt, who reigned, as a child, jointly with his mother Cleopatra VII of Egypt, from September 2, 44 BC. For eighteen days, up to August, 30 BC he was sole pharaoh, when he was killed on orders of Octavian, who would become the Roman emperor Augustus. He was the eldest son of Cleopatra VII, and possibly the only son of Julius Caesar, for whom he was named.
Ptolemy XV, sometimes referred to as "Ptolemy Caesar", most commonly known by his nickname Caesarion, was born in Egypt in 47 BC. His mother insisted that he was the son of the Roman dictator Julius Caesar. Caesarion was said to have inherited Caesar's looks and manner, but Caesar apparently did not officially acknowledge him. Nevertheless he may have allowed him to use his name. The matter became contentious when Caesar's adopted son Octavian came into conflict with Cleopatra. His supporter Gaius Oppius wrote a pamphlet which attempted to prove that Caesar could not have fathered Caesarion. Cleopatra also compared her relationship to her son with the Egyptian goddess Isis and her miraculous child Horus.
Caesarion spent two of his early years, from 46–44 BC, in Rome, where he and his mother were Caesar's guests. Cleopatra hoped that her son would eventually succeed his father as the head of the Roman Republic as well as Egypt. After Caesar's assassination on March 15, 44 BC, Cleopatra and Caesarion returned to Egypt. Caesarion was named co-ruler by his mother on September 2, 44 BC at the age of three, although he was King in name only, with Cleopatra keeping actual authority all to herself.
During the tense period of time leading up to the final conflict between Marcus Antonius (Mark Antony) and Octavian (future Emperor Augustus), Antony shared control of the Republic in a triumvirate with Octavian and Lepidus, but Lepidus was forced into retirement by Octavian in 36BC, leaving Antony and Octavian as rivals. Two years later, in 34BC, Antony granted various eastern lands and titles to Caesarion and to his own three children with Cleopatra. Caesarion was proclaimed a god, son of god[disputed – discuss] and "King of Kings". This grandiose title was "unprecedented in the management of Roman client-king relationships" and could be seen as "threatening the 'greatness' of the Roman people". Most threatening to Octavian (whose claim to power was based on his status as Julius Caesar's grandnephew and adopted son), Antony declared Caesarion to be Caesar's true son and heir. These proclamations, known as the Donations of Alexandria, caused a fatal breach in Antony's relations with Octavian, who used Roman resentment over the Donations to gain support for war against Antony and Cleopatra.
After the defeat of Antony and Cleopatra at the Battle of Actium, Cleopatra seems to have groomed Caesarion to take over as "sole ruler without his mother." She may have intended to go into exile, perhaps with Antony, who was hoping he would be allowed to retire, as Lepidus had. When Octavian invaded Egypt in 30 BC, Cleopatra sent Caesarion, at the time 17 years old, to the Red Sea port of Berenice for safety, with possible plans of an escape to India. Octavian captured the city of Alexandria on August 1, 30 BC, the date that marks the official annexation of Egypt to the Roman Republic. Mark Antony had committed suicide prior to Octavian's entry into the capital; Cleopatra followed his example by committing suicide on August 12, 30 BC. Caesarion's guardians, including his tutor, either were themselves lured by false promises of mercy into returning the boy to Alexandria or perhaps even betrayed him; the records are unclear. Plutarch says that Caesarion had actually escaped to India, but was falsely promised the kingdom of Egypt,
Caesarion, who was said to be Cleopatra's son by Julius Caesar, was sent by his mother, with much treasure, into India, by way of Ethiopia. There Rhodon, another tutor like Theodorus, persuaded him to go back, on the ground that [Octavian] Caesar invited him to take the kingdom.
Octavian is supposed to have had Caesarion executed in Alexandria, following the advice of Arius Didymus, who said "Too many Caesars is not good" (a pun on a line in Homer). The exact circumstances of his death have not been documented; it is popularly thought that he was strangled.
Octavian then assumed absolute control of Egypt. The year 30 BC was considered the first year of the new ruler's reign according to the traditional chronological system of Egypt. In lists of the time Octavian himself appears as a Pharaoh and the successor to Caesarion.
Few images of Caesarion survive. He is thought to be depicted in a partial statue found in the harbor of Alexandria by Franck Goddio in 1997. He is also portrayed twice in relief, as an adult pharaoh, with his mother on the Temple of Hathor at Dendera.
In addition to his Greek name and nicknames, Caesarion also had a full set of royal names in the Egyptian language:
These are usually translated as:
"Heir of the God who saves"
"Chosen of Ptah"
"Carrying out the rule of Ra" or "Sun of Righteousness"
"Living Image of Amun"
References in popular media
Caesarion appears in the 1963 film Cleopatra. He is portrayed as a sweet child, and a loyal co-ruler with his mother. However, history is altered when he appears to be about 12-years-old, instead of 17, when he died.
In the Asterix comic book Asterix and Son, at the end of the book Caesarion is revealed as being the baby boy that Asterix had found on his doorstep and had been looking after. (The original French title of the graphic novel is Le fils d'Asterix .)
The 2005-07 BBC/HBO television historical fiction miniseries Rome features a version of Caesarion as a minor character. The part is played by two young actors, the older of the two being Max Baldry, and the younger, Nicolo Brecci. In the show, it is strongly implied that he is actually the son of the soldier Titus Pullo by Cleopatra, who seduces Pullo in an attempt to become pregnant at about the same time she begins her affair with Caesar. When Antony and Cleopatra die, Pullo and his comrade Lucius Vorenus slip through Octavian's border guards with the child, though Vorenus is severely wounded. In a departure from history, Pullo reports to Octavian that Caesarion is dead, when in fact he has been brought to Rome under an assumed name to live with Pullo. Though there is no direct dialogue about his age, the character is visibly far younger than seventeen years.
The novel Cleopatra's Heir by Gillian Bradshaw, portrays Caesarion as an epileptic (like his father Julius Caesar), who, after being wounded during an attack by Roman soldiers, is left for dead. Escaping his funeral pyre, he flees, but has a seizure. He is discovered by an Egyptian merchant, who cares for him. Over time, Caesarion turns from a haughty prince to a decent young man, and ultimately, he must decide whether or not to give up his old life in exchange for a new one in peace.
In the novel Antony and Cleopatra by Colleen McCullough, Caesarion is portrayed as a precociously wise young man who deplores many of his mother’s and Antony’s actions. He does, however, remain loyal to them until death.
Caesarion appears as the main character in a novel called "La stanza sull'acqua" written by Roberto Pazzi and published in 1991 by Garzanti in Italy. The book has been translated in many countries.
In the adventure / romance novel Hail Caesar: Vol. II. / Brotherhood of Men, by Roman de Caesar, the sarcophagus of Caesarion as well as the sarcophagus of Alexander the Great, which were discovered and spirited away by the French archeologist Francois Fauxchoux during Napoleon’s Egyptian Campaign, are main focal points of the story.
Ptolemy XV Caesar, nicknamed Caesarion (little Caesar) (lived June 23, 47 to August, 30 BC; reigned September 2, 44 BC to August, 30 BC) was the son of Julius Caesar and Cleopatra VII of Egypt and the last pharaoh of the Ptolemaic dynasty of Egypt.
He was nominated co-ruler by his mother on September 2, 44 BC at the age of three. Although he was probably king in name only, with Cleopatra keeping actual authority to herself, he was intended by her to be the successor of his father. When Gaius Julius Caesar Octavianus (Octavian, later Augustus Caesar) invaded Egypt in 30 BC, Cleopatra tried to send Caesarion to India for safety, but the Romans intercepted and captured him. Octavian captured the city of Alexandria on August 1, 30 BC – the date that marks the official annexation of Egypt to the Roman Republic. Cleopatra's consort Mark Antony had committed suicide prior to Octavian's entry into the capital; she followed his example by committing suicide on August 12, 30 BC.
Octavian now had to deal with the fate of the captured child pharaoh. Octavian was a grand-nephew and adoptive son of Caesarion's father, but he feared that "too many Caesars", as he put it, would threaten his claim to being his adoptive father's sole successor: he decided that his adoptive brother must be put to death. Octavian then assumed control of Egypt. The year 30 BC was considered the first year of the new ruler's reign according to the traditional chronological system of Egypt. In lists of the time Octavian himself appears as a pharaoh and the successor to Caesarion.
Caesarion is the subject of a poem written in 1918 by Konstantinos Petrou Kavafis.