Kleopatra's Dowry: Taxation and Sovereignty between Hellenistic kingdoms

Noah Kaye, Ory Amitay

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In the twelfth book of his Jewish Antiquities, Flavius Josephus reports a dowry arrangement between Antiochos III and Ptolemy VEpiphanes in the aftermath of the Fifth Syrian War. While we know that the Seleukid princess Kleopatra (I) was eventually wed to Ptolemy V at Raphia in the winter of 194/3 BCE, the character of her dowry was, even in antiquity, shrouded in mystery, a subject of diplomatic dispute a mere generation later. Adding to the confusion, modern scholarship has connected Josephus' information about Kleopatra's dowry with his stories about the Tobiads. The manifold problems raised by the Tales of the Tobiads, together with the assertion that any division of taxation from the same land between two sovereigns is unthinkable, have caused the majority of scholars to disbelieve the information provided by Josephus. In this paper, we argue that the discussion of Kleopatra's dowry ought to be divorced from the Tales of the Tobiads. We adduce a number of examples for tax sharing in the Hellenistic eastern Mediterranean that demonstrate the plausibility of the arrangement between the Seleukids and the Ptolemies. Further, we contend that the terms of the arrangement reported by Josephus make good sense in light of international relations and politics of their time. Thus, the testimony of Josephus that the dowry arrangement included a division between the two monarchies of the taxes of Koile Syria, Samaria, Judea, and Phoenicia should re-enter the historical reckoning.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)131-155
Number of pages25
JournalHistoria - Zeitschrift fur Alte Geschichte
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Franz Steiner Verlag, Stuttgart.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Classics
  • History


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