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Monday, January 14, 2008

REVIEW: Peter Nadig, Zwischen König und Karikatur

Peter Nadig, Zwischen König und Karikatur. Das Bild Ptolemaios' VIII. im Spannungsfeld der Überlieferung. Münchener Beiträge zur Papyrusforschung und antiken Rechtsgeschichte 97. Munich: C.H. Beck, 2007. Pp. vii, 306. ISBN 978-3-406-55949-5. €74.00.

Reviewed by Paul Edmund Stanwick, New York City (pstan5@earthlink.net)
Word count: 1037 words

Although there are innumerable treatments of the life of Cleopatra the Great, few books take other individual Ptolemaic rulers as their exclusive subject. In his volume, Peter Nadig writes about Ptolemy VIII Euergetes II (reigned in Egypt, 170-163, 145-116 B.C.), one of the longest ruling and most notorious of the Ptolemies. As the subtitle of the book suggests ("Between King and Caricature"), one of Nadig's goals is to critically examine the veracity of the caricatured image that comes across in the Greek and Roman sources on the king. Among other things, these ancient authors call him Physkon, which can be translated as "pot belly" or "fatso." Athenaeus, for example, comments that the king's belly was so large that it was difficult to measure.1 These authors also emphasize the king's acts of cruelty, ruthlessness, and extravagance. Diodorus Siculus notes that Ptolemy VIII killed his son born by his sister-wife and then sent the dismembered remains to her.

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