Egypt had been part of the Persian Empire from 525 BC, but in 332, Alexander the Great was crowned as Pharaoh at Memphis and three centuries of Greek rule were inaugurated. The great coastal city of Alexandria was founded the following year and soon replaced Memphis as the seat of government. Ptolemy, one of Alexander’s generals, was appointed Satrap of Egypt in 323 BC and quickly set about consolidating his position. Eventually, in 305 BC, he took the title of ‘king” and became the founder of a royal dynasty which was destined to endure for 275 years, until the suicide of Cleopatra VI. Ptolemy II, or Philadelphos, the son of Ptolemy I, was made co-ruler by his father two years before the latter’s death, thus ensuring a smooth succession.
His long reign was a period of growing prosperity for his kingdom, and the capital city of Alexandria was embellished with many splendid new buildings-the Pharos, the museum and the library being foremost. Ptolemy II was twice married: in Circa 288 BC to Arsinoe I, daughter of Lysimachos of Thrace; and about twelve years later, as was typical of the times, to his own sister, Arsinoe II.