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Berenice II of Egypt

Berenice, was the daughter of Magas, king of Cyrene, and the wife of Ptolemy III Euergetes I, the third ruler of the Ptolemaic dynasty of Egypt.

During her husband's absence on an expedition to Syria, she dedicated her hair to Venus for his safe return, and placed it in the temple of the goddess at Zephyrium[?]. The hair having by some unknown means disappeared, Conon of Samos, explained the phenomenon in courtly phrase, by saying that it had been carried to the heavens and placed among the stars.

The name Coma Berenices or Berenice's hair, applied to a constellation, commemorates this incident. Callimachus celebrated the transformation in a poem, of which only a few lines remain, but there is a fine translation of it by Catullus. Soon after her husband's death (221 BC) she was murdered at the instigation of her son Ptolemy IV, with whom she was probably associated in the government.

This entry was originally from the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.



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