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Ptolemy (name)

The name Ptolemy or Ptolemaeus comes from the Greek Ptolemaios, which seems to mean warlike or son of war. There have been many people named Ptolemy or Ptolemaeus, the most famous of whom are the Greek-Egyptian astronomer Claudius Ptolemaeus, and the Macedonian founder and ruler of the Ptolemaic Kingdom in Egypt, Ptolemy I Soter. The following sections summarise the history of the name, some of the people named Ptolemy, and some of the other uses of this name.

According to Georg Autenrieth the English name Ptolemy comes from the Ancient Greek name Πτολεμαῖος (Ptolemaios), "warlike" or "son of war". Autienrieth renders the meaning of the name to be an adjective from πτόλεμος (ptólemos), explained as a Homeric form of πόλεμος (pólemos), "war". A nephew of Antigonus I was called Polemaeus, the normal form of the adjective. Ptolemaios is first attested in Homer's Iliad and is the name of an Achaean warrior, son of Piraeus, father of Eurymedon.

The name Ptolemaios varied over the years from its roots in Ancient Greece, appearing in different languages in various forms and spellings. The original form, and some of the variants, are listed here in the languages relevant to the history of the name.

The name Ptolemy spread from its Macedonian origins to enter other languages in the Middle and Near East during the Hellenisation that followed the conquest of the known world by Alexander the Great.

The Aramaic name Bar Talmai (Greek Bartolomaios and English Bartholomew) may be related. Alternatively, it may have a Hebrew derivation.

is formed from this name by the Greek feminine adjectival ending -i(d)s (found also in Iliad, Aeneid).

  • Ptolemaic period – period of Egyptian history during the Ptolemaic dynasty.
  • Ptolemaic dynasty – Egyptian ruling dynasty founded by Ptolemy I Soter.
  • Ptolemaic Kingdom – the kingdom founded by Ptolemy I Soter.
  • – towns and cities named after members of the Ptolemaic dynasty.
  • Ptolemaeus crater on the Moon – named for Claudius Ptolemaeus.
  • Ptolemaeus crater on Mars – named for Claudius Ptolemaeus.
  • 4001 Ptolemaeus – an asteroid named for Claudius Ptolemaeus.
  • Ptolemy Project – a computing project based at the University of California, Berkeley, USA. The project started in the 1980s and is named for Claudius Ptolemaeus.
  • Ptolemy Project – a project to allow surgeons in Africa to access medical texts in the online library of the University of Toronto, Canada. It started in 2001, and was inspired by the medical library of Alexandria, founded by Ptolemy I Soter.
  • Tolomeo (the Italian spelling of Ptolemy) – an iconic desk lamp design produced for the Italian company Artemide in 1986.
  • Alderman Ptolemy Tortoise, a character in The Tale of Mr. Jeremy Fisher by Beatrix Potter
  • Ptolemaic Terrascope – magazine (founded 1989). The name was inspired by "Ptolemy the turtle, who lives at Terrascope Towers". Various artworks and logos feature an astronomer peering through a 'terrascope', so Ptolemaic may here refer to Claudius Ptolemaeus.
  • Ptolemy's Gate (published 2005) – the third book in The Bartimaeus Trilogy, a fantasy series by the English author Jonathan Stroud. The series includes a character called Ptolemy, from 2nd century BC Ptolemaic Egypt, who is nephew to Ptolemy VIII and cousin to Ptolemy IX.
  • Claudius Ptolemaeus is featured as a wizard called Ptolemy, on a magical collectible card in the fictional Harry Potter universe.
  • The Ptolemy (1934) – a large reed organ built by the American composer Harry Partch. This may have been named in tribute to Claudius Ptolemaeus, who summarized the musical work of philosophers like Pythagoras.
  • Tolomeo (the Italian spelling of Ptolemy) – an opera by Handel, composed in 1728. It is set in Egypt around 108 BC, when Ptolemy IX Lathyros deposed his mother and joint ruler of Egypt, Cleopatra III, for his younger brother, who reigned as Ptolemy X Alexander I.
  • Ptolemy Dean (20th and 21st century) – British architect, author, and television consultant.
  • Ptolemy Tompkins (20th and 21st century) – American author.
  • CBS-70 Ptolemaios (aka Ptolemy) - A unique space-based mobile suit carrier used by the privately owned paramilitary organization Celestial Being in the 2007 anime TV series "Mobile Suit Gundam 00". Destroyed at the end of Season One, it is replaced by the newer CBS-74 Ptolemaios 2 by the beginning of Season Two (2008). The Ptolemaios 2 is later upgraded into the Ptolemaios 2 Kai for the concluding movie "Mobile Suit Gundam 00 the Movie: A Wakening of the Trailblazer" (2009).
  • – mountains in Canada and Antarctica.
  • Barry Ptolemy (20th and 21st century) – American film director and producer


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