Torso of a Ptolemaic King, inscribed with cartouches of a late Ptolemy

Period: Ptolemaic Period

Date: 80–30 B.C.

Geography: From Egypt

Medium: Basalt

Dimensions: H. 93 cm (36 5/8 in); w. 31 cm (12 3/16 in); d. 25 cm (9 13/16 in)

Credit Line: Purchase, Lila Acheson Wallace Gift and Rogers Fund, 1981

Accession Number: 1981.224.1


The names preserved on this fine torso are probably those of either Ptolemy XII or Ptolemy XV. In its waning years the Ptolemaic Dynasty was struggling for stability and was increasingly dependent on Rome. As though seeking to transcend the difficulties of the period, Ptolemy XII took the title Neos Dionysus, “the New Dionysus/ Osiris.” A number of sculptures exist depicting him as an emphatically youthful figure. The best alternative candidate, Ptolemy XV, also known as Caesarion, was the short-lived son of Cleopatra VII and Julius Caesar.