In the early Hellenistic period a common form of ruler cult was to deify a Queen as Aphrodite. However, in a unique innovation, Queen Arsinoë II of Egypt (c. 316 – 270 BC) was deified as the maritime Aphrodite. This seminar examines how the third-century BC cult of ‘Arsinoë Aphrodite’ related to the Greek concept of the maritime Aphrodite, which dated back to the Archaic period. It will be shown that the new cult utilised existing traditions, such as: Aphrodite’s role as patron of fleets, the practice of dedications to Aphrodite by Admirals, the use of invocations before sailing, and the practice of marine dedications such as shells. In this way the Ptolemies incorporated existing religious traditions into a form of ruler cult. This study appears to be the first attempt at tracing the direct relationship between Ptolemaic ruler cult and the traditions of the maritime Aphrodite, and deepens our understanding of the strategies of ruler cult adopted in the early Hellenistic period.






W332 Forgan Smith Building