You’ve every been teach the surname Philadelphia originates from Greek an interpretation “City of Brotherly Love.” That’s mainly true. What you haven’t to be taught is the long, fascinating history behind the name. Together it transforms out, the surname Philadelphia ultimately comes from a nickname given to an old Greek leader of Egypt who obtained notoriety for marrying his own complete sister. The “brotherly love” in the name initially referred to literal incest.

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The beginning of the epithet Philadelphos

Ptolemaios II was an old Greek king who ruled Egypt native March 282 BC to January 246 BC. He was the child of Ptolemaios i Soter, who was among Alexander the Great’s generals and also a member the the Diadochoi, the team of Alexander’s companions who divided up his realm after his death. After ~ Alexander’s death, Ptolemaios ns had claimed Egypt together his territory and Ptolemaios II had actually succeeded him as king of Egypt after ~ his death.

At some point between 279 and also 274 BC, Ptolemaios II married his own full sister Arsinoë II. Marriages between siblings were normal for the Egyptian pharaohs, for this reason Ptolemaios II’s aboriginal Egyptian topics weren’t dreadful surprised. The Greeks life Ptolemaios II’s kingdom, though, to be absolutely shocked and scandalized because, among the Greeks, marriage between full brothers was viewed as deeply morally wrong—even because that kings.

As I abovementioned in this article I released last week, the Greek poet Sotades the Maroneia famously composed a palindromic epigram mocking Ptolemaios II’s incestuous marriage. The epigram has been kept in the initial Greek v quotation by the later on Greek writer Ploutarchos that Chaironeia (lived c. 46 – c. 120 AD) in his writing On the education of Children. Here it is:

“εἰς οὐχ ὁσίην τρυμαλιὴν τὸ κέντρον ὠθεῖς.”

Here is my own English translate in of it:

“You are shoving your cock into a hole that is not holy.”

Because Ptolemaios II accurate married his own sister, people used to the the epithet Φιλάδελφος (Philádelphos), an interpretation “the Sibling-Lover,” acquired from the Greek epsilon-contract verb φιλέω (philéō), definition “to love,” and the second-declension noun ἀδελφός (adelphós), meaning “sibling.”

Apart from marrying his sister, Ptolemaios II Philadelphos was normally known for being a very good king. His reign was long and extraordinarily prosperous. He to be also vital patron of the Library of Alexandria and also the Mouseion, the temple of the Muses linked with that that worked as a research institution.

Over the course of his reign, Ptolemaios II noted funding and also resources to numerous scholars and also intellectuals and he play a significant role in turning Alexandria into the intellectual center it became. In later times, human being looked ago on his regime as the “Golden Age” that Ptolemaic Egypt. Later on Hellenistic rulers—not simply of Egypt, however of various other kingdoms together well—sought to imitate him.


ABOVE: picture from Wikimedia Commons of an old Greek copper bust the Ptolemaios II Philadelphos indigenous the Villa that the Papyri in Herculaneum, now on display screen in the naples National historical Museum

The starting of the old city of Philadephia

Over half a century ~ Ptolemaios II’s death, there was a Greek king that Pergamon named Eumenes II, who had actually a brother named Attalos II, who acted as his general. Attalos II to be famously faithful to his brother, so he was offered the epithet Φιλάδελφος, which had earlier been hosted by Ptolemaios II. While this epithet may have actually originally been given to Ptolemaios II come mock that surreptitiously, when human being gave it to Attalos II, they certainly meant it as a an excellent thing.

At some suggest shortly after ~ 189 BC, Eumenes II started a city in the an ar of Lydia in what is currently western Turkey and named that Φιλαδέλφεια (Philadélpheia) in respect of his lovely brother. The city was located roughly seventy miles east of the Greek city the Smyrna (present-day Izmir, Turkey) on the northeast steep of mount Tmolos.

After Eumenes II’s fatality in 159 BC, Attalos II ascended come the throne and married his brother’s widow Stratonike. He ruled the kingdom of Pergamon until his own death in 138 BC. After his death, the was thrived by Eumenes II’s son Attalos III.

The city the Eumenes II founded and named after ~ his brother later on bore several various other names in antiquity, including Neokaisareia and Flavia, yet Philadelphia stayed the best-known name for the city. The city in reality still exist in Turkey today, but today that is well-known by the Turkish surname Alaşehir.


ABOVE: photo from Wikimedia Commons of a fragmentary marble portrait of one of two people Attalos II or Attalos III the Pergamon. The city that Philadelphia in Asia young was named after Attalos II, that was well-known for his commitment to his brothers Eumenes II.

Philadelphia in the book of Revelation

Centuries after the city that Philadelphia was founded, once the Christian writer john of Patmos was creating the book of Revelation close to the end of the first century AD, he had in the book letters to 7 churches that Asia Minor. The 6th of the 7 churches that he wrote to was the church in the city of Philadelphia—the exact same city the Eumenes II had founded in honor of his brother Attalos II.

John that Patmos’s letter come the Philadelphians is consisted of in the book of Revelation 3:7–13. In it, john praises the Philadelphians for your extraordinary faith. The writes, as analyzed in the new Revised traditional Version (NRSV):

“And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write:”

“‘These space the native of the divine one, the true one,who has actually the an essential of David,who opens and no one will shut,who shuts and no one opens:"”

“‘I recognize your works. Look, i have set before girlfriend an open up door, which nobody is able to shut. I recognize that you have actually but small power, and yet you have kept mine word and have not denied mine name. I will certainly make those that the synagogue of Satan who say that they are Jews and are not, yet are lying—I will certainly make lock come and also bow down prior to your feet, and also they will find out that I have actually loved you. Due to the fact that you have actually kept mine word of patient endurance, ns will store you from the hour of trial that is coming on the whole world to test the inhabitants of the earth. I am comes soon; hold rapid to what girlfriend have, so that no one might seize your crown. If girlfriend conquer, I will certainly make girlfriend a column in the holy place of my God; friend will never go the end of it. I will certainly write on friend the name of mine God, and the name of the city of my God, the brand-new Jerusalem that comes down from mine God the end of heaven, and also my own new name. Permit anyone who has actually an ear listen to what the spirit is speak to the churches."”

Of the 7 churches the Asia Minor addressed by man of Patmos in the publication of Revelation, the church of Smyrna and also Philadelphia are the just ones the receive only praise and also no criticism native him. The members that the church in ~ Smyrna, however, space forewarned that they will challenge a temptation lasting for ten days; vice versa, the members of the church in ~ Philadelphia are clearly promised that, on account of their remarkable faith, they will certainly be spared indigenous temptation altogether.

On account that this letter, the city the Philadelphia to be widely well-known to Christians throughout the Early contemporary Period (lasted c. 1450 – c. 1750) as a glorious, utopian city wherein faith and brotherly love flourished. This romanticized photo of old Philadelphia is, of course, inaccurate, yet it is the photo that john of Patmos’s description inspired in the minds of later on Christian readers.


ABOVE: St. John on Patmos, painted in between c. 1649 and c. 1669 through the Flemish painter Gaspar de Crayer

The establishing of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

When the English aristocrat and Quaker William penn (lived 1644 – 1718) founded the city of Philadelphia in 1682, that envisioned it together a place where people of all religious backgrounds would be able to live with each other in peace, brotherly love, and steadfast faith. Therefore, he named it “Philadelphia” after the famous ancient city praised by man of Patmos in the publication of Revelation.

The reality that William penn very plainly named Philadelphia after an old city mentioned in the bible is regularly omitted in discussions that the etymology of the name of the city of Philadelphia, yet this is an essential historical reality for us to pay attention to. Wilhelm Penn plainly picked this name not just because it way “City the Brotherly Love,” but also because the the exuberant prayer that the city that this name receives in the book of Revelation.

William penn was a devout Quaker and, although civilization in Philadelphia today might want your city to have a secular name, as soon as Penn choose this name, that undoubtedly had certain religious ideas in mind. In Penn’s mind, Philadelphia was supposed to be a place where people of all faiths might coexist in peace, but Penn would most likely be simply as disgusted and horrified to hear that atheists life in his city as any other male of his time.

It is unlikely the William penn knew about the connection between the name Philadelphia and the epithet of Ptolemaios II Philadelphos. If he had actually known around this connection, the is unclear whether he would have actually still picked this surname for his brand-new utopian city.


ABOVE: Portrait of wilhelm Penn, the founder of the city of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, painted in 1666 once he to be twenty-two year old


The surname of the city the Philadelphia can at some point be traced ago to an old city pointed out in the publication of Revelation that was called by a king the Pergamon after ~ his brother, who organized a nickname that had originally been applied to a king that Egypt that married his very own sister. In various other words, the “brotherly love” in the name initially referred to literal meaning incest.

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I assumption: v the lesson right here is that, if you want to important live in the spirit of “brotherly love,” you should marry your sibling.