Demetrius the Fair or surnamed The Handsome (Greek: Δημήτριος ο Καλός, around 285 BC-249 BC or 250 BC), also known in modern ancient historical sources as Demetrius of Cyrene, was a Hellenistic king of Cyrene.
Demetrius is a man of Greek Macedonian descent. He was surnamed The Fair, because he was an attractive man. He was born and raised in Macedonia. Demetrius was named after his father and was the youngest child, from the children of King Demetrius I of Macedon and his mother was Ptolemais. Ptolemais married Demetrius I as his fifth wife around 287 BC/286 BC in Miletus. Demetrius I married Ptolemais as his fifth wife, while this was Ptolemais’ first marriage. When his parents married, his father was king. Demetrius was the only child born into the marriage as in 283 BC his father had died. From his father’s previous marriages, Demetrius had various paternal half siblings which included king Antigonus II Gonatas, princess and later queen of the Seleucid Empire Stratonice of Syria.
Demetrius’ maternal grandparents were the first Greek-Egyptian pharaoh Ptolemy I Soter and noblewoman Eurydice. Among his maternal aunts were queen Arsinoe II of Egypt and among his maternal uncles were pharaoh Ptolemy II Philadelphus and Macedonian King Ptolemy Keraunos (Keraunos was Ptolemais’ full blooded brother). Among his maternal cousins were pharaoh Ptolemy III Euergetes. His paternal grandparents were Macedonian king Antigonus I Monophthalmus and noblewoman Stratonice, while his paternal uncle was the general Philip.
Not much is known about him until 249 BC. Greek Cyrenaean king Magas of Cyrene died in 249 BC or 250 BC. His widow, was the powerful Greek monarch Apama II. Apama was Demetrius’ niece, who was a daughter of his paternal half sister Stratonice of Syria from her marriage to Greek king of the Seleucid Empire Antiochus I Soter.
Apama summoned Demetrius from Macedonia. She offered Demetrius, her daughter with Magas (and only child) princess Berenice II in marriage to him. Demetrius in return, would become King of Cyrenaica and protect Cyrenaica from the Ptolemaic dynasty. Demetrius agreed to Apama’s request and married Berenice. When he married Berenice and became king, there was no opposition in his rise to the throne. When Demetrius became king, he became so ambitious it reached the point of recklessness.
Sometime after his marriage to Berenice, Demetrius and Apama became lovers. Jealous of her husband's affair with her mother, Berenice argued with both of them and fatally stabbed Demetrius who died in Apama’s arms. The poem Coma Berenices by Greek poet Callimachus (lost, but known in a Latin translation or paraphrase by Catullus), apparently refers to her killing of Demetrius: "Let me remind you how stout-hearted you were even as a young girl: have you forgotten the brave deed by which you gained a royal marriage?"
Marriages and Children
* First marriage to a Greek noblewoman from Larissa named Olympias the daughter of a Greek nobleman Polycletus or Polyclitus of Larissa. Olympias married Demetrius at an unknown date in the 3rd century BC. She probably died before 249 BC.
* Antigonus III Doson - later Greek Macedonian King
* Echecrates - Not much is known of this nobleman apart from the fact that he had a son whom he named after his brother Antigonus. A few months before his paternal second cousin Greek King Philip V of Macedon’s death Echecrates' son Antigonus revealed to Philip that Philip's son prince Perseus of Macedon had made false accusations against his brother, Philip's other son, Demetrius, whom Philip had then had put to death. Philip, indignant at Perseus’ conduct appointed Antigonus as his successor. When Philip died in 179 BC and Antigonus became king, Perseus ousted Antigonus and had him executed.
* Second marriage to his great niece, Greek Cyrenaean princess and future Greek queen of Egypt Berenice II. They married either in 249 BC or 250 BC. Berenice killed Demetrius, out of jealousy and revenge because Demetrius and her mother became lovers.