Pothinus (c. 90s BCE – 47 BCE), alternatively Potheinos, also known as the Scorpion, was a eunuch and regent for Pharaoh Ptolemy XIII of the 1st century BCE. A member of the Order of the Ancients, he and the order was responsible for the exile of Ptolemy's older sister and co-ruler, Cleopatra.
Manipulating the pharaoh
A member of the Order since at least the early 50s BCE, Pothinus came to serve in the court of Ptolemy XII Auletes, serving as one of his advisors alongside Achillas, Ganymedes and Theodotus of Chios. In 54 BCE, he was given the task of shaping the pharaoh and the kingdom into a vassal of the Roman Republic. In the late 50s BCE, Pothinus met Lucius Septimius, one of the Gabiniani stationed in Egypt to protect Auletes. Septimius had felt in love with a local woman and settled down in Alexandria. Pothinus and the advisors befriended the Gabiniani, a move which allowed Septimius to slowly climb and solidfy his position in the upper echelons of the Egyptian society.
After Auletes' death in 51 BCE, Auletes' children Ptolemy XIII and Cleopatra succeeded him as co-rulers of Egypt. Around this time, Pothinus promoted Septimius to their inner circle and later recruited him into the Order of the Ancients, often operating alongside him. Given Ptolemy's young age, Pothinus Order deemed him easy to manipulate unlike his older sister, who sidelined him almost immediately after she ascended to the throne. As such, Pothinus and the Order sought to have her eliminated, manipulating Ptolemy to exile his sister in 49 BCE, a plan which succeeded.
Later that year, Pothinus alongside Septimius, Rudjek, and newly appointed Oracle of Amun Medunamun, accompanied their leader Flavius Metellus to Siwa, seeking to open the vault beneath the Temple of Amun with an Apple of Eden in their possession. The Order of the Ancients captured the Medjay Bayek and his son Khemu, believing that the former would have knowledge regarding the vault. Unlike Flavius, who was impatient and wanted to get it over with, Pothinus tried to be the voice of reason when Bayek claimed he had knowledge about the vault and the Apple in their possession. The mission ended in failure and resulted in the death of Bayek and Aya's son, Khemu. Pothinus knew the Order went too far and he came to regret what had happened that night.
This event spurred both Aya and Bayek to seek revenge against the Order of the Ancients in their own right. In 48 BCE, after the deaths of members Rudjek by Bayek in the Bent Pyramid, and Actaeon and Ktesos in Alexandria by Aya, Pothinus and Eudoros wrote a letter to Medunamun in Siwa, warning him to act with caution. Meanwhile, they charged the Phylakitai Gennadios with locating Aya, the killer of the Order members in Alexandria. Despite their efforts however, the rest of the Order members began to fall one by one to Bayek's blade, leaving Pothinus, Flavius and Septimius as the remaining members by the late 48 BCE.
Defeat and death
- Bayek: "Your role in that insane order comes to an end, Pothinus. Face your judgement."
- Pothinus: "They went too far, in Siwa. I knew it then, but I just wanted peace for Egypt."
- Bayek: "Your peace leave many wanting."
- Pothinus: "This is inevitable. A good rule always does. My apologies, Bayek of Siwa. My fee is covered, it seems."
- —Rudjek apologizing to Bayek for the actions in the Siwa, 47 BCE.[src]-[m]
In September that year, after learning of the Roman general Pompey's arrival in the Herakleion Nome, Pothinus sent Septimius to have him assassinated before he could secure an alliance with Ptolemy's sister Cleopatra. Septimius' former affiliation with Pompey in 67 BCE made it easy for him to get close. With Pompey dead, Septimius brought back his decapitated head to Pothinus and Ptolemy in Alexandria.
Despite Pothinus and Septimius' efforts, Cleopatra was ultimately able to secure an alliance with Julius Caesar, Pompey's father-in-law. With their plans foiled, Pothinus and Septimius were ordered by Flavius to trap trapping Caesar and Cleopatra in Alexandria in 47 BCE. However, they were both able to break through with the help of Cleopatra's agent Aya and Bayek.
During the Battle of the Nile in 47 BCE, Pothinus participated in Ptolemy's last ditch attempt to defeat Caesar and Cleopatra. However, he was killed by Bayek alongside his war elephant, Yugr Tn. Before dying, Pothinus expressed his regrets for the Order's actions in Siwa which led Bayek on his path of vengeance.
Personality and characteristics
Despite being a member of the Order of the Ancients, Pothinus was not sadistic nor hungry for power, even acknowledging to Bayek that the Order went too far in Siwa. Pothinus had a genuine desire for Egypt to be peaceful and prosperous but the way he chose to do that left much to be desired.
Behind the scenes
Pothinus is an antagonist in Assassin's Creed: Origins in which he is depicted as being killed in battle at the end of the Alexandrine Civil War. Historically, however, he was executed by Caesar prior to the beginning of the Siege of Alexandria after attempting to have the Roman consul assassinated.