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 order was responsible for the exile of Ptolemy's older sister and co-ruler, Cleopatra.
Manipulating the pharaoh
During the reign of Ptolemy XII Auletes, Pothinus served as one of his advisors alongside Achillas, Ganymedes and Theodotus of Chios. 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. As such, Pothinus and the Order sought to have her eliminated, manipulating Ptolemy to exile his sister in 49 BCE, a plan which suceeded.
Defeat and death
In 48 BCE, 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 decapicitated 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, they resorted to 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 the Medjay Bayek of Siwa.
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.