Antiochus VIII Grypus

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Antiochus VIII Epiphanes
Antiochus VIII Callinicus/Philometor
Antiochus VIII.jpg
Coin of Antiochus VIII
(Co-regent) King of the Seleucid Empire
(Co-regent) King of Syria
Reign125–121/123 BC (as co-regent with his mother Cleopatra Thea)
121/123 BC–96 BC (in opposition to his half-brother/cousin Antiochus IX)
Coronation 125 BC
PredecessorCleopatra Thea, Seleucus V
Successor Seleucus VI
Died96 BC
Spouse Tryphaena
Cleopatra Selene
Issue Seleucus VI Epiphanes
Antiochus XI
Philip I
Demetrius III
Antiochus XII
Laodice, Queen of Commagene
Dynasty Seleucid
Father Demetrius II Nicator
Mother Cleopatra Thea

Antiochus VIII Epiphanes/Callinicus/Philometor, nicknamed Grypus (Greek : Γρυπός, "hook-nose"), was the ruler of the Syrian Seleucid Empire from 125 to 96 BC. He was the younger son of Demetrius II and Cleopatra Thea. He may have spent his early life in Athens and returned to Syria after the deaths of his father and brother Seleucus V. At first he was joint ruler with his mother. Fearing her influence, Antiochus VIII had Cleopatra Thea poisoned in 121 BC.


Political instability affected most of Antiochus VIII's reign. From 116 BC he fought a civil war against his half-brother Antiochus IX. Antiochus VIII's wife, the Ptolemaic Egyptian princess Tryphaena, had her sister and the wife of Antiochus IX, the former Cleopatra IV of Egypt, murdered in 112 BC; Antiochus IX killed Tryphaena in revenge. In 102 BC, Antiochus VIII's aunt Cleopatra III of Egypt, the mother of the two rival queens, gave him the hand of her daughter Cleopatra Selene in marriage. Antiochus VIII was assassinated in 96 BC.


Family background and childhood

In 193 BC Cleopatra I, a Seleucid princess, married King Ptolemy V of Egypt. Their granddaughter Cleopatra Thea of the Ptolemaic dynasty married the Syrian claimant Alexander Balas half a century later in 150 BC. [1] She later married Demetrius II of Syria, and they had two sons. [note 1] Demetrius II was captured and held as a prisoner by the Parthian Empire. Antiochus VIII's uncle Antiochus VII took the throne and married Cleopatra Thea, but died in 129 BC while fighting against the Parthians; Demetrius II then returned to the throne, and died in 125 BC while waging a war for the Syrian throne against the claimant Alexander II. Demetrius II's eldest son Seleucus V became king after his death, but was soon killed by Cleopatra Thea. She made Antiochus VIII king, ruling as his co-regent. [2]

Rise to power

Shortly after taking the throne, Antiochus VIII married his cousin, the Ptolemaic princess Tryphaena. Silver and bronze coins issued during the co-regency (125–121 BC) of Antiochus VIII and Cleopatra Thea show the head of the queen appearing at front with her son's head behind hers. Her name is also the first listed on the coinage. These facts signify that she was the senior co-ruler. [3] He defeated usurper Alexander II Zabinas in 123 BC. In 121 BC, Antiochus decided to rid himself of his influential mother. [4] According to Justin, his mother tried to poison him with wine, but the suspicious king forced her to drink the cup herself. [5] However, it was Grypus himself who would become famous for his interest in toxicology. [4] [6] Some poems about poisonous herbs believed to have been written by him are quoted by the famous physician Galen.[ citation needed ]

Reign as King of Syria

Coin of Antiochus VIII Grypus. Reverse: god Sandan standing on the horned lion, in his pyre surmounted by an eagle. AntiochusGrippusCoin.jpg
Coin of Antiochus VIII Grypus. Reverse: god Sandan standing on the horned lion, in his pyre surmounted by an eagle.

Despite political shortcomings, Grypus was a popular king. His ugly, lazy appearance on coins (common among the last Seleucids), together with stories of his lavish banquets, made posterity believe his dynasty was degenerate and decadent. This was, however, a conscious image invoking the Hellenistic concept of Tryphe - meaning good life, which the last Seleucids strove to be associated with, as opposed to the exhausting civil wars and feuds which troubled their reigns in reality. [7]

A story of his luxurious parties claims he sent food home with guests who attended banquets, complete with a camel as beast of burden, as well as an attendant to carry the guest himself. This should certainly have caused some strain on the already depleted treasury. [8]

Civil War

In 116 BC his half-brother and cousin Antiochus IX Cyzicenus returned from exile and a civil war began. Cyzicenus' wife, also named Cleopatra, was a sister of Tryphaena and was eventually killed in a dramatic fashion in the temple of Daphne outside Antioch, on the order of Tryphaena. Cyzicenus eventually killed Tryphaena as revenge. The two brothers then divided Syria between them until Grypus was killed by his minister Heracleon in 96 BC.


He married the Ptolemaic princess Tryphaena ca. 125, [4] and had six children by her:

In 102, Cleopatra III of Egypt gave him her daughter Cleopatra Selene I in marriage, but she gave him no children. Afterwards, she went to marry Antiochus IX Cyzicenus. [4]

See also


  1. Antiochus VIII, the younger, was born sometime between 143 and 140 BC; he was between 15 and 17 when he took the throne. He may have been sent to Athens to prevent competition for the throne. However, this is not certain. In any case, he was in Syria in 125 BC. [2]

Related Research Articles

This article concerns the period 129 BC – 120 BC.

Antiochus may refer to:

Laodice may refer to:

Demetrius II Nicator Seleucid king

Demetrius II, called Nicator, was one of the sons of Demetrius I Soter possibly by Laodice V, as was his brother Antiochus VII Sidetes. He ruled the Seleucid Empire for two periods, separated by a number of years of captivity in Hyrcania in Parthia: first from September 145 BC to July/August 138 BC and again from 129 BC until his death in 125 BC. His brother Antiochus VII ruled the Seleucid Empire in the interim between his two reigns.

Demetrius III Eucaerus King of Syria

Demetrius III Theos Philopator Soter Philometor Euergetes Callinicus was a Hellenistic Seleucid monarch who reigned as the King of Syria between 96 and 87 BC. He was a son of Antiochus VIII and, most likely, his Egyptian wife Tryphaena. Demetrius III's early life was spent in a period of civil war between his father and his uncle Antiochus IX, which ended with the assassination of Antiochus VIII in 96 BC. After the death of their father, Demetrius III took control of Damascus while his brother Seleucus VI prepared for war against Antiochus IX, who occupied the Syrian capital Antioch.

Antiochus VII Sidetes Antiochus VII Sidetes

Antiochus VII Euergetes, nicknamed Sidetes, also known as Antiochus the Pious, was ruler of the Hellenistic Seleucid Empire who reigned from July/August 138 to 129 BC. He was the last Seleucid king of any stature. After Antiochus was killed in battle, the Seleucid realm was restricted to Syria.

Alexander II Zabinas King of Syria

Alexander II Theos Epiphanes Nikephoros was a Hellenistic Seleucid monarch who reigned as the King of Syria between 128 BC and 123 BC. His true parentage is debated; most ancient historians and the modern academic consensus maintain he was a pretender who claimed to be a Seleucid, either a son of Alexander I or an adopted son of Antiochus VII. His surname "Zabinas" is a Semitic name that is usually translated as "the bought one". It is possible, however, that Alexander II was a natural son of Alexander I, as the surname can also mean "bought from the god". The iconography of Alexander II's coinage indicates he based his claims to the throne on his descent from Antiochus IV, the father of Alexander I.

Cleopatra Thea Egyptian Queen

Cleopatra Thea surnamed Eueteria was the ruler of the Hellenistic Seleucid Empire. She was queen consort of Syria from 150 to about 125 BC as the wife of three Syrian kings: Alexander Balas, Demetrius II Nicator, and Antiochus VII Sidetes. She ruled Syria from 125 BC after the death of Demetrius II Nicator, eventually in co-regency with her son Antiochus VIII Grypus until 121 or 120 BC.

Antiochus X Eusebes King of Syria

Antiochus X Eusebes Philopator was a Hellenistic Seleucid monarch who reigned as the King of Syria between 95 BC and 92 BC or 89/88 BC. He was the son of Antiochus IX and perhaps his Egyptian wife Cleopatra IV. He lived in a period during which there was a general disintegration of Seleucid Syria characterized by civil wars, foreign interference by Ptolemaic Egypt and incursions by the Parthians. Antiochus IX was killed in 95 BC at the hands of Seleucus VI, the son of his half-brother and rival Antiochus VIII. Antiochus X then went to the city of Aradus where he declared himself king. He avenged his father by defeating Seleucus VI, who was eventually killed.

Philip I Philadelphus King of Syria

Philip I Epiphanes Philadelphus was a Hellenistic Seleucid monarch who reigned as the King of Syria from 94 to either 83 or 75 BC. The son of Antiochus VIII and his wife Tryphaena, he spent his early life in a period of civil war between his father and his uncle Antiochus IX. The conflict ended with the assassination of Antiochus VIII and a quick succession in the Syrian capital Antioch of Antiochus IX then Antiochus VIII's eldest son Seleucus VI.

Seleucus VI Epiphanes King of Syria

Seleucus VI Epiphanes Nicator was a Hellenistic Seleucid monarch who ruled Syria between 96 and 94 BC. He was the son of Antiochus VIII and his Egyptian wife Tryphaena. Seleucus VI lived in a period of civil war between his father and his uncle Antiochus IX, which ended in 96 BC when Antiochus VIII was assassinated. Antiochus IX then occupied the capital Antioch while Seleucus VI established his power-base in western Cilicia and himself prepared for war. In 95 BC, Antiochus IX marched against his nephew, but lost the battle and was killed. Seleucus VI became the master of the capital but had to share Syria with his brother Demetrius III, based in Damascus, and his cousin, Antiochus IX's son Antiochus X.

Antiochus IX Cyzicenus Antiochus IX Eusebes Cyzicenus

Antiochus IX Eusebes Cyzicenus was a ruler of the Hellenistic Seleucid kingdom. He was the son of Antiochus VII Sidetes and Cleopatra Thea. He left the kingdom in 129 BC and went to the city of Cyzicus, but he returned in 116 BC to challenge his half-brother Antiochus VIII for power.

The Seleucid king Seleucus V Philometor, ruler of the Hellenistic Seleucid kingdom, was the eldest son of Demetrius II Nicator and Cleopatra Thea. The epithet Philometor means "mother-loving" and in the Hellenistic world usually indicated that the mother acted as co-regent for the prince.

Antiochus I Theos of Commagene King of Commagene

Antiochus I Theos Dikaios Epiphanes Philorhomaios Philhellen was king of the Greco-Iranian Kingdom of Commagene and the most famous king of that kingdom.

Cleopatra VI Tryphaena was an Egyptian Ptolemaic queen. She may be identical with Cleopatra V.

Ptolemy X Alexander I King of Egypt

Ptolemy X Alexander I was King of Egypt from 107 BC till his death in 88 BC, in co-regency with Cleopatra III as Ptolemy Philometor Soter until 101 BC, and then with Berenice III as Ptolemy Philadelphus. He was a son of Ptolemy VIII Physcon and Cleopatra III, and younger brother of Ptolemy IX. His birth name was probably Alexander.

Cleopatra IV was Queen of Egypt briefly from 116 to 115 BC, jointly with her husband Ptolemy IX Lathyros. She later became queen consort of Syria as the wife of Antiochus IX Cyzicenus.

Cleopatra Selene of Syria Monarch of Syria

Cleopatra II Selene was the monarch of Syria from 82 to 69 BC. The daughter of Ptolemy VIII and Cleopatra III of Egypt, Cleopatra Selene was favoured by her mother and became a pawn in Cleopatra III's political manoeuvres. In 115 BC, Cleopatra III forced her son Ptolemy IX to divorce his sister-wife Cleopatra IV, and chose Cleopatra Selene as the new queen consort of Egypt. Tension between the king and his mother grew and ended with his expulsion from Egypt, leaving Cleopatra Selene behind; she probably then married the new king, her other brother Ptolemy X.

Laodice VII Thea Philadelphus, was a Greek–Syrian princess of the Seleucid Empire and future queen of Commagene. She was the daughter of Greek–Syrian King Antiochus VIII Grypus and Greek Ptolemaic Princess Cleopatra Tryphaena, a daughter of Ptolemy VIII Physcon.

Tryphaena was a Ptolemaic princess. She married the Seleucid king Antiochus VIII Grypus and was queen of Syria.


  1. Whitehorne 1994, pp. 81, 149.
  2. 1 2 Wright 2008, pp. 39–41.
  3. Wright 2008, p. 40.
  4. 1 2 3 4 Ogden, Daniel (1999). Polygamy Prostitutes and Death. The Hellenistic Dynasties. London: Gerald Duckworth & Co. Ltd. p. 150. ISBN   07156 29301.
  5. Justin. "39.2.7-8". Epitome of Pompeius Trogus' Philippic Histories.
  6. Galen, 14 p. 185
  7. Bilde, Per (1996). Aspects of Hellenistic Kingship. Studies in Hellenistic civilization. 7. Aarhus University Press. p. 36. ISBN   978-8-772-88474-5. ISSN   0906-3463.
  8. Smith, Andrew. "Athenaeus: Deipnosophists - Book 5 (c)".


Antiochus VIII Grypus
Born: Unknown Died: 96 BC
Preceded by
Cleopatra Thea
Seleucid King (King of Syria)
12596 BC
with Cleopatra Thea (126121/3 BC)
Succeeded by
Antiochus IX Cyzicenus