Antiochus VII Sidetes

Last updated

Antiochus VII Euergetes
Antiochus VII Sidetes
Coin of Antiochus VII Euergetes.jpg
Basileus of the Seleucid Empire
(King of Syria)
ReignJuly/August 138 – 129 BC
Predecessor Diodotus Tryphon
Successor Alexander II Zabinas (false son)
Demetrius II Nicator (elder brother)
Bornc. 164 / 160 BC
Died129 BC
Ecbatana, Iran during the Battle of Ecbatana
Consort Cleopatra Thea
Issue Antiochus IX Cyzicenus
Alexander II Zabinas (claimed)
Dynasty Seleucid dynasty
Father Demetrius I Soter
Motherpossibly Laodice V

Antiochus VII Euergetes (Greek : Ἀντίοχος Ζ΄ Ευεργέτης) (c.164/160 BC [1] - 129 BC), nicknamed Sidetes (Greek : Σιδήτης) (from Side, a city in Asia Minor), also known as Antiochus the Pious, [2] was ruler of the Hellenistic Seleucid Empire who reigned from July/August 138 to 129 BC. [3] He was the last Seleucid king of any stature. After Antiochus was killed in battle, the Seleucid realm was restricted to Syria.



Early life and early reign

He was one of the sons of Demetrius I Soter, the brother of Demetrius II Nicator and his mother may have been Laodice V. Antiochus was elevated after Demetrius was captured by the Parthians. He married Cleopatra Thea, who had been the wife of Demetrius. Their offspring was Antiochus IX, who thus became both half-brother and cousin to Seleucus V and Antiochus VIII.

In his nine-year reign, Antiochus made some effort to undo the massive territorial and authority losses of recent decades. Antiochus defeated the usurper Diodotus Tryphon at Dora [4] and laid siege to Jerusalem in 132 BC. During the siege he allowed a seven-day truce for the Jews to celebrate a religious festival, impressing the Jewish leadership. [5] According to Josephus [6] the Hasmonean leader John Hyrcanus opened King David's sepulchre and removed three thousand talents, which he then paid Antiochus to spare the city. Nevertheless, King Antiochus' respectful treatment of the Jews, and respect for their religion, earned him their gratitude and added name Euergetes ("the Benefactor"). With no Jewish sources of that time (the Book of Maccabees ends a few years before his time), it is unclear if the siege of Jerusalem ended with a decisive Seleucid victory or simply a peace treaty. Furthermore, Jewish forces later assisted Antiochus in his wars, and for nearly 20 years after his death, John Hyrcanus refrained from attacking areas under Seleucid control.

Later territory disputes and defeat

Antiochus spent the final years of his life attempting to reclaim the lost eastern territories, overrun by the Parthians under their "Great King", Mithridates I. Marching east, with what would prove to be the last great Seleucid royal army (including a unit of Judean troops under John Hyrcanus), he defeated Mithridates in two battles, killing the aged Parthian king in the latter of these. He restored Mesopotamia, Babylonia and Media to the Seleucid empire, before dispersing his army into winter quarters.

The Seleucid king and army spent the winter feasting, hunting and drinking (the Seleucids maintained the Macedonian tradition of heavy drinking). As with any time an army is quartered upon a population, tensions soon grew between the locals and the Syrian troops.

The new Parthian ruler, Phraates II, had not been idle. He raised a new army while stirring up rebellion in the Seleucid occupied towns of Media. Hoping to further sow dissension amongst his foes, Phraates also released his long-held prisoner, Demetrius II, Antiochus' older brother, who returned to Syria to reclaim the throne.

That winter (130–129 BC), several Median towns rose in rebellion and attacked their Seleucid garrisons. Antiochus marched to support one such isolated garrison with only a small force (probably only his Royal Guards). In a barren valley, he was ambushed and killed in the Battle of Ecbatana by Phraates II and a large force of Parthians, who had entered the country without being detected. After the battle the Parthians claimed that Antiochus killed himself because of fear. Most Greco-Roman historians state that he died in battle. Appian, however, states that he did commit suicide. [7]


Antiochus's confirmed heir was Antiochus IX Cyzicenus. But a fragment from book 16 of Posidonius' "Histories", which survives in the Deipnosophistae written by Athenaeus, mentions a king named Seleucus, who was captured in Media by king Arsaces and treated like royalty. The identity of this Seleucus have been a matter of debate; the possibility of Seleucus being a son of Antiochus VII captured after the death of his father is suggested by Felix Jacoby and, with reservations, by Ian G. Kidd. [8]

See also

Related Research Articles

Seleucid Empire Former Hellenistic state

The Seleucid Empire was a Hellenistic state ruled by the Seleucid dynasty which existed from 312 BC to 63 BC; Seleucus I Nicator founded it following the division of the Macedonian Empire vastly expanded by Alexander the Great. Seleucus received Babylonia and from there expanded his dominions to include much of Alexander's near-eastern territories. At the height of its power, the Empire included central Anatolia, Persia, the Levant, Mesopotamia, and what is now Kuwait, Afghanistan, and parts of Pakistan and Turkmenistan.

Year 129 BC was a year of the pre-Julian Roman calendar. At the time it was known as the Year of the Consulship of Tuditanus and Aquillius and the Sixth Year of Yuanguang. The denomination 129 BC for this year has been used since the early medieval period, when the Anno Domini calendar era became the prevalent method in Europe for naming years.

This article concerns the period 129 BC – 120 BC.

This article concerns the period 169 BC – 160 BC.

Demetrius I Soter Ruler of the Seleucid Empire

Demetrius I, surnamed Soter, was a ruler of the Hellenistic Seleucid Empire.

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.

Diodotus Tryphon Seleucid king

Diodotus was a king of the Hellenistic Seleucid Empire. Initially an official under King Alexander I Balas, he led a revolt against Alexander's successor Demetrius II Nicator in 144 BC. He rapidly gained control of most of Syria and the Levant. At first he acted as regent and tutor for Alexander's infant son Antiochus VI Dionysus, but after the death of his charge in 142/141 BC, Diodotus declared himself king. He took the royal name Tryphon Autocrator and distanced himself from the Seleucid dynasty. For a period between 139 and 138, he was the sole ruler of the Seleucid empire. However, in 138 BC Demetrius II's brother Antiochus VII Sidetes invaded Syria and brought his rule to an end.

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.

Antiochus VIII Grypus Antiochus VIII Callinicus/Philometor

Antiochus VIII Epiphanes/Callinicus/Philometor, nicknamed Grypus, 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.

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.

Hasmonean dynasty Ruling dynasty of Judea and surrounding regions during classical antiquity

The Hasmonean dynasty was a ruling dynasty of Judea and surrounding regions during classical antiquity. Between c. 140 and c. 116 BCE the dynasty ruled Judea semi-autonomously from the Seleucids. From 110 BCE, with the Seleucid Empire disintegrating, the dynasty became fully independent, expanded into the neighbouring regions of Samaria, Galilee, Iturea, Perea, and Idumea, and the rulers took the title "basileus". Some modern scholars refer to this period as an independent kingdom of Israel.

John Hyrcanus Hasmonean ruler

John Hyrcanus was a Hasmonean (Maccabean) leader and Jewish high priest of the 2nd century BCE. In rabbinic literature he is often referred to as Yoḥanan Cohen Gadol, "John the High Priest".

Phraates II Great King, Arsaces, Philhellene

Phraates II was king of the Parthian Empire from 132 BC to 127 BC. He was the son and successor of Mithridates I. Because he was still very young when he came to the throne, his mother Rinnu initially ruled on his behalf. His short reign was mainly marked by his war with the Greek Seleucid Empire, who under king Antiochus VII Sidetes attempted to regain the lands lost to Phraates' father. Initially unsuccessful in the conflict, Phraates managed to gain the upper hand and defeated Antiochus VII's forces, with the Seleucid himself dying in battle or committing suicide. Phraates II afterwards rushed to the east to repel an invasion by nomadic tribes—the Saka and Yuezhi, where he met his end. He was succeeded by his uncle Artabanus I.

Rhodogune of Parthia Parthian queen

Rhodogune was a Queen of the Seleucid Empire by marriage to Demetrius II Nicator. She was the daughter of the Parthian king Mithridates I, and sister of Phraates II.

Seleucid–Parthian Wars series of conflicts between the Seleucid Empire and Parthia

The Seleucid–Parthian wars were a series of conflicts between the Seleucid Empire and Parthia which resulted in the ultimate expulsion of the Seleucids from Persia and the establishment of the Parthian Empire. The wars were caused by Iranian tribes migrating into Central Asia and the inability of the Seleucids to properly defend or hold together their vast empire.

Seleucid Dynastic Wars Wars of succession

The Seleucid Dynastic Wars were a series of wars of succession that were fought between competing branches of the Seleucid royal household for control of the Seleucid Empire. Beginning as a by-product of several succession crises that arose from the reigns of Seleucus IV Philopator and his brother Antiochus IV Epiphanes in the 170s and 160s, the wars typified the final years of the empire and were an important cause of its decline as a major power in the Near East and Hellenistic world. The last war ended with the collapse of the kingdom and its annexation by the Romans in 63 BC.


  1. A birth year of Antiochus can be deduced from a statement in the "Chronicle" of Eusebius of Caesarea , which refers to a historical work of the Neoplatonic philosopher Porphyry as a source. It states that the king was 35 years old when he died.
  2. Josephus, Antiquities 13.8.2; (13.236)
  3. "Antiochus VII Sidetes".
  4. Josephus, The Jewish War (1:52)
  5. Josephus Antiquities of the Jews Book XIII, 8
  6. Josephus The Jewish Wars (1:60)
  7. Appian, The Syrian Wars
  8. Katherine Clarke (1999). Between Geography and History: Hellenistic Constructions of the Roman World . Clarendon Press, Oxford. pp.  357, 358. ISBN   0-19-924003-5.
Antiochus VII Sidetes
Born: Unknown Died: 129 BC
Preceded by
Diodotus Tryphon
Seleucid King
(King of Syria)

138129 BC
Succeeded by
Demetrius II Nicator and
Alexander II Zabinas