ANTIOCHUS, name of thirteen kings of the Seleucid dynasty, several of whom were active in Iran.
Antiochus I Soter, the son of Seleucus I Nicator, born ca. 324 B.C. and died 1 or 2 June 261 (Eusebius Chron. I, p. 249, gives his age at death as 64; the death date is certain: see Parker and Dubberstein, Chronology, p. 21). He participated in the battle of Ipsus in 301, where he inadvertently contributed to the defeat of Antigonus and Demetrius (Plutarch Demetrius 29). On marrying his stepmother, Stratonice, Antiochus was appointed co-ruler by his father. His co-regency began ca. 292 (Parker and Dubberstein, Chronology, p. 21) and lasted until the murder of Seleucus in September, 281. Antiochus administered the satrapies east of the Euphrates (Appian Syriaca 62). As co-regent Antiochus remained in Bactria rather than at his official residence at Seleucia on the Tigris (Strabo Geography 16.1.5, 738; E. Will, Histoire politique, pp. 267f.). He had family ties there through his mother, Apama, the daughter of the Bactrian noble Spitamenes (Arrian Anabasis 7.4.6; Plutarch Demetrius 31; cf. Berve, Alexanderreich, nos. 98, 717). The Seleucid mint in Bactria was established in the co-regency of Antiochus to meet the economic needs of this region with its eastern connections (Will, Histoire politique, p. 271). The reconnaissance of Patrocles in the Caspian (Pliny Naturalis historia 6.58) and the expedition beyond the Jaxartes (Syr Darya) of Demodamas (ibid., 6.49) date to the co-regency. The years Antiochus spent in the northeast involved the construction of frontier defenses which Alexander or even the Achaemenids had initiated (Will, Histoire politique, pp. 269-72). The founding and refortifying of cities appear to have been in response to invasion. Sites included Antiochia in Scythia and Antiochia Margiana (Pliny 6.47: qua diruta a barbaris; Strabo Geography 11.10.2), Achais (Pliny 6.48, who says this town was founded as Heracleia by Alexander, but subsequently subversum), and Alexandria-Antiochia-Artacoana (Pliny 6.93). Perhaps sporadic invasions by nomads and revolts, rather than a Scythian invasion, necessitated Antiochus’s efforts in Bactria (Will, Histoire politique, pp. 268, 271). Early in 281 Antiochus’s responsibilities were extended to include all of Asia, when his father crossed to Macedonia after defeating Lysimachus (Memnon, in Jacoby, Fragmente, no. 434 F8.1). With the murder of Seleucus Antiochus ruled the empire alone.
Between ca. 281 and ca. 271 Antiochus was embroiled in a revolt in Syria (Memnon, in Jacoby, Fragmente, no. 434 F9.1), and wars in Asia minor (Jacoby, Fragmente, no. 434 F10.12). Peace with Antigonus Gonatas was concluded ca. 278 (Justin Epitoma Historiarum Philippicarum 25.1). Both kings may have felt Celtic pressure, and Antiochus’s victory over the Gauls between 278 and 275 won for him the epithet Soter. In 275 Antiochus marched from Sardis against Egypt (J. Epping and J. Strassmaier, in ZA 7, 1892, p. 232) in the First Syrian War, which lasted until ca. 271.
Antiochus’s involvement in the west during the first decade of his reign provided the opportunity for a local Persian dynasty to arise near Persepolis. Our knowledge of the date for its emergence rests largely on a local coinage with Mazdean symbols, Persian personal names, and possibly the Persian title for governor (frataraka). E. T. Newell (Eastern Seleucid Mint, pp. 154-61) dates this coinage to ca. 275, but the degree of the dynasty’s independence and the chronology are disputed. E. Eddy (The King is Dead, Lincoln, 1961, pp. 75-77) claims the dynasty was independent of Seleucid authority from the time of Antiochus I to Antiochus II. E. Will (Histoire politique, pp. 279-81) admits the existence of this dynasty as early as Antiochus I, but suggests that it acknowledged the suzerainty of the Seleucids. Others, either ignoring or rejecting Newell's chronology, associate the rise of the dynasty with widespread disaffection in the eastern satrapies during the 240s (Schmitt, Utersuchungen, pp. 46-47, 68-70; Christensen, Iran Sass., p. 85).
Antiochus's arrangements for the eastern satrapies are not well known. He probably followed his father's precedent and appointed his son over the upper satrapies as co-regent (Bengtson, Strategie II, pp. 82-84). According to the cuneiform texts, Antiochus appointed a son Seleucus as co-regent shortly after the death of Seleucus I in late 281 B.C. (Epping and Strassmaier, in ZA 7, 1892, p. 234; Parker and Dubberstein, Chronology, p. 21). This son, when suspected of treason, was executed about 267; and a younger one, Antiochus, was appointed ca. 266 (Joannes Antiochenus, in C. Müller, Fragmenta IV. p. 558, 55; Parker and Dubberstein, op. cit., p 21).
The eastern satrapies—Babylon and Bactria at least—were sufficiently loyal in 273 to send substantial reinforcements, including silver and elephants, to Antiochus during the First Syrian War (Epping and Strassmaier, in ZA 7, 1892, p 232). The Persian feat used in stratagem by which Antiochus tricked Dion, the general of Ptolemy, and captured Damascus during this war may reflect Persian influence in Antiochus's army (Polyaenus 4.15).
Although most of the reign of Antiochus was spent in the west, he was not unattractive to his religious duties in the east. At least he was present in Babylon at the time of Akitu (New Year) Festival in 268, when he also laid the foundation for a temple of Nebo in Borsippa (J.B. Pritchard, Ancient Near Eastern Texts, Princeton, 1969, p. 317). His eastern interests are further attested by his friendship with Amitrochates of India (Hegesander Delphus, in C. Müller, Fragmenta IV, p. 421, 43). He died fighting the Galatians on 1 or 2 June 261 (Aelian De nature animalism 6.44; Pliny Naturalis historia 8.158).
Originally Published: December 15, 1986
Last Updated: August 5, 2011
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Vol. II, Fasc. 2, pp. 125-135