APAMĀ, name of several noble women of the Achaemenid and Hellenistic periods, probably related to the Av. apama- “the latest,” hence “the youngest [child], nestling” (W. Hinz, Altiranisches Sprachgut der Nebenüberlieferungen, Wiesbaden, 1975, p. 31). The bearers of this name include:

1. A daughter of Artaxerxes II, whom the king gave in marriage to the Pharnacid satrap of the Hellespontine-Phrygia, Pharnabazus, in about 388 B.C. (Plutarch Artaxerxes 27). She was the mother of the famous Artabazus (K. J. Beloch, “Artabazos,” Janus: Festschrift für C. F. Lehmann-Haupt, Vienna and Leipzig, l921, p. 8).

2. A daughter of the above-mentioned Artabazus (Arrian Anabasis 7.4,6; Plutarch Eumanes 1), who was also called Artacama (Arrian, loc. cit.,), i.e., *Arta-kāmā “Arta’s desire.” She was taken prisoner together with many members of the royal family, probably in Damascus, just before the Battle of Issus (H. Berve, Das Alexanderreich auf prosopographischer Grundlage, Munich, 1926, II, p. 52). Six years later she was given in marriage by Alexander to his general Ptolemy, the future King Ptolemy Soter of Egypt (Arrian, loc. cit.; Plutarch, loc. cit.), who, however, chose a Macedonian as his queen in 321 B.C. (Pausanias 1.6.8; Berve, op. cit., p. 158).

3. Daughter of Spitamenes, the leading noble from Bactria who resisted Alexander’s invasion with determination (Berve, ibid., pp. 359f.). Betrayed by his Saka allies, he was killed, and Apamā fell into the hand of Alexander (328 B.C.). Four years later she was given in marriage to Seleucus, the future founder of the Seleucid Empire, at Susa (Arrian, loc. cit.; Appian Syrian War 57. Cf. Pliny Natural History 6.132; Plutarch Demetrius 3l). She bore him (in 323 B.C.) Antiochus, the future Antiochus Soter I, and Achaios (Berve, loc. cit.). Seleucus married in 300 B.C. Macedonian lady, but Apamā was still honored a year later in Millet (A. Rehm, Didyma: Die Inschriften [von Didyma], ed. R. Harder, Berlin, l958, no. 113.480). At least four cities were named after her: Apameia on the Orontes (Nahr al-ʿĀṣī) in Syria, Apameia in northern Mesene (Mēšān), Apameia on the Euphrates, opposite Zeugma, and Apameia Rhagiane (i.e., Apameia of Ray) in Choarene, now Ḵᵛār on the Tehran-Šāhrūd road. As early as the middle of the third century B.C., Seleucids claimed that Apamā was Alexander’s daughter from Roxana, the alleged daughter of Darius III; this made the Seleucids, as the inheritors of both the Achaemenids and Alexander, the rightful lords of Asia (W. W. Tarn, “Queen Ptolemais and Apama,” Classical Quarterly 23, l929, p. 138; The Greeks in Bactria and India, 2nd ed., Cambridge, 195l, pp. 446-51). The fictitious pedigree was taken seriously, and the Seleucid Era—which began in 312 B.C., twelve years after the Conqueror’s death—was named after him, and came to be known in the East as Alexander’s Era to this day, a designation which caused substantial chronological difficulties and misinterpretations (A. Sh. Shahbazi, in BSOAS 40, 1977, pp. 27f.).



See also Justi, Namenbuch, p. 19.

Pauly-Wissowa, I/2, cols. 2662-65.

(A. Sh. Shahbazi)

Originally Published: December 15, 1986

Last Updated: August 5, 2011

This article is available in print.
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