Antiochus III the Great
|Antiochus III the Great|
|Bust of Antiochus III the Great from the Louvre|
|Megas Basileus of the Seleucid Empire|
|Predecessor||Seleucus III Ceraunus|
|Successor||Seleucus IV Philopator|
Euboea of Chalcis
Seleucus IV Philopator
Laodice IV, Queen of the Seleucid Empire
Cleopatra I Syra, Queen of Egypt
Antiochis, Queen of Cappadocia
Antiochus IV Epiphanes
("Antiochus the Great")
|Father||Seleucus II Callinicus|
|Died||187 BC (aged 54)
Antiochus III the Great (Greek: Ἀντίoχoς Γ΄ ὁ Μέγας; c. 241 – 187 BC, ruled 222–187 BC) was a Seleucid king and the 6th ruler of the Seleucid Empire. He ruled over the region of Syria and large parts of the rest of western Asia towards the end of the 3rd century BC. Rising to the throne at the age of eighteen in 222 BC, his early campaigns against the Ptolemaic Kingdom were unsuccessful, but in the following years Antiochus gained several military victories. His traditional designation, the Great, reflects an epithet he briefly assumed. He also assumed the title Basileus Megas (Greek for "Great King"), the traditional title of the Persian kings. A militarily active ruler, Antiochus restored much of the territory of the Seleucid Empire, before suffering a serious setback, towards the end of his reign, in his war against Rome.
Background and early career
Antiochus III was a member of the Greek Seleucid dynasty. He was the son of king Seleucus II Callinicus and Laodice II and was born in 242 BC near Susa in Iran. Antiochus succeeded his brother Seleucus III Ceraunus as the king of the Seleucid Empire.
Antiochus III inherited a disorganized state. Not only had Asia Minor become detached, but the easternmost provinces had broken away, Bactria under the Greek Diodotus of Bactria, and Parthia under the nomad chieftain Arsaces. Soon after Antiochus's accession, Media and Persis revolted under their governors, the brothers Molon and Alexander.
The young king, under the baneful influence of the minister Hermeias, headed an attack on Ptolemaic Syria instead of going in person to face the rebels. The attack against Egypt of the Ptolemies proved a fiasco, and the generals sent against Molon and Alexander met with disaster. Only in Asia Minor, where the king's cousin, Achaeus, represented the Seleucid cause, did its prestige recover, driving the Pergamene power back to its earlier limits.
In 221 BC Antiochus at last went east, and the rebellion of Molon and Alexander collapsed which Polybios attributes in part to his following the advice of Zeuxis rather than Hermeias. The submission of Lesser Media, which had asserted its independence under Artabazanes, followed. Antiochus rid himself of Hermeias by assassination and returned to Syria (220 BC). Meanwhile Achaeus himself had revolted and assumed the title of king in Asia Minor. Since, however, his power was not well enough grounded to allow an attack on Syria, Antiochus considered that he might leave Achaeus for the present and renew his attempt on Ptolemaic Syria.
Early wars against other Hellenistic rulers
The campaigns of 219 BC and 218 BC carried the Seleucid armies almost to the confines of Ptolemaic Kingdom, but in 217 BC Ptolemy IV defeated Antiochus at the Battle of Raphia. This defeat nullified all Antiochus's successes and compelled him to withdraw north of the Lebanon. Despite the military defeat, Antiochus was able to keep control of Seleucia pieria.
In 216 BC Antiochus' army marched into western Anatolia to suppress the local rebellion led by Antiochus' own cousin Achaeus, and had by 214 BC driven him from the field into Sardis. Capturing Achaeus, Antiochus had him executed. The citadel managed to hold out until 213 BC under Achaeus' widow Laodice who surrendered later.
Having thus recovered the central part of Asia Minor (for the Seleucid government had perforce to tolerate the dynasties in Pergamon, Bithynia and Cappadocia) Antiochus turned to recovering the outlying provinces of the north and east. He obliged Xerxes of Armenia to acknowledge his supremacy in 212 BC. In 209 BC Antiochus invaded Parthia, occupied the capital Hecatompylos and pushed forward into Hyrcania. The Parthian king Arsaces II apparently successfully sued for peace.
Bactrian campaign and Indian expedition
The year 209 BC saw Antiochus in Bactria, where the Greco-Bactrian king Euthydemus I had supplanted the original rebel. Antiochus again met with success. Euthydemus was defeated by Antiochus at the Battle of the Arius but after sustaining a famous siege in his capital Bactra (Balkh), he obtained an honourable peace by which Antiochus promised Euthydemus' son Demetrius the hand of one of his daughters.
Antiochus next, following in the steps of Alexander, crossed into the Kabul valley, reaching the realm of Indian king Sophagasenus and returned west by way of Seistan and Kerman (206/5). According to Polybius:
He crossed the Caucasus (Hindu Kush) and descended into India; renewed his friendship with Sophagasenus (Subhashsena in Prakrit) the king of the Indians; received more elephants, until he had a hundred and fifty altogether; and having once more provisioned his troops, set out again personally with his army: leaving Androsthenes of Cyzicus the duty of taking home the treasure which this king had agreed to hand over to him.
Persia and Coele Syria campaigns
From Seleucia on the Tigris he led a short expedition down the Persian Gulf against the Gerrhaeans of the Arabian coast (205 BC/204 BC). Antiochus seemed to have restored the Seleucid empire in the east, which earned him the title of "the Great" (Antiochos Megas). In 205/204 BC the infant Ptolemy V Epiphanes succeeded to the Egyptian throne, and Antiochus is said (notably by Polybios) to have concluded a secret pact with Philip V of Macedon for the partition of the Ptolemaic possessions. Under the terms of this pact, Macedon were to receive Egypt's possessions around the Aegean Sea and Cyrene, while Antiochus would annex Cyprus and Egypt.
Once more Antiochus attacked the Ptolemaic province of Coele Syria and Phoenicia, and by 199 BC he seems to have had possession of it before the Aetolian leader Scopas recovered it for Ptolemy. But that recovery proved brief, for in 198 BC Antiochus defeated Scopas at the Battle of Panium, near the sources of the Jordan, a battle which marks the end of Ptolemaic rule in Judea.
War against Rome and death
Antiochus then moved to Asia Minor, by land and by sea, to secure the coast towns which belonged to the remnants of Ptolemaic overseas dominions and the independent Greek cities. This enterprise earned him the antagonism of the Roman Republic, since Smyrna and Lampsacus appealed to the republic of the west, and the tension grew after Antiochus had in 196 BC established a footing in Thrace. The evacuation of Greece by the Romans gave Antiochus his opportunity, and he now had the fugitive Hannibal at his court to urge him on.
In 192 BC Antiochus invaded Greece with a 10,000 man army, and was elected the commander in chief of the Aetolian League. In 191 BC, however, the Romans under Manius Acilius Glabrio routed him at Thermopylae, forcing him to withdraw to Asia Minor. The Romans followed up their success by invading Anatolia, and the decisive victory of Scipio Asiaticus at Magnesia ad Sipylum (190 BC), following the defeat of Hannibal at sea off Side, delivered Asia Minor into their hands.
By the Treaty of Apamea (188 BC) the Seleucid emperor abandoned all the country north of the Taurus, which the Roman Republic distributed amongst its local allies. As a consequence of this blow to the Seleucid power, the outlying provinces of the empire, recovered by Antiochus, reasserted their independence. Antiochus mounted a fresh eastern expedition in Luristan, where he died while pillaging a temple of Bel at Elymaïs, Persia, in 187 BC.
In 222 BC, Antiochus III married Princess Laodice of Pontus, a daughter of King Mithridates II of Pontus and Princess Laodice of the Seleucid Empire. The couple were first cousins through their mutual grandfather, Antiochus II Theos. Antiochus and Laodice had eight children (three sons and five daughters):
- Antiochus (221–193 BC), Antiochus III's first heir apparent and joint-king with his father from 210–193 BC
- Seleucus IV Philopator (c. 220 – 175 BC), Antiochus III's successor
- unnamed daughter, betrothed in about 206 BC to Demetrius I of Bactria
- Laodice IV, married all three of her brothers in succession and became Queen of the Seleucid Empire through her second and third marriages
- Cleopatra I Syra (c. 204 – 176 BC), married in 193 BC Ptolemy V Epiphanes of Egypt
- Antiochis, married in 194 BC King Ariarathes IV of Cappadocia
- Mithridates (215–164 BC), succeeded his brother Seleucus IV Philopator in 175 BC under the regnal name Antiochus IV Epiphanes
Laodice III died in about 191 BC. Later that year, Antiochus III remarried to Euboea of Chalcis. They had no children. 
Antiochus and the Jews
Antiochus III resettled 2000 Jewish families from Babylonia into the Hellenistic Anatolian regions of Lydia and Phrygia. He is not the king who oppressed Judea and was resisted by the Maccabees in the Jewish story of Hanukkah; rather, that was his son, Antiochus IV. On the contrary, Josephus portrays him as friendly towards the Jews and cognizant of their loyalty to him (see Antiquities, chapter 3, sections 3-4), in stark contrast to the attitude of his son. In fact, Antiochus III lowered taxes and let the Jews live, as Josephus puts it, "according to the law of their forefathers."
The Caroline era play Believe as You List is centered around Antiochus resistance to the Romans after the Battle of Thermopylae. The play was originally about Sebastian of Portugal surviving the Battle of Alcazar and returning, trying to gather support to return to the throne. This first version was censored for being considered "subversive" because it portrayed Sebastian being deposed, its comments in favor of an Anglo-Spanish alliance and possible pro-Catholicism, which led to the final version changing to the story of Antiochus (which led to historical inaccuracy in exaggerating his defeat at that phase in history to fit the earlier text), turning Spaniards into Romans and the Catholic eremite into a Stoic philosopher.
- Davies, Philip R. (2002). Second Temple studies III: studies in politics, class, and material culture. Continuum International Publishing Group. p. 95. ISBN 978-0-8264-6030-1. "The difference is that from the perspective of Antiochus III, the Greek king of a Greek empire, or from the later point of view of a head of state communicating with a Greek city-state"
- Garg, Gaṅgā Rām (1992). Encyclopaedia of the Hindu world, Volume 2. Concept Publishing Company. p. 510. ISBN 978-81-7022-375-7. "Antiochus III the Great. Greek king who ruled an empire including Syria and western Asia (including Mesopotamia and Iran towards the end of the 3rd century BC. It was during his time that Bactria became independent under Euthydemos. Shortly afterwards Antiochus III crossed the Hindu Kusa and attacked an Indian prince named Subhagasena (Sophagasenas of the classical writers) who ruled over the Kabul valley. Antiochus III defeated Subhagasena, extorted from him a large cash indemnity and many elephants before he went back to his country. This invasion produced no permanent effect."
- Jones, Peter V.; Sidwell, Keith C. (1997). The World of Rome: An Introduction to Roman Culture. Cambridge University Press. p. 20. ISBN 978-0-521-38600-5. "Antiochus III, the Greek king of Syria (the dynasty there was called 'Seleucid'), was busily expanding in Asia Minor and in 196 BC even crossed into Europe to annex part of Thrace."
- Whitehorne, John Edwin George (1994). Cleopatras. Routledge. p. 84. ISBN 978-0-415-05806-3. "...in the autumn of 192 BC they heard that Antiochus III had crossed over to Greece with his army and declared himself the champion of Greek freedom against Roman domination."
- Wilson. Nigel Guy (2006). Encyclopedia of ancient Greece. Routledge. p. 58. ISBN 978-0-415-97334-2. "ANTIOCHUS III THE GREAT c242-187 BC Seleucid king Antiochus III the Great was the sixth king (223-187 BC) … Antiochus landed on the mainland of Greece posing as a champion of Greek freedom against the Romans (192 BC)."
- Bertman, Stephen (2003). Handbook to life in ancient Mesopotamia. Infobase Publishing. p. 76. ISBN 978-0-8160-4346-0. "Antiochus III (222–187 BC) A member of the Hellenistic Seleucid dynasty"
- Zion, Noam ; Spectre, Barbara (2000). A Different Light: The Big Book of Hanukkah. Devora Publishing. p. 57. ISBN 978-1-930143-37-1. "Antiochus III, the Greek Seleucid Dynasty of Greater Syria captures Judea. 172 or 171-163"
- Baskin, Judith R. ; Seeskin, Kenneth (2010). The Cambridge Guide to Jewish History, Religion, and Culture. Cambridge University Press. p. 37. ISBN 978-0-521-68974-8. "The wars between the two most prominent Greek dynasties, the Ptolemies of Egypt and the Seleucids of Syria, unalterably change the history of the land of Israel…As a result the land of Israel became part of the empire of the Syrian Greek Seleucids."
- Glubb, Sir John Bagot (1967). Syria, Lebanon, Jordan. Thames & Hudson. p. 34. OCLC 585939. "Although the Ptolemies and the Seleucids were perpetual rivals, both dynasties were Greek and ruled by means of Greek officials and Greek soldiers. Both governments made great efforts to attract immigrants from Greece, thereby adding yet another racial element to the population."
- Jonsson, David J. (2005). The Clash of Ideologies. Xulon Press. p. 566. ISBN 978-1-59781-039-5. "Antiochus III was born in 242 BC, the son of Seleucus II, near Susa, Iran."
- http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/Roman/Texts/Polybius/5*.html#51 Polybius Hist 5.51
- Polybius 10.49, Antiochus Engages the Bactrians
- Polybius 11.34, Antiochus Moves from Bactria Through Interior Asia
- Bringmann, Klaus (2007). A history of the Roman republic. Polity. p. 91. ISBN 978-0-7456-3371-8. "The Aetolians called on Antiochus the ‘liberate’ Greece and to act as arbitrator between them and the Romans. Thereupon the king landed in Demetrias in the late autumn of 192 with a small army, and the Aetolian assembly elected him supreme strategos. His attempt to gather together al those who were dissatisfied with the peace agreement of 196 under the banner of Greek freedom had some success but proved a failure overall."
- Eerdmans Dictionary of the Bible. Amsterdam University Press. 2000. p. 61. ISBN 978-90-5356-503-2. "Jewish settlements in the interior of Asia Minor were known as early as the 3rd century BC when Antiochus III resettled 2000 Jewish families from Babylonia into Lydia and Phrygia"
- Bar-Kochva, B. (1976). The Seleucid Army. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
- Bevan, Edwyn Robert (1902). The House of Seleucus. London: Edward Arnolds.
- Cook, S. A.; Adcock, F. E.; Charlesworth, M. P., eds. (1928). The Cambridge Ancient History. 7 and 8. New York: Macmillan.
- Grabbe, Lester L. (1992). Judaism from Cyrus to Hadrian. Fortress Press.
- Kincaid, C. A. (1930). Successors of Alexander the Great. London: Pasmore and Co.
- Livy (1976). Bettenson, H, ed. Rome and the Mediterranean. London: Penguin Books.
- Rawlings, Hunter R. (1976). "Antiochus the Great and Rhodes, 197-191 BC". American Journal of Ancient History 1: 2–28.
- Schmitt, Hatto (1964). Untersuchungen zur Geschichte Antiochos' des Grossen und Seiner Zeit. Wiesbaden: Franz Steiner Verlag.
- Sherwin-White, Susan; Kuhrt, Amélie (1993). From Samarkhand to Sardis: A New Approach to the Seleucid Empire. Berkeley: University of California Press.
- Taylor, Michael J. (2013). Antiochus the Great. Barnsley: Pen and Sword.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Antiochus III.|
- Antiochus III "the Great" entry in historical sourcebook by Mahlon H. Smith
- Antiochus III entry in 'Seleucid Genealogy'
Antiochus III the GreatBorn: 241 BC Died: 187 BC
Seleucus III Ceraunus
Seleucus IV Philopator