Antiochus Nikator

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Antiochus I Nikator of Bactria (Greek: Ἀντίοχος Α΄ ὁ Νικάτωρ; epithet means "Victorious") was possibly a Graeco-Bactrian king of the dynasty of Diodotus I, who ruled for some period between 240 - 220 BCE. His existence is controversial.

A Seleucid king or a Bactrian namesake?[edit]

Several Bactrian coins from the time of Diodotus I are struck with the legend "Of King Antiochus", though the portraits resemble those of Diodotos I and the reverse is the same as on other Diodotid coins: Zeus hurling a thunderbolt, with an eagle on the side.

These coins have often been interpreted as semi-independent issues of the first Bactrian king Diodotus I,[1] who during the early stages of his liberation from the Seleucid empire used the name of his former overlord, the Seleucid king Antiochus II, but used his own portrait.

However, another possibility would be that they were struck by a Bactrian king who himself was called Antiochos. This king might have been a brother or a younger son of Diodotos I, ruling either as a co-regent or after the death of the first Diodotos' successor and son Diodotus II. Numismatic and circumstantial evidence for this idea was published in 2010 by Jakobsson.[2] The ancient sources are ambiguous: they mention no king between Diodotus II and Euthydemus I, but do not exclude the possibility.

The later Bactrian king Agathocles honoured earlier rulers of Bactria on commemorative coins. Some of these honour a king Antiochos similar to the aforementioned series. On these commemorative coins, Antiochos was given the epithet "Nikator" (Victor). Similar coins were issued for Diodotus I, at the same mints, but the portraits for Antiochus Nikator are never identical to those of Diodotus I. Even if the portraits were not lifelike, this may indicate that Nikator was a separate person, and that the coins are not merely reissues of coins with Diodotus' portrait in the name of Antiochus II.

Since this epithet was never used by Antiochus II (who was called "Theos", (God)), nor by any other Seleucid king named Antiochus, might indicate that Antiochus Nikator was a distinct individual. However, given the practices surrounding the award of epithets to Hellenistic rulers, it may be that Agathocles gave this epithet to one of the various Antiochus' in celebration of some victory.

No ancient sources mention him. Until further evidence appears, the question of his existence remains unresolved.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Monnaies Gréco-Bactriennes et Indo-Grecques, Catalogue Raisonné", Osmund Bopearachchi, 1991, Bibliothèque Nationale de France, ISBN 2-7177-1825-7.
  2. ^ Jens Jakobsson,Antiochus Nicator, a third king of Hellenistic Bactria?, Numismatic Chronicle 2010