List of Syrian monarchs

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The region of Syria

The title King of Syria appeared in the second century BC in referring to the Seleucid kings who ruled the entirety of the region of Syria. It was also used to refer to Aramean kings in the Greek translations of the Old Testament; mainly indicating the kings of Aram-Damascus.

Following the defeat of the Ottoman Empire in World War I, the region came under the rule of France, United Kingdom and prince Faisal of Hejaz who was proclaimed King of Syria on 8 March 1920. Faisal's reign lasted a few months before he was overthrown by France and the title fell out of use.

Kings of Syria[edit]

Main articles: Syria (region) and Name of Syria


The term "Syria" was first applied by Herodotus in the 5th century BC to indicate a region generally extending between Anatolia and Egypt.[1][2] With the advent of the Hellenistic period, Greeks and their Seleucid dynasty used the term "Syria" to designate the region between the Mediterranean and the Euphrates.[3] The usage of the name in referring to the region during the Iron Age (ended 586 BC) is a modern practice.[1][4]

Seleucid dynasty[edit]

The Seleucid king Antiochus III the Great defeated the Ptolemaic Kingdom in the Battle of Panium (200 BC); he annexed the Syrian lands controlled by Egypt and united them with his Syrian lands, thus gaining control of the entirety of Syria.[5] Starting from the 2nd century BC, ancient writers, such as Polybius and Posidonius, began referring to the Seleucid ruler as the king of Syria.[6][7] The evidence for this title's usage by the kings is provided by the inscription of a certain Antigonus son of Menophilus, who described himself as the "admiral of Alexander, king of Syria" (Alexander refers either to Alexander I Balas or Alexander II Zabinas).[7]

Portrait Name
(and lifespan)
Reign Consort
(and reign)
Parents, co-regents, and notes
Antiochos III coin.jpg Antiochus III the Great
(c. 241–187 BC)
222–187 BC
SeleucusIV - coin - face.JPG Seleucus IV Philopator
(c. 218–175 BC)
187–175 BC
Antiochos IV Epiphanes face.png Antiochus IV Epiphanes
(c. 215–164 BC)
175–163 BC
  • Laodice IV
    (175?–163 BC?)
  • Son of Antiochus III the Great and Laodice III
  • Antiochus IV Epiphanes proclaimed himself co-regent with the infant son of Seleucus IV, also named Antiochus. He had the child assassinated in 170 BC.
Antiochus V Eupator, coin, front side.jpg Antiochus V Eupator
(172–161 BC)
163–161 BC Unmarried
Demetrius I.png Demetrius I Soter
(185–150 BC)
161–150 BC
Alexander I Syria-Antiochia face.jpg Alexander I Balas
(?-145 BC)
150–145 BC
DemetriusII, coin, face.jpg Demetrius II Nicator 145–139 BC
  • Cleopatra Thea
    (145-137 BC)
  • First reign. About 147 BC he returned from captivity to claim his father's throne, and Ptolemy VI Philometor, king of Egypt, divorced his daughter Cleopatra Thea from Balas, allowing her and Demetrius II Nicator to marry. After his capture, she divorced him and married his younger brother.
AntiochusVI, coin, face.jpg Antiochus VI Dionysus 145–142 BC The son of Alexander Balas and Cleopatra Thea, Antiochus VI did not actually rule. Either already in 145 or in early 144 BC he was nominated by the general Diodotus Tryphon as heir to the throne in opposition to Demetrius II,[8] dying c. 142/1 BC[9] while still a boy.[10]
Tryphon coin.jpg Diodotus Tryphon 142-138 BC In 142 or 141 BC after Antiochus VI Dionysus died, his former tutor Diodotus Tryphon convinced the army to elect him king, taking the titles of Basileus, as was tradition for Hellenistic kings, but also that of Autokrator.[11] As king he took the regal name of Tryphon.[12]
Antiochus VII coin (Mary Harrsch).jpg Antiochus VII Sidetes 138–129 BC
  • Cleopatra Thea
    (137 BC-?)
After Demetrius II Nicator was taken prisoner, his younger brother Antiochus VII Sidetes became King, also marrying Queen of Syria Cleopatra Thea.[citation needed]
Aleksander II Zabinas face.png Alexander II Zabinas 129–123 BC Counter-king opposing Demetrius II who falsely claimed to be an adoptive son of Antiochus VII Sidetes, he was used as a pawn by the Egyptian king Ptolemy VIII Physcon.[13] Zabinas defeated Demetrius II, and thereafter ruled parts of Syria in opposition of Cleopatra Thea. He was defeated by Demetrius' son Antiochus VIII Grypus.[citation needed]
DemetriusII, coin, face.jpg Demetrius II Nicator 129–126 BC
  • Cleopatra Thea
Second reign. In 126 BC Demetrius was defeated in a battle at Damascus.[14] He fled to Ptolemais but his wife Cleopatra Thea closed the gates against him,[15] and he was afterwards killed on a ship near Tyre.[14]
Cleopatra Thea face.png Cleopatra Thea 126-121 BC
  • Alexander I Balas
  • Demetrius II
  • Antiochus VII
Seleucus V Philometor 126-125 BC He briefly ruled with his mother, Cleopatra Thea, as co-regent. Cleopatra Thea had him assassinated in 125 BC.[16][17]
Antiochus VIII face.png Antiochus VIII Grypus 125–96 BC He initially shared power with his mother, Cleopatra Thea, as co-regent.[18][19] After Antiochus defeated usurper Alexander II Zabinas in 123 BC his mother tried to poison him with wine, only to die when Grypus made her drink the cup herself.[citation needed] around 121 or 120 BC.[18][19] His first wife Tryphaena was Queen of Syria. After her murder in 111 BC, he married Queen Cleopatra Selene I.
Antiochus IX face.png Antiochus IX Cyzicenus 114–96 BC The son of Antiochus VII Sidetes and Cleopatra Thea, after the death of his mother,[20] he challenged his half-brother/cousin, Antiochus VIII Grypus, for the crown of Syria. In 116 BC they made a truce to each rule half of the kingdom.[20] Antiochus IX Cyzicenus was first married to Cleopatra IV, who was then killed in 112 BC[citation needed] by her sister and rival Syrian Queen Tryphaena, wife of King Grypus.[18][21] After the death of Grypus and capturing the capital, Antiochus IX Cyzicenus married Cleopatra Selene I, the sister of his former wife Cleopatra IV.[citation needed]
Seleucus VI Epiphanes.png Seleucus VI Epiphanes 96–95 BC The son of Antiochus VIII Grypus, Seleucus VI Epiphanes killed the former co-regent of his father in battle in 96 BC.
Antioco X Eusebes Filopator, tetradracma, face.jpg Antiochus X Eusebes 95–92 BC
  • Cleopatra Selene I
Son of Antiochus IX Cyzicenus, his first achievement was to defeat Seleucus VI Epiphanes. After that, he ruled Antioch and its surroundings, fighting endlessly against the four brothers of Seleucus VI, the Nabataeans and the Parthian Empire. He later lost possession of Antioch to Philip I Philadelphus.
DemetriusIII.png Demetrius III Eucaerus 95–87 BC
Antiochus XI Epiphanes 95–92 BC
Philippus Philadelphus.jpg Philip I Philadelphus 95–83 BC
Antiochos XII.jpg Antiochus XII Dionysus 87–84 BC
Seleucus VII Kybiosaktes 83–69 BC Also known as Seleucus VII Philometor. In 83 BC, after bloody strife and civil war, the Syrians offered Tigranes the Great of Armenia the crown of Syria,[22] and Tigranes appointed Magadates as his governor in Antioch.[23] Despite this, few holdout cities appear to have recognized Seleucus VII Kybiosaktes as the legitimate king.[citation needed]
Cleopatra Selene I 96 BC? - 69 BC Cleopatra Selene I acted as regent for her son Antiochus XIII Asiaticus after the death of his father Antiochus IX Cyzicenus sometime between 92 and 85 BC.[24] Cleopatra Selene I later sent her two sons to Rome to present their claims before the senate, but they were unsuccessful, returning home two years later,[25] possibly to Syria in late 73 and 72. Selene evidently ruled their Syrian possessions in their absence, controlling Ptolemais until 69 BC.[26] In 69 BC the Armenian king Tigranes the Great besieged and killed Cleopatra Selene I in Ptolemais.[27]
Antiochus XIII.jpg Antiochus XIII Asiaticus 69–64 BC Antiochus XIII Asiaticus was son of king Antiochus X Eusebes and Cleopatra Selene I.[24]
Philip II Philoromaeus 65–64 BC

Antonia dynasty[edit]

Portrait Name
(and lifespan)
Reign Consort Notes
Ptolemy Philadelphus
(36-29 BC)
34-31 BC Unmarried

Hashemite dynasty[edit]

Royal standard of the king of Syria

Following the partitioning of the Ottoman Empire in the aftermath of World War I, Faysal bin Hussein of the House of Hashim was proclaimed King of the Kingdom of Syria on 8 March 1920 in Damascus, following the Arab revolt against the Ottomans of 1916–1918.

His accession was not recognized by France or the United Kingdom who became the new imperial powers in the region, and on 23 July 1920, the French moved 9,000 troops towards Damascus, resulting in the Battle of Maysalun. Faisal was expelled from Syria on 25 July and went into exile in the United Kingdom. On 10 August, the Treaty of Sèvres divided the region into League of Nations mandates governed by France and the United Kingdom.

Portrait Name
(and lifespan)
Reign Consort
(and reign)
King Faisal I of Syria in July 1920.jpg Faisal
(20 May 1885-8 Sept 1933)
8 Mar 1920 – 24 July 1920

Biblical usage for Aramean kings[edit]

In the first translation of the Old Testament into Greek written during the third century BC (called the Septuagint),[29] Aram and Arameans were often translated as Syria and the Syrians;[30][31] hence the king was referred to as the king of Syria,[32] or the king of the Syrians,[33] and this was carried on by many English translations.[30] Aram in the Hebrew Old Testament and Syria in the translation indicated the kingdom of Aram-Damascus most of the times.[30][34] Occasionally, other Aramean regions were also referred to as Syria;[34][35] an example is the character known as "the Syrian of Paddan Aram, the sister of Laban the Syrian" where Syria does not designate Aram-Damascus but rather Paddan Aram in Mesopotamia.[36][37]

According to W. Edward Glenny, the rendering of Aram by Syria might be explained by an anti-Syrian bias, since at the time of the translation, Syria belonged to the Seleucids; the Jews' main enemy. Aram-Damascus was the Jews' enemy during its Iron Age prime in the 9th century BC.[38]

Aramean kings referred to as "kings of Syria"[edit]

Portrait Name Reign Parents, co-regents, and notes
Rezon the Syrian 10th century BC
  • Son of Eliada
  • Some 19th century scholars equated Rezon as the throne name of King Hezion.
Hezion circa 773 BCE
Ben-Hadad I 885–865 BC
Ben-Hadad II
(–842 BC)
880–842 BC
  • According to some scholars, Bar-Hadad II was the son of Hazael,[39] who may also have been his son.[citation needed]
  • Equated by some scholars with the name Adad-Idri, or Hadadezar
King Hazael dark.jpeg Hazael 842–796 BC
Ben-Hadad III 796–792 BC
  • Son of Hazael
  • The only king mentioned by the name "Ben-Hadad" both in the Old Testament and extra biblical sources.[40]
Rezin 754–732 BC
  • Known in Assyrian inscription as Raqyan.[41]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Trevor Bryce (2009). The Routledge Handbook of the Peoples and Places of Ancient Western Asia: From the Early Bronze Age to the Fall of the Persian Empire. p. 680. 
  2. ^ Herodotus; George Rawlinson (1862). History of Herodotus, Volume 1. p. 126. 
  3. ^ Daniel Pipes (1992). Greater Syria: The History of an Ambition. p. 13. 
  4. ^ Margreet L. Steiner; Ann E. Killebrew (2014). The Oxford Handbook of the Archaeology of the Levant: c. 8000-332 BCE. p. 94. 
  5. ^ Paul J. Kosmin (2014). The Land of the Elephant Kings. p. 122. 
  6. ^ Nigel Wilson (2013). Encyclopedia of Ancient Greece. p. 652. 
  7. ^ a b Paul J. Kosmin (2014). The Land of the Elephant Kings. p. 112. 
  8. ^ The first coins of the king are dated to the year 144 BC Houghton, Arthur (1992). "The Revolt of Tryphon and the accession of Antiochos VI at Apamea". SNR. 71: 119–41. 
  9. ^ The last coinage of Antiochos VI is dated to the year 142/1 BC, see Houghton, Arthur, Lorber, Catherine C, Hoover, Oliver D. (2008), Seleucid Coins: A comprehensive catalogue, Part II: Seleucus IV to Antiochus XIII, 2 Vols, New York/Lancaster PA, Nr. 2020; 2022.3; 2026.
  10. ^ Josephus AJ 13.44;Bevan, ‘The House of Seleucus’, Vol.II, p.226-228
  11. ^ Bevan, ‘The House of Seleucus’, Vol.II, p.302
  12. ^ Bevan, ‘The House of Seleucus’, Vol.II, p.230-231
  13. ^ Schmitz, Leonhard (1867). "Alexander Zabinas". In William Smith. Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology. 1. Boston: Little, Brown and Company. pp. 127–128. 
  14. ^ a b  One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Demetrius s.v. Demetrius II". Encyclopædia Britannica. 7 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 983. 
  15. ^ Bevan Chap 10
  16. ^ Livy, Periochae 60; Justin 39.1.9
  17. ^ Appian, Syriaca 69
  18. ^ a b c Aidan Dodson, Dyan Hilton, The Complete Royal Families of Ancient Egypt, 2004
  19. ^ a b Cleopatra Thea by Chris Bennett
  20. ^ a b Antiochus IX Cyzicenus entry in historical sourcebook by Mahlon H. Smith
  21. ^ Justin 39, 3, 3-11.
  22. ^ Manaseryan, Ruben (1985). "Տիգրան Բ [Tigran II]". Armenian Soviet Encyclopedia (in Armenian). 11. Yerevan: Armenian Encyclopedia Publishing. pp. 697–698. 
  23. ^ The House Of Seleucus V2 by Edwyn Robert Bevan.
  24. ^ a b Cicero, In C. Verrem II 4.61, Appian, Syriaca VIII 49, XI 70, Justin, Historiarum Philippicarum T. Pompeii Trogi XL 2.2 (says Antiochus IX was his father). See also: C.J. Bennett, art. Cleopatra Selene queen of Syria, in Egyptian Royal Genealogy, 2002-2008 (n. 28).
  25. ^ Cicero, In Verrem actio 4.61-68
  26. ^
  27. ^ Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews 13.420; Strabo, Geographica 16, p. 749
  28. ^ David Konstan (2006). Greeks on Greekness: Viewing the Greek Past Under the Roman Empire. p. 6. 
  29. ^ Paul V.M. Flesher; Bruce D. Chilton (2011). The Targums: A Critical Introduction. p. 339. 
  30. ^ a b c Bruce M. Metzger; Michael David Coogan (1993). The Oxford Companion to the Bible. p. 44. 
  31. ^ James Strong; John McClintock (1867). Cyclopaedia of Biblical, Theological, and Ecclesiastical Literature, Volume 1. p. 353. 
  32. ^ Adam Clarke (1851). The Holy Bible Containing the Old and New Testaments: the Text Printed from the Most Correct Copies of the Present Authorized Translation, Including the Marginal Readings and Parallel Texts: Genesis to Esther. p. 843. 
  33. ^ Gerard Gertoux (2015). Kings David and Solomon: Chronological, Historical and Archaeological Evidence. p. 103. 
  34. ^ a b Thomas Nelson (2014). NIV, The Chronological Study Bible. p. 622. 
  35. ^ Paul V.M. Flesher; Bruce D. Chilton (2011). The Targums: A Critical Introduction. p. 339. 
  36. ^ Thomas Nelson (2013). KJV Study Bible: Second Edition. p. 52. 
  37. ^ Brian Schultz (2009). Conquering the World: The War Scroll (1QM) Reconsidered. p. 191. 
  38. ^ Edward Glenny (2009). Finding Meaning in the Text: Translation Technique and Theology in the Septuagint of Amos. p. 152. 
  39. ^ Luis Robert Siddall, The Reign of Adad-nīrārī III: An Historical and Ideological Analysis of An Assyrian King and His Times. BRILL, 2013 ISBN 9004256148 p.37
  40. ^ Richard D. Nelson (2014). Historical Roots of the Old Testament (1200–63 BCE). p. 109. 
  41. ^ Jeffrey Kah-Jin Kuan (2016). Neo-Assyrian Historical Inscriptions and Syria-Palestine: Israelite/Judean-Tyrian-Damascene Political and Commercial Relations in the Ninth-Eighth Centuries BCE. p. 125. 

External links[edit]