Text #9264"Antiochus III the Great", in .
Antiochus III the Great (c. 241 – 187 BC, ruled 222–187 BC) was a Hellenistic Greek 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 and substantially expanded the empires territory. His traditional designation, the Great, reflects an epithet he 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.
Declaring himself the “champion of Greek freedom against Roman domination”, Antiochus III waged a four year war against the Roman Republic in mainland Greece in autumn of 192 BC before being decisively defeated at the Battle of Magnesia. He died three years later on campaign in the east.
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) Antiochus abandoned all the country north and west of the Taurus, most of which the Roman Republic gave either to Rhodes or to the Attalid ruler Eumenes II, its allies (many Greek cities were left free). 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
In 191 BC, Antiochus III married a girl from Chalcis, whom he named “Euboea”. They had no children. Laodike III may have fallen in disgrace; however, she clearly survived Antiochus III, and appears in Susa in 183 BC
Antiochus III resettled 2000 Jewish families from Babylonia into the Hellenistic Anatolian regions of Lydia and Phrygia. He is not the king of the Hanukkah story who was resisted by the Maccabees; rather, that was his son, Antiochus IV. On the contrary, Josephus portrays him as friendly towards the Jews of Jerusalem 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, granted subventions to the Temple, and let the Jews live, as Josephus puts it, “according to the law of their forefathers.”
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