Antiochos IV

Founded 9-Jan-2005
Last update 4-Mar-2007

Genealogy References

Antiochus Epiphanes, nicknamed from his actions Epimanes (the Madman), would sometimes steal from the court, avoiding his attendants, and appear roaming wildly about in any chance part of the city with one or two companions. His favourite place to be found was the shops of the silversmiths or goldsmiths, chatting and discussing questions of art with the workers in relief and other artists; at another time he would join groups of the people of the town and converse with any one he came across, and would drink with foreign visitors of the humblest description. ... He used also to bathe in the public baths, when they were full of the townspeople, pots of the most expensive unguents being brought in for him; and on one occasion on some one saying, “Lucky fellows you kings, to use such things and smell so sweet!” without saying a word to the man, he waited till he was bathing the next day, and then coming into the bath caused a pot of the largest size and of the most costly kind of unguent called stacte to be poured over his head, so that there was a general rush of the bathers to roll themselves in it; and when they all tumbled down, the king himself among them, from its stickiness, there was loud laughter.

Polybios, Histories, 26.1

King Antiochus was a man of ability in the field and daring in design, and showed himself worthy of the royal name, ...

Polybios, Histories, 28.18


Ruler: Antiochos IV Theos Epiphanes Nikephoros1 (“Antiochos, God Manifest, Carrying Victory”), nicknamed Epimanes (“the Mad”), Seleukid King, born c. 212 BC,2 reigned 175 - 164 BC, died 164 BC (probably of illness)3
Father: Antiochos III Megas, Seleukid King, born in the period c. 243 - 241 BC4 (son of Seleukos II Kallinikos, nicknamed Pogon, Seleukid King, and Laodike II, Seleukid Queen), reigned 223 - 187 BC, died 187 BC (killed in mounting a raid on a temple treasury in Elymais5)
Mother: Laodike III, Seleukid Queen (daughter of Mithridates II, King of Pontos, and Laodike, daughter of Antiochos II Theos), married Antiochos III in 222/1 BC (as his first wife),6 died probably by 191 BC
Siblings: 7 (1) Antiochos, joint King with Antiochos III, born 221/0 BC,8 joint reign with his father since 210 BC, married his sister Laodike (4) in 195 BC (the first sibling marriage in the Seleukid dynasty),9 died 193/2 BC (from an illness)10
  (2) Seleukos IV Philopator, Seleukid King, born c. 216/5 BC,11 joint King with his father since 189 BC,12 reigned 187 - 175 BC, died September 175 BC (supposedly murdered by his minister Heliodoros)
  (3) possible another brother Ardys13
  (4) Laodike, chief priestess of the cult of her mother Laodike III in Media, married to her brother Antiochos (1) in 195 BC9
  (5) Kleopatra I Syra, Queen of Egypt, born c. 219/8 BC,14 wife of Ptolemy V Epiphanes Eucharistos (married to him in 194/3 BC), mother of Ptolemy VI Philometor (King of Egypt), Ptolemy VIII Euergetes II Tryphon (King of Egypt) and presumably of Kleopatra II (Queen of Egypt), senior co-ruler with her son Ptolemy VI after her husband’s death (180 BC - 178/7 BC), died 178/7 BC15
  (6) Antiochis, Queen of Cappadocia, wife of Ariarathes IV (King of Cappadocia), mother of Ariarathes V (King of Cappadocia), Orophernes (King of Cappadocia) and Mithridates
  (7) perhaps Nysa, wife of Pharnakes I, King of Pontos16
  (8) possible another sister (unknown name) engaged to Demetrios I, King of Baktria17
Wife: Laodike IV, parentage unknown, wife first of Seleukos IV and second of Antiochos IV18
Child:19 Antiochos V Eupator, Seleukid King, born c. 173 BC, reigned 164 - 162 BC (under the tutelage of the regent Lysias), died 162 BC (killed on the orders of his cousin Demetrios I)


1 According to Grainger, A Seleukid Prosopography and Gazetteer, p. 22, he was originally probably called Mithridates in his youth after his maternal grandfather (Antiochos III’s son called Mithridates is mentioned by Livy, The History of Rome, 39.19); the death of his eldest brother Antiochos in 193 BC presumably permitted the change of name. Bennett, Egyptian Royal Genealogy: Cleopatra I, discusses Ogden’s suggestions (D. Ogden, Polygamy, Prostitutes and Death: The Hellenistic Dynasties. Duckworth, with The Classical Press of Wales, London, 1999) that this Mithridates was not identical with Antiochos IV.

Livy, The History of Rome, 33.19.8-10: During the previous summer (197 BC) Antiochus (Antiochos III) had reduced all the cities in Coelo-Syria which had been under Ptolemy’s sway (Ptolemy V), and though he had now withdrawn into winter quarters he displayed as great activity as he had done during the summer. He had called up the whole strength of his kingdom and had amassed enormous forces, both military and naval. At the commencement of spring he had sent his two sons, Ardys and Mithridates, with an army to Sardis with instructions to wait for him there whilst he started by sea with a fleet of a hundred decked ships and two hundred smaller vessels, including swift pinnaces and Cyprian barques.

2 Lucherini, The Children of Antiochos III, p. 7

3 He suddendly died on the expedition to the eastern provinces. Grainger, A Seleukid Prosopography and Gazetteer, p. 25, notes: Antiochos’ death was due, said Polybios, to divine vengeance for his attack on the Elymaian shrine, which Jewish sources elaborated into an agonising death due to his attack on the Jerusalem temple. In fact, the cause of his death is not known.

Appian, Roman History – The Syrian Wars, 11.66: He (Antiochos IV) was terrified and withdrew from the country (from Egypt), and robbed the temple of Venus Elymais; then died of a wasting disease, leaving a son nine years of age, the Antiochus Eupator (Antiochos V) already mentioned.

Polybios, Histories (the Loeb edition), 31.9: In Syria King Antiochus (Antiochos IV), wishing to provide himself with money, decided to make an expedition against the sanctuary of Artemis in Elymaïs. On reaching the spot he was foiled in his hopes, as the barbarian tribes who dwelt in the neighbourhood would not permit the outrage, and on his retreat he died at Tabae in Persia, smitten with madness, as some people say, owing to certain manifestations of divine displeasure when he was attempting this outrage on the above sanctuary.

Polybios, Histories (the Macmillan edition), 31.11: In Syria king Antiochus (Antiochos IV), wishing to enrich himself, determined on an armed attack upon the temple of Artemis, in Elymais. But having arrived in this country and failed in his purpose, because the native barbarians resisted his lawless attempt, he died in the course of his return at Tabae, in Persia, driven mad, as some say, by some manifestations of divine wrath in the course of his wicked attempt upon this temple.

Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, 12.354-359: About this time it was that king Antiochus (Antiochos IV), as he was going over the upper countries, heard that there was a very rich city in Persia, called Elymais; and therein a very rich temple of Diana, and that it was full of all sorts of donations dedicated to it; as also weapons and breastplates, which, upon inquiry, he found had been left there by Alexander (Alexander the Great), the son of Philip (Philip II), king of Macedonia. And being incited by these motives, he went in haste to Elymais, and assaulted it, and besieged it. But as those that were in it were not terrified at his assault, nor at his siege, but opposed him very courageously, he was beaten off his hopes; for they drove him away from the city, and went out and pursued after him, insomuch that he fled away as far as Babylon, and lost a great many of his army. And when he was grieving for this disappointment, some persons told him of the defeat of his commanders whom he had left behind him to fight against Judea, and what strength the Jews had already gotten. When this concern about these affairs was added to the former, he was confounded, and by the anxiety he was in fell into a distemper, which, as it lasted a great while, and as his pains increased upon him, so he at length perceived he should die in a little time; so he called his friends to him, and told them that his distemper was severe upon him; and confessed withal, that this calamity was sent upon him for the miseries he had brought upon the Jewish nation, while he plundered their temple, and contemned their God; and when he had said this, he gave up the ghost. Whence one may wonder at Polybius of Megalopolis, who, though otherwise a good man, yet saith that “Antiochus died because he had a purpose to plunder the temple of Diana in Persia;” for the purposing to do a thing, but not actually doing it, is not worthy of punishment. But if Polybius could think that Antiochus thus lost his life on that account, it is much more probable that this king died on account of his sacrilegious plundering of the temple at Jerusalem. But we will not contend about this matter with those who may think that the cause assigned by this Polybius of Megalopolis is nearer the truth than that assigned by us.

1 Maccabees, 6.1-16: King Antiochus (Antiochos IV) was going through the upper provinces when he heard that Elymais in Persia was a city famed for its wealth in silver and gold. Its temple was very rich, containing golden shields, breastplates, and weapons left there by Alexander, the son of Philip, the Macedonian king who first reigned over the Greeks. So he came and tried to take the city and plunder it, but he could not, because his plan became known to the men of the city and they withstood him in battle. So he fled and in great grief departed from there to return to Babylon.

Then some one came to him in Persia and reported that the armies which had gone into the land of Judah had been routed; that Lysias had gone first with a strong force, but had turned and fled before the Jews; that the Jews had grown strong from the arms, supplies, and abundant spoils which they had taken from the armies they had cut down; that they had torn down the abomination which he had erected upon the altar in Jerusalem; and that they had surrounded the sanctuary with high walls as before, and also Beth-zur, his city.

When the king heard this news, he was astounded and badly shaken. He took to his bed and became sick from grief, because things had not turned out for him as he had planned. He lay there for many days, because deep grief continually gripped him, and he concluded that he was dying. So he called all his friends and said to them, “Sleep departs from my eyes and I am downhearted with worry. I said to myself, ‘To what distress I have come! And into what a great flood I now am plunged! For I was kind and beloved in my power.’ But now I remember the evils I did in Jerusalem. I seized all her vessels of silver and gold; and I sent to destroy the inhabitants of Judah without good reason. I know that it is because of this that these evils have come upon me; and behold, I am perishing of deep grief in a strange land.”

Then he called for Philip, one of his friends, and made him ruler over all his kingdom. He gave him the crown and his robe and the signet, that he might guide Antiochus his son and bring him up to be king. Thus Antiochus the king died there in the one hundred and forty-ninth year.

2 Maccabees, 9.1-29: About that time, as it happened, Antiochus (Antiochos IV) had retreated in disorder from the region of Persia. For he had entered the city called Persepolis, and attempted to rob the temples and control the city. Therefore the people rushed to the rescue with arms, and Antiochus and his men were defeated, with the result that Antiochus was put to flight by the inhabitants and beat a shameful retreat.

While he was in Ecbatana, news came to him of what had happened to Nicanor and the forces of Timothy. Transported with rage, he conceived the idea of turning upon the Jews the injury done by those who had put him to flight; so he ordered his charioteer to drive without stopping until he completed the journey. But the judgment of heaven rode with him! For in his arrogance he said, “When I get there I will make Jerusalem a cemetery of Jews.”

But the all-seeing Lord, the God of Israel, struck him an incurable and unseen blow. As soon as he ceased speaking he was seized with a pain in his bowels for which there was no relief and with sharp internal tortures – and that very justly, for he had tortured the bowels of others with many and strange inflictions. Yet he did not in any way stop his insolence, but was even more filled with arrogance, breathing fire in his rage against the Jews, and giving orders to hasten the journey. And so it came about that he fell out of his chariot as it was rushing along, and the fall was so hard as to torture every limb of his body.

Thus he who had just been thinking that he could command the waves of the sea, in his superhuman arrogance, and imagining that he could weigh the high mountains in a balance, was brought down to earth and carried in a litter, making the power of God manifest to all. And so the ungodly man’s body swarmed with worms, and while he was still living in anguish and pain, his flesh rotted away, and because of his stench the whole army felt revulsion at his decay. Because of his intolerable stench no one was able to carry the man who a little while before had thought that he could touch the stars of heaven.

Then it was that, broken in spirit, he began to lose much of his arrogance and to come to his senses under the scourge of God, for he was tortured with pain every moment. And when he could not endure his own stench, he uttered these words: “It is right to be subject to God, and no mortal should think that he is equal to God.”

Then the abominable fellow made a vow to the Lord, who would no longer have mercy on him, stating that the holy city, which he was hastening to level to the ground and to make a cemetery, he was now declaring to be free; and the Jews, whom he had not considered worth burying but had planned to throw out with their children to the beasts, for the birds to pick, he would make, all of them, equal to citizens of Athens; and the holy sanctuary, which he had formerly plundered, he would adorn with the finest offerings; and the holy vessels he would give back, all of them, many times over; and the expenses incurred for the sacrifices he would provide from his own revenues; and in addition to all this he also would become a Jew and would visit every inhabited place to proclaim the power of God.

But when his sufferings did not in any way abate, for the judgment of God had justly come upon him, he gave up all hope for himself and wrote to the Jews the following letter, in the form of a supplication. This was its content: “To his worthy Jewish citizens, Antiochus their king and general sends hearty greetings and good wishes for their health and prosperity. If you and your children are well and your affairs are as you wish, I am glad. As my hope is in heaven, I remember with affection your esteem and good will. On my way back from the region of Persia I suffered an annoying illness, and I have deemed it necessary to take thought for the general security of all. I do not despair of my condition, for I have good hope of recovering from my illness, but I observed that my father, on the occasions when he made expeditions into the upper country, appointed his successor, so that, if anything unexpected happened or any unwelcome news came, the people throughout the realm would not be troubled, for they would know to whom the government was left. Moreover, I understand how the princes along the borders and the neighbors to my kingdom keep watching for opportunities and waiting to see what will happen. So I have appointed my son Antiochus to be king, whom I have often entrusted and commended to most of you when I hastened off to the upper provinces; and I have written to him what is written here. I therefore urge and beseech you to remember the public and private services rendered to you and to maintain your present good will, each of you, toward me and my son. For I am sure that he will follow my policy and will treat you with moderation and kindness.”

So the murderer and blasphemer, having endured the more intense suffering, such as he had inflicted on others, came to the end of his life by a most pitiable fate, among the mountains in a strange land. And Philip, one of his courtiers, took his body home; then, fearing the son of Antiochus (Antiochos V), he betook himself to Ptolemy Philometor (Ptolemy VI) in Egypt.

4 Grainger, A Seleukid Prosopography and Gazetteer, p. 15: c. 243 BC; Lucherini, The Children of Antiochos III, p. 2: c. 242/1 BC.

5 Diodorus Siculus, Library of History, 28.3.1: As for Antiochus (Antiochos III), his project of pillaging the sanctuary of Zeus at Elymaïs brought him to appropriate disaster, and he perished will all his host.

Diodorus Siculus, Library of History, 29.15.1: Antiochus (Antiochos III), pressed for funds and hearing that the temple of Bel in Elymaïs had a large store of silver and gold, derived from the dedications, resolved to pillage it. He proceeded to Elymaïs and after accusing the inhabitants of initiating hostilities, pillaged the temple; but though he amassed much wealth he speedily received meet punishment from the gods.

Eusebius, Chronicle, pp. 253-254: Antiochus (Antiochos III) was called [the Great] and reigned for 36 years, from the second year of the 139th Olympiad (August 224 BC – July 223 BC) until the second year of the 148th Olympiad (August 187 BC – August 186 BC). In the latter year, he made an expedition to Susa and the eastern provinces, but was killed with all [his men] in battle with the Elymaeans; ...

Strabo, Geography, 16.1.18: The Elymaei occupy a country larger in extent, and more varied, than that of the Paraetaceni. The fertile part of it is inhabited by husbandmen. The mountainous tract is a nursery for soldiers, the greatest part of whom are archers. As it is of considerable extent, it can furnish a great military force; their king, who possesses great power, refuses to be subject, like others, to the king of Parthia. The country was similarly independent in the time of the Persians, and afterwards in the time of the Macedonians, who governed Syria. When Antiochus the Great attempted to plunder the temple of Belus, the neighbouring barbarians, unassisted, attacked and put him to death.

6 Polybios, Histories (the Loeb edition), 5.43.1-4: He (Antiochos III) was now near Seleucia, the city at the crossing of the Euphrates (Seleukeia-Zeugma, i.e. Seleukeia “the Bridge”), and there he was joined by Diognetus, the admiral from Cappadocia Pontica, bringing Laodice (Laodike III), the daughter of Mithridates (Mithridates II), a virgin, the affianced bride of the king. Mithridates claimed to be a descendant of one of those seven Persians who had killed the Magus, and he had preserved in his family the kingdom on the Pontus originally granted to them by Darius. Antiochus received the maiden on her approach with all due pomp and at once celebrated his nuptials with right royal magnificence. After the wedding was over he went down to Antioch, where he proclaimed Laodice queen and henceforth busied himself with preparations for the war.

Polybios, Histories (the Macmillan edition), 5.43.1-4: While this was going on, Antiochus (Antiochos III) happened to be at Seleucia, on the Zeugma (Seleukeia-Zeugma, i.e. Seleukeia “the Bridge”), when the Navarchus Diognetus arrived from Cappadocia, on the Euxine, bringing Laodice (Laodike III), the daughter of king Mithridates (Mithridates II), an unmarried girl, destined to be the king’s wife. This Mithridates boasted of being a descendant of one of the seven Persians who killed the Magus, and he had maintained the sovereignty handed down from his ancestors, as it had been originally given to them by Darius along the shore of the Euxine. Having gone to meet the princess with all due pomp and splendour, Antiochus immediately celebrated his nuptials with royal magnificence. The marriage having been completed, he went to Antioch; and after proclaiming Laodice queen, devoted himself thenceforth to making preparation for the war.

7 Lucherini, The Children of Antiochos III, suggests the following order of birth of Antiochos III’s children (he excludes Ardys, see footnote 13):

  1. Antiochos, b. in 220 BC
  2. Laodike, b. in 219 or 221 BC
  3. Kleopatra I, b. in 219/8 BC
  4. Antiochis, b. in 218/7 BC
  5. possible daughter (unknown name), b. in 217 BC
  6. Seleukos IV, b. in 216/5 BC
  7. Antiochos IV (Mithridates), b. in 212 BC
  8. Nysa (?), b. in 211 BC
  9. possible daughter (unknown name), b. in 210 or in 203/2 BC

8 Grainger, A Seleukid Prosopography and Gazetteer, p. 26 – Antiochos (2): 221 BC; Lucherini, The Children of Antiochos III, p. 5: 220 BC.

9 Appian, Roman History – The Syrian Wars, 1.4: ... There (at Seleukeia in Pieria) he (Antiochos III) celebrated the nuptials of his children, Antiochus and Laodice, whom he had joined together in marriage.

10 Probably at the beginning of 192 BC, between January and the earlier days of March. (Lucherini, The Children of Antiochos III, p. 5; he refers to Giuseppe Del Monte, Testi dalla Babilonia Ellenistica. Volume I: Testi Cronografici. Pisa - Roma, 1997)

11 Lucherini, The Children of Antiochos III, p. 6

12 According to Babylonian documents, Antiochos III appears sole sovereign from 18 March 192 BC to 9 February 189 BC. The first attestation of the co-regency of Antiochos III and Seleukos IV is an Astronomical Diary dated 1-10 Nisan 123 BC (= 25 March - 3 April 189 BC). (Lucherini, The Children of Antiochos III, p. 6; Lucherini, personal communication; he refers to Giuseppe Del Monte, Testi dalla Babilonia Ellenistica. Volume I: Testi Cronografici. Pisa - Roma, 1997)

13 Ardys is only attested in a passage of Livy (The History of Rome, 33.19, see footnote 1). According to Lucherini, The Children of Antiochos III, p. 10, either this is Livy’s mistake or the text is corrupted.

14 Lucherini, The Children of Antiochos III, p. 6. According to Bennett, Egyptian Royal Genealogy: Cleopatra I, she was born in the period c. 219 - c. 212 BC.

15 Nearly all information about Kleopatra I is taken from Bennett, Egyptian Royal Genealogy: Cleopatra I.

16 Nysa is noted only on an inscription at Delos and her identity is not certain. She was probably the daughter of either Antiochos III or Antiochos IV, see Lucherini, The Children of Antiochos III, p. 9. Grainger, A Seleukid Prosopography and Gazetteer, p. 52, attributes her to Antiochos IV. Lucheriny (ibid) prefers Antiochos III based on another dating of the inscription (he refers to Steven V. Tracy, Attic Letter-Cutters of 229-86 BC. University of California Press, Berkeley, 1990).

17 Polybios, Histories (the Loeb edition), 11.39.8-9: Teleas went backwards and forwards more than once to both kings (Antiochos III and Euthydemos I), and finally Euthydemus (Euthydemos I) sent off his son Demetrius (Demetrios I) to ratify the agreement. Antiochus (Antiochos III), on receiving the young man and judging him from his appearance, conversation, and dignity of bearing to be worthy of royal rank, in the first place promised to give him one of his daughters in marriage and next gave permission to his father to style himself king.

Polybios, Histories (the Macmillan edition), 11.39.8-9: And after several journeys of Teleas to and fro between the two (Antiochos III and Euthydemos I), Euthydemus (Euthydemos I) at last sent his son Demetrius (Demetrios I) to confirm the terms of the treaty. Antiochus (Antiochos III) received the young prince; and judging from his appearance, conversation, and the dignity of his manners that he was worthy of royal power, he first promised to give him one of his own daughters, and secondly conceded the royal title to his father.

18 This Laodike has been identified with the daughter of Antiochos III and the wife of his eldest son Antiochos, which would thus make her the wife of three brothers successively, but this is not now generally accepted. (Grainger, A Seleukid Prosopography and Gazetteer, p. 50 - Laodike (15))

19 There are also two other possible descendants:

  1. Alexander I Theopatoros Euergetes, nicknamed Balas, King of the Seleukid Empire, born c. 170 BC, reigned 150 - 145 BC, died 145 BC (killed by an Arab chieftain Zabdiel, alias Diokles). He proclaimed to be a son of Antiochos IV for propaganda purposes. (Grainger, A Seleukid Prosopography and Gazetteer, p. 6 - Alexander I)
  2. Laodike, a supposed daughter, married to Mithridates III (V), King of Pontos. Her existence is not certain. (Grainger, A Seleukid Prosopography and Gazetteer, p. 50 - Laodike (18))


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