Antiochos V

Founded 15-Mar-2009
Last update 15-Mar-2009

Genealogy References

However, Antiochus, before he died, called for Philip, who was one of his companions, and made him the guardian of his kingdom; and gave him his diadem, and his garment, and his ring, and charged him to carry them, and deliver them to his son Antiochus; and desired him to take care of his education, and to preserve the kingdom for him. This Antiochus died in the hundred forty and ninth year; but it was Lysias that declared his death to the multitude, and appointed his son Antiochus to be king, of whom at present he had the care, and called him Eupator.

Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, 12.360-1


Ruler: Antiochos V Eupator (“Antiochos, [born] of a Noble Father”), Seleukid King (under the tutelage of the regent Lysias), born c. 173 BC,1 reigned 164 - 162, died 162 BC (killed on the orders of his cousin Demetrios I)2
Father: Antiochos IV Theos Epiphanes Nikephoros,3 Seleukid King, born c. 212 BC4 (son of Antiochos III Megas, Seleukid King, and Laodike III, Seleukid Queen), reigned 175 - 164 BC, died 164 BC (probably of illness)5
Mother: Laodike IV, parentage unknown, wife first of Seleukos IV and second of Antiochos IV6
Siblings: 7


1 Grainger, A Seleukid Prosopography and Gazetteer, p. 27

2 Appian, Roman History – The Syrian Wars, 8.47: As the Syrians received him (Demetrios I) gladly, he ascended to the throne after having put Lysias to death and the boy (Antiochos V) with him.

1 Maccabees, 7.1-4: In the one hundred and fifty-first year (year 151 of the Seleukid Era, i.e. 162/1 BC) Demetrius (Demetrios I) the son of Seleucus (Seleukos IV) set forth from Rome, sailed with a few men to a city by the sea, and there began to reign. As he was entering the royal palace of his fathers, the army seized Antiochus (Antiochos V) and Lysias to bring them to him. But when this act became known to him, he said, “Do not let me see their faces!” So the army killed them, and Demetrius took his seat upon the throne of his kingdom.

2 Maccabees, 14.1-2: Three years later, word came to Judas (Judas Maccabaeus) and his men that Demetrius (Demetrios I), the son of Seleucus (Seleukos IV), had sailed into the harbor of Tripolis with a strong army and a fleet, and had taken possession of the country, having made away with Antiochus (Antiochos V) and his guardian Lysias.

Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, 12.389-390: About the same time Demetrius (Demetrios I), the son of Seleucus (Seleukos IV), fled away from Rome, and took Tripoli, a city of Syria, and set the diadem on his own head. He also gathered certain mercenary soldiers together, and entered into his kingdom, and was joyfully received by all, who delivered themselves up to him. And when they had taken Antiochus the king (Antiochos V), and Lysias, they brought them to him alive; both which were immediately put to death by the command of Demetrius, when Antiochus had reigned two years, as we have already elsewhere related.

Justin, Epitome of the Philippic History of Pompeius Trogus, 34.3: Antiochus (Antiochos IV), on returning to his kingdom, died, leaving a son quite a boy (Antiochos V). Guardians being assigned him by the people, his uncle Demetrius (Demetrios I was not the uncle of Antiochos V but his cousin), who was a hostage at Rome, and who had heard of the death of his brother, went to the senate, and said that “he had come to Rome as a hostage while his brother was alive, but that now he was dead, he did not know for whom he was a hostage. It was therefore reasonable,” he added, “that he should be released to claim the throne, which, as he had conceded it to his elder brother by the law of nations, now of right belonged to himself, as he was superior to the orphan in age.” But finding that he was not released by the senate (their private opinion being that the throne would be better in the hands of the young prince than in his), he left the city on pretence of going to hunt, and secretly took ship at Ostia (a port city located at the mouth of the Tiber River), with such as attended him in his flight. On arriving in Syria, he was favourably received by the whole people, and the orphan being put to death, the throne was resigned to him by the guardians.

Eusebius, Chronicle, pp. 253-255: While Antiochus Epiphanes (Antiochos IV) was still alive, his son Antiochus called Eupator was made king (Antiochos V), when he was only twelve years old, after which his father lived for a further one year and six months. Then Demetrius (Demetrios I), who had been given to the Romans by his father Seleucus (Seleukos IV) as a hostage, escaped from Rome to Phoenicia, and came to the city of Tripolis. Demetrius killed the young Antiochus along with his guardian Lysias, and made himself king in the fourth year of the 154th Olympiad (161/0 BC); he was called Soter, and reigned for 12 years, until the fourth year of the 157th Olympiad (149/8 BC).

Porphyry, Chronika, 15: This Demetrios (Demetrios I), who had been given as a hostage to Rome by his father, Seleukos (Seleukos IV), escaping to Phoenician Tripolis arrived in * days. Coming against them, he killed both Lysias the tutor of the boy Antiochos (Antiochos V) and this Antiochos, unexpectedly destroying such great power in a few days.

3 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.

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

5 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.

6 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))

7 Theoretically, there are two possible siblings:

  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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