Antiochos VII

Founded 27-Jul-2003
Last update 22-Nov-2008

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When he besieged Jerusalem, the Jews, in respect of their great festival, begged of him seven days’ truce; which he not only granted, but preparing oxen with gilded horns, with a great quantity of incense and perfumes, he went before them to the very gates, and having delivered them as a sacrifice to their priests, he returned back to his army. The Jews wondered at him, and as soon as their festival was finished, surrendered themselves to him.

Plutarch, Morals, Vol. I, p. 208

... Arsaces when burying him said: “Your boldness and drunkenness, Antiochus, caused your fall; for you expected to drink up the Arsacid kingdom in huge cups.”

Poseidonios of Apamea, History, Bk. XVI (at Athenaios of Naukratis, Deipnosophistai, Bk. 10.439D-E)1


Ruler: Antiochos VII Megas Soter Euergetes Kallinikos2 (“Antiochos the Great, the Saviour, the Benefactor, the Nobly-victorious”), nicknamed Sidetes (“of Side”),3 Seleukid King, born c. 160 BC, reigned 138 - 129 BC, died 129 BC (slain in battle with the Parthians)
Father: Demetrios I Soter, Seleukid King, born c. 186 BC (son of Seleukos IV Philopator, Seleukid King, and Laodike IV, Seleukid Queen), reigned 162 - 150 BC, died 150 BC (killed in battle against Alexander Balas)
Mother: Laodike, Seleukid Queen (daughter of Seleukos IV Philopator, Seleukid King, and Laodike IV, Seleukid Queen), married first to Perseus (King of Makedon, reigned 179 - 167 BC) sometime between 179 and 177 BC and second to her brother Demetrios I in 161/0 BC,4 died 150/149 BC (killed by Ammonios, the chief minister of Alexander Balas)5
Siblings: (1) Demetrios II Nikator, Seleukid King, born c. 161 BC, 1st reign 145 - 138 BC (captured by the Parthians), 2nd reign 129 - 126/5 BC, died 126/5 BC (murdered at Tyre)
  (2) Antigonos, died 150/149 BC (killed by Ammonios, the chief minister of Alexander Balas)6
Wife: Kleopatra Thea Eueteria (usually referred simply as Kleopatra Thea), Queen of the Seleukid Empire, born in or before 164 BC (daughter of Ptolemy VI Philometor, King of Egypt, and Kleopatra II, Queen of Egypt); first married to Alexander I in 150 BC (marriage dissolved by her father), second married to Demetrios II in c. 148/7 BC (as his first wife, marriage dissolved by the capture of Demetrios II by Mithridates I in 138 BC), and third married to Antiochos VII in 138/7 BC; possibly returned to the marriage with Demetrios II in 129 BC; sole reign 126/5 BC, reign in coregency with her son Antiochos VIII 126/5 - 121/0 BC, died 121/0 BC (killed by her son Antiochos VIII)
Children: 7 (1) Antiochos IX Philopator, Seleukid King, born c. 136/5 BC, reigned 114/3 - 95 BC, died 95 BC (executed after his defeat by Seleukos VI)
  (2) presumably another Antiochos
  (3) possibly another son Seleukos
  (4) presumably one or two daughters Laodike


At the end of the 140s BC, the Seleukid empire was split between two rival kings, the rightful Seleukid king Demetrios II Nikator and the usurper Diodotos Tryphon (as king from c. 141 BC). Demetrios held Cilicia, the Syrian cities of Seleukeia in Pieria and Laodikeia, and the eastern satrapies. Tryphon controlled inland Syria (in particular Antioch and Apamea), Phoenicia and Palestine. Demetrios was not able to remove him.8 Moreover, in June/July 141 BC, Parthian forces under Mithridates I (Arsaces VI - Mithridates I, reigned 165 - 132 BC9) overran Mesopotamia and captured Seleukeia on the Tigris and then Babylon (July 5/6, 141 BC).10 Therefore, in 140/139 BC,11 Demetrios started a campaign to the East to recover the eastern regions and to recruit a new force with which he could deal with Tryphon. He was welcomed in the East because people preferred the old Seleukid government to the new Parthian regime. Demetrios defeated the Parthians in a series of battles, but then, in c. July 138 BC,12 he was deceived by an offer of peace (or surprised by an ambush), defeated, captured and paraded in the cities that had aided him. He was then kept in honorable captivity in Hyrkania and even married off to Rhodogune, one of Mithridates’ daughters.13 In subsequent years he twice made attempts to escape, but without success.14

Antiochos returned to Syria from Rhodes where he lived, defeated Tryphon, was proclaimed king and became the third husband of Kleopatra Thea15 (she considered herself divorced by her husband’s captivity and marriage with the Parthian princess Rhodogune). Whatever the precise circumstances that impelled his return and assumption of the diadem (and these remain uncertain), it seems that he did so in about spring or early summer 138 BC before any news of his brother’s capture.16 He also made alliance with Simon, the Jewish high priest. Tryphon fled first to Dora17 and then to Apamea18, but in the end he was captured and executed or, according to Strabo, he committed suicide (probably in the last months of 138 BC19).20

Jews had gained territory never before in possession of Hebrews through the bidding of rival claimants to the Syrian throne and their own seizure of opportunities. The alliance with Simon was therefore temporary and Antiochos soon demanded the returning of unrightfully controlled cities (Joppa and Gazara) and of the citadel in Jerusalem and also taxes from places conquered outside the borders of Judea, or financial compensation for the Jewish conquests. His first attempt to enforce his authority was not successful.21 However, in 135 BC, Simon was assassinated and his son John Hyrcanus (I) became the new high priest (reigned 135/4 - 104 BC).22, 23

Antiochos invaded Judea and besieged John Hyrcanus in Jerusalem. The siege was tough, but Antiochos scrupulously respected Jewish religious sensibilities. He granted a truce during the Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkoth) and, moreover, he sent in a magnificent sacrifice to the city. This behaviour made a favourable impression and Hyrcanus submitted to Antiochos’ moderate terms: to disarm Hyrcanus’ soldiers, to pay tribute for cities outside the borders of Judea, to give hostages, to pay five hundred talents and to knock down Jerusalem’s walls.24 Seleukid control of Judea was restored.25

In 130 BC, Antiochos started a campaign to the East to reconquer the lands lost to the Parthians. His huge army26 included a Jewish contingent commanded by John Hyrcanus.27 He fought and won three battles and, welcomed and joined by Parthian vassals, he recovered Babylonia (in summer of 130 BC28, 29) and thereafter Media.30 In early spring 129 BC, the Parthian king Phraates II (Arsaces VII - Phraates II, reigned 132 - 127 BC31) offered to negotiate, but Antiochos’ terms were too harsh: to set free his brother Demetrios, to evacuate all newly won Parthian territory (which would leave Phraates with only Hyrcania and his homeland of Parthyene) and to pay tribute.32 Phraates refused these terms and he released Demetrios and sent him back to Syria with a Parthian escort, in the hope to compel Antiochos to withdraw from Parthia to secure his throne against his brother.33

As Phraates was not able to defeat Antiochos in a regular battle, he secretly organized a widespread series of risings. The Median cities, exploited by the vast Seleukid army, revolted to the Parthians and, unexpectedly and simultaneously, attacked the scattered Seleukid army. In the subsequent fighting Antiochos was defeated and killed, although he himself fought bravely.34 There are two theories about the dating of Antiochos’ defeat and death: spring 129 BC35 or autumn 129 BC36. Phraates performed funeral rites for him and later sent his body back to Syria in a silver coffin. Antiochos’ son Seleukos was captured and Phraates married a daughter of Demetrios, whom Antiochos had brought with him.37 Phraates also sent cavalry to recapture Demetrios but too late. Demetrios now became king for the second time (reigned 129 - 126/5 BC38).39 Nevertheless, the eastern territories of the Seleukid empire were lost for good.

Seleukid power was gravely weakened by the defeat,40 and John Hyrcanus promptly took advantage of the opportunity and enlarged the Jewish state.41 This means that most of his army survived intact. He and his Jewish auxiliary troops were probably permitted to return to Judea in autumn 130 BC because the war was thought as good as won and new local allies and vassals made the Jewish contribution less significant.42

Although Phraates saved his dominions, the subsequent period was not easy for the Parthian empire.43 The Characenean ruler Hyspaosines proclaimed himself king (probably 128 BC) and temporarily overran southern and central Mesopotamia inclusive of Babylon and Seleukeia on the Tigris (perhaps autumn 128 - summer 127 BC; his reign in Babylon is certain in late spring - early summer 127 BC). Another local rebellion broke out in Elymais in 127 BC. Phraates himself was forced to lead a campaign in the north and northeast Parthia against nomad invaders (128 - 127 BC) and he was killed here44 in c. 127 BC.45

Some ancient sources mention Antiochos’ penchant for luxury, hunting and wine,46 but also his generosity and amiability.47 It is not easy to evaluate his political and military abilities. He successfully defeated the usurper Tryphon, although it is possible to object that his initial successes were due more to war weariness in Syria than to his own abilities.48 He showed an accomplished combination of force and tolerance during his successful siege of Jerusalem, but his first attempt to restore Seleukid control of Judea was not successful. It seems that he had a good relationship with the Roman general Scipio Aemilianus.49 His disastrous defeat in 129 BC was caused by a bad judgment of the situation. He was probably too indulgent of his deputies who were permitted to abuse the population with impunity, and thus set the scene for the civic authorities deserting to the Parthians.50 Nevertheless, he was not defeated in open battle and the campaign was well organized and well led until the final disaster. In any case, Antiochos VII is generally regarded as the last great Seleukid king.

My warmest thanks to Mark K. Passehl for his numerous helpful comments, for his assistance with the retrieval of many quotations from primary sources and for his patient corrections of my English. My sincere thanks also to Gholamreza Farhad Assar and to other people who helped me with this work. All errors, inaccuracies and misinterpretations remain my own.


1 Kidd, Posidonius, Volume 3, p. 132, F63 = Jacoby FGrH 87 F11. The Arsaces mentioned in this fragment is the Parthian king Arsaces VII - Phraates II.

2 Antiochos VII is called “Megas S(oter?) Euergetes Kallinikos” in an inscription from Ptolemais-Ake: Y. H. Landau, A Greek Inscription from Acre. Israel Exploration Journal 11, 1961, pp. 118-126 (= Supplementum Épigraphicum Graecum XIX 9094). The epithets “Soter” and “Kallinikos” are known only from this single inscription. The title “Megas” also appears on a unique gold stater dated 134/3 BC (Arthur Houghton’s collection, see below) and in two inscriptions from Delos published in OGIS I.255-6 (W. Dittenberger, Orientis Graeci Inscriptiones Selectae. Vol. I-II. Leipzig, 1903-1905). According to Justin, Epitome of the Philippic History of Pompeius Trogus, 38.10.6, this title was given to Antiochos VII for his reconquest of Babylon in summer of 130 BC (see footnotes 28 and 30). It is otherwise unknown. (Grainger, A Seleukid Prosopography and Gazetteer, p. 30; Houghton, personal communication)

The unique gold stater from Arthur Houghton’s collection:

Mint: unknown
Period: 134/3 BC
Denomination: AV Stater
Weight: 8.42 g
Diameter: 19 mm
Obverse: Diademed head of Antiochos VII right; fillet border
Reverse: ‘[ΒΑ]ΣΙΛΕ[ΩΣ] ΑΝΤΙΟΧΟ[Υ]’ above, ‘ΜΕΓΑΛΟΥ ΕΥΕΡΓΕΤΟΥ’ below (“of King Antiochos the Great, the Benefactor”); winged Nike driving a galloping biga left, holding whip in right hand and reins in left hand; Seleukid date ΘΟΡ (year 179 of the Seleukid Era, i.e. 134/3 BC) below horses
Die axis:
References: Arthur Houghton, A victory coin and the Parthian Wars of Antiochus VII in Proceedings of the 10th International Congress of Numismatics (1986), IAPN Publication No. 11, p. 65 and Plate 6, A;
  Arthur Houghton and Catharine Lorber with Oliver Hoover: Seleucid Coins, A Comprehensive Catalogue. Part II. (in preparation);
  Hoover, CSE 2, 633 (Plate XXXVIII)
Source: Photo courtesy of Arthur A. Houghton – Arthur A. Houghton’s personal collection, AHNS 124 (photos taken by Travis Merkel of Classical Numismatic Group, Inc.)

3 Antiochos VII was brought up at Side in Pamphylia. Side was an important coastal city and a wealthy commercial and intellectual centre of the Eastern Mediterranean in the 2nd and 1st centuries BC.

Eusebius, Chronicle, pp. 255-256: The younger brother of Demetrius (Demetrios II), called Antiochus (Antiochos VII), was brought up in the city of Side, from which he was given the name Sidetes.

According to Flavius Josephus, he was called the Pious by the Jews because of his behaviour during the siege of Jerusalem.

Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, 13.244: ... all men called him Antiochus the Pious, for the great zeal he had about religion.

4 Hoover, A Dedication to Aphrodite Epekoos for Demetrius I Soter and his Family

5 Livy, Periochae, 50.4: In Syria, which had until then had a king (Alexander I) who was equal to that of Macedonia in ancestry but to Prusias (Prusias II, king of Bithynia) in laziness and slowness, and who took his ease in kitchens and brothels, Hammonius (Ammonios) ruled, and he murdered all friends of the king (Demetrios I), and queen Laodice, and Demetrius’ son Antigonus.

See also Grainger, A Seleukid Prosopography and Gazetteer, p. 49 - Laodike (12), and p. 76 - Ammonios.

6 The only son of Demetrios I who fell into the hands of Alexander I Balas, the others having been evacuated in time before the father’s final defeat (see footnote 5 and Justin, Epitome of the Philippic History of Pompeius Trogus, 35.2, below). Grainger, A Seleukid Prosopography and Gazetteer, p. 8, argues that Antigonos was Demetrios’ eldest son. According to Passehl, personal communication, certainly Demetrios II was older than Antiochos VII, but Greco-Makedonian nomenclature rules would suggest that Antigonos should be the youngest; see also the fact that Demetrios I kept Antigonos with him while his other boys (surely because the chief heirs) were sent off for safety to west Anatolia when the great coalition war against Demetrios I was begun.

Justin, Epitome of the Philippic History of Pompeius Trogus, 35.2: At the commencement of the war, Demetrius (Demetrios I) had entrusted two of his sons to a friend of his at Cnidus, with a large quantity of treasure, that they might be removed from the perils of the war, and might be preserved, if fortune should so order it, to avenge their father’s death.

7 Eusebius, Chronicle, pp. 257-258: Antiochus the fifth (Antiochos VII) had three sons and two daughters; the first two, the daughters, were both called Laodice. The third, called Antiochus, fell ill and died, like his sisters. The fourth was Seleucus, who was captured by Arsaces. The fifth was another Antiochus (Antiochos IX), who was brought up by Craterus the eunuch at Cyzicus, where he had fled with Craterus and the rest of the household of Antiochus, through fear of Demetrius (Demetrios II). One of the brothers had already died, along with his sister, so only Antiochus was left, the youngest of the brothers, and because of his residence at Cyzicus he was called Cyzicenus.

See Bennett, Egyptian Royal Genealogy: Cleopatra Thea, for a detailed discussion.

8 Grainger, A Seleukid Prosopography and Gazetteer, p. 42 - Demetrios II, p. 69 - Tryphon; Green, Alexander to Actium, p. 534

9 See Assar, A Revised Parthian Chronology of the Period 165 – 91 BC, pp. 88-98. The traditional date of his death is 139/8 BC.

10 Assar, A Revised Parthian Chronology of the Period 165 – 91 BC, p. 90. The Parthian conquest of Media Magna and Atropatene was completed between 148 BC and 141 BC (ibid, p. 89).

11 According to Bennett, Egyptian Royal Genealogy: Cleopatra Thea, note 19, the campaign started most likely in spring of 139 BC.

Note that ancient Greek and Roman literary texts are not reliable sources of the chronology of Demetrios II’s campaign and of the start of the reign of Antiochos VII. These texts must be corrected in light of the numismatic and cuneiform evidence. For a detailed analysis, see Passehl, Demetrios Nikator’s Second Arsakid War.

12 Bennett, Egyptian Royal Genealogy: Cleopatra Thea. The date follows from an astronomical cuneiform tablet from Babylon (A. J. Sachs & H. Hunger, Astronomical Diaries and Related Texts from Babylonia III, 161, No. -137A rev. = BM 45709).

131 Maccabees, 14.1-3: In the one hundred and seventy-second year (probably year 172 of the Babylonian Seleukid Era, i.e. 140/139 BC) Demetrius the king (Demetrios II) assembled his forces and marched into Media to secure help, so that he could make war against Trypho (Tryphon). When Arsaces the king of Persia and Media (Mithridates I) heard that Demetrius had invaded his territory, he sent one of his commanders to take him alive. And he went and defeated the army of Demetrius, and seized him and took him to Arsaces, who put him under guard.

Justin, Epitome of the Philippic History of Pompeius Trogus, 36.1: Demetrius (Demetrios II), having gained possession of his father’s throne (Demetrios I), and being spoiled by his good fortune, fell, from the effects of the vices of youth, into habits of indolence, and incurred as much contempt for his slothfulness, as his father had incurred hatred for his pride. As the cities, in consequence, began every where to revolt from his government, he resolved, in order to wipe off the stain of effeminacy from his character, to make war upon the Parthians. The people of the east beheld his approach with pleasure, both on account of the cruelty of Arsacides (Mithridates I), king of the Parthians, and because having been accustomed to the old government of the Macedonians, they viewed the pride of the new race with indignation. Being assisted, accordingly, by auxiliary troops from the Persians, Elymaeans, and Bactrians, he routed the Persians in several pitched battles. At length, however, being deceived by a pretended offer of peace, he was made prisoner, and being led from city to city, was shown as a spectacle to the people that had revolted, in mockery of the favour that they had shown him. Being afterwards sent into Hyrcania, he was treated kindly, and suitably to the dignity of his former condition.

Justin, Epitome of the Philippic History of Pompeius Trogus, 38.9: After making war, as has been said above, upon the Parthians, and gaining the victory in several battles, he (Demetrios II) was suddenly surprised by an ambuscade, and, having lost his army, was taken prisoner. Arsacides (Mithridates I), king of the Parthians, having sent him into Hyrcania, not only paid him, with royal magnanimity, the respect due to a prince, but gave him his daughter also in marriage, and promised to recover for him the throne of Syria, which Trypho (Tryphon) had usurped in his absence.

Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, 13.184-186: But Demetrius (Demetrios II) passed over [Euphrates], and came into Mesopotamia, as desirous to retain that country still, as well as Babylon; and when he should have obtained the dominion of the upper provinces, to lay a foundation for recovering his entire kingdom; for those Greeks and Macedonians who dwelt there frequently sent ambassadors to him, and promised, that if he would come to them, they would deliver themselves up to him, and assist him in fighting against Arsaces (Mithridates I), the king of the Parthians. So he was elevated with these hopes, and came hastily to them, as having resolved, that if he had once overthrown the Parthians, and gotten an army of his own, he would make war against Trypho (Tryphon), and eject him out of Syria; and the people of that country received him with great alacrity. So he raised forces, with which he fought against Arsaces, and lost all his army, and was himself taken alive, as we have elsewhere related.

Appian, Roman History, 11.67: Following the example of Seleucus (Seleukos I, who was called Nikator as well as Demetrios II) he (Demetrios II) made an expedition against the Parthians. He was taken prisoner by them and lived in the palace of King Phraates (Phraates II, son of Mithridates I), who gave him his sister, Rhodoguna, in marriage.

Eusebius, Chronicle, pp. 255-256: Setting out from Seleuceia, he (Demetrios II) defeated Antiochus (Antiochos VI) the son of Alexander (Alexander I), who was based in Syria and the city of Antioch, and started to reign in the first year of the 160th Olympiad (140/139 BC). In his second year (139/8 BC), he collected an army and set off for Babylon and the eastern regions, to fight against Arsaces (Mithridates I). In the next year, which was the third year of the 160th Olympiad (138/7 BC), he was captured by Arsaces, who sent him to be held prisoner in Parthia; ...

Porphyry, Chronika, 17: While campaigning against Arsakes (Mithridates I) in Babylon he (Demetrios II) was captured by Arsakes and having been taken up to Parthia and placed in fetters he was guarded. Thus he was later called Siderites (“Fettered”).

14 Justin, Epitome of the Philippic History of Pompeius Trogus, 38.9: After the death of this king (Mithridates I), Demetrius (Demetrios II), despairing of being allowed to return, being unable to endure captivity, and weary of a private, though splendid, life, secretly planned a mode of escaping to his own country. His counsellor and companion in the scheme was his friend Callimander, who, after Demetrius was taken prisoner, had come in a Parthian dress from Syria, with some guides that he had hired, through the deserts of Arabia to Babylon. But Phraates (Phraates II), who had succeeded Arsacides, brought him back, for he was overtaken in his flight by the speed of a party of horse sent after him by a shorter road. When he was brought to the king, not only pardon, but a testimony of esteem for his fidelity, was given to Callimander, but as for Demetrius, he sent him back, after having severely reproached him, into Hyrcania to his wife (Rhodogune), and directed that he should be kept in stricter confinement than before. Some time after, when children that were born to him had caused him to be more trusted, he again attempted flight, with the same friend as his attendant, but was overtaken, with equal ill-fortune, near the borders of his dominions, and being again brought to the king, was ordered out of his sight, as a person whom he could not endure to see. But being then also spared, for the sake of his wife and children, he was remanded into Hyrcania, the country of his punishment, and presented with golden dice, as a reproach for his childish levity. But it was not compassion, or respect for ties of blood, that was the cause of this extraordinary clemency of the Parthians toward Demetrius; the reason was, that they had some designs on the kingdom of Syria, and intended to make use of Demetrius against his brother Antiochus (Antiochos VII), as circumstances, the course of time, or the fortune of war, might require.

15 According to Bennett, Egyptian Royal Genealogy: Cleopatra Thea, note 23, the wedding happened probably early 137 BC.

16 According to Passehl it is likely that Antiochos VII staked his claim and attacked Tryphon many months, perhaps nearly a year, before Demetrios’ capture. The chronology of these events were later rearranged by a contemporary Seleukid court history sympathetic to Antiochos VII. Antiochos’ actions can be interpreted in several ways:

He may really have been a cyncial usurper of his brother’s rights, although this seems unlikely in the overall scheme of things (especially the on-going and successful Lagid policy of backing real usurpers in Syria against the authentic dynasty). Or he may have been encouraged to move from Rhodes rather earlier than he should have by the Aemilian Scipio and his colleagues (who certainly visited Rhodes in about autumn 139 and will have been well informed of the overall strategic situation, as well as local circumstances in both Syria and Mesopotamia). Or he may have been impelled by reports of a serious defeat of Demetrios in Babylonia (ca. summer/autumn 139) which also included (false) rumours of his brother’s capture or death, and already proceeded with his expedition into Syria beyond the point of any possible return before learning that those rumours were false. (Passehl, Demetrios Nikator’s Second Arsakid War)

17 An important coastal city on the boundary of southern Phoenicia and northern Palestine.

18 Tryphon was born near Apamea and educated in this city.

Strabo, Geography, 16.2.10: The power Trypho (Tryphon), surnamed Diodotus, acquired is a proof of the influence of this place (district of Apamea); for when he aimed at the empire of Syria, he made Apameia the centre of his operations. He was born at Casiana, a strong fortress in the Apameian district, and educated in Apameia; he was a favourite of the king (Alexander I) and the persons about the court. When he attempted to effect a revolution in the state, he obtained his supplies from Apameia and from the neighbouring cities, Larisa, Casiana, Megara, Apollonia, and others like them, all of which were reckoned to belong to the district of Apameia. He was proclaimed king of this country, and maintained his sovereignty for a long time.

19 According to Green, Alexander to Actium, p. 535, this was late in 138 BC. In any case, there are Tryphon’s coins dated year 4 of his regnal era (= 174 SE = October 139/October 138 BC), but no coin of his dated year 5 is known. Tryphon’s dated coins were minted at Ake-Ptolemais, Askalon and Byblos only. His coins dated year 4 are known from all these three mints (Ake-Ptolemais: Houghton, CSE, 800, and SNG Spaer, 1841-1842; Askalon: Houghton, CSE, 817, and SNG Spaer, 1844-1845; Byblos: Houghton, CSE, 702). This indicates that he was driven out of Phoenicia and Palestine before the end of October 138 BC.

20 Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, 13.220-224: However, when Trypho (Tryphon) had gained the management of affairs, he demonstrated his disposition to be wicked; for while he was a private person, he cultivated familiarity with the multitude, and pretended to great moderation, and so drew them on artfully to whatsoever he pleased; but when he had once taken the kingdom, he laid aside any further dissimulation, and was the true Trypho; which behavior made his enemies superior to him; for the soldiery hated him, and revolted from him to Cleopatra (Kleopatra Thea), the wife of Demetrius (Demetrios II), who was then shut up in Seleucia (Seleukeia in Pieria) with her children. But as Antiochus (Antiochos VII), the brother of Demetrius who was called Soter, was not admitted by any of the cities on account of Trypho, Cleopatra sent to him, and invited him to marry her, and to take the kingdom. The reasons why she made this invitation were these: That her friends persuaded her to it, and that she was afraid for herself, in case some of the people of Seleucia should deliver up the city to Trypho.

As Antiochus was now come to Seleucia, and his forces increased every day, he marched to fight Trypho; and having beaten him in the battle, he ejected him out of the Upper Syria into Phoenicia, and pursued him thither, and besieged him in Dora which was a fortress hard to be taken, whither he had fled. He also sent ambassadors to Simon the Jewish high priest, about a league of friendship and mutual assistance; who readily accepted of the invitation, and sent to Antiochus great sums of money and provisions for those that besieged Dora, and thereby supplied them very plentifully, so that for a little while he was looked upon as one of his most intimate friends; but still Trypho fled from Dora to Apamea, where he was taken during the siege, and put to death, when he had reigned three years.

Josephus, The Wars of the Jews, 1.51: He (Simon) was afterward an auxiliary to Antiochus (Antiochos VII), against Trypho (Tryphon), whom he besieged in Dora, before he went on his expedition against the Medes; ...

Appian, Roman History, 11.68: But Antiochus (Antiochos VII), the brother of the captive Demetrius (Demetrios II), learning in Rhodes of his captivity, came home and, with great difficulty, put Trypho (Tryphon) to death.

Justin, Epitome of the Philippic History of Pompeius Trogus, 36.1: When he (Tryphon) had enjoyed it for some time, and the liking of the people for his new government began at length to wear off, he was defeated in a battle by Antiochus (Antiochos VII), the brother of Demetrius (Demetrios II), who was then quite a boy, and who had been educated in Asia; and the throne of Syria again returned to the family of Demetrius. Antiochus, remembering that his father (Demetrios I) had been hated for his pride, and his brother despised for his indolence, was anxious not to fall into the same vices, and having married Cleopatra (Kleopatra Thea), his brother’s wife, proceeded to make war, with the utmost vigour, on the provinces that had revolted through the badness of his brother’s government, and, after subduing them, re-united them to his dominions.

1 Maccabees, 15.1-14, 15.25, 15.37-39: Antiochus (Antiochos VII), the son of Demetrius the king (Demetrios II), sent a letter from the islands of the sea to Simon, the priest and ethnarch of the Jews, and to all the nation; its contents were as follows: “King Antiochus to Simon the high priest and ethnarch and to the nation of the Jews, greeting. Whereas certain pestilent men have gained control of the kingdom of our fathers, and I intend to lay claim to the kingdom so that I may restore it as it formerly was, and have recruited a host of mercenary troops and have equipped warships, and intend to make a landing in the country so that I may proceed against those who have destroyed our country and those who have devastated many cities in my kingdom, now therefore I confirm to you all the tax remissions that the kings before me have granted you, and release from all the other payments from which they have released you. I permit you to mint your own coinage as money for your country, and I grant freedom to Jerusalem and the sanctuary. All the weapons which you have prepared and the strongholds which you have built and now hold shall remain yours. Every debt you owe to the royal treasury and any such future debts shall be canceled for you from henceforth and for all time. When we gain control of our kingdom, we will bestow great honor upon you and your nation and the temple, so that your glory will become manifest in all the earth.” In the one hundred and seventy-fourth year (probably year 174 of the Babylonian Seleukid Era, i.e. 138/7 BC) Antiochus set out and invaded the land of his fathers. All the troops rallied to him, so that there were few with Trypho (Tryphon). Antiochus pursued him, and he came in his flight to Dor, which is by the sea; for he knew that troubles had converged upon him, and his troops had deserted him. So Antiochus encamped against Dor, and with him were a hundred and twenty thousand warriors and eight thousand cavalry. He surrounded the city, and the ships joined battle from the sea; he pressed the city hard from land and sea, and permitted no one to leave or enter it. ... Antiochus the king besieged Dor anew, continually throwing his forces against it and making engines of war; and he shut Trypho up and kept him from going out or in. ... Now Trypho embarked on a ship and escaped to Orthosia. Then the king made Cendebeus commander-in-chief of the coastal country, and gave him troops of infantry and cavalry. He commanded him to encamp against Judea, and commanded him to build up Kedron and fortify its gates, and to make war on the people; but the king pursued Trypho.

Strabo, Geography, 14.5.2: The first place is Coracesium, a fortress of the Cilicians, situated upon an abrupt rock. Diodotus surnamed Tryphon used it as a rendezvous at the time that he caused Syria to revolt from her kings, and carried on war against them with various success. Antiochus (Antiochos VII), the son of Demetrius (Demetrios I), obliged him to shut himself up in one of the fortresses, and there he killed himself.

Eusebius, Chronicle, pp. 255-256: The younger brother of Demetrius (Demetrios II), called Antiochus (Antiochos VII), was brought up in the city of Side, from which he was given the name Sidetes. When he heard that Demetrius had been defeated and made a prisoner, he left Side and in the fourth year of the 160th Olympiad (137/6 BC) gained control of Syria, which he ruled for nine years.

21 Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, 13.225-227: However, Antiochus (Antiochos VII) forgot the kind assistance that Simon had afforded him in his necessity, by reason of his covetous and wicked disposition, and committed an army of soldiers to his friend Cendebeus, and sent him at once to ravage Judea, and to seize Simon. When Simon heard of Antiochus’s breaking his league with him, although he were now in years, yet, provoked with the unjust treatment he had met with from Antiochus, and taking a resolution brisker than his age could well bear, he went like a young man to act as general of his army. He also sent his sons before among the most hardy of his soldiers, and he himself marched on with his army another way, and laid many of his men in ambushes in the narrow valleys between the mountains; nor did he fail of success in any one of his attempts, but was too hard for his enemies in every one of them. So he led the rest of his life in peace, and did also himself make a league with the Romans.

Josephus, The Wars of the Jews, 1.50-53: However, Simon managed the public affairs after a courageous manner, and took Gazara, and Joppa, and Jamnia, which were cities in his neighborhood. He also got the garrison under, and demolished the citadel. He was afterward an auxiliary to Antiochus (Antiochos VII), against Trypho (Tryphon), whom he (Antiochos VII) besieged in Dora, before he went on his expedition against the Medes; yet could not he make the king ashamed of his ambition, though he had assisted him in killing Trypho; for it was not long ere Antiochus sent Cendebeus his general with an army to lay waste Judea, and to subdue Simon; yet he, though he was now in years, conducted the war as if he were a much younger man. He also sent his sons with a band of strong men against Antiochus, while he took part of the army himself with him, and fell upon him from another quarter. He also laid a great many men in ambush in many places of the mountains, and was superior in all his attacks upon them; and when he had been conqueror after so glorious a manner, he was made high priest, and also freed the Jews from the dominion of the Macedonians, after one hundred and seventy years of the empire [of Seleucus].

1 Maccabees, 15.25-41, 16.1-10: Antiochus (Antiochos VII) the king besieged Dor anew, continually throwing his forces against it and making engines of war; and he shut Trypho (Tryphon) up and kept him from going out or in. And Simon sent to Antiochus two thousand picked men, to fight for him, and silver and gold and much military equipment. But he refused to receive them, and he broke all the agreements he formerly had made with Simon, and became estranged from him. He sent to him Athenobius, one of his friends, to confer with him, saying, “You hold control of Joppa and Gazara and the citadel in Jerusalem; they are cities of my kingdom. You have devastated their territory, you have done great damage in the land, and you have taken possession of many places in my kingdom. Now then, hand over the cities which you have seized and the tribute money of the places which you have conquered outside the borders of Judea; or else give me for them five hundred talents of silver, and for the destruction that you have caused and the tribute money of the cities, five hundred talents more. Otherwise we will come and conquer you.” So Athenobius the friend of the king came to Jerusalem, and when he saw the splendor of Simon, and the sideboard with its gold and silver plate, and his great magnificence, he was amazed. He reported to him the words of the king, but Simon gave him this reply: “We have neither taken foreign land nor seized foreign property, but only the inheritance of our fathers, which at one time had been unjustly taken by our enemies. Now that we have the opportunity, we are firmly holding the inheritance of our fathers. As for Joppa and Gazara, which you demand, they were causing great damage among the people and to our land; for them we will give you a hundred talents.” Athenobius did not answer him a word, but returned in wrath to the king and reported to him these words and the splendor of Simon and all that he had seen. And the king was greatly angered. Now Trypho embarked on a ship and escaped to Orthosia. Then the king made Cendebeus commander-in-chief of the coastal country, and gave him troops of infantry and cavalry. He commanded him to encamp against Judea, and commanded him to build up Kedron and fortify its gates, and to make war on the people; but the king pursued Trypho. So Cendebeus came to Jamnia and began to provoke the people and invade Judea and take the people captive and kill them. He built up Kedron and stationed there horsemen and troops, so that they might go out and make raids along the highways of Judea, as the king had ordered him.

John went up from Gazara and reported to Simon his father what Cendebeus had done. And Simon called in his two older sons Judas and John, and said to them: “I and my brothers and the house of my father have fought the wars of Israel from our youth until this day, and things have prospered in our hands so that we have delivered Israel many times. But now I have grown old, and you by His mercy are mature in years. Take my place and my brother’s, and go out and fight for our nation, and may the help which comes from Heaven be with you.” So John chose out of the country twenty thousand warriors and horsemen, and they marched against Cendebeus and camped for the night in Modein. Early in the morning they arose and marched into the plain, and behold, a large force of infantry and horsemen was coming to meet them; and a stream lay between them. Then he and his army lined up against them. And he saw that the soldiers were afraid to cross the stream, so he crossed over first; and when his men saw him, they crossed over after him. Then he divided the army and placed the horsemen in the midst of the infantry, for the cavalry of the enemy were very numerous. And they sounded the trumpets, and Cendebeus and his army were put to flight, and many of them were wounded and fell; the rest fled into the stronghold. At that time Judas the brother of John was wounded, but John pursued them until Cendebeus reached Kedron, which he had built. They also fled into the towers that were in the fields of Azotus, and John burned it with fire, and about two thousand of them fell. And he returned to Judea safely.

22 Schäfer, Geschichte der Juden in der Antike, pp. 67 and 70 of the Czech translation

23 Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, 13.228-235: Now he (Simon) was the ruler of the Jews in all eight years; but at a feast came to his end. It was caused by the treachery of his son-in-law Ptolemy, who caught also his wife, and two of his sons, and kept them in bonds. He also sent some to kill John the third son, whose name was Hyrcanus (John Hyrcanus); but the young man perceiving them coming, he avoided the danger he was in from them, and made haste into the city [Jerusalem], as relying on the good-will of the multitude, because of the benefits they had received from his father, and because of the hatred the same multitude bare to Ptolemy; so that when Ptolemy was endeavoring to enter the city by another gate, they drove him away, as having already admitted Hyrcanus.

So Ptolemy retired to one of the fortresses that was above Jericho, which was called Dagon. But Hyrcanus having taken the high priesthood that had been his father’s before, and in the first place propitiated God by sacrifices, he then made an expedition against Ptolemy; and when he made his attacks upon the place, in other points he was too hard for him, but was rendered weaker than he, by the commiseration he had for his mother and brethren, and by that only; for Ptolemy brought them upon the wall, and tormented them in the sight of all, and threatened that he would throw them down headlong, unless Hyrcanus would leave off the siege. And as he thought that so far as he relaxed as to the siege and taking of the place, so much favor did he show to those that were dearest to him by preventing their misery, his zeal about it was cooled. However, his mother spread out her hands, and begged of him that he would not grow remiss on her account, but indulge his indignation so much the more, and that he would do his utmost to take the place quickly, in order to get their enemy under his power, and then to avenge upon him what he had done to those that were dearest to himself; for that death would be to her sweet, though with torment, if that enemy of theirs might but be brought to punishment for his wicked dealings to them. Now when his mother said so, he resolved to take the fortress immediately; but when he saw her beaten, and torn to pieces, his courage failed him, and he could not but sympathize with what his mother suffered, and was thereby overcome. And as the siege was drawn out into length by this means, that year on which the Jews used to rest came on; for the Jews observe this rest every seventh year, as they do every seventh day; so that Ptolemy being for this cause released from the war, he slew the brethren of Hyrcanus, and his mother; and when he had so done, he fled to Zeno, who was called Cotylas, who was then the tyrant of the city Philadelphia.

Josephus, The Wars of the Jews, 1.54-60: This Simon also had a plot laid against him, and was slain at a feast by his son-in-law Ptolemy, who put his wife and two sons into prison, and sent some persons to kill John, who was also called Hyrcanus (John Hyrcanus). But when the young man was informed of their coming beforehand, he made haste to get to the city, as having a very great confidence in the people there, both on account of the memory of the glorious actions of his father, and of the hatred they could not but bear to the injustice of Ptolemy. Ptolemy also made an attempt to get into the city by another gate; but was repelled by the people, who had just then admitted of Hyrcanus; so he retired presently to one of the fortresses that were about Jericho, which was called Dagon. Now when Hyrcanus had received the high priesthood, which his father had held before, and had offered sacrifice to God, he made great haste to attack Ptolemy, that he might afford relief to his mother and brethren.

So he laid siege to the fortress, and was superior to Ptolemy in other respects, but was overcome by him as to the just affection [he had for his relations]; for when Ptolemy was distressed, he brought forth his mother, and his brethren, and set them upon the wall, and beat them with rods in every body’s sight, and threatened, that unless he would go away immediately, he would throw them down headlong; at which sight Hyrcanus’s commiseration and concern were too hard for his anger. But his mother was not dismayed, neither at the stripes she received, nor at the death with which she was threatened; but stretched out her hands, and prayed her son not to be moved with the injuries that she suffered to spare the wretch; since it was to her better to die by the means of Ptolemy, than to live ever so long, provided he might be punished for the injuries he done to their family. Now John’s case was this: When he considered the courage of his mother, and heard her entreaty, he set about his attacks; but when he saw her beaten, and torn to pieces with the stripes, he grew feeble, and was entirely overcome by his affections. And as the siege was delayed by this means, the year of rest came on, upon which the Jews rest every seventh year as they do on every seventh day. On this year, therefore, Ptolemy was freed from being besieged, and slew the brethren of John, with their mother, and fled to Zeno, who was also called Cotylas, who was tyrant of Philadelphia.

1 Maccabees, 16.11-24: Now Ptolemy the son of Abubus had been appointed governor over the plain of Jericho, and he had much silver and gold, for he was son-in-law of the high priest. His heart was lifted up; he determined to get control of the country, and made treacherous plans against Simon and his sons, to do away with them. Now Simon was visiting the cities of the country and attending to their needs, and he went down to Jericho with Mattathias and Judas his sons, in the one hundred and seventy-seventh year, in the eleventh month, which is the month of Shebat. The son of Abubus received them treacherously in the little stronghold called Dok, which he had built; he gave them a great banquet, and hid men there. When Simon and his sons were drunk, Ptolemy and his men rose up, took their weapons, and rushed in against Simon in the banquet hall, and they killed him and his two sons and some of his servants. So he committed an act of great treachery and returned evil for good. Then Ptolemy wrote a report about these things and sent it to the king, asking him to send troops to aid him and to turn over to him the cities and the country. He sent other men to Gazara to do away with John (John Hyrcanus); he sent letters to the captains asking them to come to him so that he might give them silver and gold and gifts; and he sent other men to take possession of Jerusalem and the temple hill. But some one ran ahead and reported to John at Gazara that his father and brothers had perished, and that “he has sent men to kill you also.” When he heard this, he was greatly shocked; and he seized the men who came to destroy him and killed them, for he had found out that they were seeking to destroy him. The rest of the acts of John and his wars and the brave deeds which he did, and the building of the walls which he built, and his achievements, behold, they are written in the chronicles of his high priesthood, from the time that he became high priest after his father.

24 According to Grainger, A Seleukid Prosopography and Gazetteer, p. 96 - John (2) Hyrkanos, it is possible that these relatively mild terms – Antiochos made no attempt to interfere in the religious practices of the Jews, or to reimpose the polis of Antiocheia-in-Jerusalem – were in part the result of an intervention by the Romans (Rajak, Tessa: Roman Intervention in a Seleucid Siege of Jerusalem? Greek, Roman and Byzantine Studies, Volume 22 (1981), pp. 65-81).

25 Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, 13.236-249: But Antiochus (Antiochos VII), being very uneasy at the miseries that Simon had brought upon him, he invaded Judea in the fourth years’ of his reign, and the first year of the principality of Hyrcanus (i.e. c. 134 BC), in the hundred and sixty-second olympiad (132 - 128 BC; probably a mistake). And when he had burnt the country, he shut up Hyrcanus in the city (Jerusalem), which he encompassed round with seven encampments; but did just nothing at the first, because of the strength of the walls, and because of the valor of the besieged, although they were once in want of water, which yet they were delivered from by a large shower of rain, which fell at the setting of the Pleiades. However, about the north part of the wall, where it happened the city was upon a level with the outward ground, the king raised a hundred towers of three stories high, and placed bodies of soldiers upon them; and as he made his attacks every day, he cut a double ditch, deep and broad, and confined the inhabitants within it as within a wall; but the besieged contrived to make frequent sallies out; and if the enemy were not any where upon their guard, they fell upon them, and did them a great deal of mischief; and if they perceived them, they then retired into the city with ease. But because Hyrcanus discerned the inconvenience of so great a number of men in the city, while the provisions were the sooner spent by them, and yet, as is natural to suppose, those great numbers did nothing, he separated the useless part, and excluded them out of the city, and retained that part only which were in the flower of their age, and fit for war. However, Antiochus would not let those that were excluded go away, who therefore wandering about between the wails, and consuming away by famine, died miserably; but when the feast of tabernacles was at hand, those that were within commiserated their condition, and received them in again. And when Hyrcanus sent to Antiochus, and desired there might be a truce for seven days, because of the festival, be gave way to this piety towards God, and made that truce accordingly. And besides that, he sent in a magnificent sacrifice, bulls with their horns gilded, with all sorts of sweet spices, and with cups of gold and silver. So those that were at the gates received the sacrifices from those that brought them, and led them to the temple, Antiochus the mean while feasting his army, which was a quite different conduct from Antiochus Epiphanes (Antiochos IV), who, when he had taken the city, offered swine upon the altar, and sprinkled the temple with the broth of their flesh, in order to violate the laws of the Jews, and the religion they derived from their forefathers; for which reason our nation made war with him, and would never be reconciled to him; but for this Antiochus, all men called him Antiochus the Pious, for the great zeal he had about religion.

Accordingly, Hyrcanus took this moderation of his kindly; and when he understood how religious he was towards the Deity, he sent an embassage to him, and desired that he would restore the settlements they received from their forefathers. So he rejected the counsel of those that would have him utterly destroy the nation, by reason of their way of living, which was to others unsociable, and did not regard what they said. But being persuaded that all they did was out of a religious mind, he answered the ambassadors, that if the besieged would deliver up their arms, and pay tribute for Joppa, and the other cities which bordered upon Judea, and admit a garrison of his, on these terms he would make war against them no longer. But the Jews, although they were content with the other conditions, did not agree to admit the garrison, because they could not associate with other people, nor converse with them; yet were they willing, instead of the admission of the garrison, to give him hostages, and five hundred talents of silver; of which they paid down three hundred, and sent the hostages immediately, which king Antiochus accepted. One of those hostages was Hyrcanus's brother. But still he broke down the fortifications that encompassed the city. And upon these conditions Antiochus broke up the siege, and departed.

But Hyrcanus opened the sepulcher of David, who excelled all other kings in riches, and took out of it three thousand talents.

Josephus, The Wars of the Jews, 1.61: And now Antiochus (Antiochos VII) was so angry at what he had suffered from Simon, that he made an expedition into Judea, and sat down before Jerusalem and besieged Hyrcanus; but Hyrcanus opened the sepulcher of David, who was the richest of all kings, and took thence about three thousand talents in money, and induced Antiochus, by the promise of three thousand talents, to raise the siege.

Diodorus Siculus, Library of History, 34/35.1: When King Antiochus (Antiochos VII), says Diodorus, was laying siege to Jerusalem, the Jews held out for a time, but when all their supplies were exhausted they found themselves compelled to make overtures for a cessation of hostilities. Now the majority of his friends advised the king to take the city by storm and to wipe out completely the race of Jews, since they alone of all nations avoided dealings with any other people and looked upon all men as their enemies. ... Rehearsing all these events, his friends strongly urged Antiochus to make an end of the race completely, or, failing that, to abolish their laws and force them to change their ways. But the king, being a magnanimous and mild-mannered person, took hostages but dismissed the charges against the Jews, once he had exacted the tribute that was due and had dismantled the walls of Jerusalem.

Plutarch, Morals, Vol. I, p. 208: When he (Antiochos VII) besieged Jerusalem, the Jews, in respect of their great festival, begged of him seven days’ truce; which he not only granted, but preparing oxen with gilded horns, with a great quantity of incense and perfumes, he went before them to the very gates, and having delivered them as a sacrifice to their priests, he returned back to his army. The Jews wondered at him, and as soon as their festival was finished, surrendered themselves to him.

Eusebius, Chronicle, pp. 255-256: In the third year of the 162nd Olympiad (130/129 BC) he (Antiochos VII) conquered the Jews, pulled down the walls of [Jerusalem] after a siege, and put their leaders to death (?).

26 Justin, Epitome of the Philippic History of Pompeius Trogus, 38.10: Antiochus (Antiochos VII), having heard of their designs (of the Parthians), and thinking it proper to be first in the field, led forth an army, which he had inured to service by many wars with his neighbours, against the Parthians. But his preparations for luxury were not less than those for war, for three hundred thousand camp followers, of whom the greater number were cooks, bakers, and stage-players, attended on eighty thousand armed men. ... Many kings of the east met Antiochus on his march, offering him themselves and their kingdoms, and expressing the greatest detestation of Parthian pride.

Diodorus Siculus, Library of History, 34/35.17.1: ... three hundred thousand men had been lost, including those who had accompanied the army as supernumeraries, ...

According to Bar-Kochva, The Seleucid Army, p. 11, the number of 80,000 soldiers seems to be real because the expedition was preceded by an intensive recruitment drive, and several national groups inclusive of Jews were forced to share the burden. On the other hand, the enormous number of civilian followers cannot be taken seriously. Bar-Kochva supposes that Poseidonios of Apamea is to be identified as the original source of Justin’s account (Poseidonios was probably the source of Diodorus Siculus too), and thus the immense number of civilians was cited in order to stress the frivolous and degenerate atmosphere of the expedition, providing another link in the chain of episodes serving Poseidonios’ purpose of contrasting the declining East with the rising power of Rome.

27 Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, 13.250-252: There was also a league of friendship and mutual assistance made between them (Antiochos VII and John Hyrcanus); upon which Hyrcanus admitted him into the city (Jerusalem), and furnished him with whatsoever his army wanted in great plenty, and with great generosity, and marched along with him when he made an expedition against the Parthians; of which Nicolaus of Damascus is a witness for us; who in his history writes thus: “When Antiochus had erected a trophy at the river Lycus, upon his conquest of Indates, the general of the Parthians, he staid there two days. It was at the desire of Lyrcanus the Jew, because it was such a festival derived to them from their forefathers, whereon the law of the Jews did not allow them to travel.” And truly he did not speak falsely in saying so; for that festival, which we call Pentecost, did then fall out to be the next day to the Sabbath. Nor is it lawful for us to journey, either on the Sabbath day, or on a festival day.

28 Antiochos did not enter Babylon until May/June 130 BC, see Assar, A Revised Parthian Chronology of the Period 165 – 91 BC, p. 102. Note that Assar, ibid, p. 103, also cites Antiochos VII’s bronze coins dated ΒΠΡ = 182 SEM (October 131 - October 130 BC) with the head of Athena on the obverse and a tripod on the reverse which are attributed to Seleukeia on the Tigris. However, this attribution is not certain, see footnote 29.

29 There is a dated bronze issue of Antiochos VII (obverse: helmeted head of Athena; reverse: tripod flanked by the inscription ΒΑΣΙΛΕΩΣ ΑΝΤΙΟΧΟΥ ΕΥΕΡΓΕΤΟΥ, Seleukid date in exergue) which was previously attributed to Seleukeia on the Tigris. These coins are dated ΒΠΡ = 182 SEM (October 131 - October 130 BC; see BMC 4, 63; ANS, Accession Nos. 1944.100.77938 and 1944.100.77939), and perhaps also ΓΠΡ = 183 SEM (October 130 - September 129 BC). There is also a unique coin of this type in the collection of the British Museum (BM 1956-4-9-57) whose Seleukid date might be ΔΠΡ = 184 SEM, i.e. September 129 - October 128 BC. Nevertheless, a recent examination of this coin showed that the date is likely to be ΑΠΡ = 181 SEM (September 132 - October 131 BC), see the Hellenistica Discussion List, December 2005, messages Nos. 664 and 665. This reading means that this issue was struck in a western mint because Seleukeia on the Tigris was still controlled by the Parthians in 181 SEM.

30 Justin, Epitome of the Philippic History of Pompeius Trogus, 38.10: Antiochus (Antiochos VII), being victorious in three battles, and having got possession of Babylon, began to be thought a great man. All the neighbouring people, in consequence, joining him, nothing was left to the Parthians but their own country.

31 Assar, A Revised Parthian Chronology of the Period 165 – 91 BC, pp. 98-112

32 Diodorus Siculus, Library of History, 34/35.15: When spring with its warmth was melting the snow and crops were now, after the long period of frost, beginning to develop and grow, and men too were resuming their activity, Arsaces (Phraates II), wishing to feel out his enemies, sent envoys to discuss terms of peace. In reply Antiochus (Antiochos VII) told them that he would agree to the peace if Arsaces would release his brother Demetrius (Demetrios II) from captivity and send him home, if he would withdraw from the satrapies that he had seized by force, and if, retaining only his ancestral domain, he would pay tribute. Arsaces, taking offence at the harshness of the reply, placed an army in the field against him.

According to Passehl, personal communication, these are probably basically the same terms of alliance-vassalage as offered to Arsaces II by Antiochos III, and accepted, in 209 BC.

33 Justin, Epitome of the Philippic History of Pompeius Trogus, 38.10: It was then that Phraates (Phraates II) sent Demetrius (Demetrios II) into Syria, with a body of Parthians, to seize the throne, so that Antiochus (Antiochos VII) might be recalled from Parthia to secure his own dominions.

Eusebius, Chronicle, pp. 255-256: In the fourth year of the 162nd Olympiad (129/8 BC) Arsaces (Phraates II) attacked him (Antiochos VII) with an army of 120,000 men, and schemed against him by sending his brother Demetrius (Demetrios II), who had been kept as a prisoner, back to Syria.

Appian, Roman History, 11.68: Then he (Antiochos VII) marched with an army against Phraates (Phraates II) and demanded his brother (Demetrios II). Phraates was afraid of him and sent Demetrius back.

34 Eusebius, Chronicle, pp. 255-256: In the fourth year of the 162nd Olympiad (129/8 BC) Arsaces (Phraates II) attacked him (Antiochos VII) ... But at the onset of winter (onset of winter of the 4th year of the 162nd Olympiad, i.e. onset of winter of 129 BC) Antiochus met the barbarians in a confined space; bravely attacking them, he was injured and killed, in the 35th year of his life.

Justin, Epitome of the Philippic History of Pompeius Trogus, 38.10: In the meantime, since he (Phraates II) could not overthrow Antiochus (Antiochos VII) by open force, he made attempts upon him everywhere by stratagem. On account of the number of his forces, Antiochus had distributed his army, in winter quarters, through several cities; and this dispersion was the cause of his ruin; for the cities, finding themselves harassed by having to furnish supplies, and by the depredations of the soldiers, revolted to the Parthians, and, on an appointed day, conspired to fall upon the army divided among them, so that the several divisions might not be able to assist each other. News of the attack being brought to Antiochus, he hastened with that body of troops which he had in winter-quarters with him, to succour the others that lay nearest. On his way he was met by the king of the Parthians, with whom he himself fought more bravely than his troops; but at last, as the enemy had the superiority in valour, he was deserted, through fear on the part of his men, and killed.

Appian, Roman History, 11.68: Then he (Antiochos VII) marched with an army against Phraates (Phraates II) and demanded his brother (Demetrios II). Phraates was afraid of him and sent Demetrius back. Antiochus nevertheless fought with the Parthians, was beaten, and committed suicide.

Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, 13.253: But when Antiochus (Antiochos VII) joined battle with Arsaces (Phraates II), the king of Parthin, he lost a great part of his army, and was himself slain; and his brother Demetrius (Demetrios II) succeeded in the kingdom of Syria, by the permission of Arsaces, who freed him from his captivity at the same time that Antiochus attacked Parthin, as we have formerly related elsewhere.

Diodorus Siculus, Library of History, 34/35.16: His friends pleaded with Antiochus (Antiochos VII) not to join battle with the far more numerous Parthian hordes, since they, by taking refuge in the mountainous country that overlooked them, with its rough terrain, could neutralize the threat of his cavalry. Antiochus, however, completely disregarded their advice, remarking that it was disgraceful for the victorious to fear any ventures of those whom they had previously defeated. So, exhorting his men to the fray, he awaited with stout heart the onslaught of the barbarians.

Obsequens, Book of Prodigies, 28: When Antiochus king of Syria (Antiochos VII) was campaigning with an enormous army, swallows built a nest in his tent. Having ignored this portent he joined battle and was slain by the Parthians. (Translated by Mark K. Passehl.)

Livy, Periochae, 59.13 (year 129 BC): An account is given of the war between king Antiochus (Antiochos VII) of Syria and Phraates of the Parthians (Phraates II), and of the no less turbulent situation in Egypt.

35 Green, Alexander to Actium, p. 536, and Passehl, personal communication (late spring). According to Passehl, we can suppose the following chronology:

  1. mid April 129 BC: negotiations begin, and only concluded in mid May (Diodorus Siculus, Library of History, 34/35.15, see footnote 32; the thaw comes usually during April in upland Media and sometimes not until early May);
  2. mid to late May: Parthians negotiate co-operative action with the Median city-states to destroy the Seleukid army still dispersed in winter quarters among them (but probably beginning to prepare for new operations);
  3. early June: Demetrios released with an escort to Syria, and Parthians attack Seleukid army piecemeal all over Media in concert with Median cities;
  4. mid June: Antiochos killed and Phraates sends off cavalry to try to bring back Demetrios;
  5. mid/late June: Demetrios returned to Syria;
  6. late June: destruction/capture of the whole (dispersed) Seleukid army finally completed (subsequently strategos Athenaios starves to death - Diodorus Siculus, Library of History, 34/35.17.2, see footnote 50);
  7. July: Parthians march back into Mesopotamia and reach Babylonia;
  8. August: Arsakid coinage resumed at Seleukeia on the Tigris (towards the end of 183 SEM).

This scenario matches most of the literary, cuneiform and numismatic evidence (see also footnote 29) except of Eusebius (Porphyry), Chronicle, pp. 255-256 (see footnote 34). According to Passehl, the Eusebius/Porphyrius chronology of this period is unreliable. He adds that the swallows attested as nesting in the royal tent by Obsequens (Book of Prodigies 28, see footnote 34) regularly build nests in spring time and may remain in them into summer, but hardly the autumn. He also argues that if Antiochos was killed in autumn 129 BC then it is not clear what he had been doing the previous campaigning season of 129 BC after all his advances of 130 BC.

This theory also matches the fact that coins of Demetrios II dated 183 SEM (October 130 - September 129 BC) are not rare (9 silver and 3 bronze coins in SNG Spaer, see footnote 38). Silver coins could be struck quickly and in quantity for emergencies (especially paying troops), but bronze coins were minted for local economic needs, not large-scale royal expenditures. The relatively high number of bronze coins therefore suggests that Demetrios II struck year 183 SEM coins across several months. On the other hand, it is possible to object that Demetrios was released in late summer 129 BC and the silver coins of 183 SEM were produced in quantity late in the Seleukid year looking ahead to the future problems, whereas the number of bronze coins in modern collections can be skewed by hoards.

This theory needs to explain why all Phraates II’s silver tetradrachms from Seleukeia on the Tigris die-linked to tetradrachms of Antiochos VII (Sellwood type 17) are undated. According to Assar, A Revised Parthian Chronology of the Period 165 – 91 BC, p. 101, if Phraates had overcome Antiochos in spring 129 BC, it would have given him time to strike at Seleukeia on the Tigris his undated celebratory coinage inscribed with ΒΑΣΙΛΕΩΣ ΜΕΓΑΛΟΥ ΑΡΣΑΚΟΥ ΝΙΚΗΦΟΡΟΥ (Sellwood type 17.1-5). This means that Phraates’ next issue, beginning in the autumn of that same year, would have been dated ΔΠΡ (184 SEM). The fact that all of the known tetradrachms of Sellwood type 17 are undated indicates that they were minted during a single Macedonian year spanning the period 24/25 September 129 - 11/12 October 128 BC (= 184 SEM). According to Passehl, personal communication, other mint practices were used at Seleukeia on the Tigris. He argues that Mithridates I conquered Babylonia by July 141 BC or perhaps earlier (171 SEM; cuneiform dated texts) but his tetradrachms don’t bear dates until the second full (Makedonian) year of the Parthian occupation (173 SEM, beginning October 140 BC), which means that Mithridates I’s tetradrachms are without dates during the first full year of this coinage (172 SEM) and that this also includes the pieces struck in the period July/September 141 BC (i.e. the last couple of months of 171 SEM). Analogically, Phraates II’s tetradrachms of Sellwood type 17 can have commenced in August/September 129 BC (last couple of months of 183 SEM) with these earliest coins “rolled into” the next year for dating/control mark purposes (i.e. no dates necessary) in the manner of the Mithridates I tetradrachms. As all Phraates II’s tetradrachms of Sellwood type 17 are undated, the issue ceased before the end of 184 SEM (October 128 BC).

On the other hand, according to Assar (ibid, footnote 51 on p. 101), the style and fabric of Mithridates I’s tetradrachms of Sellwood type 13.1-5 suggest that the first Parthian issue may have been minted in that city sometime in 172 SEM and not in late 171 SEM. He argues that the first issue of the early Parthian emissions in Seleukeia on the Tigris remained undated while the following output was dated, so that there is no reason to believe that Phraates II had two undated emissions, one in late 183 SEM and the other in 184 SEM. Passehl objects that if it is possible that Mithridates I’s initial coinage was delayed for about three months then it is also possible that there was a like delay in commencing the production of the Phraates II tetradrachms from July/August until October 129, i.e. inside 184 SEM. He assumes that the two Parthian kings presided over a similar tempo in coinage preparation and production in both 141 and 129 BC because allowing much delay by Mithradates I, while requiring haste on the part of Phraates II, is arbitrary.

36 According to Assar, A Revised Parthian Chronology of the Period 165 – 91 BC, pp. 98-105, the cuneiform and numismatic evidence (see also footnote 29) places Antiochos VII’s sojourn in Babylonia in the period c. July 130 - October 129 BC (an astronomical cuneiform tablet from Babylon proves that Phraates II controlled Babylon on November 5, 129 BC).

37 Justin, Epitome of the Philippic History of Pompeius Trogus, 38.10: Phraates (Phraates II) had funeral rites performed for him (Antiochos VII) as a king, and married the daughter of Demetrius (of Demetrios II), whom Antiochus had brought with him, and of whom he had become enamoured.

Justin, Epitome of the Philippic History of Pompeius Trogus, 39.1: Meanwhile the body of Antiochus (Antiochos VII), who had been killed by the king of the Parthians (Phraates II), arrived in Syria, being sent back in a silver coffin for burial, and was received with great respect by the different cities, as well as by the new king, Alexander (Alexander II), in order to secure credit to the fiction. This show of affection procured him extraordinary regard from the people, every one supposing his tears not counterfeit but real.

Eusebius, Chronicle, pp. 257-258: His (of Antiochos VII) young son Seleucus, who had accompanied him, was captured by king Arsaces (Phraates II) and was kept in royal style as a prisoner.

38 His first coins dated 183 SE = 130/129 BC are known from Tyre (AR tetradrachms and didrachms, see Houghton, CSE, 767, and SNG Spaer, 2216-2224) and Sidon (bronze coins, see SNG Spaer, 2209-2211).

39 Justin, Epitome of the Philippic History of Pompeius Trogus, 38.10: He (Phraates II) then began to regret having sent away Demetrius (Demetrios II), and hastily despatched some troops of horse to fetch him back; but they found that prince, who had been in fear of pursuit, already seated on his throne, and, after doing all they could to no purpose, returned to their king.

Eusebius, Chronicle, pp. 257-258: Demetrius (Demetrios II) returned [to Syria] and started his second reign in the second year of the (?) 163rd Olympiad (127/6 BC), after having been held captive for the intervening 10 years.

Porphyry, Chronika, 20: Therefore, Demetrios (Demetrios II), having been set free by Arsakes (Phraates II), as he had asked, became king upon his return.

40 Diodorus Siculus, Library of History, 34/35.17.1: When Antioch (Antioch on the Orontes) received the news of Antiochus’ (Antiochos VII) death, not only did the city go into public mourning, but every private house as well was dejected and filled with lamentation. Above all, the wailing of the women enflamed their grief. Indeed, since three hundred thousand men had been lost, including those who had accompanied the army as supernumeraries, not a household could be found that was exempt from misfortune. Some were mourning the loss of brothers, some of husbands, and some of sons, while many girls and boys, left orphaned, wept for their own bereavement, till at last Time, the best healer of grief, dulled the edge of their sorrow.

41 Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, 13.254-258: But when Hyrcanus heard of the death of Antiochus (Antiochos VII), he presently made an expedition against the cities of Syria, hoping to find them destitute of fighting men, and of such as were able to defend them. However, it was not till the sixth month that he took Medaba, and that not without the greatest distress of his army. After this he took Samega, and the neighboring places; and besides these, Shechem and Gerizzim, and the nation of the Cutheans, who dwelt at the temple which resembled that temple which was at Jerusalem, and which Alexander permitted Sanballat, the general of his army, to build for the sake of Manasseh, who was son-in-law to Jaddua the high priest, as we have formerly related; which temple was now deserted two hundred years after it was built. Hyrcanus took also Dora and Marissa, cities of Idumea, and subdued all the Idumeans; and permitted them to stay in that country, if they would circumcise their genitals, and make use of the laws of the Jews; and they were so desirous of living in the country of their forefathers, that they submitted to the use of circumcision, and of the rest of the Jewish ways of living; at which time therefore this befell them, that they were hereafter no other than Jews.

Josephus, The Wars of the Jews, 1.61: However, at another time, when Antiochus (Antiochos VII) was gone upon an expedition against the Medes, and so gave Hyrcanus an opportunity of being revenged upon him, he immediately made an attack upon the cities of Syria, as thinking, what proved to be the case with them, that he should find them empty of good troops. So he took Medaba and Samea, with the towns in their neighborhood, as also Shechem, and Gerizzim; and besides these, [he subdued] the nation of the Cutheans, who dwelt round about that temple which was built in imitation of the temple at Jerusalem; he also took a great many other cities of Idumea, with Adoreon and Marissa.

42 Passehl, personal communication

43 Diodorus Siculus, Library of History, 34/35.18: Arsaces (Phraates II), king of the Parthians, having crushed Antiochus (Antiochos VII), was minded to advance upon Syria, thinking that it would fall an easy prey. He did not, however, find it in his power to make the campaign; far from it, for because of the magnitude of his successes, Fortune set in his way perils and misfortunes many times as great.

44 According to Justin, Epitome of the Philippic History of Pompeius Trogus, 42.1, Phraates included the Greek captives from the army of Antiochos VII into his own army. In a battle against the Scythians, when the Greeks found their captors in trouble, they deserted to the enemy and massacred the Parthian army including Phraates. However, it seems that a major role of the Greek prisoners in the Parthian army is unlikely, although it is possible that a battalion of Antiochos VII’s mercenaries joined Phraates’ army, see Assar, A Revised Parthian Chronology of the Period 165 – 91 BC, p. 112.

Justin, Epitome of the Philippic History of Pompeius Trogus, 42.1: After the death of Mithridates (Mithridates I), king of the Parthians, Phraates his son was made king (Phraates II), who, having proceeded to make war upon Syria, in revenge for the attempts of Antiochus (Antiochos VII) on the Parthian dominions, was recalled, by hostilities on the part of the Scythians, to defend his own country. For the Scythians, having been induced, by the offer of pay, to assist the Parthians against, Antiochus king of Syria, and not having arrived till the war was ended, were disappointed of the expected remuneration, and reproached with having brought their aid too late; and when, in discontent at having made so long a march in vain, they demanded that “either some recompence for their trouble, or another enemy to attack, should be assigned them,” being offended at the haughty reply which they received, they began to ravage the country of the Parthians. Phraates, in consequence, marching against them, left a certain Himerus, who had gained his favours in the bloom of youth, to take care of his kingdom. But Himerus, unmindful both of his past life, and of the duty with which he was entrusted, miserably harassed the people of Babylon, and many other cities, with tyrannical cruelties. Phraates himself, meanwhile, took with him to the war a body of Greeks, who had been made prisoners in the war against Antiochus, and whom he had treated with great pride and severity, not reflecting that captivity had not lessened their hostile feelings, and that the indignity of the outrages which they had suffered must have exasperated them. As soon therefore as they saw the Persians giving ground, they went over to the enemy, and executed that revenge for their captivity, which they had long desired, by a sanguinary destruction of the Parthian army and of king Phraates himself.

45 The whole paragraph is based on Assar, A Revised Parthian Chronology of the Period 165 – 91 BC, pp. 105-112. As for the date of Phraates II’s death, according to Assar (ibid, p. 112), some recent numismatic evidences place his death somewhere around month VII of 185 SEB (October/November 127 BC).

46 Kidd, Posidonius, p. 130, F61a = Jacoby FGrH 87 F9a (at Athenaios of Naukratis, Deipnosophistai, 12.540B-C): And in Bk XIV (of the History) Posidonius (Poseidonios of Apamea), with reference to the king who had the same name as him (Antiochos VIII), Antiochus (Antiochos VII), the one who made the campaign into Media against Arsaces (Phraates II), says: ‘He would give daily receptions for the masses. In them, apart from the heaps of food that were consumed and tossed out as scraps, each diner would carry off whole joints of meat and fowls, and of sea creatures prepared uncarved, capable of filling a wagon. And after that, honey cakes and garlands of myrrh and frankincense with ribbons of compressed gold as long as a grown man in great quantities.’

Kidd, Posidonius, p. 131, F61b = Jacoby FGrH 87 F9b (at Athenaios of Naukratis, Deipnosophistai, 5.210C-D): The king (Antiochos VII) with the same name as the forementioned Antiochus (Antiochos VIII), I mean the son of Demetrius (Demetrios I), is recorded by Posidonius (Poseidonios of Apamea) as holding daily receptions for the masses, and apart from the heaps of food that were consumed, he would give each diner to carry off whole joints of meat and fowls, and of sea creatures prepared uncarved, capable of filling a waggon; and after that, quantities of honey cakes and garlands of myrrh and frankincense with ribbons of compressed gold as long as a grown man.

Kidd, Posidonius, p. 132, F63 = Jacoby FGrH 87 F11 (at Athenaios of Naukratis, Deipnosophistai, 10.439D-E): Another toper was the like-named Antiochus (Antiochos VII, like-named to Antiochos VI dealt with immediately before in Athenaios), the one who went to war against Arsaces (Phraates II) in Media, as Posidonius of Apamea records in Bk XVI of the History: ‘for when he had been killed, Arsaces when burying him said: “Your boldness and drunkenness, Antiochus, caused your fall; for you expected to drink up the Arsacid kingdom in huge cups.”’

Plutarch, Morals, Vol. I, pp. 207-208: Antiochus (Antiochos VII), who twice made an inroad into Parthia, as he was once a hunting, lost his friends and servants in the pursuit, and went into a cottage of poor people who did not know him. As they were at supper, he threw out discourse concerning the king; they said for the most part he was a good prince, but overlooked many things he left to the management of debauched courtiers, and out of love of hunting often neglected his necessary affairs; and there they stopped. At break of day the guard arrived at the cottage, and the king was recognized when the crown and purple robes were brought. From the day, said he, on which I first received these, I never heard truth concerning myself till yesterday.

Justin, Epitome of the Philippic History of Pompeius Trogus, 38.10: But his (of Antiochos VII) preparations for luxury were not less than those for war, for three hundred thousand camp followers, of whom the greater number were cooks, bakers, and stage-players, attended on eighty thousand armed men. Of silver and gold, it is certain, there was such an abundance that the common soldiers fastened their buskins with gold, and trod upon the metal for the love of which nations contend with the sword. Their cooking instruments, too, were of silver, as if they were going to a banquet, not to a field of battle.

47 Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, 13.245-248, and Diodorus Siculus, Library of History, 34/35.1. See footnote 25.

48 Grainger, A Seleukid Prosopography and Gazetteer, p. 30. On the other hand, both sides were certainly affected by war weariness in 138 BC.

49 Called also Scipio Africanus the Younger, in full Publius Cornelius Scipio Aemilianus Africanus Numantinus, born 185/4 BC, died 129 BC.

Livy, Periochae, 57.8: Although it was the custom with other successful commanders to keep gifts from kings secret, Scipio announced at the front of his tribunal that he was going to accept the magnificent gifts sent to him by Antiochus the King of Syria (Antiochos VII) and ordered his quaestor to register them all in the public records, declaring that he would grant rewards to courageous men from among these. (Translated by Mark K. Passehl, according to whom the tribunal was a raised platform used for formal public acts, speeches and the like.)

The event mentioned by Livy occurred during Scipio’s siege of the town of Numantia in Hispania (modern-day Spain) in 134 - 133 BC. According to Passehl, Demetrios Nikator’s Second Arsakid War, this has relevance to Scipio’s visit of Rhodes (Cicero, De Re Publica, iii.47) in about autumn 139 BC during his “grand eastern” legation in 139 - 138 BC (his itinerary included also Egypt, Cyprus, Syria, Pergamon and Greece; see Cicero, De Re Publica, vi.11, and Diodorus Siculus, Library of History, 33.28b), and he apparently had some role in encouraging Antiochos’ return to Syria to oppose Tryphon (see also footnote 16).

50 Diodorus Siculus, Library of History, 34/35.17.2: Athenaeus, the general of Antiochus (Antiochos VII), who in billeting his soldiers had done many wrongs, was the first to take flight. But though he abandoned Antiochus, he met the end he deserved, for when in his flight he reached certain villages that he had mistreated in connection with quartering his men, no one would admit him to his home or share food with him, and he roamed the countryside until he perished of starvation.

Plutarch, Morals, Vol. I, pp. 207-208: ... they said for the most part he (Antiochos VII) was a good prince, but overlooked many things he left to the management of debauched courtiers, ... (For the complete quotation, see footnote 46.)


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