HOME

TheInfoList




The Seleucid Empire (; grc, Βασιλεία τῶν Σελευκιδῶν, ''Basileía tōn Seleukidōn'') was a
Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approximately 10.7 million as of ...

Greek
state in Western Asia, during the
Hellenistic Period The Hellenistic period covers the period of Mediterranean history between the death of Alexander the Great in 323 BC and the emergence of the Roman Empire, as signified by the Battle of Actium in 31 BC and the conquest of Ptolemaic ...
, that existed from 312 BC to 63 BC. The Seleucid Empire was founded by
Seleucus I Nicator Seleucus I Nicator (; ; grc-gre, Σέλευκος Νικάτωρ, Séleukos Nikátōr, Seleucus the Victorious) was a Ancient Macedonians, Macedonian Greek general, a Diadochi of Alexander the Great and ultimately king who fought for control over ...
, following the
division Division or divider may refer to: Mathematics *Division (mathematics), the inverse of multiplication *Division algorithm, a method for computing the result of mathematical division Military *Division (military), a formation typically consisting o ...
of the
Macedonian Empire Macedonia (; grc-gre, Μακεδονία), also called Macedon (), was an Classical antiquity, ancient monarchy, kingdom on the periphery of Archaic Greece, Archaic and Classical Greece, and later the dominant state of Hellenistic Greece. The ...

Macedonian Empire
that existed previously, which had been founded by
Alexander the Great Alexander III of Macedon ( grc-gre, Αλέξανδρος}, ; 20/21 July 356 BC – 10/11 June 323 BC), commonly known as Alexander the Great, was a king (') of the kingdom of and a member of the . He was born in in 356 BC and succeeded his ...

Alexander the Great
. After having received the
Mesopotamian Mesopotamia ( grc, Μεσοποταμία ''Mesopotamíā''; ar, بِلَاد ٱلرَّافِدَيْن ; syc, ܐܪܡ ܢܗܪ̈ܝܢ, or , ) is a of situated within the , in the northern part of the . Mesopotamia occupies most of presen ...

Mesopotamian
region of
Babylonia Babylonia () was an and based in central-southern which was part of Ancient Persia (present-day and ). A small -ruled state emerged in 1894 BCE, which contained the minor administrative town of . It was merely a small provincial town dur ...
in 321 BC, Seleucus I expanded his dominions to include much of the
Near East The Near East ( ar, الشرق الأدنى, al-Sharq al-'Adnā, he, המזרח הקרוב, arc, ܕܢܚܐ ܩܪܒ, fa, خاور نزدیک, Xāvar-e nazdik, tr, Yakın Doğu) is a geographical term which roughly encompasses a transcontinental ...
ern territories that had been under the control of the former
Macedonian Empire Macedonia (; grc-gre, Μακεδονία), also called Macedon (), was an Classical antiquity, ancient monarchy, kingdom on the periphery of Archaic Greece, Archaic and Classical Greece, and later the dominant state of Hellenistic Greece. The ...
. At the Seleucid Empire's height, it had consisted of territory that had covered
Anatolia Anatolia,, tr, Anadolu Yarımadası), and the Anatolian plateau. also known as Asia Minor, is a large peninsula in Western Asia and the westernmost protrusion of the Asian continent. It makes up the majority of modern-day Turkey. The region ...
,
Persia Iran ( fa, ایران ), also called Persia, and officially the Islamic Republic of Iran, is a country in Western Asia. It is bordered to the northwest by Armenia and Azerbaijan, to the north by the Caspian Sea, to the northeast by Tu ...

Persia
, the
Levant The Levant () is an term referring to a large area in the region of . In its narrowest sense, it is equivalent to the , which included present-day , , , , and most of southwest of the middle . In its widest historical sense, the Levant ...

Levant
,
Mesopotamia Mesopotamia ( grc, Μεσοποταμία ''Mesopotamíā''; ar, بِلَاد ٱلرَّافِدَيْن ; syc, ܐܪܡ ܢܗܪ̈ܝܢ, or , ) is a historical region of Western Asia situated within the Tigris–Euphrates river system, in the ...

Mesopotamia
, and what are now
Kuwait Kuwait (; ar, الكويت ', or ), officially the State of Kuwait ( ar, دولة الكويت '), is a country in Western Asia Western Asia, West Asia, or Southwest Asia, is the westernmost subregion A subregion is a part of a larger regi ...

Kuwait
,
Afghanistan Afghanistan (; Pashto/Dari language, Dari: , Pashto: , Dari: ), officially the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, is a landlocked country at the crossroads of Central Asia, Central and South Asia. Afghanistan is bordered by Pakistan to the ea ...

Afghanistan
, and parts of
Turkmenistan Turkmenistan ( or ; tk, Türkmenistan, ), also known as Turkmenia, is a Landlocked country, landlocked country in Central Asia, bordered by Kazakhstan to the Kazakhstan-Turkmenistan border, northwest, Uzbekistan to the Turkmenistan–Uzbekista ...

Turkmenistan
. The Seleucid Empire was a major center of
Hellenistic culture The Hellenistic period spans the period of Mediterranean history The Mediterranean Sea is a sea connected to the Atlantic Ocean, surrounded by the Mediterranean Basin and almost completely enclosed by land: on the north by Western Europe, We ...
.
Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approximately 10.7 million as of ...
customs and language were privileged, while the wide variety of local traditions had been generally tolerated, an urban Greek elite had formed the dominant political class, and was reinforced by steady immigration from
Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, Elláda, ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe, Southeastern Europe. Its population is approximately 10.7 million as of 2021; Athens is its largest and capital city, followed ...
.Britannica,'' Seleucid kingdom'', 2008, O.Ed. The empire's western territories were repeatedly contested with
Ptolemaic Egypt The Ptolemaic Kingdom (; grc-koi, Πτολεμαϊκὴ βασιλεία, Ptolemaïkḕ basileía) was an Ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the used in and the from around 1500 BC to 300 BC. It is often roughly divi ...
, a rival Hellenistic state. To the east, conflict with of the
Maurya Empire The Maurya Empire was a geographically extensive Iron Age list of ancient great powers, historical power in South Asia based in Magadha, founded by Chandragupta Maurya in 322 BCE, and existing in loose-knit fashion until 185 BCE. Quote: "Ma ...
in 305 BC led to the
cession The act of cession is the assignment of property Property is a system of rights that gives people legal control of valuable things, and also refers to the valuable things themselves. Depending on the nature of the property, an owner of proper ...
of vast territory west of the Indus and a political alliance. In the early second century BC,
Antiochus III the Great Antiochus III the Great ( Greek: ; c. 2413 July 187 BC, ruled April/June 222 – 3 July 187 BC) was a Greek Hellenistic king and the 6th ruler of the Seleucid Empire. He ruled over the Syria (region), region of Syria and large parts of the rest o ...
attempted to project Seleucid power and authority into
Hellenistic Greece Hellenistic Greece is the historical period of the country following Classical Greece, between the death of Alexander the Great in 323 BC and the annexation of the classical Greek Achaean League heartlands by the Roman Republic. This culminated at ...
, but his attempts by the
Roman Republic The Roman Republic ( la, Rēs pūblica Rōmāna ) was a state of the classical Roman civilization, run through public In public relations Public relations (PR) is the practice of managing and disseminating information from an indiv ...
and its Greek allies; the Seleucids were forced to pay costly
war reparations War reparations are compensation payments made after a war War is an intense armed conflict between states, government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a State (polity), ...
and relinquish territorial claims west of the
Taurus Mountains The Taurus Mountains (Turkish Turkish may refer to: * of or about Turkey Turkey ( tr, Türkiye ), officially the Republic of Turkey, is a country straddling Southeastern Europe and Western Asia. It shares borders with Greece Gr ...
, marking the gradual decline of their empire.
Mithridates I of Parthia Mithridates I (also spelled Mithradates I or Mihrdad I; xpr, 𐭌𐭄𐭓𐭃𐭕 ''Mihrdāt''), also known as Mithridates I the Great, was king of the Parthian Empire The Parthian Empire (), also known as the Arsacid Empire (), was a major Ir ...
conquered much of the remaining eastern lands of the Seleucid Empire in the mid-second century BC, while the independent
Greco-Bactrian Kingdom The Bactrian Kingdom, known to historians as the Greco-Bactrian Kingdom, was a Hellenistic-era Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic ...
continued to flourish in the northeast. The Seleucid kings were thereafter reduced to a
rump state A rump state is the remnant of a once much larger state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (n ...
in Syria, until their conquest by
Tigranes the Great Tigranes II, more commonly known as Tigranes the Great ( hy, Տիգրան Մեծ, ''Tigran Mets''; grc, Τιγράνης ὁ Μέγας ''Tigránes ho Mégas''; la, Tigranes Magnus) (140 – 55 BC) was King of Kingdom of Armenia (ant ...
of
Armenia Armenia (; hy, Հայաստան, translit=Hayastan, ), officially the Republic of Armenia,, is a landlocked country A landlocked country is a country A country is a distinct territory, territorial body or political entity. It is ...
in 83 BC and ultimate overthrow by the Roman general
Pompey Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus (; 29 September 106 BC – 28 September 48 BC), known in English as Pompey or Pompey the Great, was a leading Roman Roman or Romans most often refers to: *, the capital city of Italy *, Roman civilization f ...
in 63 BC.


Name

Contemporary sources, such as a loyalist decree honoring Antiochus I from
Ilium Ilium or Ileum may refer to: Places and jurisdictions * Ilion (Asia Minor), former name of Troy * Ilium (Epirus), an ancient city in Epirus, Greece * Ilium, ancient name of Cestria (Epirus), an ancient city in Epirus, Greece * Ilium Building, a ...
, in Greek language define the Seleucid state both as an empire (''arche'') and as a kingdom (''basileia''). Similarly, Seleucid rulers were described as kings in Babylonia. Starting from the 2nd century BC, ancient writers referred to the Seleucid ruler as the
King of Syria of the King of the Romans (variant used in the early modern period) File:Nezahualpiltzintli.jpg"> Aztec King Nezahualpiltzintli of Texcoco King is the title given to a male monarch in a variety of contexts. The female equivalent is queen ...
, Lord of Asia, and other designations; the evidence for the Seleucid rulers representing themselves as kings of Syria is provided by the inscription of Antigonus son of Menophilus, who described himself as the "admiral of Alexander, king of Syria". He refers to either
Alexander Balas Alexander I Theopator Euergetes, surnamed Balas ( grc, Ἀλέξανδρος Βάλας, Alexandros Balas), was the ruler of the Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλά ...

Alexander Balas
or
Alexander II Zabinas Alexander II Theos Epiphanes Nikephoros ( grc, Ἀλέξανδρος Θεός Ἐπιφανής Νικηφόρος, surnamed Zabinas; 150 BC – 123 BC) was a Hellenistic period, Hellenistic Seleucid Empire, Seleucid monarch who reigned as the ...
as a ruler.


History


Partition of Alexander's empire

Alexander Alexander is a male given name. The most prominent bearer of the name is Alexander the Great, the king of the Ancient Greek kingdom of Macedonia (ancient kingdom), Macedonia who created one of the largest empires in ancient history. Etymology T ...

Alexander
, who quickly conquered the
Persian Empire The Achaemenid Empire (; peo, wikt:𐎧𐏁𐏂𐎶, 𐎧𐏁𐏂, translit=Xšāça, translation=The Empire), also called the First Persian Empire, was an ancient Iranian peoples, Iranian empire based in Western Asia founded by Cyrus the Grea ...

Persian Empire
under its last Achaemenid dynast,
Darius III Darius III ( peo, 𐎭𐎠𐎼𐎹𐎺𐎢𐏁, translit=Dārayavaʰuš; grc, Δαρεῖος, translit=Dareîos; New Persian New Persian ( fa, فارسی نو), also known as Modern Persian () and Dari (), is the final stage of the Persian l ...

Darius III
, died young in 323 BC, leaving an expansive empire of partly Hellenised culture without an adult heir. The empire was put under the authority of a regent in the person of
Perdiccas Perdiccas ( el, Περδίκκας, ''Perdikkas''; c. 355 BC – 321/320 BC) became a general in Alexander the Great's army and participated in Alexander's campaign against Achaemenid Persia. Following Alexander's death, he rose to become supre ...
, and the territories were divided among Alexander's generals, who thereby became
satrap Satraps () were the governors of the provinces of the ancient Medes, Median and Achaemenid Empires and in several of their successors, such as in the Sasanian Empire and the Hellenistic period, Hellenistic empires. The satrap served as viceroy to ...
s, at the
Partition of Babylon The Partition of Babylon was the first of the conferences and ensuing agreements that divided the territories of Alexander the Great. It was held at Babylon in June 323 BC. Alexander’s death at the age of 32 had left an empire that stretched from ...
, all in that same year.


Rise of Seleucus

Alexander's generals (the
Diadochi 250px, Bust of Seleucus ''Nicator'' ("Victor"; 358 – 281 BCE), the last of the original Diadochi. The Diadochi (; plural of Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the ...

Diadochi
) jostled for supremacy over parts of his empire.
Ptolemy Claudius Ptolemy (; grc-koi, Κλαύδιος Πτολεμαῖος, , ; la, Claudius Ptolemaeus; AD) was a mathematician A mathematician is someone who uses an extensive knowledge of mathematics Mathematics (from Greek: ) includes ...
, a former general and the satrap of
Egypt Egypt ( ar, مِصر, Miṣr), officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, is a transcontinental country This is a list of countries located on more than one continent A continent is one of several large landmasses. Generally identi ...

Egypt
, was the first to challenge the new system; this led to the demise of Perdiccas. Ptolemy's revolt led to a new subdivision of the empire with the
Partition of Triparadisus The Partition of Triparadisus was a power-sharing agreement passed at Triparadisus in 321 BC between the generals (''Diadochi'') of Alexander the Great, in which they named a new regent and arranged the repartition of the satrapies of Alexander's e ...
in 320 BC. Seleucus, who had been "Commander-in-Chief of the
Companion cavalry The Companions ( el, , ''hetairoi'') were the elite cavalry Cavalry (from the French word ''cavalerie'', itself derived from "cheval" meaning "horse") are soldiers or warriors who Horses in warfare, fight mounted on horseback. Cavalry were ...
" (''hetairoi'') and appointed first or court
chiliarchChiliarch (from el, χιλίαρχος, ''chiliarchos'', sometimes χιλιάρχης, ''chiliarches'' or χειλίαρχος, ''cheiliarchos''; meaning "commander of a thousand" and occasionally rendered "thousandman" in English) is a military ran ...
(which made him the senior officer in the Royal Army after the regent and commander-in-chief Perdiccas since 323 BC, though he helped to assassinate him later) received
Babylonia Babylonia () was an and based in central-southern which was part of Ancient Persia (present-day and ). A small -ruled state emerged in 1894 BCE, which contained the minor administrative town of . It was merely a small provincial town dur ...
and, from that point, continued to expand his dominions ruthlessly. Seleucus established himself in
Babylon ''Bābili(m)'' * sux, 𒆍𒀭𒊏𒆠 * arc, 𐡁𐡁𐡋 ''Babil'' * grc-gre, Βαβυλών ''Babylṓn'' * he, בָּבֶל ''Bavel'' * peo, 𐎲𐎠𐎲𐎡𐎽𐎢 ''Bābiru'' * elx, 𒀸𒁀𒉿𒇷 ''Babili'' *Kassite The Kassites ...

Babylon
in 312 BC, the year used as the foundation date of the Seleucid Empire.


Babylonian War (311–309 BC)

The rise of Seleucus in Babylon threatened the eastern extent of Antigonus I territory in Asia. Antigonus, along with his son
Demetrius I of Macedon Demetrius I (; grc, Δημήτριος; 337–283 BC), also called Poliorcetes (; el, Πολιορκητής, "The Besieger"), was a Greek Macedonian Macedonian most often refers to someone or something from or related to Macedonia (disambiguat ...

Demetrius I of Macedon
, unsuccessfully led a campaign to annex Babylon. The victory of Seleucus ensured his claim of Babylon and legitimacy. He ruled not only Babylonia, but the entire enormous eastern part of Alexander's empire, as described by
Appian Appian of Alexandria (; grc-gre, Ἀππιανὸς Ἀλεξανδρεύς ''Appianòs Alexandreús''; la, Appianus Alexandrinus; ) was a historian with citizenship who flourished during the reigns of , , and . He was born c. 95 in . Afte ...
:


Seleucid–Mauryan War (305–303 BC)

In the region of
Punjab Punjab (; ; ; ; also as Panjāb or Panj-Āb) is a geopolitical, cultural, and in , specifically in the northern part of the , comprising areas of eastern and . The boundaries of the region are ill-defined and focus on historical accounts. ...

Punjab
,
Chandragupta Maurya Chandragupta Maurya (Sanskrit Sanskrit (; attributively , ; nominalization, nominally , , ) is a classical language of South Asia that belongs to the Indo-Aryan languages, Indo-Aryan branch of the Indo-European languages. It arose in So ...

Chandragupta Maurya
( Sandrokottos) founded the
Maurya Empire The Maurya Empire was a geographically extensive Iron Age list of ancient great powers, historical power in South Asia based in Magadha, founded by Chandragupta Maurya in 322 BCE, and existing in loose-knit fashion until 185 BCE. Quote: "Ma ...
in 321 BC. Chandragupta conquered the
Nanda Empire The Nanda dynasty ruled in the northern part of the Indian subcontinent during the 4th century BCE, and possibly during the 5th century BCE. The Nandas overthrew the Shaishunaga dynasty The Shaishunaga dynasty (IAST: Śaiśunāga, literally ...

Nanda Empire
in
Magadha Magadha was an ancient Indian kingdom in southern Bihar Bihar (; ) is a states and union territories of India, state in eastern India. It is the list of states and union territories of India by population, third-largest state by populatio ...

Magadha
, and relocated to the capital of
Pataliputra Pataliputra (: ), adjacent to modern-day , was a city in , originally built by Magadha ruler in 490 BCE as a small fort () near the river.. Udayin laid the foundation of the city of Pataliputra at the confluence of two rivers, the and the . H ...
. Chandragupta then redirected his attention back to the Indus and by 317 BC he conquered the remaining Greek satraps left by Alexander. Expecting a confrontation, Seleucus gathered his army and marched to the Indus. It is said that Chandragupta could have fielded a
conscript Conscription, sometimes called the draft in the United States, is the mandatory enlistment of people in a national service, most often a military service. Conscription dates back to Ancient history, antiquity and it continues in some countries to ...
army of 600,000 men and 9,000 war elephants. Mainstream scholarship asserts that Chandragupta received, formalized through a treaty, vast territory west of the Indus, including the
Hindu Kush The Hindu Kush ( Dari, Pashto Pashto (,; / , ), sometimes spelled Pukhto or Pakhto, is an Eastern Iranian language of the Indo-European family. It is known in Persian literature as Afghani (, ). The language is natively spoken ...
, modern day
Afghanistan Afghanistan (; Pashto/Dari language, Dari: , Pashto: , Dari: ), officially the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, is a landlocked country at the crossroads of Central Asia, Central and South Asia. Afghanistan is bordered by Pakistan to the ea ...

Afghanistan
, and the
Balochistan Balochistan (; bal, بلوچِستان; also romanised as Baluchistan) is an arid A region is arid when it is characterized by a severe lack of available water, to the extent of hindering or preventing the growth and development Development ...
province of
Pakistan Pakistan, . Pronounced variably in English as , , , and . officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, is a country in South Asia. It is the world's List of countries and dependencies by population, fifth-most populous country, with a popul ...

Pakistan
. Archaeologically, concrete indications of Mauryan rule, such as the inscriptions of the
Edicts of Ashoka The Edicts of Ashoka are a collection of more than thirty inscriptions on the , as well as boulders and cave walls, attributed to Emperor of the who reigned from 268 BCE to 232 BCE. Ashoka used the expression ''Dhaṃma '' ( in the : , "Ins ...
, are known as far as
Kandahar Kandahar (; Kandahār, , Qandahār) is a List of cities in Afghanistan, city in Afghanistan, located in the south of the country on the Arghandab River, at an elevation of . It is Afghanistan's second largest city after Kabul, with a population ...

Kandahar
in southern Afghanistan. According to Appian: It is generally thought that Chandragupta married Seleucus's daughter, or a
Macedonian Macedonian most often refers to someone or something from or related to Macedonia (disambiguation), Macedonia. Macedonian may specifically refer to: People Modern * Macedonians (ethnic group), the South Slavic ethnic group primarily associated w ...
princess, a gift from Seleucus to formalize an alliance. In a return gesture, Chandragupta sent 500
war elephant A war elephant was an elephant Elephants are the largest existing land animals. Three living species In biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, physical structu ...

war elephant
s, a military asset which would play a decisive role at the
Battle of Ipsus The Battle of Ipsus ( grc, Ἱψός) was fought between some of the Diadochi (the successors of Alexander the Great Alexander III of Macedon ( grc-gre, Αλέξανδρος}, ; 20/21 July 356 BC – 10/11 June 323 BC), commonly known as Ale ...

Battle of Ipsus
in 301 BC. In addition to this treaty, Seleucus dispatched an ambassador,
Megasthenes Megasthenes ( ; grc, Μεγασθένης, c. 350BCE– c. 290 BCE) was an ancient Greek historian, diplomat and Indian ethnographer and explorer in the Hellenistic period The Hellenistic period covers the period of Mediterranean history b ...
, to Chandragupta, and later
Deimakos Deimachus (; Greek Δηίμαχος) was a Greek of the Seleucid Empire who lived during the third-century BCE. He became an ambassador to the court of the Mauryan ruler Bindusara "Amitragatha" (son of Chandragupta Maurya) in Pataliputra in I ...
to his son
Bindusara Bindusara (), also Amitraghāta or Amitrakhāda (Sanskrit for "slayer of enemies" or “devourer of enemies”) or Amitrochates (Greek: Ἀμιτροχάτης) was the second Mauryan emperor of India. He was the son of the dynasty's founder ...
, at the Mauryan court at
Pataliputra Pataliputra (: ), adjacent to modern-day , was a city in , originally built by Magadha ruler in 490 BCE as a small fort () near the river.. Udayin laid the foundation of the city of Pataliputra at the confluence of two rivers, the and the . H ...
(modern
Patna Patna ( ), historically known as ''Pataliputra Pataliputra (: ), adjacent to modern-day , was a city in , originally built by Magadha ruler in 490 BCE as a small fort () near the river.. Udayin laid the foundation of the city of Pataliput ...

Patna
in Bihar state). Megasthenes wrote detailed descriptions of India and Chandragupta's reign, which have been partly preserved to us through
Diodorus Siculus Diodorus Siculus, or Diodorus of Sicily ( grc-gre, Διόδωρος Σικελιώτης ;  1st century BC), was an ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language Greek ( el, label=Modern Greek Modern ...
. Later
Ptolemy II Philadelphus ; egy, Userkanaenre wikt:mry-jmn, Meryamun#Clayton06, Clayton (2006) p. 208 , predecessor = Ptolemy I Soter , successor = Ptolemy III Euergetes , horus = ''ḥwnw-ḳni'Khunuqeni''The brave youth , nebty = ''wr-pḥtj ...

Ptolemy II Philadelphus
, the ruler of
Ptolemaic Egypt The Ptolemaic Kingdom (; grc-koi, Πτολεμαϊκὴ βασιλεία, Ptolemaïkḕ basileía) was an Ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the used in and the from around 1500 BC to 300 BC. It is often roughly divi ...
and contemporary of
Ashoka the Great Ashoka (; Brāhmi: 𑀅𑀲𑁄𑀓, ''Asoka'', IAST The International Alphabet of Sanskrit Transliteration (IAST) is a transliteration scheme that allows the lossless romanisation of Brahmic family, Indic scripts as employed by Sanskrit ...
, is also recorded by
Pliny the Elder #REDIRECT Pliny the Elder #REDIRECT Pliny the Elder#REDIRECT Pliny the Elder Gaius Plinius Secundus (AD 23/2479), called Pliny the Elder (), was a Roman author, a naturalist Natural history is a domain of inquiry involving organisms, includi ...

Pliny the Elder
as having sent an ambassador named
Dionysius The name Dionysius (; el, Διονύσιος ''Dionysios'', "of Dionysus Dionysus (; grc-gre, Διόνυσος) is the god of the grape-harvest, winemaking and wine, of fertility, orchards and fruit, vegetation, insanity, ritual madness, r ...
to the Mauryan court. Other territories ceded before Seleucus' death were
Gedrosia Map showing Gedrosia in the Indian campaign of Alexander the Great Gedrosia (; el, Γεδρωσία) is the Hellenization, Hellenized name of the part of coastal Baluchistan that roughly corresponds to today's Makran. In books about Alexander th ...
in the south-east of the Iranian plateau, and, to the north of this,
Arachosia Arachosia is the Hellenized name of an ancient satrapy in the eastern part of the Achaemenid, Seleucid The Seleucid Empire (; grc, Βασιλεία τῶν Σελευκιδῶν, ''Basileía tōn Seleukidōn'') was a Hellenistic state in W ...
on the west bank of the
Indus River The Indus ( ) is a transboundary river A transboundary river is a river that crosses at least one political border, either a border within a nation or an international boundary. Bangladesh has the highest number of these rivers, including t ...

Indus River
.


Westward expansion

Following his and
Lysimachus Lysimachus (; Greek language, Greek: Λυσίμαχος, ''Lysimachos''; c. 360 BC – 281 BC) was a Thessaly, Thessalian officer and Diadochi, successor of Alexander the Great, who in 306 BC, became King of Thrace, Anatolia, Asia Minor and Mace ...

Lysimachus
' victory over
Antigonus Monophthalmus Antigonus I Monophthalmus ( grc, Ἀντίγονος ὁ Μονόφθαλμος, Antigonos ho Monophthalmos, Antigonus the One-eyed, 382 – 301 BC), son of Philip from Elimeia, was a Macedonian nobleman, general, satrap Satraps () were the g ...
at the decisive
Battle of Ipsus The Battle of Ipsus ( grc, Ἱψός) was fought between some of the Diadochi (the successors of Alexander the Great Alexander III of Macedon ( grc-gre, Αλέξανδρος}, ; 20/21 July 356 BC – 10/11 June 323 BC), commonly known as Ale ...

Battle of Ipsus
in 301 BC, Seleucus took control over eastern
Anatolia Anatolia,, tr, Anadolu Yarımadası), and the Anatolian plateau. also known as Asia Minor, is a large peninsula in Western Asia and the westernmost protrusion of the Asian continent. It makes up the majority of modern-day Turkey. The region ...
and northern
Syria Syria ( ar, سُورِيَا or ar, سُورِيَة, ''Sūriyā''), officially the Syrian Arab Republic ( ar, ٱلْجُمْهُورِيَّةُ ٱلْعَرَبِيَّةُ ٱلسُّورِيَّةُ, al-Jumhūrīyah al-ʻArabīyah as-S ...

Syria
. In the latter area, he founded a new capital at
Antioch on the Orontes Antioch on the Orontes (; grc, Ἀντιόχεια ἡ ἐπὶ Ὀρόντου, ''Antiókheia hē epì Oróntou''; also Syrian Antioch) grc-koi, Ἀντιόχεια ἡ ἐπὶ Ὀρόντου; or Ἀντιόχεια ἡ ἐπὶ Δάφνῃ ...
, a city he named after his father. An alternative capital was established at
Seleucia on the Tigris Seleucia (; grc-gre, Σελεύκεια), also known as or , was a major Mesopotamian city of the Seleucid Empire, Seleucid, Parthian Empire, Parthian, and Sasanian Empire, Sasanian empires. It stood on the west bank of the Tigris River opposit ...
, north of Babylon. Seleucus's empire reached its greatest extent following his defeat of his erstwhile ally, Lysimachus, at Corupedion in 281 BC, after which Seleucus expanded his control to encompass western Anatolia. He hoped further to take control of Lysimachus's lands in Europe – primarily
Thrace Thrace (; el, Θράκη, Thráki; bg, Тракия, Trakiya; tr, Trakya) or Thrake is a geographical and historical region in Southeast Europe, now split among Bulgaria, Greece, and Turkey, which is bounded by the Balkan Mountains to th ...
and even
Macedonia Macedonia most commonly refers to: * North Macedonia North Macedonia, ; sq, Maqedonia e Veriut, (Macedonia until February 2019), officially the Republic of North Macedonia,, is a country in Southeast Europe. It gained independence in ...
itself, but was assassinated by
Ptolemy Ceraunus Ptolemy II Ceraunus ( grc, Πτολεμαῖος Κεραυνός ''Ptolemaios II Keraunos'', ca. 319 BC – January/February 279 BC) was a member of the Ptolemaic dynasty and briefly king of Macedon. As the son of Ptolemy I Soter, he was ori ...
on landing in Europe. His son and successor,
Antiochus I Soter Antiochus I Soter ( grc-gre, Ἀντίοχος ὁ Σωτήρ, ''Antíochos ho Sōtér''; "Antiochus the Saviour"; c. 324/32 June 261 BC) was a king of the Hellenistic period, Hellenistic Seleucid Empire. He succeeded his father Seleucus I Nicator ...

Antiochus I Soter
, was left with an enormous realm consisting of nearly all of the Asian portions of the Empire, but faced with
Antigonus II Gonatas Antigonus II Gonatas ( grc, Ἀντίγονος Γονατᾶς; – 239 BC) was a Macedonian ruler who solidified the position of the Antigonid dynasty in Macedon after a long period defined by anarchy and chaos and acquired fame for his vict ...
in Macedonia and
Ptolemy II Philadelphus ; egy, Userkanaenre wikt:mry-jmn, Meryamun#Clayton06, Clayton (2006) p. 208 , predecessor = Ptolemy I Soter , successor = Ptolemy III Euergetes , horus = ''ḥwnw-ḳni'Khunuqeni''The brave youth , nebty = ''wr-pḥtj ...

Ptolemy II Philadelphus
in Egypt, he proved unable to pick up where his father had left off in conquering the European portions of Alexander's empire.


Breakup of Central Asian territories

Antiochus I Antiochus I Soter ( grc-gre, Ἀντίοχος ὁ Σωτήρ, ''Antíochos ho Sōtér''; "Antiochus the Saviour"; c. 324/32 June 261 BC) was a king of the Hellenistic The Hellenistic period covers the period of Mediterranean history between th ...

Antiochus I
(reigned 281–261 BC) and his son and successor
Antiochus II Theos "''Aṃtiyako Rājā''" (Wikt:𑀅𑀁𑀢𑀺𑀬𑀓">𑀅𑀁𑀢𑀺𑀬𑀓𑁄 Wikt:यवन, 𑀬𑁄𑀦 Wikt:𑀭𑀸𑀚𑀸, 𑀭𑀸𑀚𑀸, "The Greek king Antiochos"), mentioned in Major Rock Edict No.2 of Ashoka, here at Girnar, ...
(reigned 261–246 BC) were faced with challenges in the west, including repeated wars with
Ptolemy II Ptolemy II Philadelphus ( gr, Πτολεμαῖος Φιλάδελφος ''Ptolemaios Philadelphos'', "Ptolemy, sibling-lover"; 309 – 28 January 246 BC), also known posthumously as Ptolemy the Great, was the pharaoh of Ptolemaic Egypt from 283 t ...
and a Celtic invasion of Asia Minor—distracting attention from holding the eastern portions of the Empire together. Towards the end of Antiochus II's reign, various provinces simultaneously asserted their independence, such as Bactria and Sogdiana under Diodotus of Bactria, Diodotus, Cappadocia under Ariarathes III of Cappadocia, Ariarathes III, and Parthia under Andragoras (Seleucid satrap), Andragoras. A few years later, the last was defeated and killed by the invading Parni of Arsaces I of Parthia, Arsaces – the region would then become the core of the Parthian Empire. Diodotus of Bactria, Diodotus, governor for the Bactrian territory, asserted independence in around 245 BC, although the exact date is far from certain, to form the
Greco-Bactrian Kingdom The Bactrian Kingdom, known to historians as the Greco-Bactrian Kingdom, was a Hellenistic-era Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic ...
. This kingdom was characterized by a rich Hellenistic culture and was to continue its domination of Bactria until around 125 BC when it was overrun by the invasion of northern nomads. One of the Greco-Bactrian kings, Demetrius I of Bactria, invaded India around 180 BC to form the Indo-Greek Kingdoms. The rulers of Persis, called Fratarakas, also seem to have established some level of independence from the Seleucids during the 3rd century BC, especially from the time of Vahbarz. They would later overtly take the title of Kings of Persis, before becoming vassals to the newly formed Parthian Empire. The Seleucid satrap of Parthia, named Andragoras (3rd century BC), Andragoras, first claimed independence, in a parallel to the secession of his Bactrian neighbour. Soon after, however, a Parthian tribal chief called Arsaces I of Parthia, Arsaces Parni conquest of Parthia, invaded the Parthian territory around 238 BC to form the Parthian Empire, Arsacid dynasty, from which the Parthian Empire originated. Antiochus II's son Seleucus II Callinicus came to the throne around 246 BC. Seleucus II was soon dramatically defeated in the Third Syrian War against Ptolemy III of Egypt and then had to fight a civil war against his own brother Antiochus Hierax. Taking advantage of this distraction, Bactria and Parthia seceded from the empire. In Asia Minor too, the Seleucid dynasty seemed to be losing control: the Gauls had fully established themselves in Galatia, semi-independent semi-Hellenized kingdoms had sprung up in Bithynia, Pontus (region), Pontus, and Cappadocia, and the city of Pergamon, Pergamum in the west was asserting its independence under the Attalid Dynasty. The Seleucid economy started to show the first signs of weakness, as Galatians gained independence and Pergamum took control of coastal cities in Anatolia. Consequently, they managed to partially block contact with the West.


Revival (223–191 BC)

A revival would begin when Seleucus II's younger son,
Antiochus III the Great Antiochus III the Great ( Greek: ; c. 2413 July 187 BC, ruled April/June 222 – 3 July 187 BC) was a Greek Hellenistic king and the 6th ruler of the Seleucid Empire. He ruled over the Syria (region), region of Syria and large parts of the rest o ...
, took the throne in 223 BC. Although initially unsuccessful in the Fourth Syrian War against Egypt, which led to a defeat at the Battle of Raphia (217 BC), Antiochus would prove himself to be the greatest of the Seleucid rulers after Seleucus I himself. He spent the next ten years on his wikt:anabasis, anabasis (journey) through the eastern parts of his domain and restoring rebellious vassals like Parthia and Greco-Bactria to at least nominal obedience. He gained many victories such as the Battle of Mount Labus and Battle of the Arius and Siege of Bactra, besieged the Bactrian capital. He even emulated Seleucus with an expedition into India where he met with King Sophagasenus (Sanskrit: ''Subhagasena'') receiving war elephants, perhaps in accordance of the existing treaty and alliance set after the Seleucid-Mauryan War. Actual translation of Polybius 11.34 (No other source except Polybius makes any reference to Sophagasenus): When he returned to the west in 205 BC, Antiochus found that with the death of Ptolemy IV, the situation now looked propitious for another western campaign. Antiochus and Philip V of Macedon then made a pact to divide the Ptolemaic possessions outside of Egypt, and in the Fifth Syrian War, the Seleucids ousted Ptolemy V from control of Coele-Syria. The Battle of Panium (200 BC) definitively transferred these holdings from the Ptolemies to the Seleucids. Antiochus appeared, at the least, to have restored the Seleucid Kingdom to glory.


Expansion into Greece and war with Rome

Following the defeat of his erstwhile ally Philip V of Macedon, Philip by Rome in 197 BC, Antiochus saw the opportunity for expansion into Greece itself. Encouraged by the exiled Carthage, Carthaginian general Hannibal, and making an alliance with the disgruntled Aetolian League, Antiochus launched an invasion across the Hellespont. With his huge army he aimed to establish the Seleucid empire as the foremost power in the Hellenic world, but these plans put the empire on a collision course with the new rising power of the Mediterranean, the
Roman Republic The Roman Republic ( la, Rēs pūblica Rōmāna ) was a state of the classical Roman civilization, run through public In public relations Public relations (PR) is the practice of managing and disseminating information from an indiv ...
. At the battles of Battle of Thermopylae (191 BC), Thermopylae (191 BC) and Battle of Magnesia, Magnesia (190 BC), Antiochus's forces suffered resounding defeats, and he was compelled to make peace and sign the Treaty of Apamea (188 BC), the main clause of which saw the Seleucids agree to pay a large indemnity, to retreat from
Anatolia Anatolia,, tr, Anadolu Yarımadası), and the Anatolian plateau. also known as Asia Minor, is a large peninsula in Western Asia and the westernmost protrusion of the Asian continent. It makes up the majority of modern-day Turkey. The region ...
and to never again attempt to expand Seleucid territory west of the
Taurus Mountains The Taurus Mountains (Turkish Turkish may refer to: * of or about Turkey Turkey ( tr, Türkiye ), officially the Republic of Turkey, is a country straddling Southeastern Europe and Western Asia. It shares borders with Greece Gr ...
. The Kingdom of Pergamum and the Rhodes (city), Republic of Rhodes, Rome's allies in the war, gained the former Seleucid lands in Anatolia. Antiochus died in 187 BC on another expedition to the east, where he sought to extract money to pay the indemnity.


Roman power, Parthia and Judea

The reign of his son and successor Seleucus IV Philopator (187–175 BC) was largely spent in attempts to pay the large indemnity, and Seleucus was ultimately assassinated by his minister Heliodorus (minister), Heliodorus. Seleucus' younger brother, Antiochus IV Epiphanes, now seized the throne. He attempted to restore Seleucid power and prestige with a successful war against the old enemy,
Ptolemaic Egypt The Ptolemaic Kingdom (; grc-koi, Πτολεμαϊκὴ βασιλεία, Ptolemaïkḕ basileía) was an Ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the used in and the from around 1500 BC to 300 BC. It is often roughly divi ...
, which met with initial success as the Seleucids defeated and drove the Egyptian army back to Alexandria itself. As the king planned on how to conclude the war, he was informed that Roman commissioners, led by the Proconsul Gaius Popillius Laenas, were near and requesting a meeting with the Seleucid king. Antiochus agreed, but when they met and Antiochus held out his hand in friendship, Popilius placed in his hand the tablets on which was written the decree of the senate and told him to read it. When the king said that he would call his friends into council and consider what he ought to do, Popilius drew a circle in the sand around the king's feet with the stick he was carrying and said, "Before you step out of that circle give me a reply to lay before the senate." For a few moments he hesitated, astounded at such a peremptory order, and at last replied, "I will do what the senate thinks right." He then chose to withdraw rather than set the empire to war with Rome again. On his return journey, according to Josephus, he made an expedition to Judea, took Jerusalem by force, slew a great many who had favored Ptolemaic Egypt, Ptolemy, sent his soldiers to plunder them without mercy. He also spoiled the Second temple, temple, and put the constant practice of offering a daily sacrifice of expiation, for 3 years and 6 months. The latter part of his reign saw a further disintegration of the Empire despite his best efforts. Weakened economically, militarily and by loss of prestige, the Empire became vulnerable to rebels in the eastern areas of the empire, who began to further undermine the empire while the Parthians moved into the power vacuum to take over the old Persian lands. Antiochus' aggressive Hellenizing (or de-Judaizing) activities provoked a full scale armed rebellion in Judea—the Maccabean Revolt. Efforts to deal with both the Parthians and the Jews as well as retain control of the provinces at the same time proved beyond the weakened empire's power. Antiochus died during a military expedition against the Parthians in 164 BC.


Civil war and further decay

After the death of Antiochus IV Epiphanes, the Seleucid Empire became increasingly unstable. Frequent civil wars made central authority tenuous at best. Epiphanes' young son, Antiochus V Eupator, was first overthrown by Seleucus IV's son, Demetrius I Soter in 161 BC. Demetrius I attempted to restore Seleucid power in Judea particularly, but was overthrown in 150 BC by
Alexander Balas Alexander I Theopator Euergetes, surnamed Balas ( grc, Ἀλέξανδρος Βάλας, Alexandros Balas), was the ruler of the Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλά ...

Alexander Balas
– an impostor who (with Egyptian backing) claimed to be the son of Epiphanes. Alexander Balas reigned until 145 BC when he was overthrown by Demetrius I's son, Demetrius II Nicator. Demetrius II proved unable to control the whole of the kingdom, however. While he ruled
Babylonia Babylonia () was an and based in central-southern which was part of Ancient Persia (present-day and ). A small -ruled state emerged in 1894 BCE, which contained the minor administrative town of . It was merely a small provincial town dur ...
and eastern
Syria Syria ( ar, سُورِيَا or ar, سُورِيَة, ''Sūriyā''), officially the Syrian Arab Republic ( ar, ٱلْجُمْهُورِيَّةُ ٱلْعَرَبِيَّةُ ٱلسُّورِيَّةُ, al-Jumhūrīyah al-ʻArabīyah as-S ...

Syria
from Damascus, the remnants of Balas' supporters – first supporting Balas' son Antiochus VI, then the usurping general Diodotus Tryphon – held out in Antioch. Meanwhile, the decay of the Empire's territorial possessions continued apace. By 143 BC, the Ancient Israel, Jews in the form of the Maccabees had fully established their independence. Parthian Empire, Parthian expansion continued as well. In 139 BC, Demetrius II was defeated in battle by the Parthians and was captured. By this time, the entire Iranian Plateau had been lost to Parthian control. Demetrius Nicator's brother, Antiochus VII Sidetes, took the throne after his brother's capture. He faced the enormous task of restoring a rapidly crumbling empire, one facing threats on multiple fronts. Hard-won control of Coele-Syria was threatened by the Jewish Maccabee rebels. Once-vassal dynasties in Armenia, Cappadocia, and Pontus were threatening Syria and northern
Mesopotamia Mesopotamia ( grc, Μεσοποταμία ''Mesopotamíā''; ar, بِلَاد ٱلرَّافِدَيْن ; syc, ܐܪܡ ܢܗܪ̈ܝܢ, or , ) is a historical region of Western Asia situated within the Tigris–Euphrates river system, in the ...

Mesopotamia
; the nomadic Parthians, brilliantly led by
Mithridates I of Parthia Mithridates I (also spelled Mithradates I or Mihrdad I; xpr, 𐭌𐭄𐭓𐭃𐭕 ''Mihrdāt''), also known as Mithridates I the Great, was king of the Parthian Empire The Parthian Empire (), also known as the Arsacid Empire (), was a major Ir ...
, had overrun upland Media (home of the famed Nisean horse herd); and Roman intervention was an ever-present threat. Sidetes managed to bring the Maccabees to heel and frighten the Anatolian dynasts into a temporary submission; then, in 133, he turned east with the full might of the Royal Army (supported by a body of Jews under the Hasmonean prince, John Hyrcanus) to drive back the Parthians. Sidetes' campaign initially met with spectacular success, recapturing Mesopotamia, Babylonia, and Media. In the winter of 130/129 BC, his army was scattered in winter quarters throughout Media and Persis when the Parthian king, Phraates II, counter-attacked. Moving to intercept the Parthians with only the troops at his immediate disposal, he was ambushed and killed at the Battle of Ecbatana in 129 BC. Antiochus Sidetes is sometimes called the last great Seleucid king. After the death of Antiochus VII Sidetes, all of the recovered eastern territories were recaptured by the Parthians. The Maccabees again rebelled, civil war soon tore the empire to pieces, and the Armenians began to encroach on Syria from the north.


Collapse (100–63 BC)

By 100 BC, the once-formidable Seleucid Empire encompassed little more than Antioch and some Syrian cities. Despite the clear collapse of their power, and the decline of their kingdom around them, nobles continued to play kingmakers on a regular basis, with occasional intervention from
Ptolemaic Egypt The Ptolemaic Kingdom (; grc-koi, Πτολεμαϊκὴ βασιλεία, Ptolemaïkḕ basileía) was an Ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the used in and the from around 1500 BC to 300 BC. It is often roughly divi ...
and other outside powers. The Seleucids existed solely because no other nation wished to absorb them – seeing as they constituted a useful buffer between their other neighbours. In the wars in Anatolia between Mithridates VI of Kingdom of Pontus, Pontus and Sulla of Rome, the Seleucids were largely left alone by both major combatants. Mithridates' ambitious son-in-law,
Tigranes the Great Tigranes II, more commonly known as Tigranes the Great ( hy, Տիգրան Մեծ, ''Tigran Mets''; grc, Τιγράνης ὁ Μέγας ''Tigránes ho Mégas''; la, Tigranes Magnus) (140 – 55 BC) was King of Kingdom of Armenia (ant ...
, king of
Armenia Armenia (; hy, Հայաստան, translit=Hayastan, ), officially the Republic of Armenia,, is a landlocked country A landlocked country is a country A country is a distinct territory, territorial body or political entity. It is ...
, however, saw opportunity for expansion in the constant civil strife to the south. In 83 BC, at the invitation of one of the factions in the interminable civil wars, he invaded Syria and soon established himself as ruler of Syria, putting the Seleucid Empire virtually at an end. Seleucid rule was not entirely over, however. Following the Roman general Lucullus' defeat of both Mithridates and Tigranes in 69 BC, a rump Seleucid kingdom was restored under Antiochus XIII. Even so, civil wars could not be prevented, as another Seleucid, Philip II Philoromaeus, Philip II, contested rule with Antiochus. After the Roman conquest of Pontus, the Romans became increasingly alarmed at the constant source of instability in Syria under the Seleucids. Once Mithridates was defeated by
Pompey Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus (; 29 September 106 BC – 28 September 48 BC), known in English as Pompey or Pompey the Great, was a leading Roman Roman or Romans most often refers to: *, the capital city of Italy *, Roman civilization f ...
in 63 BC, Pompey set about the task of remaking the Hellenistic East, by creating new client kingdoms and establishing provinces. While client nations like Armenia and Judea were allowed to continue with some degree of autonomy under local kings, Pompey saw the Seleucids as too troublesome to continue; doing away with both rival Seleucid princes, he made Syria (Roman province), Syria into a Roman province.


Culture

The Seleucid empire's geographical span, from the Aegean Sea to what is now History of Afghanistan, Afghanistan and
Pakistan Pakistan, . Pronounced variably in English as , , , and . officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, is a country in South Asia. It is the world's List of countries and dependencies by population, fifth-most populous country, with a popul ...

Pakistan
, created a melting pot of various peoples, such as Greeks, Armenians, Georgians, Persian people, Persians, Medes, Assyrian people, Assyrians and Jews. The immense size of the empire, followed by its encompassing nature, encouraged the Seleucid rulers to implement a policy of ethnic unity—a policy initiated by Alexander. The Hellenization of the Seleucid empire was achieved by the establishment of Greek cities throughout the empire. Historically significant towns and cities, such as Antioch, were created or renamed with more appropriate Greek language, Greek names. The creation of new Greeks, Greek cities and towns was aided by the fact that the Greek mainland was overpopulated and therefore made the vast Seleucid empire ripe for colonization. Colonization was used to further Greek interest while facilitating the assimilation of many native groups. Socially, this led to the adoption of Greek practices and customs by the educated native classes to further themselves in public life, and at the same time the ruling Ancient Macedonians, Macedonian class gradually adopted some of the local traditions. By 313 BC, Hellenic ideas had begun their almost 250-year expansion into the Near East, Middle East, and Central Asian cultures. It was the empire's governmental framework to rule by establishing hundreds of cities for trade and occupational purposes. Many of the existing cities began—or were compelled by force—to adopt Hellenized philosophic thought, religious sentiments, and politics although the Seleucid rulers did incorporate Babylonian religion, Babylonian religious tenets to gain support. Synthesizing Hellenic and indigenous cultural, religious, and philosophical ideas met with varying degrees of success—resulting in times of simultaneous peace and rebellion in various parts of the empire. Such was the case with the Jewish population of the Seleucid empire; the Jews' refusal to willingly Hellenize their religious beliefs or customs posed a significant problem which eventually led to war. Contrary to the accepting nature of the Ptolemaic Kingdom, Ptolemaic empire towards native religions and customs, the Seleucids gradually tried to force Hellenization upon the Jewish people in their territory by outlawing Judaism. This eventually led to the Maccabees#The revolt, revolt of the Jews under Seleucid control, which would later lead to the Jews achieving independence from the Seleucid empire.


Military

As with the other major Hellenistic armies, the Seleucid army fought primarily in the Greco-Macedonian style, with its main body being the Phalanx formation, phalanx. The phalanx was a large, dense formation of men armed with small shields and a long pike called the ''sarissa''. This form of fighting had been developed by the Ancient Macedonian army, Macedonian army in the reign of Philip II of Macedon and his son Alexander the Great. Alongside the phalanx, the Seleucid armies used a great deal of native and mercenary troops to supplement their Greek forces, which were limited due to the distance from the Seleucid rulers'
Macedonian Macedonian most often refers to someone or something from or related to Macedonia (disambiguation), Macedonia. Macedonian may specifically refer to: People Modern * Macedonians (ethnic group), the South Slavic ethnic group primarily associated w ...
homeland. The size of the Seleucid army usually varied between 70,000 and 200,000 in manpower. The distance from Greece put a strain on the Seleucid military system, as it was primarily based around the recruitment of Greeks as the key segment of the army. In order to increase the population of Greeks in their kingdom, the Seleucid rulers created military settlements. There were two main periods in the establishment of settlements, firstly under
Seleucus I Nicator Seleucus I Nicator (; ; grc-gre, Σέλευκος Νικάτωρ, Séleukos Nikátōr, Seleucus the Victorious) was a Ancient Macedonians, Macedonian Greek general, a Diadochi of Alexander the Great and ultimately king who fought for control over ...
and
Antiochus I Soter Antiochus I Soter ( grc-gre, Ἀντίοχος ὁ Σωτήρ, ''Antíochos ho Sōtér''; "Antiochus the Saviour"; c. 324/32 June 261 BC) was a king of the Hellenistic period, Hellenistic Seleucid Empire. He succeeded his father Seleucus I Nicator ...

Antiochus I Soter
and then under Antiochus IV Epiphanes. The military settlers were given land, "varying in size according to rank and arm of service'. They were settled in 'colonies of an urban character, which at some point could acquire the status of a polis". Unlike the Ptolemaic military settlers, who were known as ''Kleruchoi'', the Seleucid settlers were called ''Katoikoi''. The settlers would maintain the land as their own and in return they would serve in the Seleucid army when called. The majority of settlements were concentrated in Lydia, northern
Syria Syria ( ar, سُورِيَا or ar, سُورِيَة, ''Sūriyā''), officially the Syrian Arab Republic ( ar, ٱلْجُمْهُورِيَّةُ ٱلْعَرَبِيَّةُ ٱلسُّورِيَّةُ, al-Jumhūrīyah al-ʻArabīyah as-S ...

Syria
, the upper Euphrates and Medes, Media. The Greeks were dominant in Lydia, Phrygia and Syria. For example, Antiochus III brought Greeks from Euboea, Crete and Aetolia and settled them in Antioch. These settlers would be used to form the Seleucid phalanx and cavalry units, with picked men put into the kingdom's guards regiments. The rest of the Seleucid army would consist of a large number of native and mercenary troops, who would serve as light auxiliary troops. However, by the time of the Daphne Parade in 166 BC, the large number of ethnic contingents were missing from the army of Antiochus IV. This was most likely due to the army reform that was undertaken by Antiochus IV. In his reign, Antiochus IV had built 15 new cities "and their association with the increased phalanx... at Daphne is too obvious to be ignored".


Economy

As a Hegemonic empire, much of the state's wealth accumulation centered around maintaining its sizable military. While the motive is simple enough, the Seleucid empire boasts of a sophisticated political economy that extracts wealth from local temples, cities (or ''poleis''), and royal estates; much of which was inherited from their Achaemenid predecessors. Recent discussion indicates a market-oriented economy under the Seleucids. However, evidencing limits our understanding of the Seleucid economy to the Hellenistic Near-East; that is, through their holdings in Syria, Asia Minor, and Mesopotamia. Little is known about the economy of the Upper Satrapies.


Monetization

Currency plays an increasingly central role under the Seleucids; however, we should note that monetization was nothing new in their newly acquired lands. Rather, the introduction and widespread implementation of currency is attributed to Darius I's tax reforms centuries prior; hence, the Seleucids see a continuation rather than shift in this practice, i.e. the payment of taxation in silver or, if necessary, in kind. In this regard, the Seleucids are notable for paying their sizeable armies exclusively in silver. Nevertheless, there are two significant developments of currency during the Seleucid period: the adoption of the “Attic Standard” in certain regions, and the popularization of bronze coinage. The adoption of the Attic standard was not uniform across the realm. The Attic standard was already the common currency of the Mediterranean prior to Alexander's conquest; that is, it was the preferred currency for foreign transactions. As a result, coastal regions under the Seleucids —Syria and Asia Minor—were quick to adopt the new standard. In Mesopotamia however, the millennia-old shekel (weighing 8.33g Silver) prevailed over the Attic standard. According to Historian R.J. van der Spek, this is due to their particular method in recording price, which favored bartering over monetary transactions. The Mesopotamians used the value of one shekel as a fixed reference point, against which the amount of a good is given. Prices themselves are accounted in terms of their weight in silver ''per ton'', i.e. 60g Silver, Barley, June 242 BCE. The minute difference in weight between a Shekel and Didrachm (weighing 8.6g Silver) could not be expressed in this barter system. And the use of a Greek tetradrachm would be "a far too heavy denomination…in daily trade." Bronze coinage, dating from the late fifth and fourth century, and was popularized as a "fiduciary" currency facilitating "small-scale exchanges" in the Hellenistic period. It was principally a legal tender which circulated only around its locales of production;[3]however, the great Seleucid mint at Antioch during Antiochus III's reign (which Numismatist Arthur Houghton dubs "The Syrian and Coele-Syrian Experiment") began minting bronze coins (weighing 1.25–1.5g) to serve a "regional purpose." The reasons behind this remain unclear. However, Spek notes a chronic shortage of silver in the Seleucid empire. In fact, Antiochus I's heavy withdrawal of silver from a satrap is noted by the Babylonian astronomical diary (AD No. –273 B ‘Rev. 33’): "purchases in Babylon and other cities were made in Greek bronze coins." This was unprecedented because "in official documents [bronze coins] played no part"; it was a sign of "hardship" for the Seleucids. Nevertheless, the low denomination of bronze coinage meant it was used in tandem with bartering; making it a popular and successful medium of exchange.


Agriculture

Agriculture, like most pre-modern economies, constituted a vast majority of the Seleucid economy. Somewhere between 80 and 90% of the Seleucid population was employed, in some form, within the prevailing agricultural structures inherited from their Neo-Babylonian and Achaemenid predecessors. These included temples, ''poleis'', and royal estates. We should clarify that the term ''poleis'', according to Spek, did not confer any special status to cities in the Seleucid sources; it was simply the term for "city"—Greek or otherwise. Regardless, agricultural produce varied from region to region. But in general, Greek ''poleis'' produced: “grain, olives and their oil, wine…figs, cheese from sheep and goats, [and] meat." Whereas Mesopotamian production from temple land consisted of: “barley, dates, mustard (or cascuta/dodder), cress (cardamom), sesame and wool”; which, as the core region of the Seleucid empire, was also the most productive. Recent evidence indicates that Mesopotamian grain production, under the Seleucids, was subject to market forces of supply and demand. Traditional "primitivist" narratives of the ancient economy argue that it was "marketless"; however, the Babylonian astronomical diaries show a high degree of market integration of barley and date prices—to name a few—in Seleucid Babylonia. Prices exceeding 370g silver ''per ton'' in Seleucid Mesopotamia was considered a sign of famine. Therefore, during periods of war, heavy taxation, and crop failure, prices increase drastically. In an extreme example, Spek believes tribal Arab raiding into Babylonia caused barley prices to skyrocket to a whopping ''1493g'' silver per ton from 5–8 May, 124 BCE. The average Mesopotamian peasant, if working for a wage at a temple, would receive 1 shekel; it "was a reasonable monthly wage for which one could buy one kor of grain= 180 [liters]." While this appears dire, we should be reminded that Mesopotamia under the Seleucids was largely stable and prices remained low. With encouraged Greek colonization and land reclamation increasing the supply of grain production, however, the question of whether this artificially kept prices stable is uncertain. The Seleucids also continued the tradition of actively maintaining the Mesopotamian waterways. As the greatest source of state income, the Seleucid kings actively managed the irrigation, reclamation, and population of Mesopotamia. In fact, canals were often dug by royal decrees, to which "some were called the King’s Canal for that reason." For example, the construction of the Pallacottas canal was able to control the water level of the Euphrates which, as Arrian notes in his Anabasis 7.21.5, required: “over two months of work by more than 10,000 Assyrians.”


Role of the state—political economy

As a hegemonic empire, the state's primary focus was maintaining its sizable army ''via'' wealth extraction from three major sources: tribute from autonomous ''poleis'' and temples, and proportional land-tax from royal land. The definition of "royal land" remains contested. While all agree ''poleis'' do not constitute royal land, some remain uncertain over the status of temple land. Yet, they commanded notable economic power and functioned almost independently from the state. Nevertheless, the Seleucid manner of extraction, in contrast to earlier regimes, is considered more "aggressive" and "predatory". In theory, the Seleucid state was an absolute monarchy that did not recognize private property in our modern sense. Any land that was not delegated to the ''poleis'' or temples was considered private property of the sovereign; thus, considered as Royal Land and liable to direct tax by the state. Here, a "proportional land-tax", that is, a tax based on the size of one's plot, is collected by the local governor (or Satrap) and sent to the capital. However, there is no evidence for the amount that was taxed on any given region. Tribute was heavily levied on ''poleis'' and temples. Although tribute is paid annually, the amount demanded increases significantly during wartime. During a civil war in 149 BCE, Demetrius II demanded the province of Judaea to pay 300 talents of silver, which was seen as "severe." But this was far from an isolated case. In fact, the Babylonian Astronomical Diaries in 308/7 BCE note hefty a 50% tax on harvest "from the lands of the temple of Shamash (in Sipprar or Larsa)." Nevertheless, annual tribute was "a long-accepted and uncontroversial practice." Also, royal land was regularly donated to the temples and ''poleis''; albeit under the assumption that a greater share of revenue is given to the state in exchange. The controversial practice of temple "despoliation", however, was a regular occurrence under the Seleucids—in contrast to earlier times. Although the Seleucid kings were aware and appreciated the sacrosanctity of religious treasures, their concentration in these places "proved irresistible" in the face of "short-term fiscal constraints." As an example, Antiochus III's despoliation of the Anahit Temple in Ecbatana, wherein he procured 4000 silver talents, was used to fund his Great Eastern campaign. According to historian Michael J. Taylor:
It is difficult to believe that these monarchs who knew enough to bow before Nabu, bake bricks for Esagil, and enforce kosher regulations in Jerusalem, would be blithely aware of the political hazards of removing Temple treasures. It is more likely that they knew the risks but took them anyway.
A rebellion in 169 BCE during Antiochus III's campaign in Egypt demonstrates that these “risks” occasionally backfire. The increasingly bold interference is due, in large part, to the appointment of provincial high-priests by the monarch himself. Often they were his court “favorites”, whose prerogatives were purely administrative; essentially, they served to collect tribute for the state. Unsurprisingly: “native elites profoundly feared that the arrival of a Seleucid official might quickly cascade into a wholesale removal of Temple treasures.”


Academic discussion

Interpretations on the Seleucid economy since the late 19th century traditionally fell between the “modernist” and “primitivist” camps. On one hand, the modernist view—largely associated with Michael Rostovtzeff and Eduard Meyer—argues that the Hellenistic economies operated along price-setting markets with capitalist enterprises exported over long distances in “completely monetarized markets.” On the other hand, the primitivist view—associated with M.I. Finley, Karl Polanyi and Karl Bücher—interprets ancient economies as “autarchic” in nature with little to no interaction among each other.[4]However, recent discussion has since criticized these models for their grounding on "Greco-centric" sources. Recent discussion has since rejected these traditional dichotomies. According to Spek and Reger, the current view is that while the Seleucid economy—and Hellenistic economies more broadly—were ''partially'' market-oriented, and ''partially'' monetarized. While the market was subject to forces of supply and demand, a majority of produce still consumed by their producers; hence, "invisible" to the observer.


Family tree of Seleucids


See also

*Seleucid army *Seleucid dynasty *Hellenistic period *
Greco-Bactrian Kingdom The Bactrian Kingdom, known to historians as the Greco-Bactrian Kingdom, was a Hellenistic-era Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic ...
*Hasmonean dynasty *Indo-Greek Kingdom *Parthian Empire *Cilician pirates


References


Works cited

*


Further reading

* 1 Maccabees *G. G. Aperghis, ''The Seleukid Royal Economy. The Finances and Financial Administration of the Seleukid Empire'', Cambridge, 2004. *Laurent Capdetrey, ''Le pouvoir séleucide. Territoire, administration, finances d'un royaume hellénistique (312-129 avant J.C.).'' (Collection "Histoire"). Rennes: Presses Universitaires de Rennes, 2007. *D. Engels, ''Benefactors, Kings, Rulers. Studies on the Seleukid Empire between East and West'', Leuven, 2017 (Studia Hellenistica 57). *A. Houghton, C. Lorber, ''Seleucid Coins. A Comprehensive Catalogue, Part I, Seleucus I through Antiochus III, With Metrological Tables by B. Kritt'', I-II, New York – Lancaster – London, 2002. * Paul J. Kosmin, ''The Land of the Elephant Kings: Space, Territory, and Ideology in the Seleucid Empire'' (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2014). * R. Oetjen (ed.), ''New Perspectives in Seleucid History, Archaeology and Numismatics: Studies in Honor of Getzel M. Cohen'', Berlin – Boston: De Gruyter, 2020. *Michael J. Taylor, ''Antiochus the Great'' (Barnsley: Pen and Sword, 2013).


External links


Livius
by Jona Lendering
Genealogy of the SeleucidsSeleukid Bibliography
maintained at the History Department of Utrecht University

{{Authority control Seleucid Empire, Ancient history of Iran Former empires in Asia Former countries in Central Asia Former countries in South Asia Former countries in Western Asia Superpowers 4th-century BC establishments States and territories established in the 4th century BC 310s BC establishments 312 BC States and territories disestablished in the 1st century BC 63 BC disestablishments Classical Anatolia Empires and kingdoms of Iran Offshoots of the Macedonian Empire Former monarchies of Central Asia Former monarchies of Western Asia Former monarchies of South Asia