SELEUCUS I NICATOR /səˈljuːkəs naɪˈkeɪtər/ (c. 358 BC –
Ancient Greek : Σέλευκος Α΄ Νικάτωρ Séleukos
Α΄ Nikátōr; "Seleucus the Victor") was one of the
Having previously served as an infantry general under Alexander the
Great , he eventually assumed the title of basileus and established
Seleucid Empire over much of the territory in the
Near East which
Alexander had conquered.
After the death of Alexander in June 323 BC, Seleucus initially
Perdiccas , the regent of Alexander's empire, and was
appointed Commander of the Companions and chiliarch at the Partition
Babylon in 323 BC. However, after the outbreak of the Wars of the
Diadochi in 322, Perdiccas' military failures against Ptolemy in Egypt
led to the mutiny of his troops in
Perdiccas was betrayed
and assassinated in a conspiracy by Seleucus,
Peithon and Antigenes in
Pelusium sometime in either 321 or 320 BC.
Partition of Triparadisus in 321 BC, Seleucus was appointed
Babylon under the new regent
Antipater . But almost
immediately, the wars between the
Diadochi resumed and Antigonus
forced Seleucus to flee
Babylon . Seleucus was only able to return to
Babylon in 312 BC with the support of Ptolemy. From 312 BC, Seleucus
ruthlessly expanded his dominions and eventually conquered the Persian
and Median lands. Seleucus ruled not only
Babylonia , but the entire
enormous eastern part of Alexander's empire.
Seleucus' wars took him as far as
India , where, after two years of
war (305-303 BC), he made peace with the Indian Emperor Chandragupta
Maurya , and exchanged his eastern satrapies in the
Indus River Valley
for a considerable force of 500 war elephants , which would play a
decisive role against Antigonus at the
Battle of Ipsus
Battle of Ipsus in 301 BC and
Lysimachus at the
Battle of Corupedium in 281 BC.
Seleucus' victories against Antigonus and
Lysimachus left the
Seleucid dynasty virtually unopposed in
Asia and in
However, Seleucus also hoped to take control of Lysimachus' European
Macedon itself. But upon arriving in
Thrace in 281 BC, Seleucus was assassinated by
Ptolemy Ceraunus , who
had taken refuge at the Seleucid court with his sister
Lysandra . The
assassination of Seleucus destroyed Seleucid prospects in
Macedon, and paved the way for
Ptolemy Ceraunus to absorb much of
Lysimachus' former power in Macedon. Seleucus was succeeded by his son
Antiochus I as ruler of the Seleucid empire.
Seleucus founded a number of new cities during his reign, including
Antioch (300 BC) and in particular
Seleucia on the
Tigris (ca. 305
BC), the new capital of the Seleucid Empire, a foundation that
eventually depopulated Babylon.
* 1 Youth and family
* 2 Early career under
Alexander the Great
Alexander the Great
* 3 Senior officer under
* 4.1 Second War of the
* 4.2 Escape to
* 5 Admiral under Ptolemy
* 6 Seleucus the victor
* 6.1 Conquest of the eastern provinces
* 6.2 Response
* 7 Seleucus the king
Chandragupta and the eastern provinces
Battle of Ipsus
Battle of Ipsus
* 7.3 Defeat of Demetrius and
* 7.4 Administration of
* 8 Death and legacy
* 9 See also
* 10 Endnotes
* 11 Citations
* 12 References and further reading
* 13 External links
YOUTH AND FAMILY
Seleucus was the son of Antiochus . Historian Junianus Justinus
claims that Antiochus was one of
Philip II of Macedon
Philip II of Macedon 's generals, but
no such general is mentioned in any other sources, and nothing is
known of his supposed career under Philip. It is possible that
Antiochus was a member of an upper Macedonian noble family. Seleucus'
mother was supposedly called Laodice , but nothing else is known of
her. Later, Seleucus named a number of cities after his parents.
Seleucus was born in Europos , located in the northern part of
Macedonia . Just a year before his birth (if the year 358 BC is
accepted as the most likely date), the
Paeonians invaded the region.
Philip defeated the invaders and only a few years later utterly
subdued them under Macedonian rule. Seleucus' year of birth is
unclear. Justin claims he was 77 years old during the battle of
Corupedium , which would place his year of birth at 358 BC. Appianus
tells us Seleucus was 73 years old during the battle, which means 354
BC would be the year of birth.
Eusebius of Caesarea
Eusebius of Caesarea , however,
mentions the age of 75, and thus the year 356 BC, making Seleucus the
same age as
Alexander the Great
Alexander the Great . This is most likely propaganda on
Seleucus' part to make him seem comparable to Alexander.
As a teenager, Seleucus was chosen to serve as the king's page
(paides). It was customary for all male offspring of noble families to
first serve in this position and later as officers in the king's army.
A number of legends, similar to those told of Alexander the Great,
were told of Seleucus. It was said Antiochus told his son before he
left to battle the Persians with Alexander that his real father was
actually the god
Apollo . The god had left a ring with a picture of an
anchor as a gift to Laodice. Seleucus had a birthmark shaped like an
anchor. It was told that Seleucus' sons and grandsons also had similar
birthmarks. The story is similar to the one told about Alexander. Most
likely the story is merely propaganda by Seleucus, who presumably
invented the story to present himself as the natural successor of
John Malalas tells us Seleucus had a sister called Didymeia , who had
sons called Nicanor and Nicomedes. It is most likely the sons are
fictitious. Didymeia might refer to the oracle of
Apollo in Didyma
Miletus . It has also been suggested that Ptolemy (son of
Seleucus) was actually the uncle of Seleucus.
EARLY CAREER UNDER ALEXANDER THE GREAT
Main article: Alexander\'s Indian campaign Seleucus led the
Royal Hypaspistai during Alexander's Persian campaign.
In spring 334 BC, as a young man of about twenty-three, Seleucus
accompanied Alexander into Asia. By the time of the Indian campaigns
beginning in late in 327 BC, he had risen to the command of the élite
infantry corps in the Macedonian army, the "Shield-bearers"
(Hypaspistai, later known as the "
Silvershields "). It is said by
Arrian that when Alexander crossed the
Hydaspes river on a boat, he
was accompanied by
Ptolemy I Soter ,
Lysimachus and also
Seleucus. During the subsequent
Battle of the Hydaspes
Battle of the Hydaspes (326 BCE),
Seleucus led his troops against the elephants of
King Porus . It is
likely that Seleucus had no role in the actual planning of the battle.
He is also not mentioned as holding any major independent position
during the battle, unlike, for example,
Leonnatus – each of whom had sizable detachments under
his control. Seleucus' Royal Hypaspistai were constantly under
Alexander's eye and at his disposal. They later participated in the
Indus Valley campaign, in the battles fought against the
Malli and in
the crossing of the Gedrosian desert.
Seleucus took his future wife, the Sogdian princess
Spitamenes ), with him as his mistress into India, where she gave
birth to his eldest son and successor
Antiochus I Soter (325 BC). At
the great marriage ceremony at
Susa in the spring of 324 BC, Seleucus
Apama , and she later bore him at least two
legitimate daughters (Laodice and Apama) and a son (Achaeus ). At the
same event, Alexander married the daughter of the late Persian King
Darius III while several other Macedonians married Persian women.
After Alexander's death (323 BCE), when the other senior Macedonian
officers unloaded their "
Susa wives" en masse, Seleucus was one of the
very few who kept his, and
Apama remained his consort (later Queen)
for the rest of her life.
Ancient sources mention Seleucus three times before the death of
Alexander. He participated in a sailing trip near
Babylon , took part
in the dinner party of Medeios the Thessalian with Alexander and
visited the temple of the god
Serapis . In the first of these
episodes, Alexander's diadem was blown off his head and landed on some
reeds near the tombs of Assyrian kings. Seleucus swam to fetch the
diadem back, placing it on his own head while returning to the boat to
keep it dry. The validity of the story is dubious. The story of the
dinner party of Medeios may be true, but the plot to poison the King
is unlikely. In the final story, Seleucus reportedly slept in the
Serapis in the hope that Alexander's health might improve.
The validity of this story is also questionable, as the
Serapis had not been invented at the time.
SENIOR OFFICER UNDER PERDICCAS
Ptolemy, an officer under Alexander the Great, was nominated as
the satrap of Egypt. Ptolemy made
Egypt independent and proclaimed
himself King and
Pharaoh . Main article:
Alexander the Great
Alexander the Great died without a successor in
Babylon on June 10,
323 BC. His general
Perdiccas became the regent of all of Alexander's
empire, while Alexander's physically and mentally disabled
half-brother Arrhidaeus was chosen as the next king under the name
Philip III of Macedon
Philip III of Macedon . Alexander's unborn child (Alexander IV ) was
also named his father's successor. In the "
Partition of Babylon "
Perdiccas effectively divided the enormous Macedonian
dominion among Alexander's generals. Seleucus was chosen to command
Companion cavalry (hetairoi) and appointed first or court
chiliarch , which made him the senior officer in the Royal Army after
the regent and commander-in-chief Perdiccas. Several other powerful
men supported Perdiccas, including Ptolemy ,
Eumenes . Perdiccas' power depended on his ability to hold Alexander's
enormous empire together, and on whether he could force the satraps to
War soon broke out between
Perdiccas and the other
Diadochi . To
cement his position,
Perdiccas tried to marry Alexander's sister
Cleopatra . The First War of the
Diadochi began when
Alexander's corpse to Macedonia for burial. Ptolemy however captured
the body and took it to
Perdiccas and his troops followed
him to Egypt, whereupon Ptolemy conspired with the satrap of Media,
Peithon , and the commander of the
Argyraspides , Antigenes , both
serving as officers under Perdiccas, and assassinated him. Cornelius
Nepos mentions that Seleucus also took part in this conspiracy, but
this is not certain.
SATRAP OF BABYLON
Damaged Roman copy of a bust of Seleucus I,
The most powerful man in the empire after the death of
Antipater . Perdiccas' opponents gathered in Triparadisos, where the
empire of Alexander was partitioned again (the Treaty of Triparadisus
At Triparadisos the soldiers had become mutinous and were planning to
murder their master Antipater. Seleucus and Antigonus , however,
managed to prevent this. For betraying Perdiccas, Seleucus was
awarded the rich province of Babylon. This decision may have been
Antigonus' idea. Seleucus'
Babylon was surrounded by
Peucestas , the
Persis ; Antigenes , the new satrap of
Susiana and Peithon
Babylon was one of the wealthiest provinces of the empire,
but its military power was insignificant. It is possible that
Antipater divided the eastern provinces so that no single satrap could
rise above the others in power.
After the death of Alexander,
Archon of Pella was chosen satrap of
Babylon. Perdiccas, however, had had plans to supersede Archon and
Docimus as his successor. During his invasion of Egypt,
Docimus along with his detachments to Babylon. Archon
waged war against him, but fell in battle. Thus,
Docimus was not
intending to give
Babylon to Seleucus without a fight. It is not
certain how Seleucus took
Babylon from Docimus, but according to one
Babylonian chronicle an important building was destroyed in the city
during the summer or winter of 320 BC. Other Babylonian sources state
that Seleucus arrived in
Babylon in October or November 320 BC.
Despite the presumed battle,
Docimus was able to escape.
Meanwhile, the empire was once again in turmoil. Peithon, the satrap
of Media, assassinated Philip, the satrap of
Parthia , and replaced
him with his brother Eudemus as the new satrap. In the west Antigonus
Eumenes waged war against each other. Just like
Eumenes was one of the former supporters of Perdiccas.
Seleucus' biggest problem was, however,
Babylon itself. The locals had
rebelled against Archon and supported Docimus. The Babylonian
priesthood had great influence over the region.
Babylon also had a
sizable population of Macedonian and Greek veterans of Alexander's
army. Seleucus managed to win over the priests with monetary gifts and
SECOND WAR OF THE DIADOCHI
Main article: Second War of the
After the death of
Antipater in 319 BC, the satrap of Media began to
expand his power.
Peithon assembled a large army of perhaps over
20,000 soldiers. Under the leadership of
Peucestas the other satraps
of the region brought together an opposing army of their own. Peithon
was finally defeated in a battle waged in Parthia. He escaped to
Media, but his opponents did not follow him and rather returned to
Eumenes and his army had arrived at
Cilicia , but
had to retreat when Antigonus reached the city. The situation was
difficult for Seleucus.
Eumenes and his army were north of Babylon;
Antigonus was following him with an even larger army;
Peithon was in
Media and his opponents in Susiana. Antigenes, satrap of
commander of the Argyraspides, was allied with Eumenes. Antigenes was
Cilicia when the war between him and
Peithon arrived at
Babylon in the autumn or winter of 317 BC. Peithon
had lost a large number of troops, but Seleucus had even fewer
Eumenes decided to march to
Susa in the spring of 316 BC.
The satraps in
Susa had apparently accepted Eumenes' claims of his
fighting on behalf of the lawful ruling family against the usurper
Eumenes marched his army 300 stadions away from
tried to cross the
Tigris . Seleucus had to act. He sent two triremes
and some smaller ships to stop the crossing. He also tried to get the
former hypasiti of the
Argyraspides to join him, but this did not
happen. Seleucus also sent messages to Antigonus. Because of his lack
of troops, Seleucus apparently had no plans to actually stop Eumenes.
He opened the flood barriers of the river, but the resulting flood did
not stop Eumenes.
In the spring of 316 BC, Seleucus and
Peithon joined Antigonus, who
Eumenes to Susa. From
Susa Antigonus went to Media, from
where he could threaten the eastern provinces. He left Seleucus with a
small number of troops to prevent
Eumenes from reaching the
Sibyrtius , satrap of
Arachosia , saw the situation as
hopeless and returned to his own province. The armies of
his allies were at breaking point. Antigonus and
Eumenes had two
encounters during 316 BC, in the battles of Paraitacene and Gabiene .
Eumenes was defeated and executed. The events of the Second War of the
Diadochi revealed Seleucus' ability to wait for the right moment.
Blazing into battle was not his style.
ESCAPE TO EGYPT
Coin of Seleucus
Antigonus spent the winter of 316 BC in Media, whose ruler was once
again Peithon. Peithon's lust for power had grown, and he tried to get
a portion of Antigonus' troops to revolt to his side. Antigonus,
however, discovered the plot and executed Peithon. He then superseded
Peucestas as satrap of Persia. In the summer of 315 BC Antigonus
Babylon and was warmly welcomed by Seleucus. The
relationship between the two soon turned cold, however. Seleucus
punished one of Antigonus' officers without asking permission from
Antigonus. Antigonus became angry and demanded that Seleucus give him
the income from the province, which Seleucus refused to do. He was,
however, afraid of Antigonus and fled to
Egypt with 50 horsemen. It is
told that Chaldean astrologers prophesied to Antigonus that Seleucus
would become master of
Asia and would kill Antigonus. After hearing
this, Antigonus sent soldiers after Seleucus, who had however first
Mesopotamia and then to
Syria . Antigonus executed Blitor,
the new satrap of Mesopotamia, for helping Seleucus. Modern scholars
are skeptical of the prophecy story. It seems certain, however, that
Babylon priesthood was against Seleucus.
During Seleucus' escape to Egypt, Macedonia was undergoing great
turmoil. Alexander the Great's mother
Olympias had been invited back
Polyperchon in order to drive
Cassander out. She held
great respect among the Macedonian army but lost some of this when she
had Philip III and his wife
Eurydice killed as well as many nobles
whom she took revenge upon for supporting
Antipater during his long
Macedon the following year at Pydna and
then had her killed. Alexander IV , still a young child, and his
mother Roxane were held guarded at Amphipolis and died under
mysterious circumstances in 310 BC, probably murdered at the
Cassander to allow the diadochs to assume the title of
ADMIRAL UNDER PTOLEMY
Diadochi § Third War of the Diadochi, 314-311 BC
After arriving in Egypt, Seleucus sent his friends to
Cassander and Lysimachus, the ruler of
Thracia , about
Antigonus. Antigonus was now the most powerful of the Diadochi, and
the others would soon ally against him. The allies sent a proposition
to Antigonus in which they demanded that Seleucus be allowed to return
to Babylon. Antigonus refused and went to Syria, where he planned to
attack Ptolemy in the spring of 314 BC. Seleucus was an admiral under
Ptolemy. At the same time he started the siege of
Tyros , Antigonus
Rhodes . The island had a strategic location and its navy
was capable of preventing the allies from combining their forces.
Because of the threat of Rhodes, Ptolemy gave Seleucus a hundred ships
and sent him to the Aegean Sea. The fleet was too small to defeat
Rhodes, but it was big enough to force
Asander , the satrap of
to ally with Ptolemy. To demonstrate his power, Seleucus also invaded
the city of
Erythrai . Ptolemy, nephew of Antigonus, attacked Asander.
Seleucus returned to Cyprus, where
Ptolemy I had sent his brother
Menelaos along with 10,000 mercenaries and 100 ships. Seleucus and
Menelaos began to besiege Kition. Antigonus sent most of his fleet to
the Aegean Sea and his army to
Asia Minor. Ptolemy now had an
opportunity to invade Syria, where he defeated Demetrius , the son of
Antigonus, in the battle of Gaza in 312 BC. It is probable that
Seleucus took part in the battle.
Peithon, son of Agenor , whom
Antigonus had nominated as the new satrap of Babylon, fell in the
battle. The death of
Peithon gave Seleucus an opportunity to return to
Seleucus had prepared his return to
Babylon well. After the battle of
Gaza Demetrius retreated to Tripoli while Ptolemy advanced all the way
Sidon . Ptolemy gave Seleucus 800 infantry and 200 cavalry. He also
had his friends accompanying him, perhaps the same 50 who escaped with
him from Babylon. On the way to
Babylon Seleucus recruited more
soldiers from the colonies along the route. He finally had about 3,000
soldiers. In Babylon, Peithon's commander, Diphilus, barricaded
himself in the city's fortress. Seleucus conquered
Babylon with great
speed and the fortress was also quickly captured. Seleucus' friends
who had stayed in
Babylon were released from captivity. His return to
Babylon was afterwards officially regarded as the beginning of the
Seleucid Empire and that year as the first of the
Seleucid era .
SELEUCUS THE VICTOR
CONQUEST OF THE EASTERN PROVINCES
The kingdoms of Antigonus ,
Seleucus I ,
Ptolemy I , Cassander
Soon after Seleucus' return, the supporters of Antigonus tried to get
Babylon back. Nicanor was the new satrap of Media and the strategos of
the eastern provinces. His army had about 17,000 soldiers. Evagoras,
the satrap of
Aria , was allied with him. It was obvious that
Seleucus' small force could not defeat the two in battle. Seleucus hid
his armies in the marshes that surrounded the area where Nicanor was
planning to cross the
Tigris and made a surprise attack during the
night. Evagoras fell in the beginning of the battle and Nicanor was
cut off from his forces. The news about the death of Evagoras spread
among the soldiers, who started to surrender en masse. Almost all of
them agreed to fight under Seleucus. Nicanor managed to escape with
only a few men.
Even though Seleucus now had about 20,000 soldiers, they were not
enough to withstand the forces of Antigonus. He also did not know when
Antigonus would begin his counterattack. On the other hand, he knew
that at least two eastern provinces did not have a satrap. A great
majority of his own troops were from these provinces. Some of
Evagoras' troops were Persian. Perhaps a portion of the troops were
Eumenes' soldiers, who had a reason to hate Antigonus. Seleucus
decided to take advantage of this situation.
Seleucus spread different stories among the provinces and the
soldiers. According to one of them, he had in a dream seen Alexander
standing beside him.
Eumenes had tried to use a similar propaganda
trick. Antigonus, who had been in
Asia Minor while Seleucus had been
in the east with Alexander, could not use Alexander in his own
propaganda. Seleucus, being Macedonian, had the ability to gain the
trust of the Macedonians among his troops, which was not the case with
After becoming once again satrap of Babylon, Seleucus became much
more aggressive in his politics. In a short time he conquered Media
Diodorus Siculus reports that Seleucus also conquered
other nearby areas, which might refer to
Seleucus did not reach
Sogdiana . The satrap of the former
Stasanor , who had managed to remain neutral during the conflicts.
After the defeat of Nikanor's army, there was no force in the east
that could have opposed Seleucus. It is uncertain how Seleucus
arranged the administration of the provinces he had conquered. Most
satraps had died. In theory,
Polyperchon was still the lawful
Antipater and the official regent of the Macedonian
kingdom. It was his duty to select the satraps. However, Polyperchon
was still allied with Antigonus and thus an enemy of Seleucus.
Seleucus I coin depicting
Alexander the Great
Alexander the Great 's horse
Antigonus sent his son Demetrius along with 15,000 infantry and 4,000
cavalry to reconquer Babylon. Apparently, he gave Demetrius a time
limit, after which he had to return to Syria. Antigonus believed
Seleucus was still ruling only Babylon. Perhaps Nicanor had not told
him that Selucus now had at least 20,000 soldiers. It seems that the
scale of Nicanor's defeat was not clear to all parties. Antigonus did
not know Seleucus had conquered the majority of the eastern provinces
and perhaps cared little about the eastern parts of the empire.
When Demetrius arrived in Babylon, Seleucus was somewhere in the
east. He had left Patrocles to defend the city.
Babylon was defended
in an unusual way. It had two strong fortresses, in which Seleucus had
left his garrisons. The inhabitants of the city were transferred out
and settled in the neighboring areas, some as far as Susa. The
Babylon were excellent for defense, with cities,
swamps, canals and rivers. Demetrius' troops started to besiege the
Babylon and managed to conquer one of them. The second
fortress proved more difficult for Demetrius. He left his friend
Archelaus to continue the siege, and himself returned west leaving
5,000 infantry and 1,000 cavalry in Babylon. Ancient sources do not
mention what happened to these troops. Perhaps Seleucus had to
Babylon from Archelaus.
Babylonian War Coin of
Lysimachus with an image
of a horned
Alexander the Great
Alexander the Great
Over the course of nine years (311–302 BC), while Antigonus was
occupied in the west, Seleucus brought the whole eastern part of
Alexander's empire as far as the
Indus Rivers under his
In 311 BC Antigonus made peace with Cassander,
Ptolemy, which gave him an opportunity to deal with Seleucus.
Antigonus' army had at least 80,000 soldiers. Even if he left half of
his troops in the west, he would still have a numerical advantage over
Seleucus. Seleucus may have received help from Cossaians, whose
ancestors were the ancient
Kassites . Antigonus had devastated their
lands while fighting Eumenes. Seleucus perhaps recruited a portion of
Archelaus' troops. When Antigonus finally invaded Babylon, Seleucus'
army was much bigger than before. Many of his soldiers certainly hated
Antigonus. The population of
Babylon was also hostile. Seleucus, thus,
did not need to garrison the area to keep the locals from revolting.
Little information is available about the conflict between Antigonus
and Seleucus; only a very rudimentary Babylonian chronicle detailing
the events of the war remains. The description of the year 310 BC has
completely disappeared. It seems that Antigonus managed to conquer
Babylon. His plans were disturbed, however, by Ptolemy, who made a
surprise attack in Cilicia.
We do know that Seleucus managed to defeat Antigonus in at least one
decisive battle. This battle is only mentioned in Stratagems in War by
Polyaenus reports that the troops of Seleucus and
Antigonus fought for a whole day, but when night came the battle was
still undecided. The two forces agreed to rest for the night and
continue in the morning. Antigonus' troops slept without their
equipment. Seleucus ordered his forces to sleep and eat breakfast in
battle formation. Shortly before dawn, Seleucus' troops attacked the
forces of Antigonus, who were still without their weapons and in
disarray and thus easily defeated. The historical accuracy of the
story is questionable.
The Babylonian war finally ended in Seleucus' victory. Antigonus was
forced to retreat west. Both sides fortified their borders. Antigonus
built a series of fortresses along the
Balikh River while Seleucus
built a few cities, including
The next event connected to Seleucus was the founding of the city of
Seleucia . The city was built on the shore of the
Tigris probably in
307 or 305 BC. Seleucus made
Seleucia his new capital, thus imitating
Cassander and Antigonus, all of whom had named cities
after themselves. Seleucus also transferred the mint of
Babylon to his
Babylon was soon left in the shadow of Seleucia, and the
story goes that Antiochus , the son of Seleucus, moved the whole
Babylon to his father's namesake capital in 275 BC. The
city flourished until AD 165, when the Romans destroyed it.
A story of the founding of the city goes as follows: Seleucus asked
the Babylonian priests which day would be best to found the city. The
priest calculated the day, but, wanting the founding to fail, told
Seleucus a different date. The plot failed however, because when the
correct day came, Seleucus' soldiers spontaneously started to build
the city. When questioned, the priests admitted their deed.
SELEUCUS THE KING
The struggle among the
Diadochi reached its climax when Antigonus,
after the extinction of the old royal line of Macedonia, proclaimed
himself king in 306 BC. Ptolemy, Lysimachus,
Cassander and Seleucus
soon followed. Also, Agathocles of Sicily declared himself king around
the same time. Seleucus, like the other four principal Macedonian
chiefs, assumed the title and style of basileus (king).
CHANDRAGUPTA AND THE EASTERN PROVINCES
Seleucus soon turned his attention once again eastward. In the year
Seleucus I Nicator went to
India and apparently occupied
territory as far as the Indus, and eventually waged war with the
Chandragupta Maurya : Seleukos I Nikator. 312-281
BC. AR Stater (22mm, 16.88 g, 12h).
Susa mint. Struck circa 288/7 BC.
Zeus right, wearing laurel wreath / Elephant advancing right;
above, spearhead right; K below.
Always lying in wait for the neighboring nations, strong in arms and
persuasive in council, he acquired Mesopotamia, Armenia, 'Seleucid'
Cappadocia, Persis, Parthia, Bactria, Arabia, Tapouria, Sogdia,
Arachosia, Hyrcania, and other adjacent peoples that had been subdued
by Alexander, as far as the river Indus, so that the boundaries of his
empire were the most extensive in
Asia after that of Alexander. The
whole region from
Phrygia to the
Indus was subject to Seleucus. He
Indus and waged war with
Sandrocottus , king of the
Indians, who dwelt on the banks of that stream, until they came to an
understanding with each other and contracted a marriage relationship.
Appian , History of Rome, The
Syrian Wars 55
Only a few sources mention his activities in India. Chandragupta
(known in Greek sources as Sandrokottos), founder of the Mauryan
empire , had conquered the
Indus valley and several other parts of the
easternmost regions of Alexander's empire. Seleucus began a campaign
Chandragupta and crossed the
Indus . Seleucus' Indian
campaign was, however, a failure. It is unknown what exactly happened.
Chandragupta defeated Seleucus in battle. No sources mention
this, however. But as most western historians note, Seleucus appears
to have fared poorly as he did not achieve his aims. The two leaders
ultimately reached an agreement, and through a treaty sealed in 305
BC, Seleucus ceded a considerable amount of territory to Chandragupta
in exchange for 500 war elephants, which were to play a key role in
the forthcoming battles, particularly at Ipsus. The victorious Maurya
king probably married the daughter of his Greek rival. According to
Strabo, the ceded territories bordered the Indus:
The geographical position of the tribes is as follows: along the
Indus are the Paropamisadae, above whom lies the Paropamisus mountain:
then, towards the south, the Arachoti: then next, towards the south,
the Gedroseni, with the other tribes that occupy the seaboard; and the
Indus lies, latitudinally, alongside all these places; and of these
places, in part, some that lie along the
Indus are held by Indians,
although they formerly belonged to the Persians. Alexander took these
away from the Arians and established settlements of his own, but
Seleucus Nicator gave them to
Sandrocottus , upon terms of
intermarriage and of receiving in exchange five hundred elephants. —
From this, it seems that Seleucus surrendered the easternmost
Paropamisadae and perhaps also
Aria . On the other hand, he was accepted by other satraps of the
eastern provinces. His Persian wife, Apama, may have helped him
implement his rule in
Sogdiana . Mainstream scholarship
Chandragupta received vast territory west of the Indus,
Hindu Kush , modern-day
Afghanistan , and the
Balochistan , presently in
Pakistan . This would tend to be
corroborated archaeologically, as concrete indications of Mauryan
influence, such as the inscriptions of the
Edicts of Ashoka
Edicts of Ashoka which are
known to be located in, for example,
Kandhahar in today's southern
Afghanistan. However, Ashoka's Edicts were inscribed two generations
after any territorial handover by Seleucus and, for this reason, it is
equally possible that the land in which these Edicts are to be found
was incorporated into the
Mauryan empire by Bindusara, Chandragupta's
son and successor, or Ashoka himself. According to
Megasthenes lived in
Arachosia and travelled to
ambassador of Seleucus to the Indian ruler
Chandragupta Maurya .
Some authors claim that the argument relating to Seleucus handing
over more of what is now southern
Afghanistan is an exaggeration
originating in a statement by
Pliny the Elder
Pliny the Elder referring not
specifically to the lands received by Chandragupta, but rather to the
various opinions of geographers regarding the definition of the word
Most geographers, in fact, do not look upon
India as bounded by the
river Indus, but add to it the four satrapies of the Gedrose , the
Arachotë , the
Aria , and the
Paropamisadë , the River Cophes thus
forming the extreme boundary of India. According to other writers,
however, all these territories, are reckoned as belonging to the
country of the Aria. — Pliny, Natural History VI, 23
Also the passage of
Arrian explaining that
Megasthenes lived in
Arachosia with the satrap
Sibyrtius , from where he traveled to India
Chandragupta Maurya , goes against the notion that Arachosia
Megasthenes lived with Sibyrtius, satrap of Arachosia, and speaks of
his often visiting
Sandracottus , the king of the Indians. — Arrian
Anabasis Alexandri v,6
Nevertheless, it is usually considered today that
Arachosia and the
other three regions did become dominions of the Mauryan Empire.
The alliance between
Chandragupta and Seleucus was affirmed with a
Chandragupta or his son married a daughter of
Seleucus, Cornelia, or perhaps there was diplomatic recognition of
intermarriage between Indians and Greeks.An Indian
Puranic source, the
Pratisarga Parva of the
Bhavishya Purana , also described the marriage
Chandragupta with a Greek ("
Yavana ") princess, daughter of
Seleucus (Suluva in Indian sources).
In addition to this matrimonial recognition or alliance, Seleucus
dispatched an ambassador,
Megasthenes , to the Mauryan court at
Bihar state ). Only short extracts
remain of Megasthenes' description of the journey.
The two rulers seem to have been on very good terms, as classical
sources have recorded that following their treaty,
various presents such as aphrodisiacs to Seleucus.
Seleucus obtained knowledge of most of northern India, as explained
Pliny the Elder
Pliny the Elder through his numerous embassies to the Mauryan
Empire: The Hellenistic world view after Seleucus: ancient world
Eratosthenes (276–194 BC), incorporating information from the
campaigns of Alexander and his successors
The other parts of the country were discovered and surveyed by
Seleucus Nicator: namely
* from thence (the
Hydaspes ) to the Hesudrus 168 miles
* to the river Ioames (
Yamuna ) as much: and some copies add 5 miles
* from thence to
Ganges 112 miles
* to Rhodapha 119, and some say, that between them two it is no less
than 325 miles.
* From it to
Calinipaxa , a great town 167 miles-and-a-half, others
* And to the confluent of the rivers
Iomanes and Ganges, where both
meet together, 225 miles, and many put thereto 13 miles more
* from thence to the town Palibotta 425 miles
* and so to the mouth of the
Ganges where he falleth into the sea
638 miles. — Pliny the Elder, Natural history, Book 6, Chap 21
Seleucus apparently minted coins during his stay in India, as several
coins in his name are in the Indian standard and have been excavated
in India. These coins describe him as "Basileus" ("King"), which
implies a date later than 306 BC. Some of them also mention Seleucus
in association with his son Antiochus as king, which would also imply
a date as late as 293 BC. No Seleucid coins were struck in India
thereafter and confirm the reversal of territory west of the
Seleucus may have founded a navy in the
Persian Gulf and in the
BATTLE OF IPSUS
Diadochi § Fourth War of the Diadochi, 308-301 BC
Tetradrachm of Seleucus from Seleucia. Obverse: the head of
Athena with elephants
The war elephants Seleucus received from
Chandragupta proved to be
useful when the
Diadochi finally decided to deal with Antigonus.
Cassander, Seleucus and
Lysimachus defeated Antigonus and Demetrius in
the battle of Ipsus . Antigonus fell in battle, but Demetrius managed
to escape. After the battle,
Syria was placed under Seleucus' rule. He
Syria to encompass the region from the
Taurus mountains to
Sinai , but Ptolemy had already conquered Palestine and
Phoenicia . In
299 BC, Seleucus allied with Demetrius and married his daughter
Stratonice . Stratonice was also the daughter of Antipater's daughter
Phila . Seleucus had a daughter by Stratonice, who was also called
The fleet of Demetrius managed to destroy Ptolemy's fleet and thus
Seleucus did not need to fight him.
Seleucus, however, did not manage to enlarge his kingdom to the west.
The main reason was that he did not have enough Greek and Macedonian
troops. During the battle of Ipsus, he had less infantry than
Lysimachus. His strength was in his war elephants and in traditional
Persian cavalry. In order to enlarge his army, Seleucus tried to
attract colonists from mainland
Greece by founding four new
Seleucia Pieria and Laodicea in
Syria on the coast and
Antioch on the Orontes and Apameia in the
Orontes River valley.
Antioch became his chief seat of government. The new
supposed to become his new naval base and a gateway to the
Mediterranean. Seleucus also founded six smaller cities.
It is said of Seleucus that "few princes have ever lived with so
great a passion for the building of cities. He is reputed to have
built in all nine Seleucias, sixteen Antiochs, and six Laodiceas".
DEFEAT OF DEMETRIUS AND LYSIMACHUS
Coin of Demetrius, with the text ΒΑΣΙΛΕΩΣ
ΔΗΜΗΤΡΙΟΥ (King Demetrius)
Seleucus nominated his son
Antiochus I as his co-ruler and viceroy of
the eastern provinces in 292 BC, the vast extent of the empire seeming
to require a double government. In 294 BC Stratonice married her
stepson Antiochus . Seleucus reportedly instigated the marriage after
discovering that his son was in danger of dying of lovesickness.
Seleucus was thus able to get Stratonice out of the way, as her father
Demetrius had now become king of Macedonia.
The alliance between Seleucus and Demetrius ended in 294 BC when
Cilicia . Demetrius invaded and easily conquered
Cilicia in 286 BC, which meant that Demetrius was now threatening the
most important regions of Seleucus' empire in Syria. Demetrius'
troops, however, were tired and had not received their payment.
Seleucus, on the other hand, was known as a cunning and rich leader
who had earned the adoration of his soldiers. Seleucus blocked the
roads leading south from
Cilicia and urged Demetrius' troops to join
his side. Simultaneously he tried to evade battle with Demetrius.
Finally, Seleucus addressed Demetrius personally. He showed himself in
front of the soldiers and removed his helmet, revealing his identity.
Demetrius' troops now started to abandon their leader en masse.
Demetrius was finally imprisoned in Apameia and died a few years later
Lysimachus and Ptolemy had supported Seleucus against Demetrius, but
after the latter's defeat the alliance started to break apart.
Lysimachus ruled Macedonia,
Asia Minor . He also had
problems with his family.
Lysimachus executed his son Agathocles ,
Lysandra escaped to
Babylon to Seleucus.
The unpopularity of
Lysimachus after the murder of Agathocles gave
Seleucus an opportunity to remove his last rival. His intervention in
the west was solicited by
Ptolemy Keraunos , who, on the accession to
the Egyptian throne of his brother Ptolemy II (285 BC), had at first
taken refuge with
Lysimachus and then with Seleucus. Seleucus then
Asia Minor and defeated his rival in the Battle of Corupedium
Lydia , 281 BC.
Lysimachus fell in battle. In addition, Ptolemy had
died a few years earlier. Seleucus was thus now the only living
contemporary of Alexander.
ADMINISTRATION OF ASIA MINOR
Silver coin of Seleucus. Greek inscription reads
ΒΑΣΙΛΕΩΣ ΣΕΛΕΥΚΟΥ (King Seleucus).
Before his death, Seleucus tried to deal with the administration of
Asia Minor. The region was ethnically diverse, consisting of Greek
cities, a Persian aristocracy and indigenous peoples. Seleucus perhaps
tried to defeat
Cappadocia , but failed. Lysimachus' old officer
Pergamon independently. On the other hand, based on
their names, Seleucus apparently founded a number of new cities in
Few of the letters Seleucus sent to different cities and temples
still exist. All cities in
Asia Minor sent embassies to their new
ruler. It is reported that Seleucus complained about the number of
letters he received and was forced to read. He was apparently a
popular ruler. In
Lemnos he was celebrated as a liberator and a temple
was built to honour him. According to a local custom, Seleucus was
always offered an extra cup of wine during dinner time. His title
during this period was Seleucus Soter ("savior"). When Seleucus left
for Europe, the organizational rearrangement of
Asia Minor had not
DEATH AND LEGACY
Seleucus now held the whole of Alexander's conquests except
moved to take possession of Macedonia and Thrace. He intended to leave
Asia to Antiochus and content himself for the remainder of his days
with the Macedonian kingdom in its old limits. He had, however, hardly
crossed into the
Thracian Chersonese when he was assassinated by
Ptolemy Keraunos near Lysimachia in September (281 BC).
It seems certain that after taking Macedonia and Thracia, Seleucus
would have tried to conquer Greece. He had already prepared this
campaign using the numerous gifts presented to him. He was also
nominated an honorary citizen of
Antiochus founded the cult of his father. A cult of personality
formed around the later members of the
Seleucid dynasty and Seleucus
was later worshipped as a son of god. One inscription found in Ilion
Troy ) advises priests to sacrifice to
Apollo , the ancestor of
Antiochus' family. Several anecdotes of Seleucus' life became popular
in the classical world.
* Chronology of European exploration of
* ^ Seleucus was given the epithet "Nicator" by later generations
which translates into English as "Victor".
Ancient Greek :
Σέλευκος Νικάτωρ Séleukos Nikátōr, "Seleucus the
* ^ The
Diadochi were rival generals, family and friends of
Alexander fighting for control of his empire. The word is the plural
form of the
Latin word Diadochus, which comes from the Greek word
Διάδοχοι, diadokhoi, which translates into English as
Basileus is usually translated into English as "king".
* ^ Antigonus was a general under Alexander and one of the most
powerful of the Diadochi.
Lysimachus was one of Alexander's somatophylakes and one of the
* ^ Boiy "The Reigns of the Seleucid Kings According the Babylonian
King List." Journal of Near Eastern Studies 70(1) (2011): 1-12.
* ^ A B C Grainger 1990, p. 2
* ^ Grainger 1990, pp. 4–5
* ^ Grainger 1990, p. 1
* ^ Grainger 1990, p. 3
Arrian Anabasis 5.13.1
* ^ Grainger 1990, pp. 9–10
* ^ Grainger 1990, p. 12
* ^ A B Heckel p. 256
* ^ Grainger 1990, pp. 20–24
* ^ A B Grainger 1990, pp. 21–29
* ^ Bosworth p. 211
* ^ Grainger 1990, pp. 30–32
* ^ Grainger 1990, pp. 33–37
* ^ Grainger 1990, pp. 39–42
* ^ Grainger 1990, p. 43
* ^ Grainger 1990, p. 44–45
* ^ Boyi p. 121
* ^ Grainger 1990, pp. 49–51, Boiy p. 122
* ^ Grainger 1990, pp. 53–55
* ^ Jona Lendering. "Alexander\'s successors: The Third Diadoch
War". Livius.org. Retrieved 2012-11-07.
* ^ Grainger 1990, pp. 56–72
* ^ Grainger 1990, pp. 74–75
* ^ A B Grainger 1990, p. 79; Boyi p. 126
* ^ Grainger 1990, p. 80
* ^ Grainger 1990, p. 81
* ^ Grainger 1990, pp. 82–83
* ^ Grainger 1990, p. 83; Boiy p. 127
* ^ Grainger 1990, p. 86
* ^ A B Grainger 1990, pp. 89-91
* ^ A B C D Grainger 1997, p. 54
* ^ Polyaenus. "The Babylonian war". Livius.org. Retrieved
* ^ Boiy p. 45
* ^ Grainger 1990, s.101
* ^ Bosworth p. 246
* ^ Appian, History of Rome, The
Syrian Wars 55
* ^ Kosmin 2014 , p. 34.
* ^ A B John Keay (2001). India: A History. Grove Press. pp.
85–86. ISBN 978-0-8021-3797-5 .
* ^ Kosmin 2014 , p. 37.
* ^ Majumdar 2003 , p. 105.
Strabo , Geography, xv.2.9
* ^ Vincent A. Smith (1998). Ashoka. Asian Educational Services.
ISBN 81-206-1303-1 .
Walter Eugene Clark (1919). "The Importance of Hellenism from
the Point of View of Indic-Philology", Classical Philology 14 (4), p.
* ^ Debated by Tarn, "The Greeks in
Bactria and India", p. 100
* ^ Pliny, Natural History VI, 23
* ^ Hindu Nationalism, A Reader, by Christopher Jeffrelot,
Princeton University Press, 2007 p.90
* ^ Foreign Influence on Ancient India, Krishna Chandra Sagar,
Northern Book Centre, 1992, p.83. The paragraph of the Pratisarga
Parva mentioning this marriage is: "
Chandragupta married with a
daughter of Suluva, the
Yavana king of Pausasa . Thus, he mixed the
Buddhists and the Yavanas. He ruled for 60 years. From him, Vindusara
was born and ruled for the same number of years as his father. His son
was Ashoka."Pratisarga Parva p.18. Original Sanskrit of the first two
Chandragupta Sutah Paursadhipateh Sutam. Suluvasya
Tathodwahya Yavani Baudhtatapar".
* ^ Mookerji 1988 , p. 38.
* ^ Kosmin 2014 , p. 35.
* ^ "And Theophrastus says that some contrivances are of wondrous
efficacy in such matters . And Phylarchus confirms him, by reference
to some of the presents which Sandrakottus, the king of the Indians,
sent to Seleucus; which were to act like charms in producing a
wonderful degree of affection, while some, on the contrary, were to
Athenaeus of Naucratis
Athenaeus of Naucratis , The Deipnosophists, i.32
* ^ Source
* ^ Pliny, Natural History, Book 6, Chap 17 also Pliny the Elder,
Natural history, Book 6, Chap 21
* ^ Coinage of Seleucus and Antiochus in India
John Malalas , viii.198
* ^ A B C D E F G Grainger 1997, p. 55–56
* ^ This article incorporates text from a publication now in the
public domain : Easton, Matthew George (1897). "article name needed".
Easton\'s Bible Dictionary (New and revised ed.). T. Nelson and Sons.
* ^ http://virtualreligion.net/iho/antiochus_1.html Antiochus I
Soter entry in historical sourcebook by Mahlon H. Smith
* ^ Grainger 1997, p. 57
* ^ Graham Shipley (1999). The Hellenistic World. Routledge. pp.
301–302. ISBN 978-0-415-04618-3 .
REFERENCES AND FURTHER READING
* Kosmin, Paul J. (2014), The Land of the Elephant Kings: Space,
Territory, and Ideology in Seleucid Empire,
Harvard University Press
Harvard University Press ,
* Mookerji, Radha Kumud (1988) ,
Chandragupta Maurya and his times
Motilal Banarsidass , ISBN 81-208-0433-3
* Waterfield, Robin (2011), Dividing the Spoils - The War for
Alexander the Great’s Empire (hardback), New York: Oxford University
Press, pp. 273 pages., ISBN 978-0-19-957392-9
* A. B. Bosworth (2005), The Legacy of Alexander, Oxford University
Press, ISBN 978-0-19-928515-0
* John D. Grainger (1997), A Seleukid Prosopography and Gazetteer,
BRILL, ISBN 978-90-04-10799-1
* Grainger, John D. "An Empire Builder—Seleukos Nikator", History
Today, Vol. 43, No. 5. (1993), pp. 25–30.
* Grainger, John D. Seleukos Nikator: Constructing a Hellenistic
Kingdom. New York: Routledge, 1990 (hardcover, ISBN 0-415-04701-3 ).
* John D. Grainger (1990), Seleukos Nikator: Constructing a
Hellenistic Kingdom, Routledge, ISBN 978-0-415-04701-2
* Majumdar, Ramesh Chandra (2003) , Ancient India, Motilal
Banarsidass , ISBN 81-208-0436-8
* T. Boiy, Late Achaemenid and Hellenistic Babylon, Peeters
Publishers, ISBN 978-90-429-1449-0
* This article incorporates text from a publication now in the
public domain : Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Seleucid Dynasty".
Encyclopædia Britannica . 24 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to SELEUCUS I .
Seleucus I Nicator entry in historical sourcebook by Mahlon H.