Battle of the Arius

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Battle of the Arius
Part of Antiochus's Bactrian Campaign
Date 208 BC
Location Arius River (Modern day Hari River, Afghanistan)
Result Seleucid victory
Seleucid Empire Greco-Bactrian Kingdom
Commanders and leaders
Antiochus III the Great Euthydemus I
10,000 lightly-armed Peltasts 10,000 Cataphracts

The Battle of the Arius was fought in 208 BC between the Seleucids and the Bactrians, the Seleucids were led by Antiochus III the Great, who launched an invasion of Bactria. He was victorious, and went on to besiege the capital of Bactra (modern-day Balkh.) After a siege lasting three years, a peace was agreed in which Euthydemus was recognized as an ally, obtaining one of Antiochus's daughters as a wife.[1]

Arius River [2]


The location of the Battle of Arius happened on the Arius River or the now known Hari River or the Heray Rud River or even the Tejen river in some sources, the river flows through the parts of modern-day Afghanistan and Turkmenistan. It flows through the Hindu Kush Mountains, it even creates the Afghanistan and Iran border at one of its points.[3]

Hellenic Kingdoms involved[edit]

Empire of Seleucid[edit]

The Seleucid Empire is one that originates from great prestige of the Achaemenid Empire. It comes from the division of Alexander the Great Empire after his untimely death, it had two capitals in Antioch and Seleucia. Seleucus ruled until 281 B.C. After his death, they began to lose eastern territories which Antiochus the Great, Seleucus's descendant, reconquers during his reign from 222-187 BC, the Seleucids were not on good terms with the Romans, as Antiochus III waged a war against them with varying success. Eventually, the Seleucid dynasty was ended in 65 BC when Philip II Philoromaeus was dethroned.[4]

Greco-Bactrian Kingdom[edit]

A kingdom that originated from the Persian Empire but would later become under the control of the Greek Empire when Alexander the Great invasion, it was part of Seleucid Empire.They would later gain independence from the Seleucid Empire and remained this way until it was subdued and becamd under the rule of the Kushan Empire, the kingdom of Bactra is known for great coins during its time. The capital of the Greco-Bactrian Kingdom was Bactra which is located in modern-day Balkh Afghanistan, this capital was founded by Alexander The Great. The city thrived for a little time, the place is pretty much now abandoned except for a city located a little bit away which is mostly rural.


Antiochus III[edit]

Antiochus III also known as Antiochus the Great was the son of Seleucus II Callinicus, and the Basileos of the Seleucid Empire during the battle of the Arius. He is the successor of his brother Seleucus III Cerenaus who died in 223 BC, the empire was in very bad condition until he took over as Megas Basileos in 222 B.C. He did his very best to regain the former glory of the empire, but even though he didn’t succeed completely, he didn’t completely fail either. Antiochus did reconquer many former cities and satrapies they had previously lost after the death of his ancestor Seleucus, he was ruler of the Seleucids until he died in 187 B.C.

Euthydemus I of Bactria[edit]

Euthydemus is a ruler Greco-Bactrian Kingdom. He began to rule in about 230 BC after usurping Diodotus II, he also had a son named Demetrius I, a later king and founder of the Indo-Greek Kingdom. Euthydemus is the leader of the battle, he also had an impressive extent of coinage that was displayed well throughout his reign.[5]

The Battle[edit]

The battle of Arius was fought in 208 B.C. The battle was between the Seleucid Empire and the Greco-Bactrian Kingdom, a former satrapy of the Seleucids, the battle took place at the Arius River at day break as the Seleucids had been on a mission to gain back the land they had lost after Seleucus's death. Getting wind of this, Euthydemus was soon on hand leading 10,000 cataphracts, marching three days from Tapuria to meet the Seleucid army that he had learnt of, the Seleucid army was guarding the Arius River, when it became night, they went back to their tents since they didn’t guard the river at night. They crossed the river during the night to meet them at the river at daybreak. What the Greco-Bactrians met was The Seleucid army was made up of 10,000 lightly armed peltasts, the battle then occurred and the Seleucids got the best of the Greco-Bactrians who were forced to retreat to the safety of Bactra.


Although Antiochus the Great won the battle but he didn’t win his war against the Greco-Bactrian Kingdom as he was stopped on during the Siege of Bactra because his kingdom was threatened to the west. Bactra is the capital which is now known as modern day Balkh, Afghanistan, this is where Antiochus gave Euthydemus his respect and they decided to agree on conditions of a peace treaty. To do this Euthydemus sent his son Demetrius I to negotiate, then only 16 years old; in the treaty, Euthydemus wanted to be acknowledged as the royal dynast he believed he was. Antiochus was so impressed by Demetrius's character that he agreed to this and even went as far as to offer his daughter for Demetrius; in exchange Antiochus recognized Euthydemus as ruler of the Greco-Bactrian Kingdom and gave him elephants.


  1. ^ "Polybius, Histories, book 10, Antiochus Engages the Bactrians". 
  2. ^ Adamec, David. "Chaghcharan bridge.jpg". Retrieved November 21, 2016. 
  3. ^ "Hari River or Harirud". Retrieved 2016-12-14. 
  4. ^ Lendering, Jona. "Seleucids". Retrieved November 21, 2016. 
  5. ^ "Euthydemus". ENCYCLOPÆDIA IRANICA. Retrieved November 21, 2016. 


  • Polybius: The Histories 10.49.
  • "Bactria." Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6Th Edition (April 2016): 1. Academic Search Complete, EBSCOhost (accessed November 8, 2016).
  • "Balkh." Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6Th Edition (April 2016): 1. Academic Search Complete, EBSCOhost (accessed November 8, 2016).
  • "Antiochus (III) the Great." Hutchinson's Biography Database (July 2011): 1. History Reference Center, EBSCOhost (accessed November 8, 2016).
  • Holt, Frank Lee. 1999. Thundering Zeus : The Making of Hellenistic Bactria. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1999. eBook Collection (EBSCOhost), EBSCOhost (accessed December 14, 2016).

See also[edit]