Alexander II Zabinas

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Alexander II Zabinas
Monetiere di fi, moneta ellenistica argentea di alessandro II di siria, 124-123 ac..JPG
King of the Seleucid Empire (King of Syria)
Reign 128–123 BC (in opposition to Demetrius II Nicator, Cleopatra Thea, Seleucus V Philometor, and Antiochus VIII Grypus)
Predecessor Antiochus VII Sidetes
Successor Cleopatra Thea and Antiochus VIII Grypus
Born Unknown
Died 122 BC
Father Protarchus (claimed to be adoptive son of Antiochus VII Sidetes)

Alexander II Theos Epiphanes Nikephoros,[1] surnamed Zabinas (Greek: Ἀλέξανδρoς), ruler of the Greek Seleucid kingdom, was a counter-king who emerged in the chaos following the Seleucidian loss of Mesopotamia to the Parthians.


Rise to power[edit]

Zabinas was a false Seleucid who claimed to be an adoptive son of Antiochus VII Sidetes, but in fact seems to have been the son of an Egyptian merchant named Protarchus. Antioch, Apamea, and several other cities, disgusted with the tyranny of Demetrius, acknowledged the authority of Alexander. He was used as a pawn by the Egyptian king Ptolemy VIII Physcon, who introduced Zabinas as a means of getting to the legitimate Seleucid king Demetrius II, who supported Ptolemy's sister Cleopatra II against him in the complicated dynastic feuds of the latter Hellenistic dynasties.[2]

Zabinas managed to defeat Demetrius II, who fled to Tyre and was killed there, and thereafter ruled parts of Syria (128–123 BC), but soon he ran out of Egyptian support and was in turn defeated by Demetrius' son Antiochus VIII Grypus.

Fleeing to Antiochia and death[edit]

Coin of Alexander II Zabinas; Zeus is represented on the reverse, holding in his right hand a small image of victory.

Zabinas fled to the Seleucid capital Antiochia, where he plundered several temples. He is said to have joked about melting down a statuette of the goddess of victory Nike which was held in the hand of a Zeus statue, saying "Zeus has given me Victory". Enraged by his impiety the Antiochenes cast Zabinas out of the city. He soon fell into the hands of robbers, who delivered him up to Antiochus, by whom he was put to death, in 122 BC.

The name "Zabinas" means "the purchased slave", and was applied to him, deprecatingly, in response to a report that he had been bought by Ptolemy as a slave. For reasons unknown, Alexander II was the only late Seleucid not to use epithets on his coins. Several of his coins are extant.[3][4][5]

See also[edit]



  1. ^ Küchler 2009, p. 145.
  2. ^ Schmitz, Leonhard (1867). "Alexander Zabinas". In William Smith. Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology. 1. Boston: Little, Brown and Company. pp. 127–128.
  3. ^ Justin, xxxix. 1, 2
  4. ^ Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews xiii. 9, 10
  5. ^ Clinton, Fasti, iii. p. 334


External links[edit]

Alexander II Zabinas
Born: Unknown Died: 122 BC
Preceded by
Antiochus VII Sidetes
Seleucid King
(King of Syria)

128–123 BC
Succeeded by
Antiochus VIII Grypus
Cleopatra Thea