Antiochus XII Dionysus

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Antiochus XII Dionysus
Antiochus XII & Hadad.jpg
Seleucid coin of Antiochus XII, with a cult statue of Hadad on its reverse.
King of the Seleucid Empire (King of Syria)
Reign 87–84 BC (in opposition to Philip I Philadelphus, Antiochus X Eusebes, and Antiochus XI Epiphanes)
Predecessor Demetrius III
Successor Philip I Philadelphus or Tigranes
Born Unknown
Died 84 BC
Cana, Gadara (near present-day Umm Qais, Jordan)
Dynasty Seleucid
Father Antiochus VIII
Mother Tryphaena
Religion presumably Greek polytheism

Antiochus XII Dionysus (Epiphanes/Philopator/Callinicus), was a ruler of the Greek Seleucid kingdom who reigned 87 BC to 84 BC.

Name and background[edit]

Antiochus is a Greek name, meaning "resolute in contention";[1] it was a dynastice name borne by many Seleucid monarchs.[2][3] Originally, it is the name of Antiochus, the father of the Seleucid dynasty's founder Seleucus I, who named the capital of Syria, Antioch, in deference to his father.[4] Antiochus XII was born between 125 BC, the date of his parents Antiochus VIII and his wife Tryphaena's marriage, and 111 BC, when his mother was killed by his uncle Antiochus IX,[5] who contested the throne of Syria and fought with Antiochus VIII for a decade and a half starting in 113 BC.[6] Cleopatra Selene, the sister of Tryphaena, became the second wife of Antiochus VIII.[7]

Antiochus XII was the fifth and youngest son of Antiochus VIII and Tryphaena;[note 1][9] his brothers were Seleucus VI, Antiochus XI, Philip I and Demetrius III.[5] Following the assassination of his father in 96 BC,[10] Antiochus XII's brothers claimed the throne and fought with Antiochus IX and his son, Antiochus X,[11] who married Cleopatra Selene.[12] By 87 BC, only Demetrius III and Philip I remained; Demetrius III was originally based in Damascus before extending his authority to most of Syria. He was defeated by Philip I and his Parthian allies and sent to Parthia where he died of sickness. Philip I took control of the capital, while Cleopatra Selene, now a widow, took shelter in Ptolemais with her sons by Antiochus X.


He succeeded his brother Demetrius III Eucaerus as separatist ruler of the southern parts of the last remaining Seleucid realms, basically Damascus and its surroundings.

Seleucid kings presented themselves as protectors of Hellenism and they patroned intellectuals and philosophers, but Antiochus XII might have had a different attitude and ordered the expulsion of all philosophers from his realm.[note 2][14][15]

Antiochus initially gained support from Ptolemaic forces and was the last Seleucid ruler of any military reputation, even if it was on a local scale, he made several raids into the territories of the Jewish Hasmonean kings, and tried to check the rise of the Nabataean Arabs. The Battle of Cana against the latter turned out to be initially successful, until the young king was caught in a melee and killed by an Arab soldier. Upon his death, the Syrian army fled and mostly perished in the desert. Soon after, the Nabateans conquered Damascus.[18]

Antiochus' titles - apart from Dionysos - mean respectively (God) Manifest, Father-loving and Beautiful Victor, the last Seleucid kings often used several epithets on their coins. According to John Malalas, Antiochus had two daughters, Cleopatra and Antiochis.[19][note 3][note 4][note 5] His coins were minted in Tel Anafa.[25]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Ancient sources do not mention the name of Antiochus XII's mother but it is generally assumed by modern scholars that she was Tryphaena, who was mentioned explicitly by Porphyry as the mother of Antiochus XII's older twin brothers, Antiochus XI and Philip I.[8]
  2. ^ A letter from a king named Antiochus, regarding the expulsion of all philosophers from the kingdom, is contained in the Deipnosophistae written by the second century rhetorician Athenaeus.[13] The king wanted the philosophers exiled for corrupting young men; the latter are to be hanged and their fathers investigated.[14] There are clues in the document that Antiochus ruled during the late Seleucid period; historian Edwyn Bevan, considering the general Seleucid patronage of philosophers, noted that those instructions are "incredible".[14] According to Bevan, this attitude can be explained by the deteriorating fortunes of the kingdom during the late Seleucids; cities in Syria and Cilicia were asserting their independence, and it would logical for the king to move against philosophers if they showed signs of "republicanism".[14] Another clue is that the king sent his letter to an official named "Phanias", who seems to have been the highest official in the realm, ordering him to expel the philosophers from the polis and chora (city and its territory).[15][13] Bevan did not believe that Antiochus wanted the philosphers expelled from the kingdom, but maybe from one city, perhaps Antioch.[14] But, in the view of historian Jörg-Dieter Gauger, the polis and chora designate the whole kingdom since it would have made little sense if they designated one city and its region; the philosophers could have continued their "evil" business in other cities. If one official, Phanias, whom the letter's language indicates that he alone had a higher command and was not a mere city commander, can execute the king's instructions in the whole county, then the kingdom's area is not substantial, indicating a period when the Seleucids ruled a contracted Syria.[15] Bevan suggested Antiochus XIII (ruled 82-64 BC) while Gauger suggested either Antiochus XII or Antiochus XIII as the king who ordered the philosophers banished.[16][15]
    Franz Altheim considered king Antiochus IV (reigned 175-164 BC) to be the king who sent the letter. The document's authenticity is questioned; Ludwig Radermacher considered the letter a Jewish forgery to discredit their enemy Antiochus IV; Michel Austin, ancient history senior lecturer at the University of St Andrews did not comment on the historical sitting of the letter but doubted its authenticity.[17]
  3. ^ Malalas conflated Antiochus XII with his successor Antiochus XIII claiming that the former was the last Seleucid monarch who surrendered to the Romans in 64 BC. The Greek version of Malalas' work have the name "Antiochus Dionikous" while the older Church Slavonic version has "Antiochus Dionysos".[20]
  4. ^ A historian, named Uranius of Apamea, wrote a work titled Arabica, dating to 300 AD;[21] in this account, king Antigonus I (reigned 306–301 BC) is killed by a king of the Arabs named Rabbel. The name of Antigonus was regularly rectified to Antiochus by different scholars who considered that Uranius is referring to Antiochus XII. However, historian Józef Milik rejected this practice, emphasising that Antuiochus was killed by Obodas I.[22] Antigonus I was actually killed in 301 BC at the Battle of Ipsus;[23] Milik believed that the passage refers to Athenaeus, an official of Antigonus who fought the Nabataeans.[22]
  5. ^ The citadel is called "akra" by Josephus; a word that indicates a garrisoned fortified camp located in the outskirts of a city. Josephus also implied that the citadel was close to the hippodrome of Damascus, whose remains are under the Dahdah cemetery just outside the ancient city.[24]



  1. ^ Ross 1968, p. 47.
  2. ^ Hallo 1996, p. 142.
  3. ^ Taylor 2013, p. 163.
  4. ^ Downey 2015, p. 68.
  5. ^ a b Ogden 1999, p. 153.
  6. ^ Kosmin 2014, p. 23.
  7. ^ Dumitru 2016, p. 258.
  8. ^ Bennett 2002, p. notes 11, 9.
  9. ^ Kosmin 2014, p. 24.
  10. ^ Dumitru 2016, p. 260.
  11. ^ Kosmin 2014, p. 243.
  12. ^ Dumitru 2016, p. 262.
  13. ^ a b Ceccarelli 2011, p. 171.
  14. ^ a b c d e Bevan 1902, p. 277.
  15. ^ a b c d Gauger 2000, p. 190.
  16. ^ Bevan 1902, p. 278.
  17. ^ Ceccarelli 2011, p. 172.
  18. ^ Jane, Taylor (2001). Petra and the Lost Kingdom of the Nabataeans. London, United Kingdom: I.B. Tauris. pp. 30, 31, 38. Retrieved 8 July 2016. 
  19. ^ Malalas 1940, p. 19.
  20. ^ Downey 1951, p. 161.
  21. ^ Retso 2003, p. 491.
  22. ^ a b Bowersock 1971, p. 226.
  23. ^ Green 2008, p. 37.
  24. ^ Dąbrowa 2003, p. 51.
  25. ^ Butcher et al. 2003, p. 51.


External links[edit]

  • Antiochus XII entry in historical sourcebook by Mahlon H. Smith
Antiochus XII Dionysus
Born: Unknown Died: 84 BC
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Philip I Philadelphus
Seleucid King
87–84 BC
with Philip I Philadelphus (95–83 BC)
Succeeded by
Philip I Philadelphus