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, the king of the Greco-Bactrian kingdom, was recognized as an ally, and was given one of Antiochus' daughters as a wife.[1]

Arius River [2]


The location of the Battle of Arius was near the Arius River (now known Hari River), the river flows through the parts of modern-day Afghanistan and Turkmenistan. It flows through the Hindu Kush Mountains, it forms the border between Afghanistan and Iran at one of its points.[3]

Hellenic Kingdoms involved[edit]

Empire of Seleucid[edit]

The Seleucid Empire originated from the division of what was the Achaemenid Empire after his untimely death of Alexander the Great, who had conquered that empire . It had two capitals in Antioch and Seleucia. Seleucus was the initial Seleucid ruler until 281 BC. After his death, the Seleucids began to lose control of their eastern territories until Antiochus the Great, one of Seleucus' descendants, sought to reconquer these territories during his reign from 222 BC to 187 BC, during this period, the Seleucids were not on good terms with the Romans, as Antiochus III waged wars 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 come under the control of the Greek Empire as a result of Alexander the Great's invasion, it was then part of Seleucid Empire after Alexander's death. The kingdom later regained its independence from the Seleucid Empire and remained so until it was subdued and came under the rule of the Kushan Empire, the kingdom of Bactra is known for its coins that were issued by its kings during this time. The capital of the Greco-Bactrian Kingdom was Bactra which is now modern-day Balkh in Afghanistan, this city was founded by Alexander The Great.

The battle[edit]

The battle of Arius was fought in 208 BC and took place near the Arius River at day break, the Seleucids had advanced into the Greco-Bactrian territory as part of a expedition to gain back the land they had lost after Seleucus' death. Getting wind of this, Euthydemus was soon on hand leading 10,000 soldiers, after marching for three days from Tapuria to meet the Seleucid army, the Seleucid army was guarding the Arius River. However, when it became night, they went back to their tents since they didn’t see the need to guard the river at night, the Greco-Bactrian forces crossed the river during the night to meet the Seleucid forces at the river at daybreak. The Seleucid army was made up of 10,000 lightly armed peltasts; in the battle 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 ceased the Siege of Bactra after three years because his kingdom was threatened to the west. So Antiochus and Euthydemus reached agreement on the terms 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 king 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 in marriage to Demetrius. Antiochus recognized Euthydemus as ruler of the Greco-Bactrian Kingdom and gave him a number of 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. 


  • 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]