Philip I Philadelphus

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Philip I Philadelphus
Philippus Philadelphus infobox.jpg
King of Syria (Seleucid Empire)
Reign 94–83/75 BC
Predecessor Seleucus VI, Demetrius III, Antiochus X
Successor Antiochus XIII, Cleopatra Selene
Born Unknown
Died after 83 BC
Issue Philip II
Dynasty Seleucid
Father Antiochus VIII
Mother Tryphaena

Philip I Epiphanes Philadelphus (Greek: Φίλιππος Ἐπιφανής Φιλάδελφος; unknown – 83 or 75 BC) was one of the last Seleucid monarchs of Syria. He was the son of Antiochus VIII and his wife Tryphaena. Following the murder of his brother Seleucus VI in 94 BC, Philip became king along with his twin brother Antiochus XI, and set off to avenge Seleucus; in 93 BC, the twins took Antioch, the capital of Syria, from their cousin Antiochus X. Antiochus XI became the senior king, while Philip retreated to a base in northern Syria. Antiochus X returned and killed Antiochus XI the same year, after which Philip allied himself with his younger brother Demetrius III, the latter of whom was based in Damascus. Antiochus X was likely killed in 89 BC. Demetrius took the capital and subsequently turned on Philip, besieging him in Beroea. However, Philip emerged victorious and took Antioch; Damascus was taken by another brother of his, Antiochus XII.

Philip tried, but failed, to take Damascus for himself, he disappeared from historical records, and there is no information as to when or how he died. Traditionally, the end of his rule is considered to be 83 BC. Tigranes II of Armenia conquered Syria that year by request of the people of Antioch, who refused to accept Philip's minor son as his successor. This is debatable, however, as the conquest might have happened in 74 BC. Several clues from ancient contemporary literature indicate that his rule might have ended in 75 BC. Afterwards, the throne was claimed by the widow of Antiochus X, Cleopatra Selene, and her son Antiochus XIII.

Philip initiated monetary reforms, and his coins remained in circulation until the Romans conquered Syria in 64 BC, the Roman authorities in Syria issued coins modeled on Philip's coins, including his portrait, until 13 BC.

Background, name and early life[edit]

The Seleucid dynasty ruling Syria in the second century BC was plagued by dynastic feuds,[1] along with Egyptian and Roman interference.[2] Dynastic marriage was used to maintain a degree of peace between Egypt and Syria;[3] princess Cleopatra Thea of Egypt became consort to three successive Syrian kings starting in 150 BC.[4] As time passed, Syria disintegrated due to constant civil wars;[5] various Seleucid kings and their heirs fought for power, tearing the country apart. This situation lasted until around 123 BC, when Antiochus VIII was able to provide a degree of stability that lasted for a decade ending in 113 BC when his brother Antiochus IX declared himself king.[6]

The name Philip (Greek Phílippos) means "lover of horses".[7] Seleucid kings were mostly named Seleucus and Antiochus; "Philip" was used by the Antigonid dynasty as a royal name and its use by the Seleucids, who had Antigonid descent, probably signified that they were heirs to the latter.[8] By his Egyptian wife Tryphaena, Antiochus VIII fathered five sons:[9] Seleucus VI, who was the eldest,[10] Antiochus XI and Philip, who were apparently twins,[note 1][12] their younger brother Demetrius III,[13] and the youngest Antiochus XII.[14] The war with Antiochus IX claimed the life of Tryphaena;[15] Antiochus VIII remarried and took his late wife's sister, Cleopatra Selene, as his new consort, before he was himself killed in 96 BC.[16] Antiochus IX then marched and took the capital of Syria, Antioch, and also married his brother's widow, Cleopatra Selene;[16] in the face of their uncle, Demetrius III took Damascus and ruled it,[10] while Seleucus VI was able to kill Antiochus IX in 95 BC and take Antioch;[17] he was later defeated by Antiochus X, the son of Antiochus IX who married his stepmother, Cleopatra Selene.[18] Seleucus VI escaped to Mopsuestia where he was killed by rebels in 94 BC.[19]


In 94 BC, shortly after Seleucus' death, Philip and Antiochus XI minted jugate coins bearing their portraits together on the obverse;[12] Antiochus was portrayed in front of his brother, indicating that he was the senior king.[note 2][20] Drawing their legitimacy from Antiochus VIII, the brothers were depicted on the coinage with exaggerated hawked noses in the likeness of their father,[21] the brothers set off to avenge Seleucus VI;[note 3][12] according to Eusebius, they sacked Mopsuestia and destroyed it.[note 4][11] At the beginning of 93 BC, the brothers advanced on Antioch and drove Antiochus X out of the city.[12] Philip did not reside in the Syrian metropolis and remained at a base in northern Syria leaving Antiochus XI as the master of the capital.[note 5][24] By autumn 93 BC, Antiochus X regrouped and defeated Antiochus XI who drowned in the Orontes.[12] Josephus only mentioned Antiochus XI in the battle while Eusebius mentioned that Philip was also there. Alfred Raymond Bellinger is of the view that Philip's troops participated but he stayed behind at his base since only Antiochus XI was killed.[20] Following the defeat, Philip is thought to have retreated to his own capital,[25] which was most probably the same base he and his brother operated from when they first prepared to avenge Seleucus VI.[26] Bellinger suggested that the base was a coastal city north of Antioch,[25] while Arthur Houghton believed it was Beroea.[27]

Divided Syria c. 92 BC

Demetrius III might have marched north to support Antiochus XI in the battle of 93 BC,[28] and he supported Philip in the struggle against Antiochus X,[13][29] who disappeared from records after 92 BC,[note 6][29] but could have remained in power until 89/88 BC.[note 7][31] Following the demise of Antiochus X,[note 8] Demetrius rushed to the capital and occupied it,[33] leading Philip to break his alliance with his brother,[13] with most of Syria in the hands of Demetrius, Philip retreated to his base.[note 9][13] In 88 BC, Demetrius marched on Beroea where the final battle with Philip took place.[13] To face the siege, the ruler of Beroea and Philip's ally, Straton, called upon Aziz, an Arab phylarch (tribal leader), and Mithridates Sinaces, a Parthian governor, for help, the allies defeated Demetrius who was sent to captivity in Parthia while the captives, who were citizens of Antioch, were released without a ransom; a gesture that must have eased Philip's occupation of Antioch.[35]

O: Diademed head of Philip I Philadelphus R: Zeus holding scepter and Nike with wreath;


Silver tetradrachm struck in Antioch

Shortly after the battle in late 88 BC or early 87 BC, Philip entered the Syrian capital.[note 10][13] Philip needed to fill the empty treasury in order to rebuild the destroyed country after years of civil war; also, he needed money to prepare for the day a rival king might challenge him for the throne.[37] Those factors, combined with the very low estimates of annual coin dies used by Philip's immediate predecessors in Antioch, Antiochus X (his second reign) and Demetrius III, which are disproportionate when compared to the general dies' estimates of late Seleucid kings, led the numismatist Oliver D. Hoover to propose that Philip recoined his predecessors' coins and skewed their dies,[38] producing currency bearing his image and reduced in weight from the standard 1,600 g (56 oz) to 1,565 g (55.2 oz); this meant a profit of half an obol every time an older coin was re-struck.[39] Philip might have adopted the new Seleucid era which begins dating from the year Antiochus VIII returned from his exile in Aspendos in 111/110 BC.[40]

Philip's position was not secure; in Damascus, Antiochus XII took the place of Demetrius III but there is no evidence that he sought to compete with his brother for Antioch.[37] Cleopatra Selene hid with Antiochus XIII, her son by Antiochus X, somewhere in Syria waiting for an opportunity to regain the throne.[39] According to Josephus, Philip took advantage of Antiochus XII's absence in a campaign against Nabataea to take Damascus for himself,[28] the governor of the city, Milesius, who opened the gates for Philip, was not awarded, leading him to wait until Philip left the city; he then closed the gates, locking the king out, until Antiochus XII returned.[41] In the Seleucid dynasty, currency struck in times of campaigns against a rival or a usurper showed the king bearded;[42] for the first two years of his reign, Antiochus XII was shown beardless, but in 85/84 BC, he appeared bearded, which could have been connected to Philip's attack on Damascus. Since Antiochus did not march north against Philip, the hypothesis concerning a connection between Antiochus' beard and Philip's attempt gets weaker;[43] no coins of Philip were struck in Damascus indicating that the episode of his occupation of the city was brief.[28] Following the attack on Damascus, Philip disappeared from ancient literature,[44] but this silence might be an indication of a peaceful reign perhaps facilitated by the alliance with Parthia; this would be a suitable explanation for the massive amount of silver coinage produced by Philip which was found as far as Dura-Europos which was under Parthian rule.[45]


The king was succeeded by Tigranes II of Armenia; he was invited by the people of Antioch despite Philip having a probably minor heir also named Philip.[46] The year 83 BC is, without any proof, commonly accepted as Philip's year of death by the majority of scholars; they count on the account of Appian, who assigned a reign of fourteen years for Tigranes, which ended in 69 BC.[44] The account of Appian is flawed and contradicts contemporary accounts; Cicero, in 75 BC, stated that Cleopatra Selene sent Antiochus XIII to Rome to appeal for his right to the Egyptian throne, and that he did not have to appeal for his rights to Syria, which he already possessed from his ancestors.[47] The statement of Cicero indicates that, in 75 BC, Tigranes was still not in control of Syria, specially that if he were, then Antiochus XIII would have asked the Roman senate for support given the fact that Tigranes was the son in law of Rome's enemy Mithridates VI of Pontus.[47]

The argument for a later Armenian invasion is corroborated by Josephus, who wrote that the Jews heard about the Armenian invasion and Tigranes' plans to attack Judea only during the reign of the Hasmonean queen Salome Alexandra which started in 76 BC; it would be odd if Tigranes took control of Syria in 83 BC and the Jews finding about it only after 76 BC.[44] Another point of argument is the massive quantity of coinage left by Philip which could not have been produced in if his reign was short and ended in 83 BC;[48] in light of this, Hoover proposed 75 BC or slightly earlier as the last year of Philip; this would be in line with Cicero's statement about Antiochus XIII as Philip can not be alive when Antiochus went to Rome without having to emphasis his rights to Syria.[note 11][50]


Roman coin bearing the image of Philip I

On his coins, Philip used the epithets Philadelphus (sibling-loving) and Epiphanes (the glorious/illustrious).[51] Philip's coins were still in circulation when the Romans annexed Syria in 64 BC.[52] The first Roman coins struck in Syria were copies of Philip's coins, and bore his image with the monograms of the Roman governor.[53] The first issue came in 57 BC under governor Aulus Gabinius,[54] and the last series of Philip's posthumous coins came in 13 BC.[53] An explanation could be that the Romans considered Philip to be the last legitimate Seleucid king; an argument adopted by several scholars, such as Kevin Butcher,[55] but Hoover opted for a simpler answer stating that Philip's coins were the most numerous, and earlier Seleucid coin models were destroyed making it economically logical for the Romans to continue Philip's model.[56] Anomalous coins of Philip, that differ from his standard lifetime models but bear similarities to the later Roman Philip coins, indicate that they might have been minted by the autonomous city of Antioch between 64-58 BC before governor Aulus Gabinius issued his Philipean coins,[57] making it viable for the Romans to continue minting coins that were already being struck.[58]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ The parents of Philip are given as Antiochus VIII and Tryphaena in the work of Eusebius who also mentioned Antiochus XI and Philip as twins (didymi).[11]
  2. ^ According to Josephus, only Antiochus XI became king and Philip succeeded him but the numismatic evidence is against this statement as the earliest coins show both Philip and Antiochus as joint rulers.[20]
  3. ^ The earliest coins show the monarchs bearded and this could be a sign of both mourning and vengeance.[22]
  4. ^ The statement of Eusebius is doubtful; in 86 BC, Rome bestowed inviolability upon the cult of Isis and Sarapis in Mopsuestia, evidenced by a dated inscription found in the city, thus weakening Eusebius' account.[23]
  5. ^ Eusebius does not note Antiochus XI' reign in Antioch and the occupation of the capital by the brothers in 93 BC is known only through the coins Antiochus XI struck in it.[20]
  6. ^ Eusebius' account has Philip defeating Antiochus X and replacing him in the capital in 93/92 BC; Eusebius does not note the reign of Antiochus XI nor mention Demetrius III.[11] The account contradicts archaeological evidence, represented in a market weight belonging to Antiochus X from 92 BC, and contains factual mistakes.[29]
  7. ^ Some years in the article are given according to the Seleucid era. Each Seleucid year started in the late autumn of a Gregorian year; thus, a Seleucid year overlaps two Gregorian ones.[30]
  8. ^ Josephus wrote: Both these brothers did Antiochus vehemently oppose, but presently died; for when he was come as an auxiliary to Laodice, queen of the Gileadites, when she was making war against the Parthians, and he was fighting courageously, he fell, while Demetrius and Philip governed Syria.[32]
  9. ^ Coins of Demetrius were struck in Tarsus, Seleucia Pieria, Antioch and Damascus.[34]
  10. ^ Edgar Rogers believed that Philip ruled Antioch immediately after Antiochus XI,[36] but any suggestions that Philip controlled Antioch before the demise of Antiochus X and Demetrius III can be dismissed as they contradict the numismatic evidence and considering that no source claimed that Demetrius III had to drive Philip out of Antioch.[31]
  11. ^ Cleopatra Selene and her son never controlled Antioch but held possession of parts of Syria.[49]



  1. ^ Marciak 2017, p. 8.
  2. ^ Goodman 2005, p. 37.
  3. ^ Tinsley 2006, p. 179.
  4. ^ Whitehorne 1994, p. 149.
  5. ^ Kelly 2016, p. 82.
  6. ^ Kosmin 2014, p. 23.
  7. ^ Bazarnik 2010, p. 123.
  8. ^ Bevan 2014, p. 56.
  9. ^ Chrubasik 2016, p. XXIV.
  10. ^ a b Houghton & Müseler 1990, p. 61.
  11. ^ a b c Eusebius 1875, p. 261.
  12. ^ a b c d e Houghton 1987, p. 79.
  13. ^ a b c d e f Houghton 1987, p. 81.
  14. ^ Lorber & Iossif 2009, p. 103.
  15. ^ Dumitru 2016, p. 256.
  16. ^ a b Dumitru 2016, p. 260.
  17. ^ Hoover 2007, p. 285.
  18. ^ Dumitru 2016, p. 263.
  19. ^ Houghton 1998, p. 66.
  20. ^ a b c d Bellinger 1949, p. 74.
  21. ^ Wright 2011, p. 46.
  22. ^ Hoover, Houghton & Veselý 2008, p. 207.
  23. ^ Rigsby 1996, p. 466.
  24. ^ Bellinger 1949, pp. 74, 93.
  25. ^ a b Bellinger 1949, p. 93.
  26. ^ Bellinger 1949, p. 92.
  27. ^ Houghton 1987, p. 82.
  28. ^ a b c Hoover, Houghton & Veselý 2008, p. 214.
  29. ^ a b c Hoover 2007, p. 290.
  30. ^ Biers 1992, p. 13.
  31. ^ a b Hoover 2007, p. 294.
  32. ^ Josephus 1833, p. 421.
  33. ^ Hoover 2007, p. 295.
  34. ^ Dąbrowa 2010, p. 177.
  35. ^ Downey 2015, pp. 134, 135.
  36. ^ Rogers 1919, p. 32.
  37. ^ a b Hoover 2011, p. 259.
  38. ^ Hoover 2011, pp. 259, 260.
  39. ^ a b Hoover 2011, p. 260.
  40. ^ Rogers 1919, p. 31.
  41. ^ Josephus 1833, p. 422.
  42. ^ Lorber & Iossif 2009, p. 112.
  43. ^ Lorber & Iossif 2009, p. 104.
  44. ^ a b c Hoover 2007, p. 296.
  45. ^ Bellinger 1949, p. 79.
  46. ^ Bellinger 1949, pp. 79, 80.
  47. ^ a b Hoover 2007, p. 297.
  48. ^ Hoover 2004, p. 31.
  49. ^ Bellinger 1949, p. 81.
  50. ^ Hoover 2007, p. 298.
  51. ^ Gillies 1820, p. 167.
  52. ^ Butcher & Ponting 2014, p. 541.
  53. ^ a b Butcher & Ponting 2014, p. 542.
  54. ^ Crawford 1985, p. 203.
  55. ^ Butcher 2003, p. 215.
  56. ^ Hoover 2011, p. 263.
  57. ^ Hoover 2004, p. 34.
  58. ^ Hoover 2004, p. 35.


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External links[edit]

Philip I Philadelphus
Born: Unknown Died: 83/75 BC
Preceded by
Seleucus VI
Demetrius III
Antiochus X
King of Syria
94–83/75 BC
with Demetrius III (94-87 BC)
Antiochus X (94–92/89 BC)
Antiochus XI (94–93 BC)
Antiochus XII (87–83 BC)
Succeeded by
Antiochus XIII
Cleopatra Selene