Antiochus IV Epiphanes

Antiochus IV Epiphanes

:"Another Antiochus IV Epiphanes was king in Commagene under Caligula and Claudius."

Infobox Monarch
name =Antiochus IV Epiphanes
title =King of the Seleucid Empire

caption =Coin of Antiochus IV. Reverse shows Apollo on an omphalos. The inscription "ΑΝΤΙΟΧΟΥ ΘΕΟΥ ΕΠΙΦΑΝΟΥ ΝΙΚΗΦΟΡΟΥ" means ("of Antiochus, God Manifest, Bearer of Victory").
reign =175 BC – 164 BC
predecessor =Seleucus IV Philopator
successor =Antiochus V Eupator
spouse 1 =Laodice IV
issue =Antiochus V Eupator
Laodice VI
Alexander Balas (spurious)
dynasty =Seleucids
father =Antiochus III the Great
mother =Laodice III
date of birth =215 BC|

Antiochus IV Epiphanes ("God Manifest", "the Illustrious"; in Greek polytonic|Ἀντίοχος Ἐπιφανὴς, pronounced|ænˈtɑi̯əkəs ɛˈpɪfəniːz; born ca.215; died 164 BC) ruled the Seleucid Empire from 175 BC until his death in 164 BC. He was a son of King Antiochus III the Great and the brother of Seleucus IV Philopator. His original name was Mithridates; he assumed the name Antiochus after he assumed the throne.

Notable events during the reign of Antiochus IV include his near-conquest of Egypt, which led to a confrontation that became an origin of the metaphorical phrase, "Line in the sand" (see below), and the rebellion of the Jewish Maccabees.

Some contemporaries mockingly referred to Antiochus as "Epimanes" ("The Mad One"), a word play off of his title "Epiphanes". [ Encyclopædia Britannica Online: Antiochus IV Epiphanes] ]

Rise to Power

As the brother of King Seleucus IV, Antiochus became a political hostage of the Roman Republic following the Peace of Apamea in 188 BC, but was later exchanged for his nephew Demetrius I Soter (the son and heir of Seleucus). After King Seleucus was killed, Antiochus seized power and proclaimed himself co-regent for another son of Seleucus, an infant named Antiochus (whom he then murdered a few years later).

Wars against Egypt

When the guardians of King Ptolemy VI of Egypt demanded the return of Coele-Syria in 170 BC, Antiochus launched a preemptive strike against Egypt, conquering all but Alexandria and capturing King Ptolemy. To avoid alarming Rome, Antiochus allowed Ptolemy VI to continue ruling as a Puppet-king. Upon Antiochus' withdrawal, the city of Alexandria chose a new King, one of Ptolemy's brothers, also named Ptolemy (VIII Euergetes). Instead of fighting a civil war, the Ptolemy brothers agreed to rule Egypt jointly.

In 168 BC Antiochus led a second attack on Egypt and also sent a fleet to capture Cyprus. Before reaching Alexandria, his path was blocked by a single, old Roman ambassador named Gaius Popillius Laenas, who delivered a message from the Roman Senate directing Antiochus to withdraw his armies from Egypt and Cyprus, or consider themselves in a state of war with the Roman Republic. Antiochus said he would discuss it with his council, whereupon the Roman envoy drew a line in the sand around him and said, "Before you cross this circle I want you to give me a reply for the Roman Senate" - implying that Rome would declare war if the King stepped out of the circle without committing to leave Egypt immediately. Weighing his options, Antiochus wisely decided to withdraw. Only then did Popillius agree to shake hands with him.

Rebellion of the Maccabees

While Antiochus was busy in Egypt, an official he appointed as High Priest, Menelaus, was forced to flee Jerusalem during a riot. On the King's return from Egypt in 167 BC, he attacked Jerusalem and restored Menalaus, then executed the leaders of the riot.

To strengthen his hold over the region, Antiochus decided to Hellenize the Jews by ordering the worship of Zeus as the supreme god. [Supported by Beavan's numismatic research showing that under Antiochus IV, Zeus replaced Apollo, who had been the main deity depicted on earlier Seleucid coinage.] This was anathema to the Jews and when they refused, Antiochus sent an army to enforce his decree.

:("According to the" Books of the Maccabees") ...upon seizing Jerusalem his soldiers entered the Jewish Temple and slaughtered a pig, then tried to force Jewish men to eat the pig meat (which is impure by Jewish law). The men refused and the soldiers cut off the men's hands, feet, and tongues, then scalped the men and burned them alive on the altar of the Lord.

His goal was to assimilate the Jewish people by Hellenizing their religion, which was extreme provocation against a subject people who, until then, had been content to live under Seleucid rule. Afterwards the Jews broke into a full-scale rebellion led by the Maccabees, who defeated the armies sent against them. This further undermined the Seleucid regime and provided the Romans with opportunities to ally with the Jews.

Final years

Taking advantage of Antiochus' western problems, King Mithridates I of Parthia attacked from the east and seized the city of Herat in 167 BC, disrupting the direct trade route to India and effectively splitting the Greek world in two.

Recognizing the potential danger in the east, but unwilling to give up control of Judea, Antiochus sent a commander named Lysias to deal with the Maccabees, while the King himself led the main Seleucid army against the Parthians. After initial success in his eastern campaign, including the reoccupation of Armenia, Antiochus died suddenly of disease in 164 BC.

Legacy of Antiochus IV

The reign of Antiochus was the last period of real strength for the Seleucid Dynasty, but in some ways his rule was also fatal to the Empire. Technically Antiochus IV was a usurper, and he left an infant son named Antiochus V Eupator as his only heir. The result was a series of civil wars between rival claimants to the throne, effectively crippling the Empire during a critical phase in the wars against Parthia.

In Jewish tradition

Antiochus IV is remembered as a major villain and persecutor in Jewish traditions, some of whom are linked with a specific Jewish holiday (for example, Hanukkah). There is also a "Scroll of Antiochus," which describes the victory of Hanukkah. [ [ Vedibarta Bam — And You Shall Speak of Them: Megilat Antiochus The Scroll of the Hasmoneans ] ]

ee also

*Book of Daniel (VII:8,20,24,25; VIII:9-12,23-25; IX:26-27; XI:21-39 are generally identified with Antiochus Epiphanes)
*Abomination of Desolation
*1 Maccabees
*2 Maccabees
*The Wars of the Jews

External links

* [ Antiochus IV Ephiphanes] entry in historical sourcebook by Mahlon H. Smith
* [ Jewish Encyclopedia: Antiochus IV Epiphanes]
* [ Antiochus IV Epiphanes at ""]


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