Antiochus XII Dionysus

Antiochus XII Dionysus
Coin with the bust of a hawk-nosed, bearded, curly-haired man wearing a diadem
Antiochus XII's portrait on the obverse of a tetradrachm, wearing the royal diadem
King of Syria (Seleucid Empire)
Reign87–82 BC
PredecessorDemetrius III, Philip I
SuccessorPhilip I, Antiochus XIII, Cleopatra Selene
Bornbetween 125 and 111 BC
Died82 BC (aged 28–43)
IssueCleopatra, Antiochis
FatherAntiochus VIII

Antiochus XII Dionysus Epiphanes Philopator Callinicus (Ancient Greek: Ἀντίοχος Διόνυσος Ἐπιφανής Φιλοπάτωρ Καλλίνικος; between 125 and 111 BC – 82 BC) was a Hellenistic Seleucid monarch who reigned as King of Syria between 87 and 82 BC. The youngest son of Antiochus VIII and, most likely, his Egyptian wife Tryphaena, Antiochus XII lived during a period of civil war between his father and his uncle Antiochus IX, which ended with the assassination of Antiochus VIII in 96 BC. Antiochus XII's four brothers laid claim to the throne, eliminated Antiochus IX as a claimant and waged war against his heir Antiochus X.

By 87 BC, only two claimants remained, both brothers of Antiochus XII: Philip I, and Demetrius III, whose control was initially centered in Damascus but later extended over most of Syria. Demetrius III was defeated by Philip I and went into exile in Parthia allowing Antiochus XII to gain control of Damascus while Philip I remained in the Syrian capital Antioch. Antiochus XII consolidated his territory within inner Syria and did not seek to expand into Philip I's territories. He focused his attention on the southern reaches into which the Judaeans and Nabataeans sought to expand.

Antiochus XII reinforced his southern frontier and warred with his neighbors, conducting two campaigns against Nabataea, including engagements with Judea. After several victories in his first campaign, Antiochus XII was killed at the Battle of Cana in 82 BC, towards the end of his second campaign against the Nabateans. Damascus was captured by the forces of the Nabatean King Aretas III, and the Syrian throne was claimed by Antiochus X's widow Cleopatra Selene and her son Antiochus XIII.

Name and background

Coin of Antiochus VIII

Antiochus, Greek for "resolute in contention",[1] was a dynastic name borne by many Seleucid monarchs.[2][3] The first Antiochus was father of the Seleucid dynasty's founder, Seleucus I, who named the capital of Syria, Antioch, in his honor.[4] Antiochus XII was the fifth and youngest son of Antiochus VIII and his Ptolemaic Egyptian wife Tryphaena;[note 1][6] his brothers were Seleucus VI, Antiochus XI, Philip I and Demetrius III. They were born between 125 BC, the wedding year of their parents, and 111 BC, when Tryphaena was killed by Antiochus VIII's half-brother Antiochus IX,[7] who fought with Antiochus VIII from 113 BC for the throne of Syria.[8]

Following Antiochus VIII's assassination in 96 BC,[9] his second wife, Tryphaena's sister Cleopatra Selene,[10] married Antiochus IX and then his son Antiochus X,[11] who fought with Antiochus XII's four brothers for the throne.[12] By 88 BC, only Demetrius III and Philip I remained;[13] Demetrius III was originally based in Damascus before extending his authority to most of Syria.[14] He was defeated by Philip I and his Parthian allies in 87 BC and exiled to Parthia, where he died of an unknown illness. Philip I took control of the capital,[15] while Cleopatra Selene, now a widow, took shelter in Ptolemais with her sons by Antiochus X.[16]

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