Seleukid Publication Abstracts

PDF Download

A. Articles

22) ALTAY COŞKUN: Reception of Seleukid Ideology in 2nd-Century BC Judaea

A series of early examples (ranging from Cyrus over Alexander the Great, the Ptolemies, Seleukos I and Antiochos III to Seleukos IV) shows that the Judaeans were generally inclined to accept the legitimacy of foreign rulers. Despite the negative tone of 1Macc, even the most notorious of all, Antiochos IV Epiphanes, was regarded as legitimate before the escalation of the religious crisis in 168/67. In fact, a part of the elite even held on to him thereafter. In contrast, the Maccabees staunchly opposed the Seleukids until Jonathan acknowledged the supremacy of Demetrios I, to be recognized as ruler of a Judaean fiefdom in return. Afterwards, he made a stunning career under Alexander I Balas, who granted him the high priesthood of Jerusalem. 1Macc represents Jonathan as the king’s strongest supporter and as the protector of his son Antiochos VI. His successor Simon requested his confirmation by Demetrios II and later by Antiochos VII. After a military conflict with John Hyrkanos I, the king and high priest resumed mutual expressions of respect, as illustrated in the Antiochos coinage from Jerusalem. Surveying the relations between Judaean leaders and Hellenistic kings over several generations, regular patterns emerge: expressions of loyalty to the king were reciprocated by an acknowledgement of local leadership. In fact, nearly all preserved cases in which Judaeans voiced their recognition of Seleukid rule addressed a Judaean audience which should understand that their own leader was backed by the king.

21) ALTAY COŞKUN: Historical and Ideological Implications of Era Dating in the Orbit of the Seleukid Empire. In preparation.

The counting of time according to the years of an individual monarch (‘regnal years’) can be traced back to the Bronze age. In contrast, Antiochos I was the first Hellenistic ruler to establish a count for his whole dynasty. This started with the foundational campaign of his father Seleukos I in 312/311 BCE. With minor regional variation, it became the chronological point of reference throughout the kingdom for centuries to come or, in other words, the beginning of the ‘Seleukid Era’. Gradually, however, several minor kingdoms or cities in the former territory either replaced the Seleukid Era by introducing their own regnal year counts or dynastic or civic eras respectively, occasionally even side by side with the Seleukid Era. It is crucial for the interpretation of the ideological implications of using or rejecting Hellenistic eras to identify not only their start years, but also the time when those counts were effectively introduced, modified, abandoned, rejected, or even resumed; likewise, it may be relevant to specify the audience that was being addressed. Case studies that draw on the (1) Arsakids of Parthia, (2) Maccabees of Judaea and (3) Mithradatids of Pontos and the Bosporos will illustrate the complexity of the problem as well as the potential of shedding light on ideological choices made in the orbit of the Seleukid Empire.

20) ALTAY COŞKUN: Polygamy and Seleukid Queenship under Antiochos II. – Implications of the Basilissa Title (or the Lack thereof). In preparation.

Scholars of the ancient world have been aware for a long time that ‘queenship’ – or perhaps more broadly the role of the ‘royal consort’ – gained a particular prominence in the Hellenistic age. The basilissa title was of course not entirely new, but had occasionally been attached to mythical and historical figures; it appears nonetheless much more consistently as of the days of the Diadochs. This is most clearly the case for the Ptolemies and Antigonids, among whom the (main) wife of the king enjoyed the title and the status that came with it from early on. The evidence for the early Seleukids, however, is not as clear as it might seem. Many (modern) arguments have been built on the epigraphic and papyrological evidence for the basilissa title of Berenike Phernophoros, the second wife of Antiochos II; accordingly, the lack of the same for Laodike I, his first wife, seemed to imply her divorce, a view that has now been rejected on various grounds (Coşkun 2016). While previous interpretations tended to take the title of the official wife for granted, this paper seeks to reverse the argument by suggesting that both the employment and lack of the title can and should be explained consistently within the broader context of Seleukid (and Ptolemaic) royal ideologies. In our specific cases, I tentatively suggest to explain the lack of Laodike I’s title with the predominant role of Stratonike I. After the latter’s death, Antiochos II continued to withhold the basilissa title from his wives, either because he felt discomfort about overly prominent female members within the royal family, or with an intention to keep all options for the dynastic succession open.

19) ALTAY COŞKUN & BEN SCOLNIC: The Three ‘Uprooted’ Horns and Some (Peculiar) Perspectives on Seleukid Dynastic History in Daniel 7. In preparation.

Daniel’s oracular vision of the he-goat with ten horns, the last three of which were ‘uprooted’ by the eleventh, has puzzled biblical and historical scholars for over two millennia. It is largely accepted that the ten horns are an allegory for the Seleukid lineage. Likewise uncontested is that the eleventh horn stands for Antiochos IV Epiphanes, under whom the cult of Yahweh in Jerusalem was desecrated and traditional Judaism effectively banned. This persecution triggered the Maccabaean Revolt, which would re-establish a very traditional version of the cult in 164 BC and ultimately result in the independence of Judaea. No previous commentator has been able to present a consistent dynastic list. All available studies include spurious kings such as Alexander the Great or Ptolemy VI Philometor of Egypt; and most lists regard Demetrios I as the tenth king, but he would rise to power only after the successor of Epiphanes was killed in 162 BCE, so that he cannot be one of the three kings ‘uprooted’ by Epiphanes. There is, however, a clear-cut solution, if all the legally co-ruling kings of the dynasty are included. Based on this principle, a coherent list of ten Seleukid kings predessessing Epiphanes can be drawn up. This revised list enables us not only to better understand the ideological distortions of the the author behind Daniel – a contemporary of Antiochos IV and V –, but also to reconsider difficulties relating to Seleukid dynastic successions.

18) ALTAY COŞKUN: Seleukid Throne Wars, for Andrea Berlin & Paul Kosmin (eds.), The Middle Maccabees from the Death of Judas through the Reign of John Hyrcanus (161–104 BC). New Archaeological and Historical Perspectives.

Although Antiochos III Megas had been defeated by the Romans in 190 BCE, the kingdom recovered splendidly, and Antiochos IV Epiphanes (175–164 BCE) may well be called the most powerful monarch of his time, second only to the Roman Republic. Despite the succession crisis of 164/62 BCE, the empire remained strong for most of the time that it was ruled by Demetrios I Soter (162–150 BCE). His final years, however, saw an acceleration of the decline, triggered by the revolt of Alexander Balas, or perhaps more correctly by the support he gained from Ptolemy VI Philometor. The endless dynastic rivalries of the 140s BCE catalyzed the further disintegration of the empire with the loss of Persia and Mesopotamia to the Parthians. And yet, recovery under Antiochos VII Sidetes was unexpectedly vigorous, and could have re-established the Seleukid Kingdom as the dominant power in the Near- and Middle East – had he not been ambushed and killed in 129 BCE. At first glance, the first two Books of Maccabees may convey the impression that the Judaeans substantially contributed to the process of Seleukid disintegration. The revolts in Judaea first under the leadership of Jason in 168 BC and then under the Maccabees as of 167/66 BC absorbed substantial resources of the realm. But no matter how glorious the military and political victories were, the Seleukid response did not wait long, and regularly resulted in a redintegration of Judaea into the kingdom. Even the grant of full independence under Simon could be reversed under his son John Hyrkanos I, as long as the Mediterranean territories were largely united under a single king. Judaean freedom became irreversible in 129 BC: after the permanent loss of Babylonian and Media, and with Syria divided, no Seleukid king was strong enough to regain control of Judaea – a development that was symptomatic for the further disintegration of Seleukid rule in the Levant as well.

17) ALTAY COŞKUN: The Galatian Kingdoms. Forthcoming in Oğuz Tekin (ed.): Hellenistik ve Roma İmparatorluğu dönemlerinde Anadolu – Anatolia in the Hellenistic and Roman Imperial Periods (English-Turkish), Istanbul: Yapı Kredi.

This brief title reflects the progress of recent research on Galatia in the Hellenistic period. Previously, the hoards of fighters entering Asia Minor as of 278 BC were seen as somewhat unruly mercenaries in the service of the kings of Bithynia and Pontos, and later also of the Seleukids or Attalids. Sometimes, they were ascribed a rudimentary state structure labeled ‘tetrarchy’, although the latter was ephemeral and introduced only around 100 BC. By far the strongest force were the western-Galatian Tolistobogii, whose kingdom was located along the bend of the river Sangarios in-between Bithynia and Pessinus, whereas the Tectosages were settled in eastern Phrygia in the environs of Ankyra by the Mithradatids of Pontos. Except for the latter, the other Galatian tribes, especially the Trocmi, were mostly controlled by the Tolistobogii just as the Bithynians, and often they were in a position to exact taxes from the Greek cities. The Seleukids never fully subjected the Galatians, but rather had to pay for their alliance. After the Romans had established hegemony over Asia Minor by 188 BC, the Tolistobogii in particular refused to accept the lead of the Attalids as commanded by the Romans, together with Bithynia and Pontos. After the provincialization of Pergamum, Pontos emerged as the most aggressive power in Anatolia, allying in particular with the Trocmi, who were settled east of the Halys bow by Mithradates VI Eupator. Fierce resistance to him allowed the Tolistobogian tetrarch Deiotaros to become the most trusted friend of the Romans and most powerful king of Asia Minor after the death of Mithradates VI Eupator (63 BC), inheriting about half of his territories in Pontic Armenia. At the end of his life (ca. 41 BC), he united the Galatian tribes. His successor Amyntas extended Galatian rule into Lykaonia and Pisidia, before Augustus established the province of Galatia in 25 BC.

16) ALTAY COŞKUN: The Liberation of Judaea and Early Maccabaean Diplomacy with Rome According to Justin (36.3.9), Diodorus (40.2/4) and Caesar (Jos. Ant. Jud. 14.10.6 [205]), forthcoming in Anabasis.

Justin (36.3.9), Diodorus (40.2/4) and Julius Caesar (quoted by Josephus, Ant. Jud. 14.10.6 [205]) are the only non-Jewish sources that mention Roman-Judaean diplomacy in the 2nd century BCE. Some scholars have adduced them to reject the claim of 1Macc 8 that Judas Maccabee established friendship and alliance with Rome in 161 BCE – unduly so, as this article sets to argue. Justin has often been misunderstood as attesting only a grant of freedom to Judaea rather than a treaty, but this would be misreading the anti-Roman rhetoric. What is more, Justin mentions that amicitia began under King Demetrius, and different to previous interpretations, the context compels us to identify him with Demetrius II Nicator during his second tenure (129–125 BCE). Diodorus has been read as evidence for freedom under Demetrius I Soter (162–150 BCE), but the transmitted text does not speak of a Demetrius or a revolt from the Seleucids; what it does is alluding to Judaean diplomacy with Rome under John Hyrcanus I (135–105 BCE). Caesar states that Joppa was a possession of the Judaeans before the Romans first made a treaty with them. Since the city was taken by Jonathan and Simon for the first time in 150 BCE, Caesar reflects the same unawareness of the first Judaean-Roman treaty of friendship and alliance made under Judas. Rather than providing independent evidence against the claim of 1Macc 8, the three sources under examination seem to be traces of one now-lost Graeco-Roman tradition that let Judaean-Roman amicitia begin under John Hyrcanus I in ca. 128 BCE.

15) ALTAY COŞKUN: The ‘Temple State’ of Phrygian Pessinus in the Context of Seleukid, Attalid, Galatian and Roman Hegemonial Politics (3rd-1st Centuries BC). Forthcoming in Gocha R. Tsetskhladze (ed.): The Phrygian Lands over Time (from Prehistory to the Middle of the 1st Millennium AD). Proceedings of the International Conference, Anadolu University, Eskişehir, 2nd – 8th November, 2015, ca. 2019.

The affluent and exotic ‘temple state’ of Cybele rendered Pessinus the most famous Phrygian cult site in the Graeco-Roman world. No other Phrygian cult or location is mentioned as often in Classical literature, and, likewise, the epigraphic and material evidence for the Roman city stands out amongst its peers in Asia Minor. In contrast, the primary record that predates the 3rd century BC is absent or minimal. Based on this lack of evidence, a recent study has tried to demonstrate that Pessinus as a super-regional sanctuary of the Great Mother should be understood as a creation by king Attalos I. The current article intends to specify the political relations of the priest elite of this newly created sanctuary with its neighbours, the Attalid kingdom to the west and the Galatian tribal states to the east and north, besides their connections with the court of the Seleucids and the Roman superpower respectively. The evidence for the mid- and late Hellenistic period continues to remain highly lacunose and controversial. But recent work on the political divisions and dynamic territorial changes among the Galatians suggests some modification to the currently prevailing view: Pessinus was not part of Galatia (however defined), but rather part of the Attalid kingdom, first from 207 BC to about 200/197, and then again from 188 BC until the dissolution of the kingdom (133/129 BC). Then it seems to have been controlled first by the Tektosages, a generation later by the Trokmoi and since the time of the Mithradatic Wars by the Tolistobogioi. Hence it developed into the urban centre of the Tolistobogioi under Augustus.

14) ALTAY COŞKUN: The Chronology of the Desecration of the Temple and the Prophecies of Daniel 7–12 Reconsidered. Forthcoming in Historia 68.4, 2019, 436-462.

Generations of scholars have been puzzled by the chronological time frame that the Seleukid prophecies of Daniel 7–12 are structured around. Basic to the problem is Dan 11.40–45, which clearly implies that the author did not know when and how Antiochos IV died. This seemed to warrant the terminus ante quem of late 164 BC, with the result that the prophet had not yet seen the effective turn in the Maccabaean revolt against the king, let alone the purification of the Jerusalem temple on 25 Kislev 148 SE (ca. 14 Dec. 164 BC). The present study suggests relating this terminus only to Dan 10–11, while allowing for a later composition of the remaining Seleukid prophecies. Based on a chronological revision of the First and Second Book of Maccabees, a plausible timeline can be presented that is compatible with every historical implication of Dan 7–9 and 12. Accordingly, the apocalyptic final year week started with the replacement of Jason as high priest by his rival Menelaos in 171/70 BC; the temple was pillaged by Antiochos IV in summer 169 BC, and Seleukid forces expelled Jason from Jerusalem in 168 BC. The cataclysmic final three-and-a-half years started with the arrival of the commander Apollonios in Jerusalem in May or June 167 BC, followed by the issue of Antiochos’ religious edict around October 167 BC. The pinnacle of the religious persecution was reached with the sacrifice to Zeus Olympios in the temple of Yahweh on 25 Kislev 145 SEB (December 167 BC). Nearly all prophecies regard the purification of the temple as the end point of the crisis. Only the addendum Dan 12.12 alludes to an event that happened 45 days later, perhaps the completion of the fortifications against the royal garrison and the Judaean collaborators on the Akra of Jerusalem. Dan 7–9 and 12 were likely composed by the end of January 163 BC, to supersede Dan 10–11, which had become obsolete after the king’s death. The two groups of Seleukid prophecies were later merged when the collective memory of the events was fading away (before 100 BC).

13) ALTAY COŞKUN: Epilogue: Rome, the Seleukid East and the Disintegration of the Largest of the Successor Kingdoms in the 2nd Century BC. In: Altay Coşkun & David Engels (eds.): Rome and the Seleukid East. Selected Papers from Seleukid Study Day V, Brussels, 21–23 Aug. 2015 (Collection Latomus 360), Brussels 2019, 457-479.

Although Antiochos III Megas had been defeated by the Romans in 191/90 BC, his son Seleukos IV managed to consolidate it, and his youngest son Antiochos IV Epiphanes (175–164) even became the most powerful monarch of his time. After a brief succession crisis (164/62), the kingdom regained strength once more under his grandson Demetrios I Soter (162–150). Only the revolt of Alexander I Balas in 153 resulted in a near-permanent crisis. Dynastic rivalries proliferated and catalyzed the further disintegration of the realm culminating in the Parthian conquests of Media, Mesopotamia and Persia by 140. With the death of Antiochos VII Sidetes (129), the loss of the territories east of the Euphrates became permanent, and Seleukid dissolution continued until Pompey deposed Antiochos XIII in 64/63. Reflecting on the multiple factors that contributed to the disintegration, I shall argue (1) that the heterogeneous nature of the kingdom need not be seen as weakness per se. Also, the negative impact of the Peace of Apameia in general (2) and, especially, the financial needs due to indemnity payments to Rome (3) have been overstated. (4) Roman diplomacy after 188 was harmful, but barely decisive for determining the fate of the Seleukids. (5) Ptolemaic interference was more destructive, but by itself not strong enough to annihilate the Seleukid colossus. The worst enemies of the Seleukids were the Seleukids themselves. This inner-dynastic rivalry got more frequent and more harmful through Roman manipulation and Ptolemaic intervention. (6) The combination of those three factors under Balas finally crippled the realm beyond repair in that it further induced the loss of the Iranian satrapies, and soon thereafter even the Babylonian heartland – areas that had previously functioned as the backbone of legitimate Seleukid kingship and resilience.

12) ALTAY COŞKUN: Triangular Epistolary Diplomacy with Rome from Judas Maccabee to Aristobulos I. In: Altay Coşkun & David Engels (eds.): Rome and the Seleukid East. Selected Papers from Seleukid Study Day V, Brussels, 21–23 Aug. 2015 (Collection Latomus 360), Brussels 2019, 355-388.

The sheer amount of scholarship on Judaean-Roman diplomacy from Judas Maccabee (166-161 BC) to Hyrkanos II (76-30 BC) has done little to reduce the controversies on nearly every single aspect. This said, scholarly opinions tend to converge towards accepting that Roman commitment was very limited, whether the sources that tell otherwise were fabricated or the Romans never had the intention to get involved, despite the treaties of friendship and alliance they concluded. One way or another, Roman inactivity is blamed for the discontinuation of friendship by the end of the 2nd century BC, unless the change is explained with the growing aggressiveness and expansionism of the Judaeans. The present study questions these views, not least by demonstrating how highly amcitia populi Romani was appreciated both by the Author (ca. 140 BC) and Continuator (ca. 128 BC) of 1Macc. The major methodological novelty is to accept the historicity of the diplomatic documents in 1Macc and Josephus Jewish Antiquities, and to systematically correct their narratives on the basis of this primary evidence. Accordingly, Eupolemos and Jason made an alliance under Judas (161 BC), which was renewed under Simon (142 BC) and again under John Hyrkanos I (ca. 128 BC). Another mission to Rome under John Hyrkanos was headed by Straton (107 BC). Next, I shall argue that the alliance was also renewed under Aristobulos (104 BC) and Alexander Jannaios (by 100 BC). The evidence allows us to describe the mechanism of Judaean diplomacy: ambassadors were sent from Jerusalem to the Roman Senate, put forward their concerns, expected and normally received official letters that told third parties what to do. Of particular importance were documents that impressed the Seleukid kings in Antioch or Damascus. This kind of ‘triangular diplomacy’ was particularly successful under Simon and John Hyrkanos. Gradually, however, the large-scale changes in the eastern Mediterranean World on the verge from the 2nd to the 1st century BC diminished Roman interest and influence in the Near East. As a result, the high tide of Roman epistolary diplomacy came to an end as well.

11) ALTAY COŞKUN: Which Seleukid King Was the First to Establish Friendship with the Romans? Reflections on a Fabricated Letter (Suet. Claud. 25.3), amicitia with Antiochos III (200–193 BC) and the Lack thereof with Ilion. In: Altay Coşkun & David Engels (eds.): Rome and the Seleukid East. Selected Papers from Seleukid Study Day V, Brussels, 21–23 Aug. 2015 (Collection Latomus 360), Brussels 2019, 27-60.

Suetonius, Claud. 25.3 has preserved the summary of an obscure Roman letter to Seleucus Rex, offering him amicitia et societas in return for exempting the citizens of Ilion, their own ‘relatives’, from taxation. While previous generations of scholars had been inclined to reject this letter as a forgery (esp. HOLLEAUX 1921), more recently, its authenticity has been claimed, and the king been identified with Seleukos II Kallinikos (RIZZO 1974; GRUEN 1984), Seuleukos III Keraunos (GRAINGER 2002) or Antiochos III Megas (ERSKINE 2001). But neither Seleukos II nor III seems to have exerted effective control over Ilion to qualify. In the case of Antiochos III, he can be shown to have become an amicus populi Romani probably in 200 BC. Rome was then, however, concerned about the Ptolemaic and the Attalid Kingdoms. Moreover, it seems that Antiochos gained the loyalty of Ilion in 198 BC. When the Romans began to advocate the freedom of some Greek cities in 196 BC, the sources repeatedly specify Lampsakos and Smyrna, which defied the king, never Ilion. The later annalistic tradition presents a polished version of the relation between Rome and Ilion: the city figures among the allies in the peace treaty of Phoinike in 205 BC (LIV. 29.12.14); its citizens went over to Rome in the war with Antiochos, as soon as the first Roman commander C. Livius Salinator set foot on the Ilian coast early in 190 BC; Salinator and soon after him L. Scipio chose to sacrifice to Ilian Athena (LIV. 37.9.6f.; 37.37.1-3); and Ilion is rewarded at Apameia with immunity and territorial gains (LIV. 38.39.8). But this tradition is belied by the telling silence of Polybios and Strabon, Geogr. 13.1.27 (594f. C). The latter, in fact, specifies Caesar as the authority that granted tax exemption and a territorial extension. The second half of the 1st century BC thus emerges as the most likely time both for the upgrade of the pro-Ilion annalistic tradition and the fabrication of the Suetonian letter, which could be produced as uetus epistula in the days of Claudius.

10) ALTAY COŞKUN: Introduction. In: Altay Coşkun & David Engels (eds.): Rome and the Seleukid East. Selected Papers from Seleukid Study Day V, Brussels, 21–23 Aug. 2015 (Collection Latomus 360), Brussels 2019, 11-23.

This introduction surveys recent trends in Seleukid scholarship and addresses the main points of discussion concerning the decline and disintegration of the Seleukid Kingdom in the course of the 2nd century BC. For further detail, see the book abstract below.

9) ALTAY COŞKUN: ‘Friendship and Alliance’ between the Judaeans and the Romans under Judas Maccabee (1Macc 8.17–32): A Response to Linda Zollschan’s Rome and Judaea (2017), Electrum 25, 2018, 185-225.

Zollschan promises a highly interdisciplinary study of the report on the first Roman embassy to Rome under Judas Maccabee in 1Macc 8. In part, she argues that the Senate did not grant the requested alliance, but only informal amicitia; in part, she claims that not even amicitia was granted but only a declaration of liberty; in part, she proposes that the ambassadors misunderstood the result of their mission, since it meant subjection under Rome without effective protection. Further results include the views that the embassy was undertaken in 162 BCE, and that the account and treaty text is based on the Aramaic report of the ambassadors Eupolemus and Jason. The contradictions and misunderstandings of Zollschan’s book are plentiful and serious. The present study engages with the questions she asks and with the answers she gives, adds substantially to the recent bibliography in the addressed areas and concludes with very different assessments: namely, that we should maintain the traditional date of 161/60 BCE for the Judaean embassy, that the Senate granted a treaty of friendship and alliance, that the Continuator of 1Macc inserted the (highly edited) version he found on a bronze inscription in Jerusalem, and that success was largely denied to the mission, since the ambassadors returned after Judas had died in battle.

8) The War of Brothers, the Third Syrian War, and the Battle of Ankyra (246-241 BC): a Re-Appraisal. In: Kyle Erickson (ed.): The Seleukid Empire, 281–222 BC. War within the Family, Swansea: Classical Press of Wales, 2018, 197-252 + 275-308 (bibliography).

The Third Syrian War (246-241 BC) is normally viewed as an indirect result of the peace agreement following the Second Syrian War (260-253). This was sealed with a marriage between Antiochos II and Berenike, daughter of Ptolemy II Philadelphos. For when Antiochos died, his first wife Laodike supposedly murdered the rival queen and her infant child, which in turn provoked the invasion of Berenike’s brother Ptolemy III Euergetes (246). According to Justin (27.1-3), the tensions between Seleukos II (246-225) and his younger brother Antiochos Hierax escalated just when their cooperation had caused Euergetes to sue for peace – Porphyry of Tyre (FGrH 260 F 32.8) dates this to 241. More convincingly, Porphyry synchronizes the beginning of the War of Brothers with to the outbreak of the Third Syrian War: Ephesos had already been lost to Ptolemy when Seleukos was confronting his brother in Ionia, but it was only after Seleukos’ defeat at Ankyra that Euergetes invaded Syria and Mesopotamia in the latter half of 246. Hierax’ control of the Seleukid possessions in Asia Minor finally consolidated when Seleukos conceded this to him together with the royal title in ca. 242. A closer look at Justin (27.2.6-7) reveals that the chronology of the two wars had been changed for the sake of rendering the moralizing messages more clear-cut: Seleukos is the villain of the first chapter, Hierax of the second, both suffering divine punishment for wronging a brother. A revision of the chronology also helps us better understand the roles of the many parties involved: the Tolistobogian and Tectosagen Galatians, the Prusiads, the Mithridatids, Ariarathids, and the Attalids, all of whom pursued agendas of their own. As a result, the history of the empire needs to be rewritten for the entire rule of Seleukos (246-225).

7) ALTAY COŞKUN: Der Ethnarchentitel des Simon (Makkabaios) und die Verleihung der Souveränität durch Antiochos VII. Sidetes (‘The Title Ethnarch of Simon Maccabaeus and the Grant of Sovereignty by Antiochos VII Sidetes’). In: Scripta Classica Israelica 37, 2018, 129-161.

A systematic enquiry into the oldest occurrences of the titel ‘ethnarch’ has yielded the result that the two first instances, Jos. ant. Jud. 13.6.7 (on 142 BCE) and 1Macc 14.47 (on 140 BCE) are anachronistic. This does not justify, however, the conclusion that the next known instances, 1Macc 15.1-2 (on 138 BCE) are likewise not authentic, and that the title was first introduced under John Hyrkanos II, as is now a widespread belief. The attestation of ‘ethnarch’ in Antiochos VII’s letter to Simon is rather entirely plausible. After the Parthians had captured his brother Demetrios II, and while the usurper Diodotos Tryphon was holding large parts of Syria, Antiochos was ready to make substantial concessions to gain the support of the Judaeans, including their full immunity and liberty. This view is not contradicted by the fact that the king showed himself less generous after defeating Tryphon, when he refused to accept some of Simon’s conquests. At any rate, Simon and after him John Hyrkanos I bore the titel ‘ethnarch’ besides that of the ‘great priest’ (hiereus megas), which is often rendered as ‘high priest’ (archiereus) in the Graeco-Roman context. The rank of ethnarch did not imply any limitation of sovereignty, but rather reflects hesitation as regards kingship among the Jews. Only after the end of Hasmonaean kingship, if not after the death of Herod the Great, ‘ethnarchy’ gained a connotation of second-class rule.

6) ALTAY COŞKUN: Philologische, genealogische und politische Überlegungen zu Ardys und Mithradates, zwei Söhnen des Antiochos Megas (Liv. 33,19,9) (‘Philological, Genealogical and Political Considerations Rgarding Ardys and Mithradates, two Sons of Antiochos Megas, Liv. 33.19.9’). In: Latomus 75.4, 2016, 849-861.

Neben den drei Söhnen des Antiochos Megas, die selbst den Rang von Mit- oder Alleinherrschern im Seleukidenreich innehatten (Antiochos †193, Seleukos IV. †175, Antiochos IV. †164), bezeugt Livius zum Jahr 197 v.Chr. eher beiläufig zwei weitere Söhne des Megas, Ardys und Mithradates (33,19,9). Holleaux (1912) versuchte den Nachweis zu erbringen, dass die Überlieferung fehlerhaft sei; er identifizierte ersteren mit einem bereits um 220 v.Chr. nachgewiesenen Feldherrn im Dienst des Megas, letzteren mit einem 212 v.Chr. bezeugten Neffen desselben Königs. Dies blieb nahezu die communis opinio, bis Wörrle (1988) mit Verweis auf einen neuen Inschriftenfund von Herakleia am Latmos die Sohnschaft des Mithradates anerkannte. Dabei erklärte er überzeugend, dass jener Mithradates nach dem Tod des älteren Bruders dessen Namen annahm und später selbst als Antiochos IV. herrschte. Die Anerkennung des Ardys als Sohn des Megas ist aber erst Mehl (1999) und Ogden (1999) zu verdanken. Die Revision der Thesen Holleaux’ setzte sich allerdings nur zum Teil in der neuesten Forschung durch. Deswegen soll sie durch Verbesserung der Argumentation gestützt werden. In diesem Sinne wird zuerst der Antiochos-Neffe Mithradates mit dem Satrapen von Kleinarmenien identifiziert und vom Antiochos-Sohn unterschieden, so dass auch Spekulationen über eine mögliche Adoption hinfällig werden. Sodann erhält die Rekonstruktion des Livius-Textes eine methodisch solidere Grundlage. Schließlich erlauben es die dynastische Namengebung und polygame Heiratspraxis der Seleukiden, Ardys nicht nur als Sohn des Megas, sondern vermutlich auch als Enkel des zuvorgenannten gleichnamigen Feldherrn von 220 v.Chr. zu erweisen.

5) ALTAY COŞKUN: Ptolemaioi as Commanders in 3rd-Century Asia Minor and Some Glimpses on Ephesos and Mylasa during the Second and Third Syrian Wars. In: Burak Takmer / Ebru AkdoğuArca / Nuray Gökalp Özdil (eds.): Vir doctus anatolicus. Studies in Memory of Sencer Şahin – Sencer Şahin Anısına Yazıtlar (Philia Supplements 1), Istanbul: Kabalcı Yayınevi, 2016, 211-233.

During the rules of Ptolemy II Philadelphos and Ptolemy III Euergetes, several sources attest namesakes operating in western Asia Minor in distinguished positions. On this basis, scholars have so far identified mostly two or even one single prominent representative(s) of the House of the Ptolemies. The prevailing unitarian reconstruction regards him as Ptolemy, son of Lysimachos and Arsinoe II as well as the adoptive son and designated successor of Ptolemy II; he is believed to have functioned as Ptolemaic commander-in-chief of the Aegean fleet in the 260s BC, before revolting in Ephesos in 259; pardoned by his adoptive father, he would have retired to a principality in Telmessos until his recall by Euergetes in 246. He tends to be identified with ‘Ptolemy the Brother’ mentioned in the correspondence between the local dynast Olympichos and the citizens of Mylasa in ca. 244. ‘Ptolemy the Son’ is reported to have been killed in Ephesos by Athenaios, just as a certain ‘Ptolemy epiklesin Andromachos’ (P. Haun. 6). If indeed identical, his murder occurred after the last attestation of ‘Ptolemy of Telmessos’ in ca. 239. This and similar reconstructions have always been fraught with numerous inconsistencies and anomalies, but can now firmly be rejected based on more reliable reconstructions of Seleukid-Ptolemaic interactions under Antiochos II, Antiochos Hierax and Seleukos II. As a result, we should distinguish four namesakes: first, Ptolemy, son of Arsinoe II and Lysimachos, who vanished from our sources in the 270s. Second, ‘Ptolemy the Son’, born to Arsinoe I and full brother of Euergetes, who died in a revolt in Ephesos while Antiochos II was about to capture the city in 258. Third, ‘Ptolemy epiklesin Andromachos’ was a natural son of Philadelphos, thus identical with ‘Ptolemy the Brother’ of Euergetes; he was the father of Ptolemy, son of Andromachos and priest of Alexander and the Theoi Adelphoi in Alexandria 251/50; he also died in Ephesos sometime after 244. Fourth, ‘Ptolemy of Telmessos’ was another son of Philadelphos and Arsinoe I, later adopted by Arsinoe II, as attested by Theokritos. These new identifications substantially impact our reconstruction of major events and changes of power in 3rd-century Asia Minor as well as of the dynastic histories of the Seleukids and Ptolemies.

4) ALTAY COŞKUN: Laodike I, Berenike Phernophoros, Dynastic Murders, and the Outbreak of the Third Syrian War (253-246 BC) Forthcoming in: Altay Coşkun / Alex McAuley (eds.): Seleukid Royal Women. Creation, Representation and Distortion of Hellenistic Queenship in the Seleukid Empire, Stuttgart 2016, 107-134.

Throughout the ancient and modern literary tradition the first wife of Antiochos II, Laodike I, appears as the prototype of the evil queen. All of her misdeeds hinge on the alleged complications ensuing from Antiochos’ second marriage with the Ptolemaic princess Berenike after the Second Syrian War (260–253 BC). However, the widespread view that Laodike was divorced or demoted to being a concubine does not withstand scrutiny. It can further be shown that her son Seleukos II was already co-ruling king when Antiochos died in 246. With this, all allegations of her having murdered her husband, Berenike, and her step-son in order to secure the succession of Seleukos appear to be baseless. The search for the source Laodike’s ‘bad press’ leads to the court of Ptolemy III Euergetes, who needed to cover up his less noble reasons for the war. But it was Phylarchos who stood at the beginning of the historiographical tradition: he opted for the more dramatic version in which Antiochos’ bigamy provoked the bloodthirst of Laodike and thus the outbreak of the Third Syrian War. In this way, Laodike became a model of a royal woman who transgressed social boundaries.

3) ALTAY COŞKUN & ALEX MCAULEY: The Study of Seleukid Royal Women – An Introduction. Forthcoming in: Altay Coşkun & Alex McAuley (eds.): Seleukid Royal Women. Creation, Representation and Distortion of Hellenistic Queenship in the Seleukid Empire, Stuttgart 2016, 17-22.

See book abstract below.

2) ALTAY COŞKUN: Deconstructing a Myth of Seleucid History: the So-Called ‘Elephant Victory’ over the Galatians Revisited. In: Phoenix 66.1-2, 2012, 57-73.

Common opinion has it that Antiochus the Great pacified central and western Asia Minor by defeating the Galatians in a glorious battle, mainly relying on his war elephants. As a result, the Galatians are said to have been settled in the remote hinterland of Anatolia, remaining loyal vassals of the Seleucids for the ensuing century. Scholarship has until now only been divided as to dating this ‘Elephant Victory’: while ca. 276/74 has traditionally been the date mostly accepted, more recently 270/68 BC has been prevailing. In this article, it is firstly argued that Antiochus must have reacted to the invasion of the Galatians by 274. Secondly, a revision of the ancient sources reveals that the subject of the ‘Elephant Victory’ was absent from Hellenistic historiography. It was rooted in Seleucid propaganda (cf. Suda s.v. Simonides of Magnesia) rather than in the political realities of the 3rd century. Little was known about it when Lucian composed his Zeuxis or Antiochus in the 2nd century AD, which allowed the sophist to make the story fit his own rhetorical needs. The deconstruction of this myth of modern historiography has a far-reaching impact on the political history of Asia Minor as well as of the reconstruction of the early Seleucid ruler cult.

1) ALTAY COŞKUN: Galatians and Seleucids: a Century of Conflict and Cooperation. In: Kyle Erickson/Gillian Ramsey (eds.): Seleucid Dissolution: Fragmentation and Transformation of Empire (Exeter, July 2008), Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 2011 (Philippika 50), 85-106.

Most ancient sources and no less modern accounts ignore the political independence of the eastern Celtic, especially Galatian, peoples that settled in the centre of Asia Minor or operated as federates or mercenaries in the whole of the Hellenistic world. However, a fresh analysis of the literary, epigraphic and archaeological evidence enables us to differentiate much more clearly between those political entities. This way, new light may also be shed on their highly dynamic and complex relations with the Seleucids during the first century of their presence in Anatolia. It will be suggested that the Elephant Battle won by Antiochus I in ca. 270 has as much been overestimated as the victories that Attalus I achieved at the sources of the Caïcus and at the walls of Pergamum. Even under Antiochus III, when Seleucid rule over Asia Minor reached its pinnacle, it is unlikely that the Galatians considered themselves or were treated as his subjects: while the tribe of Eposognatus (which has hitherto not been identified) remained loyal to Eumenes II of Pergamum, the remaining Galatian tribes seem to have been allies of Antiochus, though at least the Tolistobogii and the Tectosages seem to have been bound by individual treaties. Besides, there is manifold evidence for additional mercenary units probably hired from the failed Celtic kingdom of Tyle in eastern Thrace. The close relationships between Antiochus and the Celts living north-west to the mountain chain of the Taurus was shattered only by the campaign of Manlius Vulso in 189. No further contacts between the Galatians of central Anatolia and the Seleucids can be traced after the Romans had installed their 'peace and friendship' on Antiochus in Apameia the same year.

B. Books

3) ALTAY COŞKUN & RICHARD WENGHOFER (eds.): Seleukid Ideology – Reception, Response and Rejection. (in preparation for ca. 2021)

The structures of Seleukid government and the mechanisms for the dissemination of the dynasty’s ideology have recently been garnering increasing scholarly interest. Daniel Ogden’s The Legend of Seleucus (2017) tries to synthesize and analyse the mythical symbols and narratives of the dynasty. Boris Chrubasik’s study Kings and Usurpers in the Seleukid Empire (2016) examines the character and dynamics of revolts from Seleukid hegemony. Altay Coşkun’s and Alex McAuley’s Seleukid Royal Women (2016) scrutinizes the female roles within the Seleukid dynasty. Paul Kosmin’s The Land of the Elephant Kings (2014) investigates the ideological appropriation of the newly-conquered imperial space. The names of several other colleagues could be added who have recently contributed to the study of the Seleukid ruler cult (e.g., Kyle Erickson, Cathy Lorber, Panos Iossif). All of these works enhance our understanding of the subtle, skillfull, and energetic construction of royalty. Many of these studies have demonstrated the Seleukids’ ability of responding to regional and local traditions, which were artfully integrated into both the representation of their kingship and the communication of their distinctive ideology to their subjects.

Yet one question is often overlooked: how were the ideological messages that the court sent out through multiple media (ceremonies, letters, coins, statues and inscriptions sponsored by members of the elite) actually received by the subjects or vassals? The recipients’ side is, admittedly, not easy to grasp, first of all because full freedom of speech cannot be expected under any kind of monarchy. In addition, the source basis is limited for various reasons. The rich evidence of Greek inscription is confined in time and space, largely to a short century of Seleukid rule over Western Asia Minor, and the papyrological evidence outside of Egypt is quite poor. This notwithstanding, the unique epigraphic tradition of Babylon and the singular literary production triggered by the religious conflicts in Judaea provide ample material for study. Relevant evidence can also be found in the wealth of coinage issued by the vassals, insurgents, as well as the nominally or effectively free cities in the Levant and Middle East. Responses were of course varied, ranging from friendly to hostile. But it is remarkable that even the fiercest opponents to Seleukid rule strongly drew on the ideological language of their rivals, and that nearly every dynasty that established itself out of the former kingdom boasted Seleukid descent through the matriline.

The proceedings of Seleukid Study Day VI: Reception, Response, and Resistance: Reactions to Seleukid Claims to Territorial Rule or Hegemony (Nipissing University, North Bay ON, 31 Aug. – 3 Sep. 2017) will present several case studies and attempt a synthesis.

2) ALTAY COŞKUN & D. ENGELS (eds.): Rome and the Seleukid East. Selected Papers from Seleukid Study Day V, Brussels, 21–23 Aug. 2015, (Collection Latomus 360), Brussels: Editions Latomus, 2019.

The 2nd century BC was a watershed period of World History that saw Rome, one of the longest-lasting empires of all times, rise to become the sole superpower in the Mediterranean while the Seleukid Kingdom, one of the largest of the ancient world, was slowly but steadily disintegrating. The Seleukids had established themselves as the strongest of all the ‘Successor Kings’ after the death of Alexander the Great, and their territory extended as far as Thrace in the West and Pakistan in the East for about a century (312/281–190). The kingdom’s demise started soon after it had reached a new pinnacle under Antiochos III. The same, however, also suffered harsh military defeat at the hands of the Romans (191/90). And yet, this failure did not trigger the empire’s immediate collapse; the dynasty was resilient, and established itself again as the leading might in the Near East under Antiochos IV, and dragged on thereafter for another century, without further Roman military intervention. Thus, Roman military prowess cannot sufficiently explain the shift of power. Apparently, the Seleukid army continued to be a force to reckon with, and the popularity and prestige of the royal house could not be shattered by occasional defeats. Why, then, was the Seleukid Dynasty able to persist for so long? Among the factors that gradually eroded Seleukid supremacy will be discussed the impact of Roman diplomacy, the effect of the dynastic marriage practices that led to rivalries not only within the royal family, but also to the deleterious involvement of the Ptolemaic house; the rise of the Parthians in the East as the most successful competitors of the Seleukids as well as the surge of the Maccabees in the West as the best-documented case of the empire’s disintegration.



The Seleukid Empire under Antiochos III

ALTAY COŞKUN: Which Seleukid King Was the First to Establish Friendship with the Romans? Reflections on a Fabricated Letter (Suet., Claud. 25.3), amicitia with Antiochos III (200–193 BC) and the Lack thereof with Ilion

MARIJN S. VISSCHER: Poets and Politics: Antiochos the Great, Hegesianax and the War with Rome

ERAN ALMAGOR: Echoes of the Persian Wars in the European Phase of the Roman-Syrian War (with an Emphasis on Plut., Cat. Mai. 12–14)

KYLE ERICKSON: Where are the Wives? Royal Women in Seleukid Cult Documents

After Apameia: Seleukid Recovery and Disintegration in the Shadow of Rome

NICHOLAS VICTOR SEKUNDA: The Seleukid Elephant Corps after Apameia

ROLF STROOTMAN: Antiochos IV and Rome: The Festival at Daphne (Syria), the Treaty of Apameia and the Revival of Seleukid Expansionism in the West

BENJAMIN SCOLNIC: Reading Backwards: Antiochos IV and his Relationship with Rome

RICHARD WENGHOFER: With Enemies Like This Who Needs Friends? Roman Intervention in the Hellenistic East and the Preservation of the Seleukid Patrimony

Asia Minor in the Transition from Seleukid to Roman Hegemony

GERMAIN PAYEN: L’influence séleucide sur les dynasties anatoliennes après le traité d’Apamée

ALEX MCAULEY: L’ombre lointaine de Rome : La Cappadoce à la suite de la paix d’Apamée

CHRISTOPH MICHELS: Unlike any Other? The Attalid Kingdom after Apameia

The Fading Power of the Seleukids, Roman Diplomacy, and Judaea’s Way to Independence

ALTAY COŞKUN: Triangular Epistolary Diplomacy with Rome from Judas Maccabee to Aristobulos I

EDWARD DĄBROWA: The Seleukids, Rome and the Jews (134–76 BC)

Long-Term Perspectives on Babylonia

DAVID ENGELS: Mais où sont donc passés les soldats babyloniens ? La place des contingents « indigènes » dans l’armée séleucide

GILLIAN RAMSEY: Generals and Cities in Late-Seleukid and Early-Parthian Babylonia

ALTAY COŞKUN: Epilogue. Rome, the Seleukid East and the Disintegration of the Largest of the Successor Kingdoms in the 2nd Century BC

1) ALTAY COŞKUN & ALEX MCAULEY (eds.): Seleukid Royal Women. Creation, Representation and Distortion of Hellenistic Queenship in the Seleukid Empire (Historia Einzelschriften, Heft 240), Stuttgart: Franz Steiner Verlag, May 2016. 322 pp.

Select Papers from Seleukid Study Day IV, McGill University, Montreal, 20-23 Feb. 2013.

Cf. the website

Over the past two decades, the study of royal women has been one of the most dynamic fields of inquiry into the Hellenistic world (ca. 336/323–30 BC), and one that has dramatically shifted our perceptions of gender, status, influence, and ability within the broader ancient world. While royal women were once dismissed as powerless pawns in a political game that was an exclusively masculine domain, Seleukid Study Day IV (McGill University, Montreal, 20-23 Feb. 2013) made it apparent that we cannot evaluate female power and roles exclusively by male criteria. Perhaps more so in the Hellenistic age than in any other period of Ancient History, a profound appreciation of female prominence and influence as well as an understanding of a very distinct sort of agency has begun to emerge. However, compared to their contemporaries in Macedon and Egypt, Seleukid queens and princesses have hardly begun to fall under the gaze of scholarly scrutiny. Imbued with ideological prominence, they became scions of their family’s legitimacy and prestige. But how they impacted the cultures into which they married, and how they were themselves impacted by them, requires far more scholarly attention. Likewise lacking is a systematic scrutiny of the representation of female Seleukids in visual and textual media, both of which are necessary to decode the process of shaping, perpetuating, and modifying expectations attached to gender and social status. Seleukid royal women were born or married into the family at the head of an empire that spanned dozens of cultures and languages, encompassing territory that spanned from western Asia Minor to the Indus River. It has thus been one of the core objectives of this collaborative project to avoid Eurocentric perspectives by bringing the many diverse traditions of one of the largest empires of the ancient world back into the picture.


HANS BECK: Noble Women in China, Rome, and in-between – A Prologue


I. Experimenting with the Role of the Royal Consort: the First Two Basilissai of the Seleukids

ANN-CATHRIN HARDERS: The Making of a Queen – Seleukos Nikator and His Wives

DAVID ENGELS & KYLE ERICKSON: Apama and Stratonike – Marriage and Legitimacy

ERAN ALMAGOR: Seleukid Love and Power: Stratonike I

GILLIAN RAMSEY: The Diplomacy of Seleukid Women: Apama and Stratonike

II. Representation, Visibility and Distortion of Seleukid Queenship

ALTAY COŞKUN: Laodike I, Berenike Phernophoros, Dynastic Murders, and the Outbreak of the Third Syrian War (253-246 BC)

BRETT BARTLETT: The Fate of Kleopatra Tryphaina, or: Poetic Justice in Justin

SHEILA AGER & CRAIG HARDIMAN: Female Seleukid Portraits: Where are They?

III. Dynastic Intermarriage and Hellenistic Queenship in the Shadow of the Seleukids

ALEX MCAULEY: Princess & Tigress: Apama of Kyrene

RICHARD WENGHOFER & Del John Houle: Marriage Diplomacy and the Political Role of Royal Women in the Seleukid Far East

ROLF STROOTMAN: ‘The Heroic Company of My Forebears’: the Ancestor Galleries of Antiochos I of Kommagene at Nemrut Daği and the Role of Royal Women in the Transmission of Hellenistic Kingship

JULIA WILKER: A Dynasty without Women? The Hasmoneans between Jewish Traditions and Hellenistic Influence

ADRIAN G. DUMITRU: Kleopatra Selene – A Look at the Moon and Her Bright Side