Seleukos I Nikator (The Victor), Founder and King of the Seleukid Empire of Syria, 312-281 BC.
|The Seleucids were a Greek dynasty who ruled much of the Middle East from 312 to 64 BCE. There were about 28 Seleucid kings and one ruling queen. Ten died in the many wars of the era; many others were assassinated, often by relatives. Founder of the dynasty was Seleucus I, born in Macedonia about 369 BCE and a close companion of Alexander the Great. In 312 BCE he crossed the Syrian desert to recapture Babylon. This event marked Year 1 of the 'Seleucid Era'. |
In 281 BCE, Seleucus crossed into Europe in an effort to conquer Macedonia. It ended poorly for him as he was murdered. His son, Antiochus I, became king. Antiochus II's son Seleucus II Callinicus came to the throne around 246 BC.
|Seleucus II was soundly defeated by Ptolemy III of Egypt and then had to fight a civil war against his own brother Antiochus Hierax. A revival in Seleucid fortunes would begin when Seleucus II's younger son, Antiochus III, took the throne in 223 BC. Antiochus restored the Seleucid Kingdom to glory, temporarily.|
A rare Silver Tetradrachm of the Seleukids
|Grand plans put the empire on a collision course with the new power of the Mediterranean, the Roman Republic. At the battles of Thermopylae (191 BC) and Magnesia (190 BC), Antiochus's forces suffered resounding defeats. The decay of the empire had begun. By 100 BC, the once formidable Seleucid Empire existed only because no other nation wished to absorb them as they acted as a buffer. Mithridates was defeated by Pompey in 63 BC. Pompey saw the Seleucids as too troublesome and did away with both rival Seleucid princes. He made Syria into a Roman province and the Seleucids faded into history.|