Seleukos II Kallinikos SELEUKID, King of Syria
(265 BCE-225 BCE)
Laodike SELEUKID, Queen of Syria
Mithridates II, King of Pontus
(-Abt 220 BCE)
Laodike SELEUKID, Princess of Syria
Antiochos III "Megas" SELEUKID, King of Syria
(Abt 241 BCE-187 BCE)
Laodike, Princess of Pontus

Seleukos IV Philopator SELEUKID, King of Syria
(Abt 218 BCE-175 BCE)


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Laodike SELEUKID, Princess of Syria

Seleukos IV Philopator SELEUKID, King of Syria

  • Born: Abt 218 B.C.E.
  • Married: After 193 B.C.E.
  • Died: 3 Sep 175 B.C.E.

  Orthographic variation: Seleucus IV Philopator SELEUCID

  Research Notes:

Seleucus’s twelve-year reign is poorly documented. He was the second son of Antiochus III the Great (r. 223/2-187 BCE); his mother was Laodice, daughter of the Pontic king Mithradates II and Laodice, a Seleucid princess. Thus, like his ancestor Antiochus I, Seleucus was of mixed Macedonian-Iranian descent. He became crown prince after the death of his elder brother Antiochus in ca. 193 (Livy, 35.13.4-5) and held several important commands in Thrace and Asia Minor during the Roman-Seleucid War of 192-189. In the Battle of Magnesia, where Antiochus III was defeated by Rome and Pergamon, Seleucus commanded the left flank (Livy, 37.41.1; Appianus, Syriaca 33).

After the war, Seleucus struck coins in his own name in Seleucia on the Tigris (Messina, 2001), indicating that his father had appointed him co-ruler; his later epithet philopator claimed that the succession indeed had been peaceable and legitimate. On his father’s death in 187, Seleucus inherited the humiliating Treaty of Apamea, entailing withdrawal from Asia Minor and the payment of war indemnities to Rome. A shortage of funds perhaps resulting from these payments may be mirrored in the biblical story about Seleucus’s minister Heliodorus, who was sent to Jerusalem to expropriate the temple treasures but was driven off by angels (2 Maccabees 3:9-40; on the other hand, 2 Maccabees 3:2-3 paradoxically praises Seleucus for his magnanimous patronage of the Temple); Heliodorus’s official assignment to collect funds (2 Maccabees 5:7) is now confirmed by the Heliodorus Stele, a letter of king Seleucus to his minister (Cotton and Wörrle, 2007).

The scanty evidence for Seleucus’s reign concentrates on his attempts to re-establish Seleucid power in the west, including negotiations with the powerful Achaean League in Greece (185) and with Pontus in Asia Minor (181/180), and the marriage of his daughter Laodice to the Macedonian king Perseus in 178/177. He was assassinated in late August/early September 175 (Mittag, 2006, p. 42) by his first minister Heliodorus, who may have acted in alliance with Seleucus’s younger brother, Antiochus, the later king Antiochus IV Epiphanes (Van ‘t Hof 1955, pp. 27-31). Seleucus IV was formally succeeded by his ca. five-year-old son Antiochus, also known as Antiochus the Child. Seleucus’s widow Laodice IV was very briefly regent for her son, striking coins in his name (Hoover, 2002) until Antiochus IV married her in October 175 and took over the regency (OGIS 252. SEG 7; cf. Mittag, 2006, pp. 44-45). Antiochus the Child was assassinated on orders of Antiochus IV in 170. Another son of Seleucus IV, Demetrius, would later become Seleucid king after killing Antiochus IV’s minor successor (Demetrius I Soter, r. 162-150). 1


Reigned from 187 BC to 175 BC over a realm consisting of Syria (now including Cilicia and Judea), Mesopotamia, Babylonia and Nearer Iran (Media and Persia).

He was the second son and successor of Antiochus III the Great and Laodice III. Seleucus IV wed his sister Laodice IV, by whom he had three children: two sons Antiochus, Demetrius I Soter and a daughter Laodice V. Seleucus was made co-ruler with his father, and acceded as sole Basileus upon Antiochus' death in 187 BC.

He was compelled by financial necessities, created in part by the heavy war-indemnity exacted by Rome in the Treaty of Apamea which concluded their war with the Seleucids in 188 BC, to pursue an ambitious policy. In an effort to collect money to pay the Romans, he sent his minister Heliodorus to Jerusalem to seize the Jewish temple treasury.

The Bible tells of a prophecy given by a messenger angel in Daniel 11:20 (NLT). The text states that Seleucus "will be remembered as the king who sent a tax collector to maintain the royal splendor." The deuterocanonical lends more to this in 2 Maccabees 3:2-3... "It came to pass that even the kings themselves, and the princes esteemed the place [the Temple in Jerusalem] worthy of the highest honour, and glorified the temple with very great gifts: So that Seleucus king of Asia allowed out of his revenues all the charges belonging to the ministry of the sacrifices."

On his return from Jerusalem, Heliodorus assassinated Seleucus, and installed Seleucus' younger son Antiochus as king. The true heir Demetrius, son of Seleucus, was now being retained in Rome as a hostage, and the kingdom was seized by the younger brother of Seleucus, Antiochus IV Epiphanes. Antiochus managed to oust Heliodorus and co-ruled with the young Antiochus until 170 BC when he had him murdered. 2


Antiochus the Great was succeeded by Seleucus Philopator, his eldest son, whom he had left in Antioch when he set out for the eastern provinces. His reign was obscure and contemptible, occasioned by the misery to which the Romans had reduced that crown; and the exorbitant sum, a thousand talents annually, he was obliged to pay, during all his reign, by virtue of the treaty of peace concluded between the king his father and that people....

Seleucus Philopator did not reign long in Asia, nor did he perform any memorable action. Under him happened the famous incident concerning Heliodorus, related in the second book of Maccabees. The holy city of Jerusalem enjoyed at that time profound tranquility. Onias the high-priest, inspired by a spirit of piety, caused the laws of God to be strictly observed there; and prompted even kings and idolatrous princes to hold the holy place in the highest veneration. They honoured it with rich gifts; and king Seleucus furnished, from his own private revenues, all that was necessary for the solemnization of the sacrifices. Nevertheless, the perfidy of a Jew, called Simon, governor of the temple, raised on a sudden a great disorder in the city. This man, to revenge himself of the opposition which Onias the high-priest made to his unjust enterprises, informed the king, that there were immense treasures in the temple, which were not designed for the service of sacrifices, and that he might seize upon them all. The king, on this information, sent Heliodorus, his first minister, to Jerusalem, with orders to carry off all those treasures.... 3

  Marriage Information:

Seleukos married his sister Laodike, widow of his eldest brother Antiochos, after 193 BCE.


1 Encyclopædia Iranica, Seleucus IV Philopator.

2 Wikipedia article, Seleucus IV Philopator, citing Encyclopædia Britannica, Vol. 20 (1973), p. 190; Grainger, "The Fall of the Seleucid Empire," Page 2.

3 The Ancient History of the Egyptians, Carthaginians, Assyrians, Babylonians, Medes and Persians, Macedonians, and Grecians, Volume 4, Charles Rollin, 1825, pp. 87, 119.

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