Antiochus IV Epiphanes

Antiochus IV Epiphanes

Overview
Antiochus IV Epiphanes (icon; Greek
Ancient Greek
Ancient Greek is the stage of the Greek language in the periods spanning the times c. 9th–6th centuries BC, , c. 5th–4th centuries BC , and the c. 3rd century BC – 6th century AD of ancient Greece and the ancient world; being predated in the 2nd millennium BC by Mycenaean Greek...

: , 'God Manifest'; c. 215 BC – 164 BC) ruled the Seleucid Empire
Seleucid Empire
The Seleucid Empire was a Greek-Macedonian state that was created out of the eastern conquests of Alexander the Great. At the height of its power, it included central Anatolia, the Levant, Mesopotamia, Persia, today's Turkmenistan, Pamir and parts of Pakistan.The Seleucid Empire was a major centre...

 from 175 BC until his death in 164 BC. He was a son of King Antiochus III the Great
Antiochus III the Great
Antiochus III the Great Seleucid Greek king who became the 6th ruler of the Seleucid Empire as a youth of about eighteen in 223 BC. Antiochus was an ambitious ruler who ruled over Greater Syria and western Asia towards the end of the 3rd century BC...

. His original name was Mithridates; he assumed the name Antiochus after he ascended the throne.

Notable events during the reign of Antiochus IV include his near-conquest of Egypt
Ptolemaic Egypt
Ptolemaic Egypt began when Ptolemy I Soter invaded Egypt and declared himself Pharaoh of Egypt in 305 BC and ended with the death of queen Cleopatra VII of Egypt and the Roman conquest in 30 BC. The Ptolemaic Kingdom was a powerful Hellenistic state, extending from southern Syria in the east, to...

, which led to a confrontation that became an origin of the metaphorical phrase, "line in the sand
Line in the sand (phrase)
A line in the sand is a metaphor with two similar meanings:*The first meaning is of a point beyond which one will proceed no further...

" (see below), and the rebellion of the Jewish Maccabees
Maccabees
The Maccabees were a Jewish rebel army who took control of Judea, which had been a client state of the Seleucid Empire. They founded the Hasmonean dynasty, which ruled from 164 BCE to 63 BCE, reasserting the Jewish religion, expanding the boundaries of the Land of Israel and reducing the influence...

.

He assumed divine epithets, which no other Hellenistic king had done, such as Θεὸς Ἐπιφανής 'manifest god' and after his defeat of Egypt, Νικηφόρος 'bringer of victory'.
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Antiochus IV Epiphanes (icon; Greek
Ancient Greek
Ancient Greek is the stage of the Greek language in the periods spanning the times c. 9th–6th centuries BC, , c. 5th–4th centuries BC , and the c. 3rd century BC – 6th century AD of ancient Greece and the ancient world; being predated in the 2nd millennium BC by Mycenaean Greek...

: , 'God Manifest'; c. 215 BC – 164 BC) ruled the Seleucid Empire
Seleucid Empire
The Seleucid Empire was a Greek-Macedonian state that was created out of the eastern conquests of Alexander the Great. At the height of its power, it included central Anatolia, the Levant, Mesopotamia, Persia, today's Turkmenistan, Pamir and parts of Pakistan.The Seleucid Empire was a major centre...

 from 175 BC until his death in 164 BC. He was a son of King Antiochus III the Great
Antiochus III the Great
Antiochus III the Great Seleucid Greek king who became the 6th ruler of the Seleucid Empire as a youth of about eighteen in 223 BC. Antiochus was an ambitious ruler who ruled over Greater Syria and western Asia towards the end of the 3rd century BC...

. His original name was Mithridates; he assumed the name Antiochus after he ascended the throne.

Notable events during the reign of Antiochus IV include his near-conquest of Egypt
Ptolemaic Egypt
Ptolemaic Egypt began when Ptolemy I Soter invaded Egypt and declared himself Pharaoh of Egypt in 305 BC and ended with the death of queen Cleopatra VII of Egypt and the Roman conquest in 30 BC. The Ptolemaic Kingdom was a powerful Hellenistic state, extending from southern Syria in the east, to...

, which led to a confrontation that became an origin of the metaphorical phrase, "line in the sand
Line in the sand (phrase)
A line in the sand is a metaphor with two similar meanings:*The first meaning is of a point beyond which one will proceed no further...

" (see below), and the rebellion of the Jewish Maccabees
Maccabees
The Maccabees were a Jewish rebel army who took control of Judea, which had been a client state of the Seleucid Empire. They founded the Hasmonean dynasty, which ruled from 164 BCE to 63 BCE, reasserting the Jewish religion, expanding the boundaries of the Land of Israel and reducing the influence...

.

He assumed divine epithets, which no other Hellenistic king had done, such as Θεὸς Ἐπιφανής 'manifest god' and after his defeat of Egypt, Νικηφόρος 'bringer of victory'. But his often eccentric behavior, capricious actions and even insanity led some of his contemporaries to call him Epimanes ("The Mad One"), a word play on his title Epiphanes.

Rise to power


As the son and a potential successor of King Antiochus III, Antiochus became a political hostage of the Roman Republic
Roman Republic
The Roman Republic was the period of the ancient Roman civilization where the government operated as a republic. It began with the overthrow of the Roman monarchy, traditionally dated around 508 BC, and its replacement by a government headed by two consuls, elected annually by the citizens and...

 following the Peace of Apamea in 188 BC. When his older brother, Seleucus IV followed his father onto the throne in 187 BC, Antiochus was exchanged for his nephew Demetrius I Soter (the son and heir of Seleucus). After King Seleucus was assassinated by Heliodorus
Heliodorus (minister)
Heliodorus was a minister of Seleucus IV Philopator ca. [187 BC - 175 BC]. According to some sources he is said to have assassinated Seleucus.-Biblical background:...

, an usurper
Usurper
Usurper is a derogatory term used to describe either an illegitimate or controversial claimant to the power; often, but not always in a monarchy, or a person who succeeds in establishing himself as a monarch without inheriting the throne, or any other person exercising authority unconstitutionally...

, in 175 BC, Antiochus in turn ousted him. Since Seleucus' legitimate heir, Demetrius I Soter
Demetrius I Soter
Demetrius I , surnamed Soter , was a ruler of the Hellenistic Seleucid Empire....

, was still a hostage in Rome
Ancient Rome
Ancient Rome was a thriving civilization that grew on the Italian Peninsula as early as the 8th century BC. Located along the Mediterranean Sea and centered on the city of Rome, it expanded to one of the largest empires in the ancient world....

, Antiochus, with the help of King Eumenes II
Eumenes II
Eumenes II of Pergamon was king of Pergamon and a member of the Attalid dynasty. The son of king Attalus I and queen Apollonis, he followed in his father's footsteps and collaborated with the Romans to oppose first Macedonian, then Seleucid expansion towards the Aegean, leading to the defeat of...

 of Pergamum, seized the throne
Coup d'état
A coup d'état state, literally: strike/blow of state)—also known as a coup, putsch, and overthrow—is the sudden, extrajudicial deposition of a government, usually by a small group of the existing state establishment—typically the military—to replace the deposed government with another body; either...

 for himself, proclaiming 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
Coele-Syria
Coele-Syria , or Cœle-Syria or Celesyria, traditionally given the meaning 'hollow' Syria, was the region of southern Syria disputed between the Seleucid dynasty and the Ptolemaic dynasty. Rather than limiting the Greek term to the Beqaa Valley of Lebanon, it is often used to cover the entire area...

 in 170 BC, Antiochus launched a preemptive strike against Egypt, conquering all but Alexandria
Alexandria
Alexandria is the second-largest city of Egypt, with a population of 4.1 million, extending about along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea in the north central part of the country; it is also the largest city lying directly on the Mediterranean coast. It is Egypt's largest seaport, serving...

 and capturing King Ptolemy. To avoid alarming Rome
Rome
Rome is the capital of Italy and the country's largest and most populated city and comune, with over 2.7 million residents in . The city is located in the central-western portion of the Italian Peninsula, on the Tiber River within the Lazio region of Italy.Rome's history spans two and a half...

, Antiochus allowed Ptolemy VI to continue ruling as a puppet king
Puppet state
A puppet state is a nominal sovereign of a state who is de facto controlled by a foreign power. The term refers to a government controlled by the government of another country like a puppeteer controls the strings of a marionette...

. 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
Cyprus
Cyprus , officially the Republic of Cyprus , is a Eurasian island country, member of the European Union, in the Eastern Mediterranean, east of Greece, south of Turkey, west of Syria and north of Egypt. It is the third largest island in the Mediterranean Sea.The earliest known human activity on the...

. Before reaching Alexandria, his path was blocked by a single, old Roman ambassador named Gaius Popillius Laenas
Gaius Popillius Laenas
Gaius Popillius Laenas twice served as one of the two consuls of the Roman Republic, in 172 and 158 BC. His name indicates he was of the gens of the Popilii, a name of Etruscan origin...

, 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 decided to withdraw. Only then did Popillius agree to shake hands with him.

Sacking of Jerusalem and persecution of Jews



While Antiochus was busy in Egypt, a rumor spread that he had been killed. The deposed
Deposition (politics)
Deposition by political means concerns the removal of a politician or monarch. It may be done by coup, impeachment, invasion or forced abdication...

 High Priest Jason
Jason (high priest)
Jason of the Oniad family, brother to Onias III, was a High Priest in the Temple in Jerusalem.Jason became high priest in 175 BCE after the accession of Antiochus Epiphanes to the throne of the Seleucid Empire....

 gathered a force of 1,000 soldiers and made a surprise attack on the city of Jerusalem. The High Priest appointed by Antiochus, Menelaus
Menelaus (High Priest)
Menelaus was High Priest in Jerusalem from 171 BC to about 161 BC. He was the successor of Jason, the brother of Onias III.The sources are divided as to his origin...

, was forced to flee Jerusalem during a riot. On the King's return from Egypt in 167 BC enraged by his defeat, he attacked Jerusalem and restored Menelaus, then executed many Jews.
To consolidate his empire and strengthen his hold over the region, Antiochus decided to side with the Hellenized Jews
Hellenistic Judaism
Hellenistic Judaism was a movement which existed in the Jewish diaspora that sought to establish a Hebraic-Jewish religious tradition within the culture and language of Hellenism...

 by outlawing Jewish religious rites and traditions
Judaism
Judaism ) is the "religion, philosophy, and way of life" of the Jewish people...

 kept by observant Jews and by ordering the worship of Zeus
Zeus
In the ancient Greek religion, Zeus was the "Father of Gods and men" who ruled the Olympians of Mount Olympus as a father ruled the family. He was the god of sky and thunder in Greek mythology. His Roman counterpart is Jupiter and his Etruscan counterpart is Tinia.Zeus was the child of Cronus...

 as the supreme god (2 Maccabees 6:1–12). This was anathema to the Jews and when they refused, Antiochus sent an army to enforce his decree. Because of the resistance, the city was destroyed, many were slaughtered, and a military Greek citadel
Citadel
A citadel is a fortress for protecting a town, sometimes incorporating a castle. The term derives from the same Latin root as the word "city", civis, meaning citizen....

 called the Acra was established.

Maccabean Revolt


The First
1 Maccabees
The First book of Maccabees is a book written in Hebrew by a Jewish author after the restoration of an independent Jewish kingdom, about the latter part of the 2nd century BC. The original Hebrew is lost and the most important surviving version is the Greek translation contained in the Septuagint...

 and Second Book of Macabees
2 Maccabees
2 Maccabees is a deuterocanonical book of the Bible, which focuses on the Jews' revolt against Antiochus IV Epiphanes and concludes with the defeat of the Syrian general Nicanor in 161 BC by Judas Maccabeus, the hero of the work....

 painted the Maccabean Revolt as a national resistance of a foreign political and cultural oppression. Modern scholars argue that the king was intervening in a civil war
Civil war
A civil war is a war between organized groups within the same nation state or republic, or, less commonly, between two countries created from a formerly-united nation state....

 between the traditionalist Jews in the country and the Hellenized Jews in Jerusalem. According to Joseph P. Schultz:

Modern scholarship on the other hand considers the Maccabean revolt less as an uprising against foreign oppression than as a civil war between the orthodox and reformist parties in the Jewish camp.


It seems that the traditionalists, with Hebrew/Aramaic names like Onias
Onias III
Onias III was a Jewish High Priest, the son of Simon II. He is described as a pious man who, unlike the Hellenizers, fought for Judaism. Seleucus Philopator defrayed all the expenses connected with the sanctuary and was friendly to the Jews...

, contested with the Hellenizers with Greek names like Jason
Jason (high priest)
Jason of the Oniad family, brother to Onias III, was a High Priest in the Temple in Jerusalem.Jason became high priest in 175 BCE after the accession of Antiochus Epiphanes to the throne of the Seleucid Empire....

 and Menelaus
Menelaus (High Priest)
Menelaus was High Priest in Jerusalem from 171 BC to about 161 BC. He was the successor of Jason, the brother of Onias III.The sources are divided as to his origin...

 over who would be the High Priest
Kohen Gadol
The High Priest was the chief religious official of Israelite religion and of classical Judaism from the rise of the Israelite nation until the destruction of the Second Temple of Jerusalem...

. Other authors point to possible socio/economic motives in addition to the religious motives behind the civil war.

What began in many respects as a civil war escalated when the Hellenistic kingdom of Syria sided with the Hellenizing Jews
Hellenistic Judaism
Hellenistic Judaism was a movement which existed in the Jewish diaspora that sought to establish a Hebraic-Jewish religious tradition within the culture and language of Hellenism...

 in their conflict with the traditionalists. As the conflict escalated, Antiochus took the side of the Hellenizers by prohibiting the religious practices that the traditionalists had rallied around. This may explain why the king, in a total departure from Seleucid practice in all other places and times, banned the traditional religion of a whole people.

Final years


Taking advantage of Antiochus' western problems, King Mithridates I of Parthia
Mithridates I of Parthia
Mithridates or Mithradates I was the "Great King" of Parthia from ca. 171 BC - 138 BC, succeeding his brother Phraates I. His father was King Phriapatius of Parthia, who died ca. 176 BC). Mithridates I made Parthia into a major political power by expanding the empire to the east, south, and west...

 attacked from the east and seized the city of Herat
Herat
Herāt is the capital of Herat province in Afghanistan. It is the third largest city of Afghanistan, with a population of about 397,456 as of 2006. It is situated in the valley of the Hari River, which flows from the mountains of central Afghanistan to the Karakum Desert in Turkmenistan...

 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
Judea
Judea or Judæa was the name of the mountainous southern part of the historic Land of Israel from the 8th century BCE to the 2nd century CE, when Roman Judea was renamed Syria Palaestina following the Jewish Bar Kokhba revolt.-Etymology:The...

, Antiochus sent a commander named Lysias
Lysias (Syrian chancellor)
Lysias, or Lusias was a 2nd century Seleucid General and governor of Syria under the Seleucid Empire.He was described as, "A noble man, and one of the blood royal"...

 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



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.

Jewish tradition


Antiochus IV ruled the Jews from 175 to 164 BC. He is remembered as a major villain and persecutor in the Jewish traditions associated with Hanukkah
Hanukkah
Hanukkah , also known as the Festival of Lights, is an eight-day Jewish holiday commemorating the rededication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem at the time of the Maccabean Revolt of the 2nd century BCE...

, including the books of Maccabees
Maccabees
The Maccabees were a Jewish rebel army who took control of Judea, which had been a client state of the Seleucid Empire. They founded the Hasmonean dynasty, which ruled from 164 BCE to 63 BCE, reasserting the Jewish religion, expanding the boundaries of the Land of Israel and reducing the influence...

 and the "Scroll of Antiochus
Megillat Antiochus
Megillat Antiochus is a work recounting the story of Hanukkah and the history of the victory of the Maccabees over the Seleucid Empire....

". Rabbinical sources refer to him as הרשע harasha ("the wicked").

Daniel 8



Jewish and Christian commentaries view Antiochus IV as a possible candidate for being the "little horn" as mentioned in Daniel's vision in the Book of Daniel
Book of Daniel
The Book of Daniel is a book in the Hebrew Bible. The book tells of how Daniel, and his Judean companions, were inducted into Babylon during Jewish exile, and how their positions elevated in the court of Nebuchadnezzar. The court tales span events that occur during the reigns of Nebuchadnezzar,...

, Chapter 8.

See also

  • Book of Daniel
    Book of Daniel
    The Book of Daniel is a book in the Hebrew Bible. The book tells of how Daniel, and his Judean companions, were inducted into Babylon during Jewish exile, and how their positions elevated in the court of Nebuchadnezzar. The court tales span events that occur during the reigns of Nebuchadnezzar,...

    ; (Daniel 8:9–12, 23–25; Daniel 11:21–35 are generally identified with Antiochus Epiphanes)
  • Abomination of Desolation
    Abomination of Desolation
    The abomination of desolation is a term found in the Hebrew Bible, in the book of Daniel. It also occurs in the book of 1 Maccabees and in the New Testament gospels....

  • The Wars of the Jews
    The Wars of the Jews
    The Jewish War , in full Flavius Josephus's Books of the History of the Jewish War against the Romans , also referred to in English as The Wars of the Jews and The History of the Destruction of Jerusalem, is a book written by the 1st century Jewish historian Josephus.It is a description of Jewish...

  • List of people who have been considered deities

External links