Featured Antiochus, the Great King, the Mighty King, King of the World, King of Babylon!

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Magnus Maximus, Sep 18, 2020.

  1. Magnus Maximus

    Magnus Maximus Dulce et Decorum est....

    Antiochus I Soter was born in late 324 or early 323 BCE, to Seleucus I Nikator and the Iranian princess Apama. Antiochus's parents were wed at Susa along with many other Macedonian and Iranian couples at the behest of Alexander III. Seleucus was one of the few Macedonian officers who did not immediately divorce his wife when Alexander died in 323 BCE. It seems that Seleucus and his wife genuinely loved each other, as they would remain married with her until her death decades later.

    Antiochus had a fairly tumultuous childhood, as he was only nine years old when he and his family was forced to flee Babylon to Egypt in order to escape the wrath of Antigonus I. Antiochus next appears with his father at the Battle of Ipsus in 301 BCE, age 23 or 22, where he was given command of one wing of the allied calvary. At Ipsus, Antiochus directly faced off against Demetrius I Poliorcetes and Pyrrhus of Epirus. Whether by design or accident, Antiochus and his calvary detachment were routed, with Demetrius and Pyrrhus in hot pursuit. In the meantime, Seleucus I cleverly sent a screening force of elephants to block Demetrius and Pyrrhus's calvary detachment from falling upon the allied coalition's phalanx. Without calvary support, the Antigonid flank was left exposed and crumbled, resulting in a decisive victory for the allied coalition that day.

    In 292 BCE, Seleucus I made his son co-ruler and viceroy of the eastern satrapies. Antiochus spent most of his time in Bactria, where he built cities and fortifications to protect against nomadic raiders. Under Antiochus's rule, the general and explorer Demodamas defeated a nomadic raid on Parthia and Bactria, and led a Seleucid expedition far north into modern day Kazakhstan. In addition, Antiochus led rebuilding efforts in Alexandria Eschatate to shore up his most eastern boarder.

    As Antiochus was viceroy of the east, he oversaw the reconstruction of local temples in Babylon, and as a result the locals bestowed upon him the title of "King of the Universe". The title of King of the Universe originates back to Sargon of Akkad in 2334 BCE and had been bestowed upon his successors for millennia. The Antiochus cylinder, a football sized clay cylinder found in a temple wall, starts off describing Antiochus as:

    [i.1]Antiochus, the great king,

    [i.2] the mighty king, king of the world, king of Babylon, king of (all) countries,

    [i.3] caretaker of Esagila and Ezida,

    [i.4] foremost son of Seleucus, the king,

    [i.5] the Macedonian, king of Babylon,

    [i.6] am I.

    After the murder of his father Seleucus I at the hands of Ptolemy Ceraunus in 281, Antiochus I made his way westward. Unfortunately for Antiochus, he was immediately beset with numerous revolts in the Syrian country side, and an invasion by Ptolemy II. Antiochus I managed to put down the revolts by 276, and led a successful defense of Syria against to forces of Ptolemy II. By 275 he was in Sardis, surveying the damage done to Seleucid interests when he engaged a large Celtic hoard in battle. Antiochus managed to win a spectacular victory thanks to his general Theodotas advising him to hide his sixteen war elephants until the battle began. By 271, Antiochus and Ptolemy II resumed hostilities, and Ptolemy II managed to take a number of coastal town in Cilicia before a peace was finalized.

    In 268, Seleucus son of Antiochus I was executed for what historians call a mix of treason and incompetence. After his eldest son's death, Antiochus I elevated his youngest son, confusingly called Antiochus, to viceroy of the east. Antiochus I Soter would fight his last battle in 262 against the kingdom of Pergamon, where he was defeated. Antiochus stayed in Sardis for the next year where he would die of natural causes. He was 63 years old and had ruled the Seleucid empire for a total of 31 years with 21 of those being the senior or sole King.

    Antiochus I was a tough warrior king who went through his own twelve labors just to hold his fathers realm together. While he wasn't always successful, he never gave up and never showed the weakness or incompetence that would plague the later Seleucid monarchs. Many coins of Antiochus I often show him in a heavenly gaze with a look of desperation on his face, as if he was asking for divine help in his labors of keeping the Seleucid empire together.

    I recently purchased this coin to act as an upgrade for my earlier place holder tetradrachm I have of his.

    The Seleucid Empire under Antiochus I Soter circa 270 BCE

    The Antiochus Cylinder

    My original tetradrachm of Antiochus I Soter

    My upgraded example
    Type: Tetradrachm
    Date: c. 264-263 BCE.
    Workshop/City Name: Seleucia on the Tigris
    Metal: silver
    Diameter: 30 mm
    Corner Axis: 7 a.m.
    Weight: 16.84 g.
    Degree of rarity: R1

    Sources/Fun reading
    https://www.livius.org/sources/content/mesopotamian-chronicles-content/antiochus-cylinder/#:~:text=The Cylinder of Antiochus I Soter from the,the Ezida Temple and prays for divine protection.


    Last edited: Sep 18, 2020
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  3. DonnaML

    DonnaML Supporter! Supporter

    A great write-up and coin. I find it fascinating that cuneiform was still being used to some extent, and that knowledge of it was still extant, as late as the 3rd century BCE. Do you know when the latest use of it was, and when the knowledge of how to write it was lost? (In Egypt, I'm pretty sure that hieroglyphics were still known and being used to a limited extent by certain priests as late as the second or third century AD.) Also, do you know what language the cuneiform on the Antiochus Cylinder was used to write?
    Last edited: Sep 18, 2020
  4. Only a Poor Old Man

    Only a Poor Old Man Well-Known Member

    Excellent write-up. The marriage of Seleukus and Apama must have been a case of true love as you said. Unlike the Ptolemies who I don't think had much to do with the local population throughout their reign, the Seleukids were a bit more open-minded about mixing with the locals. I don't have an Antiochus (he is in my wish-list) but I can post another 'Soter' from a bit later :)


    @DonnaML Hieroglyphics must have been used extensively during the Ptolemaic era, otherwise they wouldn't have bothered adding them in the Rosetta stone, I think.
  5. hotwheelsearl

    hotwheelsearl Well-Known Member

    According to a source Wikipedia cites, the last known cuneiform text was an astronomical thing from 75AD. Apparently it may have been able to be read as late as 3c AD
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  6. Orielensis

    Orielensis Well-Known Member

    That's a wonderful new tetradrachm, although I have to say that I like the portrait style on your old example better. Are you planning to keep both coins?

    I don't have any Antiochus I silver (yet), only this humble bronze coin. Yet I have to say that I find the facing Athena quite charming:

    Seleukiden – Antiochos I. Soter, Nominal D, Athene und Nike, SC I 315B.png
    Antiochos I Soter, Seleucid Empire, AE denomination D, 280–261 BC, Smyrna or Sardes mint. Obv: head of Athena facing. Rev: BAΣIΛEΩΣ ANTI]OXOY; Nike standing l., holding wreath; monogram in field l. 13mm, 2.12g. Ref: Seleucid Coins I, 315b.
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  7. Pavlos

    Pavlos You pick out the big men. I'll make them brave!

    Wonderful tetradrachm @Magnus Maximus! Interesting to read about the cylinder.
    Antiochos I truly was king of the world, stretching all the way to the Himalaya mountains.

    SELEUKID EMPIRE. Antiochos I Soter. 281-261 BC. Æ (22mm, 8.22 g, 6h). Aï Khanoum mint. Struck circa 267-261 BC. Helmeted head of Athena right / Nike standing half-left, holding wreath. SC 452; SMAK Type 9; HGC 9, 164.
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  8. ancient coin hunter

    ancient coin hunter I dig ancient coins...

    Last hieroglyphic inscription in Aswan has been dated to 394 A.D. Also, great upgrade coin and write-up. Thank you.
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  9. Magnus Maximus

    Magnus Maximus Dulce et Decorum est....

    That’s a good question.
    According to livus.org “The script of this cylinder is deliberately archaising. It is inscribed in archaic ceremonial Babylonian cuneiform script that was used in the well-known Codex of Hammurabi and adopted in a number of royal inscriptions of Neo-Babylonian kings, esp. Nabopolassar, but also Nebuchadnezzar and Nabonidus. The script is quite different from the cuneiform script that was used for chronicles, diaries, rituals, scientific and administrative texts.”
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  10. Magnus Maximus

    Magnus Maximus Dulce et Decorum est....

    Very nice.
    Yeah, the wheels on the bus really came off after Demetrius I Soter. Nice coin!
  11. Alegandron

    Alegandron "ΤΩΙ ΚΡΑΤΙΣΤΩΙ..." ΜΕΓΑΣ ΑΛΕΞΑΝΔΡΟΣ, June 323 BCE Supporter

    Nice write up, @Magnus Maximus ... I remember that Seleukos and Apama were long time married. Really a great story in history.

    I do not have one of Antiochos, but here is one from his father... Maybe it was Apama driving the Elephants, and everyone says it was Athena... :)

    Seleukos I, 312-280 BCE.
    AR Tetradrachm (14.46 gm) of Seleucia on the Tigris.
    Laureate head of Zeus /
    Athena driving chariot drawn by four horned elephants.
    SC.130. Toned, VF, some tooling. Rare.
    Ex: Pegasi

    With the successful conclusion of the Babylonian War against Antigonos Monophthalmos in 309 BC, Seleukos had secured his western border. He then turned his eyes eastwards and attacked Chandragupta, the ruler of the Mauryan Empire in northern India. Sometime around 303 BC a peace treaty was agreed, one term of which was that Seleukos would receive 500 elephants from Chandragupta. The chariot of elephants on this coin serves as a reminder of these elephants.
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  12. kaparthy

    kaparthy Supporter! Supporter

    There is a bit more to it than the Introduction: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antiochus_cylinder

    Here is a long and detailed examination and report along with a new translation.

    All of which is to say, "Cool coins!" Thanks for sharing your research.
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  13. ernstk

    ernstk Active Member

    There is a better cuneiform for Cyrus the great who rescued the Jews and that cuneiform belongs to Iran and Unfortunately Americans looted it and do not return it back to the nation who is true owner of it.
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