Seleucus IV Philopator

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Seleucus IV Philopator
Seleukos IV tetradrachm obverse.jpg
Silver tetradrachm of Seleucus IV, minted in Ptolemais-Ake, featuring a portrait of Seleucus on the obverse. SC 1331a
Basileus of the Seleucid Empire
Reign3 July 187 – 3 September 175 BC
PredecessorAntiochus III the Great
Bornc. 218 BC
Died3 September 175 BC
(aged 42–43)
SpouseLaodice IV
Demetrius I Soter
Laodice V
FatherAntiochus III the Great
MotherLaodice III

Seleucus IV Philopator[1] (Greek: Σέλευκος Φιλοπάτωρ; c. 218 – 3 September 175 BC),[2][3] ruler of the Hellenistic Seleucid Empire, 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).


Birth and family

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 Demetrius I Soter, Antiochus and a daughter Laodice V.

Seleucid conflict with Rome

During the prelude to the Roman-Seleucid War, Seleucus was put in charge of the re-established colony of Lysimacheia by his father.[4][5] Upon the outbreak of war, Seleucus commanded his own force, unsuccessfully besieging Pergamon,[6] and taking the city of Phocaea[7] before fighting in the Battle of Magnesia alongside his father.[8] After their defeat at Magnesia, Seleucus was made co-regent in 189 BC[9] and the Seleucids signed the Treaty of Apamea with Rome in 188 BC.[10] As part of the treaty, Seleucus oversaw the supply of grain and scouts to Roman and Pergamene forces during their campaign against the Galatians.[7]


In 187 BC, Antiochus died[10] after looting the Temple of Bel in Elymaïs[11] and Seleucus took over as Basileus. He renewed an alliance with the Achaean League,[11] and almost joined in Pharnaces I's invasion of Galatia, before reconsidering and turning back.[9][11] He also substituted his son Demetrius instead of his brother Antiochus IV as a hostage in Rome.[12]


On September 3, 175 BC (137 SE), Seleucus was assassinated by Heliodorus, one of his leading bureaucrats. The ancient sources do not record a motive for this act; possibly it was simple lust for power, or possibly the sources misattributed the death to the one who gained the most from it.[13] Heliodorus took over as regent, ruling on behalf of Seleucus IV's young child Antiochus. Heliodorus's reign as regent was brief, however; months later, he was replaced by Antiochus IV with support from Pergamon.[12][9]

In the Judeo-Christian tradition

Coin of Seleucus IV Philopator, stamp Greek

According to texts later included as scripture by Jews and Christians, Seleucus IV sent out Heliodorus in 187 BC on a tax-collecting mission after hearing an inflated report of the Temple's wealth. Helidorus attempted to raid the treasury of the Second Temple in Jerusalem, but was repelled by angelic beings in a miracle.[14] This is recorded in the deuterocanonical book of 2 Maccabees, which takes a special interest in the Temple. It is also referred to obliquely in the Book of Daniel which states that Seleucus "will send out a tax collector to maintain the royal splendor";[15] the collector is also referred to as an "extortioner" (Jerusalem Bible) or an "exactor of tribute" (Revised Standard Version).

The kings themselves honored the place (Jerusalem) and glorified the temple with the finest presents, even to the extent that King Seleucus of Asia defrayed from his own revenues all the expenses connected with the service of the sacrifices. But a man named Simon (...) reported to him [Apollonius] the treasury in Jerusalem was full of untold sums of money, so that the amount of the funds could not be reckoned, and that they did not belong to the account of the sacrifices, but that it was possible for them to fall under the control of the king. When Apollonius met the king, he told him of the money about which he had been informed. The king chose Heliodorus, who was in charge of his affairs, and sent him with commands to effect the removal of the reported wealth.

— 2 Maccabees 3:2-4, 6-7 (NRSV)[16]


See also


  1. ^ "Philopator — definition, examples, related words and more at Wordnik".
  2. ^ "Seleucus IV Philopator".
  3. ^ Encyclopædia Britannica, Vol. 20 (1973), p. 190
  4. ^ Livius, Titus. Ab Urbe Condita. Vol. 35.
  5. ^ "Appian, The Syrian Wars 1 - Livius". Retrieved 6 November 2020.
  6. ^ "Appian, The Syrian Wars 6 - Livius". Retrieved 6 November 2020.
  7. ^ a b Livius, Titus. Ab Urbe Condita. Vol. 37.
  8. ^ "Appian, The Syrian Wars 7 - Livius". Retrieved 6 November 2020.
  9. ^ a b c Hornblower, Simon; Spawforth, Antony; Eidinow, Esther (2012). The Oxford classical dictionary. p. 1342. ISBN 978-0-19-954556-8. OCLC 779530090.
  10. ^ a b Hornblower, Simon; Spawforth, Antony; Eidinow, Esther (2012). The Oxford classical dictionary. p. 105. ISBN 978-0-19-954556-8. OCLC 779530090.
  11. ^ a b c Siculus, Diodorus. Bibliotheca Historica. Vol. 29.10.15.
  12. ^ a b "Appian, The Syrian Wars 9 - Livius". Retrieved 6 November 2020.
  13. ^ Gera, Dov (1998). Judaea and Mediterranean Politics 219 to 161 B.C.E. Leiden: Brill. p. 110-113. ISBN 90 04 09441 5.
  14. ^ Scolnic, Benjamin (2004). Alcimus, Enemy of the Maccabees. University Press America, Inc. p. 5. ISBN 0-7618-3044-8.
  15. ^ Daniel 11:20: New International Version
  16. ^ 2 Maccabees 3:1–7

External links

Seleucus IV Philopator
Born: c. 218 Died: 175 BC
Preceded by Seleucid King
(King of Syria)

187–175 BC
Succeeded by