Greek coin of
Antiochos VIII Grypos - King: 121-96 B.C.
Bronze 18mm (6.28 grams) Struck 121-120 B.C.
Reference: HGC 9, 1212; Sear 7154; B.MC. 4. 90, 27 ---
Radiate and diademed head of Antiochos VIII right.
Eagle standing left, scepter in background; on right, ΒΑΣΙΛΕΩΣ/ANTIOXOY; on left
in field to left, IE; in exergue, Seleukid date and palm.
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Antiochus VIII Epiphanes/Callinicus/Philometor, nicknamed Grypus
(hook-nose), was crowned as ruler of the
Seleucid kingdom in 125 BC. He was the son of
Demetrius II Nicator and
Antiochus Grypus was crowned as a teenager in 125 BC after his mother
Cleopatra Thea had killed his elder brother
Seleucus V Philometor, ruling jointly with her.
After Antiochus defeated usurper
Alexander II Zabinas in 123 BC his mother tried
to poison him with wine, but the suspicious king forced her to drink the cup
herself. (The story may have been inspired by the fact that Grypus was
interested in toxicology; some poems about poisonous herbs believed to have been
written by him are quoted by the famous physician
Either he or his half brother
Antiochus IX Cyzicenus is probably identical
with the ephemeral child ruler Antiochus Epiphanes, who was crowned by
Cleopatra Thea after the death of Antiochus VII
but before Demetrius II returned to Antioch. The child Antiochus Epiphanes, who
is known from coins, was deposed—but not killed—when Demetrius II was restored
in 129 BC.
Coin of Antiochus VIII Grypus. Reverse: god
Sandan standing on the horned lion,
in his pyre surmounted by an
Despite political shortcomings, Grypus was a popular king. His ugly, lazy
appearance on coins (common among the last Seleucids), together with stories of
his lavish banquets, made posterity believe his dynasty was degenerated and
decadent. This was however a conscious image, an invocation of the Hellenistic
Tryphe - meaning good life, which the last
Seleucids strove to be associated with, as opposed to the exhausting civil wars
and feuds which troubled their reigns in reality.
A story of his luxurious parties claims he sent food home with guests who
attended banquets, complete with a camel as beast of burden, as well as a with
attendant to carry the guest himself. This should certainly have caused some
strain on the already depleted treasury.
He married the
Tryphaena, but in 116 BC his half-brother and
Antiochus IX Cyzicenus (see
Antiochus VII Sidetes) returned from exile and
civil war began. Cyzicenus' wife, also named
Cleopatra, was a sister of Tryphaena and was
eventually killed in a dramatic fashion in the temple of
Antioch, on the order of Tryphaena. Cyzicenus
eventually killed Tryphaena as revenge. The two brothers then divided
the Seleukid Kingdom between them until Grypus
was killed by his minister Heracleon in 96 BC.
Five of Grypus' sons later rose to kingship:
Seleucus VI Epiphanes
Antiochus XI Ephiphanes Philadelphus
Philip I Philadelphus
Demetrius III Eucaerus
Antiochus XII Dionysus
This contributed to the confusion of civil war amid which the Seleucid empire
He also had at least one daughter:
Laodice VII Thea, married to king
Mithridates I Callinicus of
Commagene as part of a settlement by
Sames II Theosebes Dikaios to ensure peace
between the Kingdom of Commagene and the
Seleucid Empire. Laodice and Mithridates'
son was king
Antiochus I Theos of Commagene. This was a
grandson to Grypus.
312 BC–63 BC
The Seleucid Empire in 301 BC.
The Seleucid Empire
Hellenistic state ruled by the Seleucid dynasty
Seleucus I Nicator following the division of
the empire created by
Alexander the Great. Seleucus received
Babylonia and, from there, expanded his
dominions to include much of Alexander's
near eastern territories. At the height of its
power, it included central
Turkmenistan, and northwest parts of
The Seleucid Empire was a major center of
Hellenistic culture that maintained the
Greek customs where a Greek-Macedonian
political elite dominated, mostly in the urban areas. The Greek population of
the cities who formed the dominant elite were reinforced by emigration from
Greece. Seleucid expansion into
Anatolia and Greece was abruptly halted after
decisive defeats at the hands of the
Roman army. Their attempts to defeat their old
Ptolemaic Egypt were frustrated by Roman
demands. Much of the eastern part of the empire was conquered by the
Mithridates I of Parthia in the mid-2nd century
BC, yet the Seleucid kings continued to rule a
rump state from
the Seleukid Kingdom until the invasion by
Tigranes the Great and their ultimate overthrow