Antiochus IV ‘Epiphanes’ Doubled

Published May 3, 2017 by amaic

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Damien F. Mackey

As if one king Antiochus IV ‘Epiphanes’ were not enough, there was another such named king, at least according to the history books, ruling in the C1st AD.

King Antiochus IV ‘Epiphanes’ of Commagene (Armenia) and Cilicia Tracheia was, just like his Seleucid namesake, Antiochus IV ‘Epiphanes’, born to a king Antiochus III – Commagene being the region ruled by the Seleucid tyrant: “Another Epiphania was founded [by the latter] in Armenia”.

For the massive impact upon Cilicia Tracheia by the Seleucid ‘Epiphanes’, see C. Tempesta’s

“Antiochus IV Epiphanes and Cilicia”, in Adalya VIII, Istanbul, 2005, pp. 59-81.

Both the Commagene version, who “reigned … as a client king to the Roman Empire” (, and the Seleucid one, were servants of Rome (

After his father’s defeat by the Romans in 190–189, [Antiochus IV] served as hostage for his father in Rome from 189 to 175, where he learned to admire Roman institutions and policies. His brother, King Seleucus IV, exchanged him for Demetrius, the son of Seleucus; and after Seleucus was murdered by Heliodorus, a usurper, Antiochus in turn ousted him. During this period of uncertainty in Syria, the guardians of Ptolemy VI, the Egyptian ruler, laid claim to Coele Syria, Palestine, and Phoenicia, which Antiochus III had conquered. Both the Syrian and Egyptian parties appealed to Rome for help, but the Senate refused to take sides. In 173 Antiochus paid the remainder of thewar indemnity that had been imposed by the Romans on Antiochus III at the Treaty of Apamea (188).

[End of quote]

The Commagene version also grew up in Rome: “Antiochus seems to have gained Roman citizenship. He lived and was raised in Rome, along with his sister. While he and his sister were growing up in Rome …” (Wikipedia).

Both were descended form a Queen Laodice.

In the case of Commagene: “Through his ancestor from Commagene, Queen Laodice VII Thea, who was the mother of King Antiochus I Theos of Commagene, he was a direct descendant of the Greek Seleucid kings” (Wikipedia).

So, there is a blood connection here between the supposedly two dynasties.

In the case of the Seleucid: “Mother: Laodice III (daughter of Mithradates II of Pontus)”:

That name, “Mithradates”, was in fact the Seleucid’s original name: “Antiochus IV Epiphanes (Επιφανής, Greek: Manifest), originally named Mithradates, but renamed Antiochus either upon his ascension or after the death of his elder brother Antiochus …”. (

Finally, we learn of another connection of an Antiochus IV ‘Epiphanes’ with the emperor Hadrian, over and above what I wrote about this in:

Antiochus ‘Epiphanes’ and Emperor Hadrian. Part One: “… a mirror image”

The Commagene version’s grand-daughter, Julia Balbilla, became a travelling companion of the emperor Hadrian in Egypt (

Perhaps the best candidate for such a figure of females [re “prominence and visibility to females in the domain of cult”] is Julia Balbilla, a granddaughter of Antiochus IV who accompanied Hadrian and Sabina on a trip to Egypt in A.D. 130 (the visit to Sparta was not to occur until late in life for the purpose of attending to the construction of a heroon in honor of her cousin Herculanus). Writer of poetry in the Aeolic dialect of Sappho, with no recorded husband or child, a possible exemplar of lesbian relationships, if she was the lover of Sabina (perhaps modeled on the emperor’s own liaison with Antinous) (pp. 128-129) — a more unconventional female figure (by the standards of Greek antiquity) would be difficult to imagine, but strictly speaking we are no longer here within the limits of religion, much less religion at Sparta. ….

It is unfortunately upon such a dubious historical figure as Julia Balbilla that we must be reliant for much of the account of the emperor Hadrian’s visit to Egypt.



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