), a person of low origin, usurped the throne of the Greek kingdom of Syria, in the year 150, B. C., pretending that he was the son of Antiochus Epiphanes. His claim was set up by Heracleides, who had been the treasurer of the late king Antiochus Epiphanes, but had been banished to Rhodes by the reigning king, Demetrius Soter; and he was supported by Ptolemy Philometor, king o Egypt, Ariarthes Philopator, king of Cappadocia, and Attalus Philadelphus, king of Pergamus. Heracleides also, having taken Alexander to Rome. succeeded in obtaining a decree of the senate in his favour. Furnished with forces by these allies, Alexander entered Syria in 152, B. C., took possession of Ptolemais, and fought a battle with Demetrius Soter, in which, however, he was defeated.
In the year 150 B. C. Alexander again met Demetrius in battle with better success.
The army of Demetrius was completely routed, and he himself perished in the flight. No sooner had Alexander thus obtained the kingdom than he gave up the administration of affairs to his minister Ammonius, and himself to a life of pleasure. Ammonius put to death all the members of the late royal family who were in his power; but two sons of Demetrius were safe in Crete.
The elder of them. who was named Demetrius, took the field in Cilicia against the usurper. Alexander applied for help to his father-in-law, Ptolemy Philometor, who marched into Syria, and then declared himself in favour of Demetrius. Alexander now returned from Cilicia, whither he had gone to meet Demetrius, and engaged in battle with Ptolemy at the river Oenoparas.
In this battle, though Ptolemy fell, Alexander was completely defeated, and he was afterwards murdered by an Arabian emir with whom he had taken refuge. (B. C. 146.)
The meaning of his surname (Balas) is doubtful.
It is most probably a title signifying "lord" or "king." On some of his coins he is called "Epiphanes" and "Nicephorus" after his pretended father. On others "Euergetes" and "Theopator." (Poiyb. 33.14, 16; Liv. Epit. 1
. liii.; Justin, xxv.; Appian, Syriaca,
c. 67; 1 Maccab. 10.11; J. AJ 13.2.4
; Euseb. Chronicon;
iii. p. 324.)