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Seleucus Ii. or Seleucus Callinicus

*Se/leukos), surnamed CALLINICUS, king of SYRIA, was the eldest son of Antiochus II. by his first wife Laodice. (Appian. Syr. 66 ; Justin, 27.1.) When his father Antiochus fell a victim to the jealousy or revenge of his wife [LAODICE], the latter for a time artfully concealed his death until she had taken all necessary measures for establishing Seleucus on the throne, which he ascended without opposition, B. C. 246. The first measure of his administration, or rather that of his mother, was to put to death his stepmother Berenice, together with her infant son. [BERENICE, No. 2.] But this act of cruelty produced the most disastrous effects, by alienating all his Syrian subjects, while it aroused Ptolemy Euergetes, king of Egypt, to avenge the fate of his unhappy sister. Seleucus was unable to offer any resistance to the Egyptian monarch, and withdrew beyond Mount Taurus, while Ptolemy not only made himself master of Antioch and the whole of Syria, but carried his arms unopposed beyond the Euphrates and the Tigris. [PTOLEMAEUS III.] During these operations Seleucus kept wholly aloof; but when Ptolemy had been recalled to his own dominions by domestic disturbances, he appears to have easily recovered possession of the greater part of the provinces which he had lost. All farther details of the revolution which replaced him in the possession of his father's empire, are lost to us; but it seems certain that as early as B. C. 242, lie had again extended his power to the Euphrates, where he founded the city of Callinicum. (Droysen, Hellenism. vol. ii. p. 351; Clinton, F. H. vol. iii. p. 313.) A naval expedition which he undertook in order to subdue the maritime cities that had revolted, was less fortunate : his fleet was shattered by a storm, and he himself narrowly escaped with his life. Still, he soon after found himself strong enough to commence offensive operations against Ptolemy, but was totally defeated and his army dispersed. In this emergency he had recourse to his younger brother Antiochus Hierax, who appears to have been already established (probably by Ptolemy) in an independent position, and offered him the sovereignty of all Asia Minor as the price of his support. But Antiochus, deeming the opportunity a favourable one for making himself master of the whole Syrian kingdom, instead of supporting his brother, turned his arms against him, and Seleucus found himself engaged in war at once with the king of Egypt and his own brother. (Just. 27.2.)

The events of the succeeding years are very imperfectly known to us, and it is scarcely possible to derive any connected historical results from the confused and fragmentary notices which have been transmitted to us. But it seems certain that Seleucus concluded (probably in B. C. 239) a truce for ten years with the king of Egypt, and thus found himself at leisure to turn his arms against his brother. He at first obtained decisive successes, and defeated Antiochus in a great battle in Lydia, which was followed by the reduction of all that province, except Sardis and Ephesus; but in a second battle, at Ancyra in Galatia, Antiochus, supported by Mithridates king of Pontus and a large force of Gaulish mercenaries, was completely victorious. Seleucus lost no less than 20,000 men, and himself escaped with such difficulty that he was generally reported to have perished in the flight (Just. 27.2; Trog. Pomp. Prol. xxvii.; Euseb. Arm. pp. 164, 165; Athen. 13.593 ; Plut. de Frat. Amor. p. 489a.; Polyaen. 8.61). The defection of his Gaulish soldiers must have prevented Antiochus from deriving much advantage from this victory; and whether or not any formal truce was concluded by the two brothers (as supposed by Droysen). there appears to have been in fact a suspension of hostilities between them. (For the history of these wars in particular, as well as for the reign of Seleucus II. in general, see Niebuhr, Kl. Schrift. vol. i. pp. 276-286; and Droysen, vol. ii. p. 337-359, 410-429.)

It must have been during this interval that Seleucus undertook an expedition to the East, with the view of reducing the revolted provinces of Parthia and Bactria, which had availed themselves of the disordered state of the Syrian empire to throw off its yoke. He was, however, defeated by Arsaces, king of Parthia, in a great battle which was long after celebrated by the Parthians as the foundation of their independence (Just. 41.4), and was soon after recalled from these remote regions by fresh troubles which had arisen in his western provinces. Froelich (Ann. Syr. pp. 30, 31) and Clinton (F. H. vol. iii. p. 313) have represented him as himself falling a captive into the bands of the Parthians : but it appears, from the Armenian version of Eusebius (p. 167, fol. edit.), that the passage of Posidonius (apud Athen. iv. p. 153) on which they rely as their authority, refers in fact to Seleucus the son of Antiochus Sidetes (see Niebuhr, Kl. Schrift. p. 300). It was probably during the same period of partial tranquillity that Seleucus found time to enlarge his capital of Antioch, by the construction of a new quarter of the city. (Strab. xvi. p.750.)

Whether hostilities with Egypt were ever actually renewed, or the truce between the two countries at once passed into a durable peace, we know not; but it seems certain that such a peace was concluded before the death of Seleucus (Nieb. l. c p. 287). On the other hand, the war between the two brothers broke out with fresh violence. We have, however, little information of its events ; and we only know that it was terminated by a decisive victory of Seleucus in Mesopotamia, which compelled Antiochus to take refuge with Ariamnes, king of Cappadocia. From thence he made his escape to the court of Ptolemy; but that monarch being now desirous to maintain friendly relations with Syria, detained him in close custody, from which he only escaped to perish by the hands of robbers. Meanwhile Attalus, king of Pergamus, had extended his dominions over the greater part of Asia Minor, from which he had expelled Antiochus ; and Seleucus appears to have been engaged in an expedition for the recovery of these provinces, when he was accidentally killed by a fall from his horse, in the twenty-first year of his reign, B. C. 226. (Just. 27.3; Trog. Pomp. Prol. xxvii.; Euseb. Arm. p. 165; Droysen, vol. ii. p. 426.)

One of the last acts of his reign was to send a magnificent present of corn, timber, and other supplies, as well as ten quinqueremes fully equipped, to the Rhodians, whose city had suffered severely by an earthquake (Plb. 5.89). Seleucus had married Laodice, the sister of Andromachus, by whom he left two sons, who successively ascended the throne, Seleucus Ceraunus and Antiochus, afterwards surnamed the Great (Appian, Syr. 66 ; Plb. 2.71). His own surname of Callinicus, which was probably assumed after his recovers of the provinces that had been overrun by Ptolemy, is not found on his coins, which, as they bear no dates, cannot be distinguished with certainty from those of his son.


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  • Cross-references from this page (2):
    • Polybius, Histories, 2.71
    • Polybius, Histories, 5.89
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