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Laodice


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Daughter of Mithradates II of Pontus, married Antiochus III at Zeugma (221 bc) at a ceremonial royal wedding (Polyb. 5. 43. 1–4). The marriage was one of several examples (e.g. Seleucus I) of the Seleucid dynasty's use of marriage alliances with non-Greek dynasties and kingdoms.

From the start of the Seleucid dynasty, the queen had won public honours and recognition from Greek cities in and outside the empire. A rare example of the powers of a Seleucid queen is given in Laodice's letter (c.195) to Iasus in Caria, after Antiochus' capture of the city, detailing her benefactions (euergesia), including the grant for ten years of corn, to be used by its sale (at fixed prices; i.e. no profiteering!) to found dowries ‘for the daughters of needy citizens’, plus the undertaking of further aid (carefully) in accordance with the king's wishes. This inscription (Austin 156, cf. SEG 26. 1226) gives an indication of the queen's power, who can in her own right communicate with cities by letter, like the governors of satrapies, and either from her own resources, or perhaps local crown resources, fund subsidies at a time of crisis.

There is now a growing corpus of inscriptional evidence for civic cults for Laodice (at Sardis, 213; Teos, 204–3; Iasus, c.195), which not only gives an official picture of a great queen, but may have prefigured and perhaps paved the way for Antiochus' inclusion, by 193, of Laodice in the first Seleucid state rulercult of the living king, his ancestors, and his queen.

Of Laodice's children, Seleucus IV and Antiochus IV reigned as kings, while her daughter, Cleopatra I, was married to Ptolemy V.

Susan Mary Sherwin-White

Subjects: Classical Studies.


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