Seleucus II

(c. 265—225 bc)

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was the eldest son of Antiochus II and Laodice. In his reign (beginning in 246), a separate kingdom of Bactria, led by a Greek usurper, Diodotus, claimed independence from the Seleucids, at least by the early 230s. Seleucus also faced trouble in Parthia, where the nomadic Parthians had infiltrated and were slowly carving out an emerging realm from the Seleucid satrapy. Seleucus campaigned against them, claiming victories the reality and extent of which are difficult to assess. A recently published Babylonian astronomical diary also reveals that between 238 and 235 some kind of serious military revolt was taking place, one of the centres being Babylon. Seleucus was further hampered throughout his reign by dynastic troubles; first the ambitions of his step-brother which produced the invasion of Ptolemy III with its spectacular (though ephemeral) successes (‘Third Syrian War,’ 246–241) and, later, those of his younger brother Antiochus Hierax in Asia Minor. Seleucus spent his reign on campaign, but it remained for his son Antiochus III (‘The Great’) to restore the kingdom. However, the Seleucid policy of patronizing Greek and non-Greek places continued—notably e.g. Babylon, whence comes a Babylonian chronicle fragment referring to a letter from the king to the chief administrator of the great sanctuary of Esagil, attesting the king's support for Babylonian religious rites and his close relations with the Babylonian administrator. Seleucus II, like other contemporary monarchs, also provided massive material relief and aid (plus 10 warships) to Rhodes after a devastating earthquake (Polyb. 5. 83. 8–9).

Guy Thompson Griffith; Susan Mary Sherwin-White

Subjects: Classical Studies.

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