(239-226 BC)

Antiochos Hierax was born around 263 BC as the second son of Antiochos II Theos and Laodike. At the age of fourteen his mother made him co-ruler in Asia Minor with his brother, Seleukos II Kallinikos, while the latter was engaged in staving off a Ptolemaic assault on Syria and the east.

In 240/39 BC Antiochos failed to accept an agreement which partitioned the Seleukid empire between himself and his brother. This refusal sparked the outbreak of the so-called War of the Brothers (240/39-c. 237 BC) which destabilized Seleukid authority in Asia Minor for years. Antiochos Hierax, with a large body of Galatian mercenaries and the support of Mithridates II of Pontos, inflicted a massive defeat on his brother at the Battle of Ankyra in 240 and drove him back across the Taurus Range.

Elated by his victory, Antiochos wandered through Phrygia with his Galatians, enriching himself by extortion from the cities. No city wished to become the victim of the terrifying Galatians. Indeed, the barbarians could be so unruly and dangerous that from time to time even Antiochos himself, their paymaster, was forced to flee from their violence.

This chaotic situation allowed Attalos I of Pergamon to exert his authority by resisting the Galatian hordes and defending the Greek cities. To check the growing power of this Pergamene upstart Antiochos Hierax and the Galatian tribes of the Tolistoagioi and the Tektosages attacked Pergamon and the surrounding territory on at least three separate occasions. Each of these times Attalos won the day and at last in 239 BC he claimed the kingship and the title Soter ('Savior'). Antiochos Hierax quickly lost his preeminent position in Asia Minor as many of the cities began to align themselves with the Attalid kingdom.

Nike of Pergamon in the Istanbul Archaeological Museum

In response Antiochos decided that with the kingdom of Asia Minor all but lost it might be a good idea to see if he could take his brother's kingdom away from him. He led an invasion force through Mesopotamia but was stopped by the army of Achaios, the father-in-law of Seleukos II. Despite a bloody defeat Antiochos escaped to Kappadokia where he felt safe at the court of Ariamnes and his sister Stratonike.

He had been mistaken. Just as the net of deceit was about to ensnare him Antiochos escaped west where he raised an army for a final attempt to break the power of Pergamon. Between 229 and 228 four battles were fought unsuccessfully in Lydia. The prolonged struggle only served to make the king even less welcome among the Greek cities than he had been before. Fearing that he might be captured by agents of either Attalos I or Seleukos II, Antiochos fled to Thrace and begged for asylum from the Ptolemaic forces stationed there. He was immediately arrested, but by some incredible luck, he was freed by a local woman who had fallen in love with the captured king. Nevertheless, Antiochos' luck was quickly running out. Shortly after this incredible escape he was captured by roving Galatian tribesmen who killed him.

If Antiochos Hierax was not fondly remembered by his subjects after his death, we hear from Phylarchos that at least his horse still honored his memory. When the Galatian chieftain responsible for the death of the king mounted the horse it is said that the animal bolted over a cliff with its rider, thereby avenging the murder of its master.

See a coin of Antiochos Hierax. All coins are shown actual size and are fully described. For an enlargement and a brief discussion of each coin's historical and iconographic importance please click on the appropriate coin picture.

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