(281-261 BC)

Coin Portrait of Antiochos I Soter

In accordance with family tradition Seleukos named the son born to his wife Apame in 324 after the baby's grandfather, Antiochos. As a boy and young man Antiochos I followed his father in his various struggles with the other Successor kings. In 301 BC he was placed in charge of the Seleukid cavalry at the Battle of Ipsos and detailed to divert the forces of Demetrios Poliorketes while the army of Antiogonos Monophthalmos was crushed by the allied kings.

Eight years later Seleukos made his son co-ruler of the empire in the east with the seat of his power probably in Baktria (Aï Khanoum?). At the same time Antiochos was given Stratonike, his step-mother, as wife, apparently as a public show of the concord between father and son. The more melodramatic literary sources tell that Antiochos had been sick almost to death because he hid his secret love for Stratonike. Fearing for his son's life, Seleukos called in a doctor who discovered the true cause of the malady. When it was revealed to Seleukos it is said that he happily gave Stratonike to his son in order to save him.

The death of Seleukos in 281 BC came as a great blow to Antiochos. Although he was recognized as the legitimate authority in the east, many of the western territories in Asia Minor and Syria soon revolted. Antiochos was now the sole Seleucid king and would spend the next decade restoring control in the west. The general upheaval was exacerbated by the meddling of Ptolemy II Soter who made inroads into Syria, Phoenicia and coastal Asia Minor. The situation came to a head in 274 when the First Syrian War (274-271 BC) broke out between Antiochos and Ptolemy. This conflict was partly occasioned by Seleukid support for the revolt of Magas, the Polemic governor of Kyrene. Magas was tied to Antiochos by marriage to his daughter, Apame. Unfortunately, the war ended in defeat for the Seleukid house and left southern and western Asia Minor in Ptolemaic control.

Antiochos was more successful in his dealings with Antigonid Macedonia. In 278 BC he made a non-aggression pact with Antigonos II Gonatas which maintained the peace between their two houses for almost a century. He also became famous as the saviour (soter) of Asia in c. 273 when he defeated the roving bands of Galatians who had been terrorizing the cities for five years.

Unfortunately these important victories were marred by problems within the family of Antiochos. Following the pattern established by his father, he had set his eldest son up as co-regent in the east. While Antiochos was dealing with the problems of the west, this young man, Seleukos by name, seems to have betrayed his father's trust and raised the standard of revolt. His bid for sole power was short lived and Antiochos was forced to order the execution of his eldest son in 267 BC. The co-regency was passed to the dead man's brother, the future Antiochos II.

After years of struggle against internal and external enemies and after an expansive campaign of city founding Antiochos I Soter died in 261 at the age of sixty-four. He was survived by Antiochos II, his son by Stratonike as well as by his daughters Apame and Stratonike, his daughters by the same wife.

View coins of Antiochos I Soter

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