Antiochus IV Epiphanes

Ruled 175-164 b.c.



Son of Antiochus III and Laodice III






Married to Laodice IV, parentage unknown

   -Antiochus V Eupator

   -Other children?


Concubine (unknown)

   -Alexander Balas

-Laodice







Lorenzo Lippi (1606-1665), Gaius Popillius  Drawing a Circle around King Antiochus IV

Antiochus IV Epiphanes


Son Antiochus III and Laodice III, Antiochus IV - perhaps originally named Mithridates - had been a hostage in Rome and was in Athens at the time of his brother’s death in 175 at the hands of his minister Heliodorus (App.Syr.45, Livy 33.19.9-10). He had been resident in Rome from 188-178 until he was replaced by his nephew Demetrius, in fulfillment of the terms of the Peace of Apamea (App.Syr.39, I Macc. 1.10-16, Grainger 1997, 25).


With the support of the Attalids, Antiochus invaded Syria, seized Antioch, and killed Heliodorus (Diod.30.7.2, John of Antioch F58, Grainger 1997, 25). He assumed the throne and essentially stepped into the place vacated by Seleucus IV by adopting his young son (and technically reigning king) Antiochus as his heir and co-regent, and married Laodice IV in a quintessential instance of levirate marriage (Le Rider 1986, 412-413, and Hoover 2002, 83-5). As soon as Laodice had given birth to a son, probably c.173, Antiochus did away with his nephew/co-regent and replaced him with his own son, also named Antiochus (Parker and Dubberstein 1946, 20-1, Le Rider 1986, 412. For a dissenting view on the identity of the co-regent, Aymard 1954). Laodice IV appears on the coinage of Antiochus IV as well, discussed by Hoover 2002.


As mentioned, the couple had one son, Antiochus V, and perhaps another son who appears on coinage discussed by Houghton and Le Rider, and identified as Anonymous 4 by Grainger 1997, 71. While some would hold that the Nysa who married Pharnaces of Pontus was a daughter of Antiochus IV, I agree with Ma’s argument that she must be daughter of Antiochus III and that the inscription ought to be dated to around 195 (Ma 2000, 92).


Despite the protestations of ancient authors, I have little difficulty in attributing at the very least the paternity of Alexander Balas and Laodice to Antiochus IV, and please refer to the discussion of Balas for my supporting arguments.


The death of Antiochus IV in the East is discussed in great detail by Holleaux 1916, 77-95.


After the sudden death of his father in the East, Antiochus V Eupator came briefly to the throne for one year under the regency of Lysias. The young king’s death was ordered by Demetrius - who allegedly could not be bothered to see the family of Antiochus IV - shortly after he arrived in Syria in 162 (Jos.AJ.12.390, App.Syr.66, Trog.Prol.34). 


-AJPM