Antiochus VII Sidetes

Ruled 138-129 b.c.

Son of Demetrius I and Laodice V

Married to Cleopatra Thea, daughter of Ptolemy VI



    -Antiochus IX Cyzicenus = Cleopatra IV


Silver didrachm of Antiochus VII, Mint of Tyre, precise date unknown.

Antiochus VII ‘Sidetes’

Son of Demetrius I and Laodice V, Antiochus VII Sidetes - so nicknamed because of his residence in the city of Side - was sent away to Pamphylia as the tide of his father’s reign began to turn for the worse (Grainger 1997, 29-30). He remained there during the reconquest and first reign of Demetrius II (Por.F32.6, App.Syr.68).

When Demetrius II was captured by the Parthians in 139 and the Seleucid kingdom was left without a monarch, its queen was similarly left without a husband. The ever-endeavouring Cleopatra Thea, either believing Demetrius II lost or simply taking matters into her own hands, invited the young Sidetes to come to Seleucia-in-Pieria, marry her, and in so doing assume the Seleucid diadem (Jos.AJ. 13.222-223, App.Syr.68, Whitehorne 2001, 154). The marriage occurred in roughly 138 B.C., when Cleopatra Thea - now on her third husband - would have been about 27, and Antiochus in his late teens (Whitehorne 2001, 154, and Ogden 1999, 149-50). This represents the third marriage of the polyandrous Seleucid/Ptolemaic woman, this time to the brother of her previous husband.

Our sources present us with five attested children from the marriage: two daughters named Laodice, a young Antiochus who would become Antiochus IX Cyzicenus, another son Antiochus, and a Seleucus (Por.F32.20, Eus.Chron.1.257, and App.Syr.68. Also Macurdy 1932, 99). I agree with Ogden’s conclusion that Porphyry mistook Seleucus, the son of Demetrius II who would later be murdered by his mother, for a son of Antiochus VII and Cleopatra Thea (Ogden 1999, 150). Appian’s reference to the pair only having one son, Antiochus, indirectly supports this (App.Syr.68).

The two Laodices and the younger Antiochus are recorded as having died of disease at a relatively young age (Eus.Chron.1.257 = Por.F32.20, Bellinger 1949, 60n4). Antiochus IX was raised under the tutelage of the loyal eunuch Craterus in the city of Cyzicus, hence his nickname.

Antiochus VII set out on campaign in the East at the head of a massive army, presumably with the dual goal of recapturing Seleucid territory and freeing his brother Demetrius. It would be incorrect, I believe, to argue that Antiochus VII ever harboured any ill-will towards his captive brother, especially considering he was careful to bring his brother’s son Seleucus V and daughter Laodice along with him to Parthia (Justin 38.10.2-10, Whitehorne 2001, 155). Antiochus VII was killed in battle in the East around 130, along with a sizeable portion of his army (Athenaeus 10.439e, Ogden 1999, 150-1).