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Antiochus VIII Grypus

Antiochus VIII Grypus

The basics
Date of birth
Date of death 96
Brother(s): Antiochus IX Cyzicenus Antiochus VI Dionysus Seleucus V Philometor
Children: Demetrius III Eucaerus Antiochus XII Dionysus Antiochus XI Epiphanes Seleucus VI Epiphanes Philip I Philadelphus Laodice VII Thea
Spouse: Cleopatra Selene I Tryphaena
Father: Demetrius II Nicator
Mother: Cleopatra Thea
Authority VIAF id
The details

Antiochus VIII Epiphanes/Callinicus/Philometor, nicknamed Grypus (hook-nose), was crowned as ruler of the Greek Seleucid kingdom in 125 BC. He was the son of Demetrius II Nicator and Cleopatra Thea.



Either he or his half brother Antiochus IX Cyzicenus is probably identical with the ephemeral child ruler Antiochus Epiphanes, who was crowned by Cleopatra Thea after the death of Antiochus VII but before Demetrius II returned to Antioch. The child Antiochus Epiphanes, who is known from coins, was deposed—but not killed—when Demetrius II was restored in 129 BC.

Rise to power

Antiochus Grypus was crowned as a teenager in 125 BC after his mother Cleopatra Thea had killed his elder brother Seleucus V Philometor, ruling jointly with her, and he defeated usurper Alexander II Zabinas in 123 BC. In 121 BC, Antiochus decided to rid himself of his influential mother. According to Justin, his mother tried to poison him with wine, but the suspicious king forced her to drink the cup herself. However, it was Grypus himself who would became famous for his interest in toxicology. Some poems about poisonous herbs believed to have been written by him are quoted by the famous physician Galen.

Reign as King of Syria

Coin of Antiochus VIII Grypus. Reverse: god Sandan standing on the horned lion, in his pyre surmounted by an eagle.

Despite political shortcomings, Grypus was a popular king. His ugly, lazy appearance on coins (common among the last Seleucids), together with stories of his lavish banquets, made posterity believe his dynasty was degenerate and decadent. This was, however, a conscious image invoking the Hellenistic concept of Tryphe - meaning good life, which the last Seleucids strove to be associated with, as opposed to the exhausting civil wars and feuds which troubled their reigns in reality.

A story of his luxurious parties claims he sent food home with guests who attended banquets, complete with a camel as beast of burden, as well as an attendant to carry the guest himself. This should certainly have caused some strain on the already depleted treasury.

Civil War

In 116 BC his half-brother and cousin Antiochus IX Cyzicenus returned from exile and a civil war began. Cyzicenus' wife, also named Cleopatra, was a sister of Tryphaena and was eventually killed in a dramatic fashion in the temple of Daphne outside Antioch, on the order of Tryphaena. Cyzicenus eventually killed Tryphaena as revenge. The two brothers then divided Syria between them until Grypus was killed by his minister Heracleon in 96 BC.


He married the Ptolemaic princess Tryphaena ca. 125, and had six children by her:

In 102, Cleopatra III of Egypt gave him her daughter Cleopatra Selene I in marriage, but she gave him no children. Afterwards, she went to marry Antiochus IX Cyzicenus.

The contents of this page are sourced from a Wikipedia article. The contents are available under the CC BY-SA 4.0 license.
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