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Antiochus VIII Epiphanes/Callinicus/Philometor, nicknamed (Greek: Γρυπός, translit. Grypus) (hook-nose), was the ruler of the Seleucid kingdom from 125 to 96 BC. He was the younger son of Demetrius II and Cleopatra Thea. After the death of his brother Seleucus V, he took the throne as joint ruler with his mother. Fearing the influence of his mother, Antiochus VIII had her poisoned in 121 BC.

Antiochus VIII Epiphanes
Antiochus VIII Callinicus/Philometor
Seleucidi, cleopatra tea e suo figlio antioco VIII, tetradracma, 121-120 ac.JPG
Coin of Cleopatra Thea and Antiochus VIII
(Co-regent) King of the Seleucid Empire
(Co-regent) King of Syria
Reign125–121/123 BC (as co-regent with his mother Cleopatra Thea)
121/123 BC–96 BC (in opposition to his half-brother/cousin Antiochus IX Cyzicenus)
Coronation125 BC
PredecessorCleopatra Thea and Seleucus V Philometor
SuccessorSeleucus VI Epiphanes
Died96 BC
Cleopatra Selene I
IssueSeleucus VI Epiphanes
Antiochus XI Ephiphanes Philadelphus
Philip I Philadelphus
Demetrius III Eucaerus
Antiochus XII Dionysus
Laodice VII Thea
FatherDemetrius II Nicator
MotherCleopatra Thea

Political instability affected most of Antiochus VIII's reign. From 116 BC he fought a civil war against his half-brother Antiochus IX; Tryphaena and Cleopatra IV, the respective wives of Antiochus VIII and Antiochus IX, were sisters. Tryphaena had Cleopatra IV murdered in 112 BC, and Antiochus IX killed Tryphaena in revenge for his wife's death. Antiochus VIII himself was assassinated in 96 BC.




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 powerEdit

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.[1] According to Justin, his mother tried to poison him with wine, but the suspicious king forced her to drink the cup herself.[2] However, it was Grypus himself who would became famous for his interest in toxicology.[1][3] Some poems about poisonous herbs believed to have been written by him are quoted by the famous physician Galen.[citation needed]

Reign as King of SyriaEdit

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.[4]

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.[5]

Civil WarEdit

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[1], 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.[1]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c d Ogden, Daniel (1999). Polygamy Prostitutes and Death. The Hellenistic Dynasties. London: Gerald Duckworth & Co. Ltd. p. 150. ISBN 07156 29301.
  2. ^ Justin. "39.2.7-8". Epitome of Pompeius Trogus' Philippic Histories.
  3. ^ Galen, 14 p. 185
  4. ^ Bilde, Per (1996). Aspects of Hellenistic Kingship. Studies in Hellenistic civilization. 7. Aarhus University Press. p. 36. ISBN 978-8-772-88474-5. ISSN 0906-3463.
  5. ^ Smith, Andrew. "Athenaeus: Deipnosophists - Book 5 (c)".

External linksEdit

Antiochus VIII Grypus
Born: Unknown Died: 96 BC
Preceded by
Cleopatra Thea
Seleucid King (King of Syria)
125–96 BC
with Cleopatra Thea (126–121/3 BC)
Succeeded by
Antiochus IX Cyzicenus