Battle of Antioch (145 BC)

The Battle of Antioch or the Battle of the Oenoparus was an engagement that took place in 145 BC on the Oenoparus river (the modern Afrin, Syria).[1] The battle saw the defeat and overthrow of Alexander Balas from the Seleucid throne by Ptolemy VI of Egypt.

Battle of Antioch
Part of Syrian Wars
Alexander I Balas And Cleopatra Thea.
Date145 BC
Antioch, Seleucid Empire.
Result Ptolemaic Victory
Ptolemaic Egypt Seleucid Empire
Commanders and leaders
Ptolemy VI (DOW)
Demetrius II
Alexander Balas


Alexander Balas became a rival king of the Seleucid Empire from the city of Ptolemais in 152 BC. He secured the aid of the Judeans by appointing Jonathan Maccabaeus as high priest. Allied with the Judeans, he succeeded in killing Demetrius I Soter and claimed the Seleucid throne for himself. Alexander Balas initially had the support of Ptolemy VI and was married to Ptolemy's daughter Cleopatra Thea to create an alliance. After obtaining the throne, Alexander abandoned himself to a life of debauchery, losing the support of his subjects and Ptolemy, leading to the latter's invasion of Syria in 145 BC.[2] Demetrius I's son Demetrius II profited from this and used the opportunity to reclaim the throne and joined forces with Ptolemy against Alexander.

Battle and AftermathEdit

Ptolemy invaded Syria and succeeded in getting the people of Antioch to support Demetrius II, meanwhile, Balas left Cilicia and entered Syria, pillaging the country around Antioch. The army of Ptolemy and Demetrius clashed with Alexander's by the Oenoparus river near Antioch in a pitched battle. The Ptolemaic army prevailed forcing Balas to flee, though Ptolemy suffered a mortal wound when his horse fell on him, having been frightened by the noise of an elephant.[3] He however, did not perish in the immediate battle, as he was protected by his guards and sent to Egypt where he could not understand or speak for days.[4]

Balas fled to Nabataea for refuge, but was murdered by a Nabataean prince named Zabdiel,[5] who cut off his head seeking favor from his enemies. His head was delivered to the mortally wounded Ptolemy, who died shortly afterwards.[6]


  1. ^ Josephus. Jewish Antiquities. 145/16 The battle and the defeat and death of Alexander Balas.
  2. ^ Josephus. Josephus, Jewish Antiquities. Ptolemy came then to Antioch, and was made king by its inhabitants, and by the army
  3. ^ Josephus. Josephus, Jewish Antiquities. in the time of the battle that Ptolemy's horse, upon hearing the noise of an elephant, cast him off his back, and threw him on the ground
  4. ^ Josephus. Josephus, Jewish Antiquities. And brought him into danger of death; for when his guards caught him up, he was so very ill, that for four days' time he was not able either to understand or to speak
  5. ^ Josephus. Josephus, Jewish Antiquities. However, Zabdiel, a prince among the Arabians, cut off Alexander's head, and sent it to Ptolemy,
  6. ^   One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Alexander Balas". Encyclopædia Britannica. 1 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. pp. 565–6.