Alexander Balas

Alexander Balas
King of the Seleucid Empire (King of Syria)
Reign 150–146 BC
Predecessor Demetrius I Soter
Successors Demetrius II Nicator or Antiochus VI Dionysus
Queen Cleopatra Thea
Born Smyrna
Died 146 BC
Wife Cleopatra Thea
Issue Antiochus VI Dionysus (first son with Cleopatra Thea)
Dynasty Seleucid
Father Antiochus IV Epiphanes (unconfirmed)
Mother Laodice IV (unconfirmed)

Alexander Balas (Ancient Greek: Ἀλέξανδρoς Bάλας), ruler of the Greek Seleucid kingdom in 150–146 BC. Alexander defeated his brother Demetrius Soter for the crown in 150 BC. Ruling briefly, he lost the crown to his brother during his defeat at the battle of Antioch (145 BC) in Syria, dying shortly after.


Early life and reign

Alexander Balas and Cleopatra Thea.

He was a native of Smyrna of humble origin, but gave himself out to be the son of Antiochus IV Epiphanes and Laodice IV and heir to the Seleucid throne. Along with his sister Laodice VI, the youngster Alexander was "discovered" by Heracleides, a former minister of Antiochus IV and brother of Timarchus, an usurper in Media who had been executed by the reigning king Demetrius I Soter.[1]

Alexander's claims were recognized by the Roman Senate, Ptolemy Philometor of Egypt and others. He married Cleopatra Thea, a daughter of the Ptolemaic dynasty. At first unsuccessful, Alexander finally defeated Demetrius Soter in 150 BC. Being now master of the empire, he is said to have abandoned himself to a life of debauchery. Whatever the truth behind this, the young king was forced to depend heavily on his Ptolemaic support and even struck portraits with the characteristic features of king Ptolemy I.

Final battle and death

Silver coin of Alexander I "Balas". The Greek inscription reads ΒΑΣΙΛΕΩΣ ΑΛΕΧΑΝΔΡΟΥ (king Alexander). The date ΓΞΡ is year 163 of the Seleucid era, corresponding to 150149 BC.

Demetrius Soter's son Demetrius II profited by the opportunity to regain the throne. Ptolemy Philometor, who was Alexander's father-in-law, went over to his side, and Alexander was defeated in the battle of Antioch (145 BC) in Syria, sometimes known as the battle of the Oenoparus.

He fled for refuge to a Nabataean prince, who murdered him and sent his head to Ptolemy Philometor, who had been mortally wounded in the engagement.[2]

See also


  1. Smith, Philip Peter (1867). "Alexander Balas". In William Smith. Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology. 1. Boston: Little, Brown and Company. pp. 114–115.
  2.  This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Alexander Balas". Encyclopædia Britannica. 1 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.


Further reading

External links

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Alexander Balas
Born: Unknown Died: 146 BC
Preceded by
Demetrius I Soter
Seleucid King
(King of Syria)

150146 BC
Succeeded by
Demetrius II Nicator or Antiochus VI Dionysus
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