Euthydemus I

Euthydemus I - Ευθύδημος Α΄
Greco-Bactrian king

Coin with Greek inscription reads: ΕΥΘΥΔΗΜΟΥ ΘΕΟΥ i.e. "of Euthydemus God", Euthydemus qualified as "THEOS" ("God"). (Pedigree coin of Agathocles of Bactria.)
Reign 230–200 BC
Predecessor Diodotus II
Successor Demetrius I
Dynasty Euthydemid dynasty
Tetradrachm of Euthydemus (c. 230-c. 200 BC). Greek inscription reads: ΒΑΣΙΛΕΩΣ ΕΥΘΥΔΗΜΟΥ i.e. "of king Euthydemus"

Euthydemus I (Greek: Εὐθύδημος Α΄; c. 260 BC – 200/195 BC) was a Greco-Bactrian king in about 230 or 223 BC according to Polybius;[1] he is thought to have originally been a satrap of Sogdiana, who overturned the dynasty of Diodotus of Bactria and became a Greco-Bactrian king. Strabo, on the other hand, correlates his accession with internal Seleucid wars in 223–221 BC. His kingdom seems to have been substantial, including probably Sogdiana to the north, and Margiana and Ariana to the south or east of Bactria.


Euthydemus was allegedly a native of Magnesia (though the exact site is unknown), son of the Greek General Apollodotus, born c. 295 BC, who might have been son of Sophytes, and by his marriage to a sister of Diodotus II and daughter of Diodotus I, born c. 250 BC, was the father of Demetrius I according to Strabo[2] and Polybius;[3] he could possibly have had other royal descendants, such as sons Antimachus I, Apollodotus I and Pantaleon.

For Euthydemus himself was a native of Magnesia, and he now, in defending himself to Teleas, said that Antiochus was not justified in attempting to deprive him of his kingdom, as he himself had never revolted against the king, but after others had revolted he had possessed himself of the throne of Bactria by destroying their descendants. (...) finally Euthydemus sent off his son Demetrius to ratify the agreement. Antiochus, on receiving the young man and judging him from his appearance, conversation, and dignity of bearing to be worthy of royal rank, in the first place promised to give him one of his daughters in marriage and next gave permission to his father to style himself king. (Polybius, 11.34, 2 )

Little is known of his reign until 208 BC when he was attacked by Antiochus III the Great, whom he tried in vain to resist on the shores of the river Arius (Battle of the Arius), the modern Herirud. Although he commanded 10,000 horsemen, Euthydemus initially lost a battle on the Arius [3] and had to retreat. He then successfully resisted a three-year siege in the fortified city of Bactra, before Antiochus finally decided to recognize the new ruler, and to offer one of his daughters to Euthydemus's son Demetrius around 206 BC.[3]

Classical accounts also relate that Euthydemus negotiated peace with Antiochus III by suggesting that he deserved credit for overthrowing the descendants of the original rebel Diodotus, and that he was protecting Central Asia from nomadic invasions thanks to his defensive efforts:

"...for if he did not yield to this demand, neither of them would be safe: seeing that great hords of Nomads were close at hand, who were a danger to both; and that if they admitted them into the country, it would certainly be utterly barbarised." (Polybius, 11.34).

The war lasted altogether three years and after the Seleucid army left, the kingdom seems to have recovered quickly from the assault. The death of Euthydemus has been roughly estimated to 200 BC-195 BC, and the last years of his reign probably saw the beginning of the Bactrian invasion of South Asia.

Barbaric copy of a coin of Euthydemus, from the region of Sogdiana. The legend on the reverse is in aramaic. Such coins suggest that Euthydemus ruled, and then lost the territory of Sogdiana.

There exist many coins of Euthydemus, portraying him as a young, middle-aged and old man. He is also featured on no less than three commemorative issues by later kings, Agathocles, Antimachus I and one anonymous series.[4] He was succeeded by Demetrius, who went on to invade northwestern regions of South Asia. His coins were imitated by the nomadic tribes of Central Asia for decades after his death; these imitations are called "barbaric" because of their crude style.


Silver coin of Euthydemus.
  1. Polybius. The Histories. Book XI chap. 34 v. 1.
  2. Strabo, Geography 11.11.1
  3. 1 2 3 Polybius 11.34 Siege of Bactra
  4. "Two Remarkable Bactrian Coins" RC Senior, Oriental Numismatic Society Newsletter 159

External links

Preceded by:
Diodotus II or Antiochus Nikator
Greco-Bactrian Ruler Succeeded by:
Demetrius I
Greco-Bactrian kings
Dynastic lineage
Bactrian domain Expansion into India
280 BCE Foundation of the Hellenistic city of Ai-Khanoum in Bactria (280 BCE)
255 BCE Independence of the Greco-Bactrian Kingdom from the Seleucid Empire (255 BCE)
255–239 BCE House of Diodotus. Diodotus I
239–223 BCE Diodotus II
230–200 BCE House of Euthydemus. Euthydemus I
200–180 BCE Demetrius I Pantaleon
180 BCE Euthydemus II Agathokles
180–170 BCE Antimachus I Apollodotus I
170–145 BCE House of Eucratides Eucratides Demetrius II
145 BCE (Destruction of Ai-Khanoum by the Yuezhi in 145 BCE) (Succession of
145–140 BCE Plato Eucratides II Indo-Greek kings
140–130 BCE Heliocles I to the
130 BCE- Complete occupation of Bactria by the Yuezhi. 1st century CE)
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