Antiochus VIII Grypus
gigatos | June 8, 2022
Antiochus VIII Grypos was the ruler of the Seleucid Dynasty, kings of Syria during the Hellenistic period. He was the son of Demetrius II Nicator and Cleopatra Thea and ruled during the period 125 BC – 96 BC. The nickname ”Grypos” means ”one who has a hooked nose”.
During Antiochus” childhood, the Seleucid state was shaken by strong civil strife, with the claimants to the throne succeeding each other at very short intervals, and with Antiochus” father, Demetrius, spending a long period of captivity in the land of Parthia, from 138 to 128 BC. The constant denominator in this turbulent period was Queen Cleopatra Thea, daughter of Ptolemy VI Philomitorus, Pharaoh of Egypt, who remained on the throne of Syria as her husbands and sons alternated in power. A few years after his return to the throne, Demetrius died in 125 BC during his dispute with Alexander II Zabina, abandoned by the Cleopatra Goddess, who eventually ruled as her sons” contractor from Demetrius. Antiochus” older brother, Seleucus V Philomitor, made an unsuccessful attempt to assume sole rule of the kingdom but was probably killed with the help of Cleopatra Goddess. The latter then made a pact with Antiochus. Friction between them was not long in coming, and in 123 BC Cleopatra tried to offer him a cup of wine in which she had secretly poisoned him. The young man, suspicious, forced her to drink it in his place. As an aside, let it be mentioned that Antiochus concealed an interest in toxicology. Some poems he wrote about toxic plants are mentioned by the physician Galen.
Antiochus married the princess of Ptolemaic Egypt Tryphena, daughter of Ptolemy VIII Fysconus in 124
In the period that followed, Grypos held the capital and Cilicia but it was impossible to keep the local pirates from gaining power. Cyzicus conquered the southern part of Syria. Cleopatra IV, the wife of Cyzicus, was the younger sister of Tryphena, and when she fell a prisoner at the hands of Grypus, she died a tragic death in the temple of Apollo at Daphne, outside Antioch. Antiochus wished to spare her life, but Tryphena persuaded him otherwise. A year later, Cyzicus took revenge by torturing and killing Tryphena.
Egypt was also involved in the conflict between the two brothers, with Antiochus VIII Trypos allying himself with Ptolemy I Alexander and Antiochus IX Cyzicus finding an ally in the person of his brother and political rival, Ptolemy IX of Lathyrus. Another event connected with this confused situation is the securing of the independence of Judea and the capture of Samaria and Idumea by the Jerusalem authorities.
Despite the political instability of his time, Grypos was a popular king. His truffled image on coins of the time, common among the last Seleucids, as well as accounts of the extravagantly luxurious meals he hosted, caused subsequent scholars to form a sense of decline for the dynasty. However, this depiction was actually deliberate, in an attempt to associate the dynasty with prosperity and well-being, which of course contrasts with the turbulent political situation that actually prevailed.
A narrative about the sumptuous meals that were provided mentions that when leaving, the guests took food with them, accompanied by a camel for transportation and a servant to carry the guest himself. This, of course, would have caused great damage to the already strained state coffers.