(Σέλευκος). The name of several kings of Syria. (1) Surnamed Nictor, the founder of the Syrian monarchy, reigned B.C. 312-280. He was the son of Antiochus, a Macedonian of distinction among the officers of Philip II., and was born about B.C. 358. He accompanied Alexander on his expedition to Asia, and distinguished himself particularly in the Indian campaigns. After the death of Alexander (323) he espoused the side of Perdiccas, whom he accompanied on his expedition against Egypt; but he took a leading part in the mutiny of the soldiers, which ended in the death of Perdiccas (321). In the second partition of the provinces which followed, Seleucus obtained the wealthy and important satrapy of Babylonia. In the war between Antigonus and Eumenes, Seleucus afforded efficient support to the former; but after the death of Eumenes (316), Antigonus began to treat the other satraps as his subjects. Thereupon Seleucus fled to Egypt, where he induced Ptolemy to unite with Lysimachus and Cassander in a league against their common enemy. In the war that ensued Seleucus took an active part. At length, in 312, he recovered Babylon; and it is from this period that the Syrian monarchy is commonly reckoned to commence. This era of the Seleucidae, as it is termed, has been determined by chronologists to the 1st of October, 312. Soon afterwards Seleucus defeated Nicanor, the satrap of Media, and followed up his victory by the conquest of Susiana, Media, and some adjacent districts. For the next few years he gradually extended his power over all the eastern provinces which had formed part of the empire of Alexander, from the Euphrates to the banks of the Oxus and [figure in text: Coin of Seleucus Nicator.] the Indus. In 306 Seleucus followed the example of Antigonus and Ptolemy, by formally assuming the royal title and diadem. In 302 he joined the league formed for the second time by Ptolemy, Lysimachus, and Cassander, against their common enemy Antigonus. The united forces of Seleucus and Lysimachus gained a decisive victory over Antigonus at Ipsus (301), in which Antigonus himself was slain. In the division of the spoil, Seleucus obtained the largest share, being rewarded for his services with a great part of Asia Minor (which was divided between him and Lysimachus) as well as with the whole of Syria, from the Euphrates to the Mediterranean.
The empire of Seleucus was now by far the most extensive and powerful of those which had been formed out of the dominions of Alexander. It comprised the whole of Asia, from the remote provinces of Bactria and Sogdiana to the coasts of Phnicia, and from the Paropamisus to the central plains of Phrygia, where the boundary which separated him from Lysimachus is not clearly defined. Seleucus appears to have felt the difficulty of exercising a vigilant control over so extensive an empire, and accordingly, in 293, he consigned the government of all the provinces beyond the Euphrates to his son Antiochus, upon whom he bestowed the title of king, as well as the hand of his own youthful wife, Stratonic, for whom the prince had conceived a violent attachment. In [p. 1437] 288, the ambitious designs of Demetrius (now become king of Macedonia) once more aroused the common jealousy of his old adversaries, and led Seleucus again to unite in a league with Ptolemy and Lysimachus against him. After Demetrius had been driven from his kingdom by Lysimachus, he transported the seat of war into Asia Minor, but he was compelled to surrender to Seleucus in 286. The Syrian king kept Demetrius in confinement till three years afterwards, but during the whole of that time treated him in a friendly and liberal manner. For some time jealousies had existed between Seleucus and Lysimachus; but the immediate cause of the war between the two monarchs, which terminated in the defeat and death of Lysimachus (281), is related in the life of the latter. Seleucus now crossed the Hellespont in order to take possession of the throne of Macedonia, which had been left vacant by the death of Lysimachus; but he had advanced no farther than Lysimachia, when he was assassinated by Ptolemy Ceraunus, to whom, as the son of his old friend and ally, he had extended a friendly protection. His death took place in the beginning of 280, only seven months after that of Lysimachus, and in the thirty-second year of his reign. He was in his seventy-eighth year. Seleucus appears to have carried out, with great energy and perseverance, the projects originally formed by Alexander himself for the Hellenization of his Asiatic empire; and we find him founding, in almost every province, Greek or Macedonian colonies, which became so many centres of civilization and refinement. Of these no less than sixteen are mentioned as bearing the name of Antiochia, after his father; five that of Laodicea, from his mother; seven were called after himself Seleucia; three from the name of his first wife, Apamea; and one Stratonicea, from his second wife, the daughter of Demetrius. Numerous other cities, whose names attest their Macedonian originBeroea, Edessa, Pella, etc. likewise owed their first foundation to Seleucus.
(2) Surnamed Callincus (246-226), the eldest son of Antiochus II. by his first wife Laodic. The first measure of his administration, or rather that of his mother, was to put to death his stepmother Berenic, together with her infant son. This act of cruelty produced the most disastrous effects. In order to avenge his sister, Ptolemy Euergetes, king of Egypt, invaded the dominions of Seleucus, and not only made himself master of Antioch and the whole of Syria, but carried his arms unopposed beyond the Euphrates and the Tigris. During these operations Seleucus kept wholly aloof; but when Ptolemy had been recalled to his own dominions by domestic disturbances, he recovered possession of the greater part of the provinces which he had lost. Soon afterward Seleucus became involved in a dangerous war with his brother Antiochus Hierax, who attempted to obtain Asia Minor as an independent kingdom for himself. This war lasted several years, but was at length terminated by the decisive defeat of Antiochus, who was obliged to abandon Asia Minor and take refuge in Egypt. Seleucus undertook an expedition to the East, with the view of reducing the revolted provinces of Parthia and Bactria, which had availed themselves of the disordered state of the Syrian Empire to throw off its yoke. He was, however, defeated by Arsaces, king of Parthia, in a great battle, which was long after celebrated by the Parthians as the foundation of their independence. After the expulsion of Antiochus, Attalus, king of Pergamus, extended his dominions over the greater part of Asia Minor; and Seleucus appears to have been engaged in an expedition for the recovery of these provinces, when he was accidentally killed by a fall from his horse, in the twenty-first year of his reign, 226. He left two sons, who successively ascended the throne, Seleucus Ceraunus and Antiochus, afterward surnamed the Great. His own surname of Callinicus was probably assumed after his recovery of the provinces that had been overrun by Ptolemy.
(3) Surnamed Ceraunus (226-223), eldest son and successor of Seleucus II. The surname of Ceraunus (Thunderbolt) was given him by the soldiery, apparently in derision, as he appears to have been feeble both in mind and body. He was assassinated by two of his officers, after a reign of only three years, and was succeeded by his brother, Antiochus the Great.
(4) Surnamed Philoptor (187-175), was the son and successor of Antiochus the Great. The defeat of his father by the Romans, and the ignominious peace which followed it, had greatly diminished the power of the Syrian monarchy, and the reign of Seleucus was, in consequence, feeble and inglorious, and was marked by no striking events. He was assassinated in 175 by one of his own ministers. He left two children: Demetrius, who subsequently ascended the throne; and Laodic, married to Perseus, king of Macedonia.
(5) Eldest son of Demetrius II., assumed the royal diadem on learning the death of his father, 125; but his mother, Cleopatra , who had herself put Demetrius to death, was indignant at hearing that her son had ventured to take such a step without her authority, and caused Seleucus also to be assassinated.
(6) Surnamed Epiphnes, and also Nictor (95-93), was the eldest of the five sons of Antiochus VIII. (Grypus). His uncle, who laid claim to the kingdom, was defeated and slain by him. Presently, however, Seleucus was himself expelled from Syria by Antiochus Eusebus. He retired to Cilicia, where he made himself master of the city of Mopsuestia, whose citizens presently revolted against him and burned the palace, in whose flames Seleucus himself perished.