Seleucid Genealogy

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Bibliography Seleucid Study Group
Seleucid Marriage, Succession, and Descent Revisited

Alex McAuley

Department of History & Classical Studies

McGill University in cooperation with The School of History, Classics, and Archaeology The University of Edinburgh

The Genealogy of the Seleucids
Colossal head of Antiochus I of Commagene,

Nemrud Dag, Turkey

Seleucus I Nicator

Ruled 311-281 b.c.

Son of Antiochus and Laodice

Married first to Apama, 324 b.c.

-Antiochus I Soter = Stratonice

-Laodice = Achaeus the Elder


Married second to Stratonice, 299 b.c.

-Phila = Antigonus Gonatas

Bust of Seleucus I, The Louvre, Paris.

Seleucus I Nicator:

Son of the Macedonian Antiochus, a general of Philip, and his wife Laodice, Despite allegations the was a bastard, I see no reason to doubt his parentage and rather the idea emerges from the myth of his descent from Apollo recorded in Justin 15.4.2-10. The myth itself privileges Laodice and can perhaps be seen as having been promoted by either Seleucus or his successors to impart some measure of divinity on the dynasty.

Married to Apama, daughter of the Bactrian Spitamenes, as part of the mass wedding at Susa under Alexander the Great in 324, organised with the aim of fusing the Macedonian and Persian nobility with the marriage of his hetairoi to Persian women (Arr.Anab.7.4.6). Unlike the other successors, Seleucus did not repudiate his bride. Her later diplomatic and political utility would not be realized until over a decade after their marriage, suggesting that something more than political convenience bound the two. As Grainger (1990, 12) writes,‘she must have been a remarkable lady.’

The marriage produced three recorded children, Aniochus I Soter (Plut.Dem.29, App.Syr.65), and two daughters mentioned by John Malalas, Laodice and Apama (Malalas p.198, Eustathius 915, Ogden 1999, 119). No marriage for either two daughters is attested.

Although passages in Strabo (15.2.9) and Appian (Syr.55) have been taken as indication that Seleucus married a daughter of the Mauryan king Chandragupta (Sandracottus), the ambiguity with which both authors speak of only a intermarriage or a marriage relationship along with the absence of any other mention of such a wife leads me to discount the possibility. Chandragupta might just as well have married a daughter of Seleucus, or a marriage amongst their lieutenants could plausibly be thought of as a ‘marriage alliance.’ The mentions are too vague for any certain conclusions.

Seleucus I then married Stratonice, daughter of Demetrius Poliorcetes and Phila, as part of an alliance between the Seleucids and the Antigonids against the Ptolemies in 300. (Plut.Dem.31, 38, Diod.21.20). We cannot be sure whether or not Apama was alive at the time of his second marriage, but her epigraphical presence in 298 along with the foundation of several cities named ‘Apameia’ after 300 by Seleucus I – most notably Seleucia-Zeugma and Apameia – suggest to me that she was still alive. I see no reason why she would have been repudiated or divorced. (Sherwin-White and Kuhrt 1993, 26).

Seleucus’ daughter by Stratonice, Phila, was married to Antigonus Gonatas during the reign of her brother Antiochus I in 278 B.C (Grainger 1997, 52). The marriage confirmed Antigonus’ reacquisition of control over Macedonia after the rampage of the Celts over the preceding years, and serve to reinforce the pre-existing Seleucid/Antigonid alliance (Grainger 2010, 75-80, 145).


Bibliography Seleucid Study Group

In the haphazard patchwork that is our understanding of Hellenistic genealogy, the Seleucid dynasty stands out as particularly threadbare.

Despite the wealth of recent scholarship on countless facets of the Seleucid World, the genealogy and descent of the Seleucids themselves has received only sporadic and fragmentary attention.

This site has been created in the hope of producing and presenting as near a comprehensive stemma of the Dynasty as possible. Ancient literary evidence, numismatics, epigraphic remains, and contemporary scholarship have been combined with my own judgement and reasoning in (numerous) cases of controversy.

In the interest of objectivity I have erred on the side of conservatism; all hypotheses and conjectures are indicated as such. For the sake of convenience and accessibility, I have presented all Greek names in their latinized forms.

N.B.: All entries signed ‘AJPM’ were written by Alex McAuley; those signed M. D’A & AJPM were co-authoured by Monica D’Agostini & Alex McAuley.

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Any errors, omissions, oversights, and misjudgments are, and remain, mine alone.

Colonnade of the cardo maximus, Apameia in Syria