Could Laodice, Wife of Seleucus IV
and Mother of Demetrius I of Syria,
Have Been the Daughter of Philip V of Macedonia?

Don C. Stone,
Mar. 5, 2014

The Silence of Ancient Sources about Seleukos' Marriage
Philip V's Testimony to the Romans in 185 B.C.
Analysis of Helliesen's Evidence
The Identity of Seleukos' Wife: Summary and Further Exploration

Jean Helliesen proposed in 1981 that Seleucus IV Philopator married an Antigonid princess, since that would explain (among other things) the Antigonid name of their son Demetrius (Demetrius I Soter).[1]  Settipani pointed out in 1991 that the Antigonid princess would have to be a daughter of Philip V of Macedonia.[2]  However, no ancient source mentions the marriage of Seleucus to a daughter of Philip.  Furthermore, the testimony of Philip to a Roman commission in 185 BC (reported in Livy 39.28) makes it appear unlikely that he had a daughter who married Seleucus.  Nevertheless, some Antigonid connection for Seleucus' wife is plausible.  Besides the Antigonid names, support for her Antigonid background comes from Andriscus' claim to be related to her son Demetrius I.  (Andriscus was soliciting Demetrius' help in recovering Macedonia from the Romans.)  On the other hand, the numismatic evidence cited by Helliesen (Demetrius' Antioch tetradrachms) appears to be neutral rather than supportive of Helliesen's proposal.


The Silence of Ancient Sources about Seleukos' Marriage
Renzo Lucherini thinks that an Antigonid background for Seleucus' wife is plausible, but worries about the silence of ancient sources:

We could guess that Seleukos IV [had not married his sister but] had married a princess of Antigonid ancestry (Jean M. Helliesen, “Demetrios I Soter: a Seleukid King with an Antigonid Name” in Ancient Macedonian Studies in Honor of Charles F. Edson, 1981). Christian Settipani added some details, proposing that Philip V of Macedonia, who probably had a sister and a daughter both called Apama, also had another daughter named Laodike who married Seleukos (Nos ancêtres de l’Antiquité, 1991, p. 103). This Antigonid connection is suggested by the name of Seleukos IV's first born, Demetrios (I), who, in turn, had a son called Antigonos. This marriage would surely be anterior to 191, when the Syrian war broke out and Philip V of Macedonia, after some uncertainty, sided with the Romans. This dating corresponds to the period in which Antiochos rebuilt and repopulated Lysimacheia and when Seleukos is thought to have been crowned king in Thrace (Pol. 18. 51 . 8, Livy 33. 40. 6). Certainly it is strange that our sources never mention this wedding, though Polybios is fragmentary and Livy is substantially more interested in Rome. Anyway, this silence makes this hypothesis uncertain.[3]


During the early years of the second century BC Roman diplomacy in the eastern Mediterranean was focused most strongly on Philip V of Macedonia but also on the Attalids of Pergamon and the Seleucids of Syria.  Hence, the Roman historians for this period have a substantial amount of material on the Antigonids, Attalids and Seleucids but not much on other dynasties, even moderately powerful ones like those ruling Bithynia, Pontus and Cappadocia; any marriage alliance between the Antigonids, Attalids or Seleucids would have been considered highly significant by the Romans, and the lack of mention of the marriage of Seleucus to an Antigonid princess must be viewed as rather strong evidence that such a marriage did not occur.

Mark Passehl asserts (email of 9/8/2012) that the silence of the sources is especially significant in contexts such as Antiochus III's tentative moves to recognize Philip of Megalopolis as Macedonian king; see, e.g., Livy 36.8,  (If Antiochus III had married his son Seleucus to a daughter of Philip V of Macedonia, it would be very surprising for Livy not to mention this.)


Philip V's Testimony to the Romans in 185 B.C.
There is another argument against Seleucus marrying a daughter of Philip V.  According to Livy 39.28 (, in 185 Philip V testified to a Roman commission:

Just now (heaven help us!) the ambassadors of Eumenes assumed it as not to be gainsaid that it was more just for Eumenes than for me to have what had belonged to Antiochus. I judge the matter far differently. Eumenes could not have remained in his kingdom, I do not mean if the Romans had not conquered, but if they had not undertaken the war. [6] And so he has received favours from you, not you from him. So far from true was it that any part of my kingdom was in danger that when Antiochus voluntarily promised me three thousand talents and fifty decked ships and all the cities of Greece which I had held before, as the price of my alliance, I refused; I preferred to be his enemy even before Manius Acilius brought his army across to Greece. [Manius Acilius Glabrio was the Roman commander who defeated Antiochus at Thermopylae in 191.]

I believe that the bolded part is evidence that Seleucus did not marry a daughter of Philip V of Macedonia, based on the likely thought processes of Philip V. 

If Seleucus had married Philip's daughter, then we would expect Philip to think that the Romans would be likely to respond to the bolded part of his testimony above (especially, “I preferred to be [Antiochus'] enemy”) by saying, "Didn't your daughter marry Antiochus' son?  What agreements were made in connection with that marriage?"  And that thought would cause Philip not to bring up Antiochus' promise.  But since he did bring up Antiochus' promise, he probably didn't have a marriage alliance with Antiochus.  Furthermore, Mark Passehl points out (email of 9/8/2012) that if Philip's daughter had married Antiochus' son, then Philip could have made a stronger argument than he did, saying that he had willfully disregarded the ties formed by the marriage of his own daughter in preference for his Roman alliance.


Analysis of Helliesen's Evidence
The arguments above make it seem unlikely that Seleucus married a daughter of Philip V of Macedonia.  However, the evidence presented by Helliesen in 1981 indicates that Seleucus' bride most likely had some connection with Macedonia.  Helliesen's evidence is:

(1) Seleucus' son Demetrius is the first Seleucid to have this name, a name often used by the Antigonids.

(2) Demetrius named one of his three sons Antigonus and another Demetrius.

(3) The reverse of Demetrius’ tetradrachms minted at Antioch and elsewhere is probably the Fortune of Antigonia, the city established by Antigonus, founder of the Macedonian dynasty.

(4) Andriscus, pretender to the Macedonian throne, claimed to be an illegitimate son of King Perseus and claimed to be related by blood (as an Antigonid) to Demetrius.

Helliesen was focused on Seleucus' possible marriage to an Antigonid princess, but let's look at how well this evidence can apply to Seleucus' marriage to a daughter of an Antigonid princess.

Concerning points (1) and (2), Helliesen observed that before Demetrius “all Seleucid kings had been officially named either Seleucus or Antiochus….  [E]ight rulers before Demetrius had maintained this tradition.  Suddenly, with the birth of Demetrius about 186, the tradition was abandoned, and this child received a name which was new in the Seleucid house.”[4]  (However, it should be pointed out that one or more of the earlier kings had birth names other than Seleucus or Antiochus.  Seleucus III's birth name was Alexander, and Antiochus IV Epiphanes may have changed his name -- Grainger proposed that he was originally named Mithridates after his maternal grandfather.[5])  In any case, it is likely that there was at least one specific stimulus that led to the introduction of the Antigonid name Demetrius.  The stimulus could conceivably have been, as Helliesen argued, the marriage of Demetrius’ father Seleucus IV to an Antigonid princess, but this appears unlikely, as discussed above.  However, it could well be that Seleucus married the daughter of an Antigonid princess.

Helliesen discussed the two proposed reasons for the Antigonid name Demetrius given by Edwyn Bevan.[6]  She showed that his idea that the name was intended as a declaration that the Seleucid kings had a claim to the Macedonian throne (Seleucus IV was a great-great-grandson of the Antigonid princess Stratonice, daughter of Demetrius I Poliorcetes) was based at least partly on the mistaken belief that Perseus was illegitimate.  However, Helliesen said that Bevan's other reason, that the name Demetrius might proclaim friendship towards the ruling house of Macedonia “at an hour when the two houses must draw together against the foreigner” (in Bevan's words), could well be correct as a further motivation supplementing the Antigonid background of Demetrius' mother.  (Or the Antigonid background of Demetrius' grandmother.)

It may well be politically significant that Demetrius retained his typically Antigonid birth name upon his accession; some Seleucids (and members of neighboring dynasties) changed their name to a more traditional dynastic one on accession, as mentioned above.  Mark Passehl believes (email of 10/14/2012) that keeping the Antigonid name was a way for Demetrius to emphasize a connection with Macedonia; this emphasis probably had multiple motivations.  One motivation could be his recent Macedonian royal ancestry, presumably through his mother.  Another motivation would be his elder sister Laodice's marriage to Perseus, the late king of Macedonia.  A less obvious motivation would be the Roman defeat of Perseus and some of the consequences of this defeat which Demetrius would have observed first-hand when he was an “open custody” hostage in Rome.  Specifically, one consequence was the removal to Italy of the Macedonian royal family, court, and aristocratic ruling class.  As Passehl says, Demetrius may have kept his Antigonid name (and given two sons Antigonid names) in order to appeal to this entire displaced Macedonian aristocracy and their children, “people he must have come to know personally during the period of their joint captivity in Italy” in the 160s.  Demetrius may have wished “to portray himself in his kingship as heir to both the Seleukid and the Antigonid kingships.”

Point (2) above, Demetrius I Soter’s naming of two of his three sons Antigonus and Demetrius, could be viewed as a strengthening of the Antigonid “theme” which was introduced by his own naming.  Note that these are the two principal Antigonid names, being the names of the dynasty's original kings (and co-kings) Antiogonus I Monophthalmos and Demetrius I Poliorcetes.  If it were known that Demetrius' wife had no close connection with the Antigonid dynasty, then the naming of these sons (intensifying the Antigonid “theme”) would lend additional weight to Helliesen's proposal that Demetrius' inherited Antigonid blood from his mother.  The background of Demetrius' wife Laodice is uncertain, though she is unlikely for chronological reasons to be his sister, the widow of Perseus of Macedonia (see my review “Did Laodice, Daughter of Seleucus IV of Syria and Wife of Perseus of Macedonia, Later Marry Her Brother Demetrius I?”).  In other words, one possible close connection of Demetrius' wife with the Antigonid dynasty is improbable, though other more distant connections are possible.  Thus, point (2), the naming of the sons Antigonus and Demetrius, may be a further consequence of the mother of Demetrius I having some Antigonid background, but we can't be sure.

Point (3) above attaches significance to the Fortune or Tyche holding a cornucopia (horn of Amalthea) that appears on the reverse of Demetrius I's Antioch tetradrachms.  Could it be the Fortune of Antigonia?  In The Seleucid Mint of Antioch (1918) Edward T. Newell had said (p. 38):

The exact significance of the reverse type of the seated goddess has never been satisfactorily explained.... It seems almost certainly to have been copied from some statue but from what one or why is still an enigma.

Malalas, the sixth century chronicler from Antioch, mentioned the removal of a statue of the Fortune of Antigonia from Antigonia to Antioch, but gave very little information about the statue.

An inquiry about the numismatic evidence was sent to Catharine Lorber, co-author of Seleucid Coins, and in her response of 3/7/2012 she stated:

I would be very cautious about relating Demetrius' reverse type to a statue, because there are in fact many variations in the type. Most of the variants are fairly rare and perhaps unknown to you, but all of the Antiochene variants were documented by Newell in The Seleucid Mint of Antioch.

There is a series of variations in the type when it was first introduced on the tetradrachms of Antioch. The Tyche was initially depicted seated on a cippus (SC 1633), then on a backless throne with a winged lion's leg support (SC 1634), and finally on the standard backless throne with a winged Tritoness support (SC 1635-1636). Through all these variations the Tyche was depicted bare breasted, but then a fully clothed version was adopted (SC 1637) and retained to the end of the reign. But a different variant appeared on a range of gold denominations, dated S.E. 162 (151/0 B.C.), which show Tyche on the obverse, seated on a high-backed throne.

She further said (on 3/23/2012):

[All of the coins in a sample of variants] show Tyche holding the horn of Amalthea, but that is hardly diagnostic. It is the one constant attribute of Tychai. However, a common attribute of city Tychai was a mural crown, i.e., a miniature city wall worn on the head like a crown. That is definitely absent from all representations of Tyche on Demetrius' coins. I'm not certain if the mural crown was an invariant attribute of city Tychai; for that I suggest you consult LIMC.

The horn of Amalthea does not establish any significant connection between the statue and the coin images, and the absence of a mural crown in the latter means that they would not naturally evoke a city Tyche, but rather an Agathe Tyche.

My summary of her position is that the coin evidence is neutral rather than (as I previously thought) mildly supportive of Helliesen’s proposal.

On point (4), Helliesen says that Andriscus' claim to be related to Demetrius διὰ τò γένος “surely implies a blood relationship.”[7]  The Greek phrase is from Zonaras’ Chronicon or Extracts of History 9.28.2, written early in the 12th century.  The quoted phrase is from the portion of that work which is an epitome of Cassius Dio’s Roman History, Books 1-21 (also written in Greek).  The relevant sentence fragment is translated, “[Andriscus] betook himself to Demetrius in Syria to obtain from him the aid which relationship might afford,” in the Loeb Classical Library edition, 1914, at*.html.  (Helliesen also cited Livy Periochae 49, which is online at and which doesn't address the relationship of Andriscus and Demetrius.)  From “... it is possible to get many of the facts related to Dio, and in some cases his exact words, by reading Books VII to XII of this Χρονικον or Επιτομη 'Ιστοριων by Zonaras. It is Books VII, VIII, and IX especially which follow Books One to Twenty-one of Dio.”  Hence it is reasonable to assume that διὰ τò γένος in Zonaras is probably a reliable transmission of information from Dio, who was writing about 900 years earlier.

For the Greek word γένος (genos), Liddell and Scott's Greek-English Lexicon (1996 edition) gives a variety of meanings (p. 344): race, stock, kin; also offspring; also clan, house, family, tribe.  Several examples show that the word is used for a direct descent as opposed to a collateral relationship or for a biological child as opposed to an adopted one.  Thus, Helliesen's judgment that διὰ τò γένος “surely implies a blood relationship” is plausible.

As reported by Livy (Epitome 49), Andriscus said he was a son of King Perseus by a concubine.  When preparing the biographical sketch of Andriscus for the Pauly-Wissowa Real-Encyclopedia (1894), Ulrich Wilcken proposed that Andriscus probably claimed to be a legitimate son of Perseus (i.e., by his wife Laodice, sister of Demetrius I).  Edwyn Bevan suggested that Wilcken's “ground appears to be that Andriscus claimed the help of Demetrius διὰ τò γένος (Zonaras ix. 28).  But there were earlier connexions between the houses of Antigonus and Seleucus, as Demetrius by his Antigonid name bore witness.”[8]  If Bevan is correct, Wilcken apparently accepted the “blood relationship” interpretation of γένος (genos).  Wilcken's proposal had considerable influence during the 20th century but has less at present, having been rejected by not only Helliesen but also, for example, Ogden.[9] 

If Demetrius I married his sister, Perseus' widow, would that relationship affect our interpretation of Andriscus' request for Demetrius' assistance as a member of his family (genos)?  I don't think so, because while this marriage would give Andriscus another connection to Demetrius (if Andriscus' claims were correct), still the blood relationship would be no closer. 

Hence, I think that the best interpretation of Andriscus' claim to be of the same family, διὰ τò γένος, as Demetrius I Soter is that Demetrius' mother had royal Macedonian ancestry.  If, for example, Demetrius' mother was a granddaughter of Demetrius II of Macedonia, then Demetrius I Soter and Andriscus would be second cousins from Andriscus' claimed perspective.  If Demetrius' mother had no royal Macedonian ancestry, then the blood relationship between Demetrius and Andriscus would be the distant one of a common descent from Demetrius Poliorcetes of Macedonia that would make them fourth cousins once removed.


The Identity of Seleukos' Wife: Summary and Further Exploration

Here is a summary of the above evaluations of the evidence presented by Helliesen:

Point (1), the naming of Demetrius, son of Seleucus IV, supports (though not definitively) the marriage of Seleucus to an Antigonid princess or the daughter of an Antigonid princess.

Point (2), the naming of Antigonus and Demetrius II, sons of Demetrius I, is consistent with Seleucus' marriage to an Antigonid princess or the daughter of an Antigonid princess but (with our present knowledge) does not strengthen the case for this marriage.

Point (3), the numismatic evidence (Demetrius' Antioch tetradrachms), is neutral.

Point (4), Andriscus' claim to be related to Demetrius I, strengthens the argument that Seleucus married an Antigonid princess or the daughter of an Antigonid princess.

See the discussion of Seleucus' wife, the mother of Demetrius I, in the section on Seleukos IV in Renzo Lucherini's article "The Children of Antiochos III" (footnote 3 below), including the idea that she could be a daughter of a sister or half-sister of Philip V of Macedonia. Related material can be found at "Ancestry of Prusias Monodous of Bithynia."

[1]  J. M. Helliesen, “Demetrios I Soter: a Seleucid king with an Antigonid Name”, in H. J. Dell (ed.), Ancient Macedonian Studies in Honour of Charles F. Edson (1981), 219–228.

[2]  Christian Settipani, Nos ancêtres de l’Antiquité (1991), 103.

[3]  Renzo Lucherini, “The Children of Antiochos III: A Revised Approach” (2014/2015), 16. (This article can be accessed from

[4]  Helliesen, “Demetrius I Soter,” 224.

[5]  John D. Grainger, A Seleukid Prosopography and Gazetteer (1997), 22.

[6]  Edwyn R. Bevan, The House of Seleucus, v. 2 (1902), 124-5.

[7]  Helliesen, “Demetrius I Soter,” 225.

[8]  Bevan, The House of Seleucus, v. 2, 208, n. 5.

[9]  Daniel Ogden, Polygamy, Prostitutes and Death: The Hellenistic Dynasties (1999), 190.