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Antiochus IV Epiphanes “crazy”

This post is also available in: Polish (polski)

Head of Antiochus IV Epiphanes
Head of Antiochus IV Epiphanes | Photo: Jniemenmaa / Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

Polybius in “Histories” describes the figure of Antiochus IV Epiphanes, the son of King Antiochus III the Great, who, after the defeat of the Seleucid monarchy in the war with Rome in 188 BCE, had to live in Rome as a hostage for over ten years. When his brother Seleucus IV Philopator died, the hostages were changed and Antiochus IV was to take the Syrian throne, and Seleucus’ son would go to Rome.

While in Rome, Antiochus IV was to be fascinated by the political culture and power of the Roman state; proof of this is his rule, which was characterized by avoiding conflicts with Rome.

Moreover, Polybius states that after his return to Antioch, Antiochus IV was to become so attached to the political culture of Rome that when walking around the city he greeted passers-by and gave them gifts. Interestingly, he was dressed in a toga and acted like a Roman politician trying to win voters before the elections.

The surprising behaviour of Antiochus met with the surprise of the inhabitants of his country, who began to call him “crazy” (Epimanes).

  • Beard Mary, SPQR. Historia starożytnego Rzymu, Poznań 2016

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