Seleucus I Nicator
The passage describes the Babylonian
war between (troops of) Seleucus
and (troops of) Antigonus
Monophthalmus for Babylon.
of Sicily 19.90-93 [text]
and 19.100.3-7 [text]
offers a brief description of the events, as if everything had taken place
in 312 BCE. In fact the struggle extended over a longer period, 311-308
or even longer (cf. Van der Spek 1992: 243-250) and Antigonus seems to
have taken part in person (cf. Wheatley 2002).
In the month Nisannu
of 311, Seleucus returned from Egypt in Babylon and before month Simanu
(III), i.e. before 31 May, he introduced a new dating system on the basis
of regnal years of king Alexander
IV (since 317), adding himself as "general". Note that he did not refer
to his position as satrap of Babylonia,
but as "general" tout court, hence claiming that he had taken over Antigonus'
title "strategos of Asia". Small wonder that Seleucus was not included
in the peace treaty of 311, the 'Peace of the Dynasts'.
Antigonus seems for a while to have taken over
the countryside of Babylonia, appointing there a satrap
of his own in competition to Seleucus’ position, Archelaus. The struggle
must have had a devastating effect on city and countryside of Babylon.
The commodity prices rose to incredible heights, as is remarked by the
chronicler in line 29 (Cf. Van der Spek 2000a and Van der Spek & Mandemakers
For the restoration: cf. Oelsner 1974: 136f n.
33; Van der Spek 1992: 245f; Stolper 1990; Geller 1990: 2 n. 8. The lines
refer to a new dating system introduced after the capture of Babylon in
the end of May 311. After the expulsion of Antigonus, Seleucus took the
title stratźgos. Since it is evidently intended as a succession
to Antigonus as stratźgos in the previous dating system, no other
interpretation is possible that Seleucus considered himself the new "stratźgos
of Asia", a claim probably accepted by none of the other Diadochi,
so that it did not even enter the literary tradition.
it-ta-[…] at the end of the line can be
derived from a dozen of verbs. Any restoration would be speculative. The
must be object of the verb.
describes Seleucus’ attempt to capture the palace.
Cf. Diodorus 19.91.4 [text].
The first sign is written over an erasure, but
it seems to represent GIŠ = is/i@/iz. Grayson readsiz-bu-ub-ma
(from zabābu) “was in a frenzy.” However, the relevant attestations
of the verb referenced in CAD are N-stem, come from a collection
of terrestrial omens, Šumma ālu, and describe the behavior
of horses. Geller therefore prefers to read i@-bu-ub-ma (from
"to spread wings", and explains: "the latter term can simply mean ‘to fly’
… which is normally metaphoric for fleeing as well". Seleucus is not necessarily
the subject of the sentence.
Since all these translations convey no real meaning,
I suspect that a scribal error is made. I suggest reading is-pu-un.
Three arguments I present for this emendation.
All three signs are written over other signs, as
so often in this chronicle. Our scribe was fairly careless.
The translation makes sense. Sapānu
means "to level, to devastate, to destroy, to smooth", and especially used
in relation with water (A.MEŠ) and deluge (abūbu). So I suggest
that Seleucus levelled something (defenses) with water from the Euphrates
and that he afterwards neglected to dam the Euphrates, so that the land
was inundated. This means that the damming of the Euphrates has nothing
to do with the damming of the Pallacottas.
Our scribe seems to have difficulties with the sign
in Obv. 8 he wrote ub instead of ur; here it is
instead of un. Perhaps he used the word abūbu in the
previous line and became confused about that.
Patrocles had been established as general (stratźgos)
of Babylonia by Seleucus (Diodorus 19.100.5)
Diodorus 19.92 [text]:
Seleucus crossed the Tigris
in order to oppose Nicanor,
the general (stratźgos) of Media
and Persis, who was aided on his turn by Persians under their satrap Evager
(Euagros, possibly Euagoras, satrap of Aria
(Diodorus 19.48.2)). Seleucus was victorious in this confrontation: Evager
died and Nicanor fled.
Wiseman’s suggestion to read &ab-ti
u su-lum-mu-u ("friendship and peace") is impossible in view of the
traces. This phrase probably does not refer to the peace treaty of 311
between Antigonus, Ptolemy,
and Cassander (Diodorus 19.105.1). It rather reflects the fact that after
the death of Evager "most of his soldiers went over to Seleucus", who "was
comporting himself in a way graciously to all" (Diodorus 19.92.4-5;
Date formula: see lines Rev. 32’ and Astronomical
diaries -309 and -308. Cf. Geller 1990, 53,
who compares events of Diary -309 (months I-VI; text)
with this passage. The next section describes Antigonus’ attempt to reconquer
The Astronomical diary suggests very clearly
that Antigonus was present in Babylonia in person. He apparently was for
a while in the city of Babylon, but could not get hold of the entire city.
He went to the countryside and other cities and appointed a rival satrap
in the surroundings of Babylon, hence with no real authority in the city.
Bit harź, meaning uncertain: cf.
H, p. 118a, s.v. harū E. In Babylon a temple of Nabū-ša-Harź
was situated in the procession road, between the palace and Esagila.
MU BI ŠE
1 BĮN ZU.L[UM.MA .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. ] | [ina piš-k]i
The same event is referred to in AD I, p. 231, No. –309 Obv. 11-12
(as observed by Geller 1990 : 2). The phrase refers to the extreme high
prices of the moment: the shekel could buy only 6 litres of barley. From
the Astronomical diaries we know that the prices were very high
in these years of warfare. In the beginning of month I of the next year
(10 April – 9 May 309) the exchange value was 7.5 litres. At the end of
that month, when the new barley arrived, the shekel was good for 13.5 shekels.
The phrase ina piški points to the wrongful, illegal, and irregular
character of the requisition, apart from normal taxes (cf. Stolper 2000;
der Spek 2005).
The phrase makkur šarri ana kidi u@@i,
“the property of the king will go outside (the town)” occurs in Thureau-Dangin
(1921) 38:15 and passim in omina.
The satrap in question will be Archelaus or Seleucus:
cf. Wheatley 2002, 43, n. 22.
Difficult to understand. Something happened in
the neighborhood of Borsippa, some people are assembled (Babylonians for
evacuation? Diodorus 19.100.5; text);
an aforementioned Babylonian is mentioned (the one appointed in Esagila?);
the sign BAR may represent the verb muššuru, “to release”, or zāzu,
“to divide”; same expression in line 39’.
This refers to the terror in the countryside
due to the war.
A man with a personal name ending in –la
is referred to, who had done something in the first year of Alexander,
which will refer to either 331 BCE, but that year is normally counted as
the 7th year, or to 317, the first year of Alexander IV.
Refers to the final battle between Seleucus and
Antigonus and may have been described in Polyaenus
4.9.1 [text]; cf. Wheatley 2002: 44, n. 24.