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Demetrius II Nicator

Coin of the Seleucid king Demetrius II Nicator. Museum of Deir ez-Zor (Syria). Photo Marco Prins.
Demetrius II Nicator
Demetrius II Nicator ('victor'): name of a Seleucid king, ruled from 145 to 138 and from 129 to 125.

Successor of: Alexander I Balas


Main deeds, first reign:
  • c.160: born
  • c.152: sent to Cnidus by his father, Demetrius I Soter, because of the uncertainties of war against Alexander I Balas
  • 150: Alexander Balas defeats and succeeds Demetrius; Antioch is betrayed by an officer named Diodotus
  • 147: Revolt of Demetrius II Nicator; Jonathan defeats Demetrius' general Apollonius
  • 146: Ptolemy supports Demetrius' claim to the throne; Alexander's wife, queen Cleopatra Thea, leaves her husband and remarries with Demetrius; her father Ptolemy VI Philometor captures Antioch
  • July 145: Ptolemy brings Demetrius to Antioch; Ptolemy is mortally wounded during the fights, but Alexander is defeated
  • Demetrius is recognized as king before 8 September 145; he immediately attacks the Egyptian army
  • Diodotus, still an adherent of Alexander Balas, proclaims Alexander's son Antiochus VI Dionysus king; the boy, who is two years old, is recognized in Antioch; Demetrius' life is saved by soldiers from Judah; he flees to Seleucia
  • 143: The Hasmonaean leader Jonathan killed
  • Benefitting from the troubles, the Parthian king Mithradates I the Great conquers Media
  • 142: Demetrius recognizes the Hasmonaean Simon as high priest in Jerusalem, which is evacuated by a Seleucid garrison (de facto independence of Judaea)
  • July 141: Mithradates conquers Seleucia, the Seleucid capital in Babylonia
  • October 141: Uruk captured by the Parthians
  • Summer 140: Demetrius' rival, the boy king Antiochus VI, killed by his tutor Diodotus, who proclaims himself king, calling himself Tryphon; he is not recognized by Rome
  • 139: Mithradates conquers Susa in Elam
  • July/August 138: Demetrius taken captive by the Parthians
Reign of Antiochus VII
  • After August 138: Demetrius' brother Antiochus VII Sidetes, supported by several parties, attacks and overcomes Diodotus Tryphon, who commits suicide in Apamea; Antiochus marries Cleopatra Thea, wife of his brother
  • 134: Antiochus invades Judaea, besieges Jerusalem, and makes John Hyrcanus high priest in the Hasmonaean kingdom; he does not interfere with the Jewish religion (and is therefore sometimes called Euergetes, 'benefactor').
  • 132: Death of the Parthian king Mithradates; he is succeeded by Phraates II
  • November 132: Outbreak of civil war in Egypt between Ptolemy VIII Euergetes Physcon and his sister Cleopatra II
  • 130: Antiochus successfully fights a war against the Parthians, who are expelled from Babylonia and Media
  • 129: Antiochus demands full restoration of all Seleucid territories in Iran; the Parthians defeat him
  • After 20 May 129: suicide
Main deeds, second reign:
  • The Parthians reconquer Media and Babylonia, add Mesopotamia, and reach the Euphrates. Demetrius II, who is still held in captivity, is allowed to return to his old kingdom, which has by now been reduced to Syria and Cilicia
  • Demetrius concludes a marriage alliance with Parthia: his daughter marries to Phraates, he himself marries Phraates' sister Rhodogyne
  • 128: Demetrius tries to intervene in the Egyptian civil war, supporting Cleopatra II, the mother of his first wife Cleopatra Thea; he is defeated near Pelusium
  • Ptolemy VIII supports Alexander II Zabinas, a rebel in the Seleucid Empire
  • After March 125: When Demetrius wages war against Alexander II Zabinas, he is killed near Damascus.
Succeeded by: after some time by Antiochus VIII Grypus


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