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Sixth Syrian War (171-168)


Coin of Antiochus IV Epiphanes.
Antiochus IV Ephiphanes
Syrian Wars: series of conflicts between the Seleucid and Ptolemaic empires in the third and second centuries BCE; at stake was an area called Coele Syria, which is more or less identical to modern Israel, the Palestine territories, Lebanon and southern Syria.
First/1
280-279
First/2
274-272
Second
260-253
Third
246-241
Fourth
219-217
Fifth
202-195
Sixth
171-168
  • 180: Death of Ptolemy V Epiphanes; his son Ptolemy VI Philometor is too young; queen-mother Cleopatra Syra (a Seleucid princess) acts as regent
  • 176: Death of the queen-regent; new ministers, Lenaeus and Eulaeus, propose ware against the Seleucid empire to reconquer Coele Syria
  • 170: Outbreak of the Sixth Syrian War.
  • The Seleucid king Antiochus IV Epiphanes prepares himself and strikes first:
  • 169: Antiochus invades Egypt, captures Memphis, and demands that Ptolemy VI receives other advisers (Comanus and Cineas). He presents himself as protector of the king. Greek embassies to negotiate an armistice are sent back. In Alexandria, people demand that Cleopatra II and Ptolemy VIII become king.
  • Antiochus retreats (keeping Pelusion) and leaves the war to Ptolemy VI; in the winter, the Ptolemaic rulers are reconciled, which puts an end to Antiochus' ambition to keep the two brothers fighting against each other
  • 168: Second invasion of Egypt. A Seleucid navy (built in violation of the terms of the Peace of Apamea) conquers Cyprus. Antiochus besieges Alexandria, but a Roman embassy, led by Gaius Popilius Laenas, orders the Seleucid king to return. This is the end of the war.
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Revision: 10 April 2007
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