Antiochus IV Epiphanes
Antiochus IV Epiphanes (Αντίοχος Επιφανής, Greek: Manifest) ("The Shining One") (c. 215–163 BC, reigned 175–163 BC) was a ruler of the Hellenistic Seleucid Empire. He was originally named Mithradates, but renamed Antiochus, either upon his ascension, or after the death of his elder brother Antiochus. He was a son of Antiochus III the Great and brother of Seleucus IV Philopator.
Antiochus took power after the death of Seleucus Philopator. He had been hostage in Rome following the peace of Apamea in 188 BC, but had recently been exchanged for the son and rightful heir of Seleucus IV, the later Demetrius I Soter. Antiochus took advantage of this situation, and proclaimed himself co-regent with another of Seleucus' sons, the infant Antiochus, whose murder he orchestrated a few years later.
Notable events during his reign include the near-conquest of Egypt, which was halted by the threat of Roman intervention, and the beginning of the Jewish revolt of the Maccabees.
Because the guardians of Ptolemy VI of Egypt were demanding the return of Coele-Syria, Antiochus, in 170 BC, decided on a preemptive strike against Egypt, and invaded, conquering all but Alexandria. He then captured Ptolemy, and agreed to let him continue as King, but as his puppet. (This had the advantage of not alarming Rome.) Alexandria thereupon chose Ptolemy's brother Ptolemy Euergetes as King. In Antiochus' absence, the two brothers agreed to rule jointly. Hence, in 168 BC, Antiochus again invaded, and overran all Egypt, except for Alexandria, while his fleet captured Cyprus. Near Alexandria he was met by Gaius Popillius Laenas, who told him that he must immediately withdraw from Egypt and Cyprus. Antiochus said he would discuss it with his council, whereupon the envoy drew a line round him in the sand, and said, "Think about it here." The implication was that, were he to step out of the circle without having first undertaken to withdraw, he would be at war with Rome. Antiochus agreed to withdraw.
In a spirit of revenge, he organized an expedition against Jerusalem, which he destroyed; he put many of its inhabitants to death most cruelly. From this time, the Jews began the war of independence under their Maccabean leaders, defeating the armies that Antiochus sent against them. Enraged at this, Antiochus is said to have marched against them in person, threatening to exterminate the nation; but, on the way, he was suddenly arrested by the hand of death (164 BC). The exact causes of the Jewish revolt, and of Antiochus' response to it, are uncertain; the Jewish accounts are in the Books of Maccabees and the successful revolt is commemorated by the holiday of Hanukkah. His last years were spent on a campaign against the rising Parthian empire, which seems to have been initially successful, but which terminated upon his death.
The reign of Antiochus was a last period of strength for the empire, but in some way it was fatal; since he was an usurper, and left his infant son Antiochus V Eupator as his successor, devastating dynastic wars followed his death.
Seleucus IV Philopator
Antiochus V Eupator