Reading for the Weekend – The Seleukid Empire of Antiochus III

Antiochus IIIThe Seleukid Empire of Antiochus III  (223-187BC) (ISBN: 978-1-78303-050-7, E-ISBN: 978-1-47385-450-5) is the second part of the Seleucid history trilogy. I read the first part, Rise of Seleukid Empire some time ago and was since then disturbed by entirely different things. I had to admit that I was somewhat tired of the writing style and therefore attempted to find other sources. There are at least few accounts of the third founder of Seleukid Empire – Antiochus III who inherited the Empire about to dissolve and then united it again under single rule. However, I thought that if I take up the second volume, I probably should also have the third for the sake of having the whole picture.

For Antiochus III, uniting and consolidating the crumbling Empire was not a small feat. Seleukid empire was after all the largest empire in the world at the time, encompassing much of the Alexander’s inheritance. As mentioned earlier, Antiochos inherited an Empire that had fragmented into small pieces governed by overpowered satraps, former subject kings and usurpers. His career was one very long campaign. Book does excellent work to go through the complicated political situation the Empire had collapsed into, setting scene for Antiochos III early reign. Before the eventual fight out with Ptolemy, he had to unify the Seleucid territory and guarantee the subservience of the subject kings.

Big part of the book concerns consoledation events until finally reaching to the inevitable conflict with Ptolemy at the later half of the book. However, on the other side of Mediterranean, another power in rising was just terminated the existence of Carthage followed by Hannibal’s exile on the Seleucid domains. Together with Greek unrest, Roman settlement, conflict with Ptolemy that lead to Seleucid victory over Coile Syria, Antiochus were lead to direct conflict with Rome and while the Empire survived the first military contact, it was to be the beginning of long downfall. Territorial concessions were heavy, for the imposed permanent Roman interest in the east.

Antiochus himself met his end in the east, attending unrest, and sacking temple to fill the war chest. He left for his son and co-king the empire in similar state of unrest he received it himself.

Book is very good read for anyone that has interest on the Successors and Seleucids. Especially the latter part of the book with Roman and Ptolemaic conflicts is very good reference for wargaming.

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