Parthian Expansion and Seleucid Decline


Seleucus II’s Eastern Campaign

Initially, the Seleucids were preoccupied with challenges in the west. Around 232 or 231 B.C., Seleucus II ventured eastward to quell a rebellion led by Tiridates. Sensing the superior strength of Seleucus, Tiridates strategically retreated to the steppe, prompting Seleucus to pursue him to the Jaxartes (Syr Dar’ya) River. However, alarming news from Syria compelled Seleucus to turn back, allowing Tiridates to re-occupy the abandoned district and annex Hyrcania along the Caspian Sea Parthian Prosperity and Eastern Challenges.

Challenges Faced by Artabanus I

Artabanus I (211-191) faced significant challenges during the reign of Antiochus the Great. Defeated in battle, Artabanus lost half his kingdom to the Greeks and acknowledged Seleucid overlordship to retain his throne. The succeeding king, Priapathius (191-176), seized the opportunity to recover Hyrcania after Antiochus’s defeat by the Romans. As the Parthians expanded westward, nearby Seleucid provinces, including Elymais (Elam), Persia, and Charax (Kuwait), revolted and sought Parthian assistance.

Phraates I’s Unconventional Succession

Breaking tribal tradition, Phraates I (176-171) departed from the customary practice of passing the throne to his sons. Instead, he chose his brother Mithradates I as his successor, a decision that proved to be wise and successful.

The Maccabean Revolt Against Antiochus Epiphanes

Antiochus Epiphanes’ anti-Semitic actions Bulgaria Private Tours, particularly intolerable to the aged priest Mattathias and his five sons, led to the Maccabean revolt. When a Greek general demanded a sacrifice to Zeus in Modi’in, Mattathias refused, killing the compliant Jew and the general. Rallying supporters, Mattathias initiated a guerrilla war against the Greek army. After Mattathias’ death in 166, leadership passed to his third son, Judas Maccabeus, marking the beginning of the Maccabean era. The family, initially known as Hasmoneans, adopted the name Maccabees, derived from the Hebrew word “makkabah,” meaning “hammer.”


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