Demetrios I (Soter)

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Coin of Demetrius I Soter
Demetrios I (Soter) on drachm, 152/151 BC Minted

Demetrios I. Soter ( Greek Δημήτριος Α 'Σωτήρ; † 150 BC ) was a king of the Seleucid Empire . He was the eldest son of King Seleucus IV and probably Laodike .

Demetrios was born in 178 BC. Sent to Rome by his father as a hostage in exchange for his uncle Antiochus IV and as a further guarantee for the observance of the peace of Apamea . Since he was killed in the murder of his father in 175 BC. BC was still underage, the Roman Senate passed over its inheritance claims and accepted the takeover of Antiochus IV in Syria. Even after this 164 BC BC died., The Senate rejected the request of Demetrios on securing the release and saw instead the rule of Antiochus V to.

When in 162 BC When the Roman envoy Gnaeus Octavius ​​was murdered in Laodikeia , Demetrios saw the chance of being recognized by Rome as the rightful king. With the help of the historian Polybius , he fled Rome and landed in Tripoli . From there he organized the murder of the minor Antiochus V and his minister Lysias , which enabled him to establish himself as the sole ruler in Syria. His rule did not gain recognition from the Roman Senate as he had hoped, although Demetrios handed both the murderer of Gnaeus Octavius ​​and the Macedonian rebel Andriskos over to Rome. He pursued a policy of expansion towards his neighbors, with which he made enemies of Armenia , Cappadocia , Pergamon and Egypt . In 160 BC BC Demetrios defeated the Median satrap Timarchus , who had risen to the position of independent king after the death of Antiochus V in Babylon . In this way he was able to ensure the preservation of Babylon for the Seleucid Empire, and he was given the honorary name Soter (Greek for “savior”) from the city's inhabitants . Demetrios then intended to bring Judea and Jerusalem back under his control, which since the rule of Antiochus IV broke away from the empire in the so-called revolt of the Maccabees . As early as 161 BC He had sent his general Nikanor to this troubled province, but he was defeated and killed in the battle of Adasa . Then he sent Bakchides out with an army, which in March 160 BC. A decisive victory finally succeeded in the battle of Elasa , in which the leader of the uprising, Judas Maccabeus , was killed.

Because of the customs he had acquired in Rome, Demetrios incurred the hatred of the oriental population, so that the successes of his first years of rulership were always endangered. The family of Timarchus, supported by him, built up a man named Balas as a pretender against him by declaring him a son of Antiochus IV. They were supported in this by Pergamon and Egypt, and the Jewish uprising under the leadership of Jonathan received new impetus. After the descent of Balas was also recognized by the Roman Senate, this seized with the help of King Ptolemy VI. from Egypt to the port city of Ptolemais (today Akkon), from where he built a counter-government. Among other things, Balas set 153 BC. The rebellious Jonathan as high priest in Jerusalem, which marked the beginning of the rule of the Hasmoneans over the Judeans.

In 150 BC BC Balas went on the military offensive. By him Demetrios was put to battle in Syria, defeated and killed.


Demetrios I was probably married to his sister Laodike , who had previously been married to King Perseus of Macedonia . It is not known whether she was also the mother of his children, especially since Demetrios had several lovers. Like the youngest son of the king, Laodike was born during the change of power in 150 BC. Murdered BC. The sons of Demetrios were:

Individual evidence

  1. Justin 3/34/8; Polybios 11/31/1-15/12
  2. Diodorus 31.40
  3. Appian Syriake 47


predecessor Office successor
Antiochus V. King of the Seleucid Empire
162–150 BC Chr.
Alexander I. Balas