Possible Purpose of the Summoning of the Troops to Antioch on the Orontes in 250 BC

Keywords: Antiochus II, Cyrenaica, Thrace, Byzantium, Ziaelas of Bythinia, Babylonia, Bactria


In the article, I focused on the fragmentary cuneiform evidence of the Babylonian astronomical diaries from 250/249 BC. It shows how someone unknown had gathered his troops and chariots and departed from Antioch. This evidence contains 4 interrelated questions: 1) Who had gathered the troops? 2) When did it happen? 3) Where were the troops gathering? 4) What was the purpose of the campaign? By now communis opinio was formed as answers to 3 questions: 1) The troops were gathered by the Seleucid king Antiochus II; 2) the event took place between mid-April and mid-July 250 BC; 3) the place of the gathering was Antioch on the Orontes. To this I can add that the stay of Antiochus II in Antioch is indirectly indicated by the agreement between this king and the Cretan polis Lyttus from April 250 BC. Also, this agreement may testify for Antiochus’ short-term interest in the situation in Cyrenaica after the death of its king Magas. Initially, such interest could be caused the gathering of the troops in Antioch too. At the present stage, there are 3 hypotheses regarding the purpose of the royal campaign: 1) the implementation of the European expansion; 2) the assistance Ziaelas – a contender for the Bithynian throne; 3) the pacification of eastern Seleucid regions. An objection to the first two hypotheses is the logistical inexpediency of the summoning troops from Antioch to Northern coast of Asia Minor. Also, the evidence of majority of sources is against the dating of the European expedition of Antiochus to 250 BC; and a military help to Ziaelas did not require a personal participation of the powerful Seleucid. Most likely, the purpose of Antiochus' campaign was to counteract the centrifugal processes that were beginning in the Seleucid Bactria. At least, there are no chronological and logistical objections to this hypothesis.


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How to Cite
Zelinskyi, A. (2022). Possible Purpose of the Summoning of the Troops to Antioch on the Orontes in 250 BC. The Journal of V. N. Karazin Kharkiv National University. Series: History, (61), 183-201. https://doi.org/10.26565/2220-7929-2022-61-08