Antiochus VIII Epiphanes/Callinicus/Philometor,
nicknamed Grypus (hook-nose), ruler of the Greek
Seleucid kingdom, was son of Demetrius II Nicator.
Either he or his half brother Antiochus IX Cyzicenus
is probably identical with the ephemeral child ruler
Antiochus Epiphanes, who was crowned by Cleopatra
Thea after the death of Antiochus VII but before
Demetrius II returned to Antioch. The child
Antiochus Epiphanes, who is known from coins, was
deposed -- but not killed -- when Demetrius II was
restored in 129 B.C.
Antiochus Grypus was crowned as a teenager in 125
BC after his mother Cleopatra Thea had killed his
elder brother Seleucus V Philometor, ruling jointly
with her. After Antiochus defeated usurper Alexander
II Zabinas in 123 BC his mother tried to poison him
with wine, but the suspicious king forced her to
drink the cup herself. (The story may have been
inspired by the fact that Grypus was interested in
toxicology; some poems about poisonous herbs
believed to have been written by him are quoted by
the famous physician Galen).
He married the Ptolemaic princess Tryphaena (see
Cleopatra VI of Egypt), but in 116 BC his
half-brother and cousin Antiochus IX Cyzicenus (see
Antiochus VII Sidetes) returned from exile and a
civil war began. Cyzicenus' wife, also named
Cleopatra, was a half-sister of Tryphaena and was
eventually killed in a dramatic fashion in the
temple of Daphne outside Antioch, on the order of
Tryphaena. Cyzicenus eventually killed Tryphaena as
revenge. The two brothers then divided Syria between
them until Grypus was killed by his minister
Heracleon in 96 BC.
Five of Grypus' sons, Seleucus VI Epiphanes,
Antiochus XI Ephiphanes Philadelphus, Philip I
Philadelphus, Demetrius III Eucaerus and Antiochus
XII Dionysus later rose to the kingship,
contributing to the confusion of civil war amid
which the Seleucid empire ended. Grypus' daughter
Laodice VII Thea, was married to king Mithridates I
Callinicus of Commagene as part of a settlement by
Mithridates' father Sames II Theosebes Dikaios to
ensure peace between the Kingdom of Commagene and
the Seleucid Empire. Laodice and Mithridates' son
was king Antiochus I Theos of Commagene. This was a
grandson to Grypus.
Despite political shortcomings, Grypus was a
popular king. His ugly, lazy appearance on coins
(common among the last Seleucids), together with
stories of his lavish banquets, made posterity
believe his dynasty was degenerated and decadent.
This was however a conscious image, an invocation of
the Hellenistic idea Tryphe - meaning good life,
which the last Seleucids strove to be associated
with, as opposed to the exhausting civil wars and
feuds which troubled their reigns in reality.
A story of his luxurious parties claims he sent
food home with guests whom attended banquets,
complete with a camel as beast of burden, as well as
a with attendant to carry the guest himself. This
should certainly have caused some strain on the
already depleted treasury.
Antiochus VII Sidetes
Antiochus IX Cyzicenus