Silver coin of Alexander I "Balas". The Greek inscription reads ΒΑΣΙΛΕΩΣ ΑΛΕΧΑΝΔΡΟΥ (king Alexander). The date ΓΞΡ is year 163 of the Seleucid era, corresponding to 150-149 BC. [Source]
Alexander Balas (i.e. "lord"), ruler of the Greek Seleucid kingdom 150-146 BC, was a native of Smyrna of humble origin, but gave himself out to be the son of Antiochus IV Epiphanes and heir to the Seleucid throne. Along with his sister Laodice, the youngster Alexander was "discovered" by Heracleides, a former minister of Antiochus IV and brother of Timarchus, a usurper in Media who had been executed by the reigning king Demetrius I Soter.
Alexander's claims were recognized by the Roman senate, Ptolemy Philometor of Egypt and others. He married Cleopatra Thea, a daughter of the Ptolemaic dynasty. At first unsuccessful, Alexander finally defeated the reigning king Demetrius I Soter in 150 BC. Being now undisputed master of the empire, he abandoned himself to a life of debauchery. Whatever the truth behind this, the young king was forced to depend heavily on his Ptolemaic support and even struck portraits with the characteristic features of king Ptolemy I.
Demetrius Soter's son Demetrius II profited by the opportunity to regain the throne. Ptolemy Philometor, who was Alexander's father-in-law, went over to his side, and Alexander was defeated in a pitched battle near Antioch in Syria.
He fled for refuge to a Nabataean prince, who murdered him and sent his head to Ptolemy, who had been mortally wounded in the engagement.
See 1 Maccab. 10 ff.; Justin xxxv. 1 and 2; Josephus, Antiq. xiii. 2; Appian, Sir. 67; Polybius xxxiii. 14.
This article incorporates text from the public domain 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica.
Alexander Balus, George Friedrich Händel
Medieval Greece / Byzantine Empire
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