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Tetradrachm, Diademed head , Zeus holding Nike in right hand, lotus tipped scepter right hand. (Source)

Alexander II Zabinas was a counter-king who emerged in the chaos following the Seleucidian loss of Mesopotamia to the Parthians. Zabinas was a false Seleucid who claimed to be an adoptive son of Antiochus VII, but in fact seems to have been the son of an Egyptian merchant; he was used as a pawn by the Egyptian king Ptolemy VIII Tryphon. Ptolemy VIII introduced Balas as a means of getting to the legitimate Seleucid king Demetrius II, who supported his sister Cleopatra III against him in the complicated dynastic feuds of the latter hellenistic dynasties.

Zabinas managed to defeat Demetrius II and thereafter ruled parts of Syria (128 BC-123 BC), but soon ran out of Egyptian support and was in his turn was defeated by Demetrius' son Antiochus VIII Grypus. As a last resort, Zabinas plundered the temples of the Seleucid capital Antiochia. He is said to have joked about melting down a statuette of the goddess of victory Nike which was held in the hand of a Zeus statue, saying "Zeus has given me Victory".

Enraged by his impiety (not to mention his bad jokes) the Antiochenes expelled Zabinas, who was captured and executed shortly thereafter. "Zabinas" is a derogative name meaning "the bought one".


Seleucid Ruler 128 –123 BC
Preceded by: Antiochus VII Sidetes
Succeeded by: Antiochus VIII Grypus and Cleopatra Thea

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