Demetrius I Soter

Ruled 161-152/1 b.c.



Son of Seleucus IV and Laodice IV



Married to Laodice V, parentage unknown

    -Demetrius II Nicator = Cleopatra thea, Rhodogune of Parthia

    -Antigonus (d. 152)

    -Antiochus VII Sidetes = Cleopatra Thea













Silver tetradrachm of Demetrius I, Mint of Antioch.

Demetrius I Soter


Eldest son of Seleucus IV and Laodice IV, by all accounts Demetrius I should have succeeded his father but first Rome’s intervention in favour of his younger brother Antiochus, and then his uncle’s usurpation, delayed his accession (Pol 31.12). After the death of Antiochus IV, Demetrius I’s invasion of Syria put an end to the brief reign of Antiochus V. After he seized Antioch, he killed Lysias and the family of Antiochus IV, purportedly without even seeing them (Jos.AJ.12.389-90, I Macc. 7.1-4, 2 Macc. 14.1-2, App.Syr.47, Eus.Chron.1.40.15, Livy.Epit.46)


While most scholars have presumed that he married his sister Laodice, widow of Perseus, after her return to Syria, I stand convinced by Helliesen’s erudite argument that would scarcely have been possible. Instead, I suspect that he married one of any number of Laodices from the several related dynasties in or around the Seleucid empire, in a typical instance of Seleucid diplomatic marriage (Helliesen 1980). Though we cannot be certain of her parentage or descent, I believe we can safely presume that she was not his sister. That he married a Laodice is mentioned at Livy.Epit.50, and I agree with Ogden’s suspicion that the names of her children perhaps divulge an Antigonid background for Demetrius’ wife (Ogden 1999, 147).


By this Laodice, he sired three sons: Demetrius II, Antigonus, and Antiochus VII Sidetes. Antigonus was later killed along with his mother in 152 by Ammonius, the minister of Alexander Balas (Liv.Epit.50).


In an attempt to renew the old Seleucid-Cappadocian alliance early in his reign, Demetrius offered Ariarathes V the hand of his sister (presumably) in marriage, though whether this passage refers to Laodice, former wife of Perseus, or another unattested sister is unclear. At any rate, the offer was declined, and out of anger Demetrius supported the bid of Orophernes for the Cappadocian throne. His plan, however, would not succeed (Hansen 1947, 118-21).


-AJPM