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The Ancient World

The Ancient World

LATEST SERIES – THEA (tracing the disintegration of the Seleucid Empire)


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Episode S5 – Ordeal by Fire

Synopsis:  In the 4th century AD, the Ethiopian kingdom of Axum converted to Christianity even as the neighboring Himyarites of Yemen converted to Judaism.  Centuries later, Axum?s invasion of Yemen to stop the persecution of Christians triggered a conflict with Persia. Map of the kingdoms [?]

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Episode S4 – Children of the Moon

Synopsis:  The Sabaeans and Himyarites leveraged their control over south Arabian aromatics into a lucrative trade that spanned the ancient world.  The region?s remoteness, wealth and active diplomacy afforded some protection from the powerful empires who frequently dominated the north.  Map of the Arabian Peninsula:

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Episode S3 ? Queen Mavia

Synopsis:  A century after Queen Zenobia, another Syrian Arab warrior queen rises to challenge the power or Rome ? and succeeds.  The story of Queen Mavia of the Tanukh. ?Mavia, queen of the Saracens, had begun to convulse the villages and towns on the border [?]

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Episode T18 – Tigranes

Synopsis:  The death of King Philip I marks the official end of the Seleucid line.  Invited by the Antiochenes to rule them, King Tigranes II of Armenia proceeds to conquer all of Syria ? including Cleopatra Selene?s stronghold of Ptolemais-Akko.  But Tigranes? refusal to abandon [?]

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Episode T17 – The Sons of Grypus

Synopsis: With Rome encroaching from the north and south, the sons of Grypus battle Parthians, usurpers and local powers to keep their hold on Syria. ?As he lingered on the banks of the Euphrates, (Sulla) received a visit from Orobazus, a Parthian, who came as [?]

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Episode T16 – The Sons of Thea

Synopsis: While the Ptolemies intrigue in Coele Syria, Antiochus VIII Grypus and his half-brother Antiochus IX Cyzicenus struggle for seventeen years to win control of the north.  After the rivals die in quick succession, the kingdom comes under control of Seleucus VI and Demetrius III, [?]

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Episode T15 – Grypus

Synopsis: Cleopatra Thea convinces her son Antiochus VIII Grypus to return to Syria and share the throne.  But once Zabinas is defeated and the kingdom secure, Grypus decides to avenge his brother?s murder. ?Ptolemy (Physcon)?proceeded to devote his entire strength to the destruction of Alexander [?]

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Episode T14 – Zabinas

Synopsis: Demetrius II returns to Syria, but his unpopularity ? and support for the Egyptian Queen Cleopatra II ? results in a usurper named Alexander Zabinas taking most of his kingdom.  Fleeing a military defeat, Demetrius is denied entry to Ptolemais-Akko by Cleopatra Thea, an [?]

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Episode T13 – Eunus

Synopsis: A Syrian man from Apamea, enslaved on the island of Sicily, renames himself King Antiochus and launches the first large-scale slave rebellion against the Roman Republic.   ?The Sicilians, through the enjoyment of a long peace, grew very rich, and brought up an abundance [?]

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Episode T12 – Sar Matati

Synopsis: After Mithridates is struck down by an illness, his son Phraates II defends Parthian gains against the army of Antiochus VII.  Forced to retreat to Hyrcania, Phraates sets events in motion that result in the deaths of both kings. ?On Antiochus (VII)?s approach, many [?]

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Episode T11 – Euergetes

Synopsis: Ongoing strife in Anatolia and Egypt allows Antiochus VII to campaign east against the Parthians.  His early successes inspire hopes of a resurgent Seleucid Empire, hopes shattered by his unexpected death. ?In Asia, Attalos III as soon as he came to the throne began [?]

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Episode S2 – The Bactrian Kingdom

?In this battle, Antiochus? horse was wounded and killed, and the king himself was struck through the mouth and lost some of his teeth.  On the whole, he acquired on that occasion the greatest reputation for valor.  Because of this battle, Euthydemus was caught off [?]

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Episode S1 – Alexander in Bactria

?I am engaged in a land of a leonine and brave people, where every foot of the ground is like a wall of steel confronting my soldiers.  You have brought only one Alexander into the world, but every mother in this land has brought an [?]

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Episode T10 – Sidetes

Synopsis: Cleopatra Thea marries Demetrius II?s brother, Antiochus VII, becoming the simultaneous queen of two Seleucid kings. While Antiochus crushes Tryphon?s revolt and recovers former Seleucid territories, Demetrius is defeated by Mithridates and imprisoned in distant Hyrcania.   ?But as Antiochus, the brother of Demetrius [?]

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Episode T9 – Tryphon

Synopsis: The Seleucid rebel Diodotus Tryphon uses Thea and Alexander Balas? young son, Antiochus VI, to capture most of Syria.  Though paralyzed at home, Demetrius II embarks on a bold plan to challenge the conquests of Mithridates. ?Now there was a certain commander?whose name was [?]

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Episode T8 – The City

Synopsis: The rediscovery of Ai Khanoum testified to the wealth and power of the Bactrian Kingdom.  Mithridates? conquest of Babylonia is countered by an unlikely coalition. ?The cities of Bactria were Bactra, which they also call Zariaspa and through which flows a river of the [?]

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Episode T7 – Blazing From Afar

Synopsis: On the eastern frontiers of the Seleucid Empire, Parthia, Bactria and the Indo-Greeks struggle for regional supremacy.  The stalemate in Syria and murder of Eucratides advance the fortunes of Mithridates. ?At about the same time that Mithridates was beginning his rule in Parthia, Eucratides [?]

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Episode T6 – Philometor

Synopsis: With Syria beset by regional enemies, three kings face off at the Battle of the Oenoparos River.  The lone survivor, King Demetrius II, inaugurates his reign with the violent destruction of Antioch. ?And the king of Egypt gathered together a great host, like the [?]

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Episode T5 – Balas

Synopsis: Demetrius struggles to preserve his throne but ends up falling in battle.  Alexander Balas begins his reign by marrying Ptolemy?s daughter, Cleopatra Thea.  While the sons of Demetrius remain a threat, the couple are also forced to confront the growing menace of Parthia. ?Then [?]

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Episode T4 – Soter

Synopsis: Demetrius seizes the Syrian throne and stems immediate threats from Media and Judaea.  But deposed officials and regional rulers conspire to engineer his downfall. ?When it became known that the Romans were ill disposed towards Demetrius, not only the other kings but even some [?]

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Episode T3 – Thea

Synopsis: Lysias attempts to exercise control through the young King Antiochus V, but a deadly incident with a Roman delegation gives hope to the captive Demetrius.  Ptolemy Physcon challenges his brother Ptolemy VI for control of Egypt and Cyprus. ?They then went on board, and [?]

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Episode T2 – Megas

Synopsis: Antiochus the Great restores Seleucid fortunes, but his son Antiochus IV sews the seeds of the Empire?s destruction. ?On (Antiochus IV), after reading the dispatch, saying that he desired to consult with his friends on the situation, Popilius did a thing which was looked [?]

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Episode T1 ? Nicator

Synopsis: Seleucus I Nicator forges the Seleucid Empire, and his descendants spend the next century struggling to preserve his legacy. ?In Asia, after the defeat of Demetrius at Gaza in Syria, Seleucus, receiving from Ptolemy no more than eight hundred foot soldiers and about two [?]

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The Rest of My Interview

with Drew from the Wonders of the World Podcast, where we talk about Palmyra, Odaenathus, and (of course) Queen Zenobia.  Enjoy!

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Just Did My First Interview

with the lovely and talented Drew from the Wonders of the World podcast, where we talk about the exotic Roman Emperor Elagabalus, the amazing temple complex at Baalbek, and lots of other fun stuff.  Enjoy!  And please also check out his other episodes (it helps [?]

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Episode B54 – Efqa

Synopsis:  Monotheism, modern Syria, the world?s first romance story, and the end of the Bloodline. ?The oasis and town of Palmyra owe their existence to the plentiful spring that runs from Jebel Muntar.  This spring dominates a narrow passage in the principal route between the [?]

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Episode B53 – Memento Mori

Synopsis: Aurelian returns East to crush Palmyrene revolts in Syria and Egypt. The sources relate differing accounts of Zenobia?s ultimate fate. ?To the tumultuous throng which crowded under these porticoes the solitude of death has succeeded. The silence of the tomb is substituted for the [?]

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Episode B52 – Palmyra

Synopsis:  Boxed in by Aurelian?s siege, Zenobia makes a desperate attempt to enlist the support of the Persians. ?Palmyra was the last resource of the widow of Odaenathus.  She retired within the walls of her capital, made every preparation for a vigorous resistance, and declared, [?]

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Episode B51 – Emesa

Synopsis:  After a crushing defeat at the Battle of Emesa, Zenobia retreats to Palmyra.  Aurelian has a divine encounter at the Temple of Elah Gabal. ?After this, the whole issue of the war was decided near Emesa in a mighty battle fought against Zenobia and [?]

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Episode B50 – Augusta

Synopsis:  Aurelian?s vision compels him to spare the defiant citizens of Tyana.  As the Romans advance through Anatolia, Zenobia concentrates her forces in Syria, and the two sides finally clash at the Battle of Immae. ?As soon as the Emperor was on his march thither, [?]

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Episode B49 – Nemesis

Synopsis:  Zenobia orders her general Zabdas to capture Anatolia.  After subduing the Marcomanni and the Goths, Aurelian makes preparations to reclaim the East. ?(Aurelian) was naturally of a severe disposition.  A peasant and a soldier, his nerves yielded not easily to the impressions of sympathy, [?]

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Episode B48 – 270

Synopsis:  Zenobia?s armies successfully capture Arabia Petraea and Egypt.  The death of Claudius and his brother Quintillus pave the way for the Emperor Aurelian. ?Zenobia began to think of extending her dominion, and therefore sent Zabdas into Egypt.? ? Zosimus, The History ?Nor was the [?]

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Episode B47 – Zenobia

Synopsis:  Following the murder of the Emperor Gallienus, Zenobia successfully defends Palmyra against both Roman and Persian aggression.  ?Zenobia then took upon her the administration of affairs.  She was the wife of Odaenathus, but had the courage of a man, and with the assistance of [?]

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Episode B46 – Melek Melek

Synopsis:  Odaenathus declares himself King of Kings, twice besieges the Sasanid capital, and combats Gothic pirates on the Black Sea coast.  At the height of his power he?s betrayed and murdered, and Palmyrene power passes to Queen Zenobia. ?While Valerian was growing old in Persia, [?]

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Episode B45 – Odaenathus

Synopsis:  Odaenathus helps drive the Persians from Syria and preserve Gallienus? throne.  After his peace offering is spurned by Shapur, Odaenathus prepares to invade the Sasanid Empire. ?Had not Odaenathus, prince of the Palmyrenes, seized the imperial power after the capture of Valerian, when the [?]

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Episode B44 – Edessa

Synopsis:  After his humiliating defeat at the hands of Shapur, Valerian joins tens of thousands of Roman captives deported to the heartland of Persia.  ?Going without consideration to Shapur with a small retinue, to treat for a peace, (Valerian) was presently laid hold off by [?]

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Episode B43 – Sibylline

Synopsis:  Samsigeramus saves Emesa from Sasanid destruction, then proclaims himself Augustus.  The arrival of Valerian marks the end of his reign and the elevation of Odaenathus to provincial governor. ?And then there shall be a flight of Romans; and thereafter there shall come the priest [?]

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Episode B42 – Iotapian

Synopsis:  The revolt of Iotapian shows Eastern nobles the possibilities among the chaos.  Shapur?s invasion of Syria drives Samsigeramus to make a bold stand. ?As there were at that time many disturbances in the empire, the eastern provinces ? which were uneasy, partly owing to [?]

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Episode B41 – Samsigeramus

Synopsis:  Shortly after Hatra?s destruction, Shapur inherits the Persian Empire.  Gordian?s invasion the following year ends in defeat and humiliation for Rome. ?When at first we had become established in the Empire, Gordian Caesar raised in all of the Roman Empire a force from the [?]

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Episode B40 – Uranius

Synopsis:  After the death of Elagabalus, Uranius Antoninus served as High Priest of Elah Gabal in Emesa.  From this vantage, he witnessed the birth of Ardeshir?s Persia and the changing fortunes of the Palmyrenes. ?Even the name of Tadmor, or Palmyra, by its signification in [?]

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Episode B39 – Excidium

Synopsis:  Alexander marches East to counter Ardeshir?s invasion, but the conflict ends in a stalemate.  A short time later, a legionary rebellion along the Rhine brings the Severan regime to a bloody end. ?The lenity of the Emperor confirmed the insolence of the troops; the [?]

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Episode B38 – The Last Severan

Synopsis:  Overseen by his mother and grandmother, Severus Alexander?s early reign was marked by wisdom and temperance.  A decade later, a Sasanid invasion would test both Rome and its emperor. ?When Alexander received the empire, the appearance and the title of Emperor were allowed him, [?]

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Episode B37 – Shahanshah

Synopsis:  Ardeshir defeats Artabanus in battle and claims the Parthian Empire for the Sasanids.  After a failed attempt to conquer Armenia, he sets his sights on the Roman East. ?Then (Ardeshir) came to battle with Artabanus, killed the entire army of the latter, seized their [?]

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Episode B36 – The Black Stone

Synopsis:  Elagabalus spearheads a religious revolution in Rome, but his unpopular rule drives Julia Maesa to enact a back-up plan. ?To this temple, as to the common center of religious worship, the Imperial fanatic attempted to remove the Ancilia, the Palladium, and all the sacred [?]

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Episode B35 – Bassus

Synopsis:  Deception, good fortune, and Macrinus? failings allow the Severans to retake the Roman throne.  As Emperor, Elagabalus makes plans to install the black stone of Elah Gabal in the Capital. ?(Elagabalus and Severus Alexander) were priests of the sun god, whom their countrymen worship [?]

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Episode B34 – Keepers of the Fire

Synopsis:  King Artabanus of Parthia gathers his forces to seek revenge on Rome.  Usurpation and war gain the Sasanids control over the southern territory of Fars. ?Macrinus, seeing that Artabanus was exceedingly angry at the way he had been treated and had invaded Mesopotamia with [?]

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Episode B33 – Semiramis

Synopsis:  Caracalla cuts a murderous path through Rome, and provokes a dangerous war with Parthia.  After his murder, Julia Domna is forced to contend with a would-be usurper. ?Julia Domna deserved all that the stars could promise her.  She possessed, even in advanced age, the [?]

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Episode B32 – The Fourth Caesar

Synopsis:  Severus? close friendship with Plautianus estranges him from his family.  In his final years, a rebellion in Britannia provides one last opportunity to shape his legacy. ?The contemporaries of Severus, in this enjoyment of the peace and glory of his reign, forgave the cruelties [?]

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Episode B31 – Perish in Blood

Synopsis:  Severus confronts Albinus at Lugdunum, then launches a war against the Parthians.  At the pinnacle of his power, the oracle of Zeus Belos reveals his family?s fate. ?The youth of Severus had been trained in the implicit obedience of the camps, and the riper [?]

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Episode B30 – Mater Castrorum

Synopsis:  Severus defeats Niger and wages a limited Eastern campaign.  While Julia Domna is hailed as Mother of the Camps, Caracalla?s elevation to Caesar prompts a second civil war. ?There used to be an oracle about Hannibal?s death. ?The soil of Libyssa would cover Hannibal?s [?]

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