Seleukid Royal Women

Seleukid Royal Women is introduced by our guest contributor Khodadad Rezakhani, a Humboldt Fellow at the Institute of Iranian Studies, Free University of Berlin.

Coskun, Altay & Alex McAuley (eds.). 2016. Seleukid royal women: Creation, representation and distortion of Hellenistic queenship in the Seleukid Empire (Historia, Einzelschriften 240). Stuttgart: Franz Steiner Verlag.

Khodadad writes:

‘The study of any period of ancient history of Iran away from political history is a welcomed change in scholarship. The arrival of this volume, edited by two of the most prominent scholars of the Hellenistic period and in a framing that embraces the multi-cultural nature of the Seleukid kingship is a most exciting development that needs to be celebrated. It should also be considered as a blue-print for future studies of similar calibre and scope in other periods of the history of the region. Hopefully, the proliferation of such studies would bring the history of “in-between” (to quote the prologue) more to the attention of the general audiences, as well as the scholars, of the ancient world. Perhaps the volume could have benefited from more in-depth studies of the majority of the (non-Greek speaking) areas of the Seleukid domains, a lacuna which is perhaps more a fault of the experts of these non-Greek speaking in-betweens than the erudite editors of the volume’.

Book abstract:

The study of royal women has been one of the most dynamic fields of inquiry into the Hellenistic world (ca. 336–30 BC) and has dramatically shifted our perceptions of gender, status, and influence in the ancient world. Amid numerous works on the Ptolemies, Antigonids, and Argeads, this volume is the first to examine the roles and representations of the women of the Seleukid dynasty and its clients. These royal women were born or married into a dynasty that ruled an empire spanning dozens of cultures and languages, encompassing territory from western Asia Minor to modern-day Afghanistan. As representatives of their family’s prestige, they were highly influential in shaping the culture and legacy of this Empire that spanned East and West. The contributions of this volume offer a systematic scrutiny of the representation of female Seleukids in visual and textual media. Avoiding Eurocentric perspectives in favour of embracing the diversity of the Empire, these scholars examine the interaction of Seleukid women with royal traditions ranging from Persia, Bactria, and Judaea to their Hellenistic contemporaries. The result is a landmark achievement in the study of ancient women.

Table of contents:

  1. Hans Beck: Noble Women in China, Rome, and in-between – A Prologue
  2. Altay Coşkun & Alex McAuley: Introduction

I. Experimenting with the role of the royal consort: The first two Basilissai of the Seleukids

  1. Ann-Cathrin Harders: The Making of a Queen – Seleukos Nikator and His Wives
  2. David Engels & Kyle Erickson: Apama and Stratonike – Marriage and Legitimacy
  3. Eran Almagor: Seleukid Love and Power: Stratonike I
  4. Gillian Ramsey: The Diplomacy of Seleukid Women: Apama and Stratonike

II. Representation, visibility and distortion of Seleukid queenship

  1. Altay Coşkun: Laodike I, Berenike Phernophoros, Dynastic Murders, and the Outbreak of the Third Syrian War (253–246 BC)
  2. Brett Bartlett: The Fate of Kleopatra Tryphaina, or: Poetic Justice in Justin
  3. Sheila Ager & Craig Hardiman: Female Seleukid Portraits: Where Are They?

III. Dynastic intermarriage and Hellenistic queenship in the shadow of the Seleukids

  1. Alex McAuley: Princess & Tigress: Apama of Kyrene
  2. Richard Wenghofer & Del John Houle: Marriage Diplomacy and the Political Role of Royal Women in the Seleukid Far East
  3. Rolf Strootman: ‘The Heroic Company of My Forebears’: the Ancestor Galleries of Antiochos I of Kommagene at Nemrut Daği and the Role of Royal Women in the Transmission of Hellenistic Kingship
  4. Julia Wilker: A Dynasty without Women? The Hasmoneans between Jewish Traditions and Hellenistic Influence
  5. Adrian G. Dumitru: Kleopatra Selene – A Look at the Moon and Her Bright Side