The diplomacy of the earlier Syrian Wars (274–241)
The origins of the dispute The two founder kings Ptolemy I and Seleukos I had often cooperated in the wars against Antigonos Monophthalamos, but once he was beaten they immediately quarrelled over the allocation of the spoils from Antigonos’ defunct kingdom. They had cooperated fi fteen years before, when Seleukos had been driven from his Babylonian satrapy by Antigonos and had fl ed to Ptolemy for refuge with the information that Antigonos’ ambition involved establishing himself as supreme ruler. Seleukos entered Ptolemy’s service, using his familiarity with other contemporaries such as Lysimachos and Kassandros to stitch together the intermittent alliances which challenged and eventually destroyed Antigonos. He went with a small force to recover his Babylonian satrapy with Ptolemy’s support in 311, after the two of them had jointly defeated the army of Antigonos’ son Demetrios I at Gaza. Since then both men had prospered and they had again cooperated, if rather distantly, in overthrowing and killing Antigonos, even though, from his Egyptian base, Ptolemy could hardly operate in Asia Minor, where the decisive battle took place. He did, however, seize control of Palestine and Phoenicia during the war; this may or may not have been a distraction to Antigonos. Seleukos had provided a major portion of the allied army – cavalry and war elephants – which had defeated Antigonos, along with the armies of Kassandros and Lysimachos; he was allocated Syria and an area called ‘Seleukid Kappadokia’ as his portion of the spoils. Their
joint activity in the years before fully justifi ed Seleukos’ assertion that Ptolemy was his friend.