chapter  6
20 Pages

The diplomacy of Antiochos III – I: the Greek world

One of the few Hellenistic kings of whom it is possible to write a consecutive history is Antiochos III, and he is therefore a necessary study in terms of diplomacy, all the more so in that, since he reigned for thirty-six years, one can discern an individual method in his work, though the man himself does not seem to have been in any way extraordinary. He was generally competent as a war commander – that is, he won some battles, but also lost others; his ability as an administrator seems similarly competent, though he merely ensured that the Seleukid government machine, such as it was, ran generally smoothly. He was ambitious, with the general aim of ‘restoring’ the boundaries of his kingdom as set by the founder Seleukos I, but he was fully capable of both cutting his losses in defeat and in realising the limits of his power in success, even if he misjudged Rome. His prominence in this study is due largely to his long reign, longer than any other member of his family, and to the fact that his exploits were chronicled by Polybios, a younger contemporary. It follows therefore that his very ordinariness – as a king, to be sure – will show Hellenistic diplomatic practices under ‘normal’ conditions at a time when those practices had solidifi ed into a system.