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2227Tagber: Seleucid Study Day IV: Seleucid Royal Women: Roles and Representations

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  • Carl Sandler Berkowitz
    Apr 30, 2013
      Sent: Tuesday, April 30, 2013 12:14 PM
      Subject: Tagber: Seleucid Study Day IV: Seleucid Royal Women: Roles and

      Classical Studies at McGill University, Montreal; Waterloo Institute for
      Hellenistic Studies (WIHS)
      20.02.2013-23.02.2013, Montreal / Quebec

      Bericht von:
      Altay Coskun, Classical Studies, University of Waterloo, Ontario; Alex
      McAuley, Classical Studies, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec
      E-Mail: <acoskun@...>; <alexander.mcauley@...>

      Compared to their contemporaries in Macedon and Egypt, Seleucid queens
      and princesses have hardly begun to fall under the gaze of scholarly
      scrutiny. As Greco-Macedonian women, they were born into the family at
      the head of an empire that spanned dozens of cultures, languages, and
      traditions encompassing territory that extended from western Asia Minor
      to the Indus River. How they impacted the cultures into which they
      married, and were themselves impacted by them, requires far more
      attention. Likewise lacking is a systematic scrutiny of female Seleucids
      in visual and textual media. Thus emerged the theme of the fourth
      meeting of the Seleucid Study Group. Previous meetings in Exeter,
      Waterloo and Bordeaux (2011-12) had fostered research on the early
      Seleucids with the marked attempt to acknowledge the vital importance of
      the Mesopotamian and Persian satrapies besides the better-known western

      The keynote by HANS BECK (Montreal) contextualized the kingdom between
      the contemporary Roman-Mediterranean and Han Chinese Empires, pointing
      out the potential for intercultural exchange through long-distance
      trade. The theme of noble women was further addressed in a
      cross-cultural perspective, which has profoundly altered our
      understanding of the roles of aristocratic women in both societies by
      disclosing their impact on social cohesion. ALTAY COSKUN (Waterloo) then
      illustrated the Seleucids' ability not only to respect local traditions
      in their heterogeneous territories, but also to develop ambivalent modes
      of royal representation that could be perceived as traditional by
      multiple audiences. Although Seleucid royal women functioned within this
      complex interplay of political and cultural communication, powerful
      queens have suffered serious distortions in ancient and modern
      historiography alike.

      Panel 1 on 'The Wives of the Founder Kings' was opened by ANN-CATHRIN
      HARDERS (Bielefeld) with an intriguing illustration of how the persona
      of the wife could be employed to create or modify the image of the male
      ruler - vividly exemplified by North Korea's dictator Kim Jong Un. Of
      specific interest was the 'invention' of the roles of wives as queens.
      Seleucus was the only Diadoch with a non-Macedonian queen at his side.
      His second wife Stratonice was a more traditional choice - yet Seleucus
      married her off to his own son and heir Antiochus to thus qualify his
      public role. The latter marriage was examined further by ERAN ALMAGOR
      (Beer Sheva, Israel): Stratonice embodied the relation between four
      important kings: her grandfather Antipater, her father Demetrius
      Poliorcetes, and her husbands Seleucus I and Antiochus I. The most
      remarkable event linked with her is Antiochus' infatuation with his
      stepmother, which induced Seleucus to give up Stratonice to his son,
      pronouncing them king and queen of Upper Asia. The many implications and
      the broad reception of this colourful episode were studied behind the
      background of Persian and Greek literary models.

      Panel 2 tried to deconstruct 'Evil Queens' in royal propaganda and
      Hellenistic-Roman historiography. COSKUN studied the various layers in
      the image of Laodice I, first wife of Antiochus II. After rejecting the
      traditional view that she had been repudiated due to Antiochus' second
      marriage with the Ptolemaic princess Berenice, it was shown that her son
      Seleucus II was already co-ruling king when Antiochus died in 246. With
      this, all allegations of her murdering her husband, Berenice, and her
      son were questioned. Next it was demonstrated that Ptolemaic court
      propaganda could not have had an interest in denigrating Laodice. It was
      rather Phylarchus who designed the entirely misleading view that
      Antiochus' bigamy provoked the blood-thirst of Laodice and therewith the
      outbreak of the Third Syrian War. Phylarchus thus created Laodice as the
      prototype of a Seleucid queen who perverted family relations to gain
      power. BRETT BARTLETT (Waterloo) followed with a study on Cleopatra
      Tryphaena, the sister-wife of Antiochus VIII Grypus. According to
      Justin, she personally ordered her own sister Cleopatra IV to be torn
      from a temple and killed. The next year, Antiochus IX Cyzicenus, the
      husband of Cleopatra IV, sacrificed Tryphaena to the shades of his wife.
      Justin never shies away from serious distortions in his account to
      construe cruel deaths as fitting punishments.

      Panel 3 dwelt on 'Missing Queens' in our lacunose evidence. KYLE
      ERICKSON (via Skype from Lampeter, UK) started by introducing into the
      royal dossiers which explicitly institute priesthoods for Seleucid
      women, a pattern that contrasts with the absence of queens in the lists
      of priests for Seleucid kings. In conclusion, there did not seem to have
      been a single coherent model of central control over cults for the
      Seleucid monarchs even after the reign of Antiochus III. SHEILA AGER
      (represented by Stacy Reda) & CRAIG HARDIMAN (Waterloo) explored the
      absence of Seleucid female portraits prior to Laodice IV. In the few
      images of queens that do survive, Cleopatra Thea and Cleopatra Selene
      are surrounded with more Ptolemaic ties. Others, like Laodice, show a
      distinctive lack of the multiple royal or divine attributes. This might
      suggest a different role for Seleucid (royal) women when compared to
      other Hellenistic kingdoms, reflecting a closer relationship to
      traditional Near Eastern royal systems.

      Two 'Powerful Queens' were the object of panel 4. ALEX MCAULEY
      (Montreal) scrutinized the political background of Apama of Cyrene: a
      daughter of Antiochus I, she was married in an alliance that confirmed
      both Cyrene's defection to the Seleucid banner, and the claim to
      kingship of her husband Magas. In 250, she steered the course of her
      natal house against her nuptial one as she replaced Ptolemy III with the
      Antigonid Demetrius 'the Fair' as the fiancé of her daughter Berenice
      (II). The scandalous intrigue of her affair with her son-in-law
      recounted in Justin was called into question; more plausibly, Apama's
      power basis was identified amongst the numerous rival factions of
      Cyrene. ADRIAN DUMITRU (Bucharest) shed further light on Cleopatra
      Selene. As a daughter of Ptolemy VIII, she first became the wife of her
      brother Ptolemy IX, then married Antiochus VIII-X in sequence, before
      ruling over parts of Syria with her son Antiochus XIII. Starting as a
      pawn in the hands of her mother Cleopatra III, she found herself
      negotiating her claims over Egypt with the Roman Senate before perishing
      in her fight against Tigranes.

      Panel 5 revealed where to look for 'Exemplary Queens'. FEDERICOMARIA
      MUCCIOLI (via Skype from Bologna) studied the public representation of
      Seleucid Royal Women. A particular focus was on the language of virtue
      within the "Darstellung" and "Inszenierung" of the private and public
      lives of the royal couple especially as reflected in epigraphic
      epithets. Hereby, the influence of and on other kingdoms was considered.
      MONICA D'AGOSTINI (Bologna & Milan) focused on Laodice, wife of the
      rebel Achaeus. Polybius' account conveys more information on Laodice
      than on most other Seleucid women. Instead of the usual negative
      features typical of Hellenistic women, Laodice is styled as example of a
      loyal and brave companion. Particularly in the siege of Sardis, the
      portrait of the would-be royal couple recalls Homer's Hector and
      Andromache. The group discussed to what extent Polybius' episode could
      be taken as a source for the historical Laodice, for a role model of a
      Seleucid queen, or simply as a means to reinforce the emotional effect
      on the readers of Achaeus' tragedy.

      In panel 6, 'Dynastic Intermarriage and Persian Heritage' RICHARD
      WENGHOFER and DEL JOHN HOULE (Nipissing, Ontario) defended W.W. Tarn's
      claim of kinship between the Seleucids and the Diodotid and Euthydemid
      dynasties of Greco-Bactria and India. Literary and onomastic evidence
      along with numismatics seem to imply that these ties were secured mainly
      by marital alliances. It was further argued that those areas remained
      effectively 'Seleucid' until the reign of Eucratides I (ca. 170-145 BC)
      thanks to marriage alliances. The central role played by Seleucid
      princesses transformed these vassal states effectively into matrilineal
      monarchies. ROLF STROOTMAN (Utrecht) approached the impact of Seleucid
      and Achaemenid descent in eastern royal dynasties through the
      Ahnengalerie of Antiochus I of Commagene. After the Seleucid Empire had
      collapsed as a world power in the 140s, new claims to 'Great Kingship'
      were made by the Parthian Arsacids, the Mithradatids of Pontus, the
      Ptolemies, and most conspicuously by Antiochus I of Commagene, whose
      house had been bound to the imperial center by intermarriage and kinship
      ties. The same Antiochus famously displayed his royal ancestors in the
      sanctuary on Nemrut Dagi. STROOTMAN argued, that the idea of universal
      monarchy had always been pivotal to Seleucid rule and that successive
      claims to empire were based on matrilineal descent.

      For the sake of comparison, a few 'Other Queens' were considered in
      panel 7. RYAN WALSH (Waterloo) discussed Plutarch's descriptions of
      three Galatian women (mor. 257e-258a): Chiomara, wife of Ortiagon;
      Kamma, wife of Sinatos; Stratonice, wife of Deiotarus II. It was
      specified that illustration of philandria rather than of queenly virtues
      was at the heart of these stories. The discussion further pointed out
      that those women were justified in transgressing gender-defined
      boundaries because male relatives had fallen short of their moral
      obligations. JULIA WILKER (Philadelphia) shifted the focus to the women
      of the Hasmonean Dynasty who remain conspicuously absent from
      1-2Maccabees. Mainly based on Josephus, Wilker successfully reclaimed
      the roles of Hasmonean women as guarantors of dynastic succession,
      advisors to their husbands and sons, and political players in their own
      right. Their distinctive Jewish identity compelled them to distance
      themselves from the Seleucids in respect of the queen's public role, but
      also due to the religious barrier against marriage alliances.

      With 'Queens in Action', panel 8 attempted a more systematic approach.
      ROBERTA SCHIAVO (Pisa & Bordeaux) investigated dowries and gifts from
      the husband kings, especially estates. Epigraphic dossiers from both the
      western and eastern parts of the empire were scrutinized, complemented
      by evidence referring to other contemporary women. The perspective was
      further broadened by adducing Achaemenid and Roman referents. GILLIAN
      RAMSEY (Toronto) scrutinized the role of (early) Seleucid queens in
      diplomacy. Beginning with Apama's support of Demodamas of Miletus'
      Sogdian expedition, they participated in diplomatic activities which
      consolidated and extended Seleucid authority. In doing so, they utilized
      connections to their birth families and homes, gifts from their own
      personal wealth, cultic patronage and associations, as well as
      friendships with different parties. This paper aimed to categorize
      diplomatic patterns rooted in their filial and affinal relationships on
      the one hand, and in their individual agency on the other.

      In a remarkably concise way, this conference has not only enhanced and
      synthesised our knowledge of Seleucid Royal Women, but also addressed
      new paths to be pursued in Hellenistic and more broadly Classical
      Studies wherever concerned with dynastic rule and gender roles. Drawing
      on the concluding remarks of BETH CARNEY (Clemson, SC) and the ensuing
      general debate, we would like to identify the following vectors of
      further exploration:

      1) The experimental character of the creation of kingly roles and the
      negotiation of legitimacy under the Successors needs to be re-addressed
      with a specific attention to the design and modification of queenly

      2) The expectations related to dynastic intermarriage and the sometimes
      unintended effects need to be revisited systematically, starting with
      the marriage alliances forged by Antipater. This does not, however, mean
      that we must assume intermarriage always served the same function.

      3) The multiple roles of queens as daughters, wives, sisters, and
      mothers of kings (or queens) urge us to reconsider concepts of dynastic
      loyalty and identity.

      4) A comprehensive revision of the particular agency of aristocratic and
      royal women is required that appreciates their particular potential as
      mediators between family members, dynasties, but also subjects, soldiers
      and representatives of foreign nations.

      5) More work is to be done on the representation of Hellenistic royal
      women in literary sources, with due attention to motives known from
      epics and tragedies as well as to the schematizing effect of serving as
      either positive or (mainly) negative role models in Hellenistic-Roman

      Conference overview:

      Hans Beck (McGill, Montreal): Noble Women in China, Rome, and in-between

      Altay Coskun (WIHS, Waterloo): Themes and Methods of the Seleucid Study

      Ann-Cathrin Harders (Bielefeld): Making of a Queen - Seleucus I Nicator
      and His Wives

      Eran Almagor (Beer Sheva, Israel): Seleucid Love and Power: Stratonice

      Altay Coskun: Layers of Propaganda and the Representations of Laodice I
      in Hellenistic-Roman Historiography

      Brett Bartlett (Waterloo): The Fate of Cleopatra Tryphaena, or: Poetic
      Justice in Justin

      Kyle Erickson (Lampeter, UK): Where are the Wives? Royal Women in
      Seleucid Cult Documents

      Sheila Ager& Craig Hardiman (WIHS): Seleucid Female Portraits: Where Are

      Alex McAuley (McGill, Montreal): Princess & Tigress: Apama of Cyrene

      Adrian Dumitru (Bucharest): A Look at Cleopatra, the Moon and Her two

      Federicomaria Muccioli (Bologna): The Language of Virtues for Seleucid
      Queens. A Study on the Hellenistic Context

      Monica D'Agostini (Bologna & Milan): The Good Wife: Laodice of Achaeus

      Richard Wenghofer (Nipissing ON): Seleucid Blood in Bactrian and
      Indo-Greek Genealogy

      Rolf Strootman (Utrecht): Women's Roles in the Transmission of Kingship:
      The Seleucid Ahnengalerie of the 'Great King' Antiochus I of Commagene
      on Nemrut Dagi

      Ryan Walsh (Waterloo): Inversion of the Inversion: the Representation of
      Galatian Queens in Classical Literature

      Julia Wilker (Philadelphia): Women of the Hasmonean Dynasty - Jewish
      and/or Seleucid Features of a New Dynasty

      Roberta Schiavo (Pisa): Queens as Landowners

      Gillian Ramsey (Toronto): The Diplomacy of Seleucid Women

      Beth Carney (Clemson, SC): Feedback and Opening of General Discussion

      [1] Cf. <http://seleucid-genealogy.com/ssg.html> (22.04.2013).
      [2] For information on the publication of the proceedings and the next
      meetings of the Seleucid Study Group, please follow the group's website
      (n. 1).

      URL zur Zitation dieses Beitrages

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