DEMETRIUS II. NICATOR:
King of Syria; son of Demetrius Soter. He was sent to Rome by his father as hostage for his fidelity. It was intended that he should work there against Alexander Balas, whose cause was promoted by Heraclides. He could achieve nothing, however. After the death of his father he set out in 147 with an army of mercenaries against Balas, who fled to Antioch. He was aided in this by Appolonius, the governor of Cœle-Syria, against whom, however, the high priest Jonathan made successful war. In the decisive battle at Antiochia on the Ainoparus (146), Alexander Balas was defeated by Demetrius and his own father-in-law, Ptolemy Philometor, who had become reconciled with Demetrius. Balas was killed during his flight, and Ptolemy Philometor died of a wound received in the battle. Demetrius now assumed the surname "Nicator." He confirmed the high priest Jonathan, on the payment of a tribute of 300 talents, in his dignity, and in the possession of the three districts of Lydda, Ephraim, and Ramathaim, which had been severed from Samaria. Nor had he cause to regret the act; for when the disbanded native soldiers rose in revolt against Demetrius, Jonathan sent to his aid an army of 3,000 Jews. With this army and his own mercenaries, Demetrius suppressed the dangerous uprising.
Demetrius, however, did not fulfil his promise to withdraw the Syrian garrisons from the fortresses in Judea; on the contrary, he demanded of Jonathan the payment of all the tributes which had been due to his predecessors, but which had not been paid. Under these circumstances, the uprising which was kindled by Diodotus on behalf of the young son of Alexander Balas, Antiochus VI. Dionysus, and which was provoked by the barbarities of Demetrius, came very opportunely. Demetrius was defeated; but found refuge in Seleucia, which remained faithful to him at all times. In the mean time Jonathan stood his ground against the generals of Demetrius, and in conjunction with Simon conquered southern Syria. After the murder of Jonathan, in which Diodotus shared, the fortunes of Demetrius improved. The Jews deserted Diodotus, who had forfeited their sympathies not only by this murder, but also because he had removed Antiochus VI. and had usurped the throne under the name of "Tryphon." Demetrius recognized Simon as high priest and ethnarch.
Soon afterward Demetrius commenced a war against the Parthians, but after several victories was finally defeated and taken prisoner by a Parthian general of Mithridates I. (140). He was released only after his younger brother, Antiochus Sidetes, fought a successful battle against the Parthian.Upon the death of Antiochus, Demetrius again became ruler; and he had begun planning a fresh subjugation of the Jews, when he decided to make war on Ptolemy Euergetes II. of Egypt. He marched as far as Pelusium, but turned back, because, being without confidence in his army, he did not dare to engage in battle. In revenge Ptolemy set up Alexander Zabina against Demetrius (128), and several Syrian cities thereupon freed themselves from Demetrius' control. In 125 he was defeated near Damascus, and was killed at the instigation of his first wife, Cleopatra, who hated him because, during his Parthian captivity, he had married a daughter of the Parthian king.
- I Macc. x. et seq.;
- Josephus, Ant. xiii.;
- Justinus, xxxv. 1, 2, 3;
- xxxviii 9 et seq;
- Diodor, xxxii. 9 et seq.;
- xxxiii. 3 et seq., 9, 28;
- Schürer, Gesch. 3d ed., i. 172 et seq.;
- Von Gutschmid, Gesch. Irans, etc., pp. 51 et seq.;
- Flathe, Gesch. Makedoniens;
- Holm, Griechische Gesch. pp. 553 et seq.;
- Kuhn, Beiträge zur Gesch. der Seleukiden;
- Wilcken, in Hermes, pp. 29, 441 et seq.;
- Pauly-Wissowa, Real-Encyc. s.v.;
- Babelon, Rois de Syrie, pp. 153 et seq.