Wars of the Diadochi > Syrian Wars

Syrian Wars

Alexander the Great - Dove Decoration


Syrian Wars - Ptolemy Tabula Asiae IV: Nicolaus Germanus (1467)

Ptolemy Tabula Asiae IV - Nicolaus Germanus (1467)

The Syrian Wars were six major wars that were part of the Wars of the Diadochi over territory and influence between the Ptolemaic Kingdom and the Seleucid Empire during the 3rd and 2nd centuries BCE in the geographic area known as Coele-Syria. The area along the eastern shores of the Mediterranean Sea was essential in terms of trade and travel into Egypt and the rest of the Mediterranean Sea. The successive wars were extremely detrimental to both civilizations in terms of draining the treasury and man-power of each political power and setting the stage for their respective collapses by the Roman Empire and Parthian Empire.

The true origin of the Syrian Wars goes back to the conquest of the Achaemenid Empire by Alexander III the Great during his Persian Campaign. However, following his death in Babylon his massive empire would collapse and lead to the establishment of several Hellenistic Kingdoms. These kingdoms would continually fight with each other following his death in what became known as the Wars of the Diadochi over territory and influence until their collapse. The Syrian Wars are briefly mentioned the biblical era Books of the Maccabees.

Initially during the Partition of Babylon the territory of Coele-Syria would be controlled by Antigonus I Monophthalmus. However, in 301 BCE after only four years into the establishment of the Ptolemeic Dynasty the area would be captured by Ptolemy I Soter who exploited the events of the Battle of Ipsus.

However, this caused many problems because Coele-Syria was already promised to the former ally of Ptolemy I named Seleucus I Nicator who was his former ally and whom he helped rise to power in the Hellenistic Period who would later found the Seleucid Empire. While both Ptolemy I and Seleucus I were both alive there would never be any direct confrontation over the region however, once they were both dead this began the brutal series of wars known as the Syrian Wars which would last for centuries.

First Syrian War

See First Syrian War

The First Syrian War occurred between 274 BCE and 271 BCE.

Second Syrian War

See Second Syrian War

The Second Syrian War occurred between 260 BCE and 253 BCE. One of the decisive battles of the war was the Battle of Cos.

Third Syrian War

See Third Syrian War

The Third Syrian War occurred between 246 BCE and 241 BCE. One of the decisive battles of this war was the Battle of Andros.

Fourth Syrian War

See Fourth Syrian War

The Fourth Syrian War lasted between 219 BCE and 217 BCE. One of the major battles was the Battle of Raphia.

Fifth Syrian War

See Fifth Syrian War

The Fifth Syrian War occurred between 202 BCE and 195 BCE and one of the decisive engagements was the Battle of Panium.

Sixth Syrian War

See Sixth Syrian War

The Sixth Syrian War last between 170 BCE and 168 BCE and would be the final Syrian War before the collapse of the Ptolemaic Kingdom and the Seleucid Empire.


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