the Fourth Week of Lent
Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature
(Δημήτριος, probably from Δημήτηρ, the Greek name of the goddess Cybele), the name originally of several of Alexander's generals (see Smith's Dict. of Class. Biog. s.v.), and borne by several of the Macedonian and Syrian princes, two of whom are often referred to in the Apocrypha, and three in Josephus; also by two men mentioned in the New Test., and by several others in Josephus. 1. DEMETRIUS I, surnamed SOTER (Σωτήρ, "the Savior," in recognition of his services to the Babylonians), king of Syria, was the son of Seleucus IV Philopator, and grandson of Antiochus the Great. While still a boy he was sent by his father as a hostage to Rome (B.C. 175) in exchange for his uncle, Antiochus Epiphanes (Appian, Syr. 45). From his position he was unable to offer any opposition to the usurpation of the Syrian throne by Antiochus IV; but on the death of that monarch (B.C. 164) he claimed his liberty, and the recognition of his claim by: the Roman senate in preference to that of his cousin Antiochus V. His petition was refused from selfish policy (Polyb. 31:12), and by the advice and assistance of Polybius, whose friendship he had gained at Rome (Polyb. 31:19; Justin, 34:3), he left Italy secretly, and landed with a small force at Tripolis, in Phoenicia (2 Maccabees 14:1; 1 Maccabees 7:1; Josephus, Ant. 12:1). The Syrians soon declared in his favor (B.C. 162), and Antiochus and his protector Lysias were put to death (1 Maccabees 7:2-3; 2 Maccabees 14:2). Having thus gained possession of the kingdom, Demetrius succeeded in securing the favor of the Romans (Polyb. 32:4), and he turned his attention to the internal organization of his dominions. The Graecizing party were still powerful at Jerusalem, and he supported them by arms. In the first campaign his general Bacchides established Alcimus in the highpriesthood (1 Maccabees 7:5-20); but the success was not permanent. Alcimus was forced to take refuge a second time at the court of Demetrius, and Nicanor, who was commissioned to restore him, was defeated in two successive engagements by Judas Maccabseus (1 Maccabees 7:31-32; 1 Maccabees 7:43-45), and fell on the field (see Michaelis on 1 Maccabees 7:32, against Wernsdorf, De fide Maccab. p. 124 sq.; also Joseph. Ant. 12:10, 2). Two other campaigns were undertaken against the Jews by Bacchides (B.C. 161-158); but in the mean time Judas had completed a treaty with the Romans shortly before his death (B.C. 161), who forbade Demetrius to oppress the Jews (1 Maccabees 8:31). Not long afterwards Demetrius further incurred the displeasure of the Romans by the expulsion of Ariarathes from Cappadocia (Polyb. 31:20; Justin, 35:1), and he alienated the affection of his own subjects by his private excesses (Justin, 1. c.; comp. Polyb. 33:14). When his power was thus shaken (B.C. 152), Alexander Balas was brought forward, with the consent of the Roman senate, as a claimant to the throne, with the powerful support of Ptolemy Philometor, Attalus, and Ariarathes. Demetrius vainly endeavored to secure the services of Jonathan, who had succeeded his brother Judas as leader of the Jews, and now, from the recollection of his wrongs, warmly favored the cause of Alexander (1 Maccabees 10:1-6). The rivals met in a decisive engagement (B.C. 150), and Demetrius, after displaying the greatest personal bravery, was defeated and slain (1 Maccabees 10:48-50; Joseph. Ant. 13:2, 4; Polyb. 3, 5). In addition to the very interesting fragments of Polybius, the following references may be consulted: Justin, 34:335:1; Appian, Syr. 46, 47, 67; Livy, Epit. 47; Euseb. Ann. Chron. p. 165. He left two sons, Demetrius, surnamed Nicator, and Antiochus, called Sidetes, both of whom subsequently ascended the throne. (See ANTIOCHUS).
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