M. Rahim Shayegan, On Demetrius II Nicator’s Arsacid Captivity and Second Rule




The captivity of the Seleucid king Demetrius II in Arsacid Iran and his short reign in Syria following his release from Hyrcania, in the second half of the second century B.C.E., must be considered as the first instance of the Arsacid “hostage policy.” The policy consisted in hosting foreign princes at Parthian courts in view of eventually instigating a dynastic change in their home country, favorable to Arsacid political designs. This practice, which is reported by classical authors for a later period, most notably of Tigranes of Armenia in the first century B.C.E., can now be corroborated by the evidence of the recently published Babylonian Astronomical Diaries. The Diaries not only attest to the use of political hostages by the Arsacids already in the second half of the second century B.C.E, but allow us to interpret Demetrius II’s captivity and release in light of the “hostage policy.”