Presenter: John McTavish (Confirmation seminar)

This paper will examine the political and military ramifications of Seleukos Nikator’s invasion of India, in order to assess his motive for expanding his empire further east. Despite the pivotal role played by the elephants Seleukos acquired through his peace treaty with Chandragupta in blunting the Antigonid offensive at Ipsos in 301 BCE, the Seleukid-Mauryan War is generally thought to have been a strategic failure for Seleukos. The principal aim of this paper is to challenge this assumption, and this paper argues that his expedition was far from an outright failure. In a climate of profound social and political transformation, the actions of Seleukos should be judged as a reflection of the means the Diadokhoi used to inform and legitimize their rule. By attempting to expand rather than simply pulling together scraps of the rapidly disintegrating Macedonian Empire, Seleukos was promoting himself as a true Successor to the legacy of imperial conquest that had seen Macedonian dominance spread across the world. The strength of the peace settlement indicates that no protracted conflict took place, and is a testament to both Nikator’s conservative approach to strategy and the severity of the Antigonid threat looming in the west.


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