Seleucid Faction Symbol-Vanilla
Capital Antioch
Culture Greek
Religion(s) Hephaestus, Dionysus, Asklepios
Appears in Rome: Total War
The Seleucid Empire is one of the playable factions in Rome: Total War. They can be played by successfully completing either a long or short campaign with any of the Roman factions, by destroying them in the Imperial Campaign.

The fall of the Greco-Macedonian Empire, under Alexander the Great, brought about great changes in the Mediterranean world. For one, his generals divided up the vast empire and took great portions for themselves. The Seleucids owe their existence to one of these generals, Seleucus.

They are powerful and have a vast army of units they may summon. Their power is only limited by the general commanding their vast cavalry, infantry and elephant legions.

The Seleucid Empire was a Hellenistic empire, one of the surviving portions of Alexander the Great's original empire. When Alexander's empire was divided among his greatest generals, Seleucus took the eastern Fertile Crescent and captured Syria soon after, founding the new Seleucid Empire. The Seleucid Empire was centered in the near East and at the height of its power included central Anatolia, the Levant, Mesopotamia, Persia, today's Turkmenistan, Pamir and parts of Pakistan. It was a major centre of Hellenistic culture which maintained the preeminence of Greek customs and where a Greek-speaking Macedonian élite dominated, mostly in the urban areas.

The Seleucid legions battling their Roman counterparts.

The Seleucid Empire's main ambition was to preserve the original territory conquered by Alexander the Great during his lifetime.

The Seleucid Empire starts originally with a rather large amount of settlements. They are bordering and surrounded by Pontus, Egypt, the Greeks and the Parthians.

The Seleucids have a varied roster of units, combining both Greek and Eastern units. Their unit roster includes pikemen, cataphracts, elephants, chariots, companion cavalry, and even legionaries. As with many of the Hellenistic states that formed after the death of Alexander the Great, the Seleucid armies were professional, based on the Macedonian model. Its troops were primarily of Greek origin, supplemented by Eastern people, since the Seleucid realm covered much of the eastern portions of the former Persian Empire. When they fought other Diadochi, complete victories or the annihilation of opposing armies were generally avoided; it was easier to defeat and recruit enemy soldiers than to train more, especially because of recruitment cost.

Seleucid pikemen

Seleucid pikemen advancing towards their egyptian enemies in the battle of Raphia.

They relied on troops that used the Macedonian phalanx, archers from the Eastern peoples and cavalry, especially the heavily armored cataphracts ("covered" armor-plated horsemen) and the famous Macedonian companion cavalry as the general's bodyguard and elite shock troops. Also, the Seleucids had a supply of Indian war elephants which was used to cause fear amongst their enemies and, like chariots, to disrupt cohesion. Like the Ptolemies with their wealth, the Seleucid kings had managed to recruit all kinds of people as mercenaries, from the Indians living on the Indus to the people of Crete and particularly Galatia. With their wars against Rome, the Seleucids created effective units of troops that copied the Roman legions.

Descending from Alexander's shattered empire, the Hellenistic Seleucids start in Asia, but have their sights set for reclaiming the glory of Greece and beyond. Their first settlements are:

  • Antioch (Capital City)
  • Seleucia (Large Town)
  • Tarsus (Town)
  • Hatra (Town)
  • Damascus (Town)
  • Sardis (Town)

Traditional territory of the Seleucid Empire (in yellow).

By 100 BC, the once formidable Seleucid Empire encompassed little more than Antioch and some Syrian cities. Despite the clear collapse of their power, and the decline of their kingdom around them, nobles continued to play kingmakers on a regular basis, with occasional intervention from Ptolemaic Egypt and other outside powers. The Seleucids existed solely because no other nation wished to absorb them — seeing as they constituted a useful buffer between their other neighbours. In the wars in Anatolia between Mithridates VI of Pontus and Sulla of the Roman Empire, the crumbling Seleucid Empire was largely left alone by both major combatants.

Mithridates' ambitious son-in-law, Tigranes the Great, king of Armenia, however, saw opportunity for expansion in the constant civil strife to the south. In 83 BC, at the invitation of one of the factions in the interminable civil wars, he invaded Syria, and soon established himself as ruler of Syria, putting the Seleucid Empire nearly at an end.

Seleucid rule was not entirely over, however. Following the Roman general Lucullus' defeat of both Mithridates and Tigranes in 69 BC, the still-decaying Seleucid Empire was restored under Antiochus XIII. Even now, civil wars could not be prevented, as another Seleucid, Philip II, contested rule with Antiochus. After the Roman conquest of Pontus, the Romans became increasingly alarmed at the constant source of instability in Syria under the Seleucid Empire. Once Mithridates was defeated by Pompey in 63 BC, Pompey set about the task of remaking the Hellenistic East, by creating new client kingdoms and establishing provinces. While client nations like Armenia and Judea were allowed to continue with some degree of autonomy under local kings, Pompey saw the Seleucid Empire as too troublesome to continue; and doing away with both rival Seleucid princes, he made Syria into a Roman province. The Seleucid Empire had finally fallen, and was absorbed by Rome and Parthia.

TotalWArUnitGuideSeleucidUnits 01

Seleucid Units.

In Rome Total War 1 (on very hard difficulty for both campaign and battles), if the player has no influence in Asia or Egypt, an AI controlled Seleucid Empire will not do well in the game. Seleucia will quickly be taken by Parthia, Hatra by Armenia and eventually Antioch by Egypt. Tarsus will also be taken by Pontus. Sardis will also be taken by Pontus, and Damascus, with a high garrison of militia hoplites will last the longest, although eventually it will be taken as the Seleucids will have no money left to replenish losses during the multiple sieges by Egypt.


  • The symbol of the Seleucid Empire is fictional and depicts a silver Corinthian helmet. The silver color probably alludes to the Silver Shields and the Corinthian helmet to the Greek heritage of the Seleucids.