Definitions

-coele

Coele-Syria

Coele-Syria, meaning 'hollow' Syria, was the region of southern Syria disputed between the Seleucid dynasty and the Ptolemaic dynasty. Strictly speaking, it is the Beqaa Valley of Lebanon, but it is often used to cover the entire area south of the river Eleutherus including Judea.

Alexander the Great's general Ptolemy first occupied Coele-Syria in 318 BC. When Ptolemy joined the coalition against Antigonus the one eyed in 313 BC he, however, quickly withdrew from Coele-Syria. In 312 Seleucus I Nicator, defeated Demetrius, the son of Antigonus, in the Battle of Gaza which again allowed Ptolemy to occupy Coele-Syria. Though he was again to pull out after only a few months, after Demetrius had won a battle over his general and Antigonus entered Syria in force up to Antigonuses, this brief success had enabled Seleucus to make a dash for Babylonia which Seleucus secured. In 302, Ptolemy joined a new coalition against Antigonus and reoccupied Coele-Syria but quickly withdrew on hearing a false report that Antigonus had won a victory. He was only to return when Antigonus had been defeated at Ipsus in 301 BC. Coele-Syria was assigned to Seleucus, by the victors of Ipsus as Ptolemy had added nothing to the victory. Though, given Ptolemy's track record, he was unlikely to organize a serious defense of Coele-Syria, Seleucus acquiesced in Ptolemy's occupation, probably because Seleucus remembered how it had been with Ptolemy's help he had reestablished himself in Babylonia. The later Seleucids were not to be so understanding, resulting in the century of Syrian Wars between the Ptolemies and Seleucids.

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