Philopappos’ parents were distantly related. The paternal grandmother of Claudia Capitolina was Greek Princess Aka II of Commagene, who was a granddaughter or great, granddaughter of King Antiochus I Theos of Commagene. While his father, was the first born son to King Antiochus IV of Commagene and his wife Queen Julia Iotapa of Commagene. Antiochus IV and Iotapa were direct descendants of Antiochus I Theos.
His maternal grandparents were Tiberius Claudius Balbilus and an unnamed Greek woman. Balbilus was an astrologer and a learned scholar, who was later Prefect of Egypt. Balbilus and his father, Egyptian Greek Grammarian and Astrologer called Thrasyllus of Mendes or Tiberius Claudius Thrasyllus, were friends to the first Roman Emperor s, which included Tiberius, Claudius and Vespasian.
His paternal grandparents were Roman Client Monarchs, King Antiochus IV of Commagene and Queen Julia Iotapa. Antiochus IV and Iotapa were husband, wife and full blooded-siblings. He was of Armenian, Greek and Medes descent. Through his paternal grandparents, he was a direct descendant from the Greek Syrian Kingdom the Seleucid Empire and the Greek Egyptian Kingdom the Ptolemaic dynasty.
Philopappos was the first-born grandchild and grandson born to King Antiochus IV and Antiochus’ late wife, Iotapa. He was born in Samosata the capital of the Kingdom of Commagene in the court of the palace of Antiochus IV. He lived there and was raised safely there until 72. Philopappos’ birth name was Gaius Julius Antiochus Epiphanes. His nickname and the name he is known now is Philopappos or Philopappus. Philopappos means Fond of Grandfather. He received this nickname because of his close relationship to Antiochus IV and possibly Tiberius Claudius Balbilus. Philopappos had a traditional Greek education of the Wealthy Class.
In 72 Lucius Caesennius Paetus, the Roman Governor of Syria had sent letters addressed to Vespasian accusing Antiochus IV; Philopappos’ father Epiphanes and his paternal uncle Callinicus in planning to revolt against Rome and allying themselves with the King of Parthia.
Paetus accused in these letters that Antiochus IV, Epiphanes and Callinicus of disloyalty to the Emperor. It is not known whether if these accusations were true or false. After reading the letters, Vespasian felt that he could longer trust the family of Antiochus IV and couldn’t trust them to protect the strategic crossing at the Euphrates River at Samosata. Vespasian gave orders to Antiochus IV to terminate his rule in Commagene.
Paetus invaded the Kingdom of Commagene, as head of the Legio VI Ferrata. The client Kings Aristobulus of Chalcis and Sohaemus of Emesa also supplied troops to Paetus. They all arrived the night before the Battle. As Epiphanes and Callinicus prepared themselves that night for war, Antiochus IV was preparing to flee to Cilicia.
The next morning that the war was supposed to occur Epiphanes with his family and Callinicus out of fear of the Romans fled to the King of Parthia, while Antiochus IV also out of fear of the Romans fled to Cilicia. There is a possibility that Epiphanes and Callinicus had a short-lived attempt to resist invasion, before they fled to Parthia.
The family of Antiochus IV had let their own army and the citizens of Commagene down. Antiochus IV and his family never considered to cause a war with Rome and they wanted to clear themselves of these accusations. Vespasian brought peacefully back to Rome, Epiphanes with his family and Callinicus in a honourable Roman Military Escort. Epiphanes with his family and Callinicus lived in Rome with Antiochus IV for the remainder of his life. Vespasian had given Antiochus IV and his family sufficient revenue to live on. Antiochus IV and his family had a glamorous life and were treated with great respect.
Philopappos and his family never returned to Commagene. Commagene was reinstated again as apart of the Roman Province of Syria and there the citizens of Commagene still proved to be loyal subjects of the Roman Empire.
Throughout his life, Philopappos always considered himself as a man of monarch status. Philopappos spent the remainder of his life in Athens. He became a prominent and respected benefactor in Athens. Philopappos was assumed in civic, political and religious duties in Athens and Rome. He belonged to the Roman elite and became friends with the Roman Emperor Trajan; Trajan’s heir and second paternal cousin Hadrian. Through Trajan and Hadrian, Philopappos also met their families.
Philopappos had Roman and Athenian citizenship. He served as an Archon in Athens and had become friends to Greek philosophers. Through his friendship with the philosophers, he became an acquaintance to the historian Greek Plutarch. Plutarch in his writings describes Philopappos as ‘very generous and magnificent in his rewards’ and describes his character as ‘good-humor and eager for instruction’.
Philopappos served as a Choregos (producer for a chorus) twice; as an Agonothetes (magistrate of games) once and was a member of the Deme Besa. Between 105-116, Philopappos was made a member of the Arval Brethren. The Arval Brethren was an ancient group of priests that offered annual sacrifices to Lares and the gods to guarantee good harvests.
Through his friendship and influence from Trajan, Trajan promoted him as a member of the Praetorian Guard in Rome. Trajan and Hadrian through his praetorian rank, promoted him to the Roman Senate. He became a Roman Senator, although his father nor paternal grandfather wasn’t of senatorial rank. Philopappos rosed through the ranks and served as a suffect consul in 109.
There is a possibility that Philopappos married an unnamed woman. From this marriage probably had children and possibly had further descendants, however there is no surviving records of this.
According to the Greek geographer Pausanias (Periegesis Hellados, Description of Greece, I.25.8), describes Philopappos’ grand tomb as a monument built for a Syrian man. The monument was built on the same site where Musaios or Musaeus was formally buried. Musaeus was a priestly poet and a mystical seer that once lived in Athens, before the time of Philopappos. The Athenians allowed Balbilla to bury her brother in his mausoleum opposite the Acropolis within formal boundaries of the city. This shows Philopappos’ position within Ancient Athenian society.
Philopappos’ monument is a two-storey structure, which is supported by a base. On the lower level there is a frieze representing Philopappos as a consul, riding with a chariot, led by lictors. The upper level shows statues of three men who are: Antiochus IV (left figure); Philopappos (central figure) and the right figure was Seleucus I Nicator, which is now lost.
Below Philopappos in the niche is an inscription that says: Philopappos, son of Epiphanes of the deme of the Besa. In the left niche of Philopappos, reveals an inscription in Latin, which shows Philopappos’ titles, honors and his career. Caius Iulius Antiochus Philopappos, son of Caius, of the Fabian tribe, consul and Arval brother, admitted to the praetorian rank by the emperor Caesar Nerva Trajan Optumus Augustus Germanicus Dacicus. On the right niche of Philopappos once read a Greek inscription (now the base is only preserved): King Antiochus Philopappos, son of King Epiphanes, son of Antiochus.
The left figure is his paternal grandfather, King Antiochus IV of Commagene. Below Antiochus IV, is an inscription that states King Antiochus son of King Antiochus. This inscription honors Antiochus IV and his late father, the last independent of the Kingdom of Commagene, King Antiochus III of Commagene, also known as Antiochus III Epiphanes.
On the right, once stood a statue of his Philopappos’ ancestor, the founder of the Seleucid Empire and a general to Greek King Alexander the Great, Seleucus I Nicator. The traveller Cyriacus of Ancona wrote in his memoir that underneath this statue was an inscription stating King Seleucus Nikator, son of Antiochus.
The monument measures 9.80 m x 9.30 m, which contains Philopappos’ burial chamber. The structure is built of white Pentelic marble on a socle 3.08 m high, made of poros marble and veneered with slabs of Hymettian marble. The North side of Philopappos’ monument bear lavish architectural decorations.
In 1898 excavations were carried out at the monument and in 1899 conservation work was undertaken. Archaeologists in 1940, H A Thompson and J Travios conducted small additional excavations. Recent investigations have certified that architectural parts of Philopappos’ Monument have been used for construction of the Minaret in the Parthenon.
Only two-thirds of the façade remains. The tomb chamber behind the façade is completely destroyed except for the base. The Philopappos Monument appeared to be in tact until recently as in 1436, the traveller Cyriacus of Ancona visited the monument and wrote in his memoirs that the monument was still in tact. The destruction of the monument must occur later on.