From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
Herod Antipas (short for Antipatros) (before 20 BC – after 39 AD) was a first century AD ruler of Galilee and Perea, who bore the title of tetrarch ("ruler of a quarter"). He is best known today for his purported role in the events that led to the executions of John the Baptist and Jesus of Nazareth, both from the accounts of these events in the New Testament and their portrayal in modern media such as film.
After inheriting his territories when the kingdom of his father Herod the Great was divided upon his death in 4 BC, Antipas ruled them as a client state of the Roman Empire. He was responsible for building projects at Sepphoris and Betharamphtha, and more importantly for the construction of his capital Tiberias on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee. Named in honor of his patron, the emperor Tiberius, the city later became a center of rabbinic learning.
Antipas divorced his first wife Phasaelis, the daughter of King Aretas IV of Nabatea, in favour of Herodias, who had formerly been married to his brother. According to the New Testament Gospels, it was John the Baptist's condemnation of this arrangement that led Antipas to have him arrested; John was subsequently put to death. The Gospel of Luke states that when Jesus was brought before Pontius Pilate for trial, Pilate handed him over to Antipas, in whose territory Jesus had been active. However, Antipas sent him back to Pilate. The legal basis for these events, and the very historicity of Antipas' involvement in the trial, have been the subject of scholarly debate. Besides provoking his conflict with the Baptist, the tetrarch's divorce added a personal grievance to previous disputes with Aretas over territory on the border of Perea and Nabatea. The result was a war that proved disastrous for Antipas; a Roman counter-offensive was ordered by Tiberius, but abandoned upon that emperor's death in 37 AD. In 39 AD Antipas was accused by his nephew Agrippa I of conspiracy against the new Roman emperor Caligula, who sent him into exile in Gaul. Accompanied there by Herodias, he died at an unknown date.