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History of Mithridates II

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Early Life and Succession

Mithradates II Great King of Parthia, belonged to the Arsacid dynasty and ruled about 124/123 – 88/87 B.C. Justin (Latin Historian) asserts that Mithradates II was the son of Artaban II. He received the nickname “The Great Mithridates II” during his lifetime.

The share of Mithridates II fell to the difficult task of restoring the Parthian Power. From his father, he inherited land that was in a state of complete anarchy. In the east, the Saki captured a number of Iranian regions and settled in them. In the west of the Arsacids, Elimaid and Persidus disappeared. In the lower Mesopotamia, an independent kingdom was formed which even owned Babylon at one time. Gimer, the governor of the Arsacids in Mesopotamia, wore the title of king, and it is difficult to say to what degree of dependence he had in relation to the Parthian king. In the north-west Parthian began to cramp the Armenian king Artavazd I.


Mithridates II first of all made peace with the Sakas or Scythians, agreeing for this even to pay tribute to them. For the successful struggle against mobile detachments of nomads, he organized a mounted militia. Instead of heavy infantry, the main core of the Parthian army was from that time the detachments of heavily armed, armored riders. After a military reform, Mithridates resumed the war with the Saks in several years. With considerable effort the Parthians managed to deflect the main axis of the Sak movement to the south, as a result of which they began to settle in the ancient Drangian, around Lake Hamun and further to the east – in Arachosia. This territory has since become known as Sakastan, now Sistan. Soon there were formed independent kingdoms, extending their power to the southeast regions of Iran and the north-western regions of India.

Thus, at the end of the II century B.C. The Parthians achieved the strengthening of their borders in the east, and managed to push back the Saks. However, in regards to the conquest of the Saks, apparently it is impossible; rather, it should be a mutually beneficial compromise the integration of the Saka tribes into the structure of the Parthian state. Later, the leaders of the Saks occupied a very high position under the Parthian court. Only they, for example, had the right to lay a diadem on the head of the newly elected king. How far to the east the possessions of Mithridates II stretched, it is difficult to say.

Parthians in Mesopotamia

Priorities of Mithridates in the west were conquest of Babylonia and victory over the ruler of the Character. The bronze coins of Gispaosin dated 121/120 B.C. with minted titles and a portrait of Mithridates serve as proof that he achieved his goals. Since then, nothing has been heard about the “tyrant of Babylon and Seleucia” Gimera. Apparently, he died in the struggle with the king.

The next blow of the Parthians was directed to Armenia, which occupied an exceptionally strategic position in the Near East. Artavazd Armenian suffered several defeats, and as a result, the eldest son of the Armenian king Tigranes was hostage to the Parthians for several years. Around 94 B.C. Mithridates II succeeded in planting Tigran II on the throne in Great Armenia and thereby for some time strengthened his influence in the part of Asia Minor and Transcaucasia. For his assistance in the erection of Tigran II on the throne of the Parthian king received as a reward “70 valleys in Armenia”.

Then Mithridates led the offensive on the Seleucid kingdom, which by that time had been reduced to the limits of Northern Syria alone. The Parthians began to interfere in the affairs of the Seleucids. In the year 90 B.C. the ruler of Antiochus X Eusebes was defeated. In the year 88 B.C. in the captivity of the Parthians was another Seleucid the ruler of Damascus Demetrius III. The Euphrates became the western boundary of the Parthian possessions. Mithridates himself no longer participated in these wars having moved to the east of his power, he appointed a certain Gotarz as ruler of the western regions.

Relations with Rome

The appearance of Parthians in Mesopotamia seriously disturbed the Romans, who by that time began their advance to the East and waged a stubborn struggle against Mithridates of Pontus. In the year 92 B.C. Sulla, who was to restore on the throne of Cappadocia, expelled by the Armenian king Tigran, began negotiations with the Parthians. It is not clear whether the parties came to any agreement, it is known only that the Parthian ambassador Orobaz was subsequently executed for failing to repulse the defiant behavior of Sulla during the talks. This was the first acquaintance of the Parthians with the Romans and their political methods in the East. This first experience undoubtedly contributed to the temporary rapprochement of Mithradates II with his western neighbors, Mithridates Pontic and Tigran Armenian, but the Parthians did not yet understand the full danger that threatened them from Rome.


The increased political influence of Parthia during the reign of Mithridates II was due in large part to the wealth that flowed into her treasuries in the form of income from the development of land trade. The Parthian king extended his control to the Great Silk Road, starting from the border with Rome to the point where the trade was in the hands of Chinese merchants, which turned out to be a powerful stimulus to business activity. The Han emperor Wu-di , also interested in the development of trade, sent the Chinese embassy to the Parthian capital. Members of the embassy were greeted with great respect, and when they returned, they were accompanied by a Parthian delegation carrying ostrich eggs and magicians. Mithridates II supported Greek culture as well

In recent years, the reign of Mithridates II in Parthia, internal complications have occurred. The wide-spread empire of Mithridates II undoubtedly forced him to delegate additional power to subordinate governors, which gave them greater opportunities than ever for self-exaltation. Approximately in 88/87 B.C. Mithridates II died and Gotars I was proclaimed a new Parthian king.


Dibojuz NK Political History of Parthia

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