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Mithridates VI (120–63 BC) – King of Pontus and Armenia Minor

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Mithridates VI Evpator was the King Pontus who ruled in 120 – 63 BC. He began to expand his possessions, subordinating to his power Colchis, Bosporus, Paphlagonia, Cappadocia, and Galatia. After that, he turned his attention to the Bethlehem kingdom, which was Pontus’ last independent neighbor, who stood guard over the interests of Rome.

The Pontus kings had long had disputes with the Roman Republic, and Mithridates fought three times with Rome and faced on the battlefield with the greatest generals of that era: Sulla, Lucullus, and Gnaeus Pompey. But in the end, Asia Minor got to the heirs of Romulus and Remus, who defeated the last great king of the Hellenistic East.

Mithridates VI throughout his life continued the policy of his ancestors, who sought to regain power over lost lands in the past, he set himself up as a defender of Hellenism. But that led to an inevitable conflict with the Roman Republic.

Mithridates VI Evpator loved art and had a very good education. Possessing extraordinary physical strength, he could compete on an equal footing with professional soldiers. Mithridates had morbid suspicion and considered himself surrounded by conspirators. Even in his youth, Mithridates began to study poisonous plants, so he was able to develop immunity to their action. Mithridates practiced Zoroastrianism.

The First Mithridates War

The Romans chose an unfortunate time to fight the Pontic ruler: the Allied War did not end in Italy. Evpator for his capital chose Pergamon. The king was very merciful to the Greek population of the conquered lands and sought to retain the trust.

The struggle for Greece

Having seized Asia, Mithridates decided to annex Greece to his possessions. But the Romans were not going to concede their lands so simply. Five Roman legions landed on the territory of Greece under the command of Sulla, to which an army came up under the command of the son of Mithridates Arkathia. But the royal son died during the battle, and the legionaries invaded Boeotia.

In the battle of the Chaeronea the Pontic were defeated, and after that, they took refuge in Athens.  After that, it was decided to start a long-term siege. Sulla sent his assistant Lucius Licinius to the Lagids, the Seleucids, and the Rhodians. With their help, he was able to assemble the fleet and began an active struggle in the Aegean with the Pontic, thanks to which Athens lost access to the sea. A strong famine began in the city, and Archelaus’ attempts to break through the blockade ended in failure. The Romans began the night assault, and on March 1 entered the city. A full-scale massacre began.

Having reached Thermopylae, the Pontian strategist received reinforcements. The Pontian commander sent cavalry and chariots into the attack, but this was unsuccessful. Then the whole army went on the attack. But Sulla, together with the riders and two cohorts, was able to defeat the Pontic riders. The Roman infantry began to cut through the Pontic ranks.

In the year 85 BC came a new Pontic army under the command of Dorolia, who joined Archelaus. After this, Boeotia again passed into the hands of Mithridates. Sulla moved and the battle between them took place at Orchomena. Romans were able to defeat the enemy, and Archelaus had to flee. Sulla hesitated on the question of continuing the war, and thus made peace.

The Second Mithridates War

Despite the peace treaty, violations were on both sides. Sulla left Lucius, along with two legions. With the departure of Sulla, the legate decided to attack the central regions of Pontus.

Mithridates immediately dispatched ambassadors to the Roman Senate with a complaint. But Lucius did not abandon his intentions. Evpator decided that Rome officially launched a new war. More numerous Pontiacs defeated the enemy, and Lucius fled to Phrygia. News from Asia forced Sulla to send Awla Gabinia there with a repeated order not to start a war. This operation was very successful.

The Third Mithridates War

The Pontian army, led by Eumach and Marcus Marius, invaded Phrygia and Pergamon, where many cities crossed over to their side. The commander of the Roman armies in the province of Asia was Lucius Licinius Lucullus. Mithridates blocked the city of Chalcedon both from land and from the sea. Aurelius did not wait for Lucullus’s help, and during the battle, his army was completely defeated.

The Roman troops quickly seized Bithynia, and the fleet, having defeated the Pontians in the Aegean Sea. Romans invaded Pontus. In the Battle of Kabir, due to the arrogant attack of the Pontian cavalry, the Romans were able to win.

The war with Pompey

In the spring of 66 BC, Pompey joined the command and began to prepare for the offensive. Having received the refusal of Mithridates from unconditional surrender. The first clash between the riders of Pompey and Mithridates ended in favor of the Romans. The Pontus king was forced to retreat. Pompey besieged his camp, hunger began in the Pontic camp, but Pontians managed to escape. Pontic suffered a crushing defeat. After this, the Pompey moved in pursuit of Mithridates. However, he was distracted by the attacks of local tribes.


By the summer of 65 BC Mithridates returned to the Bosporus kingdom. He sends ambassadors to Pompey with peace proposals, but he again demanded unconditional surrender. Mithridates begins large-scale preparations for a new campaign against the Romans. However, the agriculture, trades and trade of the Bosporus were in decline due to the sea blockade of the Romans. Mithridates, imitating Hannibal hoped to invade Italy through the lands of his allied Sarmatians, Dacians and the Gauls, on the way picking up among them, a huge army for the invasion.

Conspiracy in favor of his son Pharnac was in full swing . The local army, together with the Roman defectors in Panticapaeum, rose in favor of his son. Trying to avoid capturing, the ruler took poison, but he did not act because of immunity, developed from childhood. Then Mithridates asked his bodyguard to kill him with a sword.


  • John Anthony Crook et. al. 2: The Cambridge Ancient History Volume IX
  • Getzel M. Cohen. Hellenistic Culture and Society
  • Højte JM The Death and Burial of Mithridates VI
  • Mayor A. The Poison King: The Life and Legend of Mithradates, Rome’s Deadliest Enemy
  • Gabelko History of the Bithina Kingdom
  • Chernyavsky S. Mitridat the Great
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