Monday, November 14, 2022

Mithridates the Great

Mithridates the Great (120-63 BC) or Mithradates VI Eupator. He was surnamed Eupator and Dionysus to distinguish him from his father, Mithridates V Euergetes, who had been king of Pontus (northern Turkey) between 152/151 and 120 BC.

Mithridates was born into a family that traced its ancestry back to Darius, and was himself reckoned to be sixteenth in line from the great emperor. His father was assassinated in (c.121/0 BC.). This left power in the hands of Mithridates’s mother Laodice, who was said to have favored his younger brother Mithridates Chrestus. About 115 BCE, she was deposed and thrown into prison by her son, Mithradates VI Eupator, who thereafter ruled alone.

The young king continued his father's expansionist policy. Under his energetic leadership, Pontus expanded to absorb several of its small neighbors and, briefly, contested Rome’s hegemony in Asia Minor.

In 115/114, he crossed the Black Sea and intervened in a conflict between the Hellenistic kingdom at the Crimea (the "Bosporan kingdom") and its northern neighbor, the Scythians. The result of this intervention was that the Crimea was added to Pontus and a large part of the northern shore of the Black Sea became Mithridates' protectorate.

In 88 BC, he orchestrated the mass killing of up to 150,000 Roman and Italian noncombatants in a single day. Over the course of decades, he was embroiled in intermittent, bitter conflicts with the Roman Republic. Mithridates is remembered as one of the Roman Republic's most persistent enemies, despite only winning one major battle against a genuinely Roman army, at Zela in 67 B.C. towards the end of his career.
Mithridates the Great

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