Tigranes the Great

Last updated
Tigranes the Great
King of Kings
Coin of Tigranes II the Great, Antioch mint.jpg
Coin of Tigranes, Antioch mint.
King of Armenia
Reign95–55 BC
Predecessor Tigranes I
Successor Artavasdes II
Born140 BC
Died55 BC (aged 85)
Consort Cleopatra of Pontus
Issue Four sons:
Artavasdes II
Three daughters:
Dynasty Artaxiad
Father Artavasdes I or Tigranes I
Mother Alan princess [1]
Religion Zoroastrianism [2] [3]
The Kingdom of Armenia at its greatest extent under Tigranes the Great Armenian Empire.png
The Kingdom of Armenia at its greatest extent under Tigranes the Great

Tigranes II, more commonly known as Tigranes the Great (Armenian : Տիգրան Մեծ, Tigran Mets; [4] Ancient Greek : Τιγράνης ὁ ΜέγαςTigránes ho Mégas; Latin : Tigranes Magnus) [5] (140  55 BC) was a king of Armenia. A member of the Artaxiad dynasty, he ruled from 95 BC to 55 BC. Under his reign, the Armenian kingdom expanded beyond its traditional boundaries and reached its peak, allowing Tigranes to claim the title Great King or King of Kings. His empire for a short time was the most powerful state to the east of the Roman Republic.


Either the son or nephew of Artavasdes I, Tigranes was given as a hostage to Mithridates II of Parthia after Armenia came under Parthian suzerainty. After ascending to the Armenian throne, Tigranes rapidly expanded his kingdom by invading the state of Sophene in 94 BC, [6] then temporarily capturing Cappadocia in 93 BC, [7] following that year, Tigran II captured Iberia and Caucasian Albania (92 BC). [8] The most astonishing military campaign completed by Tigranes the Great was when he took advantage of a weakened Parthian Empire, also known as The Great Parthian Campaign of 87-85 BC, which had given him the title of King of Kings. In 86 BC, he had successfully annexed the Seleucid Empire. [9] The prime of Tigran’s empire was when he had captured the Kingdoms of Judea and Nabatea during 73-71 BC. Tigran decided to ally with Mithridates VI of Pontus by marrying his daughter Cleopatra. At its height, Tigranes' empire stretched from the Pontic Alps to Mesopotamia and from the Caspian Sea to the Mediterranean. With captured vassals, he had even reached the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf. Many of the inhabitants of conquered cities were forcibly relocated to his new capital, Tigranocerta. An admirer of the Greek culture, Tigranes invited many Greek rhetoricians and philosophers to his court, and his capital was noted for its Hellenistic architecture.

Armenia came into direct conflict with Rome after Mithridates VI was forced to seek refuge in Tigranes' court. In 69 BC, Tigranes was decisively defeated at the Battle of Tigranocerta by a Roman army under the command of Lucullus, and a year later he met another major defeat at Artaxata, the old Armenian capital. The recall of Lucullus gave Tigranes a brief respite, but in 66 BC Armenia faced another Roman invasion led by Pompey, aided by Tigranes' own son, Tigranes the Younger. Tigranes chose to surrender and was allowed to retain the heartland of his kingdom as a Roman buffer state, while all of his conquests were annexed. He continued to rule Armenia as a formal ally of Rome until his death around 55 BC at the age of 85.

Early years

In approximately 120 BC, the Parthian king Mithridates II (r.124–91 BC) invaded Armenia and made its king Artavasdes I acknowledge Parthian suzerainty. [10] Artavasdes I was forced to give the Parthians Tigranes, who was either his son or nephew, as a hostage. [10] [11] Tigranes lived in the Parthian court at Ctesiphon, where he was schooled in Parthian culture. [1] Tigranes remained a hostage at the Parthian court until c.96/95 BC, when Mithridates II released him and appointed him as the king of Armenia. [12] [13] Tigranes ceded an area called "seventy valleys" in the Caspiane to Mithridates II, either as a pledge or because Mithridates II demanded it. [14] Tigranes' daughter Ariazate had also married a son of Mithridates II, which has been suggested by the modern historian Edward Dąbrowa to have taken place shortly before he ascended the Armenian throne as a guarantee of his loyalty. [13] Tigranes would remain a Parthian vassal until the late 80s BC. [15]

When he came to power, the foundation upon which Tigranes was to build his Empire was already in place, a legacy of the founder of the Artaxiad Dynasty, Artaxias I, and subsequent kings. The mountains of Armenia, however, formed natural borders between the different regions of the country and as a result, the feudalistic nakharars had significant influence over the regions or provinces in which they were based. This did not suit Tigranes, who wanted to create a centralist empire. He thus proceeded by consolidating his power within Armenia before embarking on his campaign. [16]

He deposed Artanes, the last king of the Kingdom of Sophene and a descendant of Zariadres. [17]

Alliance with Pontus

During the First Mithridatic War (89–85 BC), Tigranes supported Mithridates VI of Pontus, but was careful not to become directly involved in the war.

He rapidly built up his power and established an alliance with Mithridates VI, marrying his daughter Cleopatra. Tigranes agreed to extend his influence in the East, while Mithridates set to conquer Roman land in Asia Minor and in Europe. By creating a stronger Hellenistic state, Mithridates was to contend with the well-established Roman foothold in Europe. [16] Mithridates executed a planned general attack on Romans and Italians in Asia Minor, tapping into local discontent with the Romans and their taxes and urging the peoples of Asia Minor to raise against foreign influence. The slaughter of 80,000 people in the province of Asia Minor was known as the Asiatic Vespers. The two kings' attempts to control Cappadocia and then the massacres resulted in guaranteed Roman intervention. The senate decided that Lucius Cornelius Sulla, who was then one of the consuls, would command the army against Mithridates. [18]

The renowned French historian René Grousset remarked that in their alliance Mithridates was somewhat subservient to Tigranes. [19]

Wars against the Parthians and Seleucids

Tigranes the Great's Armenian Empire: Countries, composing parts of the Empire Maps of the Armenian Empire of Tigranes.gif
Tigranes the Great's Armenian Empire: Countries, composing parts of the Empire
Artaxiad Armenia in 80 BC, with modern borders indicated Artaxiad Armenia 80BC-fr.svg
Artaxiad Armenia in 80 BC, with modern borders indicated

After the death of Mithridates II of Parthia his son Gotarzes I succeeded him. [20] He reigned during a period coined in scholarship as the "Parthian Dark Age," due to the lack of clear information on the events of this period in the empire, except a series of, apparently overlapping, reigns. [21] [22] This system of split monarchy weakened Parthia, allowing Tigranes II of Armenia to annex Parthian territory in western Mesopotamia. This land would not be restored to Parthia until the reign of Sinatruces (r. c. 78–69 BC). [23]

The changes of fortune experienced by Tigranes were varied, for at first he was a hostage among the Parthians; and then through them he obtained the privilege of returning home, they receiving as reward therefore seventy valleys in Armenia; but when he had grown in power, he not only took these places back but also devastated their country, both that about Ninus (Nineveh), and that about Arbela; and he subjugated to himself the rulers of Atropene and Gordyaea (on the Upper Tigris), and along with these the rest of Mesopotamia, and also crossed the Euphrates and by main strength took Syria itself and Phoenicia —Strabo [24]

In 83 BC, after bloody strife for the throne of Syria, governed by the Seleucids, the Syrians decided to choose Tigranes as the protector of their kingdom and offered him the crown of Syria. [25] Magadates was appointed as his governor in Antioch. [26] He then conquered Phoenicia and Cilicia, effectively putting an end to the last remnants of the Seleucid Empire, though a few holdout cities appear to have recognized the shadowy boy-king Seleucus VII Philometor as the legitimate king during his reign. The southern border of his domain reached as far as Ptolemais (modern Akko). Many of the inhabitants of conquered cities were sent to his new metropolis of Tigranocerta.

At its height, his empire extended from the Pontic Alps (in modern north-eastern Turkey) to Mesopotamia, and from the Caspian Sea to the Mediterranean. A series of victories led him to assume the Achaemenid title of King of Kings, which even the Parthian kings did not assume, appearing on coins struck after 85 BC. [27] He was called "Tigranes the Great" by many Western historians and writers, such as Plutarch. The "King of Kings" never appeared in public without having four kings attending him. Cicero, referring to his success in the east, said that he "made the Republic of Rome tremble before the prowess of his arms." [28]

Tigranes' coins consist of tetradrachms and copper coins having on the obverse his portrait wearing a decorated Armenian tiara with ear-flaps. The reverse has a completely original design. There are the seated Tyche of Antioch and the river god Orontes at her feet.

Wars against Rome

The King of Kings Tigranes the Great with four vassal Kings surrounding him (19th century illustration) Tigranes four Kings.jpg
The King of Kings Tigranes the Great with four vassal Kings surrounding him (19th century illustration)

Mithridates VI of Pontus had found refuge in Armenian land after confronting Rome, considering the fact that Tigranes was his ally and relative. The King of Kings eventually came into direct contact with Rome. The Roman commander, Lucullus, demanded the expulsion of Mithridates from Armenia – to comply with such a demand would be, in effect, to accept the status of vassal to Rome and thus Tigranes refused. [29] Charles Rollin, in his Ancient History, says:

Tigranes, to whom Lucullus had sent an ambassador, though of no great power in the beginning of his reign, had enlarged it so much by a series of successes, of which there are few examples, that he was commonly surnamed "King of Kings." After having overthrown and almost ruined the family of the kings, successors of the great Seleucus; after having very often humbled the pride of the Parthians, transported whole cities of Greeks into Media, conquered all Syria and Palestine, and given laws to the Arabians called Scenites, he reigned with an authority respected by all the princes of Asia. The people paid him honors after the manners of the East, even to adoration. [30]

Lucullus' reaction was an attack that was so precipitate that he took Tigranes by surprise. According to Roman historians Mithrobazanes, one of Tigranes' generals, told Tigranes of the Roman approach. Tigranes was, according to Keaveney, so impressed by Mithrobazanes' courage that he appointed Mithrobazanes to command an army against Lucullus – Tigranes sent Mithrobarzanes with 2,000 to 3,000 cavalry to expel the invader. Mithrobarzanes charged the Romans while they were setting up their camp, but was met by a 3,500-strong sentry force and his horsemen were routed. He perished in the attempt. [31] [32] After this defeat, Tigranes withdrew north to Armenia to regroup, leaving Lucullus free to besiege Tigranocerta. [33]

When Tigranes had gathered a large army, he returned to confront Lucullus. On October 6, 69 BC, Tigranes' much larger force was decisively defeated by the Roman army under Lucullus in the Battle of Tigranocerta. Tigranes' treatment of the inhabitants (the majority of the population had been forced to move to the city) led disgruntled city guards to open the gates of the city to the Romans. Learning of this, Tigranes hurriedly sent 6000 cavalrymen to the city in order to rescue his wives and some of his assets. [16] Tigranes escaped capture with a small escort.

On October 6, 68 BC, the Romans approached the old capital of Artaxata. Tigranes' and Mithridates' combined Armeno-Pontic army of 70,000 men formed up to face them but were resoundingly defeated. Once again, both Mithridates and Tigranes evaded capture by the victorious Romans. However, the Armenian historians claim that the Romans lost the battle of Artaxata and Lucullus' following withdrawal from the Kingdom of Armenia in reality was an escape due to the above-mentioned defeat. The Armenian-Roman wars are depicted in Alexandre Dumas' Voyage to the Caucasus.

The long campaigning and hardships that Lucullus' troops had endured for years, combined with a perceived lack of reward in the form of plunder, [16] led to successive mutinies among the legions in 68–67. Frustrated by the rough terrain of Northern Armenia and seeing the worsening morale of his troops, Lucullus moved back south and put Nisibis under siege. Tigranes concluded (wrongly) that Nisibis would hold out and sought to regain those parts of Armenia that the Romans had captured. [34] Despite his continuous success in battle, Lucullus could still not capture either one of the monarchs. With Lucullus' troops now refusing to obey his commands, but agreeing to defend positions from attack, the Senate sent Pompey to recall Lucullus to Rome and take over his command.

Pompey and submission to Rome

Statue of Tigranes the Great in Yerevan Tigran Mets Statue of Tigranes the Great in Yerevan.jpg
Statue of Tigranes the Great in Yerevan

In 67 BC [35] Pompey was given the task of defeating Mithridates and Tigranes. [36] Pompey first concentrated on attacking Mithridates while distracting Tigranes by engineering a Parthian attack on Gordyene. [37] Phraates III, the Parthian king, was soon persuaded to take things a little further than an annexation of Gordyene when a son of Tigranes (also named Tigranes) went to join the Parthians and persuaded Phraates to invade Armenia in an attempt to replace the elder Tigranes with the Tigranes the Younger. [38] Tigranes decided not to meet the invasion in the field but instead ensured that his capital, Artaxata, was well defended and withdrew to the hill country. Phraates soon realized that Artaxata would not fall without a protracted siege, the time for which he could not spare due to his fear of plots at home. Once Phraates left, Tigranes came back down from the hills and drove his son from Armenia. The son then fled to Pompey. [39]

In 66 BC, Pompey advanced into Armenia with Tigranes the Younger, and Tigranes, now almost 75 years old, surrendered. Pompey allowed him to retain his kingdom shorn of his conquests as he planned to have Armenia as a buffer state [40] [41] and he took 6,000 talents/180 tonnes of silver. His unfaithful son was sent back to Rome as a prisoner. [42]

Tigranes continued to rule Armenia as a formal ally of Rome until his death in 55/54, [41] at age 85.


Tigranes had four sons and three daughters. [43] [44] The eldest son, Zariadres, according to Appian and Valerius Maximus rebelled against Tigranes and was killed during a battle (possibly late 90s BCE). [45] [46] Appian also mentions an unnamed younger son who was executed for conspiring against Tigranes: he disregarded his father's health and wore Tigranes's crown (Tigranes having been injured during a hunting accident). [47] His third son, Tigranes the Younger, who showed great care for his injured father and was rewarded for his loyalty, [47] has already been mentioned. He is also alleged to have led a military campaign in 82 BCE. [47] Tigranes was succeeded by his fourth and youngest son, Artavasdes II.

One daughter of Tigranes according to Cassius Dio married Mithridates I of Atropatene. [43] [48] Another daughter married Parthian prince Pacorus, son of Orodes II. [44] [49] Parchments of Avroman also mention his third daughter, Ariazate "Automa", who married Gotarzes I of Parthia. [2] [49]

Although Cleopatra of Pontus is usually considered to be their mother (Appian writes that she gave birth to three sons), [47] historian Gagik Sargsyan considered only Artavasdes II and one of the unnamed daughters to be her children. [50] According to him, the rest had a different mother and were born before Tigranes became king. [51] The reasoning behind it is that if Tigranes the Younger did indeed lead a campaign in 82 BCE, then he and hence his two older brothers (and possibly two sisters) would be too old to be Cleopatra's children. [51] Another argument supporting this claim would be the situation with Ariazate. As she was probably the mother of Orodes I (r.80–75 BC), [52] then Ariazate could not have been the daughter of Cleopatra who married Tigranes only in 94 BCE at the age of 15 or 16. [53] Sargsyan also proposed a possible candidate as Tigranes's first wife and the children's mother: Artaxiad princess Zaruhi, a daughter of Tigranes's paternal uncle Zariadres and granddaughter of Artaxias I. [53] He also considered likely that the reason for the rebellion of Tigranes's son Zariadres was the birth of Artavasdes who was declared the heir by virtue of being born to a king and not a prince. [54]

Imperial ideology

Tigranes is a typical example of the mixed culture of his period. The ceremonial of his court was of Achaemenid origin, and also incorporated Parthian aspects. [2] He had Greek rhetoricians and philosophers in his court, possibly as a result of the influence of his queen, Cleopatra. [2] Greek was also possibly spoken in the court. [2] Following the example of the Parthians, Tigranes adopted the title of Philhellene ("friend of the Greeks"). [2] The layout of his capital Tigranocerta was a blend of Greek and Iranian architecture. [2]

Like the majority Armenia's inhabitants, Tigranes was a follower of Zoroastrianism. [lower-alpha 1] [2] [55] On his crown, a star of divinity and two birds of prey are displayed, both Iranian aspects. [2] [56] The bird of prey was associated with the khvarenah , i.e. kingly glory. [56] It was possibly also a symbol of the bird of the deity Verethragna. [56] Alternatively, the star on his crown may depict Halley's Comet, which passed in 87 BC. [57]

Legacy and recognition

A coin of Tigranes depicted on a 500 Armenian dram banknote, in circulation from 1993 to 2005. 500 Armenian dram - 1993 (obverse).png
A coin of Tigranes depicted on a 500 Armenian dram banknote, in circulation from 1993 to 2005.

Over the course of his conquests, Tigranes founded four cities that bore his name, including the capital of Tigranocerta (Tigranakert). [59]


Tigranes is mentioned in Macrobii, a Roman essay detailing the famous long livers of the day, which is attributed to Lucian. [60]

In The Art of War (1521), Italian political philosopher Niccolò Machiavelli attributes Tigranes' military failure to his excessive reliance on his cavalry. [61]

According to one count, 24 operas have been composed about Tigranes by European composers, [62] including by prominent Italian and German composers, such as Alessandro Scarlatti ( Tigrane , 1715), Antonio Vivaldi (La virtu trionfante dell'amore e dell'odio ovvero il Tigrane, 1724), [63] Niccolò Piccinni (Tigrane, 1761), Tomaso Albinoni, Giovanni Bononcini, Francesco Gasparini, Pietro Alessandro Guglielmi, Johann Adolph Hasse, Giovanni Battista Lampugnani, Vincenzo Righini, Antonio Tozzi, and others. [64]


According to Razmik Panossian, Tigranes' short-lived empire has been a source of pride for modern Armenian nationalists. [65] Nevertheless, his empire was a multi-ethnic one. [66]

The phrase "sea to sea Armenia" (Armenian : ծովից ծով Հայաստան , tsovits tsov Hayastan) is a popular expression used by Armenians to refer to the kingdom of Tigranes which extended from the Caspian Sea to the Mediterranean Sea. [67] [68]

See also


  1. The largest expansion took place during the reign of Tigran (II) the Great, who ruled between 95 and 55 bce and whose empire at one time stretched from the Mediterranean to the Caspian Sea...The court ceremonial was Achaemenid, containing also Parthian elements. However, perhaps due to the influence of the queen, Cleopatra of Pontus, there were Greek rhetoricians and philosophers at court..[..]..At court Greek may have been spoken; Tigran's heir Artawazd II wrote his plays and other literary works, which were still known in the second century ce...Tigran's religion was probably Mazdaism, a variety of Zoroastrianism." [2]

Related Research Articles

This article concerns the period 69 BC – 60 BC.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Mithridates II of Parthia</span> King of Kings

Mithridates II was king of the Parthian Empire from 124 to 91 BC. Considered one of the greatest of his dynasty to ever rule, he was known as Mithridates the Great in antiquity.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Lucullus</span> Roman politician and general (118–57/56 BC)

Lucius Licinius Lucullus was a Roman general and statesman, closely connected with Lucius Cornelius Sulla. In culmination of over 20 years of almost continuous military and government service, he conquered the eastern kingdoms in the course of the Third Mithridatic War, exhibiting extraordinary generalship in diverse situations, most famously during the Siege of Cyzicus in 73–72 BC, and at the Battle of Tigranocerta in Armenian Arzanene in 69 BC. His command style received unusually favourable attention from ancient military experts, and his campaigns appear to have been studied as examples of skillful generalship.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Kingdom of Armenia (antiquity)</span> 321 BC – 428 AD monarchy in Ancient Near East

Armenia, also the Kingdom of Greater Armenia, or simply Greater Armenia sometimes referred to as the Armenian Empire, was a kingdom in the Ancient Near East which existed from 331 BC to 428 AD. Its history is divided into the successive reigns of three royal dynasties: Orontid, Artaxiad and Arsacid (52–428).

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Phraates III</span> Great King, King of Kings, Arsaces

Phraates III, was King of Kings of the Parthian Empire from 69 BC to 57 BC. He was the son and successor of Sinatruces.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Orodes II</span> Great King, King of Kings, Arsaces

Orodes II, was King of Kings of the Parthian Empire from 57 BC to 37 BC. He was a son of Phraates III, whom he murdered in 57 BC, assisted by his elder brother Mithridates IV. The two brothers quickly fell out and entered into a dynastic struggle, in which Orodes was triumphant.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Artavasdes II of Armenia</span> King of Kings

Artavasdes II was king of Armenia from 55 BC to 34 BC. A member of the Artaxiad dynasty, he was the son and successor of Tigranes the Great, who ascended the throne of a still powerful and independent state. His mother was Cleopatra of Pontus, thus making his maternal grandfather the prominent Pontus king Mithridates VI Eupator. Like his father, Artavasdes continued using the title of King of Kings, as seen from his coins.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Battle of Tigranocerta</span> 69 BC battle between Rome and Armenia

The Battle of Tigranocerta was fought on 6 October 69 BC between the forces of the Roman Republic and the army of the Kingdom of Armenia led by King Tigranes the Great. The Roman force, led by Consul Lucius Licinius Lucullus, defeated Tigranes, and as a result, captured Tigranes' capital city of Tigranocerta.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Third Mithridatic War</span> War between King Mithridates IV of Pontus and the Roman Republic

The Third Mithridatic War, the last and longest of the three Mithridatic Wars, was fought between Mithridates VI of Pontus and the Roman Republic. Both sides were joined by a great number of allies dragging the entire east of the Mediterranean and large parts of Asia into the war. The conflict ended in defeat for Mithridates; it ended the Pontic Kingdom and the Seleucid Empire, and also resulted in the Kingdom of Armenia becoming an allied client state of Rome.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Battle of Artaxata</span> 68 BC battle between Romans and Armenians

The Battle of Artaxata was fought near the Arsanias River in 68 BC between an army of the Roman Republic and the army of the Kingdom of Armenia. The Romans were led by proconsul Lucius Licinius Lucullus, while the Armenians were led by Tigranes II of Armenia, who was sheltering Mithridates VI of Pontus. The battle was part of the Third Mithridatic War, and was a Roman victory.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Artavasdes I of Armenia</span>

Artavasdes I was the Artaxiad king of Armenia from 159 BC to 115 BC. He was the son and successor of Artaxias I.

The Artaxiad dynasty ruled the Kingdom of Armenia from 189 BC until their overthrow by the Romans in 12 AD. Their realm included Greater Armenia, Sophene and intermittently Lesser Armenia and parts of Mesopotamia. Their main enemies were the Romans, the Seleucids and the Parthians, against whom the Armenians conducted multiple wars.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Tigranes I</span> Great King

Tigranes I of Armenia was an Artaxiad king of Armenia at the end of 2nd and the beginning of 1st century BC. Few records have survived about his and his predecessor Artavasdes I's reign, which has led to some confusion. Some modern scholars have doubted that such a king reigned at all. Other historians, such as Manandian, Lang and Adalian consider him a real figure but differ or are uncertain on the exact dates of his reign. Although it has been proposed that Tigranes I reigned from 123 BC to 96 BC, this view has been criticized. Another suggestion is that Tigranes I ruled in 120 BC - 95 BC and this has been recently corroborated by historian Christian Marek.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Parthian Empire</span> Iranian empire (247 BC–224 AD)

The Parthian Empire, also known as the Arsacid Empire, was a major Iranian political and cultural power in ancient Iran from 247 BC to 224 AD. Its latter name comes from its founder, Arsaces I, who led the Parni tribe in conquering the region of Parthia in Iran's northeast, then a satrapy (province) under Andragoras, who was rebelling against the Seleucid Empire. Mithridates I greatly expanded the empire by seizing Media and Mesopotamia from the Seleucids. At its height, the Parthian Empire stretched from the northern reaches of the Euphrates, in what is now central-eastern Turkey, to present-day Afghanistan and western Pakistan. The empire, located on the Silk Road trade route between the Roman Empire in the Mediterranean Basin and the Han dynasty of China, became a center of trade and commerce.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Roman relations with the Armenians</span>

Contacts between the Italian peninsula and the Armenian Highland go back to the Iron Age when the Etruscan civilization traded with the Kingdom of Urartu by way of Phrygia and Ancient Greece. Urartian bronzes; bull-headed cauldrons and pottery were excavated in various parts of Etruscan Italy, particularly in Tuscany. The Roman Republic played a pivotal role in the re-establishment of the Kingdom of Armenia in 189 BC. Antiochus III the Great was defeated at the Battle of Magnesia by the Romans which in turn allowed the Armenian strategoi of Antiochus, Artaxias and Zariadres to take control of an independent Armenian Kingdom. The Romans perceiving themselves as the legitimate successors of the Seleucids began to play a more aggressive role in the affairs of the Hellenistic world of Asia Minor starting with the acquisition of Pergamum in 133 BC. The Third Mithridatic War led Roman forces for the first time directly to the Armenian border. From that point on until the demise of the Kingdom of Armenia in 428, Rome played a significant role in the affairs of Armenia and Armenians. This article explores the history of that relationship, a relationship which alternated between harmony and conflict.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Kingdom of Pontus</span> Hellenistic-era kingdom centred in northern Anatolia (281 BC-62 AD)

Pontus was a Hellenistic kingdom centered in the historical region of Pontus and ruled by the Mithridatic dynasty, which possibly may have been directly related to Darius the Great of the Achaemenid dynasty. The kingdom was proclaimed by Mithridates I in 281 BC and lasted until its conquest by the Roman Republic in 63 BC. The Kingdom of Pontus reached its largest extent under Mithridates VI the Great, who conquered Colchis, Cappadocia, Bithynia, the Greek colonies of the Tauric Chersonesos, and for a brief time the Roman province of Asia. After a long struggle with Rome in the Mithridatic Wars, Pontus was defeated. The western part of it was incorporated into the Roman Republic as the province Bithynia et Pontus; the eastern half survived as a client kingdom until 62 AD.

The Roman–Parthian Wars were a series of conflicts between the Parthian Empire and the Roman Republic and Roman Empire. It was the first series of conflicts in what would be 682 years of Roman–Persian Wars.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Cappadocia (Roman province)</span> Roman province located in modern-day Turkey

Cappadocia was a province of the Roman Empire in Anatolia, with its capital at Caesarea. It was established in 17 AD by the Emperor Tiberius, following the death of Cappadocia's last king, Archelaus.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Artavasdes I of Media Atropatene</span> King

Artavasdes I of Media Atropatene, also known as Artavasdes I of Atropatene and Artabazus, was a prince who served as a king of Media Atropatene. Artavasdes I was an enemy of King Artavasdes II of Armenia and his son Artaxias II. He was a contemporary with the Ptolemaic Greek Queen Cleopatra VII and Roman Triumvir Mark Antony, as Artavasdes I was mentioned in their diplomatic affairs.

Ariobarzanes II of Atropatene also known as Ariobarzanes of Media; Ariobarzanes of Armenia; Ariobarzanes II; Ariobarzanes II of Media Atropatene and Ariobarzanes was king of Media Atropatene who ruled sometime from 28 BC to 20 BC until 4 and was appointed by the Roman emperor Augustus to serve as a Roman client king of Armenia from 2 AD until 4.


  1. 1 2 Mayor 2009, p. 136.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Romeny 2010, p. 264.
  3. Curtis 2016, p. 185; de Jong 2015, pp. 119–120, 123–125; Chaumont 1986, pp. 418–438
  4. Western Armenian pronunciation: Dikran Medz
  5. Ubbo Emmius (1620). Appendix Genealogica: illustrando operi chronologico adjecta. Excudebat Ioannes Sassivs. p. D5.
  6. https://warfarehistorynetwork.com/article/the-brief-empire-of-king-tigranes-ii-of-armenia/#:~:text=He%20then%20marched%20his%20forces,far%20as%20the%20Euphrates%20River.
  7. Chakra, H. (2021b, September 12). Tigranes The Great (95–55 BC) - King Of Armenia - About History. About History. https://about-history.com/tigranes-the-great-95-55-bc-king-of-armenia/?amp
  8. Outlines of Roman history. (n.d.). Google Books. https://books.google.com/books?id=AEwZAAAAYAAJ&dq=tigranes+capture+of+iberia&pg=PA313
  9. Mayor, A. (2011, March 27). The Poison King: The Life and Legend of Mithradates, Rome’s Deadliest Enemy.
  10. 1 2 Olbrycht 2009, p. 165.
  11. Garsoian 2005.
  12. Olbrycht 2009, p. 168.
  13. 1 2 Dąbrowa 2018, p. 78.
  14. Olbrycht 2009, pp. 165, 182 (see note 57).
  15. Olbrycht 2009, p. 169.
  16. 1 2 3 4 Kurdoghlian, Mihran (1996). Պատմութիւն Հայոց [History of Armenia, Volume I] (in Armenian). Athens: Council of National Education Publishing. pp. 67–76.
  17. Strabo. Geographica , 11.14.15.
  18. Appian. The Civil Wars, 1.55.
  19. René Grousset (1946), Histoire de l'Arménie (in French), Paris, p. 85, Dans l'alliance qui fut alors conclus entre les deux souverains, Mithridates faisait un peu figure client de Tigran.{{citation}}: CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)
  20. Assar 2006 , p. 62; Shayegan 2011 , p. 225; Rezakhani 2013 , p. 770
  21. Shayegan 2011, pp. 188–189.
  22. Sellwood 1976, p. 2.
  23. Brosius 2006 , pp. 91–92
  24. Strabo. Geographica 11.14.15, .
  25. Litovchenko 2015, p. 179–188.
  26. The House Of Seleucus V2 by Edwyn Robert Bevan.
  27. Theo Maarten van Lint (2009). "The Formation of Armenian Identity in the First Millennium". Church History and Religious Culture. 89 (1/3): 264.
  28. Boyajian, Zabelle C. (1916). An Anthology of Legends and Poems of Armenia. Aram Raffi; Viscount Bryce. London: J.M. Dent & sons, Ltd. p. 117.
  29. Greenhalgh 1981, p. 74.
  30. Rollins, Charles (1844). Ancient History, vol. 4: History of the Macedonians, the Seleucidae in Syria, and Parthians. New York: R. Carter. p. 461.
  31. Philip Matyszak, Mithridates the Great, pp 127-128; Lee Frantatuono, Lucullus, pp 83-84; Plutarch, Life of Lucullus, XII.84.
  32. Keaveney 1992, pp. 106–107.
  33. Keaveney 1992, p. 107.
  34. Keaveney 1992, p. 119.
  35. The Encyclopaedia of Military History, R E Dupuy and T N Dupuy
  36. Greenhalgh 1981, p. 105.
  37. Greenhalgh 1981, p. 105, 114.
  38. Greenhalgh 1981, p. 114.
  39. Greenhalgh 1981, p. 115.
  40. Scullard, H.H. (1959). From the Gracchi to Nero: A History of Rome from 133 B.C. to A.D. 68. New York: F.A. Praeger. p. 106.
  41. 1 2 Fuller, J.F.C. (1965). Julius Caesar: Man, Soldier, and Tyrant. London: Eyre & Spottiswoode. p.  45. ISBN   978-0-306-80422-9.
  42. Chaumont, M. L. (2001–2002). "Tigrane le Jeune, fils de Tigrane le Grand". Revue des Études Arméniennes (in French). 28: 225–247.
  43. 1 2 Sargsyan 1991, p. 51.
  44. 1 2 Redgate 2000, p. 77.
  45. Sargsyan 1991, p. 49, 52.
  46. Valerius Maximus. Factorum ac dictorum memorabilium libri IX, Liber IX, ext.3.
  47. 1 2 3 4 Sargsyan 1991, p. 49.
  48. Cassius Dio. The Roman History, XXXVI, 14.
  49. 1 2 Minns 1915, p. 42.
  50. Sargsyan 1991, p. 51, 52.
  51. 1 2 Sargsyan 1991, p. 50.
  52. Assar 2006, p. 67, 74.
  53. 1 2 Sargsyan 1991, p. 53.
  54. Sargsyan 1991, p. 52.
  55. Curtis 2016 , p. 185; de Jong 2015 , pp. 119–120, 123–125
  56. 1 2 3 Curtis 2016, pp. 182, 185.
  57. Gurzadyan, V. G.; Vardanyan, R. (August 2004). "Halley's comet of 87 BC on the coins of Armenian king Tigranes?". Astronomy & Geophysics . 45 (4): 4.06. arXiv: physics/0405073 . Bibcode:2004A&G....45d...6G. doi:10.1046/j.1468-4004.2003.45406.x. S2CID   119357985.
  58. "Banknotes out of Circulation - 500 dram". cba.am. Central Bank of Armenia. Archived from the original on 19 February 2022. The tetradrachm of the King Tigran the Great, mountain of Ararat
  59. Karapetian, Samvel (2001). Armenian Cultural Monuments in the Region of Karabakh. Yerevan: "Gitutiun" Publishing House of National Academy of Sciences of Armenia. p. 213. ISBN   9785808004689. The data of records referring to these four towns, all of which were called Tigranakert and differed only by provinces, were often confused, if the name of the province; Aldznik, Goghtn, Utik or Artsakh...
  60. Lucian. Macrobii, 15.
  61. Payaslian, Simon (2007). The History of Armenia. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. p.  22. ISBN   978-1-4039-7467-9.
  62. Kharmandarian, M. S. (1975). "OA Portal in Armenia" Опера «Тигран» Алессандро Скарлатти. Lraber Hasarakakan Gitutyunneri (in Russian) (3): 59–69.
  63. "Vivaldi as opera composer". Long Beach Opera . Retrieved 31 August 2013.
  64. Towers, John (1910). Dictionary-catalogue of Operas and Operettas which Have Been Performed on the Public Stage: Libretti. Acme Publishing Company. pp.  625–6.
  65. Panossian, Razmik (2006). The Armenians: From Kings and Priests to Merchants and Commissars. New York: Columbia University Press. p.  42. ISBN   9780231139267.
  66. Kohl, Philip L. (2012). "Homelands in the Present and in the Past: Political Implications of a Dangerous Concept". In Hartley, Charles W.; Yazicioğlu, G. Bike; Smith, Adam T. (eds.). The Archaeology of Power and Politics in Eurasia: Regimes and Revolutions. Cambridge University Press. p.  149. ISBN   9781139789387.
  67. Verluise, Pierre (1995). Armenia in Crisis: The 1988 Earthquake. Detroit: Wayne State University Press. p.  xxiv. ISBN   9780814325278.
  68. Coe, Barbara (2005). Changing Seasons: Letters from Armenia. Victoria, B.C.: Trafford. p.  215. ISBN   9781412070225.


  • Manaseryan, Ruben (2007). Տիգրան Մեծ՝ Հայկական Պայքարը Հռոմի և Պարթևաստանի Դեմ, մ.թ.ա. 94–64 թթ[Tigran the Great: The Armenian Struggle Against Rome and Parthia, 94–64 B.C.] (in Armenian). Yerevan: Lusakan Publishing.

Further reading

Tigranes the Great
Born: 140 BC Died: 55 BC
Preceded by King of Armenia
95 BC – 55 BC
Succeeded by
Preceded by King of Syria
83 BC – 69 BC
Succeeded by