Mithridates VI

Mithridates VI

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Mithridates VI

"In short, he left nothing within the power of man undone or untried to start the greatest possible movement, extending from the Orient to the Occident, to vex, so to speak, the whole world, which was warred upon, tangled in alliances, harassed by pirates, or vexed by the neighborhood of the warfare." - Appian

Mithridates VI, the Great King of Pontus, was the most hardcore threat to Roman superiority since the good old days of Hannibal Barca bodysurfing armored pachyderms across the Tiber River with rafts made out of corpses of dead Roman citizens and then teabagging everything he encountered on the other side. Known as The Poison King, Mithridates opposed three of the greatest generals from the most powerful civilization in the world, successfully fucked with Rome for over 40 years, conquered lands spanning across Central Asia and Eastern Europe with an armada of badass, scary-as-hell scythed war chariots, helped the Spartans and Athenians successfully revolt against the Romans, commanded an armada of loyal pirates that marauded the entire Mediterranean, and was so fucking hardcore that he made himself completely immune to all forms of poison through a daily training regimen consisting essentially of eating lethal doses of poison and then not dying from it.

The Poison King was from a weird, nebulous place called Pontus, which is located in Turkey but was founded by Alexander the Great's Macedonians (who thought they were Greek) but who also claimed descent from Darius the Great of Persia, but Mithridates's mom was a Syrian princess too so honestly who the fuck knows what the hell was going on with that place anyways. Ambiguous ethnography aside, we know that Mithridates assumed the throne of Pontus in 120 BC at the age of 12, when his mom assassinated his dad, seized power as regent, and sent Mithridates running off into the forest to hide before some asshole with a sword showed up and sent him on a one-way trip to visit his pops. Mithridates hid out in the freezing, ultra-dangerous mountains of northern Turkey, training hard in horsemanship, swordfighting, and javelin throwing, learning dozens of languages, and toughening himself up with one-armed pull-ups, biceps curls, and baconized wheat grass protein shakes. As soon as he was done with his badass training montage, Mithridates marched into his rightful throne room, imprisoned and executed his own mother, had his only brother whacked out by a hitman, seized sole power of the Kingdom of Pontus, and prepared to animorph a relatively small Kingdom in backwoods Asia Minor into an Empire that would rival Rome herself.

Mithridates VI - History

Hugh Tunstall-Pedoe
Dundee, Scotland

Mithridates VI of Pontus (136-63BC), the Poison King

Mithridates VI of Pontus (136-63 BC), a formidable enemy of the Roman Empire, was vanquished after several wars. Intrigue and treachery in pursuit of power were then commonplace. Following the poisoning of his uncle, he usurped, imprisoned, or murdered his mother and other relatives, and used knowledge of poisons for attack and defense. Labeled “The Poison King”, he dosed himself to increase his tolerance. 1

In past times poison and witchcraft created terrors and myths, both promoting and explaining sudden deaths. Even now some poisons are claimed to be instantaneous, infallible, and undetectable. Medieval potentates employed priests, magicians, and apothecaries for attack, and food-tasters for defense. Modern poisoners choose measured doses of one or more drugs. Back then, poison draughts, particularly those employing witchcraft, might be mixtures of nasties with magic spells. Survival of the victim was a dreaded complication dead men tell no tales.

Exaggerations of potency persist. Berries of Atropa belladonna, “deadly nightshade”, give children unpleasant symptoms but are not necessarily fatal, even without treatment. 2 Atropine, the main alkaloid, is an antidote to other poisons – a “goody” as well as a “baddy”. How fatal the bite of a “deadly” snake will be depends on the fullness of the venom glands and the completeness of the bite. Poisoned arrows succeed by slowing game down so the hunter can pursue and kill the animal, not necessarily through rapid death.

Poison is a weapon of terror, but unlike sniper-fire, inaccurate – the Amazonian rain-forest archers’ poisoned arrows are exceptional. Shakespeare used poison in several plays ending tragically, in what were also comedies of errors, with leading characters self-poisoning on receiving false news, or poisoning others by mistake, the principals all dead by the final curtain. In The Tragedy of Hamlet, 3 Hamlet’s father was targeted by poison poured into his ear when asleep (a scene which left your narrator as a child covering his ears with his bedclothes). The finale of Hamlet sees two people dead from a drink meant for one, and two dead from a poisoned sword blade also meant for one. The presumed rapidity of action of poisons owes much to Shakespeare, if not Sherlock Holmes, and other fiction.

Poisoning of water supplies is an ancient weapon – but is it truly poisonous, or simply too disgusting to drink? Poison gas is a modern innovation, but problematic. Germans are credited with the first major successful use in World War I, unwisely, as they were fighting against the prevailing wind on the western front. 4 Poison gas in the open is unpredictable, but effective in low-lying and confined places such as trenches and basements, streets and gas-chambers. Army veterans occupied medical beds at Guy’s Hospital, London where I studied in the 1960s, blaming their chest disease on poison gas exposure five decades earlier. They smoked high-tar cigarettes and were victims of World War I in another way, acquiring addiction to a slow-acting poison, tobacco, not from Germany, but from Virginia, USA.

Poison gas created widespread revulsion. Fritz Haber, a Jekyll and Hyde chemical genius, industrialized mass production of fertilizer for agriculture, later winning a Nobel Prize, but also of poison gas in World War I. His wife committed suicide after finding out what he had done. 5 When countered by protective apparel, gases in use at that time made a limited contribution to casualty lists, although widely used. The end of the war found their banning opposed by such as Winston Churchill. 6 He championed airpower with poison gas to limit belligerent casualties. He urged, although opposed, use of gas when he was British Minister for War in 1919, against the Afghans invading British India, and for “peace-keeping” in Iraq. He sponsored a novel gas in support of the White Russian Army against the Bolsheviks in the civil war of 1919, before the Whites collapsed and British forces withdrew, jettisoning their poisonous munitions in the White Sea. Poison gas was banned in a Geneva protocol of 1925, 7 following the precedent of that on expanding rifle bullets (dum-dums) in 1899. 8

Fritz Haber (on right) in 1930.
Archiv der Max-Planck-Gesellschaft, Berlin-Dahlem.

Between the wars, research and stockpiling of poison gases and their antidotes continued, with some use in various colonial wars in Africa and Asia by Spain, Italy, and Japan. With a European war imminent, every inhabitant of Britain was issued a gas mask in September 1939. The factory workers that made them developed asbestosis decades later, but poison gases were not used in battle. Both sides, including Churchill, worried about “the other fella” retaliating – mutual deterrence – although Churchill would have used gas against enemy troops invading Britain. After trying carbon monoxide, the Germans used Zyclon B in gas chambers on Jewish civilians in the Holocaust, a gas tragically developed earlier by Fritz Haber (by then deceased), a Jewish convert to Christianity, nevertheless persecuted by the Nazis before he died. 5 During the Cold War, poisonous munitions re-accumulated, including nerve agents, and were allegedly destroyed later following another Convention in 1993. 9

Poison gases and poisons have reappeared on the international scene: the former through nations holding international conventions in contempt, abetted by cynical sabotage of emergency resolutions at the United Nations Security Council the latter through secret services carrying out revenge against nationals evading their clutches in foreign countries. Western countries bomb identified terrorists with drones in war-torn countries, while some other nations feel entitled to assassinate their dissidents who find sanctuary abroad.

A vindictive autocrat possessing novel poisons is tempted to use them on renegade citizens in their place of refuge – a double whammy, or as Voltaire put it ‘pour encourager les autres’. 10 Victims are threatened in advance, to intimidate them and others. Ideally for the autocrat, the origin is suspected, but the poison and its source are unproven – so no criminal trial is possible.

Georgi Markov, 11 a Bulgarian critic of the president when Bulgaria was a Soviet satellite, broadcast for the BBC World Service in London for many years. He claimed he was stabbed with an umbrella in 1978 when crossing Waterloo Bridge in London, and died soon after. A similar episode in Paris revealed a pellet containing ricin, a dangerous toxin. Soviet dissidents cited KGB provenance. Interest in ricin led to the development of cytotoxic agents for treating cancers, “beating swords into ploughshares”. 12

Alexander Litvinenko 13 a member of the Russian secret service, became disillusioned by plots to murder a prominent oligarch, and the bombing of Russian cities – seemingly promoting the candidacy of Vladimir Putin for president. 14 He escaped to Britain. In 2006 he became mortally ill after drinking tea with Russian contacts. It was two weeks before the responsible cytotoxic agent was identified as polonium, a radioactive element first discovered by Marie and Pierre Curie, not detectable by conventional Geiger-counters. 15 Investigation revealed a trail of such radioactivity across multiple sites in London visited by his poisoners, and even their plane from Moscow. Signature impurities specified the nuclear reactor where polonium was produced. 13 Moscow refused extradition of the chief suspect, and decorated him.

Sergei Skripal 16 was likewise a disillusioned member of the Russian secret service taking refuge in Britain, subjected to exotic poisoning in 2018. His illness, along with that of his daughter and a local policeman, was rapidly identified by toxicologists to be from the nerve agent novichok, developed in Russia and found on the external door-handle of his house. The finding was confirmed by the international Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. 17

Gassed: British troops blinded by gas (recoverably) in 1918, Imperial War Museum.

The reactions to the polonium and novichok poisonings by those accused are revealing. Did Russia expect the poisons not to be identified and to remain a secret? Statements from Moscow media were multiple and contradictory, suggesting no prepared, advance cover-story for being found out, reacting like a guilty child challenged for a misdemeanor. Novichok was alleged by its developer to be undetectable, inevitably fatal, and irreversible, conforming to the ancient myth of the ultimate poison. 16 If the Russian secret service attempted assassination, they allegedly did it properly. Events proved otherwise. Perhaps incompetence with arrogance is an occupational hazard of cloak-and-dagger secret services. Like the trail of polonium in the Litvinenko case, the subsequent discovery, with lethal consequences, of a discarded scent-spray bottle containing novichok near the original crime scene suggests recklessness. It is reminiscent of Shakespearean tragedy in its untargeted effects.

There may be many, more competent assassinations of dissidents abroad which have not been flagged up and investigated so far, involving poison and other modalities. 16 Other countries may be emulating Russian precedents. There are many potential targets. Sophistication of foreign assassinations has progressed impressively since Trotsky was murdered with an ice-axe in his hotel room in Mexico City in 1940, physically fighting for his life with his assassin. 18 Hopefully the world is not turning back to Machiavelli and medieval practices.

Which brings us back to the first poisoning in this story, 2,000 years before “forensics”, which precipitated Mithridates’ trail of revenge. 1 His uncle suddenly stood up during a feast, clutched his throat, collapsed and died – evidence of a powerful poison to his contemporaries, and apparently to modern historians of the classic era. But the presumed diagnosis now must be laryngeal obstruction, through inhalation of a bolus of meat, from alcohol and gluttony. Was the abdominal thrust 19 known of in those far-off days, and would anyone have been allowed near the royal person to use it without being killed himself? Would Mithridates have accepted an innocent explanation for his uncle’s death, or would he have disposed of his relatives anyway, peddling the “fake news” of murder or attempted murder?

We will never know. But we need to question ancient anecdotes, as well as alleged instantaneous, undetectable poisoning, in the light of modern knowledge.


  1. Mayor A. The Poison King: the Life and Legends of Mithridates, Rome’s Deadliest Enemy. Princeton University Press 2011 Princeton NJ
  2. https:// Retrieved 14/08/2018
  3. Shakespeare W. The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark. First folio. Edward Blount and William and Isaac Jaggard , London 1623
  4. Retrieved 14/08/2018
  5. https://chemical –the-father-of-chemical-weapons/ Retrieved 14/08/2018
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  12. Isaiah II. King James Authorised Bible. London 1611
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  14. Litvinenko A. Blowing up Russia. Gibson Square London 2007
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HUGH TUNSTALL-PEDOE, MA, MD, FRCP (London and Edinburgh), FFPH, FESC, is emeritus professor and senior researcher in the Cardiovascular Epidemiology Unit, Dundee University, Scotland, UK. Trained at Cambridge University, Guy’s Hospital, and other London hospitals in clinical cardiology, Dr. Tunstall-Pedoe began work in cardiovascular epidemiology in 1969. In 1981 he was appointed to establish the Cardiovascular Epidemiology Unit in Dundee, Scotland. He worked there on the Scottish Heart Health Extended Cohort and the World Health Organization MONICA study, for which he drafted the protocol and was rapporteur for twenty-three years, leading major publications including the concluding monograph. He is the originator of two cardiovascular risk scores and has also contributed to aviation cardiology. He remains active in research while nominally retired.

Death of Mithridates VI

In the request for help heading towards his possessions around the Black Sea, Mithridates’ son Machares rejected him as he had an alliance with Rome, resulted in Mithridates killing his son. His other son, Pharnaces also “rebelled and led a force against” his own father “as Pompey was closing in” (Mark). He originally planned “an audacious land invasion of Italy over the Alps when he was betrayed by his son” (Mayor). He was left with no choice, but to commit suicide, “rather than be captured and paraded in a Roman triumph” (Mark). His daughters whom were besides him were killed with posion, by their father. He attempted to do the same “but failed and then asked a slave or servant to kill him” (Mark). The death of Mithridates VI in 63 BC, “Pompeius took the unusual step of giving his adversary a state funeral, [in] honour for one of the strongest opponents Rome had faced” (Hojte 12). He desired “to imitate Alexander the Great, who likewise had the body of his adversary buried in the tombs of his forefathers” (Hojte 12).


Mithridates syntyi Sinopessa, Pontoksen kuningaskunnan pääkaupungissa. Hänen isänsä oli kuningas Mithridates V Euergetes ja äitinsä seleukidiprinsessa Laodike, joka oli ehkä Antiokhos IV:n tytär. [4] Mithridates V auttoi Rooman valtakuntaa kolmannessa puunilaissodassa ja sai palkkioksi osan Fryygiasta. Myös Paflagonia ja Galatia joutuivat Pontoksen vallan alle Mithridates V:n aikana. Vuonna 121 eaa. tai 120 eaa. Mithridates V joutui salamurhan kohteeksi hovissaan Sinopessa. Pontosta hallitsi tämän jälkeen Mithridates V:n vaimo Laodike alaikäisten poikiensa Mithridates Eupatorin ja Mithridates Chrestuksen nimissä. Mithridates Eupator, josta tuli kuningas Mithridates VI, oli vanhempi ja murhan aikoihin noin yksitoistavuotias. Pian kävi kuitenkin ilmeiseksi, että Laodike suosi nuorempaa poikaansa Mithridates Chrestusta. Laodiken hallituskauden aikana Rooma riisti Pontokselta Fryygian. [5]

Mithridateesta kerrottiin paljon tarinoita. Erään, ehkä myöhemmin sepitetyn tarinan mukaan Mithridates pakeni hovista itäisen Pontoksen ja Armenia Minorin vuoristoon, jossa hän kohensi kuntoaan ja kasvatti vastustuskyvyn myrkkyjä vastaan. Mithridateen sanotaan myös opetelleen pakonsa aikana monia alueen kielistä. Eri lähteissä Mithridateen kerrottiin osanneen 22:ta, 25:ttä tai jopa 50:tä eri kieltä. [6] Pakomatkan kerrotaan kestäneen seitsemän vuotta. Noin vuonna 113 Mithridates palasi Sinopeen, kaappasi vallan ja vangitsi äitinsä Laodiken. Hänen pikkuveljensä Mithridates Chrestus sai aluksi jatkaa kanssahallitsijana, mutta muutaman vuoden päästä Mithridates murhautti hänet. [7]

Mustanmeren alueen valloitukset Muokkaa

Päästyään kuninkaaksi Mithridates pyrki laajentamaan valtaansa Mustanmeren rannikkoseuduille. Ensiksi hän liitti Armenia Minorin valtakuntaansa. Samoihin aikoihin hän valtasi myös rikkauksistaan kuuluisan Kolkhiksen. Joskus vuosien 114 eaa. ja 110 eaa. välillä Mithridates sai avunpyynnön Taurien Khersonesokselta, jonka kreikkalaiset kaupungit halusivat apua skyyttejä ja taureja vastaan. Mithridates lähetti apuun 6000 sotilasta sotapäällikkönsä Diofantoksen johdolla ja myöhemmin vielä kaksi muuta sotajoukkoa. Skyytit kukistuivat pitkän sotaretken jälkeen, ja Mithridateesta tuli koko Khersonesoksen hallitsija. Myös Mustanmeren länsirannalla sijainneet Olbia ja Apollonia pyysivät aikanaan Mithridatekseltä apua. Vuosien kuluessa Mithridateen valta kasvoi Mustanmeren alueella. Ainoastaan Kaukasian vuoristoinen rannikko ja vielä itsenäiset kreikkalaiset Bithynian kuningaskunta ja Herakleia Pontike jäivät Pontoksen vallan ulkopuolelle. Niiden takana oli Rooman Asian provinssi. [8]

Pontos kukoisti Mithridateen hallituskauden alussa. Tästä osoituksena on suuret määrät tältä ajalta peräisin olevia kolikoita. Pronssikolikoissa on muun muassa Pontoksen hallitsijasukua symboloivan Perseuksen pään kuva ja kääntöpuolella yleensä jokin kreikkalainen jumalhahmo. Mithridates lyötti rahoja kolmessatoista rahapajassa ympäri Paflagoniaa ja Pontosta, ja niitä on löytynyt paljon Kolkhiksesta ja Mustanmeren pohjoisrannan kaupungeista. Vuodesta 96 tai 95 alkaen Mithridates lyötti hopeisia drakman ja tetradrakman kolikkoja sekä kultaisia staterin kolikkoja. Niissä oli Mithridateen kuva ja teksti Mithridates Eupator sekä kääntöpuolella Perseuksen kuva. [9]

Mithridateen hovissa kuningasta verrattiin suuriin valloittajiin Aleksanteri Suureen ja Dionysokseen, vaikka hän ei henkilökohtaisesti osallistunutkaan Mustanmeren alueen valloituksiin. Mithradites oli myös välttänyt sotaa Roomaa vastaan. Roomalaiset eivät tuolloin olleet kovin kiinnostuneita Aasian alueistaan, koska he kävivät toisaalla Jugurthan sotaa ja Kimbrisotia. [9]

Paflagonian valloitus Muokkaa

Noin vuonna 109 eaa. Mithridateen kerrotaan tehneen salaa matkan Bithyniaan ja Asian provinssiin. Vuonna 107 eaa. Mithridates ja hänen naapurinsa Bithynian kuningas Nikomedes III Euergetes hyökkäsivät Paflagoniaan ja jakoivat alueen keskenään. Aikaisemmin roomalaiset eivät olleet välittäneet Mithridateen valloituksista, mutta nyt he lähettivät Mithridateen luo lähetystön, joka vaati luopumista valloitetuista alueista. Mithridateen kerrotaan pitäneen lähetystölle puheen, jossa hän väitti toimintansa olleen oikeutettua. Tämän jälkeen Mithridates valtasi vielä osan Galatiasta, jonka jo hänen isänsä olisi pitänyt periä. Nikomedes asetti puolestaan oman poikansa Paflagonian kuninkaaksi. [10]

Kappadokian valloitus Muokkaa

Mithridateen isä oli antanut tyttärensä Laodiken Kappadokian kuninkaan Ariarathes VI:n vaimoksi, ja Mithridates itsekin oli jo aikaisemmin sekaantunut Kappadokian sisäisiin asioihin. Ariarathes hallitsi noin vuodesta 130 eaa. vuoteen 116 eaa., jolloin hänet murhasi kappadokialainen ylimys Gordios. Mithridateen huhuttiin olleen tämän murhan takana. Mithridateen sisko Laodike nousi Kappadokian hallitsijaksi, koska hänen ja Ariaratheen kaksi poikaa olivat vielä liian nuoria hallitsemaan. Laodiken hallituskausi kesti noin 14 vuotta, kunnes vuonna 102 eaa. Bithynian kuningas Nikomedes miehitti Kappadokian ja pakotti Laodiken menemään kanssaan naimisiin. Mithridates reagoi tähän voimakkaasti: hän ajoi Nikomedeen joukot maasta voimakeinoin ja asetti siskonpoikansa Ariarathes VII Filometorin valtaistuimelle. Pian kuitenkin huhuttiin, että Mithridates aikoi lähettää Gordioksen Kappadokiaan murhaamaan myös uuden kuninkaan. Saatuaan kuulla tästä Ariarathes kokosi armeijan kappadokialaisista ja lähialueiden kuninkaiden lähettämistä joukoista. Mithridateen sanottiin hyökänneen Kappadokiaan 80 000 jalkaväkisotilaan ja 10 000 ratsuväkisotilaan voimin. Lisäksi hänellä olisi ollut 600 viikatevaunua. Luvut ovat kuitenkin selvästi liioiteltuja. Mithridateen ei tarvinnut taistella, sillä Ariarathes VII joutui salamurhan uhriksi. Mithridates asetti poikansa Ariarathes IX:n Kappadokian kuninkaaksi, mutta Gordioksesta tuli Kappadokian todellinen hallitsija, koska uusi kuningas oli vasta kahdeksanvuotias. Tämä nukkehallinto kesti ehkä viiden vuoden ajan. [10]

Osapuilleen samaan aikaan sotatoimien kanssa Mithridateen lähetystö saapui Roomaan, ja sen sanottiin yrittäneen lahjoa senaattoreita hyväksymään Paflagonian ja Galatian valtaukset. Myös Nikomedes ja Laodike olivat yrittäneet saada Roomasta tukea sille, että he saisivat Kappadokian hallintaansa. Konsuli Gaius Marius kiinnostui pian Vähän-Aasian tapahtumista ja matkusti Asiaan vuonna 99 eaa. tai 98 eaa. Hänen kerrotaan sanoneen Mithridateelle, että tämän tuli joko olla roomalaisia mahtavampi tai totella heitä.

Noin vuonna 97 eaa. Kappadokian asukkaat nousivat kapinaan Mithridateen julmaa hallintoa vastaan ja pyysivät entisen kuninkaan veljeä, joka oli koulutettavana Asiassa, palaamaan maahansa. Mithridates toimi heti ja ajoi vallantavoittelijan Kappadokiasta. Kun tämä kuoli, Bithynian kuningas Nikomedes sekaantui yllättäen valtataisteluun ja julisti tukevansa erästä poikaa, jonka hän väitti olevan kuningas Ariarathes VI:n kolmas poika. Nikomedes lähetti Laodiken ja pojan Roomaan todistamaan, että Ariarathes VI oli tunnustanut pojan omakseen. Mithridates lähetti puolestaan Gordioksen Roomaan ja väitti, että hän oli aikaisemman kuninkaan Ariarathes V:n poika. Senaatti ei jaksanut selvitellä asiaa sen kummemmin, vaan määräsi Mithridateen jättämään Kappadokian ja – ehkä yllättäen – myös Nikomedeen jättämään Paflagonian. Kummastakin maasta tuli näin itsenäinen. [11]

Mithridates jättikin Kappadokian, ja alueen ylimystö valitsi itselleen uuden kuninkaan, Ariobarzaneksen. Senaatin määräyksestä Kilikian maaherra Sulla asetti Ariobarzaneksen valtaistuimelle. [11]

Samaan aikaan muutama tapahtuma vahvisti Mithridateen asemaa. Vuonna 96 eaa. tai 95 eaa. Tigranes I nousi Armenian kuninkaaksi, liittoutui Mithridateen kanssa ja nai tämän tyttären Kleopatran. Vuonna 94 eaa. Bithynian kuningas Nikomedes kuoli, ja hänen poikansa Nikomedes IV nousi valtaistuimelle. Vuonna 91 eaa. Roomassa syttyi liittolaissota, eivätkä roomalaiset ehtineet puuttua Vähän-Aasian asioihin. Mithridates yllytti uuden vävynsä Tigraneksen Kappadokian kimppuun, ja Ariobarzanes pakeni Roomaan. Mithridates yritti salamurhata Nikomedes IV:n mutta epäonnistui. Myös Nikomedes pakeni Roomaan, missä senaatti määräsi kummankin kuninkaan palautettaviksi valtaistuimilleen. Tehtävä annettiin konsuli Manius Aquilliukselle ja Manlius Maltinukselle. Mithridates puolustautui väittäen toimivansa Nikomedeen velipuolen Sokrates Chrestuksen nimissä. [12]

Konflikti Rooman kanssa Muokkaa

Mithridates oli valtansa huipulla, kun sota Roomaa vastaan uhkasi. Armenian Tigranes oli luotettava liittolainen, ja Mithridates pystyi värväämään joukkoja Mustaamerta ympäröiviltä alueiltaan. Tigraneen kanssa Mithridateella oli sopimus, jonka mukaan tuleva saalis jaettaisiin. Mithridates saisi kaikki vallatut kaupungit ja alueet, Tigranes taas vangit ja irtaimen omaisuuden. Mithridateen ja parthialaisten kuninkaan Mithridates II:n välit olivat myös lämpimät, puhuttiin jopa liitosta. Lisäksi Mithridates yritti solmia suhteita Syyrian ja Egyptin hellenistisiin hallitsijoihin ja saada apua kaukaisilta, keltteihin kuuluneilta kibreiltä sekä lähempänä asuvilta galatialaisilta. Mithridateen lähettiläiden sanottiin saapuneen myös Meediaan ja Iberiaan. Rooma kärsi edelleen liittolaissodista, ja se joutui pitämään joukkoja myös Makedoniassa, Hispaniassa ja Galliassa. Lopulta Rooma lähetti Mithridatesta vastaan vain viisi legioonaa, jotka nekin viivästyivät. [12]

Yllättäen Mithridates perääntyi Bithyniasta Rooman vaatimuksesta ja jopa teloitutti nukkehallitsijansa Sokrateen. Myös Tigranes perääntyi Kappadokiasta, kun Aquillius ja hänen kollegansa hyökkäsivät Asian provinssin joukoista kootun armeijan kanssa. Ajettuaan viholliset pois Bithyniasta ja Kappadokiasta roomalaiset alkoivat vaatia näiltä mailta korvausta sodan aiheuttamista kuluista ja entisten lainojen takaisinmaksua. Bithynian Nikomedeellä ja Kappadokian Ariobarzaneella ei kuitenkaan ollut varaa maksaa roomalaisten vaatimia summia, joten roomalainen toimikunta määräsi uudet liittolaisensa hyökkäämään Pontoksen ja Armenian kimppuun vaaditun summan kokoamiseksi. Ariobarzanes kieltäytyi, koska tiesi Kappadokian olevan liian heikko, mutta Nikomedes hyökkäsi vastahakoisesti Pontoksen kimppuun. Hänen joukkonsa tunkeutuivat aina Amastrikseen asti, ja hän sulki Bosporinsalmen Pontoksen liikenteeltä. [13]

Roomalaisten vaatimukset osoittautuivat pian kohtalokkaiksi. Roomalaiset luulivat Mithridateen pelkäävän Rooman valtaa: olihan hän jo kahdenkymmenen vuoden ajan välttänyt konfliktia Rooman kanssa. Tämä oli kuitenkin viimeinen kerta, kun Mithridates perääntyi Rooman vaatimusten edessä. Hän lähetti neuvottelijansa Pelopidaan roomalaisten luokse valittamaan Nikomedeen hyökkäyksestä. Kun roomalaiset torjuivat Mithridateen valitukset, hän lähetti poikansa Ariaratheen Kappadokiaan. Ariarathes ajoi Ariobarzaneen Kappadokiasta, minkä jälkeen Pelopidas saapui uudelleen roomalaisten luokse. Hän luetteli roomalaisille kaikki Pontoksen alueet ja liittolaiset ja vihjasi, että Rooman alueet Asia, Akhaia ja Africa saattaisivat olla vaarassa. Aquillius ja hänen kumppaninsa tulkitsivat tämä sodanjulistukseksi. Ensimmäinen Mithridateen sota oli näin alkanut ilman, että Rooman kansa tai senaatti oli sen hyväksynyt. [13]

Roomalaiset kokosivat Mithridatesta vastaan kolme armeijaa. Jokaisen armeijan vahvuuden kerrottiin olleen 40 000 miestä, joista vain pieni osa oli Rooman kansalaisia. Nikomedeellä oli puolestaan 50 000 sotilasta jalkaväessä ja 6000 ratsumiestä. Nämä armeijat asettuivat puolustusasemiin Pontoksesta Asiaan ja Bithyniaan johtavien neljän tien suuntaan. Aquilliuksen johtama armeija vartioi Bithynian rajaa, ja Nikomedes oli joukkoineen itäisessä Paflagoniassa. Gaius Cassius vartioi Galatian ja Quintus Oppius Kappadokian rajaa. [14]

Mithridateella kerrotaan olleen 200 000 jalkamiestä, 40 000 ratsumiestä ja 130 viikatevaunua, mutta luvut ovat epäilemättä liioiteltuja. Mithridates hyökkäsi 150 000 miehen voimin Amasiasta Paflagoniaan. Lisäksi hänen laivastoonsa kuului 400 laivaa. [14]

Nikomedes teki sodan ensimmäisen siirron ja hyökkäsi Paflagonian läpi läntiseen Pontokseen, mutta Mithridateen kenraalit Arkhelaos ja Neoptolemos kukistivat hyökkääjän. Viikatevaunut saivat Nikomedeen jalkaväen paniikkiin, hänen leirinsä vallattiin ja hän pakeni roomalaisten luokse. Voiton jälkeen Mithridates antoi jalomielisesti vankien palata kotiinsa. Mithridateen oli helppo toimia näin, koska hän oli yhdellä yrityksellä kukistanut suurimman häntä vastaan lähetetyn armeijan. Mithridateen armeija jatkoi Bithyniaan, jossa Aquillius odotti 40 000 miehen kanssa. Mithridates voitti jälleen, ja roomalaisten kerrotaan menettäneen neljäsosan armeijastaan. Aquillius pakeni Pergamoniin, Asian provinssin pääkaupunkiin. lähde?

Cassiuksen armeija perääntyi Asian provinssiin, Fryygiassa sijaitsevaan Leontonkefalain linnoitukseen, jonne myös Nikomedes saapui. Nikomedes ja Cassius yrittivät harjoittaa heikosti koulutettuja joukkojaan, mutta antoivat lopulta periksi. Cassius ei ilmeisesti luottanut armeijansa kykyyn taistella, joten hän perääntyi joukkoineen Aigeianmeren rannikolle, mistä hän itse siirtyi Rhodokselle. Myös roomalaisten laivasto perääntyi ja jätti Bosporinsalmen vapaaksi Mithridateen laivastolle. Mithridates johti armeijansa Bithyniaan ja valtasi sieltä käsin Fryygian, Myysian ja muut läheiset Roomalle kuuluneet alueet. Sitten hän lähetti upseerinsa ottamaan vastaan Lyykian, Pamfylian ja Joonian antautumisen. Valloitus oli melko nopea, vain Kaariassa Mithridateen joukot kohtasivat jonkinlaista vastarintaa. [15]

Oppius oli perääntynyt Laodikeian kaupunkiin. Mithridates hyökkäsi kaupunkia vastaan mutta lupasi armahtaa sen asukkaat, jos he luovuttaisivat Oppiuksen hänelle. Laodikealaiset suostuivat ja vangitsivat Oppiuksen. Mithridates piti Oppiusta jonkin aikaa vankinaan mutta päästi hänet pian vapaaksi. Aquillius yritti puolestaan paeta Lesboksen saarelle, mutta saaren asukkaat luovuttivat hänet Mithridateelle, joka sidotutti aluksi hänet aasiin ja antoi julkisesti pilkata häntä. Lopulta Aquillius vietiin Pergamoniin, jossa hänet surmattiin kaatamalla sulaa kultaa hänen kurkkuunsa. Mithridateen Vähän-Aasian sotaretki oli siis täydellinen menestys, sillä kaikki roomalaisten neljä armeijaa olivat joko kukistuneet tai paenneet. [16]

Vähän-Aasian hallinto Muokkaa

Voittoisa Mithridates otettiin useissa kaupungeissa mielihyvin vastaan. Erityisen suosittu hän oli niissä kaupungeissa, jotka olivat joutuneet maksamaan veroa Roomalle tai velkaantuneet roomalaisille. Kasvattaakseen suosiotaan Mithridates julisti nämä alueet vapaiksi veroista viideksi vuodeksi. Lisäksi hän antoi anteeksi kaikki lainat, niin valtioiden, kuin yksityistenkin. Mithridates saattoi olla antelias, koska hänellä oli kaikki rikkaan Bithynian varat. Hän nimitti satraappeja hallinnoimaan valtaamiaan alueita. [17]

Vastarintaakin esiintyi, ja Mithridates antoi kenraaleilleen tehtäväksi kukistaa häntä vielä vastustavat kaupungit, joita oli Kaariassa, Lykiassa ja Pamfyliassa. Myös Kosin saari pysyi Rooman puolella ja otti vastaan Mithridatesta pakenevia roomalaisia. Mithridates valtasi kuitenkin saaren pian ja sai samalla vangiksi egyptiläisen prinssin ja suuren rahasaaliin, johon ehkä kuului 800 talenttia, jonka juutalaiset olivat keränneet Jerusalemin temppeliä varten. [17]

Noin vuoden 89 eaa. syksyllä Rooman saapui tieto Mithridateen menestyksestä ja Rooman senaatti julisti sodan Mithridateelle. Todelliset vastatoimet kuitenkin myöhästyivät, koska liittolaissota oli vielä käynnissä. Lopulta konsuli Lucius Cornelius Sulla määrättiin tehtävään. Kesti kuitenkin yli vuoden, ennen kuin hän pääsi lähtemään. lähde?

Vuoden 88 eaa. alussa tapahtui Mithridateen hallituskauden tunnetuin hirmuteko. Mithridates kirjoitti salaisen kirjeen satraapeilleen ja muille alaisilleen ja määräsi Aasiassa asuneet roomalaiset ja italialaiset teloitettaviksi. Roomalaisten orjat luvattiin vapauttaa, jos he tappaisivat tai ilmiantaisivat omistajansa. Monissa kreikkalaisissa kaupungeissa iloittiin tästä määräyksestä. Yhteensä roomalaisia ja italialaisia teloitettiin ehkä 80 000 [18] (joidenkin lähteiden mukaan jopa 150 000). Teloitukset olivat varmasti laskelmoitu vastaus Rooman sodanjulistukselle. [19]

Mithridates oli Vähän-Aasian kiistaton hallitsija, ja häntä juhlittiin Aasian suojelijana ja uuden aikakauden alullepanijana. Hän otti itselleen hellenistisen lisänimen "Suuri" (megas) ja iranilaisen arvonimen "kuninkaiden kuningas" (basileus basileon). Parthian kuningas Mithridates II, jonka titteleihin kuninkaiden kuningas kuului, oli juuri sattumalta kuollut. [20]

»Ystävilleen [Mithridates] saattoi jakaa suuria omaisuuksia, mahtiasemia ja ruhtinaskuntia. Hänen pojistaan toisella oli varma asema Mustalta mereltä ja Bosporoksesta Asovan meren tuolle puolelle asumattomiin aroihin asti ulottuvan perintövaltakunnan hallitsijana, ja toinen poika Ariarathes, lähestyi uhkaavasti Traakiaa ja Makedoniaa. Lisäksi hänen valtakuntaansa laajensivat valloituksillaan hänen sotapäällikkönsä, joista huomattavin oli Arkhealos.»
(Plutarkhos, Kuuluisien miesten elämäkertoja, Sullan elämäkerta. Suomentanut Kalle Suuronen)

Yksi tärkeimmistä kaupungeista, jotka vielä vastustivat Mithridatesta, oli rikas Rhodoksen kaupunki. Rhodoksen piiritys alkoi vuoden 88 eaa. lopulla. Rhodoslaisten kerrotaan varustaneen kaupunkinsa erilaisin sotakonein, ja Mithridateskin antoi rakentaa valtavan sotakoneen, jonka nimi oli sambuca, mutta se romahti omasta painostaan. Rhodoslaisten voimakas laivasto torjui lopulta Mithridateen valtausyrityksen. [21] Myös Pataran kaupungin piiritys Lyykiassa epäonnistui. Epäonnistuneet piiritykset himmensivät jonkin verran Mithridateen mainetta. [22]

Hyökkäys Kreikkaan Muokkaa

Vähän-Aasian valloituksen jälkeen Mithridateen mielessä häämötti Kreikan ja Makedonian valtaus. Oli parempi hyökätä ennen kuin roomalaiset saisivat koottua uuden armeijan. Roomalaisten maaherralla Gaius Sentiuksella oli pari legioonaa Makedoniassa, mutta hänen huomionsa oli kääntynyt kapinoivien traakialaisten heimojen kukistamiseen. Aigeianmeri oli Mithridateen hallinnassa, ja hänellä oli suuri armeija. Hän tarvitsi ainoastaan sopivan tekosyyn hyökätäkseen Kreikkaan, ja sen hän sai, kun Ateenan roomalaisvastainen ryhmittymä pyysi häneltä apua. [20]

Mithridates tuki roomalaisvastaista Aristonia, joka valitutti itsensä strategokseksi ja nimitti itse muut virkamiehet ja arkontit. Joitakin Aristonin vastustajia teloitettiin, ja Akatemian johtaja Filon Larissalainen pakeni Roomaan. Mithridateen kenraali Arkhelaios valtasi Deloksen saaren ja luovutti sen Ateenalle. Pian myös akhaialaiset, Sparta ja boiotialaiset (Thespiaita lukuun ottamatta) liittoutuivat Mithridateen kanssa. Roomalaiset ja heidän liittolaisensa tekivät Gaius Sentiuksen legaatin Bruttius Suran johdolla kuitenkin kiivasta vastarintaa. lähde?

Sullan armeija pääsi Kreikkaan vuoden 87 eaa. keväällä ja alkoi piirittää Ateenaa ja Pireusta. Mithridates lähetti Pireukseen lisäjoukkoja, mutta piiritys jatkui. Mithridates päätti kukistaa roomalaiset maissa, ja lähetti poikansa Arkathiaan johtaman armeijan Makedonian kautta Kreikkaan. Makedonian roomalainen varuskunta kukistui helposti, ja vuoden 86 eaa. keväällä Pontoksen armeija suuntasi sieltä Kreikkaan. Samaan aikaan Sulla valtasi Ateenan ja teloitutti Aristonin. Hän hyökkäsi myös Pireukseen ja pakotti Arkhelaioksen jättämään kaupungin. Arkathias kuoli yllättäen, ja Arkhelaios otti Pontoksen armeijan komentoonsa. Khaironeian ja Orkhomenoksen lähellä käydyissä taisteluissa pontoslaiset kärsivät tappion. [23]

Khaironeian tappion jälkeen mielialat Aasiassa alkoivat kääntyä Mithridatesta vastaan. Mithridates oli jo aikaisemmin epäillyt galatialaisten uskollisuutta ja pitänyt 60 galatialaista ylimystä panttivankina Pergamonissa. Nyt hän päätti teloittaa galatialaiset, mutta kolme heistä pääsi pakenemaan. Mithridates oli alkanut epäillä myös Khioksen asukkaiden lojaalisuutta. Hän otti Khioksen ylimysten lapset panttivangeiksi ja pakotti asukkaat maksamaan 2000 talentin sakon. Khioslaiset keräsivät summan muun muassa temppeliensä aarteista, mutta Mithridates väitti heidän maksaneen liian vähän ja pakkosiirsi koko kaupungin väestön Mustanmeren alueelle. Tämä oli selvä varoitus kaikille, jotka vastustaisivat Mithridatesta. lähde?

Efesoslaiset nousivat tämän jälkeen kapinaan Mithridatesta vastaan, ja muita joonialaisia kaupunkeja seurasi perässä. Mithridates lähetti armeijan kukistamaan kapinalliset, mutta kaikki vielä uskolliset kaupungit hän julisti vapaiksi ja antoi anteeksi näiden velat. Lesboksessa ja Smyrnassa paljastui salaliittoja, joiden jäseniä Mithridates määräsi kidutettavaksi ja lopulta teloitettavaksi. Myös Pergamonista paljastui 80 henkilöä käsittänyt salaliitto. Loppujen lopuksi 1600 roomalaismielistä sai surmansa Mithridateen puhdistuksissa. [24]

Joskus vuoden 86 eaa. lopulla tai vuoden 85 eaa. alussa myös Kos ja Knidos luopuivat Mithridateesta, kun Luculluksen laivasto saapui paikalle. Yhdistynyt rhodoslaisten ja Luculluksen laivasto uhkasi Mithridateen Aigeianmeren herruutta ja karkotti Mithridateen kannattajat Kolofonista ja Khiokselta. Roomalaisen sotapäällikkö Gaius Flavius Fimbrian [huom 1] johtama armeija valtasi ja ryösti Nikomedeian ja Kyzikoksen. Fimbria löi Mithridateen joukot perusteellisesti useaan otteeseen. Mithridates itse joutui pakenemaan Pergamonista Pitanen kaupunkiin Aioliksessa. Lucullus oli laivastonsa kanssa kaupungin edustalla, mutta ei halunnut auttaa Sullan vastustajaa Fimbriaa, joten Mithridates pääsi pakenemaan meritse. Fimbria marssi tämän jälkeen ympäri Vähää-Aasiaa ja tuhosi niiden kaupunkien alueita, jotka eivät antautuneet hänelle. [25]

Dardanoksen sopimus Muokkaa

Mithridates oli täpärän pelastautumisensa jälkeen valmis rauhaan, joten hän lähetti Arkhelaioksen Sullan luokse neuvottelemaan. Sulla ja Mithridates tapasivat lopulta Dardanoksessa vuonna 85 eaa. Rauhansopimuksen mukaan Mithridates maksoi 2000 talenttia korvauksia ja luopui osasta Paflagoniaa. Lisäksi Bithynian ja Kappadokian kuninkaat saivat kuningaskuntansa takaisin. Mithridates sai kuitenkin pitää Pontoksen ja Mustanmeren valtakuntansa. Rauhanehdot olivat Mithridateelle suotuisat, koska Sullalla oli suurempia ongelmia lännessä: hänen vastustajansa Marius oli päässyt valtaan Roomassa. Fimbrian maaseutua ryöstelleet joukot antautuivat, kun Sullan armeija lähestyi niitä, ja Fimbria teki itsemurhan joukkojensa jätettyä hänet. Sulla palkitsi Mithridatesta vastustaneet kaupungit, kuten Rhodoksen ja Khioksen, sekä julisti ne "Rooman kansa ystäviksi". Muut kaupungit maksoivat korvauksia, ja Sulla perusti niihin varuskuntia. Mithridateen vapauttamat orjat määrättiin palaamaan omistajiensa luokse. Sullaa vastustaneita kaupunkeja rangaistiin ankarasti: muurit purettiin ja asukkaat myytiin orjuuteen. Sulla määräsi myös 20 000 talentin pakkoveron. [26]

Roomassa monet eivät pitäneet rauhansopimuksen ehtoja tarpeeksi ankarina. Toisaalta oli käynyt selväksi, ettei Mithridateen armeijasta ollut vastusta Rooman legioonille, olihan jopa Fimbrian kuriton armeija kukistanut Mithridateen armeijan. Sulla jätti Aasiaan Lucius Licinius Murenan ja kaksi legioonaa. Parin vuoden päästä Murena väitti, että Mithridates suunnitteli uutta sotaa. lähde?

Ensimmäisen Mithridateen sodan jälkeen Mithridateen valtakunnassa puhkesi useita kapinoita, joten Mithridates aloitti sotilaiden värväämisen. Murena uskoi Mithridateen kuitenkin suunnittelevan uutta sotaa Roomaa vastaan ja hyökkäsi Pontoksen kimppuun. Toisessa Mithridateen sodassa Murenan joukot hyökkäsivät ensin Kappadokiaan, jossa Ariobarzanes yritti laajentaa valtaansa Mithridateen kustannuksella. Tämän jälkeen Murena teki kaksi sotaretkeä Pontokseen. Kun Murena hyökkäsi kolmannen kerran, Mithridates oli valmiina. Hän löi Murenan joukot useaan otteeseen ja ajoi ne Galatian halki aina Fryygian rajalle. lähde?

Rooman yksinvaltiaaksi noussut Sulla lähetti neuvottelijoita, jotka määräsivät Mithridateen lopettamaan sotatoimet. Koska Mithridates oli kukistanut Murenan joukot ja palauttanut maineensa, hän suostui luopumaan Kappadokiasta. Murena palasi puolestaan Roomaan, jossa hän juhli täysin ansaitsemattoman triumfin. Vuosina 83 eaa.–80 eaa. Mithridates kukisti kapinoita Mustanmeren alueella. [27] [28]

Seuraavien vuosien aikana Mithridates kokosi armeijansa jälleen. Hän liittoutui Egyptin ptolemidien ja Hispaniassa toimineen roomalaisen kapinallisen Sertoriuksen kanssa. Eräiden väitteiden mukaan Sertorius olisi ollut valmis luovuttamaan Mithridateelle Asian provinssin, Bithynian ja Kappadokian. Mithridates lähetti Sertoriukselle rahaa ja laivoja, ja Sertorius puolestaan lähetti Mithridateelle sotilaallisia neuvonantajia. Lisäksi Mithridates liittoutui Traakian heimojen ja Kilikian merirosvojen kanssa. Hän lähetti neuvottelijoita myös Pompeiuksen luokse, mutta neuvottelujen tarkoitusta ei tiedetä. [29] [28]

Sulla oli tyytyväinen Dardanoksen rauhaan, mutta Roomassa monet olivat toista mieltä. Sullan kuoltua osa senaatin jäsenistä alkoi vastustaa Dardanoksen sopimusta ja esti sen ratifioimisen Murena jopa kielsi sen olemassaolon kokonaan. Mithridates yritti turhaan saada sopimuksen vahvistetuksi. Alkoi näyttää selvältä, että Pontos ja Rooma ajautuisivat uuteen sotaan. Mithridates aloitti laivastonsa jälleenrakentamisen. Sertoriuksen lähettämien neuvonantajien opastuksella Mithridates organisoi osan armeijastaan roomalaisten legioonien tyyliin. Sotilaat varustettiin raskain roomalaisin keihäin ja lyhyin roomalaisin miekoin. [30]

Kolmas sota alkoi sen jälkeen, kun Bithynian lapseton kuningas Nikomedes IV testamenttasi maansa Roomalle, samoin kuin Pergamonin Attalos III ja Kyrenaikan Ptolemaios Apion olivat tehneet jo aikaisemmin. Rooman senaatti hyväksyi testamentin ja torjui Nikomedeen äpäräpojan vaatimukset isänsä kruunuun. [30]

Luculluksen sota Muokkaa

Sodan alussa Mithridates hyökkäsi Bithyniaan ja asetti oman nukkehallitsijansa valtaistuimelle. Roomalaiset lähettivät Marcus Aurelius Cottan ja Luculluksen kukistamaan hänet. Mithridates löi Cottan joukot Bithyniassa ja piiritti häntä Khalkedonissa, mutta Lucullus saapui paikalle ja pelasti Cottan. Khalkedonin jälkeen Mithridates siirtyi piirittämään Kyzikosta. Hänen joukkonsa käyttivät lähes 50-metristä piiritystornia, joka oli asennettu sotalaivaan. Kuten Rhodoksen piiritys 15 vuotta aikaisemmin, piiritys loppui tappioon. Kerrotaan, että myrsky tuhosi kaikki Mithridateen piirityskoneet ja kulkutaudit levisivät armeijan leirissä. [31]

Mithridates joutui perääntymään Bithyniasta. Sota olisi voinut päättyä siihen, mutta Lucullus päätti hyökätä Pontokseen. Mithridates oli varma, että hän pystyisi kukistamaan vastustajansa omassa kotimaassaan, mutta roomalaiset valtasivatkin Mithridateen linnoitukset yksi kerrallaan. Vuonna 70 eaa. Lucullus oli vallannut kaikki Eufratin länsipuolella olleet alueet, ja Mithridates pakeni Armeniaan, jossa hänen vävynsä Tigranes hallitsi. [32]

Lucullus lähetti erään Appius Claudiuksen Tigraneen luokse vaatimaan Mithridateen luovuttamista. Tigranes ei kuitenkaan suostunut, joten Appius uhkasi häntä sodalla. Lucullus päätti tämän jälkeen hyökätä Armeniaan, joka tähän asti oli pysytellyt puolueettomana Rooman ja Pontoksen sodissa. Mithridates avusti Tigranesta sodassa Lucullusta vastaan. Vuonna 68 eaa. Mithridates pääsi palaamaan Pontokseen 8000 sotilaan kanssa ja hyökkäsi Pontoksessa olleiden roomalaisten joukkojen kimppuun. Luculluksen legaatti Fabius lyötiin, ja hän joutui piiritetyksi Cabiraan. Roomalaisten hallintoon väsyneet pontoslaiset liittyivät sankoin joukoin Mithridateen puolelle. Alkukesästä vuonna 67 eaa. Mithridates kukisti roomalaiset perusteellisesti Zelan lähellä. Roomalaiset menettivät 7000 miestä ja suuren osan upseereistaan, mukaan lukien 24 sotilastribuunia. Tämä oli Mithridateen suurin voitto roomalaisia vastaan. [33]

Luculluksen armeija oli samaan aikaan marssimassa Pontokseen mutta ei ehtinyt perille ennen Zelan tappiota, ja Mithridates pakeni joukkoineen Armenia Minoriin. Luculluksen joukot olivat väsyneitä loputtomaan sotimiseen ja valmiita kapinaan. Pian Roomasta saapuikin viesti, että senaatti oli nimittänyt Acilius Glabrion Luculluksen seuraajaksi. Lucullus veti joukkonsa Galatiaan, ja saatuaan kuulla Zelan tappiosta Glabrio päätti jäädä joukkoineen Bithyniaan. Mithridates sai näin vallattua takaisin koko Pontoksen. Tigranes hyökkäsi puolestaan Kappadokiaan, josta Ariobarzanes pakeni. Luculluksen saavutukset Pontoksessa ja Armeniassa raukesivat näin tyhjiin. [34]

Pompeius Muokkaa

Senaatti nimitti vuonna 66 eaa. Pompeiuksen jatkamaan sotaa Mithridatesta vastaan. Pompeius oli vuonna 67 eaa. kukistanut Kilikian merirosvot, ja hän sai nyt laajat valtuudet toimia Mithridatesta ja Tigranesta vastaan. Pompeius kokosi suurimman Vähässä-Aasiassa koskaan toimineen armeijan, joka käsitti noin 10 legioonaa. Pompeius yritti ensin neuvotella Mithridateen kanssa mutta asetti ankarat ehdot. Hän vaati muun muassa Mithridateen antautumista ja kaikkien roomalaisten sotilaskarkureiden palauttamista, mihin Mithridates ei voinut suostua. Mithridateella oli tuolloin jäljellä enää 30 000 jalkaväkisotilasta, etupäässä jousiampujia, ja parituhatta ratsumiestä. Hän perääntyi Armenia Minoriin, Dasteira-nimiseen paikkaan. Pompeius yritti saartaa Mithridateen vuoristoisessa maastossa, ja kuuden viikon taistelujen jälkeen Mithridates päätti perääntyä joukkoineen Armenian kuningaskuntaan. Mithridateen sanotaan menettäneen 10 000 miestä. Mithridates pakeni 2 000 sotilaan kanssa Sinoraan, jossa hän sai kuulla, että Tigranes oli luopunut hänestä. Mithridates pakeni Sinorasta mukanaan suuri rahasumma Kolkhikseen, jossa hän vietti seuraavan talven. [35]

Kuolema Muokkaa

Vuoden 65 eaa. keväällä Mithridates pakeni Taurien Khersonesokselle, jossa hänen poikansa Makhares vielä hallitsi, ja alkoi taas koota joukkoja ja varustaa kaupunkejaan. Pian eräs varuskunta alkoi kuitenkin kapinoida. Mithridateen poika Farnakes II käytti tilannetta hyväkseen ja syrjäytti isänsä. Syrjäytetty Mithridates kuoli tämän jälkeen joko oman käden kautta tai jonkun avustamana. [36]

Dion Kassios kertoo, että Mithridates pelkäsi joutuvansa vangiksi ja yritti siksi itsemurhaa. Hän surmasi vaimonsa ja lapsensa myrkyllä, mutta häneen itseensä sama myrkky ei tehonnut, koska hän oli koko ikänsä nauttinut vastamyrkkyjä. Sen jälkeen Mithridates yritti tappaa itsensä miekalla, mutta ei onnistunut vanhuuden ja vastoinkäymisten heikentämänä. Lopulta eräät sotilaat surmasivat hänet miekoin ja keihäin. lähde?

Historioitsija Florus kertoo Mithridateen yrittäneen tappaa itsensä myrkyllä, mutta epäonnistuttuaan tappaneen itsensä miekalla. Aulus Gellius mainitsee Attikan öitä -teoksessaan Mithridateen tehneen itsemurhan, kun taas Appianus kertoo Mithridateen yrittäneen ensin myrkkyjä, mutta epäonnistuttuaan pyytäneen erään kelttiläisen sotilaan tappamaan itsensä. [37]

Appianuksen mukaan Farnakes lähetti isänsä ruumiin Pompeiuksen luokse Sinopeen. Pompeius maksoi Mithridateen hautajaiskulut ja määräsi ruumiin haudattavaksi Sinopessa sijainneeseen hautakammioon, jonne muutkin Pontoksen kuninkaat oli haudattu. [38]

Appianos kertoo Mithridateen sotia käsittelevässä teoksessaan myös Mithridateen viimeisistä suunnitelmista. Mithridates käytti vähäisiä voimavarojaan varustaakseen viimeisiä tukikohtiaan. Appianoksen versiota sekoittaa kuitenkin kertomus, jonka mukaan Mithridates olisi aikonut marssia 36 000 sotilaan kanssa Tonavalle ja sieltä Italiaan Alppien solien kautta. Mithridates olisi pyytänyt aluksi skyyttejä mukaan sotaretkelle, mutta heidän kieltäydyttyään hän olisi ottanut yhteyttä eräisiin salaperäisiin keltteihin, jotka asuivat kaukaisessa maassa ja jotka olivat jo kauan olleet Mithridateen liittolaisia. Pompeiusta syytettiinkin siitä, että hän myöhemmin hyökkäsi Nabatean kimppuun, vaikka Mithridates olisi ollut samalla hetkellä hyökkäämässä Roomaan. Kyse on selvästi pelkästä huhusta, jota Pompeiuksen poliittiset vastustajat käyttivät häntä vastaan. [36]

Junianus Justinus kertoo, että nuorena Mithridates yritettiin myrkyttää, minkä jälkeen hän nautti säännöllisesti vastamyrkkyjä eri myrkkyihin. Aulus Cornelius Celsus kertoo kirjassaan De Medicina Mithridateen valmistaneen yleisen vastamyrkyn, jonka hän uskoi tehoavan kaikkiin myrkkyihin. [37] Mithridateen kerrotaan valmistaneen tämän mithradiittina tunnetun vastamyrkyn, joka koostui yli 40 eri aineosasta, yhdessä henkilääkärinsä Krateuaksen kanssa. Kerrotaan, että Mithridiates kokeili myrkkyjä ja vastamyrkkyjä orjiin ja rikollisiin. Hän kokeili niitä myös itseensä ja otti vastamyrkkyä joka päivä. [39]

Family Matters

In the 17th century, some ladies would powder their faces with arsenic to achieve a more pale complexion. Others used it to become widows.

In Rome in 1659, a fortune-teller sorceress named Hieronyma Spara ran a secret society that would dole out poison to women who wanted to kill their husbands. Then, there was Guilia Toffana, the infamous poison peddler behind the death of some 600 people, including two popes and countless husbands. She sold her brew of arsenic and belladonna, known as &ldquoAqua Toffana,&rdquo in cosmetics bottles disguised as makeup. A few drops was enough to cause a slow and untraceable death.

In Paris, this troublesome trend became intertwined with a dark underworld of witchcraft and black magic. At court, women sought out powerful potions to attract lovers, remove enemies, and even terminate unwanted pregnancies.

The powdery white widow-maker also made its way across the channel. In Victorian England, arsenic was surprisingly easy to come by. A woman simply needed to walk into the chemist shop or market and hand over a few pence for some rat poison or arsenic powder to smooth her complexion.

Arsenic was much easier to obtain than a divorce, and husband-killing was more prevalent than ever because of the booming business of life insurance. Soon, the Victorian era became known as the "golden age" of arsenic poisoning. Many arsenic homicide cases became famous, such as the murderess Mary Ann Cotton, who killed three husbands&mdashas well as one fiancé and many of her children and stepchildren&mdashand then cashed in on the insurance.

To quash this criminal craze, the English Parliament tried to pass a law forbidding women from buying arsenic. But ultimately it was science, not the law, that ended the white powder's reign.

Centuries after the invention of arsenic trioxide, physicians still had no idea how to treat&mdashor even detect&mdasharsenic poisoning. Well into the 19th century, doctors were hopelessly trying to determine whether victims had been poisoned by throwing the contents of their stomach into a fire to see if they smelled like garlic&mdashand people were getting away with murder.

Finally, in 1836, an English chemist named James Marsh came up with a chemical method to detect minute traces of arsenic in human tissue. It was put the test in the murder trial of a French woman charged with feeding her husband arsenic cakes. She was proven guilty.

Arsenic poisoning dropped off significantly with the development of the Marsh Test, which scientists improved and used as forensic evidence of poisoning for the next century, ushering in the era of modern toxicology.

Mithridates VI of Pontus

Mithridates VI or Mithradates VI Greek: Μιθραδάτης, Μιθριδάτης), from Old Persian Miθradāta, "gift of Mithra" 135� BC, also known as Mithradates the Great (Megas) and Eupator Dionysius, was king of Pontus and Armenia Minor in northern Anatolia (now Turkey) from about 120� BC. Mithridates is remembered as one of the Roman Republic’s most formidable and successful enemies, who engaged three of the prominent generals from the late Roman Republic in the Mithridatic Wars: Lucius Cornelius Sulla, Lucius Licinius Lucullus and Gnaeus Pompey Magnus. He is often considered the greatest ruler of the Kingdom of Pontus.

Ancestry, family and early life

Mithridates VI was a prince of Persian and Greek ancestry. He claimed descent from Cyrus the Great, the family of Darius the Great, the Regent Antipater, the generals of Alexander the Great as well as the later kings Antigonus I Monophthalmus and Seleucus I Nicator.

Mithridates was born in the Pontic city of Sinope, and was raised in the Kingdom of Pontus. He was the first son among the children born to Laodice VI and Mithridates V of Pontus (reigned 150� BC). His father, Mithridates V, was a prince and the son of the former Pontic Monarchs Pharnaces I of Pontus and his wife-cousin Nysa. His mother, Laodice VI, was a Seleucid Princess and the daughter of the Seleucid Monarchs Antiochus IV Epiphanes and his wife-sister Laodice IV.

Mithridates V was assassinated in about 120 BC in Sinope, poisoned by unknown persons at a lavish banquet which he held. He left the kingdom to the joint rule of Mithridates' mother, Laodice VI, Mithridates, and his younger brother, Mithridates Chrestus. Neither Mithridates nor his younger brother were of age, and their mother retained all power as regent for the time being. Laodice VI’s regency over Pontus was from 120 BC to 116 BC (even perhaps up to 113 BC) and favored Mithridates Chrestus over Mithridates. During his mother’s regency, he escaped from his mother's plots against him, and went into hiding.

Mithridates emerged from hiding, returning to Pontus between 116 BC and 113 BC and was hailed as king. He removed his mother and brother from the throne, imprisoning both, becoming the sole ruler of Pontus. Laodice VI died in prison, ostensibly of natural causes. Mithridates Chrestus may have died in prison also, or may have been tried for treason and executed. Mithridates gave both royal funerals. Mithridates first married his younger sister Laodice, aged 16. His goal was to preserve the purity of their bloodline, solidify his claim to the throne, to co-rule over Pontus, and to ensure the succession to his legitimate children.

Early reign

Mithridates entertained ambitions of making his state the dominant power in the Black Sea and Anatolia. He first subjugated Colchis, a region east of the Black Sea, and prior to 164 BC, an independent kingdom. He then clashed for supremacy on the Pontic steppe with the Scythian King Palacus. The most important centres of Crimea, Tauric Chersonesus and the Bosporan Kingdom readily surrendered their independence in return for Mithridates' promises to protect them against the Scythians, their ancient enemies. After several abortive attempts to invade the Crimea, the Scythians and the allied Rhoxolanoi suffered heavy losses at the hands of the Pontic general Diophantus and accepted Mithridates as their overlord. The young king then turned his attention to Anatolia, where Roman power was on the rise. He contrived to partition Paphlagonia and Galatia with King Nicomedes III of Bithynia. It soon became clear to Mithridates that Nicomedes was steering his country into an anti-Pontic alliance with the expanding Roman Republic. When Mithridates fell out with Nicomedes over control of Cappadocia, and defeated him in a series of battles, the latter was constrained to openly enlist the assistance of Rome. The Romans twice interfered in the conflict on behalf of Nicomedes (95� BC), leaving Mithridates, should he wish to continue the expansion of his kingdom, with little choice other than to engage in a future Roman-Pontic war.

Mithridatic Wars

The next ruler of Bithynia, Nicomedes IV of Bithynia, was a figurehead manipulated by the Romans. Mithridates plotted to overthrow him, but his attempts failed and Nicomedes IV, instigated by his Roman advisors, declared war on Pontus. Rome itself was involved in the Social War, a civil war with its Italian allies. Thus, in all of Roman Asia Province there were only two legions present in Macedonia. These legions combined with Nicomedes IV's army to invade Mithridates' kingdom of Pontus in 89 BC. Mithridates, however, won a decisive victory, scattering the Roman-led forces. His victorious forces were welcomed throughout Anatolia. The following year, 88 BC, Mithridates orchestrated a massacre of Roman and Italian settlers remaining in several Anatolian cities, essentially wiping out the Roman presence in the region. This episode is known as the Asiatic Vespers. The Kingdom of Pontus comprised a mixed population in its Ionian Greek and Anatolian cities. The royal family moved the capital from Amasya to the Greek city of Sinope. Its rulers tried to fully assimilate the potential of their subjects by showing a Greek face to the Greek world and an Iranian/Anatolian face to the Eastern world. Whenever the gap between the rulers and their Anatolian subjects became greater, they would put emphasis on their Persian origins. In this manner, the royal propaganda claimed heritage both from Persian and Greek rulers, including Cyrus the Great, Darius I of Persia, Alexander the Great and Seleucus I Nicator. Mithridates too posed as the champion of Hellenism, but this was mainly to further his political ambitions it is no proof that he felt a mission to promote its extension within his domains. Whatever his true intentions, the Greek cities (including Athens) defected to the side of Mithridates and welcomed his armies in mainland Greece, while his fleet besieged the Romans at Rhodes. Neighboring King of Armenia Tigranes the Great, established an alliance with Mithridates and married one of Mithridates’ daughters, Cleopatra of Pontus. They would support each other in the coming conflict with Rome.

The Romans responded by organising a large invasion force to defeat him and remove him from power.The First Mithridatic War, fought between 88 BC and 84 BC, saw Lucius Cornelius Sulla force Mithridates VI out of Greece proper. After victory in several battles, Sulla received news of trouble back in Rome posed by his enemy Gaius Marius and hurriedly concluded peace talks with Mithridates. As Sulla returned to Italy Lucius Licinius Murena was left in charge of Roman forces in Anatolia. The lenient peace treaty, which was never ratified by the Senate, allowed Mithridates VI to recoup his forces. Murena attacked Mithridates in 83 BC, provoking the Second Mithridatic War from 83 BC to 81 BC. Mithridates scored a victory over Murena's green forces before peace was again declared by treaty.

When Rome attempted to annex Bithynia (bequested to Rome by its last king) nearly a decade later, Mithridates VI attacked with an even larger army, leading to the Third Mithridatic War from 73 BC to 63 BC. First Lucullus and then Pompey were sent against Mithridates VI, who surged back to retake his kingdom of Pontus, but was at last defeated by Pompey. After Pompey defeated him in Pontus in 66 BC, Mithridates VI fled with a small army to Colchis (modern Georgia) and then over the Caucasus Mountains to Crimea and made plans to raise yet another army to take on the Romans. His eldest living son, Machares, viceroy of Cimmerian Bosporus, was unwilling to aid his father. Mithridates had Machares killed, and Mithridates took the throne of the Bosporan Kingdom. Mithridates then ordered the conscriptions and preparations for war. In 63 BC, Pharnaces II of Pontus, one of his sons, led a rebellion against his father, joined by Roman exiles in the core of Mithridates' Pontic army. Mithridates withdrew to the citadel in Panticapaeum, where he committed suicide. Pompey buried Mithridates in the rock-cut tombs of his ancestors in Amasya, the old capital of Pontus.

Assassination conspiracy

During the time of the First Mithridatic War, a group of Mithridates' friends plotted to kill him. These were Mynnio and Philotimus of Smyrna, and Cleisthenes and Asclepiodotus of Lesbos. Asclepiodotus changed his mind and became an informant. He arranged to have Mithridates hide under a couch to hear the plot against him. The other conspirators were tortured and executed. However, this was not enough for Mithridates, who also killed all of the plotters' families and friends.

Where his ancestors pursued philhellenism as a means of attaining respectability and prestige among the Hellenistic kingdoms, Mithridates VI made use of Hellenism as a political tool. As protector of Greek cities on the Black Sea and in Asia against barbarism, Mithridates VI logically became protector of Greece and Greek culture, and would use this stance in his clashes with Rome. Strabo mentions that Chersonesus buckled under the pressure of the barbarians and asked Mithridates VI to become its protector (7.4.3. c.308). The most impressive symbol of Mithridates VI's approbation with Greece (Athens in particular) appears at Delos: a heroon dedicated to the Pontic king in 102/1 by the Athenian Helianax, a priest of Poseidon Aisios. A dedication at Delos, by Dicaeus, a priest of Sarapis, was made in 94/93 BC on behalf of the Athenians, Romans, and "King Mithridates Eupator Dionysus." Greek styles mixed with Persian elements also abound on official Pontic coins – Perseus was favored as an intermediary between both worlds, East and West. Certainly influenced by Alexander the Great, Mithridates VI extended his propaganda from "defender" of Greece to the "great liberator" of the Greek world as war with Roman Republic became inevitable. The Romans were easily translated into "barbarians", in the same sense as the Persian Empire during the war with Persia in the first half of the 5th century BC and during Alexander's campaign. How many Greeks genuinely bought into this claim will never be known. It served its purpose, however. At least partially because of it, Mithridates VI was able to fight the First War with Rome on Greek soil, and maintain the allegiance of Greece. His campaign for the allegiance of the Greeks was aided in no small part by his enemy Sulla, who allowed his troops to sack the city of Delphi and plunder many of the city's most famous treasures to help finance his military expenses.

After Pompey defeated him in Pontus, Mithridates VI fled to the lands north of the Black Sea in the winter of 66 BCE in the hope that he could raise a new army and carry on the war. However, his preparations proved to be too harsh on the local nobles and populace, and they rebelled against his rule. He allegedly attempted suicide by poison this attempt failed, however, because of his immunity to the poison. According to Appian's Roman History, he then requested his Gaulish bodyguard and friend, Bituitus, to kill him by the sword:

Mithridates then took out some poison that he always carried next to his sword, and mixed it. There two of his daughters, who were still girls growing up together, named Mithridates and Nysa, who had been betrothed to the kings of [Ptolemaic] Egypt and of Cyprus, asked him to let them have some of the poison first, and insisted strenuously and prevented him from drinking it until they had taken some and swallowed it. The drug took effect on them at once but upon Mithridates, although he walked around rapidly to hasten its action, it had no effect, because he had accustomed himself to other drugs by continually trying them as a means of protection against poisoners. These are still called the Mithridatic drugs.

Seeing a certain Bituitus there, an officer of the Gauls, he said to him, "I have profited much from your right arm against my enemies. I shall profit from it most of all if you will kill me, and save from the danger of being led in a Roman triumph one who has been an autocrat so many years, and the ruler of so great a kingdom, but who is now unable to die by poison because, like a fool, he has fortified himself against the poison of others. Although I have kept watch and ward against all the poisons that one takes with his food, I have not provided against that domestic poison, always the most dangerous to kings, the treachery of army, children, and friends." Bituitus, thus appealed to, rendered the king the service that he desired.

Cassius Dio Roman History, on the other hand, records a different account:

Mithridates had tried to make away with himself, and after first removing his wives and remaining children by poison, he had swallowed all that was left yet neither by that means nor by the sword was he able to perish by his own hands. For the poison, although deadly, did not prevail over him, since he had inured his constitution to it, taking precautionary antidotes in large doses every day and the force of the sword blow was lessened on account of the weakness of his hand, caused by his age and present misfortunes, and as a result of taking the poison, whatever it was. When, therefore, he failed to take his life through his own efforts and seemed to linger beyond the proper time, those whom he had sent against his son fell upon him and hastened his end with their swords and spears. Thus Mithridates, who had experienced the most varied and remarkable fortune, had not even an ordinary end to his life. For he desired to die, albeit unwillingly, and though eager to kill himself was unable to do so but partly by poison and partly by the sword he was at once self-slain and murdered by his foes.

At the behest of Pompey, Mithridates' body was later buried alongside his ancestors (in either Sinope or Amaseia). Mount Mithridat in the central Kerch and the town of Yevpatoria in Crimea commemorate his name.

Mithridates' antidote

In his youth, after the assassination of his father Mithridates V in 120 BC, Mithridates is said to have lived in the wilderness for seven years, inuring himself to hardship. While there, and after his accession, he cultivated an immunity to poisons by regularly ingesting sub-lethal doses of the same. He invented a complex "universal antidote" against poisoning several versions are described in the literature. Aulus Cornelius Celsus gives one in his De Medicina and names it Antidotum Mithridaticum, whence English mithridate. Pliny the Elder's version comprised 54 ingredients to be placed in a flask and matured for at least two months. After Mithridates' death in 63 BC, many imperial Roman physicians claimed to possess and improve on the original formula, which they touted as Mithradatium. In keeping with most medical practices of his era, Mithridates' anti-poison routines included a religious component they were supervised by the Agari, a group of Scythian shamans who never left him. Mithridates was reportedly guarded in his sleep by a horse, a bull, and a stag, which would whinny, bellow, and bleat whenever anyone approached the royal bed.

Mithridates as polyglot

In Pliny the Elder's account of famous polyglots, Mithridates could speak the languages of all the twenty-two nations he governed. This reputation led to the use of Mithridates' name as title in some later works on comparative linguistics, such as Conrad Gessner's Mithridates de differentis linguis, (1555), and Adelung and Vater's Mithridates oder allgemeine Sprachenkunde (1806�).

Wives, mistresses and children

Mithridates VI had wives and mistresses, by whom he had various children. The names he gave his children are a representation of his Persian, Greek heritage and of his ancestry.

First wife, his sister Laodice. They were married from 115/113 BC till about 90 BC. Mithridates with Laodice had various children:

  • Sons: Mithridates, Arcathius, Machares and Pharnaces II of Pontus
  • Daughters: Cleopatra of Pontus (sometimes called Cleopatra the Elder to distinguish her from her sister of the same name) and Drypetina (a diminutive form of "Drypetis"). Drypetina was Mithridates VI’s most devoted daughter. Her baby teeth never fell out, so she had a double set of teeth.

Second wife, the Greek Macedonian Noblewoman, Monime. They were married from about 89/88 BC till 72/71 BC. By whom, he had:

Third wife, Greek woman Berenice of Chios, married from 86�/71 BC

Fourth wife, Greek woman Stratonice of Pontus, married from after 86� BC

Sixth wife, Caucasian woman Hypsicratea, married from an unknown date to 63 BC

One of his mistresses was the Galatian Celtic Princess Adobogiona the Elder. By Adobogiona, Mithridates had two children: a son called Mithridates I of the Bosporus and a daughter called Adobogiona the Younger.

His sons born from his concubine were Cyrus, Xerxes, Darius, Ariarathes IX of Cappadocia, Artaphernes, Oxathres, Phoenix (Mithridates’ son by a mistress of Syrian descent) and Exipodras, named after kings of the Persian Empire, which he claimed ancestry from. His daughters born from his concubine were Nysa, Eupatra, Cleopatra the Younger, Mithridates and Orsabaris. Nysa and Mithridates, were engaged to the Egyptian Greek Pharaohs Ptolemy XII Auletes and his brother Ptolemy of Cyprus.

In 63 BC, when the Kingdom of Pontus was annexed by the Roman general Pompey the remaining sisters, wives, mistresses and children of Mithridates VI in Pontus were put to death. Plutarch writing in his lives (Pompey v.45) states that Mithridates' sister and five of his children took part in Pompey's triumphal procession on this return to Rome in 61 BC.

The Cappadocian Greek nobleman and high priest of the temple-state of Comana, Cappadocia Archelaus had descended from Mithridates VI. He claimed to be a son of Mithridates VI, however chronologically Archelaus may have been a maternal grandson of the Pontic King, who his father was Mithridates VI’s favorite general may have married one of the daughters of Mithridates VI.

The poet A. E. Housman alludes to Mithridates' antidote, also known as mithridatism, in the final stanza of his poem "Terence, This Is Stupid Stuff" in A Shropshire Lad:

There was a king reigned in the East: There, when kings will sit to feast, They get their fill before they think With poisoned meat and poisoned drink. He gathered all that springs to birth From the many-venomed earth First a little, thence to more, He sampled all her killing store And easy, smiling, seasoned sound, Sate the king when healths went round. They put arsenic in his meat And stared aghast to watch him eat They poured strychnine in his cup And shook to see him drink it up: They shook, they stared as white’s their shirt: Them it was their poison hurt. –I tell the tale that I heard told. Mithridates, he died old.

Ralph Waldo Emerson included his "Mithridates" in his 1847 "Poems". The legend also appears in Alexandre Dumas's novel The Count of Monte Cristo. The demise of Mithridates VI is detailed in the 1673 play Mithridate written by Jean Racine. This play is the basis for several 18th century operas including one of Mozart's earliest, known most commonly by its Italian name, Mitridate, re di Ponto (1770). He is the subject of the opera Mitridate Eupatore (1707) by Alessandro Scarlatti. In The Grass Crown, the second in the Masters of Rome series, Colleen McCullough, the Australian writer, describes in detail the various aspects of his life – the murder of Laodice (sister-wife of Mithridates VI of Pontus), and the Roman Consul who, quite alone and surrounded by the Pontic army, ordered Mithridates to leave Cappadocia immediately and go back to Pontus – which he did.

Wordsworth, amidst casting about for poetic themes in The Prelude (Bk i vv 186 ff):

Sometimes, more sternly moved, I would relate How vanquished Mithridates northward passed, And, hidden in the cloud of years, became Odin, the Father of a race by whom Perished the Roman Empire.

Likewise, Edna St. Vincent Millay alludes indirectly to Mithridates' protection against poison in her sonnet "Thou art not lovelier than lilacs" (from Renascence and Other Poems, 1917):

Like him who day by day unto his draught Of delicate poison adds him one drop more Till he may drink unharmed the death of ten, Even so, inured to beauty, who have quaffed Each hour more deeply than the hour before, I drink--and live--what has destroyed some men.

In Dorothy L. Sayers' Detective Novel "Strong Poison", from 1929, the protagonist, Lord Peter Wimsey, refers to Mithridates' measures to survive poisoning as well as Albert Einstein's theory of Special Relativity, when the protagonist warns not to trust someone who looks straight in your eye, as they're trying to distract you from seeing something, "..even the path light travels is bent".

James Joyce alludes to Mithridates' immunity to poison in his love poem Though I Thy Mithridates Were.

The Last King is an historical novel by Michael Curtis Ford about the King and his exploits against the Roman Republic. Mithridates is a major character in Poul Anderson's novel The Golden Slave. Mithridates of Pontus is mentioned by E. E. "Doc" Smith in Triplanetary, the first novel of the famous Lensman science fiction series. In the story, Mithridates was supposed to be one of the humans possessed by a member of an evil alien race bent on remaking human civilization into its own image.

First Mithridatic War, 89-85 B.C.

The First Mithridatic War (89-85 B.C.) was the first of three clashes between the Roman Republic and Mithridates VI of Pontus which would last for nearly thirty years, and end with the destruction of the Pontic kingdom. The wars were an inevitable result of the proximity of the ambitious expansionist Mithridates to the Roman province of Asia, which had been established after Attalus III of Pergamum died without an heir in 133 B.C., leaving his kingdom to the Roman people. This gave the Romans a foothold at the western end of Asia Minor, to go with the province of Cilicia, on the southern coast.

The kingdom of Pontus was located at the north-eastern corner of Asia Minor, on the southern shores of the Black Sea. Under Mithridates the kingdom had expanded north, gaining control of the Crimea and of Colchis, on the eastern shore of the Black Sea, as well as a few scattered possessions on the western shore. Mithridates's next targets were in the area between Pontus and the Roman province. He was particularly interested in Cappadocia, to the south, and in Paphlagonia and Bithynia to the west. His first move came in 108-108 B.C., when together with Nicomedes III of Bithynia he invaded Paphlagonia. The two kings partitioned the country, and ignored a Roman embassy that ordered them to withdraw.

Nicomedes made the next move, invading Cappadocia in 102 B.C. At the time this kingdom was ruled by Mithridates's sister Laodice, on behalf of her two young sons. After the invasion Nicomedes married Laodice. Mithridates responded by invading in force, restoring his nephew as Ariarathes VII Philometor. This arrangement only lasted for a year, before Mithridates turned against his nephew, in favour of Gordius, the Cappadocian nobleman who had murdered Ariarathes VI (after 116 B.C.). Both sides raised large armies, but during a parley before the battle the young king was assassinated. Mithridates installed one of his sons as king Ariarathes IX, with Gordius as his regent. This regime lasted for four or five years.

Both claimants to Cappadocia took their case to Rome. Mithridates claimed that his son was actually the son of Ariarathes V, while Nicomedes supported the claims of Laodice's second son. The situation became more confused in c.97 B.C., when the Cappadocians rebelled against Mithridates's regime, calling in Nicomedes and his claimant. Mithridates invaded and restored his son's regime in a campaign that also saw the death of Nicomedes's claimant. Nicomedes responded by producing a fake third son. This son and his 'mother' were sent to Rome in an attempt to win the support of the Senate.

The Senate responded by ordered Nicomedes and Mithridates to pull out of Paphlagonia and Cappadocia. The Cappadocians elected a new king, Ariobarzanes, who was installed in power by Lucius Sulla, the Roman governor of Cilicia (c.95 B.C.). He may also have been restored by Sulla in 92 B.C.

This arrangement was very short lived. In 96 or 95 B.C. Tigranes I (The Great) became king of Armenia, and soon allied himself with Mithridates, marrying his daughter Cleopatra. In 94 B.C. Nicomedes died, leaving his kingdom to his son Nicomedes IV. Mithridates had now gained a strong ally and lost a strong opponent, and in 91 B.C Rome appeared to be fully occupied in Italy after the outbreak of the Social War.

In 91 B.C. Tigranes invaded Cappadocia, expelling Ariobarzanes, who fled to Rome. Mithridates attempted to assassinate Nicomedes, and when this failed successfully invaded Bithynia. Despite the situation in Italy, the Senate decided that both deposed kings should be restored, and sent a commission under Manius Aquillius and Manlius Maltinus or Mancinus to carry out their instructions.

Once again Mithridates retreated in the face of Roman pressure, but this time the Romans went too far. Nicomedes had offered to pay a large amount of money in return for his restoration, and Aquillius convinced him to find it by invading Pontus. Mithridates responded to this provocation by sending an envoy, Pelopidas, to the Roman commissioners, asked that they either restrain Nicomedes or allow him to fight back. Unsurprisingly the Romans refused these terms. Mithridates responded by invading Cappadocia, and then sent Pelopidas to the Romans for a second time. This time the envoy was arrested, and sent back to Mithridates with a message that he should withdraw from Cappadocia and not oppose Nicomedes. This was the last straw, and Mithridates now prepared to invade Bithynia.

The Romans only had a single legion of their own troops in Asia Minor, and so were forced to raise large forces of local troops. Three armies were raised and given Roman commanders. M. Aquillius took up a position at the north of the Roman line, on the main route from Pontus to Bithynia. C. Cassius, the governor of Asia, was posted on the border of Bithynia and Galatia. Q. Oppius took up a position in the foothills of Cappadocia. A fourth army was provided by Nicomedes IV, who was to advance from Bithynia into eastern Paphlagonia.

According to Appian each of the Roman-led armies contained 40,000 men, while Nicomedes IV had 50,000 infantry and 6,000 cavalry. Mithridates was credited with 250,000 infantry, 40,000 cavalry, 130 scythed chariots and a fleet of 300 decked warships and 100 ships with two banks of oars. All of these figures are probably too high, but they do indicate that the Romans and their allies were badly outnumbered.

The first action of the war took place in Paphlagonia and Bithynia. While Mithridates and his main army moved west to invade Bithynia, Nicomedes and the Bithynian army moved east, into Paphlagonia. The first battle came on the Amnias River, where Nicomedes was defeated by the Pontic generals and brothers Neoptolemus and Archelaus, at the head of a force of light infantry and cavalry, with some scythed chariots.

Mithridates then crossed into Bithynian, where Neoptolemus inflicted a defeat on the army under Manius Aquillius at the battle of Protopachium. Aquillius escaped to Pergamum, and then on to Lesbos, but he was later handed over to Mithridates by the people of Mytilene, and executed by having molten gold poured down his throat.

Cassius retreated to the fortress of Leontoncephalae in Phrygia in the Roman province, but after attempting to drill his army for a period realised that his position was hopeless, and retreated to Rhodes. Oppius reached Laodicea on the Lycus, and prepared for a siege, but when Mithridates arrived he offered the citizens an amnesty if they handed over Oppius. Unlike Aquillius, Oppius was treated well in captivity and survived the war.

Mithridates and his generals soon took control of most of the Roman province of Asia, although resistance continued in some areas throughout the war. Mithridates appointed satraps to rule his new conquests, and in an attempt to increase his popularity remitted taxes for five years.

News of these disasters reached Rome, probably in the autumn of 89 B.C. The command in the east was given to L. Cornelius Sulla, one of the consuls for 88 B.C. It would take eighteen months for the situation in Rome to become stable enough for Sulla to leave for Greece, and he did not arrive there with his five legions until early in 87 B.C. Rome's finances were so badly stretched that the Senate had to sell of part of the "Treasures of Numa" to pay for the legions.

During the first half of 88 B.C. Mithridates revealed his ruthless streak. In an attempt to bind the cities of Asia Minor firmly to his cause, Mithridates ordered them all to kill every Roman and Italian in Asia Minor. Thirteen days after this order was sent out, around 80,000 Romans and Italians were slaughtered in what is now known as the "Asiatic" or "Ephesian Vespers". Mithridates ordered the start of the new dating era, with 88 B.C. as its first year, to mark the liberation of the cities from Rome, and began to use the titles 'Great' and 'King of Kings'.

Mithridates's next target was the island of Rhodes, then an important naval power and the only remaining safe haven for Romans and Italians in the Aegean. In the autumn of 88 B.C. Mithridates reached the island, and despite suffering heavily losses when the Rhodian fleet attacked his transports after a storm, was soon strong enough to risk an attack on the city. After this failed he constructed a giant siege engine, a flying bridge nicknamed the sambuca, but when this collapsed under its own weight Mithridates abandoned the siege and returned to the mainland.

In the summer of 88 B.C. the war spread to Greece. Mithridates's successes in Asia had attracted the attention of the anti-Roman faction in Athens, and the philosopher and politician Aristion had been sent to him as an envoy. In the spring of 88 B.C. Aristion returned to Athens, and was elected strategos epi ton hoplon, or magistrate in charge of the arms. Mithridates was invited to send an army to Athens, and responded by sending a force under the command of the general Archelaus.

On his way to Greece Archelaus captured the Cyclades islands, and the sacred treasury at Delos. On his arrival in Greece the Achaeans, Spartans and most of Boeotia rose against the Romans, but the fortress of Demetrias held out, as did parts of Euboea and Magnesia. The Romans only had two legions in the area, both in Macedonia where they were fighting against Thracian tribes. C. Sentius, the governor of Macedonia, was only able to send a small force south, under the command of his legate Bruttius Sura.

Despite the small size of his army, Bruttius was able to slow down Archelaus's progress, fighting a series of three small battles near Chaeronea, before being forced to retreat after reinforcements arrived from Sparta and Achaea. This gave time for the advance elements of the five legion strong consular army of Lucius Sulla to arrive in Greece.

Sulla's main force left Italy early in 87 B.C., presumably landing somewhere in Aetolia. After gathering reinforcements in Aetolia and Thessaly, Sulla advanced east through Boeotia towards Athens. Once there he was forced to conduct two parallel but separate sieges, against Aristion in Athens and Archelaus in Piraeus. The Long Walls that had once connected the two places were now in ruins, and so the defenders were isolated from each other. Mithridates had command of the seas, and so Archelaus could receive reinforcements and supplies, but Athens was completely isolated.

In the autumn of 87 B.C. Sulla concentrated his main efforts against Piraeus, first launching a direct assault on the walls, and then settling down for a formal siege. Despite all of his efforts Archelaus was able to hold out until the arrival of winter forced Sulla to pull most of his forces back into his camps at Eleusis. Even then Sulla retained enough forces around Athens to prevent any supplies getting through.

In the spring of 86 B.C. Sulla was faced with a new problem. A large Pontic army, under the command of Arcathias, son of Mithridates, was advancing through Thrace and Macedonia. If the defenders of Athens and Piraeus held out long enough, Sulla would be forced to abandon the siege to deal with the new threat, but he would then be vulnerable to attack from the rear.

Faced with this problem Sulla decided to concentrate on Athens, where starvation was now becoming a real danger. On 1 March, taking advantage of a weak spot in the defences, the Romans broke into the city. Aristion and his supporters fled to the Acropolis, while the population suffered a brutal sack (although Sulla ordered that the buildings be spared out of respect for Athens's glorious past). This was the only punishment Athens would suffer for its role in the war &ndash once the pro-Roman faction was back in power the pre-war status quo was restored, and the city kept its liberties. By the time Athens fell the threat from the north had been reduced. Arcathias had advanced slowly through Thrace and Macedonia, but just before the city fell he died (at Tisaeum in Magnesia).

The defence of the Acropolis lasted for several more weeks, but Sulla was now free to concentrate on Piraeus. A series of determined assaults on the defences forced Archelaus back onto the Munychia peninsula, protected by the sea on three sides and by strong fortifications on the fourth. He could have held out here for as long as Mithridates kept control of the sea, but with Athens lost and the port of Piraeus no longer useful, Archelaus decided to retreat north. The garrison was loaded onto their ships, and slipped away to Thessaly, joining with the northern army at Thermopylae.

Sulla was now free to march north to deal with this second Pontic Army. His legate C. Curio was left to conduct the siege of the Acropolis, while Sulla advanced into Boeotia. He was later criticised for this move, for Boeotia was seen as better cavalry country than Attica, but supplies were running short in Attica, and there was a real danger that a small Roman detachment under Hortensius would be cut off by the advancing Pontic army.

Battles in Boeotia

Hortensius quickly escaped from the Pontic trap, crossing a mountain pass to join Sulla's main army. The Romans were badly outnumbered in Boeotia. Sulla claimed to have only had 15,000 infantry and 1,500 cavalry when the two sides met in battle at Chaeronea, although his force was probably nearer to 40,000 strong. Most sources give Archelaus 120,000 men and Appian states that the Romans were outnumbered three to one.

The two armies came face to face at Philoboeotus, at the southern edge of the plain of Elatea. This was good cavalry country, and so Sulla refused battle. Archelaus then attempted to cut off his lines of communication to the south east by occupying Chaeronea, on the River Cephisus. Sulla managed to get a legion into the city in time to prevent this, and then advanced down the river valley with his main army. The resulting battle of Chaeronea was fought in a cramped river valley, and on rocky ground that was not well suited for cavalry, and Sulla won a crushing victory. After the battle Archelaus escaped to the coast with only 10,000 men.

Despite this victory Sulla was not secure. Mithridates still had command of the sea, and so Archelaus soon received 80,000 reinforcements. From his base at Chalcis he was able to launch naval raids around the coast of Greece, even reaching into the Adriatic.

Roman politics now increased Sulla's problems. A new Roman army, under the command of the consul Flaccus, landed in Greece, officially to fight Mithridates, but actually to deal with Sulla. Sulla was forced to take up a position which would all him to move against whichever threat developed first. That threat came from Archelaus, who having received reinforcements landed on the mainland with 80,000 men and began to ravage Boeotia. Sulla was forced to turn south to deal with the new threat.

The battle of Orchomenus took place on a large open plain that should have been ideally suited for Archelaus's army. Sulla recognised this, and after posting much of his infantry in his centre began to dig 10ft wide trenches to protect his flanks. Archelaus attempted to rush the trenches, bringing on a general engagement in which he lost 15,000 men. On the following day the Romans began to dig trenches around the Pontic camp. Archelaus attempts to prevent this, but instead the Pontic attack gave the Romans a chance to storm their camp. The Pontic army was forced to scatter into the swamps behind the camp. Archelaus eventually reached safety, but his army was destroyed. Once this news reached Mithridates, he instructed Archelaus to open peace negotiations with Sulla.

After the battle Sulla had moved north to deal with Flaccus, but that clash would be delayed. As the advance guard of his two legions began to approach Sulla's positions, an increasingly large number of men began to desert. Flaccus was greedy, incompetent and unpopular with his troops, and only the efforts of his legate Fimbria prevents further mass desertions. Flaccus realised that there was no point attacking Sulla, and instead decided to march directly to the Bosporus to invade Asia Minor.

After the battle of Chaeronea Mithridates's hold on Asia Minor began to unravel. Early in the war he had taken sixty Galatian noblemen as hostages to Pergamum, and after the news of the battle reached him, he had them slaughtered, most at a banquet. Only three survivors escaped, but they were able to raise a revolt in Galatia.

The citizens of Chios were next to suffer. Mithridates had suspected them of disloyalty ever since one of their ships had accidentally collided with his flagship during the siege of Rhodes. He now decided to confiscate the property of any Chiot who had fled to Sulla. This was followed by a military occupation of the city, and the removal of the children of prominent citizens as hostages. A fine of 2,000 talents was imposed. The citizens collected temple treasures and women's jewellery in an attempt to pay the fine, but Mithridates accused them of underpaying, and decided to deport the entire population to Colchis, on the Black Sea. The Chiots reached as far as Heraclea Pontica, where they were rescued by the locals.

Mithridates's increasing tyranny and paranoia triggered a series of revolts across Asia Minor. Colophon, Ephesus, Hypaepa, Smyrna and Tralles were amongst the rebels, and although some of these cities were captured and punished others held out.

The situation was made worse by the arrival of a new Roman army in Asia Minor. This army reached Byzantium under the command of Flaccus, but once there he was deposed and killed by his legate Fimbria. Fimbria proved to be a competent but brutal commander, conducting a successful campaign in Bithynia and along the coast of Asia Minor. Any city that resisted was sacked, amongst them Nicomedia and Cyzicus, while Ilium was sacked despite having welcomed Fimbria as a friend.

Mithridates raised a large army to oppose Fimbria, under the command of his son, another Mithridates. This army attempted to block the Romans on the Rhyndacus River in Bithynia, but was defeated close to Miletopolis. The younger Mithridates managed to escape to join his father, but both were then chased to the coast at Pitane. Here Fimbria had a chance to end the war in a single stroke, for the fleet under Lucullus was close by, but Lucullus refused to cooperate with Sulla's political enemies, and Mithridates was able to escape by sea.

Fimbria continued his campaign, this time in Phrygia, where he would later be caught and defeated by Sulla. His campaign in Asia Minor helped to convince Mithridates that he had to accept Sulla's terms, offered after the battle of Orchomenus.

Naval Battles

A second factor in changing Mithridates's mind was his loss of control of the seas. In the winter of 87-86 B.C. Sulla had sent Lucius Licinius Lucullus to raise a fleet from Rome's allies around the eastern Mediterranean. With only six ships Lucullus managed to reach Crete and Cyrene, but he lost most of his ships to pirates on the way to Alexandria. He was received warmly at the Egyptian court, but no practical aid was forthcoming. All the Egyptians would do was ensure that Lucullus reached Cyprus in safety.

Lucullus had more luck at Cyprus, and in Phoenicia and Pamphylia. A year after he had been sent east by Sulla, Lucullus finally had a fleet, which in the spring of 85 B.C. combined with the fleet of Rhodes to pose a major threat to Mithridates's position. The allied fleet drove the Pontic forces out of Cos, Cnidos, Colophon and Chios. Lucullus then refused to help Fimbria at Pitane (see above), before heading to the Hellespont. Two naval victories followed &ndash one over a Pontic squadron off Lectum in the Troad, and the second, more important victory at Tenedos. Lucullus was then finally able to make contact with Sulla, and sailed to Abydos, ready to transport Sulla's army into Asia Minor.

After the defeat at Orchomenus Mithridates had asked Archelaus to attempt to come to terms with Sulla. The two men met at Aulis late in 86 B.C. Sulla's terms were uncompromising. Mithridates must give up all of his conquests, including Bithynia and Cappadocia, surrender seventy or eighty warships to Sulla, and pay a war indemnity of either 2,000 or 3,000 talents. Archelaus agreed to put these terms to his king, but preferred not to do it in person, so while messengers went to the Pontic king, Archelaus remained with Sulla.

At this stage Mithridates was not willing to surrender Cappadocia or his fleet, but Fimbria's campaign in Asia Minor and Lucullus's naval victories soon changed his mind. In the autumn of 85 B.C. Sulla and Mithridates met at Dardanus in the Troad, where Mithridates finally agreed to Sulla's terms. Although Mithridates eventually came to see these terms as too severe, he had actually emerged from a war with Rome with his original kingdom intact, a very rare achievement, and one that owed much to Sulla's desire not to leave problems behind him on his return to Rome.

Sulla still had to reorganise the Roman province of Asia. His first target was Fimbria, who he caught up with at Thyatira. Fimbria attempted to assassinate Sulla, and then fled to Pergamum where he committed suicide. His two legions sided with Sulla, and would be left behind to form the garrison of Asia.

Those cities that had sided with Mithridates suffered most heavily. Sulla billeted his legions in them, and then imposed a massive fine of 20,000 talents, partly a war indemnity and partly five years of unpaid taxes. Those cities that resisted were brutally treated &ndash some suffered massacres, others had their populations sold into slavery. Lucullus, who had the difficult job of collecting this fine, gained a reputation for scrupulous honesty, but even he was unable to prevent a rebellion from breaking out in Mytilene in 81/80 B.C. Sulla eventually left Asia in 84 B.C., leaving Murena in charge in the province. Murena would trigger the short Second Mithridatic War, in 83-83 B.C., after which the peace would last until 74 B.C., and the outbreak of the Third Mithridatic War.

Lucullus &ndash The Life and Campaigns of a Roman Conqueror, Lee Fratantuono. Looks at the public career of Lucius Lucullus, one of the less familiar Roman military and political figures in the dying days of the Roman Republic, a generally successful general who was unable to end the wars he had almost won, and who was overshadowed by his patron Sulla and his rival and replacement Pompey. Aimed at the general reader, so provides a concise narrative of the life of this important figure (Read Full Review)

The Galatians &ndash Celtic Invaders of Greece and Asia Minor, John D. Grainger. A detailed history of the Galatians, tracing their development from Balkan raiders to part of the Hellenistic state system, and on to their relationship with the expanding power of Rome. Does an excellent job of looking at events from the Galatian perspective, rather than as they were seen by their Greek enemies, so we see them evolve from a raiding force into a more or less regular part of the Hellenistic state system, before eventually succumbing to the power of Rome. (Read Full Review)

Abridgement of Roman History/Book VI

In the consulate of Marcus Aemilius Lepidus and Quintus Catulus, [1] after Sulla had composed the troubles of the state, new wars broke out one in Spain, another in Pamphylia and Cilicia, a third in Macedonia, a fourth in Dalmatia. Sertorius, who had taken the side of Marius, dreading the fate of others who had been cut off, excited the Spaniards to a war. The generals sent against him were Quintus Caecilius Metellus, the son of that Metellus who had subdued Jugurtha, and the praetor Lucius Domitius. Domitius was killed by Hirtuleius, Sertorius's general. Metellus contended against Sertorius with various success. At length, as Metellus was thought singly unequal to the war, Cnaeus Pompey was sent into Spain. Thus, two generals being opposed to him, Sertorius often fought with very uncertain fortune. At last, in the eighth year of the war, he was put to death by his own soldiers, and an end made of the war by Cnaeus Pompey, at that time but a young man, and Quintus Metellus Pius and nearly the whole of Spain was brought under the dominion of the Roman people.

II Edit

Appius Claudius, on the expiration of his consulate was sent into Macedonia. He had some skirmishes with different tribes that inhabited the province of Rhodopa, [2] and there fell ill and died. Cnaeus Scribonius Curio, on the termination of his consulship, was sent to succeed him. He conquered the Dardanians, penetrated as far as the Danube, and obtained the honour of a triumph, putting an end to the war within three years.

III Edit

Publius Servilius, an energetic man, was sent, after his consulate, into Cilicia and Pamphilia. He reduced Cilicia, besieged and took the most eminent cities of Lycia, amongst them Phaselis, Olympus, and Corycus. The Isauri he also attacked, and compelled to surrender, and, within three years, put an end to the war. He was the first of the Romans that marched over Mount Taurus. On his return, he was granted a triumph, and acquired the surname of Isauricus.

IV Edit

Cnaeus Cosconius was sent into Illyricum as proconsul. He reduced a great part of Dalmatia, took Salonae, and, having made an end of the war, returned to Rome after an absence of two years.

V Edit

About the same time, the consul Marcus Aemilius Lepidus, the colleague of Catulus, attempted to kindle a civil war but in one summer that commotion was suppressed. Thus there were several triumphs at the same time, that of Metellus for Spain, a second for Spain obtained by Pompey, one of Curio for Macedonia, and one of Servilius for Isauria.

VI Edit

In the six hundred and seventy-sixth year from the building of the city, in the consulate of Lucius Licinius Lucullus and Marcus Aurelius Cotta, [3] Nicomedes, king of Bithynia, died, appointing by his will the Roman people his heir.

Mithridates, breaking the peace, again proceeded to invade Bithynia and Asia. Both the consuls being sent out against him, met with various success. Cotta, being defeated by him in a battle near Chalcedon, was even forced into the town, and besieged there. But Mithridates, having marched from thence to Cyzicus, that, after capturing that city, he might overrun all Asia, Lucullus, the other consul, met him and, whilst Mithridates was detained at the siege of Cyzicus, besieged him in the rear, exhausted him with famine, defeated him in several battles, and at last pursued him to Byzantium, now called Constantinople. Lucullus also vanquished his commanders in a sea-fight. Thus, in a single winter and summer, almost a hundred thousand men on the king's side were cut off by Lucullus.

VII Edit

In the six hundred and seventy-eighth year of Rome, Marcus Licinius Lucullus, the cousin of that Lucullus who had carried on the war against Mithridates, obtained the province of Macedonia. A new war, too, suddenly sprung up in Italy for eighty-four gladiators, led by Spartacus, Crixus, and Oenomaus, having broken out of a school at Capua, made their escape and, wandering over Italy, kindled a war in it, not much less serious than that which Hannibal had raised for, after defeating several generals and two consuls of the Romans, they collected an army of nearly sixty thousand men. They were, however, defeated in Apulia by the proconsul Marcus Licinius Crassus and, after much calamity to Italy, the war was terminated in its third year.


In the six hundred and eighty-first year from the founding of the city, in the consulate of Publius Cornelius Lentulus and Cnaeus Aufidius Orestes, [4] there were but two wars of any importance throughout the Roman empire, the Mithridatic and the Macedonian. Of these the two Luculli, Lucius and Marcus, had the direction. Lucius Lucullus, after the battle at Cyzicus, in which he had conquered Mithridates, and the sea-fight, in which he had overcome his generals, pursued him and, recovering Paphlagonia and Bithynia, invaded his very kingdom. He took Sinope and Amisus, two most eminent cities of Pontus. In a second battle, near the city Cabira, where Mithridates had assembled a vast army from all parts of his kingdom, thirty thousand of the king's chosen troops were cut in pieces by five thousand of the Romans, and Mithridates was put to flight and his camp plundered. Armenia Minor, also, of which he had taken possession, was wrested from him. Mithridates was, however, received after his flight by Tigranes, the king of Armenia, who at that time reigned in great glory for he had frequently defeated the Persians, and had made himself master of Mesopotamia, Syria, and part of Phoenicia.

IX Edit

Lucullus, therefore, still pursuing his routed enemy, entered even the kingdom of Tigranes, who ruled over both the Armenias. Tigranocerta, the most noble city of Armenia, he succeeded in taking the king himself, who advanced against him with six hundred thousand cuirassiers, and a hundred thousand archers and other troops, he so completely defeated with a force of only eighteen thousand, that he annihilated a great part of the Armenians. Marching from thence to Nisibis, he took that city also, and made the king's brother prisoner. But as those whom Lucullus had left in Pontus with part of the army in order to defend the conquered countries belonging to the Romans, grew negligent and avaricious in their conduct, they gave Mithridates an opportunity of again making an irruption into Pontus, and thus the war was renewed. While Lucullus, after the reduction of Nisibis, was preparing for an expedition against the Persians, a successor was sent out to take his place.

X Edit

The other Lucullus, who had the management of affairs in Macedonia, was the first of the Romans that made war upon the Bessi, defeating them in a great battle on Mount Haemus he reduced the town of Uscudama, which the Bessi inhabited, on the same day in which he attacked it he also took Cabyle, and penetrated as far as the river Danube. He then besieged several cities lying above Pontus, where he destroyed Apollonia, Calatis, Parthenopolis, Tomi, Histros, and Burziaone, [5] and, putting an end to the war, returned to Rome. Both the Luculli however triumphed, but the Lucullus, who had fought against Mithridates, with the greater glory, because he had returned victorious over such powerful nations.

XI Edit

After the Macedonian war was ended, but while that with Mithridates still continued (which, on the departure of Lucullus, that king had renewed, collecting all his forces for the purpose), the Cretan war arose, and Caecilius Metellus being sent to conduct it, secured the whole province, by a succession of great battles, within three years, and received the appellation of Creticus, and a triumph on account of the island. About this time Libya also, by the will of Apion, the king of the country, was added to the Roman empire in it were the celebrated cities, Berenice, Ptolemais, and Cyrene.

XII Edit

During these transactions, pirates infested all the seas, so that navigation, and that alone, was unsafe to the Romans, who were now victorious throughout the world. The war against these pirates, therefore, was committed to Cnaeus Pompey, who, with surprising success and celerity, finished it in the course of a few months. Soon after, the war against Mithridates and Tigranes was entrusted to him in the conduct of which, he overcame Mithridates in Armenia Minor in a battle by night, and plundered his camp, killing at the same time forty thousand of his troops, while he lost only twenty of his own men, and two centurions. Mithridates fled with his wife and two attendants and not long after, in consequence of his cruelty to his own family, he was reduced, through a sedition excited among his soldiers by his son Pharnaces, to the necessity of putting an end to his existence, and swallowed poison. Such was the end of Mithridates, a man of singular energy and ability his death happened near the Bosporus. He reigned sixty years, lived seventy-two, and maintained a war against the Romans for forty.


Pompey next made war upon Tigranes, who surrendered himself, coming to Pompey's camp at sixteen miles distance from Artaxata and, throwing himself at his feet, pla,ced in his hands his diadem, which Pompey returned to him, and treated him with great respect, but obliged him to give up part of his dominions and to pay a large sum of money: Syria, Phoenicia, and Sophene, were taken from him, and six thousand talents of silver, which he had to pay to the Roman people because he had raised a war against them without cause.

XIV Edit

Pompey soon after made war also upon the Albani [6] and defeated their king Orodes three times at length, being prevailed upon by letters and presents, he granted him pardon and peace. He also defeated Artoces, king of Iberia, [7] in battle, and reduced him to surrender. Armenia Minor he conferred upon Deiotarus, the king of Galatia, because he had acted as his ally in the Mithridatic war. To Attalus and Pylaemenes he restored Paphlagonia and appointed Aristarchus king of the Colchians. Shortly after he subdued the Itureans and Arabians and, on entering Syria, rewarded Seleucia, a city near Antioch, with independence, because it had not admitted King Tigranes. To the inhabitants of Antioch he restored their hostages. On those of Daphne, being charmed with the beauty of the spot and the abundance of water, he bestowed a portion of land, in order that their grove might be enlarged. Marching from thence to Judea, he took Jerusalem, the capital, in the third month twelve thousand of the Jews being slain, and the rest allowed to surrender on terms. After these achievements, he returned into Asia, and put an end to this most tedious war.

XV Edit

In the consulate of Marcus Tullius Cicero, the orator, and Caius Antonius, in the six hundred and eighty-ninth year from the foundation of the city, Lucius Sergius Catiline, a man of very noble family, but of a most corrupt disposition, conspired to destroy his country, in conjunction with some other eminent but desperate characters. He was expelled from the city by Cicero his accomplices were apprehended and strangled in prison and he himself was defeated and killed in battle by Antonius, the other consul.

XVI Edit

In the six hundred and ninetieth year from the building of the city, in the consulate of Decimus Junius Silanus and Lucius Muraena, Metellus triumphed on account of Crete, Pompey for the Piratic and Mithridatic wars. No triumphal procession was ever equal to this the sons of Mithridates, the son of Tigranes, and Aristobulus, king of the Jews, were led before his car a vast sum of money, an immense mass of gold and silver, was carried in front. At this time there was no war of any importance throughout the world.


In the six hundred and ninety-third year from the founding of the city, Caius Julius Caesar, who was afterwards emperor, was made consul with Lucius Bibulus and Gaul and Illyricum, with ten legions, were decreed to him. He first subdued the Helvetii, who are now called Sequani [8] and afterwards, by conquering in most formidable wars, pro ceeded as far as the British ocean. In about nine years he subdued all that part of Gaul which lies between the Alps, the river Rhone, the Rhine, and the Ocean, and extends in circumference nearly three thousand two hundred miles. He next made war upon the Britons, to whom not even the name of the Romans was known before his time and having subdued them, and received hostages, sentenced them to pay a tribute. On Gaul, under the name of tribute, he imposed the yearly sum of forty thousand sestertia [9] and invading the Germans on the other side of the Rhine, defeated them in several most sanguinary engagements. Among so many successes, he met with three defeats, once in person among the Arverni, and twice in Germany during his absence for two of his lieutenant-generals, Titurius and Aurunculeius, were cut off by ambuscades.


About the same time, in the six hundred and ninety-seventh year from the foundation of the city, Marcus Licinius Crassus, the colleague of Cnaeus Pompey the Great in his second consulship, was sent against the Parthians and having engaged the enemy near Carrae, contrary to the omens and auspices, was defeated by Surena, the general of king Orodes, and at last killed, together with his son, a most noble and excellent young man. The remains of the army were saved by Caius Cassius the quaestor, who, with singular courage, so ably retrieved the ruined fortune of the Romans, that, in his retreat over the Euphrates, he defeated the Persians in several battles.

XIX Edit

Soon after followed the Civil war, a war truly execrable and deplorable, in which, besides the havoc that occurred in the several battles, the fortune of the Roman people was changed. [10] For Caesar, on returning victorious from Gaul, proceeded to demand another consulship, and in such a manner, that it was granted him without hesitation yet opposition was made to it by Marcellus the consul, Bibulus, Pompey, and Cato, and he was in consequence ordered to disband his army |495and return to Rome in revenge for which insult, he marched with his army from Ariminum, where he kept his forces assembled, against his country. The consuls, together with Pompey, the whole senate, and all the nobility, fled from the city, and crossed over into Greece and in Epirus, Macedonia, and Achaia, the senate, under Pompey as their general, prepared war against Caesar.

XX Edit

Caesar, having marched into the deserted city, made himself dictator. Soon after he set out for Spain, where he defeated the armies of Pompey, which were very powerful and brave, with their three generals, Lucius Afranius, Marcus Petreius, and Marcus Varro. Returning from thence, he went over into Greece. He took the field against Pompey, but in the first battle was defeated and put to flight he escaped, however, because Pompey declined to pursue him, as the night was coming on when Caesar remarked, that Pompey knew not how to conquer, and that that was the only day on which he himself might have been vanquished. They next fought at Palaeopharsalus, [11] in Thessaly, leading great forces into the field on both sides. The army of Pompey consisted of forty thousand foot, six hundred horse on the left wing, and five hundred on the right, besides auxiliary troops from the whole east, and all the nobility, senators without number, men of praetorian and consular rank, and some who had already been conquerors of powerful nations. Caesar had not quite thirty thousand infantry in his army, and but one thousand horse.

XXI Edit

Never before had a greater number of Roman forces assembled in one place, or under better generals, forces which would easily have subdued the whole world, had they been led against barbarians. They fought with great eagerness, but Pompey was at last overcome, and his camp plundered. Pompey himself, when put to flight, sought refuge at Alexandria, with the hope of receiving aid from the king of Egypt, to whom, on account of his youth, he had been appointed guardian by the senate he, however, regarding fortune rather than friendship, caused Pompey to be killed, and sent his head and ring to Caesar at sight of which even Caesar is said to have shed tears, as he viewed the head of so great a man, once his own son-in law.


Caesar soon after went to Alexandria. Ptolemy attempted to form a plot against his life also for which reason war was made upon him, and, being defeated, he perished in the Nile, and his body was found covered with a golden coat of mail. Caesar, having made himself master of Alexandria, conferred the kingdom on Cleopatra, the sister of Ptolemy, with whom he himself had an illicit connexion. On his return from thence, Caesar defeated in battle Pharnaces, the son of Mithridates the Great, who had assisted Pompey in Thessaly, taken up arms in Pontus, and seized upon several provinces of the Roman people and at last drove him to self-destruction.


Returning from thence to Rome, he created himself a third time consul with Marcus Aemilius Lepidus, who had been his master of the horse when dictator the year before. Next he went into Africa, where a great number of the nobility, in conjunction with Juba, king of Mauritania, had resumed hostilities. The Roman leaders were Publius Cornelius Scipio, of the most ancient family of Scipio Africanus (who had also been the father-in-law of the great Pompey) Marcus Petreius, Quintus Varus, Marcus Porcius Cato, and Lucius Cornelius Faustus, the son of Sulla the dictator. In a pitched battle fought against them, Caesar, after many struggles, was victorious. Cato, Scipio, Petreius, Juba, killed themselves Faustus, Pompey's son-in-law, was slain by Caesar.


On his return to Rome the year after, Caesar made himself a fourth time consul, and immediately proceeded to Spain, where the sons of Pompey, Cnaeus, and Sextus, had again raised a formidable war. Many engagements took place, the last near the city of Munda, in which Caesar was so nearly defeated, that, upon his forces giving way, he felt inclined to kill himself, lest, after such great glory in war, he should fall, at the age of fifty-six, into the hands of young men. At length, having rallied his troops, he gained the victory the elder son of Pompey was slain, the younger fled.

XXV Edit

The civil wars throughout the world being now terminated, Caesar returned to Rome, and began to conduct himself with too great arrogance, contrary to the usages of Roman liberty. As he disposed, therefore, at his own pleasure, of those honours, which were before conferred by the people and did not even rise up when the senate approached him, an d exercised regal, or almost tyrannical power, in other respects, a conspiracy was formed against him by sixty or more Roman senators and knights. The chief among the conspirators were the two Bruti, (of the family of that Brutus who had been made first consul of Rome, and who had expelled the kings) Caius Cassius, and Servilius Casca. Caesar, in consequence, having entered the senate house with the rest, on a certain day appointed for a meeting of the senate, was stabbed with three and twenty wounds.

Literature [ edit | edit source ]

The poet A. E. Housman alludes to Mithridates' antidote, also known as mithridatism, in the final stanza of his poem "Terence, This Is Stupid Stuff" in A Shropshire Lad.

There was a king reigned in the East: There, when kings will sit to feast, They get their fill before they think With poisoned meat and poisoned drink. He gathered all that springs to birth From the many-venomed earth First a little, thence to more, He sampled all her killing store And easy, smiling, seasoned sound, Sate the king when healths went round. They put arsenic in his meat And stared aghast to watch him eat They poured strychnine in his cup And shook to see him drink it up: They shook, they stared as white’s their shirt: Them it was their poison hurt. –I tell the tale that I heard told. Mithridates, he died old. – A. E. Housman, A Shropshire Lad

Ralph Waldo Emerson included his "Mithridates" in his 1847 "Poems". The legend also appears in Alexandre Dumas's novel The Count of Monte Cristo. The demise of Mithridates VI is detailed in the 1673 play Mithridate written by Jean Racine. This play is the basis for several 18th century operas including one of Mozart's earliest, known most commonly by its Italian name, Mitridate, re di Ponto (1770). He is the subject of the opera Mitridate Eupatore (1707) by Alessandro Scarlatti. In The Grass Crown, the second in the Masters of Rome series, Colleen McCullough, the Australian writer, describes in detail the various aspects of his life – the murder of Laodice (sister-wife of Mithridates VI of Pontus), and the Roman Consul who, quite alone and surrounded by the Pontic army, ordered Mithridates to leave Cappadocia immediately and go back to Pontus – which he did.

Wordsworth, amidst casting about for poetic themes in The Prelude:

Sometimes, more sternly moved, I would relate How vanquished Mithridates northward passed, And, hidden in the cloud of years, became Odin, the Father of a race by whom Perished the Roman Empire. – William Wordsworth, The Prelude Bk i vv 186 ff

In Dorothy L. Sayers' Detective Novel "Strong Poison", from 1929, the protagonist, Lord Peter Wimsey, refers to Mithridates' measures to survive poisoning as well as Albert Einstein's theory of Special Relativity, when the protagonist warns not to trust someone who looks straight in your eye, as they're trying to distract you from seeing something, "..even the path light travels is bent".

James Joyce alludes to Mithridates' immunity to poison in his love poem Though I Thy Mithridates Were.

The Last King is an historical novel by Michael Curtis Ford about the King and his exploits against the Roman Republic. Mithridates is a major character in Poul Anderson's novel The Golden Slave. Mithridates of Pontus is mentioned by E. E. "Doc" Smith in Triplanetary, the first novel of the famous Lensman science fiction series. In the story, Mithridates was supposed to be one of the humans possessed by a member of an evil alien race bent on remaking human civilization into its own image.

Watch the video: 18 Под властью Понтийской династии На черноморском перекрестке (July 2022).


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