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The Mithridatic Wars

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Decebal View Drop Down
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  Quote Decebal Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: The Mithridatic Wars
    Posted: 22-Nov-2005 at 11:42

I came across this map showing the greatest extent of the alliance that Mithridates, the king of Pontus, created against Rome. It is quite impressive. Does anybody know more about the wars? How close was the alliance to defeating Rome? I think that this is one of the less well discussed periods in Rome's history but critical nonetheless.

Here are some websites on the subject:

http://www.livius.org/ap-ark/appian/appian_mithridatic_03.ht ml

http://www.unrv.com/roman-republic/third-mithridatic-war.php

http://www.unrv.com/empire/mithridatic-war.php

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mithridatic_Wars

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  Quote Maju Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22-Nov-2005 at 14:04
It seems like it was more a relatively seondary episode in the period of Roman civil wars. That map shows the greatest extent of Mithridates influence when fighting against Sulla but it also seems that the Romans were in control most of the time and rather used the ambition of Mithridates as pretext to consolidate their domain in the East. Also there are mentions that the Oriental army of Mithridates was obsolete compared with Roman legions, using chariots and phallanx mostly.

Anyhow, I'm not particularly knowledgeable.

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  Quote ArmenianSurvival Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22-Nov-2005 at 16:28
For the Mithridatic Wars, here is a direct excerpt from A History of the Armenian People, by George A. Bournoutian, PhD:

     "Tigran of Armenia and Mithridates of Pontus realized that Roman and Parthian presence in the region was a constant danger to their own sovereignty. Civil war in Rome and problems over the succession in Parthia, encouraged them to attempt the creation of a third force in the region, a federation led by Pontus and Armenia, which would challenge Parthia and Rome. The alliance was sealed by the marriage of Tigran to the daughter of Mithridates. His eastern flank secure, Mithridates annexed Cappadocia and the coast of Asia Minor. Parthia and Rome, realizing that this alliance would be detrimental to their own designs, agreed to forgo their differences and to concentrate on eliminating the new threat. This was the first but not the last time that the two powers would divide the region into zones of influence. Sulla, who like subsequent Roman commanders viewed a successful eastern campaign as an opportunity to gain politically and materially, returned to drive the Pontic ruler out of Cappadocia. In 84 B.C. he managed to force Mithridates out of Greece and returned to Rome to assume the title of dictator. Mithridates did not give up his quest, however, and for the next ten years kept the Romans occupied by invading Greece and challenging Roman authority in Asia Minor.
     With Mithridates keeping the Romans at bay and the western flank secure, Tigran concentrated on the east. The death of the Parthian king and nomadic invasions of Parthia from Central Asia, allowed Tigran in 90 B.C. to retake the valleys he had ceded to Parthia; he then expanded south and took parts of Mesopotamia. By 85 B.C. Tigran began using the Persian title "King of Kings" and had four viceroys in official attendance. When a group of Syrian nobles invited Tigran to rule, he annexed Commagene, northern Syria, Cilicia and Phoenicia. Tigran's empire thus extended from the Mediterranean to the Caspian Sea, and for a brief period, Armenia was an empire. Antioch, the great Seleucid city and capital of Syria, became Tigran's headquarters in the Levant. Tigran thus took control of much of the former Seleucid territory east of the Euphrates. To better manage his large empire, however, Tigran built a new capital, Tigranakert (Tigranocerta), and forced immigration of Jews, Arabs and Greeks from Mesopotamia, Cilicia and Cappadocia in order to populate it and other new Armenian cities. Tigranakert was a great city with walls reportedly so wide that storehouses and stables could be built inside them. (He goes on to talk about the city, which i will skip for convenience)
     When Sulla retired from public life in 79 B.C., new military commanders sought to advance their standing. The Roman Senate gladly authorized foreign campaigns in order to lessen civil unrest and to end the Mithridatic wars, a thorn in Rome's eastern ambitions. In 74 B.C. the Roman general Lucullus invaded Pontus and forced Mithridates to seek refuge in Armenia. Unwilling to break the Armeno-Pontic front against Rome, Tigran refused to surrender his father-in-law and faced a Roman attack on Armenia. In 69 B.C. Tigranakert was besieged by Lucullus. When the city's inhabitants, a majority of whom were non-Armenians, opened the gates of Tigranakert, it fell to Roman troops and was looted. Tigran's local governors threw their lot with Rome, and Tigran lost control of Syria and Mesopotamia. Lucullus tried to take Artashat but failed, and, when he was unable to form an alliance with Parthia, returned to Rome. Tigran and Mithridates then began the reconquest of Pontus, northern Syria and Commagene. Rome did no surrender its claim, however, and sent Pompey, who defeated Mithridates and forced him to flee eastward. Pompey then advanced toward Armenia. Meanwhile, two of Tigran's sons betrayed him, one joining Pompey, the other the Parthian camp. The Roman presence in Armenia also incensed the Parthians, who wanted to ensure their control of the lands east of the Euphrates. In order to end the Armenian and Roman threats and to regain its territory, Parthia, taking advantage of Armenia's vulnerability attacked from the east. Tigran resisted the Parthian attacks at Artashat, but when Pompey arrived, he realized the futility of resisting the Romans, and in 66 B.C. agreed to the Peace of Artashat. Pompey, in order to maintain Armenia as a strong buffer and a friend of Rome, while, at the same time, keeping Parthia in check, left Armenia intact and allowed Tigran to retain the Persian title, "King of Kings". Tigran ruled for another ten years and died in 55 B.C. Having resolved the situation in Armenia, Pompey pursued Mithridates, who committed suicide on an island in the Black Sea."

Map of Tigran's empire:


I dont know why it shows Armenia as a vassal of Pontus in the map in Decebal's post. The alliance was jointly led by Mithridates and Tigran, and as you read, Mithridates would have been long gone if it wasnt for his alliance with Armenia.
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  Quote Perseas Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22-Nov-2005 at 16:56
Tigranes II of Armenia was the most important ally of Mithridates. Mithridates played the old known used card of "liberator of Greeks from Romans" but certainly not quite succesfully. He remained known, mostly about being impervious to poisons and his alleged knowledge of...more than 20 languages than his military successes. Btw, as far as i remember he was absent from the greatest battles of Mithridatic wars. His title "The Great" remains questionable.
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  Quote ArmenianSurvival Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22-Nov-2005 at 17:22
Originally posted by Aeolus

He remained known, mostly about being impervious to poisons and his alleged knowledge of...more than 20 languages than his military successes. Btw, as far as i remember he was absent from the greatest battles of Mithridatic wars. His title "The Great" remains questionable.


You're talking about Mithridates here, right? I ask because Tigran is also known as Tigran The Great.
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  Quote Belisarius Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23-Nov-2005 at 09:37
The situation of Mithradates is a peculiar one. While having such a strong empire, he was still unable to defeat singular Roman expeditionary forces. Even when he reorganized his army with Roman tactics, discipline, and weaponry, he was unable to defeat them. True merit must go to the talents of Sulla, Lucullus, and Pompey.
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  Quote Perseas Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23-Nov-2005 at 10:09

Originally posted by ArmenianSurvival

Originally posted by Aeolus

He remained known, mostly about being impervious to poisons and his alleged knowledge of...more than 20 languages than his military successes. Btw, as far as i remember he was absent from the greatest battles of Mithridatic wars. His title "The Great" remains questionable.


You're talking about Mithridates here, right? I ask because Tigran is also known as Tigran The Great.

Yeap, i am talking about Mithridates.

A mathematician is a person who thinks that if there are supposed to be three people in a room, but five come out, then two more must enter the room in order for it to be empty.
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  Quote Raider Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 29-Nov-2005 at 07:29

I think Mithridates was rather an organizer than a military leader. He was capable of building up huge armies over and over again and forge dangereous plans and plots against Rome. Although this was not enough while the Romans armies were invincible. All in all I think he rightfully had his epithet.

In my opinion he did not threat Rome or powerbase of Rome. But he did threat the Roman sphere of influence, and the dignitas of Rome. And I think this was a serious problem.

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  Quote Belisarius Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 30-Nov-2005 at 11:04
Actually, Mithridates was known more as a excellent survivor. He was an incredibly hardy individual, regularly taking poisons so that he would become immune to them. It was not too difficult to raise a large army in Asia Minor due to the wealth and large population available there. The fact that Mithridates was able to fight the Romans again and again after being defeated gives merit to his survival capablities.
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