The Ancient Library

Scanned text contains errors.


His body was sent by Phariiaces to Pompey at Amisus, as a token of his submission ; but the conqueror caused it to be interred with regal honours in the sepulchre of his forefathers at Sinope. (Plut. Pomp. 42; App. Mithr. .113; Dion Cass. xxxvii. 14.) According to the statement of Appian already cited, he was sixty-eight or sixty-nine years old at the time of his death, and had reigned fifty-seven years, of which twenty-five had been occupied, with only a few brief intervals, in one continued struggle against the Roman power. The estimation in which he was held by his adversaries is the strongest testimony to his great abilities: Cicero calls him the greatest of all kings after Alexander (Acad. pr. ii. 1), and in another passage says that he was a more formidable opponent than any other monarch whom the Roman arms had yet encountered (pro Muren. 15 ; see also Veil. Pat. ii. 18). Nor can we doubt the truth of these eulogiums, when we contemplate the circumstances in which he was placed, and the instruments with which he had to work. The numerous defeats of Mithridates are a proof not so much of his own deficiency as a general, as of the inferiority of his troops to those which were opposed to him. This was the radical defect, which he was unable to cure. After the unsuccessful issue of his war with Sulla, all his efforts were directed, as we have already seen, to the training up a disciplined army, capable of contending with the Roman legions ; and even after the failure of this first experiment he still seems to have formed armies, comparatively small in numbers, but well organised, instead of the unwieldy and undisciplined multitudes of Ti-granes. But he latterly became convinced of the impossibility of coping with the Romans in the field, and on all occasions sought to avoid a pitched battle, and draw his enemies into positions where he might cut them off from their supplies, or take advantage of the rugged and difficult nature of the country in which he had involved them. If he was frequently foiled in these projects, we must remember that he was opposed to generals such as Lucullus and Pompey. But whatever opinion may be entertained of the.skill and ability of Mithri­dates as a general in conducting his campaigns, there can be no question as to the undaunted spirit and energy with which he rose superior to all his defeats, and was ever ready to recommence the unequal contest.

What little we know of his character in other respects is far from favourable ; and notwithstand­ing his Greek education and habits, presents all the characteristics of a genuine Eastern despot. His unreasonable suspicions of those around him, which lost him the province of Galatia and the services of Archelaus; the reliance placed on eunuchs for all confidential purposes ; the barbarous execution of several of his numerous sons for vari­ous and often trivial causes ; and the truly Oriental jealousy which led him to order the death of his wives and sisters, when he found himself compelled to fly from his kingdom—not to speak of the severe punishment inflicted on the people of Chios for a trifling and apparently involuntary offence (App. Mithr. 47) ; and the general massacre of the Roman citizens throughout Asia—are sufficient evidence that neither his great abilities nor his superior education had produced in him any tendency to real enlightenment or humanity. Yet he was not without a love of the fine arts ; and among the



vast treasures accumulated in his treasuries at Cabeira and elsewhere were many valuable pictures and statues, and a splendid collection of engraved gems or precious stones. (Strab. xii. p. 556; Plin. xxxiii. 12. § 54, xxxvii. 2. § 5; Manil. Astron. v. 510.)

Of his numerous wives or concubines, the names of a few only have been preserved to us: among the most conspicuous of which are: Laodice, put to death early in his reign ; Berenice and Momma, both of whom were put to death at Pharnacia [MoNiMA], stratonice and Hypsicratea, the last of whom is said to have accompanied him on all his campaigns, and shared with him every danger and privation. (Plut. Pomp. 32 ; Val. Max. iv. 6. ext. § 2.) By these various wives he was the father of a numerous progeny, many of whom, however, perished before him. Of his sons, Arca-thias died in Greece, Mithridates and Xiphares were put to death by his orders, and Machares only escaped the same fate by a voluntary death ; five others, named Artaphernes, Cyrus, Dareius, Xerxes, and Oxathres, had fallen into the hands of Pompey, and served to adorn his triumph (App* Mithr. 117); while Pharnaces succeeded to the throne of the Bosporus. Of his daughters the fol­lowing are mentioned in history : 1. Cleopatra, married to Tigranes, king of Armenia ; 2. Drype-tine, put to death by the eunuch Menophilus ; 3. Another Cleopatra, present with her father at the Bosporus (App. Mithr. 108) ; 4. Mithridatis ; and 5. Nyssa, who poisoned themselves at the same time -with their father (ib. iii.) ; and 6 and 7. Orsabaris and Eupatra, who were taken prisoners by Pompey (ib. 117).

The portrait of Mithridates which appears on his coins is remarkable for the fire and energy of his countenance, which accords well with all we know of his character ; while the beautiful execution of the coins themselves, both in gold and silver, bears testimony to his patronage of the arts. They usually bear a date, which refers to an era com­mencing with the year b. c. 297, and which con­tinued to be used by the kings of Bosporus long afterwards, though its origin is unknown.


mithridates, a son of the preceding, who was appointed by his father to take the command of the army which he opposed to the Roman general, Fimbria, in b. c. 85. Though supported by Taxiles, Diophantus, and Menander, three of the ablest generals of Mithridates, he was totally defeated by Fimbria, who surprised his camp, and cut to pieces the greater part of his forces ; he him­self made his escape to Pergamus, where ne joined his father. (Memnon, 34; Appian, Mithr. 52.) After the termination of the war with Sulla, he was appointed by his father to the government of Col­chis, with the title of king. The Colchians, who were previously in a state of revolt, immediately submitted to the young prince, and received him

About | First



page #  
Search this site
All non-public domain material, including introductions, markup, and OCR © 2005 Tim Spalding.
Ancient Library was developed and hosted by Tim Spalding of