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The Parthians - Part 2

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  • Neal Robbins
    The successor to Arsaces was Tiridates. The Seleucid king Seleucus II led an expedition against Parthia. But internal problems arose in Antioch and Seleucus
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 2, 2005
          The successor to Arsaces was Tiridates. The Seleucid king Seleucus II led an expedition against Parthia. But internal problems arose in Antioch and Seleucus had to withdraw his army and go to settle the dispute. The Parthians remained in control of their territory. Tiridates expanded their domain in 217 B.C. He occupied Hyrcania and Comisene and gained the rich lands on the southeast coast of the Caspian Sea. This strengthened Parthia to a considerable extent.
          Tiridates died in 211 B.C. and his son Artabanus I became king. Artabanus made some conquests and by 209 B.C., the territory held by the Parthians stretched as far as Ecbatana in Media. But the next Seleucid king Antiochus III regained some lost of the lost territory. However, the kingdom of Parthia still survived.
          Artabanus I died in 191 B.C. and Priapatius became king of Parthia. He ruled for 15 years and had two sons named Phraates and Mithradates. After Priapatius died, Phraates, who was the elder son, became king. He retook Hyrcania and other territories from the Seleucids. This expanded the Parthian domain farther west.
          Antiochus III died and things went very badly for the Seleucids. A series of internal rebellions broke out and his successors were too inept to deal with them. As a result, the Seleucids lost control of Iran.
          Phraates I of Parthia died and his younger brother Mithradates took the throne. Mithradates seized Tapiura and Traxiane soon after 160 B.C. Mithradates. issued the first Parthian coins.
          More problems developed for the Seleucids. Demetrius became king, but had to deal with a rebellion. Mithradates took advantage of the situation and annexed much of Babylonia and Mesopotamia in 141 B.C. He then led his army east and defeated a Bactrian invasion. After that, he captured the Seleucid ruler Demetrius by a trick and sent him to retirement in Hyrcania. Mithradates gave Demetrius his daughter Rhodogune in marriage.
          Mithradates died in 130 B.C. His son Phraates II became king and his mother became regent. Demetrius tried to escape from his luxurious captivity twice, but was captured both times.
          The Seleucids were determined to show that they still had some fight left. Antiochus VII had become ruler by deposing the pretender Tryphon. Antiochus then consolidated control over Judea and Syria. He attacked the Parthian kingdom in 130 B.C. His army won three major battles against the Parthians. As a result, Antiochus was able to regain control of Babylonia and Media for the Seleucids. Some Parthian vassal states also joined forces with Antiochus. Things did not look well for the Parthians at this point.
          But certain events happened to turn things around. Antiochus quartered his troops in Ecbatana in the winter. The Seleucid soldiers behaved badly and this outraged the civilian population. One could say that the army of Antiochus wore out its welcome. THis cost him support.
          In the spring the Parthians released Demetrius to the Seleucids. Many Seleucids considered Demetrius to still be their rightful king. This caused a serious division.
          Phraates led his army against Antiochus's forces for the major showdown. The Parthians won and Antiochus was killed. His son was captured and his daughter was taken into the royal harem of Phraates. The Seleucids could never regain their former strength. They could not pose a serious threat to Parthia again.
          But Parthia would eventually face a challenge from another power - Rome. I will discuss that in another posting.
      Neal Robbins

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