Mithridates Stalks His Prey, and Strikes a Killing Blow: The ‘King of Kings’ of Ancient Iran

Mithridates Stalks His Prey, and Strikes a Killing Blow: The ‘King of Kings’ of Ancient Iran

Mithridates exhibited qualities that most kings rarely have: experience and maturity. Even Phraates passed over his own sons for his qualified brother to be next in line. Mithridates I (r. 171-138 BCE), like Phraates, Mithridates understood that a king could retain his power only as long as the people and nobles were treated fairly. To abuse such power at the expense of his subjects would be devastating. What is certain is that Mithridates, King of the Parthian Empire, was a leader who left a legacy of conquests—starting with Bactria.

Mithridates effectively picked up where his brother Phraates left off. He undoubtedly inherited a kingdom that was solid and sound in both its economic and military apparatus. Mithridates took the foundation established by Arsaces and turned it into an empire. He marched east, gobbling up lands and kingdoms, such as Bactria, and continued until Parthia’s border touched India. Afterwards, he turned his attention toward Mesopotamia and conquered it with ease. His achievements consolidated the future of Parthia’s power for centuries to come.

Roman, Seleucid, and Parthian Empires in 200 BC

Roman, Seleucid, and Parthian Empires in 200 BC (Talessman/CC BY-SA 3.0)


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