King Mithridates of Pontus one of the Greatest Threats to Rome

Over the years the Roman Republic had been threatened by many armies. There were genius leaders who lead such armies such as Hannibal of Carthage and King Mithridates of Pontus. Pontus was in fact a state along the south eastern coast of Black Sea. Though Pontus had just one victory over Rome, yet Mithridates was considered a constant threat to the Roman Empire.


Mithridates VI one of the Greatest Threats to Roman Empire

King Mithridates was born as Eupator Dionysus and became the king as an infant. In his early years the kingdom was ruled by his mother. She eliminated all possible threats to his throne by killing his brothers. This in turn raised that Mithridates’ mother had also poisoned his father. As a young prince Mithridates was carried away from the castle and remained in hiding until he reached the eligible age to rule teh kingdom. His only remaining family member was his sister Lodice whom he married later on.


Sardes Gymnasium built by Mithridates

From the incept Mithridates challenged the Roman Empire and its expansion eastwards from Greece. In 89 BC Mithridates and his troops confronted the Roman army and swept through Asia Minor killing every Roman they encountered. There were more than 80,000 Romans killed in this campaign. As he reached Greece he encountered five legions of Roman soldiers. Soon Mithridates fled back to Pontus and concluded a peace which lasted for only a few years.


Coin bearing the image of Mithridates

Again in 83 BC Mithridates started his aggressive campaigns against Rome in his neighbouring provinces. His influence led provinces of Asia Minor to refuse paying taxes to the Roman Empire.  Mithridates also sent representatives to rebellious Spanish and Gaul provinces. His ships committed acts of piracy in the Mediterranean that dominated Roman trade. He also contacted the rebellious armies of slaves. All these acts struck Rome’s economy harshly. Soon Mithridates’ ambassadors brought back news that Romans were planning to attack from the East. He won a crucial victory in this war and Rome had to sign a peace treaty to end the war.


Mithridates and his troops were defeated by Romans and the king had to go into exile

Then there was a decade of peace. But in 73 BC the Romans started an offensive campaign in Bithynia. Mithridates marched into war with a strong army but he was driven back and chased into exile in Armenia. He lived in exile for four or five years before returning to Pontus in 68 BC. Rome saw him as an imminent danger and Pompey was given the task of finishing this threat. Soon Mithridates was defeated and he fled with a small army to Crimea where he planned to raise another army. His eldest son Macheres, who was the viceroy of Cimmerian Bosphorus was not willing to help his father. So, Mithridates had him killed and took over the Bosporan Kingdom.


Map before Mithridatic Wars

In 63 BC one of Mithridates’ sons Pharnaces II led a rebellion against his father. Mithrdates’s army was defeated and they withdrew to the citadel in Panticapaeum. It is said he committed suicide by taking poison here. But modern studies suggest that his death was caused by assisted suicide. He did not die of poison rather he had to plead for an aid to provide him a sword. He finally died when a sword pierced through. Rome was not confident of Mithridates’ death so they sent Sulla, Pompey and Lucullus to bring his body back to Rome. There were two days of celebration when the Romans were finally confirmed of Mithridates’ death.


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