1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Eucratides

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EUCRATIDES, king of Bactria (c. 175–129 B.C.), came to the throne by a rebellion against the dynasty of Euthydemus, whose son Demetrius had conquered western India. His authority was challenged by a great many other pretenders and Greek dynasts in Sogdiana, Aria (Herat), Drangiana (Sijistan), &c., whose names—Pantaleon, Agathocles, Antimachus, Antalcidas “the victorious” (νικηφόρος), Plato, whose unique coin is dated from the year 147 of the Seleucid era (= 166 B.C.), and others—are known only from coins with Greek and Indian legends. In the west the Parthian king Mithradates I. began to enlarge his kingdom and attacked Eucratides; he succeeded in conquering two provinces between Bactria and Parthia, called by Strabo “the country of Aspiones and Turiua,” two Iranian names. But the principal opponent of Eucratides was Demetrius (q.v.) of India, who attacked him with a large army “of 300,000 men”; Eucratides fled with 300 men into a fortress and was besieged. But at last he beat Demetrius, and conquered a great part of western India. According to Apollodorus of Artemita, the historian of the Parthians, he ruled over 1000 towns (Strabo xv. 686; transferred to Diodotus of Bactria in Justin 41, 4. 6); and the extent of his kingdom over Bactria, Sogdiana (Bokhara), Drangiana (Sijistan), Kabul and the western Punjab is confirmed by numerous coins. On these coins, which bear Greek and Indian legends (in Kharoshti writing, cf. Bactria), he is called “the great King Eucratides.” On one his portrait and name are associated on the reverse with those of Heliocles and Laodice; Heliocles was probably his son, and the coin may have been struck to celebrate his marriage with Laodice, who seems to have been a Seleucid princess. In Bactria Eucratides founded a Greek city, Eucratideia (Strabo xi. 516, Ptolem. vi. 11. 8). On his return from India Eucratides was (about 150 B.C.) murdered by his son, whom he had made co-regent (Justin 41, 6). This son is probably the Heliocles just mentioned, who on his coins calls himself “the Just” (βασιλέως Ἡλιοκλέους δικαίου). In his time the Graeco-Bactrian kingdom lost the countries north of the Hindu Kush. Mongolian tribes, the Yue-chi of the Chinese, called by the Greeks Scythians, by the Indians Saka, among which the Tochari are the most conspicuous, invaded Sogdiana in 159 B.C. and conquered Bactria in 139. Meanwhile the Parthian kings Mithradates I. and Phraates II. conquered the provinces in the west of the Hindu Kush (Justin 41, 6. 8); for a short time Mithradates I. extended his dominion to the borders of India (Diod. 33. 18, Orosius v. 4. 16). When Antiochus VII. Sidetes tried once more to restore the Seleucid dominion in 130, Phraates allied himself with the Scythians (Justin 42, 1. 1); but after his decisive victory in 129 he was attacked by them and fell in the battle. The changed state of affairs is shown by the numerous coins of Heliocles; while his predecessors maintained the Attic standard, which had been dominant throughout the Greek east, he on his later coins passes over to a native silver standard, and his bronze coins became quite barbarous. Besides his coins we possess coins of many other Greek kings of these times, most of whom take the epithet of “invincible” (ἀνίκητος) and “saviour” (σωτήρ). They are records of a desperate struggle of the Greeks to maintain their nationality and independence in the Far East; one usurper after the other rose to fight for the rescue of the kingdom. But these internal wars only accelerated the destruction; about 120 B.C. almost the whole of eastern Iran was in the hands either of a Parthian dynasty or of the Mongol invaders, who are now called Indo-Scythians. Only in the Kabul valley and western India the Greeks maintained themselves about two generations longer (see Menander).  (Ed. M.)