1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Tigranes

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TIGRANES, or Dikran, king of Armenia (c. 95-55 B.C.). Armenia had by the conquests of Alexander the Great become a province of the Macedonian Empire; but it was never thoroughly subjected to the foreign rule. A Persian family, that of Hydarnes, one of the associates of Darius Hystaspis, which possessed large domains in Armenia and had been invested with the satrapy for several generations, was dominant in the country, and assumed the royal title in defiance of the Seleucid. Antiochus III. the Great put an end to this dynasty about 211 and divided Armenia into two satrapies, which he gave to two generals of Persian origin, the district of Sophene in the west (on the Euphrates and the sources of the Tigris) to Zariadres, the eastern part, called Armenia Major (round the lake of Van) to Artaxias (see Armenia). After the battle of Magnesia (190) both made themselves independent; Artaxias conquered the valley of the Araxes, where he founded his new capital Artaxata (“town of Artaxias,” said to be built by the advice of Hannibal, Strabo xi. 528; Plut. Luc. 31). He was defeated and taken prisoner by Antiochus IV. Epiphanes in 165 (Appian, Syr. 45, 66), but soon became independent again in the troubles which followed his death (cf. Diod. xxxi. 22, 27a); and his successors extended their power even farther against Media and the districts on the Kur. But from 140 the Parthians became the dominant power east of the Euphrates. King Artavasdes of Armenia was attacked by Mithradates II. the Great about 105 B.C. (Justin xlii. 2). He had to give his son Tigranes (b. 140 B.C. according to Lucian, Macrob. 15; by Appian, Syr. 48, he is called “son of Tigranes”; if that is correct, he probably was the nephew of Artavasdes) as hostage to the Parthians, and he obtained his freedom only by ceding seventy valleys bordering on Media (Strabo xi. 532; cf. xvi. 745; Justin xxxviii. 3). This sketch of the earlier history of Armenia is principally based upon the data given by Strabo xi. 528, 531 seq. The traditions preserved by the Armenian historians (who fancy that an Arsacid dynasty ruled over Armenia since the time of Alexander) have no historical value whatever.

Tigranes, who ascended the throne in 95 or 94 B.C. (Plut. Luc. 21), immediately began to enlarge his kingdom. He deposed Artanes, the last king of Sophene from the race of Zariadres (Strabo xi. 532), and entered into close alliance with Mithradates VI. Eupator of Pontus, whose daughter Cleopatra he married. In 93 he invaded Cappadocia in the interest of Mithradates, but was driven back by Sulla in 92 (Plut. Sulla, 5, Justin xxxviii. 3). During his first war with Rome, Mithradates was supported by Tigranes, although he abstained from interfering openly. But he meanwhile began war with the Parthians, whose empire was weakened after the death of Mithradates II. (about 88) by internal dissensions and invasions of the Scythians. Tigranes reconquered the valleys which he had ceded, and laid waste a great part of Media, down to Ecbatana (Isidor. Charac. 6), and the districts of Nineveh and Arbela; the kings of Atropatene, Gordyene (the country of the Carduchi, now Bohtan), Adiabene (the former Assyria) and Osroene (Edessa) became his vassals, who attended him like slaves wherever he went; northern Mesopotamia also was torn from the Parthian Empire (Strabo xi. 532, 747; Plut. Luc. 32). In 83 he invaded Syria, defeated the last successors of Seleucus and occupied Cilicia, of which the eastern parts still belonged to the Seleucids (Justin xl. 1; Appian, Syr. 48; Plut. Luc. 14, 21). In the war between Mithradates and Sulla he did not interfere, but after the death of Sulla (78) he occupied Cappadocia again and expelled King Ariobarzanes I., the vassal of the Romans (Appian, Mithr. 67; Strabo xii. 539). During the next years wars are mentioned in Syria, where the princess Cleopatra Selene attempted in vain to restore the Seleucid rule, but was besieged in Acco and afterwards killed (Joseph. Ant. xiii. 16, 4; Strabo xvi. 749), and in Cilicia, where he destroyed the Greek town of Soli (Plut. Pomp. 28; Dio Cass. xxxvi. 37). Tigranes now had become “king of kings” and the mightiest monarch of Asia. So he built a new royal city, Tigranocerta, on the borders of Armenia and Mesopotamia, between Mt Masius and the Tigris, where he accumulated all his wealth and to which he transplanted the inhabitants of twelve Greek towns of Cappadocia, Cilicia and Syria (Plut. Luc. 21, 26; Appian, Mithr. 67; Strabo xi. 522, 532, 539; Plin. vi. 26 seq.; for the situation, which is much disputed, cf. Tac. Ann. xiv. 24, xv. 5, ed. Furneaux). He also transplanted many Arabic tribes into Mesopotamia (Plut. Luc. 21; Plin. vi. 142). But the Romans could not tolerate encroachment upon their sphere of power, and in 69 Lucullus invaded Armenia. Tigranes was beaten at Tigranocerta on the 6th of October 69, and again near Artaxata in September 68. The recall of Lucullus gave some respite to the two kings, who even invaded Asia Minor again. But meanwhile a son of Tigranes and Cleopatra, called Tigranes, like his father, rebelled against him (as the old man had already killed two of his sons, he had reason enough to be afraid for his life) and found refuge with the Parthian king Phraates III., whose daughter he married and who sent him back with an army (Appian, Mithr. 104; Plut. Pomp. 33; Dio Cass. xxxvi. 51). The old king now gave up all hope of resistance; he put a price on the head of Mithradates, and when Pompey advanced into Armenia and united with the younger Tigranes, he surrendered himself to the Roman general (66 B.C.). Pompey now changed his policy; he received the old Tigranes graciously and gave him back his diadem, while he treated the son very coolly and soon made him prisoner. The younger Tigranes was led in triumph into Rome, where he found his death when he tried to escape from his confinement by the intrigues of P. Clodius in 58 (Dio Cass. 38, 30). The father after his defeat ruled about ten years longer over Armenia, as vassal of the Romans. He died about 56, and was succeeded by his son Artavasdes. (See also Mithradates.)

(Ed. M.)