ARMENIA AND IRAN ii. The pre-Islamic period

 

ARMENIA AND IRAN 

ii. The Pre-Islamic Period

1. The Achaemenid period. The Armenians probably originated from Phrygia (Herodotus 3.19, and see below; Stephanus of Byzantium, Ethnika, ed. A. Meineke, Berlin, 1849 [repr. Graz, 1958], s.v. Armenia). In the first half of the 6th century B.C., when they were subjugated by the Medes, they were newcomers in the territory to which they were to give their name. The conquests of Cyrus the Great made them subjects of the Persians. They seceded at the time of Darius I’s accession, but two expeditions, the first led by Dādarši, himself an Armenian, the second under Vahumisa, a Persian, ended their rebellion (DB 2.37-63). At Babylon an Armenian named Arxa, son of Haldita, passed himself off as a son of Nabunaita (Nabonidus), causing a new rebellion there (DB 3.78f.). In connection with the accounts of these events in Darius’s inscription at Bīsotūn the names Armina (= Armenia) and Arminiya (= Armenian) appear for the first time. The Greek authors also use them. They bear no relation to the names Hay (pl. Haykʿ) and Hayastan which the Armenians gave, and still give, to themselves and their country.

Armina under Darius and Xerxes had much narrower boundaries than the future Armenia of the Artaxiads and the Arsacids. The “Armenians” with the inhabitants of Paktyikē (?) and other peoples of the northwest formed the 13th satrapy, whose tribute was fixed at 400 talents (Herodotus 3.93). The Armenians in the strict sense must then have lived in areas between Cappadocia, the Tigris, the Euphrates, and the lake of Van. They are clearly distinguished from the Alarodians ( = Urartians) who occupied the future province of Ayrarat ( = Urartu) on the Araxes and with the Saspires (further northeast) and the Matienians (further southeast) formed the 18th satrapy (ibid., 3.94, cf. 7.79). Because the Babylonian version of the Bīsotūn inscription gives Uraštu ( = Urartu) as the translation of the words Armina and Arminiya of the Persian text, it appears that the conception of Armenia was already tending to become confused with memories of Urartu. Probably during Darius’s reign, Aramaic was introduced into Armenia, as the language of the imperial administration, where it continued for centuries to be used in official documents (see below), and knowledge of Persian also began to spread among the Armenians, as attested by Xenophon (see below).

In the “Tribute procession” carved on the Apadāna friezes at Persepolis, the Armenians bring a horse and a vase of precious metal. Their costume resembles the Median dress of the first delegation (G. Walser, Die Völkerschaften auf den Reliefs von Persepolis, Berlin, 1966, pp. 74-75, pls. X, XXXVI, XXXIX). In the army of Xerxes the Armenians were marshaled with the Phrygians and were similarly dressed (Herodotus 7.73).

The royal road passed through Armenia for a length of 46 parasangs with 15 post-stations (Herodotus 5.52), and a different road crossing Armenia southeast to northwest was taken by Xenophon in 401 B.C. He mentions the province’s division into Eastern Armenia and Western Armenia, separated by the Teleboas (Kara-sū) river (Anabasis 4.4.3); the former was governed by Orontas (Persian Arvand, Armenian Ervand), regarded by many writers as the ancestor of the Orontids of Armenia; he was a son-in-law of Artaxerxes I (ibid., 2.4.8f. and 5.40; 3.4.13 and 5.17; 4.3.4; for his career see R. D. Wilkinson in Revue des études arméniennes, N.S. 7, 1970, pp. 445-50 and M. J. Osborne in Historia 22, 1973, pp. 515-51 ), the latter by Tiribazes, a favorite of the Great King (ibid., 4.4.4). Xenophon has also left observations about the inhabitants, mainly those of Western Armenia. The villages were administered by local notables called comarchoi who mediated between the people and the Achaemenid authorities. Although the lifestyle was rough, the countryside showed signs of prosperity. Horse breeding flourished, and the annual tribute to the Great King was paid in foals (ibid., 4.5.24 and 5.34). According to Strabo (11.14.9), the satrap of Armenia annually delivered 20,000 colts to the Great King. Significantly there is no mention of urban life. Another interesting fact noted by Xenophon is that the Persian language was understood and spoken in remote villages of Western Armenia (Anabasis 4.5.10, and 5.34). Interestingly, Darius III Codomannus governed Armenia for several years before his accession in 336, having been rewarded with the post for his victory over the Cadusians (Justin, 4.3.4).

At the battle of Issus in 333, the Armenian contingent is said to have numbered 40,000 infantry and 7000 cavalry (Quintus Curtius 3.2.6; these figures are perhaps exaggerated). At Gaugamela (Arbela), the Armenian cavalrymen were, with the Cappadocians, on the right wing under Mithraustes and Orontes (Arrian, Anabasis 3.8.5 and 11.7; Quintus Curtius 4.12). These commanders were evidently the satraps of the two Armenias. There is no proof that this Orontes had a family connection with the earlier bearer of the name; but he survived the fall of the Achaemenid monarchy, and probably it was he who was the first of the Orontids, the hereditary satraps of Armenia.

2. The Hellenistic period. Armenia was annexed to Alexander’s empire but not really subdued. The governorship was given to Mithrenes (Mithrana), a Persian who had been the satrap of Sardis (Diodorus 17.21.7 and 64.6; Arrian, Anabasis 3.16; Quintus Curtius, 6.14.9). A Macedonian, Neoptolemus, is mentioned as holding the office soon after Alexander’s death in 323 B.C. but there are indications that he failed to quell an Armenian revolt, which may have been led by the former satrap Orontes. Reports speak of the reappearance of Orontes in 316 B.C. when he was on good terms with the Macedonian generals Eumenes and Peucestas (the satrap of Persis), and add interestingly that he used Aramaic in his correspondence with Eumenes (Diodorus 19.27.3; Polyaenus, Strategmata 4.8.3). Toward the beginning of the 3rd century B.C., a certain Ardoates (probably a misspelling for Aroantes or Aroandes, see J. Marquart, Untersuchungen zur Geschichte von Eran I, Leipzig, 1895, p. 27 n. l23) is mentioned with the title “king of Armenia” (Diodorus 31 .19.5); he may well have been an Orontid. Artabazanes, the satrap of Media Atropatene (Āturpātakān), though forced to submit to Antiochus II in 220 B.C., appears to have considerably extended his domain by seizing parts of eastern and northern Armenia (Polybius 5.55.7). It is perhaps around this time that the Orontes mentioned by Strabo (Geography 11.14.15) as the last of his line should be placed.

One of the Greek inscriptions from the Hellenistic period found at Armavir in Soviet Armenia preserves a letter addressed by a king named Mithras to another named Orontes (on the text, see K. Trever, Ocherki po istorii i kul’ture drevneĭ Armenii, Moscow and Leningrad, 1953, p. 134 and fig. 28; J. and L. Robert, Bull. Epigr. 176, 1952, p. 183). This suggests that several dynasts then coexisted in the Araxes region. The inscriptions also show that Hellenism had penetrated into this Iranized land. One of the Orontids, called Ervand in the Armenian sources, chose a site at the confluence of the Araxes and Akhurean rivers for the construction of a town which he named Ervandašat (Arvandašat), i.e. “Ervand’s Joy;” apparently he intended that it should replace the old capital, Armavir (see also Movsēs Xorenacʿi, Patmutʿiwn Hayocʿ [History of Armenia, Venice, 1865, Tiflis, 1881, tr. R. W. Thomson, Cambridge, Mass., and London, 1978] 2.49; see also J. Saint-Martin, Mémoires historiques et géographiques sur l’Arménie, 2vols., Paris, 1818-19, I, pp. 116-17; H. Hübschmann, Die altarmenischen Ortsnamen, Strasbourg, 1904 [ = IF 16, pp. 197-490], p. 426; M. Hovhannessian, Les forteresses de l’Arménie, Venice, 1970, pp. 116-17). Ervand is also reputed to have ordered the construction of the fortress of Bagaran (a compound of Bag = God) and the removal of all the idols of Armavir thereto (Movsēs Xorenacʿi, 2.40), but this tradition should be treated with caution.

In reality the Orontids were satraps under Seleucid suzerainty despite their claim to the title “king.” Insufficient evidence does not allow a reliable dynastic list and does not support the claim that leading Armenian families of the Christian period were descended from the Orontids (see K. Toumanoff, “A Note on the Orontids,” Le Muséon, 1959, pp. 23f.). A contemporary line of dynasts, of Persian origin but also vassals of the Seleucids, ruled in Sophene (the southwest of Armenia). That they were Orontids is uncertain. One of them named Arsames (Aršāma) is known to have received the fugitive throne-claimant Antiochus Hierax at his court some time before 226 B.C. (Polyaenus 4.17). The assumption that he is the “King Arsames” of certain coins (E. Babelon, Numismatique des rois de Syrie, d’Arménie et de Commagène, Paris, 1880, p. 211 and pl. XXXIX, 2) has now been strongly contested. He is thought to have been the founder of the city of Arsamosata (Aršamašat, i.e. “Joy of Arsames,” see H. Hübschmann, Ortsnamen, p. 406; N. Adontz, Armenia in the Period of Justinian, ed. N. Garsoïan, Lisbon, 1970, pp. 28f.; Hovhannessian, Forteresses, pp. 80f.). Whether this was the Arsames mentioned among the ancestors of Antiochus of Commagene in the Nīmrōd Dāğ and Arsameia inscriptions (see Th. Reinach, Revue des études grecques 3, 1890, p. 369; E. Honigmann, in Pauly-Wissowa, Supp. IV, col. 981; F. W. Walbank, A Historical Commentary on Polybius, Oxford, 1957 ff., II, p. 99; F. K. Dörner, Istambuler Forschungen 23, 1963, p. 72). One of the satrap kings of Sophene (possibly the same Arsames) refused to pay tribute to his Seleucid overlord, but besieged in Arsamosata by Antiochus III the Great in 212 B.C., his son Xerxes came to terms and recognized Seleucid suzerainty (Polybius 8.23.1f.), but a few years later he was murdered at the behest of his wife, who was sister of Antiochus III (John of Antioch, frag. 53, ed. C. Müller, Fragmenta historicorum graecorum, 5 vols., Paris, 1841-70, IV, p. 557). Coins of this prince show him wearing the Sophenian tiara; the legend reads “King Xerxes” (Babelon, Rois de Syrie, p. 212 and pl. XXXIX, 6-7).

3. The Artaxiad dynasty. About 190 B.C. Artaxias (Arm. Artaxšas) in Armenia and Zariadris (Arm. Zareh) in Sophene ruled as vassals of the Seleucids, bearing the Greek title sratēgós, but they used Antiochus’ defeat at Magnesia in 189 B.C. to rise—with Roman help—to independence (Strabo, Geography 11.14.15).

a. The reign of Artaxias. Aramaic inscriptions on boundary stones which have been discovered in Soviet Armenia, mainly around Lake Sevan (see below), name Artaxias as the son of a certain Zariadris (Zariatr) and one of the Orontids (Arvandakān). Thus the founder of the Artaxiad dynasty was, or claimed to be, an Orontid. Like the kings of Pontus and the line of Ariarathes in Cappadocia, the Artaxiads adhered in the main to the Achaemenid monarchical tradition, though they were not untouched by the influence of Hellenism which began to gain ground in Armenia. Before long they formed links with the Arsacid dynasty by means of matrimonial alliances.

Artaxias and Zariadris of Sophene who may perhaps have been close relatives, joined forces to conquer a vast area. The domains of Artaxias, at first limited to the Araxes valley, were greatly enlarged at the expense of Iberia and, above all, of Media Atropatene, which lost its Caspian seaboard and the districts of Phaunitis (Siunia ?) and Basoporeda (Vāspūrakān, east of Lake Van). At the same time Zariadris annexed Acilisene (Ekeleacʿ) and Taraunitis (Taron) (Strabo 11.14.5 and 15). The peoples who were thus brought together in the kingdoms of Armenia and Sophene all spoke one and the same language: Armenian (Strabo, ibid.); yet imperial Aramaic (with a quite strong admixture of Persian terms) was still the language of the government and the court, a survival of Achaemenid practices in Armenia down to the first half of the 2nd century B.C.

Artaxias gave orders for the delimitation of villages and fields. The report of this action by Movsēs Xorenacʿi (2.65) has been confirmed by the recent discovery of boundary stones with Aramaic inscriptions (J. Naveh, Die Welt des Orients, 1971, pp. 42-46; J. Teixidor, Syria, 1969, p. 120; 1972, p. 142; 1973, pp. 433-34). Among Artaxias’ numerous flattering epithets on these stones we find ʾxšhsrt, an unexplained Persian term (see J. Teixidor, Syria, 1973, p. 434). Artaxias built a fortress city at a site on the left bank of the Araxes, near the present Khorvirap, which was to remain the seat of the Armenian monarchy until the 2nd century A.D. (see below); it was named Artaxšas-šāt (Joy of Artaxias), abbreviated to Artašat in Armenian and Artaxata in Greek (see H. Hübschmann, Armen. Etymologie, p. 28, 211, and Ortsnamen, pp. 362, 408; H. Manandian, The Trade and Cities of Armenia in Connection with Ancient World Trade, Lisbon, 1965, index, p. 232; Hovhannessian, Forteresses, pp. 869-79). It is hard to believe the statements of Strabo (11.14.6) and Plutarch (Lucullus 31.5) that Hannibal took refuge at the Armenian court and that the city was designed and built on his advice. Excavations, still in progress after several years, have already yielded amongst other things a lapis-lazuli plate, an enamel spoon with Aramaic letters, and a fragment of stucco with an Aramaic graffito (see B. N. Arakelian, Artashat I. On Results of Excavations in 1970-77 = Arkheologicheskie raskopki v Armenii, No. 16, Erevan, 1982).

b. Tigranes the Great. In 165/64 B.C. Artaxias was defeated and captured by Antiochus IV (Diodorus 31.17a; Appian, Syrian War 45-; Hieronymus, Comment. ad Danielem 11.49), but he managed to aid Timarchos, Satrap of Media, in 161/60 B.C. (Diodorus 31.27a). At the end of the 2nd century B.C., another Armenian King, Artavazdes (Artoadistes in Justin 43.2) was defeated by Mithridates II of Parthia. Probably a grandson of Artaxias, Artavazdes delivered his brother or son Tigranes (Tigrana) as hostage (Justin, loc. cit.; Strabo 11.14.15). The relationship is uncertain, because Appian (op. cit., 83) describes Tigranes as the son of another Tigranes. After spending many years at the Parthian court, Tigranes was sent back with the support of Mithridates II, who in return exacted the cession of the Seventy Valleys (Strabo 11.14.15; Justin 43.3.1 ) and, despite the silence of the sources, no doubt also the recognition of Arsacid suzerainty. The Seventy Valleys were long to be a bone of contention between Armenia and Parthia; they probably lay on the border with Atropatene and may have been part of the area taken from Atropatene by Artaxias (see Markwart, Ērānšahr, pp. 109, 173).

The accession of Tigranes I (Tigranes II according to certain authors) is usually dated to 95 or 94 B.C. (F. Geyer, “Tigrane (no. 1),” in Pauly-Wissowa, VI A/1, col. 970; H. Seyrig, Revue numismatique, 1959, p. 117 n. 40; H. A. Manandian, Tigrane II et Rome, Lisbon, 1963, p. 22), but should perhaps be moved back by a few years. He was already of a ripe age, having been born ca. 140. His first move was to attack Sophene, then ruled by Artanes, which he conquered without resistance and united to the kingdom of Greater Armenia, thereby gaining a big territorial extension to the southwest and the west. He then (ca. 93 B.C.?) became an ally and son-in-law of the king of Pontus, Mithridates Eupator. On the latter’s behalf he invaded Cappadocia, which adjoined Sophene, and evicted its king Ariobarzanes, who was a protégé of the Romans. The Roman commander, Sulla, soon reinstated Ariobarzanes, and then met Mithridates II’s envoy on the bank of the Euphrates (Plutarch, Sulla 5.4; N.C. Debevoise, A Political History of Parthia, Chicago, 1938, p. 46 n. 67). Tigranes, whose troops had just been driven out of Cappadocia, probably viewed these Parthian-Roman talks with suspicion, but he remained the ally of Mithridates II, one of whose wives was Tigranes’ daughter Aryazate, surnamed Automa (parchment from Awrōmān dated year 225 of the Seleucid era = November, 88 B.C.; see ibid., p. 47 and E. Sullivan in H. Temporini and W. Haase, eds., Aufstieg und Niedergang der römischen Welt II/9, Berlin, 1976, pp. 911-14). When Mithridates II’s position grew weaker in his last years Tigranes invaded Parthia, recovered the Seventy Valleys probably some time after 90 B.C., and took Atropatene, Adiabene, Gordyene, Osrhoene, and Upper Mesopotamia including Nisibis (Strabo 11.14.15). From Atropatene, Tigranes pushed into Media Major as far as the gates of Ecbatana, where he burned down the Parthian court’s summer residence (Adrapana in Isidore of Charax, Parthian Stations 6, to be corrected into Apadana, see Th. Reinach, Mithridate Eupator roi du Pont, Paris 1890, p. 311 n. 6). According to Plutarch (Lucullus 21.6), no previous adversary had dealt such blows to Parthian power. The campaigns of conquest are said to have been terminated by the conclusion of an alliance between Tigranes and one of Mithridates II’s successors (Justin 40.1.3; see below). In or around 84/83 B.C., Tigranes attacked the remnant of the Seleucid kingdom, took Commagene, Cilicia Pedias, and Phoenicia; Syria including Antioch came to him either by force (Strabo 11.l4.15; Appian, Syr. 48f., 69; Flavius Josephus, Jewish Antiquities 13.16.4; Eutropius, Breviarium ab urbe condita 6.14.2), or voluntarily (Justin 41.1.1-3; on the successive conquests of Tigranes, see Reinach, Mithridate, pp. 3l1f.; P. Asdourian, Die politischen Beziehungen zwischen Armenien und Rom l90 v. Chr. bis 428 n. Chr., Venice, 1911, pp. 19-20; F. Geyer, in Pauly-Wissowa, VIA/1, cols. 970f.; Manandian, Tigrane II, pp. 41f.). The local kings of Atropatene, Adiabene, Osrhoene, Gordyene, and Commagene were left in office as vassals of the Armenian crown. The Nisibis district, perhaps with the enhanced status of a satrapy, was put under the command of Gouras, a brother of Tigranes. The governorship of Syria went to a certain Megadates or Bagadates (Bagadāt, Arm. Bagarat) (Appian, op. cit., 48); the view that this dignitary was the ancestor and eponym of the great Armenian family of the Bagratids seems speculative.

Having thus become the master of a vast empire and the overlord of many kings, Tigranes deemed himself worthy of the title “king of kings” (on his coins with this title, see Babelon, Rois de Syrie, pp. cciii and 213-15; G. Macdonald, NC, 1902, pp. 196f.; Kh. A. Mushegian, Trésors monétaires d’Arménie, pp. 78-80 and plate; P. Bedoukian, “A Classification of the Coins of the Artaxiad Dynasty of Armenia,” The American Numismatic Soc. Museum: Notes 16, 1968, pp. 12f. and 47f.). He thus presented himself as the successor of Mithridates II, the Arsacid king who had first (ca. 109/108) assumed this title. Nevertheless on his coins minted at Antioch he was generally content with the simple designation of king. The court ceremonial maintained by Tigranes was on lines inherited from the Achaemenids with borrowing of Parthian features. The Roman envoy who was sent by Lucullus and received in audience at Antioch in 70 reported that Tigranes was served by four kings who always stood submissively to attention in his presence (Plutarch, Lucullus 21.6). J. Markwart thought that these four persons might be the four vitaxes (Arm. bdeašx; on the office, see below); but the context suggests that they were more probably kings who had been reduced to vassalage (see A. von Gutschmid, Geschichte Irans und seiner Nachbarländer, Tübingen, 1888, p. 85).

Just as the regal style of Tigranes conformed to the authentic Persian tradition, his religion, like that of Mithridates Eupator of Pontus, undoubtedly hinged on Mazdaism. Nevertheless he promoted the spread of Hellenism in his dominions and even designated himself “Philhellene,” evidently in imitation of the Parthian kings who since Mithridates I had happily assumed that title. Wishing to have a worthy capital, he laid the foundations of a huge city on the Hellenistic plan and named it Tigranocerta (Arm. Tigranakert) after himself (see H. Hübschmann, Ortsnamen, pp. 473-75). Greek deportees from Cappadocia and Cilicia were the economically active elements in this city’s population (Strabo 11.14.15; Appian, The Mithridatic War 67.84; Plutarch, Lucullus 26.1 ). In spite of its characteristics of an Hellenistic city, Tigranocerta retained some aspects of an Iranian royal residence, i.e., vast parks and hunting grounds around its suburbs (Appian, op. cit., 84). The location of Tigranocerta is uncertain. Discussion has centered on Amida, Arzen Seʿert, Mayyāfāreqīn, Tell Ermen, and other sites in southern Armenia and northern Mesopotamia. Though C. F. Lehmann-Haupt’s weighty arguments (e.g. in Pauly-Wissowa, VI A/1, cols. 981-1007) in favor of Mayyāfāreqīn (Martyropolis, Arm. Nephrkert) gained wide acceptance, the case for Tell Ermen in northeastern Mesopotamia has more recently been advocated with vigor by L. Dillemann, (La Haute Mésopotamie orientale et les pays adjacents, Paris, 1962, pp. 247f. and passim).

In 70 B.C. Mithridates Eupator, having been defeated in Pontus, took refuge in the dominions of Tigranes, who refused to deliver him to the Roman general, Lucullus. In the spring of 69 B.C. Lucullus marched into Armenia and laid siege to Tigranocerta. Close to the city’s walls, one of the most memorable battles of antiquity was fought, with disastrous results for Tigranes. The Romans soon took and sacked Tigranocerta, which was still in the process of construction (Appian, op. cit., 83-86; Memnon, secs. 56-57 = Fragmenta historicorum graecorum III, pp. 555-56; Dio Cassius 36.1bf.; Sallust, Historiarum fragmenta 4.61f. See also K. Eckhardt, Klio 10, 1910, pp. 91 f.; P. Asdourian, op. cit., pp. 31-32; J. van Ooteghem, Mémoires de l’Académie Royale de Belgique 43, 1959, pp. 117-33; H. Manadian, Tigrane II, pp. 93f,). This defeat sounded the knell for the empire of Tigranes. He subsequently made an alliance with Mithridates Eupator, and on the latter’s advice sent an embassy to the Parthian king, Phraates III, offering to retrocede Adiabene, northern Mesopotamia, and the Seventy Valleys and arguing that assistance to the allied kings would be in the Parthian interest (Appian, op. cit., 87; Memnon, sec. 58 = Fragmenta p. 556f.); but Phraates, who had also been approached by the Romans, hesitated to commit himself to either side. The Armenians, with some aid from Pontic troops, continued to fight in southern Armenia and northern Mesopotamia (battle of the Arsanias river in 68 B.C.; capture of Nisibis by Lucullus in the winter of 68-67).

The appointment of Pompey to the supreme command of the Roman army in the east in 67 brought the war to the phase of decision. Mithridates of Pontus was defeated at Dasteira (Nicopolis) in the spring of 66 and then fled to Armenia. At about the same time Tigranes had to deal with the revolt of his son Tigranes “the Younger.” Eventually the latter, together with his supporters, found shelter at the Parthian court, where he married the daughter of Phraates (Appian op. cit., 104; Dio Cassius 36.50.1 and 51.1). Phraates invaded Armenia, but failed to capture Artaxata. Tigranes the Younger was soon beaten off by his father and left with no choice but to take refuge with Pompey, who had already penetrated into Armenia. Accompanied by this prince, Pompey advanced to the neighborhood of Artaxata and obtained the submission of Tigranes the Great at minimal cost. The king presented himself voluntarily and in full regalia at the Roman camp (Plutarch, Pompeius 33.2.4; Appian, op. cit., 104; Dio Cassius 36.52.1-4. See also H. Manandian, Tigrane II, pp. 170-75). Tigranes had to renounce all his conquests, while Tigranes the Younger received Sophene (and Gordyene?) as apanages (Plutarch, op. cit., 33.5; Appian, op. cit., 104-05; Dio Cassius, 36.52.2). This turn of events enabled the Parthians to recover many of the territories which Tigranes had taken from them.

Tigranes the Younger soon incurred the displeasure of Pompey, was arrested and sent to Rome; his father-in-law Phraates pleaded in vain for his release (Plutarch, op. cit., 33.7). King Tigranes, on the other hand, received several tokens of the victor’s respect. Pompey restored Gordyene (Plutarch, op. cit., 36.1) and even part of Upper Mesopotamia (Strabo 16.2.24) to Tigranes and apparently went so far as to reserve the title “king of kings” for him while withholding it from Phraates (Dio Cassius 37.6.2, where Tigranes is obviously confused with Tigranes the Younger). Having thus become the ally and protégé of the Romans (Dio Cassius, 36.53.5), Tigranes stayed on the Armenian throne until his death in 55/54 B.C. c. The successors of Tigranes the Great. Artavazdes I (55/54-34 B.C.), the son and immediate successor of Tigranes the Great, was a very cultured prince with a sufficient mastery of Greek to write discourses, tragedies, and historical treatises in that language (Plutarch, Crassus 33.2). Throughout his reign he wavered between the Romans and the Parthians. He was allied to the former by virtue of his father’s treaty with Pompey, but being himself of Iranian extraction, had deep-rooted ties with the latter. Each power aspired to dominate Armenia. On his coins Artavazdes styled himself “king of kings” (H. Seyrig, Revue numismatique, 1956, p. 119, and 1964, pp. 138-40; Kh. Mushegian, op. cit., pp. 25-27 and plate; P. Bedoukian, op. cit., pp. 25-27, 69-70, and plate 6), but this title was purely nominal and also used by his Arsacid contemporary, Orodes II.

When Crassus set out on his campaign against the Parthians in 53 B.C., Artavazdes was unable to provide the Romans with promised reinforcements because Orodes II had swiftly occupied Armenia (Plutarch, Crassus 22.2). Crassus’s army met with crushing defeat at Carrhae in June 53 B.C. Meanwhile Orodes and Artavazdes had come to terms and sealed their compact with the betrothal of the Armenian king’s sister to the Parthian king’s eldest son, Pacorus. When the news of the victory at Carrhae was brought, together with Crassus’s head, to Artaxata, the two kings were attending a performance of one of the tragedies of Euripides (Plutarch, Crassus 33). In the following years, Roman authorities (notably Cicero, Epistulae ad Atticum 5.16.4 and ad familiares 15.3.1) suspected Artavazdes of collusion with the Parthians, but apparently he did not depart from a policy of strict neutrality. In 36 B.C. Artavazdes joined Mark Antony’s expedition against the Parthians and the king of Atropatene. The Romans advanced to Phraaspa (in Atropatene), which they unsuccessfully besieged, but Artavazdes and all his troops withdrew at the first Roman setback (Plutarch, Antonius 39; Dio Cassius 49.25.4). He thereby incurred Antony’s enmity. Two years later, Antony returned to Armenia and captured the king and his family (Dio Cassius 49.39.3-5). Artavazdes was taken to Egypt and put to death by order of Cleopatra in 31 B.C.; his head was sent to the king of Atropatene, another Artavazdes, who had become Antony’s ally.

After the capture of King Artavazdes of Armenia, one of his sons, who had escaped from Antony’s clutches, was proclaimed king by the people, and given the name Artaxias II. He was soon driven out when the Romans occupied the whole country, but he was able to escape to the Arsacid court and, a few years later (ca. 30 B.C.), to recover his throne with Parthian help (Dio Cassius 49.44.4, 51.16.2). During his reign the Parthian influence in Armenia remained strong. At Rome, however, power passed to the emperor Augustus, who was determined that the Roman suzerainty should be reestablished and that only candidates acceptable to him should be allowed to reign in Armenia (on the Armenian policy of Augustus, see P. Asdourian, op. cit., pp. 74-77; M. L. Chaumont, “L’Arménie entre Rome et l’Iran,” in Temporini and Haase, eds., op. cit., pp. 75f.). He therefore sent out his stepson Tiberius with orders to enthrone Tigranes II (or III), who was probably one of the surviving sons of Artavazdes II. Before the arrival of Tiberius, Artaxias II was assassinated, undoubtedly at the instigation of the pro-Roman party (Tacitus, Annals 2.3.4; Suetonius, Tiberius in Vitae Caesarum, Tübner ed., 1908, 9.1; Dio Cassius 55.9.5). Tigranes II had a short reign and was succeeded by his son Tigranes III (or IV), whose sister Erato shared power with him. This prince, who had been crowned without Roman approval, definitely leaned toward the Parthians. Being determined to assert Roman authority at any price, Augustus then supported the claim of a certain Artavazdes, probably another son of Artavazdes II; but the pro-Parthian faction restored Tigranes III, who eventually, under the pressure of the circumstances, acknowledged Roman suzerainty (Dio Cassius 55.10.20). On the death of Tigranes III, Augustus instructed his grandson Gaius to place Ariobarzanes, a son of King Artavazdes of Media Atropatene, on the Armenian throne (Res Gestae Divi Augusti 27; Tacitus, Annals 2.4.3; Dio Cassius 55.10a.5). The dynasty of Atropatene had long been linked by marriages to the Artaxiads (Strabo 11.13.1; see R. D. Sullivan, Eastern Dynastic Network, in Temporini and Haase, eds., op. cit., II/8, 1977, pp. 916-18). Augustus’ action provoked an Armenian uprising, and Gaius had to prepare for a siege of the fortress of Artagira (Artagerkʿ in the province of Ayrarat), where an insurgent leader named Addon had entrenched himself; during this operation Gaius was ambushed and mortally wounded (Strabo 11.14.6; Tacitus, Annals 1.3.3; Velleius Paterculus 2.102.2; Dio Cassius 55.10a.6-8; see N. C. Debevoise, op. cit., pp. 149-50). Ariobarzanes was succeeded by his son Artavazdes III. After the latter’s death, the Armenians wanted no more of the Atropatenian line (Tacitus, Annals 2.4.2). One of Herod the Great’s grandsons, Tigranes IV (V), was then appointed king of Armenia; he made himself disliked by his subjects and was deposed after a very short reign (Tacitus, Annals 6.40.2; Flavius Josephus, Jewish Antiquities 17.1.2; Res Gestae Divi Augusti 27.2, ed. Gagé, pp. 130-31 ).

After a brief spell in which the Artaxiad Erato, sister and widow of Tigranes III, was restored while the country sank into anarchy, the vacant throne was offered about A.D. 12 to Vonones; a son of Phraates IV whom Artabanus II had just driven out of Parthia. Although he was romanized and romanophile, the Roman authorities shortly withdrew their support and ordered him back to Syria (Tacitus, Annals 2.3.2 and 4.4-5; Flavius Josephus, Jewish Antiquities 18.2.4, see R. Hanslik, in Pauly-Wissowa, Suppl. IX, cols. 1865-(7). The dynastic issue was again in deadlock.

4. The Parthian period. a. The efforts of the Arsacids. For a long time the Arsacids had set their eyes on Armenia, a former territory of the Achaemenid empire. Proof of this had been given by Mithridates II’s war against Artavazdes I (see above). Hitherto, however, they had not succeeded in permanently imposing their authority on this warlike and independent-minded nation. No credence can be given to the Armenian sources which date the foundation of the Arsacid dynasty of Armenia back to Vałaršak, or Arsaces the Lesser, a brother of a Parthian king Arsaces the Great, in the 2nd century B.C. (This tradition, said to have come down from a secretary of Vałaršak named Mar Abas Katina, is cited by the Pseudo-Sebeos, ed. Patkanean, 1879, p. 9 = V. Langlois, Historiens I, p. 199, and by Movsēs Xorenacʿi 1.9, 12, 31 and 2.1-9 = Langlois II, pp. 28, 56, 62, 65, 76, 80-85.) Vonones was the first of his line to wear the Armenian crown, but it was only from the time of Artabanus II (long known as Artabanus III) of Parthia that the Arsacids entered the struggle for the throne of Armenia in real earnest.

In A.D. 18 the emperor Tiberius’ commissioner, Germanicus, crowned a foreign prince, Zeno, at Artaxata with the consent of the Armenian nobles. Zeno, who was a son of King Polemon of Pontus, adopted the Irano-Armenian name Artaxias (III) and, having acquired some knowledge of Armenian customs, reigned peacefully until his death in 35 (Tacitus, Annals 2.56.2-4). It was then that Artabanus II resolved to make his eldest son Arsaces (Aršak) king of Armenia. At the same time he demanded restitution of treasures left in Syria by Vonones and restoration of “the frontiers of the Achaemenids and the Macedonians” (Tacitus, Annals 6.31.12; Dio Cassius 58.26.1). In reply, Tiberius immediately put up his own candidate Mithridates, a brother of King Pharasmanes of Iberia. Mithridates the Iberian soon contrived to have Arsaces assassinated and to take possession of Artaxata (Tacitus, Annals 6.32.3 and 33.1 ). Thereupon Artabanus assumed the role of avenger of Arsaces and sent another of his sons, Orodes (Vorod), with a strong force to seize power in Armenia. Mithridates could only maintain his position by calling in the Albanians and also nomad tribes living beyond the Caucasus. The Parthians were defeated and had to leave Armenia to Mithridates, who kept control until he was summoned to Rome by the emperor Caligula. The emperor Claudius released him in 42, but he had to fight for repossession of his kingdom, where the Parthians had again won a foothold (Dio Cassius 60.8.1; Tacitus, Annals 11.8.1, 9.1-2). Their king Vardanes, who had temporarily ousted his brother and rival Gotarzes, at first intended to recover Armenia, but soon desisted under the threat of Roman intervention (Tacitus, Annals 11.10.1; Flavius Josephus, Jewish Antiquities 20.3.4). The Parthian dynastic troubles gave some years of respite to Mithridates the Iberian, whose cruelty made him odious to the Armenians. In 51, however, the Armenian throne was snatched from him by his nephew and son-in-law Rhadamistus with the connivance of the latter’s father, King Pharasmanes. Mithridates escaped to the fortress of Garni and eventually fell through treachery into the hands of his adversary, who put him and his family to death (Tacitus, Annals 12, 45-47).

The decisive phase in the struggle for Armenia began with the accession of the Parthian king Vologeses (Valagaš) I ca. 5l. Resuming the policy of Artabanus II but without flinching before obstacles, he resolved to place one of his brothers, Tiridates, on the throne of Armenia. Thanks to the unpopularity of Rhadamistus, he had no difficulty in occupying Artaxata and Tigranocerta (Tacitus, Annals 12.50.1-2). The Iberian king, however, escaped. In 52 Tiridates was able to establish himself at the capital. In the face of this Parthian coup, the emperor Nero and his advisers decided to intervene. An expedition under the command of Cnaeus Domitius Corbulo was mobilized. Notwithstanding the withdrawal of the Parthian troops, Tiridates, who cherished his royal vocation, remained at Artaxata (see P. Asdourian, op. cit., p. 89 n .1). In the spring of 58 Corbulo marched into Armenia at the head of some 30,000 men. His main targets were Artaxata and Tigranocerta. After Tiridates had fled, Artaxata surrendered without resistance but was sacked and burned down (Tacitus, Annals 13.41.1-3; Dio Cassius 62.20.1). In the spring of the following year, 59, it was the turn of Tigranocerta to open its gates to the Romans. (On this point, the account of Frontinus, Strategmata 2.9.5, differs considerably from that of Tacitus, Annals 14.24.5-6. On the whole campaign see E. Egli, “Feldzüge in Armenien, von 41-63,” in M. Büdinger, Untersuchungen zur römischen Kaisergeschichte I, Leipzig, 1868, pp. 265-363, esp. pp. 321f.; J. G. C. Anderson, in CAH X, 1934, pp. 760f.; L. Dillemann, Haute Mésopotamie, pp. 268-71; K. Gilmartin, Historia 12, 1973, pp. 594f.).

In the wake of Corbulo’s successes, Nero designated Tigranes V (or VI), a descendant of Herod the Great and nephew of Tigranes IV (see above) formerly detained in Rome as a hostage, to be Armenia’s next king. He was not well received because the Arsacids still had many supporters (Tacitus, Annals 14.26.1-2). Moreover he rashly ventured on raids into Adiabene, a Parthian dependency. The complaints of the aggrieved king of Adiabene, Monobazes, and the reproaches of Tiridates who was intent on regaining his throne, together sufficed to persuade Vologeses to take up arms (Tacitus, Annals 15.1.1-5). At the same time Vologeses solemnly crowned Tiridates in the presence of the Parthian assembly of nobles, thereby formally making his brother his vassal. (There is reason to suppose that the ceremony, which Tacitus briefly describes, was normal practice at investitures of vassal kings of Arsacid descent.) Armenia was placed third in the hierarchy of the Parthian monarchy’s dependencies, the second rank having already been assigned to Atropatene, whose king was Pacorus, the brother of Vologeses and Tiridates (Tacitus, Annals 15.1-4).

Having made up his mind to support his brother’s cause, the Parthian king quickly sent forces under Monaeses and King Monobazes against Tigranocerta, where Tigranes V had established himself under the protection of a Roman garrison. When their siege of the town failed, Vologeses agreed to an armistice, which apparently included a secret clause requiring both parties to withdraw their troops (Tacitus, Annals 15.5.46; Dio Cassius 62.20.3-4, see K. H. Ziegler, Die Beziehungen zwischen Rom und dem Partherreich, Wiesbaden, 1964, pp. 69-70). It was a shaky truce, and hostilities soon recommenced. The Romans under a new commander in chief, Paetus, were surrounded in their camp at Rhandeia (Erand) on the Arsanias river and forced to capitulate (Tacitus, Annals 15.14-16; Dio Cassius 62.21.1-4). Paetus misreported this defeat as a victory. The Parthians were in fact not fully in control of the situation. It was again time for negotiations. A Parthian embassy to Rome (Spring 63) remained without practical results. But shortly after his return to Armenia the Roman general Corbulon (restored to the command of the army of the east) received the envoys of Vologeses and Tiridates. It was agreed to hold a conference at the same spot where Paetus had capitulated (Tacitus, Annals 15.28.2-3). During the talks on the future of Armenia, Tiridates made much of the nobility of his lineage but consented to travel to Rome and “bring to Caesar a new glory, that of a supplicant Arsacid” (Tacitus, Annals 15.28.5-6 and 29.1-2). A few days later, the Roman camp was the scene of a ceremony in which, before the onlooking Parthian cavalrymen and Roman legionaries, the Arsacid prince laid his crown at the feet of a statue of Nero (Tacitus, Annals 15.29.3-5 and 30.12). Under the treaty which was then signed at Rhandeia, investiture of Armenia’s kings was to be reserved to Rome’s emperors. Nevertheless Armenia had become an Arsacid fief, because the actual choice of its kings lay with the Parthian monarch. The situation has rightly been described as a “co-suzerainty” (Ziegler, op. cit., pp. 75f.).

b. The Arsacid dynasty: Tiridates I and his successors. Tiridates made the journey to Rome with much pomp and circumstance and in the company of his wife and children and two of his brothers. His escort included 3,000 Parthian cavalrymen, several sages, and also a large number of Romans. (For a detailed account of Tiridates’ journey and stay at Rome see Dio Cassius 63.1-7.) The Romans went to great expense in their reception of the prince, whom everybody wanted to see. Kneeling before Nero, Tiridates said in a short speech in Greek that he was the emperor’s slave and had come to worship the emperor in the same way as he worshipped Mithras, whereupon Nero gave him the accolade and crowned him with the diadem (Dio Cassius 63.4, 5; Suetonius, Nero 13.3). It has been suggested that this scenario was inspired by an episode in the legend of Mithras (F. Cumont, “L’iniziazione di Nerone da parte di Tiridate d’Armenia,” Rivista di filologia 61, 1933, pp. 147f.). It is perhaps more likely that the kneeling and the wording of Tiridates’ speech were borrowed from the ritual in use at the Parthian court when the Arsacid king of kings, under the aegis of Mithras, the god of contract, invested a vassal king. In this context, the Greek doulos (slave) was probably the equivalent of bandak, which meant vassal in the terminology of Iranian feudalism. Tiridates left Rome with some architects and a subsidy for the reconstruction of Artaxata (Dio Cassius 63.6.5-6); the town was to be officially renamed Neroneia (Dio Cassius 63.7.2), but the new name appears to have fallen very quickly into disuse.

In A.D. 72 hordes of Alans overran Atropatene and Armenia. This invasion caused concern at Rome and prompted the emperor Vespasian to strengthen the defenses of Harmozica, the capital of Iberia, where there was a Roman garrison. Tiridates, while fighting the invaders, ran into great danger and narrowly escaped being taken prisoner (Flavius Josephus, Bellum judaicum 7.7.4). This is the last mention of him in the sources. The date of the end of his reign is not known.

The names and dates of the successors of Tiridates can only be conjectured, as little or no information is available from either literary or numismatic sources. It would appear that the Arsacids of Armenia did not possess the royal privilege of minting coins; this must indeed have been the case if they were strictly subordinate to their suzerain, the Arsacid great king of Iran. Through careful collation of various texts (by U. Ph. Boissevain, Hermes 25, 1980, pp. 328-29, and in his ed. of Dio Cassius, vol. 3, pp. 218-19, notes), sufficient evidence has been obtained to justify inclusion of the name of Sanatroces (Sanatruk), who must have reigned at the turn of the 1st and 2nd centuries, in the list of Armenia’s kings (see Markwart, Untersuchungen zur Geschichte von Eran II, pp. 221-22; Asdourian, op. cit., pp. 100f.; H. Manadian, The Trade and Cities of Armenia, p. 83). Arrian in his Parthica praises this ruler’s merits and equates him with the most illustrious Greeks and Romans (Parthica, fragment 47, ed. A.G. Roos and G. Wirth, Teubner ed., 1968, p. 247). The Armenian authors mention him as the founder of the town of Mcurkʿ (Pʿawstos Buzand 4.14 = Langlois, I, p. 250; Mar Abas Katina apud Pseudo-Sebeos = Langlois, I, p. 195; Movsēs Xorenacʿi 2.36 = Langlois, II, p. 99). He was buried in a tomb of cyclopean construction at Ani (Pʿawstos 4 = Langlois, I, p. 261). Probably he is the same person as the King Sanatruk whom the hagiographic tradition blames for the martyrdoms of the Christian missionary St. Thaddeus and of his own daughter Sandukht (on problems arising from this tradition, see F. Tournebize, Histoire politique et religieuse de l’Arménie, Paris, 1910, pp. 410-413; L.S. Koyan, L’Ēglise arménienne jusqu’au Concile de Florence, 1961, pp. 29 f.; also M. van Esbroek, Revue des études arméniennes, N.S., 1972, pp. 243-92, who against all probability argues for the identity of this king of Armenia with the Arab king of Hatra, Sanatruk I (ca. 177/178), son of ʿAbd Simayā.

The supposition that Sanatruk survived until the time of Trajan’s campaign is contradicted by the fact that the throne of Armenia was held about 110 by Axidares, a son of the Parthian monarch Pacorus II. When Pacorus was supplanted by Osroes (i.e. Ḵosrow), the latter deposed Axidares and installed that prince’s brother Parthamasiris without consulting the Roman emperor. This breach of the treaty of Rhandeia gave Trajan a pretext for war. The Roman expeditionary force left Antioch in the autumn of 114. Trajan marched straight into Armenia, the territory in dispute, halting at Satala (in Lesser Armenia) and then at Elegeia (near Erzurum). There, before the assembled Roman troops, he gave an audience to Parthamasiris, who had come in the hope that Trajan would crown him in the same way as Nero had crowned Tiridates. Trajan, however, rejected his claim and then and there declared Armenia to be a Roman province (Dio Cassius 68.19.2-5 and 20.1-3). Thus the Arsacid dynasty’s rule in Armenia was brought to an end. Not long after the meeting, Parthamasiris was killed in obscure circumstances which did not exclude the possibility that Trajan was responsible (Fronto, Principia historiae, Loeb ed., II, pp. 212-14; Arrian, Parthica, fragment 39; Dio Cassius 68.17.4; see also A. V. Gutschmid, op. cit., p. 105; N.C. Debevoise, op. cit., p. 224). Armenia was attached to the province of Cappadocia, which already comprised Lesser Armenia.

Trajan left the task of taking Artaxata to one of his generals (on the presence of a Roman garrison at Artaxata in 116, see Année épigraphique, 1968, nos. 510 and 511). He himself proceeded to Nisibis and thence to Edessa. His triumphant expedition culminating in the capture of Ctesiphon in the summer of 116 will not be discussed here. The Roman conquests were too rapid, and from the spring of 116 onward revolts broke out in all the annexed territories. Armenia was one of the main trouble-spots. Among the rebel leaders a certain Sanatroces/Sanatruk is mentioned (Malalas, Chronographia, ed. L. Dindorf, Bonn, 1831, XI, pp. 270 and 273-74, where he is wrongly described as “king of the Persians”), and attempts have been made to identify him with the king of Armenia discussed above. Also mentioned is Vologeses son of Sanatroces, who concluded an armistice with the Roman governor Lucius Catilius Severus and received from him “a part of Armenia” (Dio Cassius 74.9.6; see also U. Ph. Boissevain, Hermes 25, 1890, pp. 329f.). It must have been a big concession to the opposing side.

This step was ratified and implemented by the emperor Hadrian, who renounced all his predecessor’s conquests in the east and “permitted the Armenians to have a king” (Vita Hadriani 23.10). Thus Parthian suzerainty over Armenia on the terms of the treaty of Rhandeia was again formally acknowledged; it was at the same time given practical expression through the investiture of Vologeses. This king, the Vałarš of the Armenians, was certainly the founder of Vałaršapat, the town “made populous by Vałarš” (H. Hübschmann, Ortsnamen, p. 470); somewhat later this town (the future Echmiadzin) was made the kingdom’s capital instead of Artaxata (on the foundation of Vałaršapat, see P. Asdourian, op. cit., p. 110; H. Manandian, The Trade and Cities of Armenia, pp. 84-86). Vologeses/Vałarš was still reigning in 136 when hordes of Alans burst into Atropatene and Armenia, pushing as far west as Cappadocia; apparently he and the governor of Cappadocia made a joint effort to check the advance of the barbarians (Dio Cassius 79.15.1-2). The account of a campaign of Vałarš against the peoples of the north given by Movsēs Xorenacʿi (2.65 = Langlois, II, pp. 163-64) is probably an echo of these events.

The following years are obscure, apart from some evidence of a Parthian move to impose an Arsacid on Armenia. This was apparently the prince Pacorus (Pakur), who is mentioned in some sources (Fronto, Epistulae 2.1; Asinius Quadratus, fragment 9, apud Stephanus of Byzantium) and on a silver cup (K. Trever, Ocherki, pp. 242-45 and fig. 35). He may perhaps be identical with Aurelius Pacorus “king of Greater Armenia,” who is known from a Greek inscription found at Rome (Corp. Inscr. Gr., III, 6559; see Trever, op. cit., pp. 237f.) and was the brother of Aurelius Tiridates.

In 161 Marcus Aurelius decided to make war on the Parthians and put his co-emperor Lucius Verus in charge of the campaign. The task of restoring order in Armenia was entrusted to the governor of Cappadocia, Statius Priscus. He successfully occupied Artaxata and installed a garrison at Vałaršapat, which was then renamed Kainepolis (Dio Cassius 71.2.3). According to a Roman source (Fronto, Epistulae 2.1), there were then three claimants to the throne: a certain Vologeses/Valagaš, who no doubt enjoyed Parthian support, and a Syrian prince, Sohaemus, as well as Pacorus who had apparently just been deposed. Eventually Sohaemus won the day. At a later date, Martius Verus had to march into Armenia to suppress troubles instigated by a satrap who bore the name Tiridates (Dio Cassius 71.14) and may have been an Arsacid. It was then that Kainepolis/Vałaršapat became the capital by order of the Roman general (ibid., 71.1.4). An inscription gives evidence of Roman presence in this town in the reign of Commodus (180-192) (Corp. Inscript. Lat., III, 6052; cf. K. Trever, op. cit., pp. 267f.).

In 214 the emperor Caracalla arrested the king of Armenia—an unnamed Arsacid—whom he had invited to Rome for the ostensible purpose of reconciling him with his sons. When news of this perfidy reached the Armenians, they rose up in arms and inflicted a severe defeat on Theocritus, the general who was sent to quell them (Dio Cassius 77.12.1-2 and 21.1). Under the treaty of 217 which ended the Roman-Parthian hostilities of the two previous years, Caracalla’s successor Macrinus agreed to confer the diadem on Tiridates II, to return his mother to him, and to recompense the Armenians for booty taken from them (Dio Cassius 78.27.4). Tiridates II was the son of the king detained at Rome; no further information about him has come down.

Weakened by constant internal dissension, the Parthian empire was soon to be overthrown by a petty provincial king. In 224 the ruler of Persis (Fārs), Ardašīr son of Pāpak and grandson of Sāsān, defeated the Parthian monarch Artabanus (Ardavān) and proclaimed himself king of kings.

This dynastic upheaval in Iran transformed the political scene in Armenia. The Armenian sources state that the country’s king at the time was Khosrov (Ḵosrow) “the Great.” He was probably a close relative of the last Parthian monarchs, and he evidently wanted to make his realm an Arsacid bastion against the Sasanians (Agathangelos 9-12 = Langlois, I, pp. 114f.). Since his own forces were too weak, he needed Roman support and remained resolutely pro-Roman. Shortly after his accession, Ardašīr made a first attempt to subjugate Armenia but was thwarted by the joint resistance of the Armenians and their allies, the Atropatenians, who were led by sons of Artabanus (Dio Cassius 80.3.2-3). The task of conquering Armenia had to be left to Ardašīr’s son and successor Šāpūr I.

5. The Sasanian period I: Armenia between Rome and Iran.

a. Armenia as a Sasanian province. At Misikhe on the Euphrates in 244, Šāpūr I defeated the young emperor Gordian III. The latter’s successor Philip the Arab sued for terms and undertook not only to pay a ransom and an annual tribute but also to renounce the Roman protectorate over Greater Armenia. The country was thus left with no security against Sasanian designs. Lacking Roman support, King Khosrov lost prestige and a few years later was murdered. Armenian tradition generally names the murderer as Anak, a member of the Parthian Suren family (e.g., Agathangelos 13 = Langlois, I, pp. ll8f.), but this story should be treated with caution; the surmise of Ełišē Vardapet (3.48 = Langlois, II, p. 206) that Khosrov was killed by his own brothers is more likely to be true.

Various pieces of evidence indicate that Šāpūr I’s conquest of Armenia took place ca. 252/253. Khosrov’s son Tiridates, who was still a child but had perhaps by then succeeded his father, was forced to take refuge in the Roman empire. Presumably Šāpūr was helped by the complicity of certain members of the royal family (Ełišē Vardapet, loc. cit.; the account given by Zonaras 12.21 = ed. Dindorff, III, p. 137