Mithradates VI

Mithradates VI (Mithradates Eupator)mĭthrəkdāˈtēz, c.131 B.C.–63 B.C., king of Pontus, sometimes called Mithradates the Great. He extended his empire until, in addition to Pontus, he held Cappadocia, Paphlagonia, and the Black Sea coast beyond the Caucasus. The increasing importance of Rome in Asia Minor brought Mithradates and the republic into open conflict. The First Mithradatic War (88 B.C.–84 B.C.) was the result. Mithradates conquered the whole of Asia Minor (except for a few cities) in 88 B.C. In 85 B.C. the Roman general Fimbria attacked him in Asia Minor, and he was defeated simultaneously with the destruction of his army in Greece. In the resultant treaty Mithradates paid an indemnity and gave up all but Pontus and a few colonies. The Second Mithradatic War (83 B.C.–81 B.C.) was begun by Sulla's lieutenant Lucius Murena, who desired glory. Murena was repelled by Mithradates and was superseded by Aulus Gabinius, who made peace with the king of Pontus. The Third Mithradatic War (74 B.C.–63 B.C.) began when Mithradates resolved to prevent Rome from annexing Bithynia, which had been left to Rome by a royal will. Lucullus was sent against Mithradates, who was finally forced to flee to Armenia. In 68 B.C. the Romans invaded Armenia, but were forced to retreat. Mithradates returned to Pontus, and Lucullus was replaced (66 B.C.) by Pompey. Pompey soon drove Mithradates eastward, and the king fled to the Crimea, the last of his provinces. He had a slave kill him. His fall is the subject of Racine's Mithridate. Pharnaces II was his son and Tigranes, his son-in-law. The name is also spelled Mithridates.

See biography by A. Mayor (2009).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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