The Info List - Tigranes The Great

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Tigranes II, more commonly known as Tigranes the Great (Armenian: Տիգրան Մեծ, Tigran Mets;[2] Ancient Greek: Τιγράνης ὁ Μέγας Tigránes ho Mégas; Latin: Tigranes Magnus)[3] (140 – 55 BC) was King of Armenia
under whom the country became, for a short time, the strongest state to Rome's east.[4] He was a member of the Artaxiad Royal House. Under his reign, the Armenian kingdom expanded beyond its traditional boundaries, allowing Tigranes to claim the title Great King, and involving Armenia
in many battles against opponents such as the Parthian and Seleucid empires, and the Roman Republic.


1 Early years 2 Alliance with Pontus 3 Wars against the Parthians and Seleucids 4 Wars against Rome 5 Pompey
and reconciliation with Rome 6 Legacy

6.1 Historical 6.2 Modern

7 Gallery 8 See also 9 References

9.1 Bibliography

10 Further reading

Early years[edit] Tigranes had been a hostage until the age of 45 at the court of King Mithridates II of Parthia
Mithridates II of Parthia
after the Armenian defeat in 105 BC. Other sources give the date as much earlier, at around 112–111 BC.[5] After the death of King Tigranes I in 95 BC, Tigranes bought his freedom, according to Strabo, by handing over "seventy valleys" in Atropatene
to the Parthians.[6] When he came to power, the foundation upon which Tigranes was to build his Empire was already in place, a legacy of the founder of the Artaxiad Dynasty, Artaxias I, and subsequent kings. The mountains of Armenia, however, formed natural borders between the different regions of the country and as a result, the feudalistic nakharars had significant influence over the regions or provinces in which they were based. This did not suit Tigranes, who wanted to create a centralist empire. He thus proceeded by consolidating his power within Armenia before embarking on his campaign.[7] He deposed Artanes, the last king of Armenian Sophene
and a descendant of Zariadres.[6] Alliance with Pontus[edit] During the First Mithridatic War
First Mithridatic War
(89–85 BC), Tigranes supported Mithridates VI of Pontus, but was careful not to become directly involved in the war. He rapidly built up his power and established an alliance with Mithridates VI, marrying his daughter Cleopatra. Tigranes agreed to extend his influence in the East, while Mithridates set to conquer Roman land in Asia Minor and in Europe. By creating a stronger Hellenistic state, Mithridates was to contend with the well-established Roman foothold in Europe.[7] Mithridates executed a planned general attack on Romans and Italians in Asia Minor, tapping into local discontent with the Romans and their taxes and urging the peoples of Asia Minor to raise against foreign influence. The slaughter of 80,000 people in the province of Asia Minor was known as the Asiatic Vespers. The two kings' attempts to control Cappadocia
and then the massacres resulted in guaranteed Roman intervention. The senate decided that Lucius Cornelius Sulla, who was then one of the consuls, would command the army against Mithridates.[8] Wars against the Parthians and Seleucids[edit]

Tigranes the Great's Armenian Empire: Countries, composing parts of the Empire

Artaxiad Armenia
in 80 BC, with modern borders indicated

After the death of Mithridates II of Parthia
Mithridates II of Parthia
in 88 BC, Tigranes took advantage of the fact that the Parthian Empire
Parthian Empire
had been weakened by Scythian
invasions and internal squabbling:

When he acquired power, he recovered these (seventy) valleys, and devastated the country of the Parthians, the territory about Ninus (Nineveh), and that about Arbela. He subjected to his authority the Atropatenians, and the Goryaeans (on the Upper Tigris); by force of arms he obtained possession also of the rest of Mesopotamia
and, after crossing the Euphrates, of Syria
and Phoenicea. —Strabo[9]

In 83 BC, after a bloody strife for the throne of Syria, governed by the Seleucids, the Syrians decided to choose Tigranes as the protector of their kingdom and offered him the crown of Syria.[5] Magadates was appointed as his governor in Antioch.[10] He then conquered Phoenicia and Cilicia, effectively putting an end to the last remnants of the Seleucid Empire, though a few holdout cities appear to have recognized the shadowy boy-king Seleucus VII Philometor as the legitimate king during his reign. The southern border of his domain reached as far as Ptolemais (modern Akko). Many of the inhabitants of conquered cities were sent to his new metropolis of Tigranocerta. At its height, his empire extended from the Pontic Alps
Pontic Alps
(in modern north-eastern Turkey) to Mesopotamia, and from the Caspian Sea
Caspian Sea
to the Mediterranean. A series of victories led him to assume the Achaemenid title of King of Kings, which even the Parthian kings did not assume, appearing on coins struck after 85 BCE.[11] He was called "Tigranes the Great" by many Western historians and writers, such as Plutarch. The "King of Kings" never appeared in public without having four kings attending him. Cicero, referring to his success in the east, said that he "made the Republic of Rome tremble before the prowess of his arms."[12] Tigranes' coins consist of tetradrachms and copper coins having on the obverse his portrait wearing a decorated Armenian tiara with ear-flaps. The reverse has a completely original design. There are the seated Tyche of Antioch
and the river god Orontes at her feet. Wars against Rome[edit]

The King of Kings Tigranes the Great with four vassal Kings surrounding him

Mithridates had found refuge in Armenian land after confronting Rome, considering the fact that Tigranes was his ally and relative. The "King of Kings" eventually came into direct contact with Rome. The Roman commander, Lucullus, demanded the expulsion of Mithridates from Armenia
– to comply with such a demand would be, in effect, to accept the status of vassal to Rome and this Tigranes refused.[13] Charles Rollin, in his Ancient History, says:

Tigranes, to whom Lucullus
had sent an ambassador, though of no great power in the beginning of his reign, had enlarged it so much by a series of successes, of which there are few examples, that he was commonly surnamed "King of Kings." After having overthrown and almost ruined the family of the kings, successors of the great Seleucus; after having very often humbled the pride of the Parthians, transported whole cities of Greeks into Media, conquered all Syria
and Palestine, and given laws to the Arabians called Scenites, he reigned with an authority respected by all the princes of Asia. The people paid him honors after the manners of the East, even to adoration.[14]

Lucullus' reaction was an attack that was so precipitate that he took Tigranes by surprise. According to Roman historians Mithrobazanes, one of Tigranes' generals, told Tigranes of the Roman approach. Tigranes was, according to Keaveney, so impressed by Mithrobazanes' courage that he appointed Mithrobazanes to command an army against Lucullus – Mithrobazanes was however defeated and killed.[15] After this defeat Tigranes withdrew north to Armenia
to regroup which left Lucullus
free to put Tigranocerta
under siege.[16] When Tigranes had gathered a large army, he returned to confront Lucullus. On October 6, 69 BC, Tigranes' much larger force was decisively defeated by the Roman army
Roman army
under Lucullus
in the Battle of Tigranocerta. Tigranes' treatment of the inhabitants (the majority of the population had been forced to move to the city) led disgruntled city guards to open the gates of the city to the Romans. Learning of this, Tigranes hurriedly sent 6000 cavalrymen to the city in order to rescue his wives and some of his assets.[7] Tigranes escaped capture with a small escort. On October 6, 68 BC, the Romans approached the old capital of Artaxata. Tigranes' and Mithridates' combined Armeno-Pontian army of 70,000 men formed up to face them but were resoundingly defeated. Once again, both Mithridates and Tigranes evaded capture by the victorious Romans. However, the Armenian historians claim that the Romans lost the battle of Artaxata and Lucullus' following withdrawal from the Kingdom of Armenia
in reality was an escape due to the above-mentioned defeat. The Armenian-Roman wars are depicted in Alexandre Dumas' Voyage to the Caucasus. The long campaigning and hardships that Lucullus' troops had endured for years, combined with a perceived lack of reward in the form of plunder,[7] led to successive mutinies among the legions in 68–67. Frustrated by the rough terrain of Northern Armenia
and seeing the worsening morale of his troops, Lucullus
moved back south and put Nisibis under siege. Tigranes concluded (wrongly) that Nisibis would hold out and sought to regain those parts of Armenia
that the Romans had captured.[17] Despite his continuous success in battle, Lucullus could still not capture either one of the monarchs. With Lucullus' troops now refusing to obey his commands, but agreeing to defend positions from attack, the Senate sent Gnaeus Pompeius, known as Pompey, to recall Lucullus
to Rome and take over his command. Pompey
and reconciliation with Rome[edit]

Statue of Tigranes the Great in Yerevan

In 67 BC[18] Pompey
was given the task of defeating Mithridates and Tigranes.[19] Pompey
first concentrated on attacking Mithridates while distracting Tigranes by engineering a Parthian attack on Gordyeyne.[20] Phraates III, the Parthian king, was soon persuaded to take things a little further than an annexation of Gordyeyne when a son of Tigranes (also named Tigranes) went to join the Parthians and persuaded Phraates to invade Armenia
in an attempt to replace the elder Tigranes with the younger.[21] Tigranes decided not to meet the invasion in the field but instead ensured that his capital, Artaxata, was well defended and withdrew to the hill country. Phraates soon realized that Artaxata would not fall without a protracted siege, the time for which he could not spare due to his fear of plots at home. Once Phraates left, Tigranes came back down from the hills and drove his son from Armenia. The son then fled to Pompey.[22] In 66 BC, Pompey
advanced into Armenia
with the younger Tigranes, and Tigranes the Great, now almost 75 years old, surrendered. Pompey treated him generously and allowed him to retain his kingdom shorn of his conquests[23] in return for 6,000 talents/180 tonnes of silver. His unfaithful son was sent back to Rome as a prisoner.[24] Tigranes continued to rule Armenia
as an ally of Rome until his death in 55/54,[25] at age 85. Legacy[edit] Over the course of his conquests, Tigranes founded four cities that bore his name, including the capital of Tigranocerta (Tigranakert).[26] Historical[edit] In The Art of War (1521), Italian political philosopher Niccolò Machiavelli attributes Tigranes' military failure to his excessive reliance on his cavalry.[27] According to one count, 24 operas have been composed about Tigranes the Great by European composers,[28] including by prominent Italian and German composers, such as Alessandro Scarlatti
Alessandro Scarlatti
(Tigrane, 1715), Antonio Vivaldi
Antonio Vivaldi
(La virtu trionfante dell'amore e dell'odio ovvero il Tigrane, 1724),[29] Niccolò Piccinni
Niccolò Piccinni
(Tigrane, 1761), Tomaso Albinoni, Giovanni Bononcini, Francesco Gasparini, Pietro Alessandro Guglielmi, Johann Adolph Hasse, Giovanni Battista Lampugnani, Vincenzo Righini, Antonio Tozzi, and others.[30] Modern[edit] According to Razmik Panossian, "In a long history of defeats and persecution, Tigran the Great’s brief empire of 2,000 years ago is still a source of pride for Armenian nationalists."[31] The phrase "sea to sea Armenia" (Armenian: ծովից ծով Հայաստան, tsovits tsov Hayastan) is a popular expression used by Armenians to refer to the kingdom of Tigranes which extended from the Caspian Sea to the Mediterranean Sea.[32][33] Gallery[edit]

Illustration of Tigranes the Great in 1898 book Illustrated Armenia and the Armenians

19th-century painting of Tigranes the Great

Obverse of the 1993 Armenian 500 dram

The Tigran the Great Order of the Republic of Armenia

See also[edit]

History of Armenia


^ Gurzadyan, V. G.; Vardanyan, R. (August 2004). "Halley's comet of 87 BC on the coins of Armenian king Tigranes?". Astronomy & Geophysics. 45 (4). doi:10.1046/j.1468-4004.2003.45406.x.  ^ Western Armenian
Western Armenian
pronunciation: Dikran Medz ^ Ubbo Emmius (1620). Appendix Genealogica: illustrando operi chronologico adjecta. Excudebat Ioannes Sassivs. p. D5.  ^ Manaseryan, Ruben (2007). Տիգրան Մեծ՝ Հայկական Պայքարը Հռոմի և Պարթևաստանի Դեմ, մ.թ.ա. 94–64 թթ. [Tigran the Great: The Armenian Struggle Against Rome and Parthia, 94–64 B.C.] (in Armenian). Yerevan: Lusakan Publishing. p. needed.  ^ a b Manaseryan, Ruben (1985). "Տիգրան Բ [Tigran II]". Armenian Soviet Encyclopedia
Armenian Soviet Encyclopedia
(in Armenian). 11. Yerevan: Armenian Encyclopedia Publishing. pp. 697–698.  ^ a b Strabo. Geographica, 11.14.15. ^ a b c d Kurdoghlian, Mihran (1996). Պատմութիւն Հայոց [History of Armenia, Volume I] (in Armenian). Athens: Council of National Education Publishing. pp. 67–76.  ^ Appian. The Civil Wars, 1.55. ^ Strabo. Geographica, 11.14.16. ^ The House Of Seleucus V2 by Edwyn Robert Bevan. ^ Theo Maarten van Lint (2009). "The Formation of Armenian Identity in the First Millennium". Church History and Religious Culture. 89 (1/3,): 264.  ^ Boyajian, Zabelle C. (1916). An Anthology of Legends and Poems of Armenia. Aram Raffi; Viscount Bryce. London: J.M. Dent & sons, ltd. p. 117.  ^ Greenhalgh 1981, p. 74. ^ Rollins, Charles (1844). Ancient History, vol. 4: History of the Macedonians, the Seleucidae in Syria, and Parthians. New York: R. Carter. p. 461.  ^ Keaveney 1992, pp. 106-107. ^ Keaveney 1992, p. 107. ^ Keaveney 1992, p. 119. ^ The Encyclopaedia of Military History, R E Dupuy and T N Dupuy ^ Greenhalgh 1981, p. 105. ^ Greenhalgh 1981, p. 105, 114. ^ Greenhalgh 1981, p. 114. ^ Greenhalgh 1981, p. 115. ^ Scullard, H.H (1959). From the Gracchi to Nero: A History of Rome from 133 B.C. to A.D. 68. New York: F.A. Praeger. p. 106.  ^ (in French) Chaumont, M. L. "Tigrane le Jeune, fils de Tigrane le Grand," Revue des Études Arméniennes
Revue des Études Arméniennes
28 (2001–2002): pp. 225-247. ^ Fuller, J.F.C. (1965). Julius Caesar: Man, Soldier, and Tyrant. London: Eyre & Spottiswoode. p. 45. ISBN 0-306-80422-0.  ^ Karapetian, Samvel (2001). Armenian Cultural Monuments in the Region of Karabakh. Yerevan: "Gitutiun" Publishing House of National Academy of Sciences of Armenia. p. 213. ISBN 9785808004689. The data of records referring to these four towns, all of which were called Tigranakert and differed only by provinces, were often confused, if the name of the province; Aldznik, Goghtn, Utik or Artsakh...  ^ Payaslian, Simon (2007). The History of Armenia. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. p. 22. ISBN 978-1-4039-7467-9.  ^ Kharmandarian, M. S. (1975). Опера «Тигран» Алессандро Скарлатти. Lraber Hasarakakan Gitutyunneri (in Russian) (3): 59–69.  ^ "Vivaldi as opera composer". Long Beach Opera. Retrieved 31 August 2013.  ^ Towers, John (1910). Dictionary-catalogue of Operas and Operettas which Have Been Performed on the Public Stage: Libretti. Acme Publishing Company. pp. 625–6.  ^ Panossian, Razmik (2006). The Armenians: From Kings and Priests to Merchants and Commissars. New York: Columbia University Press. p. 42. ISBN 9780231139267.  ^ Verluise, Pierre (1995). Armenia
in Crisis: The 1988 Earthquake. Detroit: Wayne State University Press. p. xxiv. ISBN 9780814325278.  ^ Coe, Barbara (2005). Changing Seasons: Letters from Armenia. Victoria, B.C.: Trafford. p. 215. ISBN 9781412070225. 


Garsoian, N. (2005). "TIGRAN II". Encyclopaedia Iranica.  Greenhalgh, P. A. L. (1981). Pompey, the Roman Alexander, Volume 1. University of Missouri Press. ISBN 9780826203359.  Keaveney, Arthur (1992). Lucullus: A Life. London: Routledge. ISBN 9781134968558. 

Further reading[edit]

Manandyan, Hakob. Tigranes II and Rome: A New Interpretation Based on Primary Sources. Trans. George Bournoutian. Costa Mesa, CA: Mazda Publishers, 2007. (in Armenian) Manaseryan, Ruben. Տիգրան Մեծ՝ Հայկական Պայքարը Հռոմի և Պարթևաստանի Դեմ, մ.թ.ա. 94–64 թթ. (Tigran the Great: The Armenian Struggle Against Rome and Parthia, 94–64 B.C.). Yerevan: Lusakan Publishing, 2007. Lendering, Jona. " Tigranes II the Great". Livius.org. Retrieved 31 August 2013. 

Tigranes the Great Artaxiad Dynasty Born: 140 BC Died: 55 BC

Regnal titles

Preceded by Tigranes I King of Armenia 95 BC – 55 BC Succeeded by Artavasdes II

Preceded by Philip I and Antiochus XII Seleucid King 83 BC – 69 BC Succeeded by Antiochus XIII

v t e

Armenian kings

Kings of Urartu

Arame Lutipri Sarduri I Ishpuini Menua Argishti I Sarduri II Rusa I Argishti II Rusa II Sarduri III Erimena Rusa III Sarduri IV Rusa IV

Orontid Dynasty

Orontes I
Orontes I
Sakavakyats Tigranes Vahagn Hidarnes I Hidarnes II Hidarnes III Artasyrus (satrap) Orontes I
Orontes I
(satrap) Darius III
Darius III
(satrap) Orontes II (satrap) Mithrenes (satrap) Orontes III Sames Arsames I Xerxes Orontes IV Abdissares

Artaxiad Dynasty

Artaxias I Tigranes I Artavasdes I Tigranes the Great Artavasdes II Artaxias II Tigranes III Tigranes IV with Erato

Roman and Parthian non-dynastic candidates

Ariobarzanes II Artavasdes III Tigranes V Vonones I Artaxias III Arsaces I Orodes Mithridates Rhadamistus Tiridates I

Arsacid Dynasty

Tigranes VI Sanatruk Axidares Parthamasiris Vologases III Sohaemus Bakur Vologases V Khosrov I Tiridates II Khosrov II Artavasdes IV Tiridates III Khosrov III Tiran Arshak II Pap Varazdat Arshak III Khosrov IV Vramshapuh Artaxias IV

Bagratid Armenia

Ashot I Smbat I Ashot II Abas I Abas III Smbat II Gagik I Hovhannes-Smbat III Ashot IV Gagik II


Leo I Isabella Hethum I Leo II Hethum II Thoros Sempad Constantine I Leo III Oshin Leo IV Constantine II Constantine III Constantine IV Leo V

Authority control

WorldCat Identities VIAF: 23708974 LCCN: n88278418 GND: 11862267