Forum

The Parthian Road to the Roman Throne
In Response To: Count Bassianus ()

Recall that it was through winning the battle for the East that the Ptolemies ultimately triumphed in Rome. Marc Antony was first and foremost a Ptolemy, Ptolemy XII (Auletes) to be precise. His predecessor Ptolemy X (Hasmonean Alexander Jannaeus) was also a king of Parthia, namely Mithridates II, whose reign also came to an end in 88 BC, as did that of Alexander Jannaeus.

After the death of Alexander Jannaeus, the Parthian throne was in a state of flux until it was taken by Orodes, whose name and succession in 80 BC matches that of Auletes in Egypt, also in 80 BC. Like the reign of Auletes, the long reign of Orodes was not continuous. (Orodes I and Orodes II are likely one and the same, and both correspond to Auletes/Marc Antony.) With Roman support, Auletes recovered his thrones in Egypt (55 BC) and Parthia (57 BC), and gained a further throne in Nabatea/Petra (56 BC) as Malchus (corresponding to his Roman name, Marcus Antonius). His reign in Nabatea/Petra may also have been discontinuous. He had perhaps previously ruled there under the name Aretes (86-62 BC). Cf Aretes, Orodes, and Auletes.

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The defeat and killing of Crassus by Orodes' general Surena near Edessa of Armenia in 53 BC was a major turning point in the long struggle between the surviving kingly lines of Alexander the Great's "Successors". Although a Waterloo for Crassus, it was a crucial victory for the Ptolemies, and it lead to the Ptolemy branch of the royal family taking power over a unified Empire and at a new capital, Rome, first under Antony's ally Julius Caesar and then more permanently under Octavius/Caesar Augustus.

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Octavius, like Antony, also had an Eastern kingly identity, that being Tigranes II son of Tigranes the Great of Armenia. With the transformation of Octavius to Caesar Augustus, the precedent for Eastern power as a stepping stone to the Roman throne was firmly established. During the reign of Octavius/Augustus, the Parthian throne was held by Herod the Great under the name Phraates IV. It would eventually pass to his grandson Philip II/Artabanus III. This grandson ultimately became the Roman Emperor Claudius. The two thrones were roughly analogous to the Egyptian and Libyan thrones of more ancient times. Junior princes that served as Libyan pharaohs often ascended to the Egyptian throne.