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Catulus & Octavius, Mithridates & Tigranes
In Response To: Catalus and Octavius ()

More evidence weighs in on this quadruple association.

Authors are divided as to whether the elder Catulus died after the first trial of Publius Clodius in 61 BC (over which he presided as judge) or after the second unsuccessful prosecution of Clodius in 58 BC. It may be difficult to say when anybody died during this time period. Never were there so many "deaths" and "resurrections".

I haven't found any dissenting opinion as to the death of the elder Octavius at Nola (near Vesuvius) in 58 BC.

The father of Catulus, also called Catulus, was a leading Roman general. He was a rival of Marius, but on occasion also a wary partner. They celebrated a joint triumph in 103 BC after defeating German tribes who were threatening Italy. The elder Catulus, who took his life in 87 BC rather than face charges, does appear to correspond to Hasmonean Aristobulus I. The elder Octavius, who was killed at the same time, also appears to be one and the same as the Hasmonean Antigonus.

The rule of Mithridates VI (121 - 63 BC) was an astonishing 58 years long. We might expect that it actually combined the reigns of two kings (Mithridates VIA & VIB). The difficulty is still in determining with confidence whether one or more of the Hasmonean kings can be associated with Mithridates VI of Pontus and Tigranes of Armenia. Mithridates and Tigranes clearly became the dominant kings and kingmakers in the East. Tigranes married the daughter of Mithridates, which would normally be conclusive proof that they were different persons, but it may have only provided the cover for Mithridates to marry his own daughter. We have already seen that Ptolemy XII later disguised the marriage to his own daughter Cleopatra by using another identity.

In 85 BC, Sulla/Ptolemy IX was declared an outlaw by the Roman senate, after which he made a pact with Mithridates. We know what Sulla received from Mithridates. Mithridates was to restore all captured Roman citizens and slaves, abandon his claim to the regions of Asia, Bithynia, and Cappadocia, pay 2,000 talents, and provide Sulla with ships. [When Sulla attempted to capture Athens without a navy, Athenians taunted Sulla by comparing his face to an oatmeal encrusted mulberry. This is probably related to the nickname of Ptolemy IX, Lathyrus ("chick pea"). Sulla had in fact sent his general Lucullus to his alter ego Ptolemy IX of Egypt to fetch ships for the war with Mithridates and Archelaus of Cappadocia, but they had not arrived. This Archelaus later married Berenice queen/pharaoh of Egypt, but was killed by her vengeful father Ptolemy XII.]

Sulla got what he asked for from Mithridates. We aren't told what concessions he gave Mithridates in return. However, it can be deduced that the two sons of Ptolemy IX (Sulla) were taken into the custody of Mithridates in Pontus either for their safety or as collateral. These princes were later released, the elder becoming Ptolemy XII of Egypt and the younger king of Cyprus. Apparently in exchange, the younger Catulus (Mithridates VI B), a staunch Republican, became consul in 78 BC and for all practical purposes also the successor of Sulla in Rome. Republican ideals in Rome would have been encouraged by certain eastern tyrants such as Mithridates (VIA & VIB) who wanted the senate to function only as a "league of nations", and to stop the annexation of hereditary dominions of eastern kings.

The apparent end of Mithridates came shortly after Pompey chased him into Armenia and demanded that Tigranes the king of Armenia give him up. Tigranes refused, but no doubt agreed that Mithridates must "die". Pompey allowed Tigranes to remain as king in Armenia and departed. Upon hearing that Mithridates had returned to Pontus and was killed privately, Pompey headed immediately for Pontus but did not bother to confirm that the corpse was actually that of Mithridates. If Mithridates and Tigranes were one and the same, then obviously the body was not that of the actual king but a substitute.

If Josephus had mentioned another Hasmonean king named Antigonus (between Antigonus I & II), it might have been easier to sort all this out. He did not, so we are forced to consider the possibility that Aristobulus II was also an "Antigonus" in title, that is, he was the heir of both Aristobulus I and Antigonus I. We are also forced to consider that he may have also assumed the identities of Mithridates VI of Pontus and Tigranes of Armenia. Furthermore, because Mark Antony became Emperor of the East, we must also consider that his father was a much more influential figure than previously suspected, that is, he was in fact Cornelius Sulla. Whether Sulla was also one and the same as Marcus Antonius Sr. is a subject for another day and/or night.

I suspect that we may get additional insight by applying what we now know about a later set of kings called Tigranes who ruled Armenia in the 1st Century AD. In other words, the later kings called Tigranes (Simon Magus/Paul and Aristobulus/Jesus) probably deliberately emulated the earlier ones. We can therefore better understand the earlier period by analyzing the later. See previous post on the later Tigranes pair.