(Ἀρσάκης). The name of (1) the founder of the Parthian Empire, which was also borne by all his successors, who were hence called the Arsacidae. He was of obscure origin, but he induced the Parthians to revolt from Antiochus II., king of Syria, and became the first monarch of the Parthians, about B.C. 250. The events which immediately followed are stated very differently by different historians. He reigned only two years, and was succeeded by his brother Tiridates.
(2) Tiridates, reigned thirty-seven years, B.C. 248-211, and defeated Seleucus Callinicus, the successor of Antiochus II.
(3) Artabnus I., son of the preceding, was attacked by Antiochus III. (the Great), who, however, at length recognized him as king, about 210.
(4) Priapatius, son of the preceding, reigned fifteen years, and left three sons, Phraates, Mithridates, and Artabanus.
(5) Phraates I. was succeeded by his brother
(6) Mithridates I., who greatly enlarged the Parthian Empire by his conquests. He defeated Demetrius Nicator, king of Syria, and took him prisoner in 138. He died during the captivity of Demetrius, between 138 and 130.
(7) Phrates II., son of the preceding, defeated and slew in battle Antiochus VII. Sidetes, B.C. 128. Phraates himself was shortly after killed by the Scythians.
(8) Artabnus II., youngest son of No. 4, fell in battle against the Thogarii or Tocharii, apparently after a short reign.
(9) Mithridtes II., son of the preceding, added many nations to the Parthian [p. 134] [figure in text: Coin of Arsaces VI. (Mithridates I.).]
Empire, whence he obtained the surname of Great. He sent an ambassador to Sulla , B.C. 92.
(10) Mnascres (?), the successor of the preceding, of whom nothing is known.
(11) Sanatrces, reigned seven years, and died about B.C. 70.
(12) Phrates III., son of the preceding, lived at the time of the war between the Romans and Mithridates of Pontus, by both of whom he was courted. He was murdered by his two sons, Mithridates and Orodes.
(13) Mithridtes III., son of the preceding, was expelled from the throne on account of his cruelty, and was succeeded by his brother Orodes.
(14) Ordes I., brother of the preceding, was the Parthian king whose general Surenas defeated Crassus and the Romans, B.C. 53. (See Crassus.) After the death of Crassus, Orodes gave the command of the army to his son Pacorus, who invaded Syria both in 51 and 50, but was in each year driven back by Cassius. In 40, the Parthians again invaded Syria, under the command of Pacorus and Labienus, but were defeated in 39 by Ventidius Bassus, one of Antony's legates. In 38, Pacorus once more invaded Syria, but was completely defeated and fell in the battle. This defeat was a severe blow to the aged king, Orodes, who shortly afterwards surrendered the crown to his son Phraates during his lifetime.
(15) Phrates IV. was a cruel tyrant. In 36, Antony invaded Parthia, but was obliged to retreat after losing a great part of his army. A few years afterwards Phraates was driven out of the country by his subjects, and Tiridates proclaimed king in his stead. Phraates, however, was soon restored by the Scythians, and Tiridates fled to Augustus, carrying with him the youngest son of Phraates. Augustus restored his son to Phraates, on condition of his surrendering the Roman standards and prisoners taken in the war with Crassus and Antony. They were given up in 20, and their restoration was celebrated not only by the poets, but by festivals and commemorative monuments. Phraates also sent to Augustus as hostages his four sons. In A.D. 2, Phraates was poisoned by his wife Thermusa and her son Phraataces.
(16) Phraatces reigned only a short time, as he was expelled by his subjects on account of his crimes. The Parthian nobles then elected as king Orodes, who was of the family of the Arsacidae.
(17) Ordes II. also reigned only a short time, as he was killed by the Parthians on account of his cruelty. Upon his death the Parthians applied to the Romans for Vonones, one of the sons of Phraates IV., who was accordingly granted to them.
(18) Vonnes I., son of Phraates IV., was also disliked by his subjects, who therefore invited Artabanus, king of Media, to take possession of the kingdom. Artabanus drove Vonones out of Parthia, who resided first in Armenia, next in Syria, and subsequently in Cilicia. He was put to death in A.D. 19.
(19) Artabnus III. obtained the Parthian kingdom soon after the expulsion of Vonones, about A.D. 16. Artabanus was involved in hostilities with the Romans, and was expelled more than once by his subjects. (20) Gotarzes succeeded his father, Artabanus III., but was defeated by his brother Bardanes and retired into Hyrcania. (21) Bardnes, brother of the preceding, was put to death by his subjects in 47, whereupon Gotarzes again obtained the crown. (22) Vonnes II. succeeded Gotarzes about 50. His reign was short. (23) Vologses I., son of Vonones II. or Artabanus III. Soon after his accession he conquered Armenia, which he gave to his brother Tiridates. He carried on war with the Romans, but was defeated by Domitius Corbulo, and at length made peace with the Romans on condition that Tiridates should receive Armenia as a gift from the Roman emperor. Accordingly Tiridates came to Rome in 63, and obtained from Nero the Armenian crown. (24) Pacrus succeeded his father, Vologeses I., and was a contemporary of Domitian and Trajan. (25) Chosros or Osros succeeded his brother Pacorus during the reign of Trajan. His conquest of Armenia occasioned the invasion of Parthia by Trajan, who stripped it of many of its provinces, and made the Parthians for a time subject to Rome. (See Traianus.) Upon the death of Trajan, in A.D. 117, Hadrian relinquished the conquests of Trajan, and made the Euphrates, as before, the eastern boundary of the Roman Empire. (26) Vologses II. succeeded his father, Chosros, and reigned from about A.D. 122 to 149. (27) Vologses III. was defeated by the generals of the emperor Verus, and purchased peace by ceding Mesopotamia to the Romans. From this time to the downfall of the Parthian Empire there is great confusion in the list of kings. The last king of Parthia was Artabnus IV., in whose reign the Persians recovered their long-lost independence. [figure in text: Coin of Parthian Arsacidae.] They were led by Artaxerxes, the son of Sassan, and defeated the Parthians in three great battles, in the last of which Artabanus was taken prisoner and killed, A.D. 226. Thus ended the Parthian Empire of the Arsacidae, after it had existed 476 years. The Parthians were now obliged to submit to Artaxerxes, the founder of the dynasty of the Sassanidae, which continued to reign till A.D. 651. See Parthia.