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Thread: Ιστορίαi τών Βασιλέων Πόντων Histories of the Kings of Pontos (an EB 2.1b AAR)

  1. #1

    Default Ιστορίαi τών Βασιλέων Πόντων Histories of the Kings of Pontos (an EB 2.1b AAR)


    We have read the Histories of the Kings of Pontos, the work of Lysandra of Amisos. The first four books are lost, but would have recounted the creation of the kingdom by Mithradates the Builder. The author is otherwise known from her Pharmacopoeia, and appears to have been a lady of Amisos married to a prince of the Pontic dynasty; her Histories are a form of epitome or synthesis of what various previous authors wrote about her husband's dynasty and the kingdom in which she lived. As can be expected, she is generally favourable to the Kings of Pontos. The fifth book, the first that is available to us, starts in 272BC.

    We have endeavoured to translate these histories as faithfully as possible, while making them understandable to the modern reader, with the addition of the occasional illustration or table if needed.

    Book V

    In the 26th year of the reign of Mithradates Ktistes, a new king came to rule over the Galatians. In the three years that had elapsed since their defeat by Antiochos Soter, they had been without a king, their tribes fighting as mercenaries for the cities and kings, or settling in the Phrygian lands they had wrested for themselves. But in this year, a chieftain called Dumnakos, whom they say was of exceptional size and strength, had united almost all of the Galatians under his rule, aiming to loot and extract tribute from the Hellespont to the River Halys.

    To this end, he ravaged Maryandinia, the hinterland of Herakleia, causing the Herakliots to renew their alliance with the king. Mithradates sent his eldest son, Ariobarzanes, with an army to defend his ally. Meanwhile, Dumnakos had turned his gaze to Gangra, where some bands of Celts had been settled by the king. Dumnakos desired them to bend the knee, whereas those of Gangra remained faithful to the oaths given to Mithradates, and would not join him. Their commander was known as Nikonides; though as this is a Greek name, the Galatians may have known him under another.

    Therefore, Dumnakos and his army made for Gangra from somewhere which must have been between Diospolis and the River Sangarios; whereas Ariobarzanes had made for Herakleia from Amaseia, but upon being informed by Nikonides of the Galatian intentions, he stopped at Gangra and summoned his allies there. Chief among these were four thousand men of Herakleia, which had elected as commander Ariarathes, a citizen born of a Persian mother, for which reason he was thought to be the best man to deal with Ariobarzanes.

    When Ariarathes reached him, Ariobarzanes also heard that Dumnakos was nearby. Having the choice of the battlefield, he decided to await the Galatians at a point where the road to Gangra passed between a pair of hills.

    Between these hills, he placed his Kappadokian and Phrygian infantry; and because they were stretched over much ground, behind them he placed a small body of Persians and Medes, expert archers and brave men, with a two-fold purpose: for they were to support the Phrygians and Kappadokians with arrows, but also to prevent any from breaking ranks. On the left-hand hill, Ariarathes stood with the Herakliots, and also some five hundred Kappadokian horsemen, armed after the Persian fashion. While on the right-hand hill, Ariobarzanes himself stood with a strong force of Median, Persian and Kappadokian cavalry; and also the allied Celts under Nikonides. He placed many bowmen, slingers and javelin-men on the slopes of both hills, but originally these stood on the far side, so that Dumnakos did not know their true numbers.

    When the Galatians arrived, at first they attacked savagely, according to their customs, along the road and against their brothers who followed Nikonides. Thereupon, the light troops on the slopes of the hills rained missiles over the heads of the soldiers below, wounding many of the Galatians.

    Many of those now rushed up at the left-hand hill, charging at a party of slingers. But the slingers were rescued by fleet-footed Hellenes who fought half-armoured, and behind them Ariarathes came down with his cavalry and hoplites to fight the Galatians.

    Meanwhile Dumnakos sent the main part of his horsemen to contest the right-hand hill, and Ariobarzanes made to meet it with his cavalry. At first the Medes and Kappadokians advanced in silence, but then an eagle overflew their ranks; this they took to be an omen from Verethragna, who is Nike to the Persians, although it may be that a friend of Ariobarzanes released the eagle for this purpose. After this had happened, they gave a great shout and charged downhill, and the courage of the Galatian horsemen broke and they scattered, running like a flock of birds from a cat.

    Ariobarzanes and the cavalry then wheeled and charged into the flank of the Galatians, while on the left-hand hill Ariarathes also repulsed the wing that faced him and likewise pressed into the enemy side.

    Before the night fell, a greater slaughter of Galatians than had ever been made before occurred. And even greater was the number who were deprived of their arms and taken captive. Fearing the vengeance of his people, Dumnakos fled to Thrace, and later became, or so it can be believed, the Dumnakos who was a soldier of Ptolemaios of Epeiros.

    However, Ariobarzanes did not sell the captives as slaves, or kill them as they had feared. Rather, he offered freedom to all who would swear themselves to their conquerors and to Nikonides, his ally.

    Then he proceeded to Ancyra, the city that had been taken by the Tectosages, and helped Nikonides become their ruler. But wisely, Ariobarzanes did not enter the city with his other troops, leaving the Galatians to think Nikonides was strong enough to rule without his aid. However, he sent some soldiers as settlers and garrisons in other districts of the North and East of Phrygia. In this manner, he secured the greater part of Phrygia for the king, and the Galatians as allies, under a friendly ruler.

    Meanwhile, Antiochos son of Seleukos had suffered a defeat against Ptolemaios Philadelphos near Hemesa in Syria; and his ally Antigonos Gonatas suffered setbacks in the Peloponnese, where agents of Ptolemaios had stirred up an alliance against him. When this news reached Ariamnes, the satrap of Kappadokia, he saw it as a chance for freedom, and declared himself an independent king, as his grandfather had been before being crucified by Perdikkas.

    Ariamnes first expected Antiochos to challenge him; but when he saw that an attack was not forthcoming, he became covetous, and turned his gaze Northwards, seeing the lands of Pontos as naturally an extension of Kappadokia, especially those falling South of the old Royal Road of the Persians.

    Mithradates Ktistes, however, would give him no land, and entered an alliance with Antiochos against him; so Ariamnes in his anger advanced with a strong army. Mithradates, although aged, gathered his forces and encamped himself on the hill at Zela on the Royal Road, which is as little as two hundred and fifty stadia from the royal city Amaseia. At Zela there is also a town and a sanctuary sacred to Artemis, who is Anahita in Asia.

    Although Mithradates had a good position on the hill, Ariamnes was in high spirits and had the larger army, so he pressed the attack. Armoured Median and Kappadokian horsemen fought for both kings, and clashed fiercely as Ariamnes attempted to turn Mithradates' flank.

    Although less numerous, the soldiers of Mithradates had the stronger position and were brave men, so they made a stalwart defence. The battle raged for the better part of the day until finally the assaults of Ariamnes' men grew slack. Then Ariamnes' army was driven from the hill in a rout. This was to be the last battle where Mithradates Ktistes commanded himself.

    Although it can sometimes be read that Ariamnes died in the battle of Zela, this is not strictly true; in fact Ariamnes was wounded by an arrow while he was marshalling his troops from the rear, or some say a spear while he led them in the van. Either way, he suffered a wound, and it was not kept clean, because of which he died of a fever the following month. And this is what prevented him from maintaining his rule in Kappadokia.

    With Ariamnes dead and his army broken, Ariobarzanes the son of Mithradates was able to enter his kingdom and set garrisons over Mazaka, Melitene, Nyssa and even Comana. Also, Mithradates elevated a capable young Kappadokian nobleman of his court, Arkathias, and gave him his daughter Arsinoe as a wife, and then made him the commander of Mazaka, with power over the plateau of Kappadokia and the position of a friend of the king. This was all in the 27th year of Mithradates Ktistes.

    Yet the rule over all Kappadokia was not secure, and the following year Arsames, the youngest son of Mithradates, marched an army around the land, rooting out brigands and forcing chieftains to kneel to him. That same year, that is the 28th of Mithradates Ktistes, a small army of Ptolemaios entered Kappadokia, and Arsames defeated it beneath Mount Argaios.

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  2. #2

    Default Re: Ιστορίαi τών Βασιλέων Πόντων Histories of the Kings of Pontos (an EB 2.1b AAR)

    Book VI

    With these recent wars, Mithradates Ktistes had greatly increased his land yet again, though his hold over recent conquests was not perfect; in Galatia hidden behind alliance and friendship, and in Kappadokia vested in the person of a commander and court friend, trusted to wrangle unruly chieftains. However, this expansion was inland, and while it opened up considerable wealth in pastures, farmlands, salt mines, and the king's chest of temple tithes (as had been raised before him by the Persian and Macedonian kings), his interest lay the other way, towards the Pontos Euxeinos that gave his kingdom its name.

    The king held a good haven, Amastris at the mouth of the River Parthenos, and his alliance with Herakleia Pontika stood firm, while he had plentiful supply of timber for ship-building. Yet, he yearned for more, wishing to control the rich Euxeinos with its plentiful fish and its trade in all things, grain, pottery, olives, metals and so on.

    In the immediate, though, his efforts entered on Amaseia, the royal city. He invited there Greeks, Medes and Persians and granted them citizenship, reformed the laws of the city and gave it good courts, and ensured a steady supply of grain from abroad and established royal granaries that they would not know famine.

    Moreover, with the loot of his wars he rebuilt and enlarged the temple to Zeus and endowed shrines to other gods, and built statues of his ancestors. Nevertheless, he did not forget about the kingdom beyond his chief city, and first he hoped to revive fully the Royal Road of the Persians between Melitene and Pessinous. But seeing that the cost of maintaining so many garrisons and waystations would ruin the state, he had to concentrate on the stretch between the Pontic Comana and Ancyra.

    At this time, in Hellas a great alliance of cities had been formed by bribes from Egypt, so that former enemies now fought together; and for a while, even the Aitolians made peace with their Spartan enemies, so that Antigonos was driven from Thessalia, although that had been ruled by Makedon for over sixty years. Nevertheless, Antigonos did not lose heart, and he attacked and captured first Lysimacheia and then Perynthos. Meanwhile the Aitolians fell to fighting with the Spartans and Athenians, while the Achaian cities withdrew altogether, so that Antigonos need fear no attacks on Makedon and the Chalkidike.

    Therefore Antigonos marched inland and allied with the Odrysians, then defeated the Celts of Tylis and captured their city, bringing all of Thrake under his kingship. Having thus somewhat restored his fortunes, he was able to enter into an alliance with Mithradates.

    While this happened, Antiochos faced further setbacks in Asia. The war with Ptolemaios made him concentrate all his resources in Syria; and he could do little about the nomads threatening the upper satrapies, so that their satraps, displeased at the lack of support, sent less and less tribute to Antiocheia and Seleukeia. Moreover, he had already lost Kappadokia to Ariamnes' revolt, and the satrap of Armenia Orontes also revolted successfully. In Mikra Asia the satrap Achaios held faithfully on to Lydia, the lesser part of Phrygia and to Lykaonia, but his other territories were lost or indefensible.

    Therefore, Antiochos gave to Philetairos, the governor of Pergamon, first the satrapy of Mysia and then all his coastal domains in Mikra Asia. Because Philetairos had hidden away a vast treasury and controlled rich mines of gold, he was able to hire mercenaries and gain control of these lands; he was also the first Hellenic ruler to bring the Bythinians to subjection. Thereafter he expelled the Ptolemaic garrisons from Ephesos and Miletos, and proceeded to weaken Ptolemaios' power in the South of Mikra Asia. But he also subjugated the cities of Lesbos, that had previously been allies of Antigonos.

    On the shore of the Pontos, another war was under way. Neoptolemos, tyrant of Trapezous, was jealous of the city of Amisos, which enjoyed the reputation of being the best haven in those parts. Because of this, the Amisans enjoyed greater trade and fame than the Trapezuntines. To undo this, Neoptolemos formed a league with Kotyora and the Pontic Tripolis, and went to war with Amisos by land and by sea. At first both sides had victories and defeats, so Neoptolemos sought to enlarge his league by forming an alliance with the king of Colchis, and thereafter the war was in his favour.

    This and the events previously recounted happened before the end of Mithradates Ktistes' 29th year.

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  3. #3

    Default Re: Ιστορίαi τών Βασιλέων Πόντων Histories of the Kings of Pontos (an EB 2.1b AAR)

    Book VII

    The following spring, having endured many assaults on their city and unable to go out to their hinterlands or bring corn into their harbour, the citizens of Amisos were desperate and saw no way out of their predicament. Therefore, they resolved to place themselves in the hands of the king, if only he would rescue them. They sent three messengers to convey this to Mithradates, travelling in disguise to fool their enemies. One of these men was caught and executed by the Trapezuntines; but two others, Xanthippos and Memnon, reached Amaseia and were there received by Mithradates and his sons.

    The king looked favourably on the Amisan plea, and sent his sons Ariobarzanes and Arsames to Amisos with an army, while he persuaded Herakleia to send some triremes. They drove the Trapezuntines and their allies away from the city, and were received as saviours into Amisos. Then Ariobarzanes returned to the royal city; but Arsames, his youngest brother, remained to settle affairs.

    Arsames first wrote to Neoptolemos, asking if he intended to continue the war now that the city belonged to the king. Neoptolemos indicated he did, and Arsames vowed to strengthen Amisos' defences and repel him. Though, while his enemies thought he was preparing himself to defend Amisos, in fact Arsames marched rapidly with his best soldiers, and seized Kotyora by surprise. When they realised that he was within the walls, the Kotyorans rose up against him, but as they were not prepared for a battle, the Pontic soldiers put them down, and on account of their resistance, Arsames allowed his men to sack the city, which was looted and burned thoroughly, and lost its importance.

    Having thus lost one of his allies, Neoptolemos was now afraid and he appealed to Sinope, as metropolis of the Trapezuntines. The Sinopeans responded to their colonists, but also, it must be believed, because they were very fearful of the king's growing power, and did not want him to own cities on either side of theirs. In those days, Sinope was very powerful and ruled over the greater part of Paphlagonia.

    The Sinopeans sent then fifteen triremes and twenty-five hundred men to Neoptolemos; and also, they sent the Paphlagonians to ravage the king's country, which they did, devastating the lands of the Parthenos River, then they attacked Tion, which city was in the hands of the Herakliots. Ariobarzanes then came with Galatian mercenaries, and with his aid the Paphlagonians were defeated and sent home in a rout.

    Meanwhile, Arsames had laid siege to the Pontic Tripolis, but Neoptolemos arranged to have the city supplied from the sea, and an attempt to scale the walls with ladders was repulsed. It was now late in the summer, and Arsames, who was a very clever general, did not intend to spend the end of the year sat down against a city. Therefore, one morning the defenders found his siege camp deserted, and when they sent out scouts, they found his army had marched away inland. The citizens of Tripolis celebrated their relief; but in the night Arsames reversed his march and he surprised them before dawn, when they were still muddled with wine, and seized much of the city by storm.

    Some citizens still held out on their acropolis; but fearing their city would suffer the same fate as Kotyora, the city's leader obtained a truce to parley with Arsames. They offered to surrender, if he only promised to spare the lives and freedom of the inhabitants and the sacred treasures of the temples. Arsames granted these terms; and thus he carried off the ships and heavy arms of Tripolis and much of the city's wealth, though the citizens and their temples were untouched.

    Arsames then paid his soldiers, and returned to Kotyora for supplies and to place his spoils there with a strong garrison. Finally he marched against Trapezous; and Neoptolemos, having received strong contingents from Colchis in addition to the men from Sinope, resolved not to let the city be invested, and instead gave battle within sight of the walls.

    The morning was hotly contested, although Arsames had numbers on his side the Trapezuntines resisted valiantly and at times seemed even to have the upper hand. Finally when the sun was high in the sky, Neoptolemos fell and a Galatian soldier cut off his head and brought it to Arsames. When this became known, the Trapezuntines fled towards their city, the men of Sinope fled to their ships and sailed off, and the Colchians fled into the hinterland.

    Thus bereft of their leader and allies, the Trapezuntines yielded themselves to Arsames. He did not treat them overly harshly, though he garrisoned the city and seized the state treasury, he did not harm the inhabitants nor loot the city.

    However, he passed a law unto them, that the strongest men of Trapezous would have to serve the king at the city's expense. For he reasoned that if he levied on them financial penalties, but left the strong men, they would have the reason and means to rise up; while if he killed their best men, they would not yet rebel, but their sons would surely do so without fail. By taking their best soldiers to fight for the king, Arsames reasoned that it would cost them less gold than tribute in coins, but it would prevent them from rebelling and serve the king just as well, without affording officials the chance to steal from the king's purse. Although he was still young, Arsames was already the wisest of men.

    Sinope, meanwhile, used her triremes to harm the king's trade by sea, and the Paphlagonians raided along the borders. Yet, deprived of allies, and hearing that Arsames and Ariobarzanes were gathering soldiers, Sinope sought a truce, and concluded a peace for ten years with the king. And not long after, Mithradates Ktistes died, having reigned for thirty years and built a strong kingdom from nothing. Ariobarzanes succeeded him as king of Pontos.

    Ariobarzanes, in his first years, kept out of wars and fostered trade, becoming a patron to scholars, philosophers and priests as his father had been and adding more stations to the Royal Road. He renewed his alliances with Herakleia, the Galatians, Antigonos and Antiochos.

    Also, however, he sought every opportunity to enter into the affairs of cities and tribes as arbitrator and lawgiver, and for this reason some authors call him meddlesome and oppressive. Though, wherever he could he improved laws, made taxes simpler, removed magistrates who were corrupt and selfish, so on the balance we must call him just and fair.

    Because even the Galatians were kept in check with the help of Nikonides, his lands became known as safe from brigands and raiders, in a time where much of Asia was at war. Amisos grew to overshadow Sinope as the chief haven on the Asian shore of the Euxeinos, and the road through Kappadokia and Galatia was favoured by merchants.

    Thus the first four years of Ariobarzanes were peaceful and brought gold and silver into the coffers at Amaseia and the pockets of the people. Amisos was favoured in this time with a mint that became so prolific that didrachms of Ariobarzanes are still in use today and recognised as of good purity.

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  4. #4

    Default Re: Ιστορίαi τών Βασιλέων Πόντων Histories of the Kings of Pontos (an EB 2.1b AAR)

    Book VIII
    Meanwhile, Philetairos of Pergamon proclaimed himself king, but then died; and having been a eunuch, he had adopted a youth, Demarchos, to be his successor. Demarchos conquered from Ptolemaios Caria and Lykia; but he also attacked Byzantion, seeking to take control of the toll on the Thraikian Bosporos, because Philetairos had left him Chalkedon on the opposite shore. Byzantion was an ally of Antigonos; and this, plus the earlier conquest of Lesbos by Philetairos, precipitated war between the kings of Makedon and Pergamon.

    This war did not stop Demarchos from sending his generals to expel the Egyptians from Pamphylia and the districts around those parts. However, at the same time, Antiochos Soter had died, and his successor, Antiochos son of Antiochos, faced invasions both by the Armenians in Mesopotamia, and by Ptolemaios in Syria. Antiochos pleaded with Ariobarzanes, his ally, to intervene. Reluctantly, Ariobarzanes agreed to invade Kilikia, which was held by Ptolemaios except for the town of Soli, where a Syrian garrison held out.

    Thus in his fifth year of reign, Ariobarzanes gathered an army of over 25,000 men at Tyana in Kappadokia. His advance down through the Kilikian Gates and towards Tarsos was slow; so that while he was marching, Polydoros the general of Demarchos invaded Kilikia and defeated Tlepolemos the general of Ptolemaios. Afterwards Polydoros besieged Tlepolemos in Tarsos.

    When Ariobarzanes reached Tarsos and found Polydoros besieging the city, he first sent a message to Polydoros asking him to leave as Antiochos, the rightful ruler of the lands, had asked him, Ariobarzanes, to restore them to his possession. However Polydoros refused. Then the king listed his griefs against Pergamon, chiefly that of making war on his ally Antigonos, and again requested Polydoros leave; again the general refused. Finally Ariobarzanes bade Polydoros depart or suffer his wrath. This third entreaty was also ignored.

    Ariobarzanes then established camp for the night not far off. As dawn broke, he had his soldiers woken and marched them in the gloom until they were between Polydoros and his best source of water, then he drew his army up for a battle, atop a slight incline.

    According to his custom, Ariobarzanes placed the Hellenic troops, for the most part half-armoured mercenaries, on the left flank, supported by a strong wing of Kappadokian cavalry. In the centre he placed the mass of Galatian and Asian infantry; and on the right wing he placed the remainder of his cavalry, with some picked Galatians and around fifteen hundred Thraikian mercenaries. This right flank was partially hidden by some trees.

    Polydoros, seeing this, deployed his army to face the king's. However, perhaps because he did not see the size of the king's right flank, he grouped his left flank and centre together, into a deep formation led by some three thousand phalangites in the Makedonian style; while his own right wing he made mostly of half-armoured and light troops. He had very little cavalry, though his infantry were experienced mercenaries.

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    All morning the two armies faced each other, because Polydoros had fetched water from other wells, and did not want to assault Ariobarzanes' good position. In the early afternoon, the king finally advanced a short distance and ordered his bowmen and slingers to shoot at the enemy; but Polydoros was well provided with archers of his own, including Cretans whose reputation was fearsome, and these skirmished against the Pontic archers.

    However, Polydoros with all his horsemen, of which he only had five hundred, moved towards the right flank of the king, perhaps misjudging its strength still. And soon Polydoros found himself in trouble against a larger number of Persian and Kappadokian horsemen, supported by infantry.

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    At that point Polydoros sent for his entire army to move to the left and come to his relief. And Ariobarzanes saw his chance and ordered a general assault. As the Pergamene mercenaries rushed to their left, they were struck in their rear by the half-armoured infantry and the Kappadokian cavalry, while the centre hit them in their flank.

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    Because of this, their resistance was brief, for the most part. Those troops who formed a left flank and fought near Polydoros fought the longest, but soon they too were driven from the field. Polydoros escaped but his camp and treasury fell to the king, and his army was broken.

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    Tlepolemos through the battle had remained in Tarsos. And afterwards he surrendered the city to Ariobarzanes, on condition he and his men could leave unmolested. The king allowed Tarsos to be looted for three days and nights, then left without garrisoning it and went West to Seleukeia Tracheia, which he seized from its Ptolemaic governor. Then Ariobarzanes wintered in Seleukeia Tracheia.

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