Sunday, 10 April 2011

The Orontid Dynasty: Arsames

Arsames I (Old Persian: Arshama), according to the chronology, seems to have taken control of Commagene, Sophene and Armenia in the year 260 BC after the death of his father Sames.

Ziaelas, son of king Nicomedes I of Bithynia, found refuge at the court of king Arsames, and upon the death of Nicomedes, Ziaelas returned to take the kingdom in 254 BC.

Arsames also supported Antiochus Hierax against his brother, Seleucus II Callinicus, who was defeated at a battle near Ankara in 235 BC, after which Seleucus lost control of any lands he had across the Taurus mountains. This was to the benefit of Arsames and other Persian satraps such as Mithradates II of Pontus.

Arsames then founded the cities of Arsamosata in Sophene and Arsameia (known today as Eski Kale) in Commagene in 235 BC.

After his death his eldest son Xerxes, became king of Commagene, Sophene and Armenia. His other son Orontes IV seems to have succeeded Xerxes whilst another son known as "Mithras" (or Mithrenes II) is recorded by Professor David Marshall Lang (Iran, Armenia and Georgia: Political Contacts. In the Cambridge History of Iran, Volume 3) as being the High Priest of the temple to the Sun and Moon at Armavir.

Coin with the name Arsamou (Arsames). The physiology is very like that on coins ascribed to Xerxes.

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