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Sunday, 24 April 2011

The Paulicians: A timeline & map

Ten years ago I read about the Paulician sect, I decided the read about them again and draw a timeline of their "rise and fall" and also to make a map that will help understand where they were based and their activity.
Below is the timeline of events.




  • 555- Council of Dvin, Catholicos Nerses II says Paulicians living on the Armenian borderlands (Byzantium/Persia).
  • 645- Council of Dvin prohibits use of monasteries as hotels for aristocracy, accompaied with singers and dancing girls.
  • 650- Armenia under Muslim control.
  • 655- Council of Dvin mention against Paulicians.
  • 658 Constantine-Silvanus, their second leader, establishes congregation at Kibossa.
  • 660-Anania teaches at Dvin, finds pupils to be lazy, arrogant and passing themselves of as tutors whilst their own studies were unfinished, bringing disrepute to Anania.
  • 668- Emperor Constans II murdered by Count Mzhezh, who proclaims himself Emperor.
  • 670- Paulicians reject Baptism for babies, only allowing adults over the age of 30 to be fully baptised by immersion.
  • 673- Muslims capture Rhodes and Cilicia.
  • 685- Constantine-Silvanus stoned to death, by order of the Byzantine emperor. The Byzantine officer, Simeon, joins the Paulicians and adopts the name of Titus.
  • 688/717- Paulicians mentioned as "Troublemakers" by the Armenian Apostolic Church
  • 690- Simeon-Titus is burned to death by order of the Bishop of Colonia, near Kibossa.
  • 691- Paul, the new leader, makes leadership of Paulicians hereditary. He establishes a new congregation at Eupatoria.
  • 715- Paul dies, his eldest son, Gegnasius, named successor. His younger son Theodore rebels but is unsuccessful. Gegnasius arrested and taken to Constantinople to be interrogated on Heresy but is aquited, establishes new congreation at Mananali as Eupatoria is no longer safe for him.
  • 720- Council of Dvin convened to curb bad behaviour of the clergy.
  • 745- Gegnasius-Timothy dies in Mananali. Two men, Zacharias and Joseph establish their own groups. Joseph adopts name of Epaphroditus, and has the most followers.
  • 747- Gregory Mamikonian rebels against the Muslim Ostikan of al-Arminya with the aid of the Paulicians.
  • 750- Paulicians of Samosata all executed by the Emir for trying to leave the town.
  • 751- Meletia captured by Byzantium, Armenians deported by Emperor Constantine V to Philippopolis, Thrace.
  • 756- Paulicians of Karin deported by Emperor Constantine V to Philippopolis, Thrace.
  • 768- Council of Dvin prohibits marriage of Armenian Apostolic Christians to muslims.
  • 775- Joseph-Epaphroditus dies at Mananali, succeeded by Baanies who adopts the name of Zachary, however division remains. Sergius is leader of the reform group and is an active evangelist. He boasted he had sent missionaries "from East to West, from North to South". The following decades sees the two groups fight, the Baanite group is almost destroyed.
  • 787- The end of the first period of Iconoclasm in Byzantium.
  • 790- Alexius Mushel governor of Armeniakon, supports the Iconoclast Emperor Constantine VI until 791, then becomes Emperor himself until 793.
  • 801- Death of Baanies-Zachary. Sergius is now officially leader of all Paulicians and he adopts the name of Tychicus.
  • 802- Paulician army assists Nicephorus to become emperor.
  • 805- Due to perseuctions of the Empress Irene, Sergius-Tychicus, who would be most active for the next 34 years, leaves Byzantium for the emirate of Meletya with 5,000 followers, is given control of borderlands and founds the towns of Argaum/Arguvan and Amara (Amran Köyü).
  • 835- Death of Sergius-Tychicus, many leaders take control of Paulician sect.
  • 838- The city of Amorium sacked by the Caliph's armies.
  • 843- Empress Theodora starts persecution of Paulicians
  • 855- Huge military expedition against Paulicians, around 100,000 killed. Some escape to the emirate of Meletia. Emir Umar al-Adta allows Karbeus to establish new base for Paulicians at fort of Tephrike. The old Armenian marriage practise of Consanguinity continues in the Paulician elect, next Paulician leader Chrysocher is both nephew and son-in-law of Karbeus.
  • 859- Emperor Michael III invades the Djazirya region.
  • 863- Joint Muslim and Paulician invasion of Anatolia, sacks town of Amisos, but wiped out at the battle of Lalakaon in Paphalgonia, possibly near Kastamonu. Emir and Karbeus both die.
  • 863- November. Ali ibn-Yahya 'the Armenian' and Ostikan of al-Arminya and Azerbaijan, killed by emperor Michael III at Mayafaraqin.
  • 867- Chyrsocher, leader of Paulician-Muslim army invades Anatolia, sacks Ephesos then moves north and attacks city of Nicea. Many Clergy taken captive.
  • 868- Emperor Basil I sends Petrus Siculus to Tephrike to arrange exchange of hostages, while he is there he writes his "History of the empty and vain heresy of the Manichæans, otherwise called Paulicians". Peace talks fail.
  • 872- Emperor Basil I captures and destroys the city of Tephrhike, the Paulician leader Chrysocher is also executed, his head taken back in triumph to Constantinople. Survivors flee to the remote regions of Armenia, mostly in Taron and gain support of the Bagratuni prince, who is supposed to have written 'The Key of Truth' in homage to them.
  • 882-Samosata falls to the Roman (Byzantine) army.
  • 971- Many remaining Paulicians in Anatolia are rounded up by order of Emperor John I and deported to Philippopolis, Thrace and the re-established eastern-Danube frontier zone. They prolythetise to the Bulgars and assist their Tsar, Boris, who adopts their teaching.
  • 1096- The first crusade passes through Philippopolis and meet the Paulicians.
  • 1097- The 'Gesta Francorum' records Paulicians serving in the Turkish armies that fought the Crusaders near the city of Dorylaeum.
  • 1118- Anna Commnena who wrote in 1118AD, said Philippopolis was 'a meeting place, so to speak, of all polluted waters'.
  • Resurfaces at the town of T'ondrak, from which the sect is known afterwards as the "Tondrakians", sect continues until 1800's.

Sunday, 10 April 2011

The "Drafsh" Emblem.

When I was in Armenia, I went to see the 4th century AD Basilica Church of "Surp Nshan" (Holy Seal) near Abaran.
Photo taken in November 2010, at the Surp Nshan Basilica, Republic of Armenia.
Outside in the courtyard are some ruins, one of which caught my eye. It had a Cross inside a circle, and itself looked like a banner used in battle as it was upon a pole. At either side was a person, eroded away, yet still visible.




This looked like a battle standard, most likely used either by the Arshakuni kings of the 4th century or the Bdeshk families such as the Kamsarakan or Mamikonian.


Back in London I began to read about the Achaemenid empire, and came across a rendition of a motif from the tunic worn by King Darius I at Persepolis.
I also saw two coins minted by the Satrapy of Caria around 395 BC and 344 BC, and drew the motifs on their Reverse sides..
I then learned about the "Pazyryk" carpet from a tomb in the Altai mountains, that is dated to around 400 BC, originating from Achaemenid Iran. It bears many examples of the "Drafsh" motif.
I also began to read about the Sassanian era, and the "Drafsh" of Kaveh, perfectly depicted on the reverse of this coin from around 100 BC of the ruler of Persis, Artaxerxes.
 
Obverse: Artaxerxes, king of Persis. Reverse: Artaxerxes offering prayers to a temple, the Drafsh of Kaveh is at the right hand side.
The Star motif was also used by the dynasty that ruled Pontus from 302 - 37 BC, among whom were king Mithridates VI. His ally and son-in-law was king Tigran II of Armenia, and below is my illustration of the motif used on his crown.




A Tetradrachm of king Tigran II. His crown bears the star motif.


 Reading Dr. Kaveh Farrokh's book "Shadows In The Desert" I saw a photo of what is called the "Cup of Khosrow" and I noticed the "Drafsh" motifs which decorated it.

I drew an example of one of them.
 On further reading of "Shadows In The Desert" I saw a photo of a fresco from the palace of an Ummayad Caliph, near ancient Palmyra. Called the "Qasr Al-Heir El Gharbi" the paintings have a border of "Drafsh" running around them.

Below is my drawing of one of them.
On further reading I learnt that the "winged emblem of Zoroaster" had been in use before by the Assyrians.
Below is my drawing of a star motif on a stele from the reign of king Ashurbanipal II, circa 850 BC.




This Star motif went back further, I saw a photo of a boundary stone from the reign of king Meli-Shipak II of Babylon, circa 1186 BC which had the star on it.

My drawing of the star upon the boundary stone.



What can be surmised is that this star motif had a deep meaning in the successive dynasties of Mesopotamia, what it's exact representation is though, is another question.

The Fire Temples from the Sassanian Occupation of Egypt and Cappadocia

I couple of years ago I chanced to come across an image of what is described as a "mosque" in the city of Kayseri, Turkey.
Kayseri was originally called Caesarea, it was the capital of region of Cappadocia and by the 4th century AD it was the main centre of Christianity in all of Anatolia.

In 615 AD General Shahin invaded Anatolia for the Shah of Persia, Khosrow II.

This "mosque" look nothing like a conventional mosque, it has no mineret, the area for prayer is not at ground level but on the 1st floor. The structure is cube shaped and has 4 doorways, 1 on each side.
General Shahrbaraz invaded Egypt in 616 AD for the Shah of Persia, Khosrow II.

In 868 AD General Ahmad Ibn Tulun invaded Egypt for the Abbassid Caliph of Islam. He soon made himself independent of the Caliph, and created a city called Al-Qatta'i.
He also had a mosque built, in the centre of which is called an "ablution fountain". The structure is cube shaped and has 4 doorways, 1 on each side.

Compare with my drawing of the Fire Temple at Firuzabad in Fars province, Iran, that dates back to around 224 AD.
It is my belief that when Cappadocia and Egypt came under Persian control in 615 AD and 616 AD respectively, Fire Temples, along with a religious complex or military barracks were built either in their capitals, such as Caesarea or near the military base of "Fort Babylon" in Egypt, which later became Fustat.

When Cappadocia, and its city Caesarea, were recaptured in 624 AD by Emperor Heraclius and the reoccupation of Egypt by 628 AD these Persian structures would have been pulled down. The ruins of which could have been rebuilt later on by new conquerors, such as the Seljuk Turks in Anatolia and the Turkish dynasty of Ahmad Ibn Tulun. Persian culture was very influencial on successive Turkish dynasties, did they knowingly seek out these ruins from Persia's glorious past or was it mere coincedence?



The Artaxiad Dynasty: Artaxias I

Artaxias I (Old Persian: Artakhshathra, Greek: Αρταξιας, Armenian: Արտաշէս) was the founder of the Artaxiad Dynasty that would rule Armenia for the next two centuries.
Coin ascribed to Arsames II 230 BC. It is possible this is a coin of Artaxias. The Reverse legend might by "APTAK.." and the two mountain peaks, those of mount Masis (Ararat) the stars may be the "Farna" the Divine Glory. From his new city, Artaxata, mount Masis could be clearly seen.


Strabo relates in his Geographia, written 200 years after the said events, that king Antiochus III sent general Artaxias and another general called Zariadres to overthrow the kingdom of Sophene and Armenia and rule as Satraps for Antiochus.

He then explains that following king Antiochus III's defeat by the Romans at the Battle of Magnesia in 190 BC, Artaxias and Zariadres revolted and with Roman consent, after the Treaty of Apamea, began to reign as kings, Artaxias over Armenia and Zariadres over Sophene.

Movses Khorenatsi (Moses of Khoren) wrote in the 5th century AD that King Orontes IV was defeated and killed by King Artaxias.

It may have been that Artaxias was bribed by king Antiochus to rebel against King Orontes IV.


*Modern historians such as Richard G. Hovannisian believe that Zariadres was the father of Artaxias.
He cites two Aramaic inscriptions found in Zangezur and near Lake Sevan which state "Artashes, the son of Zareh" and "Artashes, the Eruand king, the Good, the son of Zareh"
.
My sketch, done in September 2011, of a stele in Aramaic, a proclamation of king Artaxias in 161 BC, found in Teghut, Dilijan, Republic of Armenia. Stele housed in the National Museum Of Armenia, Yerevan.

Until the reign of Artaxias, the region of Armenia had been inhabited by tribes who spoke different languages. Strabo relates that it was Artaxias who unified the realm making Armenian the common language of all, this was in the process of his conquests, which implies that the territory of Armenia had shrunk until his reign. It was probable that tribes such as the Alans invading from the north had occupied eastern regions of Armenia. Strabo relates that "Baspropeda" was annexed by Artaxias, this has been taken to mean Vaspurakan.

Artaxias is said to have failed to annex Sophene, obviously actions against it meant that he was free from Seleucid rule and that Zareh was dead but it was under occupation by the Seleucids.

When Artaxias had a war with the Alans who were raiding across the Caucasus, he is said to have captured their princess Satenik.
According to Movses Khorenatsi this is how it happened:
“King Artashes mounted his handsome black horse, And taking out a red leather rope studded with golden rings, And crossing the river like a sharp-winged eagle, And throwing his red leather rope studded with golden rings, Cast it upon the waist of the Alanian maiden, And this hurt the delicate maiden's waist, Quickly taking her back to his camp.” 
The lasso  is also a battle technique the Scythians used and later Steppe warriors used.
Artaxias married Satenik, they had five sons: Ardamazda (Artavasdes), Vruyr (This is an alternate version of Paruyr, and is a name first heard of with “Paruyr Skayordi” who was the son of the Scythian king Protothyes (Bartatua in Babylonian). Paruyr Skayordi = Son of the Scythian, Paruyr.), Mazhan, Zareh and Tigran.

Artaxias founded a new capital, Artaxata (Artashata) on the Araks River. According to Movses Khorenatsi,  Hannibal found refuge with Artaxias and designed the new city for the king.
Artaxias was taken captive by king Antiochus IV Epiphanes when he attacked Armenia in 165 BC, but soon gained his liberty.
After the death of king Antiochus IV in 163 BC, the ruler of Armenia rebelled again.

At Artaxias' funeral many people are said to have killed themselves. This maybe an exaggeration and more likely they lacerated themselves, which is a Scythian tradition.


The Artaxiad Dynasty: Zareh

Coin ascribed to Abdissares, son of Xerxes. I think Abdissares and Dsariadris are one and the same king.

Zareh (Greek: Δσαριαδρις = Dsariadris) was a Satrap and later a King of Sophene.

Strabo cites Sophene and Armenia being taken over by two "generals" of king Antiochus III  by 188 BC, called Zariadres and Artaxias.
Following the defeat of Antiochus III by the Romans at the Battle of Magnesia in 190 BC, Zariadres and Artaxias revolted and with Roman consent began to reign as kings; Zariadres over Sophene and Artaxias over Armenia.

It is possible that Zareh's name was a corruption of Bagdassar.
Greek sources have him as "ΔΣΑΡΙ ΑΝΙΣΑΔΩ" or Zareh son of Anisades.
Anisades may be a Greek corruption of a name such as "Anahita Zade" = Born of Anahit.

Richard G. Hovannisian believe Artaxias was the son of Zariadres, citing Aramaic inscriptions found in the Republic of Armenia that testify to him being the son of Zareh: "Artashes, the son of Zareh" and "Artashes, the Eruand king, the Good, the son of Zareh".

It is interesting also that these inscriptions refer to "Eruand" or Orontes. Baring in mind that Orontes (Aurand) meant "brave" and might not imply a direct familial connection but a title.
It is also strange why as the senior, he did not rule Armenia but the small region of Sophene, whilst his son Artaxias ruled Armenia.

The Orontid Dynasty: Mithrenes II

Mithrenes is also mentioned by Professor David Marshall Lang (in the article "Iran, Armenia and Georgia: Political Contacts", Cambridge History of Iran Journal, Volume 3) as Mithras, High Priest of the temple to the Sun and Moon at Armavir. Whether he ever ruled as a King is not known, although later kings such as Tigran II were both High Priest and King.

The Orontid Dynasty: Orontes IV

Coin ascribed to a "Arsames II" who is supposed to have ruled in 230 BC, with the words on the reverse "Basileus Arsamou". However there are no records of such a king. The name "Orontid" seems to have been a title that went with a name. Orontes IV may be the same person as Arsames II.
Orontes IV was the son of King Arsames and is recorded as ruling Armenia from inscriptions found at the historic city of the Orontid dynasty, Armavir.
In his reign the religious site of Bagaran was founded.
Large bronze statues in the Hellenistic style of the gods, Zeus (Aramazda), Artemis (Anahit) and Herakles (Vahagn) were brought there and set up in temples dedicated to them.
He is also said to have founded a shrine at Armavir dedicated to Apollo (Mithra), a golden statue of four horses pulling a chariot with Apollo as god of the Sun. This was later destroyed by the Sassanid Persian army in the 4th century AD.

King Antiochus III instigated a revolt against King Orontes IV in about 200 BC.
Strabo, who wrote about this over 200 years later, stated that it was "general Artaxias" who overthrew King Orontes IV.
However Aramaic inscriptions found at Armavir state that King Orontes IV died at the hands of his own army, in other words by betrayal. This was most likely bribery by King Antiochus III of the Armenian army.
They also testify that Artaxias was the son of Zareh and an Orontid king.

Artaxias took over as Satrap soon afterwards, according to Strabo.


The Orontid Kings: Xerxes

'''Xerxes''' (Ancient Greek: Ξέρξης - Xerxes, Old Persian: Ḫšayāršā, Armenian: Šavarš).

He succeeded his father Arsames I to rule both Sophene and Commagene in 228 BC, whilst his brother Orontes IV ruled Armenia.

The Satraps of Upper Media, Lower Media and Persis rebelled against king Antiochus III in 223 BC.
Also in 223 BC Achaeus, the Satrap of Asia Minor, rebelled.
By 220 BC Antiochus put down most of the rebellions, though Achaeus was not defeated until 213 BC.

All of these rebellions helps to understand the context, and motives for the subsequent actions of Antiochus on king Xerxes.
By 212 BC Antiochus III had invaded the domain of Xerxes and defeated him after laying siege to the city of Arsamosata. Shortly afterwards Antiochus arranged for Xerxes to marry his sister, Antiochis.
This move seems to show the power or influence Xerxes had in the region, as is attributed by his numerous coins.
However within the same year his new wife arranged to have him assassinated, thinking that Antiochus would be able to take control of Sophene. Whether Xerxes had still ruled Commagene by the time of his assassination is not known.

Xerxes is supposed to have had a son called Abdissares, this name sounds similar to "Dsariadres" which is an alternative Greek version of Zareh, the supposed General sent by king Antiochus III to overthrow Sophene in 200 BC. Aramaic inscriptions found near Lake Sevan and Zangezur in the Republic of Armenia testify that king Artaxias was not only the son of Zareh, but also an Orontid.
Coin ascribed to king Xerxes. The profile of the king on the coins of Abdissares are very similar. However they have his name on them, whilst this one just has ".....OY"

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.

The Orontid Kings: Sames

Sames (Old Persian: Shama, Greek: Σαμωσ, Armenian: Շամ) was the Satrap of Commagene.

War between the Seleucid Empire and the Ptolemaic Kingdom seems to have allowed Sames an opportunity of independence.
What side he took in the Syrian Wars is unknown as most of the records of that era have been lost, though it would make sense that he would have supported the Ptolemaic Kingdom against his large and powerful neighbour, the Seleucid Empire.

Most sources give Orontes III as his father.
After Orontes III died in 260 BC, there is no record for when Sames began his rule, only his year of death, in 260 BC as well.

It may be that he began his rule in 272 BC.
In that year king Antiochus I conquered Sophene and forced its ruler to pay a tribute of 300 silver talents and 1,000 horses and mules. Then the ruler was murdered. Who that ruler was is not stated, though it could not have been Sames, who is said to have died in 260 BC. The only recorded person in that time ruling that region was Orontes III.

It may well be that Orontes was murdered by order of king Antiochus I in 272 BC and his son was left in control of Sophene whilst a Seleucid Satrap was put in control of Armenia.

Commagene was outside the boundary of historic Armenia, yet the Persian Satraps remained in occupation of many regions of Anatolia, such as Cappadocia and Pontus. It may have been that the son and heir to the Armenian kingdom would rule another region, just as the son or heir to the Achaemenid Empire had always ruled an outlying region, such as Bactria or Hyrkania.
Viewing it from this perspective it would make sense, as his father Orontes III was of the Achaemenian family.

Sames founded the city of Samosata, in Commagene. This has been submerged by the Ataturk Dam since 1989.
  • Shamash was a Babylonian god, equivalent to Mithra, it was a dramatic break from a seemingly continous tradition of Satraps with Persian names. The neighbouring region of Osroene had a majority Aramaic population that the Persian and Greek occupiers never replaced. Although Sames had a very Babylonian (Aramaic) name, his name might have been "Mihrdat" which many of his successors had, but replaced it with the Babylonian equivalent for cultural reasons on taking control of Commagene. however his son was called Arsames (Arshama) and this was the name of king Darius I grandfather.

He was succeeded by his son, Arsames I.

NO KNOWN COINS

The Orontid Dynasty: Orontes III

Orontes III was King of Armenia, the year of his accension is not known as his father, Mithrenes I, retook control of Armenia from 321 BC.

In the reign of Orontes III the royal capital was moved from Armavir to Yervandashat in 302 BC.

He struggled for control of the region of Sophene with king Antiochus I until being defeated in 272 BC and was forced to pay a large tribute which included 300 talents of silver and 1,000 horses and mules.


Orontes III was subsequently murdered in the same year, whether at the instigation of king Antiochus I is not recorded.
His son, Sames (Old Persian: Sham), continued to rule in Sophene, obviously as a Satrap for king Antiochus.

NO KNOWN COINS FROM HIS REIGN

The Orontid Dynasty: Mithrenes I

Mithrenes (Old Persian: Mihran, Greek: Mιθρένης or Mιθρίνης) was the commander of the Persian force which garrisoned the citadel of Sardis he may have been the satrap of Lydia.
After the battle of the Granicus, Mithrines surrendered voluntarily to Alexander the Great and is said to have been treated by him with distinction.
He fought for Alexander at Gaugamela, ironically he was fighting against an army that included his father Orontes II.

After this battle, Alexander appointed him Satrap of Armenia, as his father had been.
It's not clear, however, whether Mithrenes actually managed to take control of his satrapy.

According to Curtius, in his speech given at Hecatompylos in 330 BC Alexander the Great listed Armenia among lands conquered by Macedonians, implying that Mithrenes succeeded in conquering it; on the other hand, Justin reproduced Pompeius Trogus' rendition of a speech attributed to Mithridates VI of Pontus, which mentioned that Alexander didn't conquer Armenia.
It can be surmised that Mithrenes ruled on behalf of the new Macedonian regime. However after the death of Alexander III, Neoptolemus was made Satrap of Armenia from 323 - 321 BC.
After the death of Neoptolemus, and the struggles going on with the Diadochi it seems Mithrenes not only returned to his ancestral seat but declared himself king.

The Orontid Dynasty: Orontes II

Orontes II was the satrap of Armenia from 336 - 331 BC.
He is supposed to be the son of Orontes I.
After Codomannus ascended the throne of Persia as king Darius III in 336 BC Orontes was given the Satrapy of Armenia to rule.

At the Battle of Gaugamela he fought on the right flank for king Darius III, with 40,000 infantry and 7,000 cavalry under his command. He died there.
Ironically his son, Mithrenes, Satrap of Lydia, had joined king Alexander III after being defeated at Sardis in 334 BC. He then fought at the Battle of Gaugamela on the side of Alexander. After the battle he was made Satrap of Armenia by Alexander.

Saturday, 9 April 2011

The Orontid Dynasty: Artasyrus, father of Orontes

Artasyrus is recorded as being the Satrap of Bactria during the reign of king Artaxerxes II.
For this, his son Orontes I was sometimes called "a Bactrian".
However his son was the Satrap of Sophene and Matiene (around lake Urmia) during the reign of the same king, so it appears there is confusion in the historical records, which is understandable in that western sources about the Achaemenid Empire derive from ancient Greek sources which mostly recorded events in Greece or western Asia Minor.
The satraps of Bactria would have been recorded in the royal archives held in cities such as Persepolis, Susa and Ecbatana. After the Macedonian invasion led by king Alexander III most archives were lost. It is interesting to note that Bactria during the Achaemenid era was ruled by the designated heir to the empire, this implies that Artasyrus was at the very least a part of the Achaemenian family.

The name Artasyrus is another Greek corruption of the name "Artakhshathra" (Artaxerxes). That Bactria was ruled by the heir to the throne and his name is actually another Greek version of Artaxerexes, he might have been the same person as king Artaxerxes I and Orontes may have been one of his illigimate sons by his numerous concubines.

The Orontid Dynasty: Orontes I

After researching the real rulers of Armenia from the 7th century BC to the 5th century AD I had made Wikipedia pages for them, alas Wikipedia also allows anyone to edit what is posted and add nonsense.
So I will post here my findings.
Some of the sources I read for this were J. M. Cook's "The Persian Empire" and Richard G. Hovannisian's "The Armenian People from Ancient to Modern Times".

This is about Orontes I, who is cited as an Armenian king in Armenian history, but was actually an Achaemenid Persian, and a Satrap for the Achaemenid Persian empire.

This is a gold Drachm minted in Ionia, western Asia Minor, around 363 BC. It depicts Orontes, who at that time had occupied Ionia in rebellion against king Artaxerxes III. Note the Scythian hat he wears.


The name Orontes is a Greek corruption of the original Persian name '''Auruand''' which meant "Great Warrior" in the Avestan language.
It is likely this was a special title given by the Persian king to a chosen man of the Achaemenid family, though this seems to have become a hereditary name in that family. 

According to the Greek sources (Herodotus, Strabo) Orontes was made Satrap of Sophene and Matiene, these comprised western and eastern Urartu. He was given these Satrapies after the Battle of Cunaxa in 401 BC for supporting Artaxerxes II against Cyrus the Younger

Xenophon in his "Anabasis" mentions Orontes and that he had a son called Tigran. Movses Khorenatsi confused this Tigran with king Tigran II.

It is likely Orontes ruled from Armavir as the previous Satrap of Armenia, Hydarnes, had ruled from there.
He also married Rodogoune, the daughter of king Artaxerxes II by one of his concubines.

He is next recorded in 381 BC for the campaign to recapture Cyprus from its rebel leader, King Evagoras, commanding the army, whilst the navy was under the command of Tiribazus. They managed to lay siege to the city of Salamis, however Orontes then impeached Tiribazus to king Artaxerxes II. Before three Persian noble judges, Orontes was found guilty.

In 362 BC a great rebellion occurred in Anatolia, led by Datames, Satrap of Cappadocia. Some sources say that it was Orontes who was chosen by the rebels as their leader. However Orontes stayed loyal to king Artaxerxes II and aided in the collapse of the rebellion.
Apparently he wanted to rule Anatolia and Armenia alone. 

In 355 BC he rebelled against the new king of the Achaemenid Empire, Artaxerxes III.
The Satrapy of Ionia was captured by him, including the city of Pergamon and he sent bribe money to Athens, where a decree records his name for an alliance. 
He had enough funds to plot such things as he is recorded to have had a personal fortune of 3,000 talents of silver. He also minted his own coins, such as the one displayed here from the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris.
He still had possession of parts of western Anatolia when he fought a battle against the satrap of Daskyleion. After being defeated he handed back Pergamon to the king's men and subsequently died.

The next Satrap of Armenia is known as "Orontes II" though if he really was the son of Orontes is not definitively proven.
The kings of  Commagene claimed descent from Orontes with Darius I of Persia as their ancestor, by his marriage to Rodogoune, daughter of Artaxerxes II who had a family descent from king Darius I.

Some ancient Greek sources called Orontes a "Bactrian", though it was because his father, Artasyrus (Artaxerxes), had been the Satrap of Bactria in the reign of king Artaxerxes II. It is interesting that during the Achaemenid Empire Bactria was ruled by the heir to the throne. It is possible that Artasyrus is the same person as king Artaxerxes II.
This king had seven known children and eleven children whose names are not known in western historical records.

A quote about king Orontes I from "The Mythology of All Races: Volume VII;  Armenian Mythology: The World of Spirits and Monsters. XI, by Mardiros H. Ananikian, New York, 1925....
"King Erwand also, whose name, according to Father Ghevont Alishan, means serpent, was held captive by the dragons in rivers and mist. He must have been a changeling, or rather born of a serpent-father. For he was a worshipper of Devs and, according to Moses of Khoren, the son of a royal princess from an unknown father. He was proverbially ugly and wicked and possessed an evil eye under the gaze of which rocks crumbled to pieces.
According to Djvanshir, a historian of the Iberians of Transcaucasia, the wicked King Erwand built a temple to the Kaches (Brave Ones) at Dsung, near Akhalkaghak in Iberia (Georgia)"

This all reflects the rapacious character of Orontes I.


Cowardly Codomannus?

King Darius III (380 - 330 BC) is known to history as the Persian king who twice ran away from king Alexander III (356 - 323 BC). First at the Battle of Issus and then finally at the Battle of Gaugamela.
The impression we get from the Greek historians is of a cowardly king.
A Roman depiction of Darius fleeing from Alexander at the battle of Issus. From a mosaic at Pompeii.


However, before becoming king of the Persian empire, Darius' original name was Codomannus and gained reknown for ending a long rebellion of the Cadusii in 358 BC by defeating their champion in single combat.

Okay, by the time of Gaugamela, Darius was about 49 years old, yet what he may have lacked in strength he would have to have had in intelligence in order to have become king in the first place.
Quite why he would have thought it sensible to run away makes no sense, especially as his army outnumbered Alexander's at Gaugamela and the right wing of his army was actually defeating the left wing of Alexander's.

All that can be said for certain is that the Greek historians of Alexander's day would have written for Alexander only and if they chose to differ they would have had a short life indeed.