II. Ancient and Classical Periods, 3500 B.C.E.–500 C.E. > D. Classical Greece and the Hellenistic World > 5. The Hellenistic World, to 30 B.C.E. > e. Parthia
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  The Encyclopedia of World History.  2001.
 
 
e. Parthia
247, 238?–211
 
Arsaces I founded the kingdom of Parthia, including at first only Parthia and Hyrcania, between the Seleucid kingdom in the west and the Bactrian kingdom in the east. Parthian society was hierarchical and dominated by elite orders of priests and nobles. The king's power rested on the support of the leading nobles who supplied soldiers and tribute from their estates. Zoroastrianism was the religion of the Parthians. In 238 Arsaces was expelled by Seleucus II but returned when the latter withdrew to deal with a revolt in Syria.  1
 
211–c. 190
 
Arsaces II withstood the attacks of Antiochus III, the Great, in 209; he was followed by Arsaces III (Priapatius, 190–176) and Arsaces IV (Phraates I, 176–c. 171).  2
 
c. 171–138
 
Mithridates I conquered Babylonia and Media from the Seleucids (c. 147); later he added to his kingdom Elam, Persia, and parts of Bactria, thus founding the Parthian Empire. Ctesiphon-Seleucia became the capital. He captured Demetrius II in 139.  3
 
138–128
 
Phraates II (138–127) defeated Antiochus VII in Media (129), and as a result the Seleucids were permanently excluded from the lands east of the Euphrates; but he died in battle fighting the Tochari (the Scythians or Sacae of the Greeks), a tribe driven out of central Asia by the Yuezhi. The kingdom was devastated and Artabanus I (128–124) fell likewise fighting against the Tochari.  4
 
124–87
 
Mithridates II, the Great, defeated the Scythians and also Artavasdes, king of Armenia Major. He stabilized the eastern boundaries of the kingdom.  5
 
87–70
 
Parthia suffered a collapse and was greatly reduced in territory by Tigranes I of Armenia (c. 100–56).  6
 
70–57
 
Phraates III restored order but was not strong enough to resist the Roman advance, led by Lucullus and Pompey.  7
 
57–37
 
Orodes II defeated Crassus at Carrhae (53) and regained Mesopotamia. His son, Pacorus, unsuccessfully invaded the Roman province of Syria in 51 and again in 40.  8
 
37–20
 
Phraates IV defeated Antony in 36 but could not prevent him from conquering Armenia in 34. In 20 he returned the standards of Crassus and Antony to Augustus, while a line of kings (the Arcasids) persisted in Armenia. Parthia itself was badly divided for almost two centuries after 77 C.E. Rome conquered further Parthian territory, including Armenia, by 117 C.E.. (See 113–117)  9
 
 
 
The Encyclopedia of World History, Sixth edition. Peter N. Stearns, general editor. Copyright © 2001 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Maps by Mary Reilly, copyright 2001 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.

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