Mithradates Vi was born ca, 132 BC, the son of a Pontic monarch who had any number of children not born of his wife. As such, the young Mithradates had plenty of competition for the throne which meant a good deal of avoiding his murderous relatives (including his mother) until at about the age of 14 he ran off to live among barbarous tribes of the Black sea region where he acquired a number of future supporters and learned a number of languages which would serve him in good stead. By the time he returned to the court of Pontus he was a huge, immensely strong and physically powerful young man who had acquired a "presence' which overawed the competition. Not surprisingly he was aggressive when it came to expanding his kingdom's territory. Nothing new there except that Rome, having recently acquired territory in Asia Minor, was also now interested in the region. Somehow, Mithradates came to the conclusion that with both Persian and Greek blood he was the best person, indeed ordained by the gods ( his name means, "Gift of Mithras) to defend both peoples from an expanding Rome and turned simple conquest into a divine mission. Much of the region of Asia Minor, even the Greek Peninsula, bought it, or rather had to buy into it after Mithradates orchestrated a one day massacre in 88 BC that killed some 80,000 Romans and Italians, a massacre that rivaled the later Sicilian Vespers and St. Bartholomew's Day slaughters of latter times. There now ensued a kind of decades long, wack-a-mole struggle involving some of Rome's most capable military leaders, Sulla, Lucullus and Pompey as each in turn defeated the armies of Eastern and Greek troops under the direct command of Mithradates, only to discover that, phoenix like, he rose from that ashes of his defeated forces, then recreated more armies and continued the good fight. What enabled Mithradates to keep up this 25 year long struggle was that much of Asia Minor and Greece had come to hate Rome's provincial governors and publicani who were constantly extorting from and robbing the provincials. Mithradates did pretty much the same thing but he was seen as one of their own and his extorted funds were spent in their own back yards. Inevitably Rome ground down the forces of Mithradates whose brutality just barely managed to exceed that of Rome's and Rome could deploy forces over a much larger area than could the King of Pontus. Pompey was able to detach the other kingdoms of the region from allegiance to Mithradates (by honest administration as much as by brute force). When it looked like continued resistance to Rome was a losing proposition, abandoned by his allies, challenged by his son and surviving heir, Pharnaces, Mithradates tried to commit suicide by poison, which did not work, and had himself killed by a devoted follower in 63 BC. By the way, it's hard to sympathize with the king. Before his own death he had ordered the death of his eldest son and heir, and then the slaughter of his entire harem. If readers wish to know more about the man, his life was well attested by the Roman historians (not very favorably) not only by the more well know writers but even the more obscure ones like Pliny the Elder, Cassius Dio and Appian and there are several good recent books out there (The Poison King). However, for whatever reasons, neither then or later, did he attract the attention and interest that some other enemies of Rome have. Now for a last mention about Mithridates before the coins. Look at the title of this post, "Mithradates, He died old". The more recent poet, A.E. Houseman has written an interesting poem about our subject. If you would like to know why Mithradates' attempt at poisoning himself failed, look up and read the poem and the story. Finding coins related to Mithradates is not easy. For reasons unknown to us, Mithradates did not put his image on most of his coinage. He seems to have preferred images of Alexander the Great, who also attempted a fusion of Greek and Persian ideals, divinities (which may or may not look like him) and a few that do have his image on them, so any collector trying to build up a collection of coins related to the Pontic king may have to content himself with "at the time of" rather than coins, the ones with his image definitely on them. The coins below are as follows. First is a gold stater issued in the city of Tomis for Mithradates. On the obverse, in imitation of a coin of Lysimachus, is Alexander the Great in a flowing headdress, said to be the way Mithradates like to wear his own hair. On the reverse is Athena, seated, inscribed Basileus Lysimachus. It weighs 8.3 grams and is Sear 1708. This coin came with a ticket that said that rusty dies were used on this coin, supposedly common with the out of the way mint of Tomis. The second is a drachma of Cappadocia. Not quite everyone in Asia Minor bought into the plans of Mithradates, including this kingdom which bore the reign of a son of Mithradates but upon his death rejected the Pontic king, and set up their own new dynasty which advertised it self as a "friend of the Romans". This drachma is of the second king after the death of the son of Mithradates, issued after the Great king's death. The ruler is King Ariobarzanes issued about 50 BC On the reverse the king is described as pious and "Philoromaios", friend of the Romans. it weighs 3.9 grams and is Sear 7304 (I think). The bronze coin is one issued in Pontus itself with a Gorgon head on the obverse and an advancing Nike on the reverse and was issued in the Pontic city of Amisus. This is probably the most common coin associated with the Pontic great King. It is Sear 3642. Anyone with more coins of Mithradates, please post them so that we have a few more, maybe even one with the king himself and don't forget to look up the poem.