Featured The puppet kingdom of Mithridates VI Eupator

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Pavlos, Oct 6, 2019.

  1. Pavlos

    Pavlos You pick out the big men. I'll make them brave!

    Cappadocia, an ancient region that lies in the central heartland of Asia Minor, a plateau of atleast 1000m high, pierced by volcanic peaks, with Mount Argaeus being the tallest.


    The Kingdom of Cappadocia was ruled by a prosperous family, the House of Ariarathes. The Kingdom however, was mostly under subject of two empires, first the Seleukid Empire until 250 BC when Ariarathes III (c. 255-220 BC) proclaimed himself king and afterwards it had been under the influence of the kings of Pontos since the reign of Ariarates VI (c. 130-116 BC).


    However, his successor, Ariarathes VII (c. 116-100 BC) soon came to resent the intervention of Mithridates VI of Pontos in the affairs of the kingdom and prepared for war.

    Ariarathes VII Philometor (c. 116-100 BC)

    In c. 100 BC, the Cappadocian and Pontic forces met, but before battle was joined, Mithridates VI invited Ariarathes VII to a meeting to see if the situation could be settled without fighting. Either premeditated or spur of the moment due to the negotiations souring, Mithridates VI wound up expediently resolving their differences by murdering the Cappadocian king at the conference. The Pontic king then generously offered stability to the now headless Cappadocian kingdom by placing his infant son on the throne under the traditional dynastic name, Ariarathes.

    Ariarathes IX Eusebes Philopator (c. 100-85 BC)

    The child king, conventionally referred to as Ariarathes IX, was an obvious puppet of Mithridates VI and the Cappadocian nobility quickly drove him from power in favor of a son of Ariarathes VI, who is normally described as Ariarathes VIII.

    Ariarathes VIII Epiphanes (c. 100-95 BC)

    In 95 BC, Mithridates VI entered Cappadocia at the head of an army, deposing Ariarathes VIII and restoring his son to the throne. Ariarathes IX was barely back in power when the Roman Senate intervened and forced him to return the throne to Ariarathes VIII. After a short period of turmoil, the Romans directed the Cappadocians to choose whomsoever they wished to rule, and thus the kingdom passed to Ariobarzanes I Philoromaios.

    Ariobarzanes I Philoromaios (c. 96-63 BC)

    Nevertheless, the son of Mithridates VI was again restored to power on separate occasions in 93 and 92 BC following invasions of Cappadocia by the Pontic king’s son-in-law Tigranes II of Armenia. Unfortunately, as soon as Tigranes and his army returned home Ariarates IX would be deposed again by order of the Senate. Ariarates IX was restored to the throne of Cappadocia for the last time at the outbreak of the First Mithridatic War (89-85 BC). He remained king of Cappadocia over the course of the war, but he was forced to abdicate after his father was defeated in 85 BC. Ariarathes IX was afterwards killed while serving as a commander of his father’s troops in northern Greece.

    So why this post? Let's go back how Mithridates VI Eupator uses his son Ariarathes IX as a puppet.

    Early coin issues from Ariarathes IX show the young king with rather idealized features that are somewhat reminiscent of those of earlier Cappadocian kings (see his tetradrachm above). The coins are of ordinary Cappadocian types with his title Eusebes, abbreviated from his full title Eusebes Philopater.
    However, soon after, drachms and later, tetradrachms were struck bearing a portrait that was much closer in features to that of Mithridates VI. The head, especially on the tetradrachms and on the drachms of year 4 resembles that of Mithradates VI, and Dr. Imhoof-Blumer supposes that this portrait is the head of Mithradates himself, and not that of his son Ariarathes IX.

    Ariarathes IX Eusebes Philopator (circa 100-85 B.C.) AR Drachm. Mint A (Eusebeia-Mazaka). Dated RY 4 (97/6 BC).
    Diademed head right, with the features of Mithradates VI of Pontos.
    Reverse: BAΣΙΛΕΩΣ APIAPAΘOY EYΣEBOYΣ, Athena Nikephoros standing left; monogram to inner left, Δ (date) in exergue.
    Reference: Simonetta 3a

    The purpose of the change is uncertain, but it may have been done in relation to the revolt of Ariarathes VIII. Mørkholm believed that a group of Cappadocian nationalists revolted against the Pontic king, and recalled Ariarathes VIII, who they promoted as king. This revolt was quickly suppressed. As a reaction to this event, it is possible that Mithradates had his portriat placed upon the coinage as a more overt pronouncement of his rule over the Cappadocians via his son.

    In year 13 and 15 (year 14 is nonexistent) the drachms of Ariarathes IX from Mint B show again a portrait of his father Mithradates VI. The first Mithridatic war has started, thus making their relationship perfectly clear to all beholders.

    Ariarathes IX Eusebes Philopator (circa 100-85 B.C.) AR Drachm. Mint B (Eusebeia-Mazaka). Dated RY 13 or 15 (88/7 or 86/5 BC).
    Diademed head right, with Mithradatic style portrait.
    Reverse: BAΣΙΛΕΩΣ APIAPAΘOY EYΣEBOYΣ, Athena Nikephoros standing left; monogram to inner left, [date in exergue].
    Reference: Callataÿ p. 181, obv. die D37 var. (slightly different monogram);

    Mithridates VI is one of my top 3 favorite generals, his 'life time' portrait however, is difficult to come by because it is only on his tetradrachms. These tetradrachms are quite expensive, so his 'life time' portrait on the drachms of his sons is a great alternative :)

    Share here your coins from Mithridates VI and any Ariarathes and Ariobarzanes Cappadocian coins!
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2019
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  3. Bing

    Bing Illegitimi non carborundum Supporter

    CAPPADOCIAN KINGDOM Ariarathes V.jpg
    AR Drachm
    OBVERSE: Diademed head of Ariarathes V right
    REVERSE: Athena standing left, holding Nike & resting hand on grounded shield, HDI monogram in outer left field, PAFI monogram in inner left field, HF monogram in outer right field, date GL in exergue
    Struck at Cappadocia, Year 33 (= 130 BC)
    4.2g, 18mm
    SNG Copenhagen Suppl. 673–678. Simonetta p. 24, 20b
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  4. ominus1

    ominus1 Supporter! Supporter

    ..o wow..great info and coins...a whole nuther rabbit hole beckoning to go down... mithradates vi 002.JPG mithradates vi 004.JPG Mithradates VI Pontos bronze..
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  5. David@PCC

    David@PCC allcoinage.com

    Those are great, I know very little about Cappadocia but wanted at least one.
    Ariarathes V
    Mint: Eusebeia-Mazaca
    135 BC
    AR Drachm
    Obvs: Diademed head of Ariarathes right
    Revs: BAΣIΛEΩΣ APIAPAΘOV EVΣEBOYΣ, Athena holding Nike/shield. Monograms left, HK below
    19mm, 4.1g
    Simonetta 23 5
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  6. Ed Snible

    Ed Snible Well-Known Member

    Great write-up, @Pavlos , and also great coins. There seem to be very few Cappadocian kingdom coins on the market with even strikes from non-degraded dies.

    Neither photo of this Ariobarzanes I is mine. The first is NGC's photo. The second is likely Heritage's. In my office, with compact florescent lighting, the color looks more like Heritage's photo but the portrait looks more like NGCs.

    ariobarzanes-both.jpg ariobarzanes-slab-both.jpg
    CAPPADOCIAN KINGDOM. Ariobarzanes I Philoromaios/Philoromaeus (96-66/3 BC). AR drachm (18mm, 1h). Weight unknown! Year 30 (66/5 BC).
    Obv: Diademed head of Ariobarzanes I right
    Rev: ΑΣΙΛΕΩΣ-ΑΡΙΟΒΑΡZΑΝΟΥ-ΦΙΛΟΡΩΜΑΙΟΥ, Athena standing left, Nike in right hand, left hand resting on grounded shield, spear behind; ΓA monogram in inner left field, Λ (date) below.
    Pavlos, zumbly, Bing and 6 others like this.
  7. Shea19

    Shea19 Supporter! Supporter

    Great write up and coins, @Pavlos

    Kings of Cappadocia. Ariarathes IX Eusebes Philopator, AR Drachm, (18mm, 3.94g.), Diademed head right, with the features of Mithradates VI of Pontos / Athena Nikephoros standing left, monogram to inner left.

    Kings of Cappadocia, Ariarathes V Eusebes Philopator, 163-130 BC., AR Drachm (17 mm, 3.99g), Eusebeia-Mazaca, circa 131 B.C. Diademed head of Ariarathes to right. Rev. BAΣΙΛΕΩΣ APIAPAΘOY EYΣEBOYΣ, Athena standing left, holding Nike, spear and shield set on ground.
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  8. zumbly

    zumbly Ha'ina 'ia mai ana ka puana Supporter

    Excellent writeup and coins, Pavlos. Here's an Ariobarzanes II.

    CAPPADOCIA Ariobarzanes II - Drachm 3122.jpg CAPPADOCIAN KINGDOM. Ariobarzanes II.
    AR Drachm. 4.12g, 17.1mm. CAPPADOCIA, Eusebeia mint, RY 8 (?) = 55 BC. cf. SNG Cop 161. O: Diademed head of Ariobarzanes to right. Rev. BAΣIΛEΩΣ / APIOBAPZANOY / ΦILOPATOPOΣ, Athena Nikephoros standing left holding Nike, spear and shield; [H (?) (date) in exergue].
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  9. Roman Collector

    Roman Collector Supporter! Supporter

    What an informative write-up, @Pavlos -- definitely worthy of being featured! I have no coins to show off here, though.
    Pavlos likes this.
  10. Alegandron

    Alegandron "ΤΩΙ ΚΡΑΤΙΣΤΩΙ..." ΜΕΓΑΣ ΑΛΕΞΑΝΔΡΟΣ, June 323 BCE

    Cool write and info, @Pavlos ! And those CappadocCoins are killer!

    i do not have Cappadocians, here is one from the Poison-Proof King:

    PONTOS Amisos 85-65 BCE Æ24 12.2g Mithradates VI as Perseus r Phrygian helmet Pegasos grazing l Malloy 33b HGC 7 239
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  11. Pavlos

    Pavlos You pick out the big men. I'll make them brave!

    Thank you all for your words and the amazing coins you all shared!
    @Bing @David@PCC @Shea19 I really like all the Ariarathes V coins, with his cool portrait. He was ofcourse, the greatest Cappadocian king ;)

    What a great example of Ariobarzanes I! I like his distinct elderly look.
    I agree that centered and sharp Cappadocian coins are hard to find.

    Very nice coin @zumbly, Ariobarzanes II is the most rare from all three Ariobarzanes.
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  12. Terence Cheesman

    Terence Cheesman Well-Known Member

    cappadociaantiochosVII-2.jpg Tetradrachm of Ariarathes VII 107-101 B.C. In the name and types of Antiochos VII Rv.Athena standing left SC 2136 16.60 grms 30 mm
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