THE IDEA OF MAN AND DIVINITY IN ANTIQUITY PART I: The genealogy of Artabanos II (AD 8/9–39/40), King of Parthia

Marek Jan Olbrycht 1
1 - Uniwersytet Rzeszowski; olbrycht@hotmail.com
MAeS
2014; 15 (3):
ICID: 1134333
Article type: Original article
IC™ Value: 3.00
Abstract provided by Publisher
 
One of the most controversial issues in the Parthian history of the early 1st century AD is the lineage of Artabanos II. The resolution of this problem determines the image of Parthian history in the 1st century AD, moulded to a large extent by an internecine struggle for the legitimation of rival parties’ claim to power. After the death of Phraates IV (37–3/2 BC) Parthia was ravaged by domestic wars. The power of his son, Phraates V (Phraatakes), turned out to be rather ephemeral. He was succeeded by one Orodes III, an Arsacid but of unknown lineage, who reigned for a short time, and this by Vonones I, son of Phraates IV. Eventually a new order initiated by Artabanos II (ca. 8–39/40), the adversary of the descendants of Phraates IV, emerged out of the chaos of war and political turmoil. The time when Artabanos’s ancestral house rose to a high position in Parthia seems to be located somewhere within the turbulent first decade or so of the reign of Phraates IV. We may put forward a hypothesis that a branch of the Arsacids which survived the turmoil of the Sinatrukid period lived among the Dahae. It was from this line that Artabanos II was descended. Artabanos came to rule in Media Atropatene in circumstances which have not been clarified yet. And it was from Media Atropatene that he launched and conducted his struggle for the throne of Parthia against Vonones I. We may assume his ancestry went back to the greatest Arsacid monarch before the Sinatrukids, viz. Mithradates II. The descendants of Phraates IV did not regard any of the other branches of the Arsacids eligible to the throne. The assumption that Artabanos was an Arsacid in the male line is confirmed by Flavius Josephus (Ant. 18.48) and Dio (59.17.3).
DOI: 10.5604/20842937.1134333
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