Page 0421


cised sovereignty without the slightest obeisance in the direction of Antioch or Ctesiphon

or Rome.

Mithridates II went down to death six years before the conclusion of his war with the

Armenians, in which his unsuccess was so conspicuous as to cast some shadow on his title

of "The Great," won in his youth by victorious battle with the Scyths. His reign covered a

period of about thirty-five years, and was principally noted in its latter days on account

of the contact and first relations of the Empire which he ruled with the Roman Republic.

It happens in the history of most nations that after what may be called the first Imperial

epoch a period of distraction and decadence ensues. Success to a nation brings the same

trials and dangers which it brings to the local society or to the individual. The exercise

of power and the means of gratification entail perils and plant pitfalls, and rarely do a

people escape the one or avoid the other. There now supervened in the history of the

Parthian Empire such a time of retrogression and confusion. This was manifested, first of

all, on the dynastic side. The reader will have observed with what regularity the crown

had thus far passed to the ninth prince of the Arsacidae. No break or serious disturbance

had occurred in the Dynasty. But a time now fell out when obscurity came to the royal

house, and it is not known positively who was the next king in order after Mithridates II.

It is believed, however, that a prince of little reputation, bearing the name of

MNASCIRAS, probably the son of the late monarch, came to the throne. Neither from the

Behistun inscriptions nor from the Parthian coins are we able to know definitely the

course of the succession. The events of the years extending from B. C. 89 to B. C. 76 are

so obscure that one may almost pass the gap as though it were not.

In the latter part of this period, however, the light returns sufficiently to enable us to

see men as trees walking. In B.C. 76 a new king, named SANATRCECES, whom we may consider

as the eleventh of the Dynasty, came to the throve, and the administration, whatever it

had been, was quickened into greater activity. It is known that the new monarch was

already an octogenarian on his coming to power. It is also known that he had been for a

great time a prisoner, or possibly a hostage, among the Scythians; and it is believed that

his accession to the throne of the Empire was effected by the aid of a body of Scythian

warriors who returned with him in his old age from the country beyond the Oxus. From this

circumstance we get a glimpse of a condition which had evidently come to pass in the

Empire. Civil war had ensued, and part of the people had no doubt joined in the recall of

Sanatroeces. At any rate, the aged hero gained the crown, and did something before his

death to restore the fortunes of his country.

The period at which we have here arrived might almost be designated in Asiatic history as

the age of the Armenian ascendancy. We have seen above with what vigor Tigranes, the

Armenian king, son- in-law of Mithridates II, had followed his ambitions and added to his

conquests. By him Armenia Minor was conquered and absorbed. From Parthia the great and

valuable province of Northern Mesopotamia was taken. Adiabene also, including, according

to the current organization, the ancient Assyria, was in like manner torn from the Empire

by conquest. Parts of Media were added to the Armenian dominion, insomuch that Tigranes

sent the dread of his name into all the surrounding countries.

While thus by successful war Armenia was advancing to the rank of a first-class Power in

South-western Asia, Rome was strengthening her position and advancing her interests in all

the hither parts of the continent. The army of the Republic and that of Tigranes were face

to face, and it was only a question of time when one or the other must go to the wall. The

king of Parthia had cause to fear each and both of these tremendous forces as they rose on

his western borders. He was in doubt whether it were best for him to take his chances by

allying himself with the Armenians, and thus recognizing the violence by which Tigranes

had taken away a portion of the Parthian Empire, or to make a union with Rome. In his

embarrassment he dealt doubly with the question, holding out to each party the promise and

expectation of favor.