Artavasdes II of Armenia
Artavasdes II (Ancient Greek: ΑΡΤΑΒΑΖΔΟΥ Artavazdou, Armenian: Արտավազդ Երկրորդ Artavazd Yerkrord) was a King of the Kingdom of Armenia from 55 BC until 34 BC and a member of the Artaxiad Dynasty. He was a son of king Tigranes the Great of Armenia and Cleopatra of Pontus, his maternal grandfather was king Mithridates IV of Pontus (one of Rome's greatest enemies). Artavasdes II was an ally of Rome and when Marcus Licinius Crassus the Roman proconsul of Syria prepared an invasion of the Parthian Empire Artavasdes offered his assistance. Crassus, not willing to share the glory and spoils of defeating the Parthians, refused Artavasdes offer. The Romans suffered an unexpected defeat at the hands of the Parthian general Surenas while Orodes II, the Parthian king, invaded Armenia and forced Artavasdes to join the Parthians, he gave his sister in marriage to Orodes' son and heir Pacorus.
A coin of Artavasdes II
|King of Armenia|
|Reign||Armenia: 55 BC – 34 BC|
|Mother||Cleopatra of Pontus|
In 36 BC the Roman General Mark Antony invaded Armenia and Artavasdes II again switched sides, but abandoned the Romans once they had left Armenia to conquer Atropatene. In 34 BC Antony planned a new invasion of Armenia. First he sent his friend Quintus Dellius, who offered a betrothal of Antony's six-year-old son Alexander Helios to a daughter of Artavasdes II, but the Armenian king hesitated. Now the triumvir marched into the Roman western Armenia. He summoned Artavasdes II to Nicopolis, allegedly to prepare a new war against Parthia. Artavasdes II didn't come, so the Roman general quickly marched to the Armenian capital Artaxata. He arrested the king, hoping that with his hostages assistance to obtain great treasures in the Armenian castles. His son Artaxias II was elected as successor. After a lost battle Artaxias II fled to the Parthian king. Finally Antony took Artavasdes II to Alexandria.
The Armenian king and his family, who were bound with golden chains, had to follow Antony in his triumphal procession. Cleopatra VII of Egypt awaited the triumvir on a golden throne, but Artavasdes II refused to render homage to the Egyptian Queen by Proskynesis.
After the Battle of Actium in 31 BC, the Armenian king was executed by beheading at the behest of Cleopatra. In the past, he had been an enemy of his namesake, King Artavasdes I of Media Atropatene, who had become an ally of Antony. She sent his head to Artavasdes I of Media Atropatene to secure his help.
Plutarch described Artavasdes II as a well-educated man, who had a great fondness for all things Greek and was an accomplished scholar who composed Greek tragedies and histories. From a wife whose name is unknown, he was survived by two sons: Artaxias II, Tigranes III, and a daughter who possibly married King Archelaus of Cappadocia.
- Plutarch, Crassus 19; 22; 33.
- Plutarch, Antony 37-39; Cassius Dio, Roman History 49.25
- Cassius Dio, Roman History 49.39.2
- Cassius Dio, Roman History 49.39.3 - 49.40.1
- Tacitus, The Annals 2.3
- Cassius Dio, Roman History 49.40.3-4; Velleius, Roman History 2.82.4; Plutarch, Antony 50.6-7
- Cassius Dio, Roman History 51.5.5; Strabo, Geography, book 11, p. 532
- Plutarch, Crassus 33
- Swan, The Augustan Succession: An Historical Commentary on Cassius Dio’s Roman History, Books 55-56 (9 B.C.-A.D. 14), p.112
- Bunson, Encyclopedia of the Roman Empire, p.47
- Cassius Dio, Roman History 49.39.2
- Plutarch, Life of Crassus
- P.M. Swan, The Augustan Succession: An Historical Commentary on Cassius Dio’s Roman History, Books 55-56 (9 B.C.-A.D. 14) (Google eBook), Oxford University Press, 2004
- Prantl, H. "Artavasdes II. - Freund oder Feind der Römer?" in A. Coşkun (hg), Freundschaft und Gefolgschaft in den auswärtigen Beziehungen der Römer (2. Jahrhundert v. Chr. - 1. Jahrhundert n. Chr.) (Frankfurt M. u. a., 2008) (Inklusion, Exklusion, 9), 91-108
- M. Bunsen, Encyclopedia of the Roman Empire, Infobase Printing, 2009