Artaxias III, also known as Zeno-Artaxias, Artaxes or Artashes (Greek: Άρταξίας, Armenian: Արշամայի, 13 BC–34) was a prince of the Bosporan, Pontus, Cilicia, Cappadocia and Roman Client King of Armenia.
Coin of Artaxias III
|King of Armenia|
|Reign||Armenia: 18 AD – 34|
|Father||Polemon I of Pontus|
|Mother||Pythodorida of Pontus|
Artaxias was born with the name Zenon (Greek: Ζήνων). He was the first son and child born to Roman Client Rulers Polemon Pythodoros and Pythodorida of Pontus. His younger siblings were Polemon II of Pontus, who would succeed his mother and became the last ruler of Pontus, and Antonia Tryphaena who was the Queen of Thrace. He was of Anatolian Greek and Roman heritage.
His paternal grandmother is unknown, however his paternal grandmother could have been named Tryphaena, while his paternal grandfather was Zenon, a prominent orator and aristocrat, who was an ally to Roman Triumvir Mark Antony. His maternal grandparents were the wealthy Greek and friend of the late Roman Triumvir Pompey Pythodoros of Tralles and Antonia. Zenon was named after his paternal grandfather.
Through his maternal grandmother he was a direct descendant of Mark Antony and his second wife Antonia Hybrida Minor. Antony and Antonia Hybrida were first paternal cousins. He was Antony's first born great grandson and great grandchild. Through Antony, his great maternal aunt was Roman Client Queen Cleopatra Selene II of Mauretania. Through Antony, he was a distant cousin to Roman Client King Ptolemy of Mauretania and the princesses named Drusilla of Mauretania. Through Antony, he was a distant cousin to Roman emperors Caligula, Claudius and Nero and Roman empresses Valeria Messalina, Agrippina the Younger and Claudia Octavia.
Artaxias’ father died in 8 BC. His mother married Roman Client King Archelaus of Cappadocia. The family had moved to Cappadocia and along with his siblings were raised in the court of their stepfather. Archelaus had died in 17. After his death, his mother and Polemon II moved back to Pontus.
From his early childhood, Artaxias enjoyed copying the customs, clothes, also loved hunting and feasting, along with other pastimes associated with the Armenians. In 18, the previous Armenian King was exiled and Artaxias became popular and in favor with the Armenians. His mother's maternal first cousin, the general Germanicus, with the approval of the Roman emperor Tiberius, was in agreement with the local aristocracy, and crowned Artaxias as the new Roman client king of Armenia.
Armenians paid homage to him and acclaimed him as King Artaxias. He was named after the city he was proclaimed king in Artaxata. The Roman Senate received news of his coronation. They gave Germanicus and Drusus Julius Caesar ovations in entering the city and arches bearing their statues to be erected on either side the temple of Mars the Avenger.
Artaxias reigned until his death in 34. He was succeeded by Arsaces I, one of the sons of King Artabanus III of Parthia. Artaxias never married nor had any children.