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Battle of Tenedos (73 BC)

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The Battle of Tenedos (also known as the Battle of Lemnos[1]) was fought in 73 BC between the fleets of Rome and the fleets of Pontus as a key part of the Third Mithridatic War (from 73-63 BC). The primary chroniclers of the battle are Appian, Cicero and Memnon, but there remain debates about the specifics in these different accounts.

Battle of Tenedos
Part of the Third Mithridatic War
Date73 BC
near Tenedos island
Result Roman victory
Rome Pontus
Commanders and leaders
Lucius Licinius Lucullus Marcus Marius
Alexander the Paphlagonian
Dionysius the eunuch[1]


Mithridates VI of Pontus had won a number of cities in Anatolia without much opposition until the Roman Senate dispatched Lucius Licinius Lucullus. Lucullus was working his way toward the Hellespont in order to engage the core of Mithridates' army. Mithridates was refocusing the action from the Anatolian plateau to the North Aegean,[2] according to Cicero in order to plan a direct invasion of the core of the Roman empire in Italy.[3]

The battleEdit

Lucullus arrived at Troy and was informed that Mithridatic ships were headed to Lemnos and were anchored at Tenedos.[4] Lucullus was able to quickly mobilize and capture all 13 ships and execute Isidorus, the Pontus Admiral. Lucullus was then informed that the mass of the naval force was continuing towards Lemnos. Once again quickly mobilizing, his fleet overtook the fleet of three key generals (Marius, Alexander and Dionysius) near Lemnos. The Pontic fleet choose not to fight but instead defend against the Roman fleet off the coast of Lemnos. Lucullus sent a small contingent of troops to the island where the Pontic fleet was then under fire from two directions.[2] Lucullus captured or sunk 32 ships and the next day found the three generals hiding in a cave on the island.[4]

Mithridates IV, hearing about the battle, took refuge in the Bosporus at a location with significant defensive advantage, requiring a significant Roman force to attack his position.[3][4] Lucullus sent letters with garland to the Roman Senate declaring his victory and was recognized with significant accolades before joining the forces against Mithridates in the Bosporus.[4]

In chronicles, Cicero combines both the Battle of Tenedos and the engagement off Lemnos as part of the Battle of Tenedos. In contrast, Memnon separates them out into two different battles (the Battle of Tenedos and the Battle of Lemnos) and Appian does not directly establish terminology.[4]


  1. ^ a b "Rickard, J (14 December 2008), Battle of Lemnos, 73 B.C."
  2. ^ a b Appian. "Mithridatic Wars".
  3. ^ a b Cicero (2000). Defence Speeches. Oxford.
  4. ^ a b c d e Ussher, James (2003). The Annals of the World. Master Books. p. 543.