Iberian–Armenian War

The war between the kingdoms of Iberia and Armenia (AD 51) is known chiefly through its description in Tacitus' Annals.[1]

Iberian–Armenian War
Date50–51 AD
51–53 AD
Location
Result

Iberia subdues Armenia but is subsequently repelled with Parthian support

Belligerents

Kingdom of Armenia
Roman Empire (until 51)


Kingdom of Armenia
Parthian Empire

Kingdom of Iberia
Roman Empire


Kingdom of Iberia
Roman Empire
Commanders and leaders

Mithridates 


Tiridates I

Rhadamistus


Rhadamistus 

The war took place as a delicate balance of power between the Roman and Parthian empires was in place in the Caucasus. Rome was then ruled by Claudius, Parthia by Vologases I. Two Iberian brothers then ruled the Caucasian kingdoms, Pharasmanes I in Iberia, Mithridates in Armenia. They were both dependent on Roman support, which had installed Mithridates on the Armenian throne in 35 AD. However, 15 years later, trust between the brothers had deteriorated, which Tacitus blames on the intrigues of Pharasmanes' son Rhadamistus.

Fearing usurpation by Rhadamistus, his father convinced him to make war upon his uncle and claim the Armenian throne for himself. The Iberians invaded with a large army and surrounded Mithridates at the fortress of Gorneas (Garni), which was garrisoned by the Romans under the command of Caelius Pollio, a prefect, and Casperius, a centurion. Rhadamistus was unable to take the fortress by assault or by siege. Pollio, swayed by bribery from Rhadamistus, betrayed Mithridates and induced the Roman soldiers to threaten the capitulation of the garrison. Under this threat, Mithridates left the fortress in order to make peace with Rhadamistus. Rhadamistus then executed Mithridates and his sons, despite a promise of non-violence, and became King of Armenia. Of this usurpation, Tacitus wrote "Rhadamistus might retain his ill-gotten gains, as long as he was hated and infamous; for this was more to Rome's interest than for him to have succeeded with glory".

However, faced with this upset of the regional balance and fearing that Armenia and Iberia would unite as a single powerful kingdom in the hands of Rhadamistus, Tiridates entered Armenia with Parthian support in 53 AD. After two years of war, the Armenian nobility revolted and replaced Rhadamistus with the Arsacid prince Tiridates. This was unacceptable to Rome, and started the Roman–Parthian War of 58–63.

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Tacitus. Annals. Book XII, Chapters 44-51. Retrieved May 10, 2012.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: location (link)