Mithridates IV of Parthia

Mithridates IV (also spelled Mithradates IV; Parthian: 𐭌𐭄𐭓𐭃𐭕 Mihrdāt) was a Parthian king from to 57 to 54 BC. He was the son and successor of Phraates III (r. 69–57 BC). Mithridates IV's reign was marked by a dynastic struggle with his younger brother, Orodes II, who eventually emerged victorious and had Mithridates IV executed, thus succeeding him.

Mithridates IV
Great King, King of Kings, Arsaces
Coin of Mithridates IV (cropped).jpg
Coin of Mithridates IV
King of the Parthian Empire
Reign57 – 54 BC
PredecessorPhraates III
SuccessorOrodes II
Died54 BC
DynastyArsacid dynasty
FatherPhraates III


Mithridates is the Greek attestation of the Iranian name Mihrdāt, meaning "given by Mithra", the name of the ancient Iranian sun god.[1] The name itself is derived from Old Iranian Miθra-dāta-.[2]


Mithridates IV was a son of Phraates III (r. 69–57 BC), under whom he served as the ruler of the central province of Media.[3] In 57 BC, Mithridates murdered his father with the assistance of his younger brother Orodes.[4] However, the two brothers quickly fell out, and Orodes revolted with the support of the Suren clan.[5] They both assumed the title of King of Kings to demonstrate their claims of superiority over each other.[6][a]

This changed the meaning of the title; originally being used as a symbol of political dominance over other realms, the title became known as a symbol of power and legitimacy for contenders in a royal family.[8] Mithridates IV was forced to flee from to Roman Syria. He took refuge with Aulus Gabinius, the Roman proconsul and governor of Syria.[9] Mithridates IV then returned to invade Parthia with Gabinius in support. The Roman proconsul marched with Mithridates IV to the Euphrates, but turned back to restore another ruler, Ptolemy XII Auletes of Egypt, to his throne.[9] Despite losing his Roman support, Mithridates IV advanced into Mesopotamia and managed to conquer Babylonia. He ousted Orodes and briefly restored his reign as king in 55 BC, minting coins in Seleucia until 54 BC.[9]

However, king Mithridates IV was besieged by Orodes' general, Surena, in Seleucia, and after a prolonged resistance, offered battle to Orodes' forces and was defeated.[9] Mithridates IV was afterwards executed in 54 BC by Orodes.[9]


  1. ^ Besides the title of King of Kings, Mithridates IV also used the titles of Arsaces and Great King.[7]


  1. ^ Mayor 2009, p. 1.
  2. ^ Schmitt 2005.
  3. ^ Olbrycht 2021.
  4. ^ Kia 2016, p. 196.
  5. ^ Olbrycht 2016, p. 23; Kia 2016, p. 196; Shayegan 2011, p. 238
  6. ^ Shayegan 2011, pp. 238, 246.
  7. ^ Dąbrowa 2012, p. 169; Kia 2016, p. 23; Shayegan 2011, p. 239
  8. ^ Shayegan 2011, p. 238.
  9. ^ a b c d e Bivar 1983, p. 49.


  • Bivar, A.D.H. (1983). "The Political History of Iran Under the Arsacids". In Yarshater, Ehsan (ed.). The Cambridge History of Iran, Volume 3(1): The Seleucid, Parthian and Sasanian Periods. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 21–99. ISBN 0-521-20092-X..
  • Dąbrowa, Edward (2012). "The Arsacid Empire". In Daryaee, Touraj (ed.). The Oxford Handbook of Iranian History. Oxford University Press. pp. 1–432. ISBN 978-0-19-987575-7. Archived from the original on 2019-01-01. Retrieved 2019-11-22.
  • Kia, Mehrdad (2016). The Persian Empire: A Historical Encyclopedia [2 volumes]. ABC-CLIO. ISBN 978-1610693912.
  • Mayor, Adrienne (2009). The Poison King: The Life and Legend of Mithradates, Rome's Deadliest Enemy. Princeton University Press. pp. 1–448. ISBN 9780691150260.
  • Olbrycht, Marek Jan (2016). "Dynastic Connections in the Arsacid Empire and the Origins of the House of Sāsān". In Curtis, Vesta Sarkhosh; Pendleton, Elizabeth J.; Alram, Michael; Daryaee, Touraj (eds.). The Parthian and Early Sasanian Empires: Adaptation and Expansion. Oxbow Books. ISBN 9781785702082.
  • Olbrycht, Marek (2021). "Orodes II". In Yarshater, Ehsan (ed.). Encyclopædia Iranica, Online Edition. Encyclopædia Iranica Foundation.
  • Schmitt, Rüdiger (2005). "Personal Names, Iranian iv. Parthian Period". Encyclopaedia Iranica.
  • Shayegan, M. Rahim (2011). Arsacids and Sasanians: Political Ideology in Post-Hellenistic and Late Antique Persia. Cambridge University Press. pp. 1–539. ISBN 9780521766418.

Further readingEdit

  • Overtoom, Nikolaus Leo (2021). "Reassessing the Role of Parthia and Rome in the Origins of the First Romano-Parthian War (56/5–50 BCE)". Journal of Ancient History. 9 (2): 238–268. doi:10.1515/jah-2021-0007. S2CID 237154963.
Mithridates IV of Parthia
 Died: 54 BC
Preceded by King of the Parthian Empire
57–54 BC
Succeeded by