Nicomedes I of Bithynia
Coin of Nikomedes I of Bithynia. Obverse shows head of Nikomedes. Reverse shows Bendis seated
|Kings of Bithynia|
|Reign||c. 278-255 BC|
|Successor||Etazeta of Bithynia|
|Born||c. 300 BC|
|Died||c. 255 BC|
He commenced his reign by putting to death two of his brothers but the third, subsequently called Zipoetes II, raised an insurrection against him and succeeded in maintaining himself, for some time, in the independent sovereignty of a considerable part of Bithynia. Meanwhile, Nicomedes was threatened with an invasion from Antiochus I Soter, king of the Seleucid Empire, who had already made war upon his father, Zipoetes I, and, to strengthen himself against this danger, he concluded an alliance with Heraclea Pontica and shortly afterwards with Antigonus II Gonatas. The threatened attack, however, passed over with little injury. Antiochus actually invaded Bithynia but withdrew again without risking a battle.
It was more against his brother than his foreign enemies that Nicomedes now called in the assistance of more powerful auxiliaries and entered into an alliance with the Celts who, under Leonnorius and Lutarius, had arrived on the opposite side of the Bosphorus and were, at this time, engaged in the siege of Byzantium, 277 BC. Having furnished them with the means of crossing into Asia, where they founded Galatia, he first turned the arms of his new auxiliaries against Zipoetes II, whom he defeated and put to death, and thus reunited the whole of Bithynia under his dominion.
Of the events that followed we have little information. It is probable that the Celts subsequently assisted Nicomedes against Antiochus but no particulars are recorded, either of the war or the peace that terminated it. It appears, however, that Nicomedes was left in the undisturbed possession of Bithynia, which he continued to govern from this time till his death and which rose to a high degree of power and prosperity during his long and peaceful reign.
In imitation of his father, and so many others of the Greek rulers of Asia, he determined to perpetuate his own name by the foundation of a new capital and the site that he chose, in the immediate neighbourhood of the Megarian colony of Astakos, was so judiciously selected that the city of Nicomedia continued for more than six centuries to be one of the richest and most flourishing in Anatolia. The founding of Nicomedia is placed by Eusebius in 264 BC.
The duration of the reign of Nicomedes himself, after this event, is unknown but his death is assigned to around the year 255 BC. He had been twice married; by his first wife, Ditizele, a Phrygian by birth he had two sons, Prusias and Ziaelas, and a daughter, Lysandra; but his second wife, Etazeta, persuaded him to set aside his children by his first marriage and leave his crown to her offspring.
The latter were still infants at the time of his death, on which account he confided their guardianship, by his will, to the two kings, Antigonus II Gonatas and Ptolemy II Philadelphus, together with the free cities of Heraclea Pontica, Byzantium and Cius. But, notwithstanding this precaution, his son Ziaelas quickly established himself on the throne. It is probably this Nicomedes who sought to purchase from the city of Knidos the celebrated statue of Venus, by Praxiteles, by offering to remit the whole public debt of the city.
- Memnon, History of Heracleia, 20
- Memnon, History of Heracleia, 16, 18-19; Livy, Ab urbe condita, xxxviii. 16; Justin, Epitome of Pompeius Trogus, xxv. 2
- Pompeius Trogus, Prologi, 25
- Memnon, 20; Strabo, Geography, xii. 4; Stephanus, Ethnica, s.v. "Nicomedeia"; Eusebius, Chronicon (Schoene ed.); Pausanias, Description of Greece, v. 12; John Tzetzes, Chiliades, 3
- Memnon, 22; Tzetzes, 3; Pliny, Natural History, viii. 61
- Pliny, vii. 39, xxxvi. 4
This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Smith, William, ed. (1870). "Nicomedes I". Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology. 2. p. 1196.
| King of Bithynia
278 BC – 255 BC