Orontes II (Old Persian: *Arvanta-) was a Persian noble living in the 4th century BC.[1] He is probably to be identified as the satrap of Armenia under Darius III, and may in fact have succeeded Darius in this position when Darius ascended the throne of Persia in 336 BC.[1]

Orontes II
King Yervand II.jpg
19th-century imaginary illustration of Orontes II
Satrap of Armenia
Reign336–331 BC
PredecessorDarius III
SuccessorMithrenes (?)
Died331 BC
IssueMithrenes (?)
DynastyOrontid Dynasty
FatherOrontes I (?)
MotherRhodogune (?)


"Orontes" (Ancient Greek: Ὀρόντης) is the Greek transliteration of the Old Persian name *Arvanta, which continued in Middle and New Persian as Arvand. The name is related to the Avestan word auruuaṇt- ("swift, vigorous, brave"), which itself may be an abbreviated version of the Avestan name Auruuaṱ.aspa- ("having swift horses").[2]


Arrian lists Orontes and a certain Mithraustes as two commanders of Armenian forces in the Battle of Gaugamela in 331 BC.[3] The interpretation of this passage is controversial, with different historians interpreting it as indicating that Mithraustes commanded the infantry,[4] or that there were two different contingents of Armenian cavalry in this battle,[5] or even that Armenia was divided into two parts ruled by two satraps.[6]

Orontes fought at the Battle of Gaugamela on the Persian right flank with 40,000 units of infantry and 7,000 of cavalry under his command,[7] where he died.[8] His son,[8] Mithrenes, Satrap of Lydia, had joined Alexander the Great after being defeated at Sardis in 334 BC, and fought at Gaugamela on the side of Alexander. After the battle, Mithrenes was made Satrap of Armenia by Alexander.[9][10][11]

Orontes dying at Gaugamela has been contested; Diodorus and Polyaenus mention a man named Orontes, who was a Satrap of Armenia during the Second War of the Diadochi;[12][13] Diodorus adds that this Orontes was a friend of Peucestas.[12] Andrew Burn, Edward Anson and Waldemar Heckel consider this satrap to be the same Orontes who fought for Darius III in the Battle of Gaugamela;[14][1][15] Anson and Heckel state that Mithrenes may have perished in an unsuccessful attempt to wrest Armenia from Orontes.[1][15] Heckel stated that in all likelihood Armenia, which was bypassed by the Macedonian army, was never part of Alexander's empire.[1] Anson, on the other hand, considered it likely that at some point after the Battle of Gaugamela Orontes made his submission to Alexander, who later put him in charge of the Greater Armenia.[15] N. G. L. Hammond interpreted the sources as indicating that Armenia was already in submission when Mithrenes was sent there from Babylon late in 331 BC, that Mithrenes took it over as satrap ruling on behalf of the new Macedonian regime, and that he was left as satrap in 323 BC when Perdiccas let some satrapies remain under the existing satraps; in 317 BC Mithrenes was no longer satrap but had been replaced by Orontes.[16]

One of the inscriptions from the Mount Nemrut detailing the ancestry of Antiochus I Theos of Commagene mentions an ancestor whose name was incompletely preserved, and who was a son of Aroandas. This Aroandas (Orontes) is inferred to be the second ancestor of Antiochus listed in the inscriptions from Mount Nemrut who bore that name,[17] succeeding the first Aroandas, who in turn was the son of Artasyrus and who married Rhodogune, the daughter of Artaxerxes II of Persia.[18] Friedrich Karl Dörner and John H. Young (1996) interpreted the first preserved letter of the name of the son of Aroandas II as a delta, so that the name ended with -δανης, -danes. The authors considered this reading to be important, because it settled the proposal of Ernst Honigmann's ([Mιθρ]άνην), as well as one of the suggestions presented by Salomon Reinach ([Όστ]άνην).[19] Brijder (2014) also interpreted the inscription as indicating that name of the son of Orontes II ended with -danes.[20]

Aroandas II mentioned in an inscription from Mount Nemrut was identified with the Orontes who was a commander in the Battle of Gaugamela by Karl Julius Beloch[21] and Herman Brijder.[22] This Orontes was also inferred to be a descendant of Orontes I and his wife Rhodogune,[23] possibly their son[21] or grandson.[14] On the other hand, Friedrich Karl Dörner was unsure whether ancient citations of connections of the bearers of the name Aroandas/Orontes with Armenia or their status as leaders of Armenian military units are compelling reasons for assuming that they were relatives. Dörner considered it very questionable whether Aroandas II mentioned in an inscription from Mount Nemrut is identical with the Orontes of Alexander's time; the author stressed the need to consider that in the course of the 4th century BC, besides the two ancestors of Antiochus I of Commagene, other bearers of the same name may have played a part in Persian politics.[24]


  1. ^ a b c d e Heckel 2006, p. 185.
  2. ^ Schmitt 2002.
  3. ^ Arrian, The Anabasis of Alexander, iii. 8
  4. ^ Heckel 2006, p. 168.
  5. ^ Marciak 2017, p. 115.
  6. ^ Nicholas Adontz (1970). Armenia in the period of Justinian: the political conditions based on the Naxarar system. Translated by Nina G. Garsoïan. p. 306.
  7. ^ Lang 1983, p. 508.
  8. ^ a b Lang, David Marshall (2021) [1970]. "Chapter V: The Forging of the Armenian Nation". Armenia: Cradle of Civilization. Routledge. ISBN 978-1-000-51477-3.
  9. ^ Arrian, The Anabasis of Alexander, iii. 16
  10. ^ Curtius, Histories of Alexander the Great, v. 1.44
  11. ^ Diodorus Siculus, Bibliotheca historica, xvii. 64.6
  12. ^ a b Diodorus Siculus, Bibliotheca historica, xix. 23.3
  13. ^ Polyaenus, Stratagems in War, iv. 8.3
  14. ^ a b Burn 1985, p. 384.
  15. ^ a b c Edward Anson (2014). "The funeral games begin". Alexander's Heirs: The Age of the Successors. Wiley Blackwell. p. 50. ISBN 978-1-4443-3962-8.
  16. ^ Hammond 1996, pp. 130–137.
  17. ^ F.K. Dörner (1996). "Epigraphy analysis". In Donald H. Sanders (ed.). Nemrud Daği: The Hierothesion of Antiochus I of Commagene. Vol. 1: Text. Eisenbrauns. p. 365. ISBN 978-1-57506-015-6.
  18. ^ Brijder 2014, p. 330.
  19. ^ F.K. Dörner; J.H. Young (1996). "Sculpture and inscription catalogue". In Donald H. Sanders (ed.). Nemrud Daği: The Hierothesion of Antiochus I of Commagene. Vol. 1: Text. Eisenbrauns. p. 297. ISBN 978-1-57506-015-6.
  20. ^ Brijder 2014, p. 373.
  21. ^ a b Karl Julius Beloch (1923). Griechische geschichte. Volume 3, part 2. Walter de Gruyter & co. p. 141.
  22. ^ Brijder 2014, p. 331.
  23. ^ Lang 1983, p. 506.
  24. ^ F.K. Dörner (1996). "Epigraphy analysis". In Donald H. Sanders (ed.). Nemrud Daği: The Hierothesion of Antiochus I of Commagene. Vol. 1: Text. Eisenbrauns. pp. 365–366. ISBN 978-1-57506-015-6.


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Modern worksEdit