Asander (Bosporan king)
Asander named Philocaesar Philoromaios (Greek: Άσανδρoς Φιλοκαισαρ Φιλορώμαίος, Asander, lover of Caesar lover of Rome, 110 BC – 17 BC) was an aristocrat and a man of high rank of the Bosporan Kingdom.
Asander was of Greek and possibly of Persian ancestry. There is not much is known on his family and early life. He started his political and military career as a general under Pharnaces II, King of Pontus and the Bosporan. According to some scholars, Asander married as his first wife a woman called Glykareia. She is known from one surviving Greek inscription:
- Glykareia, wife of Asander
By 47 BC, Asander married as his second wife the daughter of Pharnaces II from his Sarmatian wife, Dynamis. She was a granddaughter of King Mithridates VI of Pontus and from his first wife, his sister Laodice. In 47 BC, Asander revolted against Pharnaces II, who had appointed him as regent of the Bosporan Kingdom, during the war against General of the Roman Republic, Gnaeus Domitius Calvinus. He hoped by deserting and betraying his father-in-law, Asander would win favor with the Romans and they could help him become Bosporan King. Pharnaces II was defeated by the Romans. He fled and took refuge from the Romans with his supporters. Asander found Pharnaces II and put Pharnaces II and his supporters to death.
Asander became Bosporan King and was able to retain the throne with his wife Dynamis as Queen. This was so, until Roman Dictator Gaius Julius Caesar commanded a paternal uncle of Dynamis, Mithridates II to declare war on the Bosporan Kingdom and claimed the kingship for himself. Asander and Dynamis were defeated by Mithridates II and had gone into political exile. However after the death of Julius Caesar in 44 BC, the Bosporan Kingdom was restored to Asander and Dynamis by Julius Caesar’s great nephew and heir Octavian (future Roman Emperor Augustus). Dynamis bore Asander a son called Aspurgus. There is a possibility that Asander and Dynamis may have had other children.
According to the Greek geographer Strabo, Asander during his reign as King, had constructed a large wall or ditch which was 360 stadia in length across the Isthmus of the Crimea (modern Isthmus of Perekop). The purpose of the constructed wall was to protect the peninsula against attacks from nomads.
From 44 BC until his death in 17 BC, Asander ruled as a strong king of the Bosporan, although at times, in his reign he had experienced very uneasy times. In 17 BC, Asander died of voluntary starvation from despair at the age of 93, when he witness his troops desert him to the Roman usurper, Scribonius. Scribonius, pretended to be a relative of Dynamis, so he could seize his throne.
Dynamis was compelled to marry Scribonius. The Roman statesman Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa discovered the deception of Scribonius, intervened in the situation and appointed Polemon I of Pontus as the new Bosporan King. Dynamis and Polemon married in 16 BC. Dynamis died in 14 BC. Polemon ruled until his death in 8 BC. Polemon was succeeded by Aspurgus.
- On the weapons of Sarmatian type in the Bosporan Kingdom in the 1st-2nd century AD by Mikhail Treister (Bonn)
- A. Mayor, The Poison King: the life and legend of Mithradates, Rome’s deadliest enemy, Princeton University Press, 2009