Cleopatra of Pontus
Cleopatra of Pontus (born 110 BC) was a Pontian Princess, who was one of the daughters of King Mithridates VI of Pontus and Queen Laodice. Cleopatra is sometimes known as Cleopatra the Elder, to distinguish her from her sister of the same name and was born and raised in the Kingdom of Pontus. She was the wife of the Armenian King Tigranes the Great.
She married Tigranes in 94 BC, cementing the alliance between Pontus and Armenia. At the time, Tigranes was forty-seven years old while she was only sixteen. She played a decisive role in the life of Tigranes and all of Armenia. Cleopatra bore Tigranes three sons: Zariadres, Artavasdes II of Armenia, Tigranes and two daughters. One daughter married King Pacorus I of Parthia and the other daughter married King Mithridates I of Media Atropatene.
Unlike Mithridates, Tigranes had a different foreign policy towards the Roman Republic based on his interests and he eventually signed a treaty with Rome following the Battle of Artaxata, as a result of which Cleopatra, under the influence of her father, instigated their sons to betray Tigranes. The sons attempted unsuccessfully to seize the throne from Tigranes; Zariadres and his younger brother were executed by Tigranes.
In 66 BC, Pompey captured the younger Tigranes and took him to Rome as a hostage. Tigranes later escaped in 58 BC with the assistance of Publius Clodius Pulcher. Roman historian Asconius described the event:
- After his triumph against Mithridates (61 BC, September 29 and 30), Pompeius placed the son of Tigranes in chains in the custody of Flavius, a senator. Afterwards when Flavius was praetor, in the same year in which Clodius was tribune of the plebs (58 BC), Clodius requested him during dinner that he should order Tigranes to be brought in so that he could see him. When Tigranes was brought in he escorted him to a party, but then did not return him to Flavius. He sent him (to his own) home and kept him without restraints. Nor would he send him back, when Pompeius requested. After that he put him onto a ship, and as he was fleeing he was carried by a storm to Anzio. When he was brought back from there to his own house, Clodius sent him to Sextus Clodius (whom I discussed above). When he was bringing him back, Flavius also heard what was going on and set out to snatch Tigranes. At the fourth milestone from the City a battle took place in which many on both sides fell, more from the band of Flavius, however, among whom were Marcus Papirius a Roman knight, a publican, a close friend of Pompeius. Flavius without any travelling companion almost didn't get away from Rome.
Cleopatra escaped to her father and lived the rest of her life in Pontus.
- Mayor, A. The Poison King: the life and legend of Mithradates, Rome’s deadliest enemy, Princeton University Press, 2009
- Khachʻatryan, Hayk (2001) Queens of the Armenians : 150 biographies based on history and legend, Sekhpossian, Nouné (transl.); Merguerian, Barbara J. (Ed.), Yerevan : "Amaras" ; Boston, MA : Armenian International Women’s Association Press, ISBN 0-9648787-2-0
- Plutarch, Crassus 19; 22; 33.