Dynamis (Bosporan queen)

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This article is about Dynamis, Queen of the Bosporan Kingdom. For the philosophical concept, see Potentiality and actuality.

Dynamis named Philoromaios (Greek: Δύναμις Φιλορώμαίος, Dynamis, lover of Rome, c. 67 BC – 14 BC) was a Roman Client Queen of the Bosporan Kingdom during the Roman Republic and the reign of the first Roman Emperor Augustus.


Dynamis is an ancient Greek name meaning the ‘’Powerful One”.[1] She was a monarch of Iranian and Greek Macedonian ancestry. Dynamis was the daughter born to King Pharnaces II of Pontus and his Sarmatian wife.[2] She had an older brother called Darius and a younger brother called Arsaces.[3] Her paternal grandparents were the Pontian Monarchs Mithridates VI of Pontus and his first wife, his sister Laodice. Dynamis was born and raised in the Kingdom of Pontus and the Bosporan Kingdom. By 47 BC, Pharnaces II arranged for Dynamis to marry a local high rank aristocrat called Asander. Asander married her as his second wife, as this was Dynamis’ first marriage.

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. Asander hoped by deserting and betraying Pharnaces II, he would win favour with the Romans and they could help him become Bosporan King. Pharnaces II was defeated by the Romans and he fled and took refuge from the Romans with his supporters. Asander found Pharnaces II. Asander had put him and his supporters to death. Asander and Dynamis became the ruling Monarchs of the Bosporan Kingdom.

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. During their time in political exile, Dynamis and Asander were sheltered by the tribe of her mother.[4] 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. From 44 BC until his death in 17 BC, Asander and Dynamis ruled as monarchs over the Bosporan. In 17 BC, an obscure Roman usurper called Scribonius headed a rebellion that broke out in the Bosporan. Scribonius pretended to be a relative of the legitimate ruler Dynamis. When Asander saw his troops desert him for Scribonius, from despair he died of voluntary starvation.

Scribonius pretended to be Dynamis’ relative, so he could seize Asander’s throne. Scribonius either won Dynamis over by force or persuasion to become her consort. Dynamis became compelled to marry Scribonius. When Augustus heard about the rebellion that occurred in the Bosporan, Augustus sent the Roman Statesman Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa to intervene in the situation. When Agrippa arrived with his legions, Agrippa discovered Scribonius’ treachery and had him put to death. After Scribonius’ death, Dynamis became the sole ruler of the Bosporan. Due to the previous dynastic conflicts, Dynamis finally was able to gain control of her kingdom and continue her family reigning over the kingdom.

Dynamis in order to preserve protect the Bosporan Kingdom; to protect her sovereignty and her son’s future, married Roman Client King Polemon I of Pontus. This was Polemon I’s first marriage and had no children and this marriage for Dynamis was her second marriage. Agrippa asked and appointed Polemon I to become the new Bosporan King. For Dynamis and Polemon I to be married, Agrippa gain Augustus’ permission and approval for this political alliance to occur.

The marriage that occurred between Dynamis and Polemon I appealed to Augustus, because this marriage showed Dynamis and Polemon I’s allegiances to Augustus and Rome as allies; as ruling client monarchs and as two broad client states becoming as one state. This union unfortunately, didn’t last as Dynamis died in 14 BC.

After Dynamis’ death, Polemon I married Pythodorida of Pontus and through her had two sons and a daughter. Polemon I extended the Kingdom as far to the river Tanais. Polemon I died in 8 BC, Aspurgus succeeded Polemon I. Pythodorida of Pontus became the sole ruler of Cilicia, Pontus and Colchis.

Character, Honors and Allegiances[edit]

Dynamis is a noted Queen who had an independent spirit, who had an effective, long live reign over the Bosporan while under the rule of Ancient Rome. Although she was a politically astute ruler, at times Dynamis was not of an easy character. On surviving coins from her reign, Dynamis’ royal title is in Greek ΒΑΣΙΛΙΣΣΗΣ ΔΥΝΑΜΕΩΣ or of Queen Dynamis. Dynamis dedicated a gravestone to a Sarmatian man called Matian, the son of Zaidar. On the gravestone shows a horseman with a bow and quiver.[5]

During earthworks in Kerch in February 1957, a surviving Greek inscription was found that belonged to Dynamis. In this inscription Dynamis, honors her Royal Pontian ancestry (Corpus Regni Inscriptionum Bospor, 31):

Ύπὲρ βασιλίσσης Δυνάμεως φιλορωμαίου, τῇς ὲκ βασιλέως μεγάλου Φαρνάκου, τοῦ ὲκ βασιλέως Μιθραδάτου Ευπάτρος…
For [ruling] Queen Dynamis Philoromaios, [the daughter] of King Pharnaces the Great, [son] of King Mithridates Eupator

From Rome, Dynamis obtained recognition as Friend and Ally. During her reign, she had erected three statues dedicated to herself and had another statue erected in honor of Augustus’ wife, the first Roman Empress Livia Drusilla. In Phanagoria, Dynamis dedicated an inscription honoring Augustus as

The emperor, Caesar, son of god, the god Augustus, the overseer of every land and sea

In another inscription, Dynamis calls herself an Empress and friend to Rome. This inscription reveals her political ambitions that helped her to keep her kingdom and throne. In the temple of the ancient Greek Goddess Aphrodite, Dynamis dedicated a statue of Livia in the temple. An inscription under Livia’s statue calls Livia the Empress and as the benefactress of Dynamis. The surviving inscriptions reveals that Dynamis may have had support from Livia and Augustus and probably she had become friends with the imperial couple.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Mayor, The Poison King: the life and legend of Mithradates, Rome’s deadliest enemy p.345
  2. ^ Mayor, The Poison King: the life and legend of Mithradates, Rome’s deadliest enemy p.362
  3. ^ http://www.pontos.dk/publications/books/bss-9-files/bss-9-01-gabelko p.2
  4. ^ Mayor, The Poison King: the life and legend of Mithradates, Rome’s deadliest enemy p.345
  5. ^ http://www.pontos.dk/publications/papers-presented-orally/oral-files/treister-weapons p.12

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