Eucratides I

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Eucratides I
Greco-Bactrian king
EucratidesStatere.jpg
Gold 20-stater of Eucratides, the largest gold coin ever minted in Antiquity. The coin weighs 169.2 grams, and has a diameter of 58 millimeters. It was originally found in Bukhara, and later acquired by Napoleon III. Cabinet des Médailles, Paris.
Reign 171–145 BC
Father Possibly Heliokles
Mother Possibly Laodice

Eucratides I (Greek: Εὐκρατίδης Α΄; reigned c. 170–145 BC), sometimes called Eucratides the Great, was one of the most important Greco-Bactrian kings, descendants of dignitaries of Alexander the Great. He uprooted the Euthydemid dynasty of Greco-Bactrian kings and replaced it with his own lineage. He fought against the Indo-Greek kings, the easternmost Hellenistic rulers in northwestern India, temporarily holding territory as far as the Indus, until he was finally defeated and pushed back to Bactria. Eucratides had a vast and prestigious coinage, suggesting a rule of considerable importance.

Biography[edit]

Coup d'etat[edit]

Eucratides came to the throne by overthrowing the dynasty of Euthydemus I in Bactria, whose son Demetrius was conquering northwestern India. The king Eucratides dethroned in Bactria was probably Antimachus I.

It is unclear whether Eucratides was a Bactrian official who raised a rebellion, or, according to some scholars,[1] a cousin of the Seleucid king Antiochus IV Epiphanes who was trying to regain the Bactrian territory. Justin explains that Eucratides acceeded to the throne at about the same time as Mithridates, whose rule is accurately known to have started in 171 BC, thereby giving an approximate date for the accession of Eucratides:

Silver tetradrachm of King Eucratides I (171–145 BC)
Obv: Bust of Eucratides, helmet decorated with a bull's horn and ear, within bead and reel border.
Rev: Depiction of the Dioscuri, each holding palm in left hand, spear in righthand. Greek legend: ΒΑΣΙΛΕΩΣ ΜΕΓΑΛΟΥ ΕΥΚΡΑΤΙΔΟΥ (BASILEŌS MEGALOU EUKRATIDOU) "Of Great King Eucratides". Mint monogram below.
Characteristics: Diameter 34 mm. Weight 16.96 g. Attic standard. One of the largest Hellenic coins ever minted.
Bilingual coin of Eucratides in the Indian standard (Greek on the obverse, Pali in the Kharoshthi script on the reverse).
"Around the same time, two great men started to rule: Mithridates among the Parthians, and Eucratides among the Bactrians" Justin XLI,6 [2]

Some of the coins of Eucratides probably represent his parents, where his father is named Heliocles, and his mother, who is thought to be Laodice,[3] is wearing a royal diadem. Laodice may have been a member of the Seleucid imperial house.

Having become master of Bactria, Eucratides also conquered the western parts of the Indo-Greek kingdom. According to the single remaining source, Roman historian Justin, Eucratides defeated Demetrius of India, but the identity of this king is uncertain: he could be either Demetrius I, or Demetrius II.

"Eucratides led many wars with great courage, and, while weakened by them, was put under siege by Demetrius, king of the Indians. He made numerous sorties, and managed to vanquish 60,000 enemies with 300 soldiers, and thus liberated after four months, he put India under his rule" Justin XLI,6 [4]

Numismatic evidence suggests that Eucratides I was a contemporary of the Indo-Greek kings Apollodotus I, Antimachus II and Menander I. In any case, Eucratides' advances into India are proved by his abundant bilingual coinage. He was most probably a follower of Buddhism.

In the west the Parthian king Mithradates I began to enlarge his kingdom and attacked Eucratides; the city of Herat fell in 167 BC and the Parthians succeeded in conquering two provinces between Bactria and Parthia, called by Strabo the country of Aspiones and Turiua.

Eucratides I is most likely the founder of Eucratideia.

The seal of Da Afghanistan Bank features a Eucratides I-era coin.

Death[edit]

Coin of Eucratides with parents Heliokles and Laodike.

Justin ends his account of Eucratides' life by claiming that the warlike king was murdered on his way back from India by his own son (either Eucratides II or Heliocles I, although there are speculations that it could be his enemy's son Demetrius II), who hated his father so much that he dragged his dead body after his chariot:

"As Eucratides returned from India, he was killed on the way back by his son, whom he had associated to his rule, and who, without hiding his patricide, as if he didn't kill a father but an enemy, ran with his chariot over the blood of his father, and ordered the corpse to be left without a sepulture" Justin XLI,6 [5]

The murder of Eucratides probably brought about a civil war amongst the members of the dynasty. The successors to Eucratides were Eucratides II and Heliocles I (145–130 BC), who was the last Greek king to reign in Bactria. Once the Yuezhi tribes overpowered Heliocles, the Greco-Bactrians lost control of the provinces north of the Hindu Kush.

Two other members of the dynasty were Plato of Bactria and probably Demetrius II, who in that case was not identical with the king Justin claimed was the enemy of Eucratides I.[6]

The rule of the Greco-Bactrians soon crumbled following these numerous wars:

"The Bactrians, involved in various wars, lost not only their rule but also their freedom, as, exhausted by their wars against the Sogdians, the Arachotes, the Dranges, the Arians and the Indians, they were finally crushed, as if drawn of all their blood, by an enemy weaker than them, the Parthians." Justin, XLI,6 [5]

However, the rule of the Indo-Greeks over territories south of the Hindu Kush lasted for a further 150 years, ultimately collapsing under the pressure of the Yüeh-chih and Scythian (Saka) invasions in around 10 BC, with the last Indo-Greek ruler Strato II.

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

Coin of Eucratides, holding a spear.
  1. ^ Tarn
  2. ^ "Eodem ferme tempore, sicut in Parthis Mithridates, ita in Bactris Eucratides, magni uterque uiri regna ineunt." tml Justin XLI,6
  3. ^ Astin, A. E. (1990). The Cambridge Ancient History. Cambridge University Press. p. 401. ISBN 978-0-521-23448-1. 
  4. ^ Justin on Demetrius: "Multa tamen Eucratides bella magna uirtute gessit, quibus adtritus cum obsidionem Demetrii, regis Indorum, pateretur, cum CCC militibus LX milia hostium adsiduis eruptionibus uicit. Quinto itaque mense liberatus Indiam in potestatem redegit." Justin XLI,6
  5. ^ a b Justin XLI,6
  6. ^ "Demetrios II of Bactria and Hoards from Ai Khanoum" by L.M. Wilson (Oriental Numismatic Society newsletter nr 180)

References[edit]

  • "The Shape of Ancient Thought. Comparative studies in Greek and Indian Philosophies" by Thomas McEvilley (Allworth Press and the School of Visual Arts, 2002) ISBN 1-58115-203-5
  • "Buddhism in Central Asia" by B.N. Puri (Motilal Banarsidass Pub, January 1, 2000) ISBN 81-208-0372-8
  • "The Greeks in Bactria and India", W. W. Tarn, Cambridge University Press.


Preceded by:
Demetrius
and his sub-kings:

(in Bactria)
Antimachus I
Demetrius II

(In the Paropamisade, Arachosia, Gandhara)
Apollodotus I
Antimachus II
Greco-Bactrian Ruler
(Bactria, Paropamisade, Arachosia, Gandhara)
170–145 BC
Succeeded by:
(In Bactria)
Eucratides II
Plato
Heliocles I

(In Paropamisade, Arachosia, Gandhara)
Menander I


INDO-GREEK KINGS AND THEIR TERRITORIES
Based on Bopearachchi (1991)
Territories/
Dates
PAROPAMISADE
ARACHOSIA GANDHARA WESTERN PUNJAB EASTERN PUNJAB
200–190 BCE Demetrius I DemetriusCoin.jpg
190–180 BCE Agathocles AgathoclesWithAlexander.jpg PantaleonCoin of Greco-Baktrian Kingdom king Pantaleon.jpg
185–170 BCE Antimachus IAntimachusMedaille.jpg
180–160 BCE Apollodotus IApollodotosi.jpg
175–170 BCE Demetrius II Demetriosii.jpg
170–145 BCE EucratidesTetradrachm Eukratides.jpg
160–155 BCE Antimachus IIAnimachusii(2).jpg
155–130 BCE Menander IMenander Alexandria-Kapisa.jpg
130–120 BCE Zoilos IZoilosI-525.jpg AgathokleiaAgathokleia.jpg
120–110 BCE Lysias Lysias-150.jpg Strato IAgathokleia&Strato.jpg
110–100 BCE AntialcidasAntialcidas.JPG Heliokles IIHelioclesii.jpg
100 BCE PolyxenosPolyxenos.jpg Demetrius III Demetrius Aniketou.jpg
100–95 BCE Philoxenus Philoxenos.jpg
95–90 BCE Diomedes Diomedes2.jpg Amyntas Amyntas.jpg EpanderEpander.jpg
90 BCE Theophilos Theophilos-634.jpg PeukolaosPeukolaos coin.jpg Thraso
90–85 BCE Nicias Nikias.jpg Menander IIMenanderDikaiou.jpg ArtemidorosArtimedoros.jpg
90–70 BCE HermaeusHermaeusCoin.jpg ArchebiosArchebios229.jpg
Yuezhi tribes Maues (Indo-Scythian)
75–70 BCE Telephos Telephos.jpg Apollodotus IIAppollodotosii.jpg
65–55 BCE HippostratosHippostratos.jpg Dionysios Dyonisos coin.jpg
55–35 BCE Azes I (Indo-Scythian) Zoilos IIZoilosIICoin.JPG
55–35 BCE ApollophanesApollophanes.jpg
25 BCE – 10 CE Strato II & III Stratoii.jpg
Rajuvula (Indo-Scythian)

External links[edit]