Nysa (wife of Pharnaces I of Pontus)
Nysa was of Greek Macedonian and Persian descent. She was the child born to the Seleucid Prince Antiochus and Seleucid Queen Laodice IV. Her parents were blooded siblings and her parent’s marriage was the first sibling marriage to occur in the Seleucid dynasty. The grandparents of Nysa was the Seleucid King Antiochus III the Great and Seleucid Queen Laodice III. Her father crown prince Antiochus, was appointed by her grandfather to succeed him and was his first heir.
Nysa was born and raised in the Seleucid Empire and she was born between 196 BC-193 BC. In 193 BC, her father had died. Her family were in complete grief of his death, in particular Antiochus III. Laodice IV, later had married her brothers Seleucus IV Philopator and Antiochus IV Epiphanes, who were the uncles and stepfathers of Nysa. Through her mother’s marriages, she had various half brothers and sisters. In the year 172 BC or 171 BC, through the diplomatic work of her maternal half-brother Seleucid King Demetrius I Soter, Nysa married the King Pharnaces I of Pontus.
Through marriage Nysa became a Queen of Pontus. The marriage that occurred between Pharnaces and Nysa was a continuation and the strengthening of the pro-Seleucid orientation in foreign policy of Pontus. Through his marriage to Nysa, Pharnaces tried to increase his political influence and Pontian power and affairs in foreign political relations with the Roman Republic and in Anatolia. Nysa and Pharnaces were related as he was a first cousin to Nysa’s parents, thus Pharnaces was related to the Seleucid dynasty. Little is known on Nysa’s relationship with Pharnaces and how she reigned as Queen of Pontus.
Honorific statues and inscriptions have survived that were dedicated to Nysa. Pharnaces set about to establish good relations with the citizens of Athens and the Greek island of Delos. Pharnaces made a benefaction to the people of Athens. The exact nature of the benefaction is unknown, perhaps Pharnaces may have made some kind of voluntary donation to Athens, perhaps soon after 183 BC. A lengthy honorific inscription from the Athenians on Delos honors Pharnaces and Nysa. Pharnaces and Nysa received a crown of gold from them and bronze statues of themselves were set up on Delos. Their lengthy Athenian honorific inscription, is dated in the Archonship of the Athenian Tychandrus or Tychander which is now generally accepted as 160 BC or 159 BC.
Nysa bore Pharnaces two children: a son called Mithridates V of Pontus and a daughter called Nysa of Cappadocia, who is also known as Laodice. Although she died at an unknown date in the 2nd century BC, she is believed to have died during childbirth.
- B.C. McGing, The foreign policy of Mithridates VI Eupator, King of Pontus, BRILL, 1986
- J.D. Grainger, A Seleukid prosopography and gazetteer, BRILL, 1997