Nysa of Cappadocia

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Nysa or Nyssa (Greek: Νύσ(σ)α, flourished 126 BC) was a Princess from the Kingdom of Pontus and was a Queen of Cappadocia. She was the ruler of Cappadocia on behalf of her minor son in 130-126 BC.

Nysa was of Greek Macedonian and Persian ancestry. She was the daughter of King Pharnaces I of Pontus and Queen Nysa, while her brother was the Pontian Prince and King Mithridates V of Pontus. Nysa is also known as Laodice. Nysa is the namesake of her mother, who is believed to have died during childbirth, when her mother was giving birth to either her or Mithridates V. She was born and raised in the Kingdom of Pontus.

Sometime after 160 BC, Nysa married King Ariarathes V of Cappadocia.[1] Although this marriage was an arranged one, Nysa and Ariarathes V were distant relatives as they had lineage from the Seleucid dynasty and from the Pontian monarchs. Through her marriage to Ariarathes V, she became Queen of Cappadocia.

Ariarathes V and Nysa were attracted to the culture of Athens. Nysa had donated to the Athenians some gift or did a favor she had bestowed upon them.[2] Nysa and Ariarathes V were honored as patrons by the Technitai of Dionysus at Athens.[3] The guild voted a decree in honor of Nysa and her husband. The guild placed a statue of Ariarathes V, in their shrine and celebrated the birthdays of Nysa and Ariarathes V in recognition of the gifts which the artists had received from them.[4]

Ariarathes V had died in 130 BC and his youngest son with Nysa, Ariarathes VI of Cappadocia, succeeded him. During their marriage Nysa bore Ariarathes V, five other sons. At some point, Nysa had poisoned her five other children so she might obtain the government of the Kingdom.[5] Ariarathes VI was still too young to rule, so Nysa acted as his regent.[6] Nysa was a regent for Ariarathes VI between 130 BC-126 BC.

Coinage has survived from the regency of Nysa with her son Ariarathes VI. One coin has survived showing the portraits busts of Nysa and Ariarathes VI. On the other side of the coin, states their royal titles in Greek ΒΑΣΙΛΙΣΣΗΣ ΝΗΣΗΣ ΚΑΙ ΒΑΣΙΛΕΩΣ ΑΡΙΑΡΑΘΟΥ ΕΠΙΦΑΝΟΥΣ ΤΟΥ ΓΙΟΥ, which means of Queen Nysa and King Ariarathes Epiphanes her son. On the side of their royal titles, displays the ancient Greek Goddess Athena, holding Nike.

The citizens of Cappadocia, who were loyal to the ruling dynasty, had Nysa put to death on accounts of her cruelty and allowed Ariarathes VI to continue to reign as King of Cappadocia. Nysa’s regency over her son reflects a period of turbulence in the royal family which ended in her death.[7] The death of Nysa was the beginning of the end of the native ruling dynasty of Cappadocia. Her grandchildren Ariarathes VII of Cappadocia and Ariarathes VIII of Cappadocia were the last Kings from the native dynasty to rule Cappadocia.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Cartledge, Hellenistic constructs: essays in culture, history and historiography p.139
  2. ^ Day, An economic history of Athens under Roman domination p.40
  3. ^ McGing, The foreign policy of Mithridates VI Eupator, King of Pontus p.73
  4. ^ Day, An economic history of Athens under Roman domination p.92
  5. ^ http://www.ancientlibrary.com/smith-bio/0293.html
  6. ^ McGing, The foreign policy of Mithridates VI Eupator, King of Pontus p.38
  7. ^ McGing, The foreign policy of Mithridates VI Eupator, King of Pontus p.73

Sources[edit]