Asander (Bosporan king)

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Gold stater of Asander as King of the Bosporan Kingdom, dated 41/0 BC

Asander, named Philocaesar Philoromaios (Greek: Άσανδρoς Φιλοκαισαρ Φιλορώμαίος, Asander, lover of Caesar lover of Rome, 110 BC – 17 BC) was a Roman client king of the Bosporan Kingdom. He was of Greek and possibly of Persian ancestry. Not much is known of his family and early life. He started his career as a general under Pharnaces II, the king of the Bosporus. According to some scholars, Asander took as his first wife a woman called Glykareia, known from one surviving Greek inscription, "Glykareia, wife of Asander".

By 47 BC, Asander had taken Dynamis, the daughter of Pharnaces II by a Sarmatian wife, as his second wife. She was a granddaughter of King Mithridates VI of Pontus by his first wife, his sister Laodice.

In 47 BC Pharnaces II put Asander in charge the Bosporan Kingdom while he went away to invade the eastern parts of [Anatolia]. This was successful and Pharnaces started to advance towards the western parts of Anatolia. However, he stopped because Asander revolted against him. Asander hoped that by betraying his father-in-law he would win favor with the Romans and they could help him become the Bosporan King. Pharnaces defeated Roman general Gnaeus Domitius Calvinus but was then defeated by Gaius Julius Caesar. After this, he fled to Sinope with 1,000 cavalry. He was allowed leave with his cavalry. He killed his horses and sailed to the Cimmerian Bosporus, intending to recover it from Asander. He captured Theodosia (Feodosia) and Panticapaeum. Asander, attacked him. He was defeated because he was short of horses and his men were not used to fighting on foot. Pharnaces was killed in this battle.[1] Strabo wrote that Asander, took possession of the Bosporus.[2]

Asander was soon overthrown from the Bosporan throne. Julius Caesar gave a tetrarchy in Galatia and the title of king to Mithridates of Pergamon. He also allowed him to wage war against Asander and conquer the Cimmerian Bosporus because Asander “had been mean to his friend Pharnaces.”[3]. When Caecilius Bassus plotted a rebellion against Caesar and gathered troops to take over Syria in late 47 BC or early 46 BC, he claimed that “he was collecting these troops for the use of Mithridates the Pergamenian in an expedition against Bosporus.”[4] Mithridates of Pergamon overthrew Asander and became Mithridates I of the Bosporus.

Mithridates robbed the temple of Leucothea in Moschia.[5]. He was then overthrown by Asander.[6]

According to Lucian, Asander had been an ethnarch and then was proclaimed king of Bosporus by Augustus. This must have taken place after Augustus became the first Roman emperor in 27 BC.[7]

According to Strabo, Asander blocked the isthmus of the Chersonesus (Chersonesus Tauricus, modern Crimea) near Lake Maeotis (the Sea of Azov) with a wall which was 360 stadia long ( 53 kilometres, 35 miles) and had ten towers for every stadium. The wall was probably built because the Georgi of the region engaged in piracy.[8] This isthmus was probably the modern Isthmus of Perekop.

Lucian wrote that Asander "at about ninety years proved himself a match for anyone in fighting from horseback or on foot; but when he saw his subjects going over to Scribonius on the eve of battle, he starved himself to death at the age of ninety-three."[7]

Cassius Dio wrote that a certain Scribonius claimed to be a grandson of Mithridates VI and that he had received the Bosporan Kingdom from Augustus after the death of Asander. He gained the control of the kingdom by marrying Dynamis, who had been entrusted with the regency of the kingdom by her husband. Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa sent Polemon against him. Scribonius was killed by the people, before Polemon got there because they had heard of his advance. They resisted Polemon because they were afraid that he may be appointed as their king. Polemon defeated them but was unable to quell the rebellion until Agrippa went to Sinope to prepare a campaign against them. They surrendered. Polemon was appointed as their king. He married Dynamis with the sanction of Augustus.[9] Dynamis' marriage with a usurper, Scribonius must have been forced on her. She died in 14 BC, and Polemon ruled until his death in 8 BC, succeeded by Aspurgus.


  1. ^ Appian, The Mithridatic Wars, 120-21 [1]
  2. ^ Strabo. Geography, 13.4.3 [2]
  3. ^ Cassius Dio, Roman History, 42.47 [3]
  4. ^ Cassius Dio, Roman History, 47.25.5 [4]
  5. ^ Strabo, Geography, 11.2.17 [5]
  6. ^ Strabo, Geography, 13.4.3 [6]
  7. ^ a b Lucian Long Lives. 16 [7]
  8. ^ Strabo, Geography, 13.4.6 [8]
  9. ^ Cassius Dio, Roman History, 54.24.4-8 [9]


Primary sources
  • Cassius Dio, Roman History, vol. 4, Books 41-45 (Loeb Classical Library), Loeb, 1989; ISBN 978-0674990739
  • Cassius Dio, Roman History, vol. 5, Books 46-50 (Loeb Classical Library), Loeb, 1989; ISBN 978-0674990913
  • Strabo, Geography: vol. 5, Books 10-12 (Loeb Classical Library), Loeb, 1989; ISBN 978-0674992337
  • Strabo, Geography: vol. 6, Books 13-14 (Loeb Classical Library), Loeb, 1989; ISBN 978-0674992467
Secondary sources

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