Dynamis (Bosporan queen)
Dynamis, named Philoromaios (Greek: Δύναμις Φιλορωμαίος, 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”. She was a monarch of Iranian and Greek Macedonian ancestry. Dynamis was the daughter of King Pharnaces II of Pontus and his Sarmatian wife. She had an older brother called Darius and a younger brother called Arsaces. Her paternal grandparents were the Pontic monarchs Mithridates VI of Pontus and his first wife Laodice, who was also his sister. 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 nobleman called Asander. This was Asander’s second marriage but Dynamis’ first.
In 47 BC, Asander revolted against Pharnaces II, who had appointed him as regent of the Bosporan Kingdom during the war against the Roman general Gnaeus Domitius Calvinus. Asander hoped that by deserting and betraying Pharnaces II, he would win favour with the Romans and they could help him become King of the Bosporus. Pharnaces II was defeated by the Romans and fled with some supporters. Asander found Pharnaces II and his supporters and put them to death. Asander and Dynamis thus became the monarchs of the Bosporan Kingdom.
Matters remained as such until the Roman dictator Gaius Julius Caesar commanded a paternal uncle of Dynamis, Mithridates II, to declare war on the Bosporan Kingdom and claim the kingship for himself. Asander and Dynamis were defeated and exiled by Mithridates II. During their time in exile, Dynamis and Asander were sheltered by her mother’s Sarmatian tribe. 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, Caesar Octavian (future Roman Emperor Augustus). Dynamis bore Asander a son called Aspurgus. Asander and Dynamis may have had other children as well. From 44 BC until his death in 17 BC, Asander and Dynamis reigned over the Kingdom of the Bosporus. In 17 BC, an obscure Roman usurper called Scribonius headed a rebellion in the Bosporus, claiming to be a relative of the legitimate ruler Dynamis. When Asander saw his troops desert him for Scribonius, he starved himself to death in despair.
Scribonius pretended to be Dynamis’ relative so that he could seize Asander’s throne. Scribonius won Dynamis over, whether by force or by persuasion, and married her. When Augustus learned of the rebellion in the Bosporus, Augustus sent the Roman statesman Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa to intervene. Agrippa arrived with his legions, discovered Scribonius’ treachery, and had him put to death. After Scribonius’ death, Dynamis became the sole ruler of the Bosporus.
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 had two sons and a daughter with her. Polemon I extended the kingdom to the river Tanais. Polemon I died in 8 BC, and his stepson Aspurgus succeeded him as king. Pythodorida of Pontus became the sole ruler of Cilicia, Pontus and Colchis.
Character, honors and allegiances
Dynamis is noted as a queen of independent spirit and who reigned long and effectively over the Kingdom of the Bosporus while under Roman suzerainty. Although she was a politically astute ruler, at times Dynamis was not an easy character. On surviving coins from her reign, Dynamis’ royal title is in Greek ΒΑΣΙΛΙΣΣΗΣ ΔΥΝΑΜΕΩΣ ‘of Queen Dynamis’. Dynamis dedicated a gravestone to a Sarmatian man called Matian, the son of Zaidar. The gravestone depicts a horseman with a bow and quiver.
- 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...
Dynamis obtained recognition as a "friend and ally" of Rome. 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 of Rome. This inscription reveals the political ambitions that helped her to maintain her throne. Dynamis dedicated a statue of Livia in the temple of the ancient Greek goddess Aphrodite. An inscription under Livia’s statue calls Livia the empress and Dynamis’ benefactress. Such inscriptions reveal that Dynamis may have befriended Livia and August and gotten support from them.
- Mayor (2009), p. 345.
- Mayor (2009), p. 362.
- Oleg L. Gabelko (2009). "The dynastic history of the Hellenistic monarchies of Asia Minor according to the Chronography of George Synkellos". In Jakob Munk Højte. Mithridates VI and the Pontic Kingdom. Black Sea Studies. Vol. 9. Aarhus University Press. p. 2. Retrieved 2015-03-03.
- Barclay Head. "Ancient coins of Pontus". Digital Historia Numorum: A manual of Greek numismatics. Retrieved 2015-03-19.
- Mikhail Treister (2009). "On the weapons of Sarmatian type in the Bosporan Kingdom in the 1st–2nd centuries AD". Paper delivered at the international conference: The Bosporan Kingdom. Sandbjerg, Denmark, 23-26 March 2009. p. 12. Retrieved 2015-03-03.
- Corpus Regni Inscriptionum Bospor, 31.
- A picture of a Bronze Bust of Dynamis on page 90 from the Encyclopedia of women in the ancient world. In this picture Dynamis, is wearing a Royal Persian Headdress called the Tiara Orthe, covered with stars. In Dynamis’ portrait, she may have imitated one of Livia’s hairstyles.
- "Ancient Coinage of Bosporos, Kings". Ancient Coins: Roman, Greek, Byzantine and Celtic Numismatic Reference for Attribution and Values. WildWinds Ltd. Retrieved 2015-03-19.
- William Smith's Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology, articles on Asander (cont'd), Polemon, Zeno, and Scribonius
- D. Kendall, G. O'Collins, and S. T. Davis (2002). The Trinity. Oxford University Press.
- Alan K. Bowman, John Bagnell Bury, Edward Champlin, Stanley Arthur Cook, Andrew Lintott, Frank E. Adcock, Martin Percival Charlesworth, Norman Hepburn Baynes, and Charles Theodore Seltman (1996). The Cambridge ancient history (2nd, illustrated, revised ed.). Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-26430-8.
- Duane W. Roller (1998). The building program of Herod the Great, illustrated edition. University of California Press. ISBN 0-520-20934-6.
- Ronald Syme and Anthony Richard Birley (1995). Anatolica: studies in Strabo, illustrated edition. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-814943-3.
- Yulia Ustinova, (1999). The supreme gods of the Bosporan Kingdom: Celestial Aphrodite and the Most High God, illustrated edition. BRILL. ISBN 90-04-11231-6.
- Joyce E. Salisbury (2001). Encyclopedia of women in the ancient world, illustrated edition. ABC-CLIO. ISBN 978-1-57607-092-5.
- Adrienne Mayor (2009), The Poison King: the life and legend of Mithradates, Rome’s deadliest enemy, Princeton University Press.