Phraates II

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Phraates II of Parthia
Great King, Arsaces, Theopator
Coin of Phraates II (cropped), Seleucia mint.jpg
Coin of Phraates II, minted at Seleucia in 129 BC
King of the Parthian Empire
Reign132–127 BC
PredecessorMithridates I of Parthia
SuccessorArtabanus II of Parthia
Died127 BC
DynastyArsacid dynasty
FatherMithridates I

Phraates II was king of the Parthian Empire from 132 BC to 127 BC. He is mostly known for his attempt to reconquer Babylon. He was the son of Mithridates I (171–132 BC). Because he was still very young when he came to the throne, his mother Ri-'nu initially ruled on his behalf.

War with the Seleucids[edit]

In 130 BC the Parthian empire was attacked from the west. Antiochus VII Sidetes (138–129 BC), ruler of the Seleucid Empire, attacked in the west to reconquer territory lost earlier. After three battles he reclaimed Babylonia and Media. After this he offered a peace, by which he would regain Mesopotamia and large parts of Iran. The Parthian realm would be restricted to its core territories and would pay a heavy tribute. Phraates II could not accept these high demands, so he refused the offer. In the following winter (129 BC), Antiochus VII quartered himself and his army in Ecbatana, where he completely alienated the local people by forcing them to pay for the upkeep of his soldiers--and because, it seems, the soldiers assaulted the locals.[1] Thus, when Phraates II attacked the Seleucid army in its winter quarters, the local population supported him. Antiochus VII was defeated and killed or committed suicide, ending Seleucid rule east of the Euphrates.[2]

Phraates II succeeded in capturing Seleucus V Philometor and Laodice, the children of Demetrius II Nicator that had accompanied their uncle Antiochus VII on campaign. Phraates II later married Laodice for her beauty.[3] He allowed Antiochus VII a royal funeral and returned the body to Syria in a silver coffin.[4]

Phraates II also released Demetrius II Nicator, who had been held by the Parthians as a hostage for several years, to become king of the Seleucid realm for the second time. Through this the Parthian king hoped to gain more influence in Syria. After Demetrius was killed by instigation of his wife not long after, Phraates send, on 125, his son Seleucus V back to be his puppet king, but he was killed by his own mother.[3]

War in the East and death[edit]

Syria, which was now the Seleucid rump state, lacked military power and Phraates II apparently planned to invade it. However, on the eastern front, various nomadic tribes already infiltrating and usurping the Saka and Tokhari destroyed the Greco-Bactrian Kingdom, penetrated to the borders of the realm in 129 BC, and threatened the Parthian kingdom.[5] The king had to rush to the eastern front, installing Himeros as governor of Babylon, who quickly became a tyrant. Phraates II marched east, his army including a large force of captured Seleucid soldiers from the army of the late Antiochus VII Sidetes. These ultimately refused to fight for the Parthian king, and he was defeated and killed in battle.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Justin, 38.10.10
  2. ^ Kay Ehling, Untersuchungen zur Geschichte der späten Seleukiden (164-63 v. Chr.), Stuttgart 2008, p. 204 ISBN 978-3-515-09035-3
  3. ^ a b Ogden, Daniel (1999). Polygamy Prostitutes and Death. The Hellenistic Dynasties. London: Gerald Duckworth & Co. Ltd. p. 150. ISBN 07156 29301.
  4. ^ Justin. 39.1.6
  5. ^ Grousset, Rene (1970). The Empire of the Steppes. Rutgers University Press. p. 31. ISBN 0-8135-1304-9.


Ancient works[edit]

  • Justin, Epitome of the Philippic History of Pompeius Trogus.

Modern works[edit]

Phraates II
 Died: 127 BC
Preceded by
Mithridates I
King of Parthia
132–127 BC
Succeeded by
Artabanus II