Phraates IV

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Phraates IV
King of Kings
Coin of Phraates IV, Mithradatkirt mint.jpg
Coin of Phraates IV, Mithradatkirt mint
King of the Parthian Empire
Reign37–2 BC
Coronation37 BC
PredecessorOrodes II
SuccessorPhraates V and Musa
Died2 BC
SpouseThea Musa
IssuePhraates V
Vonones I
DynastyArsacid dynasty
FatherOrodes II

Phraates IV (son of Orodes II), ruled the Parthian Empire from 37–2 BC. He was appointed successor to the throne in 37 BC, after the death of his brother Pacorus I. He soon murdered his father and all his thirty brothers.


Phraates was attacked in 36 BC by the Roman general Mark Antony, who marched through Armenia into Media Atropatene, and was defeated and lost the greater part of his army. Antony, believing himself betrayed by Artavasdes, king of Armenia, invaded his kingdom in 34 BC, took him prisoner, and concluded a treaty with another Artavasdes, king of Media Atropatene.

But when the war with Octavian broke out, Antony could not maintain his conquests; Phraates recovered Media Atropatene and drove Artaxias, the son of Artavasdes, back into Armenia. But by his many cruelties Phraates had roused the indignation of his subjects, who raised Tiridates II to the throne in 32 BC. Phraates was restored by the Scythians, and Tiridates fled into Syria.

The Romans hoped that Augustus would avenge the defeat of the Roman general Marcus Licinius Crassus on the Parthians, but in 20 BC he contented himself with a treaty, by which Phraates gave back the prisoners from the recent fighting and the captured battle standards from the Battle of Carrhae; the kingdom of Armenia also was recognized as a Roman dependency. Soon afterwards Phraates, whose greatest enemies were his own family, sent five of his sons as hostages to Augustus,[1] thus acknowledging his dependence on Rome (the hostages included Tiridates III, whom the Romans later tried to install as a vassal king in AD 35). This plan he adopted on the advice of an Italian woman, a gift of Caesar, "Thea Muse" whom he made his favored wife; her son Phraates V, commonly called Phraataces (a diminutive form), he appointed successor. About 2 BC he was murdered by Musa and her son.


  1. ^ Tacitus, The Annals 2.1


  •  This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Phraates". Encyclopædia Britannica. 21 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
  • Junianus Justinus, Historiarum Philippicarum, xlii
  • Flavius Josephus, Jewish Antiquities, 18.39-52
Phraates IV
Born: Unknown Died: 2 BC
Preceded by
Orodes II
Great King (Shah) of Parthia
37–2 BC
Succeeded by
Phraates V and Musa