Pythodorida of Pontus
|Queen of Pontus|
Queen consort of the Bosporan Kingdom
Queen consort of Cilicia
Queen consort of Cappadocia
|Born||30 BC or 29 BC|
|Died||AD 38 (aged 67 or 68)|
|Spouse||King Polemon I of Pontus|
King Archelaus of Cappadocia
|Issue||Artaxias III of Armenia|
Polemon II of Pontus
Antonia Tryphaena, Queen of Thrace
|Father||Pythodoros of Tralles|
Origins and early life
Pythodorida is also known as Pythodoris I and Pantos Pythodorida. According to an honorific inscription dedicated to her in Athens in the late 1st century BC, her royal title was Queen Pythodorida Philometor (Greek: ΒΑΣΙΛΙΣΣΑ ΠΥΘΟΔΩΡΙΔΑ ΦΙΛΟΜΗΤΩΡ). Philometor means "mother-loving" and this title is associated with the Greek Pharaohs and Queens of the Ptolemaic dynasty of Ancient Egypt.
Pythodorida was born and raised in Smyrna (modern İzmir, Turkey). She was the daughter and only child of wealthy Anatolian Greeks and friend to the late triumvir Pompey, Pythodoros of Tralles and Antonia. Pythodorida was half Roman and half Anatolian Greek. She was the namesake of her father.
Her maternal grandparents were the Roman triumvir Mark Antony and Antonia Hybrida Minor, who were paternal first cousins; however, Pythodorida's paternal grandparents are unknown. Pythodorida seems to the first grandchild descended from Antony.
The successive marriages of Pythodorida illustrate how elite women, like Rome's client states, were shuffled around in the game of power politics. About 14 BC, Pythodorida married King Polemon Pythodoros of Pontus as his second wife. By this marriage she became Queen of Pontus and the Bosporan Kingdom. Polemon I was previously widowed by his first wife and had no natural children, except for a stepson.
Pythodorida and Polemon had two sons and one daughter, who were:
- Zenon, also known as Zeno-Artaxias or Artaxias III, who became King of Armenia in 18 and reigned until his death in 35
- Marcus Antonius Polemon Pythodoros, also known as Polemon II of Pontus
- Antonia Tryphaena who married King of Thrace, Cotys VIII
Polemon I died in 8 BC, and Pythodorida became the sole Queen of Pontus until her death. Pythodorida was able to retain Colchis and Cilicia but not the Bosporan Kingdom which was granted to her first husband's stepson, Aspurgus. She then married King Archelaus of Cappadocia. Archelaus and Pythodorida had no children. Through her second marriage, she became Queen of Cappadocia. Pythodorida had moved with her children from Pontus to Cappadocia to live with Archelaus. When Archelaus died in 17, Cappadocia became a Roman province and she returned with her family back to Pontus.
In later years, Polemon II assisted his mother in the administration of the kingdom. Following her death, Polemon II succeeded to the throne. Pythodorida was remembered by a friend and contemporary, the Greek geographer Strabo, who is said to have described Pythodorida as a woman of virtuous character. Strabo considered her to have a great capacity for business and that under Pythodorida's rule Pontus had flourished.
|Ancestors of Pythodorida of Pontus|
- Mercudy G., Two Studies on Women in Antiquity: Vassal Queens and Some Contemporary Women in the Roman Empire - Portraits of Royal Ladies on Greek Coins, Johns Hopkins Press, 1937; ASIN: B000WUFYY0
- Worldwide guide to women in leadership