Phraates II

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Phraates II of Parthia
"King of kings of Iran"
Coin of Phraates II.
Reign 132–126 BC
Predecessor Mithridates I of Parthia
Successor Artabanus II of Parthia
Born Unknown
Died 126 BC
Dynasty Arsacid dynasty
Father Mithridates I
Mother Ri-'nu
Religion Zoroastrianism

Phraates II was king of the Parthian Empire from 132 BC to 126 BC.[1][2] 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.[3] 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.[4]

Phraates II succeeded in capturing Seleucus, the son of the king. He allowed Antiochus VII a royal funeral and returned the body to Syria in a silver coffin.[5] 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. Phraates II even married one of the king's daughters, whose name is not recorded.

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 Turkic 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.[6] 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.

Traditionally, it is assumed that Phraates' uncle, Artabanus I, succeeded him as King. However, cuneiform and numismatic evidence suggests that his older uncle, Bacasis, reigned for less than a year in 126 BC before Artabanus took the throne.[7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Assar_2005"
  2. ^ "Assar_2006"
  3. ^ Justin, 38.10.10
  4. ^ Kay Ehling, Untersuchungen zur Geschichte der späten Seleukiden (164-63 v. Chr.), Stuttgart 2008, p. 204 ISBN 978-3-515-09035-3
  5. ^ Justin. 39.1.6
  6. ^ Grousset, Rene (1970). The Empire of the Steppes. Rutgers University Press. p. 31. ISBN 0-8135-1304-9. 
  7. ^ "Assar_2005" pg. 47-8


  • Justin, Epitome of the Philippic History 42.1.
Phraates II
 Died: 126 BC
Preceded by
Mithridates I
King of Parthia
132–126 BC
Succeeded by
Artabanus II