Polemon I of Pontus

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Polemon Pythodoros, also known as Polemon I or Polemon I of Pontus (Greek: Πολέμων Πυθόδωρος; fl. 1st century BC – died 8 BC) was the Roman Client King of Cilicia, Pontus, Colchis and the Bosporan Kingdom.

Life and career[edit]

Polemon was the son and heir of Zenon and possibly Tryphaena, he was Anatolian Greek. Polemon’s father, Zenon, was an orator and a prominent aristocrat from Laodicea on the Lycus Anatolia. Zenon encouraged the locals to resist the Roman General Quintus Labienus and King Pacorus I of Parthia, when their armies invaded Syria and Anatolia. Zenon was a friend and ally to Roman Triumvir Mark Antony and played a leading role during the Parthian invasion in 40 BC.

For Zenon’s service to the Parthian Campaign, Antony appointed Polemon in 39 BC, as Roman Client King of Cilicia replacing Darius, son of Pharnaces.[1] In 37 BC after the death of King Arsaces of Pontus, Antony appointed him as Roman Client King of Pontus; in 36 BC, Polemon assisted Antony in his military campaign against Parthia. The Parthians defeated Antony and Polemon. Polemon was captured and taken prisoner by the Parthian King, after a ransom was paid, Polemon was released. By this time, Polemon was ruling from Iconium (modern Konya) in Lycaonia.

In 35 BC, Polemon assisted Antony in allying Artavasdes I of Media Atropatene with Rome, while the Median King was an ally to Parthia. During the naval Battle of Actium in 31 BC, Polemon had sent Antony an auxiliary force, before Actium, Polemon switched allegiance to Octavian. After the death of Antony, Octavian, now restyled Augustus, acknowledged and recognised Polemon as a Roman Client King, reaffirming his rule over his domains. Augustus awarded Polemon with an ivory sceptre and an embroidered triumphal robe, and greeted Polemon in the traditional manner as king, ally and friend.

As King of the Bosporans, he extended the Kingdom as far as the river Tanais. Polemon's reign was long and prosperous; in 8 BC, Polemon engaged in a military campaign against the Aspurgiani, a nomad tribe that lived above the mountains of Phanagoria. Polemon was defeated by them, taken prisoner, and put to death.

Marriage and succession[edit]

In 16 BC a usurper called Scribonius pretended to be a relative of the ruling Queen Dynamis, widow of King Asander. Scribonius wanted to marry Dynamis, so he could rule the Bosporan, however the Roman general and statesman Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa discovered his treachery and had him executed, after Scribonius’ death, Agrippa asked Polemon to take Scribonius’ place.

After Polemon married Dynamis in 16 BC he left Iconium to rule the Bosporan Kingdom. Through Dynamis Polemon became stepfather to Tiberius Julius Aspurgus, her son from her first marriage. When Dynamis died in 14 BC Polemon became the sole ruler of the Bosporan Kingdom.

Later in 14 BC, Polemon took Pythodorida of Pontus as his second wife, she was a noblewoman who was half Anatolian Greek and Roman, and was the first grandchild of Antony. Pythodorida bore Polemon two sons and one daughter:

After Polemon's death, Aspurgus succeeded Polemon as King of the Bosporans, while Pythodorida ruled as the sole ruler of Cilicia, Pontus and Colchis.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Dimitriev 2003


External links[edit]

Preceded by
King of the Bosporus
16-8 BC (with Dynamis 16-14 BC)
Succeeded by