Parthia, Phraates II. 138-127 BC. Nisa mint, c.138-127 BC

Parthia, Phraates II. 138-127 BC. Nisa mint, c.138-127 BC


AR Drachm, 3.94g (19mm, 12h). Diademed bust l. / Archer seated r. on omphalos. 

References: Shore 50. Sellwood 16.11

Grade: Nicely struck. EF (gk1312)

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Phraates, whose name literally means “glory”, was very young when he became ruler. Phraates II had large shoes to fill, as the son of Mithradates I, whose reign impacted the small Parthian region into a superpower. He was supported in his early reign by his mother, Rinnu. His coins always reflect a young man with a short beard.  

The Parthian Empire was located in modern day Iran. During the reign of Phraates II, the empire was at odds with the rump state of the Seleucid Kingdom. The Seleucids were a shell of their former selves, nonetheless in 130 BC they attacked the Parthians. At first the Seleucids found success and positioned themselves in Ecbatana with their ruler Antiochus VII finding quarters there. The harsh treatment the Seleucids doled out to the local soldiers resulted in alienation by the local population so when Phraates turned to them for their support, they obliged and revolted. This resulted in the suicide or killing of Antiochus VII and reclamation of the area by the Parthians. Phraates II even went so far as to marry Laodice, the daughter of the Seleucid ruler Demetrios II, who he captured during the conflict with Antiochus VII (her uncle). 

Eventually Phraates II was killed when trying to attack and take over the region of Syria. Some of the soldiers he used were former Seleucid army members and refused to ultimately fight on Phraates behalf.