Pontic Kingdom. Mithradates VI. 120-63 BC

Pontic Kingdom. Mithradates VI. 120-63 BC


Dated Pontic Era Year 212, month 7 (April 85 BC). AR Tetradrachm, 16.51g (31mm, 1h). Diademed head of Mithradates r., long hair with three loose curls down cheek and neck / BAΣΙΛEΩΣ MIΘPAΔATOY EYΠATOPOΣ, Pegasus standing on ground line to l., star within crescent to l., date BIΣ (year) and monogram to r.; Z (month) below; all within ivy wreath.

Pedigree: Ex Triton VII (12 January 2004), lot 218; NFA XXX, (8 December 1992), lot 76.

References: De Callataÿ pg. 16, D67/R1. Cf. Waddington, RG pg. 17. Cf. BMC Pontus pg. 44, 3. SNG von Aulock 6679.

Grade: Phenomenal strike with some minor surface scrapes. A touch of double striking on the reverse. Removed from an slab. Graded NGC Choice AU 4/5 - 4/5, Fine Style  (gk1192)

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Mithradates VI lived when there was rapidly diminishing power among the Greeks and inversely a rise in power of the Roman Republic. He was loyal to no one and was considered to be a ruthless and savvy ruler. An example of his brutality was that his mother Laodice served as regent for her son when he was not old enough to rule. However when Mithradates reached twenty years of age and after she had ruled for 9 years as his regent, he had her killed so he could take the throne for himself. 

During his reign he was able to add the entire southern, eastern and northern shores of Asia Minor to his territory. In 105 BC he allied with Nicomedes of Bithynia to attempt to overtake Paphlagonia, Galatia and Cappadocia. Despite success, he and Nicomedes came to loggerheads over the spoils with Rome intervening in the end even helping Paphlagonia and Cappadocia to recoup their territory. This naturally angered Mithradates and from that time forward he waged war with Rome. 

Mithradates took advantage of the preoccupation of the civil wars in Rome to drive Nicomedes out of Bithynia. Rome restored him a few years later. When Nicomedes again attempted to retaliate against Mithradates and secure some of his land, this angered Mithradates to the point that he massacred 80,000 Romans and Latins. This prompted the generals Sulla, Lucullus and finally Pompey the Great to be thrust into battle against Mithradates.  

By 66 BC, Mithradates was finally defeated by the Romans and in response fled to the Panticapaeum in the Bosporus to raise a new army. Although his plans never truly came to fruition as everyone was tired of war, even his own son, Pharnaces rebelled against him. In despair Mithradates committed suicide in 63 BC. Cicero said that Mithradates was the greatest of all kings after the death of Alexander.