The Parthian Empire

63 B.C. - 226 A.D.

Parthian Prince statue from Harta

Parthian Empire (247 B.C. - 224 A.D.)


 a Brief Outline of Parthian History


Early History


Map of Parthian Empire

map:site of the Parthian homeland in Khorasan


Arsaces ( ~ 250 - 211 B.C. )

Revolt against the Seleucids



Tiridates or Arsaces II ( 211 - 191 BC )

The conquest of  Hyrcania

Selucids strike back

Dara, the new capital

Antiochus occupies Hecatompylos

Relations with Bactria


Head from Parthian soldier statue  

2nd century B.C.

Found in Nisa, Turkministan


Phraates I ( 176 BC to 171 BC )


Mithridates I (~195 BC - 138 BC)

The Bactrian situation

The Seleucid situation

Mithridates invades Bactrian territory

Mithridates invades Media

Hyrcania Revolts

The conquest of Elymais, Persia and Babylonia

Renewal of attacks on Bactria

Renewal of Seleucid attacks

System of government established by Mithridates I.

Constitution of the Parthians. Government of the Provinces. Laws and Institutions. Character of Mithridates I.

The Greek towns in the Parthian empire



Reign of Phraates II.(171 - 128 BC)

Expedition of Antiochus Sidetes against Parthia.

The army of Antiochus and Phraates II

Antiochus attacks Phraates II, 130 B.C.

Phraates releases Demetrius

massacre of the Seleucids

Death of Antiochus

The Decline of the Seleucids

Phraates tries to recapture Demetrius

Scythian trouble

Death of Phraates


Artabanus r. 128 - 124 B.C.

a new danger

Parthia goes on the offensive

The death of Artabanus


Mithridates II 123 to 88 BC

Victory in the east

War in Armenia

contact with Rome

map of Asia Minor 188 B.C.

contact between Parthia and China

Legacy of  Mithridates


Dark period of Parthian History 88 - 66 B.C


Sanatruces  (157 - 70 BC)


Phraates III . 70 - 57 B.C.

Roman Asia minor 63 B.C.

Death of Phraates


Mithridates III r. 57?4 B.C.

Mithridates and Orodes civil war


Orodes II ( 57 - 38 B.C.  )

Crassus vows to invade Parthia

Orodes prepares

map: route of Crassus' army

Crassus in the Euphrates

Parthians taunt Crassus

Crassus attacks again, his army

The plans of Orodes

General Surena (84 - 52 BC)

Parthain light cavalry and the ' Parthian Shot '

The Pathian heavy cavalry or Cataphracts

The Roman army

The traitor Abgarus

The Battle of Carrhae

Publius, son of Crassus

The Parthian Cataphracts smash through the Testudo of the legion

retreat at night

The death of Crassus

aftermath of the defeat

Orodes in Armenia

The ruin of Surena

The Parthian invasion of Syria 51-50 B.C.

Roman victory

The intrigue of  Bibulus

Relations of Orodes with Pompey

The plans of Caesar

The Roman Civil war

The Parthians invade Syria Phoenicia, and Palestine

Pacorus in Palestine

The Romans return, Publius Ventidius

Parthian defeats in Syria

The intrigue of Publius Ventidius, death of Pacorus

Comparing the roman and Parthian military

The last years of Orodes, his death


Reign of Phraates IV. His cruelties


Antony plans invasion

The invasion of Antony 36 B.C.

Antony in Armenia

Antony invades Media, disaster and retreat

Quarrel between Phraates and the king of Media

Artavasdes seized

Median king defeated, Romans expelled from Armenia

insurrection against Phraates

Octavian and the Roman Standards

Last Years of Phraates

Phraates' sons sent to Rome

revolution in Armenia

Armenians ask Parthia for aid

The death of Phraates, Phraataces ( r. 2 B.C. - 4 A.D. )and Musa

Review of the life of Phraates


Phraataces sends an ambassador to Augustus

treaty with the Romans

hatred of Phraataces

death of Phraataces


The short reign of Orodes III (4- 6 A.D.)


Vonones I ( 8 - 12 A.D. )


Artabanus II ( 10 - 38 A.D. )

Death of Vonones

Artabanus' Armenian gambit

Taunting Tiberius

The reaction of Tiberius

Artabanus discovers the plot

Trouble in Armenia

Battle and death of Orodes

Artabanus marches on Iberia

conspiracy again


Tiridates III 35- 36 A.D.

The return of Artabanus

Situation of the Jewish population


Doubts as to the successor of Artabanus III. First short reign of Gotarzes.


Vonones II 51 A.D.


Volagases I  51 - 78 A.D

Results of the Establishment of Tiridates in Armenia

Relations of Volagases I. with Vespasian

Invasion of Western Asia by Alani

Death of Volagases I


Pacorus II 78 - 105 A.D.


Chosroes 109- 129 A.D.

Trajan starts war over Parthian king in Armenia

Roman view of the Parthia situation

Trajan commences his Eastern expedition - rejects Chosroes offer

Trajan conquers Armenia, causes Parthamasiris to be killed

Earthquake in Antioch

Trajan conquers Nineveh, Arbela, and Gaugamala 116

Trajan takes Harta, Babylon , Seleucia and Ctesiphon

Trajan sails down the Tigris to the Persian Gulf

Revolt in Seleucia, Hatra, Nisibis

Trajan makes Parthamaspates king of Parthia

Trajan attacks Harta

Chosroes expells Parthamaspates 117 AD

Trajan dies 117 AD, Hadrian abandons Assyria and Mesopotamia

Years of peace

Death of Chosroes


Volagases II 129 - 140 A.D.

Alani invasion 133 A.D.

return of the throne


Volagases III 105 - 147 A.D.

replaces Roman king in Armenia

Parthians invade Syria

Volagases defeated at Europus 163 A.D.

Cassius invades Mesopotamia, victory at Sura, Ctesiphon taken

strange disease causes havoc

effect of the invasion on Parthia


Accession of Volagases IV 147 - 191 A.D.

His Alliance sought by Pescennius Niger, Part taken by Parthia in the Contest between Niger and Severus, Mesopotamia revolts from Rome. First Eastern Expedition of Severus. Its Results. Second Expedition. Successes of Severus. His Failure at Hatra. General Results of the War. Death of Volagases IV


Struggle between the two Sons of Volagases IV., Volagases V. and Artabanus. Continued Sovereignty of both Princes. Ambition of Caracallus. His Proceedings in the East. His Resolve to quarrel with Parthia. First Proposal made by him to Artabanus. Perplexity of Artabanus. Caracallus invades Parthia. His Successes, and Death. Macrinus, defeated by Artabanus, consents to Terms of Peace. Revolt of the Persians under Artaxerxes. Prolonged Struggle. Death of Artabanus, and Downfall of the Parthian Empire


Parthian Religion


Parthian Art