Mithridates III, King of Pontus
(-Abt 183 BCE)
Laodike SELEUCID, Princess of Syria
Antiochos SELEUKID, co-King of Syria
(221 BCE-193 BCE)
Laodike SELEUKID, Princess of Syria
Pharnakes I, King of Pontus
(-By 154 BCE)
Nysa SELEUCID, Princess of Syria
(Abt 194 BCE-)

Mithridates V Euergetes, King of Pontus
(-Abt 120 BCE)


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Laodike SELEUCID, Princess of Syria

Mithridates V Euergetes, King of Pontus

  • Married: Between 152 and 145 B.C.E.
  • Died: Abt 120 B.C.E., Sinope, Paphlagonia

  Research Notes:

Mithridates V Euergetes, a son of Pharnaces I, was king of Pontus, in northern Turkey, between 152/151 and 120. He was allied to Rome, which he supported during the Third Punic War (149-146). With this alliance, Euergetes could expand the power of Pontus from the shores of the Black Sea to central Anatolia, where he fought against king Ariarathes VI Epiphanes of Cappadocia and forced the Paphlagonian ruler Pylaemenes to bequeath his realm to Pontus.

He created a hellenistic court, presenting himself to the Greek world as champion of Greek civilization in Anatolia. In 120, he was murdered in Sinope, and left his kingdom to his wife, the Seleucid princess Laodice, and their two sons, Mithridates VI Eupator and Mithridates Chrestus. 1


The policies of ... Mithridates V Euergetes are ... important in helping to assess the reign of his son and successor Mithridates VI Eupator... [It] is reasonable to suppose that the impression left by Euergetes may well have affected the general perception of Eupator, at least at the beginning of the latter's reign. Some areas seem straightforward enough. Euergetes continued, for instance, his predecessor's policy of loyalty and friendliness to Rome. He sent some ships and auxiliaries to help the Roman forces at Carthage in the Third Punic War (App. Mith. 10). He also provided forces in the war against Aristonicus, for which service he was rewarded with the gift of Phrygia Maior (App. Mith. 57; Just. Epit. 37.1.2.; 38.5.3)...

... Phrygia was quite far removed from the boundaries of Pontus, and the assignment of Phrygia to Euergetes implied that he held some kind of sway in Galatia and perhaps Paphlagonia. It is not necessary to assume that this influence was lost on the death of Euergetes, just because Justin (Epit. 37.4.6.) informs us that Mithridates Eupator seized Galatia. Eupator may have been dissatisfied with the existing influence, and wanted instead to occupy the country directly. He was still able to call the Galatians his allies on the eve of the First Mithridatic War (Just. Epit. 38.4.9).

There is a faint possibility that Euergetes inherited Paphlagonia from its king Pylaemenes. When Eupator and Nicomedes III of Bithynia invaded it in 108 and divided it up between them ..., they were ordered by Rome to return it in pristinum statum (Just. Epit. 37.4.4). Eupator, however, claimed that his father had inherited the country, and was surprised that the Romans were now making an issue of Paphlagonia when they had not done so before. Suspicion immediately attaches to this claim because it was made to justify the Pontic invasion. Similarly, Cappadocia, another of Eupator's victims, had always belonged to his ancestors, so it was claimed: in the reign of his father Euergetes, it had merely been recovered by Pontus (App. Mith. 12). Both Cappadocia and Paphlagonia in fact appear to have been quite independent kingdoms, and there is little reason to believe Eupator's self-justifying claims....

Euergetes' interest in Cappadocia is more clearly stated: "he invaded it as a foreign territory" (App. Mith. 10). We also find Laodice, Euergetes' daughter, married to the young king of Cappadocia, Ariarathes VI (Just. Epit. 38.1.1; Memnon 22.1). It is usually thought that this marriage came after the invasion, and marked a cessation of hostilities between Pontus and Cappadocia. D. Glew has recently challenged this view. He asks how Euergetes, if he overran Cappadocia. hoped to control it merely by marrying his daughter to its king, and why Ariarathes, if he beat off the Pontic attack, agreed to marry the daughter of his defeated opponent. His suggestion is that Euergetes' relations with Cappadocia were in fact friendly, and that the invasion was undertaken on behalf of Ariarathes VI to settle internal strife in Cappadocia. This, he feels, makes better sense of the marriage: having helped Ariarathes establish himself, Euergetes cemented the relationship by marrying his daughter to him. This is possible, but the accepted opinion does make perfectly good sense: Euergetes overran Cappadocia, but then, learning what had happened to a similarly aggressive Pharnaces, he decided not to occupy it, and instead to leave Ariarathes on the throne, hoping to keep a close check on him through Laodice, and thus control the country indirectly. When Ariarathes V died, probably in 130, his son Ariarathes VI was still too young to rule, and his mother Nysa acted as regent. Ariarathes VI will only have been a little older at the time of his marriage to Laodice, and thus still, Euergetes might have assumed, quite pliable, especially as his forces had just been defeated by Euergetes. In view of Eupator's early activities in Cappadocia, this makes rather better sense than Glew's version of events. For Eupator's Cappadocian policy was almost certainly the same: that is, he was unwilling to occupying the county directly but tried constantly to control it indirectly through intermediaries. Eupator probably just took over his father's policy.

His daughter's marriage was thus an important part of Euergetes' foreign policy. As for his own marriage, it is possible that he married a Seleucid. This is not stated directly in any source, but it is an inference from Justin (Epit. 38.8.1), who reports the ancestral claims of Mithridates Eupator: paternos maiores suos a Cyro Darioque, conditoribus Persici regni, maternos a magno Alexandro ac Nicatore Seleuco conditoribus imperii Macedonici referat....

Internally ... the kingdom, or at least the court, was becoming more Greek, and in foreign policy too Euergetes made an effort to present a thoroughly philhellenic face to the outside world. The king himself, as well as his councillor Dionysius, was honoured on Delos: Aeschylus the son of Zopyrus, and the gymnasiarch Seleucus dedicated statues in his honour. That of Aeschylus is undated, but Seleucus was gymnasiarch in 129/8. We learn more of Euergetes' relationship with Delos from the royal tetradrachm recently discussed by L. Robert, the first royal issue of Euergetes to be discovered. The obverse bears, as usual, a portrait of the king, but for the first time it is somewhat less than realistic with the hair more flowing and romanticized than that of his predecessors' royal coin portraits.... The type of the obverse is a standing male figure, facing-left and holding against his left arm a bow. On his outstretched right arm stands a female figure with a "forme schématique" on either side, and the inscription on three vertical lines reads "of king Mithridates Euergetes". Robert has identified the figure convincingly as a statue of Apollo Delios.... The figures on the right arm are the three Graces. Here ... is a proclamation of Hellenism ... with special reference to the benefactions bestowed by Euergetes on Apollo's sacred island. The choice of type was inspired by his donations to Apollo, and the statues set up by Seleucus in 129/8, and by Aeschylus, were a recognition of these donations....

In the reign of Mithridates Euergetes we may identify three strands of foreign policy. First, a clear pro-Roman strand inherited from his predecessor. Euergetes was a loyal and valuable "friend" of Rome, and he reaped a considerable reward in the acquisition of Phrygia. Whether Rome's removal of Phrygia from Pontic control at the beginning of Eupator's reign reflects Senatorial suspicion of Euergetes' power and activities, is a matter for speculation.... Even allowing, however, for a degree of Roman unease, there is no evidence whatsoever to support the theory that Rome was behind the assassination of Euergetes, and that the Senate expected Euergetes to bequeath his kingdom to Rome. Second, there was an equally clear philhellenic strand. This was not new, but the emphasis on Apollo and Delos seems to have been. The third strand is his policy towards his neighbours in Anatolia, and it is less clear. The evidence for his involvement in Paphlagonia and Cappadocia is clouded by the attempts Mithridates Eupator to justify his own occupation of these countries, but it does seem that Euergetes was expansionist. He may have hoped to expand his kingdom under cover of a pro-Roman policy, perhaps gaining for Pontus the same sort of position held by Pergamum and Rhodes in the first half of the second century, but his methods were much more subtle than those of Pharnaces: he attempted to extend Pontic influence rather than territorial boundaries. 2


The last period of Seleucid-Pontic relations was connected with the rule of Mithridates V Euergetes and his son Mithridates VI Eupator. According to Pontic tradition Mithridates V took a wife from the Seleucid dynastic family - Laodice, a daughter of king Antiochus IV Epiphanes. The precise date of this marriage is unknown. T. Reinach supposed that it could have taken place in the middle of the 140s BC. Renewal of the former practice of marrying Seleucid princesses was evidently brought about by active adherence to the foreign policy of Rome, which was also pursued by the late Seleucids. Mithridates V was eager to get the approval of Rome and, if possible, receive its sanction of his rights in Phrygia and Mysia.... [He] needed also to convince the Romans of his legitimate right to claim to these territories according to the same juridical case. For substantiating his claims Euergetes needed to have a spouse from the Seleucids as proof of legitimacy and the continuity of Seleucus Callinicus' decision. The Pontic king had at last achieved this goal - in 129 BC, when Pergamum was proclaimed a Roman province, Greater Phrygia was given to Pontus as a reward for helping the Romans in the war with Aristonicus (Justin XXXVII. 1. 2; XXXVIII. 5. 3; App. Mithr. 12, 13, 57; cp. App. Bel. civ. I. 22; Liv. LXX; Cic. Pro Flacco. 98; De oratore. II. 124, 188, 194-196). 3

  Marriage Information:

Mithridates married Laodike SELEUCID, Princess of Syria, daughter of Antiochos IV Epiphanes SELEUCID, King of Syria, and Laodike SELEUCID, Queen of Syria, between 152 and 145 BCE. (Laodike SELEUCID died between 115 and 113 BCE.)


1, Articles on ancient history, Mithridates V Euergetes (stub).

2 The Foreign Policy of Mithridates VI Eupator, King of Pontus, B. C. McGing, 1986, Chapter 1, Pontus to the Time of Mithridates Euergetes, pp. 36-38, 40-42.

3 New Perspectives in Seleucid History, Archaeology and Numismatics: Studies in Honor of Getzel M. Cohen, Roland Oetjen (ed.), 2019.

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