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Genealogy of the First Arsacids - Page 34

Draft translation of 10 May 2008:

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this happened. The only explanation we can suggest is that Antiochus III's campaign occurred during the reign of Arsaces II, resulting in defeat of the Parthians and their acknowledgement of vassalage to the Seleucids. These events, which reduced to almost zero the successes achieved during the reign of Arsaces I, may provide the reason for resentment of Arsaces II by the Parthian nobles and even for his dethronement. Of course, this is no more than an assumption, but we think that it is rather probable.

In this connection there arises the question about substituting several of the unknowns in the suggested genealogy with real historical persons. The brother of Arsaces I comes to mind. In Arrian (and in Syncellus who follows him) is mentioned a brother of Arsaces I — Tiridates, to whom they ascribe an important role in creation of the Parthian state. Taking into consideration these additions, the genealogical table of the first Arsacids at the current level of our knowledge should look as follows:

Figure 5

But, this naturally raises the question: doesn't the inclusion of Tiridates in this stemma mean recognizing the trustworthiness of Arrian's version and thus contradict the statements made in the beginning of this paper? It seems to us that it does not.

To corroborate our views we will need to dwell on the differences in the versions of Justin and Arrian.

1. According to Justin, the creation of the Parthian state is the conquest, by the nomadic tribes, of Parthiene which was under the power of Andragoras 6. According to Arrian it was a rebellion of the local population against the Macedonian rule 7.

2. According to Justin, the leader of the struggle is Arsaces; according to Arrian (and Syncellus and Zosimus as well) there are two brothers and the revolt is caused by the criminal pursuits of the Seleucid governor against one of the brothers, namely Tiridates (Arrian, Syncellus, Zosimus).

3. According to Arrian, Arsaces and Tiridates recruit another five men, so that in sum, seven people participate in the conspiracy. In Justin, this motif is missing.

4. Syncellus notes a connection of the Arsacid family with the Achaemenids through Artaxerxes (Ἀρσάκης τις καὶ Τηριδάτης ἀδελφοι τὸ γένος ἕλκοντες ἀπὸ τοῦ Περσῶν Ἀρταξέρξου — "A certain Arsaces and Tiridates, brothers, tracing their descent from the Persian Artaxerxes…"). Arrian names the ancestors of Arsaces and Tiridates ( Ἀρσάκης καὶ Τηριδάτης ἤστινb ἀδελφὼ Ἀρσακίδαι, τοῦ ὑιοῦ Ἀρσάκου τοῦ Φριαπίτου ἀπόγονοι — "Arsaces and Tiridates were brothers, Arsacids, descendants of Phriapatius the son of Arsaces…"). Justin stresses the obscurity of Arsaces' origin (Just., XLI, 4, 6).

5. According to Arrian, the creator roles of the Parthian state are given to both brothers, Arsaces and Tiridates, and (a very characteristic detail) the duration of Arsaces's reign is only two years, and that of his heir Tiridates is 37 years. In Justin's text, however, there is a detailed account of the whole long reign of Arsaces, who dies in extreme old age and leaves the throne to his son who also has the personal (not throne) name of Arsaces (Just., XLI, 5, 5-6).

As already mentioned by Wolski the version of Arrian, unlike the version of Justin, is filled with literary reminiscences and some other features which point to its later origin. Besides, the literature (in general terms) also points out that Arrian's version clearly aspires to give "legitimacy" to the Arsacid dynasty and justify its claims for the supremacy over all the Middle East [14, p. 40-42].

Therefore, we think it necessary to review once more from this perspective the differences between the two versions, noting the earlier mentioned considerations and further developing in more detail those which we believe were not presented earlier in this context [continued...]

6 In Justin (Just., XLI, 4, 7) Arsaces "having attacked the Parthians with a band of raiders crushed their commander Andragoras and after disposing of him usurped dominion over the nation"; in Strabo (Strab., XI, II, 2): "After that Arsaces, the Scythian, together with some of the Dahaec, so called Aparni, the nomads who live along the Ochus river, attacked Parthia and conquered it".

7 In Arrian (Arrian, Parthica, fr. 1, – Photius, Bibl., cod. 58 – FHG, II, p. 586-587): "...and they made their nation revolt from the Macedonians and they ruled as they saw fitd" (... καὶ τὸ ἔθνος Μακεδόνων ἀπέστησαν, καὶ καθ’ ἑαυτοὺς ἦρξαν…). Syncellus is close (Syncellus, p. 248BFHG, II, p. 587: ἐπὶ τούτου τοῦ Ἀντόχουe Πέρσαι τῆς Μακεδόνων καὶ Ἀντιόχων ἀρχῆς ἀπέστησαν... — "In the time of this Ant(i)ochos the Persians revolted from the dominion of the Macedonians and Antiochians") and in Zosimus (Zosimus I, 18 — FHG, II, p. 587: Ἀρσάκης ὁ Παρθυαῖος ... πόλεμον πρὸς τὸν Ἀντιόχου σατράπην ἀράμενος, αἰτίαν δέδωκε τοῖς Παρθυαίοις ἐκβαλοῦσι Μακεδόνας εἰς ἑαυτοὺς τὴν ἀρχὴν περιστῆσαι — "Arsaces the Parthian .... having undertaken a war against Antiochus' satrap, afforded the Parthians the opportunity for throwing out the Macedonians to gain the dominion for themselves.").

Translation notes:
b ἤστιν This error, also reproduced in A. Invernizzi's text, p. 140, para 4, is a slip for ἤστην, which appears in Photius' text (cod.58 = fr.1 of Arrian's Parthica) as printed in Karl Müller's Fragmenta Historicorum Græcorum (FHG) and the Budé edition of Photius (ed. René Henry, vol.1, codices 1-84, Paris, 1959, p.51). The Arrian fragments and relevant excerpts from Syncellus and Zosimus appear in FHG vol.III, pp.586-7. Koshelenko's references to FHG II should all be corrected accordingly.

c The correct reference to Strabo's Geography is xi.9.2, where the Greek text speaks of Arsaces leading some of the Δατίων (, a misspelling which Xylander emended to Δαῶν (

d Literally: "ruled according to themselves"

e Invernizzi (p. 139, n. 7) prints Ἀντιόχου.

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