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Tigranes the Great

Tigranes the Great was the king of Armenia. At times he was the most powerful to the Roman East. He conquered all of modern day Armenia, most of Turkey, and Azerbaijan.

Tigran II, younger brother of Artavazd II and ruler of Armenia from 95 to 54 B.C., obtained the throne by ceding to the Parthians the districts which their predecessors had wrested from the Medes and Iberians, a seizure which supplied the excuse for the expedition of Mithridates II of Parthia.1 A quarrel arose between him and King Ardan (or Vardan) of Sophene, and Tigran attacked the latter, vanquished him and took over his domain. When Euphratean Armenia was thus suppressed, Tigran's kingdom then extended from the valley of the Kur to Melitine and Cappadocia. Mithridates VI of Pontus, who aspired to the annexation of Cappadocia, sought an alliance with Tigran by marrying one of his daughters to him. So by the treaty which followed the marriage, Cleopatra, a girl of courage as well as high education, became the Queen of Armenia.

Allies in Tigran's army Edit

Tigran still possessed enormous resources in the form of territory, money, soldiers and munitions. Encamped on a plateau on the northern slope of the Armenian Taurus, he reinforced and reorganized his army. In response to his appeal, the Kings of Adiabene, Atropatenes, Iberia and Albania came to his aid, as well as some Arabian chiefs. Having thus collected an army, whose numbers some estimate as high as 100,000, and learning that Lucullus had laid siege to his capital with a comparatively small force, Tigran disregarded the advice of Mithridates to surround the enemy and cut off its supplies, and instead, thought only of rescuing his treasures. A corps of 6,000 of his cavalry succeeded in piercing the enemy lines by night and bringing off the women and a part of the valuables.

Now emboldened by this achievement, Tigran sallied forth with his main army, in the hope of scattering the besiegers. When he reached a height from which Tigranocerta was visible in the distance, Lucullus left Murena with 6,000 cavalry to watch the city and prevent a sortie, and himself marched with 10,000 infantry and some horsemen to meet the King. "If they are coming as emissaries," Plutarch represents Tigran as saying,b as he looked down in some perplexity upon the small advancing force, "they are too many; if as antagonists, they are very few." The story that he made such a remark is derided by Manandian, in view of the inaccuracy of the quoted strength of the two armies. Plutarch gives 14,000 to 15,000 as the number of Lucullus's troops; Ammianus and Mommsen accept this estimate and place the strength of Tigran's host at 300,000. This great disparity of 1 to 20 has been questioned by several scholars, who propose 70,000 to 80,000 as the number of the Armenian army, and add to the Roman forces the number of their Anatolian allies, another 15,000, thus reducing the ratio 1 against 2, or thereabouts.

See also Edit

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