Parthian Conquest of Seleucid Kingdom

  March 27, 2021   Read time 2 min
Parthian Conquest of Seleucid Kingdom
As the spring of 129 B.C. came in, the cities of Media became restive under the burden of supplying the Seleucid garrisons, and moreover they were oppressed by the general Athenaeus.

The agents of Phraates found it an easy task to stir up the citizens to attack the Seleucid troops, disorganized now by the inactivity of the winter. When Antiochus hastened out with his household troops to support the nearest detachments, he was surprised by the appearance of the main Parthian force. He sustained the attack against the advice of his officers, found himself left alone when his men were put to flight, and so lost his life. The great Seleucid army was thus completely routed, and captured or slain almost to a man. The number of killed was put at the prodigious figure of three hundred thousand, but as the aftermath shows many were taken prisoner. Amongst them was the young Seleucus, son of Antiochus Sidetes, later brought up as a prince at the Parthian court; and the daughter of Demetrius, who found a place in the royal harem. As for the body of Antiochus, it was treated with all possible honour, and returned to Syria for burial in a silver coffin. After his victory over the Seleucid, Phraates had determined to advance on Syria. But the Saka invasion on his eastern frontier obliged him to abandon this plan. Already during the war with Antiochus VII, Saka mercenaries were being enlisted for the Parthian armies. For them, the sudden end of the campaign came as a surprise. Finding that they had arrived too late to take part in the fighting, the nomads were reluctant to accept dismissal without wages, and demanded either that their expenses should be paid, or that they should be employed against another enemy. When both were refused, the Sakas fell to ravaging Parthian territory, and some are said to have penetrated as far west as Mesopotamia. The main body of their tribesmen were pressing on behind, and already, so it seems, had swept away the Greek settlements in Bactria. Now the chief preoccupation of Phraates was to repel the advancing Sakas. Just as he had tried to divert their ferocity against the Seleucid forces, so now he pressed the prisoners from the army of Antiochus into service to oppose the new invaders. He may have counted on the fact that they would be facing unknown foes in a strange land, and would have to fight for their lives. But when the armies met, and the Greeks saw that the Parthians were hard pressed, they deserted to the enemy. Thus the Parthians were overwhelmed, and in the slaughter which followed (128 B.C.), Phraates himself was killed.

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