City Government in Hellenistic and Roman Asia Minor

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Much of the eastern part of the empire was then conquered by the Parthians under Mithridates I of Parthia in the mid-2nd century BC, yet the Seleucid kings continued to rule a rump state from Syria until the invasion by the Armenian king Tigranes the Great and their ultimate overthrow by the Roman general Pompey. After the death of Lysimachus , one of his officers, Philetaerus , took control of the city of Pergamum in BC along with Lysimachus' war chest of 9, talents and declared himself loyal to Seleucus I while remaining de facto independent.

His descendant, Attalus I , defeated the invading Galatians and proclaimed himself an independent king. Eumenes II turned Pergamon into a centre of culture and science by establishing the library of Pergamum which was said to be second only to the library of Alexandria [67] with , volumes according to Plutarch. It included a reading room and a collection of paintings.

Eumenes II also constructed the Pergamum Altar with friezes depicting the Gigantomachy on the acropolis of the city. Pergamum was also a center of parchment charta pergamena production. The Celts who settled in Galatia came through Thrace under the leadership of Leotarios and Leonnorios c.

They were defeated by Seleucus I in the 'battle of the Elephants', but were still able to establish a Celtic territory in central Anatolia. The Galatians were well respected as warriors and were widely used as mercenaries in the armies of the successor states. They continued to attack neighboring kingdoms such as Bithynia and Pergamon , plundering and extracting tribute.


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This came to an end when they sided with the renegade Seleucid prince Antiochus Hierax who tried to defeat Attalus , the ruler of Pergamon — BC. Attalus severely defeated the Gauls, forcing them to confine themselves to Galatia. The theme of the Dying Gaul a famous statue displayed in Pergamon remained a favorite in Hellenistic art for a generation signifying the victory of the Greeks over a noble enemy.

Galatia was henceforth dominated by Rome through regional rulers from BC onward. The Bithynians were a Thracian people living in northwest Anatolia. After Alexander's conquests the region of Bithynia came under the rule of the native king Bas, who defeated Calas, a general of Alexander the Great, and maintained the independence of Bithynia.

City Government in Hellenistic and Roman Asia Minor by Sviatoslav Dmitriev ()

His son and successor, Nicomedes I , founded Nicomedia , which soon rose to great prosperity, and during his long reign c. Nicomedes also invited the Celtic Galatians into Anatolia as mercenaries, and they later turned on his son Prusias I, who defeated them in battle.

Their last king, Nicomedes IV, was unable to maintain himself against Mithridates VI of Pontus, and, after being restored to his throne by the Roman Senate, he bequeathed his kingdom by will to the Roman republic 74 BC.

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Cappadocia, a mountainous region situated between Pontus and the Taurus mountains, was ruled by a Persian dynasty. Ariarathes I — BC was the satrap of Cappadocia under the Persians and after the conquests of Alexander he retained his post.


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  5. After Alexander's death he was defeated by Eumenes and crucified in BC, but his son, Ariarathes II managed to regain the throne and maintain his autonomy against the warring Diadochi. Under Ariarathes IV, Cappadocia came into relations with Rome, first as a foe espousing the cause of Antiochus the Great , then as an ally against Perseus of Macedon and finally in a war against the Seleucids.

    Ariarathes V also waged war with Rome against Aristonicus, a claimant to the throne of Pergamon, and their forces were annihilated in BC. This defeat allowed Pontus to invade and conquer the kingdom. Despite being ruled by a dynasty which was a descendant of the Persian Achaemenid Empire it became hellenized due to the influence of the Greek cities on the Black Sea and its neighboring kingdoms. Pontic culture was a mix of Greek and Iranian elements; the most hellenized parts of the kingdom were on the coast, populated by Greek colonies such as Trapezus and Sinope , the latter of which became the capital of the kingdom.

    Epigraphic evidence also shows extensive Hellenistic influence in the interior. By the time of Mithridates VI Eupator, Greek was the official language of the kingdom, though Anatolian languages continued to be spoken. Mithridates VI , himself of mixed Persian and Greek ancestry, presented himself as the protector of the Greeks against the 'barbarians' of Rome styling himself as "King Mithridates Eupator Dionysus" [71] and as the "great liberator". Mithridates also depicted himself with the anastole hairstyle of Alexander and used the symbolism of Herakles , from whom the Macedonian kings claimed descent.

    After a long struggle with Rome in the Mithridatic wars, Pontus was defeated; part of it was incorporated into the Roman Republic as the province of Bithynia, while Pontus' eastern half survived as a client kingdom. Orontid Armenia formally passed to the empire of Alexander the Great following his conquest of Persia. Alexander appointed an Orontid named Mithranes to govern Armenia.

    City Government in Hellenistic and Roman Asia Minor

    Armenia later became a vassal state of the Seleucid Empire , but it maintained a considerable degree of autonomy, retaining its native rulers. The kingdoms became so independent from Seleucid control that Antiochus III the Great waged war on them during his reign and replaced their rulers. After the Seleucid defeat at the Battle of Magnesia in BC, the kings of Sophene and Greater Armenia revolted and declared their independence, with Artaxias becoming the first king of the Artaxiad dynasty of Armenia in During the reign of the Artaxiads, Armenia went through a period of hellenization.

    Numismatic evidence shows Greek artistic styles and the use of the Greek language. Some coins describe the Armenian kings as " Philhellenes ". During the reign of Tigranes the Great 95—55 BC , the kingdom of Armenia reached its greatest extent, containing many Greek cities, including the entire Syrian tetrapolis. Cleopatra , the wife of Tigranes the Great , invited Greeks such as the rhetor Amphicrates and the historian Metrodorus of Scepsis to the Armenian court, and—according to Plutarch—when the Roman general Lucullus seized the Armenian capital, Tigranocerta, he found a troupe of Greek actors who had arrived to perform plays for Tigranes.

    Parthia was a north-eastern Iranian satrapy of the Achaemenid Empire which later passed on to Alexander's empire. In BC, following the death of Antiochus II Theos , Andragoras , the Seleucid governor of Parthia, proclaimed his independence and began minting coins showing himself wearing a royal diadem and claiming kingship.

    Arsaces II sued for peace and became a vassal of the Seleucids. It was not until the reign of Phraates I c. Abundant traces of Hellenism continued under the Parthian empire. The Parthians used Greek as well as their own Parthian language though lesser than Greek as languages of administration and also used Greek drachmas as coinage.

    They enjoyed Greek theater , and Greek art influenced Parthian art. The Parthians continued worshipping Greek gods syncretized together with Iranian deities.

    History of the Kingdom of Pergamon

    Their rulers established ruler cults in the manner of Hellenistic kings and often used Hellenistic royal epithets. Its capital was the city of Petra , an important trading city on the incense route.


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    The Nabateans resisted the attacks of Antigonus and were allies of the Hasmoneans in their struggle against the Seleucids , but later fought against Herod the Great. The hellenization of the Nabateans occurred relatively late in comparison to the surrounding regions. Though the Nabateans originally worshipped their traditional gods in symbolic form such as stone blocks or pillars, during the Hellenistic period they began to identify their gods with Greek gods and depict them in figurative forms influenced by Greek sculpture.

    During the Hellenistic period, Judea became a frontier region between the Seleucid Empire and Ptolemaic Egypt and therefore was often the frontline of the Syrian wars, changing hands several times during these conflicts. This period also saw the rise of a Hellenistic Judaism , which first developed in the Jewish diaspora of Alexandria and Antioch, and then spread to Judea.

    The reason for the production of this translation seems to be that many of the Alexandrian Jews had lost the ability to speak Hebrew and Aramaic. Between and BC the Ptolemies ruled Judea in relative peace, and Jews often found themselves working in the Ptolemaic administration and army, which led to the rise of a Hellenized Jewish elite class e. The wars of Antiochus III brought the region into the Seleucid empire; Jerusalem fell to his control in and the Temple was repaired and provided with money and tribute. Antiochus then banned key Jewish religious rites and traditions in Judea.

    He may have been attempting to Hellenize the region and unify his empire and the Jewish resistance to this eventually led to an escalation of violence. Whatever the case, tensions between pro and anti-Seleucid Jewish factions led to the — BC Maccabean Revolt of Judas Maccabeus whose victory is celebrated in the Jewish festival of Hanukkah.

    Modern interpretations see this period as a civil war between Hellenized and orthodox forms of Judaism. The Hasmonean Dynasty eventually disintegrated in a civil war , which coincided with civil wars in Rome. In spite of originally being a revolt against Greek overlordship, the Hasmonean kingdom and also the Herodian kingdom which followed gradually became more and more hellenized. He considerably enlarged the Temple see Herod's Temple , making it one of the largest religious structures in the world.

    The style of the enlarged temple and other Herodian architecture shows significant Hellenistic architectural influence. The Greek kingdom of Bactria began as a breakaway satrapy of the Seleucid empire, which, because of the size of the empire, had significant freedom from central control.

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    Between BC, the governor of Bactria , Sogdiana and Margiana most of present-day Afghanistan , one Diodotus , took this process to its logical extreme and declared himself king. Diodotus II, son of Diodotus, was overthrown in about BC by Euthydemus , possibly the satrap of Sogdiana, who then started his own dynasty. While victorious in the field, it seems Antiochus came to realise that there were advantages in the status quo perhaps sensing that Bactria could not be governed from Syria , and married one of his daughters to Euthydemus's son, thus legitimising the Greco-Bactrian dynasty.

    Soon afterwards the Greco-Bactrian kingdom seems to have expanded, possibly taking advantage of the defeat of the Parthian king Arsaces II by Antiochus.

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    Indian sources also maintain religious contact between Buddhist monks and the Greeks, and some Greco-Bactrians did convert to Buddhism. Demetrius , son and successor of Euthydemus, invaded north-western India in BC, after the destruction of the Mauryan Empire there; the Mauryans were probably allies of the Bactrians and Seleucids. The exact justification for the invasion remains unclear, but by about BC, the Greeks ruled over parts of north-western India. This period also marks the beginning of the obfuscation of Greco-Bactrian history.

    Demetrius possibly died about BC; numismatic evidence suggests the existence of several other kings shortly thereafter. It is probable that at this point the Greco-Bactrian kingdom split into several semi-independent regions for some years, often warring amongst themselves.