Orontes IV of Armenia

Orontes IV: Orontid king of Armenia (c.220-c.200 BCE).

In the section of the Geography that is devoted to Armenia, the Graeco-Roman geographer Strabo of Amasia offers a very brief history of this country. It had once been part of the Persian Empire, had been ruled by the Macedonians and by the Seleucids, and then there was a final ruler named Orontes, a “descendant of Hydarnes, one of the seven Persians” (i.e., the seven conspirators who had helped Darius the Great become king).note

After the reign of this Orontes, Strabo continues, Armenia was divided by Artaxias and Zariadris, the generals of the Seleucid king Antiochus III the Great (r.222-187), who had conquered Armenia. However, after Antiochus had been defeated by the Romans in the Syrian War (192-188), the two generals started for themselves and accepted the title of king.

A Greek inscription, found in Armavir (in the west of modern Armenia) confirms the existence of this king Orontes IV and mentions a brother who was priest in a temple, dedicated to the Sun and the Moon. It seems that Moses of Chorene, the late antique author of a History of Armenia, refers to Orontes and his brother as well, although he also states that the father of Yervand (Orontes) was a man named Sanatruk, which is impossible. (The real Sanatruces lived more than three centuries later.) On the other hand, Moses tells that, after the Araxes had changed its course, Yervand transferred his capital from Armavir to Yervandashat, which is corroborated by archaeological finds. Moses also knows that Yervand was defeated and killed by one Artaches (Artaxias).note

It is likely that Orontes IV was a son of king Arsames. He may also have been related to Orontes II and Orontes III, which in turn suggests that these were ancestors of Arsames. In any case, he was succeeded by Artaxias, the founder of the city of Artaxata, of the Artaxiad dynasty, and of an Armenia that was again independent.

This page was created in 2019; last modified on 29 May 2019.