Rhadamistus: Iberian king in Armenia (r. 51 CE), member of the Artaxiad dynasty.

Two brothers were in charge of Iberia (modern Georgia) and Armenia: Pharasmanes and Mithridates. Rhadamistus was the son of Pharasmanes and wanted to become king of Iberia, but his father lived quite long, and he therefore decided to overthrow his uncle. According to the Roman historian Tacitus, Rhadamistus

was tall and handsome, remarkable for his bodily strength, versed in the national accomplishments, and in high repute with the neighbouring peoples.note

Having gathered support in Armenia, Rhadamistus besieged his uncle in Garni, east of the capital Artaxata.note The fortress was betrayed and Rhadamistus became king (51 CE), which was the immediate cause of a Parthian intervention.

In the next year, 52, the Parthian king Vologases I invaded Armenia, occupied its capitals Artaxata and Tigranocerta, and made his younger brother Tiridates king of Armenia.note This was a breach of a treaty that the Parthian king Phraates IV had concluded with the Roman emperor Augustus in 20 BCE: the Romans were allowed to appoint the Armenian king. Vologases may have thought that the old Roman emperor Claudius (r.41-54) would not adequately respond to this deliberate provocation. Indeed, Rome did not immediately send troops. Still, Vologases got the problems he had been asking for.

In Media and Hyrcania, his son Vardanes II revolted,note and it is certainly possible that he had Roman support. In any case, the Hyrcanian problems would continue for several years, required (according to Tacitus) "numerous campaigns",note and made it impossible for Vologases to intervene in Armenia. His supply lines were now threatened. To make problems worse, the Armenian winter turned out to be severe. As a consequence, an epidemic broke out,note and Vologases was forced to return home.

This allowed Rhadamistus to regain control of Armenia. However, early in 55, the Armenians expelled him and invited Tiridates to come back.note

This page was created in 2019; last modified on 21 April 2020.