Mithridates V

Mithridates V

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Mithridates the Great was the tyrannical king of Pontus (an ancient kingdom in Northeast Asia Minor) from 120 to 63 B.C.E. He was killed by a Gallic mercenary whose services he himself engaged after failing to poison himself following an insurrection by his troops. Supposedly, his suicide was unsuccessful because he had made himself immune to poison by taking small doses of it since childhood in an attempt to avoid the fate of assassination by poison. The story of Mithridates' tolerance is behind the English word mithridate, which dates to the early 16th century, as well as the word mithridatism, defined as "tolerance to a poison acquired by taking gradually increased doses of it."

The destruction of Athens

Meanwhile Mithridates had extended his conquests, and his army had advanced as far as Thrace and Macedonia. But when in 87 BC the troops of Sulla disembarked in Epirus on their way to fight Mithridates, Greece, which had been the ally of Mithridates, went over to the Roman side. Only Athens, under the command of its tyrant Aristion, resisted Sulla.

The Roman general immediately prepared a plan for attacking the city. He employed at least 2,000 mules for the transport of engines of war, and he down the holy trees of the woods to obtain the timber needed to build the army's wagons. Eager for money, Sulla ordered that the temples should be pillaged and robbed the temples of Olympius and Delphi, famous and respected throughout the pagan world, were stripped of all the wealth which they possessed. Early in 86 BC Sulla's troops marched upon Athens, made a breach in the walls, and entered the city. At midnight Athens was aroused by the noise of a thousand trumpets the inhabitants tried to defend their city, but they could not hope to hold out against the overwhelming strength of the invader. The massacre which Sulla carried our remained legendary. It is said that the blood of the slaughtered inhabitants flooded one whole quarter of the city. As soon as he had conquered Athens and captured its tyrant, Sulla moved north to attack Mithridates.

My Three Lactate Workouts:

  • 23-second drill – Actually I allow 24 seconds because we do it on a 180m indoor track. We run solo and sprint trying to run as far as possible in 24 seconds. Coaches mark the sprinter’s distance when the timer hits 24 seconds. After 10 minutes each guy does another 24-second run and we celebrate anyone who can come within five meters of their first effort. That’s it, two 24-second runs with 10 minutes rest in-between. Most sprinters will have a total volume of less than 400 meters. My best guys make it past the 200m mark. If you get four guys over 200 meters, you will medal in the 4ࡨ at the 3A state meet. In 2015, we had six guys over 200m. In 2016, we had eleven. We placed 4th in 2015, 5th in 2016.
  • 4ࡪ Predictor – sprinters will run 3 x 200 with fly starts, with the wind. Sprinters will walk across the football field diagonally to begin the next 200. The rest will by only 3 minutes. The times are added together then multiplied by .67. I then add 2.0 seconds to the product. These calculated times are recorded, ranked, and published. The times will accurately reflect the 4×4 speed of each sprinter. Once again, lactate levels get relatively high and sprinters must run fast regardless. This drill also teaches the idea of long sprinting. My cues are always “fast & loose” or “make it look easy”.
  • Critical Zone – sprinters will run a 200 with a fly start, fast & loose at goal 400 pace (If goal is 48.0, 200 time should be 24.0). With only 45 seconds rest, sprinters will run another fly-200 at the same goal pace. With 8 minutes rest (longer if necessary), sprinters will repeat the 200/200. This is massive sprint workout. Some years where the 4ࡪ is not our focus, I do this as a 200/100, eight minutes, repeat 200/100. Kahmari Montgomery is a world-class athlete, SEC 400 champ as a freshman indoors and outdoors. Kahmari was coached by Jon Pereiro at Plainfield Central and the critical zone workout was done only once. Jon understood minimum effective dose.

Abridgement of Roman History/Book V

While the war was going on in Numidia against Jugurtha, the Roman consuls, Marcus Manlius and Quintus Caepio, were defeated [1] by the Cimbri, Teutones, Tigurini, and Ambrones, nations of Germany and Gaul, near the river Rhone and, being reduced by a terrible slaughter, lost their very camp, as well as the greater part of their army. Great was the consternation at Rome, such as was scarcely experienced during the Punic wars in the time of Hannibal, from dread that the Gauls might again march to the city. Marius, in consequence, after his victory over Jugurtha, was created consul the second time, [2] and the war against the Cimbri and Teutones was committed to his management. The consulship was also conferred on him a third [3] and fourth time, [4] in consequence of the war with the Cimbri being protracted but in his fourth consulship he had for his colleague Quintus Lutatius Catulus. He came to battle, accordingly, [5] with the Cimbri, and in two engagements killed two hundred thousand of the enemy, and took eighty thousand prisoners, with their general Teutobodus [6] for which service he was elected consul a fifth time during his absence. [7]

II Edit

In the meantime the Cimbri and Teutones, whose force was still innumerable, passed over into Italy. Another battle was fought with them, by Caius Marius and Quintus Catulus, though with greater success on the part of Catulus, for in that battle, in which they both commanded, a hundred and forty thousand were either slain in the field or in the pursuit, and sixty thousand taken prisoners. Of the Roman soldiers in the two armies three hundred fell. Thirty-three standards were taken from the Cimbri of which the army of Marius captured two, that of Catulus thirty-one. [8] This was the end of the war: a triumph was decreed to both the consuls.

III Edit

In the consulship of Sextus Julius Caesar and Lucius Marcius Philippus, in the six hundred and fifty-ninth year from the building of the city, [9] when almost all other wars were at an end, the Piceni, Marsi, and Peligni, excited a most dangerous war in Italy [10] for after they had lived for many years in subjection to the Roman people, they now began to assert their claim to equal privileges. This was a very destructive war. Publius Rutilius, one of the consuls, Caepio, a nobleman in the flower of his age, and Porcius Cato, another consul, were killed in it. The generals against the Romans on the part of the Piceni and Marsi were Titus Vettius, Hierius Asinius, Titus Herennius, and Aulus Cluentius. The Romans fought against them successfully under the conduct of Caius Marius, who had now been made consul for the sixth time, also under Cnaeus Pompey, but particularly under Lucius Cornelius Sulla, who, among other signal exploits, so completely routed Cluentius, one of the enemy's generals, with his numerous forces, that he lost only one man of his own army. The war, however, was protracted for four years, with great havoc at length, in the fifth, it was terminated by Lucius Cornelius Sulla when consul, who had greatly distinguished himself on many occasions when praetor in the same war.

IV Edit

In the six hundred and sixty-second year from the foundation of the city, [11] the first civil war began at Rome and in the same year also the Mithridatic war. Marius, when in his sixth consulship, gave rise to the Civil war for when Sulla. the consul, was sent to conduct the war against Mithridates, who had possessed himself of Asia and Achaia, and delayed his army for a short time in Campania, in order that the remains of the Social war, of which we have just spoken, and which had been carried on within the limits of Italy, might be extinguished, Marius showed himself ambitious to be appointed to the Mithridatic war. Sulla, being incensed at this conduct, marched to Rome with his army. There he fought with Marius and Sulpicius he was the first to enter the city in arms Sulpicius he killed Marius he put to flight and then, having appointed Cnaeus Octavius and Lucius Cornelius Cinna the consuls for the year ensuing, set out for Asia.

V Edit

For Mithridates, who was king of Pontus, and possessed Armenia Minor and the entire circuit of the Pontic sea with the Bosphorus, first attempted to expel Nicomedes, an ally of the Romans, from Bithynia sending word to the senate, that he was going to make war upon him on account of the injuries which he had received. Answer was returned by the senate to Mithridates, that if he did so he himself should feel the weight of a war from the Romans. Incensed at this reply, he immediately invaded Cappadocia, and expelled from thence Ariobarzanes the king, an ally of the Roman people. He next marched into Bithynia and Paphlagonia, driving out the kings, Pylaemenes and Nicomedes, who were also in alliance with the Romans. He then hastened to Ephesus, and sent letters into all parts of Asia, with directions that wherever any Roman citizens should be found, they should all be put to death the same day.

VI Edit

In the meantime Athens also, a city of Achaia, was delivered up to Mithridates by Aristion an Athenian. For Mithridates had previously sent Archelaus, his general, into Achaia, with a hundred and twenty thousand horse and foot, by whom the rest of Greece was also occupied. Sulla besieged Archelaus at the Piraeeus near Athens, and took the city itself. Engaging afterwards in battle with Archelaus, he gave him such a defeat, that out of a hundred and twenty thousand of the army of Archelaus scarce ten remained while of that of Sulla only fourteen were killed. Mithridates, on receiving intelligence of this battle, sent seventy thousand chosen troops out of Asia to Archelaus, with whom Sulla came again to an engagement. In the first battle twenty thousand of the enemy were slain, and Diogenes, the son of Archelaus in the second the entire forces of Mithridates were cut off. Archelaus himself lay hid for three days, stript of his armour, in the marshes. On the news of this state of things, Mithridates sent orders to treat with Sulla concerning peace.

VII Edit

In the meantime Sulla also reduced part of the Dardanians, Scordisci, Dalmatians, and Maedians, and granted terms of. alliance to the rest. But when ambassadors arrived from King Mithridates to treat about peace, Sulla replied that he would grant it on no other condition than that he should quit the countries on which he had seized, and withdraw into his own dominions. Afterwards, however, the two came to a conference, and peace was settled between them, in order that Sulla, who was in haste to proceed to the Civil war, might leave no danger in his rear for while Sulla was victorious over Mithridates in Achaia and Asia, Marius, who had been driven from the city, and Cornelius Cinna, one of the consuls, had recommenced hostilities in Italy, and entering Rome, put to death the noblest of the senators and others of consular rank, proscribed many, and pulling down the house of Sulla himself, forced his sons and wife to seek safety by flight while all the rest of the senate, hastily quitting the city, fled to Sulla in Greece, entreating him to come to the support of his country. He accordingly crossed over into Italy, to conduct the Civil war against the consuls Norbanus and Scipio. In the first battle he engaged with Norbanus not far from Capua, when he killed seven thousand of his men, and took six thousand prisoners, losing only a hundred and twenty-four of his own army. From thence he directed his efforts against Scipio, and before a battle was fought, or any blood shed, he received the surrender of his whole army.


But on a change of consuls at Rome, and the election of Marius, the son of Marius, and Papirius Carbo to the consulate, Sulla again came to battle with Marius the younger, and killed fifteen thousand men, with the loss of only four hundred. Immediately afterwards also he entered the city. He then pursued Marius, the younger, to Praeneste, besieged him there, and drove him even to self-destruction. He afterwards fought a terrible battle with Lamponius and Carinas, the leaders of the Marian faction, near the Colline gate. The number of the enemy in that battle against Sulla is said to have been seventy thousand twelve thousand surrendered themselves to Sulla: the rest were cut off in the field, in the camp, or in the pursuit, by the insatiable resentment of the conqueror. Cnaeus Carbo also, the other consul, fled from Ariminum into Sicily, and was there slain by Cnaeus Pompey to whom, although but a young man, being only one-and-twenty years of age, Sulla, perceiving his activity, had committed the management of his troops, so that he was accounted second only to Sulla himself.

IX Edit

Carbo, then, being killed, Pompey recovered Sicily. Crossing next over into Africa, he put to death Domitius, a leader on the side of Marius, and Hiarbas the king of Mauritania, who had given assistance to Domitius. After these events, Sulla celebrated a triumph with great pomp for his success against Mithridates. Cnaeus Pompey also, while only in his twenty-fourth year, was allowed a triumph for his victories in Africa, a privilege which had been granted to no Roman before him. Such was the termination of two most lamentable wars, the Italian, also called the Social, and the Civil, which lasted for ten years, and occasioned the destruction of more than a hundred and fifty thousand men twenty-four of consular rank, seven of praetorian, sixty of that of aedile, and nearly three hundred senators.


PONTUS, a Greek word meaning &ldquosea,&rdquo generally taken in the ancient world to refer to the Black Sea, Pontos Euxeinos, or Axeinos (Strabo 1.2.10 C21). It also came to be applied more specifically to the Hellenistic kingdom of the Mithridatid rulers that emerged in northern Asia Minor at the end of the 4th century BCE. Strabo (12.1.4 C534) says that both Pontus and its neighbor to the south, Cappadocia, developed from the two Cappadocian satrapies of the Persian empire, and that it was the Macedonians&mdashpresumably he means the Seleucids&mdashwho had named one Pontus and the other Cappadocia. There is, however, no contemporary evidence that the Mithridatids called themselves &ldquokings of Pontus&rdquo and, although they had a notion of their ancestral domains, it was more probably the influence of the Roman province of Pontus, formed in 63 BCE after the death of Mithridates VI Eupator, that led Strabo and subsequent commentators to apply the term retrospectively to the Mithridatid kingdom. This convenient anachronism has survived to the present day.

Geographically, Pontus divided into two distinct parts&mdasha narrow, coastal strip,and a mountainous, inland region interspersed with fertile river valleys and separated from the sea by the Pontic Alps, which run parallel and close to the coast and which limited routes of communications between the two zones. Strabo, a native of the inland town of Amaseia, gives us valuable information about the region. Greek colonies dominated the coast, most importantly Sinope, the best harbor on the south shore of the Black Sea, which planted its own colonies at Cotyora, Cerasus, and Trapezus. Stamped amphora handles demonstrate the extensive trading links of the coastal cities both with other Black Sea settlements and with the Aegean world. The kingdom was rich in natural resources: a valuable tunny-fishing industry abundant supplies of wood for shipbuilding cattle, horses, grains, and fruits in the particularly fertile plain of Themiscyra to the east of Amisus famous mineral resources in the Paryadres mountains south of Pharnaceia vines, olives, and other agricultural produce inland at the confluence of the Iris and Lycus rivers in the plain of Phanaroea, the best part of Pontus according to Strabo (12.3.30 C556).

There were three main cultural strands in the population: Greek (mostly on the coast), Persian, and native Anatolian, both associated more with the interior. The most common form of social organization, the villages, can scarcely have had other than age-old Anatolian connotations they had been there from time immemorial. The best example of their prominence in Pontus is the plain of a thousand villages, Chiliocomum (Strabo 12.3.39 C539). Also representing an enduring symbol of Anatolian continuity was the great temple estate of Ma at Comana, with its six thousand temple servants and extensive sacred territory, all under the authority of the priest, who ranked second in importance after the king (Strabo 12.3.32-36 C557-9). Anatolian too was the temple estate of Men Pharnakou and Selene at Ameria (Strabo 12.3.31 C556), probably founded in the 2nd century BCE by King Pharnakes I (Figure 1), anxious to appropriate a great Anatolian god like Men, as a counter-balance to the antique authority of the priest of Ma at Comana.

The peoples of this part of northern Asia Minor were incorporated into the third and nineteenth satrapies of the Persian empire (Herodotus 3.90-94). Iranian influence ran deep, illustrated most famously by the temple of the Persian deities Anaitis, Omanes, and Anadatos at Zela, founded by victorious Persian generals in the 6th century BCE (Strabo 11.8.4 C512 12.3.37 C559). The site flourished and became so important that it was here that the people of Pontus made their most sacred vows. Even in Strabo&rsquos day it was still a dynamic center of Persian culture and religion. Persian names, particularly Pharnakes, are found scattered around the kingdom and are held most prominently by the ruling Mithridatids, who are also the best evidence for Persian colonization of the area. They were a powerful and noble Persian family, probably directly related to the great Darius I himself, which in the 5th and 4th centuries BCE had held sway as dynasts over the regions of Mysia and Mariandynia on the Propontis and farther east along the south shore of the Black Sea. Even when the Mithridates known as &ldquoFounder&rdquo proclaimed himself king in the early years of the 3rd century BCE, and the family adopted some of the ways of Hellenism and Hellenistic courts, in particular the use of Greek as the official language, they continued proudly to proclaim their royal Achaemenid lineage: their search for respectability and legitimization through Persian descent attests a deep and powerful Persian ethos in the people of Pontus. The most famous member of the family, Mithridates VI Eupator (ca. 120-63 BCE), although undoubtedly presenting himself to the Greek world as a civilized philhellene and new Alexander, also paraded his Iranian background: he maintained a harem and eunuchs in true Oriental fashion he gave all his sons Persian names he sacrificed spectacularly in the manner of the Persian kings at Pasargadae (Appian, Mith. 66, 70) and he appointed &ldquosatraps&rdquo (a Persian title) as his provincial governors. And although there is only one inscription attesting it, he seems to have adopted the title &ldquoking of kings.&rdquo The very small number of Hellenistic Greek inscriptions that have been found anywhere in Pontus suggest that Greek culture did not substantially penetrate beyond the coastal cities and the court.

The history of the Mithridatids&rsquo kingdom before the time of Mithridates VI Eupator receives only occasional treatment in the ancient sources. While sometimes having to fight to carve out a niche for itself in Asia Minor, the kingdom also advanced by diplomacy. Marriage alliances with the Seleucids, Greek-style coins, and the sort of benefaction bestowed on Rhodes when it was damaged in an earthquake in 227/6 BCE (Polybius 5.88-90) firmly established the family&rsquos Hellenistic credentials. The aggression of Pharnakes in the first half of the 2nd century BCE was, apart from his acquisition of Sinope, largely a failure he was defeated in 179 by a coalition of his neighbors in Asia Minor (Polybius 25.2). However, his policies perhaps pointed the way for his grandson Mithridates Eupator. Having gained control of almost the entire circuit of the Black Sea, Eupator spent the last thirty years of his life engaged in a bitter struggle with Rome. He could never quite match Rome&rsquos military power, and with his defeat and death the kingdom of Pontus came to an end as an independent political entity.

J. G. C. Anderson, Studia Pontica I. A journey of exploration in Pontus, Brussels, 1903.

J. G. C. Anderson, F. Cumont, H. Grégoire, Studia Pontica III. Recueil des inscriptions grecqus et latines du Pont et de l&rsquoArménie, Brussels, 1910.

A. B. Bosworth, P. V. Wheatley, &ldquoThe origins of the Pontic house,&rdquo Journal of Hellenic Studies 118, 1998, pp. 155-64.

L. Ballasteros Pastor, Mitrídates Eupátor, rey del Ponto, Granada, 1996.

P. Briant, Histoire de l&rsquoempire perse de Cyrus à Alexandre, Paris, 1996.

F. Cumont, E. Cumont, Studia Pontica II. Voyage d&rsquoexploration archéologique dans le Pont at la Petite Arménie, Brussels, 1906.

B. C. McGing, The foreign policy of Mithridates VI Eupator king of Pontus, Leiden, 1986.

Idem, &ldquoOn the fringes. Culture and history in the kingdom of Pontus,&rdquo VDI 3 1998, no. 3, pp. 97-112 (in Russian).

Ed. Meyer, Geschichte des Königreichs Pontos, Leipzig, 1879.

S. Mitchell, &ldquoIn search of the Pontic community in antiquity,&rdquo in A. K., Bowman, H. M. Cotton, M. Goodman, S. Price, eds., Representations of empire. Rome and the Mediterranean world, Oxford, 2002, pp. 35-64.

E. Olshausen, &ldquoPontos,&rdquo in Pauly-Wissowa Suppl. 15, 1978, cols 396-442.

E. Olshausen and J. Biller, Untersuchungen zur historischer Geographie von Pontos unter den Mithridatiden, Wiesbaden, 1984.

T. Reinach, Mithridates Eupator. König von Pontos, Leipzig, 1895.

Mithridates V của Pontos

Mithridates V Euergetes (tiếng Hy Lạp: Μιθριδάτης ὁ εὐεργέτης, có nghĩa là "Mithridates người bảo trợ", trị vì khoảng năm 150-120 TCN.), [1] Vị vua thứ bảy của vương quốc Pontos, có lẽ là con trai của Pharnaces I, và cháu của Mithridates IV. Giai đoạn kế vị của ông là không chắc chắn. Ông tiếp tục các chính sách liên minh với người La Mã bắt đầu bởi người tiền nhiệm của ông. Ông đã hỗ trợ họ một số tàu thuyền và một lực lượng nhỏ phụ trợ trong Chiến tranh Punic lần thứ ba (149-146 TCN) và một thời gian sau đó là sự trợ giúp hữu ích trong cuộc chiến chống lại Aristonicus (131-129 TCN). [2] Nhờ những hành động này của mình, ông được chấp chính quan Manius Aquillius ban thưởng cho vùng đất Phrygia. Tuy nhiên hành động này của vị chấp chính quan đã không được viện nguyên lão chấp nhận vì việc nhận hối lộ của ông ta. Nhưng vùng đất này vẫn thuộc về Mithridates cho tới khi ông mất. [3] Ông còn tăng cường sức mạnh cho vương quốc của mình bằng việc gả con gái của mình Laodice cho vua Cappadocia,Ariarathes VI.Thời điểm kết thúc triều đại của ông chỉ có thể xác định được nhờ sự kế vị của con trai ông. Việc này được ấn định vào năm 120 TCN là năm kết thúc triều đại của Mithridates.

Mithridates V bị ám sát trong khoảng năm 120 trước Công nguyên ở Sinope, ông bị đầu độc bởi những người lạ mặt tại một bữa tiệc xa hoa mà ông đã tổ chức [4] . Mithridates V còn là một ân nhân lớn đối với nền văn hóa Hy Lạp dựa trên những tiền đúc và chữ khắc kính cẩn nói về đóng góp của ông ở Athens và Delos. [1] Mithridates V được chôn trong ngôi mộ hoàng gia của tổ tiên mình tại Amasya.

Mithridates V kết hôn với công chúa Hy Lạp của đế chế Seleukos là Laodice VI, con gái của Antiochus IV Epiphanes và Laodice IV. [5] [6] Mithridates V và VI Laodice có họ hàng với nhau vì ông có nguồn gốc từ triều đại Seleukos.

Laodice sinh cho Mithridates V bảy người con là: Laodice của Cappadocia, Mithridates VI của Pontus, Mithridates Chrestus, Laodice, Nysa (đôi khi được viết là Nyssa), Roxana và Statira. Nysa, Roxana và Statira đã bị xử tử sau khi Vương quốc Pontus sụp đổ trong năm 63 TCN.


Now we know where William Goldman got the idea for the "iocaine powder" in "The Princess Bride!"

This meme is correct. Mithridates VI was the king of Pontus and Armenia Minor in northern Anatolia from about 120–63 BC. He did indeed build up a tolerance to poison, only to attempt to kill himself with poison and fail. To this day, antidote drugs and the practice of building an immunity to certain poisons are called Mithridatic drugs.

Sulla the Dictator

Sulla took control of Rome in late 82 and early 81 BC after victories in the civil war of his own making, and those of his chief legate Pompeius Magnus. With the army at his back, the Senate was forced to ignore the constitution and proclaim Sulla as Dictator of Rome for an indefinite period of time. The dictatorship, under constitutional law, was an office designed for extreme emergencies (generally military) with the intention of a 6 month term. Sulla not only butchered the constitution through various reforms he would make, but also focused his power on the leading members of the Roman ruling classes.

The new dictator introduced a judicial process called the proscription. Essentially this new concept was an open publication listing names of people he deemed to be undesirable. A reign of terror ensued with rewards offered for the death or capture of any name on the list. At first the proscriptions (including confiscation of property and not always involving physical harm) were mainly focused on Sulla's direct enemies and supporters, but eventually the death toll would reach epidemic proportions. In the first series alone, as many as 40 senators and 1,600 members of the equestrian class were murdered. Before long, in order to exact extreme control the list grew exponentially. There was simply no place to hide or run. People taking refuge in the temples were murdered others were lynched by the Roman mob. An intricate network of spies kept Sulla informed and at his whim, tracked down anyone who might be considered an enemy of the state.

One member of the proscription lists who managed to survive was Gaius Julius Caesar. The husband of Cinna's (Sulla' rival) daughter and the nephew of Gaius Marius, he was most assuredly a top candidate for death. He managed to escape Rome prior to capture, but a delegation of Caesar's supporters made an influence on Sulla. He allowed Caesar to live in exchange for divorcing his wife, but Caesar defiantly refused. Lucky to find himself alive at all, Sulla only confiscated his wife's dowry. Sulla apparently was reluctant to let the ambitious young man live, commenting that he saw "many Mariuses" in his nature. For reasons not completely clear, Sulla did let Caesar live though and his prediction was later proven quite true.

In the midst of instituting his own form of the constitution, Sulla's power grab did little to curb corruption. The payment of large bounties to bringing in 'disloyal' Romans, and confiscation of properties certainly enriched the treasury, but it also lined the pockets of many Sullan supporters. Among these were Marcus Crassus, who it was alleged, helped build his vast fortune through the proscriptions. Others, like the young orator Marcus Tullius Cicero made names for themselves in Sulla's courts. The cases were fast and furious, and Cicero began to groom himself as the world's foremost lawyer and politician during Sulla's dictatorship.

Taking control through murder and confiscation, Sulla next focused on the laws of the state. He began his reform of the constitution in order to bring power back the Senate and away from the Tribunes. Oddly enough, after killing so many members of the senate, he became its champion. The powers of the tribunes, including veto rights, were virtually abolished. New legislation could not even be introduced without the approval of the Senate. The roles of the Senate were doubled to 600, placing powerful equestrians in the empty seats. This was more important than it may seem at first glance. As senators were limited to restrictive business opportunities, equestrians filled the gap by running powerful business empires. By moving these equestrians into the Senate, and forcing similar restrictions on them, these leaders no longer found it practical to support the popular politics of the day (and largely in contrast to the conservative Senate group) that made their businesses more lucrative.

New entries into the Senate after Sulla's reforms were also required to serve in the traditional magistrate position of quaestor before admittance into the Senate. Forcing senators to have some experience along the political path (or cursus honorum) to begin their careers also helped quell incredible and sudden rises to power by young ambitious populares. Additionally, he quelled this danger by introducing a law requiring at least a two year gap between holding an office and being elected for the next higher one. Also from this point on, office holders would be required to hold successive offices in the Cursus Honorum before being elected to the next higher one. Tribunes were further penalized to prevent ambitious politicians from using the office as a political launching pad. As such, a law was passed that prevented any office holder of the Tribune of the Plebes from ever holding a higher political office in the mainstream Senatorial path (such as Consul).

The courts were also reformed, each court being assigned one of seven different types of cases. The seven types of cases were: murder and poisoning, forgery, electoral bribery, peculation (theft), assault, extortion and treason. The senate was also required to sit all cases and the equestrian class was excluded from judging cases, clearly putting the control of the courts back into the hands of the traditional familial oligarchy that was the Senate.

Sulla didn't quite abide by his own constitutional law (waiting ten years between major magistracies) when in 80 BC he forced through his own election as Consul (first was in 78 BC) and continued his policies of reform (including the settling of his veterans on confiscated lands). By the next year though, Sulla had either tired of the political life, or felt that he accomplished all that he could. In 79 BC he retired to a country villa with the intention of writing his memoirs. Before he left Rome however, Sulla confirmed long standing rumors about his own sexual behavior to a shocked audience. He announced that Metrobius, a famous actor, had been his lifetime lover. As he left Rome, he was accompanied by a large contingent of actors, dancers and prostitutes in a final act of disdain. His memoirs, which he would finish over the next year, while they have not survived, did prove a valuable resource to later Roman writers (Plutarch and Appian in particular). Sulla died shortly after, in 78 BC, opening the Roman political system to a new and even more dangerous wave of power grabs.

Butcher Boy

To cheat one&rsquos enemy of victory can be a victory in itself, at least when any hope of actually winning a war has disappeared. So it was with one of Rome&rsquos most flamboyant enemies, Mithridates VI Eupator, King of Pontus. He had cheated death for decades, at the hands of family, of ostensible friends, of many a declared enemy. Time and again he had checkmated Rome&rsquos most formidable generals, or at least those who were not too busy checkmating one another in their struggles for power and status at Rome. Finally, in 63 BCE, his luck ran out. Age had taken its toll. Nearly 70 years old, no longer the young Alexander of his coins and his portraits, Mithridates had long since lost his aura of invincibility. Stranded in the Crimea, the farthest corner of an empire that had once stretched from the Caucasus to mainland Greece, he was powerless: his treasuries were empty, his fortresses in enemy hands, his surviving son estranged and hostile. So he took poison, hoping it would kill him, and for the first time his years of caution and cunning served him ill. He had by now so accustomed himself to every toxin in nature&rsquos killing store that whatever it was that he now ingested failed to kill him. After watching two loyal daughters die by the poison draught that left him unharmed, he prevailed on his trusty slave Bituitus to kill him by the sword.

It had, in the end, been the Roman general Pompey who forced Mithridates to this final impasse, and it was Pompey who allowed the dead king&rsquos remains to be moved from the desolate backwater where he had died to Pontic Sinope, where he could be interred among his ancestors in the royal mausoleum. This was Pompeius Magnus in the full flow of his magnanimity, honouring a fallen enemy as enemies could be honoured once safely dead &ndash and as Caesar would one day honour him. Pompey now stood at the centre of the Roman political map, no longer the &lsquolittle butcher boy&rsquo he had been in youth. The general and dictator Sulla Felix, Mithridates&rsquo first real Roman equal, had coined that immortal term, &lsquoadulescentulus carnifex&rsquo, to describe the future Pompey the Great, and it is somehow fitting that Sulla and Pompey should bookend the career of Mithridates: the first had foreseen and tried to avert the fall of the Roman Republic the second, though Sulla&rsquos loyal protégé, so subverted his reforms in the pursuit of limitless glory as to ensure that the Republic would never be saved. Between them, Sulla&rsquos failure and Pompey&rsquos unprecedented conquests not only destroyed the Republic for ever, but also created a new world in which a king like Mithridates could not possibly have existed.

Things had been different in 120 BCE when Mithridates&rsquo father died: poisoned, it was thought, by his mother, who aspired to rule as regent for Mithridates&rsquo younger brother. The rightful heir, fearing for his life, fled into the wilds of the Pontic kingdom for a suspiciously mythic seven years (four years is far more likely, but our sources are bad), whence he emerged strong enough to challenge, imprison and eventually do away with his mother and brother. Mithridates&rsquo subjects had every reason to welcome him. It was recalled that a miraculous comet with a scimitar-shaped tail had been seen before his birth. That same comet, so it was rumoured, reappeared to announce his assumption of his inheritance. The Pontus that Mithridates took over was exceptionally rich in the minerals needed to forge good steel and in the timber from which ancient navies were built, but it had long been a kingdom between two worlds, its rulers facing both the Persian east and the Hellenised west. In the brutal aftermath of Alexander&rsquos conquests in Asia Minor, local dynasts who had once been subject to Persia were able to carve out kingdoms of their own and, at the start of the third century BCE, the first of six Pontic rulers to bear the name Mithridates had welded the Greek cities of the Black Sea coast to the Persian and Anatolian lands of the interior to create one of the most successful such mini-states.

Mithridates Eupator could likewise face in both directions, a cultured Greek on the one hand, with a fabricated ancestry stretching back to Alexander himself, and a Persian shah on the other, with a marginally more plausible claim to distant kinship with the great Cyrus and Darius. The whole of Mithridates&rsquo life was wrapped in a finely woven cloth of publicity and propaganda, and he attracted mythologising stories to himself like iron filings to a magnet. Yet the archaeological remains &ndash coins and statues, but larger buildings too &ndash disclose the care he took to maintain this dual image, while the men he counted as his closest supporters were a heterogeneous mix of Greeks, Persians and native Anatolians. The empire he created stretched beyond Pontus around the coasts of the Black Sea, taking both Greek cities and semi-barbarous Scythian chiefdoms into the royal protectorate. All that held such disparate places together &ndash apart from the wealth and the charisma of Mithridates himself &ndash was the fear of Rome&rsquos ever encroaching power.

From the beginning of the second century BCE at the very latest, it had become impossible for anyone to ignore the Romans and the exacerbating effect their interventions had on the customary pointless skirmishing of cities and monarchs from one end of the Greek world to the other. Two hundred years later, to be sure, the Roman empire of Augustus and his successors created the framework of peace, prosperity and public munificence that prompted the great renaissance of Hellenism, but that would come only at a very heavy price, after centuries in which Rome was simply the most dangerous predator in a predatory landscape. For the politicians and generals of the middle and late Republic, the world was a stage on which to enact prodigies of rapacity, violence and extortion, all in aid of electoral triumphs at home. One can hardly exaggerate the damage Roman generals could do, supporting one petty dynast against another, making and unmaking &lsquofriends of the Roman people&rsquo, sucking up money and treasure in bribes, indemnities, tribute and fines with little warning or excuse. In 129 BCE, Rome annexed as the province of Asia the former kingdom of Pergamon, left to the Republic in the will of the last native dynast. Roman businessmen, slave-traders and opportunists of every sort followed in the wake of Roman armies, and it may have been Rome&rsquos high-handed confiscation of part of the Pontic kingdom during the regency of Mithridates&rsquo mother that first set him implacably against the rise of the western hegemon. From the beginning, Mithridates could play the typical local dynast, but at the same time his far-flung annexations built up a base from which he might plausibly challenge Rome, not least by turning the Black Sea into a Pontic lake. Famously admonished by the Roman Gaius Marius either to be greater than Rome or to obey her, Mithridates alone of his contemporaries attempted the former path. Secret treaties, open annexations, clandestine poisonings and one very public murder (a battlefield parley, Mithridates himself wielding the sword that killed his rival), were his methods. As his ambitions edged him ever closer to the young Roman province, conflict was inevitable.

It took a decade to materialise, however, as Rome collapsed first into the misery of protracted warfare with its Italian allies and then, in direct consequence, civil war between Marius and Sulla. In the meantime, relying on his alliance with the king of Armenia, Mithridates became the most powerful ruler in the East, quite able to contemplate the prospect of an Asia without Romans. He could count on wide support, for grievances against Rome were in endless supply across the region, but it took a new Roman provocation to spark the touch-paper. As was their normal practice, and in a manner that some might see as foreshadowing more recent imperialist ventures in the Middle East, Rome charged back the costs of military ventures it undertook on behalf of allies. If those allies were too impoverished to pay, they were encouraged to raise the price of intervention from the lands of their neighbours. When, in 90 BCE, Roman allies invaded Pontic territory to just such an end, Mithridates demolished them on the battlefield, before marching his army out in a campaign of conquest that shattered four full Roman armies. The luckier of the captured Roman generals was granted ostentatious hospitality in Mithridates&rsquo entourage before being set free, humiliated the less fortunate was paraded on an ass in mock triumph before molten gold was poured down his throat, an unsubtle indictment of Roman greed.

With Pontic overseers or friendly locals installed in cities across Asia Minor, the king was now master of the whole peninsula. To illustrate that point, and to ensure that former Roman allies could never go back on their new allegiance to him, Mithridates ordered a massacre: 80,000 Romans and Italians &ndash every man, woman and child in the Asian cities &ndash were butchered in a single day, slaves who had betrayed their foreign masters were freed, and the peninsula liberated from its foreign oppressors, in a skilfully organised slaughter that evidently enjoyed the enthusiastic support of the local populace. Styling himself the champion of Asia and the liberator of the Greeks, Mithridates needed no encouragement when the anti-Roman faction at Athens invited him to free Greece from its Roman yoke. Rome was crippled by the costs of war in Italy and was rapidly descending into a new orgy of violence between the partisans of Marius and Sulla, so Mithridates expected little opposition. Almost none was forthcoming, and for some time the mutual hostility of Roman commanders prevented any of them from dealing effectively with their Pontic enemy. Not until Sulla successfully extricated himself from Italy did Mithridates find an opponent who could best him.

As it happened, Sulla never met Mithridates himself on the battlefield, and we can&rsquot know whether events might not have turned out quite differently had he done so. Instead, Sulla brought his squabbling subordinates to heel and overcame not just Mithridates&rsquo Greek allies, but even a handpicked invading force, sent from Pontus under Mithridates&rsquo most trusted general. By 85 BCE, the great king was forced to accept terms that returned the province of Asia to Rome and the neighbouring kingdoms to their evicted rulers. But his Black Sea empire was wholly intact and Pontus itself untouched, leaving Mithridates as the only foreign ruler of any stature to have challenged Rome so forcefully and emerged more or less unscathed. His Greek allies were not so lucky, Sulla showing the relish in exemplary punishment that Rome regularly meted out to the vanquished, and which he was shortly to import with terrifying ferocity into Rome&rsquos own civil wars.

While those wars ticked on endlessly in the far-flung corners of empire, Mithridates had time to rebuild his forces, and even to secure military advisers from Roman commanders at war with the central government, which allowed him to mimic legionary tactics very effectively thereafter. Knowing full well that the most powerful men in Rome had no desire to honour the settlement he had made with Sulla, he kept relatively quiet, husbanding his strength, until provoked by Rome&rsquos annexation of neighbouring Bithynia in 75. Thereafter, Mithridates was at war with Rome continuously until his suicide a decade later. For a time, diminished by defeat, he was forced to seek refuge in Armenia, but soon he confirmed his stature as Rome&rsquos most irrepressible enemy and returned to Pontus, where the Roman administration was thoroughly reviled. Raising more Pontic troops, and again proving himself a master of the pitched land battle, he routed yet another Roman army and retook Pontus one final time.

Open conflict among Roman commanders again played straight into his hands, but in Rome, Pompey&rsquos supporters were always on the lookout for new ways to augment their patron&rsquos glory. They now seized the opportunity to have the command against Mithridates transferred to Pompey, who might thereby continue a long history of winning credit for victory in wars largely fought by others. With rival generals dismissed, Pompey cornered Mithridates for the last time in 66. During a night battle in Armenia, Pompey&rsquos troops seized the high ground and the last great Pontic army of antiquity was shattered. Mithridates fled with a tiny remnant of his forces, deprived of his last strongholds and all his treasures. Crossing the Caucasus in winter, through tribal lands too dangerous for anyone but himself to cross with impunity, he arrived in the Crimea in the last year of his life. Having marched all the way round the Sea of Azov, he seized this last Pontic outpost from his elder son, planning to recapture his kingdom as he had done so many times before. He would no doubt have been welcomed back to Pontus by his subjects, but his own family were less forgiving of his failures and the Roman punishment they evoked. His younger son engineered a coup that left him with no choice but suicide, after more than five decades of rule. As A Shropshire Lad instructs us, &lsquoMithridates, he died old.&rsquo

He was as mesmerisingly charismatic in death as he had been in life. Only Hannibal occupied the same place in the Roman pantheon of heroic enemies. Adrienne Mayor&rsquos book is very good on the mythic accretions to the historical figure of Mithridates, and on the way that an ancient monarch might actively seek to live out mythologising narratives in order to remind friend and enemy alike of his connections to the legendary heroes of the past. The sources for Mithridates are numerous by the standards of the period, but continuous narratives are patchy, rendering whole years of the king&rsquos life empty or hopelessly obscure. What we have is contradictory, contaminated by ancient partis pris, and frequently no more than a series of tantalising fragments that allow speculation more than they do certainty. This material has been sorted magisterially twice before, by Théodore Reinach in 1890 and B.C. McGing in 1986, establishing the details of chronology and causation on which we all rely. To their painstaking deductions about Mithridates&rsquo career, ambitions and motives, Mayor adds a great deal of speculative reconstruction and picturesque background. Her book is, in fact, a palmary example of a new phenomenon in scholarly publishing, the avowedly imaginative reconstruction of a historical figure&rsquos life and world. The method is disarmingly simple: a scrap of authentic, but in itself unenlightening evidence becomes the peg on which to hang a speculative narrative, based on historical analogy, general knowledge of a period, and the kind of telling but general detail that puts flesh on the bones of the sources.

One example may stand for literally hundreds of others. The epitome history of Justin, which radically abbreviates a longer work by Pompeius Trogus, offers a single long sentence informing us that Mithridates so feared for his own life after his father&rsquos murder that he disappeared into the wilderness for seven years, during which time he and his companions trained themselves to withstand every danger with superhuman courage and endurance. On the basis of that one statement, Mayor spins out a 22-page chapter (called, inevitably, &lsquoThe Lost Boys&rsquo) with speculation, analogies from the childhoods of other Hellenistic and Persian princes, descriptions of Pontic cities and landscapes, and lurid descriptions of the countless local creatures, plants and minerals that can induce horrible deaths in humans. Mayor isn&rsquot wrong. Mithridates might very well have spent several years hunting, riding, playing with scorpions and experimenting with toxic bacteria but then he might not have done. We don&rsquot know. Thus while there are no real errors here, and the whole thing will serve as a DIY-guide to concocting poisons in the ancient mode, far more often than not we are offered an imaginative reconstruction that is just one of several possibilities, each as plausible as the next.

We are, in other words, in territory that properly belongs to historical fiction, a medium that can, in the hands of Henry Treece, say, and occasionally even those of a journeyman writer like Bernard Cornwell, achieve insight into character, motive, gesture and scene, without the restraints that the non-fiction framework imposes. There is a commercial logic to offering work of this kind in a high-profile scholarly package, rather than leaving it to sink into the vast, trackless mire of mid-list fiction, but one has to ask what doing so actually achieves. As scholarship, a book like this one is insufficiently novel to advance on the dry-as-dust monographs on which it is based, yet is simultaneously too constrained by the conventions of the discipline to open revelatory new prospects onto Mithridates and his world. Indeed, to get inside the mind of Mithridates one can still do worse than read a fictional reconstruction of his greatest enemy&rsquos memoirs: Peter Green&rsquos Sword of Pleasure inhabits Cornelius Sulla&rsquos patrician Roman mind in all its brilliant, terrible logic. In so doing, and freed from the academic trappings its author could just as easily have deployed, it tells us far more about what Mithridates faced, why his mere survival over so long a period was in itself a titanic achievement, and why, once he was dead, the Roman world would never tolerate his like again.