Phraates I

Phraates I of Parthia

Phraates I of Parthia, son of Phriapatius (191 BC–171 BC), ruled the Parthian Empire from 176 BC to 171 BC. He subdued the Mardi, a mountainous tribe in the Elburz. He died young, and appointed as his successor not one of his sons, but his brother Mithridates I (171–138 BC).


In 171 BC, Phraates gathered troops and created a campaign. The campaign was planned many years ahead, when Phraates and his advisors found it important to invade the kingdoms and countries nearby. The motto of the campaign was Jegde dorte revyn sqetscius, which was a Latin battle-cry, especially used in the areas around Media. With that, he subjugated the Mardi, a mountainous tribe in Elburz, as well as the simindians, a nomadic people living South-East of Parthia. Afterwards, he left North with the rest of the campaign, that consisted of 1000 men, women and horses/donkeys. His campaign had problems with logistics, and was caught up during the autumn in 171 BC, just prior to what they had planned. Because of this, Phraates gained time to build war machines that he or others could use. He then chose to get rid of these because of the logistics problems. Hence Phraates planned to subjugate parts of Media, and especially the foundation wall of the Haron fortress, which was built on peak nearby. Before Phraates got there, the Scythians had allied with the rest of the Mardi, and surprised Phraates with an ambush around the walls of Media. Phraates got an arrow in his stomach, and died young, but just before his death, he didn’t appoint one of his sons, but his brother, a wise general, Mithridates I. Mithridates managed to escape from the ambush, and presumably made it back to Media in safety.


Phraates I’s son Phraates II was not appointed as a new autocratic king, presumably because of Phraates II’s immaturity, which wasn’t suitable as the country was struggling with famine. Later, Phraates II was appointed by his uncle Mithridates I, as the last named's successor. This brought the economy in Parthia into a recession, and every form of alcohol consumption was forbidden the later years. The appointment was nevertheless in accordance with Mithridates I’s vision of a king that would give the Parthian empire reinforcement. Particularly strong was the desire to conquer Media and the rest of the Haron fortress.



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