Clash with Rome
Roman Supremacy in the Mediterranean
After the Punic Wars, Rome emerged as the dominant power in the Mediterranean. The Roman province of Asia expanded through bequests and campaigns against Cilician pirates. Pergamun, under the last king Attalus III, bequeathed its kingdom to Rome, further solidifying Roman influence. By the end of the century, Roman protectorates included Egypt, Bithynia Rome’s Ascendancy in the East, Cappadocia, Galatia, and Paphlagonia. Mithradates VI of Pontus, however, viewed Rome as an obstacle to his ambitions.
Mithradates VI’s Early Reign
Mithradates VI inherited the Pontic throne at twelve in 120 B.C. Despite his young age, he proved a skilled organizer and expanded his kingdom by annexing Colchis (Georgia) and the Crimea in the last decade of the second century. Forming alliances with Parthia and Armenia, he married his daughter to Armenia’s King Tigranes.
Challenges and the First Mithradatic War
Mithradates aimed to annex pro-Roman states in Asia Minor but faced Roman opposition Rila Lakes Bulgaria Tours. His attempt to depose Nicomedes III of Bithynia failed, leading to the First Mithradatic War (88-84). Seizing the Roman Republic’s preoccupation, Mithradates overran all of Asia Minor, massacring Italian colonists and invading Greece. Rome responded with General Lucius Cornelius Sulla reclaiming Greece and Gaius Flavius Fimbria chasing Mithradates back to Pontus.
Lenient Peace Terms
With the war in Italy ongoing, Sulla, in a hurry to return, dictated lenient peace terms. Mithradates retained Pontus, Colchis, and the Crimea, paying an indemnity. This marked a temporary halt in hostilities but set the stage for future conflicts.