Tigranes the Great

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Rise to Power

The Decline of the Seleucid Empire

Antiochus VII marked the end of the strong Seleucid rulers, leaving only Syria within the shrinking empire’s grasp. Successors struggled to retain control, facing breakaways like Tyre and Sidon seeking independence before Roman intervention. Damascus evolved into the Arab Ituraean kingdom Mithradates VI of Pontus. A significant influence during this period was Queen Cleopatra Theos, daughter of Egypt’s Ptolemy VI, legitimizing three Seleucid monarchs through marriage.

Constant Struggles for Succession

Following Cleopatra’s death in 121 B.C., succession disputes plagued the Seleucid Empire. Between 96 and 83 B.C., six contenders vied for the crown simultaneously, showcasing the empire’s internal strife.

Missed Opportunities for the Parthians

Despite contributing to the Seleucid downfall, the Parthians, hindered by Saka invasions and weak kings after Mithradates II, missed exploiting the final collapse. Tigranes, seizing the opportunity, asserted independence from Parthian overlordship, annexed Atropatene and northern Mesopotamia Borovets Bulgaria Tours, and adopted the title “King of Kings.”

Tigranes’ Westward Expansion

Moving west, Tigranes captured Cilicia and a significant portion of Syria in 83 B.C. The Syrians welcomed him, seeing an end to Seleucid conflicts. Antioch and Acre were left for the last Seleucid princes to maintain the appearance of kingship. For seventeen years, Armenia unexpectedly emerged as the dominant power in the Middle East.

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