Nicome'des or Nicome'des Epiphanes
II., surnamed EPIPHANES, king of Bithynia, was son of Prusias II., and fourth in descent from the preceding.
He is first mentioned as accompanying his father to Rome in B. C. 167, where they were favourably received by the senate (Liv. 45.44
) At this time he must have been a mere child; but, as he grew up, the popularity of the young prince incurred the jealousy of Prusias, who, wishing to remove him out of the sight of the Bithynians, sent him to Rome as a kind of hostage. Here we find him in B. C. 155, supporting the ambassadors of Prusias, who were sent to defend that monarch against the complaints of Attalus II., king of Bithynia. (Plb. 32.26
.) Nicomedes remained at Rome till B. C. . 49, and had, during his residence there, risen to a high place in the favour of the senate; but this only served to increase the suspicions and enmity of Prusias, who at length despatched Menas to Rome with an embassy to the senate, but with secret instructions to effect the assassination of the prince. But Menas, on finding the favour which Nicomedes enjoyed at Rome, instead of executing his instructions, divulged them to the prince himself, and in conjunction with Andronicus, the ambassador of Attalus, urged him to dethrone his father, who had rendered himself by his vices the object of universal contempt and hatred. Nicomedes readily listened to their suggestions, and departing secretly from Rome landed in Epeirus, where he openly assumed the title of king, and proceeded to the court of Attalus, who received him with open arms, and prepared to support his pretensions with an army Prusias, abandoned by his subjects, took refuge in the citadel of Nicaea, from whence he wrote to Rome to solicit the intervention of the senate.
But, although three deputies were despatched by the Romans to investigate the matter, they ultimately retired without effecting anything.
The inhabitants of Nicomedeia, where Prusias. had sought protection, opened the gates of the city to Nicomedes, and the old king was assassinated at the altar of Jupiter, by the express order of his son, B. C. 149. (Appian. Mithr.
4-7; Just. 34.4
; Zonar. 9.28
; Liv. Epit. 1
.; Strab. xiii. p.624
; Diod. xxxii. Exc. Pilot. p. 523, Exc. Vat. p. 92.)
Nicomedes retained, during a period of no less than fifty-eight years, the crown which he had thus gained by parricide.
But of his long and tranquil reign very few events have been transmitted to us.
He appears to have uniformly courted the friendship of the Romans, whom he assisted in the war against Aristonicus, B. C. 131. (Strab. xiv. p.646
; Oros. 5.10
; Eutrop. 4.20
At a later period, B. C. 103, Marius applied to him for auxiliaries in the wav against the Cimbri, which he, however, refused on account of the exactions and oppressions exercised by the Roman farmers of the revenue upon his subjects. (Diod. xxxvi. Exc. Pilot. p. 531.)
But it is clear that Nicomedes was not wanting in ambition when an opportunity of aggrandizement presented itself, and we find him uniting with Mithridates VI. (apparently about B. C. 102) in the conquest of Paphlagonia, the throne of which had been left vacant by the death of Pylaemenes. The Roman senate, indeed, quickly ordered the two kings to restore their new acquisition, but Nicomedes merely transferred the crown to one of his own sons, who had taken the name of Pylaemenes, and whom lie pretended to regard as the rightful heir. (Just. 37.4
.) Not long after (about B. C. 96, see Clinton, vol. iii. p. 436), an opportunity seemed to offer itself of annexing Cappadocia also to his dominions, Laodice, the widow of Ariarathes VI., having thrown herself upon his protection in order to defend herself and her sons from the designs of Mithridates. Nicomedes (though he can hardly have been less than eighty years of age at this time) married Laodice, and established her in the possession of Cappadocia, from which, however, she was quickly again expelled by Mithridates.
After the death of her two sons [ARIARATHES] Nicomedes had the boldness to set up an impostor, whom he alleged to be a third son of Ariarathes VI., and even sent Laodice herself to Rome to bear witness in his favour.
The senate, however, rejected his claim, as well as that of Mithridates; and while they compelled the latter to abandon Cappadocia, in order to preserve an appearance of fairness, they deprived Nicomedes also of Paphlagonia. (Just. 38.1
This is the last event recorded of his reign; his death must have taken place in or before B. C. 91. (Id. ib. 3; Clinton, vol. iii. p. 419.)
There appears to be no foundation for the statement of some modern writers that he was murdered by his son, Socrates. (See Visconti, Iconogr. Grecrque.
vol. ii. p. 188.)