PRILOPATOR, king of Bithynia, was the son of Nicomedes II., by his wife Nysa (Memnon, 100.30), though his enemy Mithridates VI. pretended that he was the son of a concubine, a female dancer (Just. 38.5.1
It was probably on this pretext that the latter set up against him his brother Socrates, surnamed the Good (ὁ Χρηστος
), whom he persuaded to assume the title of king and the name of Niconiedes, and invade the territories of his brother at the head of an army furnished him by Mithridates. Nicomedes was unable to cope with a competitor thus supported, and was quickly driven out of Bithynia; but lie now had recourse to the protection of the Roman senate, who, it seems, had already ackowledged his. title to the throne, and who now immediately issued a decree for his restoration, the execution of which was confided to L. Cassius and M'. Aquilius. To this Mithridates did not venture to offer any open opposition, and Nicomedes was quietly reseated on the throne of his father, B. C. 90 (Appian, App. Mith. 7
,10, 11, 13; Memnon, 100.30; Just. 38.3
; Liv. Epit.
But, not satisfied with this, the Roman deputies urged Nicomedes to make reprisals, by plundering excursions into the territories of Mithridates himself; and the king, however unwilling to provoke so powerful an adversary, was compelled to listen to their suggestions, in order to gratify the avarice of his Roman allies. Mithridates at first sent ambassadors to complain of these aggressions, but, as may be supposed, without effect. Thereupon lie assembled a large army, and prepared to invade Bithynia, B. C. 88. Nicomedes on his part gathered together a force of 50,000 foot and 6000 horse, with which he met the army of MIithridates under his generals Archelaus and Neoptolemus, at the river Amnius in Paphlagonia, but was totally defeated with great slaughter. The Roman officers, who had inconsiderately brought on this danger, without having a Roman army to support them, soon shared the same fate, and Nicomedes himself, after a vain attempt in conjunction with L. Cassius, to raise a fresh armny in Phrygia, abandoned the contest without farther struggle, and took refuge at Pergamus, from whence he soon after fled to Italy (Appian,. Mithr.
11-19; Memnon, 100.31; Just. 38.3
; Liv. Epit.
lxxvi.; Strab. xii. p.562
). Here he was compelled to be a passive spectator of the contest between his victorious adversary the Romans; but in B. C. 84 the restoration of Nicomedes was one of the conditions of the peace concluded between Sulla and Mithridates, and C. Curio was deputed by the Roman general to reinstate the Bithynian monarch in the possession of his kingdom (App. Mith. 60
; Plut. Sull. 22
; Memnon, 100.35; Liv. Epit.
lxxxiii.). Nicomedes reigned nearly ten years after this second restoration, but of the events of this period we know nothing, and it was probably one of peace and prosperity.
The only occasion on which his name is mentioned is in B. C. 81, when Caesar, then very young, was sent to him by the praetor M. Minucius Thermus, to obtain the assistance of the Bithynian fleet.
The young man was received with the greatest favour by Nicomedes; and the intercourse between them gave rise to the most injurious suspicions, which were never afterwards forgotten by the enemies of Caesar (Suet. Jul. 2
; Plut. Caes.
1). Nicomedes died at the beginning of the year B. C. 74, and having no children, by his will bequeathed his kingdom to the Roman people. Mithridates, however, set up an impostor, whom he pretended to be the legitimate son of Nicomedes, and whose claims to the throne he prepared to support by arms. For the events that followed see MITHIRIDATES. (Eutrop. 6.6
; Liv. Epit.
xciii.; App. Mith. 71
; Epist. Mithr. ad Arsac. ap. Sall. Hist.
iv. p. 239, ed. Gerlach.)
Great confusion has been made by many modern writers in regard to the later kings of Bithynia, and it has been frequently supposed that there were not three
kings of the name of Nicomedes.
It is, however, certain from Appian (App. Mith. 10
), that Nicomedes III., who was expelled by Mithridates, was the grandson of Prusias II.; nor is there any reasonable doubt that he was the same who bequeathed his kingdom to the Romans, and was consequently the last king of Bithynia.
A passage of Appian (App. Mith. 7
) which seems to assert the contrary, is certainly either erroneous or corrupt; and Syncellns (p. 276c.), who reckons eight
kings of Bithynia, beginning with Zipoetes, probably included Socrates, the brother of Nicomedes III., in his enumeration. (See on this subject Eckhel, vol. ii. pp. 444, 445; Visconti, Iconographie Grecque,
vol. ii. p.191; Orelli, Onomast. Tull.
p. 420; and Clinton, F. H.
vol. iii. p. 418-420.)
Nicomedes III., as well as his father, takes on his coins the title of Epiphanes. They can be distinguished only by the difference of physiognomy, and by the dates, which refer to an era commencing B. C. 288, during the reign of Zipoetes [ZIPOETES].