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Arsaces Xv. or Phraates IV.

PHRAATES IV., who is described as the most wicked of the sons of Orodes, commenced his reign by murdering his father, his thirty brothers, and his own son, who was grown up, that there might be none of the royal family whom the Parthians could place upon the throne in his stead. In consequence of his cruelty many of the Parthian nobles tied to Antony (B. C. 37) and among the rest Monaeses, who was one of the most distinguished men in Parthia. At the instigation of Monaeses, Antony resolved to invade Parthia, and promised Monaeses the kingdom. Phraates, alarmed at this, induced Monaeses to return to him; but Antony notwithstanding persevered in his intention of invading Parthia. It was not, however, till late in the year (B. C. 36) that he commenced his march, as he was unable to tear himself away from Cleopatra. The expedition was a perfect failure; he was deceived by the Armenian king, Artavasdes, and was induced by him to invade Media, where he laid siege to Praaspi or Praata. His legate, Statianus, meantime was cut off with 10,000 Romans; and Antony, finding that he was unable to take the town, was at length obliged to raise the siege and retire from the country. In his retreat through Media and Armenia he lost a great number of men, and with great difficulty reached the Araxes with a part of his troops. (D. C. 49.23-31; Plut. Ant. cc. 37-51; Strab. xi. p.523, &c.; Liv. Epit. 130.)

The breaking out of the civil war soon afterwards between Antony and Octavianus compelled the former to give up his intention of again invading Parthia. He formed, however, an alliance with the king of Media against the Parthians, and gave to the former part of Armenia which had been recently conquered. But as soon as Antony had withdrawn his troops in order to oppose Octavianus, the Parthian king overran both Media and Armenia, and placed upon the Armenian throne Artaxias, the son of Artavasdes, whom Antony had deposed. (D. C. 49.44.) Meantime the cruelties of Phraates had produced a rebellion against him. He was driven out of the country, and Tiridates proclaimed king in his stead. Phraates, however, was soon restored by the Scythians, and Tiridates fled to Augustus, carvying with him the youngest son of Phraates. Hereupon Phraates sent an embassy to Rome to demand the restoration of his son and Tiridates. Augustus, however, refused to surrender the latter; but he sent back his son to Phraates, on condition of his surrendering the Roman standards and prisoners taken in the war with Crassus and Antony. They were not, however, given up till three years afterwards (B. C. 20), when the visit of Augustus to the east appears to have alarmed the Parthian king. Their restoration caused universal joy at Rome, and was celebrated not only by the poets, but by festivals, the erection of a triumphal arch and temple, and other monuments. Coins also were struck to commemorate the event, on one of which we find the inscription SIGNIS RECEPTIS. (D. C. 51.18, 53.33, 54.8 ; Justin, 42.5; Suet. Aug, 21; Hor. Ep. 1.18. 56, Carm. 4.15. 6; Ovid, Ov. Tr. 2.1. 228, Fast. 6.467, Ar. Am. 1.179, &c.; Propert. 2.10, 3.4, 3.5. 49, 4.6.79; Eckhel, vi. pp. 94-97.) Phraates also sent to Augustus as hostages his four sons, with their wives and children, who were carried to Rome. According to some accounts he delivered them up to Augustus, not through fear of the Roman power, but lest the Parthians should appoint any of them king in his stead, or according to others, through the influence of his Italian wife, Thennusa, by whom he had a fifth son, Phraataces. (Tac. Ann. 2.1; J. AJ 18.2.4; Strab. xvi. p.748.) In A. D. 2, Phraates took possession of Armenia, and expelled Artavasdes, who had been appointed king by Augustus, but was compelled soon after to give it up again. (D. C. 55.11; Vell. 2.101; Tac. Ann. 2.4.) He was shortly afterwards poisoned by his wife Thermusa, and his son Phraataces. (Joseph. l.c.) The coin given under Arsaces XIV. is assigned by most modern writers to this king.

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  • Cross-references from this page (4):
    • Flavius Josephus, Jewish Antiquities, 18.2.4
    • Tacitus, Annales, 2.1
    • Tacitus, Annales, 2.4
    • Ovid, Tristia, 2.1
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