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Updated on October 9, 2011

Mithridates VI (also known as Mithridates the Great of Pontus) was born in Sinope, in about 132 B.C. The last of six kings of Pontus named Mithridates, he ruled his small kingdom on the south shore of the Black Sea from 120 B.C. until his death.

Mithridates VI was Rome's greatest rival for power in Asia Minor. In 88 B.C., Pontic armies overran Asia Minor and helped the Greeks revolt against Rome. Lucius Cornelius Sulla organized a Roman expeditionary force and compelled Mithridates to abandon his conquests in 84 B.C. Fighting was renewed briefly the next year, when a Roman governor tried to invade Pontus. He was defeated by Mithridates.

He early extended his rule southward in Asia Minor where he encountered Roman opposition in 88 B.C. and was defeated by Sulla in a war lasting four years.

In the first Mithradatic war (88-84 BC) he unsuccessfully attacked Roman colonies in Greece and Turkey, and by the Peace of Dardanus (84 BC) he accepted the boundaries of the Roman Empire.

Mithridates bested the Romans during another campaign in 83-81 B.C., but was then pursued by the Roman legions of Lucullus into Armenia where he was given refuge by Tigranes I.

The Third Mithridatic War began in 74 B.C., when Mithridates tried to prevent the Roman annexation of Bithynia. Roman legions, led by Lucullus, conquered not only Bithynia, but Pontus itself. Mithridates gathered reinforcements and, though wounded three times in battle, expelled the Roman garrison. Pompey destroyed the Pontic army in 66 B.C., and Mithridates fled to the Crimea. Deserted by his son and allies, Mithridates ordered a slave to kill him.

He succeeded in reconquering his kingdom by 67 B.C., but the following year Pompey routed his army. The king fled to Bosporus (the Crimea), where his troops mutinied under the leadership of his son Pharnaces, and Mithridates killed himself. He was considered by Rome its most formidable enemy. After his death, by suicide, he was invested with legendary glory.


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      Mary R Few 6 years ago

      There is a mistake in this entry. This Mithridates was the king of Pontus, not Parthia. There were also many other kings named Mithridates who ruled Parthia, but not this one.This mistake is important and could lead to great confusion. Better to have nothing than this article with this mistake.