The Pontun Empire c. 129–110 BCE

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Map Code: Ax01957

Mithridates V, king of Pontus, was careful to be a loyal ally of the contemporary superpower, Rome, supporting its wars against Carthage and Pergamon, and was given Phrygia as a thank-you present (129 BCE) by the local Consul, Manius Aquilius. The gift was apparently considered over-generous; Aquilius was accused of abuse of office on his return to Rome. Mithridates’s respect for Hellenic culture and the support he gave the Hellenic cities of Asia Minor was warmly appreciated, earning him the sobriquet ‘the Benefactor’ for his generosity. Someone, probably his wife Laodice, was less appreciative: he was poisoned at a banquet in Sinope (120 BCE). Laodice became regent, and conspired to place her younger son on the throne. The rightful heir, Mithridates VI, outwitted her, and disposed of them both. He then embarked on a successful military career, annexing Colchis, and the Bosporan kingdom from the Scythians. He then divvied up Paphlagonia and Galatia with Bithynia. By 110 BCE, he was becoming perilously overmighty for a Roman neighbour.

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