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04-23-2011 09:31 PMLupinCHAPTER ONE
Parthia first appeared as a distinct political entity in the list of Achaemenid Persian lists of satrapies under their dominion. Prior to them, the local population were subjected to their predecessors, the Medes, and Assyrian texts dating back to the seventh century BCE mentions a countrynamed Partakka or Partukka. A year following the defeat of the Median king Itovigu by Kūru, known to the rest of the world as Cyrus the Great, the Parthians were one of the first to acknowledge Cyrus as their ruler, securing his eastern flanks and allowed him to complete his conquest of distant Bactria to the east, losing their independence in the proccess as they became Persian subjects. According to Greek sources, following the seize of the throne by Dārayavau, known as Darius the Great, the Parthians united with the Median king Fravarti. Vishtapa, also known as Hystaspes, the administrator of the satrapy and father to Darius, managed to suppress the uprising, which seemed to have dated to 522-521 BCE.
This is around the same time that the first indigneous mention of Parthia is made, in the Behistun inscription of Darius the Great, where Parthia is listed among the satrapies in Drangiana's vicinity. The inscription dates to circa 520 BCE. Hekatompylos was where the administrative capital of Parthia during the time of Darius. The Parthians also appear in Herodotus' list of peoples subject to the Achaemenids; the historiographer treats the Parthians, Chorasmians, Sogdians and Areioi as peoples of the sixteenth satrapy which supplied the king with three hundred talents of silver. Subsequently, however, when satrapies were made more numerous, it was detached from these extensive countries and made to form a distinct government, with the mere addition of the comparatively small district of Hyrkania. It formed, apparently, one of the most tractable and submissive of the Persian provinces. In the final struggle of Persia against Alexander, the Parthians were faithful to their masters.
At the battle of Gaugamela in 331 BCE between the forces of Darius III and those of Alexandros III Megas of Makedonia, also known as Alexander the Great, there was one Parthian unit commanded by Phrataphernes who was at the time the Achaemenid satrap of Parthia and Hykrania. He afterwards accompanied the king on his flight into Hyrkania, but soon surrendered voluntarily to the Makedonian king who received him and reinstated in his satrapy prior to the king's vengeful advance against Ví̱ssos, feeling that there was no need for the Parthians to continue supporting the Persian cause with Darius' death. He together with Erigyius and Caranus crushed the revolt of Satibarzanes in Ariana at 329 BCE; Phrataphernes was responsible for slaying the rebel after accepting his challenge for single combat and killing him .
He rejoined the king at Baktra, the following year. He, Erigyius, Caranus are all rewarded for their service though it would be Phrataphernes who was given the biggest reward: the Makedonian king's trust and three thousand colonists from the western provinces to help bolster the satrapy's defenses. In the following winter, during Alexandros' stay at Nautaca, he was dispatched to reduce the disobedient satrap of the Mardi and Tapuri, Autophradates, a service which he successfully performed, and brought the rebel a captive to the king, by whom he was subsequently put to death. He rejoined Alexandros in India, shortly after defeating Raja Parvateshwar of Paurava ; but seemed to have agained returned to Parthia, from whence we last hear of him sending his son Pharasmanes with a large train of camels and beats of burden, laden with provisions for the supply of the Makedonian army during the toilsome march through Gedrosia. He hear no more of him until after Alexandros' death in 323 BCE. In the Partition of Babloyn, he retained administration over Parthia but it is likely that he died previously to the second partition at Triparadisus as on that occassion it was bequeathed to Philip, who had previously been satrap of Sogdiana.
The attempt of Alexandros III Megas to unite the known world into a single empire might had been a success had he not died so prematurely to disease. His long term plans of fusion and amalgamation were just beginning to develop when his death came and the Diadochi  could not nor did not have the grandeur of conception or his powers of execution to keep the Argead Makedonian empire lasting. Instead they would cause his dream to collapse and the attempts on uniting and consolidating led to division and conflict.
In concerns to Parthia, the province was invaded by Peithon, governor of Media Major  and one of the eight Somatophylakes  of Alexandros III Megas, who then attempted to make his brother Eudamus satrap of Parthia. Peithon and Eudamus were eventually defeated and driven back and Parthia was handed over to Nikanor who ruled Media and the "upper satrapies" including Parthia before he too was ousted by Seleukos I Nikator. In 316 BCE, Stasander, a vassal to Seleukos I Nikator and satrap of Baktria, Ariana, and Margiana, was appointed to head Parthia. For the next six decades, the Seleukids would appoint various individuals to head the distant satrapy.
The struggle for power which broke out with Alexandros' death was brought to a close by the battle of Ipsus in 301 BCE. The period of fermentation was then concluded, and something like a settled condition of things brought about. A quadripartite division of Alexandros' dominions was recognized: each becoming thenceforth distinct political entities. Lysímachos' kingdom in Thrace and Asia Minor quickly disintergrated, the kingdom of Vithynía, Póntos and Kappadokía, and later on, Pergámou appeared in the Hellenistic world.
Of the four powers thus established, the most important, and that with which we are here especially concerned, was Arche Seleύkeia, founded by Seleukos I Nikator, one of Alexandros' officers but served without much distinction through the various campaigns by which the conquest of the East was effected. Seleukos' empire extended from Ioudaía and the Mesogeios on the west, to the Indós valley and the Bolor-Tagh mountain-chain upon the east, and from the Hykranian and Jaxartes towards the north, to the Persikós and Indikós towards the south.
It comprised Upper Syría, Mesopotamía, parts of Kappadokía kai ti̱ Frygía, Armenía, Assyría, Media ,Vavylo̱nía, Susiana, Persía, Karmanía , Sagartia, Hyrkania, Parthia, Baktria, Sogdianí̱ , Ariana , Zarangia , Arachosia, Sacastana, Gedro̱sías, and probably some part of Indía. Its entire area could not have been much less than one million two hundred thousand square miles and of these, some three hundred or four hundred thousand may have been desert though the remainder was fertile, made up some of the very most productive regions in the whole world. The Mesopotamían lowland, the Orónti̱ valley, the tract between the Hykranian and the mountains, the regions about Merv and Balkh, were among the richest in all of Asia and produced grain and fruits in incredible abundance. The rich pastures of Media and Armenía furnished excellent horses. Baktria gave an inexhaustible supply of camels. Elephants in large numbers were readily procurable from Indía. Gold, silver, copper, iron, lead, tin, were furnished by several of the provinces, and precious stones of various kinds abounded.
Antioch arose in extraordinary beauty and magnificence during the first few years that succeeded Ipsó and Seleukos in a short time made it his ordinary residence. The change weakened the ties which bound the Empire together, offended the bulk of the Asiatics, who saw their monarch withdraw from them into a remote region, and particularly loosened the grasp of the government on those more eastern districts which were at once furthest from the new metropolis and least assimilated to the Hellenic character. Among the causes which led to the disintegration of the Seleukids, there is none that deserves so well to be considered the main cause as this. It was calculated at once to produce the desire to revolt, and to render the reduction of revolted provinces difficult, if not impossible. The evil day, however, might have been indefinitely delayed had the Seleucid princes either established and maintained through their Empire a vigorous and effective administration, or abstained from entangling themselves in wars with their neighbors in the West, the Ptolemies and the princes of Asia Minor.
But the organization of the Empire was unsatisfactory. Instead of pursuing the system inaugurated by Alexander and seeking to weld the heterogeneous elements of which his kingdom was composed into a homogeneous whole, instead of at once conciliating and elevating the Asiatics by uniting them with the Macedonians and the Greeks, by promoting intermarriage and social intercourse between the two classes of his subjects, educating the Asiatics in Greek ideas and Greek schools, opening his court to them, promoting them to high employments, making them feel that they were as much valued and as well cared for as the people of the conquering race, the first Seleucus, and after him his successors, fell back upon the old simpler, ruder system, the system pursued before Alexander's time by the Persians, and before them perhaps by the Medesthe system most congenial to human laziness and human pridethat of governing a nation of slaves by means of a class of victorious aliens. Seleucus divided his empire into satrapies, seventy-two in number. He bestowed the office of satrap on none but Macedonians and Greeks. The standing army, by which he maintained his authority, was indeed composed in the main of Asiatics, disciplined after the Greek model; but it was officered entirely by men of Greek or Macedonian parentage. Nothing was done to keep up the self-respect of Asiatics, or to soften the unpleasantness that must always attach to being governed by foreigners. Even the superintendence over the satraps seems to have been insufficient. According to some writers, it was a gross outrage offered by a satrap to an Asiatic subject that stirred up the Parthians to their revolt. The story may not be true; but its currency shows of what conduct towards those under their government the satraps of the Seleucidae were thought, by such as lived near the time, to have been capable.
It would, perhaps, have been difficult for the Seleucid princes, even had they desired it, to pursue a policy of absolute abstention in the wars of their western neighbors. So long as they were resolute to maintain their footing on the right bank of the Euphrates, in Phrygia, Cappadocia, and upper Syria, they were of necessity mixed up with the quarrels of the west. Could they have been content to withdraw within the Euphrates, they might have remained for the most part clear of such entanglements; but even then there would have been occasions when they must have taken the field in self-defence. As it was, however, the idea of abstention seems never to have occurred to them. It was the fond dream of each "Successor" of Alexander that in his person might, perhaps, be one day united all the territories of the great Conqueror. Seleucus would have felt that he sacrificed his most cherished hopes if he had allowed the west to go its own way, and had contented himself with consolidating a great power in the regions east of the Euphrates.
And the policy of the founder of the house was followed by his successors. The three Seleucid sovereigns who reigned prior to the Parthian revolt were, one and all, engaged in frequent, if not continual, wars with the monarchs of Egypt and Asia Minor. The first Seleucus, by his claim to the sovereignty of Lower Syria, established a ground of constant contention with the Ptolemies; and though he did not prosecute the claim to the extent of actual hostility, yet in the reign of his son, Antiochus I., called Soter, the smothered quarrel broke out. Soter fomented the discontent of Cyrene with its subjection to Egypt, and made at least one expedition against Ptolemy Philadelphus in person (B.C. 264). His efforts did not meet with much success; but they were renewed by his son, Antiochus II., surnamed "the God", who warred with Philadelphus from B.C. 260 to B.C. 250, contending with him chiefly in Asia Minor. These wars were complicated with others. The first Antiochus aimed at adding the kingdom of Bithynia to his dominions, and attacked successively the Bythynian monarchs, Zipcetas and Nicomedes I. (B.C. 280-278). This aggression brought him into collision with the Gauls, whom Nicomedes called to his aid, and with whom Antiochus had several struggles, some successful and some disastrous. He also attacked Eumenes of Pergamus (B.C. 263), but was defeated in a pitched battle near Sardis. The second Antiochus was not engaged in so great a multiplicity of contests; but we hear of his taking a part in the internal affairs of Miletus, and expelling a certain Timachus, who had made himself tyrant of that city. There is also some ground for thinking that he had a standing quarrel with the king of Media Atropatene. Altogether it is evident that from B.C. 280 to B.C. 250 the Seleucid princes were incessantly occupied with wars in the west, in Asia Minor and in Syria Proper, wars which so constantly engaged them that they had neither time nor attention to spare for the affairs of the far east. So long as the Bactrian and Parthian satraps paid their tributes, and supplied the requisite quotas of troops for service in the western wars, the Antiochi were content. The satraps were left to manage affairs at their own discretion; and it is not surprising that the absence of a controlling hand led to various complications and disorders.
Moreover, the personal character of the second Antiochus must be taken into account. The vanity and impiety, which could accept the name of "Theus" for a service that fifty other Greeks had rendered to oppressed towns without regarding themselves as having done anything very remarkable, would alone indicate a weak and contemptible morale, and might justify us, did we know no more, in regarding the calamities of his reign as the fruit of his own unfitness to rule an empire. But there is sufficient evidence that he had other, and worse, vices. He was noted, even among Asiatic sovereigns, for luxury and debauchery; he neglected all state affairs in the pursuit of pleasure; his wives and male favorites were allowed to rule his kingdom at their will; and their most flagrant crimes were neither restrained nor punished. Such a character could have inspired neither respect nor fear. The satraps, to whom the conduct of their sovereign could not but become known, would be partly encouraged to follow the bad example, partly provoked by it to shake themselves free of so hateful and yet contemptible a master.
It was, probably, about the year B.C. 256, the fifth of the second Antiochus, when that prince, hard pressed by Philadelphus in the west, was also, perhaps, engaged in a war with the king of Atropatene in the north, that the standard of revolt was first actually raised in the eastern provinces, and a Syrian satrap ventured to declare himself an independent sovereign. This was Diodotus, satrap of Bactria a Greek, as his name shows. Suddenly assuming the state and style of king he issued coins stamped with his own name, and established himself without difficulty as sovereign over the large and flourishing province of Bactria, or the tract of fertile land about the upper and middle Oxus. This district had from a remote antiquity been one with special pretensions. The country was fertile, and much of it strong; the people were hardy and valiant; they were generally treated with exceptional favor by the Persian monarchs; and they seem to have had traditions which assigned them a pre-eminence among the Arian tribes at some indefinitely distant period. We may presume that they would gladly support the bold enterprise of their new monarch; they would feel their vanity flattered by the establishment of an independent Bactria, even though it were under Greek kings; and they would energetically second him in an enterprise which gratified their pride, while it held out to them hopes of a career of conquest, with its concomitants of plunder and glory. The settled quiet which they had enjoyed under the Achaemenide and the Seleucidae was probably not much to their taste; and they would gladly exchange so tame and dull a life for the pleasures of independence and the chances of empire.
It would seem that Antiochus, sunk in luxury at his capital, could not bring himself to make even an effort to check the spirit of rebellion, and recover his revolted subjects. Bactria was allowed to establish itself as an independent monarchy, without having to undergo the ordeal of a bloody struggle. Antiochus neither marched against Diodotus in person, nor sent a general to contend with him. The authority of Diodotus was confirmed and riveted on his subjects by an undisturbed reign of eighteen years before a Syrian army even showed itself in his neighborhood.
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