From the history of the treacherous invasions of Lucullus and Antony into Armenia

The top coin is of Tigranes II the great to demonstrate the famous Armenian Tiara which appears on the reverse of the bottom coin, a silver rare denarius of Mark Antony from Artemide Aste LV. 37 BC. Military mint traveling with Canidius Crassus in Armenia.

This reverse type refers to Antony’s alliance with Artavasdes II of Armenia during the unfortunate Parthian expedition. After the Parthians outflanked the main Roman army racing ahead to reach the Median capital, they attacked and destroyed the Roman supply and siege-train. The Armenian military escort abandoned their positions and returned home.

Mark Antony blamed Artavasdes for the failure of the campaign and vowed to get even. In the spring of 34 BC he organized a punitive raid and invaded Armenia, captured Artavasdes by treachery, and carried him off to parade him and his wife in a “victory” triumph at Alexandria.

The point of this post is that as I was reading this excellent book by Manadyan, he points out that the historical accounts by Plutarch on the events surrounding the Roman-Armenian war are completely biased, distorted and blatantly pro-Roman.

He claims that Lucullus led a treacherous invasion of Armenia against the father of Artavasdes, Tigranes the great, who had absolutely no intention of antagonizing the Romans in their fight against Mithridates. Both Mithridates and Tigranes had no intention of tangling with Rome.

Tigranes had dismantled his army thinking that all was well when Lucullus moved his Legions back to Western Asia Minor. In a surprise move, however, and almost a year later, WITHOUT the consent of the Roman senate, and for the sole purpose of personal glory and the riches of the Armenian treasury, Lucullus swing back across the continent, appeared on the horizon and invaded Armenia in 69 BC.

The same parallel fate befell Tigranes’ son, Artavasdes, 35 years later, when he was treacherously and again WITHOUT the consent of the Roman senate, taken prisoner by Mark Antony. Therefore we see that both of these infamous conflicts were not sanctioned by Rome and could have been avoided, if it were not for the unbridled whims and ambitions of rogue Roman generals.

Joseph Sarkissian

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