Erato – Queen of Greater Armenia

The last monarch of the great Artashesid dynasty, daughter of Tigran III, full-blood sister and wife of Tigran IV. Date of birth unknown. Date of death after 12 AD.

Erato was the second child in the family of Tigran III. She was born and raised in Rome (where her father lived and was in exile from 30-20 BC) and in Greater Armenia, during her father’s reign from 20 to 10 BC. Her father, Tigran III, died before 6 AD.

Erato married her full-blood brother, Tigran IV, who became the king of Armenia in 8 BC. She was his co-ruler on the Armenian throne.

Many coins have been preserved, symbolizing Tigran IV and Queen Erato. On these coins, Tigran IV bears the title “King of Kings”, which was also worn by his famous grandfather, Emperor Tigran the Great, and before him, the powerful monarchs of the Armenian kingdom Van-Ararat at the beginning of the first millennium BC.

This showed the strength of Greater Armenia at a time when both Rome and Parthia were competing with each other in attempts to conquer Armenia and take control of its territory in order to change the fragile balance of power. Roman historian Festus also confirmed this fact, noting that Greater Armenia was a very strong state during this period, even stronger than Parthia, which was an enemy of Rome.

In the second year, Tigran IV was killed while leading resistance against invading raiders from the north. After the ensuing chaos, Erato ruled for a short time, but resigned her duties in 2 AD and temporarily left the political scene.

The Romans appointed Artavazd III, who was in their captivity, as king, but managed to keep him on the throne for only four years. Ariobarzan and his son Artavazd III ruled Armenia from 2 to 6 AD.

In 6 AD, Artavazd III was killed. Tigran V ascended to the throne of Greater Armenia as the new king: he was related to the Artashesid dynasty, as his maternal grandmother was an Armenian princess who apparently was the daughter of Artavazd II and married the King of Cappadocia, Archelaus. Tigran V was accompanied to Armenia by his grandfather Archelaus of Cappadocia and future Roman Emperor Tiberius, where in the capital Artashat he was crowned. He became the sole ruler of Armenia.

But after some time, Queen Erato joined him, and their reign can also be traced through numismatic evidence. Erato and Tigran V were overthrown under unclear circumstances in 12 AD.

For two years after the overthrow of Queen Erato, the last monarch of the bright Artashesid dynasty, the country temporarily remained in a state of anarchy. With Erato’s departure, the reign of the Artashesid dynasty in Armenia ended.

by Alexander Bakulin

Translated by Vigen Avetisyan

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