A Dictionary of Greek and Roman biography and mythology

Smith, William

A Dictionary of Greek and Roman biography and mythology. William Smith, LLD, ed. 1890

2. The name of a dynasty of Armenian kings, who reigned over Armenia during the wars of the Romans with Mithridates the Great, king of Pontus,

and with the Parthians. The history of this dynasty is involved in great difficulties, as the Latin and Greek authors do not always agree with the Armenian historians, such as Moses Chorenensis, Faustus Byzantinus, and others. The Romans do not call the dynasty of the Armenian kings by the name of Arsacidae; they mention several kings of the name of Arsaces, and others descended from the Parthian dynasty of the Arsacidae, and they seem not to have known several kings mentioned by the Armenian historians. On the other hand, the Armenian writers know but one dynasty reigning in Armenia during that period, and they do not mention several kings spoken of by the Romans; or, if they mention their names, they do not consider them as kings. The consequence of this is, that every account based exclusively on Roman and Greek writers would be incomplete; they want to be compared with the Armenian historians, and thus only a satisfactory result can be obtained. Several attempts have been made to reconcile the different statements of the western and eastern historians, as the reader may see from the notes of the brothers Whiston and the works of Vaillant, Du Four de Longuerue, Richter, and especially St. Martin, which are cited below.

The expression "kings of Armenia" is in many instances vague, and leads to erroneous conclusions, especially with regard to the Arsacidae. The transactions of the Romans with Armenia will present much less difficulties if the student will remember that he has to do with kings in Armenia, and kings of Armenian origin reigning in countries beyond the limits of Armenia. The history of the Arsacidae cannot be well understood without a previous knowledge of the other dynasties before and after that of the Arsacidae; for Armenian kings were known to the Greeks long before the accession of the Arsacidae; and the annals of the Eastern empire mention many important transactions with kings of Armenia, belonging to those dynasties, which reigned in this country during a period of almost a thousand years after the fall of the Arsacidae. But as any detailed account would be out of place here, we can give only a short sketch.