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Mithridates I Kallinikos, King of the Kommagene

Male Abt 120 B.C. - Abt 0063 B.C.

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  • Name Mithridates I Kallinikos  
    Suffix King of the Kommagene 
    Born Abt 120 B.C. 
    Gender Male 
    Died Abt 0063 B.C. 
    • «b»«/b»

      Like many of the other small kingdoms of Asia Minor, Kommagene was a melting pot of people from east and west. They had different cultures, habits and spoke different tongues. They certainly did not feel united as one people. Family ties and bonds of blood were more important than belonging to the people of Kommagene.

      King Mithradates did a great deal to change this attitude. For example, he organised each year in Kommagene, Olympic Games in honour of the ancestors. Those games could virtually be compared with the Olympic Games of the Greeks.

      In his younger years, King Mithradates was one of the participants, which made him popular amongst the Kommagenians. His skills won him many victories. As a result of his sporting achievements, Mithradates received the honourable name Kallinikos. This means literally 'He who triumphs beautifully'.

      Mithradates married a Seleucid princess, named Laodike. ( *)They begot three daughters and after bearing their fourth daughter, they began to despair of ever having a son. This was very important, as without a son there was no heir to the throne, so the stability of the kingdom would be threatened.

      The joy and relief when Laodike bore a son was immense. He was given the name of the father of Laodike, Antiochos.

      Mithradates was in need of help, for Kommagene was surrounded by powers which outnumbered Kommagene many times. Therefore Mithradates concluded a treaty with the gods. We do not know whether these gods were real or imaginary. Obviously it helped to protect his small kingdom and keep it independent.

      Secondly this treaty softened the mutual discordance of his people. The population of Kommagene was a varied mixture of people, coming from different origins. They hardly felt that they were related to each other. However, by this treaty with the gods, there grew the feeling amongst them that they were a chosen people, favoured by the gods and under their protection.

      As a consequence of this, Mithradates could forge a link between the different population groups in his kingdom. To honour this treaty, Mithradates had built all over the country small sanctuaries, called temenos.

      The temenos of King Mithradates were built on top of striking points in the landscape. From there you could always see the most important of them all, the sanctuary on top of holy Mount Nemrud.

      Each of these sanctuaries consisted of five stone slabs, depicting King Mithradates shaking hands with one of the gods. Mithradates gave each of the five gods a Greek and a Persian name:
      Apollo / Mithras
      Artagnes / Herakles
      Zeus / Oromasdes
      Hera / Teleia
      Helios / Hermes

      The Greek and Persian names of the gods meant that each Kommagenian, whether he had Greek or Persian ancestors, felt close to them.

      These stone slabs were known as steles. By these steles, Mithradates made everyone aware that through him alone, all of his subjects were under the protection of the gods. These temenos had to bear testimony of his treaty with the gods.

      The 10th of Loos, the 14th of July was called the day of the "Manifestation of the Great Gods". It was also the day chosen for the coronation of Mithradates. Each year, on that particular day, all the citizens of Kommagene assembled at the small sanctuaries within reach of their village or town, to celebrate this occasion.

      King Mithradates gathered together the nobles and other important men of Kommagene on top of Mount Nemrud. There, in the presence of hundreds of Kommagenians, the king received the representatives of the Great Gods. For the people of Kommagene this was the annual confirmation of their treaty with the gods.

    Person ID I60576  Glenn Cook Family
    Last Modified 19 Jun 2013 

    Family Laodike Thea Philadelphos,   b. 119 B.C.,   d. Yes, date unknown 
     1. Antiochus I Theos, King of the Kommagene,   b. Abt 0095 B.C.,   d. Abt 0036 B.C.
     2. Isias Philostrogos,   b. 100 B.C.,   d. Yes, date unknown
     3. daughter of Mithradates I Kallinikos,   d. Yes, date unknown
    Last Modified 19 Jun 2013 
    Family ID F551617003  Group Sheet