MITHRIDATES VI EUPATOR or Mithradates the Great (c.132-63 BC), King of Pontus (c. 120-63)
Pontus was in northern Anatolia (Asia Minor, modern Turkey). Mithradates was descended from a line of Persian rulers called Mithradates, who claimed descent from the great king Darius I of Persia. When he succeeded his father, Mithradates V Euergetes, in 120 BC, he was still a young child, and for a few years his mother ruled as regent. In about 115 BC, he deposed his mother and put her into prison.
He then sent expeditions to the Crimea, on the northern shore of the Black Sea, and to Colchis, on the eastern shore, capturing them both. To try to regain territories in Anatolia, lost of the death of his father, Mithradates negotiated, and later quarrelled with, Nicomedes IV of Bithynia. In around 95-90 B.C., he tried to remove Nicomedes from power, but was thwarted by the Romans, whose protégé Nicomedes was.
The Romans persuaded Nicomedes to attack the kingdom of Pontus, and Mithradates, after protesting to the Romans, declared war in 88 BC. This was the first great Mithradatic war against Rome. Nicomedes and the Roman armies were defeated and forced back to the coasts of the Propontis and the Aegean. The whole Roman province of Asia was lost. Most of the Greek cities in western Asia Minor allied themselves with the victorious Mithradates, as did much of Greece, including Athens. In 88 B.C. Mithradates ordered a great massacre of the Roman residents in Asia, during which 80,000 are said to have been killed. Eventually, Rome's best generals, Sulla in Greece and Fimbria in Asia, defeated the forces of Mithradates in several battles during 86 and 85. Mithradates resorted to intimidation against his Greek allies in an attempt to keep them on his side in the war, including fomenting revolution and freeing their slaves. But this did not prevent them from deserting him and in 85 B.C., he was forced to make peace with Sulla in the Treaty of Dardanus, surrendering his fleet, and paying a large indemnity.
The second Mithradatic war was started by the Romans, when, in 83 B.C., the Roman general Lucius Licinius Murena suddenly invaded Pontus without provocation. However, he was defeated in 82 B.C. In 74 the Third Mithradatic War broke out when Mithradates defeated Marius Aurelius Cotta, the Roman consul, at Chalcedon. Lucullus then defeated him outside Cyzicus which led him to take refuge in Armenia with his son-in-law Tigranes in 72 B.C. Although scoring two great victories at Tigranocerta (69) and Artaxata (68), Lucullus was forced into retreat when his troops mutinied. In 66 Lucullus was replaced by Pompey, who completely defeated both Mithradates and Tigranes. Mithradates retreated and in 64 BC established himself at Pantikapaion (Kerch) on the Cimmerian Bosporus, where he had previously installed his son, Pharnaces, as king. He planned a counter-attack on Rome but his followers, led by his son, revolted against him. Having failed to poison himself, Mithradates ordered one of his Gallic mercenaries to kill him. His body was sent to Pompey.