ARTAVASDES, Old Iranian male personal name, attested as Greek Artaouásdēs, Artabázēs, Artábazos, Artáozos, Latin Artavasdes, Artavazdes, Artabasdes, Artabazus, Elamite Ir-du-maš-da (cf. Armenian Artavazd), all reflecting an Old Persian *Ṛtavazdah- (nom. *Ṛtavazdā), the equivalent of the attested Avestan form Ašavazdah- “Powerful/persevering through truth (?)” (see recently M. Mayrhofer, Onomastica Persepolitana, Vienna, 1973, p. 167, no. 8.617; idem, Iranisches Personennamenbuch I/1, Vienna, 1977, especially p. 24 no. 43).

A notable bearer of this name was a king of Media Atropatene in the first century B.C. Born about 59 B.C. or earlier, he was a son of King Ariobarzanes I of Media (Monumentum Ancyranum, Oxford, 1923, sec. 33); in 39 B.C. his land was the first target of the unsuccessful Parthian campaign of Mark Antony, who had been advised by Artavasdes’ enemy, the homonymous King Artavazd I of Armenia (Dio Cassius 49.25.1). Artavasdes fought on the side of the Parthian king, Phraates IV, against the Romans, who devastated Media Atropatene and besieged (without success) her capital P(h)raaspa, but finally were compelled to withdraw (Dio Cassius 49.25f.; Strabo 11.13.3f.; Plutarch, Antony 37.3-40.7). After quarreling with Phraates, who had treated him haughtily, had given him too little booty, and was near depriving him of his dominion, Artavasdes soon offered his services to Antony, his former enemy, as an ally against the Parthians and Armenians (Plutarch, Antony 52.1-3; Dio Cassius 49.33.1f.). In 33 B.C. Artavasdes and Antony met on the Araxes river, on which occasion the king’s daughter Iotape and Antony’s (and Cleopatra’s) son Alexander, both still little children, were betrothed to one another (ibid., 49.40.2, 44.1f.; Plutarch, Antony 53. 12). It was settled that Artavasdes should receive the rule over part of Armenia and Antony should get back the banners previously lost by a detachment of his army. At first victorious with the aid of Antony’s troops, Artavasdes was overthrown by the Parthians about 31-30 B.C., after Antony had ordered back his soldiers before the battle at Actium (Dio Cassius 49.44.4). Finally he took refuge with Augustus, who received him amicably (Monumentum Ancyranum, sec. 32) and gave him back his daughter Iotape (Dio Cassius 51.16.2). That Artavasdes, the former king of Media, had been installed as king of Armenia Minor by Augustus, too, is inferred from Dio Cassius 54.9.2. He died shortly before 20 B.C. at the age of 39, apparently in Rome (see his epitaph, Corpus Inscriprionum Latinarum IV, part 1, Berlin, 1876, no. 1798).



D. Magie, Roman Rule in Asia Minor, Princeton, 1950.

U. Wilcken, “Artavasdes 2,” Pauly-Wissowa, II/l, 1985, cols. 1309-11.

(R. Schmitt)

Originally Published: December 15, 1986

Last Updated: August 15, 2011

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Vol. II, Fasc. 6, p. 653