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Son of Mithridates VI


Having failed to capture or kill Mithridates of Pontus, Lucullus lost credibility with the Senate and his troops. He was replaced by Pompey. He returned to Rome in 67 BC before the end of the third Mithridatic War. Image published in 1799 in Figures de l'histoire de la République Romaine.


Mithridates VI of Pontus reigned from 120-63 BC and positioned himself as a formidable opponent to Roman Rule in Asia Minor. The honor of leading the first war against Mithridates led to civil war between Marius and Sulla. During Sulla's rule as dictator in Rome, the Second Mithridatic War (83–81 BC) between Rome and Mithridates VI of Pontus ended leaving Mithridates room to extend his influence. Appian writes,

"Having no distractions, Mithridates now subdued Bosporus and appointed Machares, one of his sons, as their king." (Appian, Roman History, 12. The Mithridatic War, 67)

During Mithridates' third confrontation with Rome, Machares rebelled against his father and sought an alliance with Rome and Rome recognized Machares as ruler of the Bosporos. Livy notes that 70 BC,

"Machares, son of Mithridates and King of b.c. 70–68Bosporus, was given the status of friend by [Roman General] Lucius Lucullus." (Livy, Summaries, XCVIII)

And Plutarch includes a golden crown in the story:

"XXIV. But when Machares also, the son of Mithridates, who held the Bosporus, sent Lucullus a crown valued at a thousand pieces of gold, begging to be included in the list of Rome’s friends and allies, Lucullus decided at once that the first war was finished." (Plutarch, Lives, Lucullus XXIV)

As Mithridates lost ground and could no longer hold Pontus, he made his way toward the Bosporos. Machares committed suicide by poison circa 65 BC to avoid his father.


Mithridates sought to end the conflict with Rome and asked to hold onto the Bosporos, but Rome did not answer and he plotted a desperate attack on Rome. Another son Pharnaces, was enlisted by Mithridates troops to overthrow the king. In the end, Mithridates committed suicide in Pantikapaeum. Pharnaces was declared King in his place.


This coin are attributed by David MacDonald (in Coinage of the Kingdom of the Bosporos, 2005) to Machares as king or governor of the Bosporos circa 79-65 BC. (Note: a 1999 article written in 1999 by Ireland and Frolova questions whether these monograms are attributable to Machares: Ireland, S., & Frolova, N. (1999). Two hoards of Bosporan coins of the 1st century BC from the ancient settlement of Poljanka (Kerch). Hermathena, 166, 31–43. based on the number of monograms and links between coins of the Bosporos and coins of Pontus).

Cimmerian Bosporos, Unknown mint (possibly Pantikapaion), from the time of Mithridates VI Eupator, circa 79-65 BC, AE (Bronze, 26mm, 17.00g, 1 h), struck under Machares as governor (?). Obv: Head of youthful Dionysos to right, wearing ivy wreath and taenia

Rev: Bow in bow case; to left, monogram

Ref: HGC 7, 110. MacDonald 180/21. SNG BM Black Sea 946-8. SNG Stancomb 597

The monogram on this coin appears close #21 in MacDonald's table of 46 monograms from the Period of Machares as Governor. Also similar to this monogram from Krushkol.

The 46 monograms are interesting as they seem to represent variants of a smaller number of base monograms.


Dionysus on the obverse is associated with Mithridates VI as he was called "Eupator Dionysus".


This coin comes from the region that we today call Crimea:

Source: credit: Alyson Hurt/NPR

Image source used under GNU Free Documentation license and retrieved via the Wikimedia Commons (modified)




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