Polemon Pythodoros, also known as Polemon I or Polemon I of Pontus (Greek: Πολέμων Πυθόδωρος; fl. 1st century BC – died 8 BC) was the Roman Client King of Cilicia, Pontus, Colchis and the Bosporan Kingdom.
Life and career
Polemon was the son and heir of Zenon and possibly Tryphaena. He was Anatolian Greek. Polemon’s father, Zenon, was an orator and a prominent aristocrat from Laodicea on the Lycus Anatolia. Zenon encouraged the locals to resist the Roman General Quintus Labienus and King Pacorus I of Parthia, when their armies invaded Syria and Anatolia. Zenon was a friend and ally to Roman Triumvir Mark Antony and played a leading role during the Parthian invasion in 40 BC.
For Zenon’s service to the Parthian Campaign, Antony appointed Polemon in 39 BC, as Roman Client King of Cilicia replacing Darius, son of Pharnaces. In 37 BC after the death of King Arsaces of Pontus, Antony appointed him as Roman Client King of Pontus. In 36 BC, Polemon assisted Antony in his military campaign against Parthia. The Parthians defeated Antony and Polemon. Polemon was captured and taken prisoner by the Parthian King. After a ransom was allowed, Polemon was released. By this time, Polemon was ruling from Iconium (modern Konya) in Lycaonia.
In 35 BC, Polemon assisted Antony in making an alliance with Artavasdes I of Media Atropatene with Rome, whom the Median King was an ally to Parthia. Both Antony and Polemon, succeeded in this alliance to happen. During the naval Battle of Actium in 31 BC, Polemon had sent Antony an auxiliary force. Before Actium, Polemon made peace with the triumvir Octavian and became his ally. After the death of Antony, Octavian became the Roman emperor Augustus. Augustus early in his reign had acknowledged and recognised Polemon as a Roman Client King and the Client Kingdoms he ruled. Augustus awarded Polemon with an ivory sceptre; an embroidered triumphal robe and he greeted Polemon as king, ally and friend. This recognition was a tradition, which recognises and awards the allies to Rome.
As King of the Bosporan, he extended the Kingdom as far to the river Tanais. Polemon reigned as a long and prosperous king. In 8 BC, Polemon engaged in a military campaign against the Aspurgiani, a nomad tribe that lived above the mountains of Phanagoria. Polemon was defeated by them, taken as their prisoner and was put to death.
Marriage and succession
In 16 BC the Roman statesman Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa, had intervened with the monarchy of the Bosporan Kingdom. Agrippa had discovered, a usurper called Scribonius had pretended be to a relative of the ruling Queen Dynamis, widow of King Asander. Scribonius wanted to marry Dynamis, so he could rule the Bosporan, however Agrippa discovered his treachery and ordered his death. After Scribonius’ death, Agrippa asked Polemon to take Scribonius’ place.
After Polemon married Dynamis in 16 BC he left Iconium to rule the Bosporan Kingdom. Through Dynamis Polemon became stepfather to Tiberius Julius Aspurgus, her son from her first marriage. When Dynamis died in 14 BC Polemon became the sole ruler of the Bosporan.
Later in 14 BC, Polemon married Pythodorida of Pontus as his second wife. She was a noblewoman who was half Anatolian Greek and Roman, and was the first grandchild of Antony. Pythodorida bore Polemon two sons and one daughter:
- Zenon, also known as Zeno-Artaxias or Artaxias III, who became King of Armenia in 18 and reigned until his death in 35
- Marcus Antonius Polemon Pythodoros, also known as Polemon II of Pontus
- Antonia Tryphaena who married Cotys VIII King of Thrace
After Polemon's death, Aspurgus succeeded Polemon as King of the Bosporan, while Pythodorida, ruled as the sole ruler of Cilicia, Pontus and Colchis.