Tigran the Great, King

Tigran the Great, King

"[Tigran] made the Republic of Rome tremble before the prowess of his arms." - Cicero

Who he was

Born in 140 B.C., Tigran the Great (also known as Tigranes II) was the son of a ruler who was held hostage by a Parthian king until he was 45 years old. After granting the king “seventy valleys,” he was released and went on to tear the ancient world. Through deft alliances and sharp politicking, he accumulated power that he then used to conquer what became known as Greater Armenia. Lording over the vast landmass, stretching from the Caspian Sea to the Mediterranean, Tigran gave himself the title “King of Kings” and was known to not appear in public unless he was accompanied by four subject kings. 

His power led to increased attention from Rome, the most powerful empire at the time. After successive battles and the drama of lengthy warfare he was ultimately defeated by the great Roman leader, Pompey. Tigran nevertheless retained the respect of his Roman contemporaries and continued to rule Armenia until his death.

Interesting fact

Coins that bear a stamp of his likeness show a star on the crown upon Tigran’s head. The “star” is thought to be Halley’s Comet, which would have been visible to Tigran during his reign.

Learn more about him

Encyclopaedia Iranica