Cambridge Ecce Romani Latin for the New Millennium Wheelock Disce Allen & Greenough None of the above

First Mithridatic War

89-85 BCE

Roman Republic/Bithynia vs. Kingdom of Pontus
Lucius Cornelius Sulla, Lucius Licinius Lucullus, Nicomedes IV v. Mithridates VI

Mithridates moved to seize Bithynia and Cappadocia in 90 BCE, and in doing so threatened the Roman states. Manius Aquilius, who had been sent to Bithynia to restore Nicomedes to the throne, attempted to move Mithridates to withdraw from these two countries. When he refused, Manius then pushed Nicomedes to invade Pontus. Armed with a reason to declare war, Mithridates re-invaded Cappadocia. Both Nicomedes and Manius failed to stop Mithridates, who soon moved into Asia. In 88 BC as his fleet sailed into the Aegean, he ordered that on a fixed day that all men, women, and children would be massacred. Some 80,000 Roman and Italian businessmen were executed in the province in an event called the Asiatic Vespers.

After securing his foothold in Asia, Mithridates then moved to invade Greece, whom he had promised freedom and promised to free from debts. In 87 BCE, Sulla landed with five legions, and he moved to corner Mithridates’ allies in Athens. His position, however, was vulnerable from the north, and Lucullus was sent to collect a fleet. In 86 BCE, Athens was taken and Piraeus fell soon after. Sulla successfully defeated the forces of Mithridates at the Battle of Chaeronea in 86 BCE and at the Battle of Orchomenus in 85 BCE. After the former battle, the invasion of Greece ended, and Sulla began to make peaces settlements with the Greeks.

Despite these victories, however, Cinna had been made consul. During which time, he named Sulla an enemy of the state. Cinna had also sent additional Roman forces against Mithridates. In 85 BCE, he met with Mithridates, and a treaty was reached. Mithridates had to surrender seventy ships, evacuate all territory that he had conquered in Asia Minor, and pay a heavy fine. Any states that had aided Mithridates lost their rights and independence that they had as previous allies of Rome. They also had to pay heavy taxes to Rome and were often subject to being plundered by Roman forces — and later by Roman merchants and businessmen, who took advantage of their poor fortunes.


Monmouth College