Orontes I

Orontes I
Satrap of Sophene and Matiene

This is a gold coin held at the Bibliotheque Nationale, Paris, dated to 362 BC. It is therefore of Orontes the first and not the second as written on this picture.
Reign 401 BC344 BC
Coronation 401 BC
Full name Orontes (Aurand)
Died 344 BC
Place of death Ionia
Predecessor Artasyrus
Successor Darius III Codomannus
Wife Rodogoune
Offspring Orontes II
Royal House Armavir
Dynasty Orontid Dynasty
Father Artasyrus

Orontes I (Armenian: Երուանդ Ա, Yervand I) Armenian King of Orontid Dynasty reigning in the period between 401 BC344 BC. The Persian version of the name is Auruand which meant "Great Warrior" in the Avestan language. It is likely this was a special title given by the Persian king to a chosen Armenian man, though this seems to have become a hereditary title in that family.

According to the Greek sources (Herodotus, Strabo) Orontes was made Satrap of Sophene and Matiene (Mitanni),[1] these comprised western and eastern Armenia.

He was given these Satrapies after the Battle of Cunaxa in 401 BC for supporting Artaxerxes II against Cyrus the Younger. It is likely he ruled from Armavir as the previous the previous Satrap of Armenia, Hydarnes, had ruled from there. He also married Rodogoune, the daughter of king Artaxerxes II by one of his concubines. He is next recorded in 381 BC for the campaign to recapture Cyprus from its rebel leader, King Evagoras, commanding the army, whilst the navy was under the command of Tiribazus. They managed to lay siege to the city of Salamis, however Orontes then impeached Tiribazus to king Artaxerxes II. Before three Persian noble judges, Orontes was found guilty.

In 362 BC a great rebellion occurred in Anatolia, led by Datames, Satrap of Cappadocia. Some sources say that it was Orontes who was chosen by the rebels as their leader. However Orontes stayed loyal to king Artaxerxes II and aided in the collapse of the rebellion. Apparently he wanted to rule Anatolia and Armenia alone. He captured the city of Pergamon and sent bribe money to Athens, where a decree records his name for an alliance. He had enough funds to plot such things as he is recorded to have had a personal fortune of 3,000 talents of silver.

In 355 BC he rebelled against the new king of the Achaemenid Empire, Artaxerxes III. He still had possession of parts of western Anatolia, he fought a battle against the satrap of Daskyleion and minted his own coins in Ionia, such as the one displayed in the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris. He handed back Pergamon to the king and subsequently died.

The kings of the Kingdom of Commagene claimed descent from Orontes with Darius I of Persia as their ancestor, by his marriage to Rodogoune, daughter of Artaxerxes II who had a family descent from king Darius I. Some ancient Greek sources called Orontes a "Bactrian", though it was because his father, Artasyrus (Artaxerxes), had been the Satrap of Bactria in the reign of king Artaxerxes II.[citation needed]

It is interesting that during the Achaemenid Empire Bactria was ruled by the heir to the throne. It is possible that Artasyrus is the same person as king Artaxerxes II. This king had seven known children and eleven children whose names are not known in western historical records.

Xenophon's Anabasis mentions the region near the river Centrites was defended by the satrap of Armenia for Artaxerxes II, named Orontes son of Artasyras who had Armenian contingents. Xenophon mentioned that he had a son called Tigranes. His successor was was Codomannus (Darius III) and after Codomannus these Satrapies were ruled by Orontes II. Whether he was the same person as Tigranes but had adopted the name Orontes or that they were brothers is not known.


J. M. Cook [2] Richard G. Hovannisian [3]

  1. ^ Petrie, Flinders. Mitannian (Armenian) origin
  2. ^ The Persian Empire, 1993
  3. ^ The Armenian People from Ancient to Modern Times, 2 vols. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1997

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