Artabanus IV of Parthia

Artabanus IV of Parthia

Artabanus IV of Parthia ruled the Parthian Empire from 216 to 224. He was the younger son of Vologases V of Parthia (191–208) who died in 208. Artabanus IV rebelled against his brother Vologases VI of Parthia (208–228), and soon gained the upper hand, although Vologases VI maintained himself in a part of Babylonia until about 228.

The Roman emperor Caracalla (211–217), wishing to make use of this civil war for a conquest of the East in imitation of his idol, Alexander the Great (336–323 BC), attacked the Parthians in 216. He crossed the Tigris, destroyed the towns and spoiled the tombs of Arbela, but when Artabanus IV advanced at the head of an army, he retired to Carrhae. There he was murdered by Martialis on April 8, 217. Caracalla's successor, the Praetorian Prefect of the Guard Macrinus (217–218), was defeated at Nisibis and concluded a peace with Artabanus IV, in which he gave up all the Roman conquests, restored the booty, and paid a heavy contribution to the Parthians.

At about this time, the Persian dynast Ardashir I (216–224) had already begun his conquests in Persia and Carmania. When Artabanus IV tried to subdue him his troops were defeated. The war lasted several years; at last Artabanus IV himself was vanquished and killed in 226. His brother Vologases VI's realm succumbed to Ardashir I a few years later. Thus the 400-year rule of the Arsacid Dynasty came to an end.


* Dio Cassius, vii, 12; lxxviii, 26.

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