Over two millennia ago, this Greek leader’s kingdom stretched from Europe to Asia. He was not Alexander the Great and his empire was much smaller. Yet he revived Greek democracy, freed slaves, inspired Mozart’s first opera but also mastered a massacre of Roman settlements in what is today western Turkey.
Controversial alike every other classical celebrity, Mirthradates the Great’s once vibrant story has nowadays deliberately disappeared largely due to, according to History Today, a genocide that took place two thousand years after the Greek king’s and his even more successful Armenian son-in-law Tigranes the Great’s times.
In the words of Adrienne Mayor:
Why was the once renowned Mithradates the Great so forgotten? Should we blame Shakespeare for neglecting to immortalise his struggle against Rome? Or fault Marxists for favouring Spartacus, the gladiator-rebel of Thrace instead of the King of Pontus?
It is not difficult to guess why memories of both Mithradates and Tigranes have been suppressed in Turkey, which still officially denies the 1915 Ottoman genocide of Armenians in Tigranes’ old kingdom and the deportation of Greeks from Pontus, Mithradates’ philhellenic realm.
The genocide of indigenous Anatolians (Armenians, Pontus Greeks, and Syriacs) during WWI is a timeless event. Its official Turkish denial in the 21st century is not a mere distortion of a hundred-year event, but unproductive cover-up of thousands of years of history that took place earlier.
The complete History Today article is available, upon registration, at http://www.historytoday.com/MainArticle.aspx?m=33743&amid=30295020.