download PDF


The paper deals with the information of sources about sending by Parthian king Phraates IV of his sons to Rome at the end of the 1st century BC. It focuses on two issues related to the event. Firstly, as to Phraates’ motives, the ancient authors offer different explanations: the desire to cement friendship with Rome (in this way Augustus outlined his version of this case) or the threat from the heirs and desire to protect himself from this possible danger. The latter interpretation seems more convincing, because it is confi rmed by Strabo, Josephus and Tacitus, whose evidences are more reliable and less subjective than Augustus’ self-laudation and information of late authors (Suetonius, Justin, Orosius). Secondly, the status of the Parthian princes is defi ned in most sources as “hostages” and that can be considered with the widespread view of this concept in practice of Roman foreign policy. According to the author, the available sources of data suggest that Phraates send heirs away by his own will to resolve inner problems in selfdefense. Augustus used Parthian princes for his own reason and explained Phraates’ intention as desire to secure friendship with the Emperor. Thereby, this historical episode is signifi cant as an example of various perceptions of the same event by different sides: the fact, assessing by Parthian king as strengthening of his regime, was presented by Augustus as a symbol of Parthian recognition of Rome’s superiority.


Emperor Augustus, Phraates IV, Roman-Parthian relations

Alexsandr R. Panov. Lobachevsky State University of Nizhni Novgorod, Arzamas branch, Russia, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Allen, J. 2006: Hostages and Hostage-Taking in the Roman Empire. New York.

Bokshchanin, A.G. 1966: Parfi a i Rim 2. Moscow.

Braund, D.C. 1984: Rome and Friendly King: The Character of Client Kingship. L.

Corbishley, T. 1934: A Note on the Date of the Syrian Governorship of M. Titius. JRS 24, 43–49.

Dabrowa, E. 2013: The Parthian Aristocracy: its social position and political activity. Parthica, 53–62.

Debevoise, N.C. 1938: A Political History of Parthia. Chicago.

Drijvers, J.W. 1998: Strabo on Parthia and the Parthians. In: J. Wiesehöfer (Hrsg.), Das Partherreich und seine Zeugnisse. Stuttgart, 279–294.

Frye, R.N. 1983: The History of Ancient Iran. München.

Golovko, I.D. 1962: Parfi a i Rim vo vremya printsipata Avgusta. In: P.O. Karyshkovskiy (ed.), Materialy po arkheologii Severnogo Prichernomor’ya. Odessa, 121–132.

Gowing, A.M. 1990: Tacitus and the Client Kings. TAPA 120, 315–331.

Gratsianskaya, L.I. 1988: «Geografi ya» Strabona. Problemy istochnikovedeniya. In: A.P. Novosel’tsev (ed.), Drevneyshie gosudarstva na territorii SSSR. 1986. М., 6–175.

Gregoratti, L. 2012: Parthian Women in Flavius Josephus. In: М. Hirsghberger (Hrsg.), Jüdisch-hellenistische Literatur in ihrem interkulturellen Kontext. Frankfurt, 183–192.

Gruen, E.S. 1993: The Imperial Policy of Augustus. In: K.A. Raafl aub, M. Toher, G.W. Bowersock (eds), Between Republic and Empire: Interpretations of Augustus and His Principate. Berkeley– Los Angeles, 395–416.

Gruen, E.S. 1996: The expansion of the Empire under Augustus. In: А.K. Bowman, E. Champlin, A. Lintott (eds.), Cambridge Ancient History 10. Cambridge, 147–197.

Kashcheev, V.I. 1993: Ellinisticheskiy mir i Rim: Voyna, mir i diplomatiya v 220–146 godakh do n.e. М.

Lee, A.D. 1991: The Role of Hostages in Roman Diplomacy with Sasanian Persia. Historia: Zeitschrift für Alte Geschichte. Bd. 40. H. 3, 366–374.

Mal’kol’m, A.R. 2004: Parfyane. Moscow.

Mommsen, Th. 1865: Res gestae divi Augusti. Berolini.

Nedergaard, E. 1988: The Four Sons of Phraates IV in Rome. In: T. Fischer-Hansen (ed.), Acta Hyperborea. Vol. 1. East and West: Cul tural Relations in the Ancient World. Copenhagen, 102–115.

Nemirovskiy, A.I. 1995: Velley Patercul. In: A.I. Nemirovskiy (ed.), Malye rimskie istoriki. М., 223–266.

Nicolet, C. 1991: Space, Geography and Politics in the Early Roman Empire. Michigan.

Panov, A.R. 2008: Armyanskiy tsar’ Tiridat I: vzaimootnosheniya c Rimom i problemy oformleniya ego vlasti. Problemy istorii, fi lologii, kul’tury 21, 276–289.

Panov, A.R. 2015: Otpravka synovey Fraata IV v Rim: problemy datirovki. In: A.R. Panov (ed.), Politicheskaya zhizn’ Zapadnoy Evropy: antichnost’, srednie veka, novoe i noveyshee vremya. 10. Arzamas, 101–111.

Parfenov, V.N. 1997: Signis receptis, ili konets odnoy illyuzii. In: Т.V. Kochetkova, N.A. Demina, V.N. Parfenov (eds.), Аntichnyy mir i my 3. Saratov, 82–90.

Parfenov, V.N. 2001: Imperator Tsezar’ Avgust: Armiya. Voyna. Politika. Saint-Petersburg.

Rawlinson, R. 1893: The Story of Parthia. New York–L.

Romer, F.E. 1979: Gaius Caesar’s Military Diplomacy in the East. TAPA 109, 199–214.

Rose, Ch.B. 2005: The Parthians in Augustan Rome. American Journal of Archeology 109/1, 21–75.

Ross Taylor, L. 1936: M. Titius and the Syrian Command. JRS 26. Part 2, 161–173.

Schippmann, K. 1980: Grundzüge der parthischen Geschichte. Darmstadt.

Sherwin-White, A.N. 1983: Roman foreign policy in the East 168 B.C. to A.D. 1. Oklahoma.

Sommer, S. 2014: Pax Augusta – Roms imperialer Imperativ und das Axiom der Weltherrschaft. In: M. Horster, F. Schuller (Hrsg.), Augustus. Herrscher an der Zeitenwende. München, 144–155.

Southern, P. 1998: Augustus. L.