King Mithridates I Kallinikos

King Mithridates became king in 109 B.C. He married a Seleucid princess, named Laodike. The joy when Laodike bore a son was immense. This was very important, as without a son there would be no heir to the throne, so the stability of the kingdom would be threatened. He was given the name of the father of Laodike, Antiochos.

Like many of the other kingdoms of Asia Minor, Kommagene was a melting pot of people from east and west. They had different cultures, habits and spoke different tongues. They certainly did not feel united as one people. Family ties and bonds of blood were more important than belonging to the people of Kommagene. They hardly felt related to each other.

King Mithridates did a great deal to change this attitude. He organised each year in Kommagene, a kind of Olympic Games in honour of the ancestors. In his younger years, king Mithridates was one of the participants, which made him popular amongst the Kommagenians. His skills won him many victories. As a result of his sporting achievements, Mithridates received the honorable name Kallinikos. This means literally ‘He who triumphs beautifully’.