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Tigranes I
Great King
Coin of the Artaxiad king Tigranes I.jpg
Coin of Tigranes I; on the observe - Tigranes I wearing an Armenian tiara, on the reverse - Zeus Nicephorus seated and resting his left hand on a scepter[1]
King of Armenia
Reign120 – 95 BC (disputed)
PredecessorArtavasdes I
SuccessorTigranes II the Great
Died95 BC
IssueTwo sons:
Tigranes II
FatherArtaxias I
MotherSatenik (?)

Tigranes I of Armenia (Armenian: Տիգրան Ա, Ancient Greek: Τιγράνης) was a King of Armenia at the end of 2nd and the beginning of 1st century BC. Few records have survived about his and his predecessor Artavasdes I's reign, which has led to some confusion.[2] Some modern scholars have doubted that such a king reigned at all.[3][4] Contrary to them other researchers, such as Manandian, Lang and Adalian consider him a real figure but differ or are uncertain on the exact dates of his reign.[5][6][7][8][9][10][11] Although it has been proposed that Tigranes I reigned from 123 BC to 96 BC,[10][12] this view has been criticized.[4] Another suggestion is that Tigranes I ruled in 120 BC - 95 BC and this has been recently corraborated by historian Christian Marek.[6][13]


The name Tigránēs (Τιγράνης) is the Greek form of Old Iranian Tigrāna (Armenian Տիգրան - Tigran).[14] The exact etymology is disputed but it is likely an Old Iranian patronymic formation of the suffix *-āna- and the name *Tigrā- (meaning "slender").[15][16]


Currently, Tigranes I is assumed to be the successor and brother of Artavasdes I (who died without an heir) and the son of Artaxias I.[17][5][18][2][9] Manandian, citing Strabo, mentions that Tigranes I put a strong resistance against the Parthians and successfully defended Armenia.[19][20] Armenian historian Movses Khorenatsi in his work mentions a Tiran, "son of Artaxias and brother of Artavasdes", who has been identified as Tigranes I.[5][21][22] According to Khorenatsi, after the death of Artaxias I and against his wishes, the priests of the Vahuni family moved the gold-plated copper statue of Heracles from Armavir to their own temple-complex in Ashtishat.[23][24] Once Tigranes I assumed the throne, he stripped Vahunis of priesthood and converted Ashtishat into a royal domain.[23][24]

After his death, Tigranes II, who was given as hostage to the Parthians by Artavasdes I, returned from his captivity in Parthia and assumed the throne.[25] According to Appian, Tigranes II was the son Tigranes I.[26] This view has also been supported by modern research.[5][18][2][27]

Barring the conflict with Parthians, the reign of Tigranes I has been described as generally peaceful and devoid of major external events.[28]

Near East in 100 BC, during Tigran I's reign. Armenia is shown in green
Near East in 100 BC, during Tigran I's reign. Armenia is shown in green


Several copper coins have been attributed to Tigranes I, which for the most part have survived in a very bad condition.[29][30] A unique feature of Tigranes I's coins is that on them he is facing left: this has helped in distinguishing his coins from that of his son Tigranes II.[31] This is also a deviation from all other coins of subsequent Artaxiads, on which the kings face right.[31] One possible explanation is that Tigranes I tried to emulate the Parthian custom, which was the result of a strong cultural and political alignment with the Parthian Empire at the time.[31] Whereas Tigranes II and his successors encouraged the hellenization of Armenia and depicted themselves after the Greek and Seleucid custom.[32] The reverse side of Tigranes I's coins depict different motives, including Zeus Nicephorus and Nike.[33] Generally, there are two types of Greek inscriptions on his coins: Of Great King Tigranes (ΒΑΣΙΛΕΩΣ ΜΕΓΑΛΟΥ ΤΙΓΡΑΝΟΥ) and Of Great King Tigranes Philhellene (ΒΑΣΙΛΕΩΣ ΜΕΓΑΛΟΥ ΤΙΓΡΑΝΟΥ ΦΙΛΕΛΛΗΝΟ).[33][34]


Tigranes I had four brothers: his predecessor Artavasdes I, Zariadres, Vruyr and Mazhan.[35] Although Alan princess Satenik has been shown to be Artaxias I's wife,[36] there is no concrete evidence that she was their mother.

Tigranes I had two sons, his successor Tigranes II (r. 95–55 BC) and Guras, who is mentioned by Plutarch as the governor of Nisibis.[37][38][39] Guras was later captured by Roman general Lucullus.[37] Judging by Roman author Lucian's Macrobii, Tigranes II was born to Tigranes I at c. 140 BC.[40][41]



Tigranes I
Preceded by
Artavasdes I
King of Armenia
120 BC – 95 BC
Succeeded by
Tigranes II
This page was last edited on 21 February 2021, at 03:37
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