PEOPLE OF THE ANCIENT WORLD: Mithridates VI (King of Pontus)
MITHRIDATES VI (120-63 BCE, also known as Mithradates, Mithradates Eupator Dionysius, Mithridates the Great) was the king of Pontus (modern-day northeastern Turkey) who was regarded by his people as their savior from the oppression of Rome and by the Romans as their most formidable – and hated – enemy since Hannibal Barca (247-183 BCE). Like Hannibal, Mithridates proved himself an unstoppable force, defeating Roman armies, manipulating neighboring governments, and even organizing a mass slaughter of Romans and Italians throughout Asia Minor to advance his cause in liberating the region from Roman control.
Mithridates declared himself an enemy of Rome early in his reign and fought three separate wars with the Romans – the so-called Mithridatic Wars – between 89-63 BCE. He eluded capture, made himself immune to poison by ingesting small doses to build up an immunity, and repeatedly won battles against Rome until he was defeated by Pompey the Great (c.70-48 BCE) after betrayal by his son Pharnaces who rose against him. Facing certain defeat and humiliation in a Roman triumph, Mithridates committed suicide.