Third king of the Parthians. Evidently a very important king to the Arsacid dynasty, he was the grandson of Tiridates (who was the brother of Arsaces I, the first Parthian King). He was the father of three Parthian kings, Phraates I, Mithradates I, and Artabanus I, and likely the grandfather of four more. See the genealogy chart.
His name appeared on a Parthian ostracon of Nisa, dated 157 (91 B.C.), in the phrase "King Arsaces, grandson of Phriapatius, son of the nephew of Arsaces". In yet another smudged ostracon, it seems to say that the Arsaces in the year 180 (68-67 B.C.) was a descendent of Phriapatius.1 The reasons for the reverence given Phriapatius by later generations of Arsaces is not known, but he was clearly a very important king.
His rule occurred in the aftermath of the invasion by Antiochus III from whom Arsaces II fled. After the subsequent retreat of Antiochus III, the Parthians seemed to have turned their attention to the east against the Graeco-Bactrians. Phriapatius was succeeded by his son, Phraates I.
There are no known coins that can be attributed to Phriapatius. Sellwood2 concludes that this was probably due to the feudal relationship that existed with the Parthian's former overlords, the Seleucids, whose currency satisfied the commercial needs of the area. Recent research, however, indicates some coins may now be attributed to Phriapatius.
1. Frye, 209
2. Sellwood, 1980, p. 28
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The attributions and cataloging of Parthian coins used throughout this web site follow David Sellwood's An Introduction to the Coinage of Parthia (1980, 2nd edition) for consistency. The few exceptions to this policy are explained here.
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This page last updated 23 Feb 2021