Neoptolemus, Pontic General, flr. 89-85 B.C.

Neoptolemus was a Pontic admiral and general of the First Mithridatic War, responsible for early victories over the Romans and their allies, but who lost a key naval battle that effectively ended the war.

Before the First Mithridatic War Neoptolemus had gained experience in the Pontic campaigns on the northern shores of the Black Sea, taking part in campaigns to the west of the Crimea, possibly reaching as far west as the mouth of the Dniester (ancient Tyras), where a fortress was founded with his name. He also campaigned east of the Crimea, in the Sea of Azov, fighting two battles on the Palus Maeotis (the swamps at the mouth of the River Don), one a cavalry battle on the ice, and the second a naval battle on the same spot in the following summer).

In 89 BC, at the start of the First Mithridatic War, Neoptolemus and his brother Archelaus commanded the advance guard of Mithridates's main army, defeating Nicomedes IV of Bithynia at the battle of the River Amnias. Neoptolemus was then victorious over the Roman general M. Aquillius at Protopachium, forcing him to retreat to Pergamum. After these two victories Mithridates was able to extend his control over most of the Roman province of Asia, and carry the war into Greece.

Neoptolemus accompanied his brother to Greece. During Sulla's sieges of Athens and Piraeus Neoptolemus commanded the Pontic forces around Chalcis on Euboea, where he suffered a defeat at the hands of Sulla's lieutenant Munatius, losing 1,500 men.

We last hear of Neoptolemus in 85 BC, after Mithridates had been thrown out of Greece. He was then commander of the Pontic fleet guarding the Hellespont, where he suffered a final defeat at the hands of a Roman fleet led by Lucius Licinius Lucullus. With his fleet gone and two Roman armies converging on Asia Minor, Mithridates had no choice but to end the war on Sulla's terms.

How to cite this article: Rickard, J (11 December 2008), Neoptolemus, Pontic General, flr. 89-85 B.C. ,

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