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Laodice of Cappadocia

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Title: Laodice of Cappadocia  
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Subject: Classical Anatolia, Mithridates V of Pontus, Ariarathes VIII of Cappadocia, Nicomedes III of Bithynia, The Book of the City of Ladies
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Laodice of Cappadocia

Woodcut illustration of Berenice (or Laodice) of Cappadocia, wife of Ariarathes VI from an incunable German translation by Heinrich Steinhöwel of Giovanni Boccaccio's De mulieribus claris, printed by Johann Zainer at Ulm ca. 1474

Laodice of Cappadocia, also known as Laodice (Ancient Greek: Λαοδίκη Laodíkē; flourished 95 BC) was a Princess from the Kingdom of Pontus.


  • Early life 1
  • Queen consort 2
  • Regency 3
  • Later life 4
  • References 5
  • Sources 6

Early life

Laodice was a monarch of Persian and Greek Macedonian ancestry. She was the daughter; first born child of the Pontian Monarchs Laodice VI and Mithridates V Euergetes who reigned 150-120 BC.[1] Among her siblings, was King Mithridates VI Eupator Dionysius who reigned 120–63 BC. She was born and raised in the Kingdom of Pontus.

Between 130-126 BC, her paternal aunt the Pontian Princess; the Queen and Regent Nysa of Cappadocia had died. Nysa was the wife and later widower of the previous Cappadocian King Ariarathes V Eusebes Philopator.[2] Their son and youngest child Ariarathes VI Epiphanes Philopator, became sole ruler of Cappadocia.

Laodice’s father Mithridates V was aware of the turbulent political situation in Cappadocia, which ended in the death of his sister, Nysa.[3] In the mids 120’s BC, Mithridates V became interested in Cappadocia and wanted to expand Pontian foreign policy in the country.[4] Mithridates V decided to invade Cappadocia as a foreign country, in order control and overrun Cappadocia.[5]

Queen consort

Ariarathes VI, in order to beat off any Pontian invasion and to defeat his opponent, arranged with Mithridates V to marry Laodice.[6] There is a possibility that the invasion of Mithridates V was in fact friendly on behalf of Ariarathes VI to settle internal Cappadocian strife and help him to establish himself as a ruler. The marriage that occurred with Ariarathes VI and Laodice marked a cessation of hostilities between Cappadocia and Pontus.[7] Through this arranged marriage, Mithridates V was able to keep a close check on Ariarathes VI and thus through his daughter was able to control Cappadocia indirectly and Laodice could act presumably in her father’s interests.[8] Through marriage to her paternal cousin, Laodice became Queen of Cappadocia who wielded considerable power. Laodice bore Ariarathes VI one daughter and two sons: Nysa who married King Nicomedes III Euergetes of Bithynia; Ariarathes VII Philometor and Ariarathes VIII Epiphanes.

Mithridates V had died in 120 BC and her first brother Mithridates VI had succeeded their father as King of Pontus. Ten years later Laodice may have found it much harder to exert control over Ariarathes VI. There could be a possibility that the Pontian political influence in Cappadocian affairs may have declined, as Ariarathes VI became independent minded and began to assert himself. .[9]

A Greek nobleman called Gordius of Cappadocia was a member of the court of Laodice and Ariarathes VI, who was a good friend to Mithridates VI.[10] Laodice’s brother had continued the Pontian foreign policy in Cappadocia where their father had left off. Mithridates VI had plotted with Gordius to assassinate Ariarathes VI between 116 BC-111 BC. When Mithridates VI and Gordius successful assassinated Ariarathes VI, there is a possibility Laodice wasn’t involved in the murder of Ariarathes VI.


After the death of Ariarathes VI, Laodice became a powerful widow and monarch in Cappadocia who acted as a regent for her first young son Ariarathes VII.[11] Laodice’s former son-in-law and widower King Nicomedes III Euergetes, wanted to take advantage of the political situation in Cappadocia, so he without informing anyone suddenly invaded Cappadocia with his army as the Cappadocian throne was empty after the death of Ariarathes VI.[12]

When Nicomedes III invaded Cappadocia, Laodice decided to support him. In order to preserve Cappadocia, her sovereignty and the succession of her sons, Laodice married Nicomedes III and her life would have better opportunities with him.[13] Through her second marriage, she also became Queen of Bithynia. When Mithridates VI had heard about the Cappadocian invasion, he hurried with his army to help his sister, but instead helped Ariarathes VII.[14]

Later life

With the help of his maternal uncle Ariarathes VII, expelled his mother and her new husband back to Bithynia and was restored to his throne, which at this time was old enough to rule as King. At this time, Mithridates VI had plans of his own; to force Gordius back into the Cappadocian court in expelling his nephews from the throne in order to rule Cappadocia for himself which in the end failed. After the death of her second son in 95 BC, Laodice and Nicomedes III attempted to establish an impostor upon the Cappadocian throne as King, claiming he was her third son with Ariarathes VI. They travelled to Rome to bear witness for this person to state their claim, by their claim was rejected by the Roman Senate.[15]


  1. ^
  2. ^ Cartledge, Hellenistic constructs: essays in culture, history and historiography p.139
  3. ^ McGing, The foreign policy of Mithridates VI Eupator p.38
  4. ^ McGing, The foreign policy of Mithridates VI Eupator p.p.37-38, p.73
  5. ^ McGing, The foreign policy of Mithridates VI Eupator p.p.37-38
  6. ^ McGing, The foreign policy of Mithridates VI Eupator p.p.37-38
  7. ^ McGing, The foreign policy of Mithridates VI Eupator p.37
  8. ^ McGing, The foreign policy of Mithridates VI Eupator p.38
  9. ^ Mayor, The Poison King: the life and legend of Mithradates, Rome’s deadliest enemy p.129
  10. ^ Mayor, The Poison King: the life and legend of Mithradates, Rome’s deadliest enemy p.129
  11. ^ Mayor, The Poison King: the life and legend of Mithradates, Rome’s deadliest enemy p.129
  12. ^ McGing, The foreign policy of Mithridates VI Eupator p.74
  13. ^ McGing, The foreign policy of Mithridates VI Eupator p.75
  14. ^ McGing, The foreign policy of Mithridates VI Eupator p.74
  15. ^ Justin, Epitome of Pompeius Trogus


  • Valerius Maximus, Factorum at dictorum memorabilium libri IX.10, ext. 1
  • B.C. McGing, The foreign policy of Mithridates VI Eupator, King of Pontus, BRILL, 1986
  • P. Cartledge, P. Garnsey & E.S. Gruen, Hellenistic constructs: essays in culture, history and historiography, University of California Press, 1997
  • A. Mayor, The Poison King: the life and legend of Mithradates, Rome’s deadliest enemy, Princeton University Press, 2009
  • The Dynastic History of the Hellenistic Monarchies of Asia Minor According to Chronography of George Synkellos by Oleg L. Gabelko
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