(redirected from Arsacid)
Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus.


(pär`thēə), ancient country of Asia, SE of the Caspian Sea. In its narrowest limits it consisted of a mountainous region intersected with fertile valleys, lying S of Hyrcania and corresponding roughly to the modern Iranian province of Khorasan. It was included in the Assyrian and Persian empires, the Macedonian empire of Alexander the Great, and the Syrian empire. The Parthians were famous horsemen and archers and may have been of Scythian stock.

In 250 B.C., led by ArsacesArsaces
, fl. 250 B.C., founder of the Parthian dynasty of the Arsacids, which ruled Persia from c.250 B.C. to A.D. 226. Arsaces led a successful revolt against Antiochus II of Syria, when Antiochus was engaged in war with Egypt and trying to put down a revolt in Bactria.
..... Click the link for more information.
, they freed themselves from the rule of the Seleucids and founded the Parthian empire. At its height, in the 1st cent. B.C., this empire extended from the Euphrates across Afghanistan to the Indus and from the Oxus (Amu Darya) to the Indian Ocean. Defeating Marcus Licinius Crassus in 53 B.C., the Parthians threatened Syria and Asia Minor, but they were turned back by Ventidius in 39–38 B.C.

Under TrajanTrajan
(Marcus Ulpius Trajanus) , c.A.D. 53–A.D. 117, Roman emperor (A.D. 98–A.D. 117). Born in Spain, he was the first non-Italian to become head of the empire. Trajan served in the East, in Germany, and in Spain. He was adopted in A.D.
..... Click the link for more information.
 the Romans advanced (A.D. 114–16) as far as the Persian Gulf, but they withdrew in the reign of HadrianHadrian
, A.D. 76–138, Roman emperor (117–138), b. Spain. His name in full was Publius Aelius Hadrianus. An orphan, he became the ward of Trajan. Hadrian distinguished himself as a commander (especially in Dacia) and as an administrator.
..... Click the link for more information.
 and were never again so successful against the Parthians. Then began the decline of the empire, which in A.D. 226 was conquered by Ardashir IArdashir I
[another form of Artaxerxes], d. 240, king of Persia (226?–240). He overthrew the last Parthian king, Artabanus IV, entered Ctesiphon, and reunited Persia out of the confusion of Seleucid decline.
..... Click the link for more information.
 (Artaxerxes), the founder of the Persian dynasty of the Sassanids. The chief Parthian cities were EcbatanaEcbatana
, capital of ancient Media, later the summer residence of Achaemenid and Parthian kings, beautifully situated at the foot of Mt. Elvend and NE of Behistun. In 549 B.C. it was captured by Cyrus the Great.
..... Click the link for more information.
, SeleuciaSeleucia
, ancient city of Mesopotamia, on the Tigris below modern Baghdad. Founded (c.312 B.C.) by Seleucus I, it soon replaced Babylon as the main center for east-west commerce through the valley.
..... Click the link for more information.
, CtesiphonCtesiphon
, ruined ancient city, 20 mi (32 km) SE of Baghdad, Iraq, on the left bank of the Tigris opposite Seleucia and at the mouth of the Diyala River. After 129 B.C. it was the winter residence of the Parthian kings. Ctesiphon grew rapidly and was of renowned splendor.
..... Click the link for more information.
, and Hecatompylos. Such expressions as "a Parthian shot" were suggested by the Parthian ruse in which mounted men used their arrows effectively while in simulated flight.


See N. C. Debevoise, A Political History of Parthia (1938, repr. 1970); P. B. Lozinski, The Original Homeland of the Parthians (1959); M. A. R. Colledge, The Parthians (1967).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2013, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.


a country in ancient Asia, southeast of the Caspian Sea, that expanded into a great empire dominating SW Asia in the 2nd century bc. It was destroyed by the Sassanids in the 3rd century ad
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
References in periodicals archive ?
Keywords: Hellenism; time reckoning; intercalary months; Gandhara; epigraphy; Arsacid calendar; Macedonian calendar; eras of Azes, Kaniska, Yavana.
Classicists exploring the Arsacid dynasty of Parthia and its interactions with neighboring states large and small focus here on interactions with Romans.
Parthika: Greek and Roman Authors' Views of the Arsacid Empire.
Established in the third century BC, the multi-cultural and multi-lingual Arsacid Empire was Rome's major opponent in the East from the first century BC to the third century AD, but oral teaching prevailed, and the Arsacids produced no historiography concerning perception, reception, and interpretation, so Greeks and Romans are the primary sources of information on the Parthians, Arsacids, and their Empire.
More importantly, it straddled the border between the Roman and Arsacid, later Sasanid, Empires, he says, and the modest oasis settlement grew into one of the major cities of antiquity largely because of its role in trade between the Indian Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea.
Nevertheless, the heterogram ZY (which I argue to be the origin of the Mandaic d and the ZY of the Psalter and Book Pahlavi scripts) does in fact occur in the Parthian inscriptions of the Arsacid period.
Holger Gzella's "Aramaic in the Parthian Period: The Arsacid Inscriptions" discusses the new Aramaic texts recently discovered in diverse places: Hatra and Assur, Elymais (north of the Persian Gulf), as well as traces of Aramaic in the Persian Gulf.
It was one of the first lands the Arsacid kings acquired.
So great was the influence of the following Arsacid dynasty that we have about as many Parthian words and stems in the Armenian language as we have those of unmediated Indo-European origin (Armenian was considered a curious Iranian dialect until 1876).
Section five discusses the evolution of the diagnostic and prognostic handbook, presenting transliterations, translations, and commentary for the legible portions of several previously unedited, noncanonical texts of SA.GIG type from various periods: the Old Babylonian TLB II 21; the Middle Babylonian PBS II/2 104; and the Arsacid BM 56605 (pp.
In general terms, his new interpretation of the "tower temple" and the "round temple" as buildings where the Arsacid ancestors were honored is convincing.