The Parthian Aristocracy

Dąbrowa, Edward. 2013. The Parthian Aristocracy: its Social Position and Political Activity, Parthica 15, 2013 [2014], 53-62.

Without doubt, the aristocracy occupied an important place in the complicated political and cultural structure of the Parthian state. Sources reveal that the role of this group in its history was determined not only by its social, material or even political position, but also by the strength and authority of individual monarchs. The position of the aristocracy was also axected by external factors. From the moment that the East came into the orbit of Roman policy, political position of the aristocracy was strengthened considerably. The opportunity to attain Roman support for the realization of their own ambitions meant that within the aristocracy opposition to the ruler became more frequent, and certain groups began more ruthlessly to seek not only defense of the rights and privileges they had gained, but above all greater freedom of political actions. In the 1st century BC and the 1st century AD this approach led to a marked weakening in the position of the Arsacid state towards Rome in competition for inkuence in Anatolia, the Caucasus and Armenia as well as even Mesopotamia. Owing to the lack of later sources, we cannot say whether the political gains of the Parthian aristocracy were long lasting.