Pictorial History of Iranian Military Uniforms
Book in 23 Chapters
Chapter 9. Parthian 1
February 23, 2012
Parthian Golden Eagle with Open Wings Royal Emblem Belt Buckle
Arsacid Dynasty (238 BC - 224 AD)
Arsacid Parthian Azhidahak (Dragon) Standard Bearer Cavalryman
Arsacid Parthian Mitra Standard Bearer Cavalryman
Mitra is the Ancient Persian Sun Goddess
Arsacid Parthian Mitra the Sun Goddess Sun Emblem Standard Bearer Cavalryman
Arsacid Parthian White Horse Standard Bearer Cataphract
Mithradates II the Great with Lion Scalp Headgear 123 BC - 88 BC
Mithradates II the Great with Lion Scalp Headgear profile
Mithradates II was a great Shahanshah and a great historical character
Mithradates II : Ashk IX (Mithradates II : Arsaces IX)
Arsacid Shahs (Kings) had the title of "Ashk" (Arsaces). For example Arsaces was Ashk I and Tirdates I was Ashk II and so on…
The official format of referring to them or writing their names was in this manner:
1st Arsacid Shah:
Arsaces : Ashk I
2nd Arsacid Shah:
Tirdates I : Ashk II
9th Arsacid Shahanshah:
Mithradates II : Ashk IX
Mithradates II the Great Arsacid Parthian Shahanshah 123 BC - 88 BC
Throughout the history of Iran, only 9 Shahanshahs have the title of “Great”.
Mithradates II was one of the 9 Great Shahanshahs of Iran.
For more information about Mithradates II and the Arsacid Parthian Empire read:
8000 Years of Iranian History: Part 3
Atlas of Iran Maps: Chapter 4
Surena the great Parthian Cavalry General of the Suren Clan 1 BC
General Surena (84 BC - 52 BC) was a famous Parthian general who fought victoriously in various campaigns. Surena was a wealthy, tall, dark and handsome aristocrat from the Suren Clan which was one of the most famous Iranian Aristocratic Clans. Surena was an international playboy and a brave-heart. Surena was a well trained horse rider and a mighty fine shot as a horse archer. Surena was soft-spoken but fierce in battle.
Spahbod of Iran
Primarily Surena was a military commander of horse archers, next he shown worthiness and become a Baivarapatis (General) of the Parthian famous horse archers cavalry unit. Down the road he was promoted to Spahbod (Field Marshal) of the Iranian Troops. The most important factor was that Surena due to his character had placed himself in the heart and soul of the Iranian masses and military personnel. Surena had become one of the most popular Persian Patriots of all times.
Battle of Carrhae
Battle of Carrhae was one of General Surena’s famous battles. In this battle Surena fought the famous Roman General Marcus Licinius Crassus. Carrhae (Harran) is an ancient city north of Mesopotamia and south of today’s Turkey. Originally Artavasdes II King of Armenia lined up with Romans and betrayed Iran; therefore, he invited Crassus to use the Armenian soil to pass through and invade Iran. Crassus being a hot head who planned this invasion without the blessing of the Roman Senate, refused and rushed Iran directly through Mesopotamia. The grand battle occurred at Carrhae (Today’s Harran).
35,000 Roman Legionnaires, 5,000 Infantry and 4,000 Cavalry under the command of Crassus engaged with the Parthian defending force of 10,000 Famous Horse Archers and 1,000 Cataphracts under the command of Surena.
Parthian Hit and Run Tactic
Parthian famous Hit and Run Tactic developed by Parthians had eventually become a great military style in manuals used by various following Persian and none-Persian armies. Parthian Hit and Run was in this manner:
A Hit and Run Cavalry Unit would aggravate, harass and engage the large enemy force repeatedly and from various points until the enemy would get frustrated and launch an offensive. Afterwards, the Hit and Run Unit would retreat as fast as they could. Speedily the cavalry unit would retreat to an area with natural barriers surrounding an empty field, such as woods, jungle, mountain range, hills or bushes surrounding a prairie, field, desert land or valley. In this manner, once the large enemy force would chase the Parthian Hit and Run Unit in to this dead end trap, then the Parthian Horse Archers, Foot Archers, Mountaineer Slingers, Catapult Units and Spearmen would shower the enemy with deadly arrows, spears, rocks and rockets until totally crippled. Once the enemy would turn to a wounded and half beaten prey, then the Parthian Cavalry and swordsmen would rush them and finish the job. The results would have been a great number of casualties. In this manner a large number of enemy forces would be eliminated via a suffering death. Battalions after Battalions and Armies after Armies of Iranian enemies were completely eliminated and exterminated by drafting this Parthian Hit and Run Tactics.
Surena, Master of Parthian Hit and Run Tactic
Commanding General Surena was a master of this Hit and Run Tactic. Surena and his horse archers had used this tactic in various campaigns including Carrhae. The results were tens of thousands of Roman death, injured, escaped and captured legionnaires, soldiers and mercenaries. Surena and his troops would hurt the enemies so bad and humiliate them so extreme that they would dare to set foot in Iranian territories again! In various campaigns, Surena had hurt the Romans so severe that afterwards the Mercenary Forces refused to join the Roman Legions and Armies anymore. Surena had put the fear and shakes in to their bones. This fear was called “Wrath of Surena”.
Commander Surena and Arsacid Parthian Army
L – R: Parthian Cataphract, Commander General Surena, Mitra Standard Bearer
Surena the Legend
Surena’s vast popularity amongst the masses, respect amongst the troops, down to earth modesty, wealth, tall stature, great looks and power had finally put the fear in to Orodes II, the Parthian Shah. Orodes II reign (57 BC - 37 BC) had become extremely fearful and paranoid assuming that Surena could easily pull a coup, overthrow him and reign himself. Orodes II planned a plot to capture, arrest, jail and finally execute Surena. In jail, Surena used to state that:
“I have survived through all the campaigns fighting the enemies of the Persian Empire; how ironic it is that I shall die by the hands of my own people.”
This statement had made the jailers to bow their heads and look to the ground in shame and sorrow, but after all they had a duty to the king and they were only doing their jobs.
At last Orodes II had murdered this great legend. Orodes II was a weak coward under the great shadow of Surena. By destroying this Great Shadow, he had finally pulled himself out from underneath this shadow.
Surena’s crime was to bring security, glory, fame and fortune to Iran and Iranians. Surena was extremely popular with the military and the masses. After his death, Surena had become larger than life and his memory remained alive in the heart of Iranians. In life, Surena was the greatest of the Suren Clan, a remarkable military genius and a national hero. In death, Surena has become a Living Legend. Surena was the jewel of Parthia and Soul of Iran.
After Surena, Parthian Horse Archers have become legendary and globally famous. Surena was a great Persian Patriot. Pure Persian Pride indeed.
Parthian Horse Archers of General Surena Regiment 1 BC
Parthian Horse Archer of Suren Clan
Arsacid Parthian Foot Archers
Arsacid Parthian Median Foot Archers
Arsacid Parthian Slingers Regiment
Parthian Slingers were mighty accurate rock throwers shots!
Arsacid Parthian Sparabara in battle
Early Parthian Spearmen
Arsacid Persian Mountaineers Takabara with Two-Headed Axe Weapons
Arsacid Parthian Cavalry Officer
Arsacid Parthian Cavalry Archers Officer
Parthian Horse Archer in action
Arsacid Parthian Horse Archer
Arsacid Parthian Archer Cavalryman
Arsacid Parthian Horse Archers 1 BC
L – R: Arsacid Parthian Horse Archers 2 BC, 3 AD and 4 BC
Arsacid Parthian Cavalry Archers
Arsacid Saka Mercenary Horse Archers
Parthian Archers vs. Seleucid Archers
L – R: Seleucid Horse Archer battles 2 Parthian Horse Archers
Parthian Horse Archers in the heat of the battle
Arsacid Parthian Horse Archers charge on the Roman Legionnaires
Parthian Army vs. Roman Legionnaires
Parthian Cavalry Spearman is throwing a spear at a Roman Legionnaires
Arsacid Parthian Horse Archers Invasion 1 BC
Arsacid Parthian Light Cavalry
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