Pompeian–Parthian invasion of 40 BC

Pompeian–Parthian invasion of 40 BC
Part of the Roman-Parthian Wars and Antony's Parthian War
Date40–38 BC
ResultPompeian–Parthian defeat
Status quo ante bellum
Parthian Empire
Romans loyal to the Pompeian cause
Pro-Parthian Jews of Judea
Roman Republic
Pro-Roman Jews of Judea
Commanders and leaders
Orodes II
Pacorus I 
Quintus Labienus Executed
Antigonus II Mattathias Executed
Mark Antony
Lucius Decidius Saxa Executed
Lucius Munatius Plancus (withdrawing)[1]
Publius Ventidius Bassus
Pompaedius Silo
Hyrcanus II (POW)
Phasael (POW)
Estimated ~20,000 Parthian cavalry joined by unknown number of Romans (first invasion)Unknown

After the defeat of the Parthian-backed Pompeians in the Liberators' civil war by Mark Antony and Octavian, Orodes II sent a Parthian force under Prince Pacorus I and the Pompeian general Quintus Labienus in 40 BC to invade the eastern Roman territories while Antony was in Egypt. Roman soldiers in Syria, many of whom were former Republicans fighting in the last civil war, joined the force, and the Levant and much of Asia Minor were swiftly overrun by Pacorus I and Labienus, respectively. In 39 BC, Antony sent Ventidius, who defeated and executed Labienus in a counter-attack, and then drove Pacorus I out of the Levant. A second Parthian invasion of Syria by Pacorus I resulted in the latter's death and a decisive Parthian defeat. Antony later began a campaign with a massive force against Parthia, but he was defeated.


The Parthians had defeated and killed Marcus Licinius Crassus (a member of the First Triumvirate along with Julius Caesar and Pompey), at the Battle of Carrhae. They also had relations with Pompey, though never supported him militarily in the latter's conflict with Caesar. After Pompey's death, Caesar planned an invasion of Parthia, which was never implemented due to his assassination.[2]

In 42 BC, Parthian forces supported the "Liberators" (the leaders of Caesar's assassination) against the Caesarians under Mark Antony and Octavian in the Battle of Philippi in the Liberators' civil war. After the Liberators' defeat, in an attempt to resurrect the Pompeian cause, general Quintus Labienus, who had been sent to Parthia to ask for assistance in the last civil war, joined the Parthians, and the Parthian king Orodes II sent him together with his son Pacorus I to invade eastern Roman territories[3] while Mark Antony was in Egypt with Cleopatra.[2]

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