Tigranes the Great’s Army

Tigranes II had massed a large army in his quest to extend the borders of Armenia.

According to the author of Judith, his army included chariots and 12,000 cavalrymen, probably indicating heavy cavalry or cataphracts, commonly used by Seleucids and Parthians. He also had 120,000 infantrymen and 12,000 mounted archers, which were also an important feature of the Parthian army. Like the Seleucids, the bulk of Tigranes’ army were the foot soldiers. The Jewish historian Josephus talks of 500,000 men in total, including the camp followers. These latter were the camels, donkeys, and mules for the baggage; innumerable sheep, cattle, and goats for the food supply which was abundant for each man, and much gold and silver. As a result, the marching Armenian army was “a huge, irregular force, too many to count, like locusts or the dust of the earth”. It was thus not unlike the Eastern hordes. Regardless, the smaller Cappadocian, Graeco-Phoenician, and Nabatean armies were no match for the sheer number of soldiers. However, the organized Roman army with its legions posed a much greater challenge to the Armenians.

Note that the numbers given by Israelite historians of the time were probably exaggerated, considering the fact that the Hasmonean Jews lost the war against Tigranes.

Plutarch wrote that the Armenian archers could kill from 200 meters with their deadly accurate arrows. The Romans admired and respected the bravery and the warrior spirit of the Armenian Cavalry — the hardcore of Tigran’s Army. The Roman historian Sallustius Crispus wrote that the Armenian [Ayrudzi – lit. horsemen] Cavalry was “remarkable by the beauty of their horses and armor” Horses in Armenia, since ancient times were considered as the most important part and pride of the warrior.  
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