ESR | Introduction

The Epitaph of Seraspadanes and Rhodaspes (ESR) was found at Rome, though the precise archaeological context is unknown. The text apparently marks the grave of two Parthian princes, members of the Arsacid royal family described as the sons of “Phraates Arsaces, the King of Kings.”

These are surely two out of the four sons of Phraates IV named by Strabo (16.1.28):

τέτταρας παῖδας γνησίους ἐνεχείρισεν ὅμηρα αὐτῷ, Σερασπαδάνην καὶ Ῥωδάσπην καὶ Φραάτην καὶ Βονώνην

“He [Phraates] put into his [Augustus’] hands four of his legitimate sons as hostages: Seraspadanes, Rhodaspes, Phraates, and Vonones.”

The literary sources inform us further about the lives of Vonones and Phraates, but this inscription is the only other evidence we have for their brothers Seraspadanes and Rhodaspes. It would appear that they lived out the rest of their lives at Rome. The name of the monument’s dedicator is not provided, but it may have been set up by the other Arsacids interned in the city during the early Principate.

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