Parthian Empire
Battle of the Cilician Gates
Romans fighting Parthians ©Angus McBride
39 BCE Jan 1

Battle of the Cilician Gates

Mersin, Akdeniz/Mersin, Turkey

Parthian forces made a number of raids into Roman territory after the defeat of the Roman army under Crassus at the Battle of Carrhae. The Romans under Gaius Cassius Longinus defended the border against these Parthian incursions successfully. However, in 40 BC a Parthian invasion force allied with rebel Roman forces who served under Quintus Labienus attacked the eastern Roman provinces, they enjoyed great success as Labienus took all of Asia Minor except for a few cities, while the young prince Pacorus I of Parthia took over Syria and the Hasmonean state in Judea. After these incidents Mark Antony gave command of the eastern Roman forces to his lieutenant, Publius Ventidius Bassus, a skilled military general who served under Julius Caesar. Ventidius landed unexpectedly on the coast of Asia Minor, which forced Labienus to fall back to Cilicia where he received additional Parthian reinforcements from Pacorus. After Labienus had regrouped with Pacorus’s additional forces, his and Ventidius’s armies met somewhere at the Taurus Mountains.

The Battle of the Cilician Gates in 39 BC was a decisive victory for the Roman general Publius Ventidius Bassus over the Parthian army and its Roman allies who served under Quintus Labienus in Asia Minor.