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Updated:Sunday 12th October 2014

Surena Definition

The Surenas were outstanding families in the Parthian empire. The family remained influential in later times, having the right to crown the Parthian kings at the beginning of the third century CE. After the Parthian empire, when the Sassaniad started their rule, the Surena family continued to serve as royal commanders. This family was still recognizable in the ninth century.Surena may refer to either a noble family of Parthia also known as the House of Suren, or to a renowned 1st century B.C. General Surena who was a member of that family.- Sepahbod Surena was a great Iranian army commander.Surena was also a title of office, and it used to be the highest dignity in the kingdom, next to the Crown, Surena remains to be a popular name in Iran. It is also the name of streets, a robot made by Tehran University, and a version of Samand brand of cars produced by Iran Khodro. (Wikipedia) - Surena For other uses, see Surena (disambiguation). "Suren" redirects here. For the village in Iran, see Suren, Iran. For species of tree, see Toona sureni. Surena Born Died Allegiance Rank Battles/wars
84 BC Iran, Parthian Empire
53 BC (aged 31) Iran, Parthian Empire
Parthian Empire

Seleucid–Parthian wars

Battle of Carrhae

Surena, Suren, or Soren, also known as Rustaham Suren-Pahlav (84 BC – 53 BC) was a Parthian spahbed during the 1st century BC, he was a member of the House of Suren and was best known for defeating the Romans in the Battle of Carrhae.

''Surena'' -and its other variations such as ''Sorena'' and ''Soren''- remains popular as a name in Iran. ''Surena'' is the Greek and Latin form of Sûrên or Sūrēn. As ''Suren'', the name remains common in Armenia. ''Suren'' means "the heroic one, Avestan sūra (strong, exalted)."

  • 1 Context
  • 2 Portrayals of Surena
  • 3 See also
  • 4 Notes
  • 5 References
  • 6 Bibliography


General Surena was son of Arakhsh (Arash in Persian) and Massis.

In Life of Crassus 21, written c. 225 years after the commander''s time, Plutarch described Surena as "an extremely distinguished man. In wealth, birth, and in the honor paid to him, he ranked next after the king; in courage and ability he was the foremost Parthian of his time; and in stature and personal beauty he had no equal." Also according to Plutarch, there were "many slaves" in his army, suggesting the general had great wealth. Plutarch also described him as "the tallest and finest looking man himself, but the delicacy of his looks and effeminacy of his dress did not promise so much manhood as he really was master of; or his face was painted, and his hair parted after the fashion of the Medes."

In 54 BC, Surena commanded troops of Orodes II at the battle for the city of Seleucia. Surena distinguished himself in this battle for dynastic succession (Orodes II had previously been deposed by Mithridates III) and was instrumental in the reinstatement of Orodes upon the Arsacid throne.

In 53 BC, the Romans advanced on the western Parthian vassalaries. In response, Orodes II sent his cavalry units under Surena to combat them. The two armies subsequently met at the Battle of Carrhae (at Harrân in present-day Turkey), where the superior equipment and clever tactics of the Parthians to lure the Romans out into the middle of the desert enabled them to defeat the numerically superior Romans.

Although this feat of arms took a severe toll on the Roman troops (Plutarch speaks of 20,000 dead and 10,000 prisoners), and "produced a mighty echo amongst the peoples of the East," it did not cause "any decisive shift in the balance of power," that is, the Arsacid victory did not gain them territory. For Surena, "it soon cost him his life. Probably fearing that he would constitute a threat to himself, King Orodes II had him executed."

"In some ways, the position of in the historical tradition is curiously parallel to that of Rustam in the ." "Yet despite the predominance of Rustam in the epic tradition, it has never been possible to find him a convincingly historical niche."

Portrayals of Surena
  • The last composition of the 17th century French dramatist Pierre Corneille, a tragedy titled Suréna, is roughly based on the story of General Surena.
  • Surena appears as a minor character in The Catiline Conspiracy, the second volume of John Maddox Roberts'' SPQR series, taking place in 63 BC, several years before Carrhae. When Surena visits Rome as the head of a diplomatic mission from Phraates III, he meets the series'' protagonist Decius Metellus at a party. Decius privately dismisses the Parthian as an effeminate fop, but ruefully writes in hindsight how wrong that assessment was, after Surena''s generalship at Carrhae.

Tags:Armenia, Arsacid, Battle of Carrhae, Carrhae, Crassus, French, Greek, Iran, Iran Khodro, Iranian, Khodro, Life, Medes, Mithridates, Orodes, Parthia, Parthian, Parthian Empire, Persian, Phraates III, Roman, Rome, Rustam, Seleucia, Seleucid, Sepahbod, Sorena, Sourena, Suren, Surena, Tehran, Tehran University, Turkey, Wikipedia

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