When the suppression of the Cinnan revolution, which threatened the very existence of the senate, rendered it possible for the restored senatorial government to devote once more the requisite attention to the internal and external security of the empire, there emerged affairs enough, the settlement of which could not be postponed without injuring the most important interests and allowing present inconveniences to grow into future dangers. Apart from the very serious complications in Spain, it was absolutely necessary effectually to check the barbarians in Thrace and the regions of the Danube, whom Sulla on his march through Macedonia had only been able superficially to chastise,(1) and to regulate, by military intervention, the disorderly state of things along the northern frontier of the Greek peninsula; thoroughly to suppress the bands of pirates infesting the seas everywhere, but especially the eastern waters; and lastly to introduce better order into the unsettled relations of Asia Minor. The peace which Sulla had concluded in 670 with Mithradates, king of Pontus,(2) and of which the treaty with Murena in 673(3) was essentially a repetition, bore throughout the stamp of a provisional arrangement to meet the exigencies of the moment; and the relations of the Romans with Tigranes, king of Armenia, with whom they had de facto waged war, remained wholly untouched in this peace. Tigranes had with right regarded this as a tacit permission to bring the Roman possessions in Asia under his power. If these were not to be abandoned, it was necessary to come to terms amicably or by force with the new great-king of Asia.
In the preceding chapter we have described the movements in Italy and Spain connected with the proceedings of the democracy, and their subjugation by the senatorial government. In the present chapter we shall review the external government, as the authorities installed by Sulla conducted or failed to conduct it.
We still recognize the vigorous hand of Sulla in the energetic measures which, in the last period of his regency, the senate adopted almost simultaneously against the Sertorians, the Dalmatians and Thracians, and the Cilician pirates.
The expedition to the Graeco-Illyrian peninsula was designed partly to reduce to subjection or at least to tame the barbarous tribes who ranged over the whole interior from the Black Sea to the Adriatic, and of whom the Bessi (in the great Balkan) especially were, as it was then said, notorious as robbers even among a race of robbers; partly to destroy the corsairs in their haunts, especially along the Dalmatian coast. As usual, the attack took place simultaneously from Dalmatia and from Macedonia, in which province an army of five legions was assembled for the purpose. In Dalmatia the former praetor Gaius Cosconius held the command, marched through the country in all directions, and took by storm the fortress of Salona after a two years' siege. In Macedonia the proconsul Appius Claudius (676-678) first attempted along the Macedono-Thracian frontier to make himself master of the mountain districts on the left bank of the Karasu. On both sides the war was conducted with savage ferocity; the Thracians destroyed the townships which they took and massacred their captives, and the Romans returned like for like. But no results of importance were attained; the toilsome marches and the constant conflicts with the numerous and brave inhabitants of the mountains decimated the army to no purpose; the general himself sickened and died. His successor, Gaius Scribonius Curio (679-681), was induced by various obstacles, and particularly by a not inconsiderable military revolt, to desist from the difficult expedition against the Thracians, and to turn himself instead to the northern frontier of Macedonia, where he subdued the weaker Dardani (in Servia) and reached as far as the Danube. The brave and able Marcus Lucullus (682, 683) was the first who again advanced eastward, defeated the Bessi in their mountains, took their capital Uscudama (Adrianople), and compelled them to submit to the Roman supremacy. Sadalas king of the Odrysians, and the Greek towns on the east coast to the north and south of the Balkan chain—Istropolis, Tomi, Callatis, Odessus (near Varna), Mesembria, and others—became dependent on the Romans. Thrace, of which the Romans had hitherto held little more than the Attalic possessions on the Chersonese, now became a portion—though far from obedient—of the province of Macedonia.
But the predatory raids of the Thracians and Dardani, confined as they were to a small part of the empire, were far less injurious to the state and to individuals than the evil of piracy, which was continually spreading farther and acquiring more solid organization. The commerce of the whole Mediterranean was in its power. Italy could neither export its products nor import grain from the provinces; in the former the people were starving, in the latter the cultivation of the corn-fields ceased for want of a vent for the produce. No consignment of money, no traveller was longer safe: the public treasury suffered most serious losses; a great many Romans of standing were captured by the corsairs, and compelled to pay heavy sums for their ransom, if it was not even the pleasure of the pirates to execute on individuals the sentence of death, which in that case was seasoned with a savage humour. The merchants, and even the divisions of Roman troops destined for the east, began to postpone their voyages chiefly to the unfavourable season of the year, and to be less afraid of the winter storms than of the piratical vessels, which indeed even at this season did not wholly disappear from the sea. But severely as the closing of the sea was felt, it was more tolerable than the raids made on the islands and coasts of Greece and Asia Minor. Just as afterwards in the time of the Normans, piratical squadrons ran up to the maritime towns, and either compelled them to buy themselves off with large sums, or besieged and took them by storm. When Samothrace, Clazomenae, Samos, Iassus were pillaged by the pirates (670) under the eyes of Sulla after peace was concluded with Mithradates, we may conceive how matters went where neither a Roman army nor a Roman fleet was at hand. All the old rich temples along the coasts of Greece and Asia Minor were plundered one after another; from Samothrace alone a treasure of 1000 talents (240,000 pounds) is said to have been carried off. Apollo, according to a Roman poet of this period, was so impoverished by the pirates that, when the swallow paid him a visit, he could no longer produce to it out of all his treasures even a drachm of gold. More than four hundred townships were enumerated as having been taken or laid under contribution by the pirates, including cities like Cnidus, Samos, Colophon; from not a few places on islands or the coast, which were previously flourishing, the whole population migrated, that they might not be carried off by the pirates. Even inland districts were no longer safe from their attacks; there were instances of their assailing townships distant one or two days' march from the coast. The fearful debt, under which subsequently all the communities of the Greek east succumbed, proceeded in great part from these fatal times.
Organization of Piracy
Piracy had totally changed its character. The pirates were no longer bold freebooters, who levied their tribute from the large Italo-Oriental traffic in slaves and luxuries, as it passed through the Cretan waters between Cyrene and the Peloponnesus—in the language of the pirates the "golden sea"; no longer even armed slave-catchers, who prosecuted "war, trade, and piracy" equally side by side; they formed now a piratical state, with a peculiar esprit de corps, with a solid and very respectable organization, with a home of their own and the germs of a symmachy, and doubtless also with definite political designs. The pirates called themselves Cilicians; in fact their vessels were the rendezvous of desperadoes and adventurers from all countries—discharged mercenaries from the recruiting-grounds of Crete, burgesses from the destroyed townships of Italy, Spain, and Asia, soldiers and officers from the armies of Fimbria and Sertorius, in a word the ruined men of all nations, the hunted refugees of all vanquished parties, every one that was wretched and daring—and where was there not misery and outrage in this unhappy age? It was no longer a gang of robbers who had flocked together, but a compact soldier- state, in which the freemasonry of exile and crime took the place of nationality, and within which crime redeemed itself, as it so often does in its own eyes, by displaying the most generous public spirit. In an abandoned age, when cowardice and insubordination had relaxed all the bonds of social order, the legitimate commonwealths might have taken a pattern from this state—the mongrel offspring of distress and violence—within which alone the inviolable determination to stand side by side, the sense of comradeship, respect for the pledged word and the self-chosen chiefs, valour and adroitness seemed to have taken refuge. If the banner of this state was inscribed with vengeance against the civil society which, rightly or wrongly, had ejected its members, it might be a question whether this device was much worse than those of the Italian oligarchy and the Oriental sultanship which seemed in the fair way of dividing the world between them. The corsairs at least felt themselves on a level with any legitimate state; their robber-pride, their robber-pomp, and their robber-humour are attested by many a genuine pirate's tale of mad merriment and chivalrous bandittism: they professed, and made it their boast, to live at righteous war with all the world: what they gained in that warfare was designated not as plunder, but as military spoil; and, while the captured corsair was sure of the cross in every Roman seaport, they too claimed the right of executing any of their captives.
Its Military-Political Power
Their military-political organization, especially since the Mithradatic war, was compact. Their ships, for the most part -myopiarones-, that is, small open swift-sailing barks, with a smaller proportion of biremes and triremes, now regularly sailed associated in squadrons and under admirals, whose barges were wont to glitter in gold and purple. To a comrade in peril, though he might be totally unknown, no pirate captain refused the requested aid; an agreement concluded with any one of them was absolutely recognized by the whole society, and any injury inflicted on one was avenged by all. Their true home was the sea from the pillars of Hercules to the Syrian and Egyptian waters; the refuges which they needed for themselves and their floating houses on the mainland were readily furnished to them by the Mauretanian and Dalmatian coasts, by the island of Crete, and, above all, by the southern coast of Asia Minor, which abounded in headlands and lurking-places, commanded the chief thoroughfare of the maritime commerce of that age, and was virtually without a master. The league of Lycian cities there, and the Pamphylian communities, were of little importance; the Roman station, which had existed in Cilicia since 652, was far from adequate to command the extensive coast; the Syrian dominion over Cilicia had always been but nominal, and had recently been superseded by the Armenian, the holder of which, as a true great-king, gave himself no concern at all about the sea and readily abandoned it to the pillage of the Cilicians. It was nothing wonderful, therefore, that the corsairs flourished there as they had never done anywhere else. Not only did they possess everywhere along the coast signal-places and stations, but further inland—in the most remote recesses of the impassable and mountainous interior of Lycia, Pamphylia, and Cilicia—they had built their rock-castles, in which they concealed their wives, children, and treasures during their own absence at sea, and, doubtless, in times of danger found an asylum themselves. Great numbers of such corsair-castles existed especially in the Rough Cilicia, the forests of which at the same time furnished the pirates with the most excellent timber for shipbuilding; and there, accordingly, their principal dockyards and arsenals were situated. It was not to be wondered at that this organized military state gained a firm body of clients among the Greek maritime cities, which were more or less left to themselves and managed their own affairs: these cities entered into traffic with the pirates as with a friendly power on the basis of definite treaties, and did not comply with the summons of the Roman governors to furnish vessels against them. The not inconsiderable town of Side in Pamphylia, for instance, allowed the pirates to build ships on its quays, and to sell the free men whom they had captured in its market.
Such a society of pirates was a political power; and as a political power it gave itself out and was accepted from the time when the Syrian king Tryphon first employed it as such and rested his throne on its support.(4) We find the pirates as allies of king Mithradates of Pontus as well as of the Roman democratic emigrants; we find them giving battle to the fleets of Sulla in the eastern and in the western waters; we find individual pirate princes ruling over a series of considerable coast towns. We cannot tell how far the internal political development of this floating state had already advanced; but its arrangements undeniably contained the germ of a sea-kingdom, which was already beginning to establish itself, and out of which, under favourable circumstances, a permanent state might have been developed.
Nullity of the Roman Marine Police
This state of matters clearly shows, as we have partly indicated already,(5) how the Romans kept—or rather did not keep—order on "their sea." The protectorate of Rome over the provinces consisted essentially in military guardianship; the provincials paid tax or tribute to the Romans for their defence by sea and land, which was concentrated in Roman hands. But never, perhaps, did a guardian more shamelessly defraud his ward than the Roman oligarchy defrauded the subject communities. Instead of Rome equipping a general fleet for the empire and centralizing her marine police, the senate permitted the unity of her maritime superintendence— without which in this matter nothing could at all be done—to fall into abeyance, and left it to each governor and each client state to defend themselves against the pirates as each chose and was able. Instead of Rome providing for the fleet, as she had bound herself to do, exclusively with her own blood and treasure and with those of the client states which had remained formally sovereign, the senate allowed the Italian war-marine to fall into decay, and learned to make shift with the vessels which the several mercantile towns were required to furnish, or still more frequently with the coast-guards everywhere organized—all the cost and burden falling, in either case, on the subjects. The provincials might deem themselves fortunate, if their Roman governor applied the requisitions which he raised for the defence of the coast in reality solely to that object, and did not intercept them for himself; or if they were not, as very frequently happened, called on to pay ransom for some Roman of rank captured by the buccaneers. Measures undertaken perhaps with judgment, such as the occupation of Cilicia in 652, were sure to be spoilt in the execution. Any Roman of this period, who was not wholly carried away by the current intoxicating idea of the national greatness, must have wished that the ships' beaks might be torn down from the orator's platform in the Forum, that at least he might not be constantly reminded by them of the naval victories achieved in better times.
Expedition to the South Coast of Asia Minor
Publius Servilius Isauricus
The Isaurians Subdued
Nevertheless Sulla, who in the war against Mithradates had the opportunity of acquiring an adequate conviction of the dangers which the neglect of the fleet involved, took various steps seriously to check the evil. It is true that the instructions which he had left to the governors whom he appointed in Asia, to equip in the maritime towns a fleet against the pirates, had borne little fruit, for Murena preferred to begin war with Mithradates, and Gnaeus Dolabella, the governor of Cilicia, proved wholly incapable. Accordingly the senate resolved in 675 to send one of the consuls to Cilicia; the lot fell on the capable Publius Servilius. He defeated the piratical fleet in a bloody engagement, and then applied himself to destroy those towns on the south coast of Asia Minor which served them as anchorages and trading stations. The fortresses of the powerful maritime prince Zenicetes—Olympus, Corycus, Phaselis in eastern Lycia, Attalia in Pamphylia— were reduced, and the prince himself met his death in the flames of his stronghold Olympus. A movement was next made against the Isaurians, who in the north-west corner of the Rough Cilicia, on the northern slope of Mount Taurus, inhabited a labyrinth of steep mountain ridges, jagged rocks, and deeply-cut valleys, covered with magnificent oak forests—a region which is even at the present day filled with reminiscences of the old robber times. To reduce these Isaurian fastnesses, the last and most secure retreats ofthe freebooters, Servilius led the first Roman army over the Taurus, and broke up the strongholds of the enemy, Oroanda, and above all Isaura itself—the ideal of a robber-town, situated on the summit of a scarcely accessible mountain-ridge, and completely overlooking and commanding the wide plain of Iconium. The war, not ended till 679, from which Publius Servilius acquired for himself and his descendants the surname of Isauricus, was not without fruit; a great number of pirates and piratical vessels fell in consequence of it into the power of the Romans; Lycia, Pamphylia, West Cilicia were severely devastated, the territories of the destroyed towns were confiscated, and the province of Cilicia was enlarged by their addition to it. But, in the nature of the case, piracy was far from being suppressed by these measures; on the contrary, it simply betook itself for the time to other regions, and particularly to Crete, the oldest harbour for the corsairs of the Mediterranean.(6) Nothing but repressive measures carried out on a large scale and with unity of purpose—nothing, in fact, but the establishment of a standing maritime police—could in such a case afford thorough relief.
Tigranes and the New Great-Kingdom of Armenia
The affairs of the mainland of Asia Minor were connected by various relations with this maritime war. The variance which existed between Rome and the kings of Pontus and Armenia did not abate, but increased more and more. On the one hand Tigranes, kingof Armenia, pursued his aggressive conquests in the most reckless manner. The Parthians, whose state was at this period torn by internal dissensions and enfeebled, were by constant hostilities driven farther and farther back into the interior of Asia. Of the countries between Armenia, Mesopotamia, and Iran, the kingdoms of Corduene (northern Kurdistan), and Media Atropatene (Azerbijan), were converted from Parthian into Armenian fiefs, and the kingdom of Nineveh (Mosul), or Adiabene, was likewise compelled, at least temporarily, to become a dependency of Armenia. In Mesopotamia, too, particularly in and around Nisibis, the Armenian rule was established; but the southern half, which was in great part desert, seems not to have passed into the firm possession of the new great- king, and Seleucia, on the Tigris, in particular, appears not to have become subject to him. The kingdom of Edessa or Osrhoene he handed over to a tribe of wandering Arabs, which he transplanted from southern Mesopotamia and settled in this region, with the view of commanding by its means the passage of the Euphrates and the great route of traffic.(7)
But Tigranes by no means confined his conquests to the eastern bank of the Euphrates. Cappadocia especially was the object of his attacks, and, defenceless as it was, suffered destructive blows from its too potent neighbour. Tigranes wrested the eastern province Melitene from Cappadocia, and united it with the opposite Armenian province Sophene, by which means he obtained command of the passage of the Euphrates with the great thoroughfare of traffic between Asia Minor and Armenia. After the death of Sulla the Armenians even advanced into Cappadocia proper, and carried off to Armenia the inhabitants of the capital Mazaca (afterwards Caesarea) and eleven other towns of Greek organization.
Syria under Tigranes
Nor could the kingdom of the Seleucids, already in full course of dissolution, oppose greater resistance to the new great-king. Here the south from the Egyptian frontier to Straton's Tower (Caesarea) was under the rule of the Jewish prince Alexander Jannaeus, who extended and strengthened his dominion step by step in conflict with his Syrian, Egyptian, and Arabic neighbours and with the imperial cities. The larger towns of Syria—Gaza, Straton's Tower, Ptolemais, Beroea—attempted to maintain themselves on their own footing, sometimes as free communities, sometimes under so-called tyrants; the capital, Antioch, in particular, was virtually independent. Damascus and the valleys of Lebanon had submitted to the Nabataean prince, Aretas of Petra. Lastly, in Cilicia the pirates or the Romans bore sway. And for this crown breaking into a thousand fragments the Seleucid princes continued perseveringly to quarrel with each other, as though it were their object to make royalty a jest and an offence to all; nay more, while this family, doomed like the house of Laius to perpetual discord, had its own subjects all in revolt, it even raised claims to the throne of Egypt vacant by the decease of king Alexander II without heirs. Accordingly king Tigranes set to work there without ceremony. Eastern Cilicia was easily subdued by him, and the citizens of Soli and other towns were carried off, just like the Cappadocians, to Armenia. In like manner the province of Upper Syria, withthe exception of the bravely-defended town of Seleucia at the mouth of the Orontes, and the greater part of Phoenicia were reduced by force; Ptolemais was occupied by the Armenians about 680, and the Jewish state was already seriously threatened by them. Antioch, the old capital of the Seleucids, became one of the residences of the great-king. Already from 671, the year following the peace between Sulla and Mithradates, Tigranes is designated in the Syrian annals as the sovereign of the country, and Cilicia and Syria appear as an Armenian satrapy under Magadates, the lieutenant of the great-king. The age of the kings of Nineveh, ofthe Salmanezers and Sennacheribs, seemed to be renewed; again oriental despotism pressed heavily on the trading population of the Syrian coast, as it did formerly on Tyre and Sidon; again great states of the interior threw themselves on the provinces along the Mediterranean; again Asiatic hosts, said to number half a million combatants, appeared on the Cilician and Syrian coasts. As Salmanezer and Nebuchadnezzar had formerly carried the Jews to Babylon, so now from all the frontier provinces of the new kingdom—from Corduene, Adiabene, Assyria, Cilicia, Cappadocia— the inhabitants, especially the Greek or half-Greek citizens of the towns, were compelled to settle with their whole goods and chattels (under penalty of the confiscation of everything that they left behind) in the new capital, one of those gigantic cities proclaiming rather the nothingness of the people than the greatness of the rulers, which sprang up in the countries of the Euphrates on every change in the supreme sovereignty at the fiat of the new grand sultan. The new "city of Tigranes," Tigrano-certa, founded on the borders of Armenia and Mesopotamia, and destined as the capital of the territories newly acquired for Armenia, became a city like Nineveh and Babylon, with walls fifty yards high, and the appendages of palace, garden, and park that were appropriate to sultanism. In other respects, too, the new great-king proved faithful to his part. As amidst the perpetual childhood of the east the childlike conceptions of kings with real crowns on their heads have never disappeared, Tigranes, when he showed himselfin public, appeared in the state and the costume of a successor of Darius and Xerxes, with the purple caftan, the half-white half-purple tunic, the long plaited trousers, the high turban, and the royal diadem—attended moreover and served in slavish fashion, wherever he went or stood, by four "kings."
King Mithradates acted with greater moderation. He refrained from aggressions in Asia Minor, and contented himself with— what no treaty forbade—placing his dominion along the Black Sea ona firmer basis, and gradually bringing into more definite dependence the regions which separated the Bosporan kingdom, now ruled under his supremacy by his son Machares, from that of Pontus. But he too applied every effort to render his fleet and army efficient, and especially to arm and organize the latter after the Roman model; in which the Roman emigrants, who sojourned in great numbers at his court, rendered essential service.
Demeanor of the Romans in the East
Egypt not Annexed
The Romans had no desire to become further involved in Oriental affairs than they were already. This appears with striking clearness in the fact, that the opportunity, which at this time presented itself, of peacefully bringing the kingdom of Egypt under the immediate dominion of Rome was spurned by the senate. The legitimate descendants of Ptolemaeus son of Lagus had come to an end, when the king installed by Sulla after the death of Ptolemaeus Soter II Lathyrus—Alexander II, a son of Alexander I—was killed, a few days after he had ascended the throne, on occasion of a tumult in the capital (673). This Alexander had in his testament(8) appointed the Roman community his heir. The genuineness of this document was no doubt disputed; but the senate acknowledged it by assuming in virtue of it the sums deposited in Tyre on account of the deceased king. Nevertheless it allowed two notoriously illegitimate sons of king Lathyrus, Ptolemaeus XI, who was styled the new Dionysos or the Flute-blower (Auletes), and Ptolemaeus the Cyprian, to take practical possession of Egypt and Cyprus respectively. They were not indeed expressly recognized by the senate, but no distinct summons to surrender their kingdoms was addressed to them. The reason why the senate allowed this state of uncertainty to continue, and did not commit itself to a definite renunciation of Egypt and Cyprus, was undoubtedly the considerable rent which these kings, ruling as it were on sufferance, regularly paid for the continuance of the uncertainty to the heads of the Roman coteries. But the motive for waiving that attractive acquisition altogether was different. Egypt, by its peculiar position and its financial organization, placed in the hands of any governor commanding it a pecuniary and naval power and generally an independent authority, which were absolutely incompatible with the suspicious and feeble government of the oligarchy: in this point of view it was judicious to forgo the direct possession of the country of the Nile.
Non-Intervention in Asia Minor and Syria
Less justifiable was the failure of the senate to interfere directly in the affairs of Asia Minor and Syria. The Roman government did not indeed recognize the Armenian conqueror as king of Cappadocia and Syria; but it did nothing to drive him back, although the war, which under pressure of necessity it began in 676 against the pirates in Cilicia, naturally suggested its interference more especially in Syria. In fact, by tolerating the loss of Cappadocia and Syria without declaring war, the government abandoned not merely those committed to its protection, but the most important foundations of its own powerful position. It adopted a hazardous course, when it sacrificed the outworks of its dominion in the Greek settlements and kingdoms on the Euphrates and Tigris; but, when it allowed the Asiatics to establish themselves on the Mediterranean which was the political basis of its empire, this was not a proof of love of peace, but a confession that the oligarchy had been rendered by the Sullan restoration more oligarchical doubtless, but neither wiser nor more energetic, and it was for Rome's place as a power in the world the beginning of the end.
On the other side, too, there was no desire for war. Tigranes had no reason to wish it, when Rome even without war abandoned to him all its allies. Mithradates, who was no mere sultan and had enjoyed opportunity enough, amidst good and bad fortune, of gaining experience regarding friends and foes, knew very well that in a second Roman war he would very probably stand quite as much alone as in the first, and that he could follow no more prudent course than to keep quiet and to strengthen his kingdom in the interior. That he was in earnest with his peaceful declarations, he had sufficiently proved in the conference with Murena.(9) He continued to avoid everything which would compel the Roman government to abandon its passive attitude.
Apprehensions of Rome
But as the first Mithradatic war had arisen without any of the partie properly desiring it, so now there grew out of the opposition of interests mutual suspicion, and out of this suspicion mutual preparations for defence; and these, by their very gravity, ultimately led to an open breach. That distrust of her own readiness to fight and preparation for fighting, which had for long governed the policy of Rome—a distrust, which the want of standing armies and the far from exemplary character of the collegiate rule render sufficiently intelligible—made it, as it were, an axiom of her policy to pursue every war not merely to the vanquishing, but to the annihilation of her opponent; in this point of view the Romans were from the outset as little content with the peace of Sulla, as they had formerly been with the terms which Scipio Africanus had granted to the Carthaginians. The apprehension often expressed that a second attack by the Pontic king was imminent, was in some measure justified by the singular resemblance between the present circumstances and those which existed twelve years before. Once more a dangerous civil war coincided with serious armaments of Mithradates; once more the Thracians overran Macedonia, and piratical fleets covered the Mediterranean; emissaries were coming and going—as formerly between Mithradates and the Italians— so now between the Roman emigrants in Spain and those at the court of Sinope. As early as the beginning of 677 it was declared in the senate that the king was only waiting for the opportunity of falling upon Roman Asia during the Italian civil war; the Roman armies in Asia and Cilicia were reinforced to meet possible emergencies.
Apprehensions of Mithradates
Cyrene a Roman Province
Outbreak of the Mithradatic War
Mithradates on his part followed with growing apprehension the development of the Roman policy. He could not but feel that a war between the Romans and Tigranes, however much the feeble senate might dread it, was in the long run almost inevitable, and that he would not be able to avoid taking part in it. His attempt to obtain from the Roman senate the documentary record of the terms of peace, which was still wanting, had fallen amidst the disturbances attending the revolution of Lepidus and remained without result; Mithradates found in this an indication of the impending renewal of the conflict. The expedition against the pirates, which indirectly concerned also the kings of the east whose allies they were, seemed the preliminary to such a war. Still more suspicious were the claims which Rome held in suspense over Egypt and Cyprus: it is significant that the king of Pontus betrothed his two daughters Mithradatis and Nyssa to the two Ptolemies, to whom the senate continued to refuse recognition. The emigrants urged him to strike: the position of Sertorius in Spain, as to which Mithradates despatched envoys under convenient pretexts to the headquarters of Pompeius to obtain information, and which was about this very time really imposing, opened up to the king the prospect of fighting not, as in the first Roman war, against both the Roman parties, but in concert with the one against the other. A more favourable moment could hardly be hoped for, and after all it was always better to declare war than to let it be declared against him. In 679 Nicomedes III Philopator king of Bithynia, died, and as the last of his race—for a son borne by Nysa was, or was said to be, illegitimate—left his kingdom by testament to the Romans, who delayed not to take possession of this region bordering on the Roman province and long ago filled with Roman officials and merchants. At the same time Cyrene, which had been already bequeathed to the Romans in 658,(10) was at length constituted a province, and a Roman governor was sent thither (679). These measures, in connection with the attacks carried out about the same time against the pirates on the south coast of Asia Minor, must have excited apprehensions in the king; the annexation of Bithynia in particular made the Romans immediate neighbours of the Pontic kingdom; and this, it may be presumed, turned the scale. The king took the decisive step and declared war against the Romans in the winter of 679-680.
Preparations of Mithradates
Gladly would Mithradates have avoided undertaking so arduous a work singlehanded. His nearest and natural ally was the great-king Tigranes; but that shortsighted man declined the proposal of his father-in-law. So there remained only the insurgents and the pirates. Mithradates was careful to place himself in communication with both, by despatching strong squadrons to Spain and to Crete. A formal treaty was concluded with Sertorius,(11) by which Rome ceded to the king Bithynia, Paphlagonia, Galatia, and Cappadocia— all of them, it is true, acquisitions which needed to be ratified on the field of battle. More important was the support which the Spanish general gave to the king, by sending Roman officers to lead his armies and fleets. The most active of the emigrants inthe east, Lucius Magius and Lucius Fannius, were appointed by Sertorius as his representatives at the court of Sinope. From the pirates also came help; they flocked largely to the kingdom of Pontus, and by their means especially the king seems to have succeeded in forming a naval force imposing by the number as well as by the quality of the ships. His main support still lay in his own forces, with which the king hoped, before the Romans should arrive in Asia, to make himself master of their possessions there; especially as the financial distress produced in the province of Asia by the Sullan war-tribute, the aversion of Bithynia towards the new Roman government, and the elements of combustion left behind by the desolating war recently brought to a close in Cilicia and Pamphylia, opened up favourable prospects to a Pontic invasion. There was no lack of stores; 2,000,000 -medimni- of grain lay in the royal granaries. The fleet and the men were numerous and well exercised, particularly the Bastarnian mercenaries, a select corps which was a match even for Italian legionaries. On this occasion also it was the king who took the offensive. A corps under Diophantus advanced into Cappadocia, to occupy the fortresses there and to close the way to the kingdom of Pontus against the Romans; the leader sent by Sertorius, the propraetor Marcus Marius, went in company with the Pontic officer Eumachus to Phrygia, with a view to rouse the Roman province and the Taurus mountains to revolt; the main army, above 100,000 men with 16,000 cavalry and 100 scythe-chariots, led by Taxiles and Hermocrates under the personal superintendence of the king, and the war-fleet of 400 sail commanded by Aristonicus, moved along the north coast of Asia Minor to occupy Paphlagonia and Bithynia.
On the Roman side there was selected for the conduct of the war in the first rank the consul of 680, Lucius Lucullus, who as governor of Asia and Cilicia was placed at the head of the four legions stationed in Asia Minor and of a fifth brought by him from Italy, and was directed to penetrate with this army, amounting to 30,000 infantry and 1600 cavalry, through Phrygia into the kingdom of Pontus. His colleague Marcus Cotta proceeded with the fleet and another Roman corps to the Propontis, to cover Asia and Bithynia. Lastly, a general arming of the coasts and particularly of the Thracian coast more immediately threatened by the Pontic fleet, was enjoined; and the task of clearing all the seas and coasts from the pirates and their Pontic allies was, by extraordinary decree, entrusted to a single magistrate, the choice falling on the praetor Marcus Antonius, the son of the man who thirty years before had first chastised the Cilician corsairs.(12) Moreover, the senate placed at the disposal of Lucullus a sum of 72,000,000 sesterces (700,000 pounds), in order to build a fleet; which, however, Lucullus declined. From all this we see that the Roman government recognized the root of the evil in the neglect of their marine, and showed earnestness in the matter at least so far as their decrees reached.
Beginning of the War
Thus the war began in 680 at all points. It was a misfortune for Mithradates, that at the very moment of his declaring war the Sertorian struggle reached its crisis, by which one of his principal hopes was from the outset destroyed, and the Roman government was enabled to apply its whole power to the maritime and Asiatic contest. In Asia Minor on the other hand Mithradates reaped the advantages of the offensive, and of the great distance of the Romans from the immediate seat of war. A considerable number of cities in Asia Minor opened their gates to the Sertorian propraetor who was placed at the head of the Roman province, and they massacred, as in 666, the Roman families settled among them: the Pisidians, Isaurians, and Cilicians took up arms against Rome. The Romans for the moment had no troops at the points threatened. Individual energetic men attempted no doubt at their own hand to check this mutiny of the provincials; thus on receiving accounts of these events the young Gaius Caesar left Rhodes where he was staying on account of his studies, and with a hastily-collected band opposed himself to the insurgents; but not much could be effected by such volunteer corps. Had not Deiotarus, the brave tetrarch of the Tolistobogii—a Celtic tribe settled around Pessinus—embraced the side of the Romans and fought with success against the Pontic generals, Lucullus would have had to begin with recapturing the interior of the Roman province from the enemy. But even as it was, he lost in pacifying the province and driving back the enemy precious time, for which the slight successes achieved by his cavalry were far from affording compensation. Still more unfavourable than in Phrygia was the aspect of things for the Romans on the north coast of Asia Minor. Here the great Pontic army and the fleet had completely mastered Bithynia, and compelled the Roman consul Cotta to take shelter with his far from numerous force and his ships within the walls and port of Chalcedon, where Mithradates kept them blockaded.
The Romans Defeated at Chalcedon
This blockade, however, was so far a favourable event for the Romans, as, if Cotta detained the Pontic army before Chalcedon and Lucullus proceeded also thither, the whole Roman forces might unite at Chalcedon and compel the decision of arms there rather than in the distant and impassable region of Pontus. Lucullus did take the route for Chalcedon; but Cotta, with the view of executing a great feat at his own hand before the arrival of his colleague, ordered his admiral Publius Rutilius Nudus to make a sally, which not only ended in a bloody defeat of the Romans, but also enabled the Pontic force to attack the harbour, to break the chain which closed it, and to burn all the Roman vessels of war which were there, nearly seventy in number. On the news of these misfortunes reaching Lucullus at the river Sangarius, he accelerated his march to the great discontent of his soldiers, in whose opinion Cotta was of no moment, and who would far rather have plundered an undefended country than have taught their comrades to conquer. His arrival made up in part for the misfortunes sustained: the king raised the siege of Chalcedon, but did not retreat to Pontus; he went southward into the old Roman province, where he spread his army along the Propontis and the Hellespont, occupied Lampsacus, and began to besiege the large and wealthy town of Cyzicus. He thus entangled himself more and more deeply in the blind alley which he had chosen to enter, instead of—which alone promised success for him—bringing the wide distances into play against the Romans.
Mithradates Besieges Cyzicus
In few places had the old Hellenic adroitness and aptitude preserved themselves so pure as in Cyzicus; its citizens, although they had suffered great loss of ships and men in the unfortunate double battle of Chalcedon, made the most resolute resistance. Cyzicus lay on an island directly opposite the mainland and connected with it by a bridge. The besiegers possessed themselves not only of the line of heights on the mainland terminating at the bridge and of the suburb situated there, but also of the celebrated Dindymene heights on the island itself; and alike on the mainland and on the island the Greek engineers put forth all their art to pave the way for an assault. But the breach which they at length made was closed again during the night by the besieged, and the exertions of the royal army remained as fruitless as did the barbarous threat of the king to put to death the captured Cyzicenes before the walls, if the citizens still refused to surrender. The Cyzicenes continued the defence with courage and success; they fell little short of capturing the king himself in the course of the siege.
Destruction of the Pontic Army
Meanwhile Lucullus had possessed himself of a very strong position in rear of the Pontic army, which, although not permitting him directly to relieve the hard-pressed city, gave him the means of cutting off all supplies by land from the enemy. Thus the enormous army of Mithradates, estimated with the camp-followers at 300,000 persons, was not in a position either to fight or to march, firmly wedged in between the impregnable city and the immoveable Roman army, and dependent for all its supplies solely on the sea, which fortunately for the Pontic troops was exclusively commanded by their fleet. But the bad season set in; a storm destroyed a great part of the siege-works; the scarcity of provisions and above all of fodder for the horses began to become intolerable. The beasts of burden and the baggage were sent off under convoy of the greater portion of the Pontic cavalry, with orders to steal away or break through at any cost; but at the river Rhyndacus, to the east of Cyzicus, Lucullus overtook them and cut to pieces the whole body. Another division of cavalry under Metrophanes and Lucius Fannius was obliged, after wandering long in the west of Asia Minor, to return to the camp before Cyzicus. Famine and disease made fearful ravages in the Pontic ranks. When spring came on (681), the besieged redoubled their exertions and took the trenches constructed on Dindymon: nothing remained for the king but to raise the siege and with the aid of his fleet to save what he could. He went in person with the fleet to the Hellespont, but suffered considerable loss partly at its departure, partly through storms on the voyage. The land army under Hermaeus and Marius likewise set out thither, with the view of embarking at Lampsacus under the protection of its walls. They left behind their baggage as well as the sick and wounded, who were all put to death by the exasperated Cyzicenes. Lucullus inflicted on them very considerable loss by the way at the passage of the rivers Aesepus and Granicus; but they attained their object. The Pontic ships carried off the remains of the great army and the citizens of Lampsacus themselves beyond the reach of the Romans.
Mithradates Driven Back to Pontus
The consistent and discreet conduct of the war by Lucullus had not only repaired the errors of his colleague, but had also destroyed without a pitched battle the flower of the enemy's army— it was said 200,000 soldiers. Had he still possessed the fleet which was burnt in the harbour of Chalcedon, he would have annihilated the whole army of his opponent. As it was, the work of destruction continued incomplete; and while he was obliged to remain passive, the Pontic fleet notwithstanding the disaster of Cyzicus took its station in the Propontis, Perinthus and Byzantium were blockaded by it on the European coast and Priapus pillaged on the Asiatic, and the headquarters of the king were established in the Bithynian port of Nicomedia. In fact a select squadron of fifty sail, which carried 10,000 select troops including Marcus Marius and the flower of the Roman emigrants, sailed forth even into the Aegean; the report went that it was destined to effect a landing in Italy and there rekindle the civil war. But the ships, which Lucullus after the disaster off Chalcedon had demanded from the Asiatic communities, began to appear, and a squadron ran forth in pursuit of the enemy's fleet which had gone into the Aegean. Lucullus himself, experienced as an admiral,(13) took the command. Thirteen quinqueremes of the enemy on their voyage to Lemnos, under Isidorus, were assailed and sunk off the Achaean harbour in the waters between the Trojan coast and the island of Tenedos. At the small island of Neae, between Lemnos and Scyros, at which little-frequented point the Pontic flotilla of thirty-two sail lay drawn up on the shore, Lucullus found it, immediately attacked the ships and the crews scattered over the island, and possessed himself of the whole squadron. Here Marcus Marius and the ablest of the Roman emigrants met their death, either in conflict or subsequently by the axe of the executioner. The whole Aegean fleet of the enemy was annihilated by Lucullus. The war in Bithynia was meanwhile continued by Cotta and by the legates of Lucullus, Voconius, Gaius Valerius Triarius, and Barba, with the land army reinforced by fresh arrivals from Italy, and a squadron collected in Asia. Barba captured in the interior Prusias on Olympus and Nicaea while Triarius along the coast captured Apamea (formerly Myrlea) and Prusias on the sea (formerly Cius). They then united for a joint attack on Mithradates himself in Nicomedia; but the king without even attempting battle escaped to his ships and sailed homeward, and in this he was successful only because the Roman admiral Voconius, who was entrusted with the blockade of the port of Nicomedia, arrived too late. On the voyage the important Heraclea was indeed betrayed to the king and occupied by him; but a storm in these waters sank more than sixty of, his ships and dispersed the rest; the king arrived almost alone at Sinope. The offensive on the part of Mithradates ended in a complete defeat—not at all honourable, least of all for the supreme leader—of the Pontic forces by land and sea.
Invasion of Pontus by Lucullus
Lucullus now in turn proceeded to the aggressive. Triarius received the command of the fleet, with orders first of all to blockade the Hellespont and lie in wait for the Pontic ships returning from Crete and Spain; Cotta was charged with the siege of Heraclea; the difficult task of providing supplies was entrusted to the faithful and active princes of the Galatians and to Ariobarzanes king of Cappadocia; Lucullus himself advanced in the autumn of 681 into the favoured land of Pontus, which had long been untrodden by an enemy. Mithradates, now resolved to maintain the strictest defensive, retired without giving battle from Sinope to Amisus, and from Amisus to Cabira (afterwards Neocaesarea, now Niksar) on the Lycus, a tributary of the Iris; he contented himself with drawing the enemy after him farther and farther into the interior, and obstructing their supplies and communications. Lucullus rapidly followed; Sinope was passed by; the Halys, the old boundary of the Roman dominion, was crossed and the considerable towns of Amisus, Eupatoria (on the Iris), and Themiscyra (on the Thermodon) were invested, till at length winter put an end to the onward march, though not to the investments of the towns. The soldiers of Lucullus murmured at the constant advance which did not allow them to reap the fruits of their exertions, and at the tedious and—amidst the severity of that season— burdensome blockades. But it was not the habit of Lucullus to listen to such complaints: in the spring of 682 he immediately advanced against Cabira, leaving behind two legions before Amisus under Lucius Murena. The king had made fresh attempts during the winter to induce the great-king of Armenia to take part in the struggle; they remained like the former ones fruitless, or led only to empty promises. Still less did the Parthians show any desire to interfere in the forlorn cause. Nevertheless a considerable army, chiefly raised by enlistments in Scythia, had again assembled under Diophantus and Taxiles at Cabira. The Roman army, which still numbered only three legions and was decidedly inferior to the Pontic in cavalry, found itself compelled to avoid as far as possible the plains, and arrived, not without toil and loss, by difficult bypaths in the vicinity of Cabira, At this town the two armies lay for a considerable period confronting each other. The chief struggle was for supplies, which were on both sides scarce: for this purpose Mithradates formed the flower of his cavalry and a division of select infantry under Diophantus and Taxiles into a flying corps, which was intended to scour the country between the Lycus and the Halys and to seize the Roman convoys of provisions coming from Cappadocia. But the lieutenant of Lucullus, Marcus Fabius Hadrianus, who escorted such a train, not only completely defeated the band which lay in wait for him in the defile where it expected to surprise him, but after being reinforced from the camp defeated also the army of Diophantus and Taxiles itself, so that it totally broke up. It was an irreparable loss for the king, when his cavalry, on which alone he relied, was thus overthrown.
Victory of Cabira
As soon as he received through the first fugitives that arrived at Cabira from the field of battle—significantly enough, the beaten generals themselves—the fatal news, earlier even than Lucullus got tidings of the victory, he resolved on an immediate farther retreat. But the resolution taken by the king spread with the rapidity of lightning among those immediately around him; and, when the soldiers saw the confidants of the king packing in all haste, they too were seized with a panic. No one was willing to be the hindmost in decamping; all, high and low, ran pell-mell like startled deer; no authority, not even that of the king, was longer heeded; and the king himself was carried away amidst the wild tumult. Lucullus, perceiving the confusion, made his attack, and the Pontic troops allowed themselves to be massacred almost without offering resistance. Had the legions been able to maintain discipline and to restrain their eagerness for spoil, hardly a man would have escaped them, and the king himself would doubtless have been taken. With difficulty Mithradates escaped along with a few attendants through the mountains to Comana (not far from Tocat and the source of the Iris); from which, however, a Roman corps under Marcus Pompeius soon scared him off and pursued him, till, attended by not more than 2000 cavalry, he crossed the frontier of his kingdom at Talaura in Lesser Armenia. In the empire of the great-king he found a refuge, but nothing more (end of 682). Tigranes, it is true, ordered royal honours to be shown to his fugitive father-in-law; but he did not even invite him to his court, and detained him in the remote border-province to which he had come in a sort of decorous captivity.
Pontus Becomes Roman
Sieges of the Pontic Cities
The Roman troops overran all Pontus and Lesser Armenia, and as far as Trapezus the flat country submitted without resistance to the conqueror. The commanders of the royal treasure-houses also surrendered after more or less delay, and delivered up their stores of money. The king ordered that the women of the royal harem—his sisters, his numerous wives and concubines—as it was not possible to secure their flight, should all be put to death by one of his eunuchs at Pharnacea (Kerasunt). The towns alone offered obstinate resistance. It is true that the few in the interior— Cabira, Amasia, Eupatoria—were soon in the power of the Romans; but the larger maritime towns, Amisus and Sinope in Pontus, Amastris in Paphlagonia, Tius and the Pontic Heraclea in Bithynia, defended themselves with desperation, partly animated by attachment to the king and to their free Hellenic constitution which he had protected, partly overawed by the bands of corsairs whom the king had called to his aid. Sinope and Heraclea even sent forth vessels against the Romans; and the squadron of Sinope seized a Roman flotilla which was bringing corn from the Tauric peninsula for the army of Lucullus. Heraclea did not succumb till after a two years' siege, when the Roman fleet had cut off the city from intercourse with the Greek towns on the Tauric peninsula and treason had broken out in the ranks of the garrison. When Amisus was reduced to extremities, the garrison set fire to the town, and under cover of the flames took to their ships. In Sinope, where the daring pirate-captain Seleucus and the royal eunuch Bacchides conducted the defence, the garrison plundered the houses before it withdrew, and set on fire the ships which it could not take along with it; it is said that, although the greater portion of the defenders were enabled to embark, 8000 corsairs were there put to death by Lucullus. These sieges of towns lasted for two whole years and more after the battle of Cabira (682-684); Lucullus prosecuted them in great part by means of his lieutenants, while he himself regulated the affairs of the province of Asia, which demanded and obtained a thorough reform.
Remarkable, in an historical point of view, as was that obstinate resistance of the Pontic mercantile towns to the victorious Romans, it was of little immediate use; the cause of Mithradates was none the less lost. The great-king had evidently, for the present at least, no intention at all of restoring him to his kingdom. The Roman emigrants in Asia had lost their best men by the destruction of the Aegean fleet; of the survivors not a few, such as the active leaders Lucius Magius and Lucius Fannius, had made their peace with Lucullus; and with the death of Sertorius, who perished in the year of the battle of Cabira, the last hope of the emigrants vanished. Mithradates' own power was totally shattered, and one after another his remaining supports gave way; his squadrons returning from Crete and Spain, to the number of seventy sail, were attacked and destroyed by Triarius at the island of Tenedos; even the governor of the Bosporan kingdom, the king's own son Machares, deserted him, and as independent prince of the Tauric Chersonese concluded on his own behalf peace and friendship with the Romans (684). The king himself, after a not too glorious resistance, was confined in a remote Armenian mountain-stronghold, a fugitive from his kingdom and almost a prisoner of his son-in-law. Although the bands of corsairs might still hold out in Crete, and such as had escaped from Amisus and Sinope might make their way along the hardly- accessible east coast of the Black Sea to the Sanigae and Lazi, the skilful conduct of the war by Lucullus and his judicious moderation, which did not disdain to remedy the just grievances of the provincials and to employ the repentant emigrants as officers in his army, had at a moderate sacrifice delivered Asia Minor from the enemy and annihilated the Pontic kingdom, so that it might be converted from a Roman client-state into a Roman province. A commission of the senate was expected, to settle in concert with the commander-in-chief the new provincial organization.
Beginning of the Armenian War
But the relations with Armenia were not yet settled. Thata declaration of war by the Romans against Tigranes was in itself justified and even demanded, we have already shown. Lucullus, who looked at the state of affairs from a nearer point of view and with a higher spirit than the senatorial college in Rome, perceived clearly the necessity of confining Armenia to the other side of the Tigris and of re-establishing the lost dominion of Rome over the Mediterranean. He showed himself in the conduct of Asiatic affairs no unworthy successor of his instructor and friend Sulla. A Philhellene above most Romans of his time, he was not insensible to the obligation which Rome had come under when taking up the heritage of Alexander—the obligation to be the shield and sword of the Greeks in the east. Personal motives—the wish to earn laurels also beyond the Euphrates, irritation at the fact that the great- king in a letter to him had omitted the title of Imperator—may doubtless have partly influenced Lucullus; but it is unjust to assume paltry and selfish motives for actions, which motives of duty quite suffice to explain. The Roman governing college at any rate—timid, indolent, ill informed, and above all beset by perpetual financial embarrassments—could never be expected, without direct compulsion, to take the initiative in an expedition so vast and costly. About the year 682 the legitimate representatives of the Seleucid dynasty, Antiochus called the Asiatic and his brother, moved by the favourable turn of the Pontic war, had gone to Rome to procure a Roman intervention in Syria, and at the same time a recognition of their hereditary claims on Egypt. If the latter demand might not be granted, there could not, at any rate, be found a more favourable moment or occasion for beginning the war which had long been necessary against Tigranes. But the senate, while it recognized the princes doubtless as the legitimate kings of Syria, could not make up its mind to decree the armed intervention. If the favourable opportunity was to be employed, and Armenia was to be dealt with in earnest, Lucullus had to begin the war, without any proper orders from the senate, at his own hand and his own risk; he found himself, just like Sulla, placed under the necessity of executing what he did in the most manifest interest of the existing government, not with its sanction, but in spite of it. His resolution was facilitated by the relations of Rome towards Armenia, for long wavering in uncertainty between peace and war, which screened in some measure the arbitrariness of his proceedings, and failed not to suggest formal grounds for war. The state of matters in Cappadocia and Syria afforded pretexts enough; and already in the pursuit of the king of Pontus Roman troops had violated the territory of the great-king. As, however, the commission of Lucullus related to the conduct of the war against Mithradates and he wished to connect what he did with that commission, he preferred to send one of his officers, Appius Claudius, to the great-king at Antioch to demand the surrender of Mithradates, which in fact could not but lead to war.
Difficulties to Be Encountered
The resolution was a grave one, especially considering the condition of the Roman army. It was indispensable during the campaign in Armenia to keep the extensive territory of Pontus strongly occupied, for otherwise the army stationed in Armenia might lose its communications with home; and besides it might be easily foreseen that Mithradates would attempt an inroad into his former kingdom. The army, at the head of which Lucullus had ended the Mithradatic war, amounting to about 30,000 men, was obviously inadequate for this double task. Under ordinary circumstances the general would have asked and obtained from his government the despatch of a second army; but as Lucullus wished, and was in some measure compelled, to take up the war over the head of the government, he found himself necessitated to renounce that plan and—although he himself incorporated the captured Thracian mercenaries of the Pontic king with his troops—to carry the war over the Euphrates with not more than two legions, or at most 15,000 men. This was in itself hazardous; but the smallness of the number might be in some degree compensated by the tried valour of the army consisting throughout of veterans. A far worse feature was the temper of the soldiers, to which Lucullus, in his high aristocratic fashion, had given far too little heed. Lucullus was an able general, and—according to the aristocratic standard— an upright and kindly-disposed man, but very far from being a favourite with his soldiers. He was unpopular, as a decided adherent of the oligarchy; unpopular, because he had vigorously checked the monstrous usury of the Roman capitalists in Asia Minor; unpopular, on account of the toils and fatigues which he inflicted on his troops; unpopular, because he demanded strict discipline in his soldiers and prevented as far as possible the pillage of the Greek towns by his men, but withal caused many a waggon and many a camel to be laden with the treasures of the east for himself; unpopular too on account of his manner, which was polished, haughty, Hellenizing, not at all familiar, and inclining, wherever it was possible, to ease and pleasure. There was no trace in him of the charm which weaves a personal bond between the general and the soldier. Moreover, a large portion of his ablest soldiers had every reason to complain of the unmeasured prolongation of their term of service. His two best legions were the same which Flaccus and Fimbria had led in 668 to the east;(14) notwithstanding that shortly after the battle of Cabira they had been promised their discharge well earned by thirteen campaigns, Lucullus now led them beyond the Euphrates to face a new incalculable war—it seemed as though the victors of Cabira were to be treated worse than the vanquished of Cannae.(15) It was in fact more than rash that, with troops so weak and so much out of humour, a general should at his own hand and, strictly speaking, at variance with the constitution, undertake an expedition to a distant and unknown land, full of rapid streams and snow-clad mountains—a land which from the very vastness of its extent rendered any lightly-undertaken attack fraught with danger. The conduct of Lucullus was therefore much and not unreasonably censured in Rome; only, amidst the censure the fact should not have been concealed, that the perversity of the government was the prime occasion of this venturesome project of the general, and, if it did not justify it, rendered it at least excusable.
Lucullus Crosses the Euphrates
The mission of Appius Claudius was designed not only to furnish a diplomatic pretext for the war, but also to induce the princes and cities of Syria especially to take arms against the great-king: in the spring of 685 the formal attack began. During the winter the king of Cappadocia had silently provided vessels for transport; with these the Euphrates was crossed at Melitene, and the further march was directed by way of the Taurus-passes to the Tigris. This too Lucullus crossed in the region of Amida (Diarbekr), and advanced towards the road which connected the second capital Tigranocerta,(16) recently founded on the south frontier of Armenia, with the old metropolis Artaxata. At the former was stationed the great-king, who had shortly before returned from Syria, after having temporarily deferred the prosecution of his plans of conquest on the Mediterranean on account of the embroilment with the Romans. He was just projecting an inroad into Roman Asia from Cilicia and Lycaonia, and was considering whether the Romans would at once evacuate Asia or would previously give him battle, possibly at Ephesus, when the news was brought to him of the advance of Lucullus, which threatened to cut off his communications with Artaxata. He ordered the messenger to be hanged, but the disagreeable reality remained unaltered; so he left the new capital and resorted to the interior of Armenia, in order there to raise a force—which had not yet been done—against the Romans. Meanwhile Mithrobarzanes with the troops actually at his disposal and in concert with the neighbouring Bedouin tribes, who were called out in all haste, was to give employment to the Romans. But the corps of Mithrobarzanes was dispersed by the Roman vanguard, and the Arabs by a detachment under Sextilius; Lucullus gained the road leading from Tigranocerta to Artaxata, and, while on the right bank of the Tigrisa Roman detachment pursued the great-king retreating northwards, Lucullus himself crossed to the left and marched forward to Tigranocerta.
Siege and Battle of Tigranocerta
The exhaustless showers of arrows which the garrison poured upon the Roman army, and the setting fire to the besieging machines by means of naphtha, initiated the Romans into the new dangers of Iranian warfare; and the brave commandant Mancaeus maintained the city, till at length the great royal army of relief had assembled from all parts of the vast empire and the adjoining countries that were open to Armenian recruiting officers, and had advanced through the north-eastern passes to the relief of the capital. The leader Taxiles, experienced in the wars of Mithradates, advised Tigranes to avoid a battle, and to surround and starve out the small Roman army by means of his cavalry. But when the king saw the Roman general, who had determined to give battle without raising the siege, move out with not much more than 10,000 men against a force twenty times superior, and boldly cross the river which separated the two armies; when he surveyed on the one side this little band, "too many for an embassy, too few for an army," and on the other side his own immense host, in which the peoples from the Black Sea and the Caspian met with those of the Mediterranean and of the Persian Gulf, in which the dreaded iron-clad lancers alone were more numerous than the whole army of Lucullus, and in which even infantry armed after the Roman fashion were not wanting; he resolved promptly to accept the battle desired by the enemy. But while the Armenians were still forming their array, the quick eye of Lucullus perceived that they had neglected to occupy a height which commanded the whole position of their cavalry. He hastened to occupy it with two cohorts, while at the same time his weak cavalry by a flank attack diverted the attention of the enemy from this movement; and as soon as he had reached the height, he led his little band against the rear of the enemy's cavalry. They were totally broken and threw themselves on the not yet fully formed infantry, which fled without even striking a blow. The bulletin of the victor—that 100,000 Armenians and five Romans had fallen and that the king, throwing away his turban and diadem, had galloped off unrecognized with a few horsemen—is composed in the style of his master Sulla. Nevertheless the victory achieved on the 6th October 685 before Tigranocerta remains one of the most brilliant stars in the glorious history of Roman warfare; and it was not less momentous than brilliant.
All the Armenian Conquests Pass into the Hands of the Romans
All the provinces wrested from the Parthians or Syrians to the south of the Tigris were by this means strategically lost to the Armenians, and passed, for the most part, without delay into the possession of the victor. The newly-built second capital itselfset the example. The Greeks, who had been forced in large numbers to settle there, rose against the garrison and opened to the Roman army the gates of the city, which was abandoned to the pillage of the soldiers. It had been created for the new great-kingdom, and, like this, was effaced by the victor. From Cilicia and Syria all the troops had already been withdrawn by the Armenian satrap Magadates to reinforce the relieving army before Tigranocerta. Lucullus advanced into Commagene, the most northern province of Syria, and stormed Samosata, the capital; he did not reach Syria proper, but envoys arrived from the dynasts and communities as far as the Red Sea—from Hellenes, Syrians, Jews, Arabs—to do homage to the Romans as their sovereigns. Even the prince of Corduene, the province situated to the east of Tigranocerta, submitted; while, on the other hand, Guras the brother of the great-king maintained himself in Nisibis, and thereby in Mesopotamia. Lucullus came forward throughout as the protector of the Hellenic princes and municipalities: in Commagene he placed Antiochus, a prince of the Seleucid house, on the throne; he recognized Antiochus Asiaticus, who after the withdrawal of the Armenians had returned to Antioch, as king of Syria; he sent the forced settlers of Tigranocerta once more away to their homes. The immense stores and treasures of the great-king—the grain amounted to 30,000,000 -medimni-, the money in Tigranocerta alone to 8000 talents (nearly 2,000,000 pounds)—enabled Lucullus to defray the expenses of the war without making any demand on the state-treasury, and to bestow on each of his soldiers, besides the amplest maintenance, a present of 800 -denarii- (33 pounds).
Tigranes and Mithradates
The great-king was deeply humbled. He was of a feeble character, arrogant in prosperity, faint-hearted in adversity. Probably an agreement would have been come to between him and Lucullus— an agreement which there was every reason that the great-king should purchase by considerable sacrifices, and the Roman general should grant under tolerable conditions—had not the old Mithradates been in existence. The latter had taken no part in the conflicts around Tigranocerta. Liberated after twenty months' captivity about the middle of 684 in consequence of the variance that had occurred between the great-king and the Romans, he had been despatched with 10,000 Armenian cavalry to his former kingdom, to threaten the communications of the enemy. Recalled even before he could accomplish anything there, when the great-king summoned his whole force to relieve the capital which he had built, Mithradates was met on his arrival before Tigranocerta by the multitudes just fleeing from the field of battle. To every one, from the great-king down to the common soldier, all seemed lost. But if Tigranes should now make peace, not only would Mithradates lose the last chance of being reinstated in his kingdom, but his surrender would be beyond doubt the first condition of peace; and certainly Tigranes would not have acted otherwise towards him than Bocchus had formerly acted towards Jugurtha. The king accordingly staked his whole personal weight to prevent things from taking this turn, and to induce the Armenian court to continue the war, in which he had nothing to lose and everything to gain; and, fugitive and dethroned as was Mithradates, his influence at this court was not slight. He was still a stately and powerful man, who, although already upwards of sixty years old, vaulted on horseback in full armour, and in hand-to-hand conflict stood his ground like the best. Years and vicissitudes seemed to have steeled his spirit: while in earlier times he sent forth generals to lead his armies and took no direct part in war himself, we find him henceforth as an old man commanding in person and fighting in person on the field of battle. To one who, during his fifty years of rule, had witnessed so many unexampled changes of fortune, the cause of the great-king appeared by no means lost through the defeat of Tigranocerta; whereas the position of Lucullus was very difficult, and, if peace should not now take place and the war should be judiciously continued, even in a high degree precarious.
Renewal of the War
The veteran of varied experience, who stood towards the great-king almost as a father, and was now able to exercise a personal influence over him, overpowered by his energy that weak man, and induced him not only to resolve on the continuance of the war, but also to entrust Mithradates with its political and military management. The war was now to be changed from a cabinet contest into a national Asiatic struggle; the kings and peoples of Asia were to unite for this purpose against the domineering and haughty Occidentals. The greatest exertions were made to reconcile the Parthians and Armenians with each other, and to induce them to make common cause against Rome. At the suggestion of Mithradates, Tigranes offered to give back to the Arsacid Phraates the God (who had reigned since 684) the provinces conquered by the Armenians— Mesopotamia, Adiabene, the "great valleys"—and to enter into friendship and alliance with him. But, after all that had previously taken place, this offer could scarcely reckon on a favourable reception; Phraates preferred to secure the boundary of the Euphrates by a treaty not with the Armenians, but with the Romans, and to look on, while the hated neighbour and the inconvenient foreigner fought out their strife. Greater success attended the application of Mithradates to the peoples of the east than to the kings. It was not difficult to represent the war as a national one of the east against the west, for such it was; it might very well be made a religious war also, and the report might be spread that the object aimed at by the army of Lucullus was the temple of the Persian Nanaea or Anaitis in Elymais or the modern Luristan, the most celebrated and the richest shrine in the whole region of the Euphrates.(17) From far and near the Asiatics flocked in crowds to the banner of the kings, who summoned them to protect the east and its gods from the impious foreigners. But facts had shown not only that the mere assemblage of enormous hosts was of little avail, but that the troops really capable of marching and fighting were by their very incorporation in such a mass rendered useless and involved in the general ruin. Mithradates sought above all to develop the arm which was at once weakest among the Occidentals and strongest among the Asiatics, the cavalry; in the army newly formed by him half of the force was mounted. For the ranks of the infantry he carefully selected, out of the mass of recruits called forth or volunteering, those fit for service, and caused them to be drilled by his Pontic officers. The considerable army, however, which soon assembled under the banner of the great- king was destined not to measure its strength with the Roman veterans on the first chance field of battle, but to confine itself to defence and petty warfare. Mithradates had conducted the last war in his empire on the system of constantly retreating and avoiding battle; similar tactics were adopted on this occasion, and Armenia proper was destined as the theatre of war—the hereditary land of Tigranes, still wholly untouched by the enemy, and excellently adapted for this sort of warfare both by its physical character and by the patriotism of its inhabitants.
Dissatisfaction with Lucullus in the Capital and in the Army
The year 686 found Lucullus in a position of difficulty, which daily assumed a more dangerous aspect. In spite of his brilliant victories, people in Rome were not at all satisfied with him. The senate felt the arbitrary nature of his conduct: the capitalist party, sorely offended by him, set all means of intrigue and corruption at work to effect his recall. Daily the Forum echoed with just and unjust complaints regarding the foolhardy, the covetous, the un-Roman, the traitorous general. The senate so far yielded to the complaints regarding the union of such unlimited power—two ordinary governorships and an important extraordinary command—in the hands of such a man, as to assign the province of Asia to one of the praetors, and the province of Cilicia along with three newly-raised legions to the consul Quintus Marcius Rex, and to restrict the general to the command against Mithradates and Tigranes.
These accusations springing up against the general in Rome found a dangerous echo in the soldiers' quarters on the Iris andon the Tigris; and the more so that several officers including the general's own brother-in-law, Publius Clodius, worked upon the soldiers with this view. The report beyond doubt designedly circulated by these, that Lucullus now thought of combining with the Pontic-Armenian war an expedition against the Parthians, fed the exasperation of the troops.
Lucullus Advances into Armenia
But while the troublesome temper of the government and of the soldier thus threatened the victorious general with recall and mutiny, he himself continued like a desperate gambler to increase his stake and his risk. He did not indeed march against the Parthians but when Tigranes showed himself neither ready to make peace nor disposed, as Lucullus wished, to risk a second pitched battle, Lucullus resolved to advance from Tigranocerta, through the difficult mountain-country along the eastern shore of the lake of Van, into the valley of the eastern Euphrates (or the Arsanias, now Myrad-Chai), and thence into that of the Araxes, where, on the northern slope of Ararat, lay Artaxata the capital of Armenia proper, with the hereditary castle and the harem of the king. He hoped, by threatening the king's hereditary residence, to compel him to fight either on the way or at any rate before Artaxata. It was inevitably necessary to leave behind a division at Tigranocerta; and, as the marching army could not possibly be further reduced, no course was left but to weaken the position in Pontus and to summon troops thence to Tigranocerta. The main difficulty, however, was the shortness of the Armenian summer, so inconvenient for military enterprises. On the tableland of Armenia, which lies 5000 feet and more above the level of the sea, the corn at Erzeroum only germinates in the beginning of June, and the winter sets in with the harvest in September; Artaxata had to be reached and the campaign had to be ended in four months at the utmost.
At midsummer, 686, Lucullus set out from Tigranocerta, and, marching doubtless through the pass of Bitlis and farther to the westward along the lake of Van—arrived on the plateau of Musch and at the Euphrates. The march went on—amidst constant and very troublesome skirmishing with the enemy's cavalry, and especially with the mounted archers—slowly, but without material hindrance; and the passage of the Euphrates, which was seriously defended by the Armenian cavalry, was secured by a successful engagement; the Armenian infantry showed itself, but the attempt to involve it in the conflict did not succeed. Thus the army reached the tableland, properly so called, of Armenia, and continued its march into the unknown country. They had suffered no actual misfortune; but the mere inevitable delaying of the march by the difficulties of the ground and the horsemen of the enemy was itself a very serious disadvantage. Long before they had reached Artaxata, winter set in; and when the Italian soldiers saw snow and ice around them, the bow of military discipline that had been far too tightly stretched gave way.
Lucullus Retreats to Mesopotamia
Capture of Nisibus
A formal mutiny compelled the general to order a retreat, which he effected with his usual skill. When he had safely reached Mesopotamia where the season still permitted farther operations, Lucullus crossed the Tigris, and threw himself with the mass of his army on Nisibis, the last city that here remained to the Armenians. The great-king, rendered wiser by the experience acquired before Tigranocerta, left the city to itself: notwithstanding its brave defence it was stormed in a dark, rainy night by the besiegers, and the army of Lucullus found there booty not less rich and winter- quarters not less comfortable than the year before in Tigranocerta.
Conflicts in Pontus and at Tigranocerta
But, meanwhile, the whole weight of the enemy's offensive fell on the weak Roman divisions left behind in Pontus and in Armenia. Tigranes compelled the Roman commander of the latter corps, Lucius Fannius—the same who had formerly been the medium of communication between Sertorius and Mithradates (18)—to throw himself into a fortress, and kept him beleaguered there. Mithradates advanced into Pontus with 4000 Armenian horsemen and 4000 of his own, and as liberator and avenger summoned the nation to rise against the common foe. All joined him; the scattered Roman soldiers were everywhere seized and put to death: when Hadrianus, the Roman commandant in Pontus,(19) led his troops against him, the former mercenaries of the king and the numerous natives of Pontus following the army as slaves made common cause with the enemy. For two successive days the unequal conflict lasted; it was only the circumstance that the king after receiving two wounds had to be carried off from the field of battle, which gave the Roman commander the opportunity of breaking off the virtually lost battle, and throwing himself with the small remnant of his troops into Cabira. Another of Lucullus' lieutenants who accidentally came into this region, the resolute Triarius, again gathered round him a body of troops and fought a successful engagement with the king; but he was much too weak to expel him afresh from Pontic soil, and had to acquiesce while the king took up winter-quarters in Comana.
Farther Retreat to Pontus
So the spring of 687 came on. The reunion of the army in Nisibis, the idleness of winter-quarters, the frequent absence of the general, had meanwhile increased the insubordination of the troops; not only did they vehemently demand to be led back, but it was already tolerably evident that, if the general refused to lead them home, they would break up of themselves. The supplies were scanty; Fannius and Triarius, in their distress, sent the most urgent entreaties to the general to furnish aid. With a heavy heart Lucullus resolved to yield to necessity, to give up Nisibis and Tigranocerta, and, renouncing all the brilliant hopes of his Armenian expedition, to return to the right bank of the Euphrates. Fannius was relieved; but in Pontus the help was too late. Triarius, not strong enough to fight with Mithradates, had taken up a strong position at Gaziura (Turksal on the Iris, to the west of Tokat), while the baggage was left behind at Dadasa. But when Mithradates laid siege to the latter place, the Roman soldiers, apprehensive for their property, compelled their leader to leave his secure position, and to give battle to the king between Gaziura and Ziela (Zilleh) on the Scotian heights.
Defeat of the Romans in Pontus at Ziela
What Triarius had foreseen, occurred. In spite of the stoutest resistance the wing which the king commanded in person broke the Roman line and huddled the infantry together into a clayey ravine, where it could make neither a forward nor a lateral movement and was cut to pieces without pity. The king indeed was dangerously wounded by a Roman centurion, who sacrificed his life for it; but the defeat was not the less complete. The Roman camp was taken; the flower of the infantry, and almost all the staff and subaltern officers, strewed the ground; the dead were left lying unburied on the field of battle, and, when Lucullus arrived on the right bank of the Euphrates, he learned the defeat not from his own soldiers, but through the reports of the natives.
Mutiny of the Soldiers
Along with this defeat came the outbreak of the military conspiracy. At this very time news arrived from Rome that the people had resolved to grant a discharge to the soldiers whose legal term of service had expired, to wit, to the Fimbrians, and to entrust the chief command in Pontus and Bithynia to one of the consuls of the current year: the successor of Lucullus, the consul Manius Acilius Glabrio, had already landed in Asia Minor. The disbanding of the bravest and most turbulent legions and the recall of the commander-in-chief, in connection with the impression produced by the defeat of Ziela, dissolved all the bonds of authority in the army just when the general had most urgent need of their aid. Near Talaura in Lesser Armenia he confronted the Pontic troops, at whose head Tigranes' son-in-law, Mithradates of Media, had already engaged the Romans successfully in a cavalry conflict; the main force of the great-king was advancing to the same point from Armenia. Lucullus sent to Quintus Marcius the new governor of Cilicia, who had just arrived on the way to his province with three legions in Lycaonia, to obtain help from him; Marcius declared that his soldiers refused to march to Armenia. He sent to Glabrio with the request that he would take up the supreme command committed to him by the people; Glabrio showed still less inclination to undertake this task, which had now become so difficult and hazardous. Lucullus, compelled to retain the command, with the view of not being obliged to fight at Talaura against the Armenian and the Pontic armies conjoined, ordered a movement against the advancing Armenians.
Farther Retreat to Asia Minor
The soldiers obeyed the order to march; but, when they reached the point where the routes to Armenia and Cappadocia diverged, the bulk of the army took the latter, and proceeded to the province of Asia. There the Fimbrians demanded their immediate discharge; and although they desisted from this at the urgent entreaty of the commander-in-chief and the other corps, they yet persevered in their purpose of disbanding if the winter should come on without an enemy confronting them; which accordingly was the case. Mithradates not only occupied once more almost his whole kingdom, but his cavalry ranged over all Cappadocia and as far as Bithynia; king Ariobarzanes sought help equally in vain from Quintus Marcius, from Lucullus, and from Glabrio. It was a strange, almost incredible issue for a war conducted in a manner so glorious. If we look merely to military achievements, hardly any other Roman general accomplished so much with so trifling means as Lucullus; the talent and the fortune of Sulla seemed to have devolved on this his disciple. That under the circumstances the Roman army should have returned from Armenia to Asia Minor uninjured, is a military miracle which, so far as we can judge, far excels the retreat of Xenophon; and, although mainly doubtless to be explained by the solidity of the Roman, and the inefficiency of the Oriental, system of war, it at all events secures to the leader of this expedition an honourable name in the foremost rank of men of military capacity. If the name of Lucullus is not usually included among these, it is to all appearance simply owing to the fact that no narrative of his campaigns which is in a military point of view even tolerable has come down to us, and to the circumstance that in everything and particularly in war, nothing is taken into account but the final result; and this, in reality, was equivalent to a complete defeat. Through the last unfortunate turn of things, and principally through the mutiny of the soldiers, all the results of an eight years' war had been lost; in the winter of 687-688 the Romans again stood exactly at the same spot as in the winter of 679-680.
War with the Pirates
The maritime war against the pirates, which began at the same time with the continental war and was all along most closely connected with it, yielded no better results. It has been already mentioned (20) that the senate in 680 adopted the judicious resolution to entrust the task of clearing the seas from the corsairs to a single admiral in supreme command, the praetor Marcus Antonius. But at the very outset they had made an utter mistake in the choice of the leader; or rather those, who had carried this measure so appropriate in itself, had not taken into account that in the senate all personal questions were decided by the influence of Cethegus(21) and similar coterie-considerations. They had moreover neglected to furnish the admiral of their choice with money and ships in a manner befitting his comprehensive task, so that with his enormous requisitions he was almost as burdensome to the provincials whom he befriended as were the corsairs.
Defeat of Antonius off Cydonia
The results were corresponding. In the Campanian waters the fleet of Antonius captured a number of piratical vessels. But an engagement took place with the Cretans, who had entered into friendship and alliance with the pirates and abruptly rejected his demand that they should desist from such fellowship; and the chains, with which the foresight of Antonius had provided his vessels for the purpose of placing the captive buccaneers in irons, served to fasten the quaestor and the other Roman prisoners to the masts of the captured Roman ships, when the Cretan generals Lasthenes and Panares steered back in triumph to Cydonia from the naval combat in which they had engaged the Romans off their island. Antonius, after having squandered immense sums and accomplished not the slightest result by his inconsiderate mode of warfare, died in 683 at Crete. The ill success of his expedition, the costliness of building a fleet, and the repugnance of the oligarchy to confer any powers of a more comprehensive kind on the magistrates, led them, after the practical termination of this enterprise by Antonius' death, to make no farther nomination of an admiral-in-chief, and to revert to the old system of leaving each governor to look after the suppression of piracy in his own province: the fleet equipped by Lucullus for instance(22) was actively employed for this purpose in the Aegean sea.
So far however as the Cretans were concerned, a disgrace like that endured off Cydonia seemed even to the degenerate Romans of this age as if it could be answered only by a declaration of war. Yet the Cretan envoys, who in the year 684 appeared in Rome with the request that the prisoners might be taken back and the old alliance reestablished, had almost obtained a favourable decree of the senate; what the whole corporation termed a disgrace, the individual senator was ready to sell for a substantial price. It was not till a formal resolution of the senate rendered the loans of the Cretan envoys among the Roman bankers non-actionable— that is, not until the senate had incapacitated itself for undergoing bribery—that a decree passed to the effect that the Cretan communities, if they wished to avoid war, should hand over not only the Roman deserters but the authors of the outrage perpetrated off Cydonia—the leaders Lasthenes and Panares—to the Romans for befitting punishment, should deliver up all ships and boats of four or more oars, should furnish 400 hostages, and should pay a fine of 4000 talents (975,000 pounds). When the envoys declared that they were not empowered to enter into such terms, one of the consuls of the next year was appointed to depart on the expiry of his official term for Crete, in order either to receive there what was demanded or to begin the war.
Metellus Subdues Crete
Accordingly in 685 the proconsul Quintus Metellus appeared in the Cretan waters. The communities of the island, with the larger towns Gortyna, Cnossus, Cydonia at their head, were resolved rather to defend themselves in arms than to submit to those excessive demands. The Cretans were a nefarious and degenerate people,(23) with whose public and private existence piracy was as intimately associated as robbery with the commonwealth of the Aetolians; but they resembled the Aetolians in valour as in many other respects, and accordingly these two were the only Greek communities that waged a courageous and honourable struggle for independence. At Cydonia, where Metellus landed his three legions, a Cretan army of 24,000 men under Lasthenes and Panares was ready to receive him; a battle took place in the open field, in which the victory after a hard struggle remained with the Romans. Nevertheless the towns bade defiance from behind their walls to the Roman general; Metellus had to make up his mind to besiege them in succession. First Cydonia, in which the remains of the beaten army had taken refuge, was after a long siege surrendered by Panares in return for the promise of a free departure for himself. Lasthenes, who had escaped from the town, had to be besieged a second time in Cnossus; and, when this fortress also was on the point of falling, he destroyed its treasures and escaped once more to places which still continued their defence, such as Lyctus, Eleuthera, and others. Two years (686, 687) elapsed, before Metellus became master of the whole island and the last spot of free Greek soil thereby passed under the control of the dominant Romans; the Cretan communities, as they were the first of all Greek commonwealths to develop the free urban constitution and the dominion of the sea, were also to be the last of all those Greek maritime states that formerly filled the Mediterranean to succumb to the Roman continental power.
The Pirates in the Mediterranean
All the legal conditions were fulfilled for celebrating another of the usual pompous triumphs; the gens of the Metelli could add to its Macedonian, Numidian, Dalmatian, Balearic titles with equal right the new title of Creticus, and Rome possessed another name of pride. Nevertheless the power of the Romans in the Mediterranean was never lower, that of the corsairs never higher, than in those years. Well might the Cilicians and Cretans of the seas, who are said to have numbered at this time 1000 ships, mock the Isauricus and the Creticus, and their empty victories. With what effect the pirates interfered in the Mithradatic war, and how the obstinate resistance of the Pontic maritime towns derived its best resources from the corsair-state, has been already related. But that state transacted business on a hardly less grand scale on its own behoof. Almost under the eyes of the fleet of Lucullus, the pirate Athenodorus surprised in 685 the island of Delos, destroyed its far-famed shrines and temples, and carried off the whole population into slavery. The island Lipara near Sicily paid to the pirates a fixed tribute annually, to remain exempt from like attacks. Another pirate chief Heracleon destroyed in 682 the squadron equipped in Sicily against him, and ventured with no more than four open boats to sail into the harbour of Syracuse. Two years later his colleague Pyrganion even landed at the same port, established himself there and sent forth flying parties into the island, till the Roman governor at last compelled him to re-embark. People grew at length quite accustomed to the fact that all the provinces equipped squadrons and raised coastguards, or were at any rate taxed for both; and yet the pirates appeared to plunder the provinces with as much regularity as the Roman governors. But even the sacred soil of Italy was now no longer respected by the shameless transgressors: from Croton they carried off with them the temple-treasures of the Lacinian Hera; they landed in Brundisium, Misenum, Caieta, in the Etruscan ports, even in Ostia itself; they seized the most eminent Roman officers as captives, among others the admiral of the Cilician army and two praetors with their whole retinue, with the dreaded -fasces- themselves and all the insignia of their dignity; they carried away from a villa at Misenum the very sister of the Roman admiral-in-chief Antonius, who was sent forth to annihilate the pirates; they destroyed in the port of Ostia the Roman war fleet equipped against them and commanded by a consul. The Latin husbandman, the traveller on the Appian highway, the genteel bathing visitor at the terrestrial paradise of Baiae were no longer secure of their property or their life for a single moment; all traffic and all intercourse were suspended; the most dreadful scarcity prevailed in Italy, and especially in the capital, which subsisted on transmarine corn. The contemporary world and history indulge freely in complaints of insupportable distress; in this case the epithet may have been appropriate.
We have already described how the senate restored by Sulla carried out its guardianship of the frontier in Macedonia, its discipline over the client kings of Asia Minor, and lastly its marine police; the results were nowhere satisfactory. Nor did better success attend the government in another and perhaps even more urgent matter, the supervision of the provincial, and above all of the Italian, proletariate. The gangrene of a slave-proletariate Gnawed at the vitals of all the states of antiquity, and the more so, the more vigorously they had risen and prospered; for the power and riches of the state regularly led, under the existing circumstances, to a disproportionate increase of the body of slaves. Rome naturally suffered more severely from this cause than any other state of antiquity. Even the government of the sixth century had been under the necessity of sending troops against the gangs of runaway herdsmen and rural slaves. The plantation-system, spreading more and more among the Italian speculators had infinitely increased the dangerous evil: in the time of the Gracchan and Marian crises and in close connection with them servile revolts had taken place at numerous points of the Roman empire, and in Sicily had even grown into two bloody wars (619-622 and 652-654;(24)). But the ten years of the rule of the restoration after Sulla's death formed the golden age both for the buccaneers at sea and for bands of a similar character on land, above all in the Italian peninsula, which had hitherto been comparatively well regulated. The land could hardly be said any longer to enjoy peace. In the capital and the less populous districts of Italy robberies were of everyday occurrence, murders were frequent. A special decree of the people was issued—perhaps at this epoch— against kidnapping of foreign slaves and of free men; a special summary action was about this time introduced against violent deprivation of landed property. These crimes could not but appear specially dangerous, because, while they were usually perpetrated by the proletariate, the upper class were to a great extent also concerned in them as moral originators and partakers in the gain. The abduction of men and of estates was very frequently suggested by the overseers of the large estates and carried out by the gangs of slaves, frequently armed, that were collected there: and many a man even of high respectability did not disdain what one of his officious slave-overseers thus acquired for him as Mephistopheles acquired for Faust the lime trees of Philemon. The state of things is shown by the aggravated punishment for outrages on property committed by armed bands, which was introduced by one of the better Optimates, Marcus Lucullus, as presiding over the administration of justice in the capital about the year 676,(25) with the express object of inducing the proprietors of large bands of slaves to exercise a more strict superintendence over them and thereby avoid the penalty of seeing them judicially condemned. Where pillage and murder were thus carried on by order of the world of quality, it was natural for these masses of slaves and proletarians to prosecute the same business on their own account; a spark was sufficient to set fire to so inflammable materials, and to convert the proletariate into an insurrectionary army. An occasion was soon found.
Outbreak of the Gladiatorial War in Italy
The gladiatorial games, which now held the first rank among the popular amusements in Italy, had led to the institution of numerous establishments, more especially in and around Capua, designed partly for the custody, partly for the training of those slaves who were destined to kill or be killed for the amusement of the sovereign multitude. These were naturally in great part brave men captured in war, who had not forgotten that they had once faced the Romans in the field. A number of these desperadoes broke out of one of the Capuan gladiatorial schools (681), and sought refuge on Mount Vesuvius. At their head were two Celts, who were designated by their slave-names Crixus and Oenomaus, and the Thracian Spartacus. The latter, perhaps a scion of the noble family of the Spartocids which attained even to royal honours in its Thracian home and in Panticapaeum, had served among the Thracian auxiliaries in the Roman army, had deserted and gone as a brigand to the mountains, and had been there recaptured and destined for the gladiatorial games.
The Insurrection Takes Shape
The inroads of this little band, numbering at first only seventy-four persons, but rapidly swelling by concourse from the surrounding country, soon became so troublesome to the inhabitants of the rich region of Campania, that these, after having vainly attempted themselves to repel them, sought help against them from Rome. A division of 3000 men hurriedly collected appeared under the leadership of Clodius Glaber, and occupied the approaches to Vesuvius with the view of starving out the slaves. But the brigands in spite of their small number and their defective armament had the boldness to scramble down steep declivities and to fall upon the Roman posts; and when the wretched militia saw the little band of desperadoes unexpectedly assail them, they took to their heels and fled on all sides. This first success procured for the robbers arms and increased accessions to their ranks. Although even now a great portion of them carried nothing but pointed clubs, the new and stronger division of the militia— two legions under the praetor Publius Varinius—which advanced from Rome into Campania, found them encamped almost like a regular army in the plain. Varinius had a difficult position. His militia, compelled to bivouac opposite the enemy, were severely weakened by the damp autumn weather and the diseases which it engendered; and, worse than the epidemics, cowardice and insubordination thinned the ranks. At the very outset one of his divisions broke up entirely, so that the fugitives did not fall back on the main corps, but went straight home. Thereupon, when the order was given to advance against the enemy's entrenchments and attack them, the greater portion of the troops refused to comply with it. Nevertheless Varinius set out with those who kept their ground against the robber-band; but it was no longer to be found where he sought it. It had broken up in the deepest silence and had turned to the south towards Picentia (Vicenza near Amain), where Varinius overtook it indeed, but could not prevent it from retiring over the Silarus into the interior of Lucania, the chosen land of shepherds and robbers. Varinius followed thither, and there at length the despised enemy arrayed themselves for battle. All the circumstances under which the combat took place were to the disadvantage of the Romans: the soldiers, vehemently as they had demanded battle a little before, fought ill; Varinius was completely vanquished; his horse and the insignia of his official dignity fell with the Roman camp itself into the enemy's hand. The south-Italian slaves, especially the brave half-savage herdsmen, flocked in crowds to the banner of the deliverers who had so unexpectedly appeared; according to the most moderate estimates the number of armed insurgents rose to 40,000 men. Campania, just evacuated, was speedily reoccupied, and the Roman corps which was left behind there under Gaius Thoranius, the quaestor of Varinius, was broken and destroyed. In the whole south and south-west of Italy the open country was in the hands of the victorious bandit- chiefs; even considerable towns, such as Consentia in the Bruttian country, Thurii and Metapontum in Lucania, Nola and Nuceria in Campania, were stormed by them, and suffered all the atrocities which victorious barbarians could inflict on defenceless civilized men, and unshackled slaves on their former masters. That a conflict like this should be altogether abnormal and more a massacre than a war, was unhappily a matter of course: the masters duly crucified every captured slave; the slaves naturally killed their prisoners also, or with still more sarcastic retaliation even compelled their Roman captives to slaughter each other in gladiatorial sport; as was subsequently done with three hundred of them at the obsequies of a robber-captain who had fallen in combat.
Great Victories of Spartacus
In Rome people were with reason apprehensive as to the destructive conflagration which was daily spreading. It was resolved next year (682) to send both consuls against the formidable leaders of the gang. The praetor Quintus Arrius, a lieutenant of the consul Lucius Gellius, actually succeeded in seizing and destroying at Mount Garganus in Apulia the Celtic band, which under Crixus had separated from the mass of the robber-army and was levying contributions at its own hand. But Spartacus achieved all the more brilliant victories in the Apennines and in northern Italy, where first the consul Gnaeus Lentulus who had thought to surround and capture the robbers, then his colleague Gellius and the so recently victorious praetor Arrius, and lastly at Mutina the governor of Cisalpine Gaul Gaius Cassius (consul 681) and the praetor Gnaeus Manlius, one after another succumbed to his blows. The scarcely- armed gangs of slaves were the terror of the legions; the series of defeats recalled the first years of the Hannibalic war.
Internal Dissension among the Insurgents
What might have come of it, had the national kings from the mountains of Auvergne or of the Balkan, and not runaway gladiatorial slaves, been at the head of the victorious bands, it is impossible to say; as it was, the movement remained notwithstanding its brilliant victories a rising of robbers, and succumbed less to the superior force of its opponents than to internal discord and the want of definite plan. The unity in confronting the common foe, which was so remarkably conspicuous in the earlier servile wars of Sicily, was wanting in this Italian war—a difference probably due to the fact that, while the Sicilian slaves found a quasi-national point of union in the common Syrohellenism, the Italian slaves were separated into the two bodies of Helleno-Barbarians and Celto-Germans. The rupture between the Celtic Crixus and the Thracian Spartacus—Oenomaus had fallen in one of the earliest conflicts—and other similar quarrels crippled them in turning to account the successes achieved, and procured for the Romans several important victories. But the want of a definite plan and aim produced far more injurious effects on the enterprise than the insubordination of the Celto-Germans. Spartacus doubtless—to judge by the little which we learn regarding that remarkable man—stood in this respect above his party. Along with his strategic ability he displayed no ordinary talent for organization, as indeed from the very outset the uprightness, with which he presided over his band and distributed the spoil, had directed the eyes of the multitude to him quite as much at least as his valour. To remedy the severely felt want of cavalry and of arms, he tried with the help of the herds of horses seized in Lower Italy to train and discipline a cavalry, and, so soon as he got the port of Thurii into his hands, to procure from that quarter iron and copper, doubtless through the medium of the pirates. But in the main matters he was unable to induce the wild hordes whom he led to pursue any fixed ulterior aims. Gladly would he have checked the frantic orgies of cruelty, in which the robbers indulged on the capture of towns, and which formed the chief reason why no Italian city voluntarily made common cause with the insurgents; but the obedience which the bandit-chief found in the conflic ceased with the victory, and his representations and entreaties were in vain. After the victories obtained in the Apennine in 682 the slave army was free to move in any direction. Spartacus himself is said to have intended to cross the Alps, with a view to open to himself and his followers the means of return to their Celtic or Thracian home: if the statement is well founded, it shows how little the conqueror overrated his successes and his power. When his men refused so speedily to turn their backs on the riches of Italy, Spartacus took the route for Rome, and is said to have meditated blockading the capital. The troops, however, showed themselves also averse to this desperate but yet methodical enterprise; they compelled their leader, when he was desirous to be a general, to remain a mere captain of banditti and aimlessly to wander about Italy in search of plunder. Rome might think herself fortunate that the matter took this turn; but even as it was, the perplexity was great. There was a want of trained soldiers as of experienced generals; Quintus Metellus and Gnaeus Pompeius were employed in Spain, Marcus Lucullus in Thrace, Lucius Lucullus in Asia Minor; and none but raw militia and, at best, mediocre officers were available. The extraordinary supreme command in Italy was given to the praetor Marcus Crassus, who was not a general of much reputation, but had fought with honour under Sulla and had at least character; and an army of eight legions, imposing if not by its quality, at any rate by its numbers, was placed at his disposal. The new commander-in-chief began by treating the first division, which again threw away its arms and fled before the banditti, with all the severity of martial law, and causing every tenth man in it to be executed; whereupon the legions in reality grew somewhat more manly. Spartacus, vanquished in the next engagement, retreated and sought to reach Rhegium through Lucania.
Conflicts in the Bruttian Country
Just at that time the pirates commanded not merely the Sicilian waters, but even the port of Syracuse;(26) with the help of their boats Spartacus proposed to throw a corps into Sicily, where the slaves only waited an impulse to break out a third time. The march to Rhegium was accomplished; but the corsairs, perhaps terrified by the coastguards established in Sicily by the praetor Gaius Verres, perhaps also bribed by the Romans, took from Spartacus the stipulated hire without performing the service for which it was given. Crassus meanwhile had followed the robber-army nearly as far as the mouth, of the Crathis, and, like Scipio before Numantia, ordered his soldiers, seeing that they did not fight as they ought, to construct an entrenched wall of the length of thirty-five miles, which shut off the Bruttian peninsula from the rest of Italy,(27) intercepted the insurgent army on the return from Rhegium, and cut off its supplies. But in a dark winter night Spartacus broke through the lines of the enemy, and in the spring of 683(28) was once more in Lucania. The laborious work had thus been in vain. Crassus began to despair of accomplishing his task and demanded that the senate should for his support recall to Italy the armies stationed in Macedonia under Marcus Lucullus and in Hither Spain under Gnaeus Pompeius.
Disruption of the Rebels and Their Subjugation
This extreme step however was not needed; the disunion and the arrogance of the robber-bands sufficed again to frustrate their successes. Once more the Celts and Germans broke off from the league of which the Thracian was the head and soul, in order that, under leaders of their own nation Gannicus and Castus, they might separately fall victims to the sword of the Romans. Once, at the Lucanian lake the opportune appearance of Spartacus saved them, and thereupon they pitched their camp near to his; nevertheless Crassus succeeded in giving employment to Spartacus by means of the cavalry, and meanwhile surrounded the Celtic bands and compelled them to a separate engagement, in which the whole body—numbering it is said 12,300 combatants—fell fighting bravely all on the spot and with their wounds in front. Spartacus then attempted to throw himself with his division into the mountains round Petelia (near Strongoli in Calabria), and signally defeated the Roman vanguard, which followed his retreat But this victory proved more injurious to the victor than to the vanquished. Intoxicated by success, the robbers refused to retreat farther, and compelled their general to lead them through Lucania towards Apulia to face the last decisive struggle. Before the battle Spartacus stabbed his horse: as in prosperity and adversity he had faithfully kept by his men, he now by that act showed them that the issue for him and for all was victory or death. In the battle also he fought with the courage of a lion; two centurions fell by his hand; wounded and on his knees he still wielded his spear against the advancing foes. Thus the great robber-captain and with him the best of his comrades died the death of free men and of honourable soldiers (683). After the dearly-bought victory the troops who had achieved it, and those of Pompeius that had meanwhile after conquering the Sertorians arrived from Spain, instituted throughout Apulia and Lucania a manhunt, such as there had never been before, to crush out the last sparks of the mighty conflagration. Although in the southern districts, where for instance the little town of Tempsa was seized in 683 by a gang of robbers, and in Etruria, which was severely affected by Sulla's evictions, there was by no means as yet a real public tranquillity, peace was officially considered as re-established in Italy. At least the disgracefully lost eagles were recovered— after the victory over the Celts alone five of them were brought in; and along the road from Capua to Rome the six thousand crosses bearing captured slaves testified to the re-establishment of order, and to the renewed victory of acknowledged law over its living property that had rebelled.
The Government of the Restoration as a Whole
Let us look back on the events which fill up the ten years of the Sullan restoration. No one of the movements, external or internal, which occurred during this period—neither the insurrection of Lepidus, nor the enterprises of the Spanish emigrants, nor the wars in Thrace and Macedonia and in Asia Minor, nor the risings of the pirates and the slaves—constituted of itself a mighty danger necessarily affecting the vital sinews of the nation; and yet the state had in all these struggles well-nigh fought for its very existence. The reason was that the tasks were everywhere left unperformed, so long as they might still have been performed with ease; the neglect of the simplest precautionary measures produced the most dreadful mischiefs and misfortunes, and transformed dependent classes and impotent kings into antagonists on a footing of equality. The democracy and the servile insurrection were doubtless subdued; but such as the victories were, the victor was neither inwardly elevated nor outwardly strengthened by them. It was no credit to Rome, that the two most celebrated generals of the government party had during a struggle of eight years marked by more defeats than victories failed to master the insurgent chief Sertorius and his Spanish guerillas, and that it was only the dagger of his friends that decided the Sertorian war in favour of the legitimate government. As to the slaves, it was far less an honour to have conquered them than a disgrace to have confronted them in equal strife for years. Little more than a century had elapsed since the Hannibalic war; it must have brought a blush to the cheek of the honourable Roman, when he reflected on the fearfully rapid decline of the nation since that great age. Then the Italian slaves stood like a wall against the veterans of Hannibal; now the Italian militia were scattered like chaff before the bludgeons of their runaway serfs. Then every plain captain acted in case of need as general, and fought often without success, but always with honour; now it was difficult to find among all the officers of rank a leader of even ordinary efficiency. Then the government preferred to take the last farmer from the plough rather than forgo the acquisition of Spain and Greece; now they were on the eve of again abandoning both regions long since acquired, merely that they might be able to defend themselves against the insurgent slaves at home. Spartacus too as well as Hannibal had traversed Italy with an army from the Po to the Sicilian straits, beaten both consuls, and threatened Rome with blockade; the enterprise which had needed the greatest general of antiquity to conduct it against the Rome of former days could be undertaken against the Rome of the present by a daring captain of banditti. Was there any wonder that no fresh life sprang out of such victories over insurgents and robber-chiefs?
The external wars, however, had produced a result still less gratifying. It is true that the Thraco-Macedonian war had yielded a result not directly unfavourable, although far from corresponding to the considerable expenditure of men and money. In the wars in Asia Minor and with the pirates on the other hand, the government had exhibited utter failure. The former ended with the loss of the whole conquests made in eight bloody campaigns, the latter with the total driving of the Romans from "their own sea." Once Rome, fully conscious of the irresistibleness of her power by land, had transferred her superiority also to the other element; now the mighty state was powerless at sea and, as it seemed, on the point of also losing its dominion at least over the Asiatic continent. The material benefits which a state exists to confer— security of frontier, undisturbed peaceful intercourse, legal protection, and regulated administration—began all of them to vanish for the whole of the nations united in the Roman state; the gods of blessing seemed all to have mounted up to Olympus and to have left the miserable earth at the mercy of the officially called or volunteer plunderers and tormentors. Nor was this decay of the state felt as a public misfortune merely perhaps by such as had political rights and public spirit; the insurrection of the proletariate, and the brigandage and piracy which remind us of the times of the Neapolitan Ferdinands, carried the sense of this decay into the remotest valley and the humblest hut of Italy, and made every one who pursued trade and commerce, or who bought even a bushel of wheat, feel it as a personal calamity.
If inquiry was made as to the authors of this dreadful and unexampled misery, it was not difficult to lay the blame of it with good reason on many. The slaveholders whose heart was in their money-bags, the insubordinate soldiers, the generals cowardly, incapable, or foolhardy, the demagogues of the market-place mostly pursuing a mistaken aim, bore their share of the blame; or, to speak more truly, who was there that did not share in it? It was instinctively felt that this misery, this disgrace, this disorder were too colossal to be the work of any one man. As the greatness of the Roman commonwealth was the work not of prominent individuals, but rather of a soundly-organized burgess-body, so the decay of this mighty structure was the result not of the destructive genius of individuals, but of a general disorganization. The great majority of the burgesses were good for nothing, and every rotten stone in the building helped to bring about the ruin of the whole; the whole nation suffered for what was the whole nation's fault. It was unjust to hold the government, as the ultimate tangible organ of the state, responsible for all its curable and incurable diseases; but it certainly was true that the government contributed after a very grave fashion to the general culpability. In the Asiatic war, for example, where no individual of the ruling lords conspicuously failed, and Lucullus, in a military point of view at least, behaved with ability and even glory, it was all the more clear that the blame of failure lay in the system and in the government as such—primarily, so far as that war was concerned, in the remissness with which Cappadocia and Syria were at first abandoned, and in the awkward position of the able general with reference to a governing college incapable of any energetic resolution. In maritime police likewise the true idea which the senate had taken up as to a general hunting out of the pirates was first spoilt by it in the execution and then totally dropped, in order to revert to the old foolish system of sending legions against the coursers of the sea. The expeditions of Servilius and Marcius to Cilicia, and of Metellus to Crete, were undertaken on this system; and in accordance with it Triarius had the island of Delos surrounded by a wall for protection against the pirates. Such attempts to secure the dominion of the seas remind us of that Persian great-king, who ordered the sea to be scourged with rods to make it subject to him. Doubtless therefore the nation had good reason for laying the blame of its failure primarily on the government of the restoration. A similar misrule had indeed always come along with the re-establishment of the oligarchy, after the fall of the Gracchi as after that of Marius and Saturninus; yet never before had it shown such violence and at the same time such laxity, never had it previously emerged so corrupt and pernicious. But, when a government cannot govern, it ceases to be legitimate, and whoever has the power has also the right to overthrow it. It is, no doubt, unhappily true that an incapable and flagitious government may for a long period trample under foot the welfare and honour of the land, before the men are found who are able and willing to wield against that government the formidable weapons of its own forging, and to evoke out of the moral revolt of the good and the distress of the many the revolution which is in such a case legitimate. But if the game attempted with the fortunes of nations may be a merry one and may be played perhaps for a long time without molestation, it is a treacherous game, which in its own time entraps the players; and no one then blames the axe, if it is laid to the root of the tree that bears such fruits. For the Roman oligarchy this time had now come. The Pontic-Armenian war and the affair of the pirates became the proximate causes of the overthrow of the Sullan constitution and of the establishment of a revolutionary military dictatorship.