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The History Of Pontus
Book: Chapter I.
Author: Rollins, Charles
Date: 1731

Section IV.

Mithridates Recovers All His Dominions.

Pompey Overthrows Him In Several Battles.

Manius Acilius Glabrio, and C. Piso, had been elected consuls at Rome.
The first had Bithynia and Pontus for his province, where Lucullus commanded.
The senate at the same time disbanded Fimbria's legions, which were part of
his army. All this news augmented the disobedience and insolence of the
troops in regard to Lucullus.

It is true, his rough, austere, and frequently haughty disposition, gave
some room for such usage. He cannot be denied the glory of having been one of
the greatest captains of his age, and of having had almost all the qualities
that form a complete general. But the want of one diminished the merit of all
the rest. I mean address in winning the heart, and making himself beloved by
the soldiers. He was difficult of access, rough in commanding, carried
exactitude in point of duty to an excess that made it odious, was inexorable
in punishing offences, and did not know how to conciliate esteem by praises
and rewards bestowed opportunely, an air of kindness and favor, and
insinuating manners, still more efficacious than either gifts or praises. And
what proves that the sedition of the troops was in a great measure his own
fault, was, their being very docile and obedient under Pompey. ^800

[Footnote 800: Dion. Cass. l. xxxv. p. 7.]

In consequence of the letters which Lucullus wrote to the senate, in
which he acquainted them, that Mithridates was entirely defeated, and utterly
incapable of retrieving himself, commissioners had been nominated to regulate
the affairs of Pontus, as of a kingdom totally reduced. They were much
surprised to find, upon their arrival, that far from being master of Pontus,
he was not so much as master of his army, and that his own soldiers treated
him with the utmost contempt.

The arrival of the consul Acilius Glabrio added still more to their
licentiousness. He informed them that Lucullus had been accused at Rome of
protracting the war for the sake of continuing in command; that the senate had
disbanded part of his troops, and forbade them paying him any farther
obedience, so that he found himself almost entirely abandoned by the soldiers.
^801 Mithridates, taking advantage of this disorder, had time to recover his
whole kingdom, and to make ravages in Cappadocia.

[Footnote 801: In ipso illo malo gravissimaque belli offensione, L. Lucullus,
qui tamen aliqua ex parte iis incommodis mederi fortasse potuisset, vestro
jussu coactus, quod imperii diuturnitate modum statuendum, veteri exemplo,
putavistis, partem militum, qui jam stipendiis confectis erant, dimisit,
partem Glabrioni tradidit. - Cic. pro Lege. Manil. n. 26.]

While the affairs of the army were in this condition, great noise was
made at Rome against Lucullus. Pompey had returned from putting an end to the
war with the pirates, in which an extraordinary power had been granted him.
Upon this occasion, one of the tribunes of the people, named Manilius, passed
a decree to this effect: "That Pompey, taking upon him the command of all the
troops and provinces which were under Lucullus, and adding to them Bithynia,
where Acilius commanded, should be charged with making war upon the kings
Mithridates and Tigranes, retaining under him all the naval forces, and
continuing to command at sea, with the same conditions and prerogatives as had
been granted him in the war against the pirates: that is to say, that he
should have absolute power on all the coasts of the Mediterranean, to thirty
leagues' distance from the sea." This was, in effect, subjecting the whole
Roman empire to one man; for all the provinces which had not been granted him
by the first decree, Phrygia, Lycaonia, Galatia, Cappadocia, Cilicia the
Higher, Colchis, and Armenia, were conferred upon him by this second, which
included also all the armies and forces with which Lucullus had defeated the
two kings Mithridates and Tigranes. ^802

[Footnote 802: A. M. 3938. Ant. J. C. 66. Plut. in Pomp. p. 634. Appian. p.
238. Dion. Cass. l. xxxv. p. 26.]

Consideration for Lucullus, who was deprived of the glory of his great
exploits, and in the place of whom a general was appointed, to succeed more to
the honors of his triumph than the command of his armies, was not, however,
what gave the nobility and the senate most concern. They were well convinced
that great wrong was done him, and that his services were not treated with the
gratitude they deserved; but what gave them most pain, and they could not
support, was that high decree of power to which Pompey was raised, which they
considered as a tyranny already formed. It is for this reason they exhorted
each other, in a particular manner, to oppose that decree, and not abandon
their expiring liberty.

Caesar and Cicero, who were very powerful at Rome, supported Manilius, or
rather Pompey, with all their power. It was upon this occasion the latter
pronounced that fine oration before the people, entitled, "For the law of
Manilius." After having demonstrated, in the two first parts of his discourse,
the necessity and importance of the war in question, he proves in the third,
that Pompey is the only person capable of terminating it successfully. For
this purpose he enumerates the qualities necessary to form a general of an
army, and shows that Pompey possesses them all in a superior degree. He
insists principally upon his probity, humanity, innocence of manners,
integrity, disinterestedness, love of the public good: "virtues, by so much
the more necessary," says he, "as the Roman name is become infamous and
hateful among foreign nations, and our allies, in consequence of the
debauchery, avarice, and unheard-of oppressions of the generals and
magistrates we send among them. ^803 Instead of which, the wise, moderate, and
irreproachable conduct of Pompey, will make him be regarded, not only as sent
from Rome, but descended from heaven, for the happiness of the people. We
begin to believe, that all which is related of the noble disinterestedness of
those ancient Romans is real and true; and that it is not without reason,
under such magistrates, that nations chose rather to obey the Roman people,
than to command others." ^804

[Footnote 803: Difficile est dictu, Quirites, quanto in odio sumus apud
caeteras nationes, propter eorum quos ad eas hoc annio cum imperio misimus,
injurias ac libidines. - Cic. pro Lege. Manil. n. 61.]

[Footnote 804: Itaque omnes quidem nunc in his locis Cn. Pompeium, sicut
aliquem non ex hac urbe missum sed de caelo delapsum, intuentur. Nunc denique
incipiunt credere fuisse homines Romanos hac quondam abstinentia quod jam
nationibus caeteris incredibile, ac falso memoriae proditum, videbatur. Nunc
imperii nostri splendor illis gentibus lucet; nunc intelligunt, non sine causa
majores suos tum, cum hac temperantis magistratus habebamus, servire populo
Romano quam imperare aliis maluisse. - Cic. pro Lege. Manil. n. 41.]

Pompey was at that time the idol of the people: wherefore the fear of
displeasing the multitude kept those grave senators silent, who had appeared
so well inclined and so full of courage. The decree was authorized by the
suffrages of all the tribes, and Pompey, though absent, declared absolute
master of almost all that Sylla had usurped by arms, and by making a cruel war
upon his country.

We must not imagine, says a very judicious historian, that either Caesar
or Cicero, who took so much pains to have this law passed, acted from views to
the public good. Caesar, full of ambition and great projects, endeavored to
make his court to the people, whose authority he knew was at that time much
greater than that of the senate; he thereby opened himself a way to the same
power, and familiarized the Romans to extraordinary and unlimited commissions;
in heaping upon the head of Pompey so many favors and distinctions, he
flattered himself that he should at length render him odious to the people,
who would soon take offence at them. So that in lifting him up, he had no
other design than to prepare a precipice for him. Cicero also intended only
his own greatness. It was his weakness to desire to lord it in the
commonwealth, not indeed by guilt and violence, but by means of persuasion.
Besides his having the support of Pompey's credit in view, he was very well
pleased with showing the nobility and people, who formed two parties, and in a
manner two republics, in the state, that he was capable of making the balance
incline to the side he espoused. Consequently it was always his policy to
conciliate equally both parties, in declaring sometimes for the one and
sometimes for the other. ^805

[Footnote 805: Dion. Cass. l. xxxv. pp. 20, 21.]

Pompey, who had already terminated the war with the pirates, was still in
Cilicia, when he received letters informing him of all the people had decreed
in his favor. When his friends who were present congratulated him, and
expressed their joy, it is said that he knit his brows, struck his thighs, and
cried, as if oppressed by, and sorry for, that new command: "Gods! what
endless labors am I devoted to? Would I not have been more happy as a man
unknown and inglorious? Shall I never cease to make war, nor ever have my
arms off my back? Shall I never escape the envy that persecutes me, nor live
in peace in the country with my wife and children?" ^806

[Footnote 806: A. M. 3928. Ant. J. C. 66. Plut. in Pomp. pp. 634-636. Dion.
Cass. l. xxxvi. pp. 22-25. Appian. p. 238.]

This is generally the language of the ambitious, even of those who are
most excessively actuated by that passion. But, however successful they may
be in imposing upon themselves, it seldom happens that they deceive others,
and the public is far from mistaking them. The friends of Pompey, and even
those who were most intimate with him, could not support his dissimulation at
this time; for there was not one of them who did not know that his natural
ambition and passion for command, still more inflamed by his difference with
Lucullus, made him find a more exalted and sensible satisfaction in the new
charge conferred upon him; and his actions soon shook off the mask, and
explained his real sentiments.

The first step which he took upon arriving in the provinces of his
government, was to forbid any obedience whatever to the orders of Lucullus. In
his march he altered every thing his predecessor had decreed. He discharged
some from the penalties which Lucullus had laid upon them; deprived others of
the rewards he had given them; in short his sole view in every thing was to
let the partisans of Lucullus see that they adhered to a man who had neither
authority nor power. Strabo's uncle by the mother's side, highly discontented
with Mithridates for having put to death several of his relations, to avenge
himself for that cruelty, had gone over to Lucullus, and had given up fifteen
places in Cappadocia to him. Lucullus loaded him with honors, and promised to
reward him further as his great services deserved. Pompey, far from having
any regard for such just and reasonable engagements, which his predecessor had
entered into solely from the view of the public good, effected a universal
opposition to them, and looked upon all those as his enemies who had
contracted any friendship with Lucullus. ^807

[Footnote 807: Strab. l. xii. pp. 557, 558.]

It is not uncommon for a successor to endeavor to lessen the value of his
predecessor's actions, in order to arrogate all honor to himself; but
certainly no one ever carried that conduct to such an excess as Pompey did at
this time. His great qualities and innumerable conquests are exceedingly
extolled; but so base and odious a jealously ought to sully, or rather totally
eclipse, the glory of them. Such was the manner in which Pompey thought fit
to begin.

Lucullus made bitter complaints to him. Their common friends, in order
to a reconciliation, concerted an interview between them. It passed at first
with all possible politeness, and with reciprocal marks of esteem and
friendship; but these were only compliments, and a language that extended no
farther than the lips, which cost the great nothing. The heart soon explained
itself. The conversation growing warm by degrees, they proceeded to injurious
terms; Pompey upbraided Lucullus with avarice, and Lucullus reproached Pompey
with ambition, in which they spoke the truth of each other. They parted more
incensed, and greater enemies than before.

Lucullus set out for Rome, whither he carried a great quantity of books,
which he had collected in his conquests. He put them into a library, which
was open to all the learned and curious, whom it drew about him in great
numbers. They were received at his house with all possible politeness and
generosity. The honor of a triumph was granted to Lucullus; but not without
being long contested.

It was he who first brought cherries to Rome, which till then had been
unknown in Europe. They were called cerasus, from a city of that name in
Cappadocia. ^808

[Footnote 808: Plin. l. xv. c. 25.]

Pompey began by engaging Phraates, king of the Parthians, in the Roman
interest. He has been spoken of already, and is the same who was surnamed the
god. He concluded an offensive and defensive alliance with him. He offered
peace also to Mithridates; but that prince believing himself sure of the amity
and aid of Phraates, would not so much as hear it mentioned. When he was
informed that Pompey had prevented him, he sent to treat with him; but Pompey
having demanded, by way of preliminary, that he should lay down his arms, and
give up all deserters, those proposals were very near occasioning a mutiny in
the army of Mithridates. As there were many deserters in it, they could not
suffer any thing to be said upon delivering them up to Pompey; nor would the
rest of the army consent to see themselves weakened by the loss of their
comrades. Mithridates was obliged to tell them, that he had sent his
ambassadors only to inspect into the condition of the Roman army; and to
swear, that he would not make peace with the Romans either on those, or on any
other conditions.

Pompey, having distributed his fleet in different stations, to guard the
whole sea between Phoenicia and the Bosphorus, marched by land against
Mithridates, who had still thirty thousand foot, and two or three thousand
horse, but did not dare, however, to come to a battle. That prince was
encamped very strongly upon a mountain, where he could not be forced: but he
abandoned it on Pompey's approach, for want of water. Pompey immediately took
possession of it, and conjecturing, from the nature of the plants and other
signs, that there were numerous springs within it, he ordered wells to be dug,
and in an instant the camp had water in abundance. Pompey could not
sufficiently wonder how Mithridates, for want of attention and curiosity, had
been so long ignorant of so important and necessary a resource.

Soon after, he followed him, encamped near him, and shut him up within
good walls, which he carried quite round his camp. They were nearly eight
leagues in circumference, and were fortified with good towers, at proper
distances from each other. Mithridates, either out of fear or negligence,
suffered him to finish his works. He reduced him, in consequence, to such a
want of provisions, that his troops were obliged to subsist upon the carriage
beasts in their camp. The horses only were spared. After having sustained
this kind of siege for almost fifty days, Mithridates escaped by night, with
all the best troops of his army, having first ordered all the useless and sick
persons to be killed.

Pompey immediately pursued him; came up with him near the Euphrates,
encamped near him; and apprehending that, in order to escape, he would make
haste to pass the river, he quitted his intrenchments, and advanced against
him by night, in order of battle. His design was only to surround the enemy,
to prevent their flying, and to attack them at daybreak the next morning; but
all his old officers made such entreaties and remonstrances to him, that they
determined him to fight without waiting till day; for the night was not very
dark, the moon giving light enough for distinguishing objects, and knowing one
another. Pompey could not refuse himself to the ardor of his troops, and led
them on against the enemy. The barbarians were afraid to stand the attack,
and fled immediately in the utmost consternation. The Romans made a great
slaughter of them, killed above ten thousand men, and took their whole camp.

Mithridates, with eight hundred horse, in the beginning of the battle,
opened himself a way, sword in hand, through the Roman army, and went off; but
those eight hundred horse soon quitted their ranks and dispersed, and left him
with only three followers, among whom was Hypsicratia, one of his wives, a
woman of masculine courage and warlike boldness; which occasioned her being
called Hyspicrates, by changing the termination of her name from the feminine
to the masculine. ^809 She was mounted that day upon a Persian horse, and wore
the habit of a soldier of that nation. She continued to attend the king,
without giving way to the fatigues of his long journeys, or being weary of
serving him, though she took care of his horse herself, till they arrived at a
fortress where the king's treasures and most precious effects lay. There,
after having distributed the most magnificent of his robes to such as were
assembled about him, he made a present to each of his friends of a mortal
poison, that none of them might fall alive into the hands of their enemies,
but by their own consent.

[Footnote 809: Ultra feminam ferox. - Tacit.]

That unhappy fugitive saw no other hopes for him, but from his son-in-
law Tigranes. He sent his ambassadors to demand his permission to take refuge
in his dominions, and aid for the re-establishment of his entirely ruined
affairs. Tigranes was at that time at war with his son. ^810 He caused those
ambassadors to be seized, and thrown into prison, and set a price upon his
father-in-law's head, promising a hundred talents to any person who should
seize or kill him, under pretence that it was Mithridates who made his son
take up arms against him, but in reality to make his court to the Romans, as
we soon shall see.

[Footnote 810: Plut. in Pomp. pp. 636, 637. Appian. p. 242. Dion. Cass. l.
xxxvi. pp. 25, 26.]

Pompey, after the victory he had gained, marched into Armenia Major
against Tigranes. He found him at war with his son of his own name. We have
observed that the king of Armenia had espoused Cleopatra, the daughter of
Mithridates. He had three sons by her, two of whom he had put to death
without reason. The third, to escape the cruelty of so unnatural a father,
had fled to Phraates, king of Parthia, whose daughter he had married. His
father-in-law carried him back to Armenia at the head of an army, where they
besieged Artaxata. But finding the place very strong, and provided with every
thing necessary for a good defence, Phraates left him part of the army for
carrying on the siege, and returned with the rest into his own dominions.
Tigranes, the father, soon after fell upon the son with all his troops, beat
his army, and drove him out of the country. That young prince, after this
misfortune, had designed to withdraw to his grandfather Mithridates; but on
the way was informed of his defeat, and having lost all hopes of obtaining aid
from him, he resolved to throw himself into the arms of the Romans.
Accordingly he entered their camp, and went to Pompey to implore his
protection. Pompey gave him a very good reception, and was glad of his
coming: for as he was to carry the war into Armenia, he had occasion for such
a guide. He therefore caused that prince to conduct him directly to Artaxata.

Tigranes, terrified at this news, and sensible that he was not in a
condition to oppose so powerful an army, resolved to have recourse to the
generosity and clemency of the Roman general. He put the ambassadors sent to
him by Mithridates into his hands, and followed them directly himself. Without
taking any precaution, he entered the Roman camp, and went to submit his
person and crown to the discretion of Pompey and the Romans. He said that of
all the Romans, and of all mankind, Pompey was the only person in whose faith
he could confide: that in whatever manner he might decide his fate, he should
be satisfied: that he was not ashamed to be conquered by a man whom none could
conquer: and that it was no dishonor to submit to him whom fortune had made
superior to all others. ^811

[Footnote 811: Mox ipse supplex et praesens se regnumque ditioni ejus
permisit, praefatus: neminem alium neque Romanum neque ullius gentis virum
futurum fuisse cujus se fidei commissurus foret, quam Cn. Pompeium. Proinde
omnem sibi vel adversam vel secundam, cujus auctor ille esset, fortunam
tolerabilem futuram. Non esset turpe ab eo vinci quem vincere esset nefas
neque ei inhoneste aliquen submitti quem fortuna super omnes extulisset. -
Vel. Patere. l. ii. c. 37.]

When he arrived on horseback near the intrenchments of the camp, two of
Pompey's lictors came out to meet him, and ordered him to dismount and enter
on foot, telling him that no stranger had ever been known to enter a Roman
camp on horseback. Tigranes obeyed, ungirt his sword, and gave it to the
lictors; and after, when he approached Pompey, taking off his diadem, he would
have laid it at his feet, and prostrated himself on the earth to embrace his
knees; but Pompey ran to prevent him, and taking him by the hand led him into
his tent, made him sit on the right, and his son, the young Tigranes, on the
left side of him. He then deferred hearing what he had to say till the next
day, and invited the father and son to sup with him that evening. The son
refused to be there with his father; and as he had not showed him the least
mark of respect during the interview, and had treated him with the same
indifference as if he had been a stranger, Pompey was very much offended at
that behavior. He did not, however, entirely neglect his interests in
determining upon the affair of Tigranes. After having condemned Tigranes to
pay the Romans six thousand talents for the charges of the war he had made
against them without cause, and to relinquish to them all his conquests on
that side of the Euphrates, he decreed that he should reign in his ancient
kingdom, Armenia Major, and that his son should have Gordiana and Sophena, two
provinces upon the borders of Armenia, during his father's life, and all the
rest of his dominions after his death, reserving, however, to the father, the
treasures he had in Sophena, without which it had been impossible for him to
have paid the Romans the sums which Pompey required of him.

The father was well pleased with these conditions, which still left him a
crown. But the son, who had entertained chimerical hopes, could not relish a
decree which deprived him of what had been promised him. He was even so much
discontented with it, that he wanted to escape, in order to have excited new
troubles. Pompey, who suspected his design, ordered him to be always kept in
view; and upon his absolutely refusing to consent that his father should
withdraw his treasures from Sophena, he caused him to be put in prison.
Afterwards, having discovered that he solicited the Armenian nobility to take
up arms, and endeavored to engage the Parthians to do the same, he put him
among those he reserved for his triumph.

Some time after, Phraates, king of the Parthians, sent to Pompey, to
claim that young prince as his son-in-law, and to represent to him that he
ought to make the Euphrates the boundary of his conquests. Pompey made
answer, that the younger Tigranes was more related to his father than his
father-in-law; and that as to his conquests, he should give them such bounds
as reason and justice required, but without being prescribed in them by any

When Tigranes had been suffered to possess himself of his treasures in
Sophena, he paid the six thousand talents, and gave every private soldier
fifty drachmas, a thousand to a centurion, and ten thousand to each tribune;
and by that liberality obtained the title of friend and ally of the Roman
people. This had been pardonable, had he not added to it, abject behavior,
and submissions, unworthy of a king.

Pompey gave all Cappadocia to Ariobarzanes, and added to it Sophena and
Gordiana, which he had designed for young Tigranes.

After having regulated everything in Armenia, Pompey marched northward in
pursuit of Mithridates. Upon the banks of the Cyrus ^812 he found the
Albanians and Iberians, two powerful nations, situated between the Caspian and
Euxine seas, who endeavored to stop him; but he beat them, and obliged the
Albanians to demand peace. He granted it, and passed the winter in their
country. ^813

[Footnote 812: Called Cyrnus also, by some authors.]

[Footnote 813: Plut. in Pomp. p. 637. Dion. Cass. xxxvi. pp. 28-33. Appian.
pp. 242, 245.]

The next year he took the field very early against the Iberians. This
was a very warlike nation, and had never been conquered. It had always
retained its liberty, during the time that the Medes, Persians and
Macedonians, had alternately possessed the empire of Asia. Pompey found means
to subdue this people, though not without very considerable difficulties, and
obliged them to demand peace. The king of the Iberians sent him a bed, a
table, and a throne, all of massy gold; desiring him to accept those presents
as earnests of his amity. Pompey put them into the hands of the quaestors,
for the public treasury. He also subjected the people of Colchis, and made
their king Olthaces prisoner, whom he afterwards led in triumph. From thence
he returned into Albania, to chastise that nation for having taken up arms
again, while he was engaged with the Iberians and people of Colchis. ^814

[Footnote 814: A. M. 939. Ant. J. C. 653.]

The army of the Albanians was commanded by Cosis, the brother of king
Orodes. That prince, as soon as the two armies came to blows, confined
himself to Pompey, and spurring furiously up to him, darted his javelin at
him; but Pompey received him so vigorously with his spear, that he thrust him
through the body, and laid him dead at his horse's feet. The Albanians were
overthrown, and a great slaughter was made of them. This victory obliged king
Orodes to purchase a second peace on the same terms as those he had entered
into the year before at the price of great presents, and by giving one of his
sons as a hostage for his observing it better than he had done the former.

Mithridates, in the mean time, had passed the winter at Dioscurias, in
the north-eastern part of the Euxine sea. Early in the spring, he marched to
the Cimerian Bosphorus, through several nations of the Scythians, some of whom
suffered him to pass voluntarily, and others were obliged to it by force. The
kingdom of the Cimmerian Bosphorus is now called Crim Tartary, and was at that
time a province of the empire of Mithridates. He had given it as an appendage
to one of his sons named Machares. But that young prince had been so
vigorously handled by the Romans, while they besieged Sinope, and their fleet
was in possession of the Euxine sea, which lay between that city and his
kingdom, that he had been obliged to make a peace with them, and had
inviolably observed it till then. He well knew that his father was extremely
displeased with such conduct, and therefore very much apprehended his
presence. In order to a reconciliation, he sent ambassadors to him upon his
route, who represented to him, that he had been reduced to act in that manner,
contrary to his inclination, by the necessity of his affairs. But finding
that his father would not hearken to his reasons, he endeavored to save
himself by sea, and was taken by vessels sent expressly by Mithridates to
cruise in his way. He chose rather to die, than fall into his father's hands.

Pompey, having terminated the war in the north, and seeing it impossible
to follow Mithridates in the remote country into which he had retired, led
back his army to the south, and on his march subjected Darius, king of the
Medes, and Antiochus, king of Comagena. He went on to Syria, and made himself
master of the whole empire. Scaurus reduced Coelosyria and Damascus, and
Gibinius all the rest of the country, as far as the Tigris; they were his
lieutenant generals. Antiochus Asiaticus, son of Antiochus Eusebes, heir of
the house of the Seleucides, who, by permission of Lucullus, had reigned four
years in that part of the country, of which he had taken possession when
Tigranes abandoned it, came to solicit him to re-establish him upon the throne
of his ancestors. But Pompey refused to give him audience, and deprived him
of all his dominions, which he made a Roman province. ^815 Thus, while Armenia
was left in possession of Tigranes, who had done the Romans great injury
during the course of a long war, Antiochus was dethroned, who had never
committed the least hostility, and by no means deserved such treatment. The
reason given for it was, that the Romans had conquered Syria under Tigranes;
that it was not just that they should lose the fruit of their victory; that
Antiochus was a prince who had neither courage nor capacity necessary for the
defence of the country; and that to put it into his hands would be to expose
it to the perpetual ravages and incursions of the Jews, which Pompey took care
not to do. In consequence of this way of reasoning, Antiochus lost his crown,
and was reduced to the necessity of passing his life as a private person. In
him ended the empire of the Seleucidae, after a duration of almost two hundred
and fifty years. ^816

[Footnote 815: Appian in Syr. p. 133. Justin. l. xl. c. 2.]

[Footnote 816: A. M. 3939. Ant. J. C. 65.]

During these expeditions of the Romans in Asia, great revolutions
happened in Egypt. The Alexandrians, weary of their king Alexander, took up
arms, and after having expelled him, called in Ptolemy Auletes to supply his
place. That history will be treated at large in the ensuing Book.

Pompey afterwards went to Damascus, where he regulated several affairs
relating to Egypt and Judea. During his residence there, twelve crowned heads
went thither to make their court to him, and were all in the city at the same
time. ^817

[Footnote 817: Plut. in Pomp. pp. 638, 639.]

A very interesting scene between the love of a father and the duty of a
son was presented at this time; a very extraordinary occurrence in those days,
when the most horrid murders and parricides frequently opened the way to
thrones. Ariobarzanes, king of Cappadocia, voluntarily resigned the crown in
favor of his son, and put the diadem upon his head in the presence of Pompey.
The most sincere tears flowed in abundance from the eyes of the truly
afflicted son, for what others would have highly rejoiced in. It was the sole
occasion in which he thought disobedience allowable; and he would have
persisted in refusing the sceptre, if Pompey's orders had interfered, and
obliged him at length to submit to paternal authority. ^818 This is the second
example Cappadocia has instanced of so generous a dispute. We have spoken in
its place of the like contest between the two Ariarathes. ^819

[Footnote 818: Nec illum finem tam egregium certamen habuisset, nisi patriae
voluntat auctoritas Pompeii adfuisset. - Val. Max.]

[Footnote 819: Val. Max. l. v. c. 7.]

As Mithridates was in possession of several small places in Pontus and
Cappadocia, Pompey judged it necessary to return thither, in order to reduce
them. He therefore made himself master of almost all of them upon his
arrival, and afterwards wintered at Aspis, a city of Pontus.

Stratonice, one of the wives of Mithridates, surrendered a castle of the
Bosphorus, with the treasures concealed in it, which she had in her keeping,
to Pompey, demanding only for recompense, that if her son Xiphares should fall
into his hands, he should be restored to her. Pompey accepted only such of
those presents as would serve for the ornaments of temples. When Mithridates
knew what Stratonice had done, to revenge her readiness in surrendering that
fortress, which he considered as a treason, he killed Xiphares in his mother's
sight, who beheld that sad spectacle from the other side of the strait.

Caina, or the new city, was the strongest place in Pontus, and therefore
Mithridates kept the greatest part of his treasures, and whatever he had of
greatest value, in that place, which he conceived impregnable. Pompey took it,
and with it all that Mithridates had left in it. Among other things were
found secret memoirs, written by himself, which gave a clear idea of his
character. In one part he had noted down the persons whom he had poisoned,
among whom were his own son Ariarathes, and Alcaeus of Sardis; the latter
because he had carried the prize in the chariot race against him. What
fantastical records were these? Was he afraid that the public and posterity
should not be informed of his monstrous crimes, and his motives for committing

His memoirs of physic was also found there, which Pompey caused to be
translated into Latin by Lenaeus, a good grammarian, one of his freedmen; and
they were afterwards made public in that language; for among the other
extraordinary qualities of Mithridates, he was very skilful in medicines. It
was he who invented the excellent antidote which still bears his name, and
from which physicians have experienced such effects, that they continue to use
it successfully to this day. ^820

[Footnote 820: Plin. l. xxv. c. 20.]

Pompey, during his stay at Aspis, made such regulations in the affairs of
the country, as the state of them would admit. As soon as the spring
returned, he marched back into Syria for the same purpose. He did not think
it advisable to pursue Mithridates into the kingdom of Bosphorus, whither he
was returned. To do that, he must have marched round the Euxine sea with an
army, and passed through many countries, either inhabited by barbarous
nations, or entirely desert; a very dangerous enterprise, in which he would
have run great risk of perishing; so that all Pompey could do was to post the
Roman fleet in such a manner as to intercept any convoys that might be sent to
Mithridates. He expected by that means to be able to reduce him to the last
extremity; and said on setting out, that he left Mithridates more formidable
enemies than the Romans, which were hunger and necessity. ^821

[Footnote 821: A. M. 3940. Ant. J. C. 64. Joseph. Antiq. l. xiv. 5, 6. Plut.
in Pomp. pp. 639-641. Dion. Cass. l. xxxvii. pp. 34-36. App. pp. 246-251.]

What carried him with so much ardor into Syria, was his excessive and
vain-glorious ambition to push his conquests as far as the Red Sea. In Spain,
and before that in Africa, he had carried the Roman arms as far as the western
ocean on both sides of the straits of the Mediterranean. In the war against
the Albanians, he had extended his conquests to the Caspian Sea, and believed
there was nothing wanting to his glory, but to carry them as far as the Red
Sea. Upon his arrival in Syria, he declared Antioch and Seleucia, upon the
Orontes, free cities, and continued his march towards Damascus; from whence he
designed to have proceeded against the Arabians, and afterwards to have
conquered all the countries to the Red Sea; but an accident happened which
obliged him to suspend all his projects, and to return into Pontus.

Some time before, an embassy came to him from Mithridates, king of
Pontus, who demanded peace. He proposed, that he should be suffered to retain
his hereditary dominions, as Tigranes had been, upon condition of paying a
tribute to the Romans, and resigning all other provinces. Pompey replied,
that then he should also come in person, as Tigranes had done. Mithridates
would not consent to such meanness, but proposed sending his children and some
of his principal friends. Pompey would not agree to that. The negotiation
broke up, and Mithridates applied himself to making preparations for war with
as much vigor as ever. Pompey, who received advice of this activity, judged
it necessary to be upon the spot, in order to have an eye to every thing. For
that purpose he went to pass some time at Amisus, the ancient capital of the
country. "There, through the just punishment of the gods," says Plutarch,
"his ambition made him commit faults, which drew upon him the blame of all the
world. He had publicly charged and reproached Lucullus, that, during the war,
he had disposed of provinces, given rewards, decreed honors, and acted in all
things as victors are not accustomed to act till a war be finally terminated,
and now fell into the same inconsistency himself; for he disposed of
governments, and divided the dominions of Mithridates into provinces, as if
the war had been at an end. But Mithridates still lived, and every thing was
to be apprehended from a prince inexhaustible in resources, whom the greatest
defeats could not disconcert, and whom losses themselves seemed to inspire
with new courage, and to supply with new forces. At that very time, when he
was believed to be entirely ruined, he actually meditated a terrible invasion
into the very heart of the Roman empire with the troops he had lately raised."

Pompey, in the distribution of rewards, gave Armenia Minor to Dejotarus,
prince of Galatia, who had always continued firmly attached to the Roman
interests during this war; to which he added the title of king. It was this
Dejotarus, who, by always persisting, out of gratitude, in his adherence to
Pompey, incurred the resentment of Caesar, and had occasion for the eloquence
of Cicero to defend him.

He made Archelaus also high-priest of the moon, who was the supreme
goddess of the Comanians, and gave him the sovereignty of the place which
contained at least six thousand persons, all devoted to the worship of that
deity. I have already observed, that this Archelaus was the son of him who
had commanded in chief the troops sent by Mithridates into Greece, in his
first war with the Romans, and who, being disgraced by that prince, had, with
his son, taken refuge among them. They had always, from that time, continued
their firm adherents, and had been of great use to them in the wars of Asia.
The father being dead, the high-priesthood of Comana was given to his son, in
recompense for the services of both.

During Pompey's stay in Pontus, Aretas, king of Arabia Petraea, took
advantage of his absence to make incursions into syria, Syria, which very much
distressed the inhabitants. Pompey returned thither. Upon his way he came to
the place where lay the dead bodies of the Romans killed in the defeat of
Triarius. He caused them to be interred with great solemnity, which gained
him the hearts of his soldiers. From thence he continued his march towards
Syria, with the view of executing the projects he had formed for the war of
Arabia; but important advices interrupted those designs.

Though Mithridates had lost all hopes of peace, after Pompey had rejected
the overtures he had caused to be made to him, and though he saw many of his
subjects abandon his party, far from losing courage, he had formed the design
of crossing Pannonia, and passing the Alps, to attack the Romans in Italy
itself, as Hannibal had done before him: a project more bold than prudent,
with which his inveterate hatred and blind despair had inspired him. A great
number of neighboring Scythians had entered themselves into his service, and
considerably augmented his army. He had sent deputies into Gaul to solicit
that people to join him, when he should approach the Alps. As great passions
are always credulous, and men easily flatter themselves in what they ardently
desire, he was in hopes that the flame of the revolt among the slaves in Italy
and Sicily, perhaps ill extinguished, might suddenly rekindle upon his
presence; that the pirates would soon repossess themselves of the empire of
the sea, and involve the Romans in new difficulties; and that the provinces,
oppressed by the avarice and cruelty of the magistrates and generals, would be
fond of throwing off, by his aid, the yoke under which they had so long
groaned. Such were the thoughts that he had revolved in his mind.

But as, to execute this project, it was necessary to march five hundred
leagues, and traverse the countries now called Little Tartary, Moldavia,
Wallachia, Transylvania, Hungary, Stiria, Carinthia, Tirol, and Lombardy, and
pass three great rivers, the Borysthenes, Danube, and Po; the idea alone of so
rude and dangerous a march threw his army into such a terror, that, to prevent
the execution of his design, they conspired against him, and chose Pharnaces
his son, king, who had been active in exciting the soldiers to this revolt.
Mithridates then seeing himself abandoned by all the world, and that even his
son would not suffer him to escape where he could, retired to his apartment,
and after having given poison to such of his wives and daughters as were with
him at that time, he took the same himself; but when he perceived that it had
not its effect upon him, he had recourse to his sword. The wound he gave
himself not sufficing, he was obliged to desire a Gaulish soldier to put an
end to his life. Dion says he was killed by his own son.

Mithridates had reigned sixty years, and lived seventy-two. His greatest
fear was to fall into the hands of the Romans, and to be led in triumph. To
prevent that misfortune, he always carried poison about him, in order to
escape in that way, if other means should fail. The apprehension he was in,
lest his son should deliver him up to Pompey, occasioned his taking the fatal
resolution he executed so suddenly. It was generally said, the reason the
poison did not kill him, was his having taken antidotes to such a degree that
his constitution was proof against it. But this is believed an error; and
that it is impossible any remedy should be a universal antidote against all
the different species of poison. ^822

[Footnote 822: A. M. 3941. Ant. J. C. 63.]

Pompey was at Jericho in Palestine, whither the differences between
Hyrcanus and Aristobulus, of which we have spoken elsewhere, had carried him,
when he received the first news of the death of Mithridates. It was brought
him by expresses despatched on purpose from Pontus with letters from his
lieutenants. Those expresses arriving with their lances crowned with laurels,
which was customary only when they brought advice of some victory, or news of
great importance and advantage, the army was very eager and solicitous to know
what it was. As they had only begun to form their camp, and had not erected
the tribunal from which the general harangued the troops, without staying to
raise one of turf, as was usual, because that would take up too much time,
they made one of the packs of their carriage horses, upon which Pompey mounted
without ceremony. He acquainted them with the death of Mithridates, and the
manner of his killing himself; that his son Pharnaces submitted himself and
dominions to the Romans, and thereby terminated that tedious war, which had
endured so long. This gave both the army and general great cause to rejoice.

Such was the end of Mithridates; a prince, says a historian, of whom it
was difficult either to speak or be silent; full of activity in war, of
distinguished courage; and sometimes very great by fortune, and always of
invincible resolution; truly a general in his prudence and counsel, and a
soldier in action and danger; a second Hannibal in his hatred of the Romans.

[Footnote 823: Vir neque silendus neque dicendus sine cura: bello acerrimus,
virtute eximius; aliquando fortuna, semper animo, maximus: consiliis dux,
miles manu; odio in Romanos Annibal. - Vel. Peterc. 1. 2, et 13.]

Cicero says of Mithridates, that, after Alexander, he was the greatest of
kings. "Ille rex post Alexandrum maximums." ^824 It is certain, that the
Romans never had such a king in arms against them. Nor can we deny that he
had his great qualities; a vast extent of mind, that aspired at every thing; a
superiority of genius, capable of the greatest undertakings; a constancy of
soul, which the severest misfortunes could not depress; an industry and
bravery, inexhaustible in resources, and which after the greatest losses,
brought him again unexpectedly on the stage, more powerful and formidable than
ever. I cannot, however, believe that he was a consummate general; that idea
does not seem to result from his actions. He obtained great advantages at
first, but against generals without either merit or experience. When Sylla,
Lucullus, and Pompey opposed him, it does not appear he acquired any great
honor, either by his address in posting himself to advantage, by his presence
of mind in unexpected emergency, or intrepidity in the heat of action. But
should we admit him to have all the qualities of a great captain, he could not
but be considered with horror, when we reflect upon the innumerable murders
and parricides of his reign, and that inhuman cruelty, which regarded neither
mother, wives, children, nor friends, and which sacrificed every thing to his
insatiable ambition.

[Footnote 824: Academ. Quaest. l. iv. n. 3.]

Pompey having arrived in Syria, went directly to Damascus, with design to
set out from thence to begin at length the war with Arabia. When Aretas, the
king of that country, saw him upon the point of entering his dominions, he
sent an embassy to make his submission. ^825

[Footnote 825: A. M. 3941. Ant. J. C. 63. Joseph. Antiq. l. xiv. 4, 8, et de
Bell. Jud. l. 5. Plut. in Pomp. p. 641. Appian. p. 250. Dion. Cass. l.
xxxvi. p. 35 et 36.]

The troubles of Judea employed Pompey some time. He returned afterwards
into Syria, from whence he set out for Pontus. Upon his arrival at Amitus, he
found the body of Mithridates there, which Pharnaces his son had sent to him;
no doubt to convince Pompey by his own eyes of the death of an enemy who had
occasioned him so many difficulties and fatigues. He added great presents, in
order to incline him in his favor. Pompey accepted the presents; but for the
body of Mithridates, looking upon their enmity to be extinguished in death, he
paid it all the honors due to the remains of a king, sent it to the city of
Sinope to be interred there with the kings of Pontus his ancestors, who had
long been buried in that place, and ordered the sums that were necessary for
the solemnity of a royal funeral.

In this last journey he took possession of all the places in the hands of
those to whom Mithridates had confided them. He found immense riches in some
of them, especially at Telaurus, where part of the most valuable effects and
jewels of Mithridates were kept: his principal arsenal was also in the same
place. Among those rich things were two thousand cups of onyx, set and
adorned with gold, with so prodigious a quantity of all kinds of plate; fine
movables, and furniture of war for man and horse, that the quaestor, or
treasurer of the army, occupied thirty days in taking an inventory of them.

Pompey granted Pharnaces the kingdom of Bosphorus as a reward for his
parricide, declared him the friend and ally of the Roman people, and marched
into the province of Asia, in order to winter at Ephesus. He gave each of his
soldiers fifteen hundred drachmas, and to the officers according to their
several posts. The total sum to which his liberalities amounted, all raised
out of the spoils of the enemy, was sixteen thousand talents, besides which,
he had twenty thousand more, to put into the treasury at Rome upon the day of
his entry.

His triumph continued two days, and was celebrated with extraordinary
magnificence. Pompey caused three hundred and twenty-four captives of the
highest distinction to march before his chariot: among whom were Aristobulus,
king of Judea, with his son Antigonus; Olthaces, king of Colchis; Tigranes,
the son of Tigranes, king of Armenia; the sister, five sons, and two daughters
of Mithridates. For want of the person of that king, his throne, sceptre, and
gold bust, of eight cubits, or twelve feet in height, were carried in triumph

[Footnote 826: A. M. 3943. Ant. J. C. 61.]

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