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 Zenicetes Vanquished 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.
Asiatic Relations 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.