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.

Italian Books
Theodor Mommsen
Classic Literature Library

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