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.