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.

Italian Books
Theodor Mommsen
Classic Literature Library

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