Pompeius was no less intent on regulating and elevating the existing communities than on founding new townships. The abuses and usurpations which prevailed were done away with as far as lay in his power; detailed ordinances drawn up carefully for the different provinces regulated the particulars of the municipal system. A number of the most considerable cities had fresh privileges conferred on them. Autonomy was bestowed on Antioch on the Orontes, the most important city of Roman Asia and but little inferior to the Egyptian Alexandria and to the Bagdad of antiquity, the city of Seleucia in the Parthian empire; as also on the neighbour of Antioch, the Pierian Seleucia, which was thus rewarded for its courageous resistance to Tigranes; on Gaza and generally on all the towns liberated from the Jewish rule; on Mytilene in the west of Asia Minor; and on Phanagoria on the Black Sea.

Aggregate Results

Thus was completed the structure of the Roman state in Asia, which with its feudatory kings and vassals, its priests made into princes, and its series of free and half-free cities puts us vividly in mind of the Holy Roman Empire of the German nation. It was no miraculous work, either as respects the difficulties overcome or as respects the consummation attained; nor was it made so by all the high-sounding words, which the Roman world of quality lavished in favour of Lucullus and the artless multitude in praise of Pompeius. Pompeius in particular consented to be praised, and praised himself, in such a fashion that people might almost have reckoned him still more weak-minded than he really was. If the Mytilenaeans erected a statue to him as their deliverer and founder, as the man who had as well by land as by sea terminated the wars with which the world was filled, such a homage might not seem too extravagant for the vanquisher of the pirates and of the empires of the east. But the Romans this time surpassed the Greeks. The triumphal inscriptions of Pompeius himself enumerated 12 millions of people as subjugated and 1538 cities and strongholds as conquered--it seemed as if quantity was to make up for quality-- and made the circle of his victories extend from the Maeotic Sea to the Caspian and from the latter to the Red Sea, when his eyes had never seen any one of the three; nay farther, if he did not exactly say so, he at any late induced the public to suppose that the annexation of Syria, which in truth was no heroic deed, had added the whole east as far as Bactria and India to the Roman empire-- so dim was the mist of distance, amidst which according to his statements the boundary-line of his eastern conquests was lost. The democratic servility, which has at all times rivalled that of courts, readily entered into these insipid extravagances. It was not satisfied by the pompous triumphal procession, which moved through the streets of Rome on the 28th and 29th Sept. 693-- the forty-sixth birthday of Pompeius the Great--adorned, to say nothing of jewels of all sorts, by the crown insignia of Mithradates and by the children of the three mightiest kings of Asia, Mithradates, Tigranes, and Phraates; it rewarded its general, who had conquered twenty-two kings, with regal honours and bestowed on him the golden chaplet and the insignia of the magistracy for life. The coins struck in his honour exhibit the globe itself placed amidst the triple laurels brought home from the three continents, and surmounted by the golden chaplet conferred by the burgesses on the man who had triumphed over Africa, Spain, and Asia. It need excite no surprise, if in presence of such childish acts of homage voices were heard of an opposite import. Among the Roman world of quality it was currently affirmed that the true merit of having subdued the east belonged to Lucullus, and that Pompeius had only gone thither to supplant Lucullus and to wreathe around his own brow the laurels which another hand had plucked. Both statements were totally erroneous: it was not Pompeius but Glabrio that was sent to Asia to relieve Lucullus, and, bravely as Lucullus had fought, it was a fact that, when Pompeius took the supreme command, the Romans had forfeited all their earlier successes and had not a foot's breadth of Pontic soil in their possession. More pointed and effective was the ridicule of the inhabitants of the capital, who failed not to nickname the mighty conqueror of the globe after the great powers which he had conquered, and saluted him now as "conqueror of Salem," now as "emir" (-Arabarches-), now as the Roman Sampsiceramus.

Lucullus And Pompeius As Administrators

The unprejudiced judge will not agree either with those exaggerations or with these disparagements. Lucullus and Pompeius, in subduing and regulating Asia, showed themselves to be, not heroes and state-creators, but sagacious and energetic army-leaders and governors. As general Lucullus displayed no common talents and a self-confidence bordering on rashness, while Pompeius displayed military judgment and a rare self-restraint; for hardly has any general with such forces and a position so wholly free ever acted so cautiously as Pompeius in the east. The most brilliant undertakings, as it were, offered themselves to him on all sides; he was free to start for the Cimmerian Bosporus and for the Red Sea; he had opportunity of declaring war against the Parthians; the revolted provinces of Egypt invited him to dethrone king Ptolemaeus who was not recognized by the Romans, and to carry out the testament of Alexander; but Pompeius marched neither to Panticapaeum nor to Petra, neither to Ctesiphon nor to Alexandria; throughout he gathered only those fruits which of themselves fell to his hand. In like manner he fought all his battles by sea and land with a crushing superiority of force. Had this moderation proceeded from the strict observance of the instructions given to him, as Pompeius was wont to profess, or even from a perception that the conquests of Rome must somewhere find a limit and that fresh accessions of territory were not advantageous to the state, it would deserve a higher praise than history confers on the most talented officer; but constituted as Pompeius was, his self- restraint was beyond doubt solely the result of his peculiar want of decision and of initiative--defects, indeed, which were in his case far more useful to the state than the opposite excellences of his predecessor.

Italian Books
Theodor Mommsen
Classic Literature Library

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