Lucullus takes the Command against him and cuts off his Supplies at Cyzicus--Mithridates besieges Cyzicus--Valiant Defence of the City--Famine in the Besieging Army--Flight of Mithridates--Lucullus pursues--Mithridates suffers Shipwreck
Lucius Lucullus, who had been chosen consul and general for this war, led one legion of soldiers from Rome, joined with it the two of Fimbria, and added two others, making in all 30,000 foot and 1600 horse, with which he pitched his camp near that of Mithridates at Cyzicus. When he learned from deserters that the king's army contained about 300.000 men and that all his supplies were furnished by foragers or came by sea, he said to those around him that he would presently reduce the enemy without fighting, and he told them to remember his promise. Seeing a mountain well suited for a camp, where he could readily obtain supplies, and could cut off those of the enemy, he moved forward to occupy it in order to gain a victory by that means without danger. There was only one narrow pass leading to it, and Mithridates held it by a strong guard. He had been advised to do so by Taxiles and his other officers. Lucius Magius, who had brought about the alliance between Sertorius and Mithridates, now that Sertorius was dead, opened secret communications with Lucullus, and having secured pledges from him persuaded Mithridates to allow the Romans to pass through and encamp where they pleased. "The two legions of Fimbria," he said, "want to desert, and will come over to you directly. What is the use of a battle and bloodshed when you can conquer the enemy without fighting?" Mithridates assented to this advice heedlessly and without suspicion. He allowed the Romans to go through the pass unmolested and to fortify the great hill on his front. When they had possessed themselves of it they were able to draw supplies from their rear without difficulty. Mithridates, on the other hand, was cut off by a lake, by mountains, and by rivers, from all provisions on the landward side, except an occasional supply secured with difficulty; he had no easy way out and he could not overcome Lucullus on account of the difficulty of the ground, which he had disregarded when he himself had the advantage. Moreover, winter was now approaching and would soon interrupt his supplies by sea. As Lucullus looked over the situation he reminded his friends of his promise, and showed them that his prediction was practically accomplished.
Although Mithridates might perhaps even now have been able to break through the enemy's lines by force of numbers, he neglected to do so, but pressed the siege of Cyzicus with the apparatus he had prepared, thinking that he should find a remedy in this way both for the badness of his position and for his want of supplies. As he had plenty of soldiers he pushed the siege in every possible way. He blockaded the harbor with a double sea wall and drew a line of circumvallation around the rest of the city. He raised mounds, built machines, towers, and rams protected by tortoises. He constructed a siege engine 100 cubits high, from which rose another tower furnished with catapults discharging stones and various kinds of missiles. Two quinqueremes joined together carried another tower against the port, from which a bridge could be projected by a mechanical device when brought near the wall. When all was in readiness he first sent against the city on ships 3000 inhabitants of Cyzicus whom he had taken prisoners. These raised their hands toward the wall in supplication and besought their fellow-citizens to spare them in their dangerous position, but Pisistratus, the Cyzicean general, proclaimed from the walls that as they were in the enemy's hands they must meet their fate bravely.
When this attempt had failed Mithridates brought up the machine erected on the ships and suddenly projected the bridge upon the wall and four of his men ran across. The Cyziceans were at first dumbfounded by the novelty of the device and gave way somewhat, but as the rest of the enemy were slow in following, they plucked up courage and thrust the four over the wall. Then they poured burning pitch on the ships and compelled them to back out stern foremost with the machine. In this way the Cyziceans beat off the invaders by sea. Three times on the same day all the machines on the landward side were massed against the toiling citizens, who flew this way and that way to meet the constantly renewed assault. They broke the rams with stones, or turned them aside with nooses, or deadened their blows with baskets of wool. They extinguished the enemy's fire-bearing missiles with water and vinegar, and broke the force of others by means of garments suspended or linen cloth stretched before them. In short, they left nothing untried that was within the compass of human zeal. Although they toiled most perseveringly, yet a portion of the wall, that had been weakened by fire, gave way toward evening; but on account of the heat nobody was in a hurry to dash in. The Cyziceans built another wall around it that night, and about this time a tremendous wind came and smashed the rest of the king's machines.
It is said that the city of Cyzicus was given by Zeus to Proserpina by way of dowry, and that of all the gods the inhabitants have most veneration for her. Her festival now came around, on which they are accustomed to sacrifice a black heifer to her, and as they had none they made one of paste. Just then a black heifer swam to them from the sea, dived under the chain at the mouth of the harbor, walked into the city, found her own way to the temple, and took her place by the altar. The Cyziceans sacrificed her with joyful hopes. Thereupon the friends of Mithridates advised him to sail away from the place since it was sacred, but he would not do so. He ascended Mount Dindymus, which overhung the city, and built a mound extending from it to the city walls, on which he constructed towers, and, at the same time, undermined the wall with tunnels. As his horses were not useful here, and were weak for want of food and had sore hoofs, he sent them by a roundabout way to Bithynia. Lucullus fell upon them as they were crossing the river Rhyndacus, killed a large number, and captured 15,000 men, 6000 horses, and a large amount of baggage. While these things were transpiring at Cyzicus Eumachus, one of Mithridates' generals, overran Phrygia and killed a great many Romans, with their wives and children, subjugated the Pisidians and the Isaurians and also Cilicia. Finally Deotarus, one of the tetrarchs of Galatia, drove the marauder away and slew many of his men. Such was the course of events in and around Phrygia.
When winter came Mithridates was deprived of his supplies by sea, if he had any, so that his whole army suffered from hunger, and many of them died. There were some who ate the entrails
626 according to a barbarian custom. Others were made sick by subsisting on herbs. Moreover the corpses that were thrown out in the neighborhood unburied brought on a plague in addition to that caused by famine. Nevertheless Mithridates continued his efforts, hoping still to capture Cyzicus by means of the mounds extending from Mount Dindymus. But when the Cyziceans undermined them and burned the machines on them, and made frequent sallies upon his forces, knowing that they were weakened by want of food, Mithridates began to think of flight. He fled by night, going himself with his fleet to Parius, and his army by land to Lampsacus. Many lost their lives in crossing the river sepus, which was then greatly swollen, and where Lucullus attacked them. Thus the Cyziceans escaped the vast siege preparations of the king by means of their own bravery and of the famine that Lucullus brought upon the enemy. They instituted games 627 in his honor, which they celebrate to this day, called the 628 Lucullean games. Mithridates sent ships for those who had taken refuge in Lampsacus, where they were besieged by Lucullus, and carried them away, together with the Lampsaceans themselves. Leaving 10,000 picked men and fifty ships under Varius (the general sent to him by Sertorius), and Alexander the Paphlagonian, and Dionysius the eunuch, he sailed with the bulk of his force for Nicomedia. A storm came up in which many of both divisions perished.
When Lucullus had accomplished this result on land by starving his enemies, he collected a fleet from the Asiatic province and distributed it to the generals serving under him. Trirarius sailed to Apamea, captured it, and slew a great many of the inhabitants who had taken refuge in the temples. Barba took Prusias, situated at the base of a mountain, and occupied Nica, which had been abandoned by the Mithridatic garrison. At the harbor of the Achans Lucullus captured thirteen of the enemy's ships. He overtook Varius and Alexander and Dionysius on a barren island near Lemnos (where the altar of Philoctetes is shown with the brazen serpent, the bows, and the breastplate bound with fillets, to remind us of the sufferings of that hero), and dashed at them in a contemptuous manner. They stoutly held their ground. He checked his oarsmen and sent his ships toward them by twos in order to entice them out to sea. As they declined the challenge, but continued to defend themselves on land, he sent a part of his fleet around to another side of the island, disembarked a force of infantry, and drove the enemy to their ships. Still they did not venture out to sea, but hugged the shore, because they were afraid of the army of Lucullus. Thus they were exposed to missiles on both sides, landward and seaward, and received a great many wounds, and after heavy slaughter took to flight. Varius, Alexander, and Dionysius the eunuch were captured in a cave where they had concealed themselves. Dionysius drank poison which he had with him and immediately expired. Lucullus gave orders that Varius be put to death, since he did not want to have his triumph graced by a Roman senator, but he kept Alexander for that purpose. Lucullus sent letters wreathed with
[figure in text: L. LICINIUS LUCULLUS]
laurel to Rome, as is the custom of victors, and then pressed forward to Bithynia.
As Mithridates was sailing to Pontus a second tempest overtook him and he lost about 10,000 men and sixty ships, and the remainder were scattered wherever the wind blew them. His own ship sprang a leak and he went aboard a small piratical craft although his friends tried to dissuade him. The pirates landed him safely at Sinope. From that place he was towed to Amisus, whence he sent appeals to his son-in-law, Tigranes the Armenian, and his son, Machares, the ruler of the Cimmerian Bosporus, that they should hasten to his assistance. He ordered Diocles to take a large quantity of gold and other presents to the neighboring Scythians, but Diodes took the gold and the 629 presents and deserted to Lucullus. Lucullus moved to 630 the front with the prestige of victory, subduing everything in his path and subsisting on the country. Presently he came to a rich district, exempt from the ravages of war, where a slave was sold for four drachmas,
631 an ox for one, and goats, sheep, clothing, and other things in proportion. Lucullus laid siege to Amisus and also to Eupatoria, which Mithridates had built alongside of Amisus
632 and named after himself and where he had fixed the royal residence. With another army he besieged Themiscyra, which is named after one of the Amazons and is situated on the river Thermodon. The besiegers of this place brought up towers, built mounds, and dug tunnels so large that great subterranean battles could be fought in them. The inhabitants cut openings into these tunnels from above and thrust bears and other wild animals and swarms of bees into them against the workers. Those who were besieging Amisus suffered in other ways. The inhabitants repelled them bravely, made frequent sallies, and often challenged them to single combat. Mithridates sent them plenty of supplies and arms and soldiers from Cabira, where he wintered and collected a new army. Here he brought together about 40,000 foot and 4000 horse.