Extraordinary Powers given to Pompey--He marches against Mithridates--The King retreats by Night--Pompey overtakes and defeats him--Mithridates again flees to Armenia, and thence to the Scythians--Pompey advances to Colchis--Fights a Battle with the Barbarians--Marches against Tigranes--Tigranes comes to him as a Suppliant--Pompey pardons him, and settles the Affairs of Armenia
For this victory, so swiftly and unexpectedly gained, the Romans extolled Pompey beyond measure; and while he was still in Cilicia they chose him commander of the war against Mithridates, giving him the same unlimited powers as before, to make war and peace as he liked, and to proclaim nations friends or enemies according to his own judgment. They gave him command of all the forces 651 beyond the borders of Italy. All these powers had never been given to any one general before. This was perhaps the reason why they gave him the title of Pompey the Great, for the Mithridatic war had been successfully prosecuted by other generals before him. He accordingly collected his army and marched to the territory of Mithridates. The latter had an army selected from his own forces, of 30,000 foot and 3000 horse, stationed on his frontier; but since Lucullus had lately devastated that region there was a scant supply of provisions, and for this reason many of his men deserted. The deserters whom he caught he crucified, or put out their eyes, or burned them alive. But while the fear of punishment lessened the number of deserters, the scarcity of provisions weakened him.
Mithridates sent envoys to Pompey asking on what terms he could obtain peace. Pompey replied, "By delivering up our deserters and surrendering at discretion." When Mithridates was made acquainted with these terms he communicated them to the deserters, and when he observed their consternation he swore that on account of the cupidity of the Romans he would never make peace with them, nor would he give up anybody to them, nor would he ever do anything that was not for the common advantage of all. So spake Mithridates. Then Pompey placed a cavalry force in ambush, and sent forward others to harass the king's outposts openly, and ordered them to provoke the enemy and then retreat, as though vanquished. This was done until those in ambush took their enemy in the rear and put them to flight. The Romans might have broken into the enemy's camp along with the fugitives had not the king, apprehending this danger, led forward his infantry. Then the Romans retired. This was the result of the first trial of arms and cavalry engagement between Pompey and Mithridates.
The king, being short of provisions, retreated reluctantly and allowed Pompey to enter his territory, expecting that he also would suffer from scarcity when encamped in the devastated region. But Pompey had arranged to have his supplies sent after him. He passed around to the eastward of Mithridates, established a series of fortified posts 654 and camps extending a distance of 150 stades, and drew a line of circumvallation around him which made foraging still difficult for him. The king did not oppose this work, being either afraid or mentally paralyzed, as often happens on the approach of calamity. Being again pressed for supplies he slaughtered his pack animals, keeping only his horses. When he had scarcely fifty days' provisions left he fled by night, in profound silence, by bad roads. Pompey overtook him with difficulty in the daytime and assailed his rear guard. The king's friends then urged him to prepare for battle, but he would not fight. He merely drove back the assailants with his horse and retired into the thick woods in the evening. The following day he took up a strong position defended by rocks, to which there was access by only one road, which he held with an advance guard of four cohorts. The Romans put an opposing force on guard there to prevent Mithridates from escaping.
At daybreak both commanders put their forces under arms. The outposts began skirmishing along the defile, and some of the king's horsemen, without their horses and without orders, went to the assistance of their advance guard. A larger number of the Roman cavalry came up against them, and the horseless Mithridateans rushed back to their camp to mount their horses and thus to make themselves a more equal match for the advancing Romans. When those who were still arming on the higher ground looked down and saw their own men running toward them with haste and outcries, but did not know the reason, they thought that they had been put to flight. They threw down their arms and fled as though their own camp had already been captured on the other side. As there was no road out of the place they fell foul of each other in the confusion, until finally they leaped down the precipices. Thus the army of Mithridates perished through the rashness of those who caused a panic by going to the assistance of the advance guard without orders. The remainder of Pompey's task was easy, in the way of killing and capturing men not yet armed and shut up in a rocky defile. About 10,000 were slain and the camp with all its apparatus was taken.
Mithridates made his escape through the cliffs with his attendants only, and fled. He fell in with a troop of mercenary horse and about 3000 foot who accompanied him directly to the castle of Simorex, where he had accumulated a large sum of money. Here he gave rewards and a year's pay to those who had fled with him. Taking 6000 talents he hastened to the head waters of the Euphrates, intending to proceed thence to Colchis. As his march was uninterrupted, he crossed the Euphrates on the fourth day. Three days later he put in order and armed the forces that had accompanied or joined him, and entered Chotene in Armenia. There the Choteneans and Iberians tried with darts and slings to prevent him from coming in, but he advanced and proceeded to the river Apsarus. Some people think that the Iberians of Asia were the ancestors of the Iberians of Europe; others think that the former emigrated from the latter; still others think they merely have the same name, as their customs and languages are not similar. Mithridates wintered at Dioscurias in Colchis, which city, the Colchians think, preserves the remembrance of the sojourn there of the Dioscuri, Castor and Pollux, with the Argonautic expedition. Mithridates here made no small plans, nor yet plans suitable for a fugitive, but conceived the idea of making the circuit of the whole Pontic coast, passing from Pontus to the Scythians around the sea of Azov and thus arriving at the Bosporus. He intended to take away the kingdom of Machares, his ungrateful son, and confront the Romans once more; wage war against them from the side of Europe while they were in Asia, and to put between them as a dividing line the strait which is believed to have been called the Bosporus because 10 swam across it when she was changed into a cow and fled from the jealousy of Hera.
Such was the chimerical undertaking that Mithridates now set about. He imagined, nevertheless, that he should accomplish it. He pushed on through strange and warlike Scythian tribes, partly by permission, partly by force, for although a fugitive and in misfortune he was still respected and feared. He passed through the country of the Heniochi, who received him willingly. The Achans, who resisted him, he put to flight. These, it is said, when returning from the siege of Troy, were driven by a storm 656 into the Euxine sea and underwent great sufferings there at the hands of the barbarians because they were Greeks; and when they sent to their home for ships and their request was disregarded, they conceived such a hatred for the Grecian race that whenever they captured any Greeks they immolated them, Scythian fashion. At first in their anger they served all in this way, afterwards only the handsomest ones, and finally a few chosen by lot. So much for the Achans of Scythia. Mithridates finally reached the Azov country, of which there were many princes, all of whom received him, escorted him, and exchanged presents with him, on account of the fame of his deeds, his empire, and his power, which were still not to be despised. He formed alliances with them in contemplation of other and more novel exploits, such as marching through Thrace to Macedonia, through Macedonia to Pannonia, and passing over the Alps into Italy. With the more powerful of these princes he cemented the alliance by giving his daughters in marriage. When his son, Machares, learned that he had made such a journey in so short a time among savage tribes, and through the so-called Scythian Gates, which had never been passed by any one before, he sent envoys to him to defend himself, saying that he was under the necessity of conciliating the Romans. But, knowing his father's in. exorable temper, he fled to the Pontic Chersonesus, burning the ships to prevent his father from pursuing him. When the latter procured other ships and sent them after him, he anticipated his fate by killing himself. Mithridates put to death all of his own friends whom he had left here in places of authority when he went away, but those of his son he dismissed unharmed, as they had acted under the obligations of private friendship. This was the state of things with Mithridates.
Pompey pursued Mithridates in his flight as far as Colchis, but he thought that his foe would never get around to Pontus or to the sea of Azov, or undertake anything great even if he should escape. He advanced to Colchis in order to gain knowledge of the country visited by the Argonauts, Castor and Pollux, and Hercules, and especially he desired to see the place where they say that Prometheus was fastened to Mount Caucasus. Many streams issue from 658 Caucasus bearing gold-dust so fine as to be invisible. The inhabitants put sheepskins with shaggy fleece into the stream and thus collect the floating particles. Perhaps the golden fleece of tes was of this kind. All the neighboring tribes accompanied Pompey on his exploring expedition. Only Orses, king of the Albanians, and Artoces king of the Iberians, placed 70,000 men in ambush for him at the river Cyrtus, which empties into the Caspian sea by twelve navigable mouths, receiving the waters of several large streams, the greatest of which is the Araxes. Pompey, gaining knowledge of the ambush, bridged the river and drove the barbarians into a dense forest. These people are terrible forest fighters, hiding in the woods and darting out unexpectedly. Pompey surrounded this forest with his army, set it on fire, and pursued the fugitives when they ran out, until they all surrendered and brought him hostages and presents. Pompey was afterward awarded one of his triumphs at Rome for these exploits. Among the hostages and prisoners many women were found, who had suffered wounds no less than the men. These were supposed to be Amazons, but whether the Amazons are a neighboring nation, who were called to their aid at that time, or whether certain warlike women are called Amazons by the barbarians there, is not known.
On his return from that quarter Pompey marched against Armenia, making it a cause of war against Tigranes that he had assisted Mithridates. He was now not far from the royal residence, Artaxata. Tigranes was resolved to fight no longer. He had had three sons by the daughter of Mithridates, two of whom he had himself killed,--one in battle, where the son was fighting against the father, and the other in the hunting-field because he had neglected to assist his father who had been thrown, but had put the diadem on his own head while the father was lying on the ground. The third one, whose name was Tigranes, had seemed to be much distressed by his father's hunting accident, and had received a crown from him, but, nevertheless, he also deserted him after a short interval, waged war against him, was defeated, and fled to Phraates, king of the Parthians, who had lately succeeded his father Sintricus, in the government of that country. As Pompey drew near, this young Tigranes, after communicating his intentions to Phraates and receiving his approval (for Phraates also desired Pompey's friendship), took refuge with Pompey as a suppliant; and this although he was a grandson of Mithridates. Pompey's reputation among the barbarians for justice and good faith was great. Tigranes the father, trusting to it, came to Pompey unheralded to submit all his affairs to the latter's decision and to make complaint against his son. Pompey ordered tribunes and prefects of horse to meet him on the road, as an act of courtesy, but those who accompanied Tigranes feared to advance without the sanction of a herald and fled to the rear. Tigranes came forward, however, and prostrated himself before Pompey as his superior, in barbarian fashion. There are those who relate that he was led up by lictors when sent for by Pompey. However that may be, he came and made explanations of the past, and gave to Pompey for himself 6000 talents, and for the army fifty drachmas to each soldier, 1000 to each centurion, and 10,000 to each tribune.
Pompey pardoned him for the past, reconciled him with his son, and decided that the latter should rule Sophene and Gordyene (which are now called Lesser Armenia), and the father the rest of Armenia, and that at his death the son should succeed him in that also. He required that Tigranes should at once give up the territory that he had gained by war. Accordingly he gave up the whole of Syria from the Euphrates to the sea; for he held that and a part of Cilicia, which he had taken from Antiochus, surnamed Pius. Those Armenians who deserted Tigranes on the road, when he was going to Pompey, because they were afraid, persuaded his son, who was still with Pompey, to make an attempt upon his father. Pompey seized him and put him in chains. As he still tried to stir up the Parthians against Pompey, he was led in the latter's triumph and afterward put to death. And now Pompey, thinking that the whole war was at an end, founded a city on the place where he had overcome Mithridates in battle, which is called Nicopolis (the city of victory) from that affair, and is situated in Lesser Armenia. To Ariobarzanes he gave back the kingdom of Cappadocia and 659 added to it Sophene and Gordyene, which he had partitioned 660 to the son of Tigranes, and which are now administered as parts of Cappadocia. He gave him also the city of Castabala and some others in Cilicia. Ariobarzanes intrusted his whole kingdom to his son while he was still living. Many changes took place until the time of Csar Augustus, under whom this kingdom, like many others, became a Roman province.