New Troubles brewing--Mithridates forms an Alliance with Sertorius and prepares for War--Makes a Speech to his Troops--Invades Bithynia
As Mithridates was now at leisure he subdued the 618 tribes of the Bosporus and appointed Machares, one of his sons, king over them. Then he fell upon the Achans beyond Colchis (who are supposed to be descended from those who lost their way when returning from the Trojan war), but lost two divisions of his army, partly by open war, partly by the severity of the climate, and partly by stratagem. When he returned home he sent ambassadors to Rome to sign the agreements. At the same time Ariobarzanes, either of his own notion or at the prompting of others, sent thither to complain that Cappadocia had not been delivered up to him, but that a greater part of it was yet retained by Mithridates. Sulla commanded Mithridates to give up Cappadocia. He did so, and then sent another embassy to sign the agreements. But now Sulla had just 619 died, and as the Senate was otherwise occupied the prtors 620 did not admit them. So Mithridates persuaded his son-in-law, Tigranes, to make an incursion into Cappadocia as though it were on his own account. This artifice did not deceive the Romans. The Armenian king threw, as it were, a drag net around Cappadocia and made a haul of about 300,000 people, whom he carried off to his own country and settled them, with others, in a certain place where he had first assumed the diadem of Armenia and which he had called after himself, Tigranocerta, or the city of Tigranes.
While these things were taking place in Asia Sertorius, the governor of Spain, incited that province and all the neighboring country to rebel against the Romans, and 621 selected from his associates a senate in imitation of that 622 of Rome. Two members of his faction, Lucius Magius and Lucius Fannius, proposed to Mithridates to ally himself with Sertorius, holding out the hope that he would acquire a large part of the province of Asia and of the neighboring nations. Mithridates fell in with this suggestion and sent ambassadors to Sertorius. The latter introduced them to his senate and felicitated himself that his fame had extended to Pontus, and that he could now besiege the Roman power in both the Orient and the Occident. So he made a treaty with Mithridates to give him Asia, Bithynia, Paphlagonia, Cappadocia, and Galatia, and sent Marcus Varius to him as a general and the two Luciuses, Magius and Fannius, as counsellors. With their assistance Mithridates began his third and last war against the Romans, in the course of which he lost his entire kingdom, and Sertorius lost his life in Spain. Two generals were sent against Mithridates from Rome; the first, Lucullus, the same who had served as prefect of the fleet under Sulla; the second, Pompey, by whom the whole of his dominions, and the adjoining territory as far as the river Euphrates, under the pretext and impetus of the Mithridatic war, were brought under Roman sway.
Mithridates had been in collision with the Romans so often that he knew that this war, so inexcusably and hastily begun, would be an implacable one. He made every preparation with the thought that all was at stake. The remainder of the summer and the whole of the winter he spent in cutting timber, building ships, and making arms. He distributed 2,000,000 medimni
623 of corn along the coast. Besides his former forces he had for allies the Chalybes, Armenians, Scythians, Taurians, Achans, Heniochi, Leucosyrians, and those who occupy the territory about the river Thermodon, called the country of the Amazons. These additions to his former strength were from Asia. From Europe he drew of the Sarmatian tribes, both the Basilid and the Jazyges, the Coralli, and those Thracians who dwelt along the Danube and on the Rhodope and Hmus mountains, and besides these the Bastarn, the bravest nation of all. Altogether Mithridates recruited a fighting force of about 140,000 foot and 16,000 horse. A great crowd of road-makers, baggage-carriers, and sutlers followed.
At the beginning of spring Mithridates made trial 625 of his navy and sacrified to Zeus Stratius in the customary manner, and also to Poseidon by plunging a chariot with white horses into the sea. Then he hastened against Paphlagonia with his two generals, Taxiles and Hermocrates, in command of his army. When he arrived there he made a speech to his soldiers, eulogistic of his ancestors and still more so of himself, showing how his kingdom had grown to greatness from small beginnings, and how his army had never been defeated by the Romans when he was present. He accused the Romans of avarice and lust of power "to such an extent," he said, "that they had enslaved Italy and Rome itself." He accused them of bad faith respecting the last and still existing treaty, saying that they were not willing to sign it because they were watching for an opportunity to violate it again. After thus setting forth the cause of the war he dwelt upon the composition of his army and his apparatus, upon the preoccupation of the Romans, who were waging a difficult war with Sertorius in Spain, and were torn with civil dissensions throughout Italy, "for which reason," he said, "they have allowed the sea to be overrun by pirates a long time, and have not a single ally, nor any subjects who still obey them willingly. Do you not see," he added, "some of their noblest citizens (pointing to Varius and the two Luciuses) at war with their own country and allied with us? "
When he had finished speaking and exciting his army, he invaded Bithynia. Nicomedes had lately died childless and bequeathed his kingdom to the Romans. Cotta, its governor, was a man altogether unwarlike. He fled to Chalcedon with what force he had. Thus Bithynia again passed under the rule of Mithridates. The Romans from all directions flocked to Cotta at Chalcedon. When Mithridates advanced to that place Cotta did not go out to meet him because he was inexperienced in military affairs, but his naval prefect, Nudus, with a part of the army occupied a very strong position on the plain. He was driven out of it, however, and fled to the gates of Chalcedon over many walls which greatly obstructed his movement. There was a struggle at the gates among those trying to gain entrance simultaneously, for which reason no missile cast by the pursuers missed its mark. The guards at the gates, fearing for the city, let down the gate from the machine. Nudus and some of the other officers were drawn up by ropes. The remainder perished between their friends and their foes, holding out their hands in entreaty to each. Mithridates made good use of his success. He moved his ships up to the harbor the same day, broke the brazen chain that closed the entrance, burned four of the enemy's ships, and towed the remaining sixty away. Nudus offered no resistance, nor Cotta, for they remained shut up inside the walls. The Roman loss was about 3000, including Lucius Manlius, a man of senatorial rank. Mithridates lost twenty of his Bastarn, who were the first to break into the harbor.