Other Wars of Pompey--Brings Syria under Roman Rule--Mithridates in the Crimea--Prepares for Another War--Revolt against Mithridates--He plans an Invasion of Italy--His Son Pharnaces forms a Plot against him--Mutiny in the Army--Mithridates takes Poison, but without Effect--Is killed at his Own Request--Character and Career of Mithridates--He is buried at Sinope
Pompey then passed over Mount Taurus and made 662 war against Antiochus, the king of Commagene, until the latter entered into friendly relations with him. He also fought against Darius the Mede, and put him to flight, either because he had helped Antiochus, or Tigranes before him. He made war against the Arabs of Nabathi, whose king was Aretas, and against the Jews (whose king, Aristobulus, had revolted), until he had captured their holiest city, Jerusalem. He advanced against, and brought under Roman rule without fighting, those parts of Cilicia that were not yet subject to it, and the remainder of Syria which lies along the Euphrates, and the countries called Cle-Syria, Phnicia, and Palestine, also Idumea and Itura, and the other parts of Syria by whatever name called; not that he had any complaint against Antiochus, the son of Antiochus Pius, who was present and asked for his paternal kingdom, but because he thought that since he (Pompey) had dispossessed Tigranes, the conqueror of Antiochus, it belonged to the Romans by the law of war. While he was settling these affairs ambassadors came to him from Phraates and Tigranes, who had gone to war with each other. Those of ligranes asked the aid of Pompey as an ally, while those of the Parthian sought to secure for him the friendship of 663 the Roman people. As Pompey did not think it best to 664 fight the Parthians without a decree of the Senate, he sent mediators to compose their differences.
While Pompey was about this business Mithridates 666 had completed his circuit of the Euxine and occupied Panticapum, a European market-town at the outlet of that sea.
667 There at the Bosporus he put to death Xiphares, one of his sons, on account of the following fault of his mother. Mithridates had a castle where, in a secret underground treasury, a great deal of money lay concealed in numerous iron-bound brazen vessels. Stratonice, one of the king's concubines or wives, had been put in charge of this castle, and while he was still making his journey around the Euxine she delivered it up to Pompey and revealed to him the secret treasures, on the sole condition that he should spare her son, Xiphares, if he should capture him. Pompey took the money and promised her that he would spare Xiphares, and allowed her to take away her own things. When Mithridates learned these facts he killed Xiphares at the straits, while his mother was looking on from the opposite shore, and cast his body out unburied, thus wreaking his spite on the son in order to grieve the mother who had offended him. And now he sent ambassadors to Pompey, who was still in Syria and who did not know that the king was at that place. They promised that the king would pay tribute to the Romans if they would let him have his paternal kingdom. When Pompey required that Mithridates should come himself and make his petition as Tigranes had done, he said that as long as he was Mithridates he would never agree to that, but that he would send some of his sons and his friends to do so. Even while he was saying these things he was levying an army of freemen and slaves promiscuously, manufacturing arms, projectiles, and machines, helping himself to timber, and killing plough-oxen for the sake of their sinews. He levied tribute on all, even those of the slenderest means. His ministers made these exactions with harshness to many, without his knowledge, for he had fallen sick with ulcers on his face and allowed himself to be seen only by three eunuchs, who cured him.
When he had recovered from his illness and his army 669 was collected (it consisted of sixty picked cohorts of 6000 men each and a great multitude of other troops, besides ships and strongholds that had been captured by his generals while he was sick) he sent a part of it across the strait to Phanagoria, another trading-place at the mouth of the sea, in order to possess himself of the passage on either side while Pompey was still in Syria. Castor of Phanagoria, who had once been maltreated by Trypho, the king's eunuch, fell upon the latter as he was entering the town, killed him, and summoned the citizens to revolt. Although the citadel was already held by Artaphernes and other sons of Mithridates, the inhabitants piled wood around it and set it on fire, in consequence of which Artaphernes, Darius, Xerxes, and Oxathres, sons, and Eupatra, a daughter, of Mithridates, in fear of the fire, surrendered themselves and were led into captivity. Of these Artaphernes alone was about forty years of age; the others were handsome children. Cleopatra, another daughter, resisted. Her father, in admiration of her courageous spirit, sent a number of row-boats and rescued her. All the neighboring castles that had been lately occupied by Mithridates now revolted from him in emulation of the Phanagoreans, namely, Chersonesus, Theodosia, Nymphum, and others around the Euxine which were well situated for purposes of war. Mithridates, observing these frequent defections, and having suspicions of the army itself, lest it should fail him because the service was compulsory and the taxes very heavy, and because soldiers always lack confidence in unlucky commanders, sent some of his daughters in charge of eunuchs to be married to the Scythian princes, asking them at the same time to send him renforcements as quickly as possible. Five hundred soldiers accompanied them from his own army. Soon after they left the presence of Mithridates they killed the eunuchs who were leading them (for they always hated these persons, who were all-powerful with Mithridates) and conducted the young women to Pompey.
Although bereft of so many children and castles and of his whole kingdom, and in no way fit for war, and although he could not expect any aid from the Scythians, still no inferior position, none corresponding to his present misfortunes, even then found a place in his mind. He proposed to turn his course to the Gauls, whose friendship he had cultivated a long time for this purpose, and with them to invade Italy, hoping that many of the Italians themselves would join him on account of their hatred of the Romans; for he had heard that such had been Hannibal's policy after the Romans had waged war against him in Spain, and that he had become in this way an object of the greatest terror to them. He knew that almost all of Italy had lately revolted from the Romans by reason of their hatred and had waged war against them for a very long time, and had sustained Spartacus, the gladiator, against them, although he was a man of no repute. Filled with these ideas he was for hastening to the Gauls, but his soldiers, though the very bold enterprise might be attractive, were deterred chiefly by its magnitude, and by the long distance of the expedition in foreign territory, against men whom they could not overcome even in their own country. They thought also that Mithridates, in utter despair, wanted to end his life in a valiant and kingly way rather than in idleness. So they tolerated him and remained silent, for there was nothing mean or contemptible about him even in his misfortunes.
While affairs were in this plight Pharnaces, the son whom he was most fond of and whom he had often designated as his successor, either alarmed about the expedition and the kingdom (for he still had hopes of pardon from the Romans, but reckoned that he should lose everything completely if his father should invade Italy), or spurred by other motives, formed a conspiracy against his father. His fellow-conspirators were captured and put to the torture, but Menophanes persuaded the king that it would not be seemly, just as he was starting on his expedition, to put to death the son who had been until then the dearest to him. People were liable to such turns, he said, in time of war, and when they came to an end things quieted down again. In this way Mithridates was persuaded to pardon his son, but the latter, still fearing his father's anger, and knowing that the army shrank from the expedition, went by night to the leading Roman deserters who were encamped very near the king, and by representing to 671 them in its true light, and as they well knew it, the danger of their advancing against Italy, and by making them many promises if they would refuse to go, induced them to desert from his father. After Pharnaces had persuaded them he sent emissaries the same night to other camps near by and won them over. Early in the morning the first deserters raised a shout, and those next to them repeated it, and so on. Even the naval force joined in the cry, not all of them having been advised beforehand perhaps, but eager for a change, despising failure, and always ready to attach themselves to a new hope. Others, who were ignorant of the conspiracy, thought that all had been corrupted, and that if they remained alone they would be scorned by the majority,672 and so from fear and necessity rather than inclination joined in the shouting. Mithridates, being awakened by the noise, sent messengers out to inquire what the shouters wanted. The latter made no concealment, but said, "We want your son to be king; we want a young man instead of an old one who is ruled by eunuchs, the slayer of so many of his sons, his generals, and his friends."
When Mithridates heard this he went out to reason with them. A part of his own guard then ran to join the deserters, but the latter refused to admit them unless they would do some irreparable deed as a proof of their fidelity, pointing at the same time to Mithridates. So they hastened to kill his horse, for he himself had fled, and at the same time saluted Pharnaces as king, as though the rebels were already victorious, and one of them brought a broad papyrus leaf from a temple and crowned him with it in place of a diadem. The king saw these things from a high portico, and he sent messenger after messenger to Pharnaces asking permission to fly in safety. When none of his messengers returned, fearing lest he should be delivered up to the Romans, he praised the body-guards and friends who had been faithful to him and sent them to the new king, but the army killed some of them under a misapprehension as they were approaching. Mithridates then took out some poison that he always carried next to his sword, and mixed it. There two of his daughters, who were still girls growing up together, named Mithridatis and Nyssa, who had been betrothed to the kings of Egypt and of Cyprus, asked him to let them have some of the poison first, and insisted strenuously and prevented him from drinking it until they had taken some and swallowed it. The drug took effect on them at once; but upon Mithridates, although he walked around rapidly to hasten its action, it had no effect, because he had accustomed himself to other drugs by continually trying them as a means of protection against poisoners. These are still called the Mithridatic drugs. Seeing a certain Bituitus there, an officer of the Gauls, he said to him, "I have profited much from your right arm against my enemies. I shall profit from it most of all if you will kill me, and save from the danger of being led in a Roman triumph one who has been an autocrat so many years, and the ruler of so great a kingdom, but who is now unable to die by poison because, like a fool, he has fortified himself against the poison of others. Although I have kept watch and ward against all the poisons that one takes with his food, I have not provided against that domestic poison, always the most dangerous to kings, the treachery of army, children, and friends." Bituitus, thus appealed to, rendered the king the service that he desired.
So died Mithridates, who was the sixteenth in descent from Darius, the son of Hystaspes, king of the Persians, and the eighth673 from that Mithridates who left the Macedonians and acquired the kingdom of Pontus. He lived sixty-eight or sixty-nine years, and of these he reigned fifty-seven, for the kingdom came to him when he was an orphan. He subdued the neighboring barbarians and many of the Scythians, and waged a formidable war against the Romans for forty years, during which he frequently conquered Bithynia and Cappadocia, besides making incursions into the Roman province of Asia and into Phrygia, Paphlagonia, Galatia, and Macedonia. He invaded Greece, where he performed many remarkable exploits, and ruled the sea from Cilicia to the Adriatic until Sulla confined him again to his paternal kingdom after destroying 160,000 of his soldiers. Notwithstanding these great losses he renewed the war without difficulty. He fought with the greatest generals of his time. He was vanquished by Sulla, Lucullus, and Pompey, although several times he got the better of them also. Lucius Cassius, Quintus Oppius, and Manius Aquilius he took prisoners and carried them around with him. The last he killed because he was the cause of the war. The others he surrendered to Sulla. He defeated Fimbria, Murena, the consul Cotta, Fabius, and Triarius. He was always high-spirited and indomitable even in misfortunes. Until finally overthrown he left no avenue of attack against the Romans untried. He made alliances with the Samnites and the Gauls, and he sent legates to Sertorius in Spain. He was often wounded by enemies and by conspirators, but he never desisted from anything on that account, even when he was an old man. None of the conspiracies ever escaped his detection, not even the last one, but he voluntarily overlooked it and perished in consequence of it -- so ungrateful is the wickedness that has been once pardoned. He was bloodthirsty and cruel to all -- the slayer of his mother, his brother, three sons, and three daughters. He had a large frame, as his armor, which he sent to Nemea and to Delphi, shows, and was so strong that he rode horseback and hurled the javelin to the last, and could ride 1000 stades674 in one day, changing horses at intervals. He used to drive a chariot with sixteen horses at once. He cultivated Greek learning, and thus became acquainted with the religious cult of Greece, and was fond of music. He was abstemious and patient of labor for the most part, and yielded only to pleasures with women.
Such was the end of Mithridates, who bore the surnames of Eupator and Dionysus. When the Romans heard of his death they held a festival because they were delivered from a troublesome enemy. Pharnaces sent his father's corpse to Pompey at Sinope in a trireme, together with the persons who captured Manius, and many hostages, both Greek and barbarian, and asked that he should be allowed to rule either his paternal kingdom, or Bosporus alone, which his brother, Machares, had received from Mithridates. Pompey provided for the expenses of the funeral of Mithridates and directed his servants to give his remains a royal interment, and to place them in the tombs of the kings in Sinope, because he admired his great achievements and considered him the first of the kings of his time. Pharnaces, for delivering Italy from much trouble, was inscribed as a friend and ally of the Romans, and was given Bosporus as his kingdom, except Phanagoria, whose inhabitants were made free and independent because they were the first to resist Mithridates when he was recovering his strength, collecting ships, creating a new army and military posts, and because they led others to revolt and were the cause of his final collapse.