Plutarch's Lives (Volume 3) online

. (page 12 of 38)
Online LibraryPlutarchPlutarch's Lives (Volume 3) → online text (page 12 of 38)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

incredible miseries; so plundered and enslaved by tax-
farmers and usurers, that private people were compelled to
sell their sons in the flower of their youth, and their
daughters in their virginity, and the States publicly to
sell their consecrated gifts, pictures, and statues. In the
end their lot was to yield themselves up slaves to their
creditors, but before this, worse troubles befel them, tort-
ures, inflicted with ropes and by horses, standing abroad
to be scorched when the sun was hot, and being driven
into ice and clay in the cold ; insomuch that slavery was
no less than a redemption and joy to them. Lucullus in a
short time freed the cities from all these evils and oppres-


sions ; for, first of all, he ordered there should be no mora
taken than one per cent. Secondly, where the interest ex-
ceeded the principal, he struck it off. The third and most
considerable order was, that the creditor should receive
the fourth part of the debtor's income ; but if any lender
had added the interest to the principal, it was utterly dis-
allowed. Insomuch, that in the space of four years all
debts were paid, and lands returned to their right owners.
The public debt was contracted when Asia was fined
twenty thousand talents by Sylla, but twice as much was
paid to the collectors, who by their usury had by this time
advanced it to a hundred and twenty thousand talents.
And accordingly they inveighed against Lucullus at Rome,
as grossly injured by him, and by their money's help (as,
indeed, they were very powerful, and had many of the
statesmen in their debt), they stirred up several leading
men against him. But Lucullus was not only beloved by
the cities which he obliged, but was also wished for by other
provinces, who blessed the good-luck of those who had
such a governor over them.

Appius Clodius, who was sent to Tigranes (the same
Clodius was brother to Lucullus's wife), being led by the
king's guides, a roundabout way, unnecessarily long and
tedious, through the upper country, being informed by his
freedman, a Syrian by nation, of the direct road, left that
lengthy and fallacious one ; and bidding the barbarians, his
guides, adieu, in a few days passed over Euphrates, and
camo to Antioch upon Daphne. There being commanded
to wait for Tigranes, who at that time was reducing some
towns in Phoenicia, he won over many chiefs to his side
who unwillingly submitted to the king of Armenia, among
whom was Zarbienus, king of the Gordyenians ; also many
of the conquered cities corresponded privately with him,
whom he assured of relief from Lucullus, but ordered them
to lie still at present. The Armenian government was an op-
pressive one, and intolerable to the Greeks, especially that


of the present king, who, growing insolent and overbearing
with his success, imagined all things valuable and esteemed
among men not only were his in fact, but had been pur-
posely created for him alone. From a small and incon-
siderable-beginning, he had gone on to be the conqueror of
many nations, had humbled the Parthian power more than
any before him, and filled Mesopotamia with Greeks, whom
he carried in numbers out of Cilicia and Cappadocia. He
transplanted also the Arabs, who lived in tents, from their
country and home, and settled them near him, that by their
means he might carry on the trade.

He had many kings waiting on him, but four he always
carried with him as servants and guards, who, when he
rode, ran by his horse's side in ordinary under-frocks, and
attended him, when sitting on his throne, and publishing
his decrees to the people, with their hands folded together ;
which posture of all others was that which most expressed
slavery, it being that of men who had bidden adieu to liberty,
and had prepared their bodies more for chastisement, than
the service of their masters. Appius, nothing dismayed or
surprised at this theatrical display, as soon as audience
was granted him, said he came to demand Mithridates for
Lucullus's triumph, otherwise to denounce war against
Tigranes : insomuch that though Tigranes endeavored to
receive him with a smooth countenance and a forced smile,
he could not dissemble his discomposure to those who stood
about him, at the bold language of the young man ; for it
was the first time, perhaps, in twenty-five years, the length
of his reign, or, more truly, of his tyranny, that any free
speech had been uttered to him. However, he made answer
',:> Appius, that he would not desert Mithridates, and would
defend himself, if the Romans attacked him. He was angry,
also, with Lucullus for calling him only king in his letter,
and not king of kings, and, in his answer, would not give
him his title of imperator. Great gifts were sent to Ap-
pius, which he refused ; but on their being sent again and


augmented, that he might not seem to refuse in anger, he
took one goblet and sent the rest back, and without delay
went off to the general.

Tigranes before this neither vouchsafed to see nor speak
with Mithridates, though a near kinsman, and forced out
of so considerable a kingdom, but proudly and scornfully
kept him at a distance, as a sort of prisoner, in a marshy
and unhealthy district ; but now, with much profession of
respect and kindness, he sent for him, and at a private
conference between them in the palace, they healed up all
private jealousies between them, punishing their favorites,
who bore all the blame ; among whom Metrodorus of Scepsis
was one, an eloquent and learned man, and so close an in-
timate as commonly to be called the king's father. This
man, as it happened, being employed in an embassy by Mith-
ridates to solicit help against the Romans, Tigranes asked
him, " What would you, Metrodorus, advise me to in this
affair ? " In return to which, either out of good- will to
Tigranes, or a want of solicitude for Mithridates, he made
answer, that as ambassador he counselled him to it, but as
a friend dissuaded him from it. This Tigranes reported,
and affirmed to Mithridates, thinking that no irreparable
harm would come of it to Metrodorus. But upon this he
was presently taken off, and Tigranes was sorry for what
he had done, though lie had not, indeed, been absolutely
the cause of his death ; yet he had given the fatal turn to
the anger of Mithridates, who had privately hated him
before, as appeared from his cabinet papers when taken,
among which there was an order that Metrodorus should
die. Tigranes buried him splendidly, sparing no cost to his
dead body, whom he betrayed when alive. In Tigranes" ;
court died, also, Amphicrates the orator (if, for the sake oi
Athens, we may also mention him), of whom it is told that
he left his country and fled to Seleucia, upon the river
Tigris, and, being desired to teach logic among them, arro-
gantly replied, that the dish was too little to hold a dolphin.


He, therefore, came to Cleopatra, daughter of Mithri
dates, and queen to Tigranes, but being accused of misde-
meanors, prohibited all commerce with his countrymen,
ended his days by starving himself. He, in like manner,
received from Cleopatra an honorable burial, near Sapha,
a place so called in that country.

Lucullus, when he had re-established law and a lasting
peace in Asia, did not altogether forget pleasure and mirth,
but, during his residence at Ephesus, gratified the cities
with sports, festival triumphs, wrestling games, and single
combats of gladiators. And they, in requital, instituted
others, called Lucullean games, in honor to him, thus mani-
festing their love to him, which was of more value to him
than all the honor. But when Appius came to him. and
told him he must prepare for war with Tigranes, he went
again into Pontus, and, gathering together his army, be-
sieged Sinope, or rather the Cilicians of the king's side who
held it ; who thereupon killed a number of the Sinopians,
and set the city on fire, and by night endeavored to escape.
Which when Lucullus perceived, he entered the city, and
killed eight thousand of them who were still left behind ;
but restored to the inhabitants what was their own, and
took special care for the welfare of the city. To which he
was chiefly prompted by this vision. One seemed to come
to him in his sleep, and say, " Go on a little further, Lucul-
lus, for Autolycus is coming to see thee." When he arose
he could not imagine what the vision meant. The same
day he took the city, and as he was pursuing the Cilicians,
who were flying by sea, he saw a statue lying on the shore,
which the Cilicians carried so far, but had not time to carry
aboard. It was one of the masterpieces of Sthenis. And
one told him that it was the statue of Autolycus, the founder
of the city. This Autolycus is reported to have been son
to Deimachus, and one of those who, under Hercules, went
on the expedition out of Thessaly against the Amazons ;
from whence in his return with Demoleon and Phk>giua,


he lost his vessel on a point of the Chersonesus, called
Pedalium. He himself, with his companions and their
weapons, being saved, came to Sinope, and dispossessed
the Syrians there. The Syrians held it, descended from
Syrus, as is the story, the son of Apollo, and Sinope, the
daughter of Asopus. Which as soon as Lucullus heard, he
remembered the admonition of Sylla, whose advice it is in
his Memoirs to treat nothing as so certain and so worthy
of reliance as an intimation given in dreams.

When it was now told him that Mithridates and Tigranes
were just ready to transport their forces into Lycaonia and
Cilicia, with the object of entering Asia before him, he won-
dered much why the Armenian, supposing him to entertain
any real intentions to fight with the Romans, did not assist
Mithridates in his flourishing condition, and join forces
when he was fit for service, instead of suffering him to be
vanquished and broken in pieces, and now at last beginning
the war, when its hopes were grown cold, and throwing him-
self down headlong with them, who were irrevocably fallen
already. But when Machares, the son of Mithridates, and
governor of Bosporus, sent him a crown, valued at a thousand
pieces of gold, and desired to be enrolled as a friend and
confederate of the Romans, he fairly reputed that war at an
end, and left Sornatius, his deputy, with six thousand sol-
diers, to take care of Pontius. He himself, with twelve
thousand foot and a little less than three thousand horse,
went forth to the second war, advancing, it seemed very
plain, with too great and ill-advised speed, into the midst
of warlike nations and many thousands upon thou-
sands of horse, into an unknown extent of country, every
way inclosed with deep rivers and mountains, never
free from snow; which made the soldiers, already far from
orderly, follow him with great unwillingness and opposi-
tion. For the same reason, also, the popular leaders at
home publicly inveighed and declaimed against him, as one
that raised up war after war, not so much for the interest


of the republic, as that he himself, being still in commission,
might not lay down arms, but go on enriching himself by
the public dangers. These men, in the end, effected their
purpose. But Lucullus, by long journeys, came to the
Euphrates, where, finding the waters high and rough from
the winter, he was much troubled for fear of delay and
difficulty while he should procure boats and make a bridge
of them. But in the evening the flood beginning to retire,
and decreasing all through the night, the next day they
saw the river far down within his banks, so much so that
the inhabitants, discovering the little islands in the river,
and the water stagnating among them, a thing which had
rarely happened before, made obeisance to Lucullus, before
whom the very river was humble and submissive, and
yielded an easy and swift passage. Making use of the op-
portunity, he carried over his army, and met with a lucky
sign at landing. Holy heifers are pastured on purpose for
Diana Persia, whom, of all the gods, the barbarians beyond
Euphrates chiefly adore. They use these heifers only lor
her sacrifices. At other times they wander up and down
undisturbed, with the mark of the goddess, a torch, branded
on them ; and it is no such light or easy thing, when occa-
sion requires, to seize one of them. But one of these, when
the army had passed the Euphrates, coming to a rock con-
secrated to the goddess, stood upon it, and then laying
down her neck, like others that are forced down with a
rope, offered herself to Lucullus for sacrifice. Besides
which, he offered also a bull to Euphrates, for his safe
passage. That day he tarried there, but on the next, and
those that followed, he travelled through Sophene, using
no manner of violence to the people who came to him, and
willingly received his army. And when the soldiers were
desirous to plunder a castle that seemed to be well stored
within, "That is the castle," said he, "that we must
storm," showing them Taurus at a distance ; " the rest is
reserved for those who conquer there." Wherefore has-


tening his march, and passing the Tigris, he came ovei
into Armenia.

The first messenger that gave notice of Lucullus's coming
was so far from pleasing Tigranes, that he had his head cut
off for his pains ; and no man daring to bring further infor-
mation, without any intelligence at all, Tigranes sat while
war was already blazing around him, giving ear only to
those who flattered him, by saying that Lucullus would
show himself a great commander, if he ventured to wait
for Tigranes at Ephesus, and did not at once fly out of
Asia, at the mere sight of the many thousands that were
come against him. He is a man of a strong body that can
carry off a great quantity of wine, and of a powerful con-
stitution of mind that can sustain felicity. Mithrobarzanes,
one of his chief favorites, first dared to tell him the truth,
but had no more thanks for his freedom of speech, than
to be immediately sent out against Lucullus with three
thousand horse, and a great number of foot, with peremp-
tory demands to bring him alive, and trample down his
army. Some of Lucullus's men were then pitching their
camp, and the rest were coming up to them, when the scouts
gave notice that the enemy was approaching, whereupon he
was in fear lest they should fall upon him, while his men
were divided and unarranged ; which made him stay to pitch
the camp himself, and send out Sextilius the legate, with
sixteen hundred horse, and about as many heavy and light
arms, with orders to advance towards the enemy, and wait
until intelligence came to him that the camp was finished.
Sextilius designed to have kept this order ; but Mithrobar-
zanes coming furiously upon him, he was forced to fight.
In the engagement, Mithrobarzanes himself was slain, fight-
ing, and all his men, except a few who ran away, were de-
stroyed. After this, Tigranes left Tigranocerta, a great city
built by himself, and retired to Taurus, and called all his
forces about him.

But Lucullus, giving him no time to rendezvous, aenfc out


Murena to harass and cut oft those who marched to Ti-
granes., and Sextilius, also, to disperse a great company of
Arabians then on the way to the king. Sextilius fell upon
the Arabians in their camp, and destroyed most of them,
and also Murena, in his pursuit after Tigranes through a
craggy and narrow pass, opportunely fell upon him. Upon
which Tigranes, abandoning all his baggage, fled ; many of
the Armenians were killed, and more taken. After this
success, Lucullus went to Tigranocerta, and sitting down be-
fore the city, besieged it. In it were many Greeks carried
away out of Cilicia, and many barbarians in like circum-
stances with the Greeks, Adiabenians, Assyrians, Gordye-
nians, and Cappadocians, whose native cities he had de-
stroyed, and forced away the inhabitants to settle here. It
was a rich and beautiful city, every common man, and every
man of rank, in imitation of the king, studied to enlarge and
adorn it. This made Lucullus more vigorously press the
siege, in the belief that Tigranes would not patiently endure
it, but even against his own judgment would come down in
anger to force him away ; in which he was not mistaken.
Mithridates earnestly dissuaded him from it, sending mes-
sengers and letters to him not to engage, but rather with his
horse to try and cut off the supplies. Taxiles, also, who came
from Mithridates, and who stayed with his army, very
much entreated the king to forbear, and to avoid the
Roman arms, things it was not safe to meddle with. To
this he hearkened at first, but when the Armenians and
Gordyenians in a full body, and the whole forces of Medes
and Adiabenians, under their respective kings, joined him ;
firhen many Arabians came up from the sea beyond
Babylon ; and from the Caspian sea, the Albanians and the
Iberians their neighbors, and not a few of the free people,
without kings, living about the Araxes, by entreaty and
hire also came together to him ; and all the king's feasts
and councils rang of nothing but expectations, boastings,
and barbaric threatenings, Taxiles went in danger of his


life, for giving council against fighting, and it was imputed
to envy in Mithridates thus to. discourage him from so
glorious an enterprise. Therefore Tigranes would by no
means tarry for him, for fear he should share in the glory, but
marched on with all his army, lamenting to his friends, as it
is said, that he should fight with Lucullus alone and not with
all the Roman generals together. Neither was his boldness
to be accounted wholly frantic or unreasonable, when he had
so many nations and kings attending him, and so many tens
of thousands of well-armed foot and horse about him. He
had twenty thousand archers and slingers, fifty-five thousand
horse, of which seventeen thousand were in complete ar-
mor, as Lucullus wrote to the senate, a hundred and fifty
thousand heavy -armed men, drawn up partly into cohorts,
partly into phalanxes, besides various divisions of men
appointed to make roads and lay bridges, to drain off waters
and cut wood, and to perform other necessary services,
to the number of thirty-five thousand, who, being quartered
behind the army, added to its strength, and made it the
more formidable to behold.

As soon as he had passed Taurus, and appeared with his
forces, and saw the Romans beleaguering Tigranocerta, the
barbarous people within, with shoutings and acclamations,
received the sight, and threatening the Romans from the
wall, pointed to the Armenians. In a council of war, some
advised Lucullus to leave the siege, and march up to
Tigranes, others that it would not be safe to leave the
siege, and so many enemies behind. He answered that
neither side by itself was right, but together both gave
sound advice ; and accordingly he divided his army, and
left Murena with six thousand foot in charge of the siege,
and himself went out with twenty-four cohorts, in which
were no more than ten thousand men at arms, and with
all the horse and slingers and archers and about a thousand
sitting down by the river in a large plain, he appeared,
indeed, very inconsiderable to Tigranes, and a fit subject


for the flattering wits about him. Some of whom jeered,
others cast lots for the spoil, and every one of the kings
and commanders came and desired to undertake the en-
gagement alone, and that he would be pleased to sit still
and behold. Tigranes himself, wishing to be witty and
pleasant upon the occasion, made use of the well-known
saying, that they were too many for ambassadors, and too
few for soldiers. Thus they continued sneering and scoff-
ing. As soon as day came, Lucullus brought out his forces
under arms. The barbarian army stood on the eastern side
of the river, and there being a bend of the river westward
in that part of it, where it was easiest forded, Lucullus,
while he led his army on in haste, seemed to Tigranes to
be flying ; who thereupon called Taxiles, and in derision
said, "Do you not see these invincible Romans flying?"
But Taxiles replied, " Would, indeed, O king, that some
such unlikely piece of fortune might be destined you ; but
the Romans do not, when going on a march, put on their
best clothes, nor use bright shields, and naked headpieces,
as now you see them, with the leathern coverings all taken
off, but this is a preparation for war of men just ready to
engage with their enemies." While Taxiles was thus
speaking, as Lucullus wheeled about, the first eagle ap-
peared, and the cohorts, according to their divisions and
companies, formed in order to pass over, when with much
ado, and like a man that is just recovering from a drunken
fit, Tigranes cried out twice or thrice, " What, are they
upon us ? " In great confusion, therefore, the army got in
array, the king keeping the main body to himself, while
the left wing given in charge to the Adiabenian, and the
right to the Mede, in the front of which latter were posted
most of the heavy-armed cavalry. Some officers advised
Lucullus, just as he was going to cross the river, to lie still,
that day being one of the unfortunate ones which they call
black days, for on it the army under Csepio, engaging with
the Cimbrians, was destroyed. But he returned the famous


answer, " I will make it a happy day to the Romans." It
was the day before the Nones of October.

Having so said, he bade them take courage, passed
over the river, and himself first of all led them against the
enemy, clad in a coat of mail, with shining steel scales
and a fringed mantle; and his sword might already
be seen out of the scabbard, as if to signify that they
must without delay come to a hand-to-hand combat
with an enemy whose skill was in distant fighting, and
by the speed of their advance curtail the space that
exposed them to the archery. But when he saw the heavy-
armed horse, the flower of the army, drawn up under
a hill, on the top of which was a broad and open plain
about four furlongs distant, and of no very difficult or
troublesome access, he commanded his Thracian and Ga-
latian horse to fall upon their flank, and beat down their
lances with their swords. The only defence of these horse-
men-at-arms are their lances ; they have nothing else that
they can use to protect themselves, or annoy their enemy,
on account of the weight and stiffness of their armor, with
which they are, as it were, built up. He himself, with two
cohorts, made to the mountain, the soldiers briskly follow-
ing, when they saw him in arms afoot first toiling and
climbing up. Being on the top and standing in an open
place, with a loud voice he cried out, " We have overcome,
we have overcome, fellow- soldiers ! ' And having so said,
he marched against the armed horsemen, commanding his
men not to throw their javelins, but coming up hand to
hand with the enemy, to hack their shins and thighs, which
parts alone were unguarded in these heavy-armed horse-
men. But there was no need of this way of fighting, for
they stood not to receive the Romans, but with great
clamor and worse flight they and their heavy horses threw
themselves upon the ranks of the foot, before ever these
could so much as begin the fight, insomuch that without a
wound or bloodshed, so many thousands were overthrown


The greatest slaughter was made in the flight, or rather in
the endeavoring to fly away, which they could not well do
by reason of the depth and closeness of their own ranks,
which hindered them. Tigranes at first fled with a few,
but seeing his son in the same misfortune, he took the dia-
dem from his head, and with tears gave it him, bidding
him save himself by some other road if he could. But the
young man, not daring to put it on, gave it to one of his
trustiest servants to keep for him. This man, as it hap-
pened, being taken, was brought to Lucullus, and so,
among the captives, the crown, also, of Tigranes was
taken. It is stated that above a hundred thousand foot
were lost, and that of the horse but very few escaped at
all. Of the Romans, a hundred were wounded and five
killed. Antiochus the philosopher, making mention of this
fight in his book about the gods, says that the sun never
saw the like. Strabo, a second philosopher, in his histori-
cal collection says, that the Romans could not but blush
and deride themselves, for putting on armor against such
pitiful slaves. Livy also says, that the Romans never

Online LibraryPlutarchPlutarch's Lives (Volume 3) → online text (page 12 of 38)