Copyright
Plutarch.

Plutarch's Lives (Volume 3) online

. (page 33 of 38)
Online LibraryPlutarchPlutarch's Lives (Volume 3) → online text (page 33 of 38)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


in earnest, and having betaken himself to his shields,
swords, and horses. Lucullus, on the other side, to be even
with him, replied, that Pompey came to fight with the mere
image and shadow of war, it being his usual practice, like
a lazy bird of prey, to come upon the carcass, when others
had slain the dead, and to tear in pieces the relics of a war,



POMPEY. 3$7

Thus he had appropriated to himself the victories ovef
Sertorius, over Lepidus, and over the insurgents under
Spartacus ; whereas this last had been achieved by Cras-
sus i that obtained by Catulus, and the first won by Metel-
lus. And therefore it was no great wonder that the glory
of the Pontic and Armenian war should be usurped by a
man w&o had condescended to any artifices to work him-
self into the honor of a triumph over a few runaway
slaves.

After this Lucullus went away, and Pompey having
placed his whole navy in guard upon the seas betwixt
Phoenicia and Bosphorus, himself marched against Mithri*
dates, who had a phalanx of thirty thousand foot, with two
thousand horse, yet durst not bid him battle. He had
encamped upon a strong mountain where it would have
been hard to attack him, but abandoned it in no long
time, as destitute of water. No sooner was he gone but
Pompey occupied it, and observing the plants that were
thriving there, together with the hollows which he found
in several places, conjectured that such a plot could not be
without springs, and therefore ordered his men to sink
wells in every corner. After which there was, in a little
time, great plenty of water throughout all the camp, in-
somuch that he wondered how it was possible for Mithri-
dates to be ignorant of this, during all that time of his en-
campment there. After this Pompey followed him to his
next camp, and there drawing lines round about him, shut
him in. But he, after having endured a siege of forty -five
days, made his escape secretly, and fled away with all the best
part of his army, having first put to death all the sick and
unserviceable. Not long after Pompey overtook him again
near the banks of the river Euphrates, and encamped close
by him ; but fearing lest he should pass over the river and
give him the slip there too, he drew up his army to attack
him at midnight. And at that very time Mithridates, it is
said, saw a vision in his dream foreshowing what should



B88 PLUTARCH'S LIVES.

come to pass. For he seemed to be under sail in the
Euxine Sea with a prosperous gale, and just in view of
Bosphorus, discoursing pleasantly with the ship's company^
as one overjoyed for his past danger and present security,
when on a sudden he found himself deserted of all, and
floating upon a broken plank of the ship at the mercy of
the sea. Whilst he was thus laboring under these passions
and phantasms, his friends came and awaked him with the
news of Fompey's approach ; who was now indeed so near
at hand, that the fight must be for the camp itself, and the
commanders accordingly drew up the forces in battle array.
Pompey perceiving how ready they were and well prepared
for defence, began to doubt with himself whether he should
put it to the hazard of a fight in the dark, judging it more
prudent to encompass them only at present, lest they
should fly, and to give them battle with the advantage of
numbers the next day. But his oldest officers were of
another opinion, and by entreaties and encouragements
obtained permission that they might charge them imme-
diately. Neither was the night so very dark, but that,
though the moon was going down, it yet gave light enough
to discern a body. And indeed this was one especial disad-
vantage to the king's army. For the Romans coming upon
them with the moon on their backs, the moon, being very
low, and just upon setting, cast the shadows a long way
before their bodies, reaching almost to the enemy, whose
eyes were thus so much deceived that not exactly discern-
ing the distance, but imagining them to be near at hand, they
threw their darts at the shadows without the least execution.
The Romans therefore, perceiving this, ran in upon them
with a great shout ; but the barbarians, all in a panic, unable
to endure the charge, turned and fled, and were put to great
slaughter, above ten thousand being slain ; the camp also
was taken. As for Mithridates himself, he at the beginning
of the onset, with a body of eight hundred horse, charged
through the Roman army, and made his escape. But before



POMPEY. 389

long all the rest dispersed, some one way, some another, and
he was left only with three persons, among whom was his
concubine, Hypsicratia, a girl always of a manly and daring
spirit, and the king called her on that account Hypsicrates.
She being attired and mounted like a Persian horseman,
accompanied the king in all his flight, never weary even in
the longest journey, nor ever failing to attend the king in
person, and look after his horse too, until they came to
Inora, a castle of the king's, well stored with gold and treas-
ure. From thence Mithridates took his richest apparel,
and gave it among those that had resorted to him in their
flight ; and so to every one of his friends he gave a deadly
poison, that they might not fall into the power of the
enemy against their wills. From thence he designed to
have gone to Tigranes in Armenia, but being prohibited by
Tigranes, who put out a proclamation with a reward of one
hundred talents to any one that should apprehend him, he
passed by the head-waters of the river Euphrates, and fled
through the country of Colchis.

Pompey in the mean time made an invasion into Armenia
upon the invitation of young Tigranes, who was now in re-
bellion against his father, and gave Pompey a meeting
about the river Araxes, which rises near the head of Eu-
phrates, but turning its course and bending towards the
east, falls into the Caspian Sea. They two, therefore,
marched together through the country, taking in all the
cities by the way, and receiving their submission. But king
Tigranes, having lately suffered much in the war with
Lucullus, and understanding that Pompey was of a kind
and gentle disposition, admitted Roman troops into his
royal palaces, and taking along with him his friends and
relations, went in person to surrender himself into the
hands of Pompey. He came as far as the trenches on
horseback, but there he was met by two of Pompey's lie-
tors, who commanded him to alight and walk on foot, for
no man ever was seen on horseback within a Roman camp.



390 PLUTAECirS LIVES.

Tigranes submitted to this immediately, and not only so,
but loosing his sword, delivered up that too ; and last of
all, as soon as he appeared before Pompey, he pulled off
his royal turban, and attempted to have laid it at his feet.
Nay, worst of all, even he himself had fallen prostrate as
an humble suppliant at his knees, had not Pompey pre-
vented it, taking him by the hand and placing him near
him, Tigranes himself on one side of him and his son upon
the other. Pompey now told him that the rest of his
losses were chargeable upon Lucullus, by whom he had
been dispossessed of Syria, Phoenicia, Cilicia, Galatia, and
Sophene ; but all that he had preserved to himself entire till
that time he should peaceably enjoy, paying the sum of
six thousand talents as a fine or penalty for injuries done
to the Romans, and that his son should have the kingdom
of Sophene. Tigranes himself was well pleased with
these conditions of peace, and when the Romans saluted
him king, seemed to be overjoyed, and promised to every
common soldier half a mina of silver, to every centurion
ten minas, and to every tribune a talent ; but the son was
displeased, insomuch that when he was invited to supper
he replied, that he did not stand in need of Pompey for
that sort of honor, for he would find out some other
Roman to sup with. Upon this he was put into close
arrest, and reserved for the triumph.

Not long after this Phraates, king of Parthia, sent to
Pompey, and demanded to have young Tigranes, as his son-
in-law, given up to him, and that the river Euphrates
should be the boundary of the empires. Pompey replied,
that for Tigranes, he belonged more to his own natural
father than his father-in-law, and for the boundaries, he
would take care that they should be according to right and
justice.

So Pompey, leaving Armenia in the custody of Afranius,
went himself in chase of Mithridates ; to do which he was
forced of necessity to march through several nations in



POMPEY. 391

habiting about Mount Caucasus. Of these the Albanians
and Iberians were the two chiefest. The Iberians stretch
out as far as the Moschian mountains and the Pontus ; the
Albanians He more eastwardly, and towards the Caspian
Sea. These Albanians at first permitted Pompey, upon his
request, to pass through the country ; but when winter had
stolen upon the Romans whilst they were still in the coun-
try, and they were busy celebrating the festival of Saturn,
they mustered a body of no less than forty thousand fight-
ing men, and set upon them, having passed over the river
Cyrnus, which rising from the mountains of Iberia, and
receiving the river Araxes in its course from Armenia, dis-
charges itself by twelve mouths into the Caspian. Or,
accordikig to others, the Araxes does not fall into it, but
they flow near one another, arid so discharge themselves as
neighbors into the same sea. It was in the power of Pompey
to have obstructed the enemy's passage over the river, but
he suffered them to pass over quietly ; and then leading
on his forces and giving battle, he routed them, and slew
great numbers of them in the field. The king sent am-
bassadors with his submission, and Pompey upon his sup-
plication pardoned the offence, and making a treaty with
him, he marched directly against the Iberians, a nation no
less in number than the other, but much more warlike, and
extremely desirous of gratifying Mithridates, and driving
out Pompey. These Iberians were never subject to the
Medes or Persians, and they happened likewise to escape
the dominion of the Macedonians, because Alexander was
so quick in his march through Hyrcania. But these also
Pompey subdued in a great battle, where there were slain
nine thousand upon the spot, and more than ten thousand
taken prisoners. From thence he entered into the country
of Colchis, where Servilius met him by the river Phasis,
bringing the fleet with which he was guarding the Pontus,
The pursuit of Mithridates, who had thrown himself
among the tribes inhabiting Bosphorus and the shores of



392 PL UTAEC1I ' S LIVES.

the Mseotian Sea, presented great difficulties. News was
also brought to Pompey that the Albanians had again
revolted. This made him turn back, out of anger and
determination not to be beaten by them, and with difficulty
and great danger passed back over the Cyrnus, which the
barbarous people had fortified a great way down the banks
with palisadoes. And after this, having a tedious march
to make through a waterless and difficult country, he l
ordered ten thousand skins to be filled with water, and so
advanced towards the enemy, whom he found drawn up in
order of battle near the river Abas, to the number of sixty
thousand horse and twelve thousand foot, ill-armed gener-
ally, and most of them covered only with the skins of wild
beasts. Their general was Cosis, the king's brother, who,
as soon as the battle was begun, singled out Pompey, and
rushing in upon him darted his javelin into the joints of
his breastplate ; while Pompey, in return, struck him
through the body with his lance, and slew him. It is
related that in this battle there were Amazons fighting as
auxiliaries with the barbarians, and that they came down
from the mountains by the river Thermodon. For that
after the battle, when the Romans were taking the spoils
and plunder ot the field, they met with several targets and
buskins of the Amazons ; but no woman's body was found
among the dead. They inhabit the parts of Mount Caucasus
that reach down to the Hyrcanian Sea, not immediately
bordering upon the Albanians, for the Gelse and the Leges
lie betwixt ; and they keep company with tnese people
yearly, for two months only, near the river Thermodon ;
after which they retire to their own habitations, and live
alone all the rest of the year.

After this engagement, Pompey was eager to advance
with his forces upon the Hyrcanian and Caspian Sea, but
was forced to retreat at a distance of three days' march
from it, by the number of venomous serpents, and so he
retreated into Armenia the Less. Whilst he was there,



POMPET. 398

the kings of the Elymseans afnd Medes sent ambassadors
to him, to whom he gave friendly answer by letter ; and
sent against the king of Parthia, who had made incursions
upon Gordyene, and despoiled the subjects of Tigranes, an
army under the command of Afranius, who put him to the
rout, and followed him in chase as far as the district of
Arbela.

Of the concubines of king Mithridates that were brought
before Pompey, he took none to himself, but sent them all
away to their parents and relations ; most of them being
either the daughters or wives of princes and great com-
manders. Stratonice, however, who had the greatest power
and influence with him, and to whom he had committed
the custody of his best and richest fortress, had been, it
seems, the daughter of a musician, an old man, and of no
great fortune, and happening to sing one night before
Mithridates at a banquet, she struck his fancy so, that
immediately he took her with him, and sent away the old
man much dissatisfied, the king having not so much as
said one kind word to himself. But when he rose in the
morning, and saw tables in his house richly covered with
gold and silver plate, a great retinue of servants, eunuchs,
and pages, bringing him rich garments, and a horse stand-
ing before the door richly caparisoned, in all respects as
was usual with the king's favorites, he looked upon it all
as a piece of mockery, and thinking himself trifled with,
attempted to make off and run away. But the servants
laying hold upon him, and informing him really that the
king had bestowed on him the house and furniture of a
rich man lately deceased, and that these were but the first-
fruits or earnests of greater riches and possessions that
were to come, he was persuaded at last with much difficulty
to believe them. And so putting on his purple robes, and
mounting his horse, he rode through the city, crying out,
" All this is mine ; " and to those that laughed at him, he
said, there was no such wonder in this, but it was a wonder



394 PLUTARCH'S LIVES.

ratuer that he did not throw stones at all he met, he wag
so transported with joy. Such was the parentage and
blood of Stratonice. She now delivered up this castle into
the hands of Pompey, and offered him many presents of
great value, of which he accepted only such as he thought
might serve to adorn the temples of the gods, and add to
the splendor of his triumph : the rest he left to Stratonice's
disposal, bidding her please herself in the enjoyment of them.

And in the same manner he dealt with the presents of-
fered him by the king of Iberia, who sent him a bedstead,
table, and a chair of state, all of gold, desiring him to ac-
cept of them ; but he delivered them all into the custody
of the public treasurers, for the use of the commonwealth.

In another castle called Csenum, Pompey found and read
with pleasure several secret writings of Mithridates, con-
taining much that threw light on his character. For there
were memoirs by which it appeared that, besides others, he
had made away with his son Ariarathes by poison, as also
with Alcaeus the Sardian, for having robbed him of the first
honors in a horse-race. There were several judgments
upon the interpretation of dreams, which either he himself
or some of his mistresses had had ; and besides these, there
was a series of wanton letters to and from his concubine
Monime. Theophanes tells us that there was found also
an address by Rutilius, hi which he attempted to exasperate
him to the slaughter of all the Romans in Asia ; though
most men justly conjecture this to be a malicious invention
of Theophanes, who probably hated Rutilius because he
was a man in nothing like himself ; or perhaps it might be
to gratify Pompey, whose father is described by Rutilius in
his history, as the vilest man alive.

From thence Pompey came to the city of Amisus, where
his passion for glory put him into a position which might
be called a punishment on himself. For whereas he had
often sharply reproached Lucullus, in that while the enemy
was still living he had taken, upon him to issue decrees,



POMPET. 395

and distribute rewards and honors, as conquerors usually
do only when the war is brought to an end, yet now was he
himself, while Mithridates was paramount in the kingdom
of Bosphorus, and at the head of a powerful army, as if all
were ended, just doing the same thing, regulating the prov-
inces, and distributing rewards, many great commanders
and princes having flocked to him, together with no less
than twelve barbarian kings; insomuch that to gratify
these other kings, when he wrote to the king of Parthia,
he would not condescend, as others used to do, in the su-
perscription of his letter, to give him his title of king of
kings.

Moreover, he had a great desire and emulation to occupy
Syria, and to march through Arabia to the Red Sea, that
he might thus extend his conquests every way to the great
ocean that encompasses the habitable earth ; as in Africa
he was the first Roman that advanced his victories to the
ocean ; and again in Spain he made the Atlantic Sea the
limit of the empire ; and then thirdly, in his late pursuit of
the Albanians, he had wanted but little of reaching the
Hyrcanian Sea. Accordingly he raised his camp, design-
ing to bring the Red Sea within the circuit of his expedi-
tion ; especially as he saw how difficult it was to hunt after
Mithridates with an army, and that he would prove a worse
enemy flying than fighting. But yet he declared that he
would leave a sharper enemy behind him than himself,
namely, famine ; and therefore he appointed a guard of
ships to lie in wait for the merchants that sailed to
Bosphorus, death being the penalty for any who should
attempt to carry provisions thither.

Then he set forward with the greatest part of his army,
and in his march casually fell in with several dead bodies,
still uninterred, of those soldiers who were slain with
Triarius in his unfortunate engagement with Mithridates :
these he buried splendidly and honorably. The neglect of
whom, it is thought, caused, as much as anything, the



396 PL UTA li CWS L1V . <

hatred that was felt against Lucullus, and alienated the
affections of the soldiers from him. Pompey having now
by his forces under the command of Afranius subdued the
Arabians about the mountain Amanus, himself entered
Syria, and finding it destitute of any natural and lawful
prince, reduced it into the form of a province, as a posses-
sion of the people of Rome. He conquered also Judaea, and
took its king, Aristobulus, captive. Some cities he built
anew, and to others he gave their liberty, chastising their
tyrants. Most part of the time that he spent there was
employed in the administration of justice, in deciding contro-
versies of kings and States ; and where he himself could not
be present in person, he gave commissions to his friends,
and sent them. Thus when there arose a difference be-
twixt the Armenians and Parthians about some territory,
and the judgment was referred to him, he gave a power by
commission to three judges and arbiters to hear and deter
mine the controversy. For the reputation of his power
was great; nor was the fame of his justice and clemency
inferior to that of his power, and served indeed as a veil
for a multitude of faults committed by his friends and
familiars. For although it was not in his nature to check
or chastise wrongdoers, yet he himself always treated those
that had to do with him in such a manner, that they sub-
mitted to endure with patience the acts of covetousness and
oppression done by others.

Among these friends of his, there was one Demetrius,
who had the greatest influence with him of all ; he was a
freed slave, a youth of good understanding, but somewhat
too insolent in his good fortune, of whom there goes this
story. Cato, the philosopher, being as yet a very young
man, but of great repute and a noble mind, took a journey
of pleasure to Antioch, at a time when Pompey was not
there, having a great desire to see the city. He, as his
custom was, walked on foot, and his friends accompanied
him on horseback ; and seeing before the gates of the



POMPEY. 397

a multitude dressed in white, the young men on one side of
the road, and the boys on the other, he was somewhat
offended at it, imagining that it was officiously done in
honor of him, which was more than he had any wish for.
However, he desired his companions to alight and walk with
him ; but when they drew near, the master of the cere-
monies in this procession came out with a garland and a
rod in his hand, and met them, inquiring where they had
left Demetrius, and when he would come? Upon which
Cato's companions burst out into laughter, but Cato said
only, " Alas, poor city ! " and passed by without any other
answer. However, Pompey rendered Demetrius less
odious to others by enduring his presumption and imper-
tinence to himself. For it is reported how that Pompey,
when he had invited his friends to an entertainment, would
be very ceremonious in waiting till they all came and were
placed, while Demetrius would be already stretched upon
the couch as if he cared for no one, with his dress over his
ears, hanging down from his head. Before his return into
Italy, he had purchased the pleasantest country-seat about
Rome, with the finest walks and places for exercise, and
there were sumptuous gardens, called by the name of
Demetrius, while Pompey his master, up to his third
triumph, was contented with an ordinary and simple
habitation. Afterwards, it is true, when he had erected
his famous and stately theatre for the people of Rome, he
built as a sort of appendix to it a house for himself, much
more splendid than his former, and yet no object even this to
excite men's envy, since he who came to be master of it after
Pompey could not but express wonder and inquire where
Pompey the Great used to sup. Such is the story told us.
The king of the Arabs near Petra, who had hitherto de-
spised the power of the Romans, now began to be in great
alarm at it, and sent letters to him promising to be at his
commands, and to do whatever he should see fit to order.
However, Pompey having a desire to confirm and keep him



398 PLUTARCH'S LIVES.

in the same mind, marched forwards for Petra, an expedi
tion not altogether irreprehensible in the opinion of many :
who thought it a mere running away from their propei
duty, the pursuit of Mithridates, Rome's ancient and in-
veterate enemy, who was now rekindling the war once
more, and taking preparations, it was reported, to lead his
army through Scythia and Pseonia into Italy. Pompey,
on the other side, judging it easier to destroy his forces in
battle, than to seize his person in flight, resolved not to tire
himself out in a vain pursuit, but rather to spend his leis
ure upon another enemy, as a sort of digression in the
meanwhile. But fortune resolved the doubt, for when he
was now not far from Petra, and had pitched his tents and
encamped for that day, as he was taking exercise with his
horse outside the camp, couriers came riding up from
Pontus, bringing good news, as was known at once by the
heads of their javelins, which it is the custom to carry
crowned with branches of laurel. The soldiers, as soon as
they saw them, flocked immediately to Pompey, who, not-
withstanding, was minded to finish his exercise ; but when
they began to be clamorous and importunate, he alighted
from his horse, and taking the letters went before them into
the camp. Now there being no tribunal erected there, not
even that military substitute for one which they make by
cutting up thick turfs of earth, and piling them one upon
another, they, through eagerness and impatience, heaped
up a pile of pack-saddles, and Pompey standing upon that,
told them the news of Mithridates's death, how that he had
himself put an end to his life upon the revolt of his son
Pharnaces, and that Pharnaces had taken all things there
into his hands and possession, which he did, his letters



Online LibraryPlutarchPlutarch's Lives (Volume 3) → online text (page 33 of 38)