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Appian's History of Rome: The Mithridatic Wars §§51-55


Legionary standard (of XXX Ulpia Traiana reenactment group). Photo Jona Lendering.
Appian of Alexandria (c.95-c.165) is the author of a Roman History and one of the most underestimated of all Greek historians. Although only his books on the Roman Civil Wars survive in their entirety, large parts of other books have also come down to us. Fortunately, the Mithridatic wars belong to these better preserved parts. They are a very valuable source for the history of the Roman expansion in what is now called Turkey.

The translation was made by Horace White; notes and additions in green by Jona Lendering.


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Sulla. Glyptothek München (Germany). Photo Marco Prins.
Sulla (Glyptothek, München)
[§51] [86] The next day [the Roman commander Lucius Cornelius] Sulla decorated the tribune, Basillus, and gave rewards for valor to others. He ravaged Boeotia, which was continually changing from one side to the other, and then moved to Thessaly and went into winter quarters, and waited for [Lucius Licinius] Lucullus and his fleet.

As he had no tidings of Lucullus he began to build ships for himself. At this juncture [Lucius] Cornelius Cinna and Gaius Marius, his rivals at home, caused him to be declared an enemy of the Roman people, destroyed his houses in the city and the country, and murdered his friends. This, however, did not weaken him in the least, since he had a zealous and devoted army.

[85] Cinna sent [Lucius Valerius] Flaccus, whom he had caused to be chosen as his colleague in the consulship, to Asia with two legions to take charge of that province and of the Mithridatic war in place of Sulla,[1] who was now declared a public enemy. As Flaccus was inexperienced in the art of war, a man of senatorial rank named [Gaius Flavius] Fimbria, who was skilled in military affairs, accompanied him as a volunteer.


 
As they were sailing from Brundusium many of their ships were destroyed by a tempest, and some that had gone in advance were burned by a new army that had been sent forward by Mithridates. Moreover, Flaccus was a rascal, and, being severe in punishments and greedy of gain, was hated by the whole army. Accordingly, a part of them who had been sent ahead into Thessaly went over to Sulla, but Fimbria kept the rest of them from deserting, because they considered him more humane and a better general than Flaccus.

[§52] Once while he was at an inn he had a dispute with the quaestor about their lodgings. Flaccus, who acted as arbiter between them, showed little consideration for Fimbria, and the latter was vexed and threatened to go back to Rome. Accordingly Flaccus appointed a successor to perform the duties which he then had charge of. Fimbria watched his opportunity, and when Flaccus had sailed for Chalcedon, Fimbria first took the fasces away from Thermus, whom Flaccus had left as his praetor, as though the army had conferred the command upon himself, and when Flaccus returned soon afterward and was angry with him, Fimbria compelled him to fly.

Flaccus took refuge in a certain house and in the nighttime climbed over the wall and fled first to Chalcedon and afterward to Nicomedia, and closed the gates of the city. Fimbria overcame the place, found him concealed in a well, and killed him, although he was a Roman consul and the commanding officer of this war, and Fimbria himself was only a private citizen who had gone with him as an invited friend.

Fimbria cut off his head and flung it into the sea, and left the remainder of his body unburied. Then he appointed himself commander of the army and fought several successful battles with the son of [king] Mithridates [VII Eupator of Pontus]. He drove the king himself into Pergamon. The latter escaped from Pergamon to Pitane. Fimbria followed him and began to enclose the place with a ditch. Then the king fled to Mitylene on a ship.

[§53] Fimbria traversed the province of Asia, punished the Cappadocian faction, and devastated the territory of the towns that did not open their gates to him. The inhabitants of Ilium, who were besieged by Fimbria, appealed to Sulla for aid. The latter said that he would come, and told them to say to Fimbria meanwhile that they had entrusted themselves to Sulla.

Fimbria, when he heard this, congratulated them on being already friends of the Roman people, and ordered them to admit him within their walls because he also was a Roman. He spoke in an ironical way also of the relationship existing between Ilium and Rome. When he was admitted he made an indiscriminate slaughter and burned the whole town. Those who had been in communication with Sulla he tortured in various ways. He spared neither the sacred objects nor the persons who had fled to the temple of Athena, but burned them with the temple itself. He demolished the walls, and the next day made a search to see whether anything of the place was left standing.

So much worse was the city now treated by one of its relations than it had been by Agamemnon, that not a house, not a temple, not a statue was left. Some say that the image of Athena, called the Palladium, which was supposed to have fallen from heaven, was then found unbroken, the falling walls having formed an arch over it; and this may be true unless Diomedes and Ulysses carried it away from Ilium during the Trojan War.

Thus was Ilium destroyed by Fimbria at the close of the 173d Olympiad. Some people think that 1050 years had intervened between this calamity and that which it suffered at the hands of Agamemnon.

[§54] When Mithridates heard of his defeat at Orchomenus, he reflected on the immense number of men he had sent into Greece from the beginning, and the continual and swift disaster that had overtaken them. Accordingly, he sent word to Archelaus to make peace on the best terms possible. The latter had an interview with Sulla in which he said, "King Mithridates was your father's friend, o Sulla. He became involved in this war through the rapacity of other Roman generals. He will avail himself of your virtuous character to make peace, if you will grant him fair terms."

As Sulla had no ships; as his enemies at Rome had sent him no money, nor anything else, but had declared him an outlaw; as he had already spent the money which he had taken from the Pythian, Olympian, and Epidauric temples, in return for which he had assigned to them half of the territory of Thebes on account of its frequent defections; and because he was in a hurry to lead his army fresh and unimpaired against the hostile faction at home, he assented to the proposal, and said," If injustice was done to Mithridates, o Archelaus, he ought to have sent an embassy to show how he was wronged, instead of which he put himself in the wrong by overrunning such a vast territory belonging to others, killing such a vast number of people, seizing the public and sacred funds of cities, and confiscating the private property of those whom he destroyed. He has been just as perfidious to his own friends as to us, many of whom he has put to death, including the tetrarchs whom he had brought together at a banquet, and their wives and children, although they had committed no hostile act. Toward us he was moved by an inborn enmity rather than by any necessity for war, visiting every possible calamity upon the Italians throughout Asia, torturing and murdering all of our race, together with their wives, children, and servants. Such hatred did this man bear toward Italy, who now pretends friendship for my father! - a friendship which you did not call to mind until I had destroyed 160,000 of your troops.

[§55] "Instead of treating for peace we ought to be absolutely implacable toward him, but for your sake I will undertake to obtain his pardon from Rome if he actually repents. But if he is playing the hypocrite again, I advise you, Archelaus, to look out for yourself. Consider how matters stand at present between you and him. Bear in mind how he has treated his other friends and how we treated [king]Eumenes[II Soter of Pergamon] and [king]Massinissa[of Numidia]."

While he was yet speaking, Archelaus rejected the offer with indignation, saying that he would never betray one who had put an army under his command. "I hope," he said, "to come to an agreement with you if you offer moderate terms."

After a short interval Sulla said, "If Mithridates will deliver to us the entire fleet in your possession; if he will surrender our generals and ambassadors and all prisoners, deserters, and runaway slaves, and send back to their homes the people of Chios and all others whom he has dragged off to Pontus; if he will remove his garrison from all places except those that he held before the outbreak of hostilities; if he will pay the cost of the war incurred on his account, and remain content with his ancestral dominions - I shall hope to persuade the Romans not to remember the injuries he has done them."

Such were the terms which he offered. Archelaus at once withdrew his garrison from all the places he held and referred the other conditions to the king. In order to make use of his leisure in the meantime, Sulla marched against the Eneti, the Dardani, and the Sinti, tribes on the border of Macedonia, who were continually invading that country, and devastated their territory. In this way he exercised his soldiers and enriched them at the same time.






Appian   :   Roman History   :   Mithridatic wars   :   part 12





Note 1:
This probably reflects Sulla's propaganda. Flaccus in fact went straight to Asia and did not fight against Sulla.




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