home   :    index    :    ancient Rome    :    ancient Anatolia    :    Appian of Alexandria's Roman History

Appian's History of Rome: The Mithridatic Wars 116-121


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.


Ancient-Warfare.com, the online home of Ancient Warfare magazine
Bust of Pompey the Great. Louvre, Paris (France). Photo Marco Prins.
Pompey the Great (Louvre)
[116] [62] At the end of the winter Pompey distributed rewards to the army; 1,500 Attic drachms to each soldier and in like proportion to the officers, the whole, it was said, amounting to 16,000 talents. Then he marched to Ephesus, embarked for Italy, and hastened to Rome, [Late 62] having dismissed his soldiers at Brundusium to their homes, by which act his popularity was greatly increased among the Romans. As he approached the city he was met by successive processions, first of youths, farthest from the city, then bands of men of different ages came out as far as they severally could walk; last of all came the Senate, which was lost in wonder at his exploits, for no one had ever before vanquished so powerful an enemy, and at the same time brought so many great nations under subjection and extended the Roman rule to the Euphrates.

[61] He was awarded a triumph exceeding in brilliancy any that had gone before, being now only thirty-five years of age. It occupied two successive days, and many nations were represented in the procession from Pontus, Armenia, Cappadocia, Cilicia, all the peoples of Syria, besides Albanians, Heniochi, Achaeans, Scythians, and eastern Iberians.


 
Seven hundred complete ships were brought into the harbor. In the triumphal procession were two-horse carriages and litters laden with gold or with other ornaments of various kinds, also the couch of Darius, the son of Hystaspes, the throne and scepter of Mithridates Eupator himself, and his image, four meters high, made of solid gold, and 75,100,000 drachmas of silver coin. The number of wagons carrying arms was infinite, and the number of the beaks of ships. After these came the multitude of captives and pirates, none of them bound, but all arrayed in their native costumes.

[117] Before Pompey himself were led the satraps, sons, and generals of the kings against whom he had fought, who were present (some having been captured and others given as hostages) to the number of 324. Among them were Tigranes, the son of Tigranes[the Great of Armenia], and five sons of Mithridates, namely, Artaphernes, Cyrus, Oxathres, Darius, and Xerxes, also his daughters, Orsabaris and Eupatra. Olthaces, chief of the Colchians, was also led in the procession, and Aristobulus, king of the Jews, the tyrants of the Cilicians, and the female rulers of the Scythians, three chiefs of the Iberians, two of the Albanians, and Menander the Laodicean, who had been chief of cavalry to Mithridates.

There were carried in the procession images of those who were not present, of Tigranes and of Mithridates, representing them as fighting, as vanquished, and as fleeing. Even the besieging of Mithridates and his silent flight by night were represented. Finally it was shown how he died, and the daughters who perished with him were pictured also, and there were figures of the sons and daughters who died before him, and images of the barbarian gods decked out in the fashion of their countries. A tablet was borne also with this inscription:

Ships with brazen beaks captured, 800;
cities founded in Cappadocia, 8;
in Cilicia and Coele Syria, 20;
in Palestine the one which is now Seleucis.
Kings conquered: Tigranes the Armenian, Artoces the Iberian, Oroezes the Albanian, Darius the Mede, Aretas the Nabataean, Antiochus of Commagene.
These were the facts recorded on the inscription. Pompey himself was borne in a chariot studded with gems, wearing, it was said, a cloak of Alexander the Great, if any one can believe that. This was supposed to have been found among the possessions of Mithridates that the inhabitants of Cos had received from Cleopatra.

His chariot was followed by the officers who had shared the campaigns with him, some on horseback and others on foot. When he arrived at the Capitol he did not put any of the prisoners to death as had been the custom at other triumphs, but sent them all home at the public expense, except the kings. Of these Aristobulus alone was shortly put to death and Tigranes somewhat later. Such was the character of Pompey's triumph.

[118] Thus the Romans, having conquered king Mithridates at the end of forty-two years, reduced to subjection Bithynia, Cappadocia, and other neighboring peoples dwelling near the Euxine sea. In this same war that part of Cilicia which was not yet subject to them, together with the Syrian countries, Phoenicia, Coele Syria, Palestine, and the territory lying between them and the river Euphrates, although they did not belong to Mithridates, were gained by the impetus of the victory over him and were required to pay tribute, some immediately and others later. Paphlagonia, Galatia, Phrygia, and the part of Mysia adjoining Phrygia, and in addition Lydia, Caria, Ionia, and all the rest of Asia Minor formerly belonging to Pergamon, together with old Greece and Macedonia, that Mithridates had drawn away from them, were completely recovered.

Many of these peoples, who did not pay them tribute before, were now subjected to it. For these reasons I think they especially considered this a great war and called the victory which ended it the Great Victory and gave the title of Great to Pompey who gained it for them (by which peculiar appellation he is called to this day); on account of the great number of nations recovered or added to their dominion, the length of time (forty years) that the war had lasted, and the courage and endurance that Mithridates had shown himself capable of in all emergencies.

[119] Many times he had over 400 ships of his own, 50,0000 cavalry, and 250,000 infantry, with engines and arms in proportion. For allies he had the king of Armenia and the princes of the Scythian tribes around the Euxine and the sea of Azov and beyond, as far as the Thracian Bosphorus. He held communications with the leaders of the Roman civil wars, which were then fiercely raging, and with those who were inciting insurrection in Spain. He established friendly relations with the Gauls for the purpose of invading Italy. From Cilicia to the Pillars of Hercules he filled the sea with pirates, who stopped all commerce and navigation between cities and caused severe famine for a long time. In short, he left nothing within the power of man undone or untried to start the greatest possible movement, extending from the Orient to the Occident, to vex, so to speak, the whole world, which was warred upon, tangled in alliances, harassed by pirates, or vexed by the neighborhood of the warfare. Such and so diversified was this one war, but in the end it brought the greatest gains to the Romans, for it pushed the boundaries of their dominion from the setting of the sun to the river Euphrates. It has been impossible to distinguish all these exploits by nations, since they were performed at the same time and were complicated with each other. Those which could be separated I have arranged each by itself.


Bust of Julius Caesar. Musei Vaticani, Roma (Italy). Photo Jona Lendering.
Julius Caesar
(Musei Vaticani)

[120]
Pharnaces besieged the Phanagoreans and the towns neighboring to the Bosphorus until the former were compelled by hunger to come out and fight, when he overcame them in battle; yet he did them no other harm, but made friends with them, took hostages, and withdrew.

[47] Not long afterward he took Sinope and had a mind to take Amisus also, for which reason he made war against [Gnaeus Domitius] Calvinus, the Roman commander, at the time when Pompey and [Gaius Julius] Caesar were contending against each other, until Asander, an enemy of his own, drew him away from Asia, while the Romans were still preoccupied. Afterward he fought with Caesar himself (when the latter had overthrown Pompey and returned from Egypt), near Mount Scotius, where his father had defeated the Romans under [Gaius Valerius] Triarius.[1] He was beaten and fled to Sinope with 1,000 cavalry. Caesar was too busy to follow him, but sent Domitius against him. He surrendered Sinope to Domitius, who agreed to let him go away with his cavalry. He killed his horses, though his men were extremely dissatisfied at this, then took ship and fled to the Bosphorus. Here he collected a force of Scythians and Sarmatians and captured Theodosia and Panticapaeum. His enemy, Asander, attacked him again, and his men were defeated for want of horses, and because they were not accustomed to fighting on foot. Pharnaces alone fought valiantly until he died of his wounds, being then fifty years of age and having been king of Bosphorus fifteen years.

[121] Thus Pharnaces was cut off from his kingdom and Caesar bestowed it upon Mithridates of Pergamon, who had rendered him very important help in Egypt. But the people of Bosphorus now had rulers of their own and a praetor was sent by the Senate yearly to govern Pontus and Bithynia.

Although Caesar was offended with the other rulers who held their possessions as gifts from Pompey, since they had aided Pompey against him, nevertheless he confirmed their titles, except the priesthood of Comana which he took from Archelaus and gave to Lycomedes. Not long after, all these countries, and those which Gaius [Julius] Caesar or Mark Antony had given to others, were made Roman provinces by Augustus Caesar, after he had taken Egypt, as the Romans needed only the slightest pretext in each case.

Thus, since their dominion had been advanced in consequence of the Mithridatic war, from Spain and the Pillars of Hercules to the Euxine sea, and the sands which border Egypt, and the river Euphrates, it was fitting that this victory should be called the great one, and that Pompey, who commanded the army, should be styled the Great. As they held Africa also as far as Cyrene (for Apion, the king of that country, a bastard of the house of the Lagids left Cyrene itself to the Romans in his will), Egypt alone was lacking to their grasp of the whole Mediterranean.






Appian   :   Roman History   :   Mithridatic wars
:   Book 13, the Civil wars





Note 1:
Both battles are better known as "battle of Zela". The second became famous for Caesar's boast that he "came, saw, conquered".




 home   :    index    :    ancient Rome    :    ancient Anatolia