415 PARTHIA-CIVIL AND MILITARY ANNALS.
be considered by the Parthian kings; and so they were spared from violence. More than
this, we may discover in the situation one of the prevailing habits of the Parthian court.
We have already remarked upon the unfixedness as to the locality of the seat of
government. Hecatompylos, the old capital of Parthia proper, ceased to be regarded as the
seat of the Empire. Ctesiphon was preferred, particularly for the winter months. The
milder climate of the South and the half-Greek refinements of the metropolis wooed the
kings and their courts out of the boisterous North. Not far away was the city of
Vologesocerta, which likewise invited at certain seasons a visit from the sovereign. Then,
with the return of summer, the Emperor and his retinue would hie away into Media and fix
themselves for awhile at Ecbatana, the ancient capital. Sometimes the royal residence was
at Tape in Hyrcania; and during the spring months the monarch was wont to enjoy himself at
Rhages, which had been one of the first conquests of Mithridates.
Could the observer look in once more upon this ancient Parthian court, as it was
constituted in the days of the King of Kings, he should behold an assemblage of splendid
persons clad in the style of the Orient, having the manners of a half- redeemed barbarism,
and living in such luxurious habit as war and pride and appetite had engendered. The
manner of the royal establishment was virtually the same is that of Assyria and Persia.
The story of the kingly courts in those countries has already been recited. In general,
there was about the king's residence much passion and treachery. It might almost appear
that there is something climatic about the sentiments and customs of men, by which they
are controlled in the. different epochs of history and the different localities of the
world. It might be difficult to conceive of the existence of the Hellenic democracy on the
Plateau of Iran, and equally difficult to imagine the existence of a Persian or Parthian
court in the Grecian Islands.
However this may be, we may assure ourselves that the Arsacid princes virtually revived
and restored the style of government which had been practiced by the Achaemenian kings.
But in one respect Parthia appears to have outdone the Orient in the way of barbaric
grandeur. In time of war, not only the king, but his court, his government, went into the
field. The State was encamped with the army. An immense retinue of non-combatants followed
in the wake of the expedition. A caravan of camels carried not only the military equipage,
but a half cityful of articles belonging to peace. The king and his generals had no
thought of leaving any gratification behind them. The wives and concubines of the monarch
and his nobles were borne on litters from camp to camp, and all the means of revelry, all
the accouterments of pleasure, were bountifully supplied at every stage of the campaign.
The royal society removed from place to place with only the cavalry interposed between
itself and the enemy.
Conquest had now reached its territorial limit except on the side of Syria. In that
direction the country was still. open to invasion, and the motives were present for the
renewal of war. Time and again the Graeco-Syrian kings had thought to recover by the sword
their Eastern provinces. Time and again the Parthians had succeeded in beating them back.
Would not the latter now turn upon their foe, and drive an expedition in the direction of
the Mediterranean? At this very time Demetrius, one of the Syrian kings, was a prisoner in
the hands of the Parthians. We have seen how Mithridates confined him in regal state in
Hyrcania, and how he sought to give him his daughter Rhodogune in marriage. This project
went over unfulfilled to PHRAATES II, who, in the year 136 B. C. succeeded his father on
Meanwhile the Syrian crown had, when the captivity of Demetrius was known, descended to
Antiochus Sidetes, brother of the prisoner. It appears that as soon as Phraates came into
power he began to consider the question of conquering Syria. He first sought to promote
his purpose by an intrigue. Having succeeded in inducing the captive Demetrius to accept
Rhodogune as his wife, he attempted to enlist his prisoner in his cause. To this end he
tempted him with the prospect of liberation,