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423 PARTHIA-CIVIL AND MILITARY ANNALS.

the recovery of Northern Mesopotamia. He thus became a breaker of the peace. He was

enabled, however, to gain his object, and the ancient boundary of the Parthian Empire on

the north-west was restored. The Armenians were no longer able to meet the Parthians in

battle. As for the king, arrogance came with conquest. His home administration at once

revealed the essentially criminal character of Mithridates. He became jealous of his

brother -brother by blood and brother in crime- and drove him from the country. Other

measures of like character followed, and it was not long until the Megistanes, whipped

into courage by the king's folly and wickedness, rose to the height of action and hurled

Mithridates from the throne.

ORODES was now recalled from banishment and raised to power. As for the deposed monarch,

he and his party were placated by conferring on him the governorship of Media; but his

conduct made it impossible for Orodes to tolerate him longer, and he was expelled. He

hereupon went over to the Romans, where he besought the Proconsul Gabinius, successor of

Pompey, to aid him in recovering the Parthian throne. The Roman was about to accept his

overture, and would doubtless have begun war on Parthia had not a dynastic complication

arisen in Egypt which promised a fairer field and a richer reward for Roman interference.

Mithridates was thus left to digest his choler in exile. Presently, however, he sought

reconciliation with his brother, returned to Parthia, threw him- self upon the mercy of

the king, and was affectionately beheaded for his pains.

This event ended for the time the civil dissensions of the Empire, and enabled Orodes I to

exercise undisputed sway over the nation. The attention of the Romans had now been drawn

away from the Mesopotamian border, and the Parthian king found opportunity to foster his

ambitions and develop his plans. His abilities were of a large order. He aspired to become

a great conqueror, like the early Arsacid kings. His fame grew, and he was presently able

to gain sundry advantages in the way of detaching the petty princes on his western border

from their allegiance to Rome. But the time had arrived when, in the order of events, if

not in the necessity of things, the growing animosity of the Republic and Parthia must be

referred to the decision of battle.

Marcus Lucinius Crassus, member of the first Triumvirate of Rome, had now been sent out as

Proconsul of Syria, He came to his province with the intention of a Parthian war. Arriving

in the year B. C. 54, he deliberately formed his plans for the invasion of the Empire. He

organized a great expedition, crossed the Euphrates, and began to overrun the country.

Several of the Greek cities yielded without a conflict. Zenodotium, however, resisted his

progress, but at length consented to receive a Roman garrison. This was admitted, and

Crassus continued his campaign. But the people of the city rose on the garrison, and put

them to the sword. The Proconsul then turned about, destroyed the city, and sold the

inhabitants into slavery.

Thus far the Parthians had kept at a distance. With the coming of winter there had been no

serious conflict. On the whole, the Parthians had cause to congratulate themselves on the

small progress and success of the Roman army. It appears that Orodes came to the

conclusion that little was to be feared from the invasion. He conceived a contempt for

Crassus, and sent to him an embassy with such proposals as might well have aroused the

animosity of an Oriental, to say nothing of a Roman Proconsul. Among other things, Orodes

referred with mock sympathy to the advanced age of Crassus, and promised in certain

contingencies to deal with him as he would with a dotard. The interview might well be made

the subject of a drama. Crassus enraged, but still restraining him- self, replied that on

his arrival at Seleucia he would send an answer to the Parthian king. Hereupon Vagises,

ambassador of Orodes, tapped the palm of one of his hands with the forefinger of the

other, and exclaimed: "0 Crassus, the hair will grow here before ever you come to

Seleucia!" Such were the amenities of the winter season, when neither party could verify

in the field the threats and hatreds of the council.

For the Roman commander the situation had become embarrassing. He had pro-