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-