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427 PARTHIA-CIVIL AND MILITARY ANNALS.

the prince Pacorus in a desultory campaign, upon which he had entered in that quarter.

As a matter of fact, Syria and Asia Minor were at this time in a condition to invite

conquest; not indeed that the Romans were unable to defend their possessions in the East,

but the political distractions of Italy were such as to prevent unity of action. The

destruction of the tripartite agreement-known as the Triumvirate -by the death of Crassus,

had left the world to two masters, Caesar and Pompey, the one a representative of the new

democracy of Rome, and the other the representative of that ancient aristocratic order by

which the Republic had been dominated for many centuries. At this time the orator Cicero

was Proconsul of Cilicia, and knowing full well the condition of affairs in Asia, he

hardly overstated the fact to the Senate when he declared that Rome had not a friend on

that continent. The expedition of Pacorus made its way in the direction of Antioch, and

gained possession of several important places. But after this the Parthians divided in

different directions, one division being carried against Palestine, and the other led

among the kingdoms of Asia Minor. If the invaders had had the skill to take cities as well

as to win battles in the field, it would appear that they might have destroyed the Roman

dominion in all the countries east of the Aegean.

But the Parthians did not avail themselves of the situation. At length, in B. C. 49,

Pompey, being then hard pressed by Caesar, made overtures to Orodes, with a view to

securing his aid against his rival. The Parthian king offered to go to the rescue on

condition that Pompey would deliver what remained of the kingdom of Syria to him. But the

proposal was rejected. Soon afterwards came the battle of Pharsalia, in which the fortunes

of Pompey and the aristocratic party were utterly swept away. At one time he seriously

contemplated putting himself under the powerful protection of Orodes. But he was induced

to change his mind, and presently took flight for Egypt.

Caesar, now completely victorious, was fully informed of the condition of affairs in the

East. He had known the disposition of Orodes to give aid to Pompey. In his own mind the

vision of a Parthian conquest had for some years been settling into a purpose. But he was

not yet ready to undertake so vast an enterprise. After Pharsalia, he returned to Rome,

and took up the tremendous work of reorganizing society on a new Imperial plan, with

himself at the head. It was not until B. C. 44 that he found himself sufficiently free

from the tremendous complications of the West to turn his attention to the conquest of

Parthia. Like the other designs of that greatest man of antiquity, the Parthian war took

shape, and the first cohorts of the Roman army were thrown into Greece, preparatory to the

great Asiatic campaign. Nor may we well pass over this historical hypothesis without

conjecturing the result had Caesar been permitted to pursue his purpose. Certain it is

that the Parthians would have felt the stroke of the strongest hand which was ever laid

upon the Empire. Crassus and Pompey and Trajan and Severus combined could hardly have

represented the skill, the energy, the persistency, the adroitness in diplomacy and war of

that matchless Julius, whose end was now at hand. His destiny had at last overtaken him.

The Optimate Conspirators gathered around him in the Senate House, and stabbed him to

death, on the Ides of March, in the very spring when the Parthian expedition was to be

undertaken.

Thus had Orodes the good fortune to witness the destruction of all three of the preeminent

Romans who had constituted the first Triumvirate. The Surena had chopped off the head of

Crassus in the desert. A bloody assassin had cut down Pompey on the shore of Egypt. The

daggers of Brutus and Cassius had dispatched