UNIVERSAL HISTORY-THE ANCIENT WORLD.
on Rome. A payment of six thousand talents was extorted as the price of
peace; while Syria, Phoenicia, Galatia, Cappadocia, and Lower Cilicia were
detached from his territorial dominions.
Pompeius now found time to pursue Mithridates. In the course of the autumn
he made his way as far as the river Cyrus, where he established his army
for the winter. In B. C. 65 he continued his way northward, subduing the
mountain tribes of Albania until he reached the Phasis, which he followed
to the sea. There he was joined by his fleet, and afterwards turned back
into Pontus. In the years B. C. 64-63 he subdued Syria, Phoenicia, and
Palestine. He found the latter country engaged in a fierce civil broil
under the two leaders, Hyrcanus and Aristobulus. The latter held the city
of Jerusalem, which Pompeius besieged and captured after a three month
investment. The dispute about the high priesthood was decided in favor of
Hyrcanus, who became tributary to the Romans.
The invincible Mithridates had availed himself of the opportunity afforded
by Pompeius's absence to attempt to regain his kingdom. His ambition
extended even to an imagined conquest of Italy, which was to be
accomplished with an army of Scythians; but before the now aged king could
make any progress in this undertaking, he was surprised by the rebellion of
his son Pharnaces. Thus menaced on one side by foreign foes and on the
other by filial ingratitude, he sought refuge in self-destruction.
Foreseeing such an emergency he had, for many years, experimented with
poisons, until, as is related, they lost their power upon him, leaving him
invulnerable except to more brutal agents. He accordingly induced a
mercenary Gaul to run him through with his sword. He had been king of
Pontus for fifty-seven years, and during the larger part of this period had
been the terror of the Romans in the East.
The death of Mithridates left Pompeius complete master of Asia Minor. It
only remained to settle the affairs of the province on a basis satisfactory
to the conqueror. To this end he appointed Aemilius Scaurus governor of
Syria. Pharnaces, the rebel son of Mithridates, was recognized as a king
tributary to the Romans. A general pacification ensued in which the whole
country as far as the Euphrates was reorganized into convenient districts
as dependencies of Rome. Pompeius then set out on his return to the
capital, and proceeding by easy stages arrived there in the beginning of
On returning to Rome he found the country in a ruinous condition. The old
question of land ownership had again revived in its most dangerous aspect.
The agricultural interest had once more been driven to the wall by the
aggressions of the Optimates and capitalists. The veterans of Sulla, alike
unable and indisposed to manage the lands which had been assigned them by
the Republic, had squandered their farms, joined the Proletarians, and were
strolling in bands through the country, ready to repeat the story of the
proscription and confiscation. The Senate had sunk into a condition of
imbecility, and the equestrian order, during the absence of Pompeius, had
found no leader of commanding influence in the state. Meanwhile the
tribunes continued their assaults upon the hereditary privileges of the
nobility, while the latter, generally headed by the consuls, endeavored to
maintain their time-honored prerogatives by impeaching the officers of the
popular party. At no previous time in the history of Rome had the old
aristocracy and the new power known as the People stood out in a more
clearly defined antagonism to each other than at the present. Such was the
condition of affairs while Pompeius was consummating his work in the East.
At this time occurred the great conspiracy of Lucius Sergius Catiline. The
insurrection found its pabulum in the fact of debt and inability to pay.
The profligacy and recklessness which prevailed in all ranks of society had
been especially ruinous to the young patricians. They had wasted their
estates in excesses and rioting. No kind of revenues could support the