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Please note that Mommsen uses the AUC chronology (Ab Urbe Condita), i.e. from the founding of the City of Rome. You can use this reference table to have the B.C. dates


IV. The Revolution

From: The History of Rome, by Theodor Mommsen
Translated with the sanction of the author by William Purdie Dickson

The History of Old Rome

Chapter VIII - The East and King Mithradates


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Page 67

The Roman soldiers also murmured; their disappointment doubtless at not receiving the expected spoil of Asia probably contributed to that murmuring more than their indignation--in itself very justifiable-- that the barbarian prince, who had murdered eighty thousand of their countrymen and had brought unspeakable misery on Italy and Asia, should be allowed to return home unpunished with the greatest part of the treasures which he had collected by the pillage of Asia. Sulla himself may have been painfully sensible that the political complications thwarted in a most vexatious way a task which was in a military point of view so simple, and compelled him after such victories to content himself with such a peace.

But the self- denial and the sagacity with which he had conducted this whole war were only displayed afresh in the conclusion of this peace; for war with a prince, to whom almost the whole coast of the Black Sea belonged, and whose obstinacy was clearly displayed by the very last negotiations, would still under the most favourable circumstances require years, and the situation of Italy was such that it seemed almost too late even for Sulla to oppose the party in power there with the few legions which he possessed.(18)

18. Armenian tradition also is acquainted with the first Mithradatic war. Ardasches king of Armenia--Moses of Chorene tells us--was not content with the second rank which rightfully belonged to him in the Persian (Parthian) empire, but compelled the Parthian king Arschagan to cede to him the supreme power, whereupon he had a palace built for himself in Persia and had coins struck there with his own image. He appointed Arschagan viceroy of Persia and his son Dicran (Tigranes) viceroy of Armenia, and gave his daughter Ardaschama in marriage to the great-prince of the Iberians Mihrdates (Mithradates) who was descended from Mihrdates satrap of Darius and governor appointed by Alexander over the conquered Iberians, and ruled in the northern mountains as well as over the Black Sea.

Ardasches then took Croesus the king of the Lydians prisoner, subdued the mainland between the two great seas (Asia Minor), and crossed the sea with innumerable vessels to subjugate the west. As there was anarchy at that time in Rome, he nowhere encountered serious resistance, but his soldiers killed each other and Ardasches fell by the hands of his own troops. After Ardasches' death his successor Dicran marched against the army of the Greeks (i. e. the Romans) who now in turn invaded the Armenian land; he set a limit to their advance, handed over to his brother- in-law Mihrdates the administration of Madschag (Mazaca in Cappadocia) and of the interior along with a considerable force, and returned to Armenia. Many years afterwards there were still pointed out in the Armenian towns statues of Greek gods by well- known masters, trophies of this campaign.

We have no difficulty in recognizing here various facts of the first Mithradatic war, but the whole narrative is evidently confused, furnished with heterogeneous additions, and in particular transferred by patriotic falsification to Armenia. In just the same way the victory over Crassus is afterwards attributed to the Armenians. These Oriental accounts are to be received with all the greater caution, that they are by no means mere popular legends; on the contrary the accounts of Josephus, Eusebius, and other authorities current among the Christians of the fifth century have been amalgamated with the Armenian traditions, and the historical romances of the Greeks and beyond doubt the patriotic fancies also of Moses himself have been laid to a considerable extent under contribution. Bad as is cur Occidental tradition in itself, to call in the aid of Oriental tradition in this and similar cases--as has been attempted for instance by the uncritical Saint-Martin--can only lead to still further confusion.

Before this could be done, however, it was absolutely necessary to overthrow the bold officer who was at the head of the democratic army in Asia, in order that he might not at some future time come from Asia to the help of the Italian revolution, just as Sulla now hoped to return from Asia and crush it. At Cypsela on the Hebrus Sulla obtained accounts of the ratification of the peace by Mithradates; but the march to Asia went on. The king, it was said, desired personally to confer with the Roman general and to cement the peace with him; it may be presumed that this was simply a convenient pretext for transferring the army to Asia and there putting an end to Fimbria.

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