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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


V. The Establishment of the Military Monarchy

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 IX - Death of Crassus - Rupture between the Joint Rulers


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Page 17

Repulse of the Parthians

The Parthians were, just like Crassus formerly, in no haste to attack, but during the years 701 and 702 sent only weak flying bands, who were easily repulsed, across the Euphrates; so that Cassius obtained time to reorganize the army in some measure, and with the help of the faithful adherent of the Romans, Herodes Antipater, to reduce to obedience the Jews, whom resentment at the spoliation of the temple perpetrated by Crassus had already driven to arms. The Roman government would thus have had full time to send fresh troops for the defence of the threatened frontier; but this was left undone amidst the convulsions of the incipient revolution, and, when at length in 703 the great Parthian invading army appeared on the Euphrates, Cassius had still nothing to oppose to it but the two weak legions formed from the remains of the army of Crassus.

Of course with these he could neither prevent the crossing nor defend the province. Syria was overrun by the Parthians, and all Western Asia trembled. But the Parthians did not understand the besieging of towns. They not only retreated from Antioch, into which Cassius had thrown himself with his troops, without having accomplished their object, but they were on their retreat along the Orontes allured into an ambush by Cassius' cavalry and there severely handled by the Roman infantry; prince Osaces was himself among the slain. Friend and foe thus perceived that the Parthian army under an ordinary general and on ordinary ground was not capable of much more than any other Oriental army. However, the attack was not abandoned.

Still during the winter of 703-704 Pacorus lay encamped in Cyrrhestica on this side of the Euphrates; and the new governor of Syria, Marcus Bibulus, as wretched a general as he was an incapable statesman, knew no better course of action than to shut himself up in his fortresses. It was generally expected that the war would break out in 704 with renewed fury. But instead of turning his arms against the Romans, Pacorus turned against his own father, and accordingly even entered into an understanding with the Roman governor. Thus the stain was not wiped from the shield of Roman honour, nor was the reputation of Rome restored in the east; but the Parthian invasion of Western Asia was over, and the Euphrates boundary was, for the time being at least, retained.

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