CHAPTER XI. THE FIRST MITHRIDATIC WAR.
Events have been anticipated in order to relate the close of Cinna's career. But it is time now to say what Sulla had been doing, and who that Mithridates was whose name for so long had been formidable at Rome.
[Foreign events after the second slave war.] After the defeat of the northern hordes and the suppression of the second slave revolt, there was a war with the Celtiberi in Spain, in 97, in which Sertorius showed himself already an adroit and bold officer. [Sidenote: Sertorius in command against the Celtiberi.] He was in winter quarters at Castulo (Cazlona), and his men were so disorderly that the Spaniards were emboldened to attack them in the town; Sertorius escaped, rallied those soldiers who had also escaped, marched back, and after putting those in the town to the sword, dressed his troops in the dead men's clothes, and so obtained admission to another town which had helped the enemy. But the hero of the campaign was Titus Didius, afterwards Caesar's lieutenant in the Social War. He had some hard fighting and captured Termesus, the chief town of the Arevaci, and Colenda. - He earned his triumph by other means also. There was a town near Colenda, the inhabitants of which the Romans wished to destroy. Didius told them that he would give them the lands of Colenda, and they came to receive their allotments. As soon as they were within his lines, his soldiers set on them and slew them all.
[Africa.] In 96 B.C. Ptolemaus Apion bequeathed Cyrene - a narrow strip of terraced land on the north coast of Africa, situated between the Libyan deserts and the Mediterranean - to Rome. The Romans did not refuse the legacy; but they took no trouble to govern the country. The cities of Cyrene were declared to be free. In other words, while nominally subject to Rome, so that she might interfere when she pleased, they were left to govern themselves. Such government was no government; but it was in accordance with the deliberate policy of the senatorial party.
[Crimes and intrigues of Mithridates.] It was in the same year that Mithridates committed the first of the series of crimes which eventually brought him into collision with Rome. His sister had married the King of Cappadocia. Mithridates assassinated him. Nicomedes, King of Bithynia, seized Cappadocia and married the widowed sister of Mithridates. Having slain one brother-in-law, Mithridates expelled the other, and set on the throne his sister's son. But when his nephew refused to welcome home Gordius, the man who had murdered his father, Mithridates marched against and assassinated him. Then he set on the throne his own son, to whom he gave his nephew's name, and made Gordius his guardian. Him the Cappadocians expelled, and raised to the throne another nephew of Mithridates; but Mithridates instantly drove him from power. Nicomedes now appealed to the Senate, and produced, as he asserted, a third nephew of Mithridates as a claimant for the crown. To support his assertion he sent his wife to Rome to swear she had had three sons. Mithridates, as if in burlesque of the imposture, sent Gordius to swear that the youth on the throne was son of a Cappadocian king who had died more than thirty years before. The Senate decided as a lion might between two jackals quarrelling over a carcase. It took Cappadocia from Mithridates and Paphlagonia from Nicomedes, and declared both countries free. But the Cappadocians clamoured for a king, and so, in 93, the Senate appointed Ariobarzanes I. Mithridates then stirred up Tigranes, King of Armenia, to expel Ariobarzanes, who fled to Rome. Sulla was sent to restore him, and did so in 92, after defeating the Cappadocians under Gordius and the Armenians. [Sidenote: The Romans come in contact with the Parthians.] It was when he was on this mission that the Romans and Parthians confronted each other for the first time. The Parthians sent an embassy to ask for the alliance of Rome. Three chairs were set for Ariobarzanes, Sulla, and Orobazus; and Sulla, who was only propraetor, took the central seat. This incensed the Parthian king; and he revenged himself not on Sulla, but on the unfortunate Orobazus, whom he put to death. A Chaldean in the Parthian's suite, after studying Sulla's face, predicted great things for him; which pleased Sulla as much as it would have done Marius, for he believed in his luck just as his rival did in his seventh consulship. But when he came home he was impeached for taking bribes from Ariobarzanes, and no doubt he had made his trip which was so gratifying to his pride not less profitable also, and had had his appetite whetted for a second taste of eastern treasures. Mithridates, meanwhile, was brooding over his humiliation and meditating revenge. He went on a journey incognito through the Roman province of Asia and Bithynia, intending to attack both if he found himself strong enough. When he came back he found that his wife, who was also his sister, had been unfaithful to him, and he put her to death. He had now murdered a wife, a sister, a brother, and a nephew. He had also imprisoned his mother, and was equally merciless to his sons, his daughters, and his concubines. At his death, it is said, a paper was found in which he had foredoomed his most trusted servants, and he slew all the inmates of his harem in order to hinder them from falling into his enemies' hands.