Tiridates meanwhile, with the consent of the Parthians, received the
submission of Nicephorium, Anthemusias and the other cities, which
having been founded by Macedonians, claim Greek names, also of the
Parthian towns Halus and Artemita. There was a rivalry of joy among
the inhabitants who detested Artabanus, bred as he had been among
the Scythians, for his cruelty, and hoped to find in Tiridates a kindly
spirit from his Roman training.

Seleucia, a powerful and fortified city which had never lapsed into
barbarism, but had clung loyally to its founder Seleucus, assumed
the most marked tone of flattery. Three hundred citizens, chosen for
wealth or wisdom, form a kind of senate, and the people have powers
of their own. When both act in concert, they look with contempt on
the Parthians; as soon as they are at discord, and the respective
leaders invite aid for themselves against their rivals, the ally summoned
to help a faction crushes them all. This had lately happened in the
reign of Artabanus, who, for his own interest, put the people at the
mercy of the nobles. As a fact, popular government almost amounts
to freedom, while the rule of the few approaches closely to a monarch’s

Seleucia now celebrated the arrival of Tiridates with all the honours
paid to princes of old and all which modern times, with a more copious
inventiveness, have devised. Reproaches were at the same time heaped
on Artabanus, as an Arsacid indeed on his mother’s side, but as in
all else degenerate. Tiridates gave the government of Seleucia to
the people. Soon afterwards, as he was deliberating on what day he
should inaugurate his reign, he received letters from Phraates and
Hiero, who held two very powerful provinces, imploring a brief delay.
It was thought best to wait for men of such commanding influence,
and meanwhile Ctesiphon, the seat of empire, was their chosen destination.
But as they postponed their coming from day to day, the Surena, in
the presence of an approving throng, crowned Tiridates, according
to the national usage, with the royal diadem.

And now had he instantly made his way to the heart of the country
and to its other tribes, the reluctance of those who wavered, would
have been overpowered, and all to a man would have yielded. By besieging
a fortress into which Artabanus had conveyed his treasure and his
concubines, he gave them time to disown their compact. Phraates and
Hiero, with others who had not united in celebrating the day fixed
for the coronation, some from fear, some out of jealousy of Abdageses,
who then ruled the court and the new king, transferred their allegiance
to Artabanus. They found him in Hyrcania, covered with filth and procuring
sustenance with his bow. He was at first alarmed under the impression
that treachery was intended, but when they pledged their honour that
they had come to restore to him his dominion, his spirit revived,
and he asked what the sudden change meant. Hiero then spoke insultingly
of the boyish years of Tiridates, hinting that the throne was not
held by an Arsacid, but that a mere empty name was enjoyed by a feeble
creature bred in foreign effeminacy, while the actual power was in
the house of Abdageses.

An experienced king, Artabanus knew that men do not necessarily feign
hatred because they are false in friendship. He delayed only while
he was raising auxiliaries in Scythia, and then pushed on in haste,
thus anticipating the plots of enemies and the fickleness of friends.
Wishing to attract popular sympathy, he did not even cast off his
miserable garb. He stooped to wiles and to entreaties, to anything
indeed by which he might allure the wavering and confirm the willing.

He was now approaching the neighbourhood of Seleucia with a large
force, while Tiridates, dismayed by the rumour. and then by the king’s
presence in person, was divided in mind, and doubted whether he should
march against him or prolong the war by delay. Those who wished for
battle with its prompt decision argued that ill-arrayed levies fatigued
by a long march could not even in heart be thoroughly united in obedience,
traitors and enemies as they had lately been, to the prince whom now
again they were supporting. Abdageses, however, advised a retreat
into Mesopotamia. There, with a river in their front, they might in
the interval summon to their aid the Armenians and Elymaeans and other
nations in their rear, and then, reinforced by allies and troops which
would be sent by the Roman general, they might try the fortune of
war. This advice prevailed, for Abdageses had the chief influence
and Tiridates was a coward in the face of danger. But their retreat
resembled a flight. The Arabs made a beginning, and then the rest
went to their homes or to the camp of Artabanus, till Tiridates returned
to Syria with a few followers and thus relieved all from the disgrace
of desertion.
The Annals by Tacitus