Still the informers were punished when ever an opportunity occurred.
Servilius and Cornelius, for example, whom the destruction of Scaurus
had made notorious, were outlawed and transported to some islands
for having taken money from Varius Ligur for dropping a prosecution.
Abudius Ruso too, who had been an aedile, in seeking to imperil Lentulus
Gaetulicus, under whom he had commanded a legion, by alleging that
he had fixed on a son of Sejanus for his son-in-law, was himself actually
condemned and banished from Rome. Gaetulicus at this time was in charge
of the legions of Upper Germany, and had won from them singular affection,
as a man of unbounded kindliness, moderate in his strictness, and
popular even with the neighbouring army through his father-in-law,
Lucius Apronius. Hence rumour persistently affirmed that he had ventured
to send the emperor a letter, reminding him that his alliance with
Sejanus had not originated in his own choice, but in the advice of
Tiberius; that he was himself as liable to be deceived as Tiberius,
and that the same mistake ought not to be held innocent in the prince
and be a source of ruin to others. His loyalty was still untainted
and would so remain, if he was not assaIled by any plot. A successor
he should accept as an announcement of his doom. A compact, so to
say, ought to be sealed between them, by which he should retain his
province, and the emperor be master of all else. Strange as this story
was, it derived credibility from the fact that Gaetulicus alone of
all connected with Sejanus lived in safety and in high favour, Tiberius
bearing in mind the people’s hatred, his own extreme age how his government
rested more on prestige than on power.

In the consulship of Caius Cestius and Marcus Servilius, some Parthian
nobles came to Rome without the knowledge of their king Artabanus.
Dread of Germanicus had made that prince faithful to the Romans and
just to his people, but he subsequently changed this behaviour for
insolence towards us and tyranny to his subjects. He was elated by
the wars which he had successfully waged against the surrounding nations,
while he disdained the aged and, as he thought, unwarlike Tiberius,
eagerly coveting Armenia, over which, on the death of Artaxias, he
placed Arsaces, his eldest son. He further added insult, and sent
envoys to reclaim the treasures left by Vonones in Syria and Cilicia.
Then too he insisted on the ancient boundaries of Persia and Macedonia,
and intimated, with a vainglorious threat, that he meant to seize
on the country possessed by Cyrus and afterwards by Alexander.

The chief adviser of the Parthians in sending the secret embassy was
Sinnaces, a man of distinguished family and corresponding wealth.
Next in influence was Abdus, an eunuch, a class which, far from being
despised among barbarians, actually possesses power. These, with some
other nobles whom they admitted to their counsels, as there was not
a single Arsacid whom they could put on the throne, most of the family
having been murdered by Artabanus or being under age, demanded that
Phraates, son of king Phraates, should be sent from Rome. “Only a
name,” they said, “and an authority were wanted; only, in fact, that,
with Caesar’s consent, a scion of the house of Arsaces should show
himself on the banks of the Euphrates.”

This suited the wishes of Tiberius. He provided Phraates with what
he needed for assuming his father’s sovereignty, while he clung to
his purpose of regulating foreign affairs by a crafty policy and keeping
war at a distance. Artabanus meanwhile, hearing of the treacherous
arrangement, was one moment perplexed by apprehension, the next fired
with a longing for revenge. With barbarians, indecision is a slave’s
weakness; prompt action king-like. But now expediency prevailed, and
he invited Abdus, under the guise of friendship, to a banquet, and
disabled him by a lingering poison; Sinnaces he put off by pretexts
and presents, and also by various employments. Phraates meanwhile,
on arriving in Syria, where he threw off the Roman fashions to which
for so many years he had been accustomed, and adapted himself to Parthian
habits, unable to endure the customs of his country, was carried off
by an illness. Still, Tiberius did not relinquish his purpose. He
chose Tiridates, of the same stock as Artabanus, to be his rival,
and the Iberian Mithridates to be the instrument of recovering Armenia,
having reconciled him to his brother Pharasmanes, who held the throne
of that country. He then intrusted the whole of his eastern policy
to Lucius Vitellius. The man, I am aware, had a bad name at Rome,
and many a foul story was told of him. But in the government of provinces
he acted with the virtue of ancient times. He returned, and then,
through fear of Caius Caesar and intimacy with Claudius, he degenerated
into a servility so base that he is regarded by an after-generation
as the type of the most degrading adulation. The beginning of his
career was forgotten in its end, and an old age of infamy effaced
the virtues of youth.

Of the petty chiefs Mithridates was the first to persuade Pharasmanes
to aid his enterprise by stratagem and force, and agents of corruption
were found who tempted the servants of Arsaces into crime by a quantity
of gold. At the same instant the Iberians burst into Armenia with
a huge host, and captured the city of Artaxata. Artabanus, on hearing
this, made his son Orodes the instrument of vengeance. He gave him
the Parthian army and despatched men to hire auxiliaries. Pharasmanes,
on the other hand, allied himself with the Albanians, and procured
aid from the Sarmatae, whose highest chiefs took bribes from both
sides, after the fashion of their countrymen, and engaged themselves
in conflicting interests. But the Iberians, who were masters of the
various positions, suddenly poured the Sarmatae into Armenia by the
Caspian route. Meanwhile those who were coming up to the support of
the Parthians were easily kept back, all other approaches having been
closed by the enemy except one, between the sea and the mountains
on the Albanian frontier, which summer rendered difficult, as there
the shallows are flooded by the force of the Etesian gales. The south
wind in winter rolls back the waves, and when the sea is driven back
upon itself, the shallows along the coast, are exposed.

Meantime, while Orodes was without an ally, Pharasmanes, now strengthened
by reinforcements, challenged him to battle, taunted him on his refusal,
rode up to his camp and harassed his foraging parties. He often hemmed
him in with his picquets in the fashion of a blockade, till the Parthians,
who were unused to such insults, gathered round the king and demanded
battle. Their sole strength was in cavalry; Pharasmanes was also powerful
in infantry, for the Iberians and Albanians, inhabiting as they did
a densely wooded country, were more inured to hardship and endurance.
They claim to have been descended from the Thessalians, at the period
when Jason, after the departure of Medea and the children born of
her, returned subsequently to the empty palace of Aeetes, and the
vacant kingdom of Colchi. They have many traditions connected with
his name and with the oracle of Phrixus. No one among them would think
of sacrificing a ram, the animal supposed to have conveyed Phrixus,
whether it was really a ram or the figure-head of a ship.
The Annals by Tacitus