Both sides having been drawn up in battle array, the Parthian leader
expatiated on the empire of the East, and the renown of the Arsacids,
in contrast to the despicable Iberian chief with his hireling soldiery.
Pharasmanes reminded his people that they had been free from Parthian
domination, and that the grander their aims, the more glory they would
win if victorious, the more disgrace and peril they would incur if
they turned their backs. He pointed, as he spoke, to his own menacing
array, and to the Median bands with their golden embroidery; warriors,
as he said, on one side, spoil on the other.

Among the Sarmatae the general’s voice was not alone to be heard.
They encouraged one another not to begin the battle with volleys of
arrows; they must, they said, anticipate attack by a hand to hand
charge. Then followed every variety of conflict. The Parthians, accustomed
to pursue or fly with equal science, deployed their squadrons, and
sought scope for their missiles. The Sarmatae, throwing aside their
bows, which at a shorter range are effective, rushed on with pikes
and swords. Sometimes, as in a cavalry-action, there would be alternate
advances and retreats, then, again, close fighting, in which, breast
to breast, with the clash of arms, they repulsed the foe or were themselves
repulsed. And now the Albanians and Iberians seized, and hurled the
Parthians from their steeds, and embarrassed their enemy with a double
attack, pressed as they were by the cavalry on the heights and by
the nearer blows of the infantry. Meanwhile Pharasmanes and Orodes,
who, as they cheered on the brave and supported the wavering, were
conspicuous to all, and so recognised each other, rushed to the combat
with a shout, with javelins, and galloping chargers, Pharasmanes with
the greater impetuosity, for he pierced his enemy’s helmet at a stroke.
But he could not repeat the blow, as he was hurried onwards by his
horse, and the wounded man was protected by the bravest of his guards.
A rumour that he was slain, which was believed by mistake, struck
panic into the Parthians, and they yielded the victory.

Artabanus very soon marched with the whole strength of his kingdom,
intent on vengeance. The Iberians from their knowledge of the country
fought at an advantage. Still Artabanus did not retreat till Vitellius
had assembled his legions and, by starting a report that he meant
to invade Mesopotamia, raised an alarm of war with Rome. Armenia was
then abandoned, and the fortunes of Artabanus were overthrown, Vitellius
persuading his subjects to forsake a king who was a tyrant in peace,
and ruinously unsuccessful in war. And so Sinnaces, whose enmity to
the prince I have already mentioned, drew into actual revolt his father
Abdageses and others, who had been secretly in his counsel, and were
now after their continued disasters more eager to fight. By degrees,
many flocked to him who, having been kept in subjection by fear rather
than by goodwill, took courage as soon as they found leaders.

Artabanus had now no resources but in some foreigners who guarded
his person, men exiled from their own homes, who had no perception
of honour, or any scruple about a base act, mere hireling instruments
of crime. With these attendants he hastened his flight into the remote
country on the borders of Scythia, in the hope of aid, as he was connected
by marriage alliances with the Hyrcanians and Carmanians. Meantime
the Parthians, he thought, indulgent as they are to an absent prince,
though restless under his presence, might turn to a better mind.

Vitellius, as soon as Artabanus had fled and his people were inclined
to have a new king, urged Tiridates to seize the advantage thus offered,
and then led the main strength of the legions and the allies to the
banks of the Euphrates. While they were sacrificing, the one, after
Roman custom, offering a swine, a ram and a bull; the other, a horse
which he had duly prepared as a propitiation to the river-god, they
were informed by the neighbouring inhabitants that the Euphrates,
without any violent rains, was of itself rising to an immense height,
and that the white foam was curling into circles like a diadem, an
omen of a prosperous passage. Some explained it with more subtlety,
of a successful commencement to the enterprise, which, however, would
not be lasting, on the ground, that though a confident trust might
be placed in prognostics given in the earth or in the heavens, the
fluctuating character of rivers exhibited omens which vanished the
same moment.

A bridge of boats having been constructed and the army having crossed,
the first to enter the camp was Ornospades, with several thousand
cavalry. Formerly an exile, he had rendered conspicuous aid to Tiberius
in the completion of the Dalmatic war, and had for this been rewarded
with Roman citizenship. Subsequently, he had again sought the friendship
of his king, by whom he had been raised to high honour, and appointed
governor of the plains, which, being surrounded by the waters of those
famous rivers, the Euphrates and Tigris, have received the name of
Mesopotamia. Soon afterwards, Sinnaces reinforced the army, and Abdageses,
the mainstay of the party, came with the royal treasure and what belonged
to the crown. Vitellius thought it enough to have displayed the arms
of Rome, and he then bade Tiridates remember his grandfather Phraates,
and his foster-father Caesar, and all that was glorious in both of
them, while the nobles were to show obedience to their king, and respect
for us, each maintaining his honour and his loyalty. This done, he
returned with the legions to Syria.
The Annals by Tacitus