By the centurion’s departure the camp prefect was released, so to
say, from surveillance; and he now urged Mithridates to conclude a
treaty. He reminded him of the tie of brotherhood, of the seniority
in age of Pharasmanes, and of their other bonds of kindred, how he
was united by marriage to his brother’s daughter, and was himself
the father-in-law of Rhadamistus. “The Iberians,” he said, “were not
against peace, though for the moment they were the stronger; the perfidy
of the Armenians was notorious, and he had nothing to fall back on
but a fortress without stores; so he must not hesitate to prefer a
bloodless negotiation to arms.” As Mithridates wavered, and suspected
the intentions of the camp-prefect, because he had seduced one of
the king’s concubines and was reputed a man who could be bribed into
any wickedness, Casperius meantime went to Pharasmanes, and required
of him that the Iberians should raise the blockade. Pharasmanes, to
his face, replied vaguely and often in a conciliatory tone, while
by secret messages he recommended Rhadamistus to hurry on the siege
by all possible means. Then the price of infamy was raised, and Pollio
by secret corruption induced the soldiers to demand peace and to threaten
that they would abandon the garrison. Under this compulsion, Mithridates
agreed to a day and a place for negotiation and quitted the fortress.

Rhadamistus at first threw himself into his embraces, feigning respect
and calling him father-in-law and parent. He swore an oath too that
he would do him no violence either by the sword or by poison. At the
same time he drew him into a neighbouring grove, where he assured
him that the appointed sacrifice was prepared for the confirmation
of peace in the presence of the gods. It is a custom of these princes,
whenever they join alliance, to unite their right hands and bind together
the thumbs in a tight knot; then, when the blood has flowed into the
extremities, they let it escape by a slight puncture and suck it in
turn. Such a treaty is thought to have a mysterious sanctity, as being
sealed with the blood of both parties. On this occasion he who was
applying the knot pretended that it had fallen off, and suddenly seizing
the knees of Mithridates flung him to the ground. At the same moment
a rush was made by a number of persons, and chains were thrown round
him. Then he was dragged along by a fetter, an extreme degradation
to a barbarian; and soon the common people, whom he had held under
a harsh sway, heaped insults on him with menacing gestures, though
some, on the contrary, pitied such a reverse of fortune. His wife
followed him with his little children, and filled every place with
her wailings. They were hidden away in different covered carriages
till the orders of Pharasmanes were distinctly ascertained. The lust
of rule was more to him than his brother and his daughter, and his
heart was steeled to any wickedness. Still he spared his eyes the
seeing them slain before his face. Rhadamistus too, seemingly mindful
of his oath, neither unsheathed the sword nor used poison against
his sister and uncle, but had them thrown on the ground and then smothered
them under a mass of heavy clothes. Even the sons of Mithridates were
butchered for having shed tears over their parent’s murder.

Quadratus, learning that Mithridates had been betrayed and that his
kingdom was in the hands of his murderers, summoned a council, and,
having informed them of what had occurred, consulted them whether
he should take vengeance. Few cared for the honour of the State; most
argued in favour of a safe course, saying “that any crime in a foreign
country was to be welcomed with joy, and that the seeds of strife
ought to be actually sown, on the very principle on which Roman emperors
had often under a show of generosity given away this same kingdom
of Armenia to excite the minds of the barbarians. Rhadamistus might
retain his ill-gotten gains, as long as he was hated and infamous;
for this was more to Rome’s interest than for him to have succeeded
with glory.” To this view they assented, but that they might not be
thought to have approved the crime and receive contrary orders from
the emperor, envoys were sent to Pharasmanes, requiring him to withdraw
from Armenian territory and remove his son.

Julius Pelignus was then procurator of Cappadocia, a man despised
alike for his feebleness of mind and his grotesque personal appearance.
He was however very intimate with Claudius, who, when in private life,
used to beguile the dullness of his leisure with the society of jesters.
This Pelignus collected some provincial auxiliaries, apparently with
the design of recovering Armenia, but, while he plundered allies instead
of enemies, finding himself, through the desertion of his men and
the raids of the barbarians, utterly defenceless, he went to Rhadamistus,
whose gifts so completely overcame him that he positively encouraged
him to assume the ensigns of royalty, and himself assisted at the
ceremony, authorizing and abetting. When the disgraceful news had
spread far and wide, lest the world might judge of other governors
by Pelignus, Helvidius Priscus was sent in command of a legion to
regulate, according to circumstances, the disordered state of affairs.
He quickly crossed Mount Taurus, and had restored order to a great
extent more by moderation than by force, when he was ordered to return
to Syria, that nothing might arise to provoke a war with Parthia.

For Vologeses, thinking that an opportunity presented itself of invading
Armenia, which, though the possession of his ancestors, was now through
a monstrous crime held by a foreign prince, raised an army and prepared
to establish Tiridates on the throne, so that not a member of his
house might be without kingly power. On the advance of the Parthians,
the Iberians dispersed without a battle, and the Armenian cities,
Artaxata and Tigranocerta, submitted to the yoke. Then a frightful
winter or deficient supplies, with pestilence arising from both causes,
forced Vologeses to abandon his present plans. Armenia was thus again
without a king, and was invaded by Rhadamistus, who was now fiercer
than ever, looking on the people as disloyal and sure to rebel on
the first opportunity. They however, though accustomed to be slaves,
suddenly threw off their tameness and gathered round the palace in

Rhadamistus had no means of escape but in the swiftness of the horses
which bore him and his wife away. Pregnant as she was, she endured,
somehow or other, out of fear of the enemy and love of her husband,
the first part of the flight, but after a while, when she felt herself
shaken by its continuous speed, she implored to be rescued by an honourable
death from the shame of captivity. He at first embraced, cheered,
and encouraged her, now admiring her heroism, now filled with a sickening
apprehension at the idea of her being left to any man’s mercy. Finally,
urged by the intensity of his love and familiarity with dreadful deeds,
he unsheathed his scymitar, and having stabbed her, dragged her to
the bank of the Araxes and committed her to the stream, so that her
very body might be swept away. Then in headlong flight he hurried
to Iberia, his ancestral kingdom. Zenobia meanwhile (this was her
name), as she yet breathed and showed signs of life on the calm water
at the river’s edge, was perceived by some shepherds, who inferring
from her noble appearance that she was no base-born woman, bound up
her wound and applied to it their rustic remedies. As soon as they
knew her name and her adventure, they conveyed her to the city of
Artaxata, whence she was conducted at the public charge to Tiridates,
who received her kindly and treated her as a royal person.
The Annals by Tacitus