Corbulo however had more to struggle against in the supineness of
his soldiers than in the treachery of the enemy. His legions indeed,
transferred as they had been from Syria and demoralised by a long
peace, endured most impatiently the duties of a Roman camp. It was
well known that that army contained veterans who had never been on
piquet duty or on night guard, to whom the rampart and the fosse were
new and strange sights, men without helmets or breastplates, sleek
money-making traders, who had served all their time in towns. Corbulo
having discharged all who were old or in ill-health, sought to supply
their places, and levies were held in Galatia and Cappadocia, and
to these were added a legion from Germany with its auxiliary cavalry
and light infantry. The entire army was kept under canvas, though
the winter was so severe that the ground, covered as it was with ice,
did not yield a place for the tents without being dug up. Many of
the men had their limbs frost-bitten through the intensity of the
cold, and some perished on guard. A soldier was observed whose hands
mortified as he was carrying a bundle of wood, so that sticking to
their burden they dropped off from his arms, now mere stumps. The
general, lightly clad, with head uncovered, was continually with his
men on the march, amid their labours; he had praise for the brave,
comfort for the feeble, and was a good example to all. And then as
many shrank from the rigour of the climate and of the service, and
deserted, he sought a remedy in strictness of discipline. Not, as
in other armies, was a first or second offense condoned, but the soldier,
who had quitted his colours, instantly paid the penalty with his life.
This was shown by experience to be a wholesome measure, better than
mercy; for there were fewer desertions in that camp than in those
in which leniency was habitual.

Meanwhile Corbulo kept his legions within the camp till spring weather
was fairly established, and having stationed his auxiliary infantry
at suitable points, he directed them not to begin an engagement. The
charge of these defensive positions he entrusted to Paccius Orfitus,
who had held the post of a first-rank centurion. Though this officer
had reported that the barbarians were heedless, and that an opportunity
for success presented itself, he was instructed to keep within his
entrenchments and to wait for a stronger force. But he broke the order,
and on the arrival of a few cavalry squadrons from the nearest forts,
who in their inexperience insisted on fighting, he engaged the enemy
and was routed. Panic-stricken by his disaster, those who ought to
have given him support returned in precipitate flight to their respective
encampments. Corbulo heard of this with displeasure; he sharply censured
Paccius, the officers and soldiers, and ordered them to have their
quarters outside the lines. There they were kept in disgrace, and
were released only on the intercession of the whole army.

Tiridates meantime who, besides his own dependencies, had the powerful
aid of his brother Vologeses, ravaged Armenia, not in stealthy raids
as before, but in open war, plundering all whom he thought loyal to
Rome, while he eluded an action with any force which was brought against
him, and thus flying hither and thither, he spread panic more widely
by rumour than by arms. So Corbulo, frustrated in his prolonged efforts
to bring on an engagement and compelled, like the enemy, to carry
hostilities everywhere, divided his army, so that his generals and
officers might attack several points simultaneously. He at the same
time instructed king Antiochus to hasten to the provinces on his frontier,
as Pharasmanes, after having slain his son Rhadamistus as a traitor
to prove his loyalty to us, was following up more keenly than ever
his old feud with the Armenians. Then, for the first time, we won
the friendship of the Moschi, a nation which became pre-eminently
attached to Rome, and they overran the wilds of Armenia. Thus the
intended plans of Tiridates were wholly reversed, and he sent envoys
to ask on behalf of himself and of the Parthians, why, when hostages
had lately been given and a friendship renewed which might open up
a way to further acts of good will, he was thus driven from Armenia,
his ancient possession.

“As yet,” he said, “Vologeses had not bestirred himself, simply because
they preferred negotiation to violence. Should however war be persisted
in, the Arsacids would not want the courage and good fortune which
had already been proved more than once by disaster to Rome.” Corbulo
in reply, when he was certain that Vologeses was detained by the revolt
of Hyrcania, advised Tiridates to address a petition to the emperor,
assuring him that he might reign securely and without bloodshed by
relinquishing a prospect in the remote future for the sake of one
more solid within his reach.

As no progress was made towards a final settlement of peace by the
interchange of messages, it was at last decided to fix a time and
a place for an interview between the leaders. “A thousand troopers,”
Tiridates said, “would be his escort; what force of every kind was
to be with Corbulo, he did not prescribe, provided they came in peaceful
fashion, without breastplates and helmets.” Any human being, to say
nothing of an old and wary general, would have seen through the barbarian’s
cunning, which assigned a limited number on one side and offered a
larger on the other, expressly with a treacherous intent; for, were
they to be exposed to a cavalry trained in the use of arrows, with
the person undefended, numbers would be unavailing. Corbulo however,
pretending not to understand this, replied that they would do better
to discuss matters requiring consideration for their common good,
in the presence of the entire armies, and he selected a place partly
consisting of gently sloping hills, suited for ranks of infantry,
partly, of a spreading plain where troops of cavalry could manoeuvre.
On the appointed day, arriving first, he posted his allied infantry
with the king’s auxiliaries on the wings, the sixth legion in the
centre, with which he had united three thousand men of the third,
brought up in the night from another camp, with one eagle, so as to
look like a single legion. Tiridates towards evening showed himself
at some distance whence he could be seen rather than heard. And so
the Roman general, without any conference, ordered his troops to retire
to their respective camps.

The king either suspecting a stratagem from these simultaneous movements
in different directions, or intending to cut off our supplies as they
were coming up from the sea of Pontus and the town of Trapezus, hastily
withdrew. He could not however make any attack on the supplies, as
they were brought over mountains in the occupation of our forces.
Corbulo, that war might not be uselessly protracted, and also to compel
the Armenians to defend their possessions, prepared to destroy their
fortresses, himself undertaking the assault on the strongest of all
in that province named Volandum. The weaker he assigned to Cornelius
Flaccus, his lieutenant, and to Insteius Capito, his camp-prefect.
Having then surveyed the defences and provided everything suitable
for storming them, he exhorted his soldiers to strip of his home this
vagabond foe who was preparing neither for peace nor for war, but
who confessed his treachery and cowardice by flight, and so to secure
alike glory and spoil. Then forming his army into four divisions,
he led one in the dense array of the “testudo” close up to the rampart,
to undermine it, while others were ordered to apply scaling ladders
to the walls, and many more were to discharge brands and javelins
from engines. The slingers and artillerymen had a position assigned
them from which to hurl their missiles at a distance, so that, with
equal tumult everywhere, no support might be given from any point
to such as were pressed. So impetuous were the efforts of the army
that within a third part of one day the walls were stripped of their
defenders, the barriers of the gates overthrown, the fortifications
scaled and captured, and all the adult inhabitants massacred, without
the loss of a soldier and with but very few wounded. The nonmilitary
population were sold by auction; the rest of the booty fell to the
The Annals by Tacitus