Corbulo’s lieutenant and camp-prefect met with similar success; three
forts were stormed by them in one day, and the remainder, some from
panic, others by the consent of the occupants, capitulated. This inspired
them with confidence to attack the capital of the country, Artaxata.
The legions however were not marched by the nearest route, for should
they cross the river Avaxes which washes the city’s walls by a bridge,
they would be within missile-range. They passed over it at a distance,
where it was broad and shallow.

Meantime Tiridates, ashamed of seeming utterly powerless by not interfering
with the siege, and afraid that, in attempting to stop it, he would
entangle himself and his cavalry on difficult ground, resolved finally
to display his forces and either give battle on the first opportunity,
or, by a pretended flight, prepare the way for some stratagem. Suddenly,
he threw himself on the Roman columns, without however surprising
our general, who had formed his army for fighting as well as for marching.
On the right and left flanks marched the third and sixth legions,
with some picked men of the tenth in the centre; the baggage was secured
within the lines, and the rear was guarded by a thousand cavalry,
who were ordered to resist any close attack of the enemy, but not
to pursue his retreat. On the wings were the foot-archers and the
remainder of the cavalry, with a more extended line on the left wing,
along the base of some hills, so that should the enemy penetrate the
centre, he might be encountered both in front and flank. Tiridates
faced us in skirmishing order, but not within missile-range, now threatening
attack, now seemingly afraid, with the view of loosening our formation
and falling on isolated divisions. Finding that there was no breaking
of our ranks from rashness, and that only one cavalry officer advanced
too boldly, and that he falling pierced with arrows, confirmed the
rest in obedience by the warning, he retired on the approach of darkness.

Corbulo then encamped on the spot, and considered whether he should
push on his legions without their baggage to Artaxata and blockade
the city, on which, he supposed, Tiridates had fallen back. When his
scouts reported that the king had undertaken a long march, and that
it was doubtful whether Media or Albania was its destination, he waited
for daylight, and then sent on his light-armed troops, which were
meanwhile to hover round the walls and begin the attack from a distance.
The inhabitants however opened the gates of their own accord, and
surrendered themselves and their property to the Romans. This saved
their lives; the city was fired, demolished and levelled to the ground,
as it could not be held without a strong garrison from the extent
of the walls, and we had not sufficient force to be divided between
adequately garrisoning it and carrying on the war. If again the place
were left untouched and unguarded, no advantage or glory would accrue
from its capture. Then too there was a wonderful occurrence, almost
a divine interposition. While the whole space outside the town, up
to its buildings, was bright with sunlight, the enclosure within the
walls was suddenly shrouded in a black cloud, seamed with lightning-flashes,
and thus the city was thought to be given up to destruction, as if
heaven was wroth against it.

For all this Nero was unanimously saluted emperor, and by the Senate’s
decree a thanksgiving was held; statues also, arches and successive
consulships were voted to him, and among the holy days were to be
included the day on which the victory was won, that on which it was
announced, and that on which the motion was brought forward. Other
proposals too of a like kind were carried, on a scale so extravagant,
that Caius Cassius, after having assented to the rest of the honours,
argued that if the gods were to be thanked for the bountiful favours
of fortune, even a whole year would not suffice for thanksgivings,
and therefore there ought to be a classification of sacred and business-days,
that so they might observe divine ordinances and yet not interfer
with human affairs.

A man who had struggled with various calamities and earned the hate
of many, was then impeached and condemned, but not without angry feelings
towards Seneca. This was Publius Suilius. He had been terrible and
venal, while Claudius reigned, and when times were changed, he was
not so much humbled as his enemies wished, and was one who would rather
seem a criminal than a suppliant. With the intent of crushing him,
so men believed, a decree of the Senate was revived, along with the
penalty of the Cincian law against persons who had pleaded for hire.
Suilius spared not complaint or indignant remonstrance; freespoken
because of his extreme age as well as from his insolent temper, he
taunted Seneca with his savage enmity against the friends of Claudius,
under whose reign he had endured a most righteously deserved exile.
“The man,” he said, “familiar as he was only with profitless studies,
and with the ignorance of boyhood, envied those who employed a lively
and genuine eloquence in the defence of their fellow-citizens. He
had been Germanicus’s quaestor, while Seneca had been a paramour in
his house. Was it to be thought a worse offence to obtain a reward
for honest service with the litigant’s consent, than to pollute the
chambers of the imperial ladies? By what kind of wisdom or maxims
of philosophy had Seneca within four years of royal favour amassed
three hundred million sesterces? At Rome the wills of the childless
were, so to say, caught in his snare while Italy and the provinces
were drained by a boundless usury. His own money, on the other hand,
had been acquired by industry and was not excessive. He would suffer
prosecutions, perils, anything indeed rather than make an old and
self-learned position of honour to bow before an upstart prosperity.”

Persons were not wanting to report all this to Seneca, in the exact
words, or with a worse sense put on it. Accusers were also found who
alleged that our allies had been plundered, when Suilius governed
the province of Asia, and that there had been embezzlement of public
monies. Then, as an entire year had been granted to them for inquiries,
it seemed a shorter plan to begin with his crimes at Rome, the witnesses
of which were on the spot. These men charged Suilius with having driven
Quintus Pomponius by a relentless prosecution into the extremity of
civil war, with having forced Julia, Drusus’s daughter, and Sabina
Poppaea to suicide, with having treacherously ruined Valerius Asiaticus,
Lusius Saturninus and Cornelius Lupus, in fact, with the wholesale
conviction of troops of Roman knights, and with all the cruelty of
Claudius. His defence was that of all this he had done nothing on
his own responsibility but had simply obeyed the emperor, till Nero
stopped such pleadings, by stating that he had ascertained from his
father’s notebooks that he had never compelled the prosecution of
a single person.
The Annals by Tacitus