Soon afterwards, Corbulo’s envoys whom he had sent to Tigranocerta,
reported that the city walls were open, and the inhabitants awaiting
orders. They also handed him a gift denoting friendship, a golden
crown, which he acknowledged in complimentary language. Nothing was
done to humiliate the city, that remaining uninjured it might continue
to yield a more cheerful obedience.
The citadel, however, which had been closed by an intrepid band of
youths, was not stormed without a struggle. They even ventured on
an engagement under the walls, but were driven back within their fortifications
and succumbed at last only to our siege-works and to the swords of
furious assailants. The success was the easier, as the Parthians were
distracted by a war with the Hyrcanians, who had sent to the Roman
emperor, imploring alliance, and pointing to the fact that they were
detaining Vologeses as a pledge of amity. When these envoys were on
their way home, Corbulo, to save them from being intercepted by the
enemy’s picquets after their passage of the Euphrates, gave them an
escort, and conducted them to the shores of the Red Sea, whence, avoiding
Parthian territory, they returned to their native possessions.
Corbulo too, as Tiridates was entering the Armenian frontier through
Media, sent on Verulanus, his lieutenant-general with the auxiliaries,
while he himself followed with the legions by forced marches, and
compelled him to retreat to a distance and abandon the idea of war.
Having harried with fire and sword all whom he had ascertained to
be against us, he began to take possession of Armenia, when Tigranes
arrived, whom Nero had selected to assume the sovereignty. Though
a Cappadocian noble and grandson of king Archelaus, yet, from having
long been a hostage at Rome, he had sunk into servile submissiveness.
Nor was he unanimously welcomed, as some still cherished a liking
for the Arsacids. Most, however, in their hatred of Parthian arrogance
preferred a king given them by Rome. He was supported too with a force
of a thousand legionaries, three allied cohorts and two squadrons
of cavalry, that he might the more easily secure his new kingdom.
Parts of Armenia, according to their respective proximities, were
put under the subjection of Pharasmanes, Polemo, Aristobulus, and
Antiochus. Corbulo retired into Syria, which province, as being vacant
by the death of its governor Ummidius, was intrusted to him.
One of the famous cities of Asia, Laodicea, was that same year overthrown
by an earthquake, and, without any relief from us, recovered itself
by its own resources. In Italy meanwhile the old town of Puteoli obtained
from Nero the privileges of a colony with an additional name. A further
enrolment of veterans in Tarentum and Antium did but little for those
thinly peopled places; for most scattered themselves in the provinces
where they had completed their military service. Not being accustomed
to tie themselves by marriage and rear children, they left behind
them homes without families. For whole legions were no longer transplanted,
as in former days, with tribunes and centurions and soldiers of every
grade, so as to form a state by their unity and mutual attachment,
but strangers to one another from different companies, without a head
or any community of sentiment, were suddenly gathered together, as
it might be out of any other class of human beings, and became a mere
crowd rather than a colony.
As at the elections for praetors, now generally under the Senate’s
control there was the excitement of a particularly keen competition,
the emperor quieted matters by promoting the three supernumerary candidates
to legionary commands. He also raised the dignity of the Senate, by
deciding that all who appealed from private judges to its house, were
to incur the same pecuniary risk as those who referred their cause
to the emperor. Hitherto such an appeal had been perfectly open, and
free from penalty.
At the close of the year Vibius Secundus, a Roman knight, on the accusation
of the Moors, was convicted of extortion, and banished from Italy,
contriving through the influence of his brother Vibius Crispus to
escape heavier punishment.
In the consulship of Caesonius Paetus and Petronius Turpilianus, a
serious disaster was sustained in Britain, where Aulius Didius, the
emperor’s legate, had merely retained our existing possessions, and
his successor Veranius, after having ravaged the Silures in some trifling
raids, was prevented by death from extending the war. While he lived,
he had a great name for manly independence, though, in his will’s
final words, he betrayed a flatterer’s weakness; for, after heaping
adulation on Nero, he added that he should have conquered the province
for him, had he lived for the next two years. Now, however, Britain
was in the hands of Suetonius Paulinus, who in military knowledge
and in popular favour, which allows no one to be without a rival,
vied with Corbulo, and aspired to equal the glory of the recovery
of Armenia by the subjugation of Rome’s enemies. He therefore prepared
to attack the island of Mona which had a powerful population and was
a refuge for fugitives. He built flat-bottomed vessels to cope with
the shallows, and uncertain depths of the sea. Thus the infantry crossed,
while the cavalry followed by fording, or, where the water was deep,
swam by the side of their horses.
The Annals by Tacitus