Many spoke highly of these results, as due to the king’s alarm and
the threats of Corbulo, and as splendid successes. Others explained
them as a secret understanding that with the cessation of war on both
sides and the departure of Vologeses, Tigranes also was to quit Armenia.
“Why,” it was asked, “had the Roman army been withdrawn from Tigranocerta?
Why had they abandoned in peace what they had defended in war? Was
it better for them to have wintered on the confines of Cappadocia
in hastily constructed huts, than in the capital of a kingdom lately
recovered? There had been, in short, a suspension of arms, in order
that Vologeses might fight some other foe than Corbulo, and that Corbulo
might not further risk the glory he had earned in so many years. For,
as I have related, he had asked for a general exclusively for the
defence of Armenia, and it was heard that Caesennius Paetus was on
his way. And indeed he had now arrived, and the army was thus divided;
the fourth and twelfth legions, with the fifth which had lately been
raised in Moesia and the auxiliaries from Pontus, Galatia and Cappadocia,
were under the command of Paetus, while the third, sixth, and tenth
legions and the old soldiery of Syria remained with Corbulo. All else
they were to share or divide between them according to circumstances.
But as Corbulo could not endure a rival, so Paetus, who would have
been sufficiently honoured by ranking second to him, disparaged the
results of the war, and said repeatedly that there had been no bloodshed
or spoil, that the sieges of cities were sieges only in name, and
that he would soon impose on the conquered tribute and laws and Roman
administration, instead of the empty shadow of a king.

About the same time the envoys of Vologeses, who had been sent, as
I have related, to the emperor, returned without success, and the
Parthians made open war. Nor did Paetus decline the challenge, but
with two legions, the 4th and 12th, the first of which was then commanded
by Funisulanus Vettonianus and the second by Calavius Sabinus, entered
Armenia, with unlucky omen. In the passage of the Euphrates, which
they crossed by a bridge, a horse which carried the consul’s official
emblems, took fright without any apparent cause and fled to the rear.
A victim, too, standing by some of the winter-tents, which were being
fortified, broke its way through them, when the work was but half
finished, and got clear out of the entrenchments. Then again the soldiers’
javelins gleamed with light, a prodigy the more significant because
the Parthian foe fights with missiles.

Paetus, however, despising omens, before he had yet thoroughly fortified
his winter-camp or provided for his corn supply, hurried his army
across Mount Taurus, for the recovery, as he gave out, of Tigranocerta
and the ravaging of the country which Corbulo had left untouched.
Some forts too were taken, and some glory as well as plunder had been
secured, if only he had enjoyed his glory modestly, and his plunder
with vigilance. While he was overrunning in tedious expeditions districts
which could not be held, the supplies which had been captured, were
spoilt, and as winter was now at hand, he led back his army and wrote
a letter to the emperor, as if the war was finished, in pompous language,
but barren of facts.

Meanwhile Corbulo occupied the bank of the Euphrates, which he had
never neglected, with troops at closer intervals. That he might have
no hindrance in throwing a bridge over it from the enemy’s cavalry,
which was already scouring the adjoining plains with a formidable
display, he launched on the river some vessels of remarkable size,
linked together by beams, with towers rising from their decks, and
with catapults and balistas he drove off the barbarians. The stones
and spears penetrated their host at a range beyond the reach of the
opposing volleys of arrows. The bridge was then completed, and the
hills facing us were occupied by our auxiliary infantry, then, by
the entrenchments of the legions, with such rapidity and such a display
of force that the Parthians, giving up their preparations for the
invasion of Syria, concentrated all their hopes on Armenia.

Paetus, ignorant of the impending danger, was keeping the 5th legion
at a distance in Pontus; the rest he had weakened by indiscriminate
furloughs, till it was heard that Vologeses was approaching with a
powerful force bent on war. He summoned the 12th legion, and then
was discovered the numerical feebleness of the source from which he
had hoped for the repute of an augmented army. Yet even thus the camp
might have been held, and the Parthian foe baffled, by protracting
the war, had Paetus stood firm either by his own counsels or by those
of others. But though military men had put him on his guard against
imminent disasters, still, not wishing to seem to need the advice
of others, he would fall back on some quite different and inferior
plan. So now, leaving his winter quarters, and exclaiming that not
the fosse or the rampart, but the men’s bodies and weapons were given
him for facing the foe, he led out his legions, as if he meant to
fight a battle. Then, after losing a centurion and a few soldiers
whom he had sent on in advance to reconnoitre the enemy’s forces,
he returned in alarm. And, as Vologeses had not pressed his advantage
with much vigour, Paetus once again, with vain confidence, posted
3000 chosen infantry on the adjacent ridge of the taurus, in order
to bar the king’s passage. He also stationed some Pannonian troopers,
the flower of his cavalry, in a part of the plain. His wife and son
he removed to a fortress named Arsamosata, with a cohort for their
defence, thus dispersing the troops which, if kept together, could
easily have checked the desultory skirmishing of the enemy. He could,
it is said, scarcely be driven to confess to Corbulo how the enemy
was pressing him. Corbulo made no haste, that, when the dangers thickened,
the glory of the rescue might be enhanced. Yet he ordered 1000 men
from each of his three legions with 800 cavalry, and an equal number
of infantry to be in instant readiness.

Vologeses meanwhile, though he had heard that the roads were blocked
by Paetus, here with infantry, there with cavalry, did not alter his
plan, but drove off the latter by the menace of an attack, and crushed
the legionaires, only one centurion of whom, Tarquitius Crescens,
dared to defend a tower in which he was keeping guard. He had often
sallied out, and cut to pieces such of the barbarians as came close
up to the walls, till he was overwhelmed with volleys of firebrands.
Every foot soldier still unwounded fled to remote wilds, and those
who were disabled, returned to the camp, exaggerating in their terror
the king’s valour, and the warlike strength of his tribes, everything
in short, to the simple credulity of those who trembled with like
fear. Even the general did not struggle against his reverses. He had
indeed wholly abandoned all the duties of a soldier, and had again
sent an entreaty to Corbulo, that he would come with speed to save
the standards and eagles, and the name yet left to the unfortunate
army; they meantime, he said, would hold to their fidelity while life
The Annals by Tacitus