Corbulo, perfectly fearless, left half his army in Syria to retain
the forts built on the Euphrates, and taking the nearest route, which
also was not deficient in supplies, marched through the country of
Commagene, then through Cappadocia, and thence into Armenia. Beside
the other usual accompaniments of war, his army was followed by a
great number of camels laden with corn, to keep off famine as well
as the enemy. The first he met of the defeated army was Paccius, a
first-rank centurion, then many of the soldiers, whom, when they pleaded
various excuses for flight, he advised to return to their standards
and throw themselves on the mercy of Paetus. “For himself,” he said,
“he had no forgiveness but for the victorious.”

As he spoke, he went up to his legions, cheering them and reminding
them of their past career, and pointing the way to new glory. “It
was not to villages or towns of Armenia, but to a Roman camp with
two legions, a worthy recompense for their efforts, that they were
bound. If each common soldier were to have bestowed on him by the
emperor’s hand the special honour of a crown for a rescued citizen,
how wonderfully great the glory, when the numbers would be equal of
those who had brought and of those had received deliverance.” Roused
by these and like words into a common enthusiasm, and some too were
filled with an ardour peculiarly their own by the perils of brothers
and kinsfolk, they hurried on by day and night their uninterrupted

All the more vigorously did Vologeses press the besieged, now attacking
the legions’ entrenchments, and now again the fortress, which guarded
those whose years unfitted them for war. He advanced closer than is
the Parthian practice, seeking to lure the enemy to an engagement
by such rashness. They, however, could hardly be dragged out of their
tents, and would merely defend their lives, some held back by the
general’s order, others by their own cowardice; they seemed to be
awaiting Corbulo, and should they be overpowered by force, they had
before them the examples of Candium and Numantia. “Neither the Samnites,
Italian people as they were, nor the Carthaginians, the rivals of
the Roman empire, were, it seemed, equally formidable, and even the
men of old, with all their strength and glory, whenever fortune was
adverse, had taken thought for safety.”

The general, although he was overcome by the despair of his army,
first wrote a letter to Vologeses, not a suppliant petition, but in
a tone of remonstrance against the doing of hostile acts on behalf
of the Armenians, who always had been under Roman dominion, or subject
to a king chosen by the emperor. Peace, he reminded him, was equally
for the interest of both, and it would be well for him not to look
only at the present. He indeed had advanced with the whole strength
of his kingdom against two legions, while the Romans had all the rest
of the world with which to sustain the war.

To this Vologeses replied nothing to the purpose, but merely that
he must wait for his brothers Pacorus and Tiridates, that the place
and time of their meeting had been fixed on as the occasion when they
would decide about Armenia, and that heaven had granted them a further
honour, well worthy of the Arsacids, the having to determine the fate
of Roman legions. Messengers were then despatched by Paetus and an
interview requested with the king, who ordered Vasaces, the commander
of the cavalry, to go. Thereupon Paetus dwelt on the memories of the
Luculli and Pompeii, and of all that the Caesars had done in the way
of holding or giving away Armenia, while Vasaces declared that we
had the mere shadow of possession and of bestowing, but the Parthians,
the reality of power. After much arguing on both sides, Monobazus
of the Adiabeni was called the next day to be a witness to the stipulations
into which they had entered. It was agreed that the legions should
be released from the blockade, that all the troops should quit Armenian
territory, and that the forts and supplies should be surrendered to
the Parthians, and when all this had been completed, Vologeses was
to have full permission to send envoys to Nero.

Meanwhile Paetus threw a bridge over the river Arsanias, which flowed
by the camp, apparently with the view of facilitating his march. It
was the Parthians, however, who had required this, as an evidence
of their victory; for the bridge was of use to them, while our men
went a different way. Rumour added that the legions had been passed
under the yoke, with other miserable disgraces, of which the Armenians
had borrowed imitations. For they not only entered our lines before
the Roman army began to retire, but also stood about the camp streets,
recognizing and dragging off slaves or beasts of burden which we had
previously captured. They even seized clothes and detained weapons,
for the soldiers were utterly cowed and gave up everything, so that
no cause for fighting might arise. Vologeses having piled up the arms
and bodies of the slain in order to attest our defeat, refrained from
gazing on the fugitive legions. He sought a character for moderation
after he had glutted his pride. Seated himself on an elephant, he
crossed the river Arsanias, while those next to his person rushed
through it at the utmost speed of their horses; for a rumour had gained
ground that the bridge would give way, through the trickery of its
builders. But those who ventured to go on it found it to be firm and
The Annals by Tacitus