As Paetus’s despatch contradicted this letter from Vologeses and implied
that matters were unchanged, the centurion who had arrived with the
envoys was questioned as to the state of Armenia. He replied that
all the Romans had quitted it. Then was perceived the mockery of the
barbarians in petitioning for what they had wrested from us, and Nero
consulted with the chief men of the State whether they should accept
a dangerous war or a disgraceful peace. There was no hesitation about
war. Corbulo, who had known our soldiers and the enemy for so many
years, was appointed to conduct it, that there might be no more blunders
through any other officer’s incapacity; for people were utterly disgusted
with Paetus.

So the envoys were sent back without an answer, but with some presents,
in order to inspire a hope that Tiridates would not make the same
request in vain, if only he presented his petition in person. The
administration of Syria was intrusted to Caius Itius, and the military
forces to Corbulo, to which was added the fifteenth legion, under
the leadership of Marius Celsus, from Pannonia. Written orders were
sent to the tetrarchs, the tributaries, kings, prefects and procurators,
and all the praetors who governed the neighbouring provinces, to obey
Corbulo’s commands, as his powers were enlarged on much the same scale
as that which the Roman people had granted to Cneius Pompeius on the
eve of his war against the Pirates. When Paetus returned and dreaded
something worse, the emperor thought it enough to reproach him with
a jest, to the effect that he pardoned him at once, lest one so ready
to take fright might sink under prolonged suspense.

Corbulo meantime transferred to Syria the fourth and twelfth legions,
which, from the loss of their bravest men and the panic of the remainder,
seemed quite unfit for battle, and led thence into Armenia the third
and sixth legions, troops in thorough efficiency, and trained by frequent
and successful service. And he added to his army the fifth legion,
which, having been quartered in Pontus, had known nothing of disaster,
with men of the fifteenth, lately brought up, and picked veterans
from Illyricum and Egypt, and all the allied cavalry and infantry,
and the auxiliaries of the tributary princes, which had been concentrated
at Melitene, where he was preparing to cross the Euphrates. Then,
after the due lustration of his army, he called them together for
an harangue, and began with grand allusions to the imperial auspices,
and to his own achievements, while he attributed their disasters to
the incapacity of Paetus. He spoke with much impressiveness, which
in him, as a military man, was as good as eloquence.

He then pursued the route opened up in former days by Lucius Lucullus,
clearing away the obstructions of long years. Envoys who came to him
from Tiridates and Vologeses about peace, he did not repulse, but
sent back with them some centurions with a message anything but harsh.
“Matters,” he said, “have not yet gone so far as to require the extremity
of war. Many successes have fallen to the lot of Rome, some to that
of Parthia, as a warning against pride. Therefore, it is to the advantage
of Tiridates to accept as a gift a kingdom yet unhurt by the ravages
of war, and Vologeses will better consult the welfare of the Parthian
people by an alliance with Rome than by mutual injuries. I know how
much there is of internal discord, and over what untamably fierce
tribes he reigns. My emperor, on the other hand, has undisturbed peace
all around him, and this is his only war.”

In an instant Corbulo backed up his advice by a menacing attitude.
He drove from their possessions the nobles of Armenia, who had been
the first to revolt from us, destroyed their fortresses, and spread
equal panic throughout the plain and the hill country, among the strong
and among the weak.

Against the name of Corbulo no rage, nothing of the hatred of an enemy,
was felt by the barbarians, and they therefore thought his advice
trustworthy. Consequently Vologeses was not implacable to the uttermost,
and he even asked a truce for some divisions of his kingdom. Tiridates
demanded a place and a day for an interview. The time was to be soon,
the place that in which Paetus and his legions had been lately besieged,
for this was chosen by the barbarians in remembrance for their more
prosperous fortune. Corbulo did not refuse, resolved that a widely
different issue should enhance his renown. Nor did the disgrace of
Paetus trouble him, as was clearly proved by the fact that he commanded
Paetus’ son, who was a tribune, to take some companies with him and
cover up the relics of that ill-starred battle-field. On the day appointed,
Tiberius Alexander, a distinguished Roman knight, sent to assist in
the campaign, and Vinianus Annius, Corbulo’s son-in-law, who, though
not yet of a senator’s age, had the command of the fifth legion as
“legatus,” entered the camp of Tiridates, by way of compliment to
him, and to reassure him against treachery by so valuable a pledge.
Each then took with him twenty horsemen. The king, seeing Corbulo,
was the first to dismount, and Corbulo hesitated not a moment, but
both on foot joined their right hands.
The Annals by Tacitus