Containing The Interval Of About Three Years
From The Taking Of Jerusalem By Titus To The Sedition At Cyrene.
CONCERNING THE CALAMITY THAT BEFELL ANTIOCHUS, KING OF COMMAGENE. AS ALSO CONCERNING THE ALANS AND WHAT GREAT MISCHIEFS THEY DID TO THE MEDES AND ARMENIANS.
1. AND now, in the fourth year of the reign of Vespasian, it came to pass that Antiochus, the king of Commagene, with all his family, fell into very great calamities. The occasion was this: Cesennius Petus, who was president of Syria at this time, whether it were done out of regard to truth, or whether out of hatred to Antiochus, (for which was the real motive was never thoroughly discovered,) sent an epistle to Caesar, and therein told him that Antiochus, with his son Epiphanes, had resolved to rebel against the Romans, and had made a league with the king of Parthia to that purpose; that it was therefore fit to prevent them, lest they prevent us, and begin such a war as may cause a general disturbance in the Roman empire. Now Caesar was disposed to take some care about the matter, since this discovery was made; for the neighborhood of the kingdoms made this affair worthy of greater regard; for Samoseta, the capital of Commagene, lies upon Euphrates, and upon any such design could afford an easy passage over it to the Parthians, and could also afford them a secure reception.
Petus was accordingly believed, and had authority given him of doing what he should think proper in the case; so he set about it without delay, and fell upon Commagene before Antiochus and his people had the least expectation of his coming: he had with him the tenth legion, as also some cohorts and troops of horsemen. These kings also came to his assistance: Aristobulus, king of the country called Chalcidene, and Sohemus, who was called king of Emesa. Nor was there any opposition made to his forces when they entered the kingdom; for no one of that country would so much as lift up his hand against them. When Antiochus heard this unexpected news, he could not think in the least of making war with the Romans, but determined to leave his whole kingdom in the state wherein it now was, and to retire privately, with his wife and children, as thinking thereby to demonstrate himself to the Romans to be innocent as to the accusation laid against him. So he went away from that city as far as a hundred and twenty furlongs, into a plain, and there pitched his tents.
2. Petus then sent some of his men to seize upon Samosate, and by their means took possession of that city, while he went himself to attack Antiochus with the rest of his army. However, the king was not prevailed upon by the distress he was in to do any thing in the way of war against the Romans, but bemoaned his own hard fate, and endured with patience what he was not able to prevent. But his sons, who were young, and unexperienced in war, but of strong bodies, were not easily induced to bear this calamity without fighting. Epiphanes, therefore, and Callinicus, betook themselves to military force; and as the battle was a sore one, and lasted all the day long, they showed their own valor in a remarkable manner, and nothing but the approach of night put a period thereto, and that without any diminution of their forces; yet would not Antiochus, upon this conclusion of the fight, continue there by any means, but took his wife and his daughters, and fled away with them to Cilicia, and by so doing quite discouraged the minds of his own soldiers. Accordingly, they revolted, and went over to the Romans, out of the despair they were in of his keeping the kingdom; and his case was looked upon by all as quite desperate.
It was therefore necessary that Epiphanes and his soldiers should get clear of their enemies before they became entirely destitute of any confederates; nor were there any more than ten horsemen with him, who passed with him over Euphrates, whence they went undisturbed to Vologeses, the king of Parthie, where they were not disregarded as fugitives, but had the same respect paid them as if they had retained their ancient prosperity.
3. Now when Antiochus was come to Tarsus in Cilicia, Petus ordered a centurion to go to him, and send him in bonds to Rome. However, Vespasian could not endure to have a king brought to him in that manner, but thought it fit rather to have a regard to the ancient friendship that had been between them, than to preserve an inexorable anger upon pretense of this war. Accordingly, he gave orders that they should take off his bonds, while he was still upon the road, and that he should not come to Rome, but should now go and live at Lacedemon; he also gave him large revenues, that he might not only live in plenty, but like a king also. When Epiphanes, who before was in great fear for his father, was informed of this, their minds were freed from that great and almost incurable concern they had been under. He also hoped that Caesar would be reconciled to them, upon the intercession of Vologeses; for although he lived in plenty, he knew not how to bear living out of the Roman empire. So Caesar gave him leave, after an obliging manner, and he came to Rome; and as his father came quickly to him from Lacedemon, he had all sorts of respect paid him there, and there he remained.
4. Now there was a nation of the Alans, which we have formerly mentioned some where as being Scythians and inhabiting at the lake Meotis. This nation about this time laid a design of falling upon Media, and the parts beyond it, in order to plunder them; with which intention they treated with the king of Hyrcania; for he was master of that passage which king Alexander [the Great] shut up with iron gates. This king gave them leave to come through them; so they came in great multitudes, and fell upon the Medes unexpectedly, and plundered their country, which they found full of people, and replenished with abundance of cattle, while nobody durst make any resistance against them; for Paeorus, the king of the country, had fled away for fear into places where they could not easily come at him, and had yielded up every thing he had to them, and had only saved his wife and his concubines from them, and that with difficulty also, after they had been made captives, by giving them a hundred talents for their ransom. These Alans therefore plundered the country without opposition, and with great ease, and proceeded as far as Armenia, laying all waste before them.
Now Tiridates was king of that country, who met them, and fought them, but had like to have been taken alive in the battle; for a certain man threw a net over him from a great distance, and had soon drawn him to him, unless he had immediately cut the cord with his sword, and ran away, and prevented it. So the Alans, being still more provoked by this sight, laid waste the country, and drove a great multitude of the men, and a great quantity of the other prey they had gotten out of both kingdoms, along with them, and then retreated back to their own country.