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Pompey Chapter 41: Pompey to Petra; suicide of Mithridates[63 BC]
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The king of the Arabs near Petra [Note 1], who had hitherto despised the power of the Romans, now began to be in great alarm at it, and sent letters to him promising to be at his commands, and to do whatever he should see fit to order. However, Pompey having a desire to confirm and keep him in the same mind, marched forwards for Petra, an expedition not altogether irreprehensible in the opinion of many; who thought it a mere running away from their proper duty, the pursuit of Mithridates, Rome's ancient and inveterate enemy, who was now rekindling the war once more, and making preparations, it was reported, to lead his army through Scythia and Paeonia, into Italy. Pompey, on the other side, judging it easier to destroy his forces in battle, than to seize his person in flight, resolved not to tire himself out in a vain pursuit, but rather to spend his leisure upon another enemy, as a sort of digression in the meanwhile. But fortune resolved the doubt; for when he was now not far from Petra, and had pitched his tents and encamped for that day, as he was talking exercise with his horse outside the camp, couriers came riding up from Pontus, bringing good news, as was known at once by the heads of their javelins, which it is the custom to carry crowned with branches of laurel. The soldiers, as soon as they saw them, flocked immediately to Pompey, who notwithstanding was minded to finish his exercise; but when they began to be clamorous and importunate, he alighted from his horse, and taking the letters went before them into the camp. Now there being no tribunal erected there, not even that military substitute for one which they make by cutting up thick turfs of earth and piling them one upon another, they, through eagerness and impatience, heaped up a pile of pack-saddles, and Pompey standing upon that, told them the news of Mithridates's death, how that he had himself put an end to his life upon the revolt of his son Pharnaces, and that Pharnaces had taken all things there into his hands and possession, which he did, his letters said, in right of himself and the Romans. Upon this news, the whole army expressing their joy, as was to be expected, fell to sacrificing to the gods, and feasting, as if in the person of Mithridates alone there had died many thousands of their enemies. |
Note 1: Aretas III
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Horse:a. the animal. b. cavalry.