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CCXX (F XV, 1)

M. Tullius Cicero, son of Marcus, proconsul, greets the consuls, praetors, tribunes, and senate. If you are well, I am glad. I and the army are well.

Although I had undoubted assurance that the Parthians had crossed the Euphrates with nearly all their forces, yet, believing that more definite information could be sent you on these points by the proconsul M. Bibulus, I concluded that it was not incumbent on me to mention in a public despatch reports reaching me concerning the province of another. Having since then, however, received information on the most unquestionable authority-from legates, messengers, and despatches—whether I considered the importance of the matter itself, or the fact of not having yet heard of Bibulus's arrival in Syria, or that the conduct of this war was almost as much my business as that of Bibulus, I came to the conclusion that it was my duty to write you word of what had reached my ears. The legates of king Antiochus of Commagene were the first to inform me that large bodies of Parthians had begun to cross the Euphrates. On the receipt of this report, as there were certain persons who thought that full credit could not be given to that sovereign, I made up my mind that I must wait for more trustworthy information. On the 18th of September, whilst marching into Cilicia at the head of my army, on the frontier between Lycaonia and Cappadocia, a despatch was handed to me from Tarcondimotus, who is considered to be the most faithful ally and the most devoted friend of the Roman people beyond Mount Taurus, announcing that Pacorus, son of Orodes, the king of the Parthians, had crossed the Euphrates with a very large body of Parthian cavalry, and had pitched his camp at Tyba, and that consequently a very serious commotion had been caused in the province of Syria. On the same day a despatch on the same subject reached me from Iamblichus, phylarch of the Arabians, 1 who is generally considered to be well-disposed and friendly to our Republic. Though I was fully aware that, on receipt of this information, our allies were unsettled in their feelings and wavering from the expectation of political change, I yet hoped that those whom I had already visited, and who had seen the mildness and purity of my administration, had been made more devoted to the Roman people, and that Cilicia, too, would become more certainly loyal when it had once felt the advantage of my equitable rule. Acting at once from this motive, and also with a view to put down those of the Cilicians who are in arms, and to show the enemy in Syria that the army of the Roman people, so far from retiring on receipt of that news, was actually approaching nearer, I determined to lead it right up to Mount Taurus. But if my authority has any weight with you—especially in matters which you only know by report, but which are all but passing under my eyes—I strongly urge and advise you to take measures for the defence of these provinces: it is over-late already, but better late than never. For myself, you are well aware how slenderly supplied and how imperfectly furnished with troops, in view of the expected gravity of this war, you have despatched me. And it was not from the blindness of vanity, but from a modest scruple as to refusing, that I did not decline this business. For I have never considered any danger so formidable, as to make me wish to avoid it in preference to obeying your will. But at this moment the matter is of such a nature, that unless you promptly despatch into these provinces an army on the same scale as you are wont to employ for the most important war, there is the most imminent danger of our having to give up all those provinces, on which the revenues of the Roman people depend. Again, there is this reason for your not resting any hopes on a levy in the province—that men are not numerous, and that such as there are fly in every direction at the first alarm. Again, what this class of soldier is worth in his opinion has been shown by that gallant officer, M. Bibulus: for, though you had granted him leave to hold a levy in Asia, he has declined to do so. 2 For auxiliaries raised from the allies, owing to the harshness and injustice of our rule, are either so weak that they can do us little service, or so disaffected to us that it seems improper to expect anything from them or trust anything to them. Both the loyalty and the forces, whatever their amount, of king Deiotarus I reckon as being at our service. Cappadocia has nothing to give. Other kings and despots are not to be relied upon either in regard to their resources or their loyalty. For myself, in spite of this short supply of soldiers, I shall certainly show no lack of courage, nor, I hope, of prudence either. What will happen is uncertain. I pray that I may be able to secure my safety! I will certainly secure my honour.

1 Of these petty princes, Antiochus had been established in Commagene in B.C. 63-62 by Pompey, as also probably Tarcondimotus in part of Cilicia. Iamblichus, the Bedouin chief, was put to death by Antony in B.C. 31, but his son was restored by Augustus. He had also no doubt owed his establishment or restoration to Pompey in B.C. 63.

2 A governor of one province could not hold levies in another without special grant of the senate. An exception had been proposed for Pompey in B.C. 57, when he was appointed praefectus annonae, and apparently was made in and after his consulships of B.C. 55 and 52.

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