The war was full of hardship for both sides, and its future course was still more to be dreaded. Antony expected a famine; for it was no longer possible to get provisions without having many men wounded and killed. Phraates, too, knew that his Parthians were able to do anything rather than to undergo hardships and encamp in the open during winter, and he was afraid that if the Romans persisted and remained, his men would desert him, since already the air was getting sharp after the summer equinox.
He therefore contrived the following stratagem. Those of the Parthians who were most acquainted with the Romans attacked them less vigorously in their forays for provisions and other encounters, allowing them to take some things, praising their valour, and declaring that they were capital fighting men and justly admired by their own king.
After this, they would ride up nearer, and quietly putting their horses alongside the Romans, would revile Antony because, when Phraates wished to come to terms and spare so many and such excellent men, Antony would not give him an opportunity, but sat there awaiting those grievous and powerful enemies, famine and winter, which would make it difficult for them to escape even though the Parthians should escort them on their way. Many persons reported this to Antony, but though his hope inclined him to yield, he did not send heralds to the Parthians until he bad inquired of the Barbarians who were showing such kindness whether what they said represented the mind of their king.
They assured him that it did, and urged him to have no fear or distrust, whereupon he sent some of his companions with a renewed demand for the return of the standards and the captives,1
that he might not be thought altogether satisfied with an escape in safety. But the Parthian told him not to urge this matter, and assured him of peace and safety as soon as he started to go away; whereupon, within a few days Antony packed up his baggage and broke camp.
But though he was persuasive in addressing a popular audience and was better endowed by nature than any man of his time for leading an army by force of eloquence, he could not prevail upon himself, for shame and dejection of spirits, to make the usual speech of encouragement to the army, but ordered Domitius Ahenobarbus to do it. Some of the soldiers were incensed at this, and felt that he had held them in contempt; but the majority of them were moved to the heart as they comprehended the reason. Therefore they thought they ought to show all the more respect and obedience to their commander.