These things done, Lucullus hastened in pursuit of Mithridates himself. For he expected to find him still in Bithynia under the watch and ward of Voconius, whom he had dispatched with a fleet to Nicomedeia that he might intercept the king's flight.
But Voconius was behindhand, owing to his initiation into, and celebration of, the mysteries in Samothrace, and Mithridates put to sea with his armament, eager to reach Pontus before Lucullus turned and set upon him. He was overtaken, however, by a great storm, which destroyed some of his vessels and disabled others. The whole coast for many days was covered with the wrecks dashed upon it by the billows.
As for the king himself, the merchantman on which he was sailing was too large to be readily beached when the sea ran so high and the waves were so baffling, nor would it answer to its helm, and it was now too heavy and full of water to gain an offing; accordingly, he abandoned it for a light brigantine belonging to some pirates, and, entrusting his person to their hands, contrary to expectation and after great hazard, got safely to Heracleia in Pontus.
And so it happened that the boastful speech of Lucullus to the Senate brought no divine retribution down upon him. When, namely, that body was ready to vote three thousand talents to provide a fleet for this war, Lucullus blocked the measure by writing a letter, in which he made the haughty boast that without any such costly array, but only with the ships of the allies, he would drive Mithridates from the sea. And this success he gained with the assistance of Heaven. For it is said that it was owing to the wrath of Artemis of Priapus that the tempest fell upon the men of Pontus, who had plundered her shrine and pulled down her image.