Since the first messenger who told Tigranes that Lucullus was coming had his head cut off for his pains, no one else would tell him anything, and so he sat in ignorance while the fires of war were already blazing around him, giving ear only to those who flattered him and said that Lucullus would be a great general if he ventured to withstand Tigranes at Ephesus, and did not fly incontinently from Asia at the mere sight of so many myriads of men.
Which only proves that it is not every man who can bear much unmixed wine, nor is it any ordinary understanding that does not lose its reckoning in the midst of great prosperity. The first of his friends who ventured to tell him the truth was Mithrobarzanes, and he, too, got no very excellent reward for his boldness of speech. He was sent at once against Lucullus with three thousand horsemen and a large force of infantry, under orders to bring the general alive, but to trample his men under foot.
Now, part of the army of Lucullus was already preparing to go into camp, and the rest was still coming up, when his scouts told him that the Barbarian was advancing to the attack. Fearing lest the enemy attack his men when they were separated and in disorder, and so throw them into confusion, he himself fell to arranging the encampment, and Sextilius, the legate, was sent at the head of sixteen hundred horsemen and about as many light and heavy infantry,
with orders to get near the enemy and wait there until he learned that the main body was safely encamped. Well then, this was what Sextilius wished to do, but he was forced into an engagement by Mithrobarzanes, who boldly charged upon him. A battle ensued, in which Mithrobarzanes fell fighting, and the rest of his forces took to flight and were cut to pieces, all except a few.
Upon this, Tigranes abandoned Tigranocerta, that great city which he had built, withdrew to the Taurus, and there began collecting his forces from every quarter. Lucullus, however, gave him no time for preparation, but sent out Murena to harass and cut off the forces gathering to join Tigranes, and Sextilius again to hold in check a large body of Arabs which was drawing near the king.
At one and the same time Sextilius fell upon the Arabs as they were going into camp, and slew most of them; and Murena, following hard upon Tigranes, seized his opportunity and attacked the king as he was passing through a rough and narrow defile with his army in long column. Tigranes himself fled, abandoning all his baggage, many of the Armenians were slain, and more were captured.