But when tidings came that Mithridates had defeated Fabius,1
and was on the march against Sornatius and Triarius, they were struck with shame and followed Lucullus. But Triarius, who was ambitious to snatch the victory, which he thought assured, before Lucullus, who was near, should come up, was defeated in a great battle. It is said that over seven thousand Romans fell, among whom were a hundred and fifty centurions, and twenty-four tribunes; and their camp was captured by Mithridates.
But Lucullus, coming up a few days afterward, hid Triarius from the search of his infuriated soldiers. Then, since Mithridates was unwilling to give fight, but lay waiting for Tigranes, who was coming down with a large force, he determined to anticipate the junction of their armies, and march back to meet Tigranes in battle.
But while he was on the way thither, the Fimbrian soldiers mutinied and left their ranks, declaring that they were discharged from service by decree of the people, and that Lucullus no longer had the right to command them, since the provinces had been assigned to others. Accordingly, there was no expedient, however much beneath his dignity, to which Lucullus did not force himself to resort,—entreating the soldiers man by man, going about from tent to tent in humility and tears, and actually taking some of the men by the hand in supplication.
But they rejected his advances, and threw their empty purses down before him, bidding him fight the enemy alone, since he alone knew how to get rich from them. However, at the request of the other soldiers, the Fimbrians were constrained to agree to remain during the summer; but if, in the meantime, no enemy should come down to fight them, they were to be dismissed. Lucullus was obliged to content himself with these terms, or else to be deserted and give up the country to the Barbarians.
He therefore simply held his soldiers together, without forcing them any more, or leading them out to battle. Their remaining with him was all he could expect, and he looked on helplessly while Tigranes ravaged Cappadocia and Mithridates resumed his insolent ways,—a monarch whom he had reported by letter to the Senate as completely subdued. Besides, the commissioners were now with him, who had been sent out to regulate the affairs of Pontus, on the supposition that it was a secure Roman possession.
And lo, when they came, they saw that Lucullus was not even his own master, but was mocked and insulted by his soldiers. These went so far in their outrageous treatment of their general, that, at the close of the summer, they donned their armour, drew their swords, and challenged to battle an enemy who was nowhere near, but had already withdrawn. Then they shouted their war cries, brandished their weapons in the air, and departed from the camp, calling men to witness that the time had expired during which they had agreed to remain with Lucullus.
The rest of the soldiers Pompey summoned by letter, for he had already been appointed to conduct the war against Mithridates and Tigranes,2
because he won the favour of the people and flattered their leaders. But the Senate and the nobility considered Lucullus a wronged man. He had been superseded, they said, not in a war, but in a triumph, and had been forced to relinquish and turn over to others, not his campaign, but the prizes of victory in his campaign.