chapter  V
24 Pages

Confronting the king: the war with Mithridates

Lucullus came ashore in his province at Ephesus. Awaiting him were four legions. Two of these had served under P.Servilius Vatia Isauricus in his campaigns (78-74) in Cilicia against the pirates. Vatia was a good soldier and these men, in consequence, were well disciplined and ready for the fray. The attitude of the other two, however, gave some cause for concern. These were the Fimbrians (so-called). They, it will be remembered, had served under Sulla’s enemy Fimbria and when the proconsul departed from Asia he had left them behind since he did not wish to be stabbed in the back in the coming civil war. It is doubtful if they had seen action since the fall of Mytilene in 79 and their time since had been passed in garrison duties. As a consequence of this their sense of discipline was not all that it might have been. Moreover, now that a fresh army had arrived in Asia they were entitled to seek their discharge. Nevertheless, they reenlisted and submitted meekly enough to Lucullus’ efforts to bring them to order.1