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Roman diplomacy: 20 BC - AD 12

After securing the return of the Roman standards captured by the Parthians at Carrhae, the emperor Augustus sends the Parthian king a present - an Italian slave girl by the name of Musa. The king has a son by her, after which she persuades him to send his older children by other women to Rome to be looked after by Augustus. When her son is about seventeen, in 2 BC, Musa murders the king and secures the throne for her half-Italian boy.

This no doubt pleases Rome, but Musa is widely considered to have gone too far when she marries her son, in AD 2, so that they can rule jointly. This oriental arrangement, long familiar in Egypt and accepted in Persia, is not the way things are done in Rome.

A few years later mother and son are driven out by the Parthians, who then request that the eldest of their princes be returned from Rome. This seems like a second chance for Roman diplomacy, for the young man has learnt Roman ways and manners.

Unfortunately indoctrination has gone too far. When he arrives home, in about AD 8, the prince no longer seems a Parthian. Tacitus reports that he is scorned by everyone because he rarely hunts and has little interest in horses, preferring to be carried around in a litter. Moreover the traditional Parthian banquets disgust him. Rome's diplomatic purposes are not achieved.

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