Mermeroes then, finding it difficult to obtain supplies for his large army, retired into Persarmenia, leaving only five thousand Persians in the country besides the garrison of Petra. This small force was soon afterwards surprised by the combined Romans and Lazi, who completely defeated it, destroying or making prisoners almost the entire number.
On his march he heard of the capture of Petra, and of its complete destruction by Bessas, who feared lest the Persians should again occupy the dangerous post. Mermeroes had no difficulty in establishing Persian rule through almost the whole of Lazica. The Romans did not dare to meet him in the field.
And the Persians once more invaded Mesopotamia with a great army under command of Chanaranges and Aspebedes and Mermeroes. Since no one dared to engage with them, they made camp and began the siege of Martyropolis, where Bouzes and Bessas had been stationed in command of the garrison.
And Mermeroes remarked by way of a taunt that the Roman state was worthy of tears and lamentation, because they had come to such a state of weakness that they had been unable by any device to capture one hundred and fifty Persians without a wall.
Thus, then, Mermeroes with the Median army departed from there. But Goubazes, upon learning what had befallen the Romans both at Petra and at the pass, did not even so become frightened, nor did he give up the guarding of the pass where he was, considering that their hope centred in that place.
And it happened that long before this time he had sent another considerable army also to Lazica, which had not yet arrived there. The commander of this army was Rhecithancus, from Thrace, a man of discretion and a capable warrior. Such then was the course of these events. Now when Mermeroes got into the mountains, as I have said, he was anxious to fill Petra with provisions from there.
Not long after this Mermeroes, having collected the whole army, invaded the Roman territory, and they came upon their enemy near the city of Satala. There they established themselves in camp and remained at rest in a place called Octava, which is fifty-six stades distant from the city.
While these events took place in Mesopotamia, the Persian arms were also unsuccessful in the Armenian highlands, whither Kobad had sent a second army to act offensively against Rome, under the conduct of a certain Mermeroes. The Roman commanders in this region were Sittas, the former colleague of Belisarius, and Dorotheas, a general of experience.
Mermeroes in that year advanced from Kutais against Telephis, a strong fort in the possession of Rome, expelled the commandant, Martinus, by a stratagem, pressed forward against the combined Roman forces, which fled before him from Ollaria, and finally drove them to the coast and cooped them up in "the Island," a small tract near the mouth of the Phasis between that stream and the Doconus.
But Mermeroes, after passing the Iberian frontier with the whole Median army, was moving forward with the River Phasis on his right. For he was quite unwilling to go through the country of Lazica, lest any obstacle should confront him there. For he was eager to save the city of Petra and the Persians in it, even though a portion of the circuit-wall had fallen down suddenly.