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Book XV

This webpage reproduces a Book of
The Histories


published in Vol. V
of the Loeb Classical Library edition,

The text is in the public domain.

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(Vol. V) Polybius
The Histories

 p3  Fragments of Book XVI

I. Affairs of Macedonia

Philip's Operations in Asia Minor

1 1 King Philip, on reaching Pergamon and thinking he had almost given a death-blow to Attalus, showed himself capable of every kind of outrage. 2 For yielding to anger little less than insane he spent most of his fury not on men but on the gods. 3 In the skirmishes which took place the garrison of Pergamon easily kept him at a distance owing to the strength of the town. But as he got little booty from the country owing to the care Attalus had taken to prevent this, he henceforth wreaked his fury on the statues and sanctuaries of the gods, outraging, in my opinion, not Attalus but rather himself. 5 For he not only burnt and pulled down temples and altars, but even broke up the stones so that none of the things he destroyed could ever be repaired. 6 After he had laid waste the Nicephorium where he cut down the holy grove, pulled down the wall enclosing it and dug up the temples, which were numerous and splendid, from their foundations, 7 he  p5 first proceeded to Thyatira, and upon leaving that city invaded the plain of Thebe, thinking that that district would afford him plenty of booty. 8 When he was foiled in this expectation also and reached Hiera Come, he sent a message to Zeuxis, begging him to supply him with cornº and to support him according to the terms of their agreement. 9 Zeuxis pretended to do this, but had no intention of giving Philip any real and substantial support of the kind.

Battle of Chios

2 1 Philip, as his siege proved unsuccessful and as the enemy were blockading him with a considerable number of warships, found difficulty in deciding what to do. 2 But as the situation did not admit of much choice he put to sea contrary to the expectation of his adversaries; 3 for Attalus had expected that he would continue his mining operations. 4 His great object was to get out to sea suddenly as he believed he would be able to outstrip the enemy and afterwards proceed in safety along the coast to Samos. 5 But his calculations proved entirely fallacious. For Attalus and Theophiliscus, as soon as they saw him putting to sea, at once took the requisite steps. 6 They were sailing loose order, since they believed, as I said, that Philip still adhered to his original intention, but nevertheless they attacked him, rowing their hardest, Attalus engaging the right and leading wing of the enemy's fleet and Theophiliscus his left. 8 Philip, thus anticipated, after signalling to those on his right orders to turn their ships directly towards the enemy and engage him vigorously,  p7 retired himself with a few light vessels to the islands in the middle of the strait and awaited the result of the battle. 9 Philip's fleet which took part in the battle consisted of fifty-three decked warships, . . . undecked ones, and a hundred and fifty galleys and beaked ships, for he had not been able to fit out all the ships which were at Samos. 10 The enemy had sixty-five decked warships, including those of the Byzantines, nine trihemioliae,​1 and three triremes.

3 1 The ship of Attalus began the battle, and all those near it at once charged without orders. 2 Attalus engaged an octoreme and ramming her first and inflicting on her a fatal blow under water, after considerable resistance on the part of the troops on her deck finally sank the ship. 3 Philip's galley with ten banks of oars, which was the flag-ship, fell by a strange chance into the hands of the enemy. 4 Charging a trihemiolia which was in her path and ramming her with great force in the middle of her hull she stuck fast under the enemy's top bench of oars, the captain being unable to arrest the way she had on her. 5 So that as the ship was thus hanging on to the trihemiolia she was in a most difficult position and entirely incapable of moving. 6 Two triremes seized the opportunity to attack her, and striking her on both sides destroyed the ship and all the men on board her, among whom was Democrates, Philip's admiral. 7 Just at the same time Dionysodorus and Deinocrates, who were brothers and both of them admirals of Attalus, met with equally strange experiences in the battle.  p9 8 Deinocrates engaged an octoreme and himself received his adversary's blow above water, as she was very high in the prow, but striking the enemy under her . . . could not at first get free of her although he repeatedly tried to back out. 9 So that, as the Macedonians also displayed gallantry, he was in the utmost peril. 10 But when Attalus came up to rescue him and by ramming the enemy set the two ships free, Deinocrates was unexpectedly saved, 11 and when the troops on the enemy's ship after a gallant resistance had all perished, she herself with no one left on board her was captured by Attalus. 12 Dionysodorus charging a ship at full speed, missed her, but in passing close alongside her lost all his right banks of oars, his turrets also being carried away. 13 Upon this the enemy completely surrounded her, 14 and amidst loud and excited cheers, the rest of the crew and the ship itself were destroyed, but Dionysodorus and two others swam away to a trihemiolia which was coming up to help him.

4 1 Among the other ordinary ships of the fleet the contest was equal; 2 for the advantage that Philip had in the number of his galleys was balanced by Attalus' superiority in decked ships. 3 The position of affairs on Philip's right wing was such that the result was still doubtful; but Attalus was by far the most sanguine of success. 4 The Rhodians, as I just said, were at first from the moment that they put out to sea very widely separated from the enemy, but as they sailed  p11 a great deal faster they caught up the rear of the Macedonian fleet. 5 At first they attacked the ships which were retreating before them from the stern, breaking their banks of oars. But as soon as the rest of Philip's fleet began to put about and come to the assistance of their comrades in peril and those of the Rhodians who had been the last to put to sea joined Theophiliscus, then both fleets directing their prows against each other engaged gallantly, cheering each other on with loud cries and the peal of trumpets. 8 Now had not the Macedonians interspersed their galleys among their decked ships the battle would have been quickly and easily decided, but as it was these galleys impeded the action of the Rhodian ships in many ways. 9 For, once the original order of battle had been disturbed in their first charge, they were utterly mixed up, so that they could not readily sail through the enemy's line nor turn their ships round, in fact could not employ at all the tactics in which they excelled, as the galleys were either falling foul of their oars and making it difficult for them to row, or else attacking them in the prow and sometimes in the stern, so that neither the pilots nor the oarsmen could serve efficiently. 11 But in the direct charges prow to prow they employed a certain artifice. 12 For dipping their prows themselves they received the enemy's blow above water, but piercing him below water produced breaches which could not be repaired. 13 It was but seldom, however, that they resorted to this mode of attack; for as a rule they avoided closing with the enemy, as the Macedonian soldiers offered a valiant resistance from the deck in such close combats. 14 For the most part they cut the  p13 enemy's line and put his banks of oars out of action, afterwards turning and sailing round again and charging him sometimes in the stern and sometimes in flank while he was still turning; thus they made breaches in some of the ships and in others damaged some part of the necessary gear. 15 Indeed by this mode of fighting they destroyed quite a number of the enemy's ships.

5 1 The most brilliant part in the battle was taken by three Rhodian quinqueremes, the flagship on board of which was Theophiliscus, that commanded by Philostratus, and lastly that of which Autolycus was pilot, but on board of it was Nicostratus. 2 The latter had charged an enemy ship and left her ram in it: the ship that had been struck sank with all on board, while Autolycus and his men, the sea now pouring into the ship from the prow, were surrounded by the enemy and at first fought bravely, but finally Autolycus himself was wounded and fell into the sea in his armour, and the rest of the soldiers perished after a gallant struggle. 3 At this moment Theophiliscus came up to help with three quinqueremes, and though he could not save the ship as she was full of water, rammed two of the enemy's ships and forced the troops on board to take to the water. 5 He was rapidly surrounded by a number of galleys and decked ships, and after losing most of his soldiers, who fought splendidly, and receiving himself three wounds and displaying extraordinary courage, just managed to save his own ship, Philostratus coming up to his succour and taking a gallant part in the struggle. 7 Theophiliscus now joined his  p15 other ships and again fell upon the enemy, weak in body from his wounds, but more magnificent and desperate than ever in bravery of spirit. 8 There were now two distinct battles in progress at a considerable distance from each other. For Philip's right wing, following out his original plan, continued to make for the shore and were not far away from the continent, 9 while his left as it had put about to assist the rear was fighting with the Rhodians at a short distance from the island of Chios.

6 1 Attalus, however, by this time had a distinct advantage over the Macedonian right wing and had approached the islands under which Philip lay awaiting the result of the battle. 2 He had observed one of his own quinqueremes rammed by an enemy ship and lying in a sinking condition out of the general action, and he hastened to her assistance with two quadriremes. 3 When the enemy vessel gave way and retired towards the land he followed her up with more energy, hoping to capture her. 4 Philip now, seeing that Attalus was widely separated from his own fleet, took four quinqueremes and three hemioliaea and such galleys as were near him and, intercepting the return of Attalus to his own fleet, compelled him in great disquietude to run his ships ashore. 5 After this the king and the crews escaped to Erythrae, but first gained possession of the ships and the royal furniture. 6 Attalus indeed resorted to an artifice on this occasion by causing the most splendid articles of his royal furniture to be exposed on the deck of his  p17 ship, so that the Macedonians who were the first to reach it in their galleys, when they saw such a quantity of cups, purple cloaks, and other objects to match, instead of continuing the pursuit turned aside to secure this booty, 8 so that Attalus made good his retreat to Erythrae. 9 Philip had been on the whole decidedly worsted in the battle, but elated by the misfortune that had befallen Attalus, he put to sea again and set busily about collecting his ships and bade his men be of good cheer as the victory was theirs. 10 In fact a sort of notion or half belief spread among them that Attalus had perished, as Philip was returning with the royal ship in tow. 11 Dionysodorus, however, guessing what had happened to his sovereign, began to collect his own vessels by hoisting a signal, and when they had rapidly assembled round him sailed safely away to the harbour on the mainland. 12 At the same time the Macedonians, who were engaged with the Rhodians and had long been in distress, abandoned the scene of battle, retreating in groups on the pretence that they were hastening to the assistance of their own ships. 13 The Rhodians, taking some of the enemy's ships in tow and sinking others with their rams before their departure, sailed off to Chios.

7 1 Of Philip's ships there were sunk in the battle with Attalus one ship of ten banks of oars, one of nine, one of seven, and one of six, and of the rest of his fleet ten decked ships, three trihemioliae, and twenty-five galleys with their crews. 2 In his battle  p19 with the Rhodians he lost ten decked ships and about forty galleys sunk and two quadriremes and seven galleys with their crews captured. 3 Out of Attalus's fleet one trihemiolia and two quinqueremes were sunk, two quadriremes and the royal ship were taken. 4 Of the Rhodian fleet two quinqueremes and a trireme were sunk, but not a single ship captured. 5 The loss of life among the Rhodians amounted to about sixty men and in Attalus's fleet to about seventy, while Philip lost about three thousand Macedonian soldiers and six thousand sailors. About two thousand of the allies and Macedonians and about seven hundred of their adversaries were taken prisoners.

8 1 Such was the result of the battle of Chios. 2 Philip claimed the victory on two pretences, the first being that he had driven Attalus ashore and captured his ships, and the second that by anchoring off the place called Argennus he had to all appearance anchored among the wreckage. 3 Next day also he pursued the same line of conduct, collecting the wreckage and picking up the dead bodies that were recognizable, in order to give force to his imaginary claim; but that he did not himself believe in his victory was clearly proved by the Rhodians and Dionysodorus in a very short time. 5 For on the following day, while the king was still thus occupied, they communicated with each other and sailing against him drew up their ships fa­cing him, and upon no one responding to their challenge, sailed back again to Chios. 6 Philip, who had never lost so many men in a single battle by land or by sea, felt  p21 the loss deeply, and his inclination for the war was much diminished, 7 but he did his best to conceal his view of the situation from others, although the facts themselves did not admit of this. 8 For, other things apart, the state of things after the battle could not fail to strike all who witnessed it with horror. 9 There had been such a destruction of life that during the actual battle the whole strait was filled with corpses, blood, arms, and wreckage, and on the days which followed quantities of all were to be seen lying in confused heaps on the neighbouring beaches. 10 This created a spirit of no ordinary dejection not only in Philip, but in all the Macedonians.

9 1 Theophiliscus survived for one day, and after writing a dispatch to his country about the battle and appointing Cleonaeus to replace him in command, died of his wounds. 2 He had proved himself a man of great bravery in the fight and a man worthy of remembrance for his resolution. 3 For had he not ventured to assail Philip in time all the others would have thrown the opportunity away, intimidated by that king's audacity. 4 But as it was, Theophiliscus by beginning hostilities obliged his own countrymen to rise to the occasion and obliged Attalus not to delay until he had made preparations for war, but to make war vigorously and give battle. 5 Therefore very justly the Rhodians paid such honours to him after his death as served to arouse not only in those then alive but in their posterity a spirit of devotion to their country's interests.

10 1 After the sea-fight at Lade was over, the Rhodians being out of the way and Attalus not yet  p23 having joined, it was evidently quite possible for Philip to sail to Alexandria. This is the best proof that Philip had become like a madman when he acted thus.

2 What was it then that arrested his impulse? Simply the nature of things. 3 For at a distance many men at times strive after impossibilities owing to the magnitude of the hopes before their eyes, their desires getting the better of their reason: 4 but when the hour of action approaches they abandon their projects again without any exercise of reason, their faculty of thought being confused and upset by the insuperable difficulties they encounter.

Capture of Prinassus

11 1 After this Philip, having delivered several assaults which proved futile owing to the strength of the place, again withdrew, sacking the small forts and country residences, 2 and when he had desisted from this, sat down before Prinassus. Having soon prepared pent-houses and other materials he began to besiege it by mining. 3 But when this project proved impracticable owing to the rocky nature of the ground he hit on the following device. 4 During the day he produced a noise under­ground as if the mines were going ahead, and at night he brought soil from elsewhere and heaped it round the mounds of the excavations, so that those in the town judging from the quantity of soil piled up might be alarmed. 5 At first the Prinassians held out valiantly, but when Philip sent to inform them that about two hundred feet of their wall had been underpinned and inquired whether they wished to withdraw under promise of  p25 safety or to perish all of them with their town after the underpinning had been fired, they believed what he said and surrendered the town.

12 1 The city of Iasus lies on the coast of Asia on the gulf situated between the Milesian Poseidon and Myndus, called by some the gulf of Iasus, but usually known as the gulf of Bargylia after the names of the cities at the head of it. 2 It claims to have been originally a colony of Argos recolonized from Miletus, the son of Neleus the founder of Miletus having been invited there by the ancient inhabitants owing to the losses they had suffered in their war with the Carians. 3The town has a circumference of ten stades. It is reported and believed that at Bargylia no snow nor rain ever falls on the statue of Artemis Kindyas, although it stands in the open air, 4 and the same story is told of that of Artemis Astias at Iasus. 5But I myself throughout my whole work have consistently viewed such statements by historians with a certain opposition and repugnance. 6 For I think that to believe things which are not only beyond the limits of probability but beyond those of possibility shows quite a childish simplicity. 7 For instance it is a sign of a blunted intelligence to say that some solid bodies when placed in the light cast no shadow, as Theopompus does when he tells us that those who enter the holy of holies of Zeus in Arcadia become shadowless. 8 The statement about these statues is very much of the same nature. 9 In cases indeed where such statements contribute to maintain a feeling of piety to the  p27 gods among the common people we must excuse certain writers for reporting marvels and tales of the kind, but we should not tolerate what goes too far. 10 Perhaps in all matters it is difficult to draw a limit, but a limit must be drawn. 11 Therefore, in my opinion at least, while we should pardon slight errors and slight falsity of opinion, every statement that shows excess in this respect should be uncompromisingly rejected.

II. Affairs of Greece

Attempt of Nabis on Messene

13 1 I have already narrated which was the policy initiated in the Peloponnesus by Nabis the tyrant of Sparta, how he sent the citizens into exile and freeing the slaves married them to their masters' wives and daughters, how again by advertising his powerful own protection as a kind of inviolable sanctuary to those who had been forced to quit their own countries owing to their impiety and wickedness he gathered round him at Sparta a host of infamous men. 3 I will now describe how being at the time I mention the ally of the Aetolians, Eleans, and Messenians, bound by oath and treaty to come to the help of them if they were attacked, he paid no respect to these solemn obligations, but attempted to betray Messene.

Criticism of the historians Zeno and Antisthenes

14 1 Since some authors of special histories have dealt with this period comprising the attempt on Messene and the sea battles I have described, I should like to offer a brief criticism of them. 2 I shall  p29 not criticize the whole class, but those only whom I regard as worthy of mention and detailed examination. 3 These are Zeno and Antisthenes of Rhodes, whom for several reasons I consider worthy of notice. For not only were they contemporary with the events they described, but they also took part in politics, and generally speaking they did not compose their works for the sake of gain but to win fame and do their duty as statesmen. 4 Since they treated of the same events as I myself I must not pass them over in silence, lest owing to their being Rhodians and to the reputation the Rhodians have for great familiarity with naval matters, in cases where I differ from them students may be inclined to follow them rather than myself. 5 Both of them, then, declare that the battle of Lade was not less important than that of Chios, but more severe and terrible, and that both as regards the issue of the separate contests that occurred in the fight and its general result the victory lay with the Rhodians. 6 Now I would admit that authors should have a partiality for their own country but they should not make statements about it that are contrary to facts. 7 Surely the mistakes of which we writers are guilty and which it is difficult for us, being but human, to avoid are quite sufficient; 8 but if we make deliberate misstatements in the interest of our country or of friends or for favour, what difference is there between us and those who gain their living by their pens? 9 For just as the latter, weighing everything by the standard of profit, make their works unreliable, so politicians, biased by their dislikes and affections, often achieve the same result. 10 Therefore I would add that readers should  p31 carefully look out for this fault and authors themselves be on their guard against it.

15 1 What I say will be made clear by the present case. The above authors confess that among the results of the separate actions in the battle of Lade were the following. Two Rhodian quinqueremes with their complements fell into the hands of the enemy, 2 and when one ship after the battle raised her jury mast as she had been rammed and was going down, many of those near her followed her example and retreated to the open sea, 3 upon which the admiral, now left with only a few ships, was compelled to do likewise. 4 The fleet, favoured by the wind, reached the coast of Myndus and anchored there, and next day put to sea again and crossed to Cos. 5 Meanwhile the enemy took the quinqueremes in town and anchoring off Lade, spent night near their own camp. 6 They say also that the Milesians, in great alarm at what had happened, not only voted a crown to Philip for his brilliant attack, but another to Heracleides. 7 After telling us all these things, which obviously are symptoms of defeat, they nevertheless declare that the Rhodians were victorious both in the particular engagements and generally, 8 and this in spite of the fact that the dispatch sent home by the admiral at the very time to the Rhodian senate and prytaneis, which is still preserved in the prytaneum at Rhodes, does not confirm the pronouncements of Antisthenes and Zeno, but my own.

16 1 In the next place they speak of the treacherous attempt on Messene. 2 Here Zeno tells us that Nabis, setting out from Lacedaemon and crossing the Eurotas  p33 near the so‑called Hoplites, marched by the narrow road skirting Poliasion until he arrived at the district of Sellasia 3 and thence passing Thalamae reached the river Pamisus at Pharae. 4 I really am at a loss what to say about all this: for the character of the description taken as a whole is exactly as if one were to say that a man setting out from Corinth and crossing the Isthmus and reaching the Scironic rocks at once entered the Contoporia and passing Mycenae proceeded towards Argos. For this is no slight error, 5 but the places in question are in quite opposite quarters, the Isthmus and Scirades being to the east of Corinth while the Contoporia and Mycenaeº are very nearly south-west, so that it is absolutely impossible to reach the latter locality by the former. 7 The same is the case with regard to the topography of Laconia. 8 The Eurotas and Sellasia are south-east of Sparta, while Thalamae, Pharae, and the Pamisus are south-west. 9 So that one who intends to march past Thalamae to Messeniaº not only need not go to Sellasia, but need not cross the Eurotas at all.

17 1 In addition to this he says that Nabis on returning from Messene quitted it by the gate leading to Tegea. 2 This is absurd, for between Messene and Tegea lies Megalopolis, so that none  p35 of the gates can possibly be called the gate leading to Tegea by the Messenians. 3 There is, however, a gate they call the Tegean gate, by which Nabis did actually retire, and Zeno, deceived by this name, supposed that Tegea was in the neighbourhood of Messene. 4 This is not the case, but between Messenia and the territory of Tegea lie Laconia and the territory of Megalopolis. 5 And last of all we are told that the Alpheius immediately below its source disappears and runs for a considerable distance under ground, coming to the surface again near Lycoa in Arcadia. 6 The fact is that the river at no great distance from its source passes under­ground for about ten stades and afterwards on emerging runs through the territory of Megalopolis, being at first of small volume but gradually increasing, and after traversing all that territory in full view for two hundred stades reaches Lycoa, having now been joined by the Lusius and become quite impassable, and rapid . . .

8 I think, however, that all the instances I have mentioned are errors indeed but admit of some explanation and excuse. Some of them are due to ignorance, and those concerning the sea battle are due to patriotic sentiment. 9 Have we then any more valid reason for finding fault with Zeno? Yes: because he is not for the most part so much concerned with inquiry into the facts and proper treatment of his material, as with elegance of style, a quality on which he, like several other famous authors, often shows that he prides himself. 10 My own opinion is that we should indeed bestow care and concern on the proper manner of reporting events — for it is evident that this is no small thing but greatly contributes  p37 to the value of history — but we should not regard this as the first and leading object to be aimed at by sober-minded men. 11 Not at all: there are, I think, other excellences on which an historian who has been a practical statesman should rather pride himself.

18 1 I will attempt to make my meaning clear by the following instance. 2 The above-mentioned author in narrating the siege of Gaza and the engagement between Antiochus and Scopas at the Panium in Coele-Syria has evidently taken so much pains about his style that the extravagance of his language is not excelled by any of those declamatory works written to produce a sensation among the vulgar. 3 He has, however, paid so little attention to facts that his recklessness and lack of experience are again unsurpassed. 4 Undertaking in the first place to describe Scopas's order of battle he tells us that the phalanx with a few horsemen rested its right wing on the hills, while the left wing and all the cavalry set apart for this purpose stood on the level ground. 5 Antiochus, he says, had at early dawn sent off his elder son, Antiochus, with a portion of his forces to occupy the parts of the hill which commanded the enemy, and when it was daylight he took the rest of his army across the river which separated the two camps and drew it up on the plain, pla­cing the phalanx in one line opposite the enemy's centre and stationing some of his cavalry to the left of the phalanx and some to the right, among the latter being the troop of mailed horsemen which was all under the command  p39 of his younger son, Antiochus. 7 Next he tells us that the king posted the elephants at some distance in advance of the phalanx together with Antipater's Tarantines, the spaces between the elephants being filled with bowmen and slingers, while he himself with his horse and foot guards took up a position behind the elephants. 8 Such being their positions as laid down by him, he tells us that the younger Antiochus, whom he stationed in command of the mailed cavalry on the plain opposite the enemy's left, charged from the hill, routed and pursued the cavalry under Ptolemy, son of Aeropus, who commanded the Aetolians in the plain and on the left, 9 and that the two phalanxes met and fought stubbornly, 10 forgetting that it was impossible for them to meet as the elephants, cavalry, and light-armed troops were stationed in front of them.

19 1 Next he states that the phalanx, proving inferior in fighting power and pressed hard by the Aetolians, retreated slowly, but that the elephants were of great service in receiving them in their retreat and engaging the enemy. 2 It is not easy to see how this could happen in the rear of the phalanx, or how if it did happen great service was rendered. 3 For once the two phalanxes had met it was not possible for the elephants to distinguish friend from foe among those they encountered. 4 In addition to this he says the Aetolian cavalry were put out of action in the battle because they were unaccustomed to the sight of the elephants. 5 But the cavalry posted on the right remained unbroken from the beginning as he says himself, while the rest of the cavalry, which  p41 had been assigned to the left wing, had been vanquished and put to flight by Antiochus. 6 What part of the cavalry, then, was it that was terrified by the elephants in the centre of the phalanx, and where was the king all this time and what service did he render in the action with the horse and foot he had about him, the finest in the army? We are not told a single word about this. 8 Where again was the king's elder son, Antiochus, who had occupied positions over­looking the enemy with a part of the army? 9 Why! according to Zeno this young man did not even take part in the return to the camp after the battle; naturally not, for he supposes there were two Antiochi there, sons of the king, whereas there was only one with him in this campaign. 10 And can he explain how Scopas was both the first and the last to leave the field? For he tells us that when he saw the younger Antiochus returning from the pursuit and threatening the phalanx from the rear he despaired of victory and retreated; 11 but after this the hottest part of the battle began, upon the phalanx being surrounded by the elephants and cavalry, and now Scopas was the last to leave the field.

20 1 Writers it seems to me should be thoroughly ashamed of nonsensical errors like the above. 2 They should therefore strive above all to become masters of the whole craft of history, for to do so is good; but if this be out of their own power, they should give the closest attention to what is most necessary and important.

3 I was led to make these observations, because I  p43 observe that at the present day, as in the case of other arts and professions, what is true and really useful is always treated with neglect, 4 while what is pretentious and showy is praised and coveted as if it were something great and wonderful, whereas it is both easier to produce and wins applause more cheaply, as is the case with all other written matter. 5 As for Zeno's errors about the topography of Laconia, the faults were so glaring that I had no hesitation in writing to him personally also, as I do not think it right to look upon the faults of others as virtues of one's own, as is the practice of some, 6 but it appears to me we should as far as we can look after and correct not only our own works but those of others for the sake of the general advantage. Zeno received my letter, and knowing that it was impossible to make the change, as he had already published the work, was very much troubled, but could do nothing, while most courteously accepting my own criticism. 8 And I too will beg both my contemporaries and future generations in pronouncing on my work, if they ever find me making misstatements or neglecting the truth intentionally to censure me relentlessly, 9 but if I merely err owing to ignorance to pardon me, especially in view of the magnitude of the work and its comprehensive treatment of events.

III. Affairs of Egypt

Character of Tlepolemus

21 1 Tlepolemus, who was at the head of the government of Egypt, was still young and had constantly  p45 lived the life of a soldier addicted to display. 2 He was also by nature too buoyant and fond of fame, and generally speaking many of the qualities he brought to bear on the management of affairs were good but many also were bad. 3 As regards campaigning and the conduct of war he was capable, and he was also naturally courageous and happy in his intercourse with soldiers; 4 but as for dealing with complicated questions of policy — a thing which requires application and sobriety — and as for the charge of money and in general all that concerned financial profit no one was more poorly endowed; 5 so that speedily he not only came to grief but diminished the power of the kingdom. 6 For when he assumed the financial control, he spent the most part of the day in sparring and fencing bouts with the young men, and when he had finished this exercise, at once invited them to drink with him, spending the greater part of his life in this manner and with these associates. 8 During that portion of the day that he set apart for audiences he used to distribute, or rather, if one must speak the truth, scatter the royal funds among the envoys who had come from Greece and the actors of the theatre of Dionysus and chiefly among the generals and soldiers present at court. 9 For he was quite incapable of refusing and gave at once to anyone who made himself pleasant to him any sum he thought fit. 10 So the evil went on growing and propagating itself. 11 For every one who had received an unexpected favour was for the sake both of the past and of the future profuse in his expressions of thanks. 12 Tlepolemus, when he heard these  p47 universal eulogies of himself and the toasts drunk to him at table, when he read the inscriptions in his honour and heard of the playful verses sung about him to popular audiences all through the town, became at length very vainglorious, and every day his self-conceit increased and he grew more lavish of gifts to foreigners and soldiers. 22 1 All this gave the courtiers much cause for complaint. They noted all his acts with disapproval, and found his arrogance hard to put up with, while Sosibius when compared with him aroused their admiration. 2 The latter, they thought, had shown a wisdom beyond his years in his guardian­ship of the king, and in his communications with foreign representatives had conducted himself in a manner worthy of the charge committed to him, the seal that is to say and the person of the king. 3 At this time Ptolemaeus, the son of Sosibius, arrived on his way back from the court of Philip. 4 Even before leaving Alexandria he had been full of conceit owing to his own nature and owing to the affluence he owed to his father. 5 But when on arriving in Macedonia he met the young men at that court, conceiving that Macedonian manhood consisted in the superior elegance of their dress and footgear, he returned to Egypt full of admiration for all such things, and convinced that he alone was a man owing to his having travelled and come in contact with the Macedonians, while all the Alexandrians were still slaves and blockheads. 6 In consequence he at once grew jealous of Tlepolemus and acted so as to cause friction between them; 7 and as all the courtiers took his part, because Tlepolemus administered public affairs and finances more like an heir than like a trustee, the difference soon became more acute.  p49 8 And now Tlepolemus, when hostile utterances due to the captiousness and malignancy of the courtiers reached his ears, at first refused to listen to these and treated them with contempt; 9 but when on some occasions they even held public meetings and ventured to blame him for his maladministration of the affairs of the kingdom and this in his absence, 10 he became really incensed, and calling a meeting of the Council, appeared in person and said that they brought false accusations against him secretly and in private, but that he thought proper to accuse them in public and to their faces.

11 After his speech he took the seal from Sosibius, and having taken possession of it continued henceforth to act in all matters exactly as he chose.

IV. Affairs of Syria

22a After King Antiochus had taken and sacked the city of Gaza Polybius writes as follows

2 It seems to me both just and proper here to testify, as they merit, to the character of the people of Gaza. Although in war they display no more valour than the people of Coele-Syria in general, they are far superior as regards acting in unison and keeping their faith; and to put it shortly show a courage which is irresistible. 4 For instance in the Persian invasion, when all other towns were terrified by the vast power of the invaders and surrendered themselves and their homes to the Medes, they alone faced the danger as one man and submitted to a siege. 5 Again on the arrival of Alexander, when not  p51 only had other cities surrendered, but when Tyre had been stormed and her population enslaved; when there seemed to be scarcely any hope of safety for those who opposed the impetuous force of Alexander's attack, they were the only people in Syria who dared to withstand him and exhausted every resource in doing so. 6 At the present time they acted similarly; for they left no possible means of resistance untried in their effort to keep their faith to Ptolemy. 7 Therefore, just as it is our duty to make separate mention of brave men in writing history, so we should give due credit to such whole cities as are wont to act nobly by tradition and principle.

V. Affairs of Italy

Scipio returns to Rome. His Triumph

23 1 Publius Scipio arrived from Africa not long after the above date. 2 As the eagerness with which he was awaited by the people corresponded to the greatness of his achievements, the splendour of his reception and his popularity with the commons were both very great. 3 And this was quite natural, reasonable, and proper. 4 For while they had never hoped to expel Hannibal from Italy and be quit of the danger which menaced themselves and those dearest to them, the thought that now they were assuredly not only free from all fear and peril but that they had overcome their foes caused a joy that knew no bounds. 5 And when he entered Rome in triumph, they were reminded more vividly of their former peril by the actual spectacle of the contents of the procession,  p53 and expressed with passionate fervour their thanks to the gods and their love for him who had brought about so great a change. 6 For among the prisoners led through the town in the triumph was Syphax, king of the Masaesylii, who shortly afterwards died in prison. 7 After the termination of the triumph the Roman populace continued for many days to celebrate games and hold festival, the funds for the purpose being provided by the bounty of Scipio.

VI. Affairs of Macedonia and Greece

Philip in Caria

24 1 At the beginning of the winter in which Publius Sulpicius was appointed consul in Rome, King Philip, who remained at Bargylia, when he saw that the Rhodians and Attalus were not only not dissolving their fleet but were manning other ships and paying more earnest attention to the maintenance of their garrisons, was much embarrassed and felt for many reasons serious disquietude as to the future. 2 For one thing he dreaded setting sail from Bargylia as he foresaw the dangers of the sea, and in the next place as he was not confident about the position of affairs in Macedonia he did not at all wish to pass the winter in Asia, being afraid both of the Aetolians and of the Romans. 3 For he was not ignorant of the embassies which had been sent to Rome to act against him, and he had learnt that the campaign in Africa was over. 4 All these things caused him exceeding great disquietude, and for the present he was compelled to remain where he was,  p55 leading the life of a wolf as the saying is. 5 By preying on some and robbing them, by putting pressure on others and by cringing to others contrary to his nature, as his army was starving, he sometimes managed to get a supply of meat, sometimes of figs and sometimes a quite insignificant quantity of corn. 6 Zeuxis provided him with some of these things and others he got from the people of Mylasa, Alabanda, and Magnesia, whom he used to caress whenever they gave him anything, but if they did not he used to growl at them and make plots against them. 7 Finally he arranged for Mylasa to be betrayed to him by Philocles, but failed owing to the stupid way in which the design was managed. 8 As for the territory of Alabanda he devastated it as if it were enemy soil, alleging that it was necessary for him to procure food for his army.

(From Athenaeus III.78C)

9 King Philip, the father of Perseus, as Polybius tells us in his 16th Book, when he overran Asia, being in want of food for his soldiers, obtained figs from the Magnesians as they had no corn, and on taking Myus presented it to the Magnesians in return for the figs.

Attalus at Athens

25 1 The people of Athens sent an embassy to King Attalus to congratulate him on what had happened and to invite him to come to Athens to discuss the situation. 2 The king, learning a few days afterwards that a legation from Rome had arrived at Piraeus, and thinking it necessary to meet them, sailed off in haste. 3 The Athenians, hearing of his  p57 approaching arrival, made a most generous grant for the reception and the entertainment in general of the king. 4 Attalus, on the first day after his arrival at Piraeus, had an interview with the Roman legates, and was highly gratified to find that they were both mindful of his joint action with Rome in the past, and ready to engage in war with Philip. 5 Next day he went up to Athens in great state accompanied by the Romans and the Athenian archons. For not only all the magistrates and the knights, but all the citizens with their wives and children went out to meet them, 6 and when they joined them there was such a demonstration on the part of the people of their affection for the Romans and still more for Attalus that nothing could have exceeded it in heartiness. 7 As he entered the Dipylon, they drew up the priests and priestesses on either side of the road; after this they threw all the temples open and bringing victims up to all the altars begged him to perform sacrifice. 8 Lastly they voted him such honours as they had never readily paid to any former benefactors. 9 For in addition to other distinctions they named one of the tribes Attalis after him and they added his name to the list of the heroes who gave their names to these tribes.

26 1 In the next place they summoned an assembly and invited the king to attend. 2 But when he begged to be excused, saying that it would be in bad taste on his part to appear in person and recite to the recipients all the benefits he had conferred, 3 they did not insist on his presence, but begged him to write  p59 a public statement of what he thought advisable under present circumstances. 4 He agreed to this, and when he had written the letter the presidents laid it before the assembly. 5 The chief points in the letter were as follows. He first reminded them of the benefits he had formerly conferred on the people of Athens, in the next place he gave an account of his action against Philip at the present crisis, and finally he adjured them to take part in the war against Philip, giving them his sworn assurance that if they did not decide now upon nobly declaring that they shared the hostile sentiments of the Romans, the Rhodians and himself, but later, after neglecting this chance, wished to share in a peace due to the efforts of others, they would fail to obtain what lay in the interest of their country. 7 After this letter had been read the people were ready to vote for war, both owing to the tenour of what the king said and owing to their affection for him. 8 And, in fact, when the Rhodians came forward and spoke at length in the same sense, the Athenians decided to make war on Philip. 9 They gave the Rhodians also a magnificent reception, bestowing on the people at Rhodes a crown for conspicuous valour and on all citizens of Rhodes equal political rights at Athens with her own citizens, in reward for their having in addition to other services returned to them the Athenian ships that had been captured and the prisoners of war. 10 The Rhodian ambassadors having accompanied this sailed back to Ceos with their fleet to look after the islands.

Rome and Philip

27 1 At the time that the Roman legates were present in Athens Nicanor, Philip's general, overran  p61 Attica up to the Academy, upon which the Romans, after sending a herald to him in the first place, met him 2 and asked him to inform Philip that the Romans requested that king to make war on no Grecian state and also to give such compensation to Attalus for the injuries he had inflicted on him as a fair tribunal should pronounce to be just. 3 If he acted so, they added, he might consider himself at peace with Rome, but if he refused to accede the consequences would be the reverse. Nicanor on hearing this departed. 4 The Romans conveyed the contents of this communication to the Epirots at Phoenice in sailing along that coast and to Amynander, going up to Athamania for that purpose. They also apprised the Aetolians at Naupactus and the Achaeans at Aegium. 5 After having made this statement to Philip through Nicanor they sailed away to meet Antiochus and Ptolemy for the purpose of coming to terms.

28 1 But it seems to me that while there are many cases in which men have begun well and in which their spirit of enterprise has kept pace with the width of the matter in hand, 2 those who have succeeded in bringing their designs to a conclusion, and even when fortune has been adverse to them, have compensated for deficiency in ardour by the exercise of reason, are few. 3 Therefore we should be right on this occasion in finding fault with the remissness of Attalus and the Rhodians and in approving Philip's truly kingly conduct, his magnanimity and fixity of purpose, not indeed praising his character as a whole, but noting with admiration his readiness to meet present circumstances. 4 I make this express statement lest anyone should think I contradict myself, as but lately I  p63 praised Attalus and the Rhodians and blamed Philip, and now I do the reverse. 5 For it was for this very reason that at the outset of this work I stated as a principle that it was necessary at times to praise and at times to blame the same person, 6 since often the shifts and turns of circumstances for the worse or for the better change the resolves of men, and at times by their very nature men are impelled to act either as they should or as they should not. 7 One or other of these things happened then to Philip. For in his vexation at his recent losses and prompted chiefly by anger and indignation, he adapted himself to the situation with frenzied and almost inspired vigour, and by this means was able to resume the struggle against the Rhodians and King Attalus and achieve the success which ensued. 9 I was induced, then, to say this because some people, like bad racers, give up their determination near the end of the course while it is just then that others overcome their adversaries.

29 1 Philip wished to cut off the resources and stepping-stones of the Romans in those parts.

2 So that if he meant to cross again to Asia, he might have Abydus as a stepping-stone.

Siege of Abydus

3 To describe at length the position of Abydus and Sestus and the peculiar advantages of those cities seems to me useless, as every one who has the least claim to intelligence has acquired some knowledge of them owing to the singularity of their position, 4 but I think it of some use for my present purpose to recall it summarily to the minds of my readers so  p65 as to fix their attention on it. 5 One can form an idea of the facts about these cities not so much from a study of their actual topography as from dwelling on the comparison I am about to adduce. 6 For just as it is impossible to sail from the sea called by some the Ocean and by others the Atlantic Sea into our own sea except by passing through the mouth of it at the Pillars of Heracles, 7 so no one can reach the Euxine and Propontis from our sea except by sailing through the passage between Sestus and Abydus. 8 Now, just as if chance in forming these two straits had exercised a certain proportion, the passage at the Pillars of Heracles is far wider than the Hellespont, 9 being sixty stades in width while the width of the latter at Abydus is two stades, just as if this distance had been designed owing to the Ocean being many times the size of this sea of ours. 10 The natural advantages, however, of the entrance at Abydus far excel those of that at the Pillars of Heracles. 11 For the former, lying as it does between two inhabited districts, somewhat resembles a gate owing to the free intercourse it affords, being sometimes bridged over by those who intend to pass on foot from one continent to the other and at other times constantly traversed by boats, 12 while the latter is used by few and rarely for passage either from sea to sea or from land to land, owing to the lack of intercourse between the peoples inhabiting the extremities of Africa and Europe and owing to our ignorance of the outer sea. 13 The city of Abydus itself lies between two capes on the European shore and has  p67 a harbour which affords protection from all winds. 14 Without putting in to the harbour it is absolutely impossible to anchor off the city owing to the swiftness and strength of the current in the straits.

30 1 Philip, however, now began the siege of Abydus by sea and land, planting piles at the entrance to the harbour and making an entrenchment all round the town. 2 The siege was not so remarkable for the greatness of the preparations and the variety of the devices of the preparations and the variety of the devices employed in the works — those artifices and contrivances by which besieged and besiegers usually try to defeat each other's aims — as for the bravery and exceptional spirit displayed by the besieged, which rendered it especially worthy of being remembered and described to posterity. 4 For at first the inhabitants of the town with the utmost self-confidence valiantly withstood all Philip's elaborate forces, smashing by catapults some of the machines he brought to bear by sea and destroying others by fire, so that the enemy with difficulty withdrew their ships from the danger zone. 5 As for the besiegers' works on land, up to a certain point the Abydenes offered a gallant resistance there, not without hope of getting the better of their adversaries; 6 but when the outer wall was undermined and fell, and when the Macedonian mines approached the wall they had built from inside to replace the fallen one, 7 they at last sent Iphiades and Pantagnotus as commissioners, inviting Philip to take possession of  p69 the town, if he should allow the soldiers sent by Attalus and the Rhodians to depart under flag of truce, and all free inhabitants to escape with the clothes on their backs to whatever place they severally chose. 8 But when Philip ordered them either to surrender at discretion or to fight bravely the commissioners returned, 31 1 and the people of Abydus, when they heard the answer, summoned a public assembly and discussed the situation in a despairing mood. 2 They decided first of all to liberate the slaves, that they might have no pretext for refusing to assist them in the defence, in the next place to assemble all the women in the temple of Artemis and the children with their nurses in the gymnasium, and finally to collect all their gold and silver in the market-place and place all valuable articles of dress in the Rhodian quadrireme and the trireme of the Cyzicenians. 4 Having resolved on this they unanimously put their decree into execution, and then calling another assembly they nominated fifty of the older and most trusted citizens, men who possessed sufficient bodily strength to carry out their decision, 5 and made them swear in the presence of all the citizens that whenever they saw the inner wall in the possession of the enemy they would kill all the women and children, set fire to the ships I mentioned, and throw the gold and silver into the sea with curses.​2 6 After this, calling the priests before them they all swore either to conquer the foe or die fighting for their country.  p71 7 Last of all they slew some victims and obliged the priests and priestesses to pronounce over the burning entrails curses on those who neglected to perform what they had sworn. 8 Having thus made sure of everything they stopped countermining against the enemy and came to the decision that as soon as the cross wall fell they would fight on its ruins and resist the assailants to the death.

32 1 All this would induce one to say that the daring courage of the Abydenes surpassed even the famous desperation of the Phocians and the courageous resolve of the Acarnanians. 2 For the Phocians are said to have decided on the same course regarding their families at a time when they had by no means entirely given up the hope of victory, as they were about to engage the Thessalians in a set battle in the open, 3 and very similar measures were resolved on by the Acarnanian nation when they foresaw that they were to be attacked by the Aetolians. I have told both the stories in a previous part of this work. 4 But the people of Abydus, when thus completely surrounded and with no hope of safety left, resolved to meet their fate and perish to a man together with their wives and children rather than to live under the apprehension that their families would fall into the power of their enemies. 5 Therefore one feels strongly inclined in the case of the Abydenes to find fault with Fortune for having, as if in pity, set right at once the misfortunes of those other peoples by granting them the victory and safety they despaired of, but for choosing to do the opposite to the Abydenes. 6 For the men perished, the city was taken and the  p73 children and their mothers fell into the hands of the enemy.

33 1 For after the fall of the cross wall, its defenders, mounting the ruins as they hadº sworn, continued to fight with such courage that Philip, though he had thrown his Macedonians on them corps after corps until nightfall, finally abandoned the struggle, having even almost given up hope of success in the siege as a whole. 2 For the foremost of the Abydenes not only mounted the bodies of their dead enemies and kept up the struggle thence with the utmost desperation, not only did they fight most fiercely with sword and spear alone, but whenever any of these weapons became unserviceable and powerless to inflict injury, or when they were forced to drop it, they took hold of the Macedonians with their hands and threw them down in their armour, or breaking their pikes, stabbed them repeatedly on the face or the exposed parts of the body with the points and threw them into utter confusion. 4 When night came on and the battle was suspended, as most of the defenders were lying dead on the ruins and the remainder were exhausted by wounds and toil, Glaucides and Theognetus, calling a meeting of a few of the elder citizens, sacrificed in hope of personal advantage all that was splendid and admirable in the resolution of the citizens by deciding to save the women and children alive and to send out as soon as it was light the priests and priestesses with supplicatory boughs to Philip to beg for mercy and surrender the city to him.

34 1 At this time King Attalus, on hearing that  p75 Abydus was being besieged, sailed through the Aegean to Tenedos, and on the part of the Romans the younger Marcus Aemilius came likewise by sea to Abydus itself. 2 For the Romans had heard the truth in Rhodes about the siege of Abydus, and wishing to address Philip personally, as they had been instructed, deferred their project of going to see the other kings and sent off the above Marcus Aemilius on this mission. Meeting the king near Abydus he informed him that the Senate had passed a decree, begging him neither to make war on any other Greeks, nor to lay hands on any of Ptolemy's possessions. He was also to submit to a tribunal the question of compensation for the damage he had done to Attalus and the Rhodians. 4 If he acted so he would be allowed to remain at peace, but if he did not at once accept these terms he would find himself at war with Rome. 5 When Philip wished to prove that the Rhodians were the aggressors, Marcus interrupted him and asked, "And what about the Athenians? What about the Cianians, and what about the Abydenes now? Did any of these attack you first?" 6 The king was much taken aback and said that he pardoned him for speaking so haughtily for three reasons, first because he was young and inexperienced in affairs, next because he was the handsomest man of his time — and this was a fact — and chiefly because he was a Roman. 7 "My principal request," he said, "to the Romans is not to violate our treaty or to make war on me; but if nevertheless they do so, we will defend ourselves bravely, supplicating the gods to help us."

 p77  After exchanging these words they separated, and Philip on gaining possession of the city found all their valuables collected in a heap by the Abydenes ready for him to seize. 9 But when he saw the number and the fury of those who destroyed themselves and their women and children, either by cutting their throats, or by burning or by hanging or by throwing themselves into wells or off the roofs, he was amazed, and grieving much thereat announced that he granted a respite of three days to those who wished to hang themselves and cut their throats. 11 The Abydenes, maintaining the resolve they had originally formed concerning themselves, and regarding themselves as almost traitors to those who had fought and died for their country, by no means consented to live except those of them whose hands had been stayed by fetters or such forcible means, 12 all the rest of them rushing without hesitation in whole families to their death.

35 1 After the fall of Abydus an embassy from the Achaean League reached Rhodes begging that people to come to terms with Philip. But when the legates from Rome presented themselves after the Achaeans and request the Rhodians not to make peace with Philip apart from the Romans, it was resolved to stand by the Roman people and aim at maintaining friendship with them.

Expedition of Philopoemen against Nabis

Philopoemen, after calculating the distances of all the Achaean cities and from which of them troops could reach Tegea by the same road, 2 proceeded to write letters to all of them and distributed these among the most distant cities, arranging so that  p79 each city received not only its own letter but those of the other cities on the same line of road. 3 In the first letters he wrote to the commanding officers​3 as follows: "On receiving this you will make all of military age assemble at once in the market-place for five days. 4 As soon as all those present in the town are collected you will march them to the next city, and on arrival there you will hand the letter addressed to it to their commanding officer and obey the instructions contained in it." 5 The contents in this letter were the same as those of the former one except that the name of the city to which they were to advance was different. 6 This proceeding being repeated in city after city, it resulted in the first place that none knew for what action or what purpose the preparations were being made, and next that absolutely no one was aware where he was marching to but simply the name of the next city on the list, 7 so that all advanced picking each other up and wondering what it was all about. 8 As the distances of Tegea from the most remote cities differ, the letters were not delivered to them simultaneously but at a date in proportion to the distance. 9 The consequence was that without either the people at Tegea or those who arrived there knowing what was contemplated, all the Achaean forces with their arms marched into Tegea by all the gates simultaneously. 37 1 He contrived matter so and made this comprehensive plan owing to the number of eavesdroppers and spies employed by the tyrant.

2 On the day on which the main body of the  p81 Achaeans would arrive in Tegea he dispatched his picked troops to pass the night at Sellasia and next day at daybreak to commence a raid on Laconia. 3 If the mercenaries came to protect the country and gave them trouble, he ordered them to retire on Scotitas and afterwards to place themselves under the orders of Didascalondas the Cretan, who had been taken into his confidence and had received full instructions about the whole enterprise. 4 These picked troops, then, advanced confidently to carry out their orders. Philopoemen, ordering the Achaeans to take an early supper, led the army out of Tegea, and making a rapid night march, halted his forces at early dawn in the district called the country round Scotitas, a place which lies between Tegea and Sparta. 5 The mercenaries at Pellene, when their scouts reported the invasion of the enemy, at once, as is their custom, advanced and fell upon the latter. 6 When the Achaeans, as they had been ordered, retreated, they followed them up, attacking them with great daring and confidence. 7 But when they reached the place where the ambuscade had been placed and the Achaeans rose from it, some of them were cut to pieces and others made prisoners.

38 1 Philip, when he saw that the Achaeans were chary of going to war with Rome, tried by every means to create animosity between the two peoples.

VII. Affairs of Asia

(From Josephus, Ant. Jud. XII.3.3)

39 1 Polybius of Megalopolis testifies to this. For he says in the 16th Book of his Histories, "Scopas,  p83 Ptolemy's general, set out into the upper country and destroyed the Jewish nation in this winter."

2 "The siege having been negligently conducted, Scopas fell into disrepute and was violently assailed."

3 He says in the same book, "When Scopas was conquered by Antiochus, that king occupied Samaria, Abila, and Gadara, 4 and after a short time those Jews who inhabited the holy place called Jerusalem, surrendered to him. 5 Of this place and the splendour of the temple I have more to tell, but defer my narrative for the present."

The Loeb Editor's Notes:

1 Long, undecked vessels.

2 Curses, that is to say, on anyone who recovered it.

3 There were two Apoteleioi in each city, commanding the cavalry and infantry respectively.

Thayer's Note:

a For details on this type of ship, see Prof. Geer's note on Diodorus, XIX.65.2.

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