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Translated by Rev. Canon Roberts
Book XXXVIII Chapter 6: Oreus conquered[207 BC]
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It was not till the fourth day after their arrival that they commenced the attack, the interval having been spent in secret conferences with Plator, whom Philip had made commander of the garrison. The city has two citadels, one overlooking the sea, the other in the heart of the city. From the latter a subterranean passage leads down to the sea, and at one time terminated in a tower five stories high, which formed an imposing defence. Here a violent contest took place, for the tower was plentifully stored with missiles of every kind, and the engines and artillery had been brought up from the ships for use against the walls. Whilst every one's attention was engrossed by the struggle going on here, Plator admitted the Romans through the gate of the seaward citadel, and this was captured at once. Then the defenders, finding themselves forced back into the city, tried to gain the other citadel. Men who were posted here for the purpose closed the gates against them, and thus shut out from both citadels they were killed or made prisoners. The Macedonian garrison stood in a close phalanx under the wall of the citadel, neither attempting to flee nor taking an active part in the fighting. Plator persuaded Sulpicius to let them go and they were placed on board and landed at Demetrium in Phthiotis. Plator himself joined Attalus. Encouraged by his easy success at Oreus, Sulpicius sailed at once with his victorious fleet to Chalcis, but here the result by no means answered his expectations. The sea which is wide and open at each end of the Euripus contracts here into a narrow channel, which at first sight presents the appearance of a double harbour with two mouths opposite each other. But it would be difficult to find a more dangerous roadstead for a fleet. Sudden tempestuous winds sweep down from the lofty mountains on both sides, and the Euripus does not, as is commonly asserted, ebb and flow seven times a day at regular intervals, but its waters, driven haphazard like the wind first in one direction and then in another, rush along like a torrent down the side of a precipitous mountain, so that ships are never in quiet waters day or night. After Sulpicius had anchored his fleet in these treacherous waters, he found that the town was protected on the one side by the sea, and on the other, the land side, by very strong fortifications, whilst the strength of its garrison and the loyalty of the officers, so different from the duplicity and treason at Oreus, made it impregnable. After surveying the difficulties of his position, the Roman commander acted wisely in desisting from his rash enterprise, and without any further loss of time sailed away to Cynos in Locris, a place situated about a mile from the sea, which served as the emporium of the Opuntians. |
First Macedonian War, 207 BC.