|Do not fly Iberia
Display Latin text
Translated by Rev. Canon Roberts
Book X Chapter 2: Cleonymus makes attempts on Italy with his Fleet.[302 BC]
Return to index
During the year a fleet of Greek ships under the command of the Lacedaemonian Cleonymus sailed to the shores of Italy and captured the city of Thuriae in the Sallentine country. The consul, Aemilius, was sent to meet this enemy, and in one battle he routed him and drove him to his ships. Thuriae was restored to its former inhabitants, and peace was established in the Sallentine territory. In some annalists I find it stated that the dictator, Junius Bubulcus, was sent into that country, and that Cleonymus left Italy to avoid a conflict with the Romans. He sailed round the promontory of Brundisium to the Adriatic Sea, where he had on his left the harbourless shores of Italy and on his right the countries occupied by the Illyrians, the Liburnians, and the Histrians, savage tribes chiefly notorious for their acts of piracy. He dreaded the possibility of falling in with these, and consequently directed his course inland until he reached the coasts of the Veneti. Here he landed a small party to explore the neighbourhood. The information they brought back was to the effect that there was a narrow beach, and on crossing it they found lagoons which were affected by the tide; beyond these level cultivated country was visible, and in the further distance hills could be seen. At no great distance was the mouth of a river deep enough to allow of ships being brought up and safely anchored -- this was the Meduacus. On hearing this he ordered the fleet to make for that river and sail up-stream. As the river channel did not admit the passage of his largest ships, the bulk of his troops went up in the lighter vessels and came to a populous district belonging to the maritime villages of the Patavii, who inhabit that coast. After leaving a few to guard the ships they landed, seized the villages, burnt the houses, and carried off the men and cattle as booty. Their eagerness for plunder led them too far from their ships. The people of Patavium were obliged to be always under arms owing to their neighbours, the Gauls, and when they heard what was going on, they divided their forces into two armies. One of these was to proceed to the district where the invaders were reported to be carrying on their depredations; the other was to go by a different route, to avoid meeting any of the plunderers, to where the ships were anchored, about fourteen miles from the town. The latter attacked the ships, and after killing those who resisted them, they compelled the terrified sailors to take their vessels over to the opposite bank. The other army had been equally successful against the plunderers, who in their flight to their ships were intercepted by the Veneti, and, hemmed in between the two armies, were cut to pieces. Some of the prisoners informed their captors that king Cleonymus, with his fleet, was only three miles distant. The prisoners were sent to the nearest village for safe-keeping, and some of the defenders got into their river boats, which were flat-bottomed to allow of their passing over the shallows in the lagoons, whilst others manned the vessels they had captured and sailed down the river. When they reached the Greek fleet they surrounded the large ships, which were afraid to stir and dreaded unknown waters more than the enemy, and pursued them to the mouth of the river. Some which in the confused fighting had run aground were captured and burnt.
After this victory they returned. Failing to effect a successful landing in any part of the Adriatic, Cleonymus sailed away with barely a fifth part of his fleet undamaged. There are many still living who have seen the beaks of the ships and the spoils of the Lacedaemonians hung up in the old temple of Juno in Patavium, and the anniversary of that battle is celebrated by a sham fight of ships on the river which flows through the town.
Event: War with Cleomenes