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Translated by Rev. Canon Roberts
Book XXXVIII Chapter 7: Opus and Thronium[207 BC]
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The beacon fires at Oreus had given Philip warning, but through the treachery of Plator they were lighted too late, and in any case Philip's inferiority in naval strength would have made it extremely difficult for him to reach the island. In consequence of this delay he made no effort for its relief, but he hastened to the relief of Chalcis as soon as he got the signal. Although this city is also situated on the island, it is separated from the mainland by such a narrow strait as to allow of its being connected by a bridge, and it is therefore more easy to approach it by land than by sea. Philip marched from Demetrias to Scotusa; he left that place at midnight, and after routing the Aetolians who were holding the pass of Thermopylae drove them in confusion to Heraclea. He finally reached Elatia in Phocis, having covered more than sixty miles in one day. Almost on the very same day the city of the Opuntians was taken and sacked by Attalus. Sulpicius had left the spoils to him, because Oreus had been sacked by the Romans a few days previously, when the king's troops were elsewhere. Whilst the Roman fleet was lying off Oreus, Attalus was busily occupied in extorting contributions from the principal citizens of Opus, utterly unaware of Philip's approach. So rapid was the Macedonian advance that had not some Cretans who had gone foraging further than usual caught sight of the hostile column in the distance, Attalus would have been completely surprised. As it was he fled, without stopping to arm, in wild disorder to his ships, and the men were actually pushing their vessels off when Philip appeared, and even from the water's edge created great alarm amongst the crews. Then he returned to Opus, storming at gods and men because the chance of a great success had been almost snatched out of his hands. He was just as furious with the Opuntians, for, though they might have held out till his arrival, no sooner did they see the enemy than they voluntarily surrendered. After settling matters at Opus, he went on to Thronium. Attalus had sailed to Oreus, but on learning that Prusias, the king of Bithynia, had violated the frontiers of his dominions he dropped all his projects in Greece, including the Aetolian war, and sailed to Asia. Sulpicius took his fleet back to Aegina, whence he had started in the beginning of spring. Philip captured Thronium with no more difficulty than Attalus had experienced at Opus. The population of this city consisted of refugees from Thebes in Phthiotis. When the place was captured by Philip, they escaped and put themselves under the protection of the Aetolians, who assigned for their abode a city which had been ruined and abandoned in the previous war with Philip. After his capture of Thronium he advanced to the capture of Tithronon and Drymiae, small unimportant towns in Doris. Ultimately he reached Elatia, where it was arranged that the embassies from Ptolemy and the Rhodians should meet him. Here they were discussing the question of bringing the Aetolian war to a close had been present at the recent council of the Romans and Aetolians at Heraclea when news was brought that Machanidas had decided to attack the Eleans in the midst of their preparations for the Olympic Games. Philip thought it his duty to prevent this, and accordingly dismissed the ambassadors after assuring them that he was responsible for the war and would place no obstacles in the way of peace, provided its terms were fair and honourable. He then set off with his army in light marching order, and passed through Boeotia to Megara, and from there he descended to Corinth. Here he collected supplies, and then advanced towards Phlius and Pheneos. When he had reached Heraea he heard that Machanidas, alarmed at his rapid approach, had made a hurried return to Lacedaemon. On receiving this intelligence he repaired to Aegium, in order to be present at the meeting of the Achaean League; he also expected to find there the Carthaginian fleet, which he had sent for in the hope of doing something by sea. The Carthaginians had left that place a few days previously for Oxeae and then, when they heard that Attalus and the Romans had left Oreus, they sought shelter in the harbours of Acarnania, fearing lest if they were attacked within the strait of Rhium, the neck of the Gulf of Corinth, they should be overpowered. |
First Macedonian War, 207 BC.