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Translated by Rev. Canon Roberts
Book XXIV Chapter 40: First Macedonian War. 214 BC: Apollonia[214 BC]
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|The same summer the war with king Philip, as had been before suspected, broke out. Ambassadors from Oricum came to Marcus Valerius, the praetor, who was directing his fleet around Brundusium and the neighbouring coasts of Calabria, with intelligence, that Philip had first made an attempt upon Apollonia, having approached it by sailing up the river with a hundred and twenty barks with two banks of oars; after that, not succeeding so speedily as he had hoped, that he had brought up his army secretly to Oricum by night; which city, as it was situated on a plain, and was not secured either by fortifications or by men and arms, was overpowered at the first assault. At the same time that they delivered this intelligence, they entreated him to bring them succour, and repel that decided enemy of the Romans by land or by a naval force, since they were attacked for no other cause than that they lay over against Italy. Marcus Valerius, leaving Publius Valerius lieutenant-general charged with the protection of that quarter, set sail with his fleet equipped and prepared, having put on board of ships of burthen such soldiers as there was not room for in the men-of-war, and reached Oricum on the second day; and as that city was occupied by a slight garrison, which Philip had left on his departure thence, he retook it without much opposition. Here ambassadors came to him from Apollonia, stating that they were subjected to a siege because they were unwilling to revolt from the Romans, and that they would not be able any longer to resist the power of the Macedonians, unless a Roman force were sent for their protection. Having undertaken to perform what they wished, he sent two thousand chosen armed men in ships of war to the mouth of the river, under the command of Quintus Naevius Crista, praefect of the allies, a man of enterprise, and experienced in military affairs. Having landed his troops, and sent back the ships to join the rest of the fleet at Oricum, whence he had come, he marched his troops at a distance from the river, by a way not guarded at all by the king's party, and entered the city by night, so that none of the enemy perceived him. During the following day they remained quiet, to afford time for the praefect to inspect the youth of Apollonia, together with the arms and resources of the city. Having derived considerable confidence from a review and inspection of these, and at the same time discovering from scouts the supineness and negligence which prevailed among the enemy, he marched out of the city during the dead of night without any noise, and entered the camp of the enemy, which was in such a neglected and exposed state, that it was quite clear that a thousand men had passed the rampart before any one perceived them, and that had they abstained from putting them to the sword, they might have penetrated to the royal pavilion. The killing of those who were nearest the gate aroused the enemy; and in consequence, they were all seized with such alarm and dismay, that not only none of the rest attempted to take arms or endeavour to expel the enemy from the camp, but even the king himself, betaking himself to flight, in a manner half naked and just as he was when roused from his sleep, hurried away to the river and his ships in a garb scarcely decent for a private soldier, much less for a king. Thither also the rest of the multitude fled with the utmost precipitation. Little less than three thousand men were slain or made prisoners in the camp; considerably more, however, were captured than slain. The camp having been plundered, the Apollonians removed into their city the catapults, ballistas, and other engines which had been got together for the purpose of assaulting their city, for the protection of their walls, in case at any time a similar conjuncture should arise; all the rest of the plunder which the camp afforded was given up to the Romans. Intelligence of these events having been carried to Oricum, Marcus Valerius immediately brought his fleet to the mouth of the river, that the king might not attempt to make his escape by ship. Thus Philip, having lost all hope of being able to cope with his enemies by land or sea, and having either hauled on shore or burnt his ships, made for Macedonia by land, his troops being for the most part unarmed and despoiled of their baggage. The Roman fleet, with Marcus Valerius, wintered at Oricum.||
Balista:Large military engine to throw missiles.