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Histories 9


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Fragments of Book 9

I. From the Preface

Polybius Histories 9.1
These are the principal events included in the above-mentioned Olympiad, that is in the space of four years which we term an Olympiad, and I shall attempt to narrate them in two Books. I am not unaware that my work owing to the uniformity of its composition has a certain severity, and will suit the taste and gain the approval of only one class of reader. For nearly all other writers, or at least most of them, by dealing with every branch of history, attract many kinds of people to the perusal of their works. The genealogical side appeals to those who are fond of a story, and the account of colonies, the foundation of cities, and their ties of kindred, such as we find, for instance, in Ephorus, attracts the curious and lovers of recondite longer, while the student of politics is interested in the doings of nations, cities, and monarchs. As I have confined my attention strictly to these last matters and as my whole work treats of nothing else, it is, as I say, adapted only to one sort of reader, and its perusal will have no attractions for the larger number. I have stated elsewhere at some length my reason for choosing to exclude other branches of history and chronicle actions alone, but there is no harm in briefly reminding my readers of it here in order to impress it on them.

Polybius Histories 9.2
Since genealogies, myths, the planting of colonies, the foundations of cities and their ties of kinship have been recounted by many writers and in many different styles, an author who undertakes at the present day to deal with these matters must either represent the work of others as being his own, a most disgraceful proceeding, or if he refuses to do this, must manifestly toil to no purpose, being constrained to avow that the matters on which he writes and to which he devotes his attention have been adequately narrated and handed down to posterity by previous authors. So omitting these things for the above and various other reasons, I decided on writing a history of actual events; firstly, because there is always some novelty to them which demands novel treatment since it was not in the power of the ancients to narrate events subsequent to their own time and secondly, owing to the great practical utility of such a history, both formerly and especially at the present day, when the progress of the arts and sciences has been so rapid, that those who study history are, we may almost say, provided with a method for dealing with any contingency that may arise. My aim, therefore, being not so much to entertain readers as to benefit those who pay careful attention, I disregarded other matters and was led to write this kind of history. The best testimony to the truth of what I say will be that of those who study this work with due application.

II. Affairs of Italy

Siege of Capua

Polybius Histories 9.3
surrounding the camp of Appius Claudius at first harassed him by skirmishing with the object of provoking him to come out and give battle. But as none paid any attention, his attack finally became very much like an attempt to storm the camp, the cavalry advancing in squadrons, and with loud cries hurling their javelins into the camp, while the infantry attacked in maniples and attempted to tear down the palisade. But even thus he was unable to move the Romans from their purpose; they used their light-armed forces to repel the assault on the palisade, and kept their heavy-armed troops in their ranks under their standards protecting themselves from the shower of missiles. Hannibal was dissatisfied in general at being unable either to penetrate into the town or to provoke the Romans to battle, and began to consider what it was best to do under the circumstances. It seems to me indeed that the state of matters was such as might puzzle not only the Carthaginians, but anyone who heard of it. For who could believe that the Romans, who had been beaten in so many battles by the Carthaginians, and did not yet even dare to face the enemy in the field, nevertheless refused to retire or to abandon the open country? While up to now they had contented themselves with following the enemy's movements upon the hills, they had now established themselves in the plain in the finest district of Italy, and were besieging the strongest city of all, with that very enemy surrounding and attacking them whom they could not even bear the thought of confronting; while the Carthaginians who had won an unbroken series of victories were at times in equal difficulties with the losers. In my opinion the reason of this conduct on the part of both, was that both had perceived that it was to Hannibal's force of cavalry that the Carthaginians owed their victories and the Romans their defeats. Consequently both the former tactics of the beaten armies after the battles in moving along parallel to their adversaries were justified, since they were marching through country where the enemy's cavalry could not hurt them, and the present conduct of both before Capua was only what was to be expected.

Polybius Histories 9.4
As a fact the Roman army had not the courage to go out and give battle since they were afraid of the enemy's cavalry, but they remained in their camp with complete confidence since they well knew that the cavalry to which they had owed their defeat in the battles could do them no harm there. The Carthaginians again obviously could not remain there longer encamped together with their cavalry, since the Romans had with this very object destroyed all the forage in the neighbourhood, and it was impossible to get carried up from such a long distance enough hay and barley for so many horses and mules; nor again if they remained in their position without their cavalry were they bold enough to assault an enemy having the advantage of protection by a trench and palisade, an engagement with whom on equal terms would be attended with doubtful success now they were deprived of their cavalry. Besides this they were in dread of the consuls designate appearing and establishing themselves in their rear, and thus placing them in great difficulties by cutting off their supplies. For these reasons Hannibal thought it would be impossible to raise the siege by force of arms and changed his plan. For he thought that if by a secret march he could appear suddenly before Rome, he might possibly by the surprise and dismay he would cause among the inhabitants manage to gain some advantage against that city itself; or if not would at least compel Appius either to raise the siege and hasten to the help of his native town, or to break up his army, so that both the force that went to relieve Rome and that which was left behind would be easy to overcome.

Polybius Histories 9.5
With this project in his mind he sent a letter-bearer to Capua, inducing one of the Libyans to desert to the Roman camp and thence to the city, taking every precaution for the security of the letter. For he was in great dread lest the Capuans on witnessing his departure should think he despaired of saving them and in their consternation surrender to the Romans. He therefore wrote explaining his purpose in leaving, and sent off the Libyan, so that when they heard of his purpose and learnt why he had left they might continue to sustain the siege courageously. Now when the news from Capua first reached Rome that Hannibal had encampedparallel to their lines and was besieging them, it caused universal excitement and dismay, as they felt that the impending decision would influence the whole war. Consequently the whole attention of everyone was at present directed to the preparation and dispatch of succour to that quarter. The Capuans on receiving the letter from the Libyan, and on understanding the Carthaginian plan, continued to maintain their resistance, being resolved to try the chance of this expedient. Hannibal on the fifth day from his arrival, after giving his men their supper, left his fires burning and retreated in such a manner that none of the enemy had any notion of what was happening. By a series of rapid marches through Samnium, and by sending his outposts on each day to reconnoitre and occupy the district near the road, he succeeded, while the minds of the Romans were still occupied with Capua and what was happening there, in crossing the Anio unperceived and getting so near to Rome that he established his camp at a distance of not more than forty stades from the walls.

Polybius Histories 9.6
When the news reached Rome it caused universal panic and consternation among the inhabitants, the thing being so sudden and so entirely unexpected, as Hannibal had never before been so close to the city. Besides this, a suspicion prevailed that the enemy would never have approached so near and displayed such audacity if the legions before Capua had not been destroyed. The men, therefore, occupied the walls and the most advantageous positions outside the town, while thewomen made the round of the temples and implored the help of the gods, sweeping the pavements of the holy places with their hair for such is their custom when their country is in extreme peril. But just after Hannibal had established his camp, and while he was contemplating an attempt on the city itself for the following day, an unexpected stroke of luck intervened to save Rome. Gnaeus Fulvius and Publius Sulpicius had completed the enrolment of one legion, and had engaged the soldiers on their oath to present themselves in arms at Rome exactly on this day, and they were now engaged in enrolling and testing the men for a second legion; and the consequence was that a large number of men were spontaneously collected in Rome just when they were required. The consuls led them out confidently, and drawing them up in front of the city put a check on Hannibal's ardour. For the Carthaginians had at first eagerly advanced not without hope of taking Rome itself by assault, but when they saw the enemy drawn up in battle order, and when very soon afterwards they learnt the truth from a prisoner, they abandoned the project of attacking the city and took to overrunning and plundering the country and burning the houses. At first they drove into their camp a vast collection of captured animals, as they were in a country which no one ever expected would be entered by an enemy;

Polybius Histories 9.7
but afterwards, when the consuls had the extreme boldness to encamp opposite them at a distance of ten stades, Hannibal retired. He had now collected a large quantity of booty, but he had given up his hope of taking Rome, and most important of all he reckoned that the time now had elapsed in which he expected, according to his original calculation, that Appius on learning of the danger that threatened Rome would either raise the siege and come with his whole force to save the city, or, leaving a part of it behind, would hasten to the rescue with the greater portion. In either event he considered that his purpose would have been attained, and he therefore moved his army out of the camp at daybreak. Publius, who had destroyed the bridges on the Anio and compelled Hannibal to take his army across by fording the stream, attacked the Carthaginians as they were crossing and caused them no little distress. He could strike no decisive blow owing to the numbers of the enemy's cavalry and the ease with which the Numidians rode over any kind of ground; but after recovering a considerable part of the booty and killing about three hundred of the enemy he retired to his camp, and afterwards thinking that the Carthaginians were retreating so precipitately, he followed them, keeping to the hills. Hannibal at first marched with great speed, being anxious to attain his object, but when in five days he received the news that Appius was continuing the siege he halted until the part of his army which was following him came up and then attacked the enemy's army by night, killing a considerable number and driving the rest out of their camp. When, however, day dawned and he saw that the Romans had retired to a strong position on a hill, he gave up any thought of further molesting them, and marching through Daunia and Bruttium descended on Rhegium so suddenly that he came very near taking the town itself, and did cut off from it all the inhabitants who had gone out to the country, making a number of Rhegians prisoners by this sudden appearance.

Polybius Histories 9.8
We are fully justified, I think, on this occasion in noting with admiration the high courage and determined spirit which both Romans and Carthaginians displayed in the war. To take a somewhat similar instance, Epaminondas of Thebes is universally admired for his conduct in the following circumstances. On reaching Tegea with the allies, and discovering that the Lacedaemonians had arrived at Mantinea in full strength and had collected their allies there with the object of giving battle to the Thebans, he ordered his troops to take their supper at an early hour, and a little after nightfall led them out as if he was anxious to occupy in time some favourable ground for the battle. Having conveyed this impression to people in general he advanced and marched straight on Sparta, and reaching that city in about the third hour of the day took it by surprise, and finding no one there to defend it forced his way as far as the market-place, occupying all that part of the town which faces the river. A mischance however occurred, a deserter having escaped in the night to Mantinea and informed King Agesilaus of the facts, so that upon the Spartans coming up to help just as the city was being occupied, Epaminondas was disappointed of his hope, but after breakfasting on the banks of the Eurotas, and refreshing his troops after their hard march, he marched back again by the same road, reckoning that since the Lacedaemonians and their allies had come to the help of Sparta, Mantinea would now be left without defenders, as indeed was the case. Exhorting the Thebans, therefore, to exert themselves, and marching rapidly all night, he reached Mantinea about midday, finding it with scarcely a soul to defend it. But just at this time the Athenians, who were anxious to take part in the battle against the Thebans, arrived to help the Lacedaemonians, as stipulated in their treaty of alliance. So at the very time that the leading column of the Thebans had reached the temple of Poseidon, which is at seven stades distance from the town, the Athenians happened as if by design to appear on the hill above Mantinea. When the few Mantineans who were left in the town saw the Athenians, they just managed to pluck up enough courage to man the wall and keep off the assault of the Thebans. Writers, therefore, very properly apportion the blame for the ill-success of these operations, when they tell us that the commander did all that behoved a good general, and that Epaminondas here overcame his enemies but was worsted by Fortune.

Polybius Histories 9.9
Very much the same may be said of Hannibal. Who can refuse admiration to this general, who considers how he first fell on the enemy and attempted to raise the siege by a series of combats, how failing in his attack he marched on Rome itself, and then when his design on the city was frustrated by the merest accident, how he turned round and not only broke up the enemy, but waited a reasonable time to see if the force besieging Capua had made any movement, and how finally, still holding to his purpose, he swept down to damage his enemies, and all but destroyed Rhegium? As for the Romans, we must pronounce that they behaved better on this occasion than the Lacedaemonians. For the latter, flocking off to the rescue when the news first reached them, saved Sparta indeed, but as for as it depended on them lost Mantinea, while the Romans not only preserved their native town, but far from raising the siege remained firm and unshaken in their purpose, and henceforth pressed the Capuans with greater confidence. It is not for the purpose of extolling the Romans or the Carthaginians that I have offered these remarks I have often had occasion to bestow praise on both peoples but rather for the sake of the leaders of both these states, and of all, no matter where, who shall be charged with the conduct of public affairs, so that by memory or actual sight of such actions as these, they be moved to emulation, and not shrink from undertaking designs, which may seem indeed to be fraught with risk and peril, but on the contrary are courageous without being hazardous, are admirable in their conception, and their excellence, whether the result be success or failure alike, will deserve to live in men's memories for ever, always provided that all that is done is the result of sound reasoning. . . . Tarentum When the Romans were besieging Tarentum Bomilcar, the Carthaginian admiral, came with a very large force to its help, and finding himself unable to render any assistance to those in the town, as the Roman camp was so securely defended, he used up his supplies before he was well aware of it. He had been forced to come by urgent entreaties and large promises, and he was now compelled to sail off at the earnest request of the inhabitants.

III. Affairs of Sicily

The Spoils of Syracuse

Polybius Histories 9.10
A city is not adorned by external splendours, but by the virtue of its inhabitants. . . . The Romans, then, decided for this reason to transfer all these objects to their own city and leave nothing behind. As to whether in doing so they acted rightly and in their own interest or the reverse, there is much to be said on both sides, but the more weighty arguments are in favour of their conduct having been wrong then and still being wrong. For if they had originally relied on such things for the advancement of their country, they would evidently have been right in bringing to their home the kind of things which had contributed to their aggrandizement. But if, on the contrary, while leading the simplest of lives, very far removed from all such superfluous magnificence, they were constantly victorious over those who possessed the greatest number and finest examples of such works, must we not consider that they committed a mistake? To abandon the habits of the victors and to imitate those of the conquered, not only appropriating the objects, but at the same time attracting that envy which is inseparable from their possession, which is the one thing most to be dreaded by superiors in power, is surely an incontestable error. For in no case is one who contemplates such works of art moved so much by admiration of the good fortune of those who have possessed themselves of the property of others, as by pity as well as envy for the original owners. And when opportunities become ever more frequent, and the victor collects around him all the treasures of other peoples, and these treasures may be almost said to invite those who were robbed of them to come and inspect them, things are twice as bad. For now spectators no longer pity their neighbours, but themselves, as they recall to mind their own calamities. And hence not only envy, but a sort of passionate hatred for the favourites of fortune flares up, for the memories awakened of their own disaster move them to abhor the authors of it. There were indeed perhaps good reasons for appropriating all the gold and silver: for it was impossible for them to aim at a world empire without weakening the resources of other peoples and strengthening their own. But it was possible for them to leave everything which did not contribute to such strength, together with the envy attached to its possession, in its original place, and to add to the glory of their native city by adorning it not with paintings and reliefs but with dignity and magnanimity. At any rate these remarks will serve to teach all those who succeed to empire, that they should not strip cities under the idea that the misfortunes of others are an ornament to their own country. The Romans on the present occasion, after transferring all these objects to Rome, used such as came from private houses to embellish their own homes, and those that were state property for their public buildings.

IV. Affairs of Spain

Polybius Histories 9.11
The Carthaginian commanders had mastered the enemy, but were unable to master themselves, and while thinking they had put an end to the war against the Romans began quarrelling with each other, constant friction being caused by that covetousness and love of domination which is innate in Phoenicians. Hasdrubal, son of Gesco, was one of them, and his abuse of the authority he wielded went so far that he attempted to extract a large sum of money from Andobales, the most faithful friend the Carthaginians had in Spain, who had formerly been deprived of his principality owing to his attachment to them and had recently been restored to it for the same reason. When he now refused to pay, relying on his loyalty in the past to Carthage, Hasdrubal brought a false accusation against him and compelled him to give his daughters as hostages.

V. Affairs of Italy

Roman Embassy to Ptolemy

Polybius Histories 9.11a
The Romans sent envoys to Ptolemy wishing to procure a supply of corn, as they were suffering from a great scarcity of it, all the crops in Italy up to the gates of Rome having been destroyed by the armies, and no help from abroad having been forthcoming, since all over the world except in Egypt there were wars in progress and hostile forces in the field. The scarcity at Rome had reached such a pitch that the Sicilian medimnus cost fifteen drachmae. But in spite of this distress the Romans did not neglect their military preparations. . ..

On the Art of a Commander

Polybius Histories 9.12
The accidents attendant on military projects require much circumspection, but success is in every case possible if the steps we take to carry out our plan are soundly reasoned out. That in military operations what is achieved openly and by force is much less than what is done by stratagem and the use of opportunity, can easily be learnt from the history of former wars. And it is no less easy to be convinced by facts that in those actions depending on the choice of opportunity failure is far more frequent than success. Nor can anyone doubt that most of the failures are due either to error or to negligence on the part of the commander. We must therefore inquire in what such faults consist. It is by no means proper to describe as actions, things in war which occur undesignedly, but such events should be rather styled accidents or coincidences. As therefore they fall under no systematic or fixed rules, I may neglect them, and deal only, as I will now proceed to do, with such things as are accomplished by design. Since every such action requires a fixed time for its commencement, and a fixed period, and an appointed place, and also requires secrecy, definite signals, proper persons through whom and with whom to act and the proper means, it is evident that the commander who is happy in his choice of each and all of these will not meet with failure, but the neglect of anyone of them will ruin the whole design; so true is it that nature makes a single trivial error sufficient to cause failure in a design, but correctness in every detail barely enough for success.

Polybius Histories 9.13
Therefore in such enterprises commanders must be careful about every detail. The first and foremost requisite is to keep silence, and never either from joy if some unexpected hope shall present itself, or from fear, or from familiarity with or affection for certain persons, to reveal one's design to anyone unconcerned in it, but to communicate it only to those without whom it cannot be put in execution, and even to these not earlier than when the need of their services renders it imperative. And we must keep not only our tongues tied but even more so our minds. For many who have kept their own counsel have revealed their projects either by the expression of their faces or by their actions. The second requisite is to be well versed in the question of night and day movements and voyages, knowing exactly how far they will bring us, not only by land but also by sea. The third and most important is to have a notion of time and season and to be able to hit on the right ones for our design. Nor is the place fixed for the intended coup de main a matter of small importance; for often this shows seemingly possible ones to be impossible. Finally, we must pay due attention to signals and counter signals, and to the choice of those by whose agency and in whose company our project is to be executed.

Polybius Histories 9.14
These things are learnt either by experience or by inquiry or by scientific investigation. It is of course far best for a general to be himself acquainted with the roads, the spot he is bound for and the nature of the ground, as well as with the people by whose agency and in concert with whom he is going to act. But the next best thing is to make careful inquiries and not to rely on chance informants. The pledges of good faith given by those who act as guides in such a case must be in the hands of those who follow their guidance. Skill, therefore, in these and similar matters can perhaps be acquired by a general just through military experience, partly by practice, and partly by inquiry; but what depends on scientific principles requires a theoretical knowledge more especially of astronomy and geometry, which, while no very deep study of them is required for this purpose at least, are exceedingly important and capable of rendering the greatest services in projects such as we are speaking of. The most necessary part of astronomy is that dealing with the variations day and night. If day and night were always of equal length, the matter would give us no trouble and the knowledge of it would be common property; since, however, days and nights differ not only from each other, but also from themselves it is evidently necessary to be acquainted with the increase and decrease of both. For how can one rightly calculate the distance traversed in a day's march or in a night's march without knowing the different lengths of day and night? Indeed it is impossible for anything to come off at the proper time without such knowledge; it is sure to be either too late or too soon. And in such matters alone it is a worse fault to be in advance than behind hand. For he who arrives later than the hour decided upon is disappointed merely in his hope since he becomes aware of the fact while still at a distance and can get away in security but he who arrives too soon, approaching the enemy and being discovered by him, not only fails in his attempt, but runs the risk of total destruction.

Polybius Histories 9.15
It is time, indeed, which rules all human action and especially the affairs of war. So that a general must be familiar with the dates of the summer and winter solstices, and the equinoxes, and with the rate of increase and decrease of days and nights between these; for by no other means can he compute correctly the distances he will be able to traverse either by sea or land. He must also be acquainted with the subdivisions of day and night so as to know when to sound the revally and to be on the march; for it is impossible to obtain a happy end unless the beginning is happily timed. Now for the time of day there is nothing to hinder our observing it either by the shadow or by the sun's course or by his position and height in the heavens, but it is difficult to tell the hour of the night, unless one is familiar with the system and order of the twelve signs of the Zodiac in the starry sky, knowledge of which it is quite easy to gain by studying the constellations. For since, though nights are of unequal length, yet during the course of every night six out of the twelve signs of the Zodiac must appear above the horizon, it follows of necessity that equal parts of the twelve signs must appear at the same times of the night. As the position each day of the sun in the Zodiac is known, it is evident that at his setting the part diametrically opposite must rise. So that the portion of the night which is past is to be judged by the portion of the Zodiac which has risen after this; and the number and size of the signs of the Zodiac being known, the subsequent subdivisions of the night correspond to them. On cloudy nights, however, we must observe the moon, because as a rule, owing to her size, her light is visible in whatever part of the heaven she may be situated. We can guess the hour at times from the time and place of her rising and at times again from those of her setting, if here too we have sufficient previous knowledge to be familiar with the daily difference in the hour of her rising. Here also there is an easy method of reckoning, for the period of her revolution is generally speaking one month, and all the months are similar as far as we can perceive.

Polybius Histories 9.16
Homer is therefore deserving of praise in representing Odysseus, the most capable of commanders, as observing the stars to direct not only his course at sea, but his operations on land. For those accidents which take us by surprise and cannot be accurately foreseen are quite sufficiently numerous to expose us to great and frequent difficulties, I mean sudden rains and floods, exceeding great frosts and snowfalls, a foggy and clouded state of the atmosphere and the like, and if we pay no attention even to such things as can be foreseen, we are sure to fail in most enterprises by our own fault. So that none of the above-mentioned matters must be neglected, if we are not to commit such blunders as many other generals are said to have committed besides those I am about to cite as examples.

Polybius Histories 9.17
Aratus, the Achaean strategus, having formed the project of getting Cynaetha betrayed to him, came to an agreement with those in the city who were working for him, fixing a day on which he himself was to march by night to the river that runs down from Cynaetha towards the east and remain there quietly with his forces. Those in the city about midday, whenever they had the opportunity, were to send out quietly through the gate one of their number dressed in a mantle with orders to advance as far as a certain tomb outside the city and take up his post on it. Meanwhile the rest of them were to attack the officers who used to keep the gate, while they were taking their midday sleep. Upon this the Achaeans were to issue from their ambush and make for the gate at full speed. Such being the arrangement, when the day came Aratus arrived and hid in the river-bed waiting for the signal. But at about the fifth hour of the day the owner of some of those delicate sheep which are in the habit of grazing near the town, having some urgent private business with his shepherd, came out of the gate dressed in a mantle and went and stood on the identical tomb looking round for the shepherd. Aratus and his troops, thinking that the signal had been given them, made a rush for the town, but the gate was at once closed in their faces by its keepers, as their friends inside the town had as yet taken no measures, and the consequence was that not only did the coup that Aratus had planned fail, but they brought destruction on those of the citizens who were acting with him, for they were at once detected, put on their trial, and executed. If we ask what was the cause of the disaster, the answer must be that it was the use of a single signal by the commander, who was still young and ignorant of the accuracy secured by double signals and counter signals. On such small matters does success or failure depend in military operations.

Polybius Histories 9.18
Again Cleomenes of Sparta, having formed a plan for taking Megalopolis by treachery, agreed with those of the defenders who guarded the wall near what is called the Den to come there with his army at the third watch of the night, for it was at this hour that his partisans were on guard. But not reflecting that towards the rising of the Pleiads the nights are already quite short, he marched out of Lacedaemon about sunset. So that he was unable to arrive in time, but being overtaken by daylight was rash and imprudent enough to attempt to force his way into the town and was driven out with disgrace and considerable loss, very narrowly escaping complete disaster. Had he succeeded in arriving at the time agreed upon and led his troops in while his partisans were masters of the entrance, he would not have met with failure.King Philip, to take another instance, having, as I stated above, a proposal from Melitaea to betray the town to him, made two mistakes. Firstly he came there with ladders too short for the purpose, and secondly he did not arrive at the right time. He had arranged to arrive about midnight when everyone was asleep, but he started from Larisa before the proper hour, and on entering the territory of Melitaea, neither could remain there, as he feared that news of his arrival would reach the city, nor could he get back without being noticed. Being compelled, therefore, to advance he reached the city while people were still awake. So that he could neither take the place by escalade, owing to the defective size of his ladders, nor could he get in through the gate, as owing to the earliness of the hour his partisans within could not co-operate with him. Finally, after merely provoking the garrison and losing many of his own men he made a shameful retreat with his purpose unaccomplished, having thus given public notice to everyone else to mistrust him and be on their guard.

Polybius Histories 9.19
Nicias, again, the Athenian general, could have saved the army before Syracuse, and had fixed on the proper hour of the night to withdraw into a position of safety unobserved by the enemy; but on an eclipse of the moon taking place he was struck with terror as if it foreboded some calamity, and deferred his departure. The consequence of this was that when he abandoned his camp on the following night, the enemy had divined his intention, and both the army and the generals were made prisoners by the Syracusans. Yet had he only inquired from men acquainted with astronomy so far from throwing away his opportunity owing to such an occurrence, he could have utilized the ignorance of the enemy. For nothing contributes more to the success of well-informed men than the lack of instruction in their neighbours. So far as the points I have mentioned are concerned it is to astronomy that we should address our inquiries, but the method of discovering the right length for ladders is as follows. If any of our partisans can give us the height of the wall the required length of the ladders is evident. For if the height of the wall be, let us say, ten of a given measure, the length of the ladders must be a good twelve. The distance from the wall at which the ladder is planted must, in order to suit the convenience of those mounting, be half the length of the ladder, for if they are placed farther off they are apt to break when crowded and if set up nearer to the perpendicular are very insecure for the scalers. If however it is impossible to measure the wall or approach it, the height of any object which stands perpendicular on a plane surface can be taken from a distance, the method of determining it being practicable and easy for anyone who chooses to study mathematics.

Polybius Histories 9.20
So here again it is evident that those who aim at success in military plans and surprises of towns must have studied geometry, if not thoroughly at least enough to have a notion of proportion and the principles of equations; for this kind of knowledge indeed is necessary not only for the above purpose but for making changes in the plan of camps, so as to enable us either in changing the whole plan of the camp to keep up the same proportion between the different parts enclosed in it, or at other times while adhering to the same plan to increase or diminish the space included in the camp proportionately to the number of fresh arrivals or departures. About this matter I have entered into greater detail in my notes on tactics. I do not think anyone can fairly maintain that I attach too many qualifications to the art of generalship, by thus urging those who aim at mastering it to study astronomy and geometry. On the contrary I strongly disapprove of all such superfluous acquirements in a profession as serve but for ostentation and fine talk, but while also disinclined to insist on any studies beyond those that are of actual use, in the case of necessary knowledge I am most exacting and earnest. It is indeed strange that those who wish to learn the arts of dancing and flute-playing should consent to study as a preliminary the theory of rhythm and music and even to acquire some gymnastic training, because it is thought that perfection in either cannot be attained without such aid, while those who aspire to the command of armies regard it as a grievance if we demand of them a certain slight acquaintance with other sciences. This would mean that those who practise illiberal arts show greater diligence and emulation than those whose aim is to excel in the most honourable and serious of all employments a proposition to which no sensible man would give his assent. But these remarks must suffice on this subject. . . .

Polybius Histories 9.21
Such being the respective positions of the Romans and Carthaginians, experiencing in turn the opposite extremes of fortune, it was natural that, as Homer says, pain and joy at once should possess the minds of each. . . .

The Character of Hannibal

Polybius Histories 9.22
Of all that befel both nations, Romans and Carthaginians, the cause was one man and one mind Hannibal. It was he indisputably who had the management of the Italian campaign, and he also directed that in Spain through his elder brother Hasdrubal and afterwards through Mago, these being the generals who killed the two Roman commanders in that country. Besides this he managed affairs in Sicily, first of all through Hippocrates and subsequently through Myttonus the African, and he was likewise active in Greece and Illyria, threatening the Romans from these parts and keeping them alarmed and distracted by his understanding with Philip. Such a great and wonderful product of nature is a man with a mind properly fitted by its original constitution to execute any project within human power. But since the course of affairs has called our attention to the character of Hannibal, I think I am called upon at present to state my opinion regarding those peculiar traits in it which are the subject of most dispute. For some accuse him of excessive cruelty and others of avarice. Now it is no easy thing to state the truth about him or in general about men who are engaged in public affairs. For some say that men's real natures are revealed by circumstances, the truth being in the case of some brought to light by possession of power, even if they have hitherto managed to disguise it entirely, and in that of others by misfortune. But I cannot myself regard this view as sound. For it appears to me that not in a few cases only but in most cases men are compelled to act and speak contrary to their real principles by the complexity of facts and by the suggestions of their friends.

Polybius Histories 9.23
There are many previous instances a consideration of which will show that this is so. Take Agathocles the tyrant of Sicily. Do not all historians tell us that after showing himself exceedingly cruel in his first enterprises and in the establishment of his power, afterwards, when once he thought that he had securely attached the Sicilians to his rule, he became to all appearance the gentlest and mildest of men? Again, was not Cleomenes of Sparta at once a most excellent king and a most cruel tyrant, and then again in private intercourse most urbane and courteous? Now we can hardly suppose that dispositions so diametrically opposite existed in the same natures. The fact is rather that some princes are compelled to change with the change of circumstances and often exhibit to others a disposition which is quite the opposite of their real nature, so that so far from men's natures being revealed by such means they are rather obscured. And a like effect is usually produced by the suggestions of friends not only on generals, princes, and kings but on cities. At Athens at least we find that during the government of Aristides and Pericles the state was the author of few cruel actions, but of many kind and praiseworthy ones, while under Cleon and Chares it was quite the reverse; and again when the Lacedaemonians were supreme in Greece, all that King Cleombrotus did was done in the spirit of friendly alliance, but it was the reverse with Agesilaus; so that the character of cities also changes with that of those who govern them. And so with King Philip, when he had Taurion and Demetrius to act with him he was most wicked, but when he had Aratus and Chrysogonus he was most gentle.

Polybius Histories 9.24
It was very much the same, I think, with Hannibal. He had to deal with circumstances of such an exceptional and complex nature, and his nearest friends differed so widely in character, that from his actions when in Italy it is very difficult to discover the man's real nature. As for what was due to the promptings of circumstance, that can easily be learnt from my preceding narrative and that which is to follow, but we must not ignore what he owed to the suggestions of his friends, especially as it is possible to get a very adequate notion of their nature from one single piece of advice. At the time when Hannibal contemplated marching on Italy from Spain with his army, it was foreseen that he would be very hard put to it to feed the troops and keep them constantly provided with supplies, the difficulties of the march seeming almost insuperable both owing to the distance and to the numbers and savage character of the barbarous inhabitants of the intervening countries. It seems that the difficulty was more than once discussed in the Council, and that one of Hannibal's friends, Hannibal surnamed Monomachus (gladiator), stated that he foresaw only one way by which it would be possible to reach Italy. When Hannibal asked him to explain himself, he said he must teach his troops to eat human flesh and accustom them to this. . . Hannibal had nothing to say against the boldness and usefulness of this suggestion, but he could persuade neither himself nor his friends actually to entertain it. They say that the acts of cruelty in Italy of which Hannibal is accused were the work of this man, but in no less degree that of circumstances.

Polybius Histories 9.25
He does indeed seem to have been exceedingly fond of money, and so was his friend Mago who commanded in Bruttium. I have been told about this matter both by Carthaginians themselves for the natives of a place do not only know best, as the saying is, the direction of the wind, but the character of their compatriots and more in detail by Massanissa, when he discoursed on the love of money displayed by Carthaginians in general and especially by Hannibal and by this Mago who was known as the Samnite. Among other things he told me that while these two men had from their earliest youth most generously shared all kinds of enterprises with each other and had each taken many cities both in Spain and Italy by force or by betrayal, on no single occasion had they both participated in the same enterprise, but had always manoeuvred more carefully against each other than against the enemy, so that the one should not be present when the other took a city, to avoid any differences arising between them from such causes and any sharing in the profits as they were of equal rank.

Polybius Histories 9.26
But that it was not only the suggestions of friends that changed and did violence to Hannibal's real nature but also the force of circumstances clearly appears from my narrative, both that which precedes and that which is to follow. On Capua falling into the hands of the Romans all the other cities naturally began to waver in their allegiance, and were on the look-out for pretexts and occasions for going over to Rome. Hannibal seems at this crisis to have been in great difficulty and doubt as to how to deal with the situation. For he was neither able to keep watch over all the cities, far distant as they were from each other, if he started himself at one spot, with several hostile armies ready to intercept his movements, nor was he able to subdivide his force much, as he would then be easily overcome by the enemy owing to numerical inferiority and the impossibility of his being personally present everywhere. He was therefore obliged to abandon openly some of the cities and to withdraw his garrisons from others, from fear lest if they transferred their allegiance he should lose his own soldiers as well. In some cases he even allowed himself to violate the treaties he had made, transferring the inhabitants to other towns and giving up their property to plunder, thereby causing such offence that he was accused both of impiety and cruelty. For as a fact these measures were accompanied by robbery of money, murders, and violence on no matter what pretext at the hands both of the departing and the incoming troops, everybody acting on the supposition that the citizens who were left behind were just on the point of joining the enemy. All this makes it very difficult of pronounce an opinion on the real nature of Hannibal, as we have to allow for the influence of his friends and the force of circumstances. But at any rate among the Carthaginians he was notorious for his love of money and among the Romans for his cruelty.

VI. Sicilian Affairs

Polybius Histories 9.26a
Most people judge of the size of cities simply from their circumference. So that when one says that Megalopolis is fifty stades in circumference and Sparta forty-eight, but that Sparta is twice as large as Megalopolis, the statement seems incredible to me. And when in order to puzzle them still most, one tells them that a city or camp with a circumference of forty stades may be twice as large as one the circumference of which is one hundred stades, this statement seems to them absolutely astounding. The reason of this is that we have forgotten the lessons in geometry we learnt as children. I was led to make these remarks by the fact that not only ordinary men but even some statesmen and commanders of armies are thus astounded, and wonder how it is possible for Sparta to be larger and even much larger than Megalopolis, although its circumference is smaller; or at other times attempt to estimate the number of men in a camp by taking into consideration its circumference alone. Another very similar error is due to the appearance of cities. Most people suppose that cities set upon broken and hilly ground can contain more houses than those set upon flat ground. This is not so, as the walls of the houses are not built at right angles to the slope, but to the flat ground at the foot on which the hill itself rests. The truth of this can be made manifest to the intelligence of a child. For if one supposes the houses on a slope to be raised to such a height that their roofs are all level with each other, it is evident that the flat space thus formed by the roofs will be equal in area and parallel to the flat space in which the hill and the foundations of the houses rest. So much for those who aspire to political power and the command of armies but are ignorant of such things and surprised by them.


Polybius Histories 9.27
The city of Agrigentum is superior to most cities not only in the ways I have mentioned but in strength and especially in the beauty of its site and buildings. It stands at a distance of eighteen stades from the sea, so that it enjoys all the advantages of a sea-coast town. It is encircled by natural and artificial defences of unusual strength, the wall being built on a ridge of rock either naturally steep and precipitous or artificially rendered so. It is also surrounded by rivers, that which has the same name as the town running along the southern side and the Hypsas along the west and south-west sides. The citadel overlooking the town is due south-east from it, being surrounded on its outer side by an impassable ravine and having on its inner side but one approach from the town. On its summit stand the temples of Athena and Zeus Atabyrius as in Rhodes; for since Agrigentum was founded by the Rhodians this god naturally bears the same title as in Rhodes. The other temples and porticoes which adorn the city are of great magnificence, the temple of Olympian Zeus being unfinished but second it seems to none in Greece in design and dimensions. Transfer of the People of Agathyrna Marcus Valerius persuaded the fugitives to retire to Italy, giving them pledges for the security of their persons, on condition that they should receive pay from the people of Rhegium and plunder Bruttium, retaining whatever booty they carried off from the enemy's country.

VII. Affairs of Greece

Speeches of Chlaeneas the Aetolian and Lyciscus the Acarnanian at Sparta

Polybius Histories 9.28
"Men of Lacedaemon, I am convinced indeed that no one would venture to deny that the slavery of Greece owes its origin to the kings of Macedon, but the matter may be looked at thus. There was once a group of Greek cities in Thrace founded by the Athenian and Chalcidians, of which Olynthus was the most eminent and powerful. Philip, by selling its inhabitants into slavery and making an example of it, not only obtained possession of the Thracian cities, but intimidated the Thessalians into submission When, shortly afterwards, he had defeated the Athenians in a battle he made a generous use of his success, not with the object of benefiting the Athenians, far from it, but in order that his kindness to them might induce others to obey his orders without resistance. The prestige of your city still survived then and it seemed as if in time you would be the leading power in Greece. Consequently, alleging as sufficient any pretext that offered itself, he came here with his army and inflicted great damage, cutting the crops and trees and burning the homesteads, and finally partitioning your cities and your territory, he signed part of it to the Argives, part to the Tegeans and Megalopolitans, and part to the Messenians, wishing to confer ill-merited benefits on all of them if by doing so he could only damage you. He was succeeded by Alexander. That king again, because he thought there was left in Thebes a little spark of the Greece that once was, destroyed that city in the manner that you all, I take it, know.

Polybius Histories 9.29
"And as for the successors of Alexander, need I tell you in detail how they have they treated the Greeks? For no one is so indifferent to facts as not to have heard how Antipater after his victory over the Greeks at Lamia treated the unhappy Athenians as well as the other Greeks in the harshest manner, going so far in his wanton and lawless violence as to appoint and send round to the different cities exile-hunters to catch those who had opposed or in any way offended the royal house of Macedon. Some forcibly driven out of the temples and others dragged from the altars perished by torture, while those who escaped were expelled from the whole of Greece, having no single place of refuge except the territory of the Aetolian League. And who is ignorant of the actions of Cassander, Demetrius, and Antigonus Gonatas, all so recent that the memory of them is quite vivid? Some of them by introducing garrisons to cities and others by planting tyrannies left no city with the right to call itself unenslaved. Leaving them aside, I will now pass to the last Antigonus, in case any of you, regarding his action without suspicion, consider themselves under a debt of gratitude to the Macedonians. It was not for the purpose of saving the Achaeans that Antigonus undertook the war against you, nor because he disapproved of the tyranny of Cleomenes and desired to save Sparta. If anyone entertains such a notion he must be very simple-minded. But seeing that his own power would not be safe if you acquired the supremacy in the Peloponnesus, that Cleomenes was just the man to effect this and that Fortune was working for you splendidly, he came here actuated both by fear and envy, not to have the Peloponnesians but to cut short your hopes and humiliate your prestige. So instead of affection for the Macedonians because they did not plunder your city when masters of it, you should consider them your enemies and hate them for preventing you more than once when you had the power of attaining supremacy in Greece.

Polybius Histories 9.30
"And regarding Philip's offences why need I speak more? As for his impiety to heaven it is sufficient to cite his outrages on the temples at Thermi, and as for his cruelty to men I need but mention his perfidy and treachery to the Messenians. . . . For the Aetolians alone among the Greeks dared to face Antipater and demand security for the unfortunate victims of his injustice, they alone withstood the attack of Brennus and his barbarians, and they alone when called upon came to fight by your side and help you recover your hereditary position of supremacy. "I have spoken at some length on this subject, but as regards the present deliberation one may say that while it is necessary to draw up your decree and to vote as if you were deciding on war, as a matter of fact you need not look on this as war. So far from the Achaeans being able to inflict any damage on your territory, I fancy they will be only too grateful to the gods if they can protect their own when encircled by foes, the Eleans and Messenians attacking them on one side owing to their alliance with us, and ourselves on the other. As for Philip, I feel sure that his aggressiveness will soon cease with the Aetolians fighting him on land and the Romans and King Attalus at sea. It is indeed very easy to conjecture what will happen from the past. For if when he was at war with the Aetolians alone he was never able to subdue them, how with this combination against him will he be able to support the present war?

Polybius Histories 9.31
"I have spoken so in order that, as was my purpose from the outset, you should all recognize that even if you did not stand in any way committed but were considering the question for the first time, you ought rather to ally yourselves with the Aetolians than the Macedonians. But if as is the fact you stand engaged and have made up your minds about the matter, what remains to be said? If indeed you had formed your present alliance with us previous to the favours conferred on you by Antigonus, it might perhaps have been an open question for you whether you should not as a concession to subsequent circumstances neglect earlier obligations. But since it was after the establishment by Antigonus of this much vaunted liberty and security that they are constantly throwing in your teeth, since it was after frequently discussing among yourselves whether you should enter into alliance with the Aetolians or the Macedonians that you decided to join the Aetolians, with whom you have interchanged pledges, side by side also with whom you fought against Macedonia in the late war, what justifiable room for discussion is left? For by your action then your friendly relations with Antigonus and Philip were cancelled. So you must either be able to point to some act of injustice to you committed subsequently by the Aetolians or some benefit conferred on you by Macedonia, or if neither one nor the other exists, how can you, ceding to the instances of the very people whose advances you before rightly decided to reject when your hands were free, contemplate the violation of treaties, oaths, and the most solemn pledges known to men?" Chlaeneas after speaking in these terms which seemed difficult to refute, here ended his harangue.

Polybius Histories 9.32
After this Lyciscus, the Acarnanian envoy, coming forward at first refrained from addressing the assembly, as he saw that they were nearly all engaged in discussing the space with each other, but when silence was restored he began to speak somewhat as follows: "We, men of Lacedaemon, have been sent to you by the Acarnanian League; and as we have nearly always made common cause with Macedonia we consider that this embassy represents Macedonia as well as our own country. And just as in battles owing to the superiority and strength of the Macedonian force their valour involves our safety, so in diplomatic contests the interests of Acarnania are involved in the rights of Macedonia. You must not therefore be surprised if the greater part of my speech refers to Philip and the Macedonians. Now Chlaeneas at the close of his speech summed up very abruptly the nature of the Aetolian claims on you. He said that if subsequently to your entering into alliance with the Aetolians, you had suffered any injury or offence from them, or had even met with any kindness from the Macedonians, the present meeting would be justified in considering the question afresh, but if nothing of the kind had happened, and if we Acarnanians now believe that by alleging what occurred and met with your approbation in the time of Antigonus we shall succeed in overthrowing oaths and treaties, we are the greatest simpletons in the world. Well, I allow that I am the greatest simpleton in the world and that the words I am about to address to you are idle, if, as he says, nothing has taken place subsequently, but the state of Greece is precisely the same as it was when you made the alliance with the Aetolians alone. But if the exact reverse is the case, as I shall clearly show in the course of this speech, I think you will be convinced that my advice is highly to your advantage and that Chlaeneas is wrong. We have come here then convinced that we ought to address you on this very matter and demonstrate to you that it will be both to your credit and to your interest to adopt if possible, once you have heard how serious is the danger that threatens Greece, a policy both honourable and worthy of yourselves, by joining our cause; or if that may not be so, by taking at least no active part in this dispute.

Polybius Histories 9.33
But since our opponents have ventured to bring against the house of Macedon accusations dating from early times, I think it incumbent on me to begin by addressing to you a few words on these matters, in order to correct the error of those who put faith in the statements made. "Chlaeneas, then, said that it was by means of the calamity of Olynthus that Philip, son of Amyntas, made himself master of Thessaly, whereas what I assert is that not only the Thessalians, but the rest of the Greeks owed their safety to Philip. For at the time when Onomarchus and Philomenus seized on Delphi and impiously and illegally possessed themselves of the god's treasure, who among you is not aware that they established a force of such strength that none of the Greeks dared to face it; indeed, while acting thus impiously they very nearly made themselves at the same time masters of the whole of Greece. It was then that Philip voluntarily proffered his services, destroyed the tyrants, secured the temple and was the author of liberty in Greece, as actual facts have testified to posterity also. For it was not because he had injured the Thessalians, as Chlaeneas had the audacity to say, but because he was the benefactor of Greece, that they all chose him commander-in-chief both on sea and land, an honour previously conferred on no one. But we are told that he entered Laconia with his army. True, but, as you know it was not of his own choice, but it was after being frequently entreated and appealed to by his friends and allies in the Peloponnese that he reluctantly gave way. And when he arrived, pray consider, Chlaeneas, how he behaved. It was in his power to avail himself of the animosity of the neighbouring peoples to devastate the territory of Sparta and humiliate the city, winning thereby profound thanks, but instead of adopting such a course he struck equal terror into the Spartans and their enemies and compelled them to their common good to settle their differences by a congress, not assuming himself the right of judging their disputes, but appointing a court of arbitration selected from all the Greek states. How proper a subject for reproach and censure!

Polybius Histories 9.34
"Again, you have bitterly reproached Alexander for punishing Thebes when he believed that city had wronged him, but you never mentioned how he inflicted punishment on the Persians for their outrages on all the Greeks, and how he delivered us all from the greatest evils by enslaving the barbarians and depriving them of the resources they used for the destruction of the Greeks, pitting now the Athenians and now the Thebans against the ancestors of these Spartans, how in a word he made Asia subject to Greece. And as for his successors, how have you the assurance to mention them? They did indeed often, under changing circumstances, bestow benefits and inflict injuries on different people, and others might be justified in feeling resentment against them, but you Aetolians have not the least right to do so, you who have never done any good to a soul, but have done evil to many and at many times. Who, tell me, invited Antigonus the son of Demetrius to assist in dissolving the Achaean League? Who made a sworn treaty with Alexander of Epirus for the enslavement and partition of Acarnania? Was it not you? Who elected and sent out such commanders as you did, men who even ventured to lay hands on inviolable sanctuaries, Timaeus having plundered those of Poseidon on Taenarus and of Artemis at Lusi, while Pharycys pillaged the holy place of Hera at Argos and Polycritus that of Poseidon in Mantinea? And what shall we say of Lattabus and Nicostratus? Did they not violate in time of peace the sanctity of the Pamboeotian festival conduct worthy of Scythians or Gauls. No such crimes were ever perpetrated by Alexander's successors.

Polybius Histories 9.35
"While you have no defence to offer for any of these acts you pride yourselves on having resisted the attack of the barbarians on Delphi, and say that the Greeks ought to be grateful to you for this. But if thanks are due to the Aetolians for this single service, how highly should we honour the Macedonians, who for the greater part of their lives never cease from fighting with the barbarians for the sake of the security of Greece? For who is not aware that Greece would have constantly stood in the greatest danger, had we not been fenced by the Macedonians and the honourable ambition of their kings? The best proof is this. The moment that the Gauls after defeating Ptolemy Ceraunus conceived a contempt for the Macedonians, Brennus making light of all other opponents marched into the middle of Greece with his army, a thing that would often have happened if our frontiers were not protected by the Macedonians. "I have much more to say about the past, but have said, I think, enough. Among Philip's actions they cite his destruction of the temple as an instance of impiety, but they do not add a word about the criminal outrages they committed at the temples of Dium and Dodona and the precincts of the gods there. They should have mentioned these first. But you Aetolians while you tell this meeting of the evils you suffered, greatly exaggerating their gravity, are silent regarding the far more numerous evils you did to others unprovoked, well knowing that all impute the blame for injustice and injuries to those who first resort to such violence.

Polybius Histories 9.36
"As for the conduct of Antigonus, I will only mention it so far as to avoid seeming to make light of what happened or to regard as of minor importance such a performance as his. I do not for my part think there is an example in history of such benevolence as Antigonus showed to you. It seems to me in fact that it could not be surpassed. For what were the facts? Antigonus went to war with you and beat you in a pitched battle, and by force of arms took possession of your territory and town. Strictly, he should have exercised the rights of war. But he was so far from treating you with any severity, that besides all the rest he did for you he expelled your tyrant and re-established the reign of law and your ancient constitution. And in return for this you proclaimed Antigonus at public festivals in the hearing of all Greece to be your saviour and benefactor. Now what course should you have taken afterwards? I will tell you my opinion, sirs, and you must not take it ill; for I will do so not with any wish to heap pointless reproaches on you, but under the pressure of circumstances and for the general good. This is what I have to say. Both in the former war you should have taken the side not of the Aetolians but of Macedonia and now that these advances are made to you you should rather join Philip than the Aetolians. But I shall be told that you will be breaking a treaty. Now which is the most serious offence, to disregard the private convention you made with the Aetolians or the treaty made in the sight of all the Greeks and inscribed on a column and consecrated? Why should you have compunction about throwing over those from whom you never received any favour, but show no respect to Philip and the Macedonians to whom you owe even your power of deliberating on this occasion? Do you think it necessary to keep faith with your friends. . . But the piety of observing a written treaty is less than the impiety of fighting against your preservers, as the Aetolians now come and ask you to do.

Polybius Histories 9.37
"Let what I have said on this head suffice, and let those who are disposed to be cautious pronounce my words to have no bearing on the present situation. I will now revert to what my adversaries themselves speak of as the main question. And this is that if matters are now in the same state as when you made an alliance with them, you should decide to maintain your original attitude, for that is a matter of principle, but if the situation has radically changed, you are justified now in discussing the requests made to you afresh. I ask you, therefore, Cleonicus and Chlaeneas, what allies had you when you first invited the Spartans to act with you? Had you not the whole of Greece? But who make common cause with you at present or what kind of alliance do you invite them to enter? Far from being similar, the circumstances are now the reverse of what they formerly were. Then your rivals in the struggle for supremacy and renown were the Achaeans and Macedonians, peoples of your own race, and Philip was their commander. But now Greece is threatened with a war against men of a foreign race who intend to enslave her, men whom you fancy you are calling in against Philip, but are calling in really against yourselves and the whole of Greece. For just as those who when imperilled by war introduce into their cities garrisons stronger than their own forces for the sake of safety, repel indeed all danger from the enemy but at the same time subject themselves to the authority of their friends, so do the Aetolians contemplate doing. For in their anxiety to get the better of Philip and humiliate the Macedonians, they have without knowing it invoked such a cloud from the west as may, perhaps, at first only cast its shadow on Macedonia, but in time will be the cause of great evil to all Greece.

Polybius Histories 9.38
"All Greeks, therefore, should foresee the approaching storm and especially the Lacedaemonians. For why do you think it was, men of Sparta, that your ancestors, at the time when Xerxes sent you an envoy demanding water and earth, thrust the stranger into the well and heaped earth upon him, and bade him to announce to Xerxes that he had received what was demanded, water and earth? Or why did Leonidas and his men march forth of their own will to meet certain death? Surely it was to show that they were risking their lives not for their own freedom alone, but for that of the other Greeks. It very well becomes you", the descendants of such men, to make an alliance now with barbarians, to take the field with them and make war on the Epirots, Achaeans, Acarnanians, Boeotians, and Thessalians, in fact with almost all the Greeks except the Aetolians! They indeed are accustomed to act so and to think nothing disgraceful if only something is to be gained by it, but it is not so with you. And what feats do you expect they will accomplish when they have gained the alliance of Rome, the people who, when you were reinforced by the help of the Illyrians, attempted by sea to surprise and treacherously take Pylus and on land laid siege to Cleitor and sold the citizens of Cynaetha into slavery? Formerly, as I already said, they made a treaty with Antigonus for the destruction of the Achaean and Acarnanian Leagues, and now they have made one with the Romans against the whole of Greece.

Polybius Histories 9.39
"How, when one knows of this, can one help viewing with suspicion the advance of the Romans and with detestation the unprincipled conduct of the Aetolians in venturing to make such treaties? Already they have robbed the Acarnanians of Oeniadae and Nasus, and it is but the other day that they together with the Romans seized on the unhappy city of Anticyra, selling its inhabitants into slavery. So the Romans are carrying off the women and children to suffer, of course, what those must suffer who fall into the hands of aliens, while the Aetolians divide the houses of the unfortunate people among themselves by lot. A fine alliance this for anyone to determine to join and specially for you Lacedaemonians, who, when you conquered the barbarians, decreed that the Thebans were to pay a tithe to the gods for having decided under compulsion, but alone among the Greeks, to remain neutral during the Persian invasion. "Your honour then and your dignity, men of Lacedaemon, require that you should remember who were your ancestors, that you should place yourselves on your guard against the aggression of Rome, and view with suspicion the evil designs of the Aetolians, but above all that you should bear in mind the favours conferred on you by Antigonus and still continue to be haters of wickedness, refusing the friendship of the Aetolians and throwing in your lot with the Achaeans and Macedonians. But if some of your most powerful citizens are opposed to this policy at least do all in your power to remain neutral and not participate in the iniquity of the Aetolians." In 211 B.C. the Acarnanians were threatened with invasion by the Aetolians and resorted to the desperate resolution to which these fragments relate. See Livy, XXVI.25.

Polybius Histories 9.40
The Acarnanians, on learning of the Aetolian invasion, partly from despondency and partly from fury came to a desperate resolution. . . . If anyone survived and escaped from the battle no one might receive him in a city or give him fire. They delivered a solemn curse on all and especially on the Epirots who should receive any fugitive in their country. . . .

Siege of Echinus by Philip

Polybius Histories 9.41
Having decided to make his approaches to the city opposite the two towers, he constructed in front of each of them a shelter for sappers and a ram, and in the space between the towers a gallery from one ram to the other running parallel to the wall. When the design was carried out the appearance of the work was very similar in style to the wall. For the superstructures on the shelters were in appearance and arrangement like towers of the fashion of the wickerwork, while the space between them was like a wall, the upper row of wickerwork being divided into battlements by the way it was woven. From the ground floor of the towers the men employed in levelling the surface to enable the rollers to advance threw up earth, and the ram was then propelled. On the second story there were water-jars and other appliances for putting out fires, and also the catapults, while on the third, level with the towers of the then, stood a number of men ready to engage those who attempted to damage the ram. From the gallery between the towers two trenches were opened and carried towards the wall of the city. There were also three batteries of ballistae of which one threw stones of a talent's weight, and the other two stones of half that weight. From the camp to the shelters for sappers roofed underground passages had been constructed, so that neither those coming from the camp nor those leaving the works should be wounded by missiles from the town. These works were entirely completed in the course of a few days, as the country round has abundance of the materials required. For Echinus is situated on the Malian Gulf, facing south, opposite the territory of Thronium, and the land is rich in every kind of produce, so that nothing was lacking for Philip's purpose. But, as I said, when the work was complete both the saps and the siege machines began to advance. 42 While Philip was besieging Echinus, and had both well secured his position on the side of the town and fortified his camp on the outer side with a trench and a wall, Publius Sulpicius, the Roman proconsul, and Dorimachus, the strategus of the Achaeans, appeared in person, Publius with a fleet and Dorimachus with a force of infantry and cavalry. When they attacked the entrenched camp and were repulsed, Philip having fought more vigorously, the Echinaeans surrendered to Philip. For Dorimachus was unable to compel Philip to raise the siege by cutting off his supplies, as he got them by sea. Aegina occupied by the Romans When Aegina was taken by the Romans, such of the inhabitants as did not escape collected on the ships and begged the proconsul to allow them to send convoys to cities of kindred race to obtain ransom. Publius at first refused very sharply, saying that they ought to have sent envoys to their betters to come and save them while they were still their own masters not now they were slaves. That they who a short time ago had not even deigned to reply to his envoys, now when they had fallen into his power should request leave to send envoys to their kinsmen was most foolish. So at the time he dismissed those who had approached him with these words, but next day summoning all the prisoners of war, he said he was under no obligation to be lenient to the Aeginetans, but for the sake of the rest of the Greeks he would allow them to send envoys to get ransom, as such was their custom.

VIII. Affairs of Asia

Polybius Histories 9.43
The Euphrates commences its course in Armenia and flows through Syria and the adjacent countries in the direction of Babylonia. It is supposed to fall into the Persian Gulf, but this is not the case; for the canals which are carried over the country exhaust the water of the river before it can fall into the sea. So that its nature is the reverse of that of most rivers. In the case of other rivers the stream increases the most country they traverse, they are largest in winter and lowest in the height of summer, but the Euphrates is in highest flood at the rising of the Dog-star, and the stream is largest in Syria and gets smaller as it advances. The reason of this is that its rise is not due to the conflux of winter rains but to the melting of the snow, while its decrease is due to the diversion of the stream into the land and its subdivision for purposes of irrigation. So that on this occasion the conveyance of the troops was very slow, the boats being over full, while the river was at its lowest, and the force of its current only helped their progress to a very slight extent.