Philip had received notice of this from Oreum, by the signal fires; but through the treachery of Plator they were raised from the watch-tower at a later period.
As he was not a match for the enemy's forces at sea, it was difficult for him to approach the island; and thus, by delay, the opportunity was lost. He moved with promptness to the assistance of Chalcis as soon as he received the signal. For although Chalcis is a city of the same island, yet it is separated from the continent by so narrow a strait, that they communicate by means of a bridge, and the approach to it is easier by land than by water.
Philip therefore, going from Demetrias to Scotussa, and setting out thence at the third watch, dislodged the guard, put to flight the Aetolians who kept the pass of Thermopylae, and drove the enemy in confusion to Heraclea, marching in one day to Elatia in Phocis, a distance of above sixty miles.
Almost on the same day the town of Opus was taken and plundered by Attalus. Sulpicius had given it up to the king because Oreum had been plundered a few days before by the Roman soldiers, the royal soldiers not having shared the booty.
The Roman fleet having retired thither, Attalus, who was not aware of Philip's approach, wasted time in levying contributions from the principal inhabitants, and so sudden was
his coming, that had he not been descried by some Cretans, who happened to go farther from the town than usual in quest of forage, he might have been surprised.
He fled hastily to the sea and his ships, without arms, and in the greatest disorder. Just as they were putting off from the land Philip arrived, and even from the shore created much alarm among the mariners.
He returned thence to Opus, accusing both gods and men, because he had lost an opportunity of so great importance, almost snatched from his hands.
He also reproached the Opuntians with the like anger, because they had, immediately on sight of the enemy, made almost a voluntary surrender, though they might have prolonged the siege till his arrival. Having settled affairs at Opus, he proceeded thence to Thronium. Attalus, too, at first retired from Oreum; but there receiving intelligence that Prusias, king of Bithynia, had invaded his [p. 1170]
kingdom, he withdrew his attention from the Romans and the Aetolian war, and passed over into Asia.
Sulpicius also withdrew his fleet to Aegina, from whence he had set out in the beginning of spring. Philip took Thronium with as little difficulty as Attalus had at Opus.
It was inhabited by foreigners, fugitives from Thebes in Phthiotis, who, on the capture of their own town by Philip, had fled to the protection of the Aetolians, and received from them a city as a settlement which had been laid waste and desolated in a former war by the same Philip.
Having recovered Thronium, as has been a little before mentioned, he set out thence; and having taken Tritonos and Drymae, inconsiderable towns of Doris, he came thence to Elatia, where he had ordered the ambassadors of Ptolemy and the Rhodians to wait for him.
While consulting there as to the best method of bringing the Aetolian war to a conclusion, (for these ambassadors attended the late council of the Romans and Aetolians at Heraclea,) intelligence is brought that Machanidas intended to attack the Elians while busied in preparing for the celebration of the Olympic games.
Thinking it his duty to prevent such an attempt, he dismissed the ambassadors with a gracious answer to the effect, that he had neither caused the war, nor would he
be any obstacle to the restoration of peace, if it should be possible on equitable and honourable terms;
then marching quickly through Bœotia he came down from Megara, and thence to Corinth, where receiving supplies of provisions, he went to Phlius and Pheneus. And now, when he had proceeded as far as Heraea, having received intelligence that Machanidas, terrified at the news of
his approach, had retreated to Lacedaemon, he betook himself to Aegium, where the Achaeans were assembled in council, expecting at the same time to meet there a Carthaginian fleet, which he had sent for, in order that he might accomplish something by sea.
But the Carthaginians had left a few days before, and were gone to the Oxean islands; and thence, hearing that the Romans and Attalus had left Oreum, to the harbours of the Acarnanians, for they feared that it was intended to attack them, and that they would be overpowered while within the straits of Rhium, which is the name of the entrance of the Corinthian bay.