Then, after an interval of a day, when the king was determined to engage with all his cavalry and light infantry, he had concealed his targeteers,1
they call “peltasts,” in ambush in a suitable place between the two camps, and had instructed Athenagoras and the cavalry that if things went well in the open battle they should exploit their advantage, but if not, they should by retiring gradually draw the enemy towards the place of ambush.
And the cavalry did in fact retire, but the commanders of the peltasts, not waiting long enough for the signal and disclosing their forces prematurely, lost the opportunity for a victory. The Roman, both successful in the open battle and safe from the ambuscade, returned to camp.
Next day the consul led out all his army in [p. 107]
battleline, placing in front of the ranks his elephants, an2
auxiliary which the Romans then used for the first time, because they had some which they had taken in the Punic war.
When he saw the enemy lurking behind his ramparts, he advanced to the hills and even against the wall itself, taunting him with being afraid. When he could not even then gain the opportunity to fight, since foraging was unsafe because his base was so close to that of the enemy, the cavalry being ready at any moment to attack the soldiers scattered through the fields, he moved his camp about eight miles from there to Ottolobum —so
they call the place —that he might provision himself more safely because of the distance.3
While the Romans were gathering grain in the neighbouring fields, the king at first kept his men within the camp, that carelessness might increase in the enemy along with boldness.
When he saw them well scattered, he set out with all his cavalry and the Cretan auxiliaries, in so far as these fast-moving infantrymen could keep up with the cavalry, and marching at full speed set up his standards between the Roman camp and the foragers.
Then, dividing his forces, he sent part to pursue the scattered foragers, giving the word to leave no man alive, and himself with the remainder stood and blocked the roads by which the enemy seemed likely to return to camp.
Now there was slaughter and flight everywhere, nor had any news of the disaster yet reached the Roman camp, because the fugitives fell in with the king's patrols, and more were killed by the men who blocked the roads than by those who were sent out to destroy them.
Finally, however, some of them slipped through the line of enemy [p. 109]
guards and in their panic brought confused rumours4
rather than definite news to the camp.