The tyrant also had prepared a fleet of modest size to keep away any garrisons that might be sent by sea to aid the beleaguered; three decked ships and some smaller vessels and cutters, since his old fleet had been surrendered to the Romans under the treaty.
That he might try the speed of these new ships and that at the same time everything might be made ready for battle, he daily sailed out into the open water and drilled the oarsmen and marines in mock naval engagements, thinking that the hope for the siege depended on his ability to cut off reinforcements coming by sea.
While the praetor of the Achaeans excelled, in his knowledge of fighting on land, anyone you will of famous commanders, either in experience or in aptitude, yet he was without
experience in naval warfare, being an Arcadian, a man from an inland country, unacquainted with the practices of other countries, except that in Crete he had served as a commander of auxiliaries.
There was an old ship, a quadrireme, captured eighty years previously when it was transporting Nicaea, the wife of Crater,1
from Naupactus to Corinth.
Prompted by its reputation —for it had been in its time a famous craft in the royal fleet —he ordered it to be launched at Aegium although it was now quite rotten and was falling to pieces from age.
At this time, with this flagship leading the fleet, with Tiso of Patrae sailing in it as admiral of the fleet, the [p. 75]
Spartan ships from Gytheum met them;
and at the2
first shock with a new and stout vessel, the old ship, which even before had been taking in water through every seam, broke up and everyone who sailed in it was made prisoner.
The rest of the fleet, when their flagship was lost, fled as fast as the oars could drive them. Philopoemen himself escaped in a light scouting vessel and did not stop his flight until he reached Patrae.
In no wise did this mishap affect the courage of this man, a soldier born and tried by many vicissitudes; on the contrary, rather, if he had failed in a naval battle, in which he was inexperienced, he conceived the greater hope in respect to that in the experience of which he excelled, and he asserted that he would render the tyrant's joy of short duration.