Now the entire fleets in every part were engaged in action. On the side of the Romans eighty ships were fighting, of which twenty-two were Rhodian.
The enemy's fleet consisted of eighty-nine ships, and they had of the largest rates, three of six, and two of seven banks. In the strength of the vessels, and valour of the soldiers, the Romans had greatly the advantage of the king's party, as had the Rhodians in the activity of their vessels, the skill of the pilots, and the dexterity of the rowers.
However, those which carried fire before them were the greatest terror to the enemy: and what was the sole cause of their preservation when they were surrounded at Panormus, proved here the principal means of victory.
For when the king's ships, through fear of the fire, had turned aside, in order to avoid at the same time encountering the enemy's prow with their own, they could not strike their antagonist with the beaks, but exposed the side of their ships to his strokes;
and if any did venture an encounter, it was immediately overspread with the fire that was poured in; while the men were more alarmed at the fire than the battle.
How- ever, the bravery of the soldiers, as is generally the case, [p. 1687]
chiefly availed in deciding the battle. For the Romans, having broke through the centre of the enemy's line, tacked about and fell upon the rear of the division which was engaged with the Rhodians; and, in an instant of time, both Antiochus's centre division, and the ships on the left, were surrounded and sunk.
The squadron on the right, which was still entire, was terrified rather by the disaster of their friends, than by any immediate danger threatening themselves; but, when they saw the others surrounded, and Polyxenidas's ship deserting its associates, and sailing away, having quickly hoisted their topsails, they betook themselves to flight, (and they steering for Ephesus had a favourable wind,) having lost forty-two ships in that battle; of which thirteen struck, and fell into the hands of the Romans; the rest were burned or sunk.
Two Roman ships were shattered, and several were much damaged.
One Rhodian vessel was taken by an extraordinary casualty; for, on its striking a Sidonian ship with its beak, its anchor, thrown out by the force of the shock, caught fast hold of the other's prow with its fluke, as if it were a grappling-iron thrown in.
Great confusion ensuing thereon, when the Rhodians, who wished to disengage themselves from the enemy, pulled back, its cable being dragged forcibly, and at the same time entangled with the oars, swept off one side of them. The very ship, which, when struck, had grappled with it, took the Rhodian galley in its weakened state. The naval battle at Myonnesus was fought principally in this manner.