Perseus did not venture, at the commencement of winter, to go out of the limits of Macedon, lest the Romans might make an irruption into the kingdom by some unguarded quarter;
but on the approach of the winter solstice, when the depth of the snow renders the mountains between it and [p. 2051]
Thessaly impassable, he thought the season favourable for crushing the hopes and spirits of his neighbours, lest any danger should be lurking there, while his attention was turned to the Romans;
since Cotys afforded him security in the direction of Thrace, and Cephalus, by his sudden revolt from the Romans, freed him from uneasiness on the side of Epirus, and as his late expedition had subdued the Dardanians, he considered that Macedon was only exposed on the side next to Illyria, the Illyrians themselves being in motion, and having offered a free passage to the Romans:
hoping, however, that if he reduced the nearest tribes of Illyrians, Gentius himself, who had long been wavering, might be brought into alliance with him, he set out at the head of ten thousand foot, the greater part of whom were soldiers of the phalanx, two thousand light infantry, and five hundred horse, and proceeded to Stubera.
Having there supplied himself with corn sufficient for many days, and ordered every requisite for besieging towns to be sent after him, he encamped on the third day before Uscana, the largest city in the Penestian country. Before he employed force, he sent emissaries to sound the dispositions, sometimes of the commanders of the garrison, sometimes of the inhabitants; for, besides some troops of Illyrians, there was a Roman garrison in the place.
When his emissaries brought back no friendly message, he resolved to attack the town, and made an attempt to take it by a line of circumvallation formed of troops;
but though his men, relieving one another, continued without intermission, either by day or night, some to apply ladders to the walls, others to attempt to set fire to the gates, yet the defenders of the city
sustained that shock, for they had hopes that the Macedonians would not be able to endure any longer the severity of the winter in the open field; and besides, that the king would not have so long a respite from the war with Rome, that he would be able to stay there.
But, when they saw the machines in motion, and towers erected, their resolution was overcome; for, besides that they were unequal to a contest with his force, they had not a sufficient store of corn, or any other necessary, as they had not expected a siege.
Therefore when they had no hopes of being able to hold out, Caius Carvilius Spoletinus and Caius Afranius were sent by the Roman garrison to request from Perseus, first, to allow the troops to [p. 2052]
march out with their arms, and to carry their effects with them; and then, if they could not obtain that, to receive his promise of their lives and liberty.
The king promised more generously than he performed; for, after desiring them to march out with their effects, the first thing he did was to take away their arms. As soon as they left the city, both the cohort of Illyrians, five hundred in number, and the inhabitants of Uscana, immediately surrendered themselves and the city.