It was now the beginning of spring, and the new commanders had arrived in their provinces; the consul Aemilius in Macedonia, Octavius at Oreum, where the fleet lay, and Anicius in Illyria, to carry on the war against Gentius.
This prince, who was the son of Pleuratus, king of Illyria, and his queen Eurydice, had two brothers, one called Plator, by both parents, the other Caravantius, by the same mother only. The latter, as descended of ignoble ancestors on his father's [p. 2090]
side, was but little suspected; but, that his reign might be more secure, he had put to death Plator, and two active men his friends, Ettritus and Epicadus.
It was rumoured, that he was actuated by jealousy towards his brother, who had engaged himself to Etuta, the daughter of Hononus, prince of the Dardanians, as if, by that match, engaging that nation in his interest;
and this supposition was rendered the more probable by Gentius marrying her, after the death of Plator. From this time, when he was delivered from the fear of his brother, he began to be oppressive to his subjects, and the natural violence of his temper was inflamed by an immoderate use of wine.
Having been incited, as was mentioned above, to a war with the Romans, he collected all his forces, amounting to fifteen thousand men, at Lissus.
From thence, detaching his brother with one thousand foot and fifty horse, to reduce, either by force or terror, the nation of the Cavians, he marched himself to Bassania, a city five miles distant from Lissus. The inhabitants were in alliance with Rome.
Therefore, having been first solicited by emissaries sent in advance, they determined rather to endure a siege than surrender themselves. In Cavia, the people of the town of Durnium cheerfully opened their gates to Caravantius, on his arrival; but another town, called Caravantis, refused him admittance; and whilst he was carelessly ravaging their lands, many of his straggling soldiers were killed by a muster of the peasants.
By this time Appius Claudius, having joined to the army he had in command some bodies of auxiliaries, composed of Bulinians, Apollonians, and Dyrrhachians, had left his winter quarters, and was encamped near the river Genusus.
Having heard of the treaty between Persius and Gentius, and being highly provoked at the ill-treatment of the outraged ambassadors, he was resolved to make war upon him.
The praetor Anicius, who was now at Apollonia, being informed of what passed in Illyria, despatched a letter to Appius, desiring him to wait for him at the Genusus; and, in three days after, he arrived in the camp. Having added
to the auxiliary troops which he then had, two thousand foot and two hundred horse of the Parthinians, (the foot commanded by Epicadus, and the horse by Agalsus,) he prepared to march into Illyria, chiefly that he might relieve the Bassanians from the siege.
But an account brought him, of the sea-coast being ravaged by a [p. 2091]
number of the enemy's barks, checked his efforts.
These were eighty vessels, which, by the advice of Pantauchus, Gentius had sent to waste the lands of the Dyrrhachians and Apollonians. The Roman fleet was then lying near Apollo- nia. Anicius hastily repaired thither, soon overtook the Illy- rian plunderers, brought them to an engagement, and, defeating them with very little trouble, took many of their ships, and compelled the rest to retire to Illyria. Returning thence to the camp at the Genusus, he hastened to the relief of Bassania.
Gentius did not bear up against the rumour of the praetor's coming; but, raising the siege, retired to Scodra with such precipitate haste, that he did not even take the whole of his army with him.
There was a large body of forces, which, if their courage had been supported by the presence of their com- mander, might have given some check to the Romans;
but, as he had withdrawn,1