CHAPTER IPrusias, King of Bithynia -- His Attack upon Attalus -- His Son Nicomedes -- Conspiracy against Prusias -- Death of Prusias
THE Greeks think that the Thracians who marched to the Trojan war with Rhesus, who was killed by Diomedes in the night-time in the manner described in Homer's poems,1 fled to the outlet of the Euxine sea at the place where the crossing to Thrace is shortest. Some say that as they found no ships they remained there and possessed themselves of the country called Bebrycia. Others say that they crossed over to the country beyond Byzantium called Thracian Bithynia and settled along the river Bithya, but were forced by hunger to return to Bebrycia, to which they gave the name of Bithynia from the river where they had previously dwelt; or perhaps the name was changed by them insensibly with the lapse of time, as there is not much difference between Bithynia and Bebrycia. So some think. Others say that their first ruler was Bithys, the son of Zeus and Thrace, and that the two countries received their names from them.  So much by way of preface concerning Bithynia. Of the forty-nine kings who successively ruled the country before the Romans, it does not concern me to make special mention in writing Roman history. Prusias, surnamed the Hunter, was the one to whom Perseus, king of Macedonia, gave his sister in marriage. When Perseus and the Romans, not long afterward, went to war with each other, Prusias did not take sides with either of them. When Perseus was taken prisoner Prusias went to meet the Roman generals, clad in a toga which they call the tebennus, shod in the Italian fashion, with his head shaved and wearing on it a pilleus2 in the manner of slaves who have been made free in their masters' wills, and making himself appear base and insignificant in other ways. When he met them he said in the Latin tongue, "I am the freedman of the Romans, which is to say 'emancipated.' "They laughed at him and sent him to Rome. As he appeared equally ridiculous there he obtained pardon.