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[85] In this way Pompeius possessed himself of Sicily, and thus had ships, and an island lying convenient to Italy, and an army, now of considerable size, composed of those whom he had before, and those who had fled from Rome, both freemen and slaves, or those sent to him by the Italian cities which had been proclaimed as prizes of victory for the soldiers. These cities dreaded a victory of the triumvirs more than anything else, and whatever they could do against them secretly they did. The wealthy citizens fled from a country that they could no longer consider their own and took refuge with Pompeius, who was near by and greatly beloved by all at that time. There were present with him also many seafaring men from Africa and Spain, skilled in naval affairs, so that Pompeius was well provided with officers, ships, troops, and money. When Octavius learned these facts he sent Salvidienus with a fleet to come alongside of Pompeius and destroy him, as though it were an easy task, while he passed through Italy himself with the intention of joining Salvidienus at Rhegium. Pompeius advanced with a large fleet to meet Salvidienus, and a naval engagement took place between them at the entrance of the straits near the promontory of Scyllæum. The ships of Pompeius, being lighter and manned by better sailors, excelled in swiftness and skill, while those of the Romans, being of great tonnage and size, labored heavily. When the usual rush of waves through the straits came on, and the sea dashed hither and thither under the influence of the current, the ships of Pompeius suffered less than their adversaries, because they were accustomed to the agitation of the waters; while those of Salvidienus, being unable to maintain their position firmly, or to work their oars, or manage their rudders, by reason of their inexperience, were thrown into confusion. Accordingly, about sunset, Salvidienus was the first to give the signal of retreat. Pompeius withdrew also. The ships suffered about equally on both sides. Salvidienus retired to the port of Balarus, facing the straits, where he repaired what was left of his damaged and wasted fleet.

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