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Skirmishes Before the Main Battle

But Philip, who had not expected, for reasons indicated above, that a general engagement would
Philip sends supports.
take place on that day, happened to have sent a considerable part of his troops out of camp foraging. But when informed of what was taking place by these messengers, the mist at the same time beginning to lift, he despatched, with due exhortation, Heracleides of Gyrton, the commander of his Thessalian cavalry; Leon, the general of his Macedonian horse; and Athenagoras, with all the mercenaries except those from Thrace. The reserve being joined by these troops, and the Macedonian force having thus become a formidable one, they advanced against the enemy, and in their turn drove the Romans back from the heights. But what prevented them, more than anything else, from entirely routing the enemy was the gallantry of the Aetolian cavalry, which fought with desperate fury and reckless valour.
Valour of the Aetolian cavalry.
For the Aetolians are as superior to the rest of the Greeks in cavalry for fighting in skirmishing order, troop to troop, or man to man, as they are inferior to them both in the arms and tactics of their infantry for the purpose of a general engagement. The enemy being held in check therefore by these troops, the Roman were not forced back again quite on to the level ground, but, after retiring to a short distance, faced round and halted.
Cynoscephalae. Flamininus offers battle, which Philip, against his better judgment, accepts.
But when Flamininus saw that not only had the cavalry and light infantry retired, but that, owing to them, his whole force was rendered uneasy, he drew out his entire army and got them into order of battle close to the hills. Meanwhile one man after another of the Macedonian reserve ran towards Philip shouting out, "King, the enemy are flying: do not let slip the opportunity. The barbarians cannot stand before us: now is the day for you to strike: now is your opportunity!" The result was that he was induced to fight in spite of his dissatisfaction with the ground. For these hills, which are called Cynoscephalae, are rough, precipitous, and of considerable height; and it was because he foresaw the disadvantages of such a ground, that he was originally disinclined to accept battle there; but, being excited now by the extravagantly sanguine reports of these messengers, he gave the order for his army to be drawn out of camp.

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  • Commentary references to this page (1):
    • Titus Livius (Livy), Ab urbe condita libri, erklärt von M. Weissenborn, books 33-34, commentary, 33.6
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