On the third day after their leaving this place, the army reached the river Chaus, and proceeding thence, took the city of Eriza at the first assault.
They then came to Thabusios, a fort standing on the bank of the river Indus, to which an elephant's guide thrown from the animal had given its name.
They were now not far from Cibyra, yet no embassy appeared from Moagetes, the tyrant of that state; a man faithless and tyrannical in every respect.
The consul, in order to sound his intentions, sent forward Caius Helvius, with four thousand foot and five hundred horse. Ambassadors met this body on their entrance into his territories, declaring, that the king was ready to execute their commands.
They entreated Helvius to enter their confines in a friendly manner, and to restrain his soldiers from pludering the land; and they brought with them in lieu of a golden crown fifteen talents.
Helvius, having promised to keep their lands safe from plunderers, ordered the ambassadors to go on to the consul.
And when they delivered the same message to him, the consul said, “We Romans have not any sign of the ty- [p. 1736]
rant's good will towards us, and we are agreed that he is such a person that we ought rather to think of punishing him than of contracting friendship with him.”
Struck with astonishment at such a reception, the ambassadors requested nothing more than that he should receive the present, and give permission to the tyrant to come to him, and an opportunity to speak and excuse himself.
By the permission of the consul, the tyrant came next day into the camp. His dress and retinue were scarcely equal to the style of a private person of moderate fortune; while his discourse was humble and incoherent, depreciating his own wealth and complaining of the poverty of the cities under his sway.
He had under his dominion, (beside Cibyra,) Syleum, and the city called Alimne. Out of these he promised (in such a manner as if he were diffident that he could strip himself and his subjects of so much) to raise twenty-five talents.1
“Truly,” said the consul, “this trifling cannot be borne.
It is not enough for you that you did not blush, though absent, when you were imposing on us by your ambassadors; but even when present you persist in the same effrontery. Is it that twenty-five talents would exhaust your dominions?
If within three days you do not pay down five hundred talents,2
expect the devastation of your lands and the siege of your city.”
Although terrified by this menace, he persisted obstinately in his plea of poverty; gradually by illiberal advances, (sometimes cavilling, sometimes recurring to prayers and counterfeit tears,)
he was brought to agree to the payment of one hundred talents,3
to which were added ten thousand bushels of corn. All this was done within six days.