Perseus, on hearing of the approach of the Aetolians, having raised the siege of the city in which he was employed, and having ravaged the country, quitted Amphilochia, and returned into Macedon.
The devastation of their sea-coast called away the Aetolians from this region. Pleuratus, king of the Illyrians, entered the Corinthian gulf with sixty barks, and having formed a junction with the ships of the Achaeans lying at Patrae, wasted the maritime parts of Aetolia.
Against these one thousand Aetolians were sent, who, by taking short routes, met the fleet wherever it, while sailing around the indentations of the coast, attempted a landing.
The Romans at Ambracia, by the battering of their rams in many places at once, laid open a great part of the city; but nevertheless were unable to penetrate into the heart of it.
For instead of the wall knocked down a new one was raised with proportionate speed, while the armed men standing on the ruins, formed a kind of bulwark.
The consul, therefore, when he made no progress by open force, resolved to form a secret mine, covering the ground first with his machines. And for a long time his workmen, though employed both night and day, not only in digging under the ground but also in carrying away the earth, escaped the observation of the enemy.
A heap of it, however, rising suddenly, gave the townsmen intimation of their work, and terrified lest, the wall being undermined, a passage should be opened into the city, they determined to draw a trench within, opposite to the work that was covered with machines.
In which when they reached such a depth as the bottom of the mine could well be, then keeping profound silence, having applied their ears to several different places, they endeavoured to catch the sound of the miners; which being heard, they opened a way directly towards them.
Nor did it require much exertion, for they came in a short time to an open space where the wall was supported with props by the enemy.
The works joining here, as the passage was open from the trench to the mine, the parties began to fight in the dark under ground, first of all with the tools which they had used in the works, but afterwards armed men came quickly up. Subse- quently the contest became less spirited; as the besieged [p. 1729]
stopped the passage, sometimes by stretching strong haircloths across it, sometimes by hastily placing doors in the way of their antagonists.
A new engine, requiring no great labour, was invented against those who were in the mine. The besieged bored a hole in the bottom of a cask, by which a moderate-sized pipe could be inserted, and made an iron pipe and iron head for the cask, which was perforated in many places. They placed this cask, filled with small feathers, with its mouth turned towards the mine. Through the holes in the head of the cask projected those very long spears, which they call sarissas, to keep off the enemy.
They kindled a small spark of fire, placed among the feathers, by blowing with a smith's bellows, inserted into the end of the pipe.
After that the smoke arising from this, not only in great quantities, but also more offensive from the nauseous stench proceeding from the burnt feathers, had filled the mine, scarcely any one could stay within.