The king, disliking the length of the march, removed his camp from Sycurium to Mopsilum; and the Romans, having cut down all the corn about Cranno, marched into the lands of Phalanna.
When Perseus learnt from a deserter that they carried on their reaping there, without any armed guard, straggling at random through the fields, he set out with one thousand horsemen and two thousand Thracians and Cretans, and after marching with all the speed that he possibly could, unexpectedly fell on the Romans.
Nearly a thousand carts, with horses harnessed to them, most of them loaded, were seized, and about six hundred men were taken. The charge of guarding this booty, and conducting it to the camp, he
gave [p. 2025]
to a party of three hundred Cretans, and calling in the rest of his infantry and
the cavalry who were spread about, killing the enemy, he led them against the nearest station, thinking that it might be overpowered without much difficulty.
Lucius Pompeius, a military tribune, was in command; who led his men, who were dismayed by the sudden approach of the enemy, to a hill at a little distance, hoping to defend himself by means of the advantage of the ground, as he was inferior in number and strength.
There he collected his men in a circular body, that, by closing their shields, they might guard themselves from arrows and javelins; on which Perseus, surrounding the hill with armed men, ordered a party to strive to climb it on all sides, and come to close fighting, and the rest to throw missile weapons against them from a distance.
The Romans were environed with dangers, in whatever manner they acted; for they could not fight in a body, on account of the enemy who endeavoured to mount the hill; and, if they broke their ranks in order to skirmish with these, they were exposed to the arrows and javelins.
They were galled most severely by the Cestrospendana. A dart, two palms in length, was fixed to a shaft, half a cubit long, and of the thickness of a man's finger; round this, which was made of pine, three feathers were tied, as is commonly done with arrows.
To throw this they used a sling, which had two beds, unequal in size and in the length of the strings. When the weapon was balanced in these, and the slinger whirled it round by the longer string and discharged it, it flew with the rapid force of a leaden bullet.
When one half of the soldiers had been wounded by these and other weapons of all kinds, and the rest were so fatigued that they could hardly bear the weight of their arms, the king pressed them to surrender, assured them of safety, and sometimes promised them rewards; but not one could be prevailed on to yield; and hope now dawned on them determined to die.
For when some of the foragers, fleeing back to the camp, had announced to the consul that the party was surrounded; alarmed for the safety of such a number of his countrymen, (for they were near eight hundred, and all Romans,) he set out with the cavalry and light infantry, joined by the newly arrived Numidian auxiliaries, horse, foot, and elephants, and ordered the military tribunes, that the battalions of the legions should follow.
He himself, having [p. 2026]
strengthened the light-armed auxiliaries with his own light infantry, hastened forward at their head to the hill. He was accompanied by Eumenes, Attalus, and the Numidian prince, Misagenes.