In the mean time, the consul, not to lie inactive in the enemies' country, sent Marcus Popilius, with five thousand men, to reduce the city of Melibœa.
This city stands at the foot of the Mount Ossa, where it stretches out into Thessaly, and is very advantageously situated for commanding Demetrias.
The first approach of the enemy struck terror into the inhabitants of the place; but soon recovering from the fright occasioned by the unexpectedness of the event, they ran hastily in arms to the gates and walls, where an entrance was apprehended, and at once put a stop to all hope of taking the [p. 2071]
place by the first assault.
Preparations were therefore made for a siege, and the works commenced for making the approaches. When Perseus was informed that both Melibœa was being besieged by the consul's army, and that the fleet at the same time was lying at Iolcos, intending to proceed thence to attack Demetrias, he sent Euphranor, one of his generals, with two thousand chosen men, to Melibœa.
His orders were, that, if he could compel the Romans to retire from before Melibœa, he should then march secretly into Demetrias, before the enemy should bring up their troops from Iolcos to that city.
As soon as he suddenly became visible on the high grounds to the besiegers of Melibœa, they abandoned their numerous works in great consternation, and set them on fire.
Thus they withdrew from Melibœa, and Euphranor, having raised the siege of one city, marched instantly to Demetrias. Then the townsmen felt confident that they should be able, not only to defend their walls, but to protect their lands also from depredations; and they made several irruptions on the straggling parties of the plunderers, not without injury to the enemy.
However, the praetor and the king rode round the walls to view the situation of the city, and try whether they might attempt it on any side, either by storm or works.
It was reported, that some overtures of friendship between Eumenes and Perseus were here agitated, through Cydas, a Cretan, and Antimachus, governor of Demetrias.
It is certain, that the armies retired from Demetrias. Eumenes sailed to the consul; and, after congratulating him on his success in penetrating into Macedonia, went home to Pergamus.
Marcius Figulus, the praetor, having sent part of his fleet to winter at Sciathus, with the remainder repaired to Oreum in Eubœa; judging that the most convenient city from which he could send supplies to the armies in Macedonia and Thessaly.
There are very different accounts given respecting king Eumenes: if Valerius Antias is to be believed, he neither gave any assistance with his fleet to the praetor, though often solicited by letters; nor did he depart from the consul for Asia in good humour, being offended at not being permitted to lie in the same camp with him; he says too, that he could not be prevailed on even to leave the Gallic horsemen that he had brought with him.
But his brother Attalus remained with the consul, and in the con- [p. 2072]
stant tenor of his conduct
evinced a sincere attachment, and an extraordinary degree of zeal and activity in the service.