council, they should at once decree that the praetor should call a council, in good faith, when he wished to
discuss the question of peace or war, and that whatever was then proposed and decreed should be valid and legal just as if determined at a Panaetolian or Pylaic session.2
The ambassadors being thus dismissed with the decision hanging in the balance, he said that this was wise conduct for the League: for whichever side enjoyed the better fortune of war, to an alliance with that side they would turn. Such were the proceedings of the Aetolian council.
XXXIII. Philip was energetically preparing for war on land and sea.
He assembled his navy at Demetrias in Thessaly; expecting that Attalus and the Roman fleet would move from Aegina in the [p. 99]
beginning of spring, he placed Heraclides, to whom3
he had previously given the same post, in command of the fleet and the coast;
he himself collected the land forces, thinking that he had detached from the Romans two powerful allies, the Aetolians on one side, the Dardani on the other, since the passes to Pelagonia were held by his son Perseus. The consul was not preparing, but actually waging, war.4
He was leading the army through the territory of the Dassaretii, carrying with him untouched the grain he had brought from winter quarters, since the country supplied adequately the needs of the soldiers. The forts and towns surrendered, some voluntarily, others through fear; some were carried by assault, some were found abandoned as the barbarians fled to the neighbouring mountains. He established a base near Lyncus on the river Bevus; from there he sent troops to forage among the granaries of the Dassaretii.
Philip, it is true, saw that everything round about was in confusion and that the people were greatly terrified, but not knowing in which direction the consul had marched, he sent a squadron of cavalry to ascertain where the enemy had gone.
The consul was equally at a loss; he knew that the king had left his winter quarters, though ignorant of the region to which he had marched. He too sent out cavalry to scout. These two cavalry forces, coming from different directions, after they had wandered long and aimlessly over the roads in the land of the Dassaretii, finally met on the same highway. Neither was unaware, since they heard the sound of men and horses from far off, that the enemy was approaching.
So, before they came in sight of one another, they had prepared horses and arms for [p. 101]
battle, nor was there any delay in charging as soon5
as the enemy came in sight. Not unequal, as it chanced, in either numbers or courage, since both consisted of picked men, they fought on equal terms for some hours.
The weariness of men and horses ended the struggle without a decision in favour of either party. Of the Macedonians, forty troopers fell; of the Romans, thirty-five.
Nor did either side, the king's or the consul's, have to report any more definite information as to where the enemy's camp lay; but this information was secured through deserters, whom in every war their fickleness causes to furnish information to the enemy.