Not far from there lay Uscana, a town belonging to the lands and realm of Perseus.1
It had ten thousand inhabitants and a moderate garrison of Cretans to protect it.
From there, secret messengers kept coming to Claudius, declaring that if he would bring his troops up closer, there were those who were ready to betray the city. And it would be worth his while, they added, for he would not only satisfy himself and his friends, but also his soldiers with the booty.
Hope joined to greed so blinded his mind [p. 37]
that neither did he keep with him any of the2
messengers who had come, nor did he demand hostages as security that there would be no treachery in the carrying out of the plan, nor did he send men to reconnoitre, nor did he receive any solemn promise. Having merely agreed upon a day, he set out from Lychnidus and pitched camp twelve miles from the city to which he was marching.
Thence in the fourth watch he began to advance, leaving about a thousand to garrison the camp. The soldiers arrived near the city in disorder, scattered in along column, and straggling, since wandering by night had dispersed them.
Their carelessness increased after they saw no armed man on the walls. However, as soon as they were within range of missiles, a sally was made from two gates at once; and together with the battle-cry of the sallying parties, there arose from the walls a great uproar of women howling and of bronze clashing everywhere, while an unorganized crowd, with disorderly bands of slaves amongst them, clamoured with various outcries.
This appalling surprise, presented from all directions in so many forms, brought it about that the Romans could not withstand the first storm-blast of the sally. And so more were slaughtered in the flight than in the combat; hardly two thousand men, together with the commander himself, escaped to the camp.
Since the way to the camp was long, the enemy had the opportunity to overtake more of the weary men.
Appius, not even lingering in camp to gather his men scattered in flight-an action which would have been the means of saving those who were wandering through the countryside-at once led back to Lychnidus the remnants of the disaster. [p. 39]