XXXI[31arg] A message sent by the Rhodians about the celebrated picture of Ialysus to Demetrius, leader of the enemy, at the time when they were besieged by him.
THE island of Rhodes, of ancient fame, and the fairest and richest town in it were besieged and assaulted by Demetrius, a famous general of his time, who was surnamed πολιορκητής, or “the taker of cities,” from his skill and training in conducting sieges and the cleverness of the engines which he devised for the capture of towns. On that occasion he was preparing in the course of the siege to attack, pillage and burn a public building without the walls of the town, which had only a weak garrison. In this building was that famous picture of Ialysus, 1 the work of Protogenes, 2 the distinguished painter; and incited by anger against them, Demetrius begrudged the Rhodians the beauty and fame of that work of art. The Rhodians sent envoys to Demetrius with this message: “What on earth is your reason for wishing to set fire to that building and destroy our painting? For if you overcome all of us and take this whole town, through your victory you will gain possession also of that painting, uninjured and entire; but if you are unable to overcome us by your siege, we beg you to take thought lest it bring shame upon you, because you could not conquer the Rhodians in war, to have waged war with the dead Protogenes.” Upon hearing this message from the envoys, Demetrius abandoned the siege and spared both the picture and the city.