After this, learning that Flaccus, a man of the opposite faction, had been chosen consul1
and was crossing the Ionian sea with an army, ostensibly against Mithridates, but really against himself, he set out towards Thessaly in order to meet him. But when he was come to the city of Meliteia, tidings reached him from many quarters that the regions behind him were ravaged again by an army of the king which was no smaller than the former.
For Doryla[uuml ]s, having put in at Chalcis with a large fleet, on which he brought eighty thousand of the best trained and disciplined men in the army of Mithridates, at once burst into Boeotia and occupied the country. He was eager to entice Sulla to battle, disregarding the protests of Archela[uuml ]s, and giving it out that in the previous battle so many myriads had not perished without treachery.
Sulla, however, turning swiftly back, showed Doryla[uuml ]s that Archela[uuml ]s was a man of prudence and best acquainted with the Roman valour, so that after a slight skirmish with Sulla near Tilphossium, he was first of those who thought it expedient not to decide the issue by a battle, but rather to wear out the war by dint of time and treasure. Nevertheless, Archela[uuml ]s was much encouraged by the nature of the country about Orchomenus, where they were encamped, since it was most favourable as a battle-field for an army superior in cavalry.
For of all the plains of Boeotia this is the largest and fairest, and beginning from the city of Orchomenus, it spreads out smooth and treeless as far as the marshes in which the river Melas loses itself. This rises close under the city of Orchomenus, and is the only Greek river that is copious and navigable at its sources; moreover, it increases towards the time of the summer solstice, like the Nile, and produces plants like those which grow there, only stunted and without fruit.
Its course is short, however, and the greater part of it disappears at once in blind and marshy lakes, while a small portion of it unites with the Cephisus, somewhere near the place in which the stagnant water is reputed to produce the famous reed for flutes.2