Aemilius kept still for several days, and they say that never was there such quiet when armies of such size had come so close together. But when, as he was trying and considering everything, he learned that there was one passage and one only that still remained unguarded, namely, the one through Perrhaebia past the Pythium and Petra, he conceived more hope from the fact that the place was left unguarded than fear from the roughness and difficulty of it which caused it to be so left, and held a council of war upon the matter.
Among those present at the council, Scipio, surnamed Nasica, a son-in-law of Scipio Africanus, and afterwards of the greatest influence in the senate, was first to offer himself as leader of the enveloping force. And second, Fabius Maximus, the eldest of the sons of Aemilius, though he was still a young man, eagerly volunteered.
Aemilius, accordingly, delighted, gave them, not as many men as Polybius states,
but as many as Nasica himself says they took, in a short letter which he wrote concerning these exploits to one of the kings, that is, three thousand of his Italians who were not Romans, and his left wing numbering five thousand.
In addition to these, Nasica took a hundred and twenty horsemen, besides two hundred of the mixed Thracians and Cretans with Harpalus, set out on the road towards the sea, and encamped by the Heracleum, as though he intended to sail round by sea and envelope the camp of the enemy.
But when his soldiers had taken supper and darkness had come, he told his chief officers his real design, and then led his forces by night in the opposite direction, away from the sea, and halted below the Pythium, where he gave his army a rest. From this point Olympus rises to a height of more than ten furlongs, as is signified in an inscription by the man who measured it:—
The sacred peak of Olympus, at Apollo's Pythium, has a height, in perpendicular measurement, of ten full furlongs, and besides, a hundred feet lacking only four. It was the son of Eumelus who measured the distance, Xenagoras; so fare thee well, O King, and be propitious in thy gifts.
And yet the geometricians say that no mountain has a height, and no sea a depth, of more than ten furlongs. It would seem, however, that Xenagoras took his measurement, not carelessly, but according to rule and with instruments.