Four days after the fleet arrived, they attacked the city. That time had been employed in private conferences with Plator, whom Philip had put in command of the place.
The city has two citadels, one overhanging the coasts, the other in the middle of the town, from which there is a subterraneous passage to the ocean, whose entrance next the sea is defended [p. 1168]
by a strong fortification, a tower five stories high.
Here the affair commenced with a most furious contest, the tower being furnished with all kinds of weapons, and engines and machines of every kind for the purpose of the assault having been landed from the ships.
While the eyes and attention of all were turned to that quarter, Plator opened one of the gates and received the Romans into the citadel next the sea, which they instantly became masters of.
The inhabitants, driven thence, fled to the other citadel in the middle of the city; but there had been troops posted there to shut the gates against them; so that, being thus excluded, they were surrounded and either slain or made prisoners.
Meanwhile the Macedonian garrison stood under the wall of the citadel, formed into a compact body, neither confusedly attempting a retreat, nor obstinately engaging in a contest.
These men Plator, after obtaining permission from Sulpicius, put on board ships and landed them at Demetrias in Phthiotis; he himself withdrew to Attalus.
Sulpicius, elated with the success at Oreum, gained with so much ease, proceeded to Chalcis with his victorious fleet, where the issue by no means answered his expectations.
The sea, which is wide on both sides, being here contracted into a narrow strait, might perhaps, at first view, exhibit the appearance of two harbours facing the two entrances of the Euripus.
It would be difficult to find a station more dangerous for shipping; for not only do the winds come down with great violence from the high mountains on each side, but the strait itself of the Euripus does not ebb and flow seven times a day at stated times, as is reported, but the current changing irregularly, like the wind, now this way now that, is hurried along like a torrent rolling headlong down a steep mountain, so that no quiet is given to vessels there day or night.
But not only did so perilous a station receive his ships, but the town was strong and impregnable, covered on one side by the sea, and very well fortified on the other towards the land, secured by a strong garrison, and above all, by the fidelity of the prefects and principal men, which was wavering and unsettled at Oreum.
Though the business had been rashly undertaken, the Roman still acted with prudence, in so far as he speedily gave up the attempt, after he had seen all the difficulties which sur- [p. 1169]
rounded him, that he might not waste time, and passed his fleet over from thence to Cynus in Locris, the port of the town of Opus
, which is one mile distant from the sea.