When they had thus united their forces, they occupied a hill which rose out of the midst of the plains of Elatea, a fertile hill, thickly grown with trees, and supplied with water at its base. Philoboeotus is its name, and its situation and natural advantages are most highly praised by Sulla. As they lay encamped here, they appeared to the enemy altogether few in numbers; for they were not more than fifteen hundred horse, and less than fifteen thousand foot.
Wherefore the rest of his generals overpowered the objections of Archela[uuml ]s and drew up for battle, filling the plain with their horses, chariots, shields, and bucklers.
The air could not contain the shouts and clamour of so many nations forming in array. At the same time also the pomp and ostentation of their costly equipment was not without its effect and use in exciting terror; indeed, the flashing of their armour, which was magnificently embellished with gold and silver,
and the rich colours of their Median and Scythian vests, intermingled with bronze and flashing steel, presented a flaming and fearful sight as they surged to and fro, so that the Romans huddled together behind their trenches, and Sulla, unable by any reasoning to remove their fear, and unwilling to force them into a fight from which they wanted to run away, had to sit still and endure as best he could the sight of the Barbarians insulting him with boasts and laughter. This, however, was of service to him above all else.
For owing to their contempt of him, his opponents lapsed into great disorder, since even at their best they were not obedient to their generals, owing to the great number in command. Few of them therefore consented to remain within their entrenchments, but the largest part of the throng was lured away by plunder and pillage, and was scattered about the country many days march from their camp. They are said to have destroyed the city of Panope, and to have sacked Lebadeia and despoiled its oracle, although none of their generals ordered them to do so.
But Sulla, though chafing and fretting while cities were destroyed before his eyes, would not suffer his soldiers to be idle, but led them out and forced them to dig ditches and divert the Cephisus from its channel, giving no man a respite, and showing himself an inexorable chastiser of those who were remiss, in order that they might be worn out at their tasks and induced by their hardships to welcome danger. And so it fell out.
For on the third day of their drudgery, as Sulla passed by, they begged and clamoured to be led against the enemy. But Sulla said their words showed not a willingness to fight, but an unwillingness to labour; if, however, they were really disposed to fight, then he bade them take their arms and go at once yonder, pointing them to what had formerly been the acropolis of Parapotamii.
At this time, however, the city had been destroyed, and only a rocky and precipitous crest remained, separated from Mount Hedylium by the breadth of the river Assus, which then falls into the Cephisus at the very base of the mountain, becomes impetuous in its flow after the confluence, and makes the citadel a strong place for a camp. For this reason, and because he saw the Chalcaspides, or Bronze-shields
, of the enemy pushing their way towards it, Sulla wished to occupy the place first; and he did occupy it, now that he found his soldiers eager for action.
And when Archela[uuml ]s, repulsed from this site, set out against Chaeroneia, and the Chaeroneians in Sulla's army besought him not to abandon their city to its fate, he sent out Gabinius, one of his tribunes, with one legion, and let the Chaeroneians also go, who wished, but were unable, to get into the city before Gabinius. So efficient was he, and more eager to bring succour than those who begged that succour should be given. Juba, however, says it was not Gabinius, but Ericius, who was thus sent. At any rate, so narrowly did my native city escape its peril.