But while Demetrius lay most dangerously sick at Pella, he almost lost Macedonia; for Pyrrhus swiftly overran it and advanced as far as Edessa. As soon, however, as Demetrius had somewhat recovered his strength he easily drove Pyrrhus out of the country, and then came to a kind of agreement with him, being unwilling that continual collisions and local conflicts with this opponent should defeat his set purpose.
And his purpose was nothing less than the recovery of all the realm that had been subject to his father. Moreover, his preparations were fully commensurate with his hopes and undertakings. He had already gathered an army which numbered ninety-eight thousand foot, and besides, nearly twelve thousand horsemen.
At the same time, moreover, he had laid the keels for a fleet of five hundred ships, some of which were in Piraeus, some at Corinth, some at Chalcis, and some at Pella. And he would visit all these places in person, showing what was to be done and aiding in the plans, while all men wondered, not only at the multitude, but also at the magnitude of the works.
Up to this time no man had seen a ship of fifteen or sixteen banks of oars. At a later time, it is true, Ptolemy Philopator built one of forty banks of oars, which had a length of two hundred and eighty cubits, and a height, to the top of her stern, of forty-eight; she was manned by four hundred sailors, who did no rowing, and by four thousand rowers, and besides these she had room, on her gang-ways and decks, for nearly three thousand men-at-arms.
But this ship was merely for show; and since she differed little from a stationary edifice on land, being meant for exhibition and not for use, she was moved only with difficulty and danger. However, in the ships of Demetrius their beauty did not mar their fighting qualities, nor did the magnificence of their equipment rob them of their usefulness, but they had a speed and effectiveness which was more remarkable than their great size.