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Fighting On Mount Labus

But as they advanced, the ruggedness of the ground
The ascent of Mount Labus.
and the narrowness of the passes were found to far exceed the king's expectations. The length of the ascent was altogether about three hundred stades; and a great part had to be made up the bed of a winter torrent of great depth, into which numerous rocks and trees had been hurled by natural causes from the overhanging precipices, and made a passage up it difficult, to say nothing of the obstacles which the barbarians had helped to construct expressly to impede them. These latter had felled a large number of trees and piled up heaps of huge rocks; and had besides occupied all along the gully the high points, which were at once convenient for attack and capable of covering themselves; so that, if it had not been for one glaring error on their part, Antiochus would have found the attempt beyond his powers, and would have desisted from it. The error was this. They assumed that the whole army would be obliged to march the entire way up the gully, and they accordingly occupied the points of vantage. But they did not perceive this fact, that, though the phalanx and the baggage could not possibly go by any other route than the one they supposed, there was yet nothing to make it impossible for the light-armed and active troops to accomplish the ascent of the bare rocks. Consequently, as soon as Diogenes had come upon the first outpost of the enemy, he and his men began climbing out of the gully, and the affair at once took a different aspect. For no sooner had they come to close quarters, than, acting on the suggestion of the moment, Diogenes avoided the engagement by ascending the mountains that flanked the enemy's position, and so got above him; and by pouring down volleys of darts and stones he seriously harassed the barbarians. Their most deadly weapons however proved to be the slings, which could carry a great distance; and when by these means they had dislodged the first outpost and occupied their position, an opportunity was secured for the pioneers to clear the way and level it, without being exposed to danger. Owing to the number of hands the work went on rapidly; and meanwhile the slingers, bowmen, and javelin-men advanced in skirmishing order along the higher ground, every now and then reforming and seizing on strong points of vantage; while the men with shields formed a reserve, marching in order and at a regular pace along the side of the gully itself. The barbarians thereupon abandoned their positions, and, ascending the mountain, mustered in full force on the summit.

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