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Prusias Destroys the Nicephorium

After defeating Attalus, and advancing to Pergamum,
Prusias, king of Bithynia, attacks Attalus of Pergamum.
Prusias prepared a magnificent sacrifice and brought it to the sacred enclosure of Asclepius, and after offering the victims, and having obtained favourable omens, went back into his camp for that day; but on the next he directed his forces against the Nicephorium, and destroyed all the temples and sacred enclosures, and plundered all the statues of men and the marble images of the gods. Finally he carried off the statue of Asclepius also, an admirably executed work of Phyromachus, and transferred it to his own country,—the very image before which the day before he had poured libations and offered sacrifice; desiring, it would seem, that the god might in every way be propitious and favourable to him.
5, 11.
I have spoken of such proceedings before, when discoursing on Philip, as sheer insanity. For at one time to offer sacrifice, and endeavour to propitiate heaven by their means, worshipping and uttering the most earnest prayers before holy tables and altars, as Prusias was wont to do, with bendings of the knee and effeminate prostrations, and at the same time to violate these sacred objects and to flout heaven by their destruction,—can we ascribe such conduct to anything but a mind disordered and a spirit lost to sober reason? I am sure this was the case with Prusias: for he led his army off to Elaea, without having performed a single act of manly courage in the course of his attempts on Pergamum, and after treating everything human and divine with petty and effeminate spite.
Elaea on the Casius, the port of Pergamum.
He attempted to take Elaea, and made some assaults upon it; but being unable to effect anything, owing to Sosander, the king's foster-brother, having thrown himself into the town with an army and repelling his assaults, he marched off towards Thyateira. In the course of his march, he plundered the temple of Artemis in the Holy village; and the sacred enclosure of Apollo Cynneius at Temnus1 likewise he not only plundered but destroyed by fire. After these achievements he returned home, having waged war against the gods as well as against men. But Prusias's infantry also suffered severely from famine and dysentery on their return march, so that the wrath of heaven appears to have quickly visited him for these crimes.2 . . .

1 Temnus was in Mysia, s. of the river Hermus. Cynneius or Cyneius Apollo seems to mean Apollo guardian of the shepherd dogs. There was, according to Suidas (s. v. κυνήειος), a temple to Apollo at Athens with that title, said to have been the work of Cynnis, a son of Apollo and a nymph Parnethia.

2 The battle, in which Prusias is here said to have conquered Attalus, was a treacherous attack upon Attalus who was waiting, in accordance with an arrangement made by Roman envoys Hortensius and Arunculeius, to meet Prusias on his frontier, accompanied by only one thousand cavalry. The Roman envoys even had to fly for their lives. Appian, Mithridates, 3.

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  • Cross-references in notes from this page (1):
    • Appian, Mithridatic Wars, 1.3
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