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Philip Besieges Palus

The excellent position, therefore, of the island, both as a rendezvous for the allies and as a base of attack against the hostile, or of defence for the friendly, territory, made the king very anxious to get it into his power. His survey of the town showed him that it was entirely defended by the sea and steep hills, except for a short distance in the direction of Zacynthus, where the ground was flat; and he accordingly resolved to erect his works and concentrate his attack at that spot.

While the king was engaged in these operations fifty galleys

Arrival of the allies at Palus.
arrived from Scerdilaidas, who had been prevented from sending more by the plots and civil broils throughout Illyria, caused by the despots of the various cities. There arrived also the appointed contingents of allies from Epirus, Acarnania, and even Messenia; for the Messenians had ceased to excuse themselves from taking part in the war ever since the capture of Phigalia.

Having now made his arrangements for the siege, and

The walls are undermined and a breach made. Leontius plays the traitor.
having got his catapults and ballistae in position to annoy the defenders on the walls, the king harangued his Macedonian troops, and, bringing his siege-machines up to the walls, began under their protection to sink mines. The Macedonians worked with such enthusiastic eagerness that in a short time two hundred feet of the wall were undermined and underpinned: and the king then approached the walls and invited the citizens to come to terms. Upon their refusal, he set fire to the props, and thus brought down the whole part of the wall that rested upon them simultaneously. Into this breach he first sent his peltasts under the command of Leontius, divided into cohorts, and with orders to force their way over the ruin. But Leontius, in fulfilment of his compact with Apelles, three times running prevented the soldiers, even after they had carried the breach, from effecting the capture of the town. He had corrupted beforehand the most important officers of the several cohorts; and he himself deliberately affected fear, and shrunk from every service of danger; and finally they were ejected from the town with considerable loss, although they could have mastered the enemy with ease. When the king saw that the officers were behaving with cowardice, and that a considerable number of the Macedonian soldiers were wounded, he abandoned the siege, and deliberated with his friends on the next step to be taken.

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  • Commentary references to this page (1):
    • Titus Livius (Livy), Ab urbe condita libri, erklärt von M. Weissenborn, books 43-44, commentary, 43.17
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