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63. The report of the cavalry battle, as it spread abroad throughout Greece, laid bare the inclinations of the inhabitants. For not only partisans of Macedonia but many who were indebted to the Romans for huge benefits, and some few who had felt the violence and tyranny of Perseus, received [2??] this news gladly, for no other reason than the morbid eagerness which the mob feels in athletic contests also —the eagerness to cheer on the worse and weaker party.1

[3] [p. 489] At the same time in Boeotia Lucretius the praetor2 was assaulting Haliartus with the utmost violence; and although the besieged had no reinforcements from outside except the younger men of Coronea, who had entered the walls at the beginning of the siege, and there was no hope of aid, yet they held out alone more by spirit than by strength. [4] For they kept making frequent sallies against the siege-works and as the ram was brought up they pressed it to earth, weighing it down now with huge stones,3 now with a mass of lead, and if they were at any point unable to turn aside the stroke, they built, in place of the destroyed wall, a new one of slapdash construction by hastily assembling stones from the very debris of the collapse. [5] Since assault by siege-works was too slow, the praetor ordered ladders distributed among the maniples, intending to attack the wall everywhere, as it were in a ring, with the thought that his numbers would suffice the more surely for this purpose because, on the side where the swamp4 girds the city, attack was neither important nor possible. [6] On the side where two towers and the section of wall which had been between them had collapsed, he himself brought up two thousand picked troops so that at the same moment that he tried to scale the wreckage, as a rally of the townspeople took place to oppose him, the walls stripped of defenders might at some point or other be captured by the ladders. [7] With no slackness the townsfolk [p. 491]prepared to ward off his assault. For on the area5 strewn with wreckage they tossed dry bundles of brush and standing by with blazing torches threatened that they would fire this barrier, so that, barred off from the enemy by the blaze, they might have time to put an inner wall in the way. [8] This preparation of theirs was hindered by chance; for such a rain suddenly poured down that it made the firing of the brush difficult and put out what had been fired. [9] And so a passage lay open through the smoking twigs which were dragged aside and with all the citizens intent on the defense of one spot the walls too were taken by ladders in several places at once. [10] In the first confusion of the city's capture the elders and the beardless whom chance brought in the way were cut down everywhere; the men-at-arms fled to the citadel; and the next day, when no ray of hope remained, on surrendering they were sold at auction. [11] These were, moreover, about twenty-five hundred. The adornments of the city, statues and paintings and whatever costly booty there was, were taken to the fleet; the city was razed to the ground.6 [12] Thence the army was led to Thebes; this the praetor took over without struggle and put in the hands of the exiles and the party which favoured Rome; the estates7 of the men of the opposing faction and of the supporters of the king and the Macedonians he sold at auction. After these achievements in Boeotia Lucretius returned to the sea and the fleet.

1 Polybius XXVII. 9 illustrates this sentiment with an anecdote of the Olympic Games: “The phenomenon was very like what happens in boxing contests at the games. For there, when a humble and much inferior combatant is matched against a celebrated and seemingly invincible athlete, the sympathy of the crowd is at once given to the inferior man. They cheer him on, and back him up enthusiastically; and if he manages to touch his opponent's face, and gets in a blow that leaves any mark, there is at once again the greatest excitement among them all. They sometimes even try to make fun of the other man, not out of any dislike for him or disapproval but from a curious sort of sympathy and a natural instinct to favour the weaker. If, however, one calls their attention at the right time to their error, they very soon change their minds and correct it. This was what Clitomachus did, as is told. He was considered to be a quite invincible boxer, and his fame had spread over the whole world, when Ptolemy, ambitious to destroy his reputation, trained with the greatest care and sent off the boxer Aristonicus, a man who seemed to have a remarkable natural gift for this sport. Upon this Aristonicus arriving in Greece and challenging Clitomachus at Olympia, the crowd, it seems, at once took the part of the former and cheered him on, delighted to see that some one, once in a way at least, ventured to pit himself against Clitomachus. And when, as the fight continued, he appeared to be his adversary's match, and once or twice landed a telling blow, there was great clapping of hands, and the crowd became delirious with excitement, cheering on Aristonicus. At this time they say that Clitomachus, after withdrawing for a few moments to recover his breath, turned to the crowd and asked them what they meant by cheering on Aristonicus and backing him up all they could. Did they think he himself was not fighting fairly, or were they not aware that Clitomachus was now fighting for the glory of Greece and Aristonicus for that of King Ptolemy? Would they prefer to see an Egyptian conquer the Greeks and win the Olympian crown, or to hear a Theban and Boeotian proclaimed by the herald as victor in the men's boxing-match? When Clitomachus had spoken thus, they say there was such a change in the sentiment of the crowd that now all was reversed, and Aristonicus was beaten rather by the crowd than by Clitomachus” (tr. Paton, L.C.L.).

2 B.C. 171

3 Cf. XXXVIII. v. 4.

4 The margin of Lake Copaïs.

5 B.C. 171

6 Strabo IX. 2. 30 notes: “Haliartus no longer exists, having been destroyed in the war with Perseus, and the Athenians have the territory as a gift of the Romans..” This is probably incorrect, as an inscription has been found indicating the existence of a community here subject to Athens. Pausanias (IX. 32. 5 ff.) found the site inhabited.

7 Perhaps including the members of the families.

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load focus Notes (W. Weissenborn, 1880)
load focus Notes (W. Weissenborn, H. J. Müller, 1911)
load focus Summary (English, Evan T. Sage, Ph.D. and Alfred C. Schlesinger, Ph.D., 1938)
load focus Summary (Latin, W. Weissenborn, H. J. Müller, 1911)
load focus Summary (Latin, Evan T. Sage, Ph.D. and Alfred C. Schlesinger, Ph.D., 1938)
load focus Latin (Evan T. Sage, Ph.D. and Alfred C. Schlesinger, Ph.D., 1938)
load focus Latin (W. Weissenborn, H. J. Müller, 1911)
load focus English (Rev. Canon Roberts, 1912)
load focus English (William A. McDevitte, Sen. Class. Mod. Ex. Schol. A.B.T.C.D., 1850)
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  • Commentary references to this page (5):
    • Titus Livius (Livy), Ab urbe condita libri, erklärt von M. Weissenborn, books 31-32, commentary, 32.24
    • Titus Livius (Livy), Ab urbe condita libri, erklärt von M. Weissenborn, books 35-38, commentary, 38.5
    • Titus Livius (Livy), Ab urbe condita libri, erklärt von M. Weissenborn, books 41-42, commentary, 41.11
    • Titus Livius (Livy), Ab urbe condita libri, erklärt von M. Weissenborn, books 41-42, commentary, 41.26
    • Titus Livius (Livy), Ab urbe condita libri, erklärt von M. Weissenborn, books 43-44, commentary, 44.19
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