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Polyaenus: Stratagems

    - BOOK 4, Chapters 4-21

Adapted from the translation by R.Shepherd (1793). See key to translations for an explanation of the format.

The Greek text of these chapters is available in archive.org.


CONTENTS:   ← Previous Chapters (1-3) ; 4 Antipater ; 5 Parmenion ; 6 Antigonus ; 7 Demetrius ; 8 Eumenes ; 9 Seleucus ; 10 Perdiccas ; 11 Cassander ; 12 Lysimachus ; 13 Craterus ; 14 Polysperchon ; 15 Antiochus son of Seleucus ; 16 Antiochus son of Antiochus ; 17 Antiochus Hierax ; 18 Philippus son of Demetrius ; 19 Ptolemaeus ; 20 Attalus ; 21 Perseus


[4]   Antipater.

Antipater, having advanced into the country of the Tetrachoritae, ordered fire to be set to the horses’ hay, which lay before his tent. And as soon as it flamed up, the trumpets sounded the charge; and the Macedonians gathered in front of his tent, with their spears all raised on high. The Tetrachoritae, struck with terror at such marks of frantic desperation, made a precipitate retreat; leaving to Antipater a cheap and easy victory.

2   When Antipater attempted to cross the Spercheius, and found the Thessalian cavalry drawn up on the other side, ready to dispute his passage; he retreated to his camp: and ordered the Macedonians to rest on their arms, and not to unbridle their horses. The Thessalians, left without an enemy, directed their horses with all speed to Lamia, to dine at their own houses. Antipater in the mean time quickly advanced to the river, crossed it without opposition, and afterwards took Lamia by surprise.

3   To give Thessalians the impression, that his cavalry was very numerous, Antipater advanced with a number of asses and mules; which he mounted with men, armed like cavalrymen: but the first line of every troop he formed of his real cavalry. The enemy seeing so formidable an appearance, and supposing not only the front lines, but all the rest, to be cavalry, abandoned themselves to flight. This stratagem Agesilaus also employed against Aeropus in Macedonia; and Eumenes against Antigonus in Asia.

[5]   Parmenion.

Parmenion, after the battle at Issus, was sent by Alexander to Damascus, to escort the baggage. When he fell in with a body of heavy-armed troops, he was apprehensive that the barbarians, who had the care of the baggage, might, during the action, through fear desert their posts, and run away. He dispatched three troops of horse to them, with orders to proclaim, that whoever of them did not hold his horses with his own hands, should be put to death. This proclamation had its effect: the barbarians all held their horses, and took good care of the baggage.

[6]   Antigonus.

"Antigonus" in this chapter usually refers to Antigonus I Monophthalmos, but stratagems 1, 3, 17, 18 & 20 belong to his grandson, Antigonus II Gonatas.

Antigonus made himself master of Corinth by the following stratagem. Alexander, who possessed Acrocorinth, had died. His widow Nicaea was no longer young, but Antigonus proposed a marriage between her and his son Demetrius, and the splendour of royalty easily obtained her consent to this proposal. A magnificent sacrifice was offered, and a ceremony was held, according to Greek custom. A great crowd of people were assembled for the occasion; the citharode Amoebeus was due to perform; and the guards attended Nicaea, dressed in royal robes, and parading in affected splendour to the theatre. But the bride had no sooner entered the theatre, than Antigonus, paying no more attention to the nuptial ceremonies, made a vigorous attack upon Acrocorinth, and captured it with ease, while the guards were preoccupied with celebrating the royal wedding. Thus Antigonus possessed himself of all Corinth; and that was the end of the proposed marriage.

2   Antigonus, when he received an embassy, used to inform himself beforehand from the public records, who were the persons that composed the last embassy from the same state, the purpose of their visit, and every particular relative to it. In the course of conversation, he would usually entertain the ambassadors with all these details; and by this means he achieved a degree of familiarity with them, and at the same time he impressed them by appearing to have an extraordinary memory.

3   At the siege of Megara, Antigonus brought his elephants into the attack; but the Megarians daubed some swine with pitch, set fire to it, and let them loose among the elephants. The pigs grunted and shrieked under the torture of the fire, and sprang forwards as hard as they could among the elephants, who broke their ranks in confusion and fright, and ran off in different directions. From this time onwards, Antigonus ordered the Indians, when they trained up their elephants, to bring up swine among them; so that the elephants might thus become accustomed to the sight of them, and to their noise.

4   Antigonus once saved Antipater from being stoned by the Macedonians, by the following device. Through the midst of the camp ran a rapid river, over which was a bridge. On one side were the Macedonians, on the other Antigonus with his own cavalry. The soldiers were insistently demanding their pay; and threatened Antipater with death, if he trifled with them any longer, and did not immediately comply with their demands. Antipater was unable to pay their arrears, and alarmed at the danger that threatened if he failed to satisfy them. He consulted Antigonus, who advised him to leave the camp, and undertook to assist his escape. Antigonus accordingly crossed the bridge in full armour, and rode directly through the phalanx, thereby dividing it; he turned first to one division, and then to the other, as if he was going to harangue them. The Macedonians paid every attention due his rank and character; and followed him with great interest, to hear what he had to offer. As soon as they formed around him, he began a long harangue in defence of Antipater; promising, assuring, and urging every consideration to induce them to wait patiently, until he should be in a situation in which he could satisfy their demands. During this prolix harangue, Antipater crossed the bridge with some horsemen; and thus escaped the soldiers' resentment. [see also: Arrianus, Fr.9]

5   Antigonus, when in force superior to the enemy, always engaged cautiously; but if inferior, attacked with all possible vigour, because he considered a glorious death preferable to an ignominious life.

6   While Antigonus was wintering in Cappadocia, three thousand Macedonian hoplites revolted from him. They took up a strong position on the mountains, from which they ravaged Lycaonia and Phrygia. Antigonus thought it cruel, to put such a number of men to death; and yet was afraid, lest they should join the enemy, who were commanded by Alcetas. He therefore carried out the following stratagem. He dismissed Leonidas, one of his generals; who immediately went over to the rebels, and offered to join them. They readily accepted his offer; and appointed him their general. The first step he took, was to persuade them not to attach themselves to any party, which relieved Antigonus of his fears. Leonidas afterwards contrived to draw them from the mountains to a place, which was suitable for cavalry action, though they themselves had no cavalry. There Antigonus surprised them with a detachment of horsemen, and seized Holcias and two of the leaders of the revolt. They threw themselves upon his mercy, and begged for their lives; which he granted, on condition, that they would leave the camp without tumult or confusion, and return to Macedonia. They accepted the terms; and Leonidas was sent to conduct them to Macedonia, and deliver them to their respective homes.

7   Antigonus was marching in pursuit of Attalus, Alcetas, and Docimus, three able generals of the Macedonians. He hoped to surprise their camp in the straights of Pisidia: but the elephants cried out, and informed the Macedonians of his approach; for he was the only general who used those beasts. Alcetas with the heavy-armed troops immediately attempted to gain the summit of the steep and craggy mountains. Instead of following him, Antigonus wheeled round the mountain. He marched with all possible speed to the place where the army was encamped. He surprised and surrounded them, before they had time to form up. The enemy were forced to surrender themselves as prisoners of war, and thus he obtained a victory without slaughter.

8   Antigonus fitted a fleet of a hundred and thirty ships, and placed Nicanor in command of them. Nicanor confronted the fleet of Polysperchon, which was commanded by Cleitus, in the Hellespont; but because of his inexperience, he engaged the enemy with the swell of the tide against him, and lost seventy ships. The enemy had won a decisive victory, by the time that Antigonus reached the fleet in the evening. Undaunted at the defeat he had received, he ordered the sixty ships that remained, to be ready to renew the action the next morning. On board each of them he posted some of the bravest and most resolute men of his own guards; and he commanded them to threaten death to all, who would not charge boldly against the enemy. Byzantium, which was then in alliance with him, was situated nearby; from there he summoned light-armed troops, and peltasts, and archers, a thousand of each. He posted them on the shore, in order to support the fleet, by annoying the enemy with javelins and arrows. This was all achieved in a single night. At day break a shower of javelins and arrows was poured upon the enemy. While they were just arising, and scarcely awake, they were seriously injured, before they realised where the attack was coming from. Some cut their cables, and others weighed their anchors; while nothing prevailed but noise and confusion. Antigonus at the same time ordered the sixty ships to bear down upon them. Under attack both from the sea, and from land, the conquerors were obliged to yield their victory to the conquered.

9   After the naval victory in the Hellespont, Antigonus ordered his fleet to cruise towards Phoenicia. The sailors were adorned with garlands, and the ships were decorated with the ornaments of the enemy's fleet. He ordered his captains to sail as near as they could to the harbours, and cities, that they passed; that so the victory might be broadcast throughout all Asia. The Phoenician ships, bound for Rhosus, a port of Cilicia, and charged with great sums of money from Eumenes, were under the conduct of Sosigenes. While he was standing on a steep slope, watching the tides, the crews of the Phoenician vessels saw the victorious fleet approaching, splendidly adorned. They seized the treasures that they carried, and climbed on board the vessels of Antigonus. Thereby Antigonus obtained both great treasures and new allies; and Sosigenes gave up hope of fighting by sea.

10   After an engagement between Antigonus and Eumenes, in which the victory was undecided, Eumenes sent a herald to Antigonus, to arrange with him a mutual agreement to bury their dead. Antigonus, who had been informed that his own loss exceeded that of the enemy, to conceal the fact, detained the herald, until his own dead had all been all cremated. After they had been buried, he let the herald go, and agreed to the proposal.

11   While Antigonus lay in winter quarters at Gadamarta, a city of Media, Eumenes blocked him up there, with a cordon of troops spread over a distance of a thousand stades. The roads on which the troops were posted, lay over the mountains. Below was a level plain, that contained nothing but sulphur mines, and stinking bogs, barren and uninhabited; it afforded neither water, nor grass, nor wood, nor plant. Antigonus decided to march through this plain, and thereby to escape the forces that were posted on the roads, as he passed through the midst of the generals, whose station was on either side of the plain. For this purpose he ordered ten thousand casks to be got ready and filled with water, and provision for ten days; with barley for the horses, and whatever fodder they might have need of. As soon as these preparations were made, he began his march by night through the inhospitable plain; strictly forbidding any fires to be lit, lest those, who were posted at the feet of the mountains, should observe them and by that means discover their march. Nor indeed would they have been discovered at all, had his orders been exactly complied with. But on a particularly cold night, some of the soldiers lit fires; the enemy observed the flames, and detected his movements, just as he had moved clear of the plain. They fell upon his rear, did some damage there. But that makes no difference to the stratagem, which was so cleverly conceived; that had it been properly executed, not a man would have been lost.

12   Antigonus posted himself on the side of a mountain, and observed that Eumenes' ranks, drawn up on the plain, were very weak. He ordered a squadron of cavalry to wheel round, and fall upon Eumenes' rear; which they did, and carried away a considerable part of his baggage.

13   Antigonus fought against Eumenes at Gabiene. The soil of the plain, on which they fought, was light and sandy: and the two great armies fighting on it, raised such clouds of dust, that both armies were prevented from observing each other's movements. They fought hand to hand; but Antigonus discovered that the baggage of the enemy was left at a little distance behind, with which were their wives, and children, mistresses, slaves, gold, and silver, and whatever else of value the soldiers, who followed the fortunes of Eumenes, had brought from the army of Alexander. Antigonus detached some picked horsemen to seize the baggage, and bring it back to his own camp. They accordingly, while the armies were closely engaged, wheeled round, and, with their movement being concealed by a cloud of dust, brought back the baggage, as instructed. After the battle was over, it appeared that Antigonus had lost five thousand men, and Eumenes only three hundred. Eumenes' army therefore returned to their camp in high spirits on the decided success of the day. But as soon as they discovered that their baggage had been carried off, and everything lost, that was precious to them, the victory celebrations were replaced with mourning, and every expression of grief. They were so distressed, the more they reflected on their loss, that many of them sent a deputation to Antigonus, with an offer of their service. When he perceived the effect that the loss of their baggage had on Eumenes' army, Antigonus followed it up with a proclamation, that he would let every soldier recover his property without a ransom. After this proclamation, many of them immediately revolted to him - not only Macedonians, but also ten thousand Persians under the command of Peucestes. For as soon as he saw that the Macedonians inclined to Antigonus, he followed their example. And eventually, there was such a change of sentiment and fortune as a result of this circumstance, that the Silver Shields delivered up Eumenes as a prisoner to Antigonus; who thereby became king of all Asia.

14   When he heard that Pithon, governor of Media, had raised a foreign army and was planning to revolt, Antigonus pretended not to believe it. He remarked to those who had given him the information, "I can give no credit to this report of Pithon; for I intended myself to furnish him with five thousand Macedonian hoplites and a thousand Thracians, to guard his satrapy." Pithon was informed of this, and put full trust in the regard which Antigonus had expressed for him. He therefore went to him to receive the promised supplies; but when Antigonus brought Pithon before the Macedonians, he denounced his crimes, and ordered him to be executed.

15   Antigonus liberally rewarded the Silver Shields, who had delivered up Eumenes to him as his prisoner. But to guard against a similar act of perfidy towards himself, he ordered a thousand of them to serve under Sibyrtius governor of Arachosia. Others he disposed of in garrisons, in remote and uncultivated countries. And thus he very soon got rid of them all.

16   When Antigonus besieged Rhodes, he committed the conduct of the siege to his son Demetrius; proclaiming safety to the Rhodians, both as to their persons and property. And also to all merchants about Syria, Phoenicia, Cilicia, Pamphylia, and even to those of Rhodes who had concerns on the sea, he gave leave to trade securely on any sea, provided they never touched at Rhodes. He expected that, thus deprived of all foreign assistance and supplies, the city would be more easily reduced; because the auxiliaries Ptolemaeus had sent to them would not be able to hold out for long against Demetrius.

17   Antigonus took into pay some Gallic mercenaries under the command of Ciderius, at the rate of a gold Macedonian coin each; and gave up to them, as hostages in security of payment, some men and boys of rank and family. Antipater, against whom the Gauls were engaged by Antigonus, brought him to action: after which the mercenaries demanded their pay. But when Antigonus directed payment to be made to all, that bore arms, according to his agreement; the Gauls demanded pay for all that attended the army, whether they bore arms, or not, even women and children: alleging, that the agreement was to pay every Gaul a gold Macedonian coin. The sum to be paid, if only every soldier received pay, would amount to thirty talents; but, if paid to all indiscriminately, to a hundred talents. When Antigonus refused to comply with their unreasonable demands, they retired to their camp, vowing vengeance against the hostages. Fearing they might proceed to acts of cruelty, he sent a deputation to them; informing them, that rather than leaving them dissatisfied, he would comply with their demands; and directed them to send some envoys to receive the money. The Gauls were overjoyed at this compliance of Antigonus, and the prospect of so great riches; and they dispatched some of their chiefs to settle the business, and receive the money. But, as soon as they arrived at the Macedonian camp, Antigonus seized them; and informed the Gauls, they should never be given up until he had first received his own hostages. The Gauls were anxious for their chiefs' safety; therefore they gave up the Macedonians, and in return received their own chiefs, and thirty talents.

18   Antigonus was determined to crush Apollodorus tyrant of the Cassandreia, and invested the city; but, after a ten month's blockade, he was obliged to raise the siege. Antigonus then persuaded the famous pirate Ameinias to assist him. Ameinias accordingly proceeded to cultivate the good opinion of Apollodorus; he undertook to reconcile Antigonus to him, and to settle the dispute between them; and also to supply him with provisions and wine. The tyrant, convinced by the friendly professions of Ameinias, and presuming on the absence of Antigonus, became less strict in his discipline and duty on the walls. Ameinias in the mean time directed ladders to be secretly constructed, as high as the walls; and at an advanced post, not far from them, called Bolus, he concealed two thousand men, and with them ten Aetolian pirates under the command of Melotas. At daybreak these men, observing that the walls were thinly guarded, crept secretly to the parapet between the towers; and, as soon as they had fixed the ladders, gave the signal. Ameinias with the two thousand men immediately advanced, mounted the ladders, and took possession of the place. When Antigonus was informed of his success, he returned to Cassandreia, and put an end to the tyranny of Apollodorus.

19   Antigonus was encamped opposite to the enemy, who were commanded by Eumenes, and his force was inferior in numbers. While frequent embassies passed between the two camps, Antigonus directed that, as soon as the next embassy arrived, a soldier should abruptly introduce himself, panting, and covered with dust; and inform him, the allies were at hand. Antigonus, hearing this, jumped up in pretended jubilation, and dismissed the ambassadors. The next day he extended the front of his army twice its former length, and advanced beyond the trenches. The enemy were informed by their envoys of the arrival of the allies, and when they observed the phalanx so much extended, which they supposed had a similar depth, they did not dare to hazard an engagement, but made a precipitate retreat.

20   Antigonus, in order to make himself master of Athens on as easy terms as possible, concluded a peace with the Athenians in the autumn. After which they sowed their corn, and kept for their own use only as much of their old stock of corn, as would serve them till their next crop was reaped. But as soon as the corn was almost ripe, Antigonus invaded Attica. The Athenians had nearly finished the stock they had in their granaries, and found themselves prevented from reaping the crop then on the ground; therefore they opened their gates to Antigonus, and complied with all his demands.

[7]   Demetrius.

Demetrius, though very short of money, doubled his army by new levies. And when some of his friends in surprise asked him, how he expected to pay them, when he found it difficult to support a smaller force; "the more powerful we are," he replied, "the weaker we shall find our enemies; and the more easily make ourselves masters of their county. From thence tribute and free gifts will come in, that will soon fill our coffers."

2   After Demetrius had determined on his expedition to Europe, he wished to conceal from his men the place of their destination; but in case any accidents during their voyage should make it necessary to disclose the destination, he delivered to the master of every ship a sealed tablet. He instructed them, so long as the fleet kept together, not to break the seal; but if they were separated from the others, they were directed to open the tablet; and there they would find the place to which they were to endeavour to proceed.

3   In pursuance of a plan Demetrius had formed to surprise Sicyon, he retired to Cenchreae; and there gave himself up to luxury and pleasures. This threw the Sicyonians off their guard, because the expected no danger from a quarter, where nothing seemed to prevail but effeminacy and dissipation. Informed of the impression his conduct had made on them, he issued his orders for the mercenaries under Diodorus on a certain night to attack the gates, that faced Pellene, and the fleet at the same time to show themselves in the harbour; while he advanced up to the walls with the main body of his army. The city, thus vigorously attacked in various quarters at once, yielded to the sudden storm, and opened its gates.

4   When Demetrius sailed on an expedition to Caria, he left Diodorus captain of his guards in charge of Ephesus: which Diodorus engaged to betray to Lysimachus for fifty talents. Demetrius gained intelligence of this compact; attended by a few small vessels he steered directly to Ephesus, ordering the rest of the fleet to disembark at the place of destination. When he approached Ephesus, he entered the harbour with Nicanor in one of the small vessels, and concealed himself in the body of the ship; while Nicanor sent for Diodorus to come on board to him, as if to receive some orders from him concerning the disbanding of a part of his forces. Diodorus, supposing Nicanor to be alone, immediately went out to him in a light vessel. But as soon as he reached the ship, Demetrius sprang from the place of his concealment. He sank Diodorus' boat, with the men on board; and anyone who tried to swim away was captured. Thus the execution of the plot was promptly prevented, and Ephesus was secured in his possession.

5   After Demetrius had taken Aegina and Salamis in Attica, he asked the inhabitants of Peiraeus for weapons for a thousand men, jointly with him, to attack the tyrant Lachares. They readily agreed, and sent the arms; with which he armed his troops, and then attacked those who had furnished him with them.

6   Demetrius made himself master of Peiraeus by the following stratagem. Without employing his whole fleet against it, he fitted out some galleys, with instructions to conceal themselves at Sunium. From those he selected twenty, and ordered them not to steer directly to Athens; but to shape their course with all speed, as if bound for Salamis. Demetrius of Phalerum, the Athenian general, belonged to the party of Cassander; and from the acropolis observed those ships, which he supposed to be some ships of Ptolemaeus, and to be steering to Corinth. But in the evening according to their secret instructions, they changed their course to sail directly to Peiraeus, and made themselves masters of it. As soon as this was known, the whole fleet sailed out from Sunium, and the forces on board took possession of the forts, as the fleet had done of the harbour. Demetrius then ordered liberty to be proclaimed to the Athenians; in gratitude of which, they gladly received him as their friend and benefactor

7   With a hundred and eighty triremes Demetrius sailed against Salamis in Cyprus, which was possessed and defended by Menelaus, a general of Ptolemaeus, who lay by with sixty ships, in constant expectation of being joined by Ptolemaeus himself with a hundred and forty sail more. Not thinking himself able to engage two hundred ships at once, Demetrius directed his course round a neck of land above Salamis; where he concealed himself, and disembarking his land forces, planted an ambush. Ptolemaeus soon appeared; and having fixed upon an open, level, and convenient part of the shore for landing, disembarked his troops. The army of Demetrius immediately attacked them on the first confusion of landing; and, almost as soon as they engaged, secured the victory. Meanwhile Demetrius, unexpectedly bearing down upon the Egyptian fleet, obliged Ptolemaeus to turn to flight; in which Menelaus, who had sailed from Salamis to his assistance, was forced to follow him.

8   When Corinth was betrayed to Demetrius, he entered it in the night at the topmost gate. But apprehensive lest an ambush should be formed against him by some party in the city, he advanced first against the gate towards Lechaeum, where his army set up a general shout, and drew the attention of the Corinthians to that quarter; then he wheeled round, and entered the topmost gate, which was thrown open by the conspirators. And while the Corinthians were engaged in the defence of the gate towards Lechaeum, Demetrius without danger made himself master of the city.

9   Demetrius and the Lacedaemonians encamped against each other, with Lycaeum, a mountain of Arcadia, extending itself between the two camps. The Macedonians expressed some uneasiness at their situation, unacquainted as they were with the mountain. While the north wind blew full against the enemy, Demetrius resolved to take advantage of it; and setting fire to the gate of his camp, advanced to the attack. The sparks and smoke, carried by a sharp wind amongst the Lacedaemonians, so irritated them, that the Macedonians pushing forward obtained a complete and easy victory.

10   The Spartans took advantage of a narrow pass, through which Demetrius in his retreat was obliged to march, and fell upon his rear, causing him serious harm. In the narrowest part of the defile he heaped a number of carriages together, and set fire to them; which so effectively obstructed the enemy's pursuit, till the carriages were all consumed, that Demetrius, in the meantime continuing his march as quickly as he could, made good his retreat.

11   Demetrius dispatched a herald to the Boeotians, with a proclamation of war. The letter, which announced it, was delivered at Orchomenus to the Boeotarchs; and the next day Demetrius encamped at Chaeroneia. The proclamation of war, so closely followed by the approach of the enemy, terrified the Boeotians into terms of submission.

12   Demetrius had to cross the Lycus, which was a very rapid river, not fordable by the infantry, and only by such of the cavalry as were most able and strong. He drew up his cavalry in three lines across the river; by which the force of the waves was broken, and the infantry by that means were enabled to cross it.

[8]   Eumenes.

Eumenes was closely pursued by the Galatians, and at the same time he was so indisposed in health, as to be carried on a litter. When he found it impossible to escape their pursuit, and was near to being overtaken, he directed those that carried his litter, to stop at a hill which he saw near the road, and there to place it. The barbarians, who had closely pursued him, supposed that he would not have halted, unless in dependence of a body of troops in reserve he might have posted there in ambush; and so they gave up the pursuit.

2   Eumenes had received information, that the Silver Shields were likely to rebel; the principals in the plot were Antigenes and Teutamus, who behaved with rudeness towards him, and seldom came to his pavilion. Eumenes convened the generals, and told them a dream, which had occurred twice; and in the dream it was threatened that their common safety depended on paying a proper regard to it. The dream was this: "Alexander the king sat in his pavilion in the midst of the camp, holding his sceptre in his hand, and distributing justice. He commanded his generals to transact no public business of any kind except in the royal pavilion; which he ordered to be called the pavilion of Alexander." The Macedonians, who adored the memory of Alexander, out of the royal treasures erected a magnificent pavilion. A golden throne was raised in the pavilion, ornamented with the insignia of royalty, and on it was placed a crown of gold with the royal diadem. Beside the throne were arms, and in the midst of them a sceptre: before it a golden table, with frankincense and perfumes on it. There were also silver benches for the generals, that might attend in council on public affairs. Next to Alexander's pavilion, Eumenes pitched his own, and the other generals theirs in order. After all this was completed, Eumenes received the generals not in his own, but Alexander's pavilion: and among the rest Antigenes and Teutamus attended, in fact upon Eumenes; but in appearance, to do honour to Alexander.

3   Eumenes, when he was in Persia, was afraid that his army would be won over to the interests of Peucestes by bribes and largesses, and that there was a plan to place him on the throne. Eumenes produced a letter in Syriac characters, as if written by Orontes, the satrap of Armenia, which contained this message: "Olympias, with a son of Alexander, has left Epirus, and advanced into Macedonia; of which she has taken possession by force, after slaying Cassander, who had usurped the throne." When the Macedonians heard this, they thought no more of Peucestes; but with infinite joy proclaimed the mother and son of Alexander as his heirs to the throne.

4   When Antigonus heard, that Eumenes, who was in Persia, had sent his troops into winter quarters, he immediately advanced against him. Eumenes, being informed by Peucestes of the enemy's march, directed his officers, with their children, in the night to take fire with them to the highest and most exposed places, and there ride about at the distance of seventy stades. Then leaving a gap of about twenty cubits between them, he ordered them to set a great quantity of wood on fire; making the outward fires very large, another range of fires less, and a third still smaller, in imitation of a real camp. Antigonus' army from this appearance suspected that Eumenes had gathered his forces together, and did not venture not to attack him. Instead, they left by another route, on purpose to avoid the supposed superiority of the enemy.

5   Eumenes found he could not by any arguments divert his soldiers from their intention of plundering the enemy's baggage; but he contrived to provide his adversary with secret intelligence of their plan. As a result, the enemy placed a stronger guard upon their baggage. When the soldiers of Eumenes observed this, they abandoned their plan.

[9]   Seleucus.

In an engagement between Seleucus and Antigonus, the evening put an end to the undecided action; and both armies retreated to their respective camps, determined to renew the conflict the next day. The soldiers of Antigonus in the mean time put off their arms, and relaxed in their tents. But Seleucus ordered his men to eat, and sleep in their arms, and lie down in order of battle: that they might be ready for action, whenever the charge was sounded. At break of day the army of Seleucus rose up, already armed and in order. They immediately advanced against Antigonus, whose troops were unarmed and disordered, and therefore afforded an early victory to the enemy.

2   Seleucus and Demetrius were encamped against each other: the former in high spirits, but the latter doubtful of success. Demetrius therefore determined to fall upon the enemy in the night, placing his hopes of victory on a vigorous attack. The army readily embraced his plan, and had high hopes of surprising Seleucus. At the time appointed they arose, and armed; but two Aetolian youths, who were peltasts in Demetrius' army, approached the advanced guard of Seleucus' camp, and demanded to be introduced to the king immediately. As soon as they informed him of the preparations for action in the enemy's camp, Seleucus, fearing lest he should be attacked before he was ready to fight, ordered the trumpets immediately to sound the charge. At the same time, he ordered his soldiers to raise a great shout, and each to light a fire by their tent with whatever wood they had available. Demetrius, when he saw the troops standing round the fires, and heard the trumpets sound the charge, supposed them ready for battle, and therefore declined the intended attack.

3   Seleucus, learning that the soldiers of Demetrius were dispirited, selected a body of picked men from his guards. He posted them with eight elephants at his front, in a narrow pass, which flanked the enemy. Then he advanced before them, threw off his helmet, and called aloud: "How long will you be so mad, as to follow the fortunes of a bandit, who is almost starving, when your merits could find their reward with a king, who reigns in affluence? You could share with him in a kingdom, not depending on hope, but in actual possession." Most of the soldiers were persuaded by this speech to throw aside their swords and spears; and, waving their hands, they went over to Seleucus.

4   The command of the fortress of Sardis, with the royal treasures, was entrusted by Lysimachus to Theodotus. Such was the strength of its fortification, that Seleucus despaired of capturing it by storm. He ordered a proclamation to be made, that he would give an hundred talents to any one who would kill Theodotus. As the lure of such a sum might be supposed to tempt some or other of the soldiers, Theodotus became suspicious and afraid of them; and for that reason seldom showed himself in public. The army on the other hand resented his suspicions of them. In this unpleasant situation, when one party was alarmed by suspicion, and the other stirred up by resentment, Theodotus determined to preempt his troops. Therefore he himself opened the gates in the night; he let in Seleucus, and delivered up to him the treasures.

5   Demetrius had encamped under mount Taurus. Seleucus, who was afraid that he would secretly make his escape into Syria, detached Lysias with a body of Macedonians to secure the pass over the Amanides mountains, through which Demetrius would be obliged to march; and he ordered them to kindle a number of fires there. By this timely movement Demetrius saw his intended route cut off, and his escape blocked.

6   Seleucus, after an unsuccessful battle with the barbarians, fled towards Cilicia. To conceal himself, in those circumstances, even from his own troops, he was attended only by a few friends, and took on the appearance of the armour-bearer of Amaction, the general of the royal forces. But as soon as a sufficient number of cavalry and infantry, the shattered remains of his army, had assembled, he put his royal clothes back on, revealed himself to his army, and again put himself at their head.

[10]   Perdiccas.

In a war between the Illyrians and Macedonians, many of the Macedonians were taken prisoners, and others fought timidly in the expectation of being ransomed if they were captured. Perdiccas ordered the deputation, that was sent to negotiate the ransom of the prisoners, to declare on their return, that the Illyrians had refused to receive a ransom, and had decided to put the prisoners to death. When all hope of a ransom had been removed in this way, the Macedonians in future fought with more resolution, because their only hopes of safety were placed in victory.

2   When Perdiccas was short of money, in his war against Chalcis, he struck a coin of brass mixed with tin; with which he paid his army. The merchants accepted the money as currency, because it bore the royal stamp; and, as it had no value beyond the king's dominions, he took it off them again in payment for corn and the produce of the country.

[11]   Cassander.

At the same time that Cassander was besieging Salamis, he also fought the Athenians by sea, and defeated them. He set free all of the Salaminians, whom he had captured in the action with the Athenians, and sent them to Salamis without ransom. In consequence of such an act of favour and humanity, the people of Salamis voluntarily surrendered themselves to Cassander.

2   Cassander, knowing that Nicanor, governor of Munychia, was ill-affected to him, outwitted and got rid of him in the following way. He pretended that he was going to sail away from Attica. When he was about to embark, a messenger, according to his own instructions, arrived with letters from his friends in Macedonia to this effect: that the Macedonians invited him to assume the throne, universally dissatisfied as they were with the government of Polysperchon. On reading those letters, Cassander appeared in high spirits. He embraced Nicanor, who was accompanying him, and congratulated him as a friend on sharing in his own greatness: "And, now," said he, "other business requires our attention; the settling of an empire's concerns demands our common cares." After saying this, he took him aside to a neighbouring house; as if to confer in private with him on business of importance. But Nicanor was immediately seized by a party of guards, who had been previously posted there for that purpose. Cassander then convened an assembly of the people; and gave leave to anyone, to present an accusation against Nicanor. While accusations from different quarters were being laid against him, Cassander secured Munychia. And Nicanor, who was convicted of many acts of injustice, was sentenced to death.

3   While Cassander besieged Pydna, a city in Macedonia, in which Olympias was shut up; Polysperchon dispatched a sloop with orders to land close by the town in the night. Polysperchon sent a letter to inform Olympias, and to urge her to embark on board the ship. The courier was intercepted, and carried before Cassander; to whom he confessed his errand. As soon as he had read the letter, he closed it and again affixed on it Polysperchon's seal; he ordered the courier to deliver the letter, but not to inform her that Cassander had seen it. The letter was accordingly delivered; and Cassander took care to intercept the sloop. Olympias, in accordance with instructions in the letter, came out of the city in the night, expecting to find the vessel at the appointed place. In her annoyance at not finding it, and thinking herself deceived by Polysperchon, she surrendered both herself and the city to Cassander.

4   When Cassander returned from Illyria, he planted in ambush a body of cavalry and infantry, at the distance of a day's march from Epidamnus. After that, he set on fire the villages which were in the most exposed situations on the edge of the territories of Illyria and Atintanis. Supposing that Cassander had entirely evacuated the country, the Illyrians ventured out of the city, and went out to various places, as their different business required their attention. Then the soldiers sallied out of their ambush, and captured no less than a thousand men. Cassander came up to the city while the gates were still open, and made himself master of Epidamnus.

[12]   Lysimachus.

Lysimachus was apprehensive lest the Autariatae, who had been plundered of their baggage in an engagement with Demetrius near Lampsacus, should start a mutiny or revolt - barbarians as they were, and stripped of their property. He summoned them outside the trenches, on pretence of giving them a handout of corn; and on a given signal, he ordered every man to be cut to pieces. Their number amounted to five thousand.

2   After Lysimachus had taken Amphipolis by the treachery of Andragathus, he loaded him with presents, and promised him still greater, if he would accompany him into Asia. But as soon as they arrived at the straits of Thrace, he not only stripped Andragathus of all he possessed; but, after exposing him to torture, put him to death.

3   Lysimachus conducted Ariston, son of Autoleon, to his father's kingdom in Paeonia; under pretence that the royal youth might be acknowledged by his subjects, and treated with due respect. But as soon as he had bathed in the royal baths in the river Arisbus, and they had set before him an elegant banquet, according to the custom of his country, Lysimachus ordered his guards to arm. Ariston instantly mounted his horse and escaped to the land of the Dardani; and Lysimachus was left in possession of Paeonia.

[13]   Craterus.

When the Tyrians attacked and overpowered the Macedonians, who were employed on their siege works, Craterus ordered a retreat. But after the Tyrians, who had continued eagerly to pursue them, had worn themselves out, he gave the signal to face about, and charge. The nature of the battle was immediately changed: they who had pursued, now fled away; and the fugitives became the pursuers.

[14]   Polysperchon.

Polysperchon, to encourage his men against the Peloponnesians, who were in possession of a pass between the mountains, put on an Arcadian cap, and double cloak; and taking a staff in his hand, he said, "Such are the men, against whom we are now engaged." Then, throwing his Arcadian garments aside, and taking up his own weapons, he added, "And such, my fellow soldiers, are the men, who engage them; men, who in great and various battles have won glorious victories." This short harangue so animated his troops, that they unanimously requested him to lead them instantly against the enemy.

[15]   Antiochus, son of Seleucus.

Dion, a general of Ptolemaeus, with a strong garrison defended Damascus against Antiochus so ably, that Antiochus despaired of capturing it by a regular siege, and therefore had recourse to a stratagem. He directed his army, and the whole country around, to celebrate a Persian festival with the utmost profusion of luxury; and he ordered all persons of consequence to contribute their share to supply it. While Antiochus and his army were thus engaged, Dion hearing of the voluptuous celebrations remitted a little of his attention to his duty. Antiochus was no sooner informed of this, than he ordered his troops to take four days' provision of raw flour, and after marching them through a desert, by rough and unfrequented ways, arrived before Damascus, while the citizens supposed he was revelling in his camp; and by vigorous attack he surprised and captured the city.

[16]   Antiochus, son of Antiochus.

When Antiochus besieged Cypsela, a city in Thrace, he had in his army many Thracians of good rank and family, who were commanded by Tiris and Dromichaetes. To those he gave gold chains, and arms studded with silver; ornamented with which, they marched out to battle. The men of Cypsela, seeing their friends and acquaintances so richly equipped, concluded that they had chosen the better side; so they threw down their arms, and went over to Antiochus, becoming allies instead of enemies.

[17]   Antiochus Hierax.

Antiochus, having revolted from his brother Seleucus, made his escape into Mesopotamia; and in his march over the Armenian mountains he was joined by Arsabes. The two generals of Seleucus, Achaeus and Andromachus, pursued him in great force; and an obstinate battle was fought, in which Antiochus was wounded, and fled to the upper parts of the mountain, leaving the main body of the army to encamp on the sides of it. He then directed that a report of his death should be propagated, and ordered his army in the night to advance to the heights of the mountain. The next day the army of Antiochus sent envoys, Philetaerus the Cretan and Dionysius of Lysimacheia, to ask for the body of Antiochus in order to bury it; and on condition of receiving it, to engage to surrender themselves as prisoners of war. Andromachus agreed to these conditions; he informed them that the body of Antiochus was not yet found, and proposed to send an escort for the prisoners and arms. A detachment of four thousand men was accordingly dispatched, not prepared for action, but as a deputation to receive the prisoners. As soon as they advanced to the sides of the mountains, those who were posted on the heights attacked them, and made great havoc amongst them. Then Antiochus, appearing in his royal robes, presented himself to them, both alive, and victorious.

[18]   Philippus, son of Demetrius.

When Philippus besieged Prinassus, a Rhodian city, in the Peraea, he found the walls so exceedingly strong, that he saw no other way to succeed against it, than by undermining them. But when the sappers began to dig, they found nothing but hard rock; which so blunted their tools, that they could make no progress in the undertaking. To conceal from the enemy the difficulties he had to encounter, he contrived a kind of awning to cover the workmen; notwithstanding which, the enemy plainly perceived how little progress he was able to make. He therefore directed the soldiers to bring in the night a quantity of earth from eight or ten stades distance, and lay it at the mouth of their mine. The garrison on the walls saw the quantity of earth, thrown up at the mouth of the mine, increasing greatly every day, and concluded that the walls must be undermined. Intimidated by this, they surrendered the city to Philippus. He then revealed to them the stratagem which he had practiced, and left them to lament their credulity.

2   Philippus son of Demetrius, when engaged in a war with Attalus and the Rhodians, found himself inferior to the enemy, and considered how to effect a secure retreat by sea. He sent an Egyptian deserter, to give intelligence to the enemy, that he was making preparations for a naval engagement, intending next day to have his fleet ready for action. And in the night he kindled a number of fires, to induce them to think the army remained in camp. Attalus, according to this intelligence, made preparations also on his side to confront him. And to strengthen his fleet, he drew off the guards who were posted at the place of Philippus' intended embarkation; which gave Philippus an opportunity to embark his army, and thereby effect his escape.

[19]   Ptolemaeus.

When Perdiccas had marched down to the river opposite Memphis, with intention to cross it, Ptolemaeus tied his baggage to a number of goats, swine, and oxen, and left the herdsmen with some of his horse to drive them. The baggage thus dragged along the ground by those animals raised a prodigious dust; and exhibited in appearance the march of a numerous army. With the rest of his cavalry Ptolemaeus pursued the enemy, and came up with them as they were crossing the river, part having already passed it; who, from the dust, suspecting a numerous army in their rear, some fled, others perished in the river, and a great number were taken prisoners. [see also: Frontinus, Str.4.7.20]

[20]   Attalus.

Attalus, previous to an engagement with the Gauls, to whom he was very inferior in force, in order to encourage his men against the superiority of the enemy, offered a sacrifice; Sudinus a Chaldaean priest performed the ceremony. Upon his hand, in the black juice of the oak apple, the king inscribed, "The king's victory," in inverted letters, not from the left to the right, but from the right to the left. And when he disembowelled the victim, he placed his hand under a warm and spongy part; which took from it the impression. The priest, after turning over the rest of the parts, the gall, the lungs, and the stomach, and observing the omens to be drawn from them, turned to the part which contained the inscription of the king's victory; which exulting with joy he showed to all the soldiers. This they eagerly read; and assuming confidence, as if the gods had assured them of victory, they unanimously requested to be immediately led against the barbarians, whom they charged with such extraordinary vigour, that they obtained the victory they had been taught to expect.

[21]   Perseus, son of Philippus.

Perseus was at war with the Romans, who made use of elephants in their army, which they procured partly from Africa, and partly from India, through Antiochus king of Syria. To accustom his horses to the formidable appearance of those animals, he directed some elephants to be made in wood, in size and colours as nearly as possible resembling the real ones. And to imitate the terrible noise the beast sometimes made, he ordered a trumpeter to enter his body, and directing his trumpet through the mouth to sound the loudest, harshest notes he was able. And by this means the Macedonian horses were trained to bear the noise and sight of the elephants without fear.


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