Athens sides with Mithridates -- Other Greek States follow her Example -- Cornelius Sulla marches against Mithridates -- Besieges the Pirus -- Archelaus makes a Sally -- Sulla sends Lucullus to procure Ships -- Hard Fighting on the Walls -- Famine in Athens -- Battles Underground -- Sulla repulsed from Pirus
While Mithridates was thus occupied the following events took place in Greece: Archelaus, sailing thither with abundant supplies and a large fleet, possessed himself by force and violence of Delos and other strongholds which had revolted from the Athenians. He slew 20,000 men in these places, most of whom were Italians, and turned the strongholds over to the Athenians. In this way, and by boasting about Mithridates and extravagantly praising him, he brought the Athenians into alliance with him. Archelaus sent them the sacred treasure of Delos by the hands of Aristion, an Athenian citizen, attended by 2000 soldiers to guard the money. These soldiers Aristion made use of to make himself master of the country, putting to death immediately some of those who favored the Romans and sending others to Mithridates. And these things he did although he professed to be a philosopher of the school of Epicurus. Nor was it only in Athens that men played the part of tyrants as did he and before him Critias and his fellow-philosophers. But in Italy, too, some of the Pythagoreans and those known as the Seven Wise Men in other parts of the Grecian world, who undertook to manage public affairs, governed more cruelly, and made themselves greater tyrants than ordinary despots; whence arose doubt and suspicion concerning other philosophers, whether their discourses about wisdom proceeded from a love of virtue or as 602 a comfort in their poverty and idleness. We see many of these now, obscure and poverty-stricken, wearing the garb of philosophy as a matter of necessity, and railing bitterly at the rich and powerful, not because they have any real contempt for riches and power, but from envy of the possessors of the same. Those whom they speak ill of have much better reason for despising them. These things the reader should consider as spoken against the philosopher Aristion, who is the cause of this digression.
Archelaus brought over to the side of Mithridates the Achans, the Lacedmonians, and all of Botia except Thespi, to which he laid close siege. At the same time Metrophanes, who had been sent by Mithridates with another army, ravaged Etubcca and the territory of Demetrias and Magnesia, which states refused to espouse his cause. Bruttius advanced against him with a small force from Macedonia, had a naval fight with him, sunk one large ship and one hemiolia, and killed all who were in them while Metrophanes was looking on. The latter fled in terror and, as he had a favorable wind, Bruttius could not overtake him, but stormed Sciathos, which was a storehouse of plunder for barbarians, and crucified some of them who were slaves and cut off the hands of the freemen. Then he turned against Botia, having received renforcements of 1000 horse and foot from Macedonia. Near Chronea he was engaged in a fight of three days' duration with Archelaus and Aristion, which had an indecisive result. When the Lacedmonians and Achans came to the aid of Archelaus and Aristion, Bruttius thought that he was not a match for all of them together and withdrew to the Pirus until Archelaus came up with his fleet and seized that place also.
Sulla, who had been appointed general of the Mithridatic war by the Romans, now for the first time passed over to Greece with five legions and a few cohorts and troops of horse and straightway called for money, renforcements and provisions from tolia and Thessaly. As soon as he considered himself strong enough he crossed over to In the Chiaramonti Museum, Rome. Considered by B Attica to attack Archelaus. As he was passing through the probable but not certain likeness country all Botia joined him except a few, and among
[figure in text: L. CORNELIUS SULIA]
others the great city of Thebes which had rather lightly taken sides with the Mithridateans against the Romans, but now even more nimbly changed from Archelaus to Sulla before coming to a trial of strength. When Sulla reached Attica he detached part of his army to lay siege to Aristion in Athens, and himself went down to attack the Pirus, where Archelaus had taken shelter behind the wall with his forces. The height of the wall was about forty cubits and it was built of large square stones. It was the work of Pericles in the time of the Peloponnesian war, and as he rested his hope of victory on the Pirus he made it as strong as possible. Notwithstanding the height of the walls Sulla planted his ladders against them at once. After inflicting and receiving much damage (for the Cappadocians bravely repelled his attack), he retired exhausted to Eleusis and Megara, where he built engines for a new attack upon the Pirus and formed a plan for besieging it with mounds. Artifices and apparatus of all kinds, iron, catapults, and everything of that sort were supplied by Thebes. Sulla chopped down the grove of the Academy and constructed his largest engines there. He demolished the Long Walls, and used the stones, timber, and earth for building mounds.
Two Athenian slaves in the Pirus -- either because they favored the Romans or were looking out for their own safety in an emergency -- wrote down everything that took place there, enclosed their writing in leaden balls, and threw them over to the Romans with slings. As this was done continually it came to the knowledge of Sulla, who gave his attention to the missives and found one which said, "To-morrow the infantry will make a sally in front upon your workers, and the cavalry will attack the Roman army on both flanks." Sulla placed an adequate force in ambush and when the enemy dashed out with the thought that their movement would completely surprise him he gave them a greater surprise with his concealed force, killing many and driving the rest into the sea. This was the end of that enterprise. When the mounds began to rise Archelaus erected opposing towers and placed the greatest quantity of missiles on them. He sent for renforcements from Chalcis and the other islands and armed his oarsmen, for he considered himself in extreme danger. As his army 603 was superior in number to that of Sulla before, it now became much more so by these renforcements. He then darted out in the middle of the night with torches and burned one of the tortoises and the machines alongside of it; but Sulla made new ones in ten days' time and put them in the places of the former ones. Against these Arclielaus established a tower on that part of the wall.
Having received from Mithridates by sea a new army under command of Dromichtes, Archelaus led all his troops out to battle. He distributed archers and slingers among them and ranged them close under the walls so that the guards above could reach the enemy with their missiles. Others were stationed around the gates with torches to watch their opportunity to make a sally. The battle remained doubtful a long time; each side yielding by turns. First the barbarians gave way until Archelaus rallied them and led them back. The Romans were so dismayed by this that they were put to flight next, until Murena ran up and rallied them. Just then another legion, which had returned from gathering wood, together with some soldiers who had been disgraced, finding a hot fight in progress, made a powerful charge on the Mithridateans killed about 2000 of them and drove the rest inside the walls. Archelaus tried to rally them again and stood his ground so long that he was shut out and had to be pulled up by ropes. In consideration of their splendid behavior Sulla removed the stigma from those who had been disgraced and gave large rewards to the others.
Now winter came on and Sulla established his camp at Eleusis and protected it by a deep ditch, extending from the high ground to the sea so that the enemy's horse could not readily reach him. While he was prosecuting this work fighting took place daily, now at the ditch, now at the walls of the enemy, who frequently came out and assailed the Romans with stones, javelins, and leaden balls. Sulla, being in need of ships, sent to Rhodes to obtain them, but the Rhodians were not able to send them because Mithridates controlled the sea. He then ordered Lucullus, a distinguished Roman who later succeeded Sulla as commander in this war, to proceed secretly to Alexandria and 604 Syria, and procure a fleet from those kings and cities that were skilled in nautical affairs, and to bring with it the Rhodian naval contingent also. Lucullus had no fear of the hostile fleet. He embarked in a fast sailing vessel and, by changing from one ship to another in order to conceal his movements, arrived at Alexandria.
Meanwhile the traitors in the Pirus threw another 606 message over the walls, saying that Archelaus would on that very night send a convoy of soldiers with provisions to the city of Athens, which was suffering from hunger. Sulla laid a trap for them and captured both the provisions and the soldiers. On the same day, near Chalcis, Minutius wounded Neoptolemus, Mithridates' other general, killed 1500 of his men, and took a still larger number prisoners. Not long after, by night, while the guards on the walls of the Pirus were asleep, the Romans took some ladders from the engines near by, mounted the walls, and killed the guards at that place. Thereupon some of the barbarians abandoned their posts and fled to the harbor, thinking that all the walls had been captured. Others, recovering their courage, slew the leader of the assailing party and hurled the remainder over the wall. Still others darted out through the gates and almost burned one of the two Roman towers, and would have burned it had not Sulla ridden up from the camp and saved it by a hard fight lasting all that night and the next day. Then the barbarians retired. Archelaus planted another great tower on the wall opposite the Roman tower and these two assailed each other, discharging all kinds of missiles constantly until Sulla, by means of his catapults, each of which discharged twenty of the heaviest leaden balls at one volley, had killed a large number of the enemy, and had so shaken the tower of Archelaus that it was rendered untenable, and the latter was compelled, by fear of its destruction, to draw it back with all speed.
Meanwhile famine pressed more and more on the city of Athens, and the ball throwers in the Pirus gave information that provisions would be sent thither by night. Archelaus suspected that some traitor was giving information to the enemy about his convoys. Accordingly, at the same time that he sent it, he stationed a force at the gates with torches to make an assault on the Roman works if Sulla should attack the provision train. So it turned out that Sulla captured the train and Archelaus burned some of the Roman works. At the same time Arcathias, the son of Mithridates, with another army invaded Macedonia and without difficulty overcame the small Roman force there, subjugated the whole country, appointed satraps to govern it, and advanced against Sulla, but was taken sick and died near Tisus. In the meantime the famine in Athens became very severe. Sulla built stockades around it to prevent anybody from going out so that, by reason of their numbers, the hunger should be more severe upon those who were shut in.
When Sulla had raised his mound to the proper height at the Pirus he planted his engines on it. But Archelaus undermined the mound and carried away the earth, the Romans for a long time suspecting nothing. Suddenly the mound sank down. Quickly understanding the state of things, the Romans withdrew their engines and filled up the mound, and, following the enemy's example, began in like manner to undermine the walls. The diggers met each other underground, and fought there with swords and spears as well as they could in the darkness. While this was going on, Sulla pounded the wall with rams erected on the tops of mounds until part of it fell down. Then he hastened to burn the neighboring tower, and discharged a large number of fire-bearing missiles against it, and ordered his bravest soldiers to mount the ladders. Both sides fought bravely, but the tower was burned. Another small part of the wall was thrown down also, over against which Sulla at once stationed a guard. Having now undermined a section of the wall, so that it was only sustained by wooden beams, he placed a great quantity of sulphur, hemp, and pitch under it, and set fire to the whole at once. The walls fell -- now here, now there -- carrying the defenders down with them. This great and unexpected crash demoralized the forces guarding the walls everywhere, as each one expected that the ground would sink under him next. Fear and loss of confidence kept them turning this way and that way, so that they offered only a feeble resistance to the enemy.
Against the forces thus demoralized Sulla kept up an unceasing fight, continually changing the active part of his own army, bringing up fresh soldiers with ladders, one division after another, with shout and cheer, urging them forward with threats and encouragement at the same time, and telling them that victory would shortly be theirs. Archelaus, on the other hand, brought up new forces in place of his discouraged ones. He, too, changed their labor continually, cheering and urging them on, and telling them that their salvation would soon be secured. A high degree of zeal and courage was excited in both armies again and the fight became very severe, the slaughter being substantially equal on both sides. Finally Sulla, being the attacking party and therefore soonest exhausted, sounded a retreat and led his forces back, praising many of his men for their bravery. Archelaus forthwith repaired the damage to his wall by night, protecting a large part of it with a lunette curving inward. Sulla attacked this newly built wall at once with his whole army, thinking that as it was still moist and weak he could easily demolish it, but as he had to work in a narrow space and was exposed to missiles from above, both in front and flank, as is usual with crescent-shaped fortifications, he was again worn out. Then he abandoned all idea of taking the Pirus by assault and established a siege around it in order to reduce it by famine.